Fire
Tripod
The Nine Muses The Philosophy of the GOOD
Fire
Tripod

BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE



Stopping to take stock of things



Well, if you have come this far, perhaps you have read a lot of my essays or maybe none Ė in which case you might go back and read a few; for what I will say now, should be read in context Ė to everything else. I look over all of this, and am myself somewhat surprised at all Iíve said. I never intended to say so much.

Itís time for me to take stock of things. If you read my essays, one thing you should notice about them is that they are not your typical ďHarry PotterĒ reading. You should read them slow, and think about whatís said. You may, or may not agree with them, but whether you do or not, you should have formulated a clear reason why you do agree, or why you donít. If you donít have that reason, then you are not truly reading them. If you say, ďI donít believe somethingĒ then you should also say: ďWhy donít I?Ē If you canít come up with a reason then you should confront yourself with the fact that you are bias in some way, and further ask yourself what feelings are making you feel that way; take the other side, and argue against yourself. Also, donít think that the writer canít make mistakes; I may have missed something; or unwittingly contradicted myself, which is easy to do when you try to take many diverse aspects of many things, and generalize from them. If you remember, I said in the Preface that I wanted to act as a stimulus to thought, your thought, and perhaps let you develop your own opinions. That is why I say unless you come up with reasons behind your own opinions then you will not achieve anything in the reading.

I as a writer may have failed you, by not making myself clear; at the same time what I speak about has never really been clear even to some of the greatest minds of the past. I canít flatter myself with coming up with solutions; but I hope I have, at least, made somewhat clearer the formulation of the questions, or merely their existence. If you donít see the meaning at first sight, reread and think, and come back later; often concepts donít illuminate themselves upon first sight. I, myself, had to come back many times to some concept in different contexts before they made sense to me; right thinking doesnít come easy; itís hard work!

In writing I saw many things in a new light. I had to do what I think is the hardest thing for any person to do: confront himself. I had to ďdisenthrall myself Ē of my own prejudices and biases; never an easy or pleasant thing to do, yet something that must be done, if I would truly answer, or better confront, the kinds of questions I asked.

Viewpoint is everything! And since we have only a single one of these offered to us at any time, we should readily change it and see what the other view affords us. As St. Thomas said about sacred scriptures: there are many meanings emanating from the one literal one; this does not mean they are contradictory, only different aspects of the literal. The trouble is, what is the literal meaning? And thatís the underlying point I tried to make all along. There is something inside of us that points us in the right direction in our quest; St. Thomas called it, connaturality; Kant called it, the categorical imperative; I call it the GOOD. By whatever name you call it, its consequence is the same: harmony in the human family.

And looking around at this point in time, and looking back in time, or even looking to an uncertain future, this harmony is something we have consistently missed; in fact, we havenít even come close to achieving it. All the good words, all the pious hopes, all the religious scruple, all the political promises and rhetoric; but nothing has, or is even making a dent in the problem, or coming to grips with the one simple question: Why? That is the same hypocrisy I said I hoped to disclose in this web site; and it exists throughout this world; and Iím sorry to say even in myself.

Where does it come from? That is what I tried to answer, because it seems universal and deep-seated, especially in todayís world. It is the division and separation that pervades just about every aspect of humanity. I think, and this is only a guess, that it comes from that very same inclination in man to separate things into objects or things he can comprehend. We create division in our mania to form neat little bundles of things that we can differentiate from everything else. But we also do this to ourselves. We are no longer human beings but different genders, sexual preferences, races, religions, nations, ethnic groups, economies, young, old, wealthy, poor, middle class, and on and on without end. This endless division makes us forever at odds with someone or the other, because we can never belong to all these groups or even most, and in consequence we are all different. We fill in that picture of the concept of humanity with that "me" of us; and thereby everyone else is alien to it in some way. This is the very same fallacy that Bishop Berkeley pointed out so long ago, the non-existence of the abstract concept. Humanity isnít a particular abstract idea of the generalized human being, which it is impossible to formulate; so we substitute ourselves in there and see everyone else as different. No. Humanity is merely the symbol that signifies that placeholder or class that holds every human in it nicely, regardless of his or her attributes or peculiarities or groups. But in making this mistake we tailor our behavior to the differences, not the sameness. Combine this with a world where survival pits us against each other, and an economy that reinforces it, even in the same society, and you see where all the inharmonious problems come from.

But having pointed out the problem, it should, at least in theory, become easier to find a solution. That solution lies in the GOOD.

The GOOD allows us to find the sameness regardless of the differences we have created. But in following the GOOD we must overcome our own biases and inflexible attitudes. Here is why we must finally come to face ourselves, for every one of us has these biases, including this writer. In writing I have at least tried to discipline myself, and make known what I myself have hidden from me. So that is what I urge the reader to do, in reading. Breaking a habit is often hard to do even when you know it exists, so you must first make it known that it does indeed exist. The Ego is particularly good at hiding what it doesnít want known about itself.

The problem originates in each and every one of us, but it shows itself in our societies and their behaviors toward each other. So in changing them we must first change ourselves. Each person must find his own answer, and in finding that answer he will eventually reconcile himself with the GOOD. If nothing else, he should feel the comfort to know that within him is a force or a conviction that always leads him in the right direction, and is always there with him when he needs to find that direction. We cannot legislate, with laws the conviction of the will. We cannot coerce with punishment what one believes with conviction. We can only change the conviction through reason and the reconciliation of it with that internal righting mechanism we call the GOOD. From good people come good nations, and the harmony between nations will do away with wars.

So finally, I sincerely hope that what I have learned in all of this, I can convey to each of you, so that you can likewise feel the influence of the GOOD on you, as I have felt its influence on me.

Postscript:

When I began writing I felt much hurt and bitterness; I felt that there was too much injustice and wrong in this world. Life had cheated me out of everything I wanted; like Job I was bereft of pity and full of scorn. In writing I saw that we all, in a way, create our own destinies. I faced my own faults and mistakes. So, I found, that in a way, I created my own sorrow. I still felt injustice, and knew that my words would probably only still bring further hurt to me; and they have, for there will always be the incurables in life, who will continue hurting till they in turn destroy themselves. These will probably never go away. But it's all too easy to say just get rid of them; thatís the very mistake that mankind has always suffered from before. We must learn to live with them, as hard as that may seem. The trick is to stop producing them, not to exterminate them. But most are not that way, like me they only search for the path with the least sorrow and hurt. That path can only be found by working together. God is love; and life is trust. All our lives depend on the latter to eventually bring us to the former. Society is trust; the enemies of society know this, and that is why they strike at this very thing. If we would have a strong nation, then we must create one where trust is paramount. Trust isnít created with guards and security cameras and mercenaries; itís created with honesty, fair play and good people. Our strength as a nation relies on our strength of character, and the projection of this to the other nations of the world. If we would have a world of peace and prosperity, then the nations of the world must all find that trust within each of them. All the problems of the world eventually come from this one source Ė the lack of trust. How can there be trust when there are losers in our societies? Societyís very purpose is to eliminate this. We, the people of planet earth must join together to find a way to fix this glaring disparity in all our societies.

Capitalism can only be good if it is a support to societies. It incorporates manís dream of freedom to grow and prosper. When it uses this freedom without restraint, regardless of the consequences of its actions to others, it will eventually destroy itself, for even business must be built on trust. Keep capitalism, but make it fair and responsible. The dream of unlimited wealth might go away; but that is only a stupid fantasy, for stupid people who want to live forever amongst their bodyguards and flunkeys. If we finally eliminate poverty and disparity between people, we may all be able to live much better lives, free and trusting of one another.

Well, Iíve said my piece; and perhaps like John, Iím merely a voice crying out in the wilderness, never to be heard, or if heard, merely shrugged off, as a futile Cassandra.

JAM



BACK TO CONTENTS PAGE





Originally Published:

April 16, 2008

Revised:

January 2, 2014