Thomas Jefferson was unique. We are not. We who have Central Pain labor under a confused moral system, where pain loads every question, confuses every horizon and confounds every ambition. We really need society’s help, the help of those not in pain.
We begin by defining morality as doing to others what we would desire for ourselves, and rendering to every man his human dignity. What the moral “system” calls for, we are incapable of meeting when in severe pain. Our mind as well as our limbs are bound. We are an instrument of the pain. Yet, even as consuming forces, we desire to reach out in some fashion and accomplish good. The pain pulls us down, pulls us out of the moral structure. Adapting to our moral environment is difficult.
We need a new code of behavior, new guides, new goals, but our behavior does not recommend us to ourselves, let alone others. We believe in contributing and not consuming as much as the next person, but there is something missing. Without it, we not only cannot get our bearings, but we feel a part of something terribly wrong, and terribly self focused. It is not a position from which to put into place any particular moral scheme, and so until we can see where we are, the moral frame of reference we were raised in will continue to condemn us and make us feel we cannot be service to others, but can only contaminate their joy.
Our water is foul, but it is all we have to drink, and all we have to share with others. There is no creature more unfortunate than one who can only unwillingly harm others, and is of benefit no one. It is a type of damnation, or at the very least a suspension of life. How to govern, this pain limbo and the ambiguous rules of it, it is a terrible question.
Whether or not moral systems can evolve rapidly is an open question, but the miserable history of man’s inhumanity to man indicates that freedom was a long time coming on this earth and morality obscure to nearly all of us. The evidence suggests the birth of freedom is almost as mysterious as the origin of life. The law of the jungle ought to prevail, as it did in times past, but somehow, the time of “red in tooth and claw” is passing and the era of democracy has dawned. Aeons of human experience were necessary before the rudiments of freedom gathered themselves together into an organism of democracy. In the entirely new world of Central Pain, may we call it a distinctly “Unbrave New World”, it is necessary to forge new rules, but where do we look for moral underpinnings for these extremely altered rules. The great minds did not have central pain and we who have it do not have great minds. A moral struggle is inevitable. We build slowly and with constant revision, however strong is our wish to be able to do right.
Man, the great minded, had talked, had perhaps written of freedom, and must have given impassioned speeches, but no one, ever, had devised a vehicle to accomplish democracy before Madison and Jefferson actually thought of a method. The actual working model was not what one might guess. It was NOT simply one man, one vote, yet it was an amalgam that somehow gave primacy to the voice of the people. Jefferson knew it was a republic, but guided by the principles of democracy and he knew the difference, perhaps better than any man who has ever lived, perhaps better than all of them together. The balance of powers was as clever as a time machine and an engine for morality, if mankind could live up to it, which surpassed by a wide margin anything ever seen on planet earth.