Why I Write (Part II) – Politics and the English Language

Orwell wrote the essay Politics and the English Language in 1946. He argued that English language then was in a bad way: It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. He questioned the common assumption that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Orwell made the point that the downward spiral of co-influence of thought and language is reversible if one is willing to take the trouble to get rid of the bad habits spread by imitation in modern English.

Orwell picked five passages as representative samples to illustrate “various of the mental vices from which we now suffer”. On one hand, those five samples are challenging to read and comprehend. These samples favor long winded words over simple ones. Trying to read it aloud challenges both my mental and vocal strength. On the other hand, to a general public who converse, read, write and think in English as their primary language, including myself, these writings are not especially bad compared with much of the writing we see today. There is some plausible message conveyed yet you cannot quite clearly describe what the writing is about. You could decipher the text one way or another using your own creativity.

In Orwell’s view, these bad writings share two common features: the staleness of imagery and lack of precision.

The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.

He further listed the tricks that are commonly used to dodge the work of prose construction: dying metaphors, operators or verbal false limbs, pretentious diction, meaningless words.

Readers probably will find some relevance of part of Orwell’s following paragraph to today’s world:

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

Orwell stated that the progressive decline of the English language is reversible. He suggested, we should first choose and not simply accept the words or phrases that best cover what we want to express; then switch the choices around and decide what impression the words are likely to make on another person. Furthermore, he proposed six rules as remedy that are applicable not only to political writing but also science, business and other types of writings:

  • Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

One of the benefits of good usage of language as an instrument for expressing thought is: If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. This realisation hopefully breaks the negative spiral of confused thinking and degraded usage of the language.

Finally I leave you with this renowned quote of Orwell’s from this essay:

Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

 

Why I Write (Part I)

This week I read a book by George Orwell titled Why I Write. It consists of four essays:

  • Why I Write
  • The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius
  • A Hanging
  • Politics and the English language.

Although the book is named after the first essay, the largest part of the volume is actually dedicated to the second essay.

Why I Write is a short essay telling how Orwell evolved from a five or six year old child (I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer) to his by-then chosen path of political writing in 1946. People who wish to write will find that this article resonates with some of their own experiences and probably agree that the reasons for writing fluctuate from time to time and from individual to individual.

I always thought one cannot write well unless one writes from her own experience and direct observations. The writer in this sense would be at the center of the writings produced. It is her deeply buried inner demon being woken by the external events, it is her most truthful feeling and perception of the environment expressed in words. For this, I have been both fascinated and frightened by writing. I fear that if I were to give in to that inner demon to write most fearlessly and truthfully, it would be like walking naked in a crowded farmer market both physically and spiritually. On second thought, under such circumstances, I would be more interested in savoring the delicious heirloom tomatoes from local farmers and forget that my writing has exposed my thoughts in the bright daylight to be judged. I occasionally wonder how much of this fear of expression is due to my years of growing up in China. Those years were good and peaceful, but unavoidably left some cultural marks on me, even though the marks have weakened gradually over time.

In this essay Orwell pointed out the influence that early development has on a writer’s motives of writing, with examples of temperament and atmosphere. He also wrote “one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality”. This provokes a lot of my recent thinking on what makes good writing and how the books I recently read fit into this metric.

George Orwell wrote about the four motives for writing besides the need to earn a living: sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose. In every writer, the proportions of each motive may vary at any specific time, it may also fluctuate over time. Reading this essay prompted me to ponder my motives. We will have to leave that to be the focus of another article later. For now, suffice to say that I recognise traces of myself in these four motives.

As for Orwell:

Looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.

Further examining of his own motive:

When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, “I am going to produce a work of art.” I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience…. I am not able, and I do not want, completely to abandon the world-view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.

Upon reflection, my demon is passionate for words and their compositions, the languages penetrating the past, current and future humanity. It craves for reading great works and marvels at the unimaginable capabilities of great writers to express the indescribable poignantly. It also enjoys dictionaries more than chocolate.

George Orwell spent five years in what he regarded as an unsuitable profession: working in the Indian Imperial Police during the 1920s. His essay A Hanging describes the execution of a criminal in a jail in Burma during this time. The prisoners were referred as “condemned men” with unspecified crimes. This Hindu prisoner was no different. Condemned to hanging, he had no name and no mention of the crime he committed. The superintendent of the jail was impatient with this routine-like business, “For God’s sake hurry up, Francis (the head jailer). The man ought to be have been dead by this time. Aren’t you ready yet?” Others were taking orders or doing what they routinely do in such cases. Indifferent. A large woolly dog out of nowhere came to the jail yard barking loudly, dashed for the prisoner to be executed, jumped and tried to lick the prisoner’s face. The superintendent’s patience ran out and he ordered the guards to catch and remove the dog. George Orwell described each scene: the prisoner walking closer and closer to the gallows, his hanging, the superintendent poking the dead body to conclude the seemingly routine business of a morning. Each scene described with the exact style that he advocated in the fourth essay of this book: Politics and the English language.

The writing consists of short and simple words, depicts precisely the people and the scene, and brings a reader with any imaginative mind right into the center of the events.

Take this passage as an example:

And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path. It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working – bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissue forming – all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tench of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone – one mind less, one world less.

After the execution, came the last scene “we all had a drink together, native and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away.” Although not a single word was directly criticizing the British rule in this essay, undoubtedly Orwell’s years in Burma had significantly influenced his views, particularly on colonialism.

 

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air is written by Dr. Paul Kalanithi. There is a good summary about this book on his website. There are also a lot of reviews that you can find online about this book as well. Here I share with you a couple of my own thoughts on reading When Breath Becomes Air. I was particularly taken by Paul’s courage to first strive for excellence, then to strive for living a meaningful life without self-pity, despite the tragedy.

Writing about his experience of watching the break of the dawn after hiking to the summit of Mount Tallac: You could not help but feel your specklike existence against the immensity of the mountain, the earth, the universe, and yet still feel your own two feet on the talus, reaffirming your presence amid the grandeur. His friend, the assistant director of the Sierra Camp, Mo, later wrote about the time spent together: Suddenly, now I know what I want, I want the counselors to build a pyre…and let my ashes drop and mingle with the sand. Lose my bones amongst the driftwood, my teeth amongst the sand…I don’t believe in the wisdom of children, nor in the wisdom of the old. There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.

When finishing up his degree on literature, Paul found that one day the voice of “Take up and read” was confronted by the inner voice “Set aside the books and practice medicine” and he was commanded by the latter. He wrote: it would mean setting aside literature. But it would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay. I admire Paul’s courage and conviction tremendously for answering to that inner voice. Coincidentally, for two periods in the past decade, I heard that voice pulling me towards being a neurosurgeon. I did not follow it because being a real doctor (unlike the one I acquired, Doctor of Philosophy) seems to require one’s capability of shouldering greater amount of responsibility of others’ lives than any other professions and being a neurosurgeon most of all. The first time during my research on identifying the biomarkers that predict the stages of cognitive impairment and help to identify potential early treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, I was introduced to neurosurgical ways of alleviating the Alzheimer’s symptoms. The second period, I desperately wanted to be a neurosurgeon when my father was suffering from traumatic brain injury and I spent a lot time in ICU observing the devastation of many families whose loved ones were in one critical neural illness or another while exhausting every bit of myself to find ways to keep my father alive. It was during that time, my self-doubt was overwhelming. I questioned myself about my choice of profession and what I have learned all seemed so trivial and useless when it comes to curing dad’s illness. I examined every corner of my own life. What is the meaning of my life if I could not relieve the suffering from my beloved ones? How minuscule the impact of practising my profession is when confronted with the emotional and physical pains of a vast number of people daily? I was acutely angry with my incapability of doing more for my father and others for a long time. It came to my realisation that living a meaningful life and bringing goodness to others do not mandate that all should be trained to cure diseases. There are other channels that could be explored.

I struggled with minimizing the number of passages I wanted to quote from the book. Whether you are reading this book for its aesthetics, satisfying your curiosity of the process of becoming a neurosurgeon, an understanding of mortality and facing it, or its inspiration on the meanings in life and striving, it is not an exaggeration to say that this book has it all.

I began to see all disciplines as creating a vocabulary, a set of tools for understanding human life in a particular way.

I had spent so much time studying literature at Stanford and the history of medicine at Cambridge, in an attempt to better understand the particularities of death, only to come away feeling like they were still unknowable to me. Descriptions like Nuland’s convinced me that such things could be known only face-to-face.

Indeed, this is how 99 percent of people select their jobs: pay, work environment, hours. But that is the point. Putting lifestyle first is how you find a job – not a calling.

Because the brain mediates our experience of the world, any neurosurgical problem forces a patient and family, ideally with a doctor as a guide, to answer this question: what makes life meaningful enough to go on living?

Over the next seven years of training, we would grow from bearing witness to medical dramas to becoming leading actors in them.

Being with patients in these moments certainly had its emotional cost, but it also had its rewards. I don’t think I ever spent a minute of any day wondering why I did this work, or whether it was worth it. The call to protect life – and not merely life but another’s identify; it is perhaps not too much to say another’s soul – was obvious in its sacredness.

In taking up another’s cross, one must sometimes get crushed by the weight.

You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.

If boredom, is, as Heidegger argued, the awareness of time passing, then surgery felt like the opposite: the intense focus made the arms of the clock seem arbitrarily placed. Two hours could feel like a minute. Once the final stitch was placed and the wound was dressed, normal time suddenly restarted. You could almost hear an audible whoosh.

I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything.

One chapter of my life seemed to have ended; perhaps the whole book was closing. Instead of being the pastoral figure aiding a life transition, I found myself the sheep, lost and confused. Severe illness wasn’t life-altering, it was life-shattering. It felt less like an epiphany – a piercing burst of light, illuminating What Really matters – and more like someone had just firebombed the path forward. Now I would have to work around it.

It had occurred to me that Darwin and Nietzsche agreed on one thing: the defining characteristic of the organism is striving. Describing life otherwise was like painting a tiger without stripes. After so many years of living with death, I’d come to understand that the easiest death wasn’t necessarily the best….We would carry on living, instead of dying.

…acquiring rich experiences, then retreating to cogitate and write about them…

The monolithic uncertainty of my future was deadening; everywhere I turned, the shadow of death obscured the meaning of any action. I remember the moment when my overwhelming unease yielded, when that seemingly impassable sea of uncertainty parted. I woke up in pain, facing another day….I can’t go on, I thought, and immediately, its antiphon responded, completing Samuel Beckett’s seven words, words I had learned long ago and an undergraduate: I’ll go on. I got out of bed and took a step forward, repeating the phrase over and over: “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” ….because I would have to learn to live in a different way, seeing death as an imposing itinerant visitor but knowing that even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.

You have to figure out what’s most important to you.

Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. And Truth comes somewhere above all of them, where, as at the end of what Sunday’s reading: the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the word, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.

Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.

Words have a longevity I do not…. When you come to one of the many moments in life where you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

My final word about When Breath Becomes Air: If you were to read only one book this year, it would be wise of you to pick this one.

 

The Human Machine

The Human Machine, a small volume, was written by Arnold Bennett in 1908. A free e-version is available through the Project Gutenberg. However, for me, the pleasure of reading e-documents is not comparable with touching and turning each page of a physical book. This book can come across as challenging to read for some people due to the usage of old-fashioned English words, to the lack of cultural context or to its subtle and indirect writing style. The experience of immersing myself in English culture helped me to appreciate the peculiarly rich English cultural writing style and many humorous passages. Reading it felt like taking a stroll with an Englishman Arnold Bennett in Hyde Park, during which he frequently made entertaining and witty comments about people’s relationship with their “machines” as they passed by.

 

The human machine here refers to the body and the brain, but chiefly the brain. In Arnold Bennett’s view, we often take our brains for granted and devote very little attention to them. We think we do not have real ownership of our own brains or we simply cannot improve them. As a result we complain about and blame the people around us, the environment that is beyond our control. You can control nothing but your own mind. He then advocates ways to manage our own brains, and change habitual behaviors through practices. Through this, we achieve the art of living. As the author put it elegantly: My aim is to direct a man’s attention to himself as a whole, considered as a machine, complex and capable of quite extraordinary efficiency, for travelling through this world smoothly, in any desired manner, with satisfaction not only to himself but to the people he meets en route, and the people who are overtaking him and whom he is overtaking. My aim is to show that only an inappreciable fraction of our ordered and sustained efforts is given to the business of actual living, as distinguished from the preliminaries to living.

 

A selection of the passages that I enjoyed are cited from the book below.

It is said that men are only interested in themselves. The truth is that, as a rule, men are interested in every mortal thing except themselves. They have a habit of taking themselves for granted, and that habit is responsible for nine-tenths of the boredom and despair on the face of the planet.

There is nothing like a sleepless couch for a clear vision of one’s environment. He will see all his wife’s faults and the hopelessness of trying to cure them. He will momentarily see, though with less sharpness of outline, his own faults. He will probably decide that the anxieties of children outweigh the joys connected with children. He will admit all the shortcomings of existence, will face them like a man, grimly, sourly, in a sturdy despair.

The question then becomes, not how to live, but how to obtain and retain a position in which one will be able to live; how to get minute portions of dead animals and plants which one can swallow, in order not to die of hunger; how to acquire and constantly renew a stock of other portions of dead animals and plants in which one can envelop oneself in order not to die of cold; how to procure the exclusive right of entry into certain huts where one may sleep and eat without being rained upon by the clouds of heaven. And so forth. And when one has realised this ambition, there comes the desire to be able to double the operation and do it, not for oneself alone, but for oneself and another. Marriage! But no scientific sustained attention is yet given to the real business of living, of smooth intercourse, of self-expression, of conscious adaptation to environment—in brief, to the study of the machine.

You exclaim that I exaggerate. I do. To force into prominence an aspect of affairs usually overlooked, it is absolutely necessary to exaggerate.

Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission. Your own mind has the power to transmute every external phenomenon to its own purposes.

You, calling yourself a reasonable man, are going about dependent for your happiness, dignity, and growth, upon a thousand things over which you have no control, and the most exquisitely organised machine for ensuring happiness, dignity, and growth, is rusting away inside you. And all because you have a sort of notion that a saying said two thousand years ago cannot be practical.

It is in intercourse—social, sentimental, or business—with one’s fellows that the qualities and the condition of the human machine are put to the test and strained. That part of my life which I conduct by myself, without reference—or at any rate without direct reference—to others, I can usually manage in such a way that the gods do not positively weep at the spectacle thereof.

He who speaks, speaks twice. His words convey his thought, and his tone conveys his mental attitude towards the person spoken to. And certainly the attitude, so far as friction goes, is more important than the thought.

Criticise less, even in the secrecy of your chamber. And do not blame at all. Accept your environment and adapt yourself to it in silence, instead of noisily attempting to adapt your environment to yourself. Here is true wisdom. You have no business trespassing beyond the confines of your own individuality. In so trespassing you are guilty of impertinence.

The history of success in any art—and machine-tending is an art—is a history of recommencements, of the dispersal and reforming of doubts, of an ever-increasing conception of the extent of the territory unconquered, and an ever-decreasing conception of the extent of the territory conquered.

The vast majority of people never know, with any precision, why they are dissatisfied with their sojourn on this planet. They make long and fatiguing excursions in search of precious materials which all the while are concealed in their own breasts. They don’t know what they want; they only know that they want something. Or, if they contrive to settle in their own minds what they do want, a hundred to one the obtaining of it will leave them just as far off contentment as they were at the beginning!

Most people of truly distinguished mind prefer the provinces.

One of the chief advantages of an efficient brain is that an efficient brain is capable of acting with firmness and resolution, partly, of course, because it has been toned up, but more because its operations are not confused by the interference of mere instincts.

All wrong-doing is done in the sincere belief that it is the best thing to do. Whatever sin a man does he does either for his own benefit or for the benefit of society. At the moment of doing it he is convinced that it is the only thing to do. He is mistaken. And he is mistaken because his brain has been unequal to the task of reasoning the matter out. Passion (the heart) is responsible for all crimes. Indeed, crime is simply a convenient monosyllable which we apply to what happens when the brain and the heart come into conflict and the brain is defeated.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Part Two)

To continue the part one on private victory, the latter half of this book focuses on paradigms of interdependence covering the second set of three habits for public victory followed by the 7th habit of sharpen the saw. However, it is important to note that private victory precedes public victory, self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others. All seven habits are illustrated together in the figure below cited from the book. 

I like the definition of Emotional Bank Account in the book, a metaphor describing the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship, the feeling of safeness you have with another human being. The author also suggests six major deposits to build the Emotional Bank Account:

  1. Understanding the individual
  2. Attending to the little things
  3. Keeping commitments
  4. Clarifying expectations
  5. Showing personal integrity
  6. Apologize sincerely when you make a withdrawal.

Dag Hammarskjold, past Secretary-General of the United Nations, said “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” Most of us would be able to recall occasions that manifest this statement. We’d rather labor for any purpose at any length for any other people rather than handling with the one particular issue because of the fear of a potential conflict or other imagined consequences. In other words, being coward in one tiny area despite being heroic in many others. Creating the unity necessary to run an effective business or a family or a marriage requires great personal strength and courage. No amount of technical administrative skill in laboring for the masses can make up for lack of nobility of personal character in developing relationships. It is at a very essential, one-on-one level that we live the primary laws of love and life.

The fourth habit is to think win-win. Anything less than Win/Win in an interdependent reality is a poor second best that will have impact in the long-term relationship. The cost of that impact needs to be carefully considered. If you can’t reach a true Win/Win, you are very often better off to go for No Deal. This not only applies to the business world but also the family relationships. Win/Win or No Deal provides tremendous emotional freedom in the family relationship. If family members can’t agree on a video that everyone will enjoy, they can simply decide to do something else – No Deal – rather than having some enjoy the evening at the expense of others.

I particularly like the Character section that describes character as the foundation of Win/Win and the three character traits essential to the Win/Win paradigm: integrity, maturity and abundance mentality. Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. It is defined by Professor Hrand Saxenian of Harvard Business School as “the ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others”. Some examples include the ego strength/empathy balance, the self confidence/respect for others balance, the concern for people/concern for tasks balance.

The fifth habit is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. The author suggests we practice the highest form of listening, empathic listening. The four lower levels are ignoring, pretending, selective listening, attentive listening. Empathic listening is to listen with intent to understand and to get inside another person’s frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way they see the world, you understand their paradigm, you understand how they feel. Before the problems come up, before you try to evaluate and prescribe, before you try to present your own ideas – seek to understand. It’s a powerful habit of effective interdependence. When we really, deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and third alternatives. Our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead, they become the stepping stones to synergy.

The sixth habit is to synergize. Synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It means that the relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of itself. It is not only a part, but the most catalytic, the most empowering, the most unifying and the most exciting part.

The last habit is to sharpen the saw. Habit 7 is preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. It is renewing the four dimensions of your nature – physical (exercise, nutrition, stress management), spiritual (value clarification & commitment, study & meditation), mental (reading, visualising, planning, writing) and social/emotional (service, empathy, synergy, intrinsic security). “Sharpen the saw” means expressing all four motivations. It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways.

Through reading this book, I gained more awareness of not only the potentials for improvements on my part, but also the guidance of how-to-improve. Its impact on me can only be measured in a much longer timeframe than the time spent on reading this book for the first time. It is one of those books that one would like to flip through from time to time.

To conclude this article with a quote from Edwin Markham: We have committed the Golden Rule to memory, let us now commit it to life.