Throughout history, giants in philosophy have been on hand to observe the world around them, offer interpretations of what it all means, and provide suggestions as to how we might use this information to improve our daily lives.
Ancient Greece gave us cats like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
France has given birth to notables such as Descartes, Pascal, and Sartre.
Germany has produced so many philosophers, one wonders how they get anything done over there, when so many of their citizens seem to do nothing but think deep thoughts all day.
Kant, Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzche, and Heidegger are but a small sample of the German thinkers.
Britain contributed Bertrand Russell; Italy gave us Machiavelli; and here in America, Thoreau did his thinking in the woods near Walden Pond.
Today, in the US, a new figure has emerged to take her place among the great thinkers of all time.
Perhaps the thing I like the most about this latest philosopher is that she is both practical and easy to understand.
Her message touches upon a subject that speaks to all of us.
It is elemental, and it is everywhere.
Who among us has not felt powerless at one time or another?
Haven’t we all experienced the weight of oppression or the sting of betrayal?
In her clear, concise way, this new philosopher acknowledges this, and shows us the way to rise above it.
She offers a ray of hope when she explains she has this music in her mind saying “it’s gonna be alright.”
She seems to accept the fact we can’t change the world around us.
She observes that, “the player’s gonna play, play play, and the hater’s gonna hate, hate, hate.”
What’s more, “heartbreaker’s gonna break, break, break, and the faker’s gonna fake, fake, fake.”
In spite of all this negativity and deceit, my new favorite philosopher takes the high road. She does not sink to the level of her tormentors.
She proclaims, “Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake. Shake it off. Shake it off.”
It’s not really any more complicated than that.
The world is full of injustice.
We may not be able to control the situations in which we find ourselves.
We almost certainly can’t control the actions of the people around us.
But we can control our own reaction to those things.
When we are hurt by people or situations, we can allow them to bring us down, to suck the joy out of our lives, or we can do what my young inspiration, Taylor does, and shake, shake, shake it off, and get on with our lives.
We can sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, or we can seize the day and make the most of what we have.
When we are the victims of the misplaced anger of others, we can choose to accept it, and possibly reflect that negativity toward the next innocent victim. For example, we could go home and kick the dog or holler at our spouse, or mistreat the server at the local pub when we stop to drown our sorrows after work (which, by the way, is never a good idea for a variety of reasons), or we can break the chain of negative actions by choosing to shake it off.
We, and those around us, will be happier if we follow that advice.
It’s a simple philosophy, but a powerful one.
That’s why this strong young woman belongs among the ranks of the great thinkers.
She took the time to carefully observe the world around her, and she offered a simple solution we can all adopt.
She even set her powerful words to a sick beat to help us remember them.
Cheers to you, Taylor Swift.