Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Turkey Day

Things are slowing down in the blogosphere, so I am going to save all the heavy topics I've been marinating for next week. I am on hiatus from work and hubby is playing hookie, so we have home improvements to do. Anything I can do to advance the cause of our gutted bathroom in the hallway I will do to end the tyranny of sharing a bathroom with him. You see, men and women should not share a bathroom! Anyone who is married will agree and single people take notes -- this is the wisdom of ancients. Really. I am pretty sure it says it in the Bible somewhere - "Thou shalt not share a bathroom with thine spouse." It's the Eleventh Commandment.

I read a really cool article this morning on my favorite Libertarian website Lewrockwell.com, which I will share here and say Happy Turkey Day to everyone.

Life Is Beautiful
by Charley Reese

An astute reader suggested to me recently that people today are no worse than they were in the past, and they will not get better in the future. Now, that's a sobering thought even for a teetotaler – which, by the way, I'm not.

Upon reflection, I believe he is right. After all, human history is a record of folly, war, tragedy and greed. It requires a dark sense of humor to get even a few laughs out of it. We humans have been defiling the planet ever since we arrived and are still doing it. I know it takes 10 acres of rain forest every year just to produce the junk mail I get in my mailbox. That reminds me: If the U.S. Postal Service weren't, like every other institution, a servant of big business, it would cut the price of first-class mail and increase the price of second, third and fourth class.

But let's get back to the story of mankind. I did notice, even in my idealistic youth, that one could read Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero and Caesar, and it was just like reading contemporary writers. That's because human nature really doesn't change. Poverty and war have been the norms of human existence and still are. But youthful enthusiasm and idealism quickly crowded such thoughts out of my head. Every time I ran into chicanery or tragedy, I thought I was seeing something new, or at least the exception. It took a while to realize that all I was seeing was normal human behavior.
If you review all of human history, you can easily see that the only thing that has changed is technology. Someone gave us this wonderful brain – the best there is among living creatures, so far as we know. It has the capacity to "time-bind," to use the phrase coined by Alfred Korzybski, the founder of general semantics. That simply means we can pass on whatever knowledge or skills we accumulate, and that's what makes technical progress possible.

You can see how it works just by following the path of weapons. It starts with a rock, then a sling, then a spear, then a bow, then an ax, then a knife, then a sword, then a gun, then an explosive, then an airplane, then a missile, then a nuclear warhead. How much indeed have we improved upon the means to kill each other! We can now murder millions of people in seconds and probably will eventually. (Someone asked
Southern comedian Brother Dave Gardner where he would want to be in the event of a nuclear war, and he replied, cupping his hand behind his ear, "Wherever I could say, 'What was that?'")

The odd thing about us humans is that this same time-binding ability allows us to preserve the wisdom of how to live together in peace, harmony and cooperation. Many wise people in different cultures have figured it out, and they or their disciples have written it all down. We tend to either ignore it or allow our emotions and desires to override our reason.

The problem here is that each of us is born with a blank slate. Civilization itself is literally born anew with each baby. Whatever that baby needs to know must be learned, and that's why education – parental, peer and formal – is so important.

By now, you might be thinking, What's the point? Well, the point is that despite our faults, life is beautiful. This planet is beautiful. People, especially children, are beautiful. People can create beauty, as well as weapons. What we should do is enjoy the moment more and worry less about the future.

I'm not suggesting that we ignore Aesop and go completely grasshopper, but we should recognize that good and evil are permanent components of the human existence, and nothing we do will change that. What we can do is associate as much as humanly possible with the good and the beautiful, and avoid as much as possible evil and ugliness.

The world outside of us is as it is. Whether what we see and experience make us happy or depressed depends on our internal evaluation of it. Going down the highway of life, we can look at the litter and the billboards or the grass and the trees. I prefer the trees.

19 Comments:

At 12:33 PM, November 22, 2005 , Blogger Tyreael said...

Excellent article. I am currently reading a book on Lincoln written in the 1950's and as it describes some of the political turmoil surrounding elections and politics, it is like reading today's news. It really is true that the same problems occur over and over and although the environment may change, the results are almost cyclical.

Also, I definetely agree with the bathroom comment...I made a comment to my wife the other day that perhaps we should have gone for the two-bathroom apartment instead of the one with the vaulted cieling and fireplace :)

 
At 9:29 PM, November 22, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Tyreael -

Thanks for stopping by. Vaulted ceiling vs. extra bathroom. That's a tough choice but, at the end of the day, I think the 2nd bathroom wins out. :-)

Happy turkey day and I hope to see your comments again soon.

 
At 2:26 PM, November 23, 2005 , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

11 23 05

II: I haven't the time to read the current post, but Happy Thxgiving to you and your husband:)

 
At 3:06 PM, November 23, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Thanks! You too.

 
At 3:20 PM, November 23, 2005 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

The first half of that article was some of the best stuff I've read all week! :-) One of the things I love about Buddhism is that it accepts struggle as part of life. It states that there will always be struggle, but that your job is to maintain throughout it. Similarly, I like the way the author discusses war, ignorance, etc, as just being part of life. Sometimes, it's very hard for me to relax with so many things wrong in the world. I feel a responsibility to act--which is good. But it can be overwhelming. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that Rome was not built in a day...

 
At 3:21 PM, November 23, 2005 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

By the way, my wife booted me to the back bathroom. I was sharing it with a kitty litter box! Yuck! I saw how important it was to her, so I just caved. After a while, though, I got rid of those dang cats and moved my butt back up to our bathroom. We share. It ain't that bad--at least for me! haha :-)

 
At 3:28 PM, November 23, 2005 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

It's not so bad for you since you are probably used to all the stray clippings from your shaves. :-)

 
At 4:49 PM, November 25, 2005 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Intellectual Insurgent!

(Signing off in a tryptophantic bliss), :-), StS

 
At 5:20 AM, December 05, 2005 , Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

ii,

Happy belated Thanksgiving! :)

You know there is a statement in the article that is very philosophical and has cause me much pondering.

It is the statement, "The problem here is that each of us is born with a blank slate."

I don't believe we are born with a blank slate, in fact I think that sort of thinking is mostly Eastern.

Anyone who has had more than one child, will easily attest to the individual personality that each of them have. I believe that their "spirit" brings previous characteristics with it when it enters the body.

But anyway, the article was interesting.

:)

FAR.

 
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