In the previous post I expressed my indignation at how we are going about our selfish ways and I ended with the intent of how to get out of that trap. Well I went back to some of the roots I have and looked back to a powerful Aristotelian concept: phronesis. Any of you heard of it?
In society today we are herded by many rules. Rules that supposedly keep us safe and safeguard our freedom. We find however that rules can in fact be much more enslaving than liberating. We have so many rules that we stop thinking for ourselves. The reality is there is no set of rules that can get us what we want. We have to have rules because we have lost phronesis. In the simplest terms phronesis is practical wisdom. It is strongly related to prudence, i.e. being wise and prudent in practical affairs. Instead we are caught in a consumer world totally consumed by consumerism (check this out: The Story of Stuff).
From my point of view we have simply lost the desire to be virtuous. People are not interested at identifying core values that guide their actions in order to do good (I know the word good is contentious but hang in there). It is a focus on here and now and relating it to the bigger picture in regards to society and our responsibilities.
In a different way it has been expressed as having gravitas (read this: Gravitas). It all comes down to the same thing. We don’t become quiet, reflect and take the long way around because we will learn more and become better human beings. We are rushing forward but it is as Gandhi said: There is more to life than increasing its speed. We must use phronesis to focus on the journey and the relationships we build.