Is Growth on the Agenda?

There is a war raging just below the radar screen. It is a cultural war. And the war is over identity.

On the one side are folks who believe strongly that identity is an ethical construct. You are what you do. This is a classical idea. Indeed, it is the basis for Christian theology.

One is rewarded for being a good person (meaning one did good things during life). On the other side are folks who believe that identity is an illusion. We are what we believe. Doing is just a manifestation of our beliefs. I will call this the modern view.  In this way of looking at experience, life has no meaning other than what we give it.

The battleground over identity is growth. Does one grow via discipline (the classical view) or via learning (the modern view)? In case you are wondering, I am not a a classicist. in this sense. And I believe that the classical view of identity is being overturned. It will lose further sway in the 21st century.

Assuming that I am right for a moment, this has major potential impact on the value you that we place in things. In the classical view  the fixed conception of self implies a relatively fixed value for the things around us. One can think with confidence that a thing purchased today will have value tomorrow. In the modern view, the self is likely to change. And as it changes, the self sees the things around him or her in a new light. Value becomes less predictable.

From this point of view, one can understand why some advocate adopting a minimalist ideology. Holding onto things distracts one from learning and growing. So if you hold onto less, you will be more free to see things in a fresh light. Even things that you might consider now to be mundane.

BTW, this is not the same as stoicism. Stoics are predisposed to self-protection. One may or may not learn from a stoic lifestyle.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s