“A revolutionary age is an age of action; ours is an age of advertisement and publicity. The age of the great and good actions is past, the present age is the age of anticipation where even recognition is received in advance.” ~ Kierkegaard
Can we transform this “age of anticipation” into an age of liberation, an age of revolution? Can we move from this state of inert, one-track-minded expectation to a state of proactive, open-minded insight? The odds aren’t in our favor. But then again, as human beings, they never have been in our favor. So we might as well give it a shot.
One huge step in the right direction may be to take Henri Louis Bergson up on his sound advice: “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” In a world where the vast majority of people allow authority to do their thinking for them, it is vitally important that we have people with the capacity to think for themselves and then act wisely upon those thoughts. A nation of unthinking people inevitably leads to a nation of sheep governed by wolves. Thinking like a human of action and acting like a human of thought is a way of transforming ourselves from sheep into lions who have the power to keep the wolves in check. Let’s break it down.
Think like a Human of Action
“We have self-respect when our actions stem from principles or deep convictions, rather than motives of expediency or gain.” ~ Alexander Lowen
Pretense is mere makeup, the action is the thing. But first there must be thought. Thinking like a human of action is simply thinking before you act, but with the intent to act. Thought through the medium of proactive intention is the most powerful form of thought. It sets the stage for choice to coincide with achievement.
It’s the birthplace of all discovery. The seat of imagination. The cornerstone of the philosopher’s stone. Here, logic and reason are handmaidens to the creative process. Fear is merely a stepping stone. Like Robert Rowland Smith said, “The only thing to fear is oneself, and if you can control that, then volition and action may at last coincide.”
Thinking like a human of action is disclosing the world with the purpose of freeing it for further disclosure, and by the same action freeing others from enclosure into disclosure. It allows for a sacred space, a place where we are free to meditate, to think deeply, to connect dots that otherwise could not have been connected.
From such important connections, action becomes manifest. Like Frank Outlaw said, “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
The epitome of thinking like a human of action is the ability to question things. Questions liberate us from the prison of our answers. They free us to imagine new ways of perceiving reality, revealing novel approaches to being an ever-evolving human being in an ever-changing cosmos. Sincere questioning is profoundly humbling, making us less certain and more circumspect about our place in the grand scheme of things.
Such humility leaves us in awe before the vast universe of our misunderstanding, and we are less likely to act carelessly or thoughtlessly in all manner of things. Like Richard Feynman said, “People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified—how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.”
Act like a Human of Thought
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” –Helen Keller
A Human being is defined not only by what he loves, but by what he refuses to hate. Acting like a human of thought is acting with compassion, empathy, and love. It’s taking the world into deep consideration, seeing how everything is connected, and then acting interdependently as a being fully aware that, despite appearances, all things are one. Like Brian Cox said, “We are the cosmos made conscious and life is the means by which the universe understands itself.”
When we act under such a perception of the world, our heart chakra vibrates magnetically with cosmos, our throat chakra sings true, and our third eye opens wide. The mind is stripped of all cognitive fictions, an empty cup eager to be filled.
We are fit for the trials and tribulations of progressive action. The suffering of which further magnifies the heart, fine-tunes the throat, and widens the third eye. Our soul is strengthened, our ambition inspired, and our success achieved. Through such wisdom we see how we are an interdependent force of nature first, and an independent human second.
As a force of nature, we are free to act like a human of thought. Our actions are fearless but compassionate, ruthless but non-violent, pitiless but loving. Having stood upon the shoulders of giants, we’re able to see further than they did, and act accordingly.
We’re able to draw a line in the sand and declare ourselves against any and all comers. We’re able to stand like a courageous David against any and all overreaching Goliaths. We are capable of turning the tables on power itself, ridding tyranny of its hegemony. We’re able to gauge the moral-immoral dilemma through an amoral dynamic.
We’re able to become outlaws in a world where freedom has been outlawed. Nothing is out of our reach. Nothing is off limits. Truth is our medium as we surf the waves of change. And we have no fear of falling, because we have become skilled at “swimming.”
For those few of us who act like humans of thought, our character has become our destiny and the world has been alerted. There is no time for vacillation or decidaphobia. The correct action is clear, wrung through the sieve of cosmic law and disclosed by a language older than words. The choice between love and fear is clear cut: screw fear! We don’t fear fear, we transform it into a courage of the most high.
When acting like a human of thought, fear is merely useful information, a necessary tool, a stepping stone toward fearless, vulnerable love. Like Dan Millman said, “A peaceful warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is a warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.” Likewise, the action of a human of thought is always one of love: be it tough love or loving kindness. Love is how a lion holds a wolf accountable. Love is how a lion gains the courage to awaken sheep. “Love is the whole thing,” writes Rumi, “we are only pieces.”