I’m well aware that my column is mostly of the “doom and gloom” variety, and perhaps some folks think that life cannot possibly be that bad — that it must be a negative reflection on me that I don’t have more positive things to talk about.
Well perhaps so, or maybe it’s just a natural consequence of taking those rose-colored glasses off and looking at life the way it really is instead of the way we wish it were.
Thoreau wisely defended building castles in the air, saying “your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” It seems to me that too many people these days are content to leave everything up in the air sans foundation, and are surprised when it lands on their heads.
Is the glass half empty or half full?
It’s a question that is supposed to tell you something about the responder — optimist or pessimist? But it’s really no conundrum. The answer is simple. It’s half empty if you are drinking out of it, and half full if you are pouring into it. And if it’s truly static, then the midpoint is cognitively a point where the glass is both half empty and half full. There is no right or wrong answer — just a statement of fact.
So — is the world half crazy or half sane?
I’ve been writing about a lot of crazy stuff for the past 10 years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of sanity all around us, too. Good people do good things every day, but unfortunately it seems like they have less and less effect, too. And unlike that glass of water, it doesn’t much matter whether the world is half crazy or half sane. Either proposition is a losing one, even if you could prove the unlikely postulate that the world is becoming better, not worse.
Think about it: Would you rather live in a world that is half sane or half crazy? Neither one, right? The only place to live happily is a place where right and wrong are not guesses, but absolutes — where rational people can agree that certain truths are self-evident — where those eternal truths are the secure foundation built under the lofty castle of “justice and magnanimity. ”
I suppose that’s why I keep clamoring each week, unwilling to shut up and take it. Because although I suspect our half-sane world is soon going to be more than half crazy, there’s a small part of me that still has that gosh-darn hope against hope that America can still be restored to the principles on which it was founded.
When it comes to principle, there is no such thing as half right, anymore than you can be half a virgin. Principles are not fungible. You cannot trade one principle in for two half-principles, yet that, it seems to me, is exactly what modern America has sought to do, looking for the least common denominator of the principles handed down to us by our founders and our forefathers before them. Thus, over time, Jefferson’s grand phrase, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” becomes shriveled down to “granted by an act of Congress. ”
Perhaps this willful blindness, this rejection of right and wrong, is what caused God to declare in the Book of Revelation: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. ’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
hat, as much as anything, sums up modern America, doesn’t it? Pitiful, blind and naked, yet so consumed with the image of its own riches, its own self-sufficiency, its own cocksure immortality, that it fails to see the nearness of its doom.
But maybe, if the glass is half full, that’s the good news.
Frank Miele is the editor of The Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana, www.dailyinterlake.com. ©2014 The Daily Inter Lake. Reprinted with permission.