Friday, May 09, 2008

“All We Have To Fear Is Freedom Itself”

[ed. This was originally posted on Michael van der Galien's old site back in June of2007. This is part of my effort to collect as much of my blog writing in a single place....thus the vanity tag.]

It is a wonder I survived my childhood.

Actually, to judge from the media of today, it is a wonder half of my age cohort didn’t snuff it before they reached the age of 18. After all, I was born in the year 1968, which means I was subject to a myriad of dangers that only haunt the worst nightmares of today’s youth. I survived bike riding, skateboarding, playing football and baseball, all without a helmet; countless hours of unsupervised after-school time; fireworks; Jarts; darts; snowball fights; climbing trees; and Slip-n-Slides. Hell, I even survived contact with Catholic priests.

Obviously, it is some sort of miracle I survived in an uncrippled and unmolested state.

Luckily, we in the Western world live in an age that is systematically doing away with all these potential dangers, just like those posed by sharp kitchen knives.

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.

This is a good first step, but there is still much work to be done. Hopefully, we will move on to secure ourselves from other dangers, like those posed by heavy wooden furniture.

The reasoning is very clear. Why should we allow something like this?

to be used as a chair instead of this?

Why should we allow heavy wooden furniture that could be used as a deadly weapon into our family homes? Just because we have traditionally allowed such shoddy home decorating practices to flourish in the past?! I’m sorry, but we cannot remain bound to these medieval practices. We need new thinking! You might love Aunt Sophie’s mahogany Chesterfield, but, my God, we have children to protect.

Yes, new thinking is what we need. The kind of new thinking that will keep freedom away from us at all costs. The novelist Richard Adams summed up this way of life in his book The Plague Dogs:

Freedom-that consuming goal above doubt or criticism, desired as moths desire the candle or emigrants the distant continent waiting to parch them in its deserts or drive them to madness in its bitter winters! Freedom, that land where rogues, at every corner, cozen with lies and promises the plucky sheep who judged it time to sack the shepherd! Unfurl your banner, Freedom, and call upon me with cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music to fall down and worship you, and I will do so upon the instant, for who would wish to be cast into the fiery furnace of his neighbour’s contempt? I will come to you as the male spider to the female, as the explorer to the upper reaches of the great river upon which he knows he will die before ever he wins through to the estuary. How should I dare refuse your beckoning, queen whose discarded lovers vanish by night, princess whose unsuccessful suitors die at sunset? Would to God we had never encountered you, goddess of thrombosis, insomnia, asthma, duodenal and migraine! For we are free-free to suffer every anguish of deliberation, of decisions which must be made upon suspect information and half-knowledge, every anguish of hindsight and regret, of failure, shame and responsibility for all that we have brought upon ourselves and others: free to struggle, to starve, to demand from all one last, supreme effort to reach where we long to be and, once there, to conclude that it is not, after all, the right place. For a great price obtained I this freedom, to wish to God I had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when I sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full. The tyrant wasn’t such a bad old bugger, and even his arbitrary rages never killed as many as died in yesterday’s glorious battle for liberty. Will you return to him, then? Ah no, sweet Freedom, I will slave for you until I have forgotten the love that once consumed my being, until I am grown old and bitter and can no longer see the wood for the starved, dirty trees. Then I will curse you and die; and will you then concede that I may be accounted your loyal follower and a true creature of the earth? And, Freedom, was I free?

Ah! What pathos! We are surrounded by poor deluded fools who believe they want to experience this world, when in reality it has nothing to offer them but pain, corruption and death.

But it need not be that way. We in the West are offered a new vision! It is the beautiful vision of subsistence, where one can be content in what they have because we have taught them there is nothing better to be desired. A vision of a life that offers neither risk nor reward, but only the blissful monotony of continued existence. A vision where you need not tax your mind with deciding how your life will unfold, thus saving you the anxiety that comes from choosing the direction of your days.

It is a vision of safety; safety from guns; safety from knives; safety from wooden furniture; safety from life.

Because let’s face it folks, life will kill you.

1 comment:

Larry said...

I'm confused.

I was sure that crimes of passion were going to disappear when we got rid of guns.

What happened?