Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Struggle

A recent post by Pete note's Camus' idea that Sisyphus could at least salvage his dignity by cursing the gods. The author John Gardner (Grendel, Sunlight Dialogues...) had as a recurring theme the idea that the definition of a life was the struggle rather than the successes. This idea seems entirely lost on much of America.The controlling definition today seems to "winning," ie: dollars, elections, media exposure. What you do in life seems subsumed by the outcomes measured in...essentially terms of greed.

It seems that winning an election means you can say anything you like with the ends of winning a particular base and the election. It seems that the measure of a business is stockholder return, criminal hiring practices, shady accounting, outright political corruption do not matter, a $1.00 return versus a $0.75 is what matters, not how it is achieved. A Paris Hilton matters because media exposure matters.

Does Pete Abel have to reform the Republican Party to be a success? If the Republican Party is to succeed, probably, but is that a measure of Pete Abel? Not in the view of Gardner's philosophy, Pete succeeds because he pushed the rock and then pushed again and... Now that is personal, and individual - but - and here's the real thing in the argument, that behavior multiplied has effects: More multipliers more effects.

Now really, consider the outcome of changing the controlling philosophy, taking philosophical responsibility for our actions, their morality, their ethics, their humanity changes the entire picture. People who step back, overwhelmed by numbers and greed no longer do so; these people understand that their life belongs to them and what they do with it counts and they act accordingly. I do not speak of a reward in "heaven," that is an outcome, I'm referring to life, not life after death. A life well lived is its own reward, and the thing is that the rest of us benefit from that.

Is it fair to measure people on that basis? A better question is if measuring them on any other scale is meaningful or fair. Would Mitt Romney as President undo the things he's said? Does the Republican Party staying in its current mess for the next ten years measure the Pete Abels? If we use that measuring stick we are approving the concept that the ends justify the means. The Bush policies regarding searches, torture, Habeas Corpus are of that philosophy. If you could not approve of these things being done to yourself...

Does this sort of philosophy mean that unless you are "Christ-like" you are a failure? Hardly, it is possible to retrieve an untruth by acknowledging it and correcting and apologizing for it. My own life is scarcely spotless, 19 years ago I became clean and sober; that had a whole lot to do with a life that was being very badly conducted, I have corrected that and apologized where I could. I have conducted myself as honorably as I know how, since, and apologize for my mistakes - I own my life and I do not deny it to achieve ends. Yes I measure people on that basis, including myself, and that I won't apologize for.

cross posted from Central Sanity

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