Контент 16+ "The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
So wrote the famous Irish poet W.B. Yeats almost 100 years ago (1919 to be exact). The lines, part of a great poem, seem as true today as then -- and probably throughout the entire (circa) 200,000 history of the human race. But what do they mean? Of course, they are open to interpretation (pretty much a requirement for serious literature), but the direction in which I will choose to take Yeats' words today has to do with 'absolute truth' vs 'relativity' in terms of how we approach life.
In other words, can anything be said to be ALWAYS/ABSOLUTELY True or ALWAYS/ABSOLUTELY False-- or are we rather the inhabitants of a universe where things fall under such definitions only according to any one of a myriad of situations?
People, of course, have tried to impose absolutes, especially political or religious zealots, and it is easy to imagine why. A world without definition or some kind of order and hierarchy of values is chaos, and nobody wants to live in chaos except for people who have failed at life and see chaos as a last ditch ultimate rescuer -- a kind of equalizer. To the big loser, nothing is so comforting as to imagine that everything is just as fucked up as he is, and so why bother trying to make sense of any of it? The rest of us, however grudgingly, come round to accepting rules to live by (preferably self-imposed but more often by some outside authority) -- and wish for life, if not to be fair, at least to 'make sense'.
Sometimes I think that because of all the publicity about Technology, how we live in the Information Age -- the epoch of cyberspace, clones, robots, and Artificial Intelligence, and so on -- and the extent to which these forces clearly drive the direction of the world -- we forget that most of the human population are still living in the Dark Ages. I haven't done it, but I suspect that if you drive across Brazil, Russia, India, and China-- just for starters -- you will encounter huge multitudes of people whose level of education is very low. For these people, the Information Age and the Age of Technology hasn't happened. Such specimens of humanity probably cling to ancient beliefs and remedies, the majority set down as ''absolutes'' and which are based on superstition and hearsay rather than modern research and scientific analysis.
These kinds of people, when roused from their lethargy and suitably inflamed, tend to be of the "full of passionate intensity" variety. When not boiling their enemies alive, beheading them or burning them at the stake as heretics -- and when pressed into the modern arena -- they always make the best Nazis, Bolsheviks, and ISIS teammates. Tell them "We are good and THEY are bad" (whoever ''they'' might be), wave the flag and start the drum-roll, tell them God wants it this way, and the Reich is off to a great start.
There will always be these kinds of people, and it is for a simple season: most people are mediocre at best and something less than that at worst. They are easily led. Cannon fodder for the ages, they make all the armies possible, and it will go on and on as it always has. The ones you have to watch out for are the so-called leaders who really believe in their fanatical dogma and are determined that everyone else should do as well. They are dangerous in the following way: they are capable of taking a pernicious idiotic premise and implementing it in the most cunning manner imaginable. Take Josef Goebbels for example.
The opposite in temperament to the ''absolutists'' are those who basically believe in nothing. They are "the best" who"lack all conviction." To them, everything is relative, and I have found that there is usually a kind of smugness about them, an arrogant hubris confident of reducing all claims of Art, Truth, Beauty, Right, and Good to over-intellectualized ashes. Try to claim that anything, absolutely anything is always valid, and they will smirk and pound you into the tiles. "It is all RELATIVE !" they will beam, and as the battle of semantics rumbles on and on, eventually you just feel stalemated. Nothing is really true; it just depends on how you look at it. Insist that a pedophile who rapes and kills little children either IS evil or at least HAS DONE something evil, and they will find a way to say, "Not necessarily. It depends." Tell them that Descartes had a point when he uttered "I think; therefore, I am." -- and they might counter with "Maybe we only think that we think." And so on.
And maybe they are right. Maybe we live in a cosmos without core or essence, and all paradigms, algorithms, and carefully crafted systems of thought are only anthills in the desert, sand castles on the beach -- feeble slaves to the bending of the wind and the march of time.
I vacillate. The older I get, the less answers I have -- and of course this would appear to lead me into the camp of the relativists.
On the other hand, life has taught me certain things which, for lack of a better word, I will call 'truths" (which maybe is better than calling it "The Truth.") For example, I know when I have done my duty and when I have neglected it. I know when I have been brave and when I have been cowardly. I know when my intentions have been noble and when they have been self-serving. Admittedly, these ''truths'' exist to define my own universe and cannot determine someone else's.
But, for now -- and I intend to continue this thread in my ensuing blogs -- let me give an example. I have two dogs. My next-door neighbor has one, a big beautiful German Shepherd. My dogs live in the house, his lives in his driveway. OK, fair enough. My dogs get long walks and delicious food. His dog gets a bowl of bread and rice once a day and is lucky to leave his confines a few times a week, and never when the weather is bad. My dogs are my friends. His dog is there to guard against the gypsies, I suppose.
Every time I walk my dogs (three times a day), I walk past his house and I see Hashik. I bring Hashik treats and stroke his cold fur while before proceeding with my dogs. Hashik cries when I leave him. He wants to come for the walk too, and I would be happy to take him because, even though he is not my dog, I respect him and love him.
Hashik cries on the winter nights because he is not allowed in where the fire is warm. My dogs curl up on the sofa next to my wife and me, and together we savor the fire crackling in the fireplace.
Hashin is sad and Poppy and Casper are happy. It is that simple.
My way is better.
And THAT, my friends, I offer you as an absolute.
===Eric Richard Leroy===