Part of the Problem or the Solution?

May 7, 2007 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

A question I constantly ask myself is whether my actions are part of the solution or part of the problem. It’s a simple question that I’ve only recently started asking myself. I do tend towards being “hokie,” but speaking for myself, I want to leave this world knowing that my presence “helped”. I believe most of us don’t want to add to the problems of the world and so I thought I would share this “lens on life” that helps me make choices and decisions in my daily life.

Some may fairly argue that I am being judgmental and I don’t disagree. But, first and foremost I apply this “matrix” to myself. Yes, I also apply this to others as well. Maybe it’s a result of my autistic mind to systematize everything, but it seems to me that anyone and everyone makes judgments about others – it is a sorting process that is integral to our survival instincts. I guess rather than deny this politically incorrect judgment of others that we each carry on in our heads, I am challenging the foundations of what those judgments are based on. Are they for the right reasons or the wrong ones? I’ve made a conscious decision that “contributing to the solutions of the world” falls into the category of the “right reasons”, but that is a judgment you need to make for yourself. ;-)

This raises the next point: What are the problems and what are the solutions? At first glance the answers to these provocative questions would seem highly subjective. I think as long as you only focus on the personal details of our daily lives, my reply is yes… you get highly subjective answers. However, if we constantly relate these questions to the “big picture” issues such as pollution, crime, world peace, happiness and health – issues that affect us all – we will find common truths and common solutions.

Now this “matrix” does not only apply to external actions, but more importantly to internal thoughts. Are my personal thoughts and choices helping me or hurting me? Are they part of the solution to the problems and issues I face with myself, or are they contributing to the problems that have haunted me throughout my life. While I am still challenged in many ways by myself, I’ve found that asking myself whether a particular choice or point of view is helping or hurting me has contributed to me becoming my own best friend. While I don’t know if this particular “lens” can be a panacea for everyone, it does make sense: you’re stuck with yourself for an eternity – might as well make peace with yourself and learn to like who you are.

Speaking from personal experience I think the tendency of most of us is to assume that “I am not the problem.” But, like most assumptions, the truth of the matter only reveals itself when that assumption is tested or challenged. Someone far greater than me once said “A un-contemplated life is one not worth living.” So I challenge you to think of your actions, behaviors and thoughts in terms of this single question: Am I part of the solution or part of the problem?

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Entry filed under: Philosophy.

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