Timeless Ideas | March 21, 2021

Here’s your weekly dose of timeless ideas to sharpen your mind, make smarter decisions, and live better.

Quotes

I.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

— Aristotle


II.

The reason most goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.

— Robert McKain


III.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

— Joseph Campbell

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Ideas

I.

Violent revolutions do not so much redistribute wealth as destroy it. There may be a redivision of the land, but the natural inequality of men soon re-creates an inequality of possessions and privileges, and raises to power a new minority with essentially the same instincts as in the old. The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.

Will Durant in The Lessons of History


II.

It is always revealing to see how a person responds to those situations where he’s told: “There’s nothing you can do about it. This is the way of the world.” Peter Thiel’s friend, the mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein, has a category of individual he defines as a “high-agency person.” How do you respond when told something is impossible? Is that the end of the conversation or the start of one? What’s the reaction to being told you can’t—that no one can? One type accepts it, wallows in it even. The other questions it, fights it, rejects it.

Ryan Holiday in Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue


III.

The ego wants resolution, wants to control impermanence, wants something secure and certain to hold on to. It freezes what is actually fluid, it grasps at what is in motion, it tries to escape the beautiful truth of the fully alive nature of everything. As a result, we feel dissatisfied, haunted, threatened. We spend much of our time in a cage created by our own fear of discomfort.

Pema Chödrön in Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World

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Articles Worth Reading

I.

Nature’s playbook

Ruth DeFries | Aeon

At first blush, lessons from nature for human-designed institutions seem absurd. Nature has no empathy or concern for human values. Human societies take care of their sick, disabled and non-productive members. People pursue goals, both individually and collectively. Nature has no objectives beyond each individual’s innate aspiration to survive and reproduce. Societies evolve and adapt through ideas, rules and norms. But, on closer reflection, nature’s long experience provides lessons for how we might prevail in the face of possible disaster.


II.

The CEO tasked with vaccinating America

Emma Hinchliffe | Fortune

Karen Lynch has a job that comes with massive responsibility: Vaccinate America. On Feb. 1, she took over as president and CEO of CVS Health, which is in the midst of an effort to transform itself from retailer to healthcare company. There's a lot that rests on her shoulders: As the leader of this $269 billion behemoth, she must show that CVS is capable and ready to meet one of the biggest health challenges of the century. 


III.

3 Ways the Pandemic Has Made the World Better

Zeynep Tufekci | The Atlantic

This has been a year of terrible loss. People have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Many have gotten sick, and some are still suffering. Children have lost a year of school. Millions have lost a steady paycheck. Some have lost small businesses that they’d built for decades. And yet, this year has also taught us much. Strange as it may sound, the coronavirus pandemic has delivered blessings, and it does not diminish our ongoing suffering to acknowledge them. In fact, recognizing them increases the chance that our society may emerge from this ordeal more capable, more agile, and more prepared for the future.

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