you'll just have to punctuate the above phrase as you will. you figure out the phrase, you figure out what you believe. declarative sentence, question, your choice.
i got an email from a friend, on a point of law. i gave him my usual smart aleck lawyer's view on the matter, and he wrote me back, expressing his displeasure with my response. he wanted an answer, damn it, and not some jerk playing word games. "it all depends on what your definition of is, is." that sort of thing.
i know. no black. no white. just gray and the grayer the better. right?
i don't need more mud in my water, i can barely [ ] as it is.
well, i can appreciate how my friend felt about all my legalisms. but, you know, to the western mind, the nature of ultimate truth is elusive, especially given the fact that our human intellect is not boundless, and our emotions and reactions to things are supported by, ... , well, frailty. smart and weak is not an especially good combination, especially when the latter intrudes upon the function of the former.
in short, ultimate truth is just not easily obtained, revealed, or followed in this world: indeed, it may lie before us, not even recognized.
all is contest, all is fervor, and all is very unsubstantial, and unsubstantiated. what is the old phrase, “do not watch politics [philosophy/religious doctrine/climate science] being made.”
so, i wrote back to my friend, as follows.--
you will not find clarity in the disputes of man. man is limited, imperfect and not even close to eternal. the truths of man are therefore [by necessity] "somewhat" limited.
wisdom, knowledge, virtue are found elsewhere.
the disputes of man are mere clamor.
get used to it.
the best you can do is to premise your beliefs in eternal truths, and trust that your intellectual pursuits are in good faith, that you have thought the matters before you and your fellows through to a rational conclusion, and that any acts that you take in pursuit of those conclusions are as moral and ethical as you can make them within the limitations of your reason.
you cannot be paralyzed by this insight. [because you are limited, you cannot deny the responsibility to decide.] that actions of others force you to choices, and you cannot shy from them because they are limited. to be is to do, to do is to be, do be do be do. sarte. camus. sinatra.
kill 'em all, and let god sort them [e.g., the righteous from the unrighteous, ... , see johnny cash, "the man comes around"] out. john brown.
and, i added this further observation.--
“p.s. you cannot let indecision or doubt cripple you. you must act when you are forced to, when you have no other choice, when you are impelled by moral & religious & political imperatives.
simple as that. jjj”
in my view, to do otherwise is simply to be a calf waiting patiently & with resignation to be made into veal. and, no way you can look at that, where it does not involve slaughter. i see no morality or ethics in being complicit with the acts of your murderer, without resisting him to the utmost of your being. i believe, in all modesty, that god agrees with me.
now, it does not take a rocket scientist to observe that in my view of things, where i have no claim to whether absolutes exist, nor what the content & teachings of them might be, that i must readily concede that times and issues will arrive where my views come right up, cheek to jowl, with similar though not identical views, or perhaps highly dissimilar views, held by another fellow with equal and perhaps superior fervor.
well, that just the nub of things, isn't it? how are we to reconcile the irreconcilable?
especially when, by definition, we have no recourse to the ultimate answer.
this is precisely the point at which adherents and exponents of natural law turned to god. they did not attempt to divine god's position in the matter, nor did they deign or dare or pretend to speak for him. what they advised in such matters was that "the matter be put before god" by the “contest” of opposing views. and, in the ultimate expression of this, what they meant was that the persons or parties or group would simply fight, and victory was equated with right. you must understand that sir william blackstone, the great compiler of & commentator on the english common law meant “war” when the said “a contest before god.” i am not making that up, he was clear and explicit on the matter.
and, you must understand something.—
might makes right was not rampant cynicism, rather it was an expression of humility about the reach and not at all encompassing nature of human insight, opinion and intelligence.
it was simply an acknowledgment that in some circumstances human reason was unavailing, and the only way to put the matter at rest, was by combat.
by individuals. by divergent groups within a society. by society and nations.
islam says that it avoids this dilemma, in that the word of god is revealed to them through mohammed, and is the word of god.
o.k., that’s what islam says. but islam casually ignores that mohammed is no longer around, that god does not appear to be speaking to any muslims as of late, … , indeed, not since mohammed departed this vale of sin and tears, … , and that the ultimate arbitrator of what god means is not god, but a muslim bureaucracy that functions rather like an oracle on whether it is permissible for muslim males to fuck goats, and what hand to wipe fecal remains from their arses.
i have noted, to my own satisfaction, that history and contemporary politics is littered with the bodies of clerics and followers alike, fighting for the privilege to say what it was that god said to the arabs, in their own tongue, so that they might understand. you must understand, that this is not left up to the ordinary muslim and it is heresy for a muslim to even contemplate such a thing: these kinds of decisions on what god said, and meant by what he said, are for the muslim hierarchy, and only the muslim hierarchy. when ayatollah khomeini said, “islam does not have a sense of humor,” surely he meant this to be subsumed within that observation.
islam does not tolerate deviancy from the edicts of the bureaucracy. ayatollahs who are seen as developing “a sense of humor” in such matters are quickly, summarily and permanently dealt with, with extreme prejudice.
it seems that misunderstandings can get pretty contentious, and that the blood flows freely as such times. imams murder imams, ayatollahs murder ayatollahs, and of course fathers, uncles, brothers and the neighborhood money changer gleefully join in on the killing of any muslim girl who does not adhere to religious and family “tradition.” no, no strains of “fiddler on the roof” here, just blood splatters and spilt brains, and slit throats. a little rape thrown in, when cousins join in.
so, if truth is not provisional in islam, then the status of those who say what truth is, is very damned provisional. in islam, contending clerics, fight over who gets to issue edicts on what god actually said via mohammed and in the tongue of the arabs, and in that manner, they fight for control over who gets to give and deny access to god’s truth.
think about it.
well, i see very little difference in this, and the admonition of blackstone and locke that god’s position is revealed by contesting and warring humans.
something to keep in mind.
and, something to have firmly in your grasp, when you decide how you will parse the opening phrase of this post. how you parse and punctuate that opening title will largely determine how far you are willing to go to contest your view of truth, arrived at after years of contemplation. or, perhaps just revealed. or, perhaps just realized.
john jay @ 10.07.2012