|Mary, I don't believe it's a waste of time to worry about and debate ideas. Ideas are the force that moves the world; ideas determine the course of history; ideas are what determine the kinds of government that different countries have, which has an enormous impact on the quality of life of the citizens of those countries.|
For example, one idea is that "communism is good." Another idea is that "capitalism is bad." Given the enormous destruction caused by communism in the twentieth century--and the enormous advancements in quality of life that have been made under capitalism--I would say it's crucial to debate, worry about, and really understand those two ideas. Which ones are right, which ones are wrong, and for what reasons.
Another idea is altruism--the idea that a person is morally obligated to sacrifice his own well-being for the sake of others, and to serve others. It seems that this idea has been used as the justification for most of the worst tyrannies in history. For example, in Nazi Germany, there was a lot of propaganda about how a citizen must live for the state, and must be willing to sacrifice himself for the state.
So, I would say it's crucial to spend time worrying about and debating the idea of altruism--is it good, or bad, and what exactly are the reasons why?
If an idea is correct, I believe you should attach yourself to it completely, 100%, with no compromises. For example, I think the idea that "people should be free" should be followed completely; to compromise on that idea, would be to advocate partial freedom, partial slavery. (By "free", I mean free from physical coercion and fraud.)
In order to achieve the most success in my own life--and in order for anyone else to do the same--I believe it is crucial for us all to identify which ideas are correct, and then attach ourselves to those ideas completely, with no compromising.
Have you read "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" It's an essay by Ayn Rand that argues that philosophy is more important than most people realize.