Wednesday, February 22, 2006


The True Believer.
More and more I am drawn back to the wisdom in Eric Hoffer's classic work, "The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements."
For example, he write in Chapter 2, "People who see their lives as irremediably spoiled cannot find a worth-while purpose in self-advancement. The prospect of an individual career cannot stir them to a mighty effort, nor can it evoke in them faith and a single-minded dedication. They look on self-interest as on something tainted and evil; something unclean and unlucky. Anything undertaken under the auspices of the self seems to them foredoomed. Nothing that has its roots and reasons in the self can be good and noble. Their innermost craving is for a new life -- a rebirth -- or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause. An active mass movement offers them opportunities for both....
"To the frustrated, a mass movement offers substitutes either for the whole self or for the elements which make life bearable and which they cannot evoke out of thier individual resources."

Hoffer wrote his book in 1951, and commented upon Stalin, Hitler, labor movements, and more. It is "must" reading for anyone wanting to grasp world events currently unfolding. For example, rioting and killing due to a cartoon. Are we to belief that the cartoon is what caused that behavior?

I am not a big follower of marching in the streets, though I have done it -- back when we urban areas were being sprayed with malathion, it was a bit too much to remain silent. Still, it is too easy to get swept up in mob mentality.
I was strongly influenced by the wisdom of the early Noah Seminars and the folks that conducted them. They believed that it was important to focus on personal change and growth, and do it within the system. I am also reminded of the words of Barton Boehm, who was quoting his martial arts master Kiyoshi Suzuki: "Be extremely hard on yourself, but be extremely kind to others."

NOTE: My hope is to add new posts at least once a week to stimulate discussion among like-minded individuals. But I will delete any inappropriate language or personal attacks. I hope that that you find this forum for sharing and discussion useful. Christopher Nyerges