Idle Musings of the Hypothetical Citizen
He had known grief, a condition of mind that was uncontrollable at times. He had seen the end. He had seen the carnage and the carnage to be. He had seen that now they put into bombs, the size of cars, all the armies and weapons of history. He had heard the tales of war from the greatest generation. He had seen the wickedest war fought against the opinion and judgement of even those who waged it. He had seen the mythical dimensions in life through which even government seemed silly and out of date. He had seen that ambitions would lead to the utter destruction of the planet. He had seen the illusions that carried men and women through the day. He had seen it and it had changed him.
So now perhaps, he thought, all that is left is the grace of God.
It was an emotional view, only a fragment of what was needed in a liberal democracy. "All life ends and the Earth turns and orbits the sun for millions of years and change will bury everything." The hapless men in the city had convinced them this was the case and who was he to argue? It was an almost succulent view that held the Earth as a physical object creating time with its endless orbits around the sun. For all of that life was always lived in the moment, during the day when work was done, during the week and month when plans were executed, during years in which the mind and spirit got old.
Where then was the necessity for a liberal democracy?
"Ah well, you see my boy, if you don't have it you got its opposite which is worse. Socialism or nazism or theocracy. And if you are frozen in fear and loathing at the passage of time and give up as a result of it, what then? That tells me more about yourself than the world."
Oh, he thought, these people just continually chastise me as though I haven't yet caught up with their wisdom. They seem to say, "see through my eyes and all will be well for you...."
He had become the pissant he had feared. Well, they need pissants in a democracy don't they?
Sitting on his favorite rock that overlook the fabricated lake he realized that the three thousand, even four thousand years of history he'd become familiar with were superfluous. "Life will be here, conscious, for another million at least and absolutely cannibalize the first four thousand or so years." He had seen the tendency all around, even among friends and family. It was some grand deceit that was both liberating and frightening. After all, what was barbarism but a celebration of forgetting and, in its place, raw power?
Oh, texture of time, how I lower myself into your wonderful skin.
Only later does the hypothetical citizen, to his misfortune, start to abstract time from objects; clocks, the ages of various people he knows, calendars, it is a kind of abstraction that he grafts onto his consciousness. "Oh, everyone, play this game with me!" If they do, if there are several agreements as to time there is little problem and the world rolls merrily along.
Calendars, clocks, and huge signs that are prominent, lit with neon letters and numbers! Reveal your monstrous eyes to me.
And, he reasons, what is thirty years to five thousand years? Yet, what if in those thirty years a few moments have been taken to contemplate the great mystery of five thousand years, of and for itself as well as its relation to a mere thirty years.
He hears nature speaking; the womb and tomb of it. Oh dim light of Mother!
The modern tribes, he noted, forgot selectively and highlighted only what they wanted to hear; only that which enhanced their tribe. This old trick was very familiar through history and how it had re-emerged back into the modern condition was a mystery. "Aren't we suppose to be the smart ones? The experienced ones?"
Perhaps, in the end, it was only a matter of nerves. If he could deal with these perceptions and keep them calm in the seat of a reasonable mind perhaps he could then resolve the critical questions that prevented him from fully embracing the society.
"This free society goes nuts from time to time, no question." There was something in the psychological make-up of his fellow citizens that made it so. It was ignorance but a type of ignorance that believed in itself and gained momentum through a kind of group energy. He wasn't going to be shocked if the lynchings started again, in broad daylight, the pictures in the daily newspapers.
© 2005 David Eide. All rights reserved.
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