Saturday, July 22, 2006

This is the Golden Age

I was reading some post on another site this morning about the things someone's grandfather told him about growing up in rural Oklahoma in the 1930's. I always find such stories to be interesting and enjoy them but take them with a grain of salt.

It seems to me that we, as humans have the innate ability to view our past romantically. The hard times, the good time, they all blend together into a haze fondness and yearning for times that were simple, pure or uncluttered. Over all, I think that is a good thing. We remember the good and learn from the bad which transforms the external evil we experience into moral good in our lives. This is really, I think, in some ways, an expression of the "noble savage" concept though we seldom recognize it as such.

The whole idea of the "noble savage"and how it has been perpetuated and morphed into an excuse and justification for everything from environmentalism to NAZI politics would make a really interesting study. While Rousseau is normally given the credit for the concept, I am not sure that he invented it so much as discovered it or, perhaps just was the first to articulate it in something approaching a systematic way. We can find examples of prominent people calling for a return to simpler, more noble and moral times at least as early as the Roman Empire.

I think there is a danger in focusing on the past. We cannot try and return to the past. We need to solve the problems of today. In focusing on today while learning from the past we will discover that there has never been so much opportunity to solve all sorts of problems. The real question is, "Can we as humans stop looking backwards? Somehow I don't think so. At least I can't. However, I think it is important to realize that if there was ever a Golden age, it is today. Does that mean there are no social problems? No, it doesn't. While there is an incredible amount of evil in the world there is also, today, more potential and actual good. This is an exciting time to be alive.

When I think of the experiences, real and exaggerated that I will be able to tell my grandchildren, I am sure that they will be amazed. I guess, this is like several earlier post in that I believe that part of our God given purpose on Earth is to enjoy life. That is easier for some people than others but wherever I go I find people laughing with friends and sharing what happiness they have; even if it isn't very much or by my standards non-existent.

Enjoyment comes from many sources but I think the most potent source of enjoyment comes from caring for each other. Martin Heidegger was absolutely correct when he wrote in Being and Time that the ultimate expression of our humanity was caring for one another. Even in desperate times we can care. We can care when we cannot do anything else. In caring we turn weeping into a kind of joy. It is that act that makes memories of bad times into a golden age.

Carpe Diem

Until Next Time
Fai Mao

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