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Jason Merchey the writer, philosophical thinker, and Master’s-level psychologist shares his perspectives on classical and modern applications of values, wisdom, ethics, and personal growth. The goal is to provide insight into what “a life of value” is and how one can live it. Quotations, proverbs, idioms, and historical facts often provide grist for the mill. Occasional guest blogs are featured as well.

Realpolitik: The “Unwisdom” of Assassinating an Iranian General

realpolitik January 6th, 2020

Iran is a “bad actor”, I am completely up-front about. The arch-villain Solemani, whom Trump had assassinated a few days ago, was indeed a rotten apple. This is coming from a Jewish-American who has paid a fair amount of attention to politics, geopolitics, and war in the last 25 years. This blog is about the utter unwisdom of poking a bear in the eye for what amounts to no clear, justifiable reason. I don’t exactly consider myself a “dove”, but I certainly am skeptical of Republicans hatching Middle East operations (to be read in the cadence of “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts“).

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America Desperately Needs Truth, Wisdom, and Critical Thinking

truth, wisdom, and critical thinking December 16th, 2019

America has a boat-load of problems. To open a newspaper any day of the week is enough to discourage anyone. Partisanship has reached nearly-fervid proportions. I fear we have little hope of seeing the forest for the trees when 45% of Americans don’t think Donald Trump should be tried in the Senate! Indeed, Trump may be the grotesque manifestation of a country that is sick, but the origins of what ails us are older than the huckster in the White House. What does this have to do with values? Truth, wisdom, and justice are not values that one can expect to apprehend if one sits around watching Fox News, “America’s Got Talent”, and football. If we want to improve, to thrive, to avoid disaster, the road is a tough one – much tougher than a trope such as “Liberals have been causing the decay of American society for decades now!” or “The most important thing in 2020 is to remove Donald Trump from office!”

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America’s Wars: Same Inhumanity and Lies, Different Decade. 

December 10th, 2019

Noted social critic and historian, Howard Zinn, pointed out that, “Indeed, when the [Vietnam] war was studied years later, it was clear that no rational decision based on any moral principle had led the nations into war. Rather, there were imperial rivalries, greed for more territory, lusting for national prestige, and the stupidity of revenge.” Though Abraham Lincoln knew the gravity of a civil war, he also used soaring rhetoric at times to characterize the nobility of the side wearing blue: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in.” When looked at in an objective sense, war is almost never justified, and yet in America, is appallingly repetetive. It’s like, Same inhumanity and lies, different decade.  This is especially true now, as new information has come to light that American presidents all knew the war in Afghanistan couldn’t be “won”, and yet it is to-date the nation’s longest-lasting war. 

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Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

I feel like in much of my own life, and when I reflect on my country, what I and we seem to be doing is for naught; we are not changing course toward safer waters, we are merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic November 29th, 2019

Full disclosure: I am in one terrible mood. It is the day after Thanksgiving, and, ironically, I am feeling bereft of positivity. You see, my remaining family (father is deceased) is absolutley obsessed with vaccines. The sun rises and sets with what the State of California is or is not doing, what the Internet is abuzz about, what the crisis du jour is vis-a-vis mandated childhood vaccinations. This is horrible enough, especially in light of the fact that it reflects my childhood/family issues so hauntingly and uncannily precisely. However, it is just part of my angst. The backdrop for my family dysfunction, its anxiety, and its mental illness writ large is the fact that I fear that the ship of this Republic is steaming headlong toward an iceberg. Much of what I seem to do, think, or hope about, according to this metaphor, is akin to simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as it were.

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Is It True That “Everything Happens for a Reason”?

everything happens for a reason November 18th, 2019

At first, this might sound like a foolish title, because in one sense of the phrase, everything does happen for a reason. The universe operates according to the laws of physics which posits that everything is determined and so on (well, quantum physics kinda is the fly in that ointment). I get determinism and physics’ position. However, in a different vein, the more commonly-used vernacular you hear is, “Everything happens for a reason.” But is that true? I would say the evidence does not point in that direction, though, as some are quick to point out, “God works in mysterious ways” and almost anything is possible. This post explores metaphysics and truth and other heady subjects.

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Are Human Beings Selfish?

are human beings selfish? October 23rd, 2019

I thought about the question, Are human beings selfish?, when I received this snippet of an article from a friend: “Advocates of capitalism understand, as the classical economists understood centuries ago, that government and social institutions must be designed for the human beings that actually exist — callous self-interest and all.” That thought, from The Mises Institute, a capitalistic/libertarian think tank, is making a fair point that can be examined to see how fully and completely true it is. That is what I will do in this blog. As a sneak peek, my answer to the question, Are human beings selfish? will be “Yes, to some degree, but not to the exclusion of all other high values.”

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My Motto: Don’t Be a Loser

don't be a loser October 15th, 2019

I was watching the fabulous sequel to the enthralling series “Breaking Bad”, the movie El Camino today. A wonderful script, unparalleled performances. It, plus a few other factors, have me thinking that perhaps my best bet is simply to play defense; keep the status quo; satisfice instead of constantly striving to win; put simply: “Don’t Be a Loser”.

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What Happened to America’s Heroes?

American's heroes October 11th, 2019

What happened to America’s heroes? True, we have television shows now that elevate someone as a crafty and lucky game show contestant, a dexterous modern ninja, or a brave kid with astounding talent. As I write, the Trump scandal about Ukraine is unfolding. I turned off the television when he alluded to capital punishment for the folks in the White House who were implicated as informants on his repetitive, unpatriotic scandals. Frankly, the most we tend to see about this abomination of an Administration are anonymous opinion pieces in a newspaper, folks being forced to resign for not toeing the line, and occasionally someone will sort of allude to the fact that they left the Administration because they weren’t seeing eye to eye with Trump. Where are the heroes who stand up and say they will not accept scandalous, unethical, and outrageous behavior on the part of the President?

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The Wise Would Uniformly Call for Trump’s Ouster

"The wise" on Donald Trump October 7th, 2019

I am sick to DEATH of Donald Trump. I knew he was a disgrace to this country when he first threw his slimy hat in the ring (in 2015). And it has been virtually nothing but downhill since. There are a couple of things he has done that were “standard, prudent, proper, patriotic” but mostly it is throwing red meat to his base, defending his ego, and enriching himself and his friends. It’s really worse than predicted to be – which is saying a lot! There is no wisdom in continuing down this same path of obfuscation, autocratic maneuvering, dark political machinations, and utter abrogation of wholesome values. And yet, today, one of the most repugnant and ludicrous statements I have ever read (and I have read a lot!) came out of his Twitter-addicted thumbs: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off-limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).” I have been studying wisdom for quite some time, and I can assure you, dear reader, this man possesses less wisdom than most adolescent males. My thesis is that the wise would uniformly call for Trump’s ouster. I can say this with absolute confidence, based on what I know of “the wise” (as esoteric and ethereal as that concept may be). By the wise I am referring to wisdom incarnate; those who are in possession of uncanny wisdom, if you will).

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Why Are Elite Students So Emotionally Fragile?

September 27th, 2019

I earned a certificate in philosophy and ethics from Harvard University Extension in the last couple years. So I am on the campus-wide mailing list. I received a slightly odd email the other day, and it reflects on issues such as elite colleges and universities, political correctness, hate, homogeny and heterogeneity, character, personal development, life lessons, and what the real world is like.

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