Well, where else is it going to go?
A certain blogger provoked, as he is wont to do, by positing that all community is inherently corrupt. Seeing as how we’re all born into community, a.k.a. family, the question was severely sophomoric, and thinly veiled as tired provocateurship, you know, like a football linebacker spitting on the offensive tackle. Nevertheless, Yours Truly was provoked, and a stew simmered.
The question itself is intriguing because of its shallowness. It is the yelp of the idealist when first he is pierced by that stinging recognition that things purported to be good ain’t necessarily so. The reaction is easily predicted: flank the enemy, who herald their own purity, and shout the epithet, “You are corrupt! You are not pure! You are now The Other!”
Naturally, getting back to the command post from the enemy’s flanks can be fraught, traveling under the dark veil that corruption is actually everywhere, creating the surreal environment of The Other bleeding into The Pure, a conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily ideals. Most people find themselves wandering in this twilight zone of the zealot for a long time, even mouthing the words to the battle hymn of the pluralism, but expending valuable soldierly energy stamping out the apostate.
Some grow weary of carrying out the Inquisition, recognizing, perhaps, that some dear friends were lost along the way, or potential friends were forever quarantined in the ghetto. The fanatics fire their machine guns without a mind to aiming, and the zealots, even though they aim, never come off the front lines. Cynicism sets up, a seepage where the first wound bit. Everything is corrupt. The sun is growing dim and will soon snuff out, abandoning all life to a cold, hard rock.
Life stirs, however. Is it possible that I, being born into community, am corrupt by nature? And that I not only participate in the corruption of my communities, but also contribute to that corruption, unknowingly, unwittingly, even against my will? There are those wicked individuals who incarnate corruption, a slurry of my innocent corruption, seasoned with a bit of yours, fortified with their own reprehensibility. There are those zealots and fanatics who wallow in it thinking that it is purity. And then there are such as I, recognizing my putrid state, and the state of the community around me, the inescapable camp, a desperate band trying to tease out some virtue from among it all, not because I am more virtuous than the wicked, the zealot, and the fanatic, but because I aim to be more virtuous than I am. I reckon to be more virtuous than I am, and it is one whale of a task, considering the cold fact that the MPs continuously point you into the thick of the fray, where we must all dwell, firing at will or willing to not fire. What will we do?
We’ll do the best we can, and then we will pass along what best we did, our many deeds of valor and cowardice, to have virtue teased out of them by our progeny and disciples. Virtue is a creative act of several individuals, calling into being happiness, joy, and idealism where there is not, like a song emerging from within the confusion of the armies: sometimes more join the tune, sometimes fewer. Thus the rivers flow to the ocean and then find their way back to the mountains.