Why is seriousness important?
Have you noticed that most people don’t take things seriously?
They don’t take people seriously either.
If you have a great idea, or if you feel a powerful emotion, and if you show it to your fellow man, then they’re just as likely to scoff at or ignore it as they are to provide useful feedback.
And others will give a weak word of encouragement, but the word does not go anywhere good or carry anything useful.
People don’t take things seriously. And it makes dealing with them…taxing.
And you probably know this. You know that seriousness is important, but this knowledge is probably more of a feeling than a thought.
You know that seriousness is important, but you’d like some words to explain why.
Let me give them to you.
So, why is seriousness important?
Seriousness is important because respect cannot exist without it. Nobody can respect a thing they do not take seriously. Yet some things must be respected in order to live and grow in the world with your fellow man. Without seriousness, people will become lonely, insecure, and miserable.
Now, let’s explore some various topics related to seriousness and its development.
Respect and Seriousness
Q. What is seriousness?
A. It is a personality trait which one shows when they are willing to act because of something. If somebody takes something seriously, then that something can compel them to action.
Some people will say they take something seriously, yet that thing does not compel them to action. Those people are lying. They say one thing and act out another.
Q. What is respect?
A. Respect is an acknowledgement of authority. If you do not take someone seriously, then you will not respect them, and you will not accept their authority.
Respect can only exist where seriousness first is. The latter being necessary for the former.
Q. What is authority?
A. Authority is the ability to speak on a subject in such a way so that the words spoken compel action.
When a person without authority tells you to do something, then you do not do it. They lack the thing they need in order for you to listen to them.
When a person with authority orders for you to do a thing, then you follow the command.
To respect someone is to acknowledge their authority, and this requires that you allow their words to affect your actions.
Why People Don’t Take Things Seriously
The things which people might take seriously fall into threes categories: those which they value, those which others value, and those which are unvalued altogether.
The members of the three classes are disrespected for different reasons.
Why People Belittle the Things They Value
If I value something, then I will want to respect it and take it seriously.
If I do so, then other people are liable to see it.
When others see that I value a thing, then they know how to hurt me.
They tell themselves, “He takes X seriously. He must like it. I can make his life worse by damaging X.”
And some of those people will then proceed to damage the thing that I have taken seriously in an attempt to hurt me.
So if I want to avoid pain, then I should not treat the thing I value seriously. I need to hide my affection for it. Otherwise, people will know how to hurt me and exploit that knowledge.
So people belittle the things they value in order to hide their weak spots.
If they don’t know what I love, then they won’t try to destroy it.
Why People Belittle the Things Others Value
Because it helps them feel superior to others.
Most people are in love with their feelings of superiority. These feelings can take many forms, e.g., intellectual, moral, monetary, etc.
And one of the easiest ways to feel superior to another person is to hurt them without repercussion.
So people try to hurt each other in order to enjoy the feelings superiority that follow.
So they look for weak spots to attack.
They find those weak spots in the things that others value.
“He likes X. It makes him feel as though life is worth living. It’s his reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Who knows what he would ever do without it? I should destroy it.”
So people who are pursuing their feelings of superiority do so by destroying those things others value.
The reason why they do not attack people is because society imposes constraints to prevent them from doing so.
“I can’t hurt you, so I’ll hurt the things you love instead. Then I’ll get to feel superior.”
Why People Value Dumb Things
People value dumb things for two reasons: safety and distraction.
The Safety Motive
The safety motive is an extension fo the points presented above. It is a defensive measure taken to protect oneself from the cruel.
People do not mind losing dumb things. Therefore, when their need to value something compels them to action, they assign value to things that don’t matter. This way, if a cruel person decides to destroy the valued thing, then the valuer loses little.
In other words, it’s a form of risk management. People try to value those things which they wouldn’t mind losing.
But you cannot value a thing and also be indifferent to losing it. The two are opposed to one another.
So the people who value dumb things for the sake of safety find themselves in conflict with themselves. This reduces their ability to value things while preserving the potential to feel pain over losing them.
In other words, they get the worst of both worlds.
And they are letting their fear of their fellow man control them.
So they’re losers.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to love a thing because of what others will say or do.
Many people value things that distract them from the burden of existence.
What is the burden of existence?
Life is boring. The number of interesting things that happen in any given person’s personal life is very low. Most people are aware of this, and they look for escapes.
And most people work in crappy jobs.
And many communities have disintegrated, so the people with boring lives and crappy jobs lack a social system in which they can participate.
Most people don’t have close friends either. This is sometimes called the Loneliness Epidemic.
So people often live lonely boring lives with crappy jobs, and they rarely see any prospects of improving them.
Existence is a burden for them; and this one will not go away.
So people look for distractions that help them avoid the pain of their own existence.
These distractions are found within the stupid. Examples of the stupid distractions include: video games, celebrity gossip, faraway politics, and sporting events.
So people value stupid things which dull the pain of their miserable lives.
And, because these things are trivial, they can often be replaced without much effort. This is especially useful when one remembers that people like to degrade the things other people value in order to commune with their own feelings of superiority.
A Better Word
The word seriousness is pretty awkward. It is the noun form of an adjective, and people really only use it because they can’t think of a better word.
The better word is gravity.
When you want to say seriousness you should say gravity instead.
This will add variety to your vocabulary and make you appear smarter.
It will also help you avoid redundancy.
And, because most people do not know the word gravity aside from its physical context, they’ll learn something new when they hear you say it.
So use gravity when you mean seriousness. This is good for both you and your listeners.
Conferences of John Cassian -Conference 4
John Cassian, aka, John the Ascetic, was one of the early important Christian monks. Many of the practices associated with Western monasticism can be traced back to his writings and teachings. Monks, living ascetic lifestyles, are known for their grave nature.
And this article is on a Christian blog. So I think it’s needful to include the saint’s words on gravity.
Of those who having made light of great things busy themselves about trifles.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” – St. John the Ascetic (kind of)
For how can we show how absurd it is that we see that some men after their first enthusiasm of renunciation in which they forsook their estates and vast wealth and the service of the world, and betook themselves to the monasteries, are still earnestly devoted to those things which cannot altogether be cut off, and which we cannot do without in this state of life, even though they are small and trifling things; so that in their case the anxiety about these trifles is greater than their love of all their property.
And it certainly will not profit them much that they have disregarded greater riches and property, if they have only transferred their affections (on account of which they were to make light of them) to small and trifling things.
The things in your life that don’t matter are things.
For the sin of covetousness and avarice of which they cannot be guilty in the matter of really valuable things, they retain with regard to commoner matters, and so show that they have not got rid of their former greed but only changed its object.
For if they are too careful about their mats, baskets, blankets, books, and other trifles such as these, the same passion holds them captive as before.
And they actually guard and defend their rights over them so jealously as to get angry with their brethren about them, and, what is worse, they are not ashamed to quarrel over them.
The Silliness of Coveting
And being still troubled by the bad effects of their former covetousness, they are not content to possess those things which the needs and requirements of the body compel a monk to have, according to the common number and measure.
But here too they show the greediness of their heart, as they try to have those things which they are obliged to use, better got up than the others.
Or, exceeding all due bounds, keep as their special and peculiar property and guard from the touch of others that which ought to belong to all the brethren alike.
As if the difference of metals, and not the passion of covetousness was what mattered.
St. John’s anger with those who doubt that seriousness is important
And as if it was wrong to be angry about big things, while one might innocently be about trifling matters!
And as if we had not given up all our precious things just in order that we might learn more readily to think nothing about trifles!
For what difference does it make whether one gives way to covetousness in the matter of large and splendid things, or in the matter of the merest trifles, except that we ought to think a man so far worse if he has made light of great things and then is a slave to little things?
And so that sort of renunciation of the world does not attain perfection of heart, because though it ranks as poverty it still keeps the mind of wealth.