It’s been another odd sort of week.
One in which The Unpleasantness has been – mostly – pleasant, stress free and productive. One in which people I never expect to be helpful, agreeable and like-minded have been and the people I used to automatically assume will be, well… haven’t.
Perhaps more importantly, the major emergency I was caught up in is gradually being resolved, with good long term solutions falling into place, all of which is leaving me free to get back to something like normality.
Then today, tucked into an article about someone else, I found the following quote from Robert Green Ingersoll, a 19th century American humanist thinker.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now.
The place to be happy is here.
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Oddly similar to the way I’ve been thinking recently, and about as far removed as it could be from the party line others expect me to toe.
The thing is, I keep spotting signs of empire building in the nearest thing to a worldview I follow, and of rampant careerism amongst key figures who actually make a living expounding it. I suppose I should not be surprised. I have this naïve idea that people should do stuff because they enjoy it or it spreads happiness about.
The idea that they can make a safe living from it, for life, instead of holding down a proper job? Well, guess that always held if what you love is writing, making music or art etc., but making moral arguments, encouraging people to be good citizens?
Isn’t that just what any decent person does? So why expect a fat salary and a good pension just for doing it? Only a politician or a priest thinks like that.
Which is (sort of) my problem. Maybe more noticeable from living in a small community on a small island which one of our bigger neighbours – who used to have an empire – still automatically regards as part of that empire. And the odder thing is, even so-called progressive Brits seem to think like that.
So, an empire of people who supposedly share a non-religious moral philosophy. And where, it is increasingly obvious, the people who push that view from a country which used to run an empire think they should also run this movement. Rather like, say, Lambeth Palace and the Church of England does.
Well, sorry and all that, but I want no part in it. I’m nobody’s foot soldier. I only got into this because it was something that engaged and amused me, and it is no longer doing either of those things.
I have no interest in mass movements or mass anything else, and am definitely not interested in preaching or moralising. I’m an individualist, an oddbod, a libertarian. I like the term Freethinker because thinking for yourself, making your own judgement, finding your own path , even if you stumble about and get a lot of it wrong … to me that’s the whole point of the thing.
I don’t follow, and I don’t look up to anyone. I leave that to religionists and clergy, and/or political activists and politicians. Two species of outright chancers preserving worthless worldviews because they are the only ones in which they can feel important or be taken seriously instead of being laughed at. Long and often.
I don’t do religion. I don’t ape religion. I no more need a substitute for religion than I do a substitute for haemorrhoids.
Religion is the problem. It is a bad mindset, a mistaken way of being and of interacting with the world. So the more I see humanism (or at least its British and American variants) turning into a substitute for religion, increasingly complete with ersatz clergy, the more I think it’s time to walk away and try something else.
Or maybe I’ll just stop taking that seriously too. Because not taking things seriously seems to be all I’m seriously good at these days.