Embracing Adventure and Danger

childrenOne of the worst things that has been done to children over the past generation or two has been insulating them from anything that could possibly have any danger attached. Parents keeping their children under permanent watch has become “what people do.” And it’s a BIG mistake.

I know why the parents have done this, of course – we live in a fear-based culture, and it has rubbed off on them. But the reason they have caved in to fear is not important – what matters is that they have harmed their children.

Children – at some point in their upbringing – need to confront danger; they need to explore; they need adventures.

At one time, parents knew this. It wasn’t too many years ago when parents let their kids go off into the woods by themselves, with rifles. If that was really so horribly dangerous, half of us wouldn’t be here.

Is it scary to watch your children walk into a subway station? Or out into the woods? You bet it is! But you have to do it anyway. Calculate the risks, pick your times, pick your spots, watch them from a distance if you must, but let them go out and face the world.

Remember, fear is merely an impulse, and it can be based on lies, distortions, or even on nothing at all. It’s a crazy thing on which to base your children’s lives.

A new German study shows clearly that adventure shapes the individual. As one of the researchers concluded, “Living our lives makes us who we are.” Your children need to live, and not merely exist inside of a fear-inspired bubble. The study also indicates that exploration and adventure not only affect personality development, but also brain growth.

I’m not alone in this opinion, of course. Here are two quotes from John Taylor Gatto, a home school advocate and one of the finest teachers of modern times (one of the most awarded too, ironically enough):

Sensible children do not wish to be incomplete human beings. And so, when you impose a stage theory of human development upon them, you are, in effect, tormenting them; you’re limiting their opportunity… Don’t be your kid’s enemy, because that’s not a kid, that’s your fellow human being. Be a partner, and enlarge their opportunities.

The easiest way to turn your kids into geniuses, by the time they’re seven, is just to front-load huge amounts of experience, including dangerous experience.

Like Gatto, I believe that the real dangers for your children lie in government schools, and even in private schools that function on the same model. Here’s what Gatto says on the subject:

Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.

Yes, I understand that people are pushed, economically, to put their children into public schools. If you feel like you’re in that position, make sure that you tell your children how the system is set up to condition them. Teach them that understanding is far more important than memorizing. Back them up if the teachers give them grief. Let people talk about you.

Your children should understand, very clearly, that teachers and principals are just average people doing particular jobs; that they are merely another neighbor to the people on their street. Some of them are good people, others are bad people, and a title is just a title – it means nothing more.

Teach your children to be bold, let them learn how to fall and rise again. Of course you want to let them encounter dangers slowly, and you’d never put them in positions to get truly hurt, but you should be nothing like the über-parents who surveil their children’s every move, in terror that poor little Johnny will encounter something that hasn’t been sanitized for his protection.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from John Taylor Gatto: something that applies both to schooling and the larger world:

After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

Resist the fear, my friends.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Real Reason We Don’t Yet Live Among the Stars

The man in the photo below is Gene Cernan, the last human to walk on the moon. Cernan left the moon in December of 1972 – more than forty years ago – and no one has gone back.

To understand how far we went forty years ago, on how little technology, consider this: Our modern smart phones have 200,000 times more power than the computers that took men to the moon.

Let me restate that: Space travel can be accomplished with forty-year-old technology.

space travel

Lamentations Are In Order

It is tragic beyond measure that human exploration has been neutered since 1972. Sure, we’ve sent out a few probes and placed a good telescope in orbit, but we have done nothing brave, nothing bold, nothing daring. Productive humans have been delegated to mute observance as their hard-earned surplus is syphoned off to capital cities, where it is sanctimoniously poured down a sewer of cultured dependencies and endless wars.

We remain locked onto this planet, not because we lack the ability to leave, but because so few of us are able to do anything about it.

What we have lost can be measured only in the billions of unactivated lives. Fifty years ago humanity was shocked to realize that they could go to the stars. After untold millennia of looking to the heavens, of wondering, dreaming and mourning the impossibility, we saw that we could go to the stars. And for ten years we took our first brave steps, successfully!

But after our first major step away from our crib, we were thrown back and surrounded with double-height rails. Since then, we have stagnated, and human culture has undergone a widespread rot. We watch science fictions about going to space, living in space and even fighting in space, but we have given up all hope of going ourselves… even though we did it just one generation ago.

Humanity – having recently discovered the ability to expand without limit – wanders aimlessly, with no challenging goal, no elevated purpose, and no path of escape. Space travel has leapfrogged us: it was done by our fathers; we imagine that it will be done by our sons; but we dare not think that it is possible to us.

They Were Men Like Us

We have more than enough ability to explore space right now. The men who did so a generation ago were not supermen, regardless of how the promotions made them appear.

I’ve met some of the people who did this forty years ago, including one of the men who walked on the moon. I found them to be reasonably decent and competent men (the astronaut struck me as especially capable), but I’ve known other men and women who were of equal or greater decency and competence.

The fault of our earth-bound lives lies not in our abilities. The spacemen were men like ourselves.

Now, please take a look at this photo:

space travel

You are observing a workman building a Mercury capsule. Look at the metal work: It is fine construction, and it was advanced for its day, but there are shops in every large city in America that could do the same job, faster, cheaper, with closer tolerances. Like every other technology, metal working has massively improved over the last forty years.

Now look at this Gemini launch. What in this picture is particularly hard to build?

space travel

We see concrete, metal frameworks and sprinklers. None of those things are remotely hard. Even the rocket is simple by modern standards.

In other words, this technology is simple to reproduce. None of it is beyond the grasp of journeyman craftsmen.

Leibniz, Newton and Aldrin

Originating is hard; second and third uses are not.

It took brilliant men like Leibniz and Newton to invent calculus, but now, millions of schoolchildren learn it every year.

It took a brilliant engineer like Buzz Aldrin to invent the technologies of space rendezvous, but there are millions of bright young men, right now, who are more than capable of using his discoveries.

Again, none of this is beyond us. And, by the way, we have lots of real geniuses in our time too… it’s just that they have been forced into systems that punish them for their brilliance, rather than rewarding them, or at least just leaving them alone.

Why Haven’t We Gone Back?

There are several ways to answer this question. Here are the answers that I think matter most:

#1: Space is Against the State’s Interest

Can you imagine what would happen to government in space? Once beyond Earth’s gravity well, the spacefarers would be gone forever: no more taxes, no more obedience, and heaps of scorn for the distant barbarians who demanded money and attempted violence to get it. Space would be the 17th century American wilderness on steroids. Politicians and tax gatherers would have no hope of keeping up.

The reason I’m so sure of this is simple mathematics.

Space is a territory that expends exponentially (as a cube of the distance) and endlessly. The numbers look like this:

  • At one million miles, government requires 4,188,000,000 billion cubic miles of dominance.
  • At two million miles it is 33,504,000 billion cubic miles of dominance.
  • At three million miles it is 113,076,000,000 billion cubic miles of dominance.
  • At four million miles it is 268,032,000,000 billion cubic miles of dominance.

And so on. The people who left could never again be contained and have their money removed by force. Those cows would never be milked again.

I should add that one million miles in space is almost trivial. At the speeds used forty years ago, that’s only 38.5 hours of travel.

17th century voyages across the Atlantic took weeks, and there was no lack of paying passengers. So, there is no hope of governments getting us back to space. To do so would be to shoot themselves in the chest, and they probably understand that.

#2: The Culture Has Gone Conformist

Consider what became of the past forty years: There has been no striving, no searching, no becoming. Instead, we’ve had:

  • 24/7 entertainment, which made billions of otherwise-productive hours worthless.
  • An obscene level of advertising that replaced authentic dreams with scientifically implanted manipulations.
  • A success ethic that addresses the animal aspects of human life while utterly ignoring its higher aspects.
  • Fame for the basest, weirdest and most lurid men and women; conformity for everyone else.
  • The glorification and unlimited empowerment of the institution.

As a result, we’ve had boring, washed-out decades, focused on anything but the awe-inspiring, the good, and the truly heroic. These years have been stripped of the greatest excitement, discovery and growth that have ever been possible to our species.

Our current decade features no goals save bodily comfort, and no aspirations save existence and status. Underlying it all is a palette of manufactured fears that can only be salved by buying the right products or electing the right politicians. We are living through the triumph of manipulation and the disappearance of vigorous individuals.

space travel

The 1950s are considered a time of mass conformity, but they look like radical experimentation compared to the fully-scripted lives of today’s ‘successful’ people.

The men who went into space knew that death was a possibility, but they valued more than just animal rewards; they wanted to excel, to touch the heavens, to expand, to become more. In the broader cultures of the West, that attitude has been suppressed and nearly lost.

It may be that the next generation will demand more out of life than animal gratifications. Such changes have occurred in the past. Would to God that they come again soon.

#3: Our Money Is Taken from Us

We are taxed on our income at national, state and even local levels. We are taxed on what we spend. We are taxed on Ponzi retirement programs. We are taxed on property we own, and on gasoline we buy, and hundreds of other things.

We have no money left over for things that matter.

The taxation systems of the West are designed to rob us of every dollar we get, right up to the point where we’d be tempted to rebel. This is a science.

If you are a productive person, working in any sort of normal job, roughly half of your earnings are taken from you every year, leaving you just barely able to hang on to an acceptable lifestyle. Understand this: You are already rich, but your money is stolen from you, generally before you ever hold it in your hands.

If we actually held our own money, reaching space again could be done, easily, from a small percentage of our surplus. No coercion would be required, only a bit of excitement.

space travelThe relics of the last moon mission

What has been lost to us?

What happens to humans themselves (and by that I mean internally) once we get to space and have a few moments to “consider the heavens”?

Preliminary evidences are that humans in space think more deeply, more expansively, and more spiritually… that their consciousness opens up and expands.

Consider just these passages from astronauts on the first and last moon missions. (And I have many others.)

As Neil and I first stood on the surface of the moon looking back at Earth – a bright blue marble suspended in the blackness of space – the experience moved us in ways that we could not have anticipated.
– Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11

Out there on another planet, I was looking back at the Earth, or I was looking back at the other stars in the universe – science and technology could no longer explain to me what I was feeling. Not just what I was seeing, it’s what I was feeling. And I kept thinking, above all religions, there has to be a creator.

It was to me like I was just sitting on a rocking chair on a Friday evening, looking back home, sitting on God’s front porch, looking back at the Earth; looking back home. It was really that simple, but it was an overpowering experience.

I’m sure that viewing the world from the moon only enriched me spiritually and also gave me a new vantage point on life… Anyone who walked on the moon had such a spiritual experience, similar to it or stronger.
– Gene Cernan, Apollo 17

space travel

When we lost the moon we lost our bearings; there was no distant star to guide us, no magnificent vision to pursue. Four decades on, we remain in a kind of stasis, mollified with streaming vanities and base satisfactions.

Perhaps we should have known that this would be the result. But when shall we return to the stars?

It isn’t rocket science anymore.

[Editor’s Note: This article is based on research from our flagship newsletter The Freeman’s Perspective Letter – Issue #30: “Forty Years Gone: A Lamentation.” If you liked it, consider taking a risk-free test drive. Not only will you gain immediate access to the rest of the issue, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the entire archive – more than 520 pages of research on topics of importance and inspiration to those looking for freedom in an unfree world. Plus valuable bonus reports and all new issues as well. Click here to learn more.]

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Originally compiled for FreedomsPhoenix.com.

The Strangest Secret: Why You Should Run Away

why you should run awayOne of the more instructive experiences of my life occurred when was when I was a teenager, barely sixteen years old.

My dad, whom I had previously considered to be incredibly over-protective, put me on a cross-country bus and sent me, alone, to visit my grandmother, some two thousand miles away.

For two straight days I was on my own, surrounded by people I had never met, in places I’d never been, and thrown into situations that I could never have expected. The experience did something to me: I learned about a strange world and how to get along in it, alone, with no one to run to.

The benefits I felt from this trip didn’t have to do with traveling. This wasn’t about getting from point A to point B – this was about wandering through the unknown. And that was an idea that rather bothered me.

During my youth, there was a common idea that moving around was a bad thing. You were supposed to stay in your place unless you had a good reason to do otherwise. People who moved around were considered suspicious and even dangerous. The benefit that I felt from wandering clashed with what I had been taught.

When I returned home from this journey, I returned to the regular American distractions of sports, school, and all the other shiny objects that grab at young people’s minds. But I never forgot the strange feeling that stuck with me from that journey.

Sometime later, I came across a passage in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona:

I rather would entreat you to see the wonders of the world abroad, than,
living dully, sluggardized at home, wear out your youth in shapeless idleness.

That wasn’t precisely what I had felt on my adventure, but it was close. It would be some years before I would travel seriously, but I decided right then and there that I would make it my life’s goal to see the world.

That experience, which I’ve come to call The Strangest Secret, is not unlike Earl Nightingale’s message of the same name. Both concepts lead to a rich and fulfilling life.

Defining the Strangest Secret

At some point after I finished school, my intellectual curiosity bloomed and I began reading in earnest. And as I did, I found out that other people had discovered value in wandering, much like I had. Soon enough I discovered that I had only seen half of the picture – the actual virtue I had felt was about much more than wandering.

Eventually, as my mind matured through study and experience, I began to understand what this strange virtue really was. And then, to my deep surprise, I began to find this odd virtue – commonly considered to be an undesirable trait in my youth – was present in the lives of the greatest men and women of all time.

The first people I found it in were the great spiritual leaders: Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, the Apostles and Confucius. I found it fascinating that all of them partook of the same ritual.

Later I found more religious leaders that had done the same thing: Martin Luther, Jan Hus, Thomas Aquinas, and others.

Over time I learned that the world’s great philosophers and poets had also been initiated into this strange rite; people like Diogenes, Pythagoras, Sappho, Cicero, and the great John Locke.

The great men that shaped Western Civilization also shared in it: Peter Abelard (the founder of modern learning), John of Salisbury (who defined the rule of law), Stephan Langton (the author of Magna Carta), Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and others.

If you keep looking, you even find that many of the world’s greatest authors, musicians and inventors make the same list: Victor Hugo, Daniel Defoe, Frederic Chopin, Leo Tolstoy, John Dos Passos, George Orwell, Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla.

Exactly what is this transforming, empowering and strange secret? It is this: The virtue of running away.

“Running Away” as a Path to an Exceptional Life

If you were raised at all like I was, the idea that running away is a virtue will trouble you. I’m sorry about that, but when you find one thing that the greatest men and women of history have in common, you might want to examine it, regardless of how it makes you feel.

None of us lives entirely by ourselves (nor should we), but living with others inevitably leads to a web of expectations imposed upon us, a web that quickly engulfs every aspect of our lives. These people aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong; this is simply what happens among groups of people: they learn to expect things of you, and you learn to expect things of them.

But this web of expectations also locks us in place, and because of it, we too-easily come to see ourselves as playing a certain type of role in life. And this is what the great men and women broke out of. Do you remember how many times Jesus criticized people for being “hypocrites”? What he really called these people was actors – as in playing a role on a stage.

Separation frees us from the roles we’ve grown accustomed to. By running away, you strip off the accumulations of your lifetime and find yourself underneath.

Break Away from the “Web of Expectations”

I’m not telling you to abandon your family, of course; obligations to spouses and children are not things to be tossed aside. But I am telling you that at some point in your personal development, breaking away from your web of expectations is critical. If Moses and Buddha and Abelard and Sappho and Franklin couldn’t release their talents without it, you probably won’t either.

Beside, once you get over the terror of it, you’ll be forever glad that you did. You will reclaim the real you from the expectations – even demands – of the people who have surrounded you. And in time, even those people will probably be glad you ran away. They’ll more than likely freak out at first, but if you come back a better person, they may get to like him or her better than the old, fits-our-expectations you.

I have a friend I’ll call Pete, who desperately wanted to expand his life, but just wasn’t getting any traction. After multiple frustrations, he decided to move himself and his young family – for an indefinite time – from the American Midwest to a small town in the southern US… somewhere entirely different and a thousand miles distant. He contacted an acquaintance at the destination, and asked for some help finding arrangements. He and his wife took a brief scouting trip, and they just moved, without even a clear job offer.

Years later, my friend recounted that it was a frightening adventure, but that without it he never would have clarified his understanding of himself – too much of what he had been doing and thinking was intertwined with the desires and opinions of others. He needed to be someplace where, in the words of an old bluesman, he was “nuthin’ to nobody.” And within a few years the man’s life had indeed changed, and very much to the better.

Somehow, sometime, you need to face the world as “nuthin’ to nobody,” and re-assess who you are.

Maybe the idea of running away still troubles you. If so, that will be your issue to work through – I can’t do it for you and I wouldn’t try. All I am telling you is that there is something very important here, something of pivotal importance to the best men and women of history. What you do with it is your choice.

What places do you want to see in your lifetime?

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

“The Strangest Secret: Why You Should Run Away” was originally published at EarlyToRise.com