The Quandary of Human Beings is One of Competence

Competence may be defined as “consistently getting the intended result”.

Indication of Incompetence: the saying, “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions”.

Frankly, this statement is poorly conceived, poorly expressed, poorly understood.

First of all, “paved“?? Pavement is an invention for smoothing the way.

So, “Good intentions smooth the way to Hell”??

Right away, that is topsy-turvy (“everything reversed”) thinking; there’s something “off” about it. There must be an explanation that seems to make sense of it. Let’s try.

One might observe that, very often, despite good intentions, a hellish result ensues or follows. Little fires may spring up that seem to require your attention, time and energy.

A certain kind of thinking would then make the so-called, “a-priori error” — the notion that because one thing preceded another, it caused the other. (“Post-hoc, ergo, propter hoc.” — for all you lawyers) This is very primitive thinking probably characteristic of a three-year-old stage of mental development.

The error may be expressed, “My good intentions caused the Hellish Outcomes.”

It goes along with, “I caused that,” as in, “Wherever I walk, outside, the moon in the sky follows me.” It is a kind of egocentric thinking that acts as if everything that happens has to do with oneself.” — which, by the way, is a good way of defining the word, “narcissistic”. “I caused that and I’m involved with it.” It’s the hypnotic, mass trance that characterizes the bulk of human cultures.

A more mature stage of development recognizes that causality emanates from many places and from anyplace at a given time. One may receive the influences of life as well as influence life. This is called, “being sentient”, all you beings. This recognition allows for a relative degree of rest or ease in the midst of circumstances, and for a decrease of vigilance, in general. Hellish outcomes may seem to come Out of the Blue, but sometimes, not.

So, as a generality, “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions” may seem to be true, some of the time, but it says nothing about the causal relation of the good intentions to the Hellish Experience.

Back to, “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.”

Where’s the next weak point?

It’s the inherent, “I can’t help it,” of the saying. “No matter what we do, things turn out badly.” Has to be that. After all, good intentions are all about “helping it”, and if they end up under our feet, our “hero” has failed. (Heros are all about “shared good intentions”, good intentions shared between and among us. A hero is a champion of our good intentions. In this anti-hero culture, villains are called, or positioned as, heros. This is an Orwellian perversity.) For all of these reasons, “I can’t help it,” is a common pose. It’s the pose of “excused resignation”, excused mediocrity. “I can’t help it,” sets the stage for incompetence.

So, “mediocrity and incompetence, I can’t help it,” are the sagacious meaning of the saying, “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.” How sagacious?

Here’s another meaning:

Creative movement in any direction creates a contrast with our memory of the state of things. Contrast intensifies experience. You go for the right and you perceive everything that’s in the way of things going right; you perceive everything that’s wrong. (Let’s not get captived by the wimpy argument that, “there is no real right or wrong; everything’s relative”. Not altogether true.) Everything that’s organized for an outcome different from the one we intend (including our own automatic reactions and emotional conditioning) we experience as unwelcome, as friction, as opposition, as frustration. There’s both an external and an internal burn.

The contrast-burn may be a hellish experience.

So, the saying, “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions,” is incomplete, in itself, and therefore, misleading. Another line is needed: “When you are going through hell, keep going.” (Winston Churchill) His saying implies emergence out of hell. It completely changes the thrust of the saying.

The thrust of this saying, when understood this way, points to increasingly higher degrees of competence paid for by an ordeal of transformation (the contrast-burn). I can help it if I persist, learn, remember, attend to it, and stay purposefully intent — in short, evolve awake) — that’s one part — and, with that, also recognize that I am working against forces that may make things rather unpleasant, especially if I fail to groom myself regularly of those befouling effects.

Thus, the deck is stacked against the evolution of humanity by our own aversion to the burn of transformation. The burn of transformation is the price paid for competence and superior competence. Thus, the expressions, “taking pains,” and “paying the price” or “paying ones dues”. The only ones willing to experience that are those with a compelling creative drive; the rest cower — or oppose.

The Gold Key Release
copyright 2017 Lawrence Gold

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