Midway through the journey of our life, I found myself within a dark wood, for the right way had been lost. Dante Alighieri
If you stare long enough into the Abyss, the Abyss stares also into you. Friedrich Nietzsche
We were silent the past week while on vacation; on return, we've been welcomed by amusing vitriol. More on the latter later.
But first, on Saturday, we found ourselves in sunny San Francisco, freshly washed by unseasonable rain -- where on a beach by the Golden Gate, we sat on water-softened rocks debating environmental politics with a close friend, a San Francisco liberal with keen intellect, when after a particularly biting expression of our contempt for tree-hugging (!), the "Pacific" seemingly could take it no more. A freak & vicious ocean swell doused us both head-to-toe, and with that our illiberal argument drowned in the raging saline-spit.
Our friend mirthfully argued that the ocean spitting at us was our just deserts for confronting her environmentalism, thus nature itself, forcefully. At that moment of our drenching, we could be forgiven for thinking this might just have been the case!
On Sunday, we re-connected to the world, and (courtesy our blogger friends) found this vitriol (partly) directed at us. What provoked this was our recently expressed frustration with Indian liberalism (see here and here).
As we see it, our dispute is with liberal ideas that have, paraphrasing Dante, led India into a dark wood, for the right way has been lost; our dispute is (by & large) not with individual liberals (some of whom we've called white-hats and to whom we've been respectful at a personal level.) Regrettably, some liberals still find it necessary to spew personal vitriol at us, instead of debating the merits of our arguments.
Why is this? Well, this is likely because liberals have had the run of our land much too long that they see any anti-dogma ideas as a profound threat. Also, most (not all) Indians have inherited muddled liberal ideas from their parents and/or absorbed them from our collective intellectual ether (such as it is) without much critical analysis.
Into this intellectual abyss then, if an argument is hurled that confronts not cowtows, the abysmal response is personal, seeking not to persuade, but to stare down and destroy the challenger offering new, and better, ideas.
It's like a lone man hurling ideological stones at the ocean, and the vast ocean spitting back all its venom at him.
As we retreated to our convertible from the water-softened rocks, the two of us (one liberal, other not!) walked shoes-in-hand over burning sand, confident in the knowledge that the California sun would soon burn away the ocean's spit, leaving intact the ideas that provoked the rage in the first place. The vast ocean was still there, but now smaller for its rage. As for us, with warm breeze drying out our skin as we drove over the Golden Gate towards hiking trails in brighter woods, we felt we'd battled the spiteful ocean and had come out ahead, if only for one day.
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