There’s a lot to feel uncertain about in this world. Making things worse, more or less all the large things in it are arranged to reap from your uncertainty. Advertising is an obvious example (reaping from insufficiencies that are implanted then filled with their products), but governments function similarly and even a lot of relationships revolve around insecurity-matching.
Needless to say, insecurity feels bad, and it is certainly no aid to good decision-making. Thus it’s clearly in our self-interest to fix it.
We can start by jettisoning any expectation of help from entities that reap from our insecurities. That’s obvious. And the central assumption of our age is that we’re clinging to life and whatever comforts we can grab, in a world with no real meaning. So, we’re not going to get much help from public voices.
Still, we can have certainty in our lives. Not perfect certainty, of course; that’s only for the dead. But we can have a powerful core of certainty; one that won’t vanish with the next change of circumstances. What we generate from within ourselves can’t easily be taken from us.
How We Do It
Ultimately, self-certainty rests upon believing… believing down into your bones… that you are a good man or woman. You must know that you’re a beneficial being in the universe. And contrary to received wisdom, that’s not so terribly hard.
Fundamentally, we believe in ourselves by observing ourselves. What we’re talking about here is simply faith in yourself. And getting it is far easier than the authorized class would have you believe. Basically, it’s a two-step process featuring two variants of the golden rule.
Here’s how it works:
First, you focus on Rabbi Hillel’s version of the golden rule:
What is hateful to you, do to no man.
If you do this, you can be very sure that you are not an unjust person. And please notice that you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone or anything outside of yourself. Politicians, professors and other outsiders have no place in this process. You are measuring yourself against yourself, and in the end – if you act this way – you can know with certainty that you aren’t a bad person. And I’ll add that acting this way isn’t all that hard if you ignore the aforementioned politicians, professors and so on.
So, by living the rabbi’s way, you’ll have a fixed base for your self-certainty. (You’ll make occasional mistakes, but you’ll also fix them.) Then you can move along to the next variant of the golden rule, that of the rabbi from Nazareth:
Whatever you would have men do to you, do so to them.
What Jesus says here is impossible in the present world, of course – there are so many needy and suffering people that you’d have to give away everything you have and die of starvation and exposure – but what he’s really doing is making a point: You should go beyond just causing no harm and become a positive force in the world. And he says to use precisely the same method that Hillel does: Self-reference.
By acting in Jesus’ way, you build upon your fixed foundation, and with every little piece you put upon it, you’ll know that you are a net positive in the universe. You’ll have solid and legitimate reasons for faith in yourself. More than that, it will all be within yourself, where no person and no circumstance can simply wash it away.
Living With A Solid Base
If you do what we’ve outlined above – and again, it’s not that hard if you commit yourself to it – you’ll know, based upon honest facts, that you’re fundamentally a good being. Please trust me that this is attainable and very, very comforting.
This doesn’t make you certain about everything, of course; this is a difficult and variable world. But it does make you deadly sure about your part of it. And from that base, you can build.
Piece by piece, you can lay competencies upon your base, and can be confident that once in place, they will remain. Your base will not be overturned.
And so, if you take the course prescribed by our two rabbis, your certainty about yourself will be firm, providing a base upon which your certainty about your interactions with the world will increase year by year.
Seeing that you’ll never get this kind of certainty from ethics courses, the ridiculous laws of the nations, or even the demands of family, I think the better choice is obvious.