Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
In the previous I made reference to Warren Beatty’s self-inflicted embarrassment, which tellingly came after a bit of unfortunately-timed ideological gloat:
I think it could be said that our goal in politics is the same as our goal in art and that’s to get to the truth. So that’s like in the movies that we honor tonight, that not only entertain us and move us, they show us the increasing diversity in our community and our respect for diversity and freedom all over the world.
And pardon my recklessness, but I’m not bashful about concluding:
And yes I’m going to go for the jugular on this: Beatty screwed up the envelope because that is his skill. That’s why his political leanings are so well-represented, statistically, within his chosen profession. If the job has to do with pretending false things are true, liberals are going to dominate it, because if they were more inclined toward acting as if true things were true then they’d be a much better fit for something else. But then, they’d much more likely be conservatives.
What’s that mean, though? Liberals? Conservatives? If I say “liberals are always wrong and conservatives are always right,” and define as “conservative” anyone who makes a good call, and “liberal” anyone who makes a mistake, it’s a feedback loop and therefore, at best, a useless observation to make. Supposedly, “conservative” means to conserve entrenched power structures and “liberal” means to upset them, but there are lots of times where that doesn’t work. Like right now. Really, any time the entrenched power structures are liberal, and the party just voted in that’s rocking the boat and up-ending the apple cart, is conservative. Which happens roughly half the time.
People keep missing it because there’s this perception that you can’t understand conservatism until you understand liberalism, which is supposed to be a change in course, a Bold New Idea — “Hey, what if we stop doing that and start doing this?” If we can figure out what that is, then we can envision conservatism as resistance against whatever it is, and we’ll understand both. It doesn’t work, because liberals won’t tell us what they really want to do. If they did, we’d never vote for them.
No; it’s conservatism we have to understand first. Then we can envision liberalism as the opposite. I have yet to see a definition that works better than mine:
What exactly does conservatism seek to conserve? Civilization, the blessings that come from having it, and the definitions that make civilization possible. From what does liberalism seek to liberate us? Those things — starting with the definitions.
What do I mean by civilization? It is the answer to anarchy, in which brutality is the coin of the realm. With no rules in place, if you have something and I want it, and I’m stronger than you are, it’s mine already. You just might not know it yet. “The blessings that come from having it” are obvious and not-so-obvious. We have a principle of legal ownership, and a sense that that ought to mean something. We have privacy. This creates a fertile ground for, among many other things, creations by innovative minds, of prototypes of inventions that can make life better for the generations arriving later. Definitions that make it possible: Laws. GOOD laws. Another thing I mentioned previously is
Anyone having successfully graduated from about the fourth grade, should be able to tell you why it isn’t going to work to have a law that says “Don’t drive too fast around here.” You have to say 25, or 40, or 65 or 10.
We have citizenship, which is a definition that makes it possible for our government to provide protection. We have marriage, and other associations-by-covenant, such as business partnerships. We have corporations.
Liberals oppose definitions and it isn’t just because they’d lose our support if they defined too much about themselves, although there most certainly is that. “Undefining” things is actually a way of life. It’s a lot like lying; you do a little bit of it, and pretty soon you’re obliged to do a whole lot more of it. It correlates with a desire for instant gratification, because defining things in a meaningful way often takes time. And it correlates with a desire to destroy rather than to create, because creating things is something that requires definition.
Throughout the decades in modern times, we have seen there is exactly one government activity our friends the big-government liberals don’t like. And that’s the military. Now, the military’s mission, as Rush Limbaugh has said a few times, is to “kill people and break things” (some “credit” this to Mike Huckabee). This is true, but that’s how the military carries out its mission, not the ultimate objective. The military’s goal is defense; it is one of preservation. Which, like creation, also requires definition. Lots and lots of it. Ranks, grades, units, billets, chains-of-command…if the military’s goal was just to inflict destruction but not to do so toward any greater purpose, it would be very different. It would flit along with a lot fewer definitions, and liberals would like it just fine.
Now, this differentiation is primarily American, but it works not only in one election cycle after another over here, but also throughout the post-Bastille age of politics. The conservatives seek to conserve, not entrenched power structures that have flourished up until a given moment, but rather the definitions that make civilization possible. The liberal protest that has aroused the greatest sympathy from others, has been something along the lines of “Fine, but those definitions deny me, my family and my peers a way to make a living.” Before the Age of Aquarius, that meant we had to recognize the right to organize and bargain collectively. Liberals were for the “common man,” the “working man,” and they really did mean people who had jobs and worked, building things the rest of us needed. That hasn’t been true for a very long time now. Whereas before they sought to tip the scales in the power struggle between management and labor, what’s been happening lately is they’re more about the intellectuals.
I don’t mean, by that word, “big brain” types. I mean it the way Thomas Sowell has used it.
An occupational category, people whose occupations deal primarily with ideas — writers, academics, and the like…At the core of the notion of an intellectual is the dealer in ideas, as such — not the personal application of ideas — as engineers apply complex scientific principles to create physical structures or mechanisms.
That’s a lot of words. The litmus test I’ve been using to figure out “Is this what Prof. Sowell is describing?” has to do with validation, and clean hands. My operating theory is that when your occupation begins in the realm of ideas, and concludes there as well, so that your ideas are never put to any sort of validating test that would reveal a deficiency — well, the validation work remains to be done. Just like an unpaid bill or something. Whatever you needed to confront today, and didn’t, will be waiting for you tomorrow. The validation was not done, and the “intellectual” probably doesn’t know much. How could he? His hands are clean, and the best-case scenario would be that he makes fortunate guesses.
In the Age of Aquarius, “clean hands” people have ruled. The “working man” has been trickling a bit, here & there, out of the democrat column and into the Republican one. This is our modern divide, whether we realize it or not. We’ve got people with clean hands who give great speeches and wear nice suits and say things into microphones…lots of times, pure nonsense…and then there are people with dirty hands who know from personal experience it can’t work that way. This dividing barrier between “left” and “right” has been re-assembled, along this newer boundary. And that happened because of this schism with defining things. Which the liberals made much worse by weaponizing semantic misunderstandings. They say “education” when they don’t really mean it the way most people would define it; “comprehensive immigration reform” has become a political buzzword, a tell-tale that essentially says nothing meaningful will be done. You’ll notice they never define what they mean by “succeed,” as in, “we want to make sure there’s a chance for everybody to succeed.” They’d like you to think that means putting food in the kitchen cupboard and money in your kids’ college tuition funds. What they really mean by that, is legally living off others whom you’ll never have to meet.
There’s something going on here way down on the psychological level. These intellectuals, who enjoy the luxury of never having to actually validate their ideas, by rights should be suffering from a dearth of confidence resulting from the knowledge that the requisite tests have not been done. What we see of them, however, suggests they’re going through the exact opposite. Time after time after time, we see their ideas are surrounded by weighty authorities, who are cloaked as neutral arbitrators but functioning as energized advocates. The wagons circle around the untested idea, and it benefits from this protection. All too often, that benefit comes in the form of continuing survival in spite of obvious flaws, where a real-life test would tear it asunder.
That’s the first problem with having clean-hands intellectuals run things. The second problem is a bit more complicated. To remain intellectuals, the intellectuals have to keep coming up with new ideas to not-be-tested. There has to be some distance between these ideas and plain old-fashioned horse-sense — the ideas have to have novelty. So to accentuate their own appearance of worth, the intellectuals have to keep sniffing around the periphery of what could be reasonably considered. Their untested-ideas, therefore, end up being wrong more often than right, because if common sense would smile upon the idea, the intellectuals aren’t going to be interested in promoting it. So we get things that are the opposite of the truth, quite regularly. “Actually” ideas. Like: Actually, if you raise the minimum wage, companies will benefit. Or: Actually, the only way we can defeat ISIS is with love. There are many other examples that could be discussed, but these highlight the real problem: For the intellectual to find value in the idea, it has to stray away from common sense, and for the idea to do that, it will typically become the opposite of what’s really true. There is a phrase in journalism to describe this sort of otherworldly appeal. A “man-bites-dog story.” The rationale is that running a dog-bites-man story would be a waste of everybody’s time, including the reader’s. There is “news” value in running something that is contrary to what the reader, as a sentient being experiencing everyday life, would expect. This consideration, all by itself, can justify “news” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in the same way, it can all by itself justify the ideas that come from the clean-hands intellectuals who’ve been running things for years now, and that IS a bad thing. A very, very bad thing.
This is not only wrong as a methodology for dealing with reality; it is actually a decent post mortem on how we’ve lost our collective ability to cope with that reality. Reality, by & large as a general rule, follows along with common sense. There are more dog-bites-man stories than man-bites-dog stories. If it went the other way, “common sense” wouldn’t have much use for us and nobody would be using it at all, anywhere. This is why the “intellectuals” are going to be wrong a lot more often than right. It’s why Warren Beatty opened the wrong envelope, you might say. You might also say: unfortunate fluke, he got confused, commotion, age, non-intellectuals make just as many mistakes or just as often — all technically correct. Erm, yeah…but no. Reality is all around us, but understanding it requires dedication. Actors are not dedicated to it, they’re dedicated to something else. The same is true of intellectuals, because of the man-bites-dog thing. Overall, they’re going to be wrong more often than right, because there’s no sense of discipline keeping them right. That is not to say they don’t have discipline. It is to say the discipline is channeled toward servicing other things.
This is all a consequence of elevating feeling above thought. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit we have seen a swelling in recent years, of intellectuals plying us with the message of “Hey, I just thought of something no one else has thought of before”…and that this has been way, way oversold. A lot of these “new” ideas, in addition to their failure to turn out to be right in any way, haven’t been new at all. I’m thinking specifically of — again, there are many other examples to be found, we can illustrate the point with just a subset — President Obama saying “we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” This has been a staple throughout Obama’s presidency, this one-note samba of “Good thing you have Me, look what I just figured out.” Eight years is an awfully long time to be saying just one thing. Obviously, it didn’t happen that way because these predictions turned out to be right. (We did, ultimately, drill our way to lower gas prices.) The simplest explanation is that this was a political maneuver. Obama would play the part of the deity descended to the earthly realm to tell us what’s what, disgusting everyone who didn’t need a Savior because they already had one…but He wasn’t going to get their votes anyway, so that’s okay…and delighting His base, who would go on to support other democrats, without bothering to check up on whether his faux deity babbling made any sense. That’s a good explanation, covering everything, including the way politics work. Why change a tactic if the tactic is working? But, it’s also a simple explanation that Obama was simply doing what Obama wanted to do. This business of “Hey, I just thought of something contrary to the way things have been done before!” feels good. As long as it’s validated, it does. But to think like Obama, you have to think like an intellectual, who happens to be a benevolent dictator: “Validation” simply refers to an absence of successive events that would force you to admit you’re wrong about something. That’s a lengthy way of supposing these are people who live in a non-validating world, an echo chamber of pure intellectualism. The ideas never brush up against reality.
If you feel-over-think, in order to solve life’s most pressing problems — you’re going to be “thinking of” man-bites-dog stuff pretty often. Stuff that’s been thought of by no one else, you little genius you…you’ll do it six times before breakfast. Genuine validation isn’t going to happen, because that isn’t part of feeling good. As a general rule, if you think-over-feel you’re usually going to find the idea isn’t worth anything after all, or if it is worth something, someone thought of it already. Not always. To say that’s always the case, is to say there’s no point coming up with any new ideas. We know that’s not right. But, these precious savants who come up with these “Hey, lookit what I invented” little miracles dozens or hundreds of times before even getting out of their pajamas, typically are just showcasing their issues with maturity, rather than coming up with truly useful ideas. It is, at least, overwhelmingly likely. It is all the more likely if they haven’t been working in the field. Since history shows us the new-ideas that are actually worth something are conceived, as we’d expect, by people who’ve been struggling with the problem awhile, first-hand. At least as long as it takes for the problem to become personally annoying and tiresome to them.
That’s not true of the clean-hands people. Their “new ideas” are going to be wrong a lot more often than they’ll ever be right; because dogs bite men more than men bite dogs.
In programming, we see this a lot. It is said that anyone with any experience has been guilty of it, and I hope that’s true because I know I’ve been guilty. I remember years and years ago coming across a blog post I’m wishing like the dickens I bothered to save, written by a programmer who claimed to be very successful, and happened to lean left politically. His point was that his leftward politics had something to do with his success in programming. This made a big impression on me, because it is evidence that there are two worlds out there, and also evidence that political bias possesses a sultry and seductive persuasion that weighs on us all, convinces us that we’re right, and furthermore that there’s no other way to solve a problem than whatever we see in front of us at any given time. Also, that anyone who doesn’t want to do it the same way must be wrong. See, I’ve built some stuff too…I have enjoyed success that comes from my things actually working, occasionally in situations where others tried to get it to work and weren’t able to make it happen. I couldn’t-a done it thinking like a liberal. Now, wherever this essay is, whoever wrote it, the question arises: How can he be so sure that he’s right, while I’m so sure I’m right?
Perhaps the first step toward constructive, creative thought, is to get into one’s “happy place” wherever that happens to be; I’ve got mine, others have theirs. The difference between these two happy-places, would explain everything, but I think it more likely that we simply haven’t defined what “programming” is. We presume everybody doing some of it, is all doing the same thing. I notice whenever people presume that, and make the mistake of continuing to pay attention, there’s some moment of reckoning that comes along later. And, not too much later. I see it even in the little things, like lists of movies for programmers to watch during Easter. Programming, to someone like me, is a subset of engineering. Engineering has to do with reality. No, Inception is not a “programming movie” in my world. But it’s obvious there’s another world out there, and someone living in that world thinks it is one.
The reason clean-hands people run things in the Age of Aquarius, is this elevation of feeling-over-thought. People want to solve problems in ways that make them feel good; this is measurable, in that people are making decisions that elevate this feeling-good-feelings goal above actually solving the problem. In other words, if the only way to solve it is to feel bad, for even just a little while, they’d prefer to leave it unsolved. This is a problem decades in the making. It didn’t happen overnight. It has to do with maturity.
Maturity has multiple definitions. We tend to think of it as the ability to learn. If you’re a fourteen-year-old and you’re displaying all the mannerisms of a seventeen-year-old, you are mature. But that’s not quite it. A newborn fawn stumbling around cutely and comically, lacks maturity because she hasn’t developed familiarity or comfort with her physical form. As time goes on, she may turn out to be a very rapidly-maturing little deer, however one might go about measuring that. But when we say she “lacks maturity” we’re obviously not talking about that. So maturity has a meaning that is concerned with effectiveness and comfort with one’s own self.
You can watch some newer movies, and some older ones, and some yet-older ones, to see we’ve been losing this and at a pretty rapid rate. People aren’t comfortable in their own skins, and part of that is because society has been putting a diminishing value on this quality of being comfortable in your own skin. My favorite example of this — again, there are others, but forming an exhaustive list is out of scope — has been Sean Connery playing James Bond in Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. The actor got the role, I read somewhere, in part because of the way he moved around: “Like a panther walking down the street” or something. He was about 30 to 33, 34 maybe. “Young” actors today are considerably older. And they don’t move that way or conduct themselves that way. You can find your own examples. In a hundred little ways that defy description but are real anyway…they act like little kids. Of course, in 1962 all actors were not Sean Connery. But the point is that the trait was valued, and not just by lusty women who went to see movies. Now it isn’t.
They still make James Bond movies now. Very, very rarely though. And they’re made because they’ve got a built-in audience. That’s a lot different from being the “cash cow” James Bond once was; for cash-cow status, you have to look to comic book superhero movies. That’s another example of maturity slipping out of society’s grip. Another sign: The most famous among these superhero movie franchises is the “X-Men,” but there’s no story to be told there. Not a story that’s good for more than one movie, anyway. “We’re different, we can’t help it, and society won’t accept us.” There’s some tragedy there that is compelling, for a little while. But pity the poor scriptwriter for the eighth, ninth, tenth movie. Watching the final product, you can feel the sense of fatigue setting in and increasing. Perhaps if there was more emphasis on service to something bigger than oneself: “Yes those people about to get squished are part of society and society has caused me pain, by not accepting my mutant eye-beams or wings or whatever; nevertheless, they are strangers, some of them are bound not to be assholes, and so I shall save them.” Maybe some of the X-Men do think such a thing. But I’ve noticed it’s never really part of the story. You’re more likely to find such a final-battle sentiment in an old James Bond movie. X-Men gloss over it, because the “society won’t accept me” message is always in the limelight.
It’s a very subtle difference and you have to burn through a few hours of movie-watching to get it. If you’re trying to get something productive done, this could take years. But it’s there. Once you notice it, it’s hard not to see it.
And you see this in a lot of other places too. As our society has lost maturity, it has become much more fond of wallowing in self-pity about “I should be treated differently than the way I’m being treated.” It’s a tragedy in itself because this is a huge waste of time. Strangers are strangers, they’re apt to do just about anything. About a mile from my neighborhood we’ve got a homeless guy, I call him the “Riot Of One” guy, who yells his fool head off at five o’clock most mornings. And stuff like this seems to have become normal. If we’re going to accept that strangers can do just about anything, just so we can cope with the more rugged aspects of us all living together, it is irrational to be losing our composure anytime we see evidence someone is thinking the wrong thing. It is unreasonable to accept the former and reject the latter, since actions are consequences of thought. This is all self-evident, but we seem to have lost sight of it.
I would offer that the kind of maturity that has to do with the ability to learn, is a manifestation of this other kind of maturity that has to do with the feeling of comfort in one’s on skin, the acceptance of self. You have to fully accept that and make your peace with what you are & what you’re doing, before you can accurately assess what bits of it have to be fixed to address future challenges or past failures. First step to self-improvement is the admission: I was wrong, or something is not quite the way it should be. Until you get there, you can identify problems with the best of ’em, but it’s not quite so easy to identify a way to fix them. Overall, you’ll notice people who have not yet acquired maturity, will identify problems in things that are outside of their control.
In fact, that’s what “strikes” are. I was harsh in my description of them last month, and I meant to be:
It’s too late for strikes. We don’t live in an age wherein some demographic or some industry withdraws its services, and at the end of a day or two the rest of us are starving, dehydrated, sick, naked, or up to our armpits in garbage and ready to capitulate. That ship has sailed. There are really only two services people demand on a moment-to-moment basis, and those are electrical power and wireless Internet. All the rest involve some sort of reserve, which won’t be depleted until we’ve managed to find a scapegoat…Strikes are bullshit in the 21st century. You haven’t seen them achieve anything in many decades, and there’s a reason for that. They aren’t effective.
They aren’t effective at — fixing the stated problem, anyway. They’re very effective for building up that feeling of “We’re all in this together.” If we’re going to be honest about it, that’s the real purpose. They are exercises in self-gratification. The Trump administration is going to see lots of them, for as long as there continues to be a Trump administration. That’s because the strikes are there to instill, and preserve, a feeling of dedication that would eventually wane away into nothingness without something to keep it going. THAT is the truth. They’re not there to address anything that’s wrong, because they’re not there to fix anything. People no longer expect strikes to do this.
And the participants won’t admit this, but the reason they don’t really expect anything to change is because they know: No one gives a flying fuck about your conscientious objection, withdrawing this, withholding that, striking, facing the wall, refusing to participate. Our evolving culture has become way too loud and busy for that. Anyone holding their breath until their faces turn blue, will just turn blue. That’s why it’s necessary to block a bridge now & then. It all goes back to loss of maturity.
How we deal with the problems that arise to confront us between crib & crypt, is what separates us, defines us, provides us with a meaningful identity. The problems themselves do not do this. That’s a misconception. This is why the X-Men suck. Life actually has a fairly simple pattern to it, and we all see it whether we’re “mutants” or gay or black or not, whether we’re rich or poor, whether we’re in a lifestyle that’s sustainable or not. We come to realize things cannot remain the way they have been, and a change is necessary. No sorry Obama, this doesn’t happen with the election of You; it happens constantly. We realize we need to make a change, and this is uncomfortable. We reach a cul de sac, and we cannot simply leave it by going back the way we came. We have to do something difficult, like: get our first job; lose weight; give up on a grudge; move an aging parent into an assisted-living facility. Whatever that is, it has to be uncomfortable or else the situation would not exist in the first place. And so life presents us with a necessity of doing something difficult, as a rite of passage from one “normal” life into another.
That’s life in a nutshell. That is what, I maintain, is going on in the dash between your birth year & the year of your demise. It’s all just one big epiphany of “Oh dear, I cannot stand on this ice floe any longer for it is melting, I must leap onto that other one.” Each person going through it is tempted to think he’s the only one, but we’re all doing it. So — we go through the Kübler-Ross model:
Maturity — the mathematical-ratio kind of maturity, the definition that has to do with speed — is whipping through this without wasting a whole lot of time. It is dangerous for a whole culture of people to lose this. If you’re stuck somewhere in the first four of those five stages, the most intoxicating one is anger. Anger’s fun, and it puts the blame on someone else who isn’t you.
That’s what’s been happening. That’s why there is so much anger. The maturity issue.
This results in a loss of dignity, which is closely related to maturity. Dignity, I think, is also what can fix the problem. Dignity is what makes society go. I’m using the definition of the word that actually works, what people have in mind when they use the word, in a way more precise than what the dictionary says; I’m picking up where that stops:
bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
That’s what has been missing.
I say: Since we’re all spending every living year in this predicament, of realizing things cannot stay the way they have been — life is a dynamic thing — when we speak of “dignity,” what we’re really talking about is getting in front of those. It works at all stages of life, well before the prime and long after. A toddler who whines like a little baby lacks dignity. An aging starlet who dresses half her age and puts her face under the knife, until the plastic surgery is taking away more than it’s adding, is the very picture of indignity. What’s the ideological breakdown between conservatives and liberals, where dignity is concerned? It’s not hard to see the answer. A single “pink-pussy hat” will tell you all you need to know about that.
So conservatives are for dignity, and liberals are opposed to it; this thing that has conservative support and is rejected by liberals, has to do with acknowledging life’s necessary changes and getting in front of them, rather than getting stuck in the second-stage and being angry all the time. Notice that this is all backed up by what we see every day — and it is the POLAR opposite of what we have been told all these years about conservatives, liberals and “change.” With liberals feeding us the narrative, that is. They fancy themselves as being uniquely prepared for and accepting of change — which is a perfect black-and-white film-negative transformation from what’s really true. What’s really true is that liberals think of themselves as adapting to change by being the authors of that change, and when that doesn’t work out for them, they use the Obama “we can’t drill our way to cheaper gas” technique and craft some more narratives.
And, they get angry. They loves them some second-stage squatting. Trouble is, there is no rationale for it. When they try to put one together, it ends up being stunted, stilted and silly. “How dare Donald Trump run for President and win” or something. This is anger that has no reason to be; it is passion that has no place to go. It is, typically, a mere desire that has no other way to be expressed.
This will not be an easy problem to solve. It won’t happen overnight. The problem didn’t appear in the first place that way; it’s been years and years in the making. I’ve noticed, even when people get all the way through to the fifth stage of acceptance and start looking for ways to implement the necessary change, there is a tendency to lose sight of the goal. They get into these quixotic pursuits that don’t accomplish anything, as if the ultimate objective is merely to stay busy. All too often, this shift in objective has something to do with avoiding life itself, whether they’re fully aware of it or not. I guess that stands to reason, since the objective envisioned with clarity, without the cloudiness of anger, ego, or scope creep, is simply to navigate the chapters of life. I had one Trump-phobe friend of mine, through social media, launch into a monologue that was no doubt strung together beforehand, for other recipients and for other occasions: It’s about principle! Then proceeded to explain principle, as if to someone who had no idea what a principle was…
His favorite example was Sir Thomas More, who refused his consent to King Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and was eventually beheaded for his position. I view this as an object lesson in how one should dialogue when one is in a dialogue, and resist the temptation to monologue, for the question that was immediately confronting this individual had to do with intended outcome, and how his “I shall never vote for him” stance would feed into that. Ah, perhaps he didn’t realize it. But Thomas More is not a good example to be used when one is faced with that question. What did More’s sacrifice actually do? Sure, it was principled…but, it turned out to be merely the first in a long series of martyrdoms that would be endured by both Catholics and Protestants, throughout Europe, for the next two centuries.
Our conversation lost its levity when I posed a question that was, perhaps, too insightful. Maybe the right thing to do would’ve been to save it for other occasions, and merely let my friend stew in his juices; there’s a saying about leading a horse to water but not making him drink. My question is: If you’re not doing it to make yourself happy, and you’re not doing it to make things better, then why are you doing it? We are living in undignified times, because a lot of people feel very sure about what they’re doing but they aren’t able to answer that question.
“I’m doing it for principles,” all too often, is merely a cop-out. All too often it is invoked when the speaker is opting not to do something. Hasn’t worked his way through the five stages, stuck on anger or denial, losing his dignity. And that’s what has been happening in the Age of Aquarius. It was started with a war protest; a very self-righteous one, popular, forceful — not even wrong. A lot of people had sympathy with it, and for good reason. But the primer that detonated the charge, was young people coming of age; facing a path of difficulty between them, and the necessary change of becoming an adult. Their pathway was much, much more difficult than most. And there was injustice. So for “principles” — no plan, just don’t-wanna-do-it principles — they kicked off an abnegation of dignity. And until now, that has never really stopped. It has been a nice, long, leisurely fifty-year stretch of abnegating societal dignity. And because of that, we have wrinkled old hippies walking around, quite literally living their teenage years, into their seventies and beyond. They don’t realize that’s what they’re doing, not consciously anyway. It’s sad to see.
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