Words to Live By, Or Not
“Do as I say, not as I do.” This has for centuries been the model of bad advice, or rather of poor advisors. However, when you are speaking to yourself, it is precisely the correct admonition, and the hardest good advice to follow.
There are more teachers and soldiers than there are members of any other politically essential vocation. Yet there are fewer good ones than there are in any other vocation. I have no time or patience for the standard untouchable status afforded by the political left and right to “the wonderful teachers” and “the brave soldiers,” respectively. The percentages here — at least if I examine the case closest to me, that of the teachers — are a shameful blight on humanity. Then again, humanity itself is a shameful blight at this point — a predicament attributable in no small part to the ubiquity of teachers and soldiers as seen in relation to the dearth of good ones.
You may also save your breath around me in talking about “the heroic nurses” and “the noble police officers.” I am neither that stupid nor that sentimental.
People used to look to other humans — leaders, thinkers, artists, teachers — for evidence of divinity. We sought (and found) traces of God by observing the best men.
Today, by contrast, we must seek evidence of the gods only in the absence of men. Everything human, in our modern sense, reminds us only of the nothingness. Modern humanity with its utter lack of divinity, its wanton rejection of all distant aspirations in favor of the most comfortable leash, has become the single greatest obstacle to Being. And yet at the same time, humanity is everywhere, inescapable, all-encompassing. There is nary a mountain vista without a monstrously ugly high-rise apartment complex in front of it. Every tree must be viewed against the backdrop of blue plastic tarps on a construction site. Every flower has girls standing next to it taking mock-celebrity selfies for their Instagram accounts. Every bird’s chirping is obscured by buses and radios, and by the never-ending small talk of people desperately linked to “social life” at every moment by way of their smartphones.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness” — but modern man craves the dirt, for he loves only his mire, and admires only those who pour mud.