Monday, 11 February 2013

A New Way

I began to write my book fourty years ago this month, after an encounter with a devout Wayist colleague of mine. In response to his questions, I expressed my opinion that the Winds should be treated as allegorical figures rather than literal entities. To his credit, my colleague did not become violent though I could see that he was restraining himself. I do not know why he reacted so strongly to my opinion – to this day I feel that I was the very picture of humility – but the strength of his feeling was plain.

He accused me of base disrespect, of madness, of blindness and of arrogance. When I asked him why he called it arrogance, he explained that I was flying in the face of the knowledge granted to our ancestors, and who was I to argue with them?

I show all proper respect to my ancestors of course. But to believe that the knowledge of all things was gifted to them before they could even work iron properly is not only deluded hubris, it is contradictory. If such knowledge was given them, then why could they not work iron? Why could they not vaccinate, or build a computer, or a starship? The answer of course is that they could not do those things because they had not yet learned how. The fact is that with every passing day we expand the frontiers of our knowledge, and invent new technologies using the secrets we unearth.

The pattern that we see everywhere is that knowledge grows with time, as we build upon the foundations laid by prior generations. If we allow the impulse to sacredness, religiousness and spirituality to blinker us to the reality of the trend of human progress, then we have accepted a deluded state of mind, which is to be avoided.

However, the delusion we must also separate ourselves from is that the spiritual impulse is an inherently backwards one, or inherently corrupted. It is a human impulse, and shares the same potential for both the climb and the fall as any other human thing. The goal of the New Way was to turn this impulse towards the same constructive ends that are conducive to our faculties of reason and enlightenment. Religion is a tool that got us through the bitter winters, and can serve that purpose again. Do we throw away our old tools? No. Not if we are wise. We refine them. Adapt them. Bring them up to speed with the modern paradigm. Why should the tool of our spirituality be exempt from iteration?

If we do intend to dust off the old tool and update it for the modern age, however, then there are bugs that need to be patched. Quite serious ones. Glitches in human reasoning that encourage otherwise sensibly sceptical citizens to unthinkingly accept the patently absurd as truth simply because it was told to them as a child by a trusted authority figure.

Due reverence and respect for an ancestor is only appropriate of course, but any person can be wrong, about any thing. We accept as a principle of meritocracy that if a son or daughter is more competent for the role than their own parent, then the parent should derive pride rather than outrage from being surpassed. It is not meritocratic for the young to have perfect confidence in the wisdom of the old, when the elder's wisdom is not wise at all. Our knowledge has grown over the ages as much through daring to question the established understanding as through exploring hitherto unimaginable horizons.

Religion is an organ of the human condition. For the Amarr, it is their beating heart. For the Gallente it is an appendix, free to remain so long as it causes no harm. But what is religon to the Caldari State? What role shall it play in our civilisation? Shall we discard it? No! The very purpose of the State is the preservation and perpetuation of the heritage that makes us Caldari, and the Way is a fundamental and important part of that heritage. We should no more abandon it than we should abandon the desire to reclaim the Homeworld.

But all things must be weighed and balanced, considered in terms of the greatest good. The question is not whether or not we should retain the Way, but rather whether we should retain the Way in its present form. This is a more difficult question, and it is my sincere opinion that the answer is that we should not. The Way of the Winds contains much that is excellent. It also contains much that is glaringly false, prone to misinterpretation, or vulnerable to dogmatic literalism.

What was needed was a new version of the Way, one which retained those elements that merit retention, and which re-tooled the rest. This became my work for seven years, and here I am four decades on, surrounded by thousands of people who agree with me. This has never been my project alone, however. Everyone who contributes to the debate shares in the success our philosophy has seen and it gives an old man the greatest hope to know that the future of the Caldari people, and the legacy of our past, are in such devoted, concerned and competent hands.

-Vakarin Uuskyoun, Foreword to the third edition of his book "Improving the Sacred"

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