After reading a book about John Jacob Astor it occurred to me people carry out their lives after establishing a “comfortable” mindset. This mindset be it business oriented, crime oriented, politically oriented, family oriented and/or a mixture of various mindsets. By “comfortable” mindset I mean feeling comfortable in an activity or setting to the extent it is sought, propagated and retained to the exclusion of any deviation that challenges this “comfort”. It is the comfort level that says,” This is who I am”.
John Jacob Astor was the country’s first multi-millionaire. To his dying day the spark that made him feel his identity was the seeking of profit. It was his ultimate pleasure and this was recognized by his acquaintances until his waning days. There were other notorious and famous people who epitomized this phenomena. Bonnie and Clyde found their identity in being wanted for killing and robbing, Al Capone as a chief mobster, Adolph Hitler as a ravaging conqueror, Abraham Lincoln as a politician of purpose, Lyndon Johnson as a political wheeler-dealer, etc.
On the level of the common man there are those who thrive as matriarchs and patriarchs, black sheep, dutiful sons and daughters, loners, cons and laggards. No one is born with a niche ( in America ) but there are choices that feel comfortable and this comfort evolves into either actual comfort, extreme discomfort and/or even self destruction or the destruction of “loved” ones. Once this comfort level is established very little will change it. A person intent on laziness does not yearn for ambition. A person with ambition may channel his desire into a life of crime or a business or a political career. This indicates that ambition is a way to avoid laziness but it is not sufficient to insure personal happiness.
When a person does what he knows is improper, hurtful, unethical, and does it anyway he is caving into his “comfortable” mindset. An embezzler is aware he is taking what is not his but he does it anyway because the discomfort of his conscience is not sufficient to override his “comfortable” mindset. A bootlegger knows that the penalty for his activity is pain and suffering but he balances this with what he feels performing the activity. The level of profit and the successful evasion of authorities are activities he enjoys. He feels good doing what he identifies as” being him”.
There are logical progressions both for the rationally ambitious and the delusional. A promotion leads to desire for a repeat of this triumph. A successful heist leads to another attempt. If a heist is going south, additional force may become necessary and the level of the criminal is ”promoted “ from thief to killer. For those that feel comfortable shoplifting, it is only a small step to feel comfortable with burglary and eventually more deadly and dangerous crimes. Comfort levels are not necessarily static but they are containing. They contain the person to reject reversals in behavior or step outside what they consider their essential self.
These feelings are not inherited, genetic, or deterministic in any way. They come from the choices a person makes regarding what life is all about, how they see themselves and they may or may not declare that this feeling is appropriate. A person who questions his feelings may conclude they are leading him in a direction that he knows he will not be content with. Another person may identify with his feelings and claim this is who he is and whatever he did couldn’t be helped (by him).
The politician supporters and the anti-politician fanatics are both guilty of this reliance on feelings. The Democrats are perfectly comfortable with an attack mantra and the Republicans are content to find some way to rationalize . Ronald Reagan was at one time comfortable as a Democrat and later was comfortable as a Republican. It was evident he was comfortable as a politician. He like so many others who enter politics felt by “serving the country” in public office he could make a difference. No one who enters politics can make a difference unless they recognize, accept and are comfortable with the defense of individual rights in all of its manifestations. Defending individual rights is the only proper function of government. You cannot defend individual rights by forcing pregnant women to have unwanted babies. The pregnant woman is an individual and her fetus is a potential. There is no such thing as potential rights. Many are comfortable with the notion that life begins at conception but this is not what is recognized on the obituary page. A person is a person at birth and no longer a person at death. Life and the consciousness that accompanies it can only exist with two conditions met. The consciousness of a being can only function by an awareness of the external world. There is no need for a consciousness in the womb nor could one be aware in a world where senses have nothing to compare. A fetus cannot learn until it becomes a baby, is alive with a working consciousness and can begin to know. This will arouse the comfortable platitudes that have been spewed by rote.
A “comfortable” mindset is not something anyone can avoid but it can be challenged. and the test is to see if it fits with all that you know and/or can learn about. Of course if you are uncomfortable changing opinions, are comfortable that you know all that is necessary and are willing to rationalize whatever belief you have latched onto then learning will not come. A staunch Republican who refuses to recognize a floundering policy, a fanatical Democrat who refuses to call retreat by its proper name or a spiteful spouse that rules by whim and refuses to acknowledge their role as a miniature dictator are all deeply embedded in a “comfortable” mindset.
The human mind cannot function locked into fixed unproven assertions. A mind is for inquiry. Were it not so we would not have fire that man discovered or all the innovations that makes life on earth more enjoyable. It is to the credit of the uncomfortable mindsets that we owe our progress. Those who sought a better idea, a better way and who were comfortable in a challenging role. The yes men and women have only been able to cheer for that which is presented. They present nothing new. They become the drones that weak leaders require. Their “comfortable” mindset is a security blanket they cling to. And when that blanket is snatched way they complain the world is unfair. The world is not unfair. It simply does not reward stagnation.