Friday Thread: “If we take man as he really is, we make him worse.”

Here Viktor Frankl cites a survey [h/t Ciaran] which comes to the following conclusions about American students: 60% said that they wanted to make a lot of money; and 78% said that finding a meaning and purpose in the world was important to them.

He then goes on to illustrate a great insight from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. But if are seen to be idealists and overestimating, overrating man, we promote him to what he really can be. So we have to be idealists in a way because then we end up as the true, the real realist.

So how are we doing in Northern Ireland?

Well intentioned projects like the social investment fund promise much and yet they also encourage competition between communities over who is worst, rather than focusing on what might be done to create meaningful social improvement.

So in your view, how are we doing? Do we over or under estimate our children’s quest for ‘meaning and a place in the world’? How do we know? Can we ever/always/sometimes promote them (and in the process perhaps, ourselves) to ‘what we really can be’?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty