Thinking for Yourself

From the May 1979 Graduate Review

(Excerpted from a talk by Werner during “Making the World Work for Everyone”)

Thinking for yourself isn’t easy. It takes real courage. You need courage to break through the cultural set, or paradigm, that you’ve been given – courage to go along with your personal experience instead of the attitudes and opinions that other people have given you.Thinking for yourself requires the courage to make mistakes, sometimes to make a fool of yourself. It takes work, too – hard work. And it won’t make life any easier for you, or make you popular. If what you want is for people to build monuments to your memory, don’t talk outside the cultural set you’ve been given. Go for agreement instead. You won’t get any statues if what you want is to make a difference. You’ll get workability. If you want a real monument to your Self, don’t accept anything less than a world that works for everybody, with nobody left out.Einstein worked to discover the great principles on which the universe works, but he didn’t win a Nobel Prize for it. He got the 1921 Nobel Prize officially for his work on the photoelectric effect – the thing that opens the doors to supermarkets before you push on them.

If you want to make a difference, to have some impact on life, if you want to commit your life to making the world work for all of us, with nobody and nothing left out, then you must be willing to get the truth for yourself. That means you must be willing to do your own thinking.

…These are the things which allow us to make a difference: First a recognition that for any one of us to make it, all of us must make it. Second, the experience of the Self as space. I know that to perceive the Self as space doesn’t fit into our normal system of thinking and perceiving. It requires a transformation. It requires us to transcend our own paradigm.

…Making a difference also requires a willingness to take responsibility for your own importance…to create a context that you and other people are important.

When all is said and done, it is really quite simple. The reason people don’t make a difference is that they won’t feel responsible for making a difference. There simply is no context for the fact that you count. And you do count. You can make a contribution, not only in your own life, but in the lives of all people. One of the big differences you make is that you can create space for everyone to find out that they make a difference. You can do that by being responsible for your own importance, instead of selling out and pretending that you don’t count.

Fifty-two years ago, Bucky was faced with exactly the same choice you are facing right now. It is the choice which created the mastery that makes Bucky the useful human being he is.

Having not made a difference for most of my life, I know that all it takes to choose to make a difference is the courage to stop proving I was right in being unable to make a difference…to stop assigning cause for my inability to the circumstances outside myself, and to be willing to have been that way and to see that the fear of being a failure is a lot less important than the unique opportunity I have to make a difference.

1 comment so far

  1. Carl freestone on

    Where can I get more articles from the “Graduate Review”?


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