In an article posted to TabletMag.com, columnist Blake Smith argues for more neutrality in our lives. Here are a few excerpts:
Conflict has all almost all our cultural heritage in its favor, Barthes complained: “the Western tradition is a problem for me in this respect … it makes conflict into a nature and a value.” That is, we are told both that life cannot be otherwise than a cacophonous clash of opposing views, one of which must triumph—or, more radically, that it is a universal struggle among competitive individuals, who strive to dominate all others. But we are also asked to see this “natural” situation as somehow desirable, and those who perform most effectively within it as possessing exemplary qualities. Our heroes are the warrior, the entrepreneur, and the activist, not the neutral parties. Neutrality appears cold, lifeless, effeminate, weak, and suspect.
Such sweeping polemical binaries are not merely self-interested rhetorical ploys by shallow pundits, but essential structuring assumptions of the ethical tradition of the West. In the Gospels, Jesus warns that “whoever is not with me is against me,” refusing the possibility that one might receive his claims to being the Messiah with something other than either faith or hostility. That we could meet such a grandiose assertion with bemusement, skepticism, or simple indifference is denied to us in advance.
That doesn’t mean we have to drift through life apathetic and uninvolved. Refusing to pick a side in battles that don’t matter frees up more time to engage in the fights that do.
You can read the article online HERE.
- Posted in: Uncategorized