It’s no secret that ideas can change the world.
Ideas can move mountains, ideas can heal the sick; ideas can save lives, and ideas can start wars; ideas can put you to sleep, and ideas can wake you up; ideas can build walls, and ideas can tear them down.
And it’s no secret that truly great ideas are often very simple. Cliches are cliches for a reason, and that reason is: simplicity is power. The moment something becomes unnecessarily complex it’s vitality begins to drain away.
The greatest ideas are, more often than not, also the simplest.
But which of them is truly the most important?
Imagine you found yourself the leader of a vast group of people. A group who were about to venture out into the world for the very first time with nothing but your wisdom to guide them. A group who would listen to and follow your every word as law for the whole of their lives and to the absolute best of their ability.
But you could only say two words to them. That’s all.
What would you say?
It would seem that you’d have a responsibility to find the truest and most useful two word sentence possible. A responsibility to find the that idea that would do the greatest good and the least possible harm in the world.
And you would have to be certain that whatever you said could act as a reliable guide in most all situations; whilst also being something that was clear enough to adequately resist misinterpretation by any self-interested parties seeking to twist dogma in order to further their own ends.
So what would you say?
I would say:
Because: this is the truest, simplest, and most important idea that I know of.
Because: these two little words are a compass that unfailingly points north. A compass that can act as a guide in almost any situation that you find yourself.
Because: within these two words, is contained a whole philosophy of life.
As human beings we can frequently become overwhelmed by the tides of circumstance. It is all-too-easy to slip down the slope into mindless reaction as we scramble just to keep ourselves afloat. Time is short and our attention finite; we simply do not have the bandwidth to think through each particular situation as it occurs. Which is why, as a species, we have a genuine need for clear, simple, and true guiding principles.
The best ideas offer solid ground to stand on while the earth is shaking; they are guiding lights in the darkest tunnels; they offer an unmatched refuge from the chaos of the ever-raging storm.
In the times when I find myself in real trouble, lost in the woods and completely unsure of what to do or which path to take, I turn to a set of fundamental principles to help guide my actions and my choices.
This is one of them.
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