Sunday, July 13, 2014
No, I can't change my goals for someone else's cause
There certainly have been some changes in my perceptions and priorities in all the years since my “retirement” from my long IT career.
I’m more aware than I was in the past of the influence of luck on people’s lives, and on the possibilities that enormous changes on our way of life can be forced on us. Call that “purification” if you like, the idea has been with us since 9/11.
Indeed, a personal and public set of ethics depending on “personal responsibility” – anchoring “individual sovereignty” or “personal autonomy” -- all depends on a society and economy that works for those who play by the rules. Indeed, for most of my adult working life – really, all of it – it did work. But I’m certainly aware that it doesn’t or hasn’t for everyone, and that includes those whom I tend to “reject” as potentially personally important.
In the past decade or so, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback, some of it unwelcome or unsolicited, over the years on what should or can be “expected” of someone in my position. I’ll go into some of this feedback in more detail soon on one of my new Wordpress blogs.
I realize that I came out of the “big layoff” after 9/11 better than a lot of people (ING was rather generous with those over 55). And I came out of my mother’s passing at the end of 2010 rather well, at least on paper, despite some years that were trying. I also know that those who don’t “give back” within a reasonable timeline can lose it, or have it yanked away. Yes, some of the “revolutionary” rhetoric of the far Left came to my ears early in my adult life, including talk of “expropriation,” and the memory traces of all that talk stick.
I have, since the mid 1990s, pursued a “second career” as a journalist and media person. Yes, it’s amateurish. Yes, I stick my neck out, and possibly tug on people associated with me and drag them into an unwanted limelight. But there’s really no going back. I cannot stop what I did (requiring “devil’s advocacy” and “objectivity” as part of punditry) and simply become a huckster for someone else’s cause, no matter how compelling that need or opportunity may sound to others. And, true, I don’t have time to respond to a lot of the pleas I hear.
It’s true, my capacity for “relationships” is somewhat limited, both by my “selectivity”, dependence idealistic fantasy, and by my lack of personal competitiveness. I stand alone, and I can be vulnerable, to accidents, to natural disaster, or to wrongful or violent or indignant behavior from others. Inequality, which has helped me in recent years, now presents risk. The buck will stop with me, sometimes, and others who work with me in the future probably have to know that. I have to have my own affairs working before I can help anyone else. There isn’t much negotiation on that.
What about faith? I sometimes find myself personally repelled by religious calls to “surrender all” and become the “Lord’s” or anyone else’s servant. That parallels the issues early in my life, how my own use of my own talents (music) would be balanced against what others wanted to demand of me (gender conformity). I understand the need for Salvation by Grace, partly because the world is an unequal place and unfortunate for some; the Gospels, as I understand them, did not promise political or social equality that we expect today. Instead, the Gospels mediated personal attitudes about social relations in a way that makes consideration of equality through the political process possible (more likely than in other religions, perhaps).
I think that modern physics and cosmology really does necessitate an afterlife, in which time and space act in ways unknown to us while we live our earthly lives. But I don’t see the idea of “heaven” as if is often presented (even in “near-death” experiences) as relevant to me. Reincarnation, starting over at the bottom in another society, maybe on another planet, could make sense. The law of karma certainly holds.
Just one other thing right now. The word “coward” today seems to have taken on a different meaning than it had when I was growing up, when you didn’t get to choose your circumstances or even your course in life.
True, my own experience with the military draft and deferment system in my day (and the idea that it was an essential part of Cold War deterrence) did affect my own moral perceptions. There was a saying with the drill sergeants in Army Basic Combat Training, "That's the breaks" (with the f-word). Sometimes you own your own breaks. Life sometimes come knocking on your door.