Human Endurance 2; Si se Puede
It is all too easy in blogland to be depressed by tales of overindulgence in negativity, by the pettiness of disputes and by the necessary parochialism of our lives. Only Christ ever lived for the whole world, after all, and a bleeding heart such as that of the saviour is not so much a matter of spiritual development as a cue for an angioplasty.
However, after a day spent lecturing on the seventeenth century's long political crisis, and its dislocation, its revolt against relativism and fundamentalism, its Muslim invasions and the way they gave a fillip to imperial powers who wished to hold allies in line, and the radical loneliness that Thomas Hobbes wanted to overcome, I feel like I want to just admire another human being. And there are so many to admire.
This world is full of people who get up in the morning against the odds and go to work in the dark and live out their precious lives and it is rare that anyone says anything about them. No one is going to limn my mother's long journey to another workplace for another workday at 6am, or the search of a man I don't know in Zimbabwe for mealie meal. No one is going to see how much effort it took a pal of mine to overcome an illness that would have killed others and just smile her beatific smile at it in defiance. No one is going to remember most of the people who died today or who were born. Few are going to broadcast or print tales of the inhabitants of this planet's 200 city-slums.
But people can do such things! I'm not ordinarily a sentimentalist. Like Grotius, I think that the basis of most secular morality, for states and individuals, is self preservation and I think that human beings are flawed and fallen creatures. I wish that people would be touched by the love of God but most aren't, and they know it. Much defiance and duty is mixed up with narcissism, and casual evil or the acceptance thereof is what law exists to restrain. It doesn't promote the good because often the good isn't evident and it would be driven out by the behaviour of most.
Take a look at the radical quality of that picture above, though. It appears in today's Daily Telegraph here and I can scarcely believe it to be true. Peng Shuilin was torn apart, literally, in 1995 by a truck accident in Shenzen. Now look at him.
Look too at the story of Oscar Pistorius below. Many of you might think that I'm just using their disabilities and their achievements to feel good about myself. I frankly don't care what you think, though there may be some substance in your observation. It is late and I am tired. I also refuse to call them disabled. They are amazing human beings and my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
Tell me a species that can do these things ought to be cowering in front of media pictures of debt, health and safety rules, nonsense fears of science and lunatic Islamic imperialists, and that climate change is going to defeat us.
Because we shouldn't and it isn't. So much of our culture, our spoiled, materialistic, semi pagan child-lacking western culture is riddled with fear and obedience. Have a look at these people and then respect them and then, well, just use their image and story and discover that self-preservation may indeed be a moral basis for the discovery of the humanity we all share and its capacities. Have a look at this big old good hearted loser getting beaten up and consider how much he wins when he loses in these films. It isn't how hard you hit, or how hard you get hit; its whether you get up and keep moving forward. That ape is us that is.