Thursday, July 23, 2009

In the Beginning was Fergal

The Origin of the Species

The Blue Anchor was conceived in a bathroom in County Wicklow, Ireland in 2007. This rather unseemly circumstance delayed her birth until May 17, 2009 when Barack Obama helped deliver her on a stage in South Bend, Indiana. She has been slowly growing ever since and has attracted quite an array of admirers. They await her formal d├ębut, which has been scheduled for mid-August of this year.

Meanwhile, allow me to regress a moment to that fateful day...

In the beginning God created some space

Apparently the Divine left out the bathroom at Fergal M's modest home in Bray, because there wasn't room to stand. This fact may explain why my mother avoided Fergal's facility—a choice without which Baby Blue would never have been.

By the time I left the cupboard under the stairs, The Blue Anchor lived within me.


I didn't even know she was there until I got back in the car after bidding farewell to Fergal and his lovely wife. I'll pick it up as it happened:
  • Mom: Hurry hun, I really have to use the bathroom.
  • Dad:  Look El, I'm going as fast as I can. These damn Irish roads...
  • Me:   Mom, why didn't you just use the bathroom at Fergal's?
  • Mom: I don't know. I just...
  • Me:   You just what, didn't think Fergal's house was good enough for you?
  • Mom: ...didn't really think of it.
  • Me:  (perturbed) Didn't think of it? Did it not occur to you that there are certain benefits associated with using another man's toilet?
  • Mom: (drolly) Like water and a wipe? Son, the hotel has those too you know.
  • Me:   (sputtering) Water and a...No!
  • And then the baby moved inside and the words left my lips:
  • Me: It builds international relations.
  • Horns blared as my dad nearly lost control of the vehicle. My parents' laughter echoed in my head for days.

    The Ultrasound

    A closer look will reveal the wisdom of my statement.

    Relationships are built on commonality. By using Fergal bathroom, I extended the common ground we share. (Case in point: You and my parents now share a common laughter at my ideas. Maybe it will germinate into a conversation some day.)

    But laugh not hastily. Any conscientious housewife should agree: Before a party, women tidy the entire house. Oftentimes this exercise only serves the exasperation of the children. Guests stay on the main floor. They never see whether or not Johnny cleaned out under his bed.

    But on rare occasion, a curious or tired guest may enter the newly-cleaned, rarely-seen parts of the house. In such a case, the guest will be grateful for a tour of the house/place to rest/wardrobe to hide in. In consequence, the housewife will feel as though all her efforts were worthwhile. To some degree she will be grateful that she could provide for her guest. And a bond will be formed.

    The Family

    It is this bond, this common ground, that the Blue Anchor intends to foster.
    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more.
    People talking without speaking,
    People hearing without listening
    Humanity needs to discuss the issues that most haunt us. We need help in answering those questions most intimate to our lives. Such an endeavor demands a great deal of sensivity and forbids self-righteousness.

    I recently commented on someone's blogpost. The response that came back distorted my words and reiterated the argument I had refuted. Clearly, there was no room for dialogue. The dissenting opinion failed to even grant me the accuracy of my own words.

    Unfortunately, 'dialogue' of this nature dominates the public square.

    "And Then One Day, They Learned to Talk"

    All our opinions are necessarily drawn from our human experience. Impressions are projected into beliefs—beliefs then weaved into ideologies. Two persons sharing one experience may end up worlds apart.

    The Blue Anchor intends to show Dick the Communist, Jane the Anarchist, and Joe the Plumber Fundamentalist that little can be achieved by ideological contention. Arguments from opposing 'thought spheres' will never meld into a peaceful solution.

    Instead, we ought return to the core of the dispute. The rediscovery of our shared human experience will allow us to walk together on the path to truth.


    1. I'm not sure whether I loathe your idealism as naive or wish that I possessed it myself.

      You're right that arguments that come from "opposing thought spheres" as you call them are doomed from the onset. All arguments come from first principles, and if your first principles are incommensurable, you have an argument that becomes interminable.

      Modern disputes regarding morality, religion, politics et al. I would argue often appear this way. I like the idea of your appeal to a universal human experience, but I'm not sure if this is enough. For starters, does such a universal human experience exist? Or is the nature of human beings something that, much like the biological evolution of species, is in constant flux?

      Second, even if you grant a universal experience, I'm not sure if that leads us together to a single, unified Truth with a capital T. Our recognition of a shared human experience leads us to accept certain values in common, perhaps - life, liberty, justice, mercy - but our individual subjective orderings of these values can still divide us, which is why you have the pro-lifer who hails life over liberty or the anti-capital punishment picketer who puts mercy over justice.

      If you don't agree with my particular examples, that's fine, but I think my point still stands. This unified human nature/experience is at best, elusive, and at worse, illusory. And even if we do find it, it's no guarantee that our subjective experiences won't lead us to individually value certain things over others.

    2. The question at hand seems to be if people are open to dialogue. Dialogue involves two perspectives and an interchange. Contention comes from two perspectives hitting heads. Arguments come from first principles, true, perhpas dialogue does too, but dialogue is not interminable because although two principles may be incommensurable, dialogue leads to a discovery of deeper principles and a hierarchy of principles.

      As far as universal human experience is concerned, could is be that through dialogue would we could find that subjective human experiences lead to a shared universal experience, pointing to a universal truth… at least, isn’t it worth a shot??