*and soul, too
News Flash: When you write you can’t avoid writing about heroes, or heroics. Even when writing antagonists, you may be reflecting a reversed mirror image of the heroic. I mention this as a segue to today’s blog, which was inspired by a dear friend who reminded me of the following quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson who said:
“The mind is the last part of yourself to listen to.
It thinks of everything you can lose.
The heart thinks of everything you can give, and the soul thinks of
everything you are.”
As for the quote, I love it! Today it brought clarity to me. That quote is the prima facie case against “intellectualism.” A mental disease that is infecting our country from our young people on up to our leaders. It metastasizes when only the intellect is stimulated and nurtured vis-à-vis higher education, secular studies and culturally correct programs, to the exclusion of spirituality, connectivity and humanity.
When only the intellect grows, it dominates the person because it goes unchecked by equal growth in the heart and soul. The real damage is done because the ego, which resides solely in the mind, is also expanded as intellect grows. The ego feeds off intellectualism and without being buffered by Spirituality or Humanity, eventually takes over all. Omnipotence and greed become “intellectually” justified. Think of most of the bad guys, madmen, or evildoers in classic literature, even the most heinous ones are convinced that what they are doing is “the only way.” It could be said that their intellect was guided by their ego, which was built by their intellect. For a literary character, and unfortunately those living beings who have succumbed to this mental disorder, the weaker elements of heart and soul become manipulated into being slaves of the ego.
More and more, Harvard, Yale and the like eschewed spirituality, leaving only the development of intellect to rule the roost – and eventually the souls under its influence. Those institutes of ‘higher learning’ need to also be ‘institutes of higher spirituality and higher humanity.’ As I have alluded to in my books, without some kind of moral guidance package, pure intellect is up for grabs to be seduced by the forces of ego and greed. Now don’t mistake Spirituality or Humanity for any one idea, as in God, or Universal intellect or Scientific evolution. Spirituality is nothing more or less than a firewall against, or antidote to, Ego. By guidance package I mean whatever element within a person that guides them on a moral path, or at least a non selfish one, to the exclusion of, or abridging of, others’ rights.
As an author, one good way to define character is through the mix of Heart, Mind and Soul. What is the percentage of impact that each of these has within the character? I think you can see which of these aspects may motivate a character through their actions. Since I am quoting, one of my favorite Grooks (don’t ask – but a trade paperback of obvious wisdom in rhyme I was given in the 70’s by Carla Chase) is the following:
To be brave is to behave bravely even though your heart is faint,
So you can only really be brave, only when you really ain’t!
Applying Emerson to the lowly Grook: to be brave is to overcome with your heart, that which your brain is telling you you’ll lose. Is that not a recipe for heroics? The first responders who run into the burning building while others flee, comes immediately to mind. This is good meaty ground for planting the seeds of heroism in your characters!