Failed Revolution

I find it a little ironic that rational thinking, the golden child of The Enlightenment, became a kind of Godfather of democracy. After all, it was rational thinking—logic and proof—that said you could be right not because you were the king or the pope but because you could demonstrate a truth based upon known facts. Just like that, we were on our way from a monarchy to a meritocracy, where we would be judged by our deeds and not our birth. The polls are open! I find this ironic because one of the great lessons freedom teaches us is that everyone should pursue their own happiness, and that happiness has no logic whatsoever. Just ask a writer. Why does someone like a story? Because he likes it. Why does someone write a story? Because she wants to write it. You can talk about tension, or romance, or humor, but in the end you write what you write because you want to write it, and you read what you read because you want to read it. The reasons end there.

Very unsatisfying in a way. After all, we clawed our way to this freedom place by the power of reason only to find we have a little king or queen within us whose only explanation for why we should do something is, “Because I said so!” Where’s the freedom in that? We could try rebelling. We could summon our Minute Men of Reason and say, “I will write based upon the market, for I want to make money because I need money to eat and live, and so I will look at the known facts and that is what I will do because I am rational.”

This revolution is doomed to fail. Your victory will be short lived. You will wind up a kind of dictator, filling your empire with Rules for Success because rules are rational, and if you follow them you will succeed and be safe. And when you don’t succeed, you will make new rules, or scrap all the old ones and find new ones. And when you still don’t succeed you will blame the rest of world that is conspiring against you and your kindly regime.

We should always have compassion for kings and queens. Monarchy was our idea to begin with, after all. At some point, we all obey what we don’t understand. At some point, we all kneel down to love, whose wisdom, we are happy discover, defies all reason.

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