Monday, December 17, 2012

"De Profundis"

One time, during my sophomore year in college, a girl I didn’t know very well said to me: “You know, Roger, you really are a pompous ass.” I don’t remember exactly what had provoked the observation, but I do remember that rather than being insulted I was actually rather flattered. It had never occurred to me before that anyone might consider me being anything other than totally bland.

I have subsequently realized that I do have something of a tendency to pontification, soapbox oration, and not-infrequent melodrama—which I suspect may have occurred to you from reading these blogs. And that I find endless fascination in this odd mixture of arrogance and insecurity allows me to ramble on (insecurity) and try to figure out just what makes me, you, and humanity in general tick (arrogance).

The fact of matter is that, like most people, I do have very strong feelings on a number of subjects, but unlike many, I have no hesitation in voicing them. That by doing so I risk being considered somewhat daft—a word seldom used nowadays, but I like it—certainly doesn’t slow me down. In the sincere belief that while you are probably too busy with your own life to devote too much time to frivolous thought, you might be willing to indulge them from time to time in my company. I do try to be careful to point out that I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but part of me is quite firmly convinced that we all have much more in common than we generally acknowledge, and therefore when I talk (and talk, and talk...insecurity) of me, I am to some extent talking of you (arrogance). Since I am always delighted to learn, through comments I’ve received on these blogs, that other people do finding bits of themselves in my thoughts, it’s merely an extension to think you might do the same. I take great comfort thinking that we are not quite as isolated as we might assume we are.

My trips into pseudo-profundity and melodrama are definitely related to my constant awareness and appreciation of life. Melodrama is rather like zooming in on a photograph…it brings out details otherwise overlooked or ignored. My life-long fascination with disasters, from the Chicago fire to the San Francisco earthquake to large ship sinkings to 9-11, stems not from the human suffering they produce, but for the all-too-rare nobility and unity they almost inevitably bring out. This selflessness and unity, demonstrated in countless individual stories of courage and braveness, are to me evidence of what humanity really could become if it tried a bit harder.

The world…our society, our culture, our race…is a mad whirlpool of contradictions, of good and evil, of kindness and cruelty. I have always taken comfort in the thought that we so concentrate on the bad things in life simply because all the good things are so common as to go without comment. Love and kindness are the accepted and expected norm against which hatred and cruelty are measured, and the fact that we are shocked by them speaks to the fact that there is indeed hope for us all. Our media bombards us with so much evil and tragedy and bad news that we tend to be blinded to the good. There are far more puppies and kittens and babies in the world than mass murderers, yet it is the mass murderers who make the headlines.

So I get up on my rickety soap box and orate and wave my arms and pontificate in hopes that somehow, somewhere, some way, I might make the tiniest bit of difference in someone’s life. I say “in hopes” because, in the final analysis, hope is our salvation.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

We both know my perception of you was greatly incorrect in the beginning. I have a much better sense of who you are, plus it helped after meeting you. But in those first few months? I thought you were an angry screaming lunatic! Turns out you're just a big ol' tabby cat who gets rubbed the wrong way when the humans act in an annoying manner.