Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A long, loving look at the real

It's easy to get depressed if we're honest about what happens in the world.

And while cynicism is much better than ignorance, cynicism can signal a kind of ignorance; an inability to see good in the same moment we are honest.

Taken together, it may not be true that some things are good and other things are bad, but that everything is good; and what is bad grows out of this assumption, but not in harmony with it.

For example, the fact that our culture cannot accommodate the idea of death, and consequently fears and marginalizes its elders, who only offer themselves as the present face of our future selves, is a fine example of the good that is lost when we are too afraid to love what is real.

I see an awful lot of elderly people who are incredibly lonesome, even though many have lived incredible lives; but their kids are too busy in their obligations to others; and young people are unimpressed by any information source that lacks a touch screen. So a friend of mine who escaped the Holocaust has no audience, in spite of being very generous with her experience.

Another example might be to take the worldwide plague of rape and violence against women, which, insofar as men respected their mothers -- and respected them all the time, without betrayal -- might prove difficult to sustain. There is a natural relation which is absent in every instance of these acts by men; acts which do not reciprocate the things given to them by their mothers. Something else has intervened, but it is happening within life's framework; it does not displace it.

What I would like to get out of this is a point of encouragement. Yesterday I sat across from someone I love and had a conversation. In spite of everything else that was wrong with the world, it was enough.


Ethan said...

The last paragraph is one of the more heartening things I've read in a while. Thanks for that.

Ben There said...

Nice post. Finding the good (despite all the bullshit) is a fine art, one that requires a good deal of work but is completely worth the effort.

Richard said...

Yeah, that last paragraph is wonderful.

Ray said...

I like and agree with the post, however, I believe that the marginalization (is that a word?) of the elderly can be more easily attibuted to the structure of our economy.

Chinese value elder's wisdom, but it wasn't because of astue elders, it was because they continued to have a role in society .... and pretty much continued to own everything.

Wealth creation in our society and seeking wealth in other states ... has abrogated those baser reasons for the curiousity and respect.

Or, I am totally wrong ... it's one or the other?

JRB said...

Hey Ray,

Well, I'd certainly agree that the economy informs a lot of the culture.

I don't think there is any conflict in saying that because the elderly are less useful to capital, the culture barely accommodates them.