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The Big Plan: Archistructure (Part 1)

May 28, 2010

It was garbage night and I brought the can out to the curb.  Back in the garage, I checked my little hand-held electronic gizzi and saw that next on my agenda was to cut my toenails and then fax a letter to my congressman about some urgent issue of national interest.  Could I be more extreme?  I attended to my toes’ nails, washed my hands, and turned on the computer.  A headline about something I wouldn’t have cared about three years ago caught my eye.  Ninety minutes later I got back to my plan for the evening.

This couldn’t go on like this forever;  chasing things around;  each day, every hour, there was something else …   I needed a boundary;  a circumference drawn wherein what lay inside I would care about.  Anything else that came up I would quickly categorize as falling either inside or outside of my imaginary boundary and it would be embraced or ignored.  It is not that I don’t care about things beyond my little domain but there are, in fact, only twenty-four hours in a day and not one of them is promised to me.

Thus the seed of my cerebral sabbatical was selected. The crux of my cogitation and study would be:

The Care and Utilization of My Limited Resources for a Good and True Life, the Betterment of Mankind, and a Satisfied Mind.

With a fully academic-sounding title for my sabbatical I felt I was halfway done.  All that I needed was a soundtrack and a comfortable chair;  I would have this knocked out in four hours.

I quickly recognized that having a long list of people, places, things, ideals, principles, etc. that I held in high regard was but the most elementary of steps to be taken. There were clearly subsequent actions, each more important than the last.  I reasoned that if you’re going to lay claim to a value, you must have an absolute reason. And that first requires a clear understanding of its meaning.  Ultimately a large number of items will compete for your limited time and resources;  therefore, your values would need to be ranked, ordered, or otherwise prioritized.

Permit me a distillation of the previous paragraph:

1. What do you value?

Here’s a fair definition of Value in our context: “The beliefs, standards, and ideals of an individual or society toward which the people have an effective regard.”  I expand this to include concepts, institutions, actions, principles, physical things, sentiments, feelings, virtues, forms of government, constitutional amendments, etc.  Take a value common to many – education.  Yes, I value Education.

2. Why?

Why do you value, in our example, Education?  I know I value it, but what is it exactly?  To the dictionary.  Education:  The development and training of one’s mind, character, skills, etc., as by instruction , study, or example. Who wouldn’t be for that?  To be more precise, I value Education because … Good quotes are excellent sources for efficiently expressing yourself with someone else’s words.  Felix Shelling (1858 – 1945) was an American educator who reportedly wrote, “True education makes for inequality;  the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success, the glorious inequality of talent, of genius.”  Another may value Education but not for any reasons expressed in that quotation.

3. How much?

How important is that value to you?  Let’s continue with Education.  Will you pursue or continue an education?  Will you promote the value of an education to your child and maybe provide funding for a higher degree?  Do you necessarily care about your neighbor’s education?  Maybe you will get involved within your local school system;  or pay attention to the affairs of your own state education department;  or even be watchful over the nation’s children and keep an eye on the Federal Department of Education.  Maybe you’ll explore the background of the recently appointed assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools inside the Department of Education.  Maybe you will change careers and become a teacher.  Or maybe you’ll join home-school nation.

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Put these together and we may have something here.

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