Post # 278             MAGNETIC NORTH   

As a practical matter, it would seem impossible for scholars to estimate the numbers of innocent people prosecuted and punished by ancient society for heathenism for daring to suggest the possibility that the earth travelled around the sun, rather than the obverse; after all, was it not the Church’s inspired wisdom that man was the center of the universe? The gradual acceptance of Copernicus’ heliocentric theory was a momentous step in the nascent understanding of our solar system, and, as centuries and knowledge progressed, of the Universe. Mankind now had an objective reference point for the location of our planet, with reference to other observed planetary bodies

A useful, and perhaps apt, metaphoric concept relating to the theme of this post, is the common field compass, known for its unwavering and accurate indication of “North” [by reason of the magnetic propensities of our planet] and thus useful as a reference point to verify or seek directional perspective.

We have in previous posts, referred to human phenomenon which we refer to as the private, intimate and not overtly articulated, conversation with (within) ourselves; a feature that has a shelf-life, coterminous with our respective lifetimes. As sentient beings, such private musings and private observations are natural and expected; they serve as a basic interpretive tool, directing and focusing our reaction; a known frame of reference, not very unlike the localizing function of a compass.

Such inner conversations and personal musings vary in subject in for properly socialized individuals, who have matured in perspective and understanding, by learned experience and the cumulative acquisition of knowledge.   The relative importance of events, as they occur, is evaluated by them in accordance with relevant criteria. The practical concern, initially, is whether the event in question has any impact upon oneself. Thereafter, those with maturity of perspective might consider the event from other applicable points of view, such as legality, justice and equity, impact on the environment, empathy, historical precedent or any other relevant consideration.

The frame of reference of the mature, knowledgeable individual is not fixated on himself, like the sole inclination of the compass: magnetic north. However, there are many who cast themselves in the self-assumed role of sole protagonist, in life’s theatrical production. For such people, events have designated  significance to the same degree to which they perceive they are personally affected. There are no other protagonists, in fact, there are no other players for such a person to consider. His compass does magnetically point north, but his has no other directional indicia. He is stranded, limited to one fixed location. Emotionally, he is completely liberated from the responsibility to feel sympathy or empathy; his sole operating emotion is that of schadenfreude.

He, of course, is ethnocentric, his bias and ignorance not having an understandable explanation such as,  lack of experience, or an inadequate education; it is, in fact, personal and  totally systemic. As an illustration, he has firmly declared, in his conversation with himself, that all foreign- born people, who speak English have accents. In fact, he secretly prides himself on his ability to discern the country of origin of any foreign speaker of English, from the sound of his accent. He is, however, constitutionally unable to comprehend that, to the ear of the foreign- born person, he himself. has an accent. In his limited perspective, only the other speaker can manifest an accent. Has compass, as stated, only reads due north, with no other directional indications. It may be said in his case that, even “due north” is not equivalent to “true north.”

He has scant interest in books, theater travel, hobbies, social occasions, but, by contrast, is up to date with the news media; diligently, checking numerous reports, most of which he is relatively certain, do not affect him directly, or indirectly, such as events and disasters occurring  beyond the span of his binoculars. He lives a lonely, but “safe and undisturbed” life in his fixed magnet north, with no interest in an alternative. At various times, his inner conversation speaks of loneliness and disconnection, which he summarily dismisses with much comforting gratitude, for the security of his reliably fixed position, his magnetic north.



Published by


Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s