How incongruous it is to suffer a torment of emotions and dispositions during this otherwise generous and bountiful Season! Yet a lifetime of inclinations are not swept away by the electricity of a moment. A Christmas card (or what is now more likely, an e-Card) can successfully reinvigorate months of animosity and disturbances in spite of its superficial magnanimity. The charity to dissolve the acrimony battles against the hardened reality of experience, at once thwarted and buoyed by liberal open-mindedness and cautious maturity. The safest default is ignorance, albeit a milquetoast response.
While these lowly personal skirmishes are being waged, the national scene reflects the ambiguity of its citizens. This is especially so for those of us who are drenched in the Republican leadership debates where head-to-head there is a collision of plain-talking prejudice and cushioned deceit. It is a debate whose essence is fuelled parenthetically by documentary movies we’ve watched about Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. It is but a small leap to the international stage on which the American empire competes with the Muslim religion, a showdown predicted by Vidal years ago. What however rings in my memory more than anything is the theory (voiced by Vidal among others) that one must attend to the needs of the deprived if those with riches are to survive aggression, a persuasive cause for self-interest if nothing else. I extrapolate that advice to embrace everyday communications between common people and those who fashion themselves intellectuals, a seemingly arrogant division which is nonetheless just as apparent as that which exists between those who are poor and those who are rich. It is as fundamental as the dichotomy between child and parent and its adoption is as compelling if one is to rise above competing differences.
The wild card in this armchair philosophy is instinct, that elemental prescription for everything. Instinct inevitably trumps intellect as well as any theory of enlightenment. It roots one’s sense of security and peace of mind in immutable conviction. Instinct trivializes so-called religious kindness and tolerance; it stirs one’s protective shield. Instinct clears the air of the mist of fathomless generosity and crystallizes one’s resolve. Instinct reduces doubt and debate to manageable features and eliminates needless consternation. This doesn’t of course precipitate dismissal of accommodation, but its utility outshines its beneficence, a sort of intellectual warfare.
I can at least for the time being lose myself in the gentle fog which sweeps upon the beachside gardens and dunes, metaphorically illuminated by the barely hidden sun.