Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do we really want a cosy Golden Age?

A writer friend sent me a list of great thinkers today and asks:

Would any of these people, world's greatest thinkers, ever have voted Tory or UKIP or BNP?

And he gives an impressive list of great men and women ranging from Socrates to Jesus.

Thanks for this, Tony; these are all indeed great writers and thinkers. So I hate to be the Devil's advocate but the truth of life is that a man's written thoughts are often at odds with the way he behaves in reality. If you look closely into the lives of a good many of the people you have quoted, you will be amazed at the causes they espoused and the lives they led. The Greek philosophers for instance had some strange notions about slavery and what constituted it. Wordsworth believed at first in the French Revolution and look where those ideals led to. Christians have been troubled because Jesus said 'I come not to bring peace but to bring a sword.' Their idea of Christianity grew to mean something full of sweetness and light,a nice white-robed, meek man surrounded by lambs and children like some Victorian moralistic painting hung over a fireplace. I see this controversial statement as a metaphor for the sword of Truth cutting through all the set-in-stone, outdated, prevailing ideas of His own times.

But what is the Truth? Times, attitudes, ideas, ideals change. Thus these changing mores cannot be Truth which is something known deep in the heart of every being. And the people you quote tried hard to express this understanding of the Truth from a side of themselves which was noble of purpose. Thank God for such nobleness within our turgid natures! Human beings are complex and dual, God and the Devil rages in us all. We say one thing, fear and self preservation makes us say or live another. A marvellous example is Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' where the hero, incapable of incorporating his own dark side, projects his wickedness, his shadow side upon the picture in the attic. And then we have R.L. Stevenson's 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'. So great was the problem of living with his bestial nature, Dr. Jekll splits into two beings that seem to know nothing of each other's existence. Is that not true of us all? We think we are the good thing and all the 'badness' is out there.
Speaking of political parties, MP's have of late been castigated for their expense fiddles,lies and love affairs. Yet these men began with ideals too and hoped to live by them if they could. So what went wrong? What took over? Where were the ideals compromised or lost? And...are they actually any different to the rest of us?

The world is made up from opposites and the clash of these opposing ideas and forces, even when they become full scale wars, make things change and happen, make consciousness move and grow. Peace can bring stagnation like a pond that is never ruffled by the wind or moved by the flow of water. Tories, Labour, Liberals, UKIP, BNP, Green Party...all of these apparently different ways of looking at our little modern world... simply form a part of these clashes and make peopel aware, make them think a bit, see things from another viewpoint which sharpens up their own responses.

The Sword of Truth is still needed to cut through it all some day. Time for us all to look within and sort out how much of our own fears and loathings we project upon 'the other side'.

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Favourite Quotes

  • My home is my retreat and resting place from the wars: I try to keep this corner as a haven against the tempest outside, as I do another corner of my soul. Michelle de Montaigne
  • Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony: Mahatma Gandhi
  • Friends are people you can be quiet with. Anon.