And Lord Henry continues, “but we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!”
And I read beneath the shade of the FedEx Ground trailer, escaping the uncomfortable mid-day summer sun. I sat, consumed by this book, looking up briefly every few pages or so to make sure that the driver-trainee was executing the proper maneuvers between the tire-track ridden orange cones. He seemed proficient enough-smooth on the clutch, commanding the p-1000 with safety and precision. He is not much older than me-a mere 7 years separating the two of us. He’s got a kid on the way and needs this job to support his family. His family.
It is a sad fact of existence-that our positions in this life are direct results of accidents. Religious affiliation, socio-economic class, familial dynamics, and the loss of loved ones are variables uncorrelated with will or determination. A former intern-friend of mine surveyed and documented the stories and lives of the homeless in Harvard square, and in a blunt, honest demeanor, a man explained that he lost all he had in a fire. Uninsured, familial-less, and with little money, he found himself that day homeless for a year and a half. I’m sure that-if given the opportunity-he would have done everything in his power to ameliorate the situation. He simply could not.
I may be the last authority to speak on this subject as I have been privileged to enjoy an easy life. My life to this day has been foreign to health-related mallady, familial loss, or financial burden. During the latter years of high school, I realized that the bane of my existence was rooted in the massive inequality in the world not deriving from a lack of will or a lack of courage but rather a lack of luck. Odd as it may seem, I did not connect with this feeling until today and at the trivial time I stared at a John F. Kennedy campaign poster.
Great men of the past have gone beyond what societies have willed, bearing the burden of extraordinary challenges on their shoulders attempting to ameliorate the misery so widespread and inherent of this earth. Others have taken resolve in societal recluse, examining the works of other philosophers so sincerely devoted to making meaning of it all-or more succinctly, the time between wake and slumber.
And in this inspiration I find cause for my existence. I seek to alleviate the ignorance of hatred so prevalent in the world we live. Perhaps my efforts will amount to nothing but a dent in the discourse of societal development, but I am committed to putting forth the extent of my potential in helping my fellow man, or at least men that are willing to be helped.
And so it goes, a piece that was inspired by the wonders and joys of raising a child, evolving in to a piece describing the troubles plaguing our world. And by this, I digress-or rather conclude this conversation, on perhaps another: of raising a child.
In his treatise on education, Rousseau expands that on raising a child, a parent must isolate a child from society, giving him the opportunity to explore and to play, uninterrupted by the ignorance of the word “no.” A child is to discover for himself, a means by which a parent may impart on his or her child the love of philosophy. And at the conclusion of the development of his stable foundation, a child may then go forth and interact with society, but only when his skin is calloused and experienced enough -impervious- to the disingenuous will of society. And so it ends, this piece. I intend on following up with a more proper and reflection of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray as well as reflections on Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality.