Show Me The Fruit

 

One of the things that makes mankind special is that we can – and do – take in data, make sense of it, assign it to categories in order to make it useful, and act accordingly. These categories, whether they are of the more scientific “mammal or not mammal?” variety or the softer stereotypes of, “Does that person pose an above-average risk to my person?” are not necessarily accurate – but they tend to be broadly helpful in going about our lives.

There are always dangers with categorization, as we know very well. Broad stereotypes lead to enhanced tribalism of all kinds (from xenophobia to racism). There is a reason the Torah tells us to have the same law for the stranger within our gates as for the citizen – we instinctively think otherwise.  Nevertheless, the same text tells us that we must categorize and make judgments. We must be responsible for our actions and choices because it is our choices that define who we are.

What amazes me is that there seems to be a broad push within the liberal world to remove all the classic categorizations: nobody in polite intellectual company uses the word “evil,” for example. Or, for that matter, asserts that people have souls. Of course, if we do not make moral decisions, then we are reverting to a more basic existence where nothing is “good” or “bad.” Such labels have no meaning to a mere animal.

When I wrote the first draft of this piece, I thought that we were seeing a reversion to the Garden of Eden – to a time before we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and learned to see the world in categories, with everything assigned a place along some kind of scale between opposites: beautiful and ugly; good and evil; man and woman; materialism and spiritualism; matter and energy. By eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we learned how to make distinctions and judgments, to perceive that there are in fact moral differences that we can and should see.

But, as @susanquinn so delicately corrected me, I was wrong. Liberals are not actually keen to remove all categories, to put us back into a primordial mental state where we can no longer make useful distinctions.

Instead, they want to rewrite everything. Stereotypes are necessary to a liberal – it is just that all the ones we have from experience and tradition must be wrong by virtue of the fact that they come from that same experience and tradition. So liberals absolutely have stereotypes about whites and blacks, men and women, and even good and evil; it is just that everything we thought was right is, apparently, wrong.

We thought it was best to judge people by the content of their character: WRONG. We thought that men and women brought unique perspectives and value to relationships: WRONG. Heck, we even thought that there was such a thing as “men” and “women.” The joke is clearly on us. How could we have been so blind so as not to see that white people are bad, and gender is fluid, and humans are just animals? The world was SO wrong for so many millennia. Bad world.

Liberals do not want to eliminate distinctions. They just want to rewrite them all.

Still, my earlier thought that the liberals seek to revert mankind is not entirely incorrect. Because there was a key feature about living in the Garden of Eden: there was nothing productive to do there. Eden was a paradise – one with no mission, no tasks, no responsibility. All Adam and Eve could do was engage in hedonism, the ancient equivalent of endless orgies and Netflix-bingeing. They had no jobs, no children, nothing of what we would today call “real life.” Adam and Eve did not have to be adults.

And it seems to me that this is a key feature desired by the Left. Marx wanted everyone to have a job, but modern liberalism wants everyone to be given money with no obligations attached. Because there are no traditional roles, there is no traditional family. Because life is just about self-identity (and especially sexual identity), there is no investment in other people, and certainly no investment in a relationship with G-d. We fixate instead on how, in our deepest and basest fantasies, we want to deploy our sexual organs. Not for the sake of growth or reproduction, but just to scratch an itch. This was the Garden of Eden. It is also the liberal paradise.

In this – OK, I admit it, grossly overextended – analogy, then the thing that broke mankind’s stay in Eden was when Adam and Eve decided to do the one thing that made this paradise impossible: they ate the fruit, and deliberately chose to be able to make clear distinctions between good and evil – and every other dichotomy found in the world. Like the child who sees the emperor is naked, Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened.

Adam and Eve became hopelessly bored in the Garden, and they had no sense of what would happen if they ate the fruit. We have an advantage over them: we do not need to act out of sheer boredom or bloody-mindedness, because we have already tasted the fruit, and we see the value in family and relationships and creative work and an honest living from hard work. I choose not to be an animal. I choose not to be the sum of my lusts. And I seek to always be able to tell good from evil.

Which means that if anyone can tell me what fruit I can eat that enables mankind to once again be able to distinguish between Good and Evil, please do so. Like Adam and Eve, I would much rather do the one thing I am told not to do, rather than endure another minute of this narcissistic pointlessness.

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  1. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Categories, like hierarchies, are structures, and structures all have to go. Well, except for the structures that require taxpayers to fund my progressive causes. Those are always essential and funding needs to be increased.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    IWe, your posts are always good. This one especially so.

    • #2
  3. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Let’s stretch your metaphor further.  Who are those who seek to alter our perception of good and evil?  What is their motive for doing this?  The offer of existence without want, without restraint, without guilt, without effort; an existence where character is irrelevant and where grievance, even if not explicitly directed (no matter how slight) requires address and recompense.  Who are these self-appointed arbiters of righteousness and means?

    There is an old bromide: there is no such thing as a free lunch.  In our beneficence, we have been duped into believing that the able bodied should be subsidized.  Look no further than the Indian reservation to see how this has fared.  We have subsidized generations of the dependent, immobile, desperate, addicted and impoverished.  These people have been lost in a perpetual fog of false pride, tribalism and the demands of continued, increased and further subsidy.  We have facilitated this decline.  What do we do?  We promise more.  And what will happen in return?  Continued enslavement in a welfare induced despair.

    We have adopted these policies in the inner cities and in some rural areas, subsidizing indolence and decline.  With this comes crime, addiction and corruption, and a devastating loss of initiative, purpose and self-worth.  What do the self appointed arbiters of righteousness and means promise?  More subsidy, more recompense, more of the same.  And what is the payback?  Our cities are burning, murder rates are rising and the false pride of tribal entitlement is corrupting everything.

    The individual is paramount in our system of governance.  Everybody has the right to live, work hard, persevere and retain the fruits of their labor.  No conservative American wants to deprive anyone of those things, of the pursuit of happiness.  Those who say otherwise are evil, just like the one who first offered the apple at the time of the fall.

    There is only one way to describe those who facilitate this movement: evil.  They seek power.  And for that, they destroy everything; those they claim to represent as well as those who oppose them.

    • #3
  4. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Doug, your comment is brilliant and spot-on.

    • #4
  5. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    No one in America wants to deprive anyone of those things, of the pursuit of happiness.  Those who say otherwise are evil, just like the one who first offered the apple at the time of the fall.

    You had me until there.  Lots of people in America want to deprive people of the right to live, work hard, persevere, and especially to retain the fruits of their labor.  Given the results of the last few elections, about half of us.

    • #5
  6. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    I have to disagree with some of your presuppositions. Firstly, Adam and Eve were childless, but this was not their fate: they were told to have children. And Adam and Eve were not jobless, living unproductive lives, and “with no mission, no tasks, no responsibility”, but rather Adam was quickly charged with naming – which involved making distinctions and classifying – all the animals, apparently on the first day (or at least when he got over the jet lag of being created). And then was put in a position of – I suppose one could say – “caretaker” of the Garden; perhaps this included such mundane things as pulling up overgrowth and organizing and cultivating the plant life, but it might have been something as elevated as creating and maintaining regular orchards, or even engaging in artistically creative and expansive topiary gardens (not to mention engaging in animal husbandry, like Abel later did). And Eve was to help Adam, and this may have been more than merely helping him populate the earth.

    Never have I thought that Adam was bored: he (presumably daily) walked with God, and presumably conversed. What wondrous things might God have been talking about, and explaining to Adam? If there is no end of God’s Kingdom’s increase, who knows what Adam and Eve might have had laying before them? And how God might have been preparing them.

    And finally, I argue that Adam and Eve both would have known the difference between good and evil (or if, once tempted but without sinning) they would have been appreciative of goodness apart from the evil that they avoided. Perhaps we have such difficulty seeing God’s goodness today because we live steeped in a world of evil; how much better might it have been today to have difficulty seeing the world’s evil, if we lived in a world steeped in a view of God’s goodness?

    “Which means that if anyone can tell me what fruit I can eat that enables mankind to once again be able to distinguish between Good and Evil, please do so.” The end state is living with trees whose leaves are for the healing of the nations – perhaps we will make tea. And perhaps the tree of life is still in existence, in which case we might find ourselves enjoying life eternal, and living in a world in which “the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end”. I doubt that there will be nothing to do in this world but lounge.

    • #6
  7. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    No one in America wants to deprive anyone of those things, of the pursuit of happiness. Those who say otherwise are evil, just like the one who first offered the apple at the time of the fall.

    You had me until there. Lots of people in America want to deprive people of the right to live, work hard, persevere, and especially to retain the fruits of their labor. Given the results of the last few elections, about half of us.

    Fixed it.

    • #7
  8. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Flicker (View Comment):
    I have to disagree with some of your presuppositions

    I am working with what the text actually says.  G-d created man “to serve and guard” the Garden – but does not tell him of the task. 

    By the by, Adam named the animals before Eve got there (Gen. 2:20). So he had nothing else to do once she was on the scene.

    They were given one commandment – “don’t push the big red button” kind of job. Where do you reckon Eve had the time and inclination to chat with the snake? Why do you think he was able to convince her?

    Mankind is not able to just NOT do something. That is not how G-d made us. 

    The text seems to make it clear that mankind is learning about the rules from the beginning – and that G-d is learning about man as well. We tend to surprise Him, and that is clearly not necessarily a bad thing. Example: Adam is told to till the land – but all the forefathers disobeyed Him, and were shepherds and not farmers.

    • #8
  9. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Flicker (View Comment):
    I argue that Adam and Eve both would have known the difference between good and evil (or if, once tempted but without sinning) they would have been appreciative of goodness apart from the evil that they avoided.

    This is clearly counter-textual. The tree was NAMED “The tree of knowledge of Good and Evil.” And after they ate it, they were forever altered in their understanding of things.

    • #9
  10. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I’m reminded, as I often am, of something C S Lewis wrote.  In A Preface to Paradise Lost, he contrasts the characters of Adam and Satan, as developed in Milton’s work:

    Adam talks about God, the Forbidden tree, sleep, the difference between beast and man, his plans for the morrow, the stars and the angels. He discusses dreams and clouds, the sun, the moon, and the planets, the winds and the birds. He relates his own creation and celebrates the beauty and majesty of Eve…Adam, though locally confined to a small park on a small planet, has interests that embrace ‘all the choir of heaven and all the furniture of earth.’ Satan has been in the heaven of Heavens and in the abyss of Hell, and surveyed all that lies between them, and in that whole immensity has found only one thing that interests Satan.. And that “one thing” is, of course, Satan himself…his position and the wrongs he believes have been done to him. “Satan’s monomaniac concern with himself and his supposed rights and wrongs is a necessity of the Satanic predicament…”

    The “monomaniac concern with self and self’s supposed rights and wrongs”, which Milton/Lewis define as Satanic, seems endemic to today’s “progressives.”

    • #10
  11. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    iWe: Because there was a key feature about living in the Garden of Eden: there was nothing productive to do there. Eden was a paradise – one with no mission, no tasks, no responsibility.

    Our fallen lives, full of trials and tribulations, are the whetstone against which we can make the edge of our souls sharp.

    • #11
  12. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    iWe: Marx wanted everyone to have a job…

    Yes, although he did claim (what was he smoking?) that in his worker’s paradise everyone would work no more than four hours a day.

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    iWe: Marx wanted everyone to have a job…

    Yes, although he did claim (what was he smoking?) that in his worker’s paradise everyone would work no more than four hours a day.

    Commies have always stunk at practical math.

    • #13
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    iWe (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    I have to disagree with some of your presuppositions

    I am working with what the text actually says.  G-d created man “to serve and guard” the Garden – but does not tell him of the task.

    By the by, Adam named the animals before Eve got there (Gen. 2:20). So he had nothing else to do once she was on the scene.

    You assume the task ends when something else is mentioned. That’s a logical leap. The Lord gifted us a universe so immeasurable, both outward and inward, that we could never reach the end of discovery.

    The Left has reached the ultimate end of apostasy: a total claim of independence from God — a claim of self-creation, even to the extent of redefining the world around us. Adam was at peace because he accepted his created nature and lived by the Lord’s guidance.

    Though you and I might disagree about the final significance of the Eden story as revealed by the Lord’s later works, we should agree that by willful cooperation with our Creator we seek to regain that right order. The Lord has invited us into His creativity. Now, with knowledge of good and evil, it is our challenge to be creative and productive within the masterwork of creation we were given, rather than to redefine existence apart from the Source of all that is good.

    • #14
  15. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Percival (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    iWe: Marx wanted everyone to have a job…

    Yes, although he did claim (what was he smoking?) that in his worker’s paradise everyone would work no more than four hours a day.

    Commies have always stunk at practical math.

    “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
    “So where’s the omelette?”
    Rinse and repeat.

    • #15
  16. Ontheleftcoast Member
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    iWe (View Comment):
    I am working with what the text actually says.  G-d created man “to serve and guard” the Garden – but does not tell him of the task.

    It’s not just in “serve and guard” that there’s no concrete task specified. In the previous chapter, there’s to “subdue” the earth and “have dominion” over the other creatures.

    One possibility might be that all the serving, guarding, subduing, having dominion, being fruitful and multiplying was initially supposed to be done spiritually, not on the material plane at all. It’s unclear how much success there was in this. (Perhaps for the sake of discussion, we should say that in the naming, The Adam did manage to at least partly fulfill one of the non-material positive commandment he’s been given. Maybe that’s part of subduing and having dominion. True, it’s in reference to the material world, but there are none of the sorts of activities regarding animals that are discussed in Halacha, such as plowing, safely confining, slaughtering/sacrificing, and so on.) But if subduing, dominion, etc. were meant to be done on the material plane, there’s not much record of success prior to the Tree. And the language of the first “Thou shalt not” was that of something material.

    Furthermore, while Adam (more literally, The Adam) was commanded to be fruitful and multiply, that doesn’t happen spiritually or materially until after the “fall.”

    The we see that after Adam does one of his tasks, has seen all the animals and named them, it’s recognized that they don’t include his help meet.

    Once said help meet is formed, it’s also the case that when The Adam names her, he calls her ishah (woman) due to her having been derived from ish; that’s the word for man which is the exact parallel of ishah—and it’s only used in reference to Adam in the etymology of ishah. She’s later mostly referred to as The Woman (HaIshah.) The Adam and The Woman.

    In other words, linguistically, she’s not exactly Adam’s full counterpart yet. It’s not until after the fruit and its consequences that The Woman is renamed Chavah (Life,) which is when The Adam “knows” her so that she gets pregnant and the physical being fruitful, multiplying and replenishing the earth begins.

    • #16
  17. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    In other words, linguistically, she’s not exactly Adam’s full counterpart yet. It’s not until after the fruit and its consequences that The Woman is renamed Chavah (Life,) which is when The Adam “knows” her

    As Rabbi Sacks put it, when Adam discovered he was going to be mortal – and the woman was going to be a mother and thus Adam’s pathway to perpetuation – then he saw value in her, and gave her an actual name.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    iWe: Marx wanted everyone to have a job…

    Yes, although he did claim (what was he smoking?) that in his worker’s paradise everyone would work no more than four hours a day.

    Commies have always stunk at practical math.

    “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
    “So where’s the omelette?”
    Rinse and repeat.

    Updated:  You can’t make an egg without breaking omelettes.  

    I don’t remember which recent leftist escapade made me think of that. 

    • #18
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    iWe: Marx wanted everyone to have a job…

    Yes, although he did claim (what was he smoking?) that in his worker’s paradise everyone would work no more than four hours a day.

    Commies have always stunk at practical math.

    “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
    “So where’s the omelette?”
    Rinse and repeat.

    Updated: You can’t make an egg without breaking omelettes.

    I don’t remember which recent leftist escapade made me think of that.

    The vegans aren’t even going to get omelets.

    Which reminds me; why aren’t the vegans up in arms (or legs, maybe) about all this talk about how we’re all going to be eating bugs in the future? One cannot be a proper vegan unless one is expressing moral outrage on the dietary habits of others. Besides, bugs are people too!

    • #19
  20. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    iWe: Marx wanted everyone to have a job…

    Yes, although he did claim (what was he smoking?) that in his worker’s paradise everyone would work no more than four hours a day.

    Commies have always stunk at practical math.

    “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
    “So where’s the omelette?”
    Rinse and repeat.

    Updated: You can’t make an egg without breaking omelettes.

    I don’t remember which recent leftist escapade made me think of that.

    Some postmodern leftist gibberish, maybe?

    • #20