The bonbon in the paper cup of life
An American problem - The Yoda Philosophy

"Do or do not - there is no try."

Everyone knows this saying from Star Wars.  It’s a fairly good way to motivate people, but only that.  People all over America, though, or taking that phrase to heart as a philosophy, and that’s where we start to have problems.  Why?  Because though it functions well to boost morale, its way of misplacing fault is very dangerous.

Here’s an example:  Say you’ve just lost your job and are applying to get a new one.  You apply at ten different companies, and five of them call you.  Three of them set up an interview.  One of them calls you back for a second interview.  But you’re not hired.  You do the same thing next week, but have no better luck.  Whose fault is it that you don’t have a job?  According to the Yoda philosophy, there is no try.  You didn’t get a job, period.

These examples and others define the problem of this philosophy.  There are tons of things that I’ve tried to do and failed, and I get told the same thing every time: it’s my own fault I failed.  I didn’t try hard enough because I didn’t care.  Recently, me and several others were working on a mange project, but all of our artists quit.  The rest of us didn’t have the art talent, and also worked so much that we couldn’t split the time to finish the project ourselves.  We had to call off the project.  And yet we got told time and time again; if we had cared enough, we would have been able to finish it.  We had no one to blame but ourselves.

What happens when you really can’t help it?  This philosophy assumes mind over matter, that man has complete control over their environment.  But men are not all-powerful.  But, this philosophy has pervaded the American psyche and become a philosophy and political stance, and has become increasingly oppressive and persecutory.  This has manifested itself in the right-vs-left debate concerning federal aid.  Who would have thought that something Yoda said could be taken to such dangerous extremes?

It’s true that there are some people that truly don’t try hard enough, due to laziness or apathy, or those that take advantage of the system.  But there are a far greater number of people that rely on federal aid for their living.  The father of one of my co-workers got cancer and cannot work due to debilitation.  He relies on federal aid to survive.  Others are disabled or mentally ill, and have no way to otherwise make a living.  People who hold the Yoda philosophy claim that taking federal aid away from people will drive them to find jobs and make a living—as if the only reason they have failed to get a job is their own fault… that they didn’t try hard enough.  But that’s not true.  Without the aid, many of these people will die.

You don’t want to help them?  Fair enough.  You earned your own living, and why should anyone MAKE you give up your money to help those who can’t help themselves?  Maybe you honestly believe that it’s better for society to let the weak and poor fend for themselves, while the strong and able support themselves.  It may seem logical enough for you, but this idea has actually been around for a while.  It’s called “Social Darwinism.”  And maybe you can live with that.

There is a competing philosophy, though, that you should always give to the poor, and care for those who cannot care for themselves.  The man who practiced it never turned his nose at the poor and complained about them asking for “handouts.”  This man, in the book of Matthew, taught, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”  There are a lot of people in America that want to go to heaven, but would contradict these words.

But I’ve digressed enough from my central point.  I’ve had enough of people telling me that I must not care enough, because I fail.  And since I have an anxiety disorder, it’s been difficult not to internalize these remarks over my lifetime.  I have difficulty finding and holding a job for much more than a year, and I’ve been told all my life that it’s because I’m lazy and unproductive.  And maybe that’s true.  I also have difficulty managing projects in my free time when I work full time and have insomnia.  And people tell me this is also because I just don’t care enough.

Humans are not gods.  Our willpower is not infinite.  Using the Yoda Philosophy is fine as a source of motivation, but you have to know that you’re not perfect.  You will fail sometimes, even if you’ve tried your absolute hardest.  And that’s okay.  You don’t have to blame yourself.  Just pick up the pieces and keep going.

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