The little man on the edge of the world


According to the Australian Newspaper’s John Armstrong, Kant believed that the fullest expression of humanity comes in three forms:

  • The appreciation of natural beauty;
  • The love of goodness; and
  • Freedom of the mind.

Strange how we so often express our humanity in exact opposition to these very notions as we tear down natural beauty; exercise badness on a breathtaking scale and harness our every thought to rampant consumption and the pursuit of comfort.  

At about ten o’clock last night, tired of television, I stepped outside and looked up at the sky.  A damp evening with the threat of rain.  Clouds, very low, hastened southwards like they were on a secret mission. They appeared almost sullenly silent like I had caught them up to mischief and slipping by in the darkness.   Beyond them I saw much higher clouds, very still and set in a smattering of stars.  Lines from a Tennyson poem trotted through my head: “Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers/And I linger on the shore/And the individual withers/And the world is more and more.”

So there I stood, humanity’s representative on the edge of the wide earth, lost in the wonder of nature, paving my way to hell with good intentions and free to think I was trapped.

(Cartoon from



Filed under consumerism, life

3 responses to “The little man on the edge of the world

  1. S

    I do love, but anywho, onto your post.

    One of the strangest things I’ve ever experienced in my life was during my third year of high school when I decided it would be fun to take Astronomy (and it was). The first day of class sitting under the dome in the planetarium, we were taught that us humans, no matter how important we think we are, in the grand scheme of things, are nothing more than a speck of dust.

    Perhaps if the average person had to go through a completely humbling experience at some point during their lives, people would be more compassionate, and things like “the appreciation of natural beauty” would carry a lot more weight.

  2. Os: Thank you for representing humanity! Your final sentence sums my feelings, and I’m sure the feelings of at least a few others, up perfectly. Nature amazes me, the cosmos astounds me, and I confuse me.

  3. S – Thanks for the gentle reminder re attribution (which I have now done). Perhaps appreciation of natural beauty starts with appreciation of ourselves and, by extension, the beauty of others. Of course, this makes it a bit tough to figure out where Hitler and Idi Amin fit in and that girl who serves down at the deli and never says please or thank you.
    Beauty – Representing humanity was the least I could do, therefore, I did it!

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