A song is the invasion of silence by sound. But where do you stop in between Beethoven’s deafness and the roar of the Space Shuttle? And when we select a zone of optimum sound, is it music or still a noise?
A dictatorship does not allow any optimal solutions. Things are at either a minimum or a maximum. It’s either all or nothing. Intercontinental missiles or famine. It’s North Korea.
Optimal choices need an environment of democratic tolerance in which tender and imperfect individual variations can grow to mighty and perfect oaks.
But even then the quick maximalist solutions offered by Capitalism, on the one hand, and their minimalist counterparts offered by Fundamentalism, on the other, keep tugging at our sleeves.
That’s when the optimal becomes the signature of our individual freedoms. The socially-sanctioned chance to resist both the minimum and the maximum becomes the gift of a life time.
Is that happiness? Not quite.
But just as the optimal is the necessary condition of freedom, freedom itself is also the necessary condition of happiness. And our lives’ central mission will always be to add that missing “sufficient condition” so that our days will be not only be well-proportioned but well-lived as well.
I tried it this last holiday season. The shopping malls were definitely neither the “necessary” nor the “sufficient” condition of whatever I was looking for in there.
Is it a sheer linguistic coincidence that you can derive the word “tired” from “tried” by just changing the position of one letter?