Flirting with chaos

Whoever is in power, if the law is bigger – and securely separate – then we can rest easy in our beds. Unfortunately, human nature is such that this can never be guaranteed, or even expected.Whoever is in power, if the law is bigger – and securely separate – then we can rest easy in our beds. Unfortunately, human nature is such that this can never be guaranteed, or even expected.

“I accept chaos,” said Bob Dylan drily many, many years ago. “I’m not sure if it accepts me.”

Most of us are unhappy with chaos. When even the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can start a storm on the other side of the world, you have to be a little uneasy about contemplating any kind of disruption, particularly at much more obviously provocative levels.

So perhaps it is prudent not to get involved in uprisings of any kind, even the kind that seem to release us from tyrants.

The problem is that while we want to be free, we would also like to be safe – and the joy of freedom can quickly turn into the terror of chaos.

Is the freedom worth it? It depends who you are. Certain people have the innate tools to benefit from chaos, because they impose their will on it. They are the kinds of people who dominate meetings: quick-thinking and quick-talking. They do not necessarily have the best ideas, but they carry the day.

This is (again) another way of saying that the wrong people are in power because they would not be in power if they were not the wrong people.

That is why you get the French Revolution, why certain bankers ruined the economy and why the Arab Spring could easily turn back into a winter of fear.

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”, as Pete Townshend so eloquently put it.

Yes, chaos is risky. It is a life-or-death environment. That is why most people see democracy as the perfect form of government, and the rule of law as vital.

In fact, the latter is more important than the former. Whoever is in power, if the law is bigger – and securely separate – then we can rest easy in our beds. Unfortunately, human nature is such that this can never be guaranteed, or even expected.

Belief in a God of love goes a long way to counteract the human tendency toward self-interest and self-justification, but belief in a God of vengeance has the opposite effect.

All you need really is love. It stills the storm, and brings freedom. Sadly, we don’t believe it any more. Perhaps we never did.