Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Three Pillars

So you want to change the world? What kind of transformation would you prefer? Would you like to make a contribution toward a more noble world? No, not a financial contribution, but the kind of contribution that every single person in this world is capable of making, regardless of economic status, race, gender or any other biasing influence.

If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you are interested in making a better world. Most people want to make a better world, if they think about such things at all. It is rare indeed that anyone actually wants to make the world worse.

Yet the actions of many people do make the world worse. Why is this? Why do so many people want to make the world better and yet accomplish the exact opposite?

The answer is more simple than you might think. There are three concepts that, if properly followed, will keep you focused on a better world, a better community, a better home and even a better you. The problem is that most people lose sight of at least one of these concepts somewhere along the way.

We can call these concepts the Three Pillars upon which all positive goals are balanced. They are Knowledge, Truth and Justice. Cognitio Veritas Iusticia.

KNOWLEDGE

It has been said that knowledge is power and nothing could be more true. Knowledge is the first step toward accomplishment and it is the greatest tool you can possess for changing the world. It may seem like a simple thing, but everything you hope to accomplish is dependent upon this pillar.

You must know where you are, where you want to be and how these two states relate to each other. Are you close to or far from your ideal? How close or how far? What are the barriers between you and your ideal and how might these barriers be addressed?

You must know the nature of your ideal and what actions or inaction will alter that nature. What will affect your course toward your ideal and what will those effects be? How much of these effects are dependent on you and how much are dependent upon others?

You must know if your ideal is even achievable. Are you trying for something that is within reach and just needs more work or are you trying for something that is truly impossible? Is there a goal that is close to your ideal but is more within the realm of the possible? Are there steps along the way that you must take to reach your goal or steps would make your goal more attainable?

All of this knowledge is necessary and important. If you truly wish to make a change, you must pursue this knowledge as though your greatest desires depend on it. They do!

You cannot rely on the word of others or what you hear in familiar debates. Remember that the reason so many people do ill when they want to do good is because they forget one of these pillars. The pillar of knowledge is often forgotten because people tend to hear a thing, believe it is reasonable or appropriate and then pass it along as fact. They take no steps to verify this fact and, before long, misinformation has replaced knowledge and the first pillar has collapsed.

Failure to properly collect and verify knowledge is the first reason why people who intend to do good fail at accomplishing this goal. The fact that much of what is being passed around as knowledge in modern thinking is, in reality, misinformed opinion is the first reason why the world is not improving at the rate implied by the number of people who wish it to improve.

If you wish to improve the world - or just yourself - the first thing you must do is collect the appropriate, accurate knowledge.

TRUTH

If knowledge is critical for achievement of the ideal, truth is absolutely mandatory. This is the pillar most often missed by those who try but fail to improve the world. It is not that people are intentionally dishonest; they are, instead, not scrupulously honest. There is a subtle but important difference.

Do you truly know what you claim to know or are you just passing along what you have heard? Did you latch on to something that felt right without verifying that it was right? Did you stop at the first fact that appeared to support your claim without continuing to look for information that might contradict it? Did you distort or leave out the facts that were not in your best interest?

Have you been honest about how much you know compared to how much you need to learn? Do you give the information you dislike like a fair hearing before dismissing it as false? Do you compare all of the available evidence before arriving at a conclusion?

These are all difficult questions to answer and, frequently, questions we do not like to answer. We want to believe that the cause we champion is the right one and we tend to gloss over or ignore any knowledge that might contradict this belief. Dismissing knowledge because you dislike like it or because it does not support your claim is not honest and it will not bring you closer to your ideal. In fact, it will drive you further away.

There are times when the evidence is in our favor, so we dismiss those few facts that are less flattering. This is not helpful! The information is available, whether we like it or not, and those who oppose our position will latch on to anything that might be detrimental to it. If we have tried to conceal this detrimental knowledge, we look dishonest, even if we have not been dishonest, and this will color the perception of the evidence we do have. One negative action, even if it only appears negative, can easily erase the results from a host of positive actions.

It is not uncommon for those who push a particular agenda to believe that the spotlight must be kept firmly on their facts and only their facts, but this does not actually promote their agenda. The other facts are still out there and available. If you behave like this, the only people who will believe you are those who already believe you and those who are too lazy to be of any help anyway. Other people will do the research, discover that you left out some facts and begin to wonder what else you may have left out or be concealing. These detrimental facts can only be surmounted by facing them directly and demonstrating openly why they do not detract from your cause. If you cannot do that, perhaps your cause is not as ideal as you think it is.

In this age of information - and especially in the trading of information necessary for ideal goals - lying, misleading and exaggerating are crimes that are almost impossible to hide. They will diminish you and make it more difficult to accomplish your ideal. It is only through an honest exchange of knowledge that we will ever have any hope of finding the common ground necessary for improving the world.

JUSTICE

The final pillar supporting positive goals is justice. This is where you take that knowledge you have acquired and honestly verified, and put it to use.

In many respects, this is the easiest part of the process. The pursuit of justice means nothing more and nothing less than giving and taking only what is deserved. If, however, the first two pillars have not been properly established, this one has no hope and you may as well give up any dream of improving the world.

If you have not obtained all relevant knowledge of a particular situation and honestly verified and evaluated that knowledge, how can you possibly achieve justice in that situation? You will, at best, be working by luck and, since there are likely more possibilities for failure than success, your odds are not good.

If an honest evaluation of the knowledge you have obtained demonstrates that the cause you are pursuing will not actually help to achieve your ideal, it may be the right thing to abandon that cause. If this evaluation demonstrates that your cause will actually harm your ideal, it is absolutely the just course of action to abandon that cause.

If you wish to improve the world then justice demands that you reward the positive and not reward the negative. Do not promote what would destroy your ideal. Doing so would not be justice. It would be stupid.

Justice is your last step and the last thing you can control on your way to your ideal: Do the right thing. If you have diligently collected knowledge and have been scrupulously honest with that knowledge, you should have little trouble in discerning what “the right thing” is in your given situation. Doing it, however, may be a bit more difficult. It may, in fact, be painful but if you want to make a positive change then you have to do the right thing. You have to do what is just. Otherwise, you will not be pursuing your ideal.

CONCLUSION

The Three Pillars that support positive goals are Knowledge, Truth and Justice. Know the facts about yourself and your ideal; be honest in your evaluation and presentation of these fact; and do the right thing. If you can build your life on these Three Pillars then you are doing your part to achieve a positive change. If we can convince more people to live and act in this manner, we will become that much closer to improving the world.

Too many people miss out on at least one of these three. It is too much work to learn. It is too risky to be honest. It is too difficult to be fair. This is why things do not improve as we would like.

In reality, it is too much work to navigate successfully through life without knowledge. It is too risky to be dishonest and lose credibility in all of your arguments. It is impossible to make positive change without being fair.

If it is your genuine desire to make a positive change in yourself, your home, your community or your world, it is imperative that you learn this lesson: All positive change is balanced on the Three Pillars of Knowledge, Truth and Justice. Master that lesson and you are on your way.

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