May You Know Joy, by Robert Gore

Summa Theologica

Most of us have done something terribly wrong to another person. We realized it at the time or afterwards. For those with an intact conscience, there was overwhelming shame and a burning, seemingly inextinguishable guilt. Perhaps there was an admission, maybe to the victim, from whom forgiveness was asked. Perhaps there was only self-confession. If the shame overwhelmed and the guilt burned deeply, there may have been a redemptive pledge not to commit the same transgression and to improve a deficient character.

No one caught in throes of such a wrenching experience would characterize his emotional state as happiness. Indeed, depending on the transgression and the emotional reaction, happiness might have seemed forever out of reach.

If a tormented conscience makes one miserable, doesn’t that suggest that a clean conscience is necessary for more salutary emotions? Conscience is often thought of as an internal control system, allowing us to recognize right and wrong and helping deliver us from evil. Many religions and secular philosophies envision perfect alignment between individual conscience and the morality they embrace.

Could conscience be an instrument not just of morality, but of happiness? Is it possible to regard yourself as evil and at the same time be happy? That question almost answers itself, but many people have a harder time with the idea that one has to regard one’s self as good to be happy. Such regard may be self-delusion, but even that delusion suggests the necessity of moral self-approval, no matter how misplaced, to maintain at least a chimera of self-respect.

We’re saturated with popular culture delivering the message that something besides making yourself a better person will make you happy. Make more money! Make more friends! Take control of your life! Find your hidden power! Alter your appearance! Alter your personality! Try our product! Indulge! And so on! Yet, misery pervades our culture. What if these paths to happiness are actually shortcuts to nowhere…or worse?

What’s seldom promoted is the idea that happiness is the product of an often difficult quest for enlightenment and wisdom, stemming from a determination to improve one’s self and one’s soul. For one thing it sounds hard and solitary, therefore of limited appeal, there’s no money in it. It also stands in complete contradiction to the fashionable, idiotic idea that individual and social betterment depends on political action and what governments do or don’t do.

“Just remember one thing, or you’ll never be happy with your riches: wisdom is far more precious than geld.”

Abram Gottman to Daniel Durand, The Golden Pinnacle, Robert Gore, 2013

The thousand-mile journey begins with this single step: you realize there are things more important than geld, popularity, prestige, and the other things people chase, and you’re going to discover what they are. So marks the beginning of the quest for wisdom.

Soon you see that so much of what’s regarded as important isn’t, and what’s truly important is hiding in plain sight: people to whom you hadn’t listened; authors you’d never read; great art you’d overlooked; profound truths ignored or dismissed as insignificant. The scales gradually fall from your eyes, encouragingly, at a quickening pace. The surface-area physics of an expanding mind are such that the more it takes in, the more it can take in. Understanding, there for the asking, comes faster and faster.

My good friend Holly O recently wrote: “What humanity faces is above all a spiritual battle.” She’s quite right. A shining Christmas theme is hope: redemption is always possible, we can improve our own souls. We cannot control anyone other than ourselves. Fortunately, that improvement is a full-time pursuit.

That pursuit and the pursuit of happiness are one and the same. Any pursuit that disregards the right and the good is anything but a pursuit of happiness, which cannot flow from evil. Those who cite sociopaths and psychopaths as contrary examples somehow mistake self-destruction for happiness. Sociopathic and psychopathic souls are collapsing or have collapsed in on themselves, black holes of nothingness. No light and no value, certainly not one as paramount as happiness, issues from nothingness.

The right and the good emerge for those determined to find them. Each discovery leads to further discovery. There is no shortage of people, religions, and powers who will tell you their version of the right and the good. But, “Let me tell you how to live” is actually “I will tell you how to live…and think.” There’s an overwhelming demand for it, but committed seekers find their truths on their own.

A suggestion to seekers: consider the Golden Rule. You may discover, if you have not already, that treating others as you would have them treat you increases not just their happiness, but yours.

Happiness and joy are not synonyms. Joy connotes something deeper, more transcendent, but what, exactly? There is perhaps only one universal of humanity’s gods: they are creators, and that offers a clue. “What a piece of work is man,” observed Shakespeare—or whoever wrote under his name—in Hamlet. Surely our capacity to envision something new, to plan, to experiment, to improve, to build, to make our own and others’ lives better, in sum, to create, is the human magnificence Hamlet’s author both hailed and achieved.

Your parents had no idea of their own profundity when they admonished you to quit tearing up the house and go do something constructive. Repairing a broken doorknob or repairing a broken life; helping a friend; standing up for what you believe; promoting peace and understanding; penning a poem or an epic; starting a business; doing that one thing you’ve always wanted to do: there is moral purity and joy in all manner of constructive endeavor.

That is the wish and hope for this Season and beyond: May you know that joy.

23 responses to “May You Know Joy, by Robert Gore

  1. As a wise pastor once told me…You have touched on the keys to understanding.


  2. And a joyous season to you, Bob. Wonderful article as usual.


  3. Excellent essay, Robert.

    Emotional pain, including guilt, is as important to our psyche as physical pain is to our physical body. It’s an alert to a problem, and if not heeded, the malady, physical or mental, will likely worsen. Sometimes it’s beyond our capability to heal ourselves physically, and similarly sometimes spiritual redemption seems out of reach, as where the person we’ve wronged has passed away. I’d like to believe that our usual perception of reality is incomplete, and that redemption is possible in such cases. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” comes to mind. If we are truly One, in some sense, “…one of the least of these…” might be the path to peace.

    Best wishes and merry Christmas!
    John Moon


  4. One of your best yet, Robert.

    You’ve done a fine job this year. I don’t agree with all you say or think, but I respect your intellect and your motives. Wish I had your talent.

    Pardon the grammar, but don’t let nuthin stand in your way.

    Tom Pfotzer
    Waterford, VA


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  7. Well, my friend, if its one thing I have learned over the latter portions of my life, there is NOTHING that will replace “keeping your eye on the ball.” I don’t think anyone has better expressed what might constitute, “the ball,” as you have done with this article.
    We each step up to the plate and, unless we have already surrendered and are looking only for “ball four” that will get us “on base,” we MUST swing – hopefully at only those “balls” over or near the plate.
    A rare few of us “strike out.” Some of us reach base only through errors committed by others. Most hit for a decent average – particularly those of us who are born to play in the American, “National League.”
    Of course, there are a small number of us who are actually born on third base and conclude they have hit a triple! They are often thrown out attempting to steal home.
    Thank you for being such a good “hitting coach” by word and deed. I look forward to if and when you might again choose to visit, or we might otherwise get together.

    I value both your continuing work and your friendship.



    • I can’t add much to that except that I value the same. I will get back to Denver in 2019, either because I’m going to have business in Colorado Springs or because it’s a days drive from Albuquerque. We’ll get together and I’m already looking forward to it.



  8. Excellent article. We should ALWAYS be wary of feeling good about ourselves for the wrong reasons.

    This Christmas many who we consider to be GOOD people have high hopes for EVIL Cabal Elites while “waiting for Santa” [Satan?] having their Christmas cheer interrupted with arrests. Either way, we say “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

    But let us NOT be like:

    Yes God, please rain down blessings upon us Good Christians who serially hire others to unnecessarily and ruthlessly kill sentient animal cohorts when we prefer to eat their flesh rather than honor them for what they are and their desire to live their lives just as we would if we were in their shoes. Please rule upon us just as would the Cabal/Satan, who bless those who commit heinous evil acts with preferential treatment and advancement in society, and scorn those who mock our evil actions.

    Give peace and prosperity to those of us who commit the most violence, especially those of us who eat our friends flesh, and squelch the voice of those who attempt to shine light upon our heinous evil acts – those EVIL whistleblowers…

    Our REAL Problem (from the article which follows): A shocking experiment shows people will murder others just to conform to society [This is a far cry from where society should be, as required before it can legitimately call itself humane, which is to take a stand for the following universal truths: If humans have no right to own other humans because they are sentient beings, then it follows that we have no right to own animals which are also sentient beings. Moreover, eating meat is 100% unnecessary for human survival. See also:
    with-humanity (in under 4 minutes)]

    In reality we are the greatest unrepenting SCUM OF THE EARTH, yet we IMAGINE a God who will BLESS HUMANS ABOVE ALL OTHER LIFE-FORMS!!

    How is that going so far folks? Does this seem like the RIGHT path to be on? From my view ALL that awaits such a populace is the NEW WORLD ORDER/SLAVERY/HELL-FIRE!

    Do our actions today say Merry Crucifix-mas Day Everyone!! Is it possible we only REAP what we SOW?

    Regardless of Intent Your Vote is Effectively a Hate Crime:


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  10. You know you’re hitting the big time when the crazy people show up to post their stuff in your comments section.

    It’s a beautiful article. Thanks for writing that.


  11. You know you’ve hit the big time when the crazy people show up to post their stuff in your comments section.

    It’s a beautiful article. Thanks for taking the time to write that.


  12. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.


  13. Be careful about flowers and buterflys you can end up like that German kid in all quiet on the Western front


  14. First off,Mr.Gore hope you and family/friends had a nice Christmas and hope the New Year treats us all as well as can be.

    I am a bit confused in part of article that seems to not highly the value of “making more friends”,not sure the point here.

    I will say without my true friends who are family and have been there for me in trying times and I have tried me best to be there for them in trying times I really for most part value nothing more.

    I though am sad when friends face truly tough times feel at that moment have a true purpose in life/for the moment a rudder in the water while usually flailing around in life,get this same feeling helping a stranger with say a broken down car or perhaps finding and homing a lost 4 footed friend.These are the moments when I am truly happy in life.

    I do understand that many one would consider friends are only there when the sun shining/the belly full and the beer flowing,those are not friends but merely acquaintances,real friends,are priceless and though hard to find worth the efforts in my world.


  15. James

    My “Make More Friends” was not meant to disparage true friends or true friendship, only the kind of advertising puffery that promises great things, like more friends, if you’ll only try the advertised product or service. Like you, I believe real friends are indeed “priceless.” I’m sorry if my writing wasn’t clear on that point.


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