by Frances Quaempts-Miller
Towards the end of British author Douglas Murray’s latest book The Madness of Crowds is a call to find significance beyond politics:
“One of the ways to distance ourselves from the madness of our times is to retain an interest in politics but not to rely on it as a source of meaning. The call should be for people to simplify their lives and not mislead themselves by devoting their lives to a theory that answers no questions, makes no predictions and is easily falsifiable. Meaning can be found in all sorts of places. For most individuals it is found in the love of the people and places around them: in friends, family and loved ones, in culture, place and wonder. A sense of purpose is found in working out what is meaningful in our lives and then orienting ourselves over time as closely as possible to those centres of meaning. Using ourselves up on identity politics, social justice and intersectionality is a waste of a life.”
Murray ends his book arguing, “To assume that sex, sexuality, and skin colour mean nothing would be ridiculous. But to assume that they mean everything will be fatal.”
In the last year and a half my wife and I have lost six loved ones, including two grandmothers last month, only three weeks apart. Between us we have lost three grandparents, a cousin, an aunt, and my father. Ours has been a house of grieving that has prompted both of us to re-examine what has brought us a sense of purpose and what we need to focus our energies on in the future. After spending not just years but decades fighting for equality, it has become clear, with so much death, that such supposed noble efforts have only rendered a more broken heart in a more broken world.
At the age of fourteen I went to my first protest to express concern for the United States involvement in El Salvador. At the time, I didn’t really know what our country was doing wrong but I did know that the exhilaration of marching in the middle of the street, after the police told us through their bullhorns not to, while yelling various slogans repeatedly, was intoxicating. All my frustration with whatever complications life had thrown my way dissolved instantly. Suddenly I was a part of something bigger than myself while believing my actions and those of the other protesters were on “the right side of history” (see 1B. The Psychic Historian on the list of Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions). For a somewhat shy teenager, I was instantly transformed by that march into a powerful person. Continue reading