Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Trip Down the Rabbit Hole with Me

I am kind of weird. In many ways, but the one that comes to mind is that I spend a lot of time thinking about certain ethical and moral issues and that tends to send me down some pretty weird, deep and amazing rabbit holes. My current gristle is the good dog/bad dog within us. We each have a good dog and a bad dog within us; which wins? Call it an angel and a demon if you like, which one wins? We struggle with this daily in every decision we make so it seems important.

The first answer is: the one you say “sick’em to”. In other words if you tell the good dog to “go after” the bad dog, it will and it will chase him away. Or vice-versa. The second answer to that question is: the one you feed will win. If you feed your good dog by doing good things the bad dog will wither away over time. Both of these answers take an act of will on your part. YOU have to say “sick’em”; YOU have to feed the good dog. YOU have to make a decision.

On a deeper level JRR Tolkien dealt with the same issues with my favorite character in the “Lord of the Rings” series: Gollum. In the movie, Peter Jackson even displayed the good and bad dog in Gollum as he talked to himself and his reflection in the water. But Gollum was also a reflection of Frodo, the hero. Throughout the story Frodo’s battle with the good and bad inside him comes more and more out into the open. The One Ring brought to the surface that battle for all who were near it.

On a deeper still level Hemingway fought his own demons in the “Old Man and the Sea” story. The fish represented that battle, the Old Man represented that life long struggle, and the fish carcass represented a hollow victory where no one was there to see it. We fight our greatest battles in secret, when no one is looking.

Still deeper we go down the rabbit hole and we find Don Quixote de la Mancha. His battles were thought of by EVERYONE as imaginary. He tilted at windmills as though they were dragons, he fought barbers for golden helmets, and he fought for and showed honor to his lady who was little more than a prostitute and wanted nothing to do with him. Many of our battles are thought of as simply in our minds but they are VERY real to us.

And down we go even further and we find Solomon. The wisest king who ever lived yet he was also the most foolish. The man who spoke of how to love and honor yet had a thousand women to go to bed with. The man who asked for wisdom only to find it meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Solomon sought the “profound deep” of understanding (Ecc. 7:24) and could not find it. He went on to say that he searched for that GOODNESS and EVILNESS, Wisdom and Folly in people and found both but also found no difference between them. Did you follow that? Or have we gone too far down the rabbit hole?

Solomon’s conclusion to the matter was simple: “Eat and drink with gladness … enjoy life with those you love… do what you do with all your might.” (Ecc. 9:7-10) and to make it your duty to “Fear God and keep his commandments.” (Ecc. 12:13)
I like Don Quixote’s conclusion as well: “Dare greatly, love deeply, win with grace, and lose with magnificence!”

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