Home » People & Culture » About Me, the Post

About Me, the Post

This particular post is totally uncharacteristic of Barataria and all it stands for.   It’s deeply personal.  I apologize in advance for those of you who expect something else.

The most common criticism I’ve received over the years is that I rarely talk about myself.  Well, if I told you all about my life I doubt you’d believe it.  It’s been a long, strange trip and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Let this stand on its own and you can judge for yourself.  This is a blog, after all.  Time for a major self indulgent posting.

ChemEngAll my life, what I’ve wanted to be is of service to the world.  It’s why I got a degree in chemical engineering – a calling for people who are curious and want to do stuff.  A strong sense of purpose propels nearly all engineers and other people who simply want to make things and improve the way the world is.

Regular readers have seen this ethic.  The worlds of politics, economics, and sociology are not about the observer or their particular bent on things.  They are, however, about perspective or vantage point.  Imagine the great servant Jane Goodall sitting down in the Gombi and doing little more than watching the chimps live out their chimpy lives.  It is entirely possible to insert yourself into such a world, but in the process you inherently change things.  You can do that, of course, but the best experiments are left to unfold on their own.  It’s a grand Heisenberg-ish uncertainty.

The biggest problem with this approach to life is that it is rarely understood.  Most people have their own centering that colors the world around them and creates a filter by which all reality is processed.  Most of that filter is cultural, or a learned behavior in which people ascribe motives and purpose in the way that they are used to.  A given person will tend to see the world in the way in which they were taught to see the world and will have trouble breaking out of it.

For people like myself, the bigger problem is that we live in a very selfish world.  The USofA at this particular point in time contains a dominant culture which is exuberantly existential, operating under the belief that all acknowledgement of reality starts with the self and goes out from there.  The existence of other people, ideas, and beliefs is put through a filter which first and foremost assumes that selfishness, the driving force of the dominant culture, is the main driving force for any individual – or at least should be.

Like anyone who wants to serve, my motivations are always subject to question by any given person who has little or no experience with someone like me.  There has to be more to it, because how could anyone be such an incredible sucker?   Why would anyone care about macro politics or economics except to the extent that it serves their own designs on the world?  The fundamental assumption is brazenly cultural, which only makes sense.  But when the culture is inherently selfish, even anti-cultural, how does anyone recognize those of us who only want to be useful?

The answer is simple – they don’t.  The simple act of being outside of one’s self and motivated largely by a need to serve the world puts a person at the fringes of a selfish culture and largely unable to be of service, even when it is needed most.  It is, at its core, a kind of revolutionary act.  It presumes that the existing order is irrelevant without assuming anything.

That’s where I often find myself.  My desire to bridge the gaps that I find between people, terribly cavernous and frightening, is made more difficult by a deep suspicion that there must be more to it than that.  The need for self-promotion to gain any attention in such a culture is far beyond my ability to comprehend, let alone achieve.

The calling is to bring some sense to a world that is self-centered far beyond sensibility.  What I have set out to do over the last five years and more is to simply write what I believe and have come to know.  Many of you respond and engage me in ways that have been far more wonderful than I can describe.  But the message is limited to this arena, a world defined by me as if it was nothing more than my sandbox.  The wider world demands more selfish and petulant cries for attention.

Something deep inside of me prohibits making it all about myself.  Here I am, nearly a thousand posts into Barataria, and finally, shamefully writing this.  The problem is that I know how this has all been perceived and yet I honestly don’t know quite what to do about it.

This isn’t about me, other than how I can be of service and use to the world.  All of you make me smarter, connected, and much more effective by your comments and criticism.  I can’t thank you enough for it.  But how I can be of service is really what matters to me.  Help me understand that.  Thank you.

12 thoughts on “About Me, the Post

  1. Really not about yourself. I know more about you and don’t really know you. This is philosophical. Your Philosophy maybe but still something that is important to say. That you do well.

    • It could be midlife crisis, that’s pretty reasonable. But I have always been this way, at least to some extent. I think there are a lot of people like me – those who are more interested in being integrated with the world than conquering it.

    • Thanks! I am a bit blue lately. Maybe it’s the weather, but somewhere around the election it just dawned on me how important self-promotion is to getting good gigs in the area of commentary and analysis. I never really understood how to do that.

  2. I haven’t commented in a long while as I was quite busy working. In the workbus at 5:30 AM out at 4:30 PM. Well those days are over at least for a while as I was terminated yesterday for a third minor accident in four years. My rear bumper caught a construction post and the fender was bent. I learned some new things in the past four years driving disabled people to work and clinics and I hope to do it again maybe in a smaller van.
    The change that has occurred within me has not been pretty. In someways I have become a grumpy old man at 55 years. My interest in books has waned over the years and I think the internet has something to do with that. Altho I read 3600 pages in October (increasingly very rare).
    I could easily spend 2, 3, or 4 hours a day collecting firewood, I even watch videos of other people and fire wood (Google gathering firewood James Mcmurty for a good one) The tv news is of little interest now with media saturation. Help!

  3. Erik, I often recommend Barataria as a source for dispassionate information on the economy (in particular) and current events (in general – ‘though with a liberal tilt).You DO provide a valuable service.
    Having said that, I admire the fact you talked about your concerns… but get over it, it’s not your problem… let your readers deal with it… as the problem is theirs!

  4. As someone who has known you for a long time (and then lost touch), I am very happy to read this. I know you’ve been through a lot and we all have to remember that it’s the tough times that can make or break a person. It’s too easy to get despondent and lash out at the world. That’s not to say that isn’t a “valid” response–just not productive.

    When you (can) step back and re-assess what you believe(d) and see your inter-connectedness to others and to the world around–that is when the real breakthroughs happen.

    You mention Jane Goodall–I like to think of another naturalist–Margaret Mead–and her famous quote, as well as the Jewish teachings regarding “tikkun olam” — healing the world. It all starts with one act, one person, one thought.

  5. Pingback: Urbi et Tweeti | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

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