It seems that my awkward friend may be right. I really can’t think of any brand of idealism that does not, implicitly at least, condemn all competitors. So, how “reasonable” is that?
And, here now, I find myself in the unfortunate dilemma of wanting to both pursue and promote my own ideals and, yet, somehow protect your right to yours – collectively speaking (which, I must concede, seems to be buggering up my life on a daily basis). Oh, what to do? Hadn’t we best commence with the condemnations? Well, perhaps, in due time.
This discussion began, after all, in the consideration of one individual’s (Ferenc Máté) published rant in favor of what many would define as “voluntary simplicity”. Just how “voluntary” it might be in many such minds is, of course, open to question. As a springboard to this discussion, however, Máté’s book (A Reasonable Life), serves as well as any, perhaps better than most.
Truthfully, I really don’t disagree with all that many of Máté’s arguments. My own idealistic vision might be considered to be a kissing cousin of his, sort of like the American & French revolutions. And, despite the risk of devolving too quickly into the arena of political philosophy, it may be worth noting that my own semi-libertarian-paleo-conservative perspective, while leaning towards the pragmatic, still begs the question “toward what end do we travel this road?”
In this regard, then, any hope we might have for a successful marriage between “reasonable” and “idealism” had best be prepared to defend the proposition that, however correct our ideal might be, we had better be willing to let others discover for themselves just how tragically wrong their own happens to be. And, tragic it may well be, if by “ideal” what we really mean is the “moral imperative” of the universe.
Sadly, we find ourselves contending with those that would put almost anything (recycling and vegetarianism come to mind) squarely in that context. I had to laugh at one (Amazon.com) reader review of A Reasonable Life that asserted that this book should “be required reading for the Republican Party”. This notion, of course, would appear to suggest the reader’s belief in the inherent reasonableness of, perhaps, one half of today’s American political discourse.
For myself, at least, I might be inclined to rely on only one “moral imperative” here, and that is that I reserve the right to shoulder the entire burden of understanding the purpose and means of living my own life. While I respect (and often appreciate) the help of others in this endeavor, I’ll not lightly brook attempts to restrain my efforts. It is my hope that “My Reasonable Life” will not unduly burden yours, kindly return the favor.
Merry Christmas to all.
“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.” -Thomas Jefferson.