Rolling around like marbles on an ocean-going ship's deck ... little jets of thought:
-- Religion is an unbecoming trait among the elderly. If age means anything, perhaps it means making peace with the passions of the past ... of outgrowing the fiery grails. Religion is not becoming to a person whose life-work was full of whatever juice was chosen. Likewise unbecoming to the elderly is a crotchety dismissal of religion. Camus once wrote approximately, "Some people climb onto the cross in order to be seen from a greater distance." I think it is a good observation, irrespective of Camus' disdain for religion. Among the elderly, greater distances tend to lose their holy meaning.
-- I think I take it back... the inability to find an escape hatch in LaRochefoucauld's approximate maxim, "The intelligence of the throng is inversely proportionate to its number." I dislike cynicism. It's a cheap date. So, in the past, I would struggle and fret in an effort to unstick myself from LaRochefoucauld's observation ... and observation that played out as true in my experience: Put a lot of people together and they tend to get stupider. In the past I was caught between the coziness of philosophical considerations and the impact of experience. Now I think I will stick with experience and remember the fact that when a group of people get together and shut up -- where silence is allowed to have its say ... in the Zen meditation hall or Quaker meeting, for example -- intelligence is no longer demeaned. Instead, it is enhanced in a way that defies the word "enhancement." It is a mystery that spits out the word "mystery." It is alive ... and alive is enough. There is the silence and it soars. Praising it is for idiots. But living it is deeply common-sensical. And more than that, to imagine it is missing -- ever -- is a mistake.
-- The Dalai Lama was once quoted as suggesting, gently, "Everyone wants to be happy." And for my money it rings true. But perhaps another way of banking the fires of personal or political rancor, another recognition would also be worth the price of admission: "Everyone wants to rule the world." And perhaps the two suggestions are inseparably linked: Everyone wants to be happy and the way to accomplish that is simple -- just let me rule the world. This sounds ludicrous intellectually, but the efforts to control and find meaning and espouse belief and gather possessions all tend to bring credibility to the proposition. As a recognition, I think this qualifies as a useful mistake ... since ruling the world (however it is gussied up) is not in the cards, whether for individuals or nations, what more sensible course can be found to assure happiness or peace? Since ducking the recognition doesn't work, what does? Traveling to the East in order to get to the West is dumb on the face of it. So ... what is not so dumb?
-- As far as I can see, there is only one difference between a wise (wo)man and a scoundrel. That difference is you.