Saturday, April 24, 2010

Welcome and unwelcome difficulties

I read Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy a couple of weeks ago, and there he said that anger isn't an irrational power that comes over us, boils our blood and blinds our reason, but it's actually an emotion sparked by a thought, a rational assumption: That life and people should be easier and fairer and better. And as we learn more about the world and how it is not in fact that easy or fair or good, we will cease to be angry and try to summon the power to live with what we can't change. (To his credit, de Botton also realizes that aqueducts wouldn't have been built without discontent with the status quo. But he argues that we should discern between the things we can change and those we can't to put an end to futile discontent.)

When they see me angry or disappointed, people tell me that such is life. And I know that any project or relationship is so much more difficult than it seems when you start it. Last weekend I played scrabble with some friends at the Heath and I realized how you might have the perfect word on your rack, but everybody is trying to get their word out there and you may not find a place on the board for the ideal, and if you want to keep playing, you have to come up with another solution, no matter how unideal it is.

But then there must be a border between what is normal and should be expected and what is unacceptable. As I grow up, that border moves out for me and I realize how much work everything entails and I'm not entitled to anything, but the border is still, and always, there. And that border is crossed when somebody doesn't play by the rules. I know there is no single set of rules (or values, yes), but I still believe that we should hold on to whatever sense of fairness and justice we have and not let it vanish. We should trust our gut feeling and be prepared to stand our ground despite any practical concern or fear. Such situations call for fighting, not staying silent or adjusting.

The welcome difficulty of getting over the unwelcome obstacle.

Because when that border disappears, meaning and value disappears and you cease to care. And that is as good as dead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are we on telepathic mode or are you just the hands writing my thoughts in some parrallel world? freaky...

By the way on that one, I must ask.... Is the sky the limit? Is the risk of not being a good sheep following the cattle worth the fear? Im definiteely pushing the limits waiting for my the guillotine, but I believe you are right, there is no point living one's life as numb as a vegetable.