Paul's Here

Be a part of something bigger than yourself

33 posts in this topic

I don't think that would happen today. I was in my high school's National Honor Society, which turned out to be nothing more than a service organization. Grades and excellence had very little to do with it. I lucked out, though. I got in after tutoring a 5th grader (which I found interesting) and getting some glowing recommendations from family friends, and then they failed to enforce the service requirement for members. Not that membership really meant anything in the end, but at the time I just figured it could be a feather in my cap. We had meetings, at which we did nothing. It was mostly an empty status thing.

This is a different topic, but when did the National Honor Society change? Being selected used to be an honor based on academic success leading to a high class ranking and it meant something when applying to college. It wasn't something you "joined", you were either selected or you weren't. It had nothing to do with first committing "service" or "service" as a requirement to retain the honor.

I asked my son about his membership in NHS and his opinion of it when he was in high school a few years ago. His repsonse was: "I vaguely remember doing a couple of things for them. It wasn't particularly worthwhile, and their standards for entry were low enough that it wasn't terribly prestigious."

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When I have thought of the term "some thing bigger than yourself", I have thought of an abstract principle/virtue such as Freedom.

Something that lasts longer than your life, even if you were to live a full life. For example, Brave Heart. He died for some thing bigger than himself. For freedom. So did our Grandfathers in WWI and II.

If one was in war, and "dies for some thing bigger than oneself", one would/should be volitionally dying for something he thinks is of Life and Death importance. Call me what you want, but in the long range scheme of things, I think this is important.

It is the ideas, the Freedom we are fighting for. So, to me, "something bigger than yourself" means something worth living/dying for over centuries, over time. I personally know that never being in war of any kind, I am in no position to speak of what it's like to be on the front lines fighting Germany or in Afghanistan like a good friend of mine is.... but I do know how god damned important Freedom is. Being alive, not having to worry everyday about being bombed or being in an abusive arranged marriage.... In war, people die, but isn't it worth the ideas we are fighting for?

I used to think think that that term was vague and demeaning, but now I understand it a little better... What's "bigger than yourself" isn't god or society, but things that you and I wake up for in the morning like: Passion, Freedom, Productiveness, Pride. Mabye we are using different definitions of the term, but this is where I stand on it.

In what way do you experience those things apart from your values? How do you experience them as bigger than yourself, i.e., your values? When a soldier dies for freedom, isn't it his freedom, his family's freedom, his friend's freedom that he defends? Also, doesn't a soldier really fight to live, to kill the enemy? He is not fighting to die for the freedom of others, at least that should not be his motivation.

Freedom means my ability to act on my judgment without restraint by others. "To act on my judgment" includes all of my values and choices. If I had to fight for it, that is what I would be fighting for. It certainly does not mean that I fight for the the right of Nancy Pelosi to debate about the expropriation my wealth and earnings to support workers who lost their jobs. She and all those who want to use force against me can go directly to hell.

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When a soldier dies for freedom, isn't it his freedom, his family's freedom, his friend's freedom that he defends? Also, doesn't a soldier really fight to live, to kill the enemy? He is not fighting to die for the freedom of others, at least that should not be his motivation.

Yes, I agree. This is what I meant.

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I think the emotion experienced in "being part of something bigger than oneself" is both awe, humility, and a feeling of being good (or moral).

The contrast for this is the feeling described in the statue of dominique (paraphrasing) - she is exhilarated - searches for god - and finds there is nothing higher than herself.

So to summarize I think this sort of idea/feeling comes from seeing morality as separate from one's life (and as a result seeing no glory in one's life except when venturing "outside" oneself).

Very good points.

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That phrase, "be a part of something bigger than yourself," is often used as a call for sacrifice, typically for one's family or country. I often hear the phrase invoked by religious people who want you to serve god's (i.e., theirs) purpose. But what does the phrase mean psychologically? I honestly have never had a feeling or desire for being a part of something bigger than myself. When I introspect, I don't see any element of that in my psychology. Yet, many people seem to attach so much importance to it.

I have all my adult life ALWAYS felt a desire to, in a sense, "be a part of something biggr than myself". What I mean is that all my adult life I have felt a burning ambition to so something myself to help improve the state of the world. I do not think that any person has a DUTY to "save the world". But I do think that every person has an obligation to himself to do something about the state of the world. After all, if the world goes to hell, then every human life on the planet will go to hell, including one´s own. So I think that it is REALLY selfish to be an idealist. I think that idealists are MORE egoistic than the kind of person who does not lift a finger to help alleviate any problems that do not directly concern him. I think that idealists care MORE about their own lives than the kind of people who are only narrowly self-interested.

My ambition to improve the state of the world was what led me to discover Objectivism. And my own life and happiness has benefited immensely from my discovery of Objectivism. In addition to that I gain much happiness from ALL my idealistic activities, even the "non-Objectivist" ones (I do not have so many of them any more).

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Hoffer's beginning notion is that "people with a sense of fulfillment think the world is good while the frustrated blame the world for their failures. Therefore a mass movement's appeal is not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self.

I believe the posts here show that a statement like "I want to be part of something bigger than myself" can be filled with just about any meaning you want, and perhaps such statements should be considered loosely as poetry more than fact statements or actual assertions of anything.

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Hoffer's beginning notion is that "people with a sense of fulfillment think the world is good while the frustrated blame the world for their failures. Therefore a mass movement's appeal is not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self.

I believe the posts here show that a statement like "I want to be part of something bigger than myself" can be filled with just about any meaning you want, and perhaps such statements should be considered loosely as poetry more than fact statements or actual assertions of anything.

But would the person who says, "I want to be a part of something bigger than myself" ever say, "I want to be the essential part of something bigger than myself"?

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Hoffer's beginning notion is that "people with a sense of fulfillment think the world is good while the frustrated blame the world for their failures. Therefore a mass movement's appeal is not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self.

I believe the posts here show that a statement like "I want to be part of something bigger than myself" can be filled with just about any meaning you want, and perhaps such statements should be considered loosely as poetry more than fact statements or actual assertions of anything.

But would the person who says, "I want to be a part of something bigger than myself" ever say, "I want to be the essential part of something bigger than myself"?

Yes, I think so, and in fact this would be the better response - as opposed to it's negative where "I want to be a part of something bigger than myself" means (in their mind) "I want to lose myself in something that has meaning because I have no meaning" forgetting that they are making a value judgment about this so-called "bigger thing" as having intrinsic meaning to them - hence the quote about Hoffer's book.

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