The war on Lebanon has had a devastating effect on me. I felt betrayed by everyone.
Perhaps I fail to realize over and over again that human values betray those who hang on to them with messianic delusion. The universality of values is great. It gives us aspirations and ambition. But every passing day proves that they're unrealistic if not coupled with an understanding of nature: Tennyson's "nature red in tooth and claw," applied to human nature.
Charles Darwin said:
The face of nature may be compared to a yielding surface, with ten thousand sharp edges packed close together and driven inwards by incessant blows, sometimes one wedge being struck, and then another with greater force.
...Each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life, and to suffer great destruction. When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigourous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.
Does believing in the war of nature surrender me to materialistic notions, creating a justification for those failing to act "human"? But is it not also human to be selfish and uncaring? That's a debate that will never find a satisfactory conclusion. It is quite possible that this world will never be the heaven we all seek. It may also be wise to accept that for every heaven, there's a hell. And that they're both on earth.
Darwin told his wife, who was worried about the fate of her husband's soul in the afterlife, that there's no question as to how one ought to behave. He believed that it was all up to the individual. And indeed it is. But as Darwin wept the loss of his daughter to illness, he blamed not his daughter's weakness, but himself for not providing her with better conditions for survival. He blamed his own weak biology, and decision to marry a cousin.
Almost daily for more than 30 days, a Lebanese father mourned the loss of a son, who lost a battle his father never taught him how to fight. Every day, a father wept and blamed not himself, but the people who killed his son.
Nobody wants to be in that father's shoes, robbed of the opportunity to empower his children with means for survival. How much that's the father's fault, and how much it is the fault of others matters less at this point, though it is up to the father to make that judgment.
And for other fathers in the world, those who cared about this war, and those who didn't, life will soon show them its interconnectedness. We will soon see that when one man's child falls, other men and their children follow.
But our private consolation remains that wars are not incessant, and that sooner or later, many other children will rise. And it is up to those of us who understand the interconnectedness of life to make sure they too don't fall.
Soon, my own consolation will be born.
I tell my wife that he will change the world. But I constantly remind myself that he needs to learn how to take it on first. He has to learn that his life is part of the entangled bank of lives different from each other, and yet dependent on each other in complex manners.
As Darwin wrote more than 150 years ago,
From the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms mist beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
-- I am taking a break from blogging. R and Hassan have agreed to guest-blog during my absence, which hopefully will not last more than a week. I leave you in their safe and capable hands. This blog turned one year old this week. Thank you for reading me. --