07 May 2009


I have a lot of time to think at work. In a ten hour workday, at least four hours of the FedEx Ground driver's time is spent behind the wheel. The truck has no radio. Even when I ride with somebody, oftentimes the truck is so loud you have to shout to hear one another anyway (I wear earplugs when I drive alone). In a sense it's a lot like flying an uninsulated airplane (say, a KC-135) without an interphone.

Actually, flying a driving have a great deal in common, with the exception that one is far superior to the other. I'm currently doing the other for a living, and if you don't think that gives me great pause you haven't thought about it much. This would occupy my mind all day, every day (with probably negative side effects for my mental health) if I didn't aggressively come up with other things to think about.

Lately I've been spending some of my time trying to determine whether or not I have a cohesive political philosophy, or just a collection of opinions. I'm not sure whether one is preferable to the other, but when reaching for topics to ponder during a long day this one does present itself. (Smittywife just appeared over my shoulder and noted, "You don't have a coherent philosophy." And there you have it.)

The question has some relevance, though not to anyone but myself. I'm reading this book about Thomas Jefferson (American Sphinx, by Joseph Ellis) and he notes repeatedly (paraphrasing) that Jefferson maintained a strict political philosophy that was, in many ways, almost irrationally pure and assumed things about human nature that aren't true; and yet throughout his life he took various actions that clearly ran counter to the philosophy he held (and wrote from). He did this by, in Ellis' view, keeping two halves of himself separated--literally having a philosophical side that knew not what the pragmatic side did. Exactly how he managed this... well, I haven't finished the book yet.

And I'm reminded of our friend Switters (from Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates) who embraced and celebrated his inner contradictions--possibly a way out, a denial of denial if you will, but food for thought. Can one have a core political philosophy and deviate from that on certain issues without being a callous opportunist or thoughtless pragmatist?

Anyway, over the next couple of days I've been thinking I'll write a little about how I've been trying to fit my collection of opinions into a complete arc. This will at least give me something to write about here to get back into the swing of things.

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