In the furor of the few days after the election, political rants from both sides were spewed out on social media covering the mind of those unfortunate to read the crazed material like a coating of bile spewed forth by the vilest of drunkards who has been imbibing of the noxious of liquors. One very admirable fellow in my timeline just answered each and every piece of mental vomitous with a tweet or post that simply said: “Read Montaigne.” Indeed the philosopher and essayist about whom Nietzsche once said “That such a man has written, joy on earth has truly increased. If my task were to make this earth a home, I would attach myself to him ” would seem to offer some words and thoughts that might give pause to some of the hateful Absolutely Convinced diatribes that have occurred since November 8th. Unfortunately, the moronic diarrhea of the mind and the mouth has continued unabated, so I thought I might examine some Montaigne’s thoughts and ideas and provide if nothing else a brief respite from that is shat forth as dialogue these days.
Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
This one simple phrase holds much of the world’s woes within its grasp. People grasp onto beliefs and values that are unproven at best and pure evil at worst. They insist that they know these things to be among the higher truths but have not spent so much as a minute researching it. One of the best news items I have seen is when Jesse Waters of Fox News will ask ardent supporters of a particular candidate if they agree with their candidates positions on certain issues. He will then present the opposition’s views on wide range of topics and attribute to the individuals chosen favorite. 100% of the time they not only believe it but support it with all their heart and soul. These folks have not even taken the time to read their candidates’ positions on the important issues of the day but swill with their dying breath they are the only hope for their world and call you 16 kinds of a fucking moron if you aren’t voting the way they think you should.
If you are going to talk to me about medical issues, read a medical book or 10 first. Should you wish to advise me on tax policies, have some clue how the tax code and enforcement process works. Before telling me which economic policies will save the world have a basic grasp of how economics and business work. Before you passionately support some belief or cause and have the effrontery to insist everyone else share it with you, have some fucking clue about what you are proclaiming.
I speak the truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older.
In reality, very little truth is told today. To tell the pure, unvarnished truth is to invent ridicule and rebuke. Like the philosopher, I find that as I age, I care less about those things and think a little truth telling is good for the soul. Even if it is just my soul that feels better. So, to wit, some truths:
I do not own my fellow citizens one fucking thing except the courtesy to leave them alone, so they can live their lives as they see best.
Whatever God exists does not give a fuck about who wins a football game, I am pretty sure She is a baseball fan but has the wisdom only to interfere when it’s the Cubs in game 7.
The government cannot help you.
There is scant evidence that any one religion is better or worse than another.
Your children are not better looking and smarter than every other kid.
Your shit does, in fact, stink.
You do not know best. Neither does Father.
Taxes are merely a government endorsed form of armed robbery.
The Pope looks ridiculous in those shoes.
Pure democracy is a vile form of government that leads inevitably to some malignant form of socialism.
The Boston Red Sox signing Chris Sale is proof that evil exists and flourishes in the world.
Formal political parties are a cancer on a free society.
An excess of political correctness is an advanced form of idiocy.
And so on and so forth.
Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
I confess that religion troubles me greatly and along with the IRS is one of the few things I fear in this life. People in the grasp of religion can justify any foul act, or cruel measure as they insist is suits the purpose of their all-knowing and all-powerful God. In the name of this loving being, their forefathers invented out of necessity and fear of the unknown people will kill anyone who does not share their desperate beliefs. We rely on the crutch of religion to carry us through the troubled times when it might be best if we got off our knees and worked for a solution but praying is easier it seems. Having a divine reason to insist everyone else thinks and acts as we do is so much better than admitting that we are close minded ass hats who cannot embrace different thoughts and opinions.
I am pretty sure there is some being, deity or great intelligence behind this miracle we call like. There is too much order, sprinkled with exactly the right amount of disorder to encourage growth to think otherwise. I am just not arrogant enough to suggest I know what he./She/It looks like or the name of the force involved. I do not know the grand purpose or meaning if it all. I do know that by considering the act of sex, the process of defecation and the fact that men have nipples whoever created all this has a fabulous sense of humor.
It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.
I will take this one step farther and say that it should be brains that do not always agree with us. At times it should be with someone who disagrees with every single thought and belief we have so our own may be tested. Spending all of our time talking with only those who believe as we do limits us from understanding the world we live. To learn you must be willing to entertain the notion that you are wrong. Of course you will have to learn to interact with the modern method of discourse which appears to involve beating the living shit of those who do not share your point of view in favor of a nice discussion over some wine and cheese but it is still a worthwhile endeavor to engage with some who thinks differently even if you do not get the pleasure of knocking their fucking teeth out.
There were many terrible things in my life, and most of them never happened.
We all worry about things, and we are all morons for doing so much of the time. Being afraid of what might happen and what could happen to the point of paralysis is mankind’s favorite pointless activity it seems to me. Anxiety is rampant in our society, and it really should not be. We have little to no control what particular brand of shit the universe will throw at us on a given day, but we can control how we react to events. If it isn’t going to kill you, you can deal with it. If it kills you, you will no longer give a shit.
When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
This has been the case for as long as I can remember. Mine was not a happy house to grow up in much of the time, and I escape the shattered crockery, the sister who was medivaced on a regular basis, my mom’s’’ propensity for affairs, fathers drunken absence and other childhood moments via books. I lived in the world of knights and astronauts, kings and philosophers, wizards and villains and other times and places just by the mere act of opening a book. The one thing I will always be grateful to my mother for, as many differences as we had in life, is that she encouraged us to read and instilled a love of reading in all of us. It was not until much later in life that I understood that she had hidden from the darkness of her own childhood in books and wanted to be sure that we were all able to do the same.
Whatever measure of success I have had in life is a result of this love of reading. I taught myself how to think, how to invest, how to write, how to cook a meal and just about everything else I know today by reading. My moral center or lack thereof comes from reading the thoughts and ruminations of great minds like Jack Schaeffer, Robert Parker, and Louis L’Amour along with Rand, Friedman, Twain, as well as a host of others. Whatever I am reading made me and continues to make me.
Even today when things get too much, or I just want to relax and not think about taxes, elections, protests, executive orders, resurgent New York Yankees, high-frequency trading, the rise of the robots and other evils of the day I turn to books to free my mind and relax my soul. When asked my favorite hobby I always reply reading but more than a hobby it something close to the center of my existence.
By the way, you can substitute the word baseball for books in Montaigne’s quote and have a great truth staring you in the face as well. Baseball was the other great escape of my childhood, and my love of the game remain unabated today. 3 hours or so of watching a good game can realign the whole world. I often combine books and baseball by watching the game over the top of my book and hours spent in this manner are pure bliss.
There is indeed much to learn in Montaigne’s words and thoughts, so much so that we cannot cover them all today. Doubtless we shall return to the subject at some future date, but for now, I leave you a parting thought:
Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee