Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I just discovered The Green Knight the other day and am absolutely entranced. It seems that he's celebrating his one year blogiversary (Skippy coined that phrase) and did a little post on why he blogs. It resonated with me and he had this quote that I want to steal and use for myself.
The Green Knight: One Year: "In other words, I'm really nobody when it comes to politics, so I didn't expect anyone to pay attention. I just felt I had to say something, if only to be able to say in the future, 'Yes, I spoke up and didn't shut up.' For that reason, I called myself and the blog the Green Knight, after the 14th-century Arthurian legend of the man who keeps talking even after his head gets cut off. If nothing else, I figured, even if I couldn't be insightful or useful I could at least be tenacious. That's basically been my aim.

A few themes have occupied me, and I've come back to them pretty often. But the most important is that the culture war is not real. It's a fictional, strategic narrative designed by the right for their benefit. Insofar as liberal-minded people try to play by its rules, they will lose every time, and insofar as American culture and media accept it as real, they will continue to take needless damage. Yet, again and again, we can see liberal-minded people simply accepting the right's assumptions, narratives, and interpretations without questioning them, or even realizing that that's what they're doing.

That's why I've tried to point out, whenever possible, that people do not have to accept the right's interpretations and assumptions: such as 'Christian must equal conservative'; or, 'liberal must equal simple relativist'; or, 'religiousness must equal simple-minded literalism.' It's not that there aren't conservative Christians, or liberal simple-relativists, or literalist religious types; obviously, there are, and many of them are fine people (yes, they are). It's just that those people are not the whole story. A humane society recognizes difference, diversity, and complexity; insofar as a rigid set of categories rules -- such as culture war categories -- the society becomes less humane and more crude. It's been my aim to try to encourage people to think in other ways than the right-wing attitudes of the culture war.

I also think it's fair at this point to summarize my own perspective -- provide a sort of Credo, if you like. I batted a few ideas around, but overall I can't think of anything more appropriate than what Sir Kenneth Clark wrote back in 1968, at the end of his book and TV series Civilization:

I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology. I believe that in spite of the recent triumphs of science, men haven't changed much in the past two thousand years; and in consquence we must still try to learn from history. History is ourselves. I also hold one or two beliefs that are more difficult to put shortly. For example, I believe in courtesy, the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people's feelings by satisfying our own egos. And I think we should remember that we are part of a great whole, which for convenience we call nature. All living things are our brothers and sisters."
Well put and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. You definitely put it better than I could.

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