A way of approaching a credenda

by Dorian Minors

March 29, 2021

Analects  |  Newsletter

Excerpt

There are many ways to measure a well-lived life. Wealth. Status. Fame. Power. Productivity. Yet, typically, each of these is corrupted by a comparison to the other. Fortunately, these other oriented metrics aren’t far off the mark. They hold at their core a thread: a motivation borne of the human capacity for nurture.

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We are typically handed credenda to live by from a world that does not have our best interests at heart. So, instead, we should put forward our own.

There are many ways to measure a well-lived life. Wealth. Status. Fame. Power. Productivity. Yet, typically, each of these is corrupted by a comparison to the other. Power is measured against the deferral of others. Status against recognition. Productivity against demand. Wealth against our models of what defines the wealthy. We might, of course, consider other metrics; ones which target states of being, like happiness, for example. But happiness, like any state of being, is necessarily fleeting. To seek to hold these states constant is an ill-fated affair; highlighting only their absence.

Fortunately, these other oriented metrics aren’t far off the mark. They hold at their core a thread: a motivation borne of the human capacity for nurture. We habitually look to others to cultivate our limits, because this is our defining quality. But this impulse is then misdirected. Shaped by a system that values us, not as individuals or as communities, but rather for how well we engage in the system. We are handed credenda to live by from a world that does not have our best interests at heart.

So, instead, we must put forward our own credenda. A value system devoted to our defining quality, rather than one which hijacks it for its own ends. A system which opens ourselves to the full range of the human experience, rather than one which limits our experience to better serve it. A system which encourages us to cultivate our limits, rather than deaden them. A system which wakes us up. Here’s mine.

There are two important aspects of any good credenda. On one hand, we must start with a focus, something to guide us: our cynosure. But, for such focus to be maintained, we must also build the architecture to support us in the effort.


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