Sunday, October 05, 2008

John Rawls, the Original Position, Truth, and Hitler

Place: third place in Essays

When I first learned about John Rawls and the Original Position, it made absolute sense to me.  Between John Rawls and the Original Position and Christianity and Reincarnation, the whole thing resonates perfectly and I can tell that it’s more or less True.  I know, I know; I’ve mentioned this before.  To you.  At MacDonald’s a couple of years ago, and in the clouds many times, and also once in Spring of 1645, but I think you were drunk and you probably don’t remember. 

You are an Angel (for want of a better word) and you are given the opportunity to Come Down (for want of a better description) and check out Life on Earth.  They don’t tell you whether you are going to be the child of a CEO in America or whether you are going to be a poor person, a very very poor person, somewhere else in the world.  You could be born with AIDS, or spina bifida, or you could be born with a silver spoon up yer gullet and can’t get it out.  You may be forced to take piano lessons, or you may be forced to carry water on your head for miles and miles and hours and hours, twice a day for your entire life, just to keep the cows going. 

All you are told is that it is going to be a Crap Shoot, and that your odds are bad.  Most likely, you will be aborted before you even get started, or you could lie around in agony in Africa with flies in your eyes, until you die at the age of six months, having depleted your mother’s physical and emotional resources to the point where all her teeth fall out. 

You are told that you won’t remember the conversation in which you are told this.  You won’t understand why you are where you are, even if you should live long enough to wonder.  You are offered the chance to do this thing, to blunder into ignorance and see what happens.  If you are here, then obviously you agreed to it.  You went for it.  You said, “Sure, why not?” 

At the time, it seemed like a fun idea, like backpacking in Algeria, India, whatever.  You were complacent.  You understood the situation at the TIME, and you knew you would eventually be coming BACK.  The fact that you would not remember the agreement after you’d made it, while you were down On Earth, did not seem like a big deal.  Even death seemed like parachute jumping.  Scary, but really, you were going to come Home, so at the end of it, you’d be safe.  You could trade stories about it in the bar later, with other people who’d been backpacking on Earth. 

No one really drilled home how TEDIOUS things could be.  Or how painful something like a TOOTHACHE could be.  Or what it would be like when your beloved died, not knowing.  Or what the not knowing about the NOT KNOWING was going to be like. 

Knowing that you’d know later seemed to be enough.  It was going to be an Adventure. 

Also Educational; that’s why you were getting the Opportunity in the first place.  No one is obliged to Go to Earth.  But there are grants and scholarships.  If you make it back in one piece, there are Speaking Engagements. 

So (for example) here you are.  And you are not supposed to remember any of the stuff they told you, but somehow, sometimes, stuff leaks through.  Thusly, we have John Rawls, the concept of Heaven, and Reincarnation.  People are said to be “Old Souls”.  There is an inchoate understanding of what really the fuck is going on, sometimes, among some people.  And dogs, horses, cats and budgies.  How does the goddam budgie KNOW?  Why are we nodding at each other like that?  Ping.  Squack.

John Rawls’ Original Position has nothing on what the fuck is Really going on.  But: it’s clear that in that case, somebody up there forgot to shut the window all the way.  The Dalai Lama just laughs. 

Some of us, clearly, are addicted to this backpacking shit; and then some people are New, and they have no idea what they are doing.  Then, of course, there’s the idiot that keeps signing up and never gets any better.  Even in Heaven, there are idiots.  The biggest myth is that there is such a thing as Perfection. 

Perfection.  It’s probably just an idea. 

Still.  There’s a directionality to the thing that is unassailable.  Hitler is already back down here working in a coffee shop (his name is Brian now, and he volunteers for Meals on Wheels on the weekends), but everyone is still mad at Hitler.  Why?  Do we really need to ask?  Brian doesn’t know he used to be Hitler.  When Brian was Hitler, he just had what seemed to be good ideas at the time. 

He got raked over the coals in the bar when he got back to Heaven, oh yeah.  He won’t do THAT again. 

One question is, how do you get the Speaking Engagements?  The answer is, you can’t come back all messed up.  A lot of people do.  Brian is working in a coffee shop because he is Sorry.  Really, really sorry.  He never got to do any Speaking Engagements, unless you count the fact that he had to spend the equivalent of a billion years addressing all the other Angels on How He Fucked Up.  It was painful for him.  He always mentions that he never thought he was fucking up at the time.  This is one of the crucial lessons Up There, and the reason they forced him to speak.  Nobody has to come back, and Hitler just lucked into the coffee shop gig.  He said he wanted to, not knowing whether he would end up being aborted or being some suffering child’s mother.  He’s just lucky, this time. 

Check it out, the guy that hands you your coffee next time might be Hitler. 

Anyway, if this isn’t true, I don’t know what is.

Posted by julianyway on 10/05 at 09:30 PM | Permalink
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