07 April 2009

For What It's Worth(Yep, am stealing from Buffalo Springfield here)

Have been mentally churning, discussing and debating with myself, about a whole range of topics and how best to present them here and elsewhere on-line over the past few months, weeks and days now.

Really still have no idea of how best to do it without going off onto my usual rambling rants, etc. At the same time, have got to get some of the notions I have out of my head, however imperfectly yet readably.

So, am giving it yet another go here, with a mix of of aphorisms and short phrases. Don't know how successful will be at this, nor if anyone will read any of this.

Still, best to spew this out, before it makes me even more troubled and embittered than already am.

So, here goes.

Mao Ze-Dong was right when he said that revolutions are an act of violence. They can't be done gently nor politely. It means doing whatever it takes to successfully get and hold power, no matter how immoral, amoral, vile or foul.

It also means, especially for the successful revolutionary, having to live with oneself and one's deeds for the rest of one's life, and especially with hard and unpleasant memories.

Forget who said that revolutions devour their own children, but whoever did was also right. Look at the histories of most revolutions, and one finds a particular faction within any revolutionary movement grabbing power from others, and purging their opponents in one way or another. If one goes down the revolutionary path and is successful, best to be prepared to purge or be purged at one time or another.

Revolutions and wars create expectations that, generally speaking, will be dashed in peacetime and reconstruction. High ideals and hopes are necessary to starting and keeping a revolutionary or war effort going, but, especially with the many compromises and hard realities involved in administering and builidng a new society, many of those will either be greatly diminished or set aside.

If one's aiming at seizing and holding power, one had best be prepared to deal with the small, niggling details of governing and administration, as well as with the grand issues of politics. This means worrying as much about the macaroni ration per person, as it does the construction of a new economic order. If one's not prepared to deal with the many small, irritating details and duties that come with political and economic power, one shouldn't aspire to having it.

These are horribly uncertain, anxious times, in which everything seems to be falling apart, with the centre unable to hold. Maybe so. On the other hand, one doesn't have to look that far back into history to see that there have been many such occasions, some of where that perception turned out to be accurate, and others where it wasn't. While perceptions matter, so does truth. That means paying as much as much attention as possible to what's going on around oneself, comparing that with others, especially those who aren't as like-minded as oneself, and always, always, considering the source of whatever information one gets.

Eyes and brains, Watson, as Sherlock Holmes used to say.

Above all, resist the temptations to fall into an anxious, panicked state as much as falling into ones of either fatuous complacency or fatalistic escapism. None of those states do one or others any good at all.

Have trouble with those states myself, so can understand the temptation to go into any one of those and stay there. But, being in a permanent state of alarm, torpor or resignation aren't terribly helpful in solving problems, or even simple survival.

Don't forget to laugh, especially at oneself when one's being silly and taking oneself overly seriously. This has the dual advantage of endearing oneself to others, and, more importantly, keeping a sense of logic and proportion about oneself's and one's abilities.

All of us like to think that we are, in one way or another, the smartest, sexiest, wisest beings who ever lived. That's a quite natural way of perceiving ourselves, really. But, we all do and say silly things from time to time as well. My goodness, we all have to use the toilet, just as our ancestors did, and our descendants will after us. No one is especially dignified in that state, not even, say, George Washington or Simon Bolivar. If they strained while evacuating their bowels, well, so do I, you and everyone else on this planet.

Most of all, don't lie to oneself or say that you can't be suckered, because that's when one really sets oneself up for being suckered very badly and on a grand scale. Will admit, however humiliating it might be to me, to having been suckered many times in the past, and have no doubt that can be suckered now and in the future. The trick is, I think, not to fall for the same kind of con over and over again. There will always be new and different, or at least new variants on older cons, to fall for. Just keep your eyes and brains actively working, and be prepared to admit, cheerfully or not, whenever you're wrong or have been suckered.

As for lying to oneself, well, I think that that's one of the worst sins that one can commit against oneself and others,'cos it creates false expectations and hopes that can't be fulfilled, and, sooner or later, it will be seen for what it is. If one's going to be a bastard, which I don't recommend, at least be an honest bastard, especially with oneself. In the end, that's to whom one really has to answer, most of all.

Personally speaking, there are times I can be intelligent, witty, even charming and kind. But, I can also be angry, bitter, frustrated and greatly disappointed, both in myself and others. I can be quite nasty when I want to be, but also cowardly. I have often engaged in silly, fiery rhetoric on many occasions in my life, and regret having done so. I try not to do so now, but don't always succeed. I can lie to myself and indulge myself in self-pity and fits of pique, the same as anyone else.

I can often despair, both for the state of the world and myself, and feel hard done by. Maybe, in some areas, I have been. But, such feelings can't and won't get things done and make life better, for others nor myself.

Most of all, am no plaster saint. Am a human being, with at least some of the virtues and many of the defects, that all of us have, in one form or another. Haven't read The Lives Of The Saints, but, from little have heard about it, even the many Catholic saints were themselves highly flawed, imperfect, human beings.

Maybe, that's the most important lesson of all from such tales, whether one believes in deities, saints and all the rest of that or not. We are all poor, imperfect creatures struggling under the sun. What matters most are the choices, decisions and actions we make while we are alive and kicking. That goes for me as much as for any of you.

If you should read this, I hope you'll find some, if not all, of what have had to say here to be sound and of some value. If not, well, that's your choice to make, and more power to you. If you do, wonderful, as am just egotistical enough to be flattered whenever someone thinks I've something of value to say or do.

If you've made it all the way through reading this, whether you agree, disagree, or don't care either way, I congratulate you on making the effort, and taking the time to do so.

On that note, I leave you, and, as always, leave you with a line from one of my favourite television shows of all time, "The Prisoner", Be Seeing You.

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