Reflections On Being In The World, Part Two

My country, wrong.— There are broadly two ways to criticize one’s own country. The first is to despise what it was and is, and desire its replacement with something else. The second is to despise what it has become — that is, what it has been replaced with — and lament the loss of what it was or ought to have been. I despise my home country, Canada, in the latter way. A large swath of the progressive left throughout the Western world, including the ever-more ignorant activist youth wing of that faction, i.e., the puppet wing, hate their respective countries in the former sense. They are now being joined by a sort of shadow government of activist ignorance on the “right.” The West is under fire from every direction, it seems, and there is no center, or rather the element that passes itself off as the center is comprised of little more than a blind march of the disinclined and self-absorbed.

Vanity.– Every moment spent justifying yourself to the world is a lifetime spent justifying the world to yourself.

Making your own fun.– The farther one has dared to climb up the banks of today’s mainstream, the more one perceives the importance of never descending again, however sorely the tired limbs and parched throat may tempt the weary fringe dweller back toward the comforting flow in the early stages. Eventually, one learns to treasure the tension of negotiating those craggy banks and the informality of sleeping on inclines; and a slightly dry rasp, characteristic of the unsoaked soul, becomes the song of freedom in one’s ears.

Socrates was so helpful in all circumstances and in all ways, that any observer gifted with ordinary perception could see that nothing was more beneficial than the companionship of Socrates, and any time in contact with him in any place or circumstances. The mere recollection of him in absence brought no small help to those who were accustomed to being with him, and who accepted him. And they profited from the time spent with him in playfulness no less than when he was serious.

— Xenophon, Memorabilia, Book IV.1

This serves as an account of what every man, in his dealings with others, ought to aspire to be, to the extent of his powers. And it is important to recall that this description was written not by a young apprentice or follower of Socrates, but by an honored military leader, long since evolved into a mature political philosopher and historian. One would do well to shrug off any inclination to dismiss this account as an abstract hagiography that might have been said of anyone by any admirer, and to home in on the passage’s key words and phrases as a means of understanding the level of spiritual challenge entailed in Xenophon’s account of his teacher. Helpful in all circumstances, nothing more beneficial, companionship, recollection in absence, accustomed to being with him, accepted him, profited, playfulness, serious.

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