As I get older, more realistic, more mature, I gain an ever-greater understanding of the fact that existence is a series of compromises made in order to keep the wheels (of finance, of society, of life itself) smoothly turning.
There is no such thing as ?black? and ?white??only endless gradations of tasteful paint samples in Martha Stewart-inspired colors, such as film noir black, French roast brown, and elephant graveyard ivory.
To keep roofs over our heads, for instance, my formerly cynical generation has accepted work we had, in earlier and more idealistic times, found to be distasteful. Some amongst my circle of acquaintances have resorted to working for ?the man,? or even several ?men.?
Putting down the Molotov cocktails of our high-octane principles, we have taken up bylaw enforcement, or the shilling of questionable life insurance products. Some have become mouthpieces of multinational tobacco and pharmaceutical corporations, or have even entered the field of real estate development.
At the fag-end of the post-industrial pre-apocalypse, we have showed up for work in YSL jackets and power ties, in lambskin shoes, in Mylar haz-mat suits, ready and willing to do whatever it is that must, at all costs, be done.
There was a time, of course, when I?pompous prig that I was?would have been swift to pass judgment. No longer. I begin to understand that sometimes the ends really do justify the means.
Most reasonable people would now agree that to live a better, happier, more secure life, we must make some pragmatic allowances, must demonstrate some flexibility in our ideals. If you want to make omelettes, as they say, you need to break some wholesome, factory-farmed, Vitamin D-enriched eggs.
To avoid having our throats cut in our sleep, we must install monitored alarm systems. To eradicate unsightly dandelions from our lawns, we must accept an ever-so-slightly increased incidence of bone cancer.
To stop our passenger planes tumbling from the sky, we must limit the quantities of potentially dangerous water and shampoo carried about. Above all, we must surreptitiously peer out of the corners of our eyes at suspicious-looking fellow travellers.
Remember, always, that freedom is just another word for ?peace of mind,? and that the cost of this peace of mind is putting our trust in those who are in a position of authority, who know better.