Refusing Self-Abandonment And The ‘One Best Way’

It’s not necessarily evident on its face how these tie together, but after my thoughts the other day about what I called conformation bias, which came in response to a couple of pieces by D.L. Mayfield, I finally caught up on my L.M. Sacasas.

Here’s the latter in a piece on “wasting time”:

I believe it starts with a series of refusals. A refusal to thoughtlessly submit to the idols. It may not be in our power to overthrow them altogether, but we can certainly deny them the mesmerizing hold they can have on our moral imagination. We can recognize the emptiness of their promises. We can see them for what they are: a shameless effort to align our desires with the goals of a system which cares nothing for us.

And here in a piece on the “one best way”:

One under-appreciated consequence of believing there is such a thing as the “one best way” in every aspect of life is subsequently living with the unyielding pressure to discover it and the inevitable and perpetual frustration of failing to achieve it.

And not only frustration. It produces anxiety, fear, compulsiveness, resignation, and, ultimately, self-loathing. If there is “one best way,” how will I know it? If I have not found it, have I failed? And is it my fault?

I’m thinking here of Mayfield’s declaration of an end to “the age of self-abandonment”. What is the goal, after all, of “a system which cares nothing for us” and which evaluates all of us against its “one best way” if not to cause us our self-abandonment?