Sanity Snippet #13

I’ve spent the last three weeks contemplating a big change in my focus. My decision to discontinue my book coaching services is the result. This endeavor was consuming too much of my time and diminishing my drive, efforts, and resources to create my own novels.

For those who desire to learn more about the craft of writing, I offer the following links to the best resources I know: http://scribemeetsworld.com/, https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/, https://www.beemgee.com/, https://onestopforwriters.com/, https://writershelpingwriters.net/, literatureandlatte.com, and evernote.com. I’m sure there are many others but the above are my favorites and most often used.

From now on, Sanity Snippets will be snapshots of my daily life, those things I’m doing—such as reading, writing, biking, photographing, and gardening—to maintain sanity while living in the most regressive state imaginable. Alabama.

This decision doesn’t mean I will stop encouraging others to pick up their pencil and start writing. Nothing has changed in that regard; I fully maintain that writing changed my life for the better, and it will yours. I’ll continue my attempts to motivate you to try writing, but now, will do so more informally, and without, of course, any hint to use my fee-based coaching services.

In my second paragraph, I intimated a strongly held belief that Alabama is a regressive state. I don’t intend for this blog to become a rant. However, I don’t live in a vacuum. Life goes on all around us and unless we live with our heads stuck in a desert hole, we cannot ignore the reality all around. To be regressive means to regress, and that means “movement backward to a previous and especially worse or more primitive state or condition.”

For now, all I’ll say is I sincerely believe my conclusion is fully rational—after living 49 years since graduating high school, and reading enough books (on both sides of the issues) to fill a library—the main contributing factors to this regressive state is the incestuous relationship between the Republican Party and Christian fundamentalism, not to say that each, on its own, cannot swiftly and securely return us all to the darkest of the dark ages.

Now, to today’s Sanity Snippet.

I normally start my morning with two to three hours of reading. Usually, by 7:00 a.m. at the latest, but often by 5:00. As the talented fiction writer Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” I wholeheartedly agree. However, I’d like to make an amendment. If you want to learn and mature into an empathetic human being, you must read both fiction and nonfiction. And a lot of each.

I’m currently reading a book everyone should read: Enlightenment NOW, The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker. Per Google, “The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith.” The years 1715 to 1789 are oft-cited as the time-frame for this ‘Age.’ However, and thank goodness, yesterday was a day of enlightenment, as is today, and hopefully tomorrow will be the same (not to say superstition and faith aren’t energetic antagonists).

I think Mr. Pinker also believes the hard, cold facts give hope that 1789 was not the end of progress. Thus, our focus should be on reason, science, and humanism if we want the good trends to continue. Read what he said in response to an audience member’s question, “Why should I live?” (note, the question came after Pinker had discussed how most scientists conclude ‘that mental life consists of patterns of activity in the tissues of the brain.’):

“In the very act of asking that question, you are seeking reasons for your convictions, and so you are committed to reason as the means to discover and justify what is important to you. And there are so many reasons to live! As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. You can appreciate the beauty and richness of the natural and cultural world. As the heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in turn. You have been endowed with a sense of sympathy—the ability to like, love, respect, help, and show kindness—and you can enjoy the gift of mutual benevolence with friends, family, and colleagues. And because reason tells you that none of this is particular to you, you have the responsibility to provide to others what you expect for yourself. You can foster the welfare of other sentient beings by enhancing life, health, knowledge, freedom, abundance, safety, beauty, and peace. History shows that when we sympathize with others and apply our ingenuity to improving the human condition, we can make progress in doing so, and you can help to continue that progress.” Pinker, Steven (2018-02-12T22:58:59). Enlightenment Now. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

And this is my position too. Unless we “emphasize [] reason over superstition and science over blind faith,” we, as a society (and individually), will regress.

Grab a copy of Enlightenment Now.

For a taste of what you’ll learn, carefully study this graph showing the gigantic decrease in worldwide poverty over the past hundred plus years (and no, superstition or blind faith is not the cause).

Author: Richard L. Fricks

Former CPA, attorney, and lifelong wanderer. I'm now a full-time skeptic and part-time novelist. The rest of my time I spend biking, gardening, photographing, reading, writing, and encouraging others to adopt The Pencil Driven Life.

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