Hard Road Reveals the Truth of all Things

Most of the time, doing the right thing, and I don’t mean the cosmetically correct thing, but truly the right thing, you will find that such an act is lonely and perilous. When I came up with the term Overmanwarrior in my novel The Symposium of Justice I was thinking a bit of Nietzsche’s Übermensch and Ayn Rand’s position in some of her fiction written in the late 1940’s through the 50’s. Because doing the right thing is not obvious and can only be seen best by those who have the ability to look with eyes beyond self gain.

The definition of the Übermensch according to Wikipedia is: The Übermensch (German; English: Overman, Above-Human, Superman) is a concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche posited the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to set for itself in his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra (German: Also Sprach Zarathustra).
There is no overall consensus regarding the precise meaning of the Übermensch, nor one of the importance of the concept in Nietzsche’s thought.

The trouble with such a concept is people like George Bernard Shaw, and Adolf Hitler and even Ayn Rand used the Ubermensch idea to justify their thoughts of purging society of a weaker race. Shaw and Hitler hungry with power and their own neurosis obviously misread Nietzsche and used their fragmented understanding to evil ends.

I’ve read Thus Spoke Zarathustra extensively and I don’t take from it that a dominate race should be established and the strong overman will rule all others. Such a thought is still rooted in the human need for control. What Nietzsche is trying to get mankind to understand, which the character Zarathustra frustratingly attempts to bring to the village from his mountaintop perch, only to have the village make fun of him and reject his ideas, is to help mankind see past their didactic necessities and consider the larger scheme of things.

I have found that much like Zarathustra, who had tremendous revelations to share with mankind, that the same mankind routinely rejects such advice in favor of the much more short term fixes of material need. And the journey of understanding what others refuse to grasp is a lonely one.

When critics point out to me such as in the Lakota Busing cuts issue about how they are supposed to get their children to school since the levy failed, or challenge me to teach a class of students and that if I did I would somehow see that teachers are worth over $60K a year and justify the enormous impact on community budgets, they truly, and naively believe that they will somehow catch me in a lie, where I say one thing and do another. So I thought I’d take a minute to provide a bit of background history, and how I arrived at this term overmanwarrior as the only title I find value in.

My daughter reminded me just prior to Christmas that she didn’t know how I did it when she was growing up, how I managed to work 80 plus hours a week and she still remembered me being a huge part of her life as a kid, most dads according to her that would work that much would be brain-dead and uninvolved.  (Check out my daughter, Brooke here)  I did the extra work so my wife could afford to stay home with my kids and be available for them as a stay-at-home mom. My mom was the kind of woman who got stuck on the edge of the women’s rights movement where a career helped define the modern woman, and she painfully resisted falling into that social trap. The result was that all the kids in my school wanted my mom for a mom because all their mothers had bitten into this modern notion of a woman can do and be everything to everyone, and kids were being neglected. So I made sure my wife had the same chance with my kids because the impact on young children of having a mother around was obviously extremely positive.

It was a rough road, but we managed. We could only afford one car at the time, and I didn’t want my kids to have to ride the bus if they didn’t want to, so my wife drove them to school. The school bus can be a rough environment for children, especially girls. So I wanted my kids to not have to worry about that kind of thing. But that meant that my wife would need our car. So in order for me to get to work, I used to ride a bicycle to and from work which was 8 to 12 miles one way. I did that every day for about 10 years. While doing all this I worked an average of 16 hours per day, sometime 7 days a week.

Yet I always spent time with my kids. I never resorted to any kind of alcoholic abuse or any other substance abuse like smoking or over-eating. I managed to read approximately 1 book a week during all this time, depending on the book. Some books were so involved that they sometimes took a month to complete while reading on my 10 minute breaks and lunch periods.

I’ve always reached for more beyond my primary income however and have been a part of many business startups, many of which failed for various reasons. These experiences put me in contact with many people that consider themselves powerful and I learned that in comparison to the life I was living, many of these people were soft, and being soft costs money. When looking at a balance sheet, it quickly becomes obvious that luxury written in a contract is money. And every day off, every compensation statement centered on self-preservation and unproductive time off, costs money.

I managed during all this time to go to college three different times, each of them felt like a waste of time. The environment was too juvenile for an institution that was supposed to take people to the next step. I observed when I was in college the intent of the exercise was to learn a trade, achieve a reasonable income for that trade, and allow that convenience of income to provide leisure time activity. What many of my peers were doing with that leisure time was wasting it on pop culture activities. I decided I learned more through trial and error of doing things, and had no desire to convenience, because it was making the people around me soft mentally and physically.

I’m still married to the same woman after over 20 years. We’ve had plenty of up’s and downs in our relationship but we never let those issues keep us from putting our children first. Many of those up’s and down’s were caused by lack of money, and social expectation pushed upon us by family members who wanted the best for us, but their unit of measure was a faulty social model shaped by progressives.

Even after all these years, I still ride a motorcycle to work, even in the rain and extreme cold. I do it to stay tough. It’s all too easy in middle age to get soft, and I won’t allow that to happen to me.

I’ve been injured numerous times, sometimes where steel pieces would go through one side of a finger and come out the other, I’ve been cut so bad that the end of my fingers were completely pulled away from the bone, and I spent over 5 years walking around with a torn ACL suffered in a basketball game where it was just me against three other guys, a bet I made for the right to play basketball at a park. Until I tore my ACL, I was winning. During that time I still rode my bike to work; I never missed a single day of work, or took workman’s compensation. I’ve changed primary jobs over 5 times yet never took a single unemployment check and my part-time jobs have literally been everything under the sun, everything from janitorial work to sales. I worked part-time for about 7 years as a tree climber and trimmer, and that was difficult work when you already put in 8 to 10 hours at a primary job. I’ve thrown my back out, torn muscles in my back, and had it seize up from stress and overwork so bad that I couldn’t even get off the couch. Yet I always managed to get to work and suffer through the pain without missing a beat. To this day I don’t take a single item of medication. My blood pressure is child-like and healthy. My weight is fine. I can still run and touch my toes. I can still crawl on the floor and play with the dog or little kids. I seldom if ever get sick. Everything mentioned is true without any exaggeration. I’m actually holding back a lot of information so not to sound pompous. Needless to say, I set the bar extremely high for myself.

The benefit of all of the above is that my wife and I have always craved to keep our debt obligations minor both financially and emotionally because our ultimate goal and the goal we’ve tried to teach our children was to pursue freedom. Not to become a slave to an occupation. You use the occupation to secure your finances, but you don’t use the occupation to create your identity.

As you might imagine trying to teach your children such a concept sounds easy, but consider that most of our society uses that measuring system of occupational value to establish the hierarchy of human value. Trash collectors are at the bottom, and powerful politicians are at the top. So taking such a position leads to big trouble, leaving family members baffled. When someone introduces themselves they often say, I’m a CEO,” or “I’m a data entry technician,” or “I’m an investment broker.”

So to do the right thing and to go for the lofty goal of true freedom, not just financial freedom but emotional freedom as well is a lonely course to plot.

It’s not as if you can sit down and have a beer with someone and explain to them that what is most important to you is complete freedom, to be free of the burdens mankind gives itself.

Zarathustra realized that the people’s ears were not yet ready for what he had to say. So he returned back to his cave.

When you make decisions that leave it so you can’t rely on a mom or a dad, a brother or a sister, a friend, a boss, a politician, or anyone else, you find that you have to always dig deep and rely on yourself, that is a overmanwarrior. A warrior because it is always an uphill battle because all those types of people, even though they may mean well, have something corrupt in their nature, usually. It is difficult to separate a person’s inner desires for themselves from the needs you have. So when we talk about an overman, someone trying to be more than just a human being it is easy to see.

Films like the old Porky’s, or the modern version of that, American Pie, I find myself lost to the humor. I’ve seen people I know well laugh profusely while watching those films, but I don’t understand why. Sex is fun, but I don’t see making an entire film about the adolescent notions of sex and passing gas. Those types of grotesque human behavior are disgusting to me, just as I have absolutely no clue why a person would desire to get drunk, or high. I don’t understand bachelor parties or lap dances when you have a perfectly good wife at home. Why would you do that?

Those are just a few of the differences that I have with most people in social interaction. Now the “normal” person will look at what I wrote above and say, “That guy is a stiff. No fun!” And that’s why an overman concept is a lonely road, because there is no way you could ever explain to a person the value of being free of vices like alcohol, sex addiction, social acceptance, free of craving power, free of fear because fears are used to control you, free of self-doubt, I could go on and on. And from what I understand of Nietzsche that is how you get to god is seeing beyond the vices that hold mankind back. And religion often plays to people’s fears. A belief in religion is better than nothing. Spiritual faith is extremely important. But when Nietzsche proposed the idea of the Übermensch that’s what he was talking about, moving beyond the things that hold back mankind.

The benefits of developing that position are that thinking outside the box is easy because of the freedom from all the things that hold people back. That thinking outside the box is how you solve the social problems that inflict the human race.

That’s why I use the term overmanwarrior.  Don’t think when I make a statement about how something could or should be fixed that I can’t back it with action.  Failure is not an option……ever.  It is not acceptable to say, “I’m only human,”or “I’m no superman,” as proclaimed in the song from “Scrubs,” or “I’m not strong enough.”  My basic feeling is that if the situation calls for a superman, then you better learn to be one.  Leaning on the frailties of imperfection as an excuse for inefficiency and justification for corruption is never an acceptable answer and will not be tolerated. 

Rich Hoffman

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