Monday, July 25, 2011

Incident in Norway

By now, many of you will have heard this quote from the shooter in Norway,

"One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests.­"
It is from John Stuart Mill, although I’m not sure he got it exactly right, and he didn’t reference him, which really annoys me. The shooter may not know of John Stuart Mill, other than the things that support his viewpoint, or he doesn’t want you to know. Fortunately, we all have computers now, so people like this can’t start civil wars.

John Stuart Mill was against slavery and for women’s rights. He felt if you wanted to do just about anything that didn’t harm others, you should be free to do it. He used scientific analysis to consider the problems that arise from people who can’t make good choices in a free society. The Norway shooter does not appear to be capable of such detailed analysis.

Now let’s take a look at a similar quote, the type that can be found all over the web,
“It is due to the Power of Belief (or non-belief) which causes ANY ‘thing’ – condition, event, or circumstance, that you experience in your life to manifest, and it’s outcome is only dependent on whether you believe that the thing can or whether you think it can’t manifest.”
This if from “The Entrepreneur Super Star”, some sort of Life Coach. She is referring to an interview from Oprah’s early career. Oprah has done an amazing job of capitalizing on this idea of belief in your self. In my experience, the people who believe these statements most thoroughly are those who are making money by convincing others that the statements are true.

There is a fine line here, but people like the Entrepreneur Super Star are way past that line. There is value in believing in yourself. There is value in looking at the circumstances, realizing that your vision is beyond those circumstances and taking a leap of faith. There are millions of stories of people overcoming the odds and doing extraordinary things. The value lies in their perseverance and hard work. Those are values that make things happen. Faith is not a value. In and of itself, if creates nothing.

Note in the quote above, the trick that allows this belief in belief to continue. It comes at the end. If you fail, if you don’t overcome the circumstances, it was because you didn’t believe hard enough. No need to reassess the data, no need to seek out a mentor, no need to go back to school and take a class, don’t bother even reading a book that is available for free online. Just blame yourself. Take another course in the power of belief, get your ego pumped up and try again.

The trouble begins when that system fails. Most people will just go back to working for a living. Some will make less healthy lifestyles choices and maybe take down a few friends and family members with them. Some will take more drastic actions.

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