Hmmm…well this is a medical blog site so that may seem like an odd place to start. Let me explain my interest in such an enemy and the nature of what I here call invincible ignorance. No, better, let you me give you my explanation of the contrast and then we can look at the issue more broadly as your answer may lead you to a different version of what I call ‘implacable ignorance.’
Death is the enemy; as pure an evil in this life as any. Willful, capricious, stealing our loved ones, our futures, our hopes, our peace: yet it is implacable. What to do with this deathless enemy called death?
We must fight it…unto the death. An accomplished enemy requires respect. Death is a very accomplished enemy. Respect for the enemy requires that we study his methods that we might defend against them.
Any good doc knows that ‘all bleeding stops eventually;’ either by being properly staunched or by exsanguination; that is bleeding to death.
We think of death as a sudden end to life but it is more like the slow drip of blood from a wound; small splashes of red on the ground as we slowly bleed to death. Death fights as if it is in a turf war rather than a final battle; little by little, stealing this pleasure, this strength, this place of quiet, this long look at sun dappled water on an Autumn afternoon, this roar of joy as you sprint up a hill or throw a long pass or chase your grandchildren in the front yard. Such stolen things are the true victory of death. Remember we do not win the final war.
In this version there is no difference between aging and death; or at least there is so little difference as to be a meaningless distinction. Sure ‘aging’ can be seen as benign, merely the name of the passage of time but shortly after childhood it becomes the name of limitations imposed by death. Death has already begun to claim his turf; our eternal stillness. Little by little; not merely the last drop of blood or last breath but by eroding our “sunlit uplands.”
Now, my claim is only implacable ignorance keeps us from this understanding and the actions that would lead from it. Actions like staying as healthy, fit, strong, and well fed as possible. Always. Without excuse; all excuses are lies from the implacable enemy.
OK, that is the strong case; the one I advocate. May I show you examples of the propaganda the enemy uses to keep us locked in this state of invincible ignorance? Ignorance of what we must do.
“I just need to get this one thing done-a report, an all-nighter for school, a week’s long business flight from country to country- and then I will get some sleep, eat better, work out…” You see, the enemy controls the very way our world is made, the way our culture demands sacrifice without meaning. Are there things worth fighting and dying for? Why, of course, life itself; the love life makes possible. I am not questioning sacrifice but the nature of the petty and unnecessary sacrifices we make everyday with the veneer of nobility-feed my family- that was actually structured out of prior deceptions rather than actual need. Well, that needs some explanation but I hope you see my point.
When tired enough, discouraged enough, defeated enough death looks like a friend, an answer. The problem is it is the answer to a question you did not need to ask; actually probably never bothered to ask in the first place. We rarely mean, except by the enemy’s misdirection, “How do I get out of here?” We should or could mean “How do I get better, how do I restore hope?” Well that brings up another aspect of invincible ignorance; not only our need for good food, good exercise, but also good spiritual discipline.
Look, there is a long line of other thought opposing my version of death as the enemy. If I’ve not read or learned of them all, the gaps are few. The premise of this blog more or less requires me to rehearse the other options but, frankly, I don’t have time in this one sitting. Forgive me. Sketching out the alternative views would give me a context to explain the peace which pervades the fight against this implacable enemy; the joy of being free of the invincible ignorance of the enemy’s lies. Oh well, for now.
One of the cleverest tools, lies, of the enemy is that good health is so complicated that it can only be obtained by ‘magic elixers,’ new drugs or exotic foods yet fully discovered. Phooey!
Smile, Have Fun, God Speed,