“Importance,” is a value term, and like all value terms, is a term of relationship. Like all other values, importance is only a value relative to some human objective or purpose, some goal relative to which a thing has some relevance—negative importance if it hinders or prevents achieving the goal, positive importance if it is necessary to and makes possible achieving the goal.
Like all other values, nothing is just important, nothing is intrinsically significant or necessary. Things can only have importance relative to some purpose or goal of some human being and only to that human being.
In the article, “Seriously,” I wrote: “Wisdom is knowing what is truly important and what is not, what to take seriously and what to ignore, what should occupy one’s real concerns and efforts, and what should be recognized but generally dismissed as a waste of one’s time, effort, interest, and emotion.”
The emphasis in that article was on the fact, “The purpose of life is not to fight evil, but to achieve good. This article is directed more at identifying the kind of distractions from attention to one’s own life and success that is presented as, “important,” usually because it is supposed to be some kind of evil or danger one must fight, or at least worry about.
The only things that are important, and really matter, are those that directly relate to your life, your goals and purposes, and your success and happiness as an individual human being.
Most people waste their lives, their time, energy, and money chasing, “issues,” which are not only unimportant, but trivial and inane. They are almost always things they have been taught are important and are almost always so-called social issues.
Importance Not Social
It is taught that human beings are, “social,” beings, and that all values and purposes are social in nature, but human being are not social animals.
From the, “Unique Human Nature” section of “The Moral Nature” chapter:
“How a human being must live is determined by human nature. Except for human beings, every creature behaves exactly as their nature requires because its nature also determines that behavior.
The unique nature of human beings does not provide them with any specific predetermine behavior.“
Human beings are not predators, grazing animals, pack animals, herd animals, colony animals, or social animals. Human beings are rational volitional animals and are required by their nature to choose what kind of beings they are going to be and how they will live.
The reason most human beings choose to live in societies and socially interact with other human beings is because they personally value those relationships, but social relationships are not automatically good. [See the article, “Why Live In Society?.”]
A given society may be important to an individual, but the importance is not determined by society. It is determined by the purposes and objectives of the individual and how well that society can be used to achieve those objectives and purposes.
What You Believe Is Important
About five years ago I wrote a series of articles, “Most Of What You Believe Is Not True.” [Index to those articles.] Not explicitly included in that series were all those things people are taught and most believe are important. The following are some of those things which the news, educators, authorities, and, “leaders,” constantly promote as important issues which have little or not importance at all to any individual’s own life and success.
With few exceptions, none of the things that are pressed on you as earth-shattering issues matter at all. In many cases they are not even true, and those that are true are mostly inconsequential, superficial, petty, irrelevant, and meaningless—they are deceitful non-issues.
The Non-issues Cluttering Up Your Life
All of the following are things you’ve been taught and probably believe are important issues promoted by all forms of media from news to entertainment.
Political Issues—The biggest and most common non-issue dominating the news is politics. Most people are convinced it is the most important of matters, which, of course is exactly what the politicians want everyone to believe. The truth is, to a free individual pursuing his own life and future, politics is of no importance whatsoever.
In any election, it does not matter what any political party or particular politician, “stands for,” or which party or candidate wins, or what any of them say (because they all lie).
There is no political solution to anything. The purpose of your life is not to save society, not to make the world a, “nice,” one. There are no social problems to solve, there are only individual problems. All the political movements, campaigns, and programs in the world will not change anything, except possibly to make things worse. If you take any of it seriously, you are wasting your own life and resources on that which does not matter.
Societal Issues—Society has no issues. If every individual in a society lived there life successfully, there would be nothing one could identify as a, “social,” issue. So-called social problems are always only individual problems. Even if there could be social problems, they are never yours. If you are not poor, there is poverty issue. If you are working and earning a living there is no unemployment issue. If you protect yourself and your property there is no crime issue. Most so-called social issues are statistical lies.
Cultural Issues—For the free individual, a society and it’s culture are only raw materials from which one can choose or reject any aspect depending the individuals own objectives and values. Nothing in any society dictates how an individual lives any aspect of their own life. No fashion, trend, or latest celebrity, or sports personality opinions influence the free individual’s own life. The world of social media, arts, and literature are available to the individual to use, not to be directed by. None of them have any importance at all except that which the individual attributes to them.
International Issues—Unless one is a world explorer, traveler, geographer or engages in international business, world affairs have no importance at all to the individual. The endless wars, terrorist atrocities, natural disasters, famines, and outrages and political outrages in every backwater hell hole of the world just don’t matter.
Threat Issues—”… the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary,” H.L. Mencken wrote. To that end, the populace is fed an endless parade of inevitable disasters—global warming, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, epidemics, pandemics, terrorism, wars, crimes, depressions, and nameless threats from God to space used by government to excuse endless outrages and oppression. Almost all are lies, predictions that no one can make, meant to keep the populace in a constant state of paranoia.
knowledge, developing yourself-competence, confidence, self-assurance, developing your own character and working to achieve and be all you can be, not allowing anything to stop or distract you from your own goals and purposes.
You and yours are important. All others are only important if they have a direct relationship with you and your own life.
All those issues I’ve described as unimportant are, nevertheless, facts of this world, because they are taken seriously by most people. Though none of them should be taken seriously, all knowledge is valuable and one needs to be aware of those issues others take seriously and may have some affect on one’s own affairs, such as the political atmosphere, societal and cultural issues, international affairs, laws and the state of the economy. One only needs to know so much about them as will directly impact their own life and choices however, and only as facts to adjust to (or evade), not objects one must attempt to change or correct.
At the end of “Never Take Any Of It Seriously”—Mencken and Rand,” under, “None Of It Matters, I wrote:”
“Any concern with the world, society, or mankind is a wasted concern, which means there is no political or world-wide issue that matters. The so-called, ‘founders,’ of the United States believed, or at least expressed belief in human progress. It was Jefferson that wrote that all men were endowed with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But it is apparent, even when men are free to pursue happiness, they never achieve it. Mencken expresses it best:
“‘I have little belief in human progress. The human race is incurably idiotic. It will never be happy.’ [Letters of H.L. Mencken (1961)]”
“There is only one moral requirement: to be the best human being one can be in all things, physically, mentally, and morally. Everything else is a distraction from that moral imperative and must never be taken seriously.”