I recently had the honor to sit in a lecture given by Dr. Cornel West. For those who don’t know who he is, in short, Dr. West is known internationally as one of the most thought provoking intellecutals of our time. A Princeton professor, philosopher, civil rights activist, and author, with over 20 honorary degrees. Dr. West has given a lot to society, and his primary mission is to make sure we all uniquely do the same.
During His hour long lecture, Dr. West spoke about many different topics all based around the general theme that our civilization is at a very crucial point in time. In order for us to make the right changes that will lead us out of calamity and into better times, we all have to constructively take part in the effort to rebirth ourselves, in turn re-birthing the world in a way that will allow us to move forward successfully. In no way could my words ever equal the moment his were spoken, but here is what I took away from some of the points he made that night:
“The unexamined life is not worth living and the examined life is painful.”-
A life that does not consist the cycle of growth and introspection is stagnant. To live a fulfilled life, you have to really be willing to take a hard look at oneself, embrace the good and the bad, learn from them both, and be able to grow in all dimensions as a person.
“Learning to deal with death while still living.”-
Rebirth comes only after the death of something. The integral part of growth is to learn how to deal with death in all forms. This means learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable in adversity and the novel. It may just bring about ideally positive results. Maybe not. Either way, it’s important to be strong enough to know when you are not growing individually, only because you are “comfortable” with life to the point where one is merely existing. If you are, a good way to jumpstart change is by learning to accept the deaths of the external. The conclusion of an unhealthy friendship or relationship. Choosing to eat salubriously as opposed to giving in. These are the necessary beginning steps toward true internal growth.
“Learning how to die.”-
Once we have learned to deal with death at a distance, we have to learn how to metaphorically die ourselves, transform and grow as individuals. This means learning to face yourself in the mirror with brutal honesty. Be humbly proud of your accomplishments, and know/be able to accept that no one (ourselves included) is perfect. There are things in our individual lives that we can always improve upon to become a better person as continual improvement it is a responsibility that we owe ourselves.
“Everybody is already a star. You just have to dig deep to get it out.”-
Everyone on this earth has dreams. Everyone has as history of events that made them who they are. That history contains personal challenges that make our paths to “star” status, uniquely difficult. We must harness the ability of growth and introspection to create in environment where we are not paralyzed by our fears and our past (which sometimes can be one and the same). Often times, the difference is in the level of dedication and perseverance shown in the successful.
“Do not tell your children to be successful, but not tell them to also be great.”-
Success is a gift, many work hard for it, but it does not have the depth nor longevity of greatness. For the increasing amount of power that is gained with success and greatness, we are given a uniquely equal amount of social responsibility to have lasting impacts in the lives of those around us.
It was truly an inspiring lecture to witness at a time when our collective innovation and inspiration it crucial. I am just glad that it was well received by so many people that attended.