Re: Noble Dignity in Meditations

 Posted on 5/29/1998 by to

>I know an episode of B5 ranks high when I not only laugh, but I also get
>that combination of chills and teariness that uniquely expresses that
>deep quality I call Noble Dignity. (Think of Patrick Doyle's "St.
>Crispin's Day" music in Branaugh's "Henry V".)
>That's what Lenier and Montoya managed to evoke in me in MotA.
>And it makes me wonder, Joe, what it is in your life and readings that
>has provoked so much of this quality in you. It shows up so often in B5
>that it clearly functions as a core element in your soul.
Another one of those questions where I'll have to go for the "I" reply, which
should always be viewed with suspicion as any answer given will be self-serving
and massively one-sided. That disclaimer aside:

Understand that on the one hand, I am a massive and unrepentent cynic. I've
seen all the worst characteristics of humans toward one another, and have
generally accepted it as common coin.

And yet....

And yet every day we hear stories of incredible self-sacrifice and
selflessness. There is -- on the other hand that is twin to the one above -- a
stubborn nobility about humans that can't be denied. At our worst, we are very
bad indeed; at our best, we can be truly quite amazing. I put those words in
Delenn's mouth, long ago...that we are better than we think, and nobler than we
know. Usually, those qualities only tend to really come out when our backs are
against the wall...then somehow the pressure turns lead to gold and tin to

It's the kind of thing I try to apply in my own life, usually with mixed
results, occasionally failing, even occasionally pulling it off once in a
while. I think you have to fight for what you believe, that you can't ever
back down and let a casual evil pass (and the casual ones are the really deadly
ones), that you have to push every day to be somehow just a little better than
you were the day before.

Lots of so-called religious groups try to force us to accept that we are by
nature sinful and bad. I don't buy it. Any race that can split the atom, walk
on the moon and write a sonnet has nothing to apologize for. We do the best we
can with what we've got, and on balance, allowing for the flaws and the
occasinal Ayatollah, we've done pretty damned good, and we should be proud of
that instead of beating ourselves over the head. Yes, we still have a hell of
a long way to go, yes there are problems, no we can't ever stop trying to
address and fix the problems that exist, we can't get complacent... but we've
beaten most of the microbes and the diseases, conquered the air, given birth to
Mozart and Buddy Holly, and we ought to once in a while allow for a moment of
quiet pride in that.

Because you can't build on what you ain't proud of having done in the first


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