fredag 12. august 2011

History is no jumping clown

Not even a mountain stands unchanged through the ages. No beautiful piece of architecture has stood unscattered through millennia. If you´ve read just a little bit of history you should also know that our societies have been even less permanent.

However - certain ideologies seem to want preservation of some kind of old order, usually what is perceived to be national culture, though not the present culture, but some kind of culture, perceived to have existed, maybe 50 years ago, maybe 20, or perhaps in the Middle Ages. Sadly, these opinions are quite often based on ideology, and not on careful historical studies. This means that this society often is halfway myth.

I say history is no jumping clown. History is a string of causally linked events. The Hungarian writer Imre Kertész, seems to mean that even Holocaust was in this sense, natural, because it was created from the upleading events, and can therefore not be written out of history as exceptional or unnatural. That doesn´t mean it is justified, of course.

In my opinion, dividing history into confined boxes, with breathing space between major events and eras, is nothing but propaganda and lies. There is no action that is taken out of context. Belief in such an action is like belief in divine manifestations. Simply, they are religious beliefs.

Every action leads to a result. This conclusion might seem basic, but the implications are not always taken into consideration.

Sometimes, it might seem like something is forced upon you from outside. This perception is often amplified by emotions. If someone you know has been unjustly murdered, you might find it hard to explain the event casually. A causal explanation might sometimes seem like justification. However, reality is constituted by causality, and looking a way from this fact is not honest.

If we were clearsighted enough, history wouldn´t really bring many surprises. We would be able to see the consequences of our actions before we made them. Thus we might have avoided wrongdoing. However - we are not there.

The view that today´s order is unnatural is wrong. Today´s situation has been created by yesterday´s steps and also by the actions in the era that nationalists and other ideologues want to go back to. However, the elements of the period they long for obviously carried the seeds of today´s flowers. In a way, also every view is in a way natural, nobody´s placed it from outside in a mind while the person was sleeping. It has evolved. It might be a wrong view, in the way that it is not correct. It is irrational and it is not explaining reality, but twisting it. However, it didn´t come about unnaturally, or if you want - supernaturally.

History is like a path in a forest, or a road. You walk and you drive, but if you want to return, you´ll also walk and drive. History is no jumping clown, you have no menu of histories to choose from. And even if you had, you would have to be realistic enough to see that once you´d eaten your stuff it´d be gone, even though it would still impact your body.

Let´s look at this on an individual level.

In secondary school I remember discussing a difficult topic. We were talking about rape. I think the class was trying to discuss what caused a person to do such unjustice to someone else. I raised my hand and started explaining my idea. As soon as I mentioned the words "upbringing" and "parents", my teacher began stomping on the floor: "you must never, ever, ever say that", she said. I never got to say what I meant. I meant that everything you do, everything you experience leads to the one moment you are in right now. You cannot exclude parts of it totally. You can pick out the most important, but chances are always you didn´t see correctly.

In a Norwegian nationalist´s view I might be doing something unnatural in being a Buddhist, or by living in another country. However, it is not unnatural. Truth is, I wouldn´t be a Buddhist if not my history, my life, and my environment had led me there. There was no supernatural injection. Something in Buddhism appealed to me, and if it did so, it was natural, because the path before that choice led me there. What would not be natural was to teleport back to birth and freeze myself at that stage of development. Like that is it also with society. What happens now is perfectly natural, and what happened before was perfectly natural. That doesn´t mean it is good, but it is not against nature. Everything that exists is natural. Again, everything that exists is not good.

Sadly, some people seem to claim that one state of society is natural and another not. Therefore, every action that leads toward natural society is okay. Again, the assumption is wrong.

What exists, exists. Of course, that doesn´t mean it is impossible to create something similar to a medieval society again. But also that will be built on choices.

To sum up, I´d say there is no essence, only progression or development. There is no object, but there is a process.

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