(Image accessed from the facebook page of 'The Comical Conservative')
I shared this image recently on my facebook page. It seemed like a good idea. Quite a few people liked it.
Since then I've thought about that image. Tossed it around; looked at it from different angles; focused closely on parts of it; and begun to wonder just what message my facebook friends thought I was sending. Was it the one I intended?
Maybe. . . Maybe not.
It did occur to me that Australian readers, at least, might interpret my post as having had a partisan political motive. Was it possible people might think I had become an activist and was slyly fulminating against that uncaring, cruel majority of voters who reportedly favour turning back boat loads of uninvited migrants from reaching Australia? Did they think I was sermonising against the political pragmatism of a right wing government playing cynically to the fears of heartless xenophobic voters? If so, they would have misunderstood me and misread my intention.
On the other hand, did they think I might be spitting the dummy and taking an ill-mannered reactionary poke at the legitimacy of the campaign for 'same sex marriage' or maybe the proposal to recognize original inhabitants in the Australian constitution; or some other 'progressive' cause. If so, they would have again misunderstood me and misread my intention.
There was no intended sub text aimed at supporting or attacking any cause. I was instead just being my usual unworldly, impractical, out of touch dreamer self.
I just liked what it (the image) said! It seemed to speak some wisdom, and surely we can't have too much of that, can we? In retrospect I think it likely that people will read into it what supports their own take on what is truth; what is right; what is evil; and what is good.
Truth, for one, has taken a bit of a battering in recent times, hasn't it? We seem to have some difficulty even agreeing on whether there is such a thing in our deconstructed postmodern world in which meaning is contested and consciousnesses are raised. Nevertheless I believe in truth, and, in the words of John Lennon, 'I am not the only one'. I refuse to be diverted from the truth by appeals to relativism. Not all 'truths' are equally valid. There is an onus on those who believe otherwise to prove it, and not just rely on appeals to feel-good sentimentalism. I guess I should say that I don't delude myself in thinking I have all the truth on my side, or that anyone who disagrees with me must be wrong. Of course not. None of us has a monopoly on the truth, but that is quite a different thing from saying that truth is whatever we want it to be.
Evil? You are kidding. Right? We've pushed such an outmoded model off the road and into the scrap yard long since; at least as much as it applies to our personal choices, ethics and behaviour. Evil as a concept does not sit well in a world where consequences are optional, any choice is permissible, and nothing is absolute. Evil is an inconvenience. It has been allowed to wither; wheeled out only for entertainment in horror movies, or for dehumanising people whose politics we don't like.
Except . . .
Except . . .
It's kind of like hard to keep denying its reality. As inconvenient as it is in the world we have created for ourselves, Evil just won't lie down. It won't shrink away from the bright glare of reason as it's supposed to. It leers at us, wreaking just as much misery and mayhem as ever it did in the times we were less enlightened and less liberated.
I'll leave that thought hanging. I won't go into examples of real life evil. I'll leave that for you.
These two final two words seem to have had an easier time in our contemporary world than 'truth' and 'evil' but, in the spirit of what I've written above, I'm happy if you have a different opinion. Mentioning doing what is 'right' doesn't yet invoke the patronizing sniggers that mentioning 'doing evil' does. We still talk about 'good' as if it is self evident what it is too. Maybe they are in line to take a tumble like 'truth' and 'evil'? It could be. I don't know.
I wouldn't be all that surprised what happens when human beings imagine they are the centre and that the world revolves (or rotates) around them. When 'truth' is negotiable, and 'evil' is irrelevant all things become possible. Not all of them are good.
Which reminds me of why I began to write this post and why I shared that image on facebook. It's simply this:
When we are prepared to allow the meanings of words like truth, evil, good and right to be determined, adjusted or changed by majority democratic vote we may not like where that takes us.
Some things are better not messed with.
. . . and that's the truth.