Monday, September 14, 2015

At our gates

It’s a very strange world we live in today, one that we could never have imagined just fifty years ago on a great number of counts. The one that I think about constantly is, how the world has changed to accept it as a ‘given’ that anything you want to do, to be, or to have, you are absolutely entitled to, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone (else).

I had to put ‘else’ in parentheses because it’s not clear to me whether it’s part of the ‘given’ that hurting oneself should also prevent one from doing, being, or having what one wants (or needs). There’s those parentheses again! It seems I can hardly have a thought or say it aloud without parenthetically subsidizing it with provisos.

But it’s quite true, that it’s becoming mainstream, if it isn’t already, to believe that if something is possible, then you must try it, or at least let anyone else try it, if they want to. The total invasion of our privacy by the media that occurs in all age groups has opened the door to possibilities that many of us would never have thought of.

I used to think, when I was younger, that it was very weird for people to smoke. My parents smoked when I was growing up, but they made it criminal, a capital offense even, for any of us to smoke. My original justification for not smoking was, I didn’t want to be like my parents. The real reason was, it just didn’t appeal to me.

But I also wondered, how could anyone even think of picking leaves of a specific plant, drying them out, curing them, and in various formats (rolled up inside of other leaves, or in paper, or stuffed into little buckets with blow-pipe attached) lighting them on fire and sucking the smoke into one’s lungs? It seemed to go against nature.

Lungs are for breathing good, clean air, just as noses are for smelling fragrances as well as warning us of danger by detecting bad odors. Mouths are for eating, tongues for sensing the delicious and the foul in a way similar to the nose’s functions, and likely for the same reasons. Nature seemed to be pretty straightforward and obvious with us.

I used to have a crude saying, ‘God made [feces] stinky so we wouldn’t eat [them].’ I’ve muffled the real saying with bracketed substitutes; the saying is possibly already offensive. But as to the thought itself, of course, it doesn’t work for some animals, rabbits for instance, who eat their pellets so as to have one more chance to extract the nutrients.

But I still think that the natural world in combination with our sense mechanisms keeps us from harm and guides us to what is good for us—not always, but almost always. And I am appalled by some of the anti-natural things we do in our pursuit of pleasure, justifying everything by the tacit maxim, ‘if it’s possible, then try it,’ especially when I do them.

Which makes me think it through some more. Just because something isn’t obvious and natural doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it. Who would’ve thought of many of the successful remedies modern medicine has developed if they didn’t pursue possibilities? Yet, just because something is medically possible doesn’t mean it’s wise, moral, or even necessary.

Possibilities coupled with freedom and the resources—time, place, and money—to pursue them simply cannot justify themselves, even when they do not appear to hurt anyone. Reason, a rational mind, and optimally, an informed, rational mind is what determines whether something is worth doing. Or else, mindless consumerism and narcissism is what we fall into.

The very strange world I mentioned at the beginning is the result of the mindlessness that has hijacked our civilization and turned citizens into slaves. Worse than slaves, really, for slavery is only the status created by addiction. Worse than slaves, even worse than addicts, we turn rebels intent on destroying not only God and His world, but ourselves.

Physical suicide is nothing compared to this—spiritual suicide. Yet here we are, doing this to ourselves every day and watching others do it to themselves. Outward deviations—bodily mutilations and anti-social personas—are only the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ We console ourselves, ‘well, at least I’m not as bad as that,’ as we drive ourselves over the cliff.

Savage ridicule and parody is what is dished out to those who still know that life has a purpose, that reason is a gracious guide in the pursuit of beauty. Once again, in this sphere and every other, the unearthly demon is unearthed to plague the earth, to poison its inhabitants with what is not worthy of them, but Truth stands always at our gates with what is.

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