The burden of the wise man
Man does not doubt the reality of his world; religions and nations and money and the companies,
The intellectual man realizes these are all but fictions; created by man, not any more real than fairy tales and banshee wails,
The wise man, however, carries the burden of knowing just how real these fictions are, just how powerful these fictions are.
Most things we consider real are fictions; human rights, freedom, nations, companies are as fictional as ghosts and fairies and Jesus and Shangri La. It is truly humbling to realise your beliefs are so similar to the myths and dogmas you laugh upon. My cherished ideals of liberalism and reason are just like islam and hinduism and voodoo spirits in that they are but an inter-subjective reality (something imagined by humans, holding any meaning just because a large number of us believe in them) , and not objective reality (true ipso facto; by itself, like trees and mountains and cows).
These fictions, however, hold such great sway over the objective world today; our beliefs and politics and economics are what decide the fate of our forests, our oceans, our cows.
The cow is objective reality,
The belief in its sanctity is man’s fictional reality,
The ridiculing of this belief is the folly of the intellectual; he is accepting the knowledge of fictions, without embracing the universality and power of it,
The wise man understands this, and the only way to ease his burden is for us all to be wiser, to have the courage to realise that our beliefs are not too different in their basic nature from those we ridicule, and the way to transform the beliefs of man is not to bludgeon his cherished beliefs, rather to gently and patiently change the inter subjective reality.
So, be it cows, or Donald Trump, or Triple Talaq, or the Burqa, we must get off our high horse, and put an end to the snobism of the liberal left, of looking down upon and laughing at the right (yup, our favorite comedians John Oliver) etc do exactly that. Let us muster the immense intellectual honesty and boldness to realise that women’s rights and a free society are not obviously and absolutely sacrosanct, only then can we hope to get more and more people to share these beliefs (oops fictions).
Or, then again, perhaps it’s all just high minded idealism I’m blabbering about, and perhaps only a true conman can bring about the supremacy of a system of beliefs. (Along with a confluence of favorable coincidences, of course). Harari (his book Sapiens is the inspiration for this piece) says:
“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind