It is always best to argue from simple truths; the details are interesting, but not necessary; if they were, no decision or action based on thought would be possible.
Truth is dynamic; it doesn’t curl up passively with a bunch of facts—the passive/aggressive fact-checkers never seem to understand this.
Statistics are for losers. Winning is the only thing. History is written by the winners.
But when a fact, lost to all, suddenly turns up and puts the smiling villain in jail, we exult, we cheer the triumph of justice. Colombo turns on his heel as he is about to exit, and asks one more question. Every interesting crime show, every movie of thoughtful demeanor; romance, comedy, tragedy—all hinge on a detail hidden from view, until the denouement reveals it.
But the important hidden fact was hidden by other facts—clarity and truth occur when we get clear of unnecessary facts and details.
Truth is complex; every situation in life is immensely complex: a picture, a video, a view, a vow, a law, a kiss, a structure, an assemblage, an idea, a thought—all so complex that comprehension and action are blind when confronting the infinite factual complexity of even the simplest things life presents to us.
Truth is complex, but it always emerges simply.
The very simple is not truthful; but the truthful is always very simple in our understanding of it.
A mountain of facts hides the truth, even as the truth is a mountain of facts. Facts hide themselves in the truth—what finds the truth is not the truth.
Simplicity hates and betrays all that is detailed and true until that moment when simplicity finds what is true.
Hate, the opposite of love, finally comes to it.
Love is always the goal; hate, looking for love, always the opposite of love, the seeker; love cannot search for love, truth cannot look for truth, the good cannot find good. I told many half-truths to get here, my love, and I am here because of you. The ambiguous assertions are in the past, always in the past, just as facts and more facts unnecessarily clog up our days.
We now live in an Information Age, such that ignorance is sexy like never before. The more information there is, the more of it must be ignored to find the truth. The success of Trump demonstrates this, to the wailing and whining horror of the educated Left.
Not that ‘too many facts as the enemy of truth’ is lost on the Left.
I realize I am stating a truism.
Everyone confronts “inconvenient” facts—doctored data, religious and philosophical contradictions, party-platform gaps in logic, dearly held beliefs with hidden flaws, old actions or quotes from our former selves—anxiety greets us all—more, the more we are in the public eye—as we desperately patch daily the leaks in our ideological and personal boats. Whether we are a Facebook opining Buddhist monk or Catholic priest, a Muslim American feminist, a gay conservative, or anyone who is terribly honest with their opinions, we struggle daily to make our ideas fit with the world, and more and more in this Information Age we live in, it gives us fits.
Even comedians are crashing and burning these days. Sages of the comedic left are having an especially hard time; the rapaciously principled right are now having their moment in the sun; even comedy is moving to the right; the right is, at this moment, funnier than the left—which has dominated the talking classes since the Kennedy/Nixon debates. Almost overnight, the Left finds itself trapped in a politically-correct corner, making nasty faces—a scared, anti-free speech, rat. The impulse could be said to be the same on the Right. Close the borders ‘to be safe.’ The left is shutting up the right ‘to be safe.’ Fear is messing everybody up.
No one is immune. As I write this piece, in a calm, logical, state of mind, I hear some readers in my ear, “You support Trump, that ASSHOLE, you ASSHOLE???” Even though I haven’t defended Trump at all; the ‘triggered’ tend not to be discerning, but I realize “success of Trump” and comparing the left to a “rat” will damn me in some minds forever.
There is the truth, and then ‘how the truth gets talked about,’ and they are not the same. I do not pretend to know much about the former; I’m only attempting some advice about the latter.
Here’s how to make sense of all this, and the simpler, the better:
There are two impulses, that of Greece and Rome. Community and Empire.
Community is where “reasonable” people, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, interact;the life most of us know most of the time. This is the realm of cat photos and birthday parties. Conversation. Sleep. Cleaning. Work.
Empire is where political and religious differences exist, aesthetic judgment, the world of Hillary and Trump. Empire is where human beings on a grand scale are managed. United, divided, and motivated.
We all live in both places. Uneasily. Because these two worlds are very different, yet they constantly bleed into each other, and impact each other, and judge each other.
The Empire is more abstract, more distant, and yet it has the upper hand. Poor people, people with less education, resent the Empire, and just want to live in a community. But when the poor, or anyone outside the thinking of the Empire, get ambitious, they make a move toward Empire; for all ambitious people strive to take part, in some way, in the ways of the Empire.
In the community, religion is habit, tradition, culture, ceremony.
In the Empire, religion is theology, mass good, mass evil, terrorism, conformity, ignorance, or enlightenment.
This divide, community and empire, is simple and real.
It is at the heart of every single conflict today.
And the complexity arises because of differences which continually flow in two different directions: debates within the empire—vital, significant, often violent, where the ambitious clash—also run headlong into the community.
Community believes in community, but ideas of Empire may be fostered against community, to destroy community, since Empire is rapaciously ambitious. Community looks out for people. Empire often does not. Community is default common sense. Empire is whatever it wants to be.
Obama’s birth certificate, Russia and the 2016 election—just two examples of how Empire issues dominate the news in extremely divisive ways: empire is where animals in the wild battle over turf; community is mother and her cubs, the babies in the nest. Holocaust is empire, not community action. Religious wars are empire phenomena; religions of peace reflect desires of the community.
But wait. Does this mean all large, global actions are bad, and the good resides only in small gatherings?
My thesis is falling victim to the very thesis I stated—no thesis can describe the world.
Not really. Community actions can be large. They don’t have to be small. Think of the Marshall Plan. Greece had wide influence, and all that was glorious about Greece fed the grandeur that was Rome. Rome is what incorporates Greece, spreads it, vulgurizes it; the core genius of a Socrates is diluted by the speeches of a Cicero. Shakespeare invents the sitcom, Bach, the Top 40 Hit.
The genius, the good, the beautiful, are too important to hide, but Empire is that which mass produces and distorts these things in order to control and expand beyond the community, producing theft and wealth for Empire beneficiaries, leaders who naturally hate genius and goodness and beauty, just as one brother will envy and hate an innocent and glorious sibling.
But is Rome always bad? Are sitcoms and top 40 hits always bad? No.
And yet the genius makes the good happen in the first place. We shouldn’t forget that.
Community will not be cowed by empire and will rise up to fight it—and Rome and the British Empire fell, though Empire lives on, and will never be cowed, either.
The vastness of the battle is confusing to many—and ideological differences harden due to pride; community is humble, so how can it be large? Stupidity is easy, and why should it not rush into the arms of a vast and wealthy Empire?
There’s one more division that needs to be elucidated, and with community/empire as a significant division in the background, here is the one real duality which is the key to understanding an ideologically confusing world.
How do we understand the world? Religiously, secularly, patriotically, hedonisticaly, aesthetically, intellectually?
This should help, and this is all this is meant to be—not an ideology, but an aid to understanding.
The world is either pro-business or anti-business.
Money, wealth, happiness, transactions of all kinds, move in two basic directions—either from buyer to seller, or in some other direction—taxes to the state, tithes to the church, or payoffs to criminals.
The more wealth flows from buyer to seller in a fair and enlightened exchange, and the less it flows in some other direction, the better. And this is the one criterion with which we should be most concerned.
The greatest hope for mankind is an economic one; and no other fact is more important for the world’s community, for its people, than the dear wish that the current leader of the free world, stand up to communism in its cult-religious and all its other forms, to nation-killing capitalism in all its forms, and to Empire scare-mongering environmentalism in all its forms.
And what does this entail? The answer is simple, even as we bask in the glory of community, and struggle with the many contradictory messages of empire—to foster a healthy and just environment within every community for business.