Sunday, 2 April 2017

Two Ways of Refusing to Accept Things as they are

A man beats a dog in the street. A politician exploits his office to milk unjustified expenses. A youth speaks coarsely and aggressively to a girl. A woman gets so drunk that she vomits in the street. A child drops an aluminium drinks can on the beach in front of you. A car driver drives at 70 miles an hour through a small village. A tyrant bombs his people. These are all things that occur and, in that sense represent the world “as it is.” Given the selfishness, the danger occasioned, the misery caused unnecessarily who would demur from those who would urge us to intervene and attempt to correct such undesirable situations where we are able? I should add here that while the situations are undesirable they are not unexpected. If the option to behave badly exists one can be sure, given that we can all make choices, that some will make bad choices. The fact that the world is, thus, “as it is” should not surprise us. We understand the humour in Ronald Firbank’s lament - “The world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain.”

A human being is a poor weak thing for the first section of its life utterly dependent on its parents for its continued existence. This has to do with the size of the prominence human head which contributes so much to our success as a species. Human creatures require nourishment, clothing and shelter if they are to survive and thrive. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs makes this clear. Human beings are mortal and will not live forever but will age and die. The human race reproduces sexually and so is gendered. The female of the race bears and is equipped to nurse our offspring. As a result most human societies are arranged around the relations and needs of the sexes and the family. Most emotional fulfillment is found in such relationships and relations. There are exceptions to this but please note that I use “most” in a purely statistical sense. In my book it is acceptable to make the generality or “most” the norm in a purely factual and mathematical sense. I make no judgements and use no pejoratives when I suggest that those who do not fit this “norm” are not "normal". I understand that this is a subtle use of the word “normal” but it is one that the word can stand etymologically. The things which I have listed in this paragraph are facts upon whose desirability or otherwise we do not seem to have been consulted. To believe that such examples of the world “as it is” can be engineered or altered to our pleasure is perhaps, an example of scientific and technological hubris or of a “god complex.” On the whole we are powerless to change them and many would ask why we would wish to change some of them as our main pleasures and fulfillments are derived from them.

The modern age regularly confuses the two understandings of the need to correct the world “as it is” detailed above believing that it can or should “correct” things that cannot be corrected as they are simply “givens.” Many will quibble with this this before, the next moment, calculating and arranging their lives as if such givens are in place, as, indeed, they are for that is the definition of a given.

No comments :

Post a Comment