Are You an Ideology Guy or a Results Guy?

I divide humanity into two large subsets and am using “guy” here in its generic sense including both gals and guys.

Am I an ideology guy or a results guy?  I wish it was easy to figure out.

Friends that I used to hang out with years ago in the early 1960’s, when we spent too much time, if you ask me. living in what was fondly dubbed our “MOL moments.”  (MOL = Meaning of Life.)  We spoke loudly, emphatically, authoritatively, and freely about the esoteric mysteries of life as if we had fully tamed them.  I was young then, years away from any gray in my beard.

We knew so little, but humility never touched our minds.  This reminds me of more recent times when I was asked to speak at an interfaith forum on “Infinite Wisdom.”  I closed my riff with the prophetic pronouncement that “In my not so humble view, human wisdom is not infinite, human stupidity is.”  If nothing else my chutzpa proved the point.

I divide humanity into two large subsets and am using “guy” here in its generic sense including both gals and guys.  

I suggest that the movers and shakers of this world come in two forms: Ideology Guys and Results Guys.  This model, not original to me, is probably as old as humanity.  It may even exist in infrahuman creatures to some degree. 

Ideology Guys can skin any thought, dissect any idea 99 ways to heaven, hell and back.  At the end, you feel considerably elated but without a single clue, not even a glimmer, of what to do with the barrage of ideas that felt refreshing as a Summer rainfall. Ideas float around in our minds somewhat like solitary ships or beads destined to make a connected chain.  It’s only when strung together that they create ideologies and ideologues (ideology guys.)

Then there are the doers (Results Guys.)  They bloodlessly measure signs of life in the ideologues.  Results-guys can tweak dreams into a workable plan and jerry rig a working model, usually an oft-derided Rube Goldberg contraption.

In real life, we often dismiss the dreamers and worship the doers.  But stop a while. True that without the dreamer, the idea of a machine, a road, a house or even a kitchen recipe would not exist.  Yet, minus a dedicated rigger (the results guy) anything slapped together would likely be dysfunctional, inedible, impractical, horrendously expensive or surely collapse.

Both idea-guys and results-guys are equally indispensable to a functioning, viable society.

That brings me to a seminal idea in Sikhi – the Meeri-Peeri doctrine.  It tells us bluntly to merge the internal sense of the self with the external lifestyle.  Let not even the smallest chink of light remain between the two.  If Peeri is the repository of ideas then Meeri breathes life into them.  Ergo, one may not separate them, or dismiss one without diminishing the other.

I remind you of Kant’s Categorical Imperative that any action that is contemplated comes to the table with one question:  If everyone did what I am about to do would that be alright?

Why do I label Peeri the compendium of ideas?  Because Sikh teaching – Peeri – comes as a supremely revered compilation (The Guru Granth Sahib), along with traditions.  It’s chockful of ideas —  a roadmap for making a life; an ethical framework to live by.  We, the people, need to run with the ideas. 

History tells us that the Punjabi Sikh peasant could and did exactly that and changed the face of the land.  Being a people subjected to yearly invasions by a variety of adventurers, from traders to wannabe conquistadores and plunderers, we are blessed with a rich gene pool of hybrid vigor. In a little over 200 years Sikhs transformed Punjab into a place where the people became masters of their own fate.  Inevitable when ideologues (dreamers) and result-guys (tinkerers) merged together to interweave lessons of Peeri with Meeri. Then the whole became greater than the sum of the parts.

Ergo, don’t dismiss the “Peers” of our existence as just so much chatter, or the Meers of our life as ungodly materialists.  Keep Meeri and Peeri yoked together to the same productive plow of life. Dreamers provide the road map; result-guys construct the working model.  And MOL moments become lessons for life – better late than never.  This remains a lasting lesson of Sikhi for the wider world.  

As it stands, I would catalogue myself as more a dreamer, less a maker or doer.  What to say of such people who bring down the sky with empty talk.

(Baaten hee asman garavey; Aissay logan se kya kaheeye "But they try to bring down the sky with their talk. What can anyone say to such people?"{Guru Granth Ang. 332})

And that’s the deal.

IJ Singh

Dr. I.J Singh has a probing mind and a wry sense of humor. His prolific pool of essays poke, provoke and ultimately force the reader to think more deeply. His work has graced SikhNet's pages for some time.

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