Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The Heretic & the Cross!
Throughout history and in our constant attempt as species to do what is right and heroic, we more often end up doing what is totally wrong and downright foolish, because we often confuse what is sensational with what is right, and what is purely selfish with the common good. In order to avoid this unfortunate pitfall, we have to constantly remind ourselves that doing right is more often a punishable crime, at the least in the societal if not the strictly legal sense, than a celebrate act of heroism, and that selflessness is often interpreted as stupidity and weakness and the selfless will more often become victim of his very penchant to do good.
Therefore, if we cannot do good for good’s sake, we will forever remain miserable as the wait for the eventual rewards could last a lifetime. Else, we will all too easily stumble into doing what is purely selfish, regardless of our original intentions. Good should always be its own reward, and heroism should more often be sought in the daily victories that one can achieve over his baser instincts and the chronic temptations of daily subsistence in the age of crass consumerism. And if salvation is to make an appearance in our life, and if it is indeed part and parcel of it, we should know that it will not be heralded by some heavenly trumpet calls, but will rather creep upon us at a pitiful pace and will never be the glorious affairs that we think it or want it to be. Heroism is more often lackluster and subdued, and the heroes are ordinary people that can be encountered every day, all around us, bearing no distinguishing marks but that of their goodness, if we are still willing to see it, that is, and have not grown too cynical about its all too real presence among us.
The souls of these heroes are often riddled with guilt and even a sense of defeat, for all the daily victories that they have accumulated. For, to them, every failure is a failure too many and the price of most victories is often too high. And what is accomplished will forever fall short of even their most modest expectations. This is the price for having a living conscience, I guess, and for striving hard to learn how to listen to it as closely as possible. This is also the natural price for having an inborn drive for achievement and for seeking to strike some sort of balance between the calls of it and the dictates of one’s conscience. The heroes might appear saintly to us, but they remain sinner to themselves. And so they should, lest they become megalomaniac and nullify the effect of every good they have done.
Does all this sound all too pretentious on my part? Perhaps it is. But then, which one of us does not really harbor such righteous pretensions within him/herself? We need these pretensions to keep on believing in ourselves and in our ability to distinguish right from wrong and to do some good in this world. True, these pretensions might be a bit overblown in my case, but then I never denied the reality of my Messiah Complex. But I also never used it as an excuse to ignore the possibility that I could be wrong with regards to almost everything I believe in. I go on because I keep on doubting myself, though hopefully at the right time, and I do not see in my ability to pull myself out of harm’s way in a timely fashion, or to recover so quickly after a mishap, any justification for what I do or believe in. I believe that I have always been lucky, but I long stopped taking my luck as some clear sign of divine favor. My inadequacies and mistakes are too numerous and I have become all too aware of them for me to believe in such a nonsensical notion anymore. My Messiah Complex has more often served to save me from me, because no one else will likely be so interested or inclined.
Yet, I am as interested in self-redemption as I am in the redemption of humankind, but I do believe that each one of us is ultimately responsible for making his/her own destiny. We can help each other, yes, and we should, but, in the final analysis, each one of us has to choose separately if he/she wishes to help or be helped. Our redemption as a species is both an individual and a collective responsibility, and is an all too human undertaking, and a never ending one. And yes, for all the oppression in the world, we do have a choice, and we do have the power to choose. But as to whether we have the courage, the will, the backbone, the moral fiber, the adventurous spirit, the principled stand, the knowledge base to choose, not to mention make an informed choice, well, this is a different matter all together. Unfortunately though, it is also quite relevant to the crisis at hand.
There are indeed too many clashing interests around, too much greed, too much ignorance, too little gumption, too radical and xenophobic visions, for anyone to accommodate anyone these days, for anyone to make any rational choice. Indeed, I seriously doubt that humanity has ever made a rational collective choice by design. It is always in the aftermath of a major disaster, in those few and rare moments of tragedy-induced sobriety that people and states can actually make some rational choices, albeit on the most limited scale imaginable. Too much reason dulls the human spirit it seems.
But to put things less cynically we should probably say that too much reason impinges on the enduring interests of the ruling regimes, strains the forever limited imagination of the masses, who will forever be preoccupied with their basic wants and needs, and disturbs the basic belief systems of the religious and intellectual elites, whose very neuroses will continue to be premised on the need to feel and be and claim to be, as vociferously as possible, righteous and right. As such, accommodation rather than acceptance is the best arrangement that can ever be achieved at any given time. And these are not very accommodating times.
So, what could people who suffer from a deeply-rooted Messiah Complex do in such troubled times? What they do in all other times, I guess - carry their crosses and plunge right ahead. What other choice for them is there really? Silence and quiet contemplation of the madness around them/us might work for the acetic but not for the heretic, for the angels but not for the messiahs, for the luminaries, but not for the tortured souls. I think the world needs both. And pretension or not, presumption or not, I think I know where I fit in all this. I always have.