“We’ll live quietly. We won’t make waves. Only each child is a wave. Every breath we take is a wave.” Jake in 11/22/63 by Stephen King
I’ve never read Stephen King before. Well, not much, anyway. I read pieces of The Shining at my son’s behest because he so loved the book. I agreed that what I read of The Shining was very well written, but as it scared the bejesus out of me, I had to decline to read much. I’m not going to rave about 11/22/63, because I am not a raver, but I was lost in this book for the last two weeks. Books that claim me like that become my favorite reading memories. Smoothly-written page turners that make you think are hard to come by.
With the kind of synchronicity that’s been happening in my life lately and the kind of “harmony” Jake keeps finding in the threads of reality in the novel, while I was reading 11/22/63, I also happened to listen to a philosophy lecture on utilitarianism and deontology. As I understand the two thought processes, a utilitarian believes that all choices should always further the cause of the greater good. A deontologist, on the other hand, believes that there are certain moral rules that are never to be broken, even at any cost to the greater good. (I prefer situational and relative ethics, but that’s off topic.)
I don’ t know that I have any definitive answers to the questions posed by these philosophies (see off topic aside above) or to the question posed and answered by the novel’s plot, but I’m pretty sure it is always wrong to change things we don’t fully understand. To play god with our limited human intelligence is arrogant and presumptuous and could very well be dangerous. To consider the large-scale ramifications of every small decision we make would drive us all insane. Better to try to live purely, to love freely, and to exist uniquely in every moment, thinking only to do no harm and to “suck out all the marrow of life.” (Thoreau)