Jun 11, 2016

Solid Common Ground


Ernst Jünger's Eumsewil contains an account of an allegorical discussion, which is interesting for our time, especially given our own political iconography:
Rosner [a travelling visitor] started talking about his experience with elephants. "The elephant tests the ground before taking each step. When it finds itself sinking into quicksand or a bog, it never hesitates to swing up its trunk, lift its rider from his seat and thrust him under it foot like a piece of wood to support its own escape."
The Domo [the diplomatic chief of staff], who has a mind for such anecdotes, replied "The fault lies with the driver who demands the impossible. This could never happen to an experienced mahout."
He was probably correct [the narrator comments]; if you ride an elephant, you have to know what you are doing and where you are going.
Those who disagree deeply about many things with respect to the politics of the Republican Party, or the U.S. as a whole, can find much to agree about with respect to the truth of this passage. Party and national political disagreements are largely about (1) the identity of the Mahout, who has led us into quicksand, (2) what kind of quicksand or bog is threatening to drown us, and (3) who is the Elephant which will pull the bad Mahout off its back and thrust him beneath its foot for necessary support.

In other words, we disagree about who we are, who has misled us, and what is nature of the difficulty into which we have been led. But we all sympathize with the Elephant in the story rather than the Mahout; we sympathize with one who has been led by someone who doesn't know what he's doing or where he is going. That's a good common base of feeling on which to grow towards unity.

1 comment:

  1. Chico and the ManJune 11, 2016 at 5:22 PM

    As the mad mahout beats the elephant, driving it into the bog, only to be used as a stepstool, a pundit standing nearby says, "That elephant is violent."

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