Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fundamental Error

Fundamental error is primarily a legal maxim (normally advanced by an appellate court) to describe an error when the judgement of another court (usually an inferior court of first instance) violates a fundamental right guaranteed by the state constitution.  Some universally recognized rights that are seen as fundamental (for example contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights) include the right to self-determination, the right to liberty, the right to due process of law, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association. As compelling as those rights are, what I am talking about here is rather a "gross or inherent flaw in computation, judgement or subject matter that gives rise to other errors".  My particular focus is not upon judicial error but rather upon personal miscalculation.

While I recognize the threat of overlooking the inherent characteristics of what motivates individual decision-making, I am nonetheless equally convinced that in spite of our vastly different individuality we can all fall prey to fundamental errors which are so elemental as to be evident to any one no matter who or where they may be. As the term "fundamental" suggests, the description is both rudimentary and pivotal; there is nothing either secondary or unimportant about the subject. It is a mistake to imagine that there is anything especially complicated about these primordial truths (a characteristic which echoes the legal maxim concerning intrinsic constitutional rights).  Simplicity is the secret.  Where we confuse our behaviour is by adopting propositions which we know instinctively are wrong.  This perversion of thought is oddly the product of equally preposterous thinking developed by others - often over many years - but having nothing more to promote it than the lapse of time and the custom of habit (two very dangerous foundations for any acute reasoning).  We allow ourselves to be convinced by tradition rather than instinct.

Another fundamental error is the adherence to animated thoughts about the future while ignoring the necessity of the present.  Nothing more offends clear thinking than imaginary contemplations about what might occur at a later date. It is patently absurd to prefer an uncertain future to a manifest present - not to mention that we only succeed to cloud the present for a future which never arrives. By contrast it makes immense sense to cultivate current advances which by definition will improve our being and enlarge whatever transpires. As fond as we may be of preserving an existing state of affairs the reality is that little of it will eventually matter at all, particularly if its preservation only adds to our unfolding misery.

It is impossible to provide a list of choices which guarantees happiness. Even the fundamental rights which have constitutional basis are sign-posts only. But I am fully satisfied that the decisions required to avoid fundamental error are uncomplicated. The structure is both underlying and functional, as fundamental as food and water.  Yet we so often persist in denying the appeal of our organic persuasion, dwelling instead upon what by our own admission is frequently speculation only concerning what others might interpret about our conduct.  "I couldn't possibly do that!"; or, "I'm not ready to make that decision!"; or, "What would they think!"  All designed to forestall what we know in our heart is inevitable or undeniable.  Do we think we haven't the ability to know when we're hungry?  Or when we thirst?  How complicated can it be!  But we do everything possible to stand in our own way, adding but another coal to the burning fire which surrounds us!  And if we wait long enough we're assured of going down in flames as a result!

Time is important.  Seldom is there any strength to waiting for the right moment or pretending that delay will magically reveal some alternative answer.  The time to act is when the thought fills our head.  This isn't impetuous action, it is responsive practice.  I am a firm believer in instinct. And I am equally certain that most of us ignore instinct (even though we pretend to do otherwise).  Instinct requires just as much practice as any other advancement, it is a learned resource (not a natural one as it is mistakenly viewed). There is only one way to learn to listen to our instinct - and that is to listen to it and act upon it.  Instinct like any other root nature is as simple to recognize.  If however we avoid that knowledge then we awaken fundamental error which it may be impossible to resolve.

"Grey Gardens" was designed in 1897 by Joseph Greenleaf Thorpe and purchased in 1923 by Edie (Edith Ewing Bouvier) Beal and her husband Phelan Beal.  After Phelan left his wife, she lived there for more than 50 years. The house was called Grey Gardens because of the colour of the dunes, the cement garden walls and the sea mist in the wealthy Georgica Pond neighbourhood of East Hampton, New York.

Tea for Two

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