On heroic obedience

I will tell you a secret about Canada, but you must promise never to tell another living soul. We are secretly quite sane. We do a good job of hiding it, lest anyone notice and start asking us to assume adult responsibilities; for instance, we elected Justin Trudeau. But when no one seems to be looking, we do the right, or at least the practical thing. Then pretend it isn’t happening. Publicly, we may do something quite visibly insane, but just for a distraction. The Justin lad was good for that purpose. But then we act just as if we hadn’t done that, either. We have mastered the art of ignoring cause and effect. But privately, we can still tell most hawks from most handsaws.

Even here in beautiful downtown Parkdale — where everyone might live, if they didn’t overvalue their lives — I have met sane Canadians. They understand that, for instance, if the price of something is two dollars, and you have only one, you can’t buy it. Nor is there much point in pleading. You’ll have to borrow the other “loonie” (what we actually call our fairly worthless national currency). This will create some bother, so you might as well get a job. The general principle is to get away with anything you can, until the game is up. But then, instead of starting a revolution, get on with your life. In chess terms, all that we require is to recognize checkmate.

There may be foreigners who understand these things, but I’m sticking to the people I know. Even in this new epoch of social media, demand-making has limits. The Olde English concept of “fair cop,” where you stick up your hands and go quietly with the policeman, instead of trying to steal his gun and shoot him, is deeply implanted in the Canadian soul. (Like I say, I’m not going to speak for Americans.)

The trick, as all Leftists have ever understood, is to engineer a fait accompli. Give them no choice, and they’ll choose what you want them to, every time. This is how “democracy” functions. From non-smoking regulations, to single-payer medicare, just say we voted on it; even though we didn’t. People will even pay taxes voluntarily, if they can’t see a way to avoid them. I’ve seen them pay trolley fares on this principle; when the machines are broken, they stop. (Happily for us, the machines on Toronto trolleys are usually broken. Otherwise, we might switch to taxis.) This is sane behaviour.

Your average primitive in, say, the mountains of New Guinea or the backwaters of the Amazon — with, say, a spear and a bone in his nose — is also quite sane. He reacts to stimuli different from those we react to, and probably never rides transit, but when a threat appears, he knows what to do. I’ve heard a lot of smears against primitive people. But one must learn to look at things from their point-of-view, before passing judgement on their peculiar mannerisms.

Civilization (remember that?) is not built on sanity, after all. It is built on obligation and duty and habit. One gets so used to doing things in a civilized way, one doesn’t think twice about it. Class comes into this. As a member of the Middle Class, for instance, there is a whole world of “options” beyond one’s wildest imagination. But staying in the Middle Class trumps them all.

You don’t have to be sane to observe Lent, don’t y’know. You just have to be obedient. Forget the arguments for it; just do as the millions around you are doing. Or a little more, if you’re feeling like a hero; thus presenting your obedience to a higher command.

The millions around you are not observing Lent?

Bit of a problem, that, I’ll admit. You’ll just have to be a hero.