Saturday, April 16, 2016

Realistically speaking

Unrealistic means you shouldn't expect Catholics to listen to the Pope when they have their own consciences to consult.*

Unrealistic means politicians should act like prophets, even though the prophets were not kings or leaders, and never claimed to be (they weren't even judges, like Joshua, who judged Ruth.  Sorry, old joke.)  And besides, what did prophets do about the Exile, except point out it was coming and that it was all Israel's fault?  But that's holding them to an unrealistic standard; or something.

Unrealistic means we have to try because if we don't, nothing will ever change.  Unrealistic means we also have to use unrealistic means, because the realistic ones just reinforce the status quo.  Except then we have to quibble over which means are unrealistic enough to work, and which are just, well, you know:  unrealistic.

Unrealistic means what you want can be done if enough will is created in the world, and what I want can't be done because what I want is to clap louder.  Unrealistic means what you want is a solution that's never been tried so it will work, and what I want is incrementalism and that takes too long and doesn't work anyway.

Unrealistic means whatever you think is right is right, it just hasn't been tried hard enough or long enough or with enough purity of heart; and whatever I think is right is wrong because I don't understand the power of unrealistic, I just understand that we've always done it the wrong way.

Unrealistic means whatever has never been done before will work, because whatever is being done now isn't working, and it's unrealistic to think it ever will.  Because the most realistic thing is to be unrealistic; and the most unrealistic thing is to be realistic.

And that's why being young and unrealistic is better than being old and experienced.  Because being old and experienced means you know things seldom work out as planned, and you certainly aren't in charge of outcomes.  But being young and unrealistic means everything will soon rearrange itself to suit you; you just have to insist on it loudly enough.

And if that's not being a hard-headed realist, what is?

*Or maybe it's being realistic to realize that people are complicated, and nobody ever looked to the Pope to decide things for them (search Chaucer's tales in vain for even references to the Pope's guidance among the uniformly Catholic 14th century English), and equally realistic that prophets didn't have to be as realistic as kings (see, e.g., Reinhold Niebuhr).

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