So, lately, per the Art of Manliness‘ suggestion, I’ve been trying to write a manifesto.  No, not a crazy ranting about how the government is stealing my thoughts which is why I wear my tinfoil hat (though they totally are and I totally do), but this kind of manifesto.  I don’t know that it will actually be a public declaration, but it will be a declaration that I’ll read and think about (putting pen to paper always makes something more real to me, which is why I prefer to write stuff out first and then post it to the Intertubes, even on this site).

It’s more difficult than I thought it would be, mostly because I want to start with a value or ideal that I hold for which I would be willing to die.  “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.  While I think that’s true, I’m not sure I have a conviction that I hold that deeply.  I used to.  That’s disturbing.

Itinerant Intolerance and I were discussing this conundrum (and ideology in general) and have been for some time.  One of the points of discussion is that perhaps part of the world’s problems right now is that there are too many ideologies clamoring for attention, support, and action.  While this may be true (I’m not wholly convinced of the validity of this argument for a number of reasons), it does not imply that there aren’t ideologies or values that aren’t worth having, it’s just that they’re difficult to identify among so many voices.

Also, I’m not saying that I’m living in direct opposition to King’s quote.  I have a list of things i would gladly lay my life down for, but they’re not abstracts.  They’re people.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not exactly a guiding principle, either.  I extrapolated that arguably, I could be willing to die for “love of others,” but I’m not sure if that’s true.  If I were, then I’d be dead by now from going and doing something ridiculous heroic.

I guess a part of it is just that the things I used to hold as true and admirable aren’t necessarily things that I think can be applied at all times.  I’m for basically all of the individual rights as laid out in the U.S. Bill of Rights, but there are limits to them (Justice Holmes springs to mind, as do rudimentary gun control laws).  I could make an argument that logic and rationality will be what I want to be my guiding principles, but I’m not a Vulcan or a computer, and emotion isn’t inherently something bad or to be shunned.  So…yeah…it’s a lot harder than I thought (at least the first, arguably most important one.  I’ve got several other things that I’m including, but they’re not ideologies).

Feel free to list your guiding principles or a guiding principle or something you think would be a good one or whatever if you wanna.


2 Responses to “Writing”

  1. ethanfenichel Says:

    “I’m not sure I have a conviction that I hold that deeply. I used to.” Is that true or is it that your convictions are not being challenged in a way that you once perceived them to be? I think that is partly maturity, right? You understand what is worth fighting for and in American society, there is so much opportunity for non-violent negotiations that violence should be a rare necessity. If you lived in Syria you might feel differently. There were many Americans in the 20th century who ran off to other countries to fight these sorts of wars in which the USA was not directly involved. I don’t think that we believe it is still admirable to do that as a society because we’ve seen non-violence work again and again. I think in a safe environment, it easy to cheapen life because there is little risk. As you’ve gotten older and more mature, you probably are realizing how valuable it is.

    I remember during hurricane Isabel you asked me if I believed in truth and we spoke about what it means to be a good person. I wonder if you could define that prior to what it means to be a man because I believe that you’ll struggle for any meaningful differences. My basic assumption is that if you start with the assumption that being a man gives you no inherent, non-biological differences from a woman, you’re left only with relative truths and societal norms. I’m interested to hear how you feel differently.

    Sorry for the rant but I do feel you’ve been inviting it. That said, I always look forward to your blogs!

  2. justamusician Says:

    Ethan, I’m really glad you posted this, and I think you raised some interesting points. That being said, I don’t feel this was exactly the place for this particular discussion to occur. As a result, I’ll gladly e-mail you about it and we can keep talking there, but I think you maybe took some thoughts from other posts and got a little off the intended topic of this particular post. Thanks for reading, and you’re one of the people whose comments I often look forward to because you put things in lights I wouldn’t have thought to otherwise.

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