MY SISTER LUCY—SHE OF THE KEEN VISUAL EYE & SENSE OF WHAT TOUCHES A NERVE—HAS DONE IT AGAIN
I wrote yesterday—with some passion—about the travails of writing, and the need to keep going regardless. Hard to overstress the importance of sheer, unadulterated perseverance. That made me think about other outsiders who have questioned the status quo, been proven right again and again, yet have been rejected by “the system.”
Several are my friends and stem from both the arcane world of counter-terrorism, and from the military. All have risked their lives in the National Interest, and done outstanding work in their respective fields.
Their offense has been to refuse to conform intellectually (they have followed the rules of their particular organizations)—so the system has rejected them. Being right is not considered an adequate excuse. Having achieved significant results in defense of National Security is also no justification. The strength of the system lies not in its effectiveness and integrity, but in its ability to benefit those who go along to get long. Typically, it protects an elite, and those who want to be part of that elite.
“The system,” a mindset rather than a monolith, is nonetheless something which pervades the American Way of Life. Given the authoritarian nature of this money driven corporate/government world we have created, and now seem to accept in place of democracy, we should probably not be surprised. It is underpinned by a careerist mentality which puts self-interest before the mission, self-advancement ahead of the public good. It is almost entirely lacking in social concern. Though it is clear that many are unhappy with it—perhaps even a majority—it remains dominant in our society. Why not, indeed, it controls the levers of power.
Have the rejected turned into “beautiful people” as explained in Elizabeth Kubler Ros’s memorable observation (see above). Not quite, based upon my experience—unless one takes a very charitable view of beautiful people—but I have to say her general principle is not only true, but beautifully expressed. Adversity does, in many cases, breed understanding and compassion. Unfortunately, it can also breed bitterness.
Do beautiful people really exist? Yes, they do, but they are also flawed and human. That is part of their charm.