Thursday, January 24th, 2013
A sucker for a happy ending. That’s why the Discworld books appealed to me so much, they had their moments but in the end things worked out. Mostly only people who were assholes died. And good people were rewarded, or at least lived fairly happily.
There are quite a few books like that. I don’t need to read about the hero dying, I see that. I know enough of it from real life that I may have perhaps become somewhat jaded. I have carried a lot of good friends and family to holes in the ground. I have seen most of the ways people can be bastards, and many of the ways people can be bastards to one another. I am seldom surprised by the way people are, and I am often thought of as emotionless because I don’t react strongly when I see people being assholes. I have come to expect it.
On the other hand, when people in real life do good things, it warms me, like nothing else. Even a well written story with a good ending can moisten my eyes. All of this is because I like it when people choose their better angels and do good things, or even do the right thing, when the right thing is the hard thing. And it does happen, in the real world, though it seems to happen less and less these days, or maybe I’m just growing old.
When you train a dog, or raise a child, you must establish a set of rules, and those rules must be hard and fast. The dog or the child may chafe at the authority, but they are both better for it. No child or dog benefits from long term unfettered freedom of action, without consequence there is no learning.
In this same way we make law. A lot of the law is based on old religious law, because a lot of that is pretty good foundation. As things change,the law changes, and invariably, it grows.
Everyone yearns to be free. From the moment you are told that you cannot stay up and watch that certain television show to the desire (Some of us have) to start the car and just drive, we want to be free. In that freedom there is responsibility, and soon enough we learn on our own that we must balance our freedom with our responsabilities. Nobody will pay our way as we “Find ourselves” because you just might not be there to find you. A lot of parents allow their children the “Freedom” to do the things they always dreamed of,even going so far as to finance their journey of self discovery, only to find it makes them spoiled brats who want to have the world handed to them. A powerful lot of the time, those people find themselves attracted to places where the rules are strict and rigid, and fit in perfectly because they crave that structure and orderliness, no matter how ignorant it is. Case in point: Cat Stevens. Apparently raised by wolves, he was fascinated by the Koran and decided he would abandon his “Worldly ways” for a life of devotion to Islam.
What a crock of shit. islam gave unrelenting structure, and the perpetual adolescent Stevens craved that. All perpetual adolescents do- no matter how much they may bitch and chafe at the rules imposed on them, they want that structure.
Adults do not need the external structure, they have shed the exoskeleton of structure for an endoskeleton of moral structure that supports and sustains them, because it comes from within. Most “Progressives” think of themselves as the “Learned” and “Evolved” because they just know that everyone needs that exoskeleton of the Law to keep them in line and happy. We do not need it, because we are adults, but they never understand that point- being incapable of standing on their own without the exoskeleton of the burgeoning Law, they expect we need it too.
The world, today, is less warm and welcoming than when I grew up, and part of the hardness comes from people who would impose their will on those of us who wish to be free. It makes it ever rarer to see people going out of their way to be decent to one another. I hate this. I want it to change. I have no idea how to accomplish that- well, I have some idea, but my ideas are not very popular.
A lot of people think that it is possible to ‘Educate” those crustacea, those jellyfish that require an external support to give them form, but you cannot. They have a fact proof screen. While you struggle to bring them to the light they drag all of western civilization into the darkness.
In Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury talks about a world where people who have a bit of literature in their head are valued, so that it doesn’t become lost. Bradbury is as wrong about this as Asimov is wrong about robotics; it is not literature that we must fear losing, it’s self reliance and self sufficiency. We have to save these things and teach them to our children- clandestinely, if we must, but they have to learn. And you can’t just teach them to stand on their own two feet, you have to teach them to teach others. Therin lies the salvation of civilization. We may have a lot of bad days ahead, but this can give us that happy ending.