Think of something.
In an ideal world, everyone would agree that idealism is ideal. Unfortunately, believing in things has gone out of style, and idealism, being a strong belief about the way things could be, is ridiculed as idealistic. Realism’s counter to idealism is that humans are flawed, so are less than ideal. This misses the point. Idealism is not about what is; it is about what could be.
If a human is regarded as no more than what it is then it has no cause to be more. It has already reached the low bar that has been set. But, if a human is regarded idealistically, it is given the opportunity to see and become what it could be. A human may not be ideal, but idealism gives it the chance to be what it can be. To tell a human it is anything less than ideal is to risk it falling short of what it could be.
“If we take man as he is, we make him worse, but if we take man as he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be.” - Viktor Frankl
Idolatry is the worship of a human or thing as if it is divine. Humans idolise lots of people and things despite the Bible’s clear statement that idolatry is a bad idea.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” - The Ten Commandments
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” - 1 Corinthians 10:14
“Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk.” - Jeremiah 10:2-5
This last quote demonstrates one problem with idolatry. It says that an idol only has power insofar as it is idolised. The idol scarecrow must be carried by others through the cucumber field, which represents the world, or a cucumber field.
Apart from the whole scarecrow-cucumber issue, idolatry is dangerous because the idolisers only see what they want to see in their idol. When a human is idolised, their good parts shine while their bad parts are ignored. The real, concrete human is mistaken for one abstracted part. For example, Gandhi is idolised for his commitment to non-violence, but his hatred of puppies is ignored to the point that you probably didn’t know he hated puppies, especially the cute ones.
Even God Himself should not be idolised, either through objects or as an idea. This is so important that it is one of the Bible’s five thousand commandments, which were later pruned to ten for marketing reasons.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol” - Exodus 20:4, The Bible (New American Standard Version)
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” - Exodus 20:4, The Bible (King James Version)
While image and idol are normally thought
of as physical things - statues, paintings, temples, Shakira -
these terms also include any mental image of God. Thus, it is
one of the
5000 ten commandments that God should not
be conceived of. In other words, in worshipping God, you should
not know what God is.
These days, God and scarecrows have been joined in the cucumber field by celebrities and technology products. Magazines devoted to celebrity worship abound. Phones and computers are coveted as if they bestow divinity and grace upon their possessors. But, as with all idols, electronics only have power while they are idolised and plugged in.
Inheritance is the practise of passing greed from one generation to the next. By doing this, it provides humans with the illusion that material ownership makes them immortal. Through a will, a human specifies who is to inherit what from its estate, and who else should have to fight over the scraps. A typical will will specify inheritance and inheritors thus,
I leave all my worldly possessions to my wife. In the event that I triumphed over her in the game of life, my estate is to be distributed as follows.
To my beautiful children I leave my house and collection of vintage sports cars.
To the ugly ones I leave my Ford Pinto, which is to be sold to fund as much plastic surgery as it affords.
And to my disloyal business partner Peter, I leave the balance of our secret, illegal Cayman Islands bank account. You’re welcome.
A human that works every day for its entire adult life delays true living until the realisation that its death is imminent. At this awakening, it sees that work, money and Pintos are meaningless pursuits. Shared humanity and becoming fully itself is what life should be about. Inheritance cuts this realisation off at the knees. By working towards an inheritance, the human reserves real living for some unnamed, theoretical descendant. The human’s life is put off indefinitely in favour of creating an inheritance, guaranteeing that the human will never bother to live for itself. Indeed, no one in the chain of descendants will ever truly live because they are all creating an inheritance and putting off life until the next offspring.
To guarantee happiness, humans are advised to cease building an inheritance. This frees up time to live in the here and now, where happiness is to occur. However, if parents believe they have raised children who are incapable of functioning autonomously in the world then it is best to wrap them in a protective money shield.
Humans are not self-starting, so need to be warmed up. This is done with inspiration, also known as ‘human heat’.
From Latin, meaning ‘to breathe into’. To inspire a human is to breathe into it. CAUTION: Do not overinflate.
A human is normally inspired by another human. For example, the authors of the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy were inspired by the author of this book.1 Human-to-human inspiration is one of many sources of human heat.
Nature inspires humans when they are inventing new things.
Carpet was inspired by the carpet snake.
The soldier was inspired by the soldier ant.
The sword and the fish were inspired by the swordfish.
Death inspired the death ray.
The Large Hadron Collider was inspired by the Large Hadron Collider bear.
Religious humans get their inspiration from God, with the first human inspired this way being Adam, the first human.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” - Genesis 2:7, King James Bible
Regardless of the source of human heat, an inspired human is more productive than a cold one, and is more likely to,
triumph in battle,
build a great monument,
destroy a great monument, and
fall in battle.
Definitely not the other way around.↩︎