Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tomorrow is Christmas Day . . .

. . . So this post has nothing to do with Food or Fort Worth but with a more universal sentiment: the fundamental political idea which silently upholds the existence of silly things like this weblog, or a visit to Central Market, and not so silly things like Christmas and its observances.

From an essay titled Pensees, by Joseph Sobran, here is an excerpt and the link if you are interested:

At certain moments I find myself enjoying life in a certain way. I may be alone, or with friends, or with my family, or even among strangers. Beautiful weather always helps; the more trees, the better. Early morning or evening is the best time. Maybe someone says something funny. And while everyone laughs, there is a sort of feeling that surges up under the laughter, like a wave rocking a rowboat, that tells you that this is the way life should be.

Moments like that don't come every day, aren't predictable, and can't very well be charted. But the main response they inspire is something like gratitude: after all, one can't exactly deserve them. One can only be prepared for them. But they do come.

This may seem a thousand miles from politics, and such moments rarely have anything to do with politics. But that is just the point. Samuel Johnson says:

"How small, of all that human hearts endure,

That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!"

But the same is true of all that human hearts enjoy. Laws and kings can't produce our happiest hours, though in our time they do more to prevent them than formerly.

"To be happy at home," Johnson also remarks, "is the end of all human endeavor." That is a good starting-point for politics, just because it is outside politics. I often get the feeling that what is wrong with political discussion in general is that it is dominated by narrow malcontents who take their bearings not from images of health and happiness but from statistical suffering. They always seem to want to "eliminate" something--poverty, racism, war--instead of settling for fostering other sorts of things it is beyond their power actually to produce.

Man doesn't really create anything. We don't sit godlike above the world, omniscient and omnipotent. We find ourselves created, placed somehow in the midst of things that we here before us, related to them in particular ways. if we can't delight in our situation, we are off on the wrong foot.

To read the balance of Pensees, by Joseph Sobran:

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Lovely. Thank you. And amen! I will toddle over to his website.

Merry Christmas, my new friend, and my best to your lady. We missed her last night. Maybe next week? Thank you for your kind words on my blog.

I am off to make risotto. It just seems like the perfect way to end this day.