Friday, March 6, 2009

We, Who Sit In Judgement

I've come to the realization that blogging and commenting on blogs/community sites has exposed my own hypocrisy. I thought myself incapable of it, somehow above the fray, but it is part-and-parcel of the hubris all humans carry. We would have no one sit in judgement of us and our actions, but we would judge others according to our own personal, moral and ethical codes.

Every time I point my finger at a topic, every time I sit before a keyboard and deliberately type out these missives, I am looking at someone or something and applying my own standards, my own templates, to them. I call into question a person's motives, based only upon what I have read and/or what I know. I comment on the efficacy or propriety of a situation based on these same things. I apply what I have learned over the decades to an imperfect picture, and see fit to pronounce what I feel to be the "truth of the matter."

Yet I have lived my life not particularly caring what people have thought of me, my actions, my words. I want to think I have something to contribute to the human narrative, and thus I write and discuss, but in the end, the individual decides whether what I have said has merit or worth. This is true of all our lives -- we make decisions based on the information we have at hand, oft times lacking or imperfect, and make the best we can of it. Human nature causes us to permanently operate by the maxim "it seemed like a good idea at the time." Only time tells us whether the decision we made is in fact the right one for us. Many around us form judgements based on what they know and decide what we should have done, based on what they know and what we tell them. Maybe they would agree we did what was best; often people are quick to criticize and point out alternatives, many of which we considered as well, before choosing our final course of action.

So this is the by-play of humanity, now writ upon a stage which is global in scope and nigh permanent. The words I write and push out to the Internet will live on the server where they are stored, as well as servers all over the planet, recorded as the magnetic flux of particles too small to be seen. Barring the unforeseen destruction of the planet, these words may very well exist a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand years from now, when our species will have taken leaps only barely imaginable. And what will they make of these words? What will they think of me? Of us? How will mere words portray us in a thousand generations?

For we judge those who came before us, and we will be judged by those who come after us, based on standards we can only anticipate, and at that, only fleetingly. If we use our own judgement of those who wrote a thousand years ago, we would come to realize that perhaps future society will look down on us and laugh at our follies and foibles, just as we now scorn those who believed in a world driven by mysticism and fear. Our progeny may have eclipsed us so much, that our talk of quantum mechanics and global warming and the fashions of the famous will look quaint and backward through the long lens of history.

I do not write this as an epiphany, a sudden dawning comprehension that causes me to see the error of my ways and refrain from speaking my mind. Instead, it makes me more cognizant of what words I will choose to use in the future and how I will make my point regarding any topic. For while my arsenal of commentary is well-stocked, it is knowing how to use it that matters. Mine is but one voice in the fugue, my ideas but a fraction of the sum of humanity's knowledge, and it is not that I should use my voice to shout above the din, but add it to the chorus that is the song of the human spirit. For it is only in harmony that the song of humanity can be heard.

1 comment:

  1. As always, well put NN. I often hit the backspace button nowadays. And sometimes when I don't, I fret about how someone might have taken what I said; that I might have hurt them. Them: some unknown internet user I'll never meet. Maybe that's why I tend to lean on my funny crutch. It feels safer, but it's probably not really.