written July 3, 2006
“Value is limitation. Limitation requires faith. Faith requires the sacrifice of every other possibility.”
This was worth contemplating, I think, and this morning I have written these three statements directly behind me on a marker board. The individual statements seem precise, especially when saying ‘value is limitation’, instead of being more flexible: ‘value is like limitation.’ The definiteness of something so important is unsettling, no? If there is any argument it would have to fall to disconnects between the statements. I want to debate this, because although I might value something, I also might not have full faith in it, such as the rule of law, because of the possibility of human error or misuse. But I do find true the basic idea that every choice we make divides us from other possible avenues. So I have asked myself, on my marker board, what the results will be if this pays out…
If I value peace as I do, therefore I leave myself open to the possibility of manipulation, or if I were French, invasion. Yet, can I then value peace but at the same time be suspicious of the other side, in the name of self-protection? If I am suspicious and untrusting have I betrayed my peace ideal? Does the cost of the value of peace require total openness?
If I value beauty as I do, therefore I risk shallowness. Can I not yet value beauty without it becoming an issue of faith, because of my overriding values to wisdom and kindness? There must then be levels to value, and not an all or nothing. Yet I have the high possibility of at least subconsciously discrediting someone based on my value of beauty, even when I know more important factors should rightly apply. My value will still play a role, no matter if I know it is illogical.
If I value law as I do, I run the risk of adhering to totalitarianism. This seems a simple matter of extremes, and a sign to always be ready to question authority and intention. Is it all laws then, or the process of making law? Some laws, as in the past, we know, like Jim Crow, were unequal and biased, just today some laws are. Laws must themselves then be arbitrary, as they are merely reflections of our present reality, neither ever lawful nor unlawful, because a law, by definition, cannot be changed or altered. Law should be a truth put to practical application. As Martin Luther King said, ‘a just law is one in which the lawmaker would gladly let himself be subjected to.’ Yet we have laws today I would not want to be ruled by, or to have decided for me. So it is not law I value, but the justness of law. On the surface it would seem that all laws should apply to all people, regardless of state or status, and in at least someways I agree, such as the partnership rights granted to homosexuals. Some laws are unjust by face value, simply because of their sweeping generalities, such as restricted voting rights for mature seventeen-year olds, or the driving privileges for irresponsible seventeen-year olds. Another problem resides in the faith required in the system that creates law, a system proven to be subject to abuse innumerous times over. So again, if I value law, it is then merely the spirit of law, that men should be governed fairly and equally. This is still a fair aim, as it is the foundation of what supposedly we were built upon. This must also be the final genius of the Constitution, the Framers, and what often eludes us today: that this gloriously flawed document is so riddled with holes that is pliable and subject to change, as anything imperfect is. We must then hope that the Constitution will not be toyed with,- as it was yesterday- merely for the sake of political posturing for the home districts. Such an act is worthy only of abstention!
If I value knowledge… I have difficulty finding this downside. At worst I might be momentarily duped by falsity or misleading arguments, like a wrong turn in a maze, but to value knowledge is to keep open to the possibilities until reaching ‘home,’ and even then realizing there is always a better, undiscovered, way from the beginning to the end, and in another reality it may be possible to forgo the walls altogether and jettison over them all. The valuing of knowledge then is as false as worshiping an idol as well then, because almost all knowledge man has been equipped with has been modified, discredited, and refashioned. It is then the pursuit of knowledge that seems, as can be discerned, the only value outside the trap of limitation.
Does the selection of a value ever override the advantage of possibility? Is a choice made ever better- though ultimately required- than leaving options remaining on the table?
Indeed aren’t some values inherent? If just one example can be found, then there must be shades instead of absolutes. For example, surely it is better to live with a free will and freedom then to live in a jail. Yet if this one value- not wishing to be in jail- lives above the limitation it subjects itself to, then there must be others. How far is it to be taken?
On the issue of faith, it is easy to follow faith into the realm of loyalty, as a testing and application of faith. Yet, there is the term ‘loyal to a fault,’ and this seems cut-and-dried. Loyalty must then be more than a one-way street. Indeed, it can only be circular in nature if it is to continue. Loyalty is rarely in balance. Like a teeter-totter as it a symbiotic relationship, being fed from a number of parties, never exclusively from a sole source. This measured scale, this circle, is always unstable as it is always either being built or dismantled, rarely completely, yet is always in such progress.