Monday, August 31, 2020

"He's Doing a Lot of THINKING...?" (Video Included)

So we have come to the end of August in the year of 2020. The human race has not yet become extinct. That's good news!!

And the Janaros had our main event of the year. Everything went off as well as we could have hoped. It was a fine wedding ... with a few distinctively "corona" peculiarities, of course. Perhaps I should use that masked man with the boutonniere as my "Self Portrait 2020."

Actually, people have been grumbling a lot about how awful the year has been, but I don't think any of the problems we are dealing with today will be gone by 2021. It could be frustrating for those who are counting on things eventually getting "normal" (whether it's through a restoration of "the old normal" or an adjustment to the all-to-frequently proclaimed "new normal"). This year is actually just bringing into greater focus the chronic abnormality most of us have living in for our entire lives.

Many of us are still affected somewhat by the lingering "atmosphere" of utopian scientism, the presumptuous prejudice that was the motivating (though illusory) aspiration driving "the modern world." It formed in humans (at least in the "first world") the expectation that science and technology could solve, or would very soon be able to solve, all our problems. This was, in fact, an abnormal way of living. Clearly, we are coming to see that the reality of things is "more complicated." We are now living through a traumatic period of transition, in which utopian scientism is simultaneously reaching the peak of its material achievement and being unmasked as a profoundly inadequate set of tools for fixing and perfecting humanity.

New powers and new techniques open up constructive possibilities, but they can also give rise to new problems. As long as freedom exists — wounded freedom, vulnerable to distraction, negligence, and malice — we will have an ongoing flow of human crises and problems that cannot be ended simply by the application of technology, the "forward march" of science, or any kind of social engineering.

Still, we are right to continue to try to make our external circumstances "better," and in this we have good hope of some real success. Sometimes, however, this kind of progress or reform is "messy," with inevitable mistakes, disagreements, and conflicts that arise not only from our failures in relation to one another, but especially from the dramatic character of life itself. This is the real "normal" in human existence: living with the awareness that we are engaged in a drama, with ongoing and sometimes unexpected challenges, and that in order to grow and thrive as human persons we must face these challenges together.

One source of the increasing interpersonal violence we direct toward one another in so many facets of life may be linked to the dizzying speed and power we have become accustomed to exercising over places and things. All this power has exacerbated our (utopian and self-deceiving) tendency to demand that every problem, every obstacle, be resolved quickly and completely or else ignored or denied. But other people come along and make things "messy." These other people who come from different perspectives, with different methods for approaching a problem, people who think and act out of their own experience of life and their own suffering, become intolerable obstacles to us as we seek to implement our (efficient, thorough) solutions and programs.

Thus our ideas become ideologies and "the other people" become enemies. We then feel free to heap contempt upon them.

Of course, it is sometimes the case that "the other people" are wrong. They still deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, to be approached with a genuine compassion (that does not condescend, but truly sees the other as a person). Without allowing ourselves to be tricked or used, we should work together with them as much as we can.

We don't owe respect to discredited movements, ideologies, theories, or prejudices. We don't owe respect to Nazism, Marxism-Leninism, Racism, Obscurantism, Oppression, the Chinese Communist Party, the Ku Klux Klan, etcetera. We are not saying that we have to work with people who identify with these groups or their views. [In some cases, such as the CCP, we may be forced to deal with them because of the extensiveness of their power, but even then we must not compromise our moral principles, we should do whatever we can to help the victims of their violence, and in all cases we had better keep both eyes wide open].

But human persons are always worthy of love and respect. And in crises of worldwide proportions, we need to work together as much as possible. We need to cultivate the art of realistic collaboration, with patience in the face of complex circumstances and compassion for one another in our differences.

In the crises of our time, the way forward is messy. But it is possible to go forward if we do it together, as neighbors, as brothers and sisters.

Too often, however, we continue to fight against one another, smear one another with dirt, condemn one another, "cancel" one another, exclude one another from the status of being human persons with dignity and intrinsic value, and try to humiliate one another. This is not only just plain wrong. It is a "luxury" we can no longer afford.

The consequences of factionalism and strife in the global village will be catastrophic at levels far beyond what we have experienced thus far.


Here is a video, where I don't develop these points. I listen to the river and talk about the fading sun and the shadows of the leaves, and then I talk about the need for cooperation and community. And I say that I don't have "solutions" to offer. I'm "doing a lot of thinking" — not to be evasive but to be thorough.

I'm a plodder. In a world full of InstaOpinions, someone has to plod. Even where I have strong and well-founded opinions that I venture to present, I still continue to plod — thinking things through in different ways, as events unfold, revising or following up on my presentation where necessary. This is what I have to offer: perhaps it will yield, in the end, a few insights, a few words worth saying.