Is more growth always good? [Friday Flow #9]

Love, lawsuits, Lewis, listen?

Hey. The next few weeks will be super busy since I’m in the middle of a pretty big transition, what with starting work somewhere new. The weekly essays and newsletters might be slightly shorter as a result, but I fully intend to keep up with them.

Here’s what’s on the menu today:

💁🏾‍♀️ “Love your neighbour”
🆚 Epic fortnight
🖊 How CS Lewis shaped me (archives)
👂🏾 Don’t listen (proverb)

Share Being Human with Doc Ayomide


💁🏾‍♀️ “Love your neighbour”

This week I published an essay on loving your neighbour that got really some really kind feedback, with some describing it as my best essay yet. That was a pleasant surprise because the idea that you can’t love others until you love yourself is a prevalent one, and I was arguing that it was mistaken. But apparently many readers (at least the ones I heard from) thought I laid out my reasoning clearly and compellingly—of which I had plenty help with that from the kind folk who gave me feedback.

The underlying assumption of the injunction to “love your neighbour as yourself”, then, is we are naturally driven by self-interest. And rather than deny that, or even suppress it, we’re being told to actually use it—for our neighbour. To believe that we can’t love our neighbour until we love ourselves would therefore be to miss the point that we’re already driven by self-interest. So let’s begin with objections to that idea and then close with how we can use our self-interest for others…

No one would seriously dispute that self-interest drives much of our behaviour. What gives people pause is suggesting that it drives all of it. And to be clear, by self-interest, I don’t mean selfishness: that’s what you get when you pursue self-interest to the deliberate exclusion of others’ interests. So let’s look at the two broad categories of behaviour often posed as contradicting self-interest: self-harming behaviour and self-sacrificing behaviour…

Read the rest…

Also check out a companion piece I wrote: Who is my neighbour?

🆚 Epic fortnight

Yes, I won’t pretend I didn’t wait for two weeks just so I could make that pun. Still, the time was good for seeing how things shake out. If you aren’t like me and paying attention to Epic Games v. Apple, here’s a quick catchup, plus why it’s interesting.

Epic Games (who make the über popular Fortnite game) were tired of paying the 30% Apple collect on any money an app on the store makes. So they kickstarted a series of moves, ending in a lawsuit, with the intent to force Apple to let them sell to users using Epic’s own store. Apple responded by terminating Epic’s developer accounts, threatening not just Fortnite, but also their other App Store properties. So Epic filed again to prevent Apple terminating the accounts, which the judge approved—but not Fortnite, which she ruled was Epic’s fault.

Personally I think Epic is being disingenuous, but Apple also needs to address issues developers have raised about consistency in their guidelines and larger issues with the App Store.

But what really concerns me is something else that isn’t really being addressed. And that’s the idea that a company must simply always grow, every quarter, no matter what, or it’s not worth investing in. I mean, I get it, but still. What if a company doesn’t stop growing?

I worry that some of what Apple is doing is in a bid to demonstrate the expected growth. I’m a huge fan of Apple as a business. And going by their just hitting $2 trillion in market capitalisation two years after $1 trillion, so do a ton of people. And given upcoming plans for their new MacBooks and Macs, they’ll probably hit the big three. And yet if they don’t keep growing they’ll be considered by Wall Street to be failing.

I don’t have the answers, and I’m no economics expert. But it seems obvious to me that if we need businesses like Apple and Amazon to simply keep growing, we’re basically demanding they take over the world—because that’s the only way they have to grow. It’s either the companies themselves push back at some point (which I doubt, although I wish they somehow would)—or they will have to eat everything else up.

Like, you know, cancers.

🖊 How CS Lewis shaped me (archives)

From the archives this week: a piece I wrote five years ago (Nov 2015) to commemorate the anniversary of the death of CS Lewis. Someone paid me the huge compliment of saying this week’s essay reminded them of Lewis. In this piece you’ll see why that’s such a massive deal to me. Here you go—8 ways Lewis shaped me:

  1. He helped me find faith again. Mere Christianity, with its appeal to reason in defending faith, gave me the rational basis for faith that I’d, before then, sought in vain. I didn’t even dare hope there might be such a basis, and it formed a dichotomy I never could resolve, until I turned my back on faith. He helped me retrace my steps.

  2. He helped me find my place in faith. His intellect gave mine a voice. Before Lewis I felt a misfit as far as my faith was concerned. In Lewis, I found the head of what I was to find was a vast tribe of Christian intellectuals going back through the ages. I finally knew why I’d never related to David, that most beloved of saints, and found a dear friend in Paul, that lover of a good argument.

  3. He helped me find my place as a writer. He gave me a model for who I could be. For who, it turned out, I really wanted to be. After discovering Lewis, I had a burning desire to share him with everyone I could. But to my dismay, I found that he was not as accessible as I imagined. Until it hit me: what Lewis had been to me, I could be to others.

  4. His writing became one of the most powerful writing models for me. His use of imagery changed how I write. If you have ever appreciated any of my analogies, you have him to thank. If a professor of medieval English could write so lucidly, I surely had no excuse for lack of clarity.

  5. His writing has proved satisfying on many levels. I enjoy Lewis as a reader, as a lover of words and good writing, as a thinking person, and as a Christian. He speaks to me on every level, and speaks better than nearly anyone else for each. Especially as a Christian, God alone knows how often I have turned to Lewis for refreshment in a time of spiritual dryness.

  6. He taught me to think clearly. I was already learning this, of course. But Lewis was, and remains, on another level. I have met many minds, but Lewis, surpasses them all for both precision and articulation. Plus, he introduced me to Gilbert Keith Chesterton and Dorothy L Sayers, two minds who have greatly enriched my life.

  7. He saved me from intellectual snobbery. (I even learned the term from him.) Before him, I was already falling into it as a teenager, grasping desperately at my intellect in a world that seemed to have no use for it. Lewis showed me the danger of it, and even better, modelled what the combination of intellect and humility looked like. That latter was the true gift. [Added: He also saved me from chronological snobbery: the idea that we’re better than those who came before just because we’re later. He helped me appreciate that unlike our technology, our natures don’t necessary improve with time, but often go up and down.]

  8. Lewis combined a love of reason and a vibrant imagination in a way I’ve seen very few do. He showed me that reason need not stifle imagination, and that one could love philosophy and fantasy equally. He’s been called the Romantic Rationalist, and I couldn’t put it better.

👂🏾 Don’t listen (proverb)

Today’s proverb points out the connection between happiness and attention—or the not paying thereof:

Whatever keeps you from being deaf to some things also keeps you from being happy.

Or put differently, we sometimes need to ignore our way to happiness.

What do you think you might need to be more deaf to?

Share your thoughts

Talk soon,
Doc Ayomide