by David Eide 

The Values That Emerge  

Well, I know I don't have an empire to defend. I have only worlds to know and experience. It is the beginning of renewal. A 30 year cycle that started in '68 is now finished. A new era awaits.

Idle Musings of the Hypothetical Citizen

"You must not fall below the standard of your fathers, who not only won an empire by their own toil and sweat, without receiving it from others, but went on to keep it safe so that they could hand it down to you. And, by the way, it is more of a disgrace to be robbed of what one has than to fail in some new undertaking."
Pericles speaking to the Athenians after the second invasion of the Peloponnesians

We like to believe that democracy belongs to the mystical tradition and not that of religiosity. It is the fantastic, nearly hopeless belief that any man or woman can attain to their potential and live life with great dignity. The hypothetical citizen knew that it was more than money. There were sources necessary in the democracy that money could not touch.

"You can't tell me anything. I will find out my own way. If I laugh at your money system it's not out of empty scorn. I must not only have knowledge but experience as well. I need to know how the house was built. I need to know that suffering is real. I need to know that people needn't be told anything but how to get to the next phase of development." Or, so he believed in the beginning stages of his life as a free citizen in a free, liberal democratic society.

He had, of course, come to see some of the nefarious aspects of it. He saw the energy of the spirit set in motion to reduce rather than to raise up. He saw ambitions used to reduce and not to enrich; it had something of the awesome quality associated with startling recognitions in the face of strangers. "Ha ha, citizen!" The large, clown like man was telling him, "Don't turn your energy to the analysis of what burdens you....walk on with a smile on your face."

"And when I see it as a vast machine without any rhyme or reason to it, what am I suppose to do?"

The fat clown was roaring with a semi-vicious kind of hatred he used to hear among drug dealers and their biker fiends.

When young the hypothetical citizen was disturbed to see suffering on the one hand and powerful, driving self-interest on the other.

* * * * * * * *

The Chain of Action

Any idea may arise.

Any person can carry the idea

Any person can associate with other persons to carry the idea forward.

Any collection of persons can assert the idea in the middle of other, perhaps contradictory ideas.

The whole society can decide what idea it will accept and what idea it will reject.

Any person can take a rejected idea and keep it alive.

Any person can resist any accepted idea.

This works when there is coherence and order.

If everyone is cynical then cynicism is superfluous or, at least, ineffective.

* * * * * * * *

As youth faded from him he played, briefly, with utopian thinking. What was that moment that made the utopian seem so appealing and possible? It was the feeling that "everything" was the result of human nature, therefore if human nature were reformed, even transformed, everything would follow.

Quickly, the society became divided by the few who were undergoing this and the vast majority who were resisting it.

As it all faded out, he had a wistful thought, "what had the utopians found out about human nature and its transformations?

It felt awkward and perilous to stand between the pragmatists on one side and the utopians on the other. They had a mutual hostility rubbed into the complex, weird time they shared. They spoke different languages. The center out of which they existed was wholly different. One in a state of organization and the other in his ideas.

He was bemused by it all and wandered from one center to the next, attempting to ascertain the truth of his freedom and democracy.

* * * * * * * *

"War," the old man was saying, "is a period of derangement, a little spell of insanity after which there are scars and bit of recovery. I doubt if the essential causes have changed from the day Cain slew Abel in jealousy of the God. They've only become complicated through the awesome weaponry, diplomacy, trade, and a kind of demoralizing atmosphere that suddenly becomes charged with the promise of redemption through the decisive act."

"The feeling of zero, of nothingness, is the propitious moment in the spirit when it decides to live or die. In a sane world that decision would rise toward life. But in this world we see more and more evidence of the spirit giving itself over to death."

© 2004 David Eide. All rights reserved.

David Eide

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