Building the Muscular Mind (Installment Two)

I apologize for the lateness of posting this.  I had an unexpectedly hard time finishing the follow-up to my first installment.  I actually completed it more than a week ago, but I didn’t feel good about what I’d written.  It felt like the tone was all wrong.  I was being too strident and too dark, so I ended of scrapping the entire first draft and starting again from scratch.

This has happened before.  I’ve noticed that when I want to write something very badly, I tend to tighten up.  I tend to push too hard.  Perhaps I care too much as well?  Is it possible for a writer to care too much, especially if the topic is of great importance? 

Part of the reason I struggled to write this piece is that I am also very concerned (perhaps scared is a more accurate word).  In a few weeks, America is going to the polls and a lot of fundamentals hang in the balance

In addition to playing the role of canary in the coalmine, I want to exhort and advise.  If you are interested in engaging in self-care, being happy, living in a free and democratic country, promoting the well-being of your fellow human beings and the planet, being tolerant and promoting tolerance, and just about any of the other subjects we normally write about here, then now is not the time to turn away or become disengaged.  You have to be interested in politics (at least for the time being) because the state is very much responsibility for creating the conditions that make all these achievable (or not).  The state and its institutions are not something that exist “out there,” independent of all of the rest of us.  We create the state, and it creates us.  Aristotle, the O.G. of political analysts, has said that humans are, by their very nature, “political animals,” and he is right.

So, the first steps in building a more muscular mind is to wake up, look around, learn about what’s going on, and then get involved. 

The sleeping mind is a weak one.  The apathetic mind is similarly feeble.  Find a good cause you care about and get engaged.  Have the courage to have uncomfortable conversations with those who haven’t been paying attention.  Try to help them see the importance of the current moment.  Write blogs, march in protests, volunteer, help the less fortunate, and speak out when you see injustice.  The ways you can protect and promote democracy and an open society are endless.

The way the body builds muscle is through exercise.  The mind similarly builds muscle through exertion and engagement. 

As you get more engaged, you’ll feel yourself growing more thoughtful and powerful.  You’ll learn about the issues and about yourself as well, and as you engage with those in your community, you’ll feel a greater connection to your neighbors and grow as a communicator too.

Thanks for reading.  I want to finish by asking you to do your part.     

22 thoughts on “Building the Muscular Mind (Installment Two)

  1. I like this post very much Troy! I agree with what you say, especially the sentence “ The state and its institutions are not something that exist “out there,” independent of all of the rest of us. We create the state, and it creates us.” Last political election on Italy the extreme right won and there was a huge percentage of abstentions (compared to previous elections). There are people saying, I don’t care about politics. This is already a position, you are giving up to any kind of engagement for a better and fairer society, for democracy, for your rights. I join your call for everyone to do their part. For the sake of us all, also on the other side of the ocean. Unite we are stronger.

    1. We are indeed entering scary times. The fascist movement is very strong and determined in the US. Luckily, they are not in the majority, but they are very clever in how they are using misinformation and consolidating their power.

      We do have some very good news. Women are becoming hugely engaged in politics in the US as they see what’s going on in an attempt to control their bodies and take away their rights to make family-planning decisions. Also, we started early voting in most states and there have been huge numbers reported so far. When voting turnout is high, the Democrats generally win. In Georgia, for example, a state where lots of very far-right radical politicians are trying to get elected, there were approximately 140,000 votes cast on the very first day of voting. This compares to 70,000 votes on the first day during our last round of elections. Also, nationwide, there are millions of votes cast already, and studies show that so far most of those votes are among Democratic voters.

      Early good signs, but we have to continue to fight.

      America truly is in the kind of political fight that is nearly unprecedented.

      Yes, if things get really bad, we have to join forces internationally to push back against these dark forces.

      1. Scary times indeed Troy. I also have a good news. In Italy the extreme right newly elected Parliament can’t agree on forming a government! Well, more than a good news, it’s ridiculous.

      2. The news is very scary right now. One day it seems the fascists are winning and the next day all the rest of us appear to be winning. It’s so close. How could it be possible that enough Americans are OK with what’s happening that this could be a close election? I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there aren’t enough informed and smart Americans right now. That Americans have lost the intellectual capacity to make good and wise decisions. It has long been said that democracy can’t exist in a country unless the population is educated and has some level of enlightenment. This is ultimately the problem here.

  2. Loved every word, Troy; thank you so much for sharing “you” with us. I particularly enjoy your posts in which I can feel your presence within the lines. This was definitely one of them!

    I’ll be looking forward to your next post! 🙏

    1. Thanks, Art. America is engaged in the political battle of its life, and it feels like a battle too. I’m glad you picked up on my passion. I am passionate about the things I wrote about. You are right. I felt “present” while putting this together (even if I did have to rush it). I hope Canada is able to avoid some of the dangers America is facing. Do you see creeping authoritarianism and fascism there?

      1. You’re welcome, Troy. I definitely see what you mean about a battle. I’m glad that you’re expressing your passion. I think being present is so important.

        I definitely see authoritarianism and fascism presenting in Canada–overtly. Just my opinion, but the last two years brought out the even ugiler side of ugly. The actions taken against truckers who peacefully demonstrated peacefully in Ottawa for our inherent rights about what goes into our bodies was a potent illustration of that. Our leader attempted to squash them like little bugs for daring to express views related to freedom. Just for the record, I found myself driving to Ottawa to “support” them–not to fight against anything that feels right for those who have a different opinion.
        I respect what people feel is right for them, but I do not desire to live in a world in which we are treated like cattle.

  3. For what it’s worth Troy, with educators like you, I believe there is hope. I felt like you got the tone spot on. A genuine from the heart plea to be part of positive change. I know the feeling of caring too much when it comes to words. I don’t think that’s a bad thing – provided we don’t let that stop us from speaking altogether – if it means we take the time and care to choose our words carefully as you clearly have. Thank you for doing your part Troy.

    1. Thanks, man. I’ve been meaning to reach out and will. As you probably know, I’ve gotten the podcast started and have done 4 episodes so far, though only 2 have been posted with episodes 3 and 4 coming online in the next couple of days. Have you had a chance to listen? We always had interesting conversations, so perhaps we can think of a topic and record one together. I’d very much like that. Hope the move to Singapore continues to go well.

      1. Hey Troy. I made a point of listening to a few of them today (actually I listened to 3 of them back to back.) Wonderful job. You sound like you’re in your element conducting the podcasts. I’m starting to feel settled now. I’m keen to have a long overdue catch-up. Not sure if you read my recent post – the elephant in the cockpit – but it brings up the issue of mental health in aviation. Tied to the political situation in Hong Kong having loved through it and the reasons I joined the great resignation. I think that would a topic well worth having. What do you think? Anyway let’s touch base soon. Wishing you well Troy 🙏

      2. Thanks. The first few felt a little awkward, but I’m getting more comfortable and developing something of a rudimentary podcasting “philosophy” or methodology. Let’s try to put a podcast plan together soon. The Great Resignation sounds interesting. I’ll reach out via email.

  4. Great Post Troy. I agree with the other commenters. I despair with the way things are right now in the UK – I turn on the news and it’s like watching a farce.

    I agree so much that we need to be aware of the world within which we live … but I think sometimes what people scares them so they’d prefer to be ignorant but that’s also how past mistakes are repeated. Collective forgetting is also scary and dangerous.

    1. Totally agree. Remaining unplugged from the news might give one a little break, but we ultimately can’t hide from reality nor should we. If we disengage, then we might wake up in a world we never would have chosen to inhabit. It’s a war out there right now, but we can’t let others fight it for us. We have a moral obligation to stand up against the darkness. Even if we “lose” in this conflict, at least we made a stand. I’ve been following UK politics. The UK and the US have much in common right now. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. Well written post Troy. Definitely agree about the part of doing good by writing helpful blogs, volunteering, helping the less privileged and speaking up when you see an unfair and unjust act👏🙏

  6. Kia kaha (stay strong) Troy. I feel similarly about the New Zealand election rolling up later this year, and I’m trying to be more engaged than I have been in the past. To listen, to read, to respond, to converse, and to learn.

    Thank you for this.

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