Beacons and False Lights

Anger, as the Greeks believed, is far better than either hope or fear. Anger wakes us and stimulates us to think and see. Gratitude has a similar effect. Gratitude, for me is the exhilaration in all that is wonderful. It is not transitive, we do not have to be grateful to anyone or anything but it is rather at the same time both introspective and empathetic. It is the antidote to despair; the delight in being alive. It is empathetic too in recognising the same in others. It is the spring of love. These two emotions are not at odds with one another and co-exist in the same individual, even at the same time. Both are about now, about being more fully alive and aware. They are our guiding beacons.
Hope and fear paralyse us and keep us in either a complacent or a terrified stupor, drugged by the deceptions of others such as religion or the state. They are the wreckers’ false lights we must beware of and turn away from.
It has been anger and, at times, gratitude which has made me reach for the pen or the keyboard. I have been very fortunate in having an abundance of those most precious of helpers: time, solitude and patient and loyal friends to share my thoughts with.
I have also had a good supply of stupidity for my anger to feed upon. I do not, of course, relish stupidity just as something to make me productive: I despise it and want to see it defeated and rooted out.
Stupidity is global and takes varying forms.
The mindless, heartless corporate stupidity rampant in the West crushes the soul of the individual caught within its grasp. It is the senility of a dying organism, rigid with the arthritis of its own over-development; highly dependent yet demanding and still knowing how to pinch. It is soul destroying for those trapped within and, sadly, there seems little to do except wait for its break up and demise. It continues in its bluster and refuses to take any palliatives and come to terms with its own mortality. This is a great pity because the west, in its youth and middle age, did learn many hard lessons and they are lessons which humanity needs for its survival as humanity. It could teach, both by warning against the errors of its aged selfishness but also through the examples of what it has done right: the lessons it learned through its own victory against the evil of totalitarianism.
The other patient in the room, the so-called non-industrialised world represented by Indonesia and her ilk, is youthful, immature, trying to assert its power and adulthood and looking ridiculous and awkward in the process, as any spotty adolescent would. It is because Indonesia is a young country, which hopefully one day will grow up, that I have thrown in my lot with her. The stupidity of this part of the world is a wild, undisciplined recklessness. There is no point in being angry with the dying. There is a point to my anger here, though.
There is a terrible and imminent danger of the same fascism engulfing the world that my parents fought in Europe. It has a different name but it is undeniably the same monster and has the same fascination for an embittered youth searching for a simple exciting answer.
In the same way that fascism arose out of the injustices of Versailles, the new fascism that now threatens is a consequence of the neo-Malthusianism that provides the human fuel of the Anglo-Saxon neo-colonial project: the globalisation of goods and capital. Malthusian[1] society is inherently stupid. It is the stupidity of the death wish.
Everything about life in Indonesia seems designed to bring about early mortality. It is not just a result of poverty or lack of investment. It is a state of mind. In Europe funerals are slow, sedate processions filled with remembrance and regret. In Indonesia the hearses are designed for speed and fitted out with sirens and blue lights and preceded with motorcycle outriders waving yellow flags. Everyone seems positively enthusiastic about dying and being buried as quickly as possible.
It is possible, sometimes, to talk a suicide out of his design and that is why there is a point in being angry. That is why I am staying here.
Personally, I do not want to die. I do not want to waste my life in the pursuit of short-lasting sensual happiness. I have no idea whether my consciousness will survive death. There seems, in fact, very little objective evidence or reason that it should. I remain agnostic on the issue since it is impossible to provide categorical evidence that it won’t but it would be foolish in the extreme to base the way I live now on the possibility of an afterlife. It is the reason why the Greek philosophers regarded anger as real, immediate and useful whereas both hope and fear are deceptive, remote and promote cowardice and laziness.
Belief in an afterlife is essentially selfish and all religions are based on it one way or another. The only point, it seems to me, in being alive is to be useful; to have a purpose. The ultimate despair is the despair of being unnecessary and pointless.
Those who would ‘kill time’ and anaesthetise thought by either pleasure seeking or religious ritual are, in essence, ungrateful and do not cherish the best thing they have.