A Humbling Experience

Three months have passed since I started working for the Institute. I believe now is a good time to reflect on what I think about my job.

Of all the things that I have learned working there, none other has had more of a psychological impact than the realization that everyone is good at what they do. Originally, I had thought I would bring more to the table, but my contributions turned out to be minimal. I quickly realized that I was an amateur surrounded by professionals. And even though I knew I had very little experience, I thought I could make my presence more known. Sadly, I did not completely understand what the job required of me. I knew what my duties were, but there were many more things that needed to be done which I was unqualified for.

Too often I attended meetings and had nothing significant to say. I was constantly afraid that my employer regretted hiring me and to a certain extent, I still am. The type of person needed in a start-up is someone who is very knowledgeable of the field and has a clear vision of what they want to accomplish. I think it would have been more suitable for them to have hired me later on, once operations were already up and running. Of course I am glad that they hired me when they did, but objectively speaking, I do not think I would have if I had been in their shoes.

Having said all that, I do enjoy my job, now more than ever. We have launched our new website and I am busy doing what I did with the C2C Portal. I am extremely lucky to have a job that I would do for free.

The Restriction of the Development of the Natural Diversity of Human Capacity

EVERYWHERE I am surrounded by an unnatural, incomplete version of man. Man, who should be characterized by excellence and distinctiveness, has been reduced to mediocrity and uniformity. The natural diversity of human capacity is not developed as it should; there are obstacles blocking its cultivation. Nothing is more of a shame than talent wasted and passion oppressed. In order to reverse this tragedy, in order to lift the veil that blurs our vision of true development, I offer my observations and potential solutions.

Man has a natural desire to cultivate himself; productive labor is his life-activity. This law of human nature coupled with the natural variety of interests would result in the development of the natural diversity of human capacity. Unfortunately, there are too many hurdles that man must jump over to cultivate his true interests. From multiple directions he is bombarded with false information on what is of value. And since childhood he has been engulfed in a system which is hostile to free, conscious self-development. This restriction of cultivation has caused many to live an unnatural, unfulfilled life.

SOCIETY should be ashamed that the very place it established to develop our children's skills, in fact, restricts it for many. Academic priority is a systemic obstacle preventing many to find their true path and therefore must be fixed. Is it so difficult to understand that the man who was meant to become a dancer did not, because our educational system wanted an engineer? Have not many of us experienced this in our own lives? The restriction of the development of the natural diversity of human capacity due to academic priority can be changed and I am convinced that it should.

Proponents of academic priority may say that it provides potential benefits. Having an abundance of scientists could mean that we are that much closer to inventing new cures. Engineers could provide us with the next generation of efficient automobiles. I agree, the potential is there. But I question how much we truly gain from having an abundance of a specific profession filled with people who do not perform their duties with full human energy and dignity. The innovations brought about by cross-discipline interaction may be even more numerous and impressive.

Ultimately, the results are impossible to predict, but one thing is certain if we continue with our current educational system – there will be a vast amount of people who will not live full, meaningful lives developing the natural capacities of their interest. For them, academic priority causes attrition of spirit. That in itself is sufficient to warrant change.

POVERTY and suffering are all too common in our world; most do not have the privilege of pursuing their passions. When one is suffering from thirst and disease, what can one do except attempt to increase one's standard of living? There are not many choices for the poor; attaining financial stability is a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, not all skills are able to provide the same level of monetary return which means the poor will have good reason to consider only a certain number of vocations. This ultimately results in the restriction of the development of the natural diversity of human capacity. People who are lucky enough to have their basic needs met should sincerely appreciate the opportunity they have to strive for a higher state of existence. That too many do not realize the fortunate position they are in, brings me to my next point.

OF all the obstacles blocking true self-development, none other is more of a shame than unsuitably possessing the behavior of a poor man. There are some who believe, act and live in a way that is comparable to how a man would in financial straits. Little do they know how close they are to being truly free to develop the natural capacities of their choice. Little do they know how lucky they are to have the opportunity to live full, meaningful lives. To be within reach of self-cultivation only to divert one's attention to attaining false material necessities is a tragedy worthy of God's tears.

How one unnecessarily attains a poor man's behavior deserves some attention. Materialism is rampant in modern, popular culture. Advertisements that tell us how incomplete we are without some product are ubiquitous. In fact, it is extremely difficult to find a place where we are not exposed to some sort of lure to consume, the consequences of which are dreadful. Materialism leads the rich man to behave like the poor man in that he treats attaining money as the focus of his efforts. The increase of desire for unnecessary materials is directly proportionate to the increase of our 'dependency' on money, which is directly proportionate to the restriction of the development of the natural diversity of human capacity.

Besides modern, popular culture, the poor man's behavior is also often inherited from family. It is quite understandable that those who have experienced the pain of poverty would pass on the life-outlook that helped them achieve financial stability. This, I suspect, would be more common in emerging economies. Many of those relatively new to wealth are not yet mentally occupied with achieving self-cultivation; they continue to treat money as a goal and not as a means to something greater. As a result, many of their children inherit the poor man's behavior and adopt a life not pursuing the development of the natural capacity of their choice.

THE obstacles blocking the development of the natural diversity of human capacity are great, but not insurmountable. We must never forget that these restrictions fight against our true nature. Therefore, in order to overcome them, we must simply create an environment which preserves and fosters the natural desire to develop the capacities of our interest. The seed has already been planted, what is needed are the right conditions so that it may flourish.

How this translates into a practical solution depends on what obstacle we want to eliminate. If it is academic priority, then the solution would be to replace it with a system that respects the natural diversity of human interests. Providing a variety of courses and treating them equally would be a significant step in the right direction. Society should have as much interest in cultivating the next Picasso as it does the next Einstein.

THE second obstacle is the most difficult to solve and unfortunately, there is not much to say about it. There are no quick solutions to attaining financial stability; one must simply have luck and a good work ethic. However, it may be argued that perhaps financial stability is not required at all to develop the capacity of our choice and that even in poverty man can live a life of free, productive labor. Although I question the strength of this argument, I sincerely hope that it is true.

THE last impediment that restricts the development of the natural diversity of human capacity can be solved by the realization of the importance of developing the natural capacity of one's choice. This, in turn, would allow us to place money in its correct position on our list of priorities, which in turn will enable us to allocate our efforts more wisely. Furthermore, it should be understood that financial greed very often conflicts with the attainment of self-development. The chances of one's interest providing enough money to satisfy luxurious desires is extremely low. One would most likely have to enter into some non-desirable occupation which would divert one's attention and energy away from what would truly bring about a happy existence. Therefore, although many see wealth as a means to freedom, attempting to achieve it is quite often the chain. For this exact reason I am wholly convinced that the less money man requires to be satisfied the better.

Once we have rediscovered the desire to develop the natural capacity of our interest, we can help preserve the same desire in our children so that they may live a life filled with dignity and meaning. We must expose our children to a diversity of experiences and encourage them to pursue their passions. Merely discussing this topic would bring about a vast change. Imagine how much diversity of human capacity would be developed if children were motivated from the beginning to lead a life of free, productive labor.

WE must never forget that developing the natural capacity of our choice is a fundamental part of the human experience, as is love. What would the world be like if there were systemic and psychological obstacles restricting the development of love? Would that not be a tragedy? Should we not pursue in a united effort to overcome these hurdles?

Let us all attempt to awaken our fellow man from his stagnant state of living. Let us encourage him to pursue that one passion he never allotted the time to pursue before. And let us hope that after we reverse academic priority, achieve financial stability and prevent unsuitable possession of the poor man's behavior, the seed of the diversity of human capacity will flourish.

Prop 8 Still Overturned

Here are selected excerpts from a recent court ruling which denied the motion to overturn Judge Walker's decision to overturn Prop 8 based on his same-sex relationship. I must say that I also enjoyed reading this court case very much. Observing progress as it happens is a very pleasurable experience.

The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification under Section 455(b)(4).

Requiring recusal because a court issued an injunction that could provide some speculative future benefit to the presiding judge solely on the basis of the fact that the judge belongs to the class against whom the unconstitutional law was directed would lead to a Section 455(b)(4) standard that required recusal of minority judges in most, if not all, civil rights cases. Congress could not have intended such an unworkable recusal statute.

Alternatively, Defendant-Intervenors contend that Judge Walker should be disqualified because his same-sex relationship gave him a markedly greater interest in a case challenging restrictions on same-sex marriage than the interest held by the general public. The Court rejects this argument on two readily apparent grounds. First, it is inconsistent with the general principles of constitutional adjudication to presume that a member of a minority group reaps a greater benefit from application of the substantive protections of our Constitution than would a member of the majority. The fact that this is a case challenging a law on equal protection and due process grounds being prosecuted by members of a minority group does not mean that members of the minority group have a greater interest in equal protection and due process than the rest of society. In our society, a variety of citizens of different backgrounds coexist because we have constitutionally bound ourselves to protect the fundamental rights of one another from being violated by unlawful treatment. Thus, we all have an equal stake in a case that challenges the constitutionality of a restriction on a fundamental right. One of the duties placed on the shoulders of federal judges is the obligation to review the law to determine when unequal treatment violates our Constitution and when it does not. To the extent that a law is adjudged violative, enjoining enforcement of that law is a public good that benefits all in our society equally. Although this case was filed by same-sex couples seeking to end a California constitutional restriction on their right to marry, all Californians have an equal interest in the outcome of the case. The single characteristic that Judge Walker shares with the Plaintiffs, albeit one that might not have been shared with the majority of Californians, gave him no greater interest in a proper decision on the merits than would exist for any other judge or citizen.

Second, disqualifying Judge Walker based on an inference that he intended to take advantage of a future legal benefit made available by constitutional protections would result in an unworkable standard for disqualification. Under such a standard, disqualification would be based on assumptions about the amorphous personal feelings of judges in regards to such intimate and shifting matters as future desire to undergo an abortion, to send a child to a particular university or to engage in family planning. So too here, a test inquiring into the presiding judge’s desire to enter into the institution of marriage with a member of the same sex, now or in the future, would require reliance upon similarly elusive factors. Given Section 455(b)(4)’s requirement that non-pecuniary interests must be “substantially affected” to require recusal, recusal could turn on whether a judge “fervently” intended to marry a same-sex partner versus merely “lukewarmly” intended to marry, determination that could only be reached through undependable and invasive self-reports. The Ninth Circuit has recognized the inherent unworkability of such a subjective recusal standard.

To hold otherwise, and require recusal merely based on the fact that the presiding judge is
engaged in a long-term same-sex relationship, is to place an inordinate burden on minority judges. Such a standard would, in essence, infer subjective future intent on the basis of a judge’s membership in a particular class.

Finally, the presumption that “all people in same-sex relationships think alike” is an unreasonable presumption, and one which has no place in legal reasoning. The presumption that Judge Walker, by virtue of being in a same-sex relationship, had a desire to be married that rendered him incapable of making an impartial decision, is as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief. On the contrary: it is reasonable to presume that a female judge or a judge in a same-sex relationship is capable of rising above any personal predisposition and deciding such a case on the merits. The Motion fails to cite any evidence that Judge Walker would be incapable of being impartial, but to presume that Judge Walker was incapable of being impartial, without concrete evidence to support that presumption, is inconsistent with what is required under a reasonableness standard.

Accordingly, the Court DENIES Defendant-Intervenors’ Motion to Vacate Judgment on the ground that the presiding judge failed to recuse himself under Section 455(a).