A PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
A writer can have, ultimately, one of two styles: he can write in a manner that implies that death is inevitable, or he can write in a
manner that implies that death is not inevitable. Every style ever employed by a writer has been influenced by one or another of
these attitudes toward death.
If you write as if you believe that ultimately you and everyone else alive will be dead, there is a chance that you will write in a
pretty earnest style. Otherwise you are apt to be either pompous or soft. On the other hand, in order not to be a fool, you must
believe that as much as death is inevitable life is inevitable. That is, the earth is inevitable, and people and other living things on it
are inevitable, but that no man can remain on the earth very long. You do not have to be
melodramatically tragic about this. As a matter of fact, you can be as amusing as you like about it. It is really one of the basically humorous things, and it has all sorts
of possibilities for laughter. If you will remember that living people are as good as dead, you will be able to perceive much that
is very funny in their conduct that you perhaps might never have thought of perceiving if you did not believe that they were as
good as dead.
The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and
when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like
hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, 1934 (Preface to the First Edition).
PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING
Through my years in college and graduate school, a number of my professors
exposed me to aspects of learning and life that I can not imagine being without
today. Some also conveyed a sense of my worth and creativity that I have come to
internalize and integrate in my being. But most importantly, they taught me how
My ultimate goal as a teacher is to create independent learners and
thinkers. Toward these ends, I initially seek to lay a foundation by conveying
intellectual content and developing technical skills. I tell my students in
introductory economics that one goal of the course is to be able to understand The
New York Times. They need to understand the language of economics before
they can communicate and empathize with the world around them.
Almost simultaneously I try to give direction and dimension to their thought. I
see to broaden their minds by actually setting an example of how to think.
Again, I tell my students that we are less interested in learning facts and
theorems than in learning how to think about the world around us. Learning to
evaluate public policy is just a step toward learning to evaluate ideas and to
And finally I try to inspire learning, to take pleasure in the operation of the
mind and in the pursuit of knowledge. I certainly can not imagine a more
exciting time to begin the study of economics.
I realize that one semester or one year is not a very long time, and yet it can
mean a very great deal to a student. At a time when society is indifferent and
hope for the next generation is considered romantic or even foolish, it is so
important to be teaching and helping young people grow. As long as there are
students, I will want to be teaching.
PHILOSOPHY OF TAE KWON DO
Tae Kwon Do is the Korean art of kicking and punching that incorporates the abrupt, linear movements of Japanese karate and
the flowing, circular patterns of Chinese Kung-fu with its own incomparable kicking techniques. But more than a physical art,
Tae Kwon Do is a state of mind. Control of one’s mind, self-restraint, kindness and humility are necessarily developed with
First, Tae Kwon Do is an art which demands total concentration. If you let your mind wander in the dojang, you will get kicked
in the face. What you are doing at the moment must be exactly what you are doing at the moment, and nothing else. By living in
the present, you are in full contact with yourself and your environment. Your energy is not dissipated and is fully available.
For the past two years I have regularly been in front of people, as an economics instructor and as one of the higher belts in Tae
Kwon Do class. Initially I was overly conscious of trying to set a proper example of how an economist thinks and how a martial
artist behaves. I felt overburdened and unequal to the responsibility. But I learned to concentrate on the task at hand, and
nothing else. I realized that I should stop trying to set examples and just be an economist and a martial artist. By doing so, I
automatically set the proper example and everything gets done.
This concentration makes me more aware of life and the world around me. I take life a little more seriously, and appreciate
what I have a little more. I am more likely to call friends for no particular reason, but to let them know how much they mean to
me. Friendships have become more valuable, music has become more beautiful, sunsets have become prettier. I live a more
intense life, a fuller life.
Second, Tae Kwon Do teaches us about ourselves. Tae Kwon Do is a way of life which stresses the unity of the mind and the
body. It is a road to finding our true potentials by recognizing that the mind and body are one, and must be developed
simultaneously. We realize that the mind often limits the body. When our body is ill, it distracts our mind. Our mind is unable to
function properly. Similarly, the mind also limits our body. When I first broke a pine board with a knife-hand strike, I realized
that physically I was always capable of breaking pine boards, but my mind had never allowed my body to do so. We learn to
have the mind and body work together to accomplish tasks which present themselves.
And third, Tae Kwon Do teaches us about the world around us. Tae Kwon Do stresses the unity of man and nature. We must
work with the world around us, and not against it. We must be like the water in a mountain stream, flowing over and around
rocks in its path, sensitive to the natural rhythm of life. I find that things generally work out in the right way and in the right time,
if you let them, rather than trying to make them come out some other way. You can’t try very hard to make things work out,
you must just let them.
Once we are one with ourselves and the world around us, we are at peace with ourselves and the world around us. The only
reason there is conflict in this world is because individuals are insecure about themselves. One man needs to prove that he is
better and stronger than another. The man who is secure within himself has no need to prove anything with force, so he can
walk away from a fight with dignity and pride. He is a true Tae Kwon Doist, a man so strong inside that he has no need to
demonstrate his power.
Over the past year I have expressed a romantic interest in a woman who does not have the same interest toward me. Years
ago my pride would have been hurt, and our friendship may have ended at that point. But Tae Kwon Do has taught me to be
secure in myself, so my pride and dignity remain intact. I am disappointed much the way I am if it rains when I plan to play
tennis. But then I just go to see a move instead. I flow with life now, and we are even better friends than before. We went to
see a movie. Before I might have stayed home alone and moped.
Tae Kwon Do is not an answer to the human condition, but a road to the answer. The “Do” in Tae Kwon Do means road, path
or way. As a black belt, I feel I have found the road, but a long and arduous journey down the road lies ahead of me. This is a
journey to become as strong as a mountain and as deep as the ocean. Because the mountain is strong, it remains unchanged in
rain or wind. Because the ocean is deep, it remains blue despite the many muddy rivers which flow into it. Thus a Tae Kwon
Doist strives to have the strength and depth to remain true to his ideals, uninfluenced by the impurities which surround him.
New Haven, Connecticut