76 Exhaustion: On Freedom of Conscience

I’ve been embroiled in a controversy at work of late which is absurd when you consider that I’ll be leaving soon and couldn’t care less how the organization operates once I’m out the door. As mentioned in the last essay, I become too easily caught up in issues of justice, especially if others convince me that I need to take up the cause for a greater good beyond myself.

As for me, I’m willing to accept difference of opinion and workstyles. If someone doesn’t like the way I write or work, that’s fine, I don’t consider myself to be an ideal employee for every situation and every boss on earth. I’m fully capable of walking away and starting fresh. And yet, the battle rages:

It is quite normal to see good intentions, when not carried out with moderation, urging men to actions which are truly vicious.

There’s is no doubt that the battles are most fierce when the stakes are the smallest. The wisest course for me is probably to just agree to everything and continue doing exactly what I want to do … with 14 workdays remaining on my post, what are they going to do, fire me? They’d be doing me a favor. Yet, reason has gone out the window:

Even among such men as these you can find many who, once passion drives them beyond the bounds of reason, take decisions which are unjust, violent and rash.

The most rash thing that I’ve done of late is to seem like I care. The combination of civilization and zealotry is toxic, as Montaigne said:

Inordinate zeal caused more harm to literature than all the fires started by the Barbarians.

Montaigne came down on the side of religious tolerance more out of a mood of resignation than pure belief. Having seen the destruction of religious conflicts, he determined that allowing anyone to believe anything is preferable to wanton, pointless violence:

For the other side you could say that to slacken the reins and allow the parties to hold on to their opinions is to soften and weaken them by ease and laxity; it blunts the goad, whereas rareness, novelty and difficulty sharpen it. Yet for the honour and piety of our kings I prefer to believe that, since they could not do what they wished, they pretended to wish to do what they could.

It’s good advice and I should follow it. If others want to believe that I’m lazy, incompetent or otherwise impossible to work with, that’s fine with me. I don’t need to prove myself worthy to everyone, just to those who appreciate what I do. And there are plenty of them in world.

14 work days … 14 work days.

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