Sunday, October 09, 2011

Too Easy

Texan99, posting over at Grim's Hall (always on sidebar) links to a WSJ article with Steve Jobs quotes. Jobs had this on the networks, though it fits well for conspracy theories in general.
When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.
I had to chuckle. Conspiracy theories, though they rely on arcane knowledge, have as their root the idea that if we could just get rid of a few evil people who are gaming the system, everything would go smoothly.* It is not only liberals and fundamentalists who think that way - you can find libertarians, antisemites, greens, and just about any group with a swath of people who think like that. Beware the too-simple explanation.

Interestingly, while that has always been my strongest objection to the Religious Right, even while I have one foot in it, it is the too-simple gospel of the Religious Left that has me looking nervously over my shoulder these days. They seem to believe - or at least, they put forward the idea - that their program would be really hard, but worth it to get the church to improve itself and society. Giving up material things is hard. Tolerance is hard.  Being willing to forgive is hard work. Resolving to share requires commitment. These expressions of the radical gospel, radically following Jesus, are very hard, which is why people won't do it.

No they aren't. I did that.  You get all kinds of strokes from your pals for being that guy, and the warm self-righteousness is very precious and addictive. It's not humble at all. It's narcissistic. I know. I've been there.  The religious left is wrong, not because its gospel is too radical and difficult, but because it's too easy and hackneyed. 

*Is the phrase "99%" occurring to anyone with that?  Well, it should.


Texan99 said...

All those things are genuinely hard for me.

It's the things that bare-knuckled libertarians and conservatives push that I find easy: earn it yourself or do without; compete without expecting a break for your victimhood status; save up for your own future emergencies; evaluate and take responsibility for your own risks.

So I do well with tasks that emphasize the isolation of individuals rather than their connections. Takes all kinds, I hope.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

An excellent corrective, which leads me to ponder.

I should say perhaps that those things are easy in appearance, if one is supported by conceit to achieve them. The real articles are much hard. So I may be saying that they are easy virtues to imitate, and to fool yourself into thinking you are aspiring toward, when you have darker motives you dare not notice.