…horisms like “A self-aware person is a smoke detector. A self-accountable person is a firefighter.” Just because you know why the building’s on fire doesn’t stop it from burning to the ground. Put out the damn flames.
That said, a lot of what we try to pass on is borrowed from the shared symbolic world. Our characters are a mix of things that have been imposed on us without us questioning them.
In either case, what underlies most attempts like these is a belief in our own self-importance. We convince ourselves that what we are doing matters on some grand, cosmic scale.