Uncharted Waters

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Of all the post election punditry I’ve read, one insight especially stood out to me:

The critics of our new president-elect took him (a) literally but not seriously. His supporters took him (b) seriously but not literally.

A thought occurs:

What if it turns out we should have taken him (c) both literally and seriously, or perhaps (d) neither literally nor seriously?

It’s my guess that after all the dust settles, we’ll discover we should have chosen either (c) or (d). Which is right? I have no idea! What would either outcome mean for us and our planet? Don’t ask me that, either.

We’d be in uncharted waters. But then, aren’t we already?


Uncharted Waters — 5 Comments

  1. This thought from the Atlantic intrigued me also, on several levels. It underscores the fact that our electoral system is anything but a rational process for one of the most cool-headed requirements of our culture. More than that, it reminds me of the compartmentalization of contemporary thinking and Baha’u’llah’s observation, “They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.”

    Beyond that, I think the anger, frustration, rancor and lashing out of the political dysfunction is a deep seated indictment of the failure of materialism. Baha’u’llah said, “Verily the most necessary thing is contentment under all circumstances; by this one is preserved from morbid conditions and from lassitude. Yield not to grief and sorrow: they cause the greatest misery. Jealousy consumeth the body and anger doth burn the liver: avoid these two as you would a lion.”

    Advertising, the Eucharist of materialism, holds that something is lacking in your life and here is a quick cure. You don’t see the pretty smiles on the faces of people coming out of stores with carts piled high with stuff. Pretty smiles have been left on the ones who made the pitch.

    The implication is that what we are hawking will make you content. At best, that is short lived, only to be replaced by another pretty smile saying there is something lacking in your life, etc.

    Political parties promise contentment and are incapable of delivering, except for short term, isolated situations. The dichotomy between a) and b) cannot be resolved materially. Both c) and d) are relevant, but, only the spiritual component can make sense of it.

    We have a tough job to do.

    • Thanks, John, for reminding me that the literally/seriously juxtaposition I quoted comes from an article in The Atlantic. I’d forgotten the source, or else I’d have attributed it.

      It’s also true, as you indicate, that we can make sense of this chaos only within a spiritual framework. Truly there’s a tough job ahead!

  2. I think (c) is going to be the best option. I’m very concerned about climate change. The Donald says it’s a hoax. My neighbors who voted for Trump said his hoax comments were “just campaign talk.” In other words, they didn’t take him literally but voting for him indicates that they took him seriously. But now we see who he plans to put forward to head the EPA (an oil baron climate-change denier) and Sarah Palin to head the Interior Dept. So we have to take him literally AND seriously from now on.

    • Perhaps I’m mistaken — but it’s my impression that no one has been named, so far, for the EPA or Interior Department posts. Be that as it may, I also am worried about the impact of climate change denial. Right now, it appears we’ve barely got time to stave off planetary disaster. But what if we’re verging on a tipping point or phase-change from which the world won’t be able to recover? And aren’t the demands of climate change all things we ought to do anyway — even if it is a hoax (which it isn’t)? Like clean energy? dispensing with fossil fuels? and so forth?

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