Friday, January 4, 2013

words to encourage appropriate dissent to a world gone mad

Truth - I haven't been reading too many writing books of late. Oh, I've been reading - if I stop reading you'll know it is time to call in the professionals - just not writing books. I'm not in my home and I didn't know I'd be away from my stuff for so long. I do have my handy The Artful Edit by Susan Bell but this morning I'm going to read to you from another book - Fidelity by Wendell Berry.

If you haven't read Berry (I had but only his poetry) get to your library and get this or probably any other of his books. This man is a gorgeous writer. My best pal lent me this book which was lent to her so I whipped through it - now I'm going to go get my own.

I've been feeling political these days. Part of it has been the absolute failure of the local government to have reasonable laws or be able to do what they purport to do in the case of the landlord tenancy board. I'm just going to say this once here and plan on writing a full article or three on our experience but yesterday I was told (after waiting an hour) that we are supposed to store our tenant's garbage - the crap they left outside - for sixty days in a secure place in case they want it although they have promised to come numerous times in the last month and a bit. Does this sound crazy to you? I told the person (after assuring her that I understood this was a problem in the Act not in her understanding of it) that I would go to jail before I'd bring one piece of their stinky crud back into our house. So there it stands.

On top of the personal there is the fact that the supposed leader of this country is an ass who is driving us relentlessly into the dark age with his insane notions. To quote Allan Gregg's brilliant speech to a Carleton University crowd entitled 'The Assault on Reason'. on which he contends that Harper and his government have opposed any measures or government funding that is based on science and contradicts his agenda:

"This view holds that parks are for tourism and campers, not for the flora and fauna that must be protected by scientists. Policy should be based on conviction and not bloodless statistics. Governments should be guided by what is morally right and not by reason and rational compromise. From this view, science, statistics, reason and rational compromise are not tools of enlightened public policy, but barriers to the pursuit of swing that pendulum back. 
And if that wasn't enough we have an aboriginal leader - Chief Theresa Spence - on day 26 of a hunger strike - one that she is prepared to be on to her death because of the same omnibus bill that Gregg is going on about.

If there is a theme to this it is encapsulated by Berry in his short story 'Fidelity'. In this story a family brings their sick father to a hospital from the small farming community he lives in. They quickly realize that the hospital will not only not help him but will make his last days terrible. His son kidnaps him from the hospital and takes him to a place in the woods that they frequented. Here is the family's lawyer talking to the detective that is hot on the trail of this crime. Detective Bode has just said
"You mean that you, a lawyer, won't cooperate with the law of the state in the solution of a crime?"
"Well, you see, it's a matter of patriotism."
"Patriotism? You can't mean that."
"I mean patriotism - love for your country and your neighbors. There's a difference, Mr. Bode, between the state, or any other organization, and the country. I'm not going to cooperate with you in this case because I don't like what you represent in this case."
"What I represent? What do you think I represent?"
"The organization of the world."
"It means," Henry said, "that you want whatever you know to serve power. You want knowledge to be power. And you'll make your ignorance count, too, if you can be deceitful and clever enough. You think everything has to be explained to your superiors and concealed from your inferiors. For instance, you just lied to me with a clear conscience, as a way of serving justice. What I stand for can't survive in the world you're helping to make, Mr. Bode."

A bit later on the lawyer's dad, also a lawyer weighs in:

"Well, anyway," Detective Bode said, "all I know is that the law has been broken, and I am here to serve the law."
"But, my dear boy, you don't eat or drink the law, or sit in the shade of it or warm yourself by it, or wear it, or have your being in it. The law exists only to serve."
"Serve what?"
"Why, all the many things that are above it. Love."

Like the Wheeler's - the lawyers in this story - and all the family and friends of the dying man - what I stand for can't survive in the world that Harper is trying to make. It can't survive in a world of laws without reason and people who think lying serves a larger good. It isn't true.

So that's it for today - just thought I'd wake-up at 4:40 and tell you this.


Jude said...

Thank you, Jan.

Misha Gericke said...

So true.

I was going to point out that humanity and science should both be taken into account, but every example I could think of about science going wrong ended up having a "moral" decision at its core.

sue said...

It's a brutish law when it serves only greed and rigid demands.
I can't get to my books at the moment to get more information, (both kids moved back home and we're struggling with space etc) but this reminds me of the arrows of compulsion in the Enneagram. Also fits with the most dogmatic aspects of the ISTJ in the MBTI

Best of luck with the crud that's happening in your life Jan. The law is an ass. I'll look for the Berry book - I'm in need of something supportive at present.

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - I couldn't possibly have made that point any better than you did. Brava!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I can't argue with the fact that the world seems a bit topsy-turvy these days. Doesn't matter what side of political seesaw we're on, there's a lot to worry about. I also find myself awake at odd times during the night, wondering what will happen next.