A slender self-help treatise on the aspects of humanity that contribute to a healthy, community-engaged life.
George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Why I Write” was a precise, slender, and gorgeously written survey of the impulses and practices necessary to becoming a writer. Readers may get the feeling that Maritz is attempting a similar feat in this manual for self-improvement, which outlines 11 tools to improve one’s life. They include “Reality,” “Character,” “Originality,” “Freedom,” and seven others. The book attempts poetic beauty (“Like a little bird in the sky, you can fly from the one place to the next”), but it often stumbles into rather amusing metaphors for human development and growth, such as its use of the ocean as a symbol for retaining one’s inner peace and getting rid of harmful personal relationships: “The ocean...looks after itself which sometimes means that it punishes those that exploit its resources to remind them to be grateful again e.g. by drowning ships.” There’s nothing wrong with Maritz’s overall philosophy, which is grounded in a wise and humanistic approach. However, the book might have benefited from a stronger edit, as the brevity of the work amplifies the import of each sentence. Regardless, the book does make excellent observations on human nature and, more importantly, offers sound advice on how to create a functional, healthy communal environment. Particularly apropos is the notion that a person’s greatest achievement is how he or she contributes to forming a healthy, prosperous community: “A society or group of people is only as strong as its weakest link.” The author observes that if a person adopts a standardized societal role that doesn’t accurately reflect his or her complexity, it ultimately doesn’t do anyone any good, as the person will feel frustrated and trapped within an inflexible set of expectations. Instead, Maritz encourages everyone to develop themselves fully and, by extension, develop a well-rounded, self-sustaining community.
Although short and somewhat awkwardly written, this volume contains some profound truths and offers a concise survey of how to attain not only inner peace, but communal harmony.