miércoles, 21 de julio de 2010

"There are only bad cultivators"

"I'm so human" - what do I mean with this? I have always brandished this big word like a sword: human, using such a broad term (because we humans are so many things at the same time, there is a lot of space inside that word for many others) to define myself. So what do I mean? Because I don't use the word with all the meanings, with all its size. It is a synecdoche. Contradictive I am. A seeker, I am. And I try and fail with all my heart. Oh, sometimes I win, too. It would be unfair not to admit it (even if now this all doesn't sound as tragic and epic as I have always liked my texts to be. But I think it is the time to laugh about myself a bit).

Through these lenses, we humans are much of a Don Quijote. "Errar" is a Spanish word with at least two meanings: we wander (because we seek) and we make mistakes on the way. It sounds impossible not to wander and seek without making mistakes. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". Some of us sometimes choose to stay at home, under the shelter. When we do that, nothing is there to be said about us. We are neither criticised nor praised. We fall back, withdrawn, maybe, by our own fears. And fear is the biggest and the most stupid hindrance for humankind.

This is why I've chosen to make mistakes. Cicero used to say (sorry, I don't know the exact English translation): "It is human to make mistakes, but only the stupid persist in that mistake". I object! Through our lifes and through spiritual subjects we will trip over the same stone over and over again. And it is not stupid, it is human. Which, okay, doesn't mean it is good. It is up to us to analyse what we really want in life and what is happening inside us for the sake of our happiness. So I am not that fatalist in the end, hm? Well, it is not easy. In fact, it is damn hard.

"I'm so human". Oh yes. I have always used this statement to express my view about good and bad. A bit like a justification. Pardon, I am just trying. Sorry, I did what I thought would be best. That we, for example, hurt others in the way is inevitable. It is a tricky statement, because if we can avoid to hurt them, we definitely should. But what if we choose to walk the road with the wrong shoes? Even if it is our mistake, it is up to us to take them off, because the pain they are causing us and the wear we are causing them is of no use to anyone.

Still, all this is not really helping me to answer the question whether we are good or evil by nature.

Through the history of mankind, many authors, philosophers and (mainly) men of religion have been wielding very categorical opinions about this matter of morality. If are we good or evil, bah. Why is it so important? And for what? If we are good, salvation is near, is inherent in us. If we are evil, a terrible hell is stalking us (we are depraved -Calvinism).

But I love the solution that Victor Hugo proposes in Les Misérables. I still haven't finished this masterpiece, but definitely the big question behind it is, whether we are good or evil and about mankind's real condition. He ilustrates it with extreme examples. You can see the epic of Jean Valjean's figure, a man torn by hatred towards society because of an unfair punishment he has suffered for 19 years, turning into the most righteous, generous man. It is not the (almost) unreal example what I like, but the message on the book, clearly reflected on the following quote (it was hard, but I found it!) This man, Jean Valjean, is now father Madeleine:

One day he saw some country people busily engaged in pulling up nettles;
he examined the plants, which were uprooted and already dried, and said:
"They are dead. Nevertheless, it would be a good thing to know how to
make use of them. When the nettle is young, the leaf makes an excellent
vegetable; when it is older, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and
flax. Nettle cloth is as good as linen cloth. Chopped up, nettles are
good for poultry; pounded, they are good for horned cattle. The seed of
the nettle, mixed with fodder, gives gloss to the hair of animals; the
root, mixed with salt, produces a beautiful yellow coloring-matter.
Moreover, it is an excellent hay, which can be cut twice. And what is
required for the nettle? A little soil, no care, no culture. Only the
seed falls as it is ripe, and it is difficult to collect it. That
is all. With the exercise of a little care, the nettle could be made
useful; it is neglected and it becomes hurtful. It is exterminated. How
many men resemble the nettle!" He added, after a pause: "Remember this,
my friends: there are no such things as bad plants or bad men. There are
only bad cultivators."


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