The princely air of believing that we are superior to all those around us, and that we are the true inheritors of this majestic kingdom that we find ourselves living in, may waft and weave around us all day long as we drink tea and munch biscuits at home watching TV. However, come the moment when someone unexpectedly knocks and our door and we look into their eyes, all vanity is sucked from within us quicker than a back-draft from a burning building.
We are not princes. We have no inheritance to look forward to in this manner. Our existence with others is not structured on the feudal system. Instead, our existence just is. So, we should just get on with it and stop feeling self-absorbed and self-important all the time. Stop the day-dreaming now. Whatever delusions we may have are just that, and they need to be seen for what they are in order that we can regain our humanity and look at each other with respect and equality in our thoughts, because other people are our equals. The time for feudalism has passed.
So, my method of capturing your attention and suggesting thoughts to you, will not be to set before your eyes a tragedy most human, but rather the more rewarding one of persuading you to see and think differently.
“A traveller who had seen many lands and peoples and several of the earth’s continents was asked what quality in men he had discovered everywhere he had gone. He replied: ‘They have a tendency to laziness.’ To many he ought rather to have said: ‘They are all timid. They hide themselves behind customs and opinions’.”
In this evocative little gibe at human laziness, Nietzsche expressed very concisely a problem we all face and are guilty of: hiding behind customs and opinions. The assault against laziness is one of Nietzsche’s perennial themes. In particular he disliked those who did not pay attention to his words and he insisted that his audience should “learn to read me well”. With the above quote though, Nietzsche gestured towards the laziness found in the comfortable. That most enrapturing of entities that nullifies our ability to resist and enquire whether an alternative might be better employed. I believe Bertrand Russell encapsulated this problem within his thoughts on turkeys. The argument being, does one want to succumb to the conceit of the pampered and well-fed turkey that is very comfortably looked after for three hundred and sixty four days of the year?
Comfort and laziness have their limits. For Nietzsche, the issue was more than a philosophical problem with a sketch involving flightless birds and an axe. It concerned a flaw in our make-up that hangs around our ankles, slowing us down and making us wheeze pathetically at the mere effort of having to think differently to that which had served us so admirably until now. For Nietzsche, the average person, it must be concluded was not an object deserving of much respect. He disliked, in the extreme, those who establish themselves, to their own level of comfort and status, at the expense of never having a new thought or idea ever again. This, to Nietzsche, was an affront, and he demanded more.
So, let us demand more and let me present new thoughts and ideas in ways that should provoke, challenge, entertain and enliven. Read on!