In the opening credits to the original Star Trek series, Captain James T. Kirk tells us that the United Starship Enterprise’s five-year mission is “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” This implies that the main theme of the show is exploration. Yet the crew of the Enterprise often go to familiar places, including 20th century Earth. Nevertheless, every episode deals with another important theme: how civilized adults make good decisions, while uncivilized or immature people usually make bad ones.
An ambitious person is someone who wants to rise socially. Ambitious people want the power, property, and prestige that go along with being in a higher social rank. Ricky Gervais’s character David Brent, from the BBC television series The Office and the movie Life on the Road, is ambitious. In The Office, Brent wanted other people to look up to him as a philosopher and an inspiring leader, to like him as a friend, and to laugh at his jokes. In Life on the Road, Brent pursues his dream of being a successful singer/songwriter. Yet Brent did a poor job as the manager of the sales office of a paper company, and his music career is going nowhere. Psychiatrists have a word to describe people who are trying to occupy a higher social rank than other people think they deserve: narcissist. By studying David Brent’s failures, you can figure out how to succeed. I explain this in more detail in my book Don’t Feed the Narcissists! The Mythology and Science of Mental Health.
Narcissists are people who have an inflated self-esteem. Narcissists feel that they are entitled to the power, prestige, and property that go along with high social rank. Unfortunately, they lack the intelligence, the social skills, and maybe even the work ethic to earn the rank that they desire, or to handle the responsibilities that go along with that rank. In a business setting, narcissists can create problems when they are promoted to a position that is higher than they can handle.
In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced that the second week in February should be “Negro History Week.” This week was chosen because African-Americans had long been celebrating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14). Continue reading “The History of Black History Month”