Friday 24 April 2020

It is a man's part to discern good and ill

[Eomer] "How shall a man judge what to do in such times?" "As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them..."

We should not find it plausible that a character in Lord of the Rings was unable to discern good and ill; yet we somehow don't expect modern people to be able to do so. We let ourselves and other off too lightly: it is a man's part to do this. And if a man fails to do so, and supposes Sauron or Saruman to be good - he stands judged.

This would apply to those among the Easterlings, Dunlanders or the Haradrim; who were surrounded by willing servants of evil, and for whom expedience (a man's very life) depended on choosing evil... We would still expect a good man to know that he served evil with his sword; even when terrorised and enslaved.

Why then should we be keen to absolve the mass of Western men from a responsibility for knowing that the global establishment, national politicians and mass media are truly evil? Is it that They pretend to be good, and espouse noble ideals? So too did Sauron and Saruman.

But the servants of evil knew that they served evil, because it was to the evil in their hearts that S & S appealed.

All men have evil in their hearts ("The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being" - Solzhenitsyn.) And that is indeed how we make a discernment - precisely because we each know both good and evil, and therefore can know which we serve, which of good or evil is active in our belief, motivation and actions. This we can and do know.

We can pretend that evil is good - that (for example) resentment, pride, fear, cowardice, lust, greed and despair are good - 'when properly considered'... But then we also know that we are lying to ourselves, and inverting true values for reasons of expediency.

We each know, and God knows that we know - no matter how cleverly we deny it to our-selves and to The World. 

The responsibility for making a correct discernment is inescapable because the capacity of discernment is universal.



Jacob Gittes said...

Well, that rather speaks to me.
After our short dialog yesterday, I realized that I was keen to let my cowardly Buddhist friend off because, well - he's my friend.
And looking within, I realized that even weeks ago, his attitude or posturing over this thing (and some other things) had really bothered me.

Here's a short example, in which I did actually stand up for truth: we were in the country, and drove by a Mennonite mother pushing a wagon and with a few other children walking with her. My friend expressed disgust for the Mennonites, telling me he feared that they would develop too much political power or even "take over," due to the high birthrate they have from their "exploitation of women." Egad. I thought he was joking at first, but when I realized that he was not, I pointed out that the Mennonites (an Anabaptist sect like the Amish, except they will use electricity etc.) had very little power, and were unlikely to gain it. And that it was unfair of him to attack such a peaceful group.

Even writing this, I am realizing that his heart seems to have a dislike or hatred of simple, good things like non-cowardice (in the face of the birdemic), and a mother with a lot of children walking down a country road.
Veils come off when when dares to pierce them.

My name is Matt said...

A very good post Sir. Thanks for keeping up your blog posting during all this crazy. Your writing is a nice shaft of light in a world gone dark.