Government and Greatness: The Contemplative Way, and the Active Way

This is an excerpt from King Jason’s War, that I enjoy. It is, here, entirely out of context, but I’m hopeful that it will still make some sense. It describes, I think, some of what’s going on between the radical Liberals and the radical Conservatives, in these days.

“It’s amazing, really.” Jason sighed. “They have their expectations of the world, of how it works, and the world just seems to shape itself around them.”

“That is generally the way of it, with noblemen.”

Jason growled, “It’s not just the people. Sure, you’d expect it to be that way with people. All the commoners know that the nobles are in charge, so they conform to the world as the nobles see it. But…I mean…everything. The Eskiem certainly don’t credit our Peers any authority, but look what has happened. The Peers want a war, and the events of the last few hours seem to guarantee one! Reality shaping itself around their expectations.”

“There is more to it than that, Jason—”

“But the worst part is,” Jason took a deep breath, eyebrows furrowing, “the worst of it is being me, living in this world of my own that doesn’t conform to their expectations, but watching their world move right along in spite of me. They see a war as right and necessary, and my little objections—”

“You have not been entirely sure of your objections, Jason.” Robert interrupted, softly, but Jason stopped speaking and listened closely. “Are you suddenly sure that you stand against this war?”

“Not…well, yes, but…. No, I see your point, but even so—”

“They believe, and stand by their beliefs. You doubt, you take time to consider, and your search for real understanding makes you hesitate, makes you wait for more information. Meanwhile, they act in their quick confidence, and the world has left you behind.”

“It’s not fair, Robert. It’s not right that recklessness should have the upper hand.”

Robert started to answer, but then stopped, thinking. Finally, he said, “It’s not necessarily recklessness, Jason. Their path, their whole worldview, is one of confidence and action. Yours is one of contemplation and philosophy. Yours requires patience, and care, and long years to attain its end.”

“But what do I do about this war? This decision must be made today, no matter my own patience.”

Robert looked over and met his friend’s eye. “Are you truly asking my advice? Do you want my answer to that question?” Without hesitation, Jason nodded. “Then here it is: your path has nothing to do with this war, or any one war. Your philosophy is not one that shapes decisions, but worldviews. If you stand against this war, the war will happen anyway. If you become king, you will have a lifetime to change the way this nation views the world around it. My advice, good and true, is to say your piece, and then let the Council make its decision in this matter. Then commit your reign to crafting a world where we will never have to face this decision again.”