Reflections on the (Possible) Truth in Futility

Everytime I get to thinking on a certain… sensitive issue, and whenever my thinking appears to have reached a certain, rather negative, conclusion, I seem to hear, over and over again, the words – reminder, really – of my old Philo mentor, Dr. Clemens Sedmak, on Truth: Be carfeul of the Truths you accept, because they will determine the consequences you must face.

But, even knowing the consequences that must be faced given a certain Truth, what if you have no choice but to accept that Truth? Because all the evidence points to it?

And then there are the Mentat protocols. Computations reached within the analytical protocols of a Mentat depend largely on the inputed data; after all, Mentats in Frank Herbert’s Dune were supposed to be human computers. Thufir Hawat, the Mentat-Assassin of the Atreides in Dune, said that Mentats have a curse: you can’t stop analyzing data. The data presented to you. They stack up in myriad patterns in your mind in the space of heartbeats, showing you all the possible iterations given the data you recieve.

You… can’t… stop… analyzing… Even if you want so badly to deny what the analysis is leading towards. Which is why I have mental feedback episodes: it is me blocking my analysis by meeting the thoughts head on with static thought, causing the necessary imbalance to block the process.

But, just as I reflect on futility here, so is any attempt to block out one’s analysis. It is futile. Just like the medieval Church, no matter how much you insist on it, or persecute people for it, you will eventually have to admit that the Earth is round and we are but one of nine (or eight, depending on who you ask) that orbit an average, middle-age star.

Futile. But there is a conundrum here: certain actions must have a specific form of reaction. One cannot push a ball and see it fly away! No! The ball must move in the direction of your force! If you hit a person, how high are the chances that your victim will smile at you and turn the other cheek? The Good must be honored, and Evil punished. The hardworking man must get his just desserts, while the corrupt, lazy, oppressive official should at least be behind bars.

In a very real sense, this action-reaction principle is what forms part of the foundation for a Mentat’s analytical templates. Because reality is grouped into cause-effect system maps in your mind, you can process data faster. Because, given a set of actions, there are just so-and-so reactions and results. A good strategist depends on this predictability. Even if desperation makes a person’s actions unpredictable, you at least know that that person will most certainly do anything, so you are prepared to handle whatever may come.

Yet, yet…

If you treat people with kindness, how will they treat you in return? If you stay by someone’s side through pain, sorrow, frustration and trials, how should that someone feel about you? If you are loyal to your beloved, and show her all the understanding, caring and support you can give, not putting shackles on her but allowing her to fly free, and show her that you revel in her strength and brilliance, even without asking for what you give her shouldn’t there be a reaction appropriate to your actions? If you serve your organization with the utmost skill and dedication at your command, what value would your organization give you, then?

My father told me this, just this afternoon: it doesn’t pay to be loyal these days; they will never remember what you did for them, even if it was just yesterday. They will meaesure you only by what you give today.

He was talking about organizations and corporations there – a swipe at my loyalty to the Party and the Movement – but part of me kept coming back to nrealy three decades of observations.

These days, you show kindness, virtue and nobility of spirit, you are considered stupid, naive or weak, your kindess and virtue used against you by the cynics and pragmatists of this world. The person you stood beside today might turn on you tomorrow when you are the one suffering trials and pain, if it can advance their personal agenda. Your beloved, even given all the love, caring, understanding and freedom you showered on her, can leave you like so much waste paper if someone else can provide the most fun, or if she simply tires of you. Your organization, especially if it is under new management, can so easily tabula rasa your whole service record, place new people above you, and disregard the fact that, despite so little resources and opportunities in the previous times, you held the line for your organization, that you served it with so little compensation for so much pain and sacrifice.

Is it truly so… futile, then? We try to light a candle in the dark because we believe that light is good, but… why is there so much that blows out your candle? You hold people’s hands over treacherous ground, if only so they will not be alone in that trial… but they push you away, after. You hear them cry for honor, kindess, virtue, understanding and freedom. But when you give it to them, you are taken advantage of, abused, misused, set aside. You are stepping stone, stopgap, substitute, cannon fodder.

You are expected to be there for them, be strong for them, to fight away their fears, dry their tears, slay their dragons.

And you do so. Because you love them, you care for them: your country, your beloved, your friends, your colleagues, your organization. You do so , not because you expect something in return, but because you know this is what is right.

But Maybe it is wrong to say you do not expect something in return because you do: you expect them to trust you, to respect you, to know that there is someone here who they can love and care for who will not hurt them or leave them or hinder their advancement. Because you love them , and have heard them cry out in pain and sorrow and hardship and you say, “no! It is not all pain and sorrow! I am here!”

So why do they despise you?

Why did they stab you in the back?

Why did they leave you?

Why are you alone, hurting, bleeding, dying from the wounds that were made on you by the very people you served and cared for?

Why is it that when it is your turn to reach out for help because you are drowning, because you cannot not heed your wounds anymore… not only is there nobody there, but they slap your hands away?

Futile. Oh-so-futile.

Among Tolkien’s works, I consider my favorite his Silmarillion. Especially the story of the First Age, when the Noldor defied the Valar and returned to Middle Earth to recapture the Silmarils from Morgoth, falling under the Doom of Mandos for that defiance and for the Kinslaying. Eventually, despite the strength of the Noldorin realms in Beleriand and the Three Houses of the Edain they fall, thrown back in the Dagor Bragollach and decimated in the Nirnaeth Arnoeidiad. Finally, even their last refuge at the Mouths of Sirion falls. Victory over Morgoth was achieved only after Earendil and Elwing make their case before the Valar. By this time, only a pitiful remnant of the Noldor and the Edain are left, their kingdoms laid waste, their works broken.

But this they knew, as was foretold by the Doom of Mandos. Yet they fought on.

Maybe this is why the story of the First Age appeals to me more than the others of Tolkien’s because I can appreciate it: I know how it feels to enter into a struggle knowing you will most likely lose. But you do so, anyway. Because, like the Noldor, you hoped somehow for victory, and you wanted to make a point.

So maybe the Noldor and Edain made their point. I wonder if I ever did?

Would that my story would be more like Beren’s. Somehow, it seems more like Hurin’s.

And that, was truly an exercise in futility.

Will anyone prove me wrong? Will anyone tell me, no, it is not futile?

Or is it also futile, even to ask?

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