Category: In Pursuit of Virtue

Imagine Jack and the History Kids

Imagine Jack and the History Kids is finally here!

It’s about a boy who gets bored of his video games so his mom tells him to go outside. His friends help him use his imagination. He then encounters Paul Revere, George Washington, Thomas Edison, James Hill, Amelia Earhart, and Neil Armstrong…all before dinner.

This is a fun way to inspire your kids to go outside to play and learn some American history.

It’s best for kids age 2-12 (My 8-month-old loves the bright pictures, my 2-year-old loves the rhyming and an older kid will love the history lessons. And you’ll love the “get-outside-and-play” message)

You can buy the book on Amazon HERE.

How To Be An Adult

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The “experts” say I need to make shorter videos and blog posts because you are too spacey and dumb to stay focused for anything longer than 5 seconds.

I think more of you than the experts.

I want to talk about the clearest explanation of what it means to be an adult I’ve ever read.

Why is this important? Because if we don’t understand it, it won’t happen.

What won’t happen? We won’t be adults.

And our society will be awful.

Our founding fathers knew that people were awful and broken and corrupt and evil. This is why they put such an emphasis on virtue and moral development. It was imperative that people were intentional about becoming virtuous. Otherwise, we’d be left to our own devices. Which are terrible.

Today, there’s this belief that man is good, so we don’t need to work on virtue. We don’t need to define virtue. In fact, virtue either doesn’t exist or is a bad thing! I disagree.

This is from the great Mark Manson [Language warning], whose writing I really enjoy lately.

There are three levels we’re talking about here: child, adolescent, and adult. We want to get to adult. Most people hang out in between child and adolescent. But we all want to get to adult. Well, we SHOULD all want to get to adult.

When you are a kid, you’re learning about how the world works, it’s all about finding pleasure and avoiding pain. A kids brain is constantly collecting information on what feels good and what feels bad.

This is why when my son Jack was first starting to play too rough on the couch, he’d fall backward without looking, one time he got too close to the edge and I needed to give him a controlled fall to the floor to teach him, “don’t do that anymore.” He was too little to hear what I was saying, he needed to feel it. Kids need to feel what feels good and feels bad.

Then, we get into the adolescent phase, things become more transactional. Adolescents start to learn that there are consequences. Hopefully, they learn there are consequences. This is why parents who don’t institute consequences are crippling their kids. They’ll say “I want this candy bar now, but if I steal it my parents will be mad, and that’s not good. So I won’t steal the candy bar.”

This is higher level thinking than just the child. The child is all about now! The immediate pleasure of the moment drives their actions. The adolescent is beginning to form principles, “stealing is wrong” but the principles are still acted out based on seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.

“My teacher will punish me if I skip class, so I won’t.” This is good. This is growth, but it’s not the end. There’s still a major problem in this approach to life: everything is seen as a trade off:

From Mark Manson, “I will do what my boss says so I can get money. I’ll call my mother so I don’t get yelled at. I will do my homework so I don’t screw up my future. I will lie and pretend to be nice so I don’t have to deal with conflict.”

Nothing is done for its own sake. Everything is a calculated trade-off, usually made out of fear of the negative consequences.

So what makes an adult? Manson: “The adult does what is right for the simple reason that it is right. End of discussion.”

So a child in the checkout aisle says, “I want that candy bar now, I’ll steal it from the grocery store.”
Boom. Done. That’s the order of things for a child.

An adolescent says, “I want this candy bar now, but If I steal it, Dad and Mom will be mad…so I won’t steal it.”

An adult says “stealing is wrong.”


End of discussion.

An adult lives in the world of principles. Full stop. Whether it brings pain or pleasure, it doesn’t matter. It’s all entirely, and solely about principles. Right and wrong. End of story.

An adolescent will say they value honesty but will tell white lies or exaggerate the truth if it benefits him. So he doesn’t really value honesty. He only does when and if it helps him seek pleasure or avoid pain.

An adolescent will tell a girl he loves her, but really, it’s just to get pleasure in the end. Selfish pressure, usually sex.

Adolescents will say they’re generous, and they love to give gifts, but there’s always an expectation of getting something in return. So the person’s generous, but only where it makes them feel pleasure.

An adult is honest, loves, and is generous, for its own sake. An adult will do these things, be honest, love, and be generous, all the time, expecting nothing in return. Ever. An adult does these things even if it brings pain. Even if it’s harder. Doesn’t matter. It’s the right thing to do. End of story.

Where are we in society today? A lot of people are children: “do what feels good now. All the time. Every time. Without question, without thought to anyone else including myself and my future, it feels good, I do it.”

That’s a child.

Most people are adolescents, “I do the right thing if it benefits me.”

This is where I am most of the time, too. I’ll call someone back…if I think it benefits me. I’ll help someone out…if I think I can get something in return. I’ll donate money…if in the end it could benefit me. I’ll meet with someone…if they can help me.

I have to really work on getting out of this selfish transactional way of seeing people. It’s a really bad place to be.

There are very few adults. People who do the right thing for its own sake.

If you’re in a moral conundrum, good! It means you’re thinking about what the right thing to do is, that’s great, you’re no longer a child.

When you start debating the pros and cons of an action though based on how it benefits or hurts you, you’re an adolescent. Stop doing that. Be an adult. Do the right thing.

You know what the right hting to do is. Most of this debate is just you trying to rationalize or justify doing the wrong thing. Don’t do that. Do the right thing. You can do it.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give the Earth itself and all of its contents rather than do an immoral act. And never suppose, never that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, is it best for you to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may appear to you. Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises, being assured that they will gain strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual.”

That’s a poetic way of saying, “do the right thing for its own sake.”

No matter what.


Could You Murder Someone?

Could you murder another person?

There’s a show on Netflix called The Push. It’s a hidden camera show with seventy actors all creating a scenario where they’re trying to convince one person to push a living, breathing persons off of a building.

You say, “I would never, I would never do that in a million years!”

In the show, most people actually push the guy off the ledge.

They’re distraught. They hesitate. But they do it.  And then they crumble in shame and fear. And then the host comes out and says it’s all a show.

They end up laughing about it, but they laugh only to cover their shame.

I share this only as further proof that man is evil and bad and corrupt and broken and easily influenced. Why is this important? Because if you don’t realize how evil you can be, you don’t see the need to work on yourself and make yourself good.

If you think you’re naturally good, you’ll let your guard down. You won’t take things seriously. You won’t take little moments seriously in your life; because you’re lying to yourself. Telling yourself that you’re a good person. You’re not. I’m not.

And once you realize that, then you can start to really work on yourself.

One of Jordan Peterson’s arguments that he makes to his students is that if you were living in Nazi Germany, you’d probably be a Nazi.

I rejected that the first time I heard that, I talked to him about it, he said, “of course you did! No one wants to think that they could have been a Nazi!”

But statistically speaking, most people in Germany were Nazis. They either bought into it or just went along with it.

It’s important to realize this because we need to know and realize how evil we can be. Then we can really work on ourselves.

I think these people who did push the person off the ledge are better off in their life moving forward. Because now they realize the evil they’re capable of.

If you asked them that morning, before the show, “would you push someone off a building and kill them?” They’d say absolutely not. They thought they were a good person.

But now that they did it they know how easily they can be convinced to do evil. Even when their conscience says no, they still do it.

Now they know what they’re capable of and they’ll be more aware in the future, more aware of themselves, and more aware of the evil around them.

Real life example: I was with a friend years ago, and I said, “I could never cheat on my wife. Never in a million years.” and he said, “I could. I won’t! But I could see a scenario where we grow distant over the years, I let my guard down, I invite someone else into my life and I cheat on my wife.”

I was aghast. But then I realized how healthy that attitude is. Because now he makes sure he doesn’t grow distant with his wife. Now he is very careful of the people around him. Now he is aware in the situations he puts himself in, who he lets into his life.

He’s much stronger because he knows a weakness that he has.

If you go through life thinking you’re good, you’re much weaker than if you realize how evil you could be.