Radical Providence: How Not to Take Things for Granted

“We aren’t handed life’s meaning, so it’s imperative that we choose it for ourselves.” ~ Thomas Cathcart

Providence is a combination of wisdom, prudence, and foresight. Radical providence is being forthright and proactive about applying this combination to a way of life. It’s a deep understanding that everything is connected.

Being provident is practicing independence despite conditioned codependence. Being radically provident is practicing interdependence despite a codependent and hyper-independent world.

The unhealthy hallmark of a codependent world—that is, people caught up in codependent relationships with each other and with the state—is taking things for granted.

So as not to take things for granted, so as not to get caught up in the codependent sickness that surrounds us, one must assume a position of radical providence. Let’s break it down…

You Don’t Have to Experience the World the Way You were Told to

“Your mind is programmable – and if you’re not programming it then someone else will program it for you.” ~ Jeremy Hammond

We’ve all been conditioned by culture. We’ve all been programmed by society. We’ve all been indoctrinated by political propaganda and religious perspectives. The question radical providence asks is: what are we going to do about it?

Do we continue with our ignorance and naivety, or do we question what we’ve been told? Do we remain gullible and ingenuous, or do we become self-aware and authentic? Do we remain stuck in our comfort zone, fearful and artless; or do we take a leap of courage, adventurous and creative?

When we choose to question, to become self-aware and authentic, courageous and creative, we are choosing to create our own life. We are choosing to experience the world from our own unique perspective. We are choosing to live an examined life and a life well-lived.

This courageous independence leads to providence. Applying this providence to a way of being in the world leads to radical providence. Radical providence is a kind of walking meditation that keeps the integrated whole always in perspective.

Such a perspective creates a world-as-self dynamic that prevents the individual from taking things for granted.

Ask Yourself Vital Questions

“We are never alone. We are wolves howling at the same moon.” ~ Atticus

Were you lucky enough to be born in a western developed country?
Were you lucky enough to be born into a stable family?
Were you lucky enough to be born without illness or disability?
Were you lucky enough to have an education?

Many people in the world don’t have these things. So, if you have any of the above, consider yourself luckier than most. Be grateful. Show your gratitude through radical providence.

You had no control over what you were lucky/unlucky enough to be born into, and neither did anybody else. Focus on what you can control and be openminded, compassionate, tolerant and adaptable toward what you cannot. Everything is connected. Part of radical providence is realizing how fate, luck, and the vicissitudes of life determine more about reality than we think.

Don’t take your luck for granted. Practice gratitude. Capitalize on your privilege. Use it as a platform to launch a life well-lived. Respect the fact that the majority of the world envies your position. Give them a reason to transform envy into emulation.

Understand that You Benefit from the Creativity of Your Ancestors

“The roots of all living things are tied together. Deep in the ground of being, they tangle and embrace. If we look deeply, we find that we do not have a separate self-identity, a self that does not include sun and wind, earth and water, creatures and plants, and one another.” ~ Joan Halifax

A big part of everything being connected is the connection between past and future. The provident person understands that it all comes together in the present moment. The finite past and the finite future manifests in the infinite Now.

Practicing radical providence is respecting this paradox. Especially when it comes to the evolution of the species and how the creative minds of the past have built the infrastructure of the human present.

Our current technologies were built upon the creative scaffolding of our ancestors. We do them a disservice to take their innovation for granted. Whether these technologies are mechanical or mental, artistic or psychological, medical or entheogenic, spiritual or shamanistic, they have become the second skin of our species.

Radical providence prevents one from taking such technologies for granted by reinforcing the need to stand on the shoulders of giants in order to see further than they did.

Create and Contribute Towards the Healthy Evolution of the Species

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” ~ Albert Camus

The only thing better than having a provident perspective is creating provident meaning. Radical providence is taking the interdependent world-as-self perspective, along with the knowledge gained from standing on the shoulders of giants (utilizing the technologies of our ancestors), and then creating something that will benefit the future of humanity.

Whether it’s becoming a giant yourself or creating new technologies, contributing to the healthy evolution of the species has always been the greatest kind of human meaning there is. For such meaning becomes cosmic. It becomes a heroic stance against entropy, mortality and death. But it is foremost rebellious.

In a universe without meaning, we must use our imagination to create meaning. But we also live in a world filled with other meaning-creating creatures. Lest we become overwhelmed or swallowed up by their meaning (by cultural conditioning, brainwashing, or political propaganda), we must be capable of re-imagining imagination itself.

The flip-side of standing on the shoulders of giants is the ability to be circumspect with the knowledge gained. To truly be provident one must be able to “entertain a thought without accepting it (Plato).” Radical providence takes this to the nth degree.

Human ingenuity, like human evolution, is a process. The key to maintaining the process, indeed the secret to keeping evolution flowing and progressive, is to allow re-imagination despite past imaginings.

The stale and outdated must give way to the fresh and updated. Otherwise, there is stagnation and de-evolution. Otherwise, we find ourselves stuck in a rut, and the meaninglessness of the universe comes down on us like an unforgiving hammer.

Better to be creative. Better to re-imagine Meaning itself. Better to stare into the abyss of meaninglessness with a humorous abyss of our own: a kind of jovial chaos which leads to a heightened state of humor that injects meaning into the world despite the meaningless abyss that surrounds us.

In the end, we will become the giants that our ancestors stand upon. We will be the ladder our children climb. What they see then will depend upon what we create now.

As Kahlil Gibran famously said, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

Radical providence is about making your bow strong and flexible now so that the arrows of the future can fly true.

Image source:

Art by Michael Ticcino

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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