April 07, 2009

The wheel turns


If there is any upside to the current economic crisis, it is that it gives us a chance to realize something together that we're sooner or later going to realize on our own one of these days.

That lesson is that Fortune is a wheel that turns. When we're on the upswing, we often tend to think that we enjoy life's good things--health, wealth, power, prestige, looks--as a matter of merit and that the universe has to recognize our property rights to them.

It doesn't.

The temptations of arrogance and hubris are probably strongest for the powerful. As Simone Weil said,

Thus it happens that those who have force on loan from fate count on it too much and are destroyed.


The book of Ecclesiastes nailed it:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.


Time and chance.

Anyone can experience a reversal and we're all bound to at one time or another. A time like this can make those of us who may have been spared some of fate's harder blows realize that misfortune isn't just for those other people or for those who somehow deserve it.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls and all that.

One of the most powerful parts of Shakespeare's dark tragedy of King Lear comes when the arrogant king is himself dispossessed and exposed in a brutal storm that forces him to recognize things he'd ignored before:

Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.


KEEPING UP APPEARANCES after a reversal is the subject of this article.

THE RISING. This op-ed from the Baltimore Sun calls the Employee Free Choice Act a stimulus from the bottom up.

A STATE MESS. The solvency of WV's unemployment fund has been the cause of a major dust up in the legislature. It's also taken up a bit of El Cabrero's time lately.

WHAT THE...? In a battle between coal companies and the preservation of one of WV's most significant historical places, the smart money is probably on the coal companies. Come to think of it, if state government had to choose between the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and the coal companies, the same would probably be the case.

GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

1 comment:

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Excellent insights! Thanks you.