Divine Neutrality, Blog. Science, Philosophy

Privilege Wants

April 2nd, 2015

Peace is what the privileged want. The indignant want war.

Peace stepping stone
I consider myself privileged. Not because I am wealthy. I am not. Not because I have power to control others. I have no such power. I am privileged because I am not in pain, I am not disabled physically and I am not in financial need.

To be so blessed is privileged. And I want peace in order to preserve this good fortune and not lose this precious condition to the chaos of war. We who have the privilege of well being – we want peace.

Who wants war? Who are those motivated to do battle? Who can be mobilized into a fighting force? In what lies the motivations to fight? The motivation to join a battle unit.

Romance – to fight alongside comrades for a worthy cause.
Loyalty – to the leader as a matter of honor
Tradition – warrior father and brothers
Gain – remuneration, the spoils of war.
Anger – to wreak destruction on an unjust world.
Envy- to humiliate superiority
Indignation for wrongs that must be righted.
Righteousness – to impose what is right.

The stepping stone’s words imply that peace is not a universal good. It benefits the privileged peaceful. But the indignant, seeing great wrongs in society, view war as good. They see it as necessary to oppose evil. Is it not a good to fight against wrong? Not everybody wants peace. There are always warriors among us. The poor and deprived need such champions.

Almost all the people of my acquiantance are, like myself, privileged. They report no pain, are physically functional and have sufficient finances to live in moderate well being. But, of these, many do not consider themselves privileged. Reactions to the stone inscription demonstrate it. They say,

“The ‘privileged’ don’t want peace. It’s the ‘privileged’ who want war. The rich and powerful finance and encourage war to protect their wealth and power. They take profit from conflict.”

These words reveal a mindset. Evidently they are not the words of someone who considers himself among the privileged. Who says such words considers himself a victim! The victim of those who are ‘privileged.’ Victims of oppression. Exactly from these emerge the indignant warriors among us. The ones ready to do battle to right wrongs.

“Only the dead have seen the end of war,”

wrote George Santayana in his Soliloquies in England (1924)

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June 18th, 2014

Adagia Set In Stone

stepping stones

The image shows cement stepping stones pathing an unmuddied walk along the forest floor to shelter. The stones are all inscribed with text. Leaving them blank seemed a waste. So began the quest.

What words merit being set in stone?

I wanted no moral strictures. No “thou shalt nots”. No words about what people ought to do; what other people ought to do is usually their import. No instructions on how to live. No complaints. No visions of how the world ought to be. No fantasies. No prayers. No incantations. These are too parochial to merit inscription in stone.

Rather I chose laconic surmise from observation. Observations about the mechanics of being. Notes on how the world is. Telling how it works with a paucity of words. Immutable truths. Like the laws of physics. Statements about nature; inviolable because they describe nature. We can’t do anything about these laws. We can’t change them. We can rejoice in knowing them.

Some examples, from physics, of immutable laws are these:

• That every pair of bodies in the universe attract each other according to their masses; the law of gravity. Nothing is exempt from this law. Accepting it led to the discovery of dark matter in the universe.

• That, for every closed system, there exists an ethereal quantity called its energy, which is indestructible. It is conserved. Meaning that it doesn’t change no matter what inner turmoil the system suffers.

These laws are used to engineer things – like bridges, engines, computers, space flight. Not by being circumvented or repealed. But by being understood.

Such abiding statements are what I wanted for my stepping stones.

worry love

It sounds like a complaint. A joke, perhaps. A reason to avoid affection. We perceive the word worry as something negative. To be eschewed. And the word love as positive. To be embraced. But the adage is not meant as a rule to live by. To take that personal guidance view of it is to miss its import. Love is precious, worry notwithstanding. There is a symbiosis between the two. From love comes the sweet worry of selfless caring.

You worry about your loved one’s welfare. You cannot help it when it is love that possesses you. The mother is helpless before worry in her love for her child. The devoted lover must succumb to concern for his wife’s well being.

With the blessing of love comes the penalty; the loss of being carefree. The relationship between the two is not something you can fix. It’s embedded in the deliciously perverse nature of things.

The young man objects. “There are people I love and I don’t worry.” Thus announcing to all his hearers, in cocky innocence, that he doesn’t know love. He stands naked, undressed by his own words.

The great humanist, Erasmus of Rotterdam, called by the name, Adagia, his collection of proverbs published in 1500. Here are pieces, already posted, on my stone-inscribed adagia.






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June 22nd, 2013

Righteous Indignation As Temper Tantrum

righteous indignation

Righteous Indignation is a Temper Tantrum

What he practiced was Fine Art.
It issued from his being.
His brush was sure, his color strong.
He had the gift of seeing.

So when the lady said to him,
“May I commission you?”
He swelled a bit, elation hid,
said, “What would you have me do?”

“The carpet’s pea green here, you see.
The wall’s a delicate pink.
A piece just there above the chair.
Perhaps a pen and ink?”

‘Innocent enthusiasm’
describes her inspiration.
“A philistine”, was what he thought.
“Picks art for decoration.”

“Would bind my work, not let it free.
Offends my art. Indignant me!

“Righteous indignation,
as bitter as it’s sweet,
is but a temper tantrum
when I don’t get my treat.

“Though blind to it have I not always
worked within constraint:
My moods and pains, shape of frame,
the pallette of my paint.

“What then is art but style and fluff;
Novel structures, whatever stuff.
Where now green rug and wall sits bare,
I’ll make beauty sparkle there.”


At the very core of righteous indignation is this reckoning:

“I don’t like the world as it is.
What I encounter doesn’t suit me.
I want it to be otherwise.”

Petulant thoughts. Like those that drive a child having a temper tantrum.

But that very same righteous indignation motivates people to action;

    to right wrongs,
    to secure justice

. . as it motivates others

    to persecute opponents,
    to commit mayhem and, even,
    to murder people.

We live with a symbiosis of incompatibles.

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