Tuesday, August 28, 2018
John McCain: "a cause ... that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone"
Let’s take a moment to contemplate one of John McCain’s inevitable epigrams, listed here.
“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.”
Well, by definition, anything defined by my existence alone that did not reach others, that others did not hear, would be worthless. That’s like saying you can’t see the rest of the universe if it moves away too fast (expands faster than the speed of light). The marketplace gives some hint to this. If others don’t pay for your content (at least indirectly through ads) you have to wonder if you meet anyone’s needs.
But does these needs have to be up close and personal? Is music alone a "cause"?
McCain stayed with things in the Vietnam war because he thought it was absolutely catastrophic for the country to lose the war (“as a road game”) even if it had not been correct to get into it at first. He felt similarly about George W. Bush going into Iraq (to eliminate Saddam Hussein).
I do remember that in December 2010 he asked tough questions on removing “don’t ask don’t tell” from the military, before the final bill to repeal – because he did come from old school values about unit cohesion, which had gradually evolved with younger generations. He also came around to supporting the service of properly qualified transgender members.
There is an ethical problem – of responding to people when the goals you have been pursuing as chosen by “you” no longer seem acceptable to others or to meet their more pressing needs. It is very important to me to follow my own mission, to pursue goals I have set for myself. But to some extent, the appropriateness of goals depends on the outside world and sometimes ideas that were acceptable and even favored no longer are as permissible. We see the world moving away from valuing individually crafted speech and favoring action, even joining up, even breaking down social barriers of propriety, as the results of inequality, and the vulnerabilities inequality leaves, even when viewed at the group (or intersectional) level becomes more pressing. This is somewhat the “skin in the game” problem of Nicholas Taleb. It is very difficult for me to accept, if coerced to do so, the “lifting up” personally of someone whom I would have disapproved in the past. Yet that is a benefit I have accepted from others in the past.