Marry the Idea
And live with and Through it Till Death do you part
Perhaps, in certain unexplainable ways, our ideas are like mental toys that keep us from feeling lonely. After that initial meeting and getting to know you process I talked about earlier, and the “falling in love” with an idea experience, it only makes sense to marry the idea, to exchange un-losable rings symbolizing the merger of the self into and with the idea.
Within that merging experience could the idea find physical life? Could the words that give it intellectual shape become, in a functional sense, flesh? Does that experience, thus described, help us to understand those people willing to die, and in some cases, kill, as an act of faithfulness to the idea? Is that what thinkers in the Western Middle Ages meant by being possessed?
Or, perhaps, the better question is, can we avoid living out what we believe? What else governs our choices…and what else can confuse us but a struggle between conflicting ideas?
After all, our history is full of stories that point to that experience. Saints in the Catholic tradition follow Jesus to their own cross. Buddha leaves his long meditation to walk with those who follow him; who want to model their lives after him.
Moses takes guidance from a burning bush and Mohammed is directed to find a new Faith.
And what about the rest of us? Isn’t finding “our calling” a combination personal mission and goal that promises us our true fulfillment?
We applaud that experience when it fits into our culturally common experience, when it brings an individual to the kind of life we all admire.
When it manifests itself as a criminal, or worse, a terrorist we react with complex clusters of fear, anger, rage, despair, helpless, and perhaps most pervasive, a sense of incomprehension. We cannot make any sense of it; it doesn’t fit our understanding of how we are supposed to be; it is not the way real human beings act.
We are never surprised at our surprise….we never question our own confusion. This is our common reaction, despite our knowing, cognitively, that our human history is replete with similar stories of mayhem and madness dressed in the uniform of promised glory and salvation.
“Cognitively”, is the key word. When we have a cognitive understanding we know the meanings of the words that describe a situation. When the understanding moves to a visceral one, our emotions become a more active participant in our response. If what we are grappling with is too repugnant we feel sick, and push it back to a cognitive closet. A head ache is bad, but a stomach ache is worse.
next time: our relationship to ideas and things