Thursday, December 9, 2010

Missing Friends. . . .

Today is the nineteenth anniversary of my very good friend Kevin Coleman. I am certain that not a day has passed in that nineteen years that I have not thought of him. He was the one who first related to me Gramsci's famous quote concerning the need for Optimism of the Will. However, I must admit that since Kevin's death my storehouse of faith has nearly run dry. In the words of Lou Reed, it takes a busload of faith to get by and what I have probably wouldn't fill up a subcompact at this point. Besides loosing loved ones and going through a remarkably dispiriting time living in El Salvador durning the 90s, I have just lost most of my faith in the capacity of our race to move toward a more compassionate and caring society. We are an indescribably sick people and a huge portion of us take genuine pleasure in touting the rabidly violent and despicable parts of our nature. Just go over and read some of the Blogs on Conservative-Bloggers, and you will see what I mean. They are full of vitriolic attacks on anything that smacks of compassion and they are remarkably fond of going after the most vulnerable in our society.

My dad, who has been gone for some eight months now, used to also bemoan the fundamental failures of our race. And though he was remarkably cheerful about the simplest pleasures in life, he knew just how badly we treat each other. He used to say that if one had an even vaguely enlightened view of the world, living in human society is like living among a troop of monkeys. "If you were a self aware monkey," he would say, "or a slightly intelligent cave-dweller, you would still be helpless to stop the rest of them from living in their primitive paradigm." It was that attitude that led my dad to simply try to enjoy the little things in life and not worry about the big picture. Yet, despite his desire to live a carefree life, my dad was always frustrated by the world's injustices and you could sometimes see the sadness in his eyes.

I have always been a socialist. I believe that socialism is the only rationally and ethically defensible socio-economic system. But I have struggled to live through an age when faith in a better, more cooperative world has waned considerably. But we still live in something of a 'mixed' economy and I so have always taken some comfort in our constitutionalism and our democracy. I have always thought that even though we are not moving toward genuine socialism we have some protection from the worst abuses of tyranny. But in recent years and months that comfort has also waned as I have watched the present government of Canada slowly dismantle the constitution, and erode the most basic elements of our democratic system. Even our provincial government here in Ontario has essentially torn up the Charter of Rights, violated civil liberties on a grand scale, and few people seem to care and no one will do anything about it.

I miss my departed friend Kevin Coleman and I wish he were here to share a drink, a movie and a few laughs. But I would hate to see his saddened heart at recent events. And I miss my dad with a profound depth that mear language could never convey. But I am glad he doesn't have to see how sad I have become and at what a low ebb my faith has come.


900ft Jesus said...

I get that way. It's nearly a constant state with me this past year. I don't know you at all, but at the risk of sounding patronizing (and because so much of what you said rings true to me) - what keeps me going is carrying the flame. And refusal to let "them" kill my resolve.

I think our species is going to crash hard, so the least I figure I can do is my little bit to keep certain ideas alive. If enough of us do this, there may be something to rebuild with.

In the story of the universe, maybe that doesn't matter, but having sat at the death bed of a few excellent people, I figure if you leave some tiny part of the world slightly better than it was before you got there, you have lived a successful life.

Your dad sounds wonderful. Reminds me a lot of mine. He's gone as well.

Steve V said...

Great post.

kirbycairo said...

Thanks for your encouraging words.