Living Together

It’s Sunday morning and while almost everybody else here seems to go to church and engage in passionate all-day chanting of honey-sweet hymns, I’m sitting at the breakfast table, staring at what just a moment ago was a white piece of paper and contemplate some seemingly important matter in the mirror of my mind. I’ve had more than my usual share of interactions with the cohorts of my own species over the last couple months, living as we are in the populous metropolis of Savusavu, where self-centered cruising folks step off their fancy yachts in drones and walk past the local folks without even flinching, and diligently engaging as we are in the social and communal affairs of our newest hometown. That all comes to mean that I’ve also heard more than my usual share of small talk and predestined conversations, mingling on a daily basis with pretentious denizens of all shapes and shades, and with a slither of sadness I have to note a blatantly obvious tendency towards the deliberate denigration of our own, towards a daily feast of slinging mud by the fistful at the rest of our own kind.
I was never quite sure where this strange and rather brawny idea might have originated. How have we come to imagine that by talking badly about other people we might enhance the value of our own personalities, is a bit of a far stretch, if you look at it from a distance. Why should declarations like: ‘Oh, this guy is such a jerk!’ or ‘These fucking people over there are so goddamn stupid!’ be anything else but self-defamatory and revelations of a dazed intelligence? Unfortunately we seem to be expressing these kinds of emotions quite frequently nowadays, screaming them from each and every corner along the wildly winding road of our lives. We’re proud to be absolutely brilliant at trashing our neighbors with that raspy macho voice and steamrolling our very own brothers and sisters with passionate disdain. It can only mean that by demoting them to being sloshed about in a bottomless pit of human waste and misery I’m hoping to remain seated towards the upper end of things myself without having to sweat the real struggle of refining my wicked self. Quite obviously, this can only work on a relative scale. By comparing myself to the lowest of the low, to the scummiest of the scumbags, and quickly forgetting that it was me who had just a minute ago placed them there and labeled them as such, I’m able to elevate myself by looking downwards and by ignoring what’s further up. I know I’m talking rose colored fiction here, but wouldn’t it be braver and certainly nobler to force my gaze upwards to more inspiring models and examples that live above my level of perfection? Of course I must take care to avoid any form of admiration, and it is essential that I actively work to reach their level of completeness soon, by tomorrow or shortly after that.
Is there a way that I can teach the image that looks back at me from the reflecting surface of the mirror a few new tricks? Could it quietly look over my shoulder with permanent vigilance while I go about doing my daily things and then pinch me firmly whenever I’m doing wrong? These shitheads I’m spitting on with demonstrated disgust, these primitive idiots I lean on to gain importance, and these hopeless bastards I distance myself from are after all of my own kind, with 100% matching DNA. Herein lies the simple reason why it is so necessary to love our enemies if we wish to breed peace in this world, Christ most certainly got that much right. But how can we talk about these things of the moral kind without falling in precisely the same kind of trap? These are all but ideas about how things should be that might distract me from seeing things as they are. So unfortunately I don’t think I can work this all through for you any longer. The sun has broken through the rain outside and the birds are singing and soaring in gleaming shafts of light. A cleansing mist clings to the wooded ridges behind the calm waters of the bay, and it lingers on. The human sphere with its many quirks and its intrinsic dilemma has been belittled once again by nature’s most exuberant and most gracious generosity. But then the wise men from the East have insisted in this for centuries and millennia when they humbly and almost silently pronounced: Comparison slumbers down there at the very root of evil.

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