Only a Man

The popular notions of today suggest that we can do and be things by our own will. There is a strong belief, even amidst growing horrors around the world, that progress is always present and that the good things outweight the bad. There is a positivity running amok on billboards and in television commercials; slogans which promise wealth and status to anyone and everyone, despite the glaringly obvious distress that is rampant along the dirty streets that have been paved by leveraging the poor for our own privileged gain. It seems as if the hysteria of modern times has no limits and that the fantasies and fiction of contemporary propaganda is what people want to abide to when real-time events claim quite the reverse. To stand against the stream of the mob is to be an outcast; that unpopular naysayer who finds himself uninvited to the weekly festivities.

There is on one side the party, rife with smiles and laughs, celebrating the boon of having been born from a fortunate womb. On the other there is a very quiet outcry, quite muddled and buffered from deaf ears and blind eyes. Whatever care there is in the hearts of the privileged for the poor and destitute, it has never been enough and it will only get worse. Populations are rising and resources are dwindling, so what is this hubris all about, lauding with a stretched-out grin, that we should continue spending away and thinking only about ourselves? Our actions rarely reflect our attitudes, and our opinions are more a reflection of our wonderful facility to memorize than it is our personal attention to any noble cause. We have learned what to say and to ignore what we do, and there is no other choice to be had when the bills of tomorrow weigh always on our shoulders today.

The intention is not to spread a gloomy mist upon your afternoon read, or to criticize the would-be heroes and heroines from fighting the good fight. It is simply to cause a slowing down of your movements to a pace which recognizes how lost and uncontrollable current affairs truly are. It is not to replace smiles with frowns or degrade your positivity to the depths of Hades, but to make you ponder yourself and the impact you truly have as an individual in this world. The problem with individuality is that we always think we have more of it than is actually the case. There is a device in us which believes that (1) it is special and unique, and (2) it is endowed with an individual force which can, should it wish and choose, free it from the consequences of the greater majority. To what degree this is true, I dare say, it is very little.

For whatever reason there is, this immediate moment called ‘now’ has always been a successive step of the past, utterly connected to everything that had come before. It is not independent of the causes or factors or laws which made yesterday happen. We are walking on the same conveyer belt which had hosted our ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago, and the problems of then are the problems of today. There has been no progress on that dimension in our souls responsible for the health and vitality of our communities. Indeed, the magnification and multiplication of our populations and the complicated schemes which turn our techno-cultures round and round, have only worsened the situation to levels of hypocrisy worthy of notice by the gods behind the great veil.

Ask me for what is worth having and it is as much honesty as can be mustered. There is no need for anything but sobriety when the challenges of our day require deep contemplation and wholehearted actions. If the criticism be encouraged that a solution be presented, I say there is none to be had. The world is made up of gears and springs which run in a motion far beyond any under our control, and the only thing possible is a witnessing of how the whole thing continues to go on its way. Our reach has always been the measure of an arms-length and our results are quite accidental, so the the best that can be done is good efforts upon the back of noble ideas. Along the way and throughout the journey, a man can say he attempted to splash the soil with good seeds and to make an effort to be sober to the fact that he is, at the end of the day, only a man, and not a magician.

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