Thomas Jefferson, Ursula Le Guin, and Collective Rebirth

 

Reading a novel by Ursula Le Guin, I think, not only is she a joy to read, in so many ways, but she refused to give in to a culture and a society that is, frankly, deeply lost. 

I think of something Thomas Jefferson said, “In matters of fashion, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Ursula Le Guin would understand that. 

(And yes, the morally bankrupt, or simply spineless and snivelling, will point fingers at Jefferson; but Jefferson, despite his faults, was a true leader, who helped to catapult us above and beyond our limits of the time, to a higher, though still far from perfect plane. And for that, he stands in general, many leagues above his rather petty and small-minded critics. I’m sure something similar can be said, and will one day be written, of Ursula K. le Guin, as well.)

The ancient Greeks, like the ancient people of India and China, recognized a pattern that was sometimes called The Four Ages of Man, and saw that 2,500 years ago we were already in a dark age, and have remained there, despite the boasting and the juvenile fanfare, though we are free to awaken from it at any time. I am sure Ursula Le Guin understood this quite well, too. Our culture and society are to be guided and corrected, not blindly followed or naively cheered.

She refused to become a typical post-modernist dogmatic nihilist, as has been the norm among “intellectuals” for over forty years; and she refused to embrace a staunch and unwavering moral relativism. 

She stood with timeless principles; and when conformity to the crowd or obedience to authority dictated that the bleating herd once again abandon all conscience to embrace the latest madness and depravity, in the unspoken and devoutly religious service to power, greed, vanity and egomania, she quietly left the crowd to their unthinking obedience and conformity, to fall in a ditch, unfortunately, as it is said, and rejected the self-serving demands of the elite to once again abandon all principles. 

She held to, upheld, and aspired to principles of devotion to family, community, service, sacrifice, spirituality, reflection, home and hearth, honesty, loyalty, kinship and alliances of neighbours and friends, patriotism in the thinking person’s sense (which of course forever questions everything, as it must, if it is not to be tragic, blind, or insane); and she upheld values of freedom, equality, compassion, balance, and both confidence and humility, which must always be balanced, along with open-mindedness, adaptability, courage, resilience, perseverance, patience, boldness, silence, duty, justice, forethought, ecology, and peace, and truth, among other high ideals, which we would be most wise to hold fast to, and to further pursue, and most foolish to abandon.

Unlike our present culture and society, she held higher values than narcissism, or collective narcissistic regression to an infantile and boisterously ever-demanding egocentric state, which is the current course and trajectory of both the self-deluded elite, and what seems to be the great majority – who are approaching staggering levels of self-delusion of their own, though they are modest compared to those of their masters. 

There are many who still do hold to higher values. And that is refreshing. And amidst a global awakening, which is occurring now, their number are growing. 

Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, David Suzuki, Maude Barlow, Michael Hudson, Gerald Celente, Peter Dale Scott, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Arundhati Roy, and millions of others, hold to higher values than the current fashion of narcisistic hedonism and escapism, relativism, conformity, status-seeking, celebrity worship, and obedience to power – to name a few bright lights in the darkness.

She, and they – and we, any of us who seek to keep our hearts and minds alive, in a truly insane society that seeks to drown them both – are cause for celebration: and for confidence in the future; and for hope.

JTR,

February 19, 2020

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