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On Having A Bigger Ego -- The Conflict of Reaching For the Skies VS "Staying Human"

Updated: 2 days ago

A reddish cup of wine

(For more on what I wrote on this subject, click here)

Ms. Tamara Moskal's Synopsis

"Reach for the skies and stay human" is a powerful statement that inspires us to achieve great things without losing what makes us human. Yet, what makes us human is difficult to define because the societal description of a human person is subjective to cultural differences.
We often desire to fit in as an individual in a larger collective, regardless of truth. An antiphilosophical collective limits our perception and prevents us from becoming our ideal selves, which might be the key to a greater humanity.
Being human in fulfilling societal expectations often involves a conflict between pursuing our passions and choosing financially stable, conventional lifestyles. To be socially accepted, we must compromise, silence our passions, sacrifice our individuality, and diminish our potential.
The Russo-Ukrainian War is an example of a conflict of ideas between state and anti-state populism, two different viewpoints of what better humanity should be.
Having a healthy ego and faith in our potential has advantages. It empowers us to pursue dreams and can help us succeed tremendously. The author strives ambitiously to make a difference and contribute to the world through the moral means of philosophy.

Reaching for the Skies, But Staying Humans?

During my time as a student, my high school had an official slogan, embedded on huge three-story posters:

"Reach for the skies and stay human."

Despite my research, I've failed finding its origin. For any of you with further context, feel free to offer it and you'll be credited for your contribution to this renovated article.

Anyhow, this powerful statement captured the essence of human aspiration and societal moderation. It is to push boundaries, chase dreams, and achieve great things, wh ile never losing sight of what makes us human. However, what exactly makes us human, and what does it mean to "stay human" in a world filled with diverse customs, societal expectations, and rapid technological advancement (AKA transhumanism)?

Different cultures have distinct definitions of what constitutes a proper member of their society.

  • In North American culture, there's often an emphasis on individualism and self-reliance. Even I consider unnecessary dependence a liability. A proper member might be someone who strives for personal success and contributes financially to the household. "The Tragedy of Heisenberg" poem criticizes this, however, as it comes with the possible moral cost of losing ourselves in corruption. Conversely, some collective-oriented cultures, like in some parts of Asia, might value interdependence more. A proper member there could be someone who prioritizes family needs and contributes to the collective well-being of the group, and less on the self.

And the list goes on....

On the surface, it could seem like "being human" boils down to conforming to certin customs. However, upon examination of intersubjective perception, the reality is more complex.

We are undeniably human, regardless of cultural practices or our choice to participate in them. Yet, the desire to be seen as "normal" often compels us to adapt to the prevailing social philosophies of what it means to be human within our specific context.

That is regardless of truth, and may be more a matter of functionality as an individual within a larger collective. I am not here to say which culture is the most accurate in that regard.

I am saying that collectives, when anti-philosophical, limit our perception, and thus, can deter us from achieving our ideal selves. If my claim is true, then what if the key to a greater humanity lies not in being kept in line, but in looking within ourselves?

The Cost of Humanity: Balancing Ambition with Social Norms

Choosing to "be human" often involves a conflict between pursuing our ambitions and navigating the social landscape, depending on our passions:

Example 1: The Artist

Example 2: The Entrepreneur

  • You're energized by the idea of building something from the ground up. You have a brilliant idea for a new app that could revolutionize a particular industry. Your ambition is to become a successful entrepreneur, leading a team and making a real difference in the world.

  • As such, launching a startup requires immense dedication. Thus, you might have to put long nights and weekends into development, potentially neglecting social responsibility, and sacrificing friends and family along the way due to the ruthless nature of business. Loved ones might worry about the risk involved, urging you towards a stable job with a steady paycheck.

  • Ignoring/overlooking other people's needs and desires, just because they aren't part of a bigger plan, could be criticized as inhumane.

While we may have a burning passion driving us, the desire for acceptance and respect can necessitate compromises. That is unless we strive to reach for the skies unapologetically, regardless of the costs.

This raises the question: is true humanity contingent upon conformity, and does striving to be "normal" inevitably diminish our self-image?

Many cultures operate on a set of unwritten rules, the "unofficial laws" that dictate a large part of what it means to be accepted as a "common man", equally among other men and women. These norms can range from social etiquette to unspoken expectations regarding career paths or hobbies. Even watching anime can be regarded as immature, and might cause certain groups to belittle you (and thus, less of a person). Defying these groups in the name of your individuality, can lead to ridicule, rejection, and irrational, thus allegedly deserving of less respect.

This pressure to conform can take a toll on our self-image, and undermine what we're capable of. We might silence our passions, just to avoid dealing judgment, or downplay our ambitions to fit in. The cost of "being human" in this sense seems to be a sacrifice of our individuality and a diminished perception of ourselves.

However, is true humanity truly synonymous with normalcy? Must we give the humanity within us, to be human? See how it fails to make sense.

Case Example: Putin's Invasion of Ukraine

The actions of Vladimir Putin in invading Ukraine have ignited a global debate. While some outright condemn him as a ruthless dictator, others acknowledge the "strongman" attitude in his decisions. This case raises a critical question: can a leader be both bold and inhumane?

There's no denying the audacity of Putin's actions. Launching a full-scale invasion of a sovereign nation, disregarding international law and risking severe economic consequences, requires unwavering determination. However, this boldness comes at a devastating cost – the sacrifice of human lives, both Ukrainian and Russian.

This is where the concept of "inhumanity" enters the picture: Ignoring the human cost of war, the suffering inflicted on innocent civilians, even for a greater end, violation of human decency. Regardless of Putin's justifications, the deliberate destruction of lives undermines any claim to boldness.

Does "staying human" entail staying in line, like in the army, or reach for the heights of a better humanity, one with far less wars and conflicts with others? What happens when the "skies" we're reaching are in the name of a better world for humanity?

What if we have different viewpoints of what a better humanity should be, and fight one another for it? As such, the Russo-Ukranian war can be seen as a war of ideas between state and anti-state populism (And thus: The role of the state in human lives, covered in my own Political Rubinshteinism).

Finding Meaning Beyond the Ordinary Through the Industrialization of the Ego

There's an undeniable truth about a larger-than-average ego: it can propel us towards bold decisions, as could be theorized in Putin's leadership style's psychology. The ego fuels a faith in ourselves that might decline with a more modest, "conventional" sense of self. Thus, a larger ego can be a powerful tool for change: A deep-seated belief in your own potential; a faith that becomes the fuel that propels you towards achievements you might otherwise abandon in the face of fear.

While some might consider a path of humility and acceptance, for me, it felt like a suffocating box, limiting my potential. Instead, cultivating a soldier's mindset, I prefer striving towards greater success. I choose to view the ego as a function, and not an end, to fuel my work. The odds are against me. I must retain faith.

My ambition may not be on the scale of literal world domination, but it's a driving force nonetheless. It's the desire to make a difference, however small, that compels me to strive for more. Living a life with purpose and the potential to create something meaningful, I choose to follow Heisenberg's ultimate goal of self-actualization, but through the moral, helpful means of philosophy.

That way, I want to embrace my long-term aspirations, and help others along the way, thus contributing to both myself and the greater good. The pursuit of something bigger like a contribution to a world beyond the walls of my hermitage, is what makes life truly worth living.

Must we juggle between reaching for the skies and staying a humane human, when we can do both?

The choice between a "larger ego" and a more conventional approach can be framed through the lens of Occam's Razor – choosing the simplest solution that yields the most benefit. In this case, a healthy dose of self-belief offers a clear advantage, for it's one that empowers you to take risks, chase dreams, and ultimately, contribute something meaningful to the world around you.

Just make sure you know what you're doing, and make sure your goals do not take too much of a sacrifice; one that outweigh the very purpose you designate yourself and your ego for!

Open your mind to your internal assets...

"Few problems were ever solved by the close-minded" -- Mr. John Duran

Ms. Tamara Moskal's Feedback

Staying human contradicts becoming an inhuman person, as only humans have the intelligence and sense of morality to act inhumanly. An inhuman deed is considered evil and means the conscious inflicting of pain with disregard for the suffering of others.
Consistently staying human means considering others and being emphatic and compassionate. However, it doesn't mean all communities teach and value empathy.
On the contrary, some view empathy as a weakness, an obstacle to the "big entitled ego" needed to overpower others and submit to their rule. Is it possible to be a righteous conqueror? Can an invasion of another country be ethical? Can a war be morally justified? Such questions are dangerous, leading to a slippery slope of committing inhuman crimes for a leader, ideology, or religion.
In the face of a conflict, there are always two answers, depending on who is asked, and therefore, empathy is a crucial human attribute of communication.
Sometimes, empathy might be the only way out of the horrors of war where right and wrong become one agony of blood and tears. Therefore, to stay human, we must teach our children, boys and girls alike, to develop empathy to save ourselves and them from our inhumane tendencies.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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