we soldier on
I’m working in the first revision of a book I’ve written, and as I’m reading what I’ve created I realize the protagonist’s actions unknowingly reflect the values that brings on the country’s major reverse. Oh well, you say, of course it would. She doesn’t live on another planet and is bound to reflect the mores of her world. What I am saying, what it amounts to is that there is never another to which one can assign responsibility to.
We are the society we have created, and we bring about its demise or its crowning at will. We have created the prevailing values that rule our lives, and we approve of them regardless of what we say to the contrary. In fact, precisely our rejection of some values validates them. If I am working against X, then X must be something that resonates with society. If it is so important for me to act on it, it must speak to me in some way. Values hold sway as long as they serve a purpose and are definitively abandoned when useless. I assure you, ten years from now Muslim women living in Western countries will no longer be wearing burkas. We want to blame daddy; he’s responsible isn’t he for the unpleasant? Surely, somebody’s got to be in charge!
Who’s in charge, is the question we have no answer for. We seem on some level to be in charge of our direction and moving in an expansive way. If humans have a primary goal, beyond physical, emotional and psychological needs, it is an broadening of knowledge. Yet, this directive, is it ours? Has some intentionality of the universe imposed it on us? We are tumbleweeds blown thither and yon, for what purpose? What is the universe’s plan?
The mind cannot take on the complexity that we live in. How can my protagonist in her little life be aware that her thoughts and actions have an effect on the tsunami occurring on some island in the Pacific? She cannot, as she cannot grasp its significance in her life. The mind is not suited for the questions it poses. We are standing less than a foot away from the pointillist painting of our existence and can barely decipher what it’s all about, save for its emotional coloring and the size of its frame. But we soldier on calling out one reaction or another to what we are able to observe, to conjecture, to imagine.