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Thursday, 01 November 2018 22:26


Special to the Daily Planet

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

Oscar Wilde

The Problem

Looking back, there’s little doubt that my generation’s pivot point was Vietnam. It was an engagement fraught with misspent nobility. Losing what we could have won made it an unarguable tragedy.   

Another vexing Vietnam legacy was the minting of a generation of anti-American narcissists who grew up to be anti-American narcissistic progressives.

Other than the fact most of them seem to have moved to Asheville, how’s that a problem? Because the artificially entitled offspring of the greatest generation are remarkably constrained in their understanding of the real world. People who thus skip their course in Reality 101 are dangerous.

Welcome to today’s America and a central reason we’re surrounded by accelerating craziness.


Forget finding yourself

 A lot of silly notions came out of the Vietnam era anti-everything movement. Few held more hidden harm than the suggestion it was important to “find yourself.”

This bit of psycho-mumbo-jumbo rapidly became a license to indulge one’s baser instincts as an imagined path to nirvana. 

Drugs, people as sex toys, responsibility avoidance, and self-absorption may be fun, but they are more often a path to addiction than enlightenment. Fast forward to today, and some 40-plus years later this false narrative has become a cultural pillar.   

Hate to break it to the thus dedicated, but Mother Nature is clearly antagonistic to the mission of selfish pleasure as a stand-alone agenda. Life is hard, and the assignment is clear. You have to build yourself – not find yourself.

If you’ve been wondering why so many people buy into the relentless “something for nothing” entitlement promises of the left, “find yourself” illusions are a major factor. Having inevitably failed in that assignment, there is a growing willingness to embrace the fantasy government can fulfill the charge.

We forget that nobody creates a cage for the benefit of the occupant.

Misery Inc.

Speaking of progressives, I had first-hand opportunity to observe a number of participants in this year’s Blue Ridge LBGTQ Pride event. Amidst the rainbow capes, banners and costumes, something was missing.

It’s exhilarating to have center stage with like-minded people – but a fix is not the same thing as being happy.  An artificially induced smile cannot conceal the mirror of our true condition – the eyes. This event sheltered a lot of unhappy, angry, anxious and confused eyes. 

That’s Asheville in general – though we live in paradise, there is an army of unhappy people here. Might that be why so many fuel their lives with alcohol and drugs?

As a personal view, the LBGTQ movement, like the NAACP, misplaced their sincerity credentials long ago.    

Both were started with a worthy agenda of righting wrongs.  Time has shifted that course to anger, resistance to honest dialog and a refusal to consider any other thinking but their own.

Closed systems die reluctantly but certainly.


Free yourself?

With nature’s clear preference for two genders, functioning on the edges is tough. Whether it’s through genetics, choice, training, fear, confusion or conviction – it’s never easy.

In a world where so many women are trying to be men; so many men are trying to be women; and so many other people are trying to invent a new option, “free yourself” has become another misguided but popular script. Just ask Facebook. As of last count they are up to 71 gender identities.   

Ironically, one of the fastest ways to lose yourself is to turn inward and free yourself. That’s narcissism and it is the psychological equivalent to being sucked into a giant vacuum cleaner.  

If turning inward is a misery accelerator, may one suggest Asheville is well on the way to shifting from a “Cesspool of Sin” to a “Cesspool of Misery?”


Don’t be yourself either

Closely akin to the folly of “find yourself” is “be yourself.”

Please, whatever you do, don’t be yourself. Most people’s inner self is so dark, dank and disgusting that if everyone could magically “be yourself” tonight, most of us would be dead by Christmas.

The Bible tells us that evil comes from within, not without. Experiences affirms it.

People don’t get hooked on drugs, shoot someone with a gun, or beat a child to death because of the drugs, gun or child. People do bad things out of their own internal programming, choices and fictional permission to “be yourself.”

Please - don’t be yourself. This struggling world needs you to be something much better.



No matter how personally comfortable you are with the notion of these three “all about me” life approaches, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that very few people can pull them off.

Look around. Is it not fascinating how so many folks have become comfortable indulging whatever crazy impulse they have whenever and wherever they wish? Is it possible that having a higher social bar for personal behavior is necessary to keeping many of us from self-destructing?

Those interested in a better course can start with a simple truism – whatever you are practicing is what you are becoming.

Want to be a devotee of the 7-Deadly Sins – pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth? Practice and you will excel. Want to be a devotee of the 7-Virtues – faith, hope, charity, fortitude, justice, temperance and prudence? Same deal.

Isn’t it funny how those “find yourself,” “free yourself” and “be yourself” life programs seem to circle toward the 7-Deadlies far more often than the 7-Virtues?

That can be explained quite simply – the things that are easy in life are usually bad and the things that are good are usually hard. Which do you prefer, walking downhill or climbing?

It comes down to this. God gives us the raw material for life and the liberty to chose our own course. The world as we know it sends a lot of confusing signals that make freedom of choice as much of a burden as a blessing.

That makes the easy road, the safe road, the conformity road, and the escaping road very appealing. But like the highways of Asheville, one will find those paths increasingly crowded and constricted.

It’s never too late to flip your burger toward better choices. Anyone suggesting they have a better plan is toxic.     


In closing

A few Sundays ago, I had a chance to give the message at a church where the pastor was recovering from surgery. Always an honor.

One of the things shared was that fear and worry were the two most reference sins in the Bible. God wanted us to know that evil sneaks in the backdoor more often than busting through the front.   

In the congregation was a 95-year-old lady whose car had caught fire the week before as she pulled into the church parking lot. It was scary and close.

She came up at the end of the service and thanked me for the message. “I let that experience frighten and get on top of me for a few days,” she said with a bright smile. “I really needed to hear what you shared today. Now I think I can put that behind me and get on with things.”

This special lady was not willing to be defined by her trauma or her fear. At ninety-five she was still choosing to rebuild and move forward. May one suggest that is a big reason she is ninety-five?

In a hard world it is always wise to search for those who have figured out how to tackle the tough parts in a better way. Instead of turning inward and trying to find yourself, free yourself or be yourself maybe what you need are some better role models.

I found one of mine in church the other day.

Carl Mumpower, a psychologist and former elected official, is chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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