Society, contrary to the initial and understandable conclusion one might draw, is not going insane. It is, however, suffering a prolonged period of moral and intellectual degradation, one students of history will recognize as cyclical. This world, being drawn closer together by transportation, information technology, and the advances of globalism over national identity, also is becoming more prone to conflict as competing ideologies necessarily engage when previously they might have been free to ignore each other.
Quality of character is neither fixed nor inherent. We are each an impermanent and evolving vehicle for an eternal soul, one from moment to moment presented with opportunities to embrace growth or corroding temptation. What rules we determine for living will tally in their return at the end of our days, and until then choices made along the way reflect our priorities. The distinction between valid and invalid initiatives is necessarily a judgment call enabled by wisdom, an acquired ability to forecast the consequences of a given action. Intervening self-focus is the usual root of any inability to listen.
In the arena of ideas, answers to essential and unavoidable questions determine who achieves life and avoids death on both the physical and spiritual planes. Fundamental orientations are those where one will encounter a zero-sum game of natural law more often than any accommodation of preferential variance.
Even more so as the stakes increase to a worldwide pot, clarity remains a survival trait. Toward this ideal, let me offer ten observations in the same hope as was reflected in the naming of this blog after the motto of Single Candle Press: of kindling a light somewhere in a predawn darkness. Feel free to meditate on each as you will.
One: Human effort is directed toward goals of excellence or lame advantage, as governed by the embrace of seven virtues or a like number of vices:
Humility is set against pride,
Contentment against envy,
Moderation against gluttony,
Chastity against lust,
Love against anger,
Generosity against greed,
and Diligence against sloth.
Two: The pursuit of lame advantage begins where expectations of excellence end, with the initial embrace of an intellectually dishonest and morally faulted false premise. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and sometimes ends quite badly.
Three: A morally faulted false premise is driven by one or more of the seven vices. Peeling back layers on the onion of folly is going to reveal a rotten core with amazing consistency.
Four: Achieving and afterward maintaining lame advantage depends on the support of a successfully advanced narrative. Usually, such propaganda manifests in an excuse or purportedly justifying equivocation. Resultant gratification is often instantaneous, though any short-term gains pale in comparison to their potential for cultivating enduring disaster. Power accrues to the collectivist lobe of our political spectrum and its affiliated broadcast contingent through agitating a targeted base or market. The dividends then are reinvested in magnified effort by malefactors who value accumulated influence over servant leadership.
Five: An indefensible narrative may only thrive in the absence of rational criticism. Dear God, do not even get me started on the current state of education. Those invested in collectivist thinking are grooming impressionable minds through strategies of indoctrination. Tyrants invest in producing followers rather than citizens out of self-interest, and disabling intellectual ability is a necessity … lest, as Sam Adams noted, a troublesome few realize their subjection and choose to light brush fires of freedom in the minds of their peers.
Six: Rational criticism cannot be overcome through intellectually honest means. Instead, it must be suppressed or overwhelmed by narrative. Neither should you get me going on the technological tyranny of social media giants or the propensity of higher education to coddle those to whom it should apply riot control agents instead. Volume is not a counterpoint and often is inversely proportional to the validity of one’s argument.
Seven: An essentially faulted premise cannot be rehabilitated, and any subsequent extension exacerbates whatever ill effects are endemic to its initial failing. Start over, Skippy. Study for awhile first.
Eight: The inevitable end result of extending a faulted premise, absent its abandonment followed by corrective action, is systemic collapse as in the allegory offered by this soon-to-be-classic haiku:
In the freezing mist
Blossom of chrysanthemum
Falls down and goes boom
Natural law says, “That’s the way it works, boys and girls.”
Nine: Systemic collapse resets this cycle, offering again the choice between excellence or lame advantage. Any dysfunctional progression may only be broken by adopting the extension of valid premises, i.e. the prevalence of individual and subsequently societal morality. There are limits to any progression of folly, as the ash layers of history testify when given an audience.
Ten: The validity of any given personal, societal, or political ideology is reflected in demonstrating its long-term ability to achieve and sustain vitality. Sustainability is more than a millennial buzzword; it is an acknowledgement of the responsibilities of faith. In considering ourselves creatures whose purpose to live is implied by the fact of our appearance, it only follows that we seek to determine the goals of our Creator.
In summation, I would submit that any advocacy proceeds from one of two possible motivations. The more base is driven by a compulsion to direct the lives of others. The nobler offers advice on where life might be found, and our level of discernment is what will successfully determine one from the other. It is my continual hope that you have found already what is needed to choose wisely when the time arrives … as it surely shall.
Choose to love, -DA
In production news, Boone’s fifth and epic title, A Garden in Russia, is advancing through its middle chapters in production editing. Ranging from Virginia to the Aegean, going on to Asia, and taking with it most of my surviving characters, its anticipated September release remains on schedule.