The cars rush by when the light changes; the emails pour over the screen, the documents pile up. People rush from one place to another, acting out their part in microcosm of a society dedicated to making itself look important so that it can claim power.
Where, then, lies peace? Not the ersatz version offered by the hippies and appeasers, but peace of mind. Contentment, introspection and visions of the transcendental — the beauty and possibility in our world that gives us faith in its goodness and truth, and therefore a hope for this world and beyond — go alongside peace, or having a mind in harmony and balance with the world. This mental state arrives as a subset of understanding, that is, realizing the reasons why things are as they are in the natural world, and how we can achieve that same kind of abstract order in our own thinking.
Since the West lost its heart shortly after the French Revolution and tried to suicide during the World Wars and Civil Wars, our people have had no peace. They juggle their lives between threats — human threats, like finances and social disapproval, or even lack of self-esteem due to lacking a BMW or adopted third-world orphan — and cower from whatever it is that Society will do next. People glance over the political news and turn off. It all seems hopeless, and threatening, because it is designed to. It keeps all of us busy, distracted and afraid to speak up.
But who speaks up for the intangible things? Beauty, love, peace of mind, purpose, and truth are feared by the herd and through them, our elected leaders derive a mandate to destroy those. They will not allow greens to remain unmolested by constant reminders of human authority and demands, so they cut the underground and plant grass and put up lots of little signs telling you what to do and not do, and call it a park. This differs from the ancient concept of a park as a wooded garden where people could silently appreciate the beauty of nature. Our modern park is designed so that we are always reminded of other people, of their demands and needs, and of the rules that force our spirits into small, cube-shaped interchangeable parts.
None of this will strike anyone as news or new. Select people have been saying this for centuries. But perhaps it is time for us to start pondering on what has been taken from us, starting with peace of mind. There is nowhere to go to escape the herd. Every purchase is taxed, layered in paperwork and limited to what most people desire, crowding out the non-conformists and better options by forcing them to define their own “luxury” markets. Quality goes down every year, money is worth less every year, and more advertising goes up, with more streets and apartments and suburbs. Social order and trust fade a little bit every moment as well. We are sleepwalking into a dark tunnel which narrows suddenly and will obliterate us.
You cannot base a political movement on wanting peace of mind and, dare we say it, life to be actually enjoyable again. Politics finds its power in justifications based on threats. We must have little signs or a child might fall! Litter might be left… even though it is anyway. We must have more fines, more cameras, and more police. Everywhere, silently and thoroughly, chipping away at a life we would like to lead. We are ruled by our fears, and if peace has an opposite, that is it. Politicians nod and smile, knowingly and regretfully, about what is being done. They say — in sage fatalism — how sad it is, but how it will never change. It cannot change. There is simply no movement behind it.
Conservatives of the future disagree. A society cannot be defined by fears and averages. It makes itself out of what it reaches for, those unattainable things that are nonetheless the few things worth striving for. It aims for the impossible but gets closer every day, like an athlete working toward peak performance or an army training for perfection. From retroactive judgments and fears we can make only ugliness. And yet the ugliness unnerves us and makes us bitter and destructive. Future conservatives may state any number of policies, but are well advise to put at the heart of each one a seed of peace and enjoyment of life itself, escaping from the hamster-wheel of our reactions to our fears.