There are a lot of people that I hear speaking about how crazy and upside down this world seems to be. As with anything, it seems to me that they are having a difficult time reconciling the reality to their expectation of what that reality ought to be.
For instance, I heard a friend who collects plates bearing representations of Norman Rockwell paintings complaining about people who deny that he is an artist. It occurred to me that her problem was not based in others’ failure to appreciate the value of Rockwell’s work, but that her understanding of what constitutes a work of art was, perhaps, less refined than would allow her to understand the distinction made by those other people. To say that Rockwell is not a painter who concentrated on being an artist doesn’t denigrate his work, such as it is. It only defines it in terms which relate to the intent of that work. The craft exhibited by his work is very estimable. His works are, however, not intended to challenge the viewers or try to expand their understanding of the nature of art. To take offense at his being described as an illustrator instead of as an artist only points out the limits of one’s understanding of the definition of art, or what does and does not constitute a work of art.
To hear people lament the fact that our world is not heaven-like merely illustrates their failure to appreciate the fact that the world we live in IS just that, the world. The Lord’s prayer states this distinction clearly when it states: “…thy kingdome come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…” This refers to some indeterminate time in the future when, it is believed by many, the earth shall be ruled by god’s will, as heaven now is.
To try to reconcile the workings of the earth to those of god is an exercise which promises nothing but frustration. This is a material world where the stronger overpower the weaker and continued existence depends upon continued consumption by living entities in order to prolong their material existence. A food chain exists, whether we find it comfortable to acknowledge this fact or whether we choose to ignore it. In order to delay our death from starvation we must eat. Many of us change the pigs, beef cattle chickens and fish that we consume into forms which shield us from the immediate reminder that we are, essentially, omnivorous creatures.
We certainly do not need to exercise our carnivorous option to survive, yet if we seek a less carnivorous option for obtaining the nutritional elements that our corporeal entities require for continued existence, we often, none-the-less shield ourselves from reminders that this world is not a place where our traditional conceptions of fairness hold any currency. There are limited supplies of brown rice and we must accept that what we eat is not eaten by other individuals who are in the process of dying by starvation. Being a vegan doesn’t make one a non-competitive being. Only voluntary starvation comes close.
This is not a fair sphere of existence. To try to tell oneself that it can be, if we all try real hard and work together, is self-delusion of the meanest sort. Existence is what it is and one would serve oneself well to avoid attempting to fit existence into one’s idealized conception of whatever heavenly model one might choose. The effort and inevitable frustration associated with such attempts will make one crazy, for no such conforming of reality to fantastic possibility is possible as long as god has not come to make his rules the operating system for earthly existence.
All of the unfairness one sees in the world is sensible. The elevation of the powerful and comfortably carnivorous to positions of greater power makes as much sense as the strength of those who eat a nutritious diet as compared to the weakened state of those who do not eat.
One must either choose to do those things required to remain alive or choose an alternative by opting out of the earthly system by behaving in a heavenly way. If one chooses to live, though, one might do well to spare oneself the potential embarrassment associated with pretending to live by some heavenly model. This behavior is the essence of hypocrisy. And never whine about how unfair life seems to you.
Life seems, mostly to be a test. It seems to be a series of situations in which one is tempted to seek fame, fortune, in short, all of the things that define primacy in a material system of existence. What is one’s price? What amount of what would influence one to exhibit behavior that typifies and drives home, to some other person, the unfairness of life? At that point one might do well to consider whether the reward achieved truly justified the intensity and immediacy of that other person’s experience of the unfairness of life on this planet earth.