Too often of late I have found myself saying three things.
The first is cursing the ideology of those around me. Though, to be fair, it is not their ideology itself that I curse. It is the blindness and zeal with which they pursue that ideology. Conviction and fortitude are desirable traits, but they must be tempered with wisdom and questioning. Too many ideologies concern themselves with solely the means or solely the ends. Both must be fully accounted for. Sometimes evil must be done to avert the greater evil. Sometimes nobility must be sacrificed for the greater good or the lesser evil. Always you must question and review your beliefs. Nothing is permanent. Nothing is always right. Some moderation if you please.
The second is “the author had a great idea. It’s a pity he got most of the way through it, took a sharp right turn, and drove deep into the fields of stupidity”. Ideas are attractive. New ones, old ones, shiny ones, disturbing ones. They have a way of festering within us. It is tempting to consider the world a simple place of black and white where our one idea can explain everything, where our one ideology can answer everything. The world is not that simple nor that easy. Our world is a wondrously complex and confusing place. We must resist the urge to apply our ideas in an extreme manner. Moderation is valuable, and whilst there are oftentimes when moderation must be applied in moderation, there are far more times when moderation should be applied without moderation. Extremism of any form is undesirable – most of the time.
The third is a self-explanatory statement:
Too often we fight against that which we hate and despise, instead of fighting for that which we love and believe.
It is this last idea that I have dwelt on the most of late. The affliction seems so prevalent. In myself, in my friends, in student politics, in life.
Terror. Hatred. Anger. These seem to be our motivations to fight. Where are the noble reasons? Where is the love? the honour? the belief?
Why must we always be laid low by our desire to survive? Where is our will to stand in the gaze of history and unflinchingly put ourselves forward for what is right and proper?
For what is right and proper both in means and in ends. For what is right and proper not only for ourselves but for our loved ones, our neighbours, and those we have never met.
George Bernard Shaw wrote “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
I disagree with him. The reasonable man adapts himself. The unreasonable attempts to adapt the world. Therefore, all change depends on the unreasonable.
There is a difference between progress and change. All progress depends on a different person. It depends on the ideal person. The person who is both reasonable and unreasonable. The unreasonable person seeks to impose their vision of the world upon everything. The reasonable changes their vision. The reasonably unreasonable person imposes their tempered vision upon the world. They take the truth, the belief, and the loves that they know and they bring them to the world as best they can. They ignore their hatreds, their prejudices, their biases. The unreasonable person believes they can reshape it all to their supposedly perfect vision. The reasonably unreasonable person knows their vision is just as flawed, just as horrid as the world around them. They seek not to do away with what they hate, but to nurture and support the good that is already present. It is through their actions that true progress, true improvement is achieved.
Pliny the Elder said “True glory lies in doing what deserves to be written, in writing what deserves to be read”.
Fighting that which we detest deserves no story. A diatribe against those we hate deserves no readers.
The truly great fight for their beliefs not against their fears.