Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rain on My Parade, Please

Something about celebration invites abuse. Atheists mock Christmas, anarchists mock Election Day, pacifists Veteran's Day. Irked by the politicization of "going green" a lot of conservatives have developed a not-so-quiet loathing for Earth Day. Valentine's day seems the most loathed these days, a towering rod electrified by hate. Why?

It's not so hard to imagine a few reasons. Some folks think qui tacet consentire and that's not unreasonable. They don't want to look like they condone something they find foolish or even worse. Other people simply bask in the joy of contrarianism and relish the thought of not joining the club. Some people are too insecure about an idea, even if they assent, to affirm their accord. At the dark end of the spectrum lurks envy, where some angry people find genuine displeasure at the sight of people affirming the good.

To varying degrees and toward various groups, holidays, and celebrations, we've all felt some of those ways. Perhaps we ought endeavor, though, to curb our sarcasm and not rain on anyone's parade. That it takes so much restraint to shut one's yap, or keep hands off the keyboard, suggests that silence is often a prudent response, at least at the time of their celebrating. After all, how much of our own disagreement is not justification of principle but rather self-aggrandizement and self-assuring masquerading as reason. There are in fact very few people with whom I'll disagree in person. In fact, whether and how I disagree is based on a rather complex calculation of the appropriateness of time and place, and most of all, how likely I am to persuade the individual. Most times and places aren't occasions for debate, and most people find genuine debate irksome, which is not unreasonable.

For my part, though, I welcome the rain, but mostly because I don't hold any parades. You see, the conservative that I am isn't in unqualified love with a great many things, first because everything has unintended consequences, and second because even the intended consequences can be taken too far in degree. As such, all activity is an invitation to a great deal of harm and I find do no harm an excellent principle. When you combine that approach with philosophical and generally curmudgeonly dispositions, you'll find that activity itself is a specious enterprise. In fact I'm not a fan of any activity per se, and find much appeal in the ideal of energetic stasis. Life requires a good deal of work just to maintain itself against entropy and it requires as much affection as well.

Such doesn't mean that the present is the best of all worlds, but that enough people cared to preserve it. Maybe it is the mindless accretion of prejudice or the meaningless terminus of accident-after-accident, but you can always spot the progressive by the list of geniuses he claims to have outsmarted. Problems rise and persist, often fundamental ones, but when possible they should be pruned and filed, not exploded. Rare is the need for violent revolution, and all revolutions are violent revolutions.

The complement of energetic stasis, then, is a sanguine curmudgeonry in which everything is at once loved and loathed. This all sounds very harsh, but what good relationship is rooted in unquestioning approbation? None, of course, or the short-lived perhaps. Instead we take delight in teasing and being teased, and in all teasing there is truth and tooth in the taunt. In time we correct our ways and all that's left is the happy memory of being teased. Life as love.

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