Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Scout's Honor

Dear H,

Not today, thank you
I like to sidestep Christ's commandment let your yes be yes and your no be no by being a Man of Maybe.  M.O.M. is the acronym and it fits because it's unmanly.  I freely admit this; but I don't have the ego or the willpower to go around making promises and keeping them, and I won't just break them, so instead I don't make them.

When a man says yes or no to something, or even worse -- gives a promise, what he says in effect is that he guarantees something will happen against the scheming of the whole universe.  A bold move for a tiny man.  So I like to throw in a caveat: weather permitting; if I don't have anything else planned already; barring flood, or sickness, or famine, etc.  A whole slew of things I don't and can't see coming and know I don't see coming; a realization of my finite nature -- a non-Muslim's en-shallah.  James the Apostle's Lord willing*.


The gears of the universe are grinding, and who am I to stand against them?  I won't throw myself into them to save a lunch party; and beyond this I won't ruin my plans in the future -- which may be better plans anyway.  A slew of newer, finer options might be around the corner.  How can I know what they'll be?  I keep hope alive by drowning my own expectations at birth.  The future is limitless to a man who's always dreaming but never carving his dreams into stone.  He may never get a Fortune 500 company, which takes a lifetime of making promises and setting schedules and religiously keeping them; but he has his liberty and dignity and free time, and these are well worth their weight in stock options.  Or at least they are to me**.

Two of the most basic functions of society prove I'm not the only M.O.M. in town.  Marriage and contracts prove that at least in romance and business, we hate a man who follows his nature.  At least enough to prosecute him.  We assume people are likely to dream new plans and back out so we put teeth into our pledges.  Love me today?  Well then forgive me tomorrow.  I wear a suit and you wear a dress and whatever comes at us from us gets dealt with.  We admit upfront what everybody and nobody sees coming -- that the people we partner with today will be different people with different needs later.  We all know that they'll be different.  What we don't know is how.  In a world of change we guarantee two things, primarily: that the money keeps on flowing, and that our lovers keep on loving.  Or at least that's what we planned; and you can see, in many cases, how well that turns out.  In any case the money is still flowing -- to the lawyers***.

Solomon says a good wife is from the Lord.  From the Bronze Age the wise men knew if you got a good one, it wasn't because you're brilliant.

Your father,
-J

*The most religious men, I think, live with an asterisk.  God fits into their plans -- by admitting He may stand directly in the way of their plans.  Still, it could be worse.  He might hold you to them.

The Bible has several accounts of this -- Abraham's almost sacrificing Isaac being the first.  But beyond this there's Jephthah, who promised God, if he won a battle, that he'd sacrifice (specifically by fire) the first thing that came through his front door to greet him.  Unfortunately he had a daughter, and she was faster than the goat.

The book of Jude lists Jephthah with the other "righteous men" of the Old Testament, which has led scholars to believe one of two things.  The first is that his only kid ended up in a convent of some sort; and the second is that Jephthah slit her throat and then lit her on fire.  I don't know which of these is true, but it's fun to watch the eggheads fight over it.  On the one hand it means you have to do your word no matter how rotten it ends up.  On the other it means you can break it if you can't stand the consequences.  Either way they forget a third person was involved; and that this woman's whole life was thrown away because her dad was too stupid to specify an animal, and beyond this "God" was too cold to let Jephthah fudge a detail.

On the issue of marriage Christ signals an equally rock-hard position.  Turn to Matthew 19 and you find Him saying you can't divorce your wife for any reason other than adultery: not for gambling you into debt with the mafia, not for scalding you with boiling water, or for getting trashed and telling waiters you're a bad lover.   The apostles were unanimous -- that it was better, if this was the case, to not get married.  I believe it's still worth the risk.  But then again I've already risked it -- and I'm one of the lucky ones.

The silver lining in the Jews' case was that if your wife was truly terrible, according to any number of Mosaic laws somebody would kill her.  But who can save the modern Catholics?

**Heroes and men of action are yes and no men.  They get used to putting their stamp on the universe.  They state a time and they claim it.  They have a calendar and they fill it.  Not for me -- which is why I'm not a businessman, or a politician, or even a party animal.  My calendar is all mine.  I have too little time on this earth and as a thinker I'm too jealous for it.  To the moron, silence is painful and free time is a danger.  To the intellectual they're as necessary as air.

As such I enjoy my life but don't recommend my lifestyle.  A few spiritual aristocrats is fine, but a society of them is a disaster.  If there were lots of me I'd be forced out of necessity to be somebody else.  I would have more money and prestige and leave somebody else to writing the essays -- which always appear when I'm least expecting them. 

***It's said, right now, that Millenials are much better at marriage than Gen X and the Baby Boomers.  This much may be true, but I don't think we've had enough time yet to screw it all up.

Besides this USA Today reports that Millenials are more likely to live together without tying the knot; that the lower classes, who are breeding like rabbits, fail to marry at all; that fewer people get married before 25, and the people who get married are failing to have children.  Thus what sounds like success at first glance is actually a disaster.  We lost divorce, but we got old maids and childless professionals and millions of feral bastard children.  We said less marriages collapsed, but then made love to women, moved in with them, shared our things, blew the relationships to bits, never hired a lawyer, and because we never had a lawyer said we never got divorced.  We never gave our word to a lover -- and because we never gave it, we pretend we're good at keeping it. 

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