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Confession Confession
by David Sparenberg
2012-12-19 11:29:30
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I am trying to remain honest.  Never to pretend.  This honesty is the mendicant’s cloak of my integrity.  And I am not radically different from yourself (but perhaps in some choices only a difference shines).  Nor am I better than others.  There was a season in this patchwork life when I assumed a gifted superiority.  That was only to cover certain unmentionable wounds.  Now in the twilight offing I have no mask more than my voice; no costume either: I am naked in the fear we share.  The raw emotion of human nudity.
I do not have answers.  Nothing alone.  Unless to say that, “There is a crisis happening and we are at the bottom of this and the failure”—unless that is an answer and this too as well, “There needs to be repentance.  Not in the habit of kneeling (although we may fall before we arise), but in our standing forth in acts of beauty, of help, rebellion, and of healing.  Such, to my sense of it,  is not an answer.  Although recognition is foundation of struggle, a touchstone waiting to be tested and the origin of asking.  Out of dark tubers of Chthonic chemistry grow the fragrant orchids of authentication.
I am among your poor of answers, of intergenerational poverty, while full of breakage in the labor of inquiry, and one of this planet’s wealthiest orphans, a homeless of due dates missed, of crusts and rags and ruins, and the shiver of questions.
As the outer night sky is full of burning stars, so is my soul scattershot through with asking.  And at the heart, the thorny knot of it all, there is this: “How can we live as we are living?  How do we compromise and accept what we are always accepting?  How can it be?  How has life come to this?  And all the while, every minute throughout every night and day, we are here, have been here—wearing our painted smiles, while camouflaged by betrayal and the popular arts of being absent.  Haunted even in our hiding by being present.  Knowing this is it.  Here we are.  The eclipse and the dawn.
Come on now, let’s pull ourselves together, get upright and earth-walk in synchronicity; even through the valley of the shadow of death, even to the liminal crossing; and talk to one another face to face, heart to heart, and soul to soul, as we go along.  As children we would have played. How simple!  As adults, are we not brave enough to bond and do what is right?  Are we not resourceful enough to kindle a fire, to fall into the world, to remember how to dance?  Are we not still alive?
Look.  Throw even the smallest stone into a pond.  See how outwardly it ripples into rings. How easy!  But try to sense now how the invisible accompanies the act of casting.  And imagine the circles that move downward to stir the bottom and the circles that move upward to touch the sky.
David Sparenberg
12 Dec. 2012

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Emanuel Paparella2012-12-19 13:32:19
As I read your two pieces (yours David and Christos’) I intuit a nexus which I am still trying to fathom. For at first sight, never to pretend is indeed to be corruption free, to wear no mask with which to meet the other masks to be encountered in one's daily rounds, to be transparent as a clear sunny day, to call a spade a spade, to mean yes when it is yes and no when it is no; to deal justly with all fellow human and nature.

All this is true on an individual level. On a societal or national collective level things get a bit more complicated, although Aristotle is still correct in pointing out that the polis is nothing else than the sum of its citizens which determines its virtuous or vicious character. Yes nations can be honest or corrupt too. The yardstick for judging nation’s and even empire’s honesty or corruption is reverence for justice and respect for the rule of law. Are there just and legal wars with which empire deal at all times? One supposes so, given that even St. Augustine found criteria for a just war, but generally incessant aggressive wars create a coarse society quick to fight violence with violence and deluding themselves that the paralysis produced by fear and intimidation (of the bully that says that “might is always right”) is equivalent to peace. There is plenty of peace in a cemetery too and it is perpetual but nobody is virtuous there.

The ancient Romans are exemplary in this respect: they went around proclaiming that “pacta servanda sunt” [pacts must be honored] and spreading Roman civilization and Roman law wherever they went; all apparently honorable stuff. Later on it get called "the white man's burden" which may or may not include women... It is only when they began deluding themselves that now that nobody dared oppose them they were also “honest” dispenser of Roman justice and peace that the corruption to the core began and a Pilate could not perceive Truth when he came face to face with it and needed to ask "what is truth?", and ultimately brought about their demise.

There is a lesson there for every form of imperialism throughout history and the greatest danger is to believe that one’s honesty is a paradigm to be emulated by others; that goes under the name of cultural imperialism, it the attitude of “being enlightened” and holier than thou either individually or collectively, politically or economically, an attitude perhaps even more insidious and harmful than physical geographical imperialism. Perhaps the Bible has a valid point when it postulates a snake in every garden; perhaps, as you well point out my friend David, humility is the better wiser stance when it comes to honesty; that is to say, the acknowledgment that nobody can be perfectly honest just by his/her cleverness looking at the starry night above; she/he must also look at the moral law within; nobody can be totally transparent and honest and incorruptible without grace and grace is free and not inherited and not earned.

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