A few weeks ago I was reading Henry Ford’s autobiography, and I came across a section of the book that really made me think.
It said something along the lines of, “Men are created equal, but men do not remain equal. To say so would be a great disservice to both ourselves and others. At birth, men are equal. But as we become autonomous, our personal value is directly proportional to the value we create in service to others.”
Looking deeper into what Ford said, he equates service with personal value. The more you do, the more valuable you are. Is the amount of service you provide the only determinant of your value? That didn’t feel right. So I came up with the following:
Your value is based on the the amount of service you provide, relative to your capability to provide service.
Ponder that for a second aso my thought process.
I had always grown up with the perception that everyone was equal, period. I appreciate the idealism of that, but logically it didn’t quite make sense to me. It also strongly contradicted my belief that we are responsible for our own lives. (More on how this applies here later.)
To illustrate this with just one example, how would a self-absorbed somebody who did nothing for anyone else be equal to somebody who volunteered their time at a local animal shelter? To me, that was not logical. One person is doing good, the other is doing nothing. One person has an impact – if they suddenly disappeared, it would be noticed. If the other disappeared, nobody would notice. So why would they be considered equal?
I know what you’re thinking – this might sound blasphemous. When I first considered this thought, it felt selfish and wrong to me, too. My emotional mind was saying, “Everyone is equal, we all deserve to have our voices heard, and our opinions should be valued and respected!”
But the logical part of me was saying, “well that’s a very nice thought, but some people have a more complete perception of reality, have greater abilities, and are spending more of their time focused on making the world a better place. Considering this, how is it logical to make the assumption that we’re all equal?”
I see “created equal” and “presently equal” as two different things.
When we are born, we are equal. We are not responsible for our actions. We can’t yet make decisions, control our bodies, or even live for more than a few days without assistance. (That’s why we often, without realizing it, refer to a baby as “it” – because he or she doesn’t have the autonomy of a he or she yet.)
But when we begin to gain autonomy, we have the ability to make decisions for ourselves. The desire to belong – our relationships with friends and family, and conducting actions within the framework of a particular culture – has a profound impact on how we behave, but to say that we are not responsible because we felt pressured by these groups to behave a certain way is to reject our ability to act.
(For most of us, nobody is holding a gun to our head and telling us to behave a certain way – although pressure from our family and peers to conform and the threat of ostracism can be perceived as more powerful than the threat of death.)
The difference then comes down to autonomy. As we become autonomous, we shoulder the responsibility of determining our personal value.
We are created equal, but when we gain the ability to make our own decisions, we are no longer entitled to that equality. Our value becomes a function of the choices we make.
Personally, I do believe that our value is determined by the degree of the service we provide for others. And I agree with Henry Ford when I say that it would be a disservice to both ourselves and others to assume otherwise.
And now… on to my weekly focuses.
Fitness focus: Prone Scapular Stability
I wrote a blog and filmed an accompanying video about these last week, but they’ve seriously been a game-changer for my shoulders. My chest and shoulders are more open, I have less joint discomfort after workouts, and less grinding / clicking in my shoulders. Click here if you haven’t seen them yet. Try do to them at least 2-3x per week.
Music I’m listening to: In My Feelings – Drake
You know one of those days when you just wake up… in your feelings? lol
Product I’m enjoying: Resistance Bands (for Barbell Hip Thrusts)
It’s temping to want to use weights and lift heavy things to get strong, but that’s only one part of it. (You guys know that though – this is primarily a yoga fitness brand, after all.) Using resistance bands is a fantastic way to build stability and strength, and it makes you better at all of the other stuff, too. (Just like yoga.) Click here for the set I just ordered for the MFY office.
Book I’m reading: Blink – Malcom Gladwell
I’m about halfway through this book so far, but I can tell it’s going to be one of those books I read twice. The book centers around the theme of “thin-slicing”, which is when our brain instantly and subconsciously draws a conclusion, which is often more accurate than the conscious, logical thought. (Just read it, he’ll do a better job of explaining it than me.)
Personal Struggle: Giving advice vs. giving support.
Oddly enough, I find this is most difficult with the people I am most hopeful will take and implement advice – the people close to me. The irony is that people rarely take advice from people close to them. They can get advice from almost anywhere, but they can only get meaningful support from the people close to them – and that’s usually what they want you for. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Off the Mat! Thank you for reading.
It’s a chance for you to see me putting into action the practices and habits that I’m asking you to do for yourself, to show you that what I’m talking about in my emails, blogs, and on social media is exactly the same stuff that I’m doing on a daily basis in my own life.