No matter what aspect of experience we might begin to think about, once we have begun, then provided we are honest, careful and courageous as we follow the path that patient deliberation gradually makes apparent to our inward eye, we shall eventually discover that we have arrived at that ultimate basis of all thought, from which it proceeds, upon which it supervenes, and toward which it relentlessly tends.
At that Ultimate, we confront always the same choice, the choice that is first and last, alpha and omega of all our doings: the choice between Being and Nothingness. On the one hand lies reality, meaning, significance, importance, truth, purpose, life, and light; while on the other lies utter irreality, absurdity, chaos, indifference, noise, vacuity, death, darkness. One is the proper terminus of all thought, as being its basis and beginning; the other is the negation of thought, as rendering it either moot, or meaningless, or impossible.
There are no other alternatives. At its very root, and thus pervasively, existence is either one or the other.
Time to choose!
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.
By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
— James Russell Lowell