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Between 1975 and 1980, nearly 25% of Cambodia’s population was killed as authoritarian military leader Pol Pot tried to transform the country into a self-sustaining, communist, agrarian society with a hatred for the educated and white-collar classes.
Haing Ngor, a doctor who survived the events, wrote a memoir of his family’s journey through Pol Pot’s hell on earth. One of the things that stood out to me — and in many memoirs I have read around similar events, this is almost always called out, so at some point I need to do an article on it — is what Ngor is highlighting in the quote above: individuals have a personal responsibility to not be indifferent to tragedy and atrocity as they begin to sprout, lest they turn into something greater than can no longer easily be unrooted.
One of the easiest ways I have found to be ineffective is to try to do everything. Even worse is spending time on those things over which I have no influence.
Oftentimes, I can find comfort in useless action — spending time on something gives the illusion of having control over that thing — when in reality, transparently accepting a lack of control to focus on what actually can be influenced would improve outcomes.
One of the things that I love about Theodore Roosevelt is how he constantly focuses on the responsibility of individuals, and how competent individuals taking on responsibility translates into a stronger whole.
(Pictures from a 20-volume, 1926 printing of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, which I recently spent too much money on acquiring…)
This reminded me of Charlie Munger’s speech A Lesson on Elementary Worldly Wisdom. It is important to be a multidisciplinary thinker and pull your mental models from various disciplines, and oftentimes, a 101-level understanding in multiple fields can be enough.
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Have a great weekend,
But What For? Writing about anything, as long as it’s interesting
Writing about anything, But What For? Because anything can be interesting.