I was listening to a lecture by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer this morning, stating that we are raised to be average. Family members, teachers, and other members of society contantly inundate us that we are nothing special and wants us to conform to be like everyone else in the society. According to many metaphysicians, spiritualists, and enlightened social scientists and psychologists, all of us have geniuses within us. Furthermore, we tend to aim too low instead of utilizing our human potential.
Many parents rear their children to be average and to conform because it is safe. Teachers also do the same thing. It seems that it is okay to be intelligent but NOT TOO INTELLIGENT. Likewise, it is okay to be ambitious but NOT TOO AMBITIOUS. There is a cult of mediocrity and averageness.
The theme is the common person. People who go beyond averageness are oftentimes suspect and derided. Many of us are taught not "to reach too high" because "we would fail". So mediocrity/averageness is a safety/comfort/security zone- a lifestyle of quiet and utter purgatory for most people. Why are MOST people afraid of their own GREATNESS and GENIUS? Why do MANY parents push their children towards AVERAGENESS and CONFORMITY?
This is not original to Dyer and his new-agey spin actually does not service the argument well. However, this argument sidesteps one critical point which is that, at least here in America, we are raised to think that we are pretty special no matter what we're like.
Don't get me wrong. Most people are smarter and more capable than they give themselves credit for. And most people don't even begin to realize their potential. I know I don't. But it's not just "society" that holds us back. It is usually our own feelings of not being good enough. I know that I have capabilities that I don't tap but I also usually feel like I'm not that good at anything I do. Yet in America, at school and in the media, we're constantly bombarded with messages about how special we are, despite the fact that America ranks in the bottom of industrialized nations for producing students with fundamental grasps of science and math. People ARE special, but not everyone is a genius.
And it's also true that people who are truly exceptional in some way can often lose their focus on fellow men. Sometimes they simply become horribly self-centered people, sometimes they become the sort of people who "love humanity but don't like people very much," (wish I could remember where I read that line.) If America ever got really serious about helping people to really reach their individual potential, it would be difficult, expensive and very, very time-consuming. And horribly divisive because people even more new-age than Dyer would probably have very different ideas about what the potential is and how to reach it than, say, Condoleeza Rice (who, if I remember correctly, was Provost at Harvard, so she has some insight into education.)
Plus, there's one more thing. There's a reason why most people prefer safety to being exceptional. It ensures the survival of the species.
His latest book, "Wishes Fulfilled" is filled with advice that would be hilarious if it weren't so dangerous...
"Dr. Wayne W. Dyer explores, for the first time, the region of your highest self; and definitively shows you how you can truly change your concept of yourself, embark upon a God-realized way of living, and fulfill the spiritual truth that with God all things are possible-and "all things" means that nothing is left out.
From the lofty perspective of your highest self, you will learn how to train your imagination in a new way. Your wishes-all of them-can indeed be fulfilled. By using your imagination and practicing the art of assuming the feeling of your wishes being fulfilled, and steadfastly refusing to allow any evidence of the outer world to distract you from your intentions, you will discover that you, by virtue of your spiritual awareness, possess the ability to become the person you were destined to be."
But isn't this a good thing? After all, we don't reward children for doing well - everyone must get the same reward regardless of performance. Sports, for instance - every team/player gets the same certificate, win or lose. Schools just have to give every child a gold star for something - we'll make up some totally phony category just so every kid can get a star.
We'll then tell our handicapped kids that they are "special" somehow, and make sure that everyone around gets the word and reinforces it. While that certainly helps those kids feel better, it doesn't seem to do much for the truly talented kids as they watch it happen and then go to bed that night feeling left out.
We follow that by supplying our kids with everything they want - there is no need to stretch themselves to have a new bicycle, ipod or video game. No incentive to improve at anything as they already get whatever their heart desires.
As the father of two special-needs kids and someone who has spent his share of time in talented and gifted programs in school, I find that second paragraph flawed.
That third one was pretty good though.
But to answer your initial question, no. The ultimate goal may sound good but Dyer is not interested in producing a new generation of Einsteins per se. ATM familiarized himself with Dyer more than I have, I'm just used to seeing him on PBS pledge drives where I immediately flip the channel. Dyer seems to be interested in producing a generation of literally bright and shining individuals. I wasn't kidding about him being New Age. This is more of a spiritual quest than an intellectual one.
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