In all things, there abides either life or death; in every action we perform, we perform either life or death; in the words that we say or write, we validate either life or death; in the ways that we think and in the ideologies to which we cling, we are either struggling up the bright and rough mountain or sliding down into the dark pit, into a centre that cannot hold. I understand that such an absolute conception of the world is outmoded and no longer fashionable and I grant that there may in fact seem to be, in certain cases and under certain circumstances, shades of grey in our perception of the world, times when it is not clear if we are choosing life or death. But the world itself is not grey; it is not nearly as polymorphous, ambivalent and relative as we, grasping for self-satisfying justifications, so often try to convince ourselves that it must be. Life or death. Good or evil. This is the nature of the world and this is the nature of people. These are not mere philosophical considerations; they are not abstractions or moral hypotheticals; they are not metaphors or tropes -- you, me, everyone: we are either choosing life of we are choosing death. And recognizing which is which is not nearly as difficult or complicated as it often seems. Life corrects; death permits. Life builds; death dissolves. Life searches for truth; death denies its existence. Life faces reality; death ignores it. Life speaks for the voiceless and abandoned; death consumes them before they can speak. Life recognizes evil and calls it such; death lies and says that evil does not exist. Life, because it does not deny the existence of evil, defines the boundaries of freedom; death, because it fears definition, sets fire to every bounding line and declares that there are no limits. Life is self-affirming; death is self-immolating. Life loves; death hates. Life lives; death dies. Life is eternal; death, like grass, whithers and vanishes.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A Matter of Life and Death
Whenever the time comes to write anything about politics I feel sliding sickliness wash over me and a nearly overwhelming sense of apathy and depression opens up around me and plunges me into a dark cloud fraught with dragons and reptiles of the mind. It's not that I don't understand what is happening in the world, or that I don't recognize the shapes, spirits, and forces that are guiding it and dragging it down dark well-trodden paths, it's that all the things that I see twisting and turning in the winds and over the lands of once great nations, all the white-washed rhetoric, all the thinly veiled deceit, all the posturing and moral dissolution, only seems to confirm and validate within me my desire to step out, kick the dust from my shoes, kick the very world to pieces, and simply walk away. World be damned, I want no part of you. And yet I am, reluctantly at times, still a part of this world -- a sort of resident alien -- and so can only ignore it to my own peril, can only detach myself so much before my detachment becomes itself not an act of self-preservation but an act of sabotage and irresponsibility. So, with both Canada and the United States dancing on the razor's edge, two very different hells to find on either side, I feel compelled to add my own voice to the already over-loaded and terrifying cacophonous roaring din that is North American democracy.