Sunday, December 31, 2006

Today, on this last day of 2006 A.D., I would like to pause and reflect upon those lessons which I have learned, hoping beyond hope that my follies and foibles, as well as my successes and jubilations, will serve the common good of my three to four readers as we move forward into a new year.

I suppose I should begin by saying that each year I learn a little more about why everyone celebrates the beginning of each New Year. I have always had an a priori distaste for the celebrations which appeared to me as wholly bacchanalian revelry in which people desired to lose themselves in the end of a year in order to embrace the "new opportunities" of the upcoming year. While this dismal caricature of New Year's celebrations doubtlessly exists, I have, only with the slowest of wits, come to appreciate those celebrations which surround the unfurling of the new year. Because of my often self-deprecating nature, I have often avoided the social situations which are concomitant with New Year's Eve. Of course, I have found myself all the more miserable for being like this and therefore use that misery as the lens through which I try to understand my own misunderstandings and misguided steps. (It is often through misery that we come upon the boundaries of our being, forcing us to reevaluate our positions in light of our destroyed self-perceptions.) The joy that was missing in the past has been experienced fully these past three years as I have spent my time with friends, celebrating what has been and what will be. The very presence of our beloved friends and family serves as a guiding sail by which we steer our courses through the turbulent waters of the future. The celebration of New Year's Eve thus becomes a microcosm of what I call "conservative-progressivism" in the spirit of the beloved G.K. Chesterton of what the somewhat more pugnacious Bill O'Reilly would call "liberal-traditionalism." We look backward to the previous experiences that we have had among our beloved, strengthening those bonds of love which have united us in the past year and provide the source material for the activity of the coming new year, the base for all activity henceforth.

Now, since many people my age like to indeed make New Year's Eve into nothing more than a drinking party, I will at least express my resolute rejection of any celebration of this holiday which seeks to lose oneself in order to leave behind the old and usher in the new. I have more respect for Qoheleth as he says, "There is nothing new under the sun" than I have for the modern man who says "There is nothing under the sun which I desire to remember." Such is an act of un-violent suicide that does no justice to our hopes for a new year but instead promotes a culture in which life is abhorred and nihilism runs rampant, leaving humanity as nothing more than an amalgamation of walking corpses, shambling through the pathways of each day trying to scrape a living off the rocks of broken dreams and forgotten pasts. Where we lose the microcosmic nature of New Year's Eve, we lose our humanity, for we deny ourselves the sight of true progress, which embraces the past, particularly in the love which we have for one another, for it is only by that love that we shall progress through the ages and only through, with, and in Love that we will become a truly united humanity.

Now that I have been a wind-bag, let me go off on my original topic: Those lessons which I have learned this year, 2006 A.D, in descending order of importance and not in chronological order.

First and foremost, I am slowly learning that long-learned, often-ignored lesson about the relationship between busyness and holiness, namely that everyone else is right when they assure me that busyness and holiness are not directly proportional but are often indirectly proportional. I am the type of person who likes to keep busy beyond measure because the silence often unnerves me, leaving me in a zone of discomfort which seems to be wholly undesirable instead of thoroughly purgative and uplifting (which it truly is). I am learning how to be busy and be human, how to strive for true activity which does not avoid the glorious humanity which I have but instead brings me more into contact with myself so that I may truly devote myself to God and others and not devote a shell of a who I am. I have learned that keeping busy for its own sake is a road which leads straight to the cold, lonely recesses of Hell, a road which cuts one off from others, dehumanizing them by abrogating the dialogical bonds which make us most human. To a great degree, I learned this by the difficult road, that same well-worn way by which I learn almost all the important lessons of life. I look back to my senior year of college and see many good memories but also see many chances that were abandoned because I didn’t myself slow down, didn’t allow Matthew Kenneth Minerd to step forth onto the stage with his heart wide open, ready to accept the world and be embraced or rejected by it. Instead, I became my own island of busyness and lost the chance to truly enjoy my last year of school while also maintaining a responsible schedule, something which I have only done once in my life during a blissful two years known as my Sophomore and Junior years of college. Alas, the lesson to take from this is that I must not allow being busy to be my aim in and of itself but always focus myself on the more arduous and fulfilling task of loving God and the world to the fullest, even though such love opens my heart up to the most supreme of pains as well as the most sublime of joys.

The other major lesson that I learned this year was that the world may not end at the hands of an Axis of Evil in the coming months. For a while, I was quite afraid of this occurrence and truly did not think I would live to see the beginning of 2008, or if I did live to see it that I would not know that it was happening because of supreme isolation and communication fall out in the wake of a massive nuclear war. Instead of worrying each day about the fall of the West from the outside, I have instead decided to concern myself with the ways that I, Matthew Kenneth Minerd can defend the West from the inside against those who despise our own glorious heritage that has brought forth this splendid nation and into which the savior of the world was born. However, I have also learned that this must be a task of humility and that I must always remain a tool in the hands of the Truth which guides the paths of all humanity through this life. Instead of trying to come up with my own ideas of how I can chivalrously save Western civilization, I must always remain a Collaborator in the Truth and an Apostle of Love, never separating these two roles but seeing them as a dynamic duo by means of which disparate human activities are united by the power of Love in the face of Truth, a unity which requires the work of many, the dialogical interchange of ideas and, more importantly, being.

The final, least important, lesson of this past year was the fact that my vote doesn’t count, not because of its numerical insignificance as much as the fact that the American electorate only has the babbling of partisan politicians to guide them through the storm of elections. This was the first time I have ever voted for a candidate instead of against another, and I was sadly disappointed in the fact that so many people bought into the diversionary tactics used by Mr. Robert Casey. Now, let me first of all say that I don’t doubt that Mr. Casey is a good man, at least as good as a politician can be given the fact that the government will only suck your soul out unless you have an iron-clad lock box around it. I don’t doubt that he truly has a vision to help America and do not at all desire (nor intend) to lob partisan labels at the man. However, I was thoroughly disappointed not at his attack ads (which are so common place that we must be disappointed in all politicians for them) but instead at his ads which spoke in a positive sense about his platform on the issues. It was nothing more than wispy desires for better lives for seniors and children, more successful education for children, and other such things that are embraced by all human beings, even our long-ago progenitors with clubs and a burning amazement for fire (no pun intended!). What truly disappointed me about this one ad received in the mail was greater than any other attack ad seen this year, for it was an insult to Mr. Santorum on a deep level, inferring that he was against such fundamentally human and Christian platforms. I was dismayed that so many people would vote for someone who played such a partisan card that tried to make a direct correlation between being a Republican and being a monster who wants the death of old people and schools to be built out of mud taken from the gravesites of the aforementioned dead old people. Now I don’t think that the Casey campaign fully meant to vilify Mr. Santorum to that degree but do indeed believe with a firm conviction that he was playing into the partisan standard that makes the Democratic Party “for the little man” and the Republican Party “for big business,” a standard that is useless if people would only think, for the entire government is partially in the pocket of big business, Democrat and Republican alike. I am a registered Democrat who is an independent thinker, Catholic first, Minerd/Szepesi second, and then an American, relegating any party affiliation merely to a functional level of primary/local elections giving not a single damn about the D or the R so much as T and L, Truth and Love. So what is the point of this last rant for 2006? Namely, it is that I do not know what it was that people found in Bob Casey that was so delightful that it merited the overturning of a tried-and-tested senator, a senator who has indeed made mistakes but who is also willing to speak with conviction and not with smoke an mirrors. He at least had a listing of fifty “controversial” viewpoints instead of a small list of feel-good platitudes. Do I think that people were stupid for doing this? Of course not, for they may have had more information that I did on Mr. Casey. However, I know from personal experience (and am disappointed) that many people voted against Mr. Santorum because he is Republican and that they thought he was nothing more than a war-mongering, grandma-hating person who likes to catch fish in bottle tops and wear them as jewelry while shoving cigarettes into their mouths in order to increase second hand smoke in schools when he visits them to burn them down with the same smoke-producing cigarettes. Well… that may be a bit over the top, but nonetheless, I would like to see partisanship end on both ends. I have just used this as an example because Mr. Santorum has a clear vision on many things and remains open to the other side more than people give him credit for, particularly insofar as he publicly stated that he thinks that the Republican party is weak on social programs to lift the poor up. Even though his policies on this might be a bit different than some on the other side would want, he is indeed united with them in the ideology itself, something very important and often-unheard of today.

Well, my friend, thank you for making it thus far through another raving of this coding Catholic. I hope to have an expanded reader base in 2007, although nothing so surprising is certain. The one hopeful fact is that my readership base is so small that it wouldn’t take much to increase it. ;-) In all seriousness, though, thanks for sticking to this blog even when it was not updated with much frequency. This coming year I hope to give some mind to more frequent updates, even if they are but small insights into other works of mine while I am swamped with busyness.

By God bless you and all your beloved as we begin 2007 A.D., and may the Love and Joy of our Father be yours forever.

- Matthew Kenneth Minerd, The Coding Catholic

No comments: