by Morgan Freeberg | December 29, 2012 11:01 am
We’re down to just a few absolutely-must-do things today, one of which is to memorize the wedding vows. Uh, the ones I wrote myself. Yeah. Probably better get that done.
There’s a phrase in there about my bride-to-be’s “positive energy.” This may perhaps get into things that ought not be part of a wedding ceremony, since it’s nit-picky and overly-philosophical. But eventually I decided, if everyone else gets to talk about life and how to live it, and the way it all works, then so do I. Besides, that’s the whole point. “Life and how it works” is the primary skeletal structure of a wedding. We are accustomed to the tears and the rice and the flowers and the satins and the bow ties taking center stage, because their whole purpose is to grab attention and that is their nature, but I’ve noticed we forget that these things are just fleshy tendril bits of the organism, little more than mere decoration. The whole point to attending the wedding is to commemorate an event, and the event has to do with life and the way it works.
And if the bride didn’t have bundles and bundles of positive energy, we wouldn’t be there. The groom still has to say yes for it to take place. This one’s been saying no for a long, long time.
Now, about that. I’ve written in many places over the years, on my way to making some other point, that our efforts may be concerned with creation, preservation or destruction, and it is important to know which one’s being done when one contributes to the design, or the effort, of an idea. When a person exerts effort to further some ambition while maintaining a confusion about whether that ambition is destructive or creative, that person is saddled with a special kind of wrong-ness. This is one of those points about the nature of truth, and our living of life within it, that seems so self-evident that it’s a bit silly to go taking the time to point it out, but point it out we must, for it is forgotten quickly and frequently. I’m sure if you were to go looking for examples of this point I’ve been making, catalog and classify all these instances, you’d find most of the time I’m talking about our friends the modern liberals for this is their perpetual state: Engage some long-running, self-energizing effort to destroy some certain thing, and pretend they’re building something.
How does one become confused about such a thing? The answer is that human effort is, or at least can often be, inherently confusing. There are entirely legitimate pursuits that consist of an effort to do something to one thing in order to bring about some situation which is necessary for some entirely different thing to be done to some other thing. Think, for example, about destroying one thing so that some other thing can be preserved. Our military does that all day and every day. They destroy for a living, but they are not, by nature, a destructive force. There is a complexity to their mission. The liberals with their simplistic revulsion against icky guns may deny it, but this layer of complexity is key to the defense mission and it is present in all sorts of other human pursuits. We preserve things to destroy other things, we destroy things so that other things may be created, we create things so something can be preserved, we destroy one thing to create another, we create to destroy, et al. Destructive tasks are begun and finished so that something else can be created or preserved, pretty much all the time, so simply acting to destroy something does not necessarily make one into a primarily destructive agent.
But it does create a temptation to go down that path. “In order to build X, we are going to have to destroy Y.” It isn’t long before X is entirely out of the picture. “Bob keeps me from doing my job so I can’t do my job unless Bob is fired.” Pretty soon, you’re not driving off to work every day to do your job, you’re going there every day to get Bob fired. This is sleek, sexy, seductive…stultifying. It warps the human imagination, drive and enthusiasm, darkens our souls, and it is easy to forget how quickly and effectively the anesthetic works.
Conservatives dance on the edge of such a precipice when they talk about getting rid of Barack Obama: “In order for America to succeed, we have to get Obama out of there.” Now that this isn’t very likely, people need to come to grips with their own true nature. The positive-force types have said to themselves “We are going to have to find a way for America to succeed, in spite of Obama.” Whereas the negative-force types will have to reshape their ambition to be one of “We are going to have to find a way to get rid of Obama, without an election” and begun talk of impeachment. The left-wing counterpart to this, of course, is the climate change “movement” which is supposed to have something to do with “science,” although nobody who pays attention to it really thinks so. (A “movement” within science? Is that allowed?) Global warming…climate change…what is it all about? It is about this in-order-to complexity of mission: “In order for the environment/planet to thrive or endure” — preservation — “American business has to be destroyed” — or diminished, which involves destruction. There. I have enumerated the primary colors of this global warming “movement” and described exactly how they blend together.
And, the people pushing it have ascended to their own special plateau of wrong-ness, for they mistake their own endeavor. They think they are trying to preserve something, when the destructive energies have completely taken them over. How many of these global-warming people drive vehicles big enough to tow a boat up to Folsom Lake, and launch it there, in order to scoot off to work in an office cubicle somewhere? They don’t give a tinker’s damn about carbon emissions. Oh, I know they’re not all like that, there’s that Ed Begley Jr. looking hippie-dude I met down at the recycling machine when I took the beer bottles in for proper, earth-friendly disposal. But overall, the climate change “movement” is heavily populated with a bunch of hypocrites who fail to live the humble lifestyle, and what’s much worse I think, is that those non-hypocritical enthusiasts who do live the proper lifestyle, are apparently entirely unconcerned with their compatriots who are hypocritical and do not. This effort is not about that. It isn’t preservative, it is destructive. Its whole point is one of destruction.
So on this day when I’m getting married, my thoughts naturally turn to alliances. I’m seeing one of the most enduring classifications of human tragedy, is this type of story that begins with an alliance between the destructive and the ignorant. And that’s what my divorced-guy’s-vow has become over the years. Oh yes, divorced guys have vows, you didn’t know that? Yup, show me a thousand divorced guys, I can show you a thousand vows. The vows all begin the same way, as the ink is drying on the dissolution order: “I”m never getting married again.” Some of those don’t change, most gradually reshape into “I’m never getting married again until…” Or “The next woman I marry, if there is one, will…”
And my divorced-guy vow reshaped into “I’m never getting married again until the institution of marriage pulls its head out of its ass.” Which, truth be told, against all odds could be said to have happened. Last time I was married, marriages were about “The man worries about the bills being paid and the checking account not being overdrawn, and the woman worries about being maintained in the lifestyle and manner to which she has become accustomed.” The people who (somehow) made their marriages happy and long-lasting, in a cruel irony, were blissfully unaware of all this, with the divorced-dudes being the only ones who were keenly aware of it. But those were the rules. “She bounces checks, so your finances will always be a disaster, and when you married her you said that was perfectly alright so shut up.” Now that Bill Clinton has entirely obliterated whatever credibility the third-wave feminist movement had, this has softened somewhat and womens-equality has come to embrace, or at least tolerate, a sincerity and a realism that were missing from it before. We can go ahead and push for women to have equal responsibilities to go with their equal rights. As a package deal. This is somewhat new.
My divorced-guy vow then morphed into a more humble turn, to “I’m never getting married until I stop being foolish and ignorant.” Well, that’s probably not going to happen. I’m no different from any other mortal, therefore I know barely one percent about anything. But this has softened into “I’m never getting married until I find a way to let go of that special ignorance.” And see above. The special ignorance of forgetting about one’s own efforts: What am I trying to do? Create something? Preserve something? Destroy something? I made reference to the “type of story that begins with an alliance between the destructive and the ignorant” — my earlier marriage, along with many of my more foolish pursuits in years gone by, these are all part of that. I imagine I’ll be snookered again in some other things I’ll be doing, since we are not perfect and unfortunately, neither am I. But the vow was that should there ever be a second marriage, then it, at the very least, would not be part of that. That is the final shape and form of this divorced-guy’s-vow, and it’s been met. That is why there will be a wedding tonight.
You ever stop to think about how life would change, if these destructive types…these lost souls, these fallen angels, the “I’m destroying something to build something else, but I can’t quite recall at the moment what it is I’m trying to build” types…could somehow be kept from entering into these unholy alliances with the people who are like I was all those years ago, the foolish types, the stupid types, the ones lacking the wisdom and experience to perceive things as they are? What if we could somehow drive a wedge between the destructive and the ignorant. Drive them apart and keep them from ever unifying again, maybe cloak them in some chemical or hormone, like a birth control that keeps the sperm from ever meeting with the egg. Imagine such a thing. There would be no liberals, not as we know them now. Marriages like my first one would cease to exist, and with that change, I suppose the bulk of all dysfunctional marriages would cease to exist on the spot, and never exist in the first place. We’d still have feminism I suppose. There is a need for it, or at least, there was. But the feminists would look a lot more like my Mom: Eye on the prize, on equal opportunity and equal treatment, but always ready to study what was being put before her with a scrutinizing eye, ready to say “This is looking more and more like a man-bashing party, and I’m outta here.” Oh, I’m sure we’d still have women who blame men for all their problems in life, but they wouldn’t be able to sucker in new, ignorant, recruits. There, as in other places, that’s where the problem starts. The destructive unify with the ignorant.
No global warming “movement.” No Occupy movement. The cable ratings for The Daily Show would drop off. President Obama’s political existence would have ended the moment He said “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” No United Nations. No socialized medicine. If organized labor could continue onward, it would look very different from the kind we have come to know. The college curricula would be shedding classes left and right, most of the ones whose names end with the word “studies.” We wouldn’t have atheists filing lawsuits to take down Christmas trees and crosses, or at least those lawsuits wouldn’t get very far. No “community organizing.” No “social justice.” Alternative fuels would be developed like any other technology: Tinker with it until you have something practical, but until that day comes, don’t obstruct anything. There would be no ADA abuse, no small businesses being sued or fined into oblivion because the recycling bin was put in the wrong place.
I’m not sure how we do that. I suppose if we want to avoid becoming the self-delusional destructive types, we have to be ready to admit “We can’t find a way to change that, so we’ll have to work at surviving and prospering with the situation as it presently exists,” to adapt to realities. But if so, I think it is still worth acknowledging that this is the source of a disproportionate number of our most vexing problems. The ignorant, “marrying” or at least forming alliances with, the destructive. This seems to be where much of the trouble starts. If we cannot take action upon that, then we should make a note of it at least.
Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes and Rotten Chestnuts.
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