Fragile and Fantastic
Updated: May 5, 2021
The historical record is an immense collection of moments in time. In comparison, the moment of the individual life is unbelievably brief. One would assume the realization of life's brevity would instinctively evoke humility, but it does not. We forget the past too quickly and have little or no consideration for future consequences living our lives in the ambiance of our own inflated ego.
This is not to say that humanity is not a phenomenal thing because it is. It is such a wondrous thing that only pagan fundamentalism could bring the ethical vegan and environmental extremist to elevate all other creation above it.
We are not perfect; we are flawed; we are an amalgam of contradictions; we are human.
Humanity is both fragile and fantastic. To quote Blaise Pascal “Man is a reed, the weakest of nature, but he is a thinking reed. It is not necessary that the entire universe arm itself to crush: a vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than what kills him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage that the universe has over him, the universe knows nothing”
See, fragile and fantastic, yet regardless trials, troubles, and vicissitudes we persist.
Through the epochs of time our climate has undergone changes, some cycles shorter than a year, others decades, and still others longer than centuries. Countless genocides, wars, famines, pestilences, diseases, and droughts (far exceeding those recorded in our few history books) have plagued the planet. Still, humanity perdures despite its arrogance, philosophical insanity, and predilection for self-destruction. We even rise above.
The people of Israel irrigated the desert into a tropical fruit garden. In arctic cold and sweltering heat modern technology affords comfort and ease. Even the ancient challenge of spatial distance has been conquered. To get from one side to the other bridges have been built to span unbelievable chasms and when the expanse has proved too great for the bridge, humanity burrowed underneath or took flight.
When the population exceeded space, new space was explored. The Europeans sailed beyond the British Isles and the Mediterranean to populate the Americas. The descendants of those settlers blazed a trail to the west and gained even more territory. One may argue the ethics of past behavior or even charge those bygone pioneers with crimes, but one cannot deny what they did or that it happened. Every adversary who forced humanity’s hand has been met with resistance and resilience. Every difficulty was overcome through tenacity, ingenuity, and invention--granted not every action was ethical nor right.
Humanity’s progress often outpaces its wisdom and morality. In the past men brandishing swords and shields that barely exceeded their arm’s span. So, on the battlefield soldiers formed opposing lines, faced one another, and then charged to attack. With the advent of gun and cannon, one would also expect strategic innovation, but as stated wisdom rarely keeps pace with invention. In America's Civil War soldiers of the north and south wielding guns and mortars faced each other as in former times turning Gettysburg into an epic blood bath.
Human intellect has been a dynamic influence throughout history often turning destruction and division upon itself. For example, after positive progress in the competition for gender equality, the premise of gender as being only a social construct became the new narrative and with this the assertion of 86 different genders. In a moment feminism saw its gains erased as men, now appropriating the female gender, took the forefront.
Voices that once condemned misogyny and racism now stoke the coals of these same evils making ludicrous claims that defy logic fueling even greater division. “The roadways of Great Britain are infected with misogyny.” “Professionalism, perfectionism, and individualism are rooted in white supremacy.” “Racism is physically built into the highways of the United States.” These assertions are made to listeners who nod in agreement never requiring even the slightest standard of logic to be met. The ancient Greeks had a saying: 'Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first drive mad." And yet, humanity remains.
All good people would love to eradicate inequality, but it will always be with us because that is the nature of reality and the consequence of our sinful selves. Despite the weight of a thousand philosophies and the ongoing effort of even more restrictive laws, inequality ever remains.
Paradoxically, equality of rights and value does not imply equality of ability or results. My philosophy will never rise to the level of Rousseau, Kant, Spinoza, or Kierkegaard. My pen will never bleed with the beauty of Dickens, Shakespeare, or Alexandre Dumas. My music will never bring the listener to tears nor my preaching inspire like Edwards or Spurgeon--nor theirs like Luther's. Human potentiality is vastly limited.
I may not like it, but I am me and as such, I am “less than” and “greater than” every other individual in numerous ways. We are all unequal to each other. The great injustice and lie of post-modernity is the lie of egalitarianism and the false hope of equivalency. Such uniformity does not exist. It cannot be found even within the boundaries of one's own gender or biological family.
Understandably the default response to this proposition is to reject it, and why not? It destroys our unfounded optimism and evaporates our primitive naivety. We don't want this to be true. It makes us angry. Being our own gods, we prefer to live in the radiance of ourselves basking in the supremacy of our own anointed egos.
We are incredible creatures of contradiction--biological wonders of glorious inconsistency. Genius, sin, ignorance, kindness, and compassion have flourished throughout the whole of history among all peoples. In the very moment, we celebrate our goodness and nobility we see our evil and inexpressible cruelty. We are both fragile and fantastic.
One day time will end and when finally, the last page is written it will be discovered that all of us, notwithstanding place or time, have been both good and evil, victim and victor no more or no less than all other humans. The dividing into races, classes, behaviors, and +2 genders have been the cruelest of all social constructs and the most acrimonious influence of modern times. Behind the façade of our fake identity groups and tribal loyalties, we are all human.
We fight, we embrace, we hate, we love, we kill, we give life, we rebel, we acquiesce, we categorize, and marginalize but not just now and not just under the umbrella of post-modernity--this is the whole catalog of human behavior. The perseverance of mankind is nothing less than miraculous when you realize our survival is not a survival of the fittest, but the survival of the least fit, and the only explanation for our perpetuity is the infinite mercy and marvelous grace of God.