Smart Home And Life

References & Commentary

Welcome to the Hayden Center For Educational Excellence.

Hello, I’m Lee Hayden, the author of the collection of brief courses, short courses, and essays on this website. I believe that you will discover the courses and essays are a great educational adventure, personally enriching, engaging and entertaining, and capable of raising your level of consciousness.  More specifically, you will be enabled to discover your personal  true-self and community true-self.  Life is grand when you become what you must become.

The references used as an inspirational basis  for the courses and essays at the Hayden Center are presented below.  Each reference contains many valuable ideas not alluded to in the essays and courses.  They are highly recommended for individual study.

Reference #1

I’m retired . . . . . Life is good.  . . . . .And, I feel young at heart. . . . . . But, being retired, what comes next?  .  . . . .As many people will attest, the journey along that road less traveled is full of pitfalls and challenges. But, if  we go through our life with eyes wide open instead of eyes wide shut, then we shall see the possibilities awaiting us. I find it a rather charming fact  that pitfalls and challenges can  become possibilities.  Further, I find it even more charming  that possibilities are somehow  magically transformed into opportunities.  Finally, we must make  a choice among the multiple opportunities and that choice must be based on our cognitive intelligence combined with our emotional intelligence. The  choice  with passion becomes our  purpose. It’s a really grand feeling  to know that you have successfully navigated your life and now have discovered a driving purpose  for your life. . . . .Life is good. . . . . .And, I feel young at heart. , , , ,I feel like singing.

Reference #2

Yes, I may be singing. But,  tuning in to my souroundings, I experience  an awareness of  bad news traversing the land.   One need not be a very astute observer of mankind to see that human affairs all over the world are in a state of crisis. This crisis manifests itself in almost every sphere of activity including  politics, economics, religion, education, to mention only a few and as a general feeling of confusion and restlessness. Some say what is happening today is the inevitable result of man's scientific capability having outgrown his moral development. Others say it is all do to the crowded living conditions in our big cities, yet others blame it on the so-called generation gap..

A majority of Americans believe that moral decay ihas raised its ugly head and could eventually destroy this country as we know it.  A tabulation of specific areas of concern is presented in Table  1. below.

Both Jean Bethke Elshtain and M. Scott Peck focus our attention on the trials and tribulations of a civil society.

Many people accept as  fact that we are a deeply ailing society.  Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck asserts that our illness is incivility.  Following the lead of Dr. Peck, I  believe that incivility characterizes much of  our culture and many people within the culture.  Incilility is defined as patterns of morally destructive behavior such as self-absorption, callousness, manipulativeness, and materialism. Incivility is so ingrained and routine in our society that its ocurrence is generally not recognized. We are only vaguely aware of incivility between individuals, in marriage and family life, in the workplace, and in organizations and businesses

The good news is that, as associational human beings, we are quite capable of rediscovering and restoring civility. We are quite capable, but remain quite unmotivated to change.  Thus, we find ourselves  in a new world  waiting to be born; the birth will occur  when people learn to bring  civility into their personal lives and institutions.  Without change there is no growth. Without change, we are only half-alive.

Elshtain also asserts that the overall question about civility in America  must be addressed.  Her key question is: In what direction are we tending?  In our present condition, are we likely to remain the best hope for a world in which so many human beings still endure neglect and injustice?  Are we likely to sustain our commmitment to freedom and justice for all, so that those in our midst who are suffering might yet be lifted up by our democratic faith and practice?

No.  Notwithstanding the achievements of which we are properly proud, our democracy is growing weaker because we are using up, but not replenishing, the civic and moral resources that make our democracy possible

An unfree society has much less need of virtuous or civic-minded people. But a democracy, the Founders insisted, depends decisivily upon the competence and character of its citizenry.  What are those ways of life that self-governance requires?  What are those “qualities” the the Constitution “presupposes” in the American people?  They are precisely those qualities that are currently disappearing from our society.  

As a physicist, I subscribe to the present physics paradigm of a self-organizing universe. [A paradigm is an overarching theory (including all assumptions) under which normal theories are formed.]   The universe has been self-organizing since the moment of the big bang and will continue to self-organize for many billions of years longer. Science is able to “describe” many of the evolutionary steps in the self-organizing process with great accuracy but is yet unable to say “why” each evolutionary step occurs.

Moral development must be addressed in detail if we are to raise our level of consciousness and journey to discover our personal true-self and community true-self.

Reference #3

IWhat is the cause and what can individuals do to improve incivility? What should society or government do? Is it that something be done or can we just ride it out?

Reflecting on the above table, we see many sources of human misery. Providing solutions to relieve these sources of  human misery seems like an impossible task. Yet, we must try. And, if not initially successful, we must try again.

I have been greatly influenced by sociologist Barrington Moore, Jr. and his book, “Reflections On The Causes Of Human Misery .”  Moore maintains that an impossible task may actually be worth attempting, because mistakes and errors - as long as it is possible to demonstrate that they are mistakes - have always played a very significant role in the discovery of truth. Furthermore, there are reasons for suspecting that the task is not really quite as impossible as we might believe.

There is another and perhaps more important justification. The mere act of putting a set of ideas into a coherent order, or even attempting to do so, has a consequence that one learns something about their validity.

Also the impossibility of agreement about painful choices is one way to avoid discussing Even in the beginning, I knew the target audience of this essay.  It would be written for those people who wanted to live a more abundantly life.

Reference #4

My career has been dedicated to physics, but I have had an intense fascination and curiosity about all my major and minor study areas..  I graduated from Saint Mary’s University in January 1962 with a B.S. of Science.  My majors were physics and mathematics and my minors were philosophy and religion. In addition, I had graduate studies in nuclear physics at Ohio State University.  When I retired, I was working on the International Space Station Program in Houston, Texas.

I’m a great admirer of Professor James Luther Adams.  I heard one of his lectures and shook hands with this great man  once sometime in the late 1970’s. He was with Boston University, the University of Chicago, Meadville Theological School, and Harvard University. Professor Adams was a serious scholar and well known teacher especially noted because of his liberal ideas on the human condition, the nature of being human, and the need for social reconstruction.  He represented a theological perspective on almost all matters of human interest.

Presently, a new learning and teaching paradigm, known as metacognition,  is becoming increasingly popular in school systems across the nation.  Metacognition means thinking about thinking. A key learning  tool of metacognition, especially applied to difficult material, is to take different perspectives regarding the material to be understood. Different perspectives  encourage better understanding of the material,  provide better visibility of logical errors, and often suggests new formulations. With metacognition in mind, I recently re-examined the collected works of  Professor Adams’ from a science perspective.

Professor Adams believed, as I mainly do,  that an individual is most adequately understood in the context of a wide variety of concrete relationships, loyalties, and networks of obligation  - in contrast to a laissez-faire views of the self. The unique individual is the point of intersection of a wide variety of physical, social-cultural, scientific and theological  forces and cannot gain self-understanding without attention to these interdependencies. The individual has a potential for creating a free will that cannot be reduced to genetic, social, or cultural causation.  Its this will that allows us to open or close ourselves to various influences or claims made upon us.  It is the exercise of this free will that makes us “responsible-selves”.

I am grateful to Professor Adams for helping me more deeply understand the meaning of the words “freedom, reason, and creative ground of being.”  The way in which a personality will interpret its freedom and use its reason depends upon the character of the self and upon its relation to and attitude toward the rest of reality.  For example, a readiness even to enter into discussion for the sake of reaching agreement  ( or at least reaching a a common understanding) depends upon our total character and not upon our intellectual capacities alone.  It depends, in short, upon a proper relation to the creative ground of meaning and existence.  Moreover, science as well as theology, politics as well as art, properly flourish only when the primary  quality of human character or integrity is the foundation and when that intgegrity has a positive and critical relation to larger integrities, both social and metaphysical.  

Reference #5


Table 1.

Moral Decline In America

Jean Bethke Elshtain

A Call To Civil Society

What Is A Good Society?

Pacific Seminar 1  2012/2013

Declining child and adolescent well being

Continuing disintegration of marriage and family

Unacceptably high levels of violence and disorder

Deteriorating educational systems

Unraveling of many aspects of civic engagement and voluntary associations

A growing sense that we are not responsible for or accountable to one another

A growing sense that relations between races, economic classes, and generations are not guided by attempts at shared understanding

An increasing coarseness and harshness in popular culture, politics, and public discourse

A spreading abdication of adult responsibility and an increasisng acceptance of the adult as a perpetual adolescent

An increase tolerance for self-centered and selfish behavior in all spheres of life

A growing belief that success should be measured by how much money we have and how much we can buy

A dramatic undermining of the distinction between right and wrong

The loss of confidence in the possibility of public moral truth.