Life's Too Short for Impatience

Monday, June 05, 2017

A wise man once spoke to me regarding an issue that had clearly gotten under my skin.

"Let it go," he said. I wasn't in the right place then to listen to him, but he probably knew I'd hear him later, and I eventually did.

It can be easy to become upset at, say, Californians who vote themselves into poverty and then move to other states, where their voting patterns remain the same. Or, as I once did, at communists who fled their dictatorial countries -- only to preach communism in the West. Or, more recently, Moslems who flee their perpetually war-torn, oppressive, stifling homelands, and yet remain devout.* Do none of such people even have an inkling that, perhaps, the situations they are trying to address might be the consequences of ideas -- which they share -- in the dominant culture of the place where things went so wrong for them? Does it never occur to them to examine those ideas? In the cases of refugees, do none wonder why these rednecks/consumerists/infidels/[or fill in some other stereotype here] have things so much better, or at least better enough to be worth putting up with for the rest of the refugees' lives?

Some do, but most don't. And it is a grave injustice to those few -- and to oneself -- to spend too much time or emotional energy on the fact that they don't or won't follow that path of inquiry. Doing this can cause one to forget that it is a difficult path to follow. It can also cause one say or do something that alienates decent people, on top of wasting time, or missing out on a chance to learn something.

This is not to say that one should pretend the anger or frustration does not exist. If the idea of, say, being called a racist by a racist causes more than what seems like an appropriate reaction, it might be useful to think about why. What premises do you hold that cause the emotions? Even if it takes lots of time find the answer, you might be surprised, and profit greatly from the process. I think most of the man-made problems in the world today are caused by the related (and very common) ideas that our lives do not belong to ourselves (and so must be surrendered to some "other", be it the needy, or someone's idea of a deity, or inanimate nature); and that government exists to force everyone to behave on such a premise. To allow oneself to be engulfed in anger by such ideas, as monstrous as they are, is to allow whatever remnants of them exist in your soul to cripple you, and to keep you from living the kind of life that remains possible to you. Keep rowing the boat, sure, but don't forget reverence for your own soul. Impatience with others can, ironically, lead to a kind of dereliction of the self.

-- CAV

*Conservatives who want to "drain the swamp," and then elect a crony as President are, in many cases doing something similar.

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