Friday, April 13, 2012

Goodbye To Peace (a pep talk for myself)

'No Justice, No Peace', or so the bumper sticker says. Sayings like this are heard and spoken so often that they become impossible to think about. I think it's time to look into this one a little bit, though.

What the statement seems to say, is that there will be no rest until all wrongs have been righted. Well, I am here to say that there will never be this kind of justice. The promised land will never come. We will all fail to reach it together. The bumper sticker is right, though; there can be no peace until there is justice. So it's time to abandon the pursuit of peace.

This is not a call for warfare or bloodspilling. I hate ideological violence. It's also not a call to a joyless life.  I am an epicurean. I view pleasure as the highest pursuit. We must not confuse pleasure with peace, nor pleasure with hedonistic abandon.  Real pleasure--sophisticated pleasure-- is rooted in struggle. Epicurus himself suffered from horrible bowel problems. He knew about struggle. Epicurus's battles added that much savor to his leisure. We have to learn how to relish the fight. It has to become an end unto itself. We have to slay all of the buddhas, depants all of the saints, and set fire to any blueprints for heaven on earth, or heaven after earth. Everything we ever touch will be flawed, because we are flawed animals who do not fully understand ourselves. There will always be missing pieces left over. We're absurd creatures. Working for justice is an absurd task. That's why we'll keep doing it. 

At least that's what I am telling myself at this moment. I get frustrated by the imperfection of things. I am always making mistakes as a father, a husband, a writer, a worker. There is suffering in this world that I cannot alleviate. It pains me. I am often frustrated by the fact that life is constantly in transition, from one challenge to the other. I'm trying to internalize the notion that to fight is a good thing, and that it's okay to go to bed tired, with things undone, and some matters up in the air. At my best moments, I am able to do this.

Sometimes I find that the only way to deal with internal dissonance is to approach it in a meta sort of way.  There's another bumper sticker for you: 'Think Globally, Act Locally'.

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