I read Orwell’s Reflections on Gandhi on the train ride home last night. I was surprised by his dismissive tone — I always thought of Gandhi as someone beyond reproach — but Orwell was a Brit living at the end of the colonial era. I suppose one should attribute his bitterness to the agony of defeat (and at the hands of a half-naked, emaciated lawyer, no less).
At any rate, after reading the essay, two things came to mind: 1) Why can’t there be balance between humanism and sainthood? Must one choose between the ascetic life and the life of pleasure? 2) Can’t we trust our intuition to guide us in our decisions, to lead us to choices that will serve both man and God? It’s pretty simple really. Many of us do this every day. If our gut tells us that something is wrong on any level — human or cosmic — we re-evaluate our sense of direction and gain the proper footing once again.
One could argue at this point in our planet’s history that the lifestyle Orwell found so distastefully “sanctified” is actually the more humanistic approach. Vegetarianism is sustainable, celibacy prevents overpopulation, and choosing to love humanity over any single man or woman will bring the whole world together. Apologies to Orwell, but I’m a meat-eating married woman who’s trying to get pregnant, and I’m still pretty sure Gandhi had it right.