I mentioned in the fifteenth instalment of Primer that I recently had a falling-out with a friend. I, for some reason, feel the need to further explore the issue, to touch upon certain specifics, to lay things clear before me. As with the mention in part fifteen, I shall not be mentioning the other person by name here because it would be distasteful and catty to point fingers and whatnot. Rather, with the following, I just want to clear what is left of this issue from my head to the benefit of both myself and whomsoever cares to read it.
I spoke with my friend James about the issue, about this falling-out, and I partook in a little “degaussing” exercise which enabled me to let-off the more hidden friction which this event caused me. Although intelligently I know that getting angry and bitter will not serve any constructive end, natural feelings of frustration, betrayal, confusion and concern bubble beneath the surface quite naturally. Had I not felt these things, it would indeed indicate a degree of “coldness” (one of the various criticisms secretly levelled at me during this whole affair) on my part, a reptilian, serpentine quality. The thing which the exercise highlighted the most was my fear of risks and of danger, the wanting to establish certainty over uncertainty. The fact that this person decided to not only go back on their word to me that we would discuss our differences or misunderstandings, but also to cut communication despite the levels of personal conversation, understanding and trust established, means that this person is a serious wildcard; they are inconsistent and, potentially, untrustworthy. Amid our fluctuating, amorphous, temporal world, one of the things which we as individuals really do have influence over is our relationships. Good friendships which are established upon mutual love, trust and respect are one of things which put us lone wanderers right back into connection with not only the lifestyles of our healthy ancestors, but also virtue in its most clear and beautiful of forms. “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” is a reminder of this, for hypocrisy is the main way in which the relationships between men are reduced to ruin. Every relationship is supraindividualistic in the sense that only an awareness of the bond between oneself and the other can lead to understanding; the focus cannot be just upon oneself or just the other, but on the synthesis between the two. It is true that I, personally, have a difficulty in reciprocating friendships, especially in conversation. I am always looking inwards, and it takes a bit of effort for me to look outwards towards the other, thus I can be unresponsive or blunt on occasion, but this quirk of mine does not need to be an issue as long as the aforementioned synthesis is kept in mind by both parties. This is why the most dangerous feature of this particular falling-out was the fact that one did not keep his word that he would work to solve disputes through communication. Instead, he chose to abandon the project in its entirety.
For comparison, think of a pair of builders working upon a house. One might be working on the carpentry upstairs whilst the other is working on the plumbing downstairs, but both men are able builders and have a variety of skills; each is capable of what the other is. Let us imagine that the plumber would like the assistance of the carpenter to install the kitchen sink, so he calls to his friend upstairs, but he does not get a reply because the carpenter has his headphones on and is listening to music. The plumber, then, instead of going upstairs to ask his friend to assist him face-to-face, knowing full-well that he can and will, decides to leave the construction site and go home, much to the carpenter’s confusion when, ten minutes later, he goes to ask the plumber if he would like a cup of tea, merely to find himself alone.
When Rightists often think of contemporary Western culture and society, one of the primary criticisms is that there is a perpetual “softness” — people are too “nice,” too “sensitive,” too “tolerant” and too “gentle.” Wrongdoers are not punished as they should be, threats to the common good are not kept at bay and many people at the present time, offended by everything and dutiful to nothing, are willingly constructing a zeitgeist of emptiness, suffocation and tyranny. Whilst it is doubtlessly true that “safe spaces” in universities and such are not signs of health, there is a great risk to taking too heavy-handed a view and throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, if one does not treat with respect and care those close to us. It takes great strength to open up to another person, to show them your scars in the confidence that they will not tear them asunder. Indeed, to humble oneself before another is a mark of interior fortitude.
There are two instances in life where humbleness is borne in mind: the first is before the cross and before the mercy and love of Christ, before his redeeming gaze. This is why confession is so important, whether to a priest or within an appropriate circle, because we all make mistakes in life, but these mistakes can and must be understood so that their causes are exposed and, hopefully, puzzles can be solved. This practice of self-reflection, and self-improvement, is far to “real” for most moderns, far too “serious.” Why is that? Because they have spent their entire lives paddling in the shallow end of the pool, never venturing even a foot within the deep end. “Safe space” culture and its ilk found amid modern millennials is not a sign of strength or spiritual healing, rather it is emotional and ideological. It is a perversion of the authentic, spiritual safe space which human beings require when under distress — that quiet few moments during a battle where one composes oneself before the victorious final charge. Made in the image and the likeness of God, man partakes in the purity of honesty through his ability to learn from his mistakes, through his ability to actively spiritually evolve, to reach towards the stars.
The second instance is humbleness before one’s worldly superiors. Christ personifies the cosmic superior, not one superior amid many, but superiority itself. Our worldly superiors might be amid our friends, our family or in life generally. Hierarchy is a part of the order of the universe, and all creatures made by the hands of God gravitate naturally towards realising hierarchy in some form. Even ants, the insects most said to have developed natural communism, understand the demarcation between queens, soldiers and workers. Hierarchy, like the air we breathe, is fundamentally invisible, and yet it is perennial and eternal — and, what is more, essential to life. Leaders among friends tend to emerge naturally and organically. They are those whom others confide in and look up to, who are admired and respected. In our egalitarian world, even most Rightists have an instinctive dislike of the idea that there are people “better” than themselves, that there really are those people who should be looked to for advice and guidance — the key word there being “looked,” for leaders simply are, they are not thought-about or theorised into existence. A leader is someone who leads by example, by living in a virtuous and fulfilling way. And whilst it is true that authentic leaders are difficult to come by in today’s world, they are not nonexistent. But even if one cannot find a sole person to guide oneself, a constellation of friends, of companions, will serve one well. Friendship, as already mentioned, is a synthesising process; it is mutual — triangular, we could say, with the two points to the left and the right synthesising together at the peak to the benefit of both parties.
I do believe that, in time, the person which sparked this little débâcle will learn these important truths. Perhaps it will be in a tight spot, in a moment of panic, that certain things flash before their eyes, but it might slow them down and centre them — something which is much needed. The world today is a promiscuous rush from one thing to the next, as wide as an ocean but as deep as a puddle. It is a great pity when this force infects our fellows, but God has a plan for us all, and I am quite confident that there will be peace and understanding eventually.
1. The snake itself is not an evil creature, but its symbolism is clear enough. Venomous fangs, simple-mindedness and the lack of facial expressions are evidential of the potential for danger, but, from the particular perspective of man, the cold-bloodedness and strange movement are what are really quite bewildering. For man, the warmth and heat of blood is a sign of life and of vigour — war and sex, the two most blood-warming of human experiences — are two of our surest ways of expressing our physical vitality. The strange movement, too, expresses something bizarre. We move through the mind directing the limbs, which propels the body — the highest controls the lowest so that the whole organism moves — but, again, the snake is an enigma as it slithers around in total silence on its limbless body.
2. I say “potentially” because people can indeed change for the better. It is up to people themselves whether or not that they make that change, however.