Sunday, May 19, 2019

JJ and Fred

There are some dreadful things in life, things which even if not instantly abhorrent nonetheless tend to upset one's innards, often peculiarly strong and vehement thoughts only. Our capacity to translate the crudest emotion into a dramatic rendition is apparently fathomless. In keeping with my recognizably binary outlook on life, I have today received a scintillating email from my friend JJ.  Uncharacteristically he related a private insight which was seemingly prompted by an article written by Fred Reed attacking Christianity and certain American overtly religious politicians. Therein lies the binary nature of the communication: sense and nonsense.

While it might initially seem odd to characterize Mr. Reed's thesis as nonsense (and I hope you didn't mistakenly think I was instead suggesting JJ is the weirdo), the unmistakeable theme of Reed's piece is not (as I presume he would prefer us to think) analysis but hatred - the very thing he purports to condemn. Over the years I have learned to trust my instincts and to believe what I see. Historically I have established with almost incontrovertible certainty that no matter how intelligent or oratorically persuasive a man (or woman) may be, he or she is invariably guided only by personal experience; more to the point, everything they say or do is a reflection of what they think or feel themselves - not about others or other things, but about themselves or what they have done themselves. Sadly this base capitulation of humanity also reflects what is for most people the narrowness (or in some instances the theatre) of their own lives. By that I mean, there are some people who are brilliant and foreseeing; but most of us are not.  Instead most of us are just everyday Joes doing our best to get along, suffering as much as any other and sometimes having the extraordinary benefit of chance and opportunity (but never forgetting that fortuity trumps talent every time).

But to get back to my point - which by the way (if you haven't already gathered) is simply that we see in others what we see in ourselves - I have as a result developed perhaps the only real wisdom I have; namely, we must be careful about responding to what other people say - not only as a social nicety but as a platform for thinking - because we mustn't confuse their assertions as anything more than reflections in the mirror and (without having to prove anything) those statements say little if anything about the Universe.  Whew! There, it's out!

The corollary to my observations is that, first, we mustn't allow what people say to get to us.  We're watching their own battle with themselves, not with us or with any others. Granted the language may sound technically to be addressed to others, but trust me it isn't. I have yet to meet a straight man who cares if I am gay.  That is as likely as me caring about pecan pie when I am not hungry; there is simply no appetite for it.  And make no mistake, people are ruled by their appetites.  Don't try to dismiss what I say by arguing that some things are just plain important or count or are profound.  There is very little profound about humanity.  At our very best we operate just a millisecond below the surface of our senses; it requires only a spark, not a conflagration, to ignite the flames which move us.

Regrettably so many of us are so highly motivated (whether socially, politically, financially or religiously) to pretend otherwise that we adopt a seemingly boundless wall against alternate thinking. We convince ourselves that, based on what we have told ourselves, we're right, ignoring the source and foundation of our so-called self-congratulatory (or secretly deceitful) superior thinking. Surprisingly it requires very little depth or insight to pierce this vail. The other good thing about humanity is that - like the animal which responds to the "flight or fight" instinct - we too immediately recognize the proper course of action.  It's a feature which doesn't make us smart - anymore than we think of animals as being particularly smart for saving their own lives - but rather highlights the importance of instinct and believing what you see.

The paradox of many current social and political arguments is that both sides appear (with justification unfortunately) to relish the infliction of defeat and destruction on the other side. Comparing the logic of Reed with that of Thomas Paine ("The Age of Reason") highlights only that one (Reed) is more entertaining, the way "House of Cards" is entertaining - a mixture of commercial appeal, plausibility and anger. Pointedly comparison of the mind of Paine to that of Pence is - I am sorry - a no-brainer! But that too is just all the more reason not to allow oneself to be persuaded by people who (like most of us, including myself) are largely insignificant. Let's face it, none of us is a guru or prophet; to attach to any one of us such distinction is a calculated error from the outset.

To summarize, there are better ways to fight war than with war. To pretend otherwise is simply politic rationality. Essentially I cannot see that annihilating innocent civilians is a path to advancement.  Whoever is deciding otherwise is up to no good and should be removed from office.  If that is not happening, the failure is not that of logic.  So if you're pretending that logic rules, think again. The problem is somewhere else. Meanwhile we have the likes of Reed and his cronies who surf upon the lustre of poison with the same gusto as his atmospheric scientific report that the "Chinese have gene-edited viable human embryos to eliminate a gene causing disease".  Again, my apologies, but this for me is a considerable stretch beyond the once egregious assertion that the earth is round. It is reminder too not to take the opinions of others too seriously; nor, importantly, to condemn them for their thoughts. Charity and war are patently not the same thing.

Fred Reed April 26, 2019

Finally, I have to record that we initiated our summer attendance at the golf club today, putting on the usual feedbag of protein delights while looking across the first tee.  JJ has outdistanced my customary triviality for a springtime Sunday! I did at least expiate my fomenting guilt by going for a pleasant bicycle ride along Country Street and the 8th Line of Ramsay.

No comments:

Post a Comment