Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/12/17: Hurricane Reports, And Poor Charles M. Blow Needs A Vacation”

G.K. Chesterton (above), perspective, and most of all, optimism: Ryan Harkins’ Comment of the Day, prompted by the post Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/12/17: Hurricane Reports, And Poor Charles M. Blow Needs A Vacation, (about NYT columnist Charles Blow—the idiot– declaring today’s USA “Hell on Earth”)  has all of these, and wisdom too.

Here it is:

Okay, I tried to read the article, and I made it no further than Blow describing Trump’s America as the ninth circle of hell. When one strikes that level of hyperbole, it eradicates any credibility one might have possessed.

One of the greatest counters to depression and despair is an attitude of gratitude, something I truly see lacking in anything coming from the left. We have a great nation. We have great opportunities, and we have a culture that truly seeks – if sometimes in very strange, even damaging ways — to right wrongs and make life as fair as possible. If you look around the world, and if you look at just about any culture that existed since the dawn of history, you won’t find any people who have been so richly blessed as those in our country today. This is especially true when you consider the stability our nation has, and its lack of credible enemies that pose any existential threat to our nation. We can go about life assured that tomorrow will indeed be much like today.

Even in the face of hurricanes, we have much for which to be grateful. We have incredible technology that gives us quite a bit of advanced warning that the storms were coming. We have minimized death tolls in the face of these natural disasters, and we have a government willing to pour billions of dollars into rebuilding communities destroyed by the hurricanes. We have seen an incredible outpouring of generosity from the nation at large to help the hurricane victims (the Knights of Columbus alone raised $1.3 million). Yes, the devastation is traumatic, and yes people have lost livelihoods, all their possessions, and even family members. But this strikes against one very important aspect of life.

There is suffering in this world. All of us will be inflicted by it at one point in time or another. In our struggle against the natural evils of the world, we seem to be continually deluding ourselves (the right is guilty of this, too, but the left seems to be taking it to extremes) that we can create a true utopia here on earth. We seem to think we can become masters of the universal forces that dictate the weather, that dictate our biology, that dictate the inner workings of the universe itself. It is this delusion that leads us to see a President like Trump, or Obama, or any other president that has been disliked, as a major setback on the path to nirvana. Yet, there is a quote by G.K. Chesterton that we should all keep in mind (forgive the length, but I find it profound):

“For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important. We tend to forget how huge a part of a man’s life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate, under Nero or St Louis. Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance; food and friends will be welcomed; work and strangers must be accepted and endured; birds will go bedwards and children won’t, to the end of the last evening. And the worst peril is that in our just modern revolt against intolerable accidents we may have unsettled those things that alone make daily life tolerable. It will be an ironic tragedy if, when we have toiled to find rest, we find we are incurably restless. It will be sad if, when we have worked for our holiday, we find we have unlearnt everything but work. The typical modern man is the insane millionaire who has drudged to get money, and then finds he cannot enjoy even money. There is danger that the social reformer may silently and occultly develop some of the madness of the millionaire whom he denounces. He may find that he has learnt how to build playgrounds but forgotten how to play. He may agitate for peace and quiet, but only propagate his own mental agitation…

There is danger in that modern phrase ‘divine discontent’. There is truth in it also, of course; but it is only truth of a special and secondary kind. Much of the quarrel between Christianity and the world has been due to this fact; that there are generally two truths, as it were, at any given moment of revolt or reaction, and the ancient underlying truism which is nevertheless true all the time. It is sometimes worth while to point out that black is not so black as it is painted; but black is still black, and not white. So with the merits of content and discontent. It is true that in certain acute and painful crises of oppression or disgrace, discontent is a duty and shame could call us like a trumpet. But it is not true that man should look at life with an eye of discontent, however high-minded. It is not true that in his primary, naked relation to the world, in his relation to sex, to pain, to comradeship, to the grave or to the weather, man ought to make discontent his ideal; it is black lunacy. Half his poor little hopes of happiness hang on his thinking a small house pretty, a plain wife charming, a lame foot not unbearable, and bad cards not so bad. The voice of the special rebels and prophets, recommending discontent, should, as I have said, sound now and then suddenly, like a trumpet. But the voices of the saints and sages, recommending, contentment, should sound unceasingly, like the sea.”

9 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/12/17: Hurricane Reports, And Poor Charles M. Blow Needs A Vacation”

  1. Well done, Ryan.

    My take: the left seems to think they can cast aside all civil discourse, redefine fair play (not overall, but make it up depending on situation) and break laws. The end game is utopia, when we again have these things but in their image.

    What they don’t seem to get is that they showed how to break society, and those they oppress will use the same tactics against their utopia.

    You cannot enforce ethics with unethical means. You cannot break laws to enforce them.

  2. One of the most amazing fund raising efforts for Hurricane Harvey has been the one personally spearheaded by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

    He started it with $100,000 of his own money and a goal of raising $200,000.

    He just announced that the fundraising part will stop tomorrow after receiving more than 200,000 donations totaling over $32 million.

  3. Q. What is the meaning of your title “visual Op-Ed columnist” given that your Op-Ed columns have nothing to do with graphics? Do you do a little of this and a little of that? A. The short answer is that it means that I use visuals — specifically charts and maps — to support the thesis of my columns.

    I checked. No visuals. The 9th Circle, punishes the four major crimes of “Treachery,” which are, in order, murdering ones relatives, betraying ones political party, murdering ones guests, and Judas-like behavior toward ones masters or benefactors, leading to great historical and societal consequences.

    If we look at Dante’s map of Hell (which is not present to visually support his thesis, as are none of his graphics), then Blow is accusing either all American citizens (except undocumented ones, no doubt) or the President alone of killing “his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts;” betraying his masters (presumably Russian) and declaring all of us of guilty of treason; . . . but making one bizarre exception — the Republican Party itself being an innocent victim of all this vile earth-shattering treachery. Poor confused chart-less, map-less, thesis-less Mister Blow.
    In Memorium and Obituary for the Old New York Times

    I used to go to the corner store just before bedtime on Saturday nights, my banged-up but still serviceable Radio Flyer red wagon bouncing behind, to load up six issues of the early edition of the Sunday New York Times to deliver to customers (including my dad) around the block and across the street. Even a single paper was nearly too thick and heavy for a 12-year-old to handle and the burdened wagon lurched along instead of bouncing. Curbs were high; I eased the wagon down at both ends. I hauled each paper breathlessly up the front steps of my customers and found a way to ring the bell. I can’t remember quite how I did that, since the paper, (then 16 in. wide; now only 12) commanded the attention of both arms) but the idea of dropping it, or leaving it on the mat — unless there was a note on the front door saying to do just that — was unthinkable. If the man of the house wasn’t there, I wrestled the bundle down a hall and into the kitchen. I liked doing that. More times than not, I returned to the wagon munching on a specialty of the house, like Mrs. Miles’ fresh baked bread. When I got home, I kicked off my shoes and fell into bed, my last thoughts of the headlines I’d glimpsed on my Sunday round. (One of the prime arguments my mother made in favor of my quitting the newsie job – she wanted me to go be a file clerk in my uncle’s law office — anathema! — was that I didn’t brush my teeth on Sunday nights.)

    The Sunday issue, bought separately from the 10-cent subscription dailies, was 75 cents (that’s $7.73 today); a true luxury item, though it took about a week to read, if you wanted to make a thorough job of it. I was last to get hold of the sections, of course — and I never did get a look in at the crossword — but I did learn to make that thorough job of it. And I never doubted a word. I learned from that paper that the whole world was happening at the same time, and that one part of it influenced another, that all subjects were (sort of) equal and could be broken down into workable sections, that there was a butterfly effect of ideas, that the reasons for wars were multiple and often inscrutable, that things changed (like it or not); and that humor came in as many faces as I could make in the mirror and didn’t require any “funny papers.” I learned from that news-paper much that was true and valuable (for example, Brooks Atkinson, whose reviews I would save to read only after seeing the show and writing short reviews of my own, taught me a great deal about good criticism of all performing arts, and often of human nature, not just of theater). Wherever I roamed for the following 65-some years, I would find a current copy and pay dearly for it and be satiated with information.

    Herewith, in order to hold such memories intact, and preserve the beneficial effects of Ryan Harkins’ Comment of the Day, I lay The New York Times-that-was to rest, in order that it may not be poisoned by association with the present-day “NYT” that is now dead to me. R.I.P.

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