Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm asking for a reprieve

The idea that life is a term of penal servitude (The Cynic's Almanac, Sept. 18) is one touched upon, to one degree or another, by philosphers and writers from Plato and Saint Augustine to Schopenhauer and novelist Jonathan Franzen, whose The Corrections takes the subject as a theme.

Augustine said that our hearts are restless because this is not our true home. Jesus said as much. Go and sin no more, and perhaps you will one day be able to enter (or re-enter) the kingdom of Heaven.

None of us are without guilt, even as babes. How can that be, unless we have committed crimes elsewhere?

If we are all prisoners, how, then, should we be expected to act toward each other? Jesus said, of course, to love one another. But as criminals who can't recall their crimes, isn't it natural for us to be bitter, to think everyone worse than ourselves? Can we blamed for endlessly seeking some mean advantage? We can't help it -- we were born that way.