by Don Quixote
This is the culmination of thoughts on society after High School.
|"Moment of Clarity"
Do you believe in the power of a moment of clarity? - A moment where you finally realize something for the first time and change yourself accordingly? I'm holding on to the hope that there will be an earth-shattering moment of clarity, not just for myself but for the rest of society. In this moment we would finally understand our faults and realize how ridiculous we truly are. We would realize all the terrible suffering in the world and know how to prevent it. We would come to accept that our earth is in peril and that we must work together to create solutions. We would finally know the meaning of it all so that absolute truth would no longer escape our grasp.
In my countless drifting thoughts I've tried to piece together ideas that would solve our suffering. I've tried combining Buddhist ideals with deontological ethics. I've tried infusing the power of idealism with the ideals of cosmopolitanism. I've tried viewing our society as blameless through the idea of environmental determinism which could perhaps lead us to unconditional love. But there was that dark truth growing in the back of my mind. The truth that no matter how many great thinkers there were, the root of our suffering is our greatest attribute – the difference in thoughts and feelings. And no matter how hard I tried to see a common thread through it all, people would disagree with that common thread and all that thinking would have been for nothing.
Even if there are people who inspire the world through their ideals, we soon forget them. Whether it's the bitter irony that the assassin of Gandhi was executed by the state – going against everything Gandhi stood for, or whether it's the fact that racism of several different kinds continues to spread even after Martin Luthor King Jr's inspiring stand against it, or heck – whether it's the fact that the vast majority of Christians aren't pacifist even though Jesus taught them to be, we continue to show that no matter how great the thinker – no matter how great the ideals, we will always have the power to let them fade away. Forget scientific progress – are we ever going to make moral progress?
I've learned that the real solution to it all is a moment of clarity for all of us – a moment when we realize that we have a responsibility to not let the ideals of the greatest thinkers in our history to fade away. The only question, however, is this – will this moment of clarity be caused by a catastrophe that opens our eyes or will it be subtle inspiration that we will create ourselves?
There have been so many great moments of clarity in our history, but the sad part is that most of them have been created by catastrophe. There have been so many moments of clarity caused by unfortunate events. Moments that come to mind are ones such as the Columbine shooting calling for a look on gun control, or the Kent State Massacre that called for a look at the relationship between the government and its people, or heck – again – the death of great people such as Christ calling for a look at ourselves – a look in the mirror. Is there a way we can have a moment of clarity without catastrophe? Why must action precede thought?! Can we not first think that then act? Parents tell their children to think before they act but I don't think any of us have ever truly learned that lesson. We let ourselves be taken over by mob mentality.
I'm holding on to the hope that instead of an earth-shattering moment of clarity created by catastrophe we can make one created by inspiration. The purpose I've created for myself in this world is to create a moment of clarity for people through thought, not catastrophe. My call to action for everyone is to let thought precede action – to create a moment of clarity together that is so powerful that we, in the words of the Beatles, "come together." We must come together in thought and not let our bitter sentiments cloud our poorly constructed judgment. To quote Plato "The perfect society will only occur when kings become philosophers or philosophers are made kings." The only way we are ever truly going to survive is if we all become philosophers and for once in mankind's history – think!
To be as blunt as possible I will use a hypothetical as grand as its controversy – the Atom Bomb. Nothing is as catastrophic as the Atom Bomb. Now think about how we could easily let our ignorance, hatred, and violent natures create a catastrophe so big we all have to stand back for a minute and take a deep breath. What if we let ourselves do something so terrible – perhaps in the form of an Atom Bomb that our moment of clarity soon to follow is too late to make ourselves right again. I'm not trying to use scare tactics; I just don't want our failures as people to blow up in our faces. I'm just trying to stress the importance of a moment of clarity created not by misplaced judgment that leads to disaster, but rather a round table where everyone can join the conversation.
To understand what I mean, think of the world as a round table. One of the greatest mythic heroes, King Arthur, had a round table of knights to show the value of everyone's opinion during conversation. There was no head of the table; there was only a table that showed equality. The only way we can make the moment of clarity by ourselves and not by catastrophe is if we maintain the ideals of equality. I truly believe in Aristotelian friendship. Aristotle said that everyone has the capacity to be a moral agent and that is why everyone can be viewed as a potential friend. If we view everyone as moral agents – as people who have something to offer at a round table, then that is when we truly come together and create our own moment of clarity. We will not let a catastrophe do it for us!
Perhaps though, the greatest moment of clarity we wish to experience is the meaning of it all. We want our eyes opened to how we are valued and what is absolute truth. We may find ourselves self loathing because we don't understand our place in this world. To that end, my brother has a few words. My brother believes that right as we die we will have a moment of clarity about our place in this world. That we will finally understand it all. That the greatest cosmic joke there is, is that we as people search and search for meaning in this world yet we can't know until we die. The thought that there is that moment of clarity waiting for us lets us live our lives moment by moment. We begin to live in the present. In this way we can get rid of our self loathing cynicism and instead find meaning in each other. And heck, even if there isn't that moment of clarity before we die then at least we were coming together to do what we can in the present. What life is, maybe can't be known or won't be shown until we die, but what we make life in the here and now is what's important.
Perhaps absolute truth can never be truly known. Perhaps we will never fully agree on what is the right way. But if we let ourselves be open to each other and let ourselves hear one another and not let bitter sentiments get in the way then perhaps we can make progress. It's idealistic, I know, but to be idealistic in this sense is the only hope we have. The irony is that it's so simple – view each other as equals and come together for a solution – but that is the only way we will create the moment of clarity we desperately need. If you want to call it delusional and foolish go ahead, but know that you are only destroying any chance we have at clarity. I may be a fool but at least I'm trying.
We lack the light to show the way, so let us create that light through thought preceding action instead of catastrophic action preceding thought. What we can or can not do is up to us to decide. So please, I beg of us, let us create our moment of clarity. The meaning of it all lies within our choice to prevent catastrophe. And yes, the irony in all of this is that my ideal of a moment of clarity created by us may fade away or be ignored but at least I'm doing what I can in the here and now to make things right.