Friday, May 13, 2011

To Know...

Today we find ourselves in the path of a raging storm that seems determined to bring the rafters down upon us. We must keep in mind, though, that we are not the first generation to face such perplexities. Nor, we must hope, will we be the last.

The question before us now is how to best contend with this storm. Rash people climb up on the rooftop, shake a fist at the winds, and challenge the storm to a one-on-one battle to the finish. The finish usually means getting blown away, hit by lightning, or struck by a 150mph piece of airborne debris. Then there’s the panic-stricken, who ignored the gathering storm clouds till it‘s all too late, and are too frozen with fear to work out what to do.

The assured man, on the other hand, knows that storms come and go, and prepares to meet them and weather them as best he may. He watches and stays alert, and when he sees the clouds gathering he batons down the hatches, secures the lose timbers, herds the small animals into the barn, gathers the family into one place, brings the tools into the house and keeps the candles close at hand. He may not always avoid all tragedy and loss. But he has the best chance, and the state of mind and spirit to begin again the next day.

This is the kind of man - someone naturally steady, stable, with good character and good instincts, someone who thinks clearly even in harm’s way - that we need in abundance now. So this is a post about such men, and about the all too obvious, simple lessons in life - the basic truths - which help to make them, and which we are not getting right anymore.

As we grow older and take from the lessons learned from experience we come to appreciate two seemingly conflicting truths that are, none the less, complementary. The first is: patience truly is a virtue. The second is: a single lifetime is very, very short.

It is only when we appreciate how insignificant we are that we begin to become amazed at the relevance of our existence. And it is only when we realize how fast time goes by that we learn to be more patient with the events about us. We are, after all, just links in a massive chain stretching out long before us and far behind us.

The complexities of a single life are great indeed, yet humbling and modest juxtaposed against the boundlessness of human existence. So great of importance is a single average life, yet so small is the dent it leaves on the world about it.

Too many of us today make far too much out of the importance our place in this world holds or the significance that our own time on this earth bears. And in so doing we neglect the true significance that our own short time here has on our part in that chain of life.

That we live in an age of manufactured confusion and doubt is beyond question. No people can function in such a state. All about us we see people (and whole societies) coming undone due to a turning away from basic wisdoms: on faith, on identity, on social relations, on personal importance, on contact with the real, etc … Nothing today demonstrates the detachment from wisdom more than the fact that our fellow citizens are interdependent peasants who imagine themselves to be autonomous kings and queens in charge of their own destinies. They constantly question their own limited understandings of where they came from and where they might be going. They play not only the part of king but of challenger to the throne as well. They are in rebellion against themselves.

It’s worth noting that lies and the welter of confusion they create always come out of a psychology that is convoluted, complex, ever twisting, ever in motion, ever changing, even productive of still more questions that engender more doubt and confusion. From race and gender and gender roles, to national identity and personal responsibilities … nowhere are there certainties. Nowhere are there answers, only perplexing riddles and multiplying conundrums.

Truth, on the other hand, is basic, straightforward and simple, leaving neither doubt nor confusion.

And in truth, most of us are, have been, always will be peasants. I would add that there is neither shame nor degradation in that fact - and by peasants I mean most us are bound to the jurisdiction of nature, which lends to an average life a full measure of human fulfilment.

This fulfilment which flows from the natural sense of self is what we have neglected, and doubt and confusion are the inevitable consequence.

What our history as a people has taught us is how to best cope, individually, with the inevitable trials and tragedies of our short existence while operating within the greater community of man. Life, after all, is so simple and predictable yet always full of stumbling blocks and unexpected sorrows (and delights), none of which, however, are unique in the common experience.

Our own era is, tragically, in perpetual flux and despondency brought about through our modern infatuation with doubting and questioning anything and everything of substantive value and obvious truisms. We have got to the insane but inevitable point of questioning the knowability of the very ground upon which we walk or the air which we breathe. It’s as if we’ve willingly blindfolded ourselves and then gone rushing headfirst into a wilderness.

There are too many questions and too few answers from the authority of conviction out in the wide Western world today. We’ve become not only heretics from faith but refugees from civilization, from our way of life itself - all because we’ve come to imagine life is more complex and unknowable than it really is, and constitutes a personal journey of discovery, the end of which yields different facts to different people.

It isn’t. And it doesn’t.

Life has long since been explored to the fullest and all of its potentials and drawbacks have been thoroughly analyzed and evaluated. The parameters of who and what we are and are capable of being were established through trial and error played out over countless ages so that what we know today in terms of identity (son, father, husband, friend, patriot, etc) is an inheritance of such basic wisdom that it is profitable to every man in every age.

Yet all the wisdom collected and passed along to us through those long, dark ages is for naught unless we continue to embrace it, live it and pass it on to the next generation. In that sense, the more absolute, the more straightforward the truth, the more sustaining the fruit it bears.

Thus the recognition of the absolutes of life is a key to stability of mind and soul during the tumultuous storm. And what are the absolutes?

Beginnings and Endings
Man and Woman
Youth and Old Age
Life and Death
Night and Day
Sorrow and Pleasure
Hope and Despair
Black and White
Honor and Shame
Doubt and Faith
Good and Evil
Sun and Storm
Sight and Blindness
Health and Sickness
Past and Present
Beauty and Ugliness
Truth and Lies

Failing to acknowledge any one of such basic and simple paradigms leads to imbalance in thinking, from which comes hesitation to action in words or deed at times when there should be none. And is that not what we see all about us in The West today?

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Yet that examination must come through reflection of an experience lived and not manifested in baseless expectations or doubts and questionings of what has not been lived. Otherwise we cast stumbling blocks in front of ourselves by questioning the absolutes which have guided our forefathers through countless storms.

After all, how much reasonable pondering of any quality can a man make in a single lifetime. How much history can he absorb? How many books can he read? How many subjects can he master to make an informed decision on any subject? (And all this as he must also be a son, a friend, a brother, a husband, a father, a carpenter, a farmer, a soldier, a mechanic, an engineer, etc…) Each and every day is a burden of responsibilities to best affect those about you whom you love and care for. We are by nature, and nature’s clock, limited. It is only through acknowledging and accepting those limitations that we learn how to best steer a steady course towards our inevitable fate.

So where does this lead?

In the limited time we are allotted, we need to know (as in believe with conviction) who we are, to whom we belong and why we value the things we do. That way we maximize the amount of peace and contentedness with which we might live out our lives. We bestow upon ourselves a state of mind in which we can see the storm clouds gathering and prepare for the onslaught, knowing without a shadow of doubt that our defense is right and just.

We must accept our mortality and act accordingly. For we are constantly withering away minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. The wisdom which any one of us is allowed, beyond all doubts, are the absolutes; That we are flesh and blood. That we are white - Sons of The West. That we are men: protectors of our wives, guardians of our children and defenders of the home and inheritance. That we will love our wives. That we will pass that inheritance to our children. That we will be loyal to our friends. That we will not back down to our enemies. That we will know death and grief as well as happiness. That health is better than sickness. That we will age and die. That moments are fleeting. That morning will follow night. That all storms pass with time.

Such things, simple though they may be, are the storehouse of Western wisdom for each and everyone of us. No exceptions.

Can any man really live if he deconstructs the absolutes? I think not. I think he can never repair, never rebuild civilization. That’s the sacred task and the preserve of those who know with certainty that they are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, Men of The West.