Monday, September 14, 2015

back to exceptionalism

In the course of trying to cobble together a newspaper column for Wednesday, I circle around once more to the conundrum of exceptionalism, a grisly or glorious bit of potential that strikes me as inescapable when espousing any heart-felt persuasion.

Exceptionalism ... my way as distinct from the highway.

I use the word in a sense wider than what the dictionary provides, to wit, "the condition of being different from the norm; also :  a theory expounding the exceptionalism especially of a nation or region." Exceptionalism in my lexicon is also quite personal -- a choice of direction or practice that, like it or not, is distinct from other persuasions and, more important, deserves special and excusing treatment.

By my yardstick, then, even the most "inclusive" spiritual persuasions is by nature exceptionalist in that it sets itself in contrast to non-inclusive diets. The distinctions may be subtle and suave or coarse as splintery toilet paper, but the exceptionalist stamp is clearly in evidence.

And so it should be.

And that's the conundrum. In making a choice, something else is automatically downgraded and set apart from that given choice. Life may be inclusive, but choices are not ... but how else is anyone to discover the honest inclusivity without exercising an exceptionalist verve?

Beats the socks off me.


  1. How many years of my earlier life were --- I was going to say wasted, maybe not, but certainly paused --- because I was too aware that any choice involved a negation. And how could I do that, without knowing what I was choosing against? It's very nice not to feel that way any more, one of the advantages of being old.

  2. The paradoxes of being. It's not just change that make life unsatisfactory.