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Theatres of Authenticity

Features of Authenticity

When life is easy, little is demanded of you. That is why your character gets built through difficulties and adversity. If you are lucky, you deliberately bring most stress on yourself through rising to a challenge.

Each of the four ways that you build character provides for a different manner of revealing authenticity. Authenticity confirms that the character you show is not simply a coat that you put on and take off expediently or to win the approval of others. Your personal growth requires that you develop your self so that you cannot be other than you are.

I examine below each of the four theatres of authenticity in terms of:

Remember that «functioning in daily life» is the frame of reference, not some extreme situation or hypothetical moral quandary.

Maintain Integrity-R"G44

Maintaining integrity is about being consistently true to your better Self at all times and manifesting congruence between what you say and do. (To use the usual formulation, «being true to your self», might sound like egocentricity.) Psychosocial reality is created by what you say and think. So you bear a responsibility for affirming and thereby sustaining and propagating what is right and good.

The requirement here is modest. Integrity simply demands that you speak up when others are being deliberately exploited or harmed, or if the human cost of a choice is being ignored. There is no demand for extremes of daily self-sacrifice, or the impossible prevention of all suffering.

Integrity has an opposite, hypocrisy, in which the affirmation of noble values bears little relation to personal actions. When most everybody values integrity, there will at last be a society fit for human beings to live in. That social benefit, currently a little way off, has to commence with each person's creative efforts as explained here.

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Courage is required to live your life consistently with your highest aspirations, especially when the social milieu, on which you depend, is unsupportive. Taking advantage of others may be accepted or even expected and endorsed, although it is a direct flouting of helpfulness (g1). All too often, societiesClosed, including their educational institutions and organizations, are structured in ways that foster lying or manipulative communications—like bluffing or deceiving of others for personal benefit.


Temptations to act in ways that flout integrity are hard to resist when you can benefit without others knowing. Those with high aspirations but weak self-control may cope by avoidance. Temptations of high office make politics and big business common settings for self-indulgence and hypocrisy. Temptations also run high when the culture is hostile to displays of virtue. When that pressure makes it impossible for most people to resist, then a herding tendency—do what others do—develops and everyone is liable to forget about both authenticity and integrity.

Be Present-R"G43

Being present is the prerequisite for acting constructively in a situation. The advice to «be yourself» in a situation is often used as an equivalent. It means participating properly, noticing what is going on, empathizing with others, and being aware of your personal response at all times. Being present is associated with a state of «relaxed awareness», in contrast to being tuned out. It can be continuously active. By being present you will be aware when the situation calls for a time-limited period of more intense «focused awareness».

The key social benefit from an authentic virtuous presence is that others are encouraged and helped to be comfortable and constructive i.e. to be themselves. If everybody is «present» in a situation, then interactions will be appropriate and things will go as well as they possibly can. For example: If it isClosed a crowd in a public place, then courtesy will be manifested. If it is a team effort, then the project will move forward well. If it is a social event, then there will be stimulating enjoyable interactions. If it is a risky situation, then the danger is likely to be avoided, prevented, or effectively managed.

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Courage is required to experience whatever a situation may choose to throw at you. You must find a way to participate, often knowing you may be ignored or attacked. You must be open to criticisms or views you disagree with. Perhaps you will have to endure boredom or tolerate unpleasant behaviors.


Temptations are also strong here. It is easy to allow your mind to drift off, to let others carry the burden of the group work, to participate in a way that is unnecessarily excluding or hurtful, to avoid noticing those around you, to commit beyond your current capacity. These are simply bad habits: they can and must be resisted and eradicated. When they occur, You can either attend to them, or adjust the situation, or exit.

Value Talents-R"G42

Talents are about innate capabilities and personal aptitudes that feel natural. They are what differentiate people with identical training and experience. Valuing your talent separates you from the crowd. The issue here is less about self-improvement, and more about proper use of a gift from chance or providence. Fortunately, social life requires vast numbers of different talents to suit the myriads of social niches. Within music alone,Closed there may be only six or seven main categories of instrument, but there are thousands of different instruments and musical settings. Each requires a specific talent to extract the greatest beauty for the benefit of others.

Most of us can discover some special talent within, but unless that talent is properly valued, you won't put in the effort and then find opportunities for its application. If everybody focused on their talent, there would be widespread social benefits. People are happier functioning at their best, and usually blossom further when their talent is recognized and appreciated. But, like charity, valuation begins at home.

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The first challenge is to actually confront and accept your talent (or talents). It may not be what your parents hoped for or what your society currently values. Then you must follow your star, despite impediments and egotistic preferences for an easy life. Your talent may demand more of you than you might initially want to provide: but this is about building character, so there is nothing for it but to rise to the challenge. Although it is never certain that others will notice or respect you, your talent is a constant in your life. If it is valued, over time it can provide a foundation for living and integrating socially in a positive way.


It is natural to take a talent for granted if it comes easily. Then you are not properly valuing it. You have little credit or responsibility for possessing a talent, so you may be tempted to deny or play down your responsibility to value it. Although no-one can take your talent away, you can devalue, waste or even spoil your talent. You may also be tempted to think that your talents give you a prerogative over others: whatever they are, they do not.

Be a Hero-R"G41

Life responds to your creativity. Creativity is based on rising to the challenge. Challenges require courage, and a hero is always courageous. Some challenges are obvious and almost unavoidable e.g. the Journey of the Hero, which is about how you move from childhood to being an adult filling a role in society. However, once you are an adult, what then? Don't worry: there are many more unknowns and difficulties ahead.

Society benefits from your personal heroism because this sustain its existence. You may possibly share in the opening up of new frontiers, and provide opportunities for others. Why not?

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In this domain, you must be on the lookout and ready to take up challenges that are presented to you. You must expect stress, fear, hardship. The odds will be against you. Others will be whispering that you will never make it. You will sometimes feel totally alone. However, by bringing your courage to bear, and irrespective of whether you succeed or fail, you will learn about what it is to live, and come through the adventure as a stronger wiser person.


Temptations to resist the call to adventure are normal. Just at the critical moment, the cosmos usually invites you to turn back by dispensing shocks or seductions. It is a test. You are far more likely to regret those things you did not do, than those you did. You may be affected by seeing that others hide away, take the easy life, or live off others: parents, an inheritance, the state, a firm. Let them live their life—but are you content to call that living?

Originally posted: 10-May-2013

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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