Post # 489     FAITH IN REASON

If there is a positive result from the outbreak of the CORONA virus, it may have, at least, taught some people, to break free from the shackles of post-dark ages dogma, and anachronistic explanations, and learn to live (and survive), more effectively, by empirical reality, viz., from knowledge derived from human experience.

Followers of this blogspace, may already know,  that we are believers in the philosophy of the English, 19th Century thinker, John Locke, regarding knowledge and wisdom. Locke, properly credited, with the intellectual establishment of the Period of Enlightenment’s, Empirical School of philosophy, famously and usefully, proclaimed, that man is born with a “tabula rasa,” a clean slate; and that, all his knowledge is acquired, from his personal experience. This, of course, was in radical contradiction to the Rationalist School, which entertained the atavistic belief, that a newborn, was born with certain divinely inspired, knowledge.

“Faith,” (ask any of the “faithful”) is the belief in the truth of phenomena, that does not require, or lend itself, to being provable by evidence or rational means. “Reason,” is the facility of the mind, through which man comes to rational conclusions.  Locke’s theory empiricism, (and ours) does not extend beyond the acquisition of knowledge by the existence of things, detectable to the senses and knowable by experience.

The conduct of science, necessarily, is empirical, in its quest for what is true, which may often be, at variance, what is believed to be true. With respect to the important matter of societal morality, we are of the opinion, that there, indeed, exists a morality to science, one guided by an objective and deliberative study of the need and the desires of the individual human being; as opposed to possible non-rational conceptions of “good” and “evil.” Science and experience, we hold, can lead man, to an appropriate, societal consensus of justice and rectitude (“morality”). We maintain that ultimate justice and fair play, demands objective (but, empathic) determinations. It is science and empirical experience, alone, that can tell guide man to the best and most reliably just, decisions; not unquestioned, religious dogma or folk aphorism. The latter has eternally and indisputably, merely led to polarity, hatred and conflict, and not truth.

The present administration’s constant, populist denigration of scientific and liberal education (knowledge) may prove highly entertaining to some of his flat earth, reductionist base, but, in (empirical) reality, is detrimental to the maintenance of the strength of our Nation; and, as recent events, show, is detrimental to the safety and health of its citizens. The current, resulting tsunami, of human sickness and death, offers testament to the fatal absence of respect for the science of medicine and rational morality, and to the administration’s reductionist ignorance.

The evolutionary process, as generally understood, saw the continued existence and development of species, viz., plants and animals, who had fitter potential to survive than others. Survival may have depended upon a skin color, suitable for camouflage against predators, a limb, or appendage that better enabled a fish to swim faster, or a plant to propagate more profusely, night vision which assisted meat eating predators in their nocturnal hunt for sustenance. Gophers and lizards, as well, are not celebrated for their “faith,” but, objectively, for their resilience in arid territorial environment.

It was the ability to reason, plus favorable physical phenomena, like the opposable thumb, the ability to stand and walk upright, and developed eyesight, that allowed Early Man to survive and develop; not the totem, chant or the exotic medicine man. Existential food and shelter, were located and defensive weapons and strategies, developed, by the use of his advanced brain, generously gifted to him by evolution, not by good fortune, acquired by incantations and cave art.

It was the failure of knowledge and the reductive (irrational) assumptions of our, ego-oriented and ignorant President, that unnecessarily, exacerbated the attack of COVID-19. Stated another way, it was Trump’s inability to employ reason, or, alternatively, confer with competent advisors, who might have been able to convey to him, the scientific facts, objective wisdom and rational scientific morality, that doubtlessly would have prevented the virtual, transmogrification, of the viral attack to the present horrific and unnecessary status, of a viral holocaust.

-p.

Post # 488 PRIMAL DEPRAVITY

The seven deadly sins, proclaimed, by the ancient Christian moralists are, Pride, Anger, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony and Sloth. With appropriate respect for ancient scholarship, it appears to us that the classical listing is incomplete, in that it omits the insidious, ultimate vice, Incompetence.

It has always been our position, from an empirically, existential point of view, that the most ultimately, dangerous and reprehensible evil or depravity, is incompetence. We have read, and are fully cognizant, that the above recounted, classic (“Seven Deadly Sins”) categories of misbehavior, were specified, not merely for their inarguable, intrinsic evil, but additionally, for their potential to lead the perpetrator to further sin or acts of evil; however, such implicit intention, respectfully, is not apparent to our own empirical experience, nor consequently, relevant to our present assessment.

This writing, certainly, would not foolishly presume, to establish some sort of (populist) competitive, ranking of the various categories of depravity; but, rather, to underline the unknown and insidious nature and consequently, the profound danger, of (unrevealed) incompetence.  Members of society can prudently and wisely, avoid dealing with individuals known, by personal, or reliably reported, experience, to be immoral, yet may, innocently and unknowingly, place themselves in profound jeopardy, by guile and by misplaced trust, in an individual, afflicted with the sin of incompetence.

There is ever present, a natural inclination to rely on, or invest trust in, people who may, either for acceptable purposes, or the opposite, favorably impress the individual, by virtue of their natural or practiced manner. The stereotypically desirable characteristics, such as, attractive appearance, pleasant voice, and ostensible confidence, may be, either, genuine or misleading. A combination of these elements, with false professions of solicitude, knowledgeable experience and singular capability, can lead a party, to the selection of such person for friendship, business matters, or worse, for legal or surgical services. In such instances, a negative outcome, too often, a tragic one, is predictable.  Incompetence. cloaked in the false and misleading costume of solicitous capability, is evilly predatory and, we hold, constitutes the most reprehensible of sins.

The mortal sin of ignorant incompetence, is further, significantly, exacerbated, when it is in lethal combination with the neurosis of egotism. The wrongdoer is entirely incapable of remorse, regarding the outcome of his malpractice, which would entail a negative view of himself, at odds with his neurotic, grandiose self -perception. Accordingly, he is highly unlikely, in the future, to improve on his skills, and becomes a serial transgressor.

Who better is there, unfortunately, to irrefutably demonstrate our point of view, than our Nation’s serial- transgressor, President, Donald J. Trump. After a demagogic blitzkrieg, of snake-oil, pie-in-the-sky, misleading assertions, targeted to the flat-earth, education -challenged, reductionist portion of the population, together with substantial financial support from a number of sociopathic, industrialists, who value profits above regulatory protections of human life and health, plus the arcane and atavistic rules of the Electoral College, he was, unexpectedly, handed the controls, of the Ship of State.

This former glitzy, television host of a third-rate, trite, television game, show and proven, life-long real estate gonif, wasted no time in proving his predicted, unsuitability for the position, from the first day, by, like a high school, teenager, picking up the phone, in the Oval Office, and impulsively, dialing up several foreign heads of State. Such shockingly, unsophisticated action, was undertaken by him, despite his ignorance of its perceived significance, his lack of knowledge of official protocol and diplomatic procedure, existing treaties and understandings, between nations; despite his total ignorance of history, past, and current, his complete ignorance of international trade relations, the stock market, finance and the diverse multitude of interests, vital to the Nation. That was only the overture to of his, “bull in the china shop” behavior; he, thereafter, proceeded to carry the “china shop” with him to every foreign country, making friends with our historically dangerous enemies, and enemies of our historic friends and allies. Our country, for generations, the undisputed and respected leader of the international world, under his leadership, has declined to a position of universal embarrassment.

His domestic record has been incomprehensible, lacking any policy, and has demonstrated a caravan of so many illogical and irrational acts, as can rival a “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.” His family has morphed the White House into an emporium or shopping center, for their burgeoning, retail businesses. Trump, himself, has illegally profited from his position as President, in his hotel, restaurant and golf spa businesses. He has by statements and inaction, encouraged White Supremacism,  personally engaged in racial and gender bigotry, demeaned, and actually burlesqued the disabled on mass audience television, undermined all scientific reports of climate change and efforts at its amelioration, disparaged scientific research and the liberal arts, ignored meteorological tragedies, such as occurred to Puerto Rico, and several continental States, attacked the Nation’s, legitimate free press and American media, as perpetrators of “false news” viz., accurate reports of his miscreant and ignorant behavior; while, himself, engaging in daily, serial mendacity and an incalculable number of other acts of diagnosable neurotic, attribution, simultaneously, publically praising himself,  profusely, in the most superlative terms. His extreme incompetence in the wake of the recent worldwide and domestic epidemic of COVIN-19, deserves separate mention, in the following paragraph. If nothing else, such demonstrated, incompetent ignorance, alone would prove our point, that incompetence, especially, when exacerbated by a neurotic ego, is the, inarguable, paramount sin of all sins.

We have singled out Trump’s, currently revealed, total incompetence in the face of the current pandemic of COVID-19, to further emphasize the publically demonstrated, extent of danger, inherent in the sin of incompetence. There is, doubtless, a veritable tsunami, of reported and unreported instances of grievous injury, resulting from surgical, medical and legal, instances of gross incompetence; but Trump’s, egoistic ignorance, in the face of this disease outbreak (in addition to further revelations concerning, Donald J. Trump), is relevant and especially supportive of our selection of incompetence, as the most grievous depravity and greatest sin.

To declare that President Trump, erred because he early on, failed to recognize the dangerous virus, exacting suffering and a horrendous number of deaths, in China, and then Italy, would be a gross understatement. We are told that, under the (contrastingly competent and responsible) Obama Administration, specialized agencies and other assets, were put in place to act as World-wide monitors of any precipitant pandemic, such as SARS, and the others). These responsible, forward looking programs, were summarily eliminated, as part of Trump’s uninformed, cost savings measures (which included very many, unrelated but vital entities).

When it , undeniably, evident that the lethl virus had attacked the United States, Trump publically played it down, as, “just another flu,” and, most remarkably, as a “Democratic Party hoax”. His shameful message was that it is of little importance. This public attitude was in exacerbation of our Nation’s unpreparedness for the viral holocaust that followed; too little research, far too little vital supplies, including surgical masks, breathing ventilators, and sadly, late warnings to the public. The American public is presently in lockdown and quarantine. We were greatly angered, yesterday, when the orange incompetent stated that wearing masks is only voluntary, and that “he” will not be wearing one. This irresponsible recommendation was hardly, a responsible, leader’s guiding hand.

The Nation, at present, is in virtual lockdown, most citizens uncomfortably, enduring a prescribed quarantine, all in tribute to Presidential ignorance and incompetency. Today, we were shockingly informed that there are 337,991, confirmed National cases and approximately 10,000 deaths, and that the numbers are, frighteningly increasing; a bright tribute to (Trump’s) incompetency. It is our feeling that our President has committed, yet another felony, to add to his copious list: Negligent Homicide.

Perhaps some scholar will add our recommended, eighth, to the classic seven deadly sins.

-p.

 

 

Post #487  SOME IDLE MUSINGS

The present circumstances, causative of the widespread interruption to our personal lives’ subliminally familiar context, have led us to a focused inclination to take particular notice of the details of that former life. To be sure, quarantine at home, under threat of serious illness, even death, results in a significantly altered home atmosphere. Individuals are now, mandatorily homebound and cut off from their familiar, routine daily activities, school, work, and social engagements of every kind.

For us, a bizarre sense of the unreal, is being indulged in, at our second home, in upstate New York. We are comfortable in this recently acquired, desirable, forested environment; but, under the circumstances of mandated quarantine, seem to be living in a dream-like sense of unreality. The wood fire is beautifully alight in the fireplace,  and some invisible, compliant robot, named “Alexa,” is, thoughtfully, providing beautiful music for our entertainment. We have several new books, awaiting perusal, the weather is temperate, the beloved first shoots of the coming primavera, are now peeking, unconcernedly, out of the newly softened ground, birds of many varieties are congregating at our multiple bird feeders, we have completed our Spring plantings, and we are busily engaged, in traditionally enjoyable activities.

But the scenario has indeed, significantly changed, nonetheless. Television reports of the spread of the dangerous virus, consideration of the vast number of deaths caused by it, and the constant threat of infection, both, reportedly, worsening, cause us a state of uncomfortable, disquiet. Medical experts have prescribed no personal contact with others.

Thus, our contact with the outside world, is limited to telephone conversations with family and friends, food marketing, where possible, consists of transmitted orders and brief, furtive, pick-up, Fed-Ex safely and properly, drops off the delivered merchandise at the doorstep, to avoid hazardous contact. By the time we will be safely, permitted to get a haircut (previously, every three weeks) we will look like the great European composer, Paderewski.

Our venue, as stated is quite acceptable, but the elimination of personal contact with other homo sapiens, is completely outside of our life experience and, makes the usual surroundings of our life, seem wanting in social stimulation; even worse, is the recognition of the danger of the disease, the purpose of the mandated quarantine.

We sympathize with individuals, who, had been, thoughtlessly, sailing through their lives, merely performing the routine rituals, of their life, with no elective outside interest or aspiration for personal advancement. Such individuals, are now, conceivably, dealing with the present unique challenge in a completely, arid environment; with no opportunity for diversion or relief, pending the end of the quarantine. However, there is always the (doubtful) possibility of seeking relief in one, or another, of such enriching activities.

Those of us who have been engaged during our, respectives lifetimes, with activities of personal interest and advancement, will have available, sources of effective relief and necessary diversion, pending the duration of this period of isolation, and disconcerting challenge.

-p.

Post # 486         ON MEANS AND ENDS

Our present, semi- somnambulant state of confinement, being hapless prisoners of the quarantine, seems to resurrect various and sundry issues, ruminated upon in the past. The aphorism, “The means justify the ends,” unexplainably, comes to mind.  Such declaration, like all aphoristic mantras, (see prior mini-essays on the subject) is pedantically ignorant; further, in our view, it can be awarded the gold medal for the most dangerous, and misleading, of all contemptible aphorisms. However, we do confess that its discussion, (any diversion) is a timely administration of urgently needed analgesic, mitigating, momentarily, the painful effect of the incessant media drone, on the spread of Covid-19 and on its inadequate response, by President Trump.

The aphorism du jour, is attributed to Niccolo Machiavelli, (“The Prince”) whose humanity, sense of ethics and empathy, would be, as distant from Fred Rogers, as Pluto is from Saturn.

The statement articulates the “moral” principle that, if the result is good, any means, undertaken to achieve such results, are justified. Stated otherwise, a moral or good outcome, erases any wrongful acts committed, intended for its accomplishment. The principle necessarily results in the conclusion, that there is societal permission to commit whatever horrible acts may be undertaken, provided that they are “intended” to bring about positive results. We are of the view that this principle, is so deep in error, morally and empirically, that it is difficult to decide where to begin.

To observe its empirical flaws, would seem to be, the simplest way to start. How, at the time of the performance of the improper act, does one determine the good intention of the wrongdoer? How do you distinguish a true miscreant, from the “well meaning,” miscreant? Isn’t the claim of good intentions, equally available to people of bad intentions? From the time of performance of the “well intended” act, how long does society, responsibly await the advent of the intended good result? How do the police distinguish the “saints” from the “sinners?” What if the well -intended act turns out badly? Is a bad act performed with good intent, but followed by an unfavorable result, forgivable? There are other questions, but, in our view, enough has been said to illustrate the empirical impossibility of societal approval of the “good intentions” conception of the unworkable statement. The principle by its terms, operates (is inoperable) only, by its terms, in retrospect, to judge past improper acts.

Let us consider the policy, now, from the standpoint of “positive results” as justifying the “well intended” means, in accordance with the perverse formulation. Which ends? The intended results may not be in accordance with, the wishes or interests of certain people, or groups, of differing philosophy or economic interest, for example. Who is it, that is gifted with the capability to objectively determine, whether a result is universally good or successful?

Aside from its societal unworkability and the presumptive intentions of the actor, what sorcerer can foretell the future result of, (even the well -intentioned) improper act? How long does one wait for results, which will, in retrospect, justify (or condemn) the act. What if the (assumedly well-intentioned) act turns out badly. Should we have a societal and criminal code that provides for punishment (for good and bad actors) only if an act does not have a result that, in accordance with a vote of the majority of society, is good. How long is the waiting time, following the presumably, well-intentioned, wrongful act, as applicable to each and every category and situation?

A person’s acts should, logically and justly, be evaluated, at the time of their commission, as prescribed by good order and common sense. Those who intentionally cross the line of acceptable behavior, must be properly dealt with, or we will have no society. An offender’s wrongful acts, should they, fortuitously, have a good result, nevertheless, does not alter the quality of the acts of his anti-social behavior.  The morality of the performed act, itself, is the sole visible, and rational, basis for its evaluation.

We have discussed, the illogic, injustice and the empirical impossibility, of acceptance, to any degree, of the sociopathic, Machiavellian declaration, yet wish to express our additional, supplemental observation, about the perverse aphorism,which we have induced from our readings.

We have confidently, concluded, after years of reading history and good literature, that there exists a predictable, causal identity, between the nature and quality of the means, and that of the ends. One only has to,  for an illustration, cursorily review, the bloody aftermath of the violent revolutions in France and Russia, to discover the empirically true fact, that not only do the means not justify the ends, but, the means, eternally, “define” the ends. History has instructively testified, that violent means, eternally, lead to violent ends.

-p.

Post # 485        RUNNING IN PLACE

Like many others, we find ourselves in the extraordinary state of (voluntary) quarantine. This, novel condition of solitude, entailing the material alteration of established daily routines, automatic and volitional, generally renders people, at first, in a state of annoyed disruption, and later, possibly dependent upon nuanced persona, confusion, frustration, and, even personal fear. Such emotional reactions, find their etiology in the abrupt cessation of one’s previously familiar, and therefore, secure and accepted, way of life.  For active people, normal reaction to the status, is akin to a perspiring, heavily breathing, city jogger, energetically, running in place, awaiting the change of an intersectional traffic light.

It would appear, that we have all incorporated, our long established, nuanced, activities, both characterological and mechanical, fixed patterns of regular behavior, so that a sudden, enforced break, in the (previously felt) “daily grind,” can result in feelings of being ill at ease, confused, purposeless and generally, “out of sorts.”

To add kindling to the virtual bonfire of dense and confusing smoke, one needs to bear in mind that we, since the 19th Century, have developed into an industrial society, such that, production and profits have been secular deities. Between certain ages, men (and, recently, many women) have been, and are, rewarded and valued, by society on criteria, relative to their production and contribution, to the financial success of their employer, and ultimately to their Nation. A man who is not working (except for recognized disability) is, eerily looked upon, with deprecation and disrespect. The “doers,” the ambitious, “go getters” the “strivers” in commerce, are awarded the kudos, by an industrially oriented, work centered, society. By such folkways, not working, viz., not productive, is the adjective for a wasted, useless and purposeless individual. However, the retired American, is respected, in this milieu, for his past contributions to our industrial society.

In addition to the possible feeling of frustrated uselessness, and abnormality in one’s daily life, a feeling of confused identity, may well set, in after a dose of unexpected (and unearned) leisure. In addition to a sense of being ill at ease, in not working, and to that extent purposeless, he, in addition to an uncomfortable disturbance with his established, routines, suffers a feeling of uncertainty as to his (new) identity. Leisure was eternally, a valuable aspiration, while in normal performance of his work (“in harness”) but now, it is a disturbing and, even guilt ridden state.

In our productive society, one of the regular, preliminary questions, posed on the occasion of a social introduction to a new person, is, “What do you do? The response, a shoe salesman or a dentist, will suffice to enable a stereotypic, acceptance, for the moment. Should the response to the question be,” I am not working at present,” his acceptance may be delayed, or, unless further explanatory facts are acceptable, within the established context of our commercial-industrial expectations, he may be considered socially unacceptable.

Prior to the “Industrial Revolution” (whatever, and whenever, that was) the commoner and middleclass individual was quite often known by his calling or trade. To illustratively, sample a few names, Weaver, Carpenter, Taylor, Clark, Farmer, Miller, Wheelwright, Sawyer and others. Today, the individual, still, is often referred to, valued or described, by his occupation or profession.

It is not only (interactive) society that identifies an individual, in large part, by his profession or class of work, but, significantly, regarding the individual, it is a dominant ingredient in his personal self-image (or, privately held, inner identity). One’s self-image as a Lawyer, Doctor, Clergyman or Shoemaker, colors much of his thoughts and perceptions of others, and, particularly, (to our main point) himself. Such phenomena, like other routine assumptions and behaviors are implicit and durable, in our thoughts, unless interrupted, as by, the presenting, housebound quarantine.

For the identical reason, many people find the stage of retirement, a challenging adjustment. For so many decades, one had, implicitly, associated his personal identity with what he did for a living. Those of us who have been retired for a while, having already made the necessary adjustment, may find homebound quarantine, somewhat less troublesome; most particularly, those who read, and engage in creative, activity.

It may be, that the present health threat will be with us for a while. Those experiencing a sense of disorientation, as noted above, should endeavor to understand that for the referenced reasons, the experience of coronavirus cultural malaise, is, not personal, but, rather, general and widespread. Yet, it is conceivable that the experience may have some utility in the advance understanding of retirement.

We would, enthusiastically recommend, and not merely for the duration of the quarantine, the undertaking of a new interest, or the further pursuit of a previous interest, to acceptably and pleasurably, occupy the time of the quarantine, and, most importantly, thereafter, for the enhancement of his quality of life.

-p.

Post # 484   DEMOCRACY, ABRIDGED TOO FAR

The assertively and righteously declared, mantra of the Nation, since its very establishment, has been, ‘’ One man, one vote.” If it were but true however, our great Nation would be even greater.

Certainly, it was much less true, before the Civil War, when a substantial number of people, viz., enslaved blacks, could not vote. It was less true, regarding women, until the early part of the 20th Century, when women’s tireless and valiant efforts, finally won them the right to the franchise. It has never been true, historically, by the Constitutional allocation of two Senators per State, regardless of population. Thus, States with comparatively smaller populations, like Idaho and Montana, each have two Senators, while States, with high populations, like New York and California, are unfairly and undemocratically, allowed, only two Senators. It follows, therefore, that the votes of smaller States undemocratically, have impact, far in excess of those States with much bigger high populations.

“One man, one vote,” is most demonstratively, and inconsistently, revealed to be a bold, inaccurate assertion, when one inserts, the shamefully anti-democratic, Electoral College, into the hypocritical mix. There exist some purported rationalizations for its existence, (see below) none of which comport, with any reasonably understood, definition of a democracy,” nor with the proclaimed declaration, a Nation,” for and by the people”

Constitutionally created, the Electoral College,” is an institution, whose existence and composition (the latter, identical to the Senate) irrefutably, belies the principle, that the vote of every American, is equally determinative. The institution is composed, of 538 Electors, a majority (270) of whom is Constitutionally, empowered to select a President. All States are entitled to the same number of delegates, as they have in the House of Representatives, and, additionally, identical to the Senate, undemocratically, allowed two delegates each, irrespective of population. Here again, we are confronted with a jaundiced democracy, wherein American votes are required to be filtered, and worse, through an inequitably constituted medium, established and proven to be, superior in authority and determination, to the total, “equal vote” of all Americans

It is shown, by empirical analysis, that the most productive portions of America, include 15 States, having 30 Senators, while the less productive, (and lesser populated) States, have 70 Senators. The fact that, by far, the greatest amount of the Nation’s wealth is created by the populous States of the East and West coasts, is irrefutable proof, that the mismatches are political, rather than economic or social.

The record indicates, that no less than two, of the last three, American Presidents, received significantly less popular votes, than their respective, opponents, but were constitutionally, awarded the American Presidency, by the (undemocratically constituted) Electoral College.

In addition to fueling reductive arguments about the hypocrisy and the meaningless nature of the vote, and the general loss of confidence in the franchise, in incontrovertible, principle, any editing of the popular vote, to any reasonably minded citizen, unavoidably, gives the lie, to our fundamental conception, of America’s, ideal, intrinsic values.

Based upon our cursory research, regarding the Founders’ basis, for the establishment of the Electoral College, we have confidently concluded, that the purpose and intention, was sociological and paternal, as opposed to political. Our readings indicate that the Founders, while sincerely believing in the principled right to vote of every citizen, nevertheless, paternally, and perhaps somewhat, imperiously, distrusted the common man (“the mob”, the “rabble”). Their perception, of the low level of education, of the common man of their time, was productive of a true dilemma, between their sincere espousal of the morality and equity, of the universal right to vote, and, the fear of the influence of the uneducated and ignorant (“the mob”) on the decisive power of the newly created Nation. The Electoral College was, it appears, created as a protective filter against the influence of the enfranchised uneducated, ignorant, common man. We sympathize with their dilemma, if not entirely, with their hubris.

It is no less than a tragic-comedy, to realize that their considered solution to the perceived problem, perversely, became the direct and proximate cause, of its feared realization. Donald J. Trump, the darling of the (pliny termed): flat earth, ignorant, under educated, and reductionist “rabble,” was anointed, Chief Executive, solely, and only, by reason of the creation (and the vote) of this “protective filter,” the Electoral College; Trump having, [irony of ironies] lost, in the popular election, by substantial numbers of votes. So much for dilemmas, protective social assumptions, bordering on hubris, and, metaphysically, on the eternal futility of human intention.

It is long past due, that America, demonstrate its implicit faith in its citizens, by initiating the necessary procedure, to eliminate that undemocratic, vestigial organ, the Electoral College, and thereby, reestablish, in every American, justified pride, in the recognition of the significance of his individual ballot.

-p.

 

Blogpost # 483  FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD*

We have chosen self-imposed isolation, (quarantine), responsive to the sudden advent of the infectious, viral disease, COVID-9, as instructed by the Nation’s recognized health experts. Ironically, this hiatus of normal activity has arrived, simultaneously, with the perennial, socially unrestricted, college break, the student’s, happily anticipated, reprieve, “Spring Break;” obviously, the comparable scenarios are poles apart.

In stark contrast, to the student holidays,” quarantine” means an enforced lockdown of the context and lifestyle, of the affected individual, since it imposes an impassable detour to his interaction with other members of society, in business, commuting to work, with fellow employees, colleagues, clients or customers, tradesmen and friends.  Thus, it is, as stated, thus, worlds apart from the context of the concurrent Spring Break; the latter, a happily anticipated, time limited, period of social recreation. To submit to the status of quarantine, by contrast, is effectually, to surrender oneself to a self-imposed, indeterminate sentence, without parole, to an unexperienced, restricted, confinement.

The need for the prophylactics of quarantine, was the etiological presentment, of a previously unknown, infectious virus, COVID-19 (“Corona”), easily spread, from person to person, especially, by saliva, or emitted droplets from sneezing, and coughing. The recognized experts on the subject of infectious diseases, including the most prominent of whom, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have uniformly prescribed, general sanitary protocols, for the average American citizen; but the more stringent recommendation, of isolation, or quarantine, for older citizens, especially those challenged with another condition. As indicated, we qualify, under both latter criteria.

In view of the novelty of this previously unknown pathogen, and the consequential absence of relatable scientific data or record of empirical experience, no scientific or medical expert is enabled to hazard an estimate, as to the duration of the threat. Admittedly, human life is ephemeral, and so it would appear salutary, to do something, of personal value, rather than irresponsibly, waste whatever precious time during which the quarantine will be medically, necessary. The sole beneficial point of consideration in the midst of the present hazardous and worrisome period, is that we are not distracted from thought, by the frenetic activity of our usual routine, and so, have the opportunity to use the wait time, beneficially, rather than irretrievably, waste it.

With the intent to furnish the necessary perception, we would offer the following fictitious, (but typical) scenario, of the prevailing profile of observed, routine life, for many people, albeit, free from the necessity of quarantine:

Mr. Joseph Regime wakes up faithfully, on weekdays, 6:30 A.M. for work. He energetically, brushes his teeth, skillfully shaves, showers, dresses for the office, and then greets his sleepy wife, Mrs. Ona Regime, in the kitchen, for a quick breakfast. Their two children, Linda and Joe, Jr., as expected, appear, as ever, at the conclusion of Joe’s coffee, but, in enough time for Joe, before leaving for work, to give a perfunctory kiss to each of them and their mother. At work, Joe morphs into his practiced office persona, and, after greeting his fellow employees with a curt, but friendly, nod, dives into his work, grabbing his pad and the telephone. During the period of mid-morning to noon, Joe casts several glances at the office clock, impatient for the arrival of the lunch break.  The afternoon is equally, busy for Joe, the pendency of which, he furtively, snatches several looks, for the arrival of 5P.M. quitting time. At home, the children being the typified modern, teenagers, little is said of any value, during dinner, the children, both, distractedly focused, on their personal smart phones, and responding to all parental attempts at inter personal conversation, with mono-syllabic, inarticulate, grunts.

Conversation between the adults, themselves, is, as usual, meaningless, robotic and trite.  At some point Joe, retreats, predictably, to his favorite chair in the living room, and when Ona  has fully loaded and switched on the dishwasher she, routinely, joins her husband in the living room, facing the T.V. screen, until bedtime.

Were Joe or Ona, obliged, at any time, to be placed in quarantine, the quality of their life, would not be significantly diminished; having, long go, replaced normal, meaningful, married “life,” with what can be seen as an amicable co-tenancy.

Those of us who are fortunate enough possess more mature and sensitive approaches to our lives and cultivate divergent interests, lead more acceptable, and cerebrally active lives. There is present, in this preferred, marital context, a striving for personal advancement, understanding and acquisition of wisdom. Yet, it is, the sensitive and aware people, that have the danger of experiencing quarantine, in the manner of inmates, doing hard time in solitary confinement.

Certainly, any and all conversations on stimulating subjects, with our spouse, or partner can continue, in quarantine. In addition, there are our, books, recorded music and other worthwhile diversions, now, with adequate opportunity, to enjoy. Moreover, for those individuals with a sense of mature identity, introspection and an adequate degree of sensitivity, the long and joyless sentence of quarantine, might afford, at last, a useful opportunity to, valuably use the personal time, rather than merely endure the isolation.

May we suggest, that this period of solitude, if applicable, may finally, and profitably, be used to (if not done adequately in the past), introduce ourselves; to the internal, private meditative person we, in fact, are; the one that wears the theatrical mask of parent, spouse, professional, close friend, and our societal persona. Is it a good time, at long last, to privately, reach and evaluate internally, examined, private judgments of our self, (kindly and objectively), as well as others in our life. We, in solitude, have sufficient opportunity to examine our long held precepts, political, secular or religious, our assessments of others, and to audit, long term perception of ourselves and others.

The occasion of the current, and unfortunate need for solitude, can  best be utilized, by a person of insight and intelligence, as, a rare opportunity, for an undistracted, analysis, of one’s self and of others. Life has been shown to be exponentially improved, by the knowledge of oneself. Socrates famously instructed, “Know thyself.”

A useful and candid, inner knowledge of the self, may be an achievable and worthwhile endeavor,only, when we are solitary, and away from the “madding crowd.”

 

-p.

* ADDENDUM. Apologies to the 19th Century author, Thomas Hardy, for the title.