Hieronymus Bosch's view of the Garden of Eden.

Years past when I was bolder and more energetic I sometimes used antagonism of others as a tactic (not as an end). When settled down, riled people could then be approached to talk it through. Not the best strategy, perhaps, but it worked for me mostly, I’d suppose, because I’d be willing to follow up annoyance with willingness to discuss.

As I write these words I think I sound too old fashioned and out-of-synch with current demands.  

Baloney. A civil society is one where disagreement and conflict can be openly aired and assessed. A common complaint for espousing civil society comes from those saying they’ll not compromise with terrorists, murderers, anti-somethings or whatever as doing so only serves to give platform and legitimacy to Nazi-fiend-horribles. That seemingly reasonable view is not very reasoned because it starts with pre-judgment, issuing a conviction without a hearing. Trying, making an effort to hear an argument we don’t like is something every one of us can attempt and should expect in return in a civil society.  

Also in years past I was involved in community theater. It was often necessary to tell a performer (the young more than the old) the obvious: “yelling is not an emotion.” Likewise, loud doesn’t make a protestation better, worthier or more researched. Nor does repetition, nor does profanity. Argument laced with F bombs tells nearly all I need to know about an opponent, one likely accustomed to pigeon chess where the pigeon lands on the board, scatters pieces, defecates and flies away claiming victory.  

Disruption is not argument. It’s disruption. However, and I say this with utmost loving patience, the gloom-enlightened claiming self-defining self-awareness as the one and only reality because it eschews objectivity are as damnably frustrating to talk with as the task of unwinding this little ol’ sentence. We’re often not on the same page, in part due to the effort to be more inclusive, which in practice becomes exclusive by excluding difficulties and challenges. My (almost innate) response is usually “so what,” “prove it” or “show me.”

‘Nother words, being difficult/disagreeable isn’t only style. It has useful function lost when it is stifled.  

Enter the dam’ol’ Romans. Purveyors of patriarchy and authority we moderns must deject and denounce the people who once held “Life’s first challenge is governing one’s self.”  

There’s a lot of annoyance packed into seven words that defy the narrative of mutual equality and function in an unlimited biosphere of imagination. There’s a basic clash between those generously believing “You can be anything you want” and the short clumsy player facing facts, “I wanted in the NBA but they didn’t want me.”  

We are not (I suspect for valid evolutionary reasons) blessed with identical drives, talents, interests or desires. Humans, seems t’ me, are overall rather messy, and the easiest way so far to control and make them nicer is to coddle their vanities and illusions as the right way of improving the human in the human condition. Those of us with a different evolutionary purpose go where? Read Marx. Follow Lenin or Stalin or Putin and you’ll see deviation requiring punishment.

The People’s Paradise might be compared to that presented to Mark Twain where the chosen prayed and praised all the day forever, and if that didn’t sound like Hell to Twain then nothing did.  

Bug, I digressed and degreased too far. I return to governing one’s self. Here’s my supposition, possibly a great base for a bet. No, as in NO, number of laws makes a person lawful. Either you respect and live by a common accord or you don’t.  

On a minor level a child might pinch something or an adult opportunistically embezzle, but more fundamental, deeper and nigh-on impossible to define is an inner sense of right/wrong. T’ be sure, there are cases where what’s right for you be wrong for me, but that’s different and those debating with me know it. Don’t you? I believe you do.  

The worth of looking back at old Greece or Rome comes in recognizing humanity as a complex heritage shared well back and able to be recognized when we look. Same holds true of schools providing English history or American Lit. We can see shared humanity in the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, who rose high only to discover that what she accomplished could be done to her, and the a few others for proper measure.  

I’ll never pilot a boat on the Mississippi, but I can grasp a sense, however slight, of the life Mark Twain describes, description and meaning open and available to all, to any who care to go there. Their decision. If public school literature had to suit my particular tastes and background you can be sure I’d enjoy destroying public education with its own presumptive pandering. That, dear reader, is easy to do, as seen with ease around us.  

I frankly don’t think of or want to go back. Too late for that impossibility. It’s more the present and possible future/futures that interest me. A way I have to endure the present is to keep an eye on the past while reminding little me there is much more to any story or moment than I know or grasp.  

The present, in the form of political – religious (often functionally one and same) screamers are less compelling and frightening when one looks at similar scheming and screaming during the reign of delightful Henry VIII. Well educated and well-intended, he and his took any route open.  

Harking back to ancient Romans lumping actors and prostitutes in the same profession of deception, I add politicians along with other forms of rulership. Why not? The most enlightened and perfected and awakened of the lot will claw onto power for all they’re worth same as Darius, Caesar, Henry VII & VII and Beria and Amin and I’d run out of room before making much of a proper list.  

If things I allege annoy, it’s for a purpose of setting myself and maybe a few readers back a step or two for a look-see of perspective. The rough side of civil discourse has its reasons.