The Profundity Of Minutiae

It is typical, that in times of political and economic uncertainty, for each person to think as if they are a head of state, and to devote significant energy into trying to conceive of alternate systems of governance, a new social contract, or a better economic system. Of course, the education and participation of the youth in politics is not only important; it is indispensable. Without the constant renewing and vitalizing supply of progressive thinking and innovation, society reaches a state of political decadence, whereby the ideas of the past are preserved like mummies, and cherished as if they were a kind of final truth, that no sane person is allowed deviate from. Clearly, such a tyrannical state, as history has taught us, is better avoided.

But the society that transforms its politics successfully can only do so when the renewing force, the youth, understand which traditional ideas that are worth preserving. And that can only happen through an investigation into history, rather than a renunciation of it, as something that is no longer relevant to the problems of modernity. Anyone who wishes to have a serious political dialogue must do the serious work of understanding where ideas have come from, and why they are important (or dangerous). Instead of playing the thought experiment, that you are president of a nation, it is wiser to start from a simpler place, by mastering the minutiae of your life first. For the same reason it is ironic for a twenty-year-old to become a “life coach”, it is unbecoming of one to act as if they understand the complexity of modern political problems.

A couple of years ago, Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology from the University of Toronto made a radical recommendation, “Clean your room.” For some, the triviality of the statement was enough to merit endless derision and laughter. Imagine the stupidity of such a comment. As if the world is so simple, that the solution to all problems is to clean one’s room. In a debate with Zizek, the latter rightfully pointed out, that such advice is not going to be relevant to the person who just lost a home, or a job, or their family, or to the person who struggles from pay check to pay check. But the point of “clean your room” isn’t that it should be your life mission from now, to think of nothing but making sure that no stain will ever remain in your apartment from now on, and if you succeed in doing so, poverty, disease, and inequality will all be solved.

The point is, clean your room first. Rather, learn how to clean your room before you venture to alter the world around you, which is far more complex than you can imagine. It is more likely that whatever intervention you decide to do will bring far more harm than good, and that is perhaps being charitable.

As with anything you venture to do, there is a learning curve. The person who has failed to accomplish the most basic tasks, such as a clean room, an organized schedule, a proper diet, and a consistent sleep schedule, shouldn’t be spending their time solving the world’s political problems. But this does not mean that this same person should be narcissistic, and only focus on the betterment of themselves, without any consideration for society. Rather, it means that to be of use to your social environment, you must first be, at the very minimum, competent enough to know how to manage your own life.

The reason why “clean your room” is the subject of much derision is that people expect it to masquerade as profound wisdom. But it is profound precisely because it does the opposite. The profundity of the minutiae is that in learning how to master the simple routines of the day, you gradually develop into a person capable of positively impacting the world.

Originally published at https://unearnedwisdom.com.

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I write about ideas that matter to me. In other words, revolutionary.

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Sud Alogu

Sud Alogu

I write about ideas that matter to me. In other words, revolutionary.

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