Monday, July 18, 2005

["thoughts," continued from main page]

There are things that I believe deeply and unshakably to be true. The founding of this blog proceeds from one of those beliefs: that organized self-help, on balance, does more harm than good. I am sure I'm right about that—while also knowing on another level that I shouldn't think like that, because inherently, none of us is right or wrong. As I see it, there is no right or wrong—certainly not in matters of ethics, and surprisingly less often than you'd think even in matters of so-called fact. Then again, I can't even be sure of that much, because certitude about there being no right and wrong is itself a subjective feeling.

During this last election cycle I was certain that Obama was the right choice for America....At the same time I recognized that others felt quite differently, and that their feelings were every bit as legitimate as my own—even though I was incapable of receiving them that way. I would fight tooth and nail to defend my point of view, while recognizing that I might very well be wrong (if there is a "wrong"). If that sounds bizarre and hard to follow, consider a very simple, apt analogy: My wife hates the mere smell of parmesan cheese. She can't understand how anyone can eat it. In the heated discussions of parmesan cheese that tend to arise at each major family function, she'll be quite vocal in her distaste for it and her astonishment that people put it, voluntarily, on their food. Yet she realizes that many of us do put it on our food, so she accepts the fact that she cannot—therefore—trust the legitimacy of her own feelings about parmesan cheese, even though those feelings may be as strong as the scent of the cheese itself.

What's true for parmesan cheese is equally true for the war on terror, the choice/life debate, capital punishment, etc. This duality in the way I see life extends to the largest questions facing humankind. I'm an American and I have strong patriotic feelings about America; therefore I get angry, for example, when terrorists try to kill us. That does not mean I think the terrorists are
inherently wrong to try to kill us. They're as entitled to want to kill us as I am in not wanting to be killed. Perhaps in some cosmic, objective sense, we deserve to die; perhaps the U.S. is "the great Satan." Who knows. Do you? Does anyone? But I live here, and I like it here, so I want to protect my literal and emotional investment in the life I lead.

Finally, I also recognize that some beliefs probably are emotional in nature, even though we think they're the result of rational analysis. One of the reasons I feel this way is that I see positively brilliant people, working from the same ostensible set of facts, arrive at polar conclusions. That suggests to me that rationality alone is not what governs the inferences we draw from life
about life.

I believe that these few paragraphs go a long way toward explaining the level of "contradiction" that visitors sometimes think they find on
SHAMblog. To my mind, none of these apparent disharmonies needs to be resolved.

Click here to return to front page of blog.