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Reality is Difficult by Prester John

Written by Subject: Philosophy: Anarchism

Yes, reality is difficult. Life is sloppy, unsettled, complex, and frequently more than people are capable of handling. That’s the sad truth. Reaching some sort of comfort level with this situation is difficult but important.

Someone once said, “Any clear way, though it lead to death, is better than the tangle of uncertainty.” I can understand this feeling and I expect that many of you can also. Sometimes a clear choice would be the greatest blessing in the world. Notice that deeply religious people will even pray for “the time of the end,” knowing that they would likely be killed during that time. Their reason is that during these expected times, good and evil will be clearly distinguishable. Good will be obvious, and evil will be obvious. Many of us would gladly face death to know for sure that we were doing purely what is good. Real life doesn’t give this to us often.

Almost all humans are uncomfortable with unsettled ideas, and work to clear their minds of contradictions. We generally try to put every major concept into a category, and to keep it there.

The promise of simplicity is appealing, but it is false. The world is not simple, and will not be simple any time soon. Trying to see it that way requires errors of logic and purposefully ignoring or devaluing many things. Simple explanations, especially of problems, have frequently led to scapegoating, and sometimes to genocide. Life is complicated and uncertain. The people who were nice yesterday might be hateful tomorrow. I’m sorry, but that is the truth.

The world we live in is a confusing and difficult place. Sometimes it will be too difficult for you to handle, and you’ll fail. Again, I’m sorry, but this befalls us all. From time to time, we all need a little help. Pretending that things are simple won’t help. And no one is going to ride in and save you from uncertainty. Anyone seeming to is a liar, and probably a would-be dictator.

I wish I could give you a fast, easy fix for this situation, but I can’t. Get used to it, and deal with it as best you can. Pick friends who strengthen you and who will help you in a low moment. Be thankful if you have a family that cares for you. It’s hard for all of us. Maybe someday we can learn to handle this better, but for now there is no magic fix – it’s just too hard sometimes. I’m sorry.


From Appendix A in "A Lodging of Wayfaring Men" by Paul Rosenberg, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Share Alike license. © 2007, Paul Rosenberg.

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