What Drives the Do-Gooder?

What Drives the Do-Gooder?

A strange person is he—the do-gooder. We’ve all met him (or her). The individual who pursues a philanthropic goal with an all-consuming passion. He announces his altruism to a crowded room, or to a person in private. And when business is down, he’s unable to let go of this strange desire to help. Being in the do-gooder’s presence can make you feel uncomfortable. Am I doing enough? Am I too selfish?

Yet strangely, at the end of the day, something is wrong. Instead of being proud of the do-gooder, we feel a strange kind of pity. Why is that? What gives?

The answer to this question is dealt with nicely in Bertrand Russell’s book, The Conquest of Happiness. Russell believes the philanthropist actually suffers from a form of psychological illness, entitled “persecution mania.”

“Another not uncommon type of persecution mania is a certain type of philanthropist who is always doing good to people against their will, and is amazed and horrified that they express no gratitude.”

Well put. The philanthropist frequently complains that his deeds are not appreciated. His benevolence is unnoticed by the state, the press, and powers that be. In doing so, he tries to illicit a sympathy from the listener. He’s merely reaffirming a long standing belief within himself—that the world has persecuted him unfairly. One way to hide an ugly truth about yourself is to present it as a beautiful lie.

Russell doesn’t touch on the female version of the do-gooder. That’s a shame. Some women use philanthropy as a form of makeup—a pretty façade, covering up their moral blemishes. If you question her ethics in the real world, she’ll point back to her good deeds. A classic red herring. Some men are unable to see the Enpassant, and it’s an easy checkmate.

So we should be on the lookout then. The philanthropist is often not what he or she seems, and we can easily fall prey to their machinations. Doing good is one thing, but making a show of it is a red flag.

What’s the Most Beautiful Baseball Stadium in America?

What’s the Most Beautiful Baseball Stadium in America?

I have traveled to 26 out of the 30 MLB stadiums (being both a baseball and architecture buff). I hereby proclaim a temporary winner. Drum roll please…

PNC Park in Pittsburgh!

PNC Field

What a field! The beautiful three rivers bridge, perched off in center field. The downtown skyline rising in the distance. The cool breeze, the cut grass – a true work of art.

What’s your favorite MLB stadium?

Why Should a Genius Be Limited to One Planet?

Why Should a Genius Be Limited to One Planet?

In 2012, the Mars Rover graced the red planet at a speed of 13,200 mph. A small contraption, built by an ingenious group of men, traveling to a distant world. At the same time, down on earth, an illiterate criminal was shooting up a liquor store in Chicago.

There’s a vast difference between these two kinds of “men.”

As America continues to spiral into debt (19 trillion and counting), some tough decisions have to be made. Do we invest in a space program? Or do we invest in public welfare? Who ‘s worthy of investment and who’s not? We can already see the rubber hitting the road on this topic in local schools, where football is favored over music programs.

There’s an argument that’s often made against space travel: “Why are we exploring other planets when we have so many problems on earth?” For me, that always sounded great. But now that I’m older, I no longer believe the lie.

The ugly truth is that many people can’t be saved—moreover, they refuse to be saved. Libraries are free, yet only half of Americans have read a book in the past year. It’s free to walk and do sit ups, yet 63% of Americans are overweight. Young women are offered grants to pursue careers in IT, yet most prefer to monitor their frenemies on Facebook.  These groups will always say, “Hey, what about us?” And their complaining will go on forever. But there will come a day when instead of making a crucial discovery, humanity will futilely be trying to help someone who’s incapable of change.

Enough is enough. The genius is a bow on the boat of humanity, crashing through violent waters to find a mainland in the dark sea. He’s leading the majority of humanity’s crew, most of which are willfully ignorant. It’s the courage of the genius that leads humanity forward, that pulls the caveman out of darkness.

Why should the mediocre people be favored over the talented? Why should the plebeian be given precedence over a Michelangelo? A Richard Feynman? Why should the average Joe be hoisted above the astrophysicist?

We should go to space and we should go often. Humans lived like apes for millions of years and it was not until a small group of men arrived, driven forth by a restless passion for knowledge, that humanity was able to ascend. Humanity would have continued, like a beast in the jungle, if a light was not ignited.

The next time somebody points to problems on earth, respectfully nod and tell them, “Why should a genius be limited to one planet?”

Tribute to Charlie Oelze

Charlie Oelze was a big part of my life. Moreover, he’s been a big part of many people’s lives; in particular, their childhoods and sense of imagination.

Charlie Oelize was the prop man for the Little Rascals. He made many of the devices and contraptions that became a staple on the program. I remember that I would watch the Rascals on Saturday morning, and then run out into my backyard to try and build some of his contraptions: a small clubhouse, car, etc. Needless to say, I would fail miserably.

The failure didn’t matter though. What Oelze provided me with was a sense of imagination. Even though I couldn’t create what he did, he instilled in me the desire to do so. This desire has carried me forth to other endeavors and has given me a passion to live life to the fullest.

Every stove needs a fire. Every fire a spark. Every skyscraper, an architect with a bold dream.

Here is a great example of Oezle’s work—a silent Little Rascals episode entitled, “Cat, Dog, and Co.” In particular, watch the scene from 20 seconds to one minute. Absolutely brilliant.

 

When the Chips are Up, You Know Who Your Friends Are

When the Chips are Up, You Know Who Your Friends Are

It’s a common adage that when the chips are down, you know who your friends are. That’s a common misconception. It’s actually the reverse – you know who your friends are when the chips are up; in other words, when things are good.

A few examples…

  • A struggling musician hits it big; all of a sudden, he feels the jealousy of fellow musicians. Why him and not me?
  • A recently married women gets a phone call from a divorced friend. The divorced friend wants to meet up for coffee to catch up on old times; in reality, she wants to sew the seeds of discontent in her “friends” nuptial bliss.
  • A man travels abroad to experience a wonderful adventure. When he returns home, he feels the anger of his coworkers who cannot afford a trip.

A successful man (or woman) is the true enemy of the world. That’s because for the vast majority of people, success is a difficult thing to obtain. When it comes to their jobs, many people are locked into professions they despise. They’re not chasing their dreams (or even worse, don’t have dreams to chase).  When it comes to their private lives, most people are also unhappy – they come from broken families, have broken marriages, etc.

And so your good fortune is a threat. It’s a mirror that shows the prince to be an ogre, the princess to be a withered shrew. It ignites the worse parts of humanity – envy instead of admiration, critique instead of praise. There you come, Mr. Sunshine, with a pep in your step and a smile on your face. Your new job and beautiful girlfriend. You might as well be a German panzer on the Champs-Elysees.

A good friend once told me, “Whatever people tell you, the reverse is true.” The more good fortune I find, the more I’m reminded of his words.

 

My First Post

This is my first post. I’ve debated for several years as to whether or not I should start this site. I’ve been a commentator on several forums, a lurker on others, etc. But the time has come for me to put an end to my drive-by commentary.

I’ve been all over the world, and I’ve seen things that few people have. The time has come to share my insights…my wisdom. But I hope – more than anything else – to speak the TRUTH. I know that for this, I will make enemies. Such is life. It was Thomas Carlyle who spoke about truth in relation to heroes. He stated that the truly great men of history were those who spoke a biting TRUTH, regardless of the hell it would bring them. Well, the time has come for me to do just that – to speak my TRUTH, and to let the chips fall where they may. If a man cannot be true to himself, he can scarcely call himself a man.

I welcome all commentary – profane or otherwise. No man can grow without a community of great men around him. Great men who burn with a passion for more. Who desire to reach higher, to achieve their maximum potential here on earth.

This is the path I have chosen.