Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hearts Gone Astray.... (11.1.09)

True presence is the only real compassion. How can we make the big guys more present?
I am reminded of that thin woman standing by the roadside where cars rush by so heavy and fast on the way to the highway. I have to buy a bag of groceries, stop my car and hold up the other traffic to pass it to her. Then I will have been present.
How can we make the big guys more present?

That is the real question.  And that is also a huge problem.  For it seems their Hearts have gone astray.

So the next question is:  How to change hearts....
Well, I have some wishes....  But first consider this.  (Because I suspect that to seek the "lost hearts" we need to make sure our own hearts are in the right place.)
"Purity of heart is to will one thing."
We need to think on this.  To ponder it.  Over a long, long time.  Because I suspect the answer is not something we can come up with once and for all.  I think it grows on you.  It changes over time.  As you distill your answers down.  Purifying them. 
Leftyloosey has given us a start.  So has DD:
When I was a kid I was constantly told that
We should at least work, every day as best we can to make it fairer.
This all makes me weep a little.
That I can do so demonstrates that I am still alive.
Maybe what we need to do is approach some very 'strong' people and help them weep a little more.
So how do we get the "big guys" (the very 'strong' people) to weep a little more?  To ponder the "one thing necessary"?  To open their hearts to what really matters?

Like Martin Luthor King "I have a dream."  I envision all the King's horses and all the King's men.... well, you know what I mean...  I envision all the big wigs (men, women), all the "movers and shakers" and the would-be leaders - civil, religious, you name it - I envision all of them somehow compelled or ideally choosing to go off to places where they remain in silence and solitude for maybe 10 days - each year.  Pondering.  Weeping.  I picture these places as monasteries or other places of meditation.  Places where they are exposed to men and women who choose to spend a lifetime in such places: pondering; meditating; holding the hearts of others in their own hearts - seeking to will that "one thing" that is purity of heart.  Seeking Presence, Holy Mystery - whatever name you prefer.  Something you could believe in.  Trust in.  Or wish you could - even if you doubt it.

Now lately I've had this feeling - more than once - that I am not meant to be on this earthDon't panic here.  I don't mean I'm suicidal.  What I mean is that sometimes the woes and the sufferings, the greed and the lies, the wars, and the poverty and injustice just get to me.  And the "distance" between what humanity could be - if we all got together to share our blessings - and where it's NOT.... is so great, I can hardly bear it.  And my inner heart, like DD's, just weeps.  Sometimes I can feel those tears just beneath the surface.  And other times, yes... they come.  I've had floods of tears at times.   Presence and suffering enlarge your heart.

So my dream would entail at the very least placing the "big guys" where they might have to face their own hearts and ask themselves some questions.  Maybe even weep.  For what they've failed to do.  And what they might do.  And what others are going through.  For I wouldn't just "place" them in silence and solitude, but I would make sure that every day, several times a day, they encountered real suffering people.  People who suffer illness and want and disability.  People who lack the money and prestige which insulate the "big guys" and prevent them from seeing, hearing, facing what drives some of us nuts because we just can't get the healing message through.  And these suffering people would speak from their hearts!

I know this is pie in the sky.  I know it.

A few days ago I ran across a chapter in a book I read a few years back.  And this chapter spoke to my sense of estrangement.  It told me that such experiences are akin to what Abraham felt when he was told to leave his land and go to a "place of promise".  That anyone touched by Holy Mystery begins to feel like a foreigner or to have a sense of inner estrangement, the further they go on the "path of promise".  That book has another chapter called,  The loneliness of the just one, which speaks of this in a different way - based on the first Psalm, where "two ways" of life are compared.  The way of the "just" is a lonely way, though "watered" by sacred texts (choose any tradition!) one ponders day and night.  The way of the "wicked" is full of companions (mockers in bleachers, so to speak, laughing at the just ones, while urging the greedy crowd to lie and cheat and steal and murder).  Really this is all saying the same thing:  Even thousands of years ago, men pondered these questions.  They suffered.  They wept.  They felt estranged from the world around them.  They knew it could be different.  They felt mocked by the Fox and internet Trolls of their day. 

I find it oddly comforting to know that thousands of years ago, psalms were written expressing feelings and yearnings I have today.  At the same time it almost brings you to despair!  Thousands of years.  And it's still the same....

So that, my friends, is why in some sense I have nothing more to say.  And I have nothingness to say.

I'm pondering.  I'm stuck in this place of estrangement.  I'm choosing the lonely path.  The only path I can choose:  Heart Streams in Dry Land, I called it once. Trying to plant a few "seeds" - hoping they'll grow, wishing we could plant some more to get the "big guys" to be presentAnd to weep.



My goodness. I guess we do not need a church to receive a sacrament.
Bowls me over this morn, for sure. I can barely respond cogently right now.
I shall ponder this and return.
But let it not be lost on those that drop by here today. This lady is volunteering her time to help people like she does every Sunday.
This is not a post by some philosopher out of touch.
Touch is the word here.
Namaste. And I'll be off soon... to plant some real seeds - with sick patients and their families. And anyone else I run into who seems to need a healing "touch".
Damn, you're good, dd! :-)
This is the second time it's happened, folks! Daylight saving come and gone! And me unaware!
My apologies. Because, due to looking at the clock on the wall... and not the internet clock here on my 'puter, I set the time wrong on the post, once I had finished my draft.
My apologies to those I accidentally supplanted.
Or was it divine intervention?
I'm gonna fix it now....
Better a mind gone astray than a heart....
Thank you for this, Thera. I too will return with something longer.
You bring a measure of thoughtfulness to this place that few others can.
I look forward to that....
When I weep, in estrangement, I know it's not a personal matter. I thought, just last night, this is the state of our world.
Like you, it's not suicidal. It's the opposite. It's the will to go on in this broken world. To try to make it better.
Will try to touch real suffering everyday. Thank you Thera.
Amen! the will to go on in this broken world. To try to make it better.
This might be apropos.
I've started watching it. Not sure I can finish it before I should be off to volunteer at the hospital.
My first thought: Lots of things are very worth doing or saying, irregardless of how they may be perceived. For me, I feel I'm on the track I need to be on.
Peace, dear MBH.
I hear you.
Very, very helpful! Thank you! Yes, I honestly believe in this....
That sometimes you are, in effect, "channeling" something. Indeed!
It's an interesting take you have here on the human condition, TheraP. I may need to come back to this a few times to get it all.
I'm a little concerned that your solution here is to acknowledge our own subservience to the "big guys" in a longing for them to become enlightened.
As for myself, I have little expectation that the Wall Street and corporate moguls who are presently winning the Class War would ever have any interest in the type of meditative enlightenment you suggest. (Keep in mind I am talking generalities here while acknowledging that there are some exceptions.) Theirs is a culture, after all, that accommodates poverty and the suffering of others as an affirmation of their "success."
The greater the gap in wealth between the ownership class and the working class, the greater is the sense of value the wealthy place upon their own personal worth vis a vis those who are "less ambitious" or "more ignorant" or "more simple" or "more weak." They sense they are entitled to whatever "winnings" they can pull from this economy. After all, they will tell you, even the poorest of the poor have available to them - and are entitled to - the same measure of wealth if only they would lift themselves through virtuous activities to the same level of success as the person in question. Indeed,when pressed on this topic I bet most of the Ownership Class can recite anecdotes about poor people who have "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" and now occupy a corner office somewhere earning millions of dollars. It is a tale as established in the Post-Reagan American Story as is the telling of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree, and it is about as legitimate in its relationship to reality, as well.
The rich are indeed different than you and I, and they find their comfort in identifying an exceptionalism in that difference that removes them from any responsibility for the "successes" or "failures" of their fellow man.
In reading your call for enlightenment as the antidote to our growing economic injustice, I reflected upon a period in my life when I felt perhaps most empowered as a member of the Working Class. In the early 70's, I was barely out of High School and was employed by AT&T. Great job. Great benefits.
I was an active member of the Union (CWA) and soon became a steward and eventually became a member of the state's bargaining unit. We experienced one strike during my short career at the phone Co., and I was very proud that virtually every grievance I submitted on behalf of my fellow workers was settled to their satisfaction.
The "perfect career" for me, however, involved driving truck. I therefore quit the phone Co. to gain a job as a truck driver, and soon worked my way into a Teamster job.
In these union jobs, I had no real need to require the CEO of AT&T to actually care one whit whether my family had food on the table or was otherwise "successful." Indeed, it was expected that he was in it for whatever he could get out of it, as were the workers he employed. Thus, once every two years we would go to the bargaining table and butt heads and hammer out an agreement in which workers and management determined (in a macro sense) how this economy was going to serve our mutual needs.
It was a great time to be alive, but it represented the final years of a growth of the manufacturing economy and the middle class that had its origins in the post-Depression WWII years.
I think you see where this is going. We need to assert ourselves rather than wait for the oligarchs to attain some manner of enlightenment after which they will "grant" us some manner of justice. We need to take what is ours, beginning with pride in our status as the working class and a recognition that we are all in this together. "Solidarity" is not so much a nice slogan as it is a one word solution to the problems that beset us.
Ultimately, Reagan buried the dagger in the ability of the Working Class to command respect as well as its ability to take its share of the American Dream. He did so as one of his first acts as President in firing the Air Traffic Controllers. This was but the final blow in the castration of the Working Class' ability to determine their own destiny; the final blow in an assault by the Ownership Class to undermine the Solidarity of the Working Class that established them as an economic force .
Reagan compounded this shift in power with this notion of "trickle-down" economics wherein we are encouraged to pass wealth along to the wealthy in a belief that they will graciously share it with the rest of us.
I prefer simply demanding what is rightfully ours to waiting for the largesse of the oligarchs. But I realize I have no power to do so until the time comes that my fellow workers and all others who suffer the injustices you enumerate stand tall in Solidarity and say "Enough is Enough!"
What form the renewed organization and empowerment of the Working Class might take is still undetermined. But it will happen, of this I am certain, if only because the present state of injustice is so painfully unsustainable as you point out.
Want peace? Work for Justice. It's ours for the taking.
I surely have no disagreement with all your points, SJ. And I am not counseling passivity or being a doormat. I am simply reflecting on the question posed by leftyloosey. And I agree, it's unlikely we will get "the movers and shakers" to weep or be more present. But I am indeed saddened, grieved, at the lack of progress (in some ways) that humanity has made for thousands of years. Yes, we have certain kinds of progress. But still.... it's a battle for hearts and minds. Not just a battle for power.
I don't expect things to change because of what I've written. And I don't expect the battles for the balance of power to change a whole lot either. Oh, yes, they may change here and there. But overall... we can see the same kinds of things happening over and over... No reason not to fight to right the wrongs, of course. So I thank you for that long and considered and helpful comment. And I think you know, from many things I've written in the past, that my heart is right there with you! How good, for example, that workers have unions - to help them battle forces in the workplace, and so on.
I appreciate your voice. I appreciate your presence. And I am well aware of how hard it is to change anyone.... even if they want to change! So, yes, I understand the need for what you've laid out. But it doesn't change the heart pangs I feel. That's what I've written about here. And you know, just like Martin Luthor King's speech may not have changed minds at the time, it soared, it lifted hearts.
I can only do what I feel moved to do, SJ. Again, I don't expect the "hard of heart" crowd to "give" of their own free will. Not at all. But today I'm grieving that fact. And if grieving is my "calling" then I am convinced that on some level that matters. Indeed, it has called forth your amazing comment! That pleases me greatly!
Geez in contexts like this, I feel so lame but I hereby render unto you the Dayly Comment of the Day Award for this here TPMCafe Site given to all of you from all of me.
What a summary of the death of private unionism!!!
I concur, dd. Workers are left defenseless! Just the other day I was wishing a patient of mine had a union rep to go with her to a meeting that she was terrified of. I won't go into it, but there are way too many bad bosses. And way too many employees who lack any back-up when a boss is out to get them.
Sleepin' is gem!
'Get them to listen to Stories,' is my first and easy answer. I googled to try to find some back-up to the notion that stories help us find ourselves in relation to others, but I didn't find anything yet.
Stories read and stories told and encouragement to make up our own stories is important to our growth, imagination, confidence and empathy. I have long wondered if many in positions of power may have been raised by nannies, not parents as much. Perhaps they didn't receive parental nurturing and bonding continuity, without which consciences don't develop well. It is hard to facsimilate it in later life. Supreme tragedy sometimes can act as a springboard to spiritual Gestalt, but barring that, I don't know, thera. It is a nice, generous thought you are proposing.
I'm listening to This Week and the pundits; the only panelist who has even mentioned joblessness and the poor is Al Sharpton! By and large, we are just politcal numerical statistics to them all. Our needs, and our humanity, it easy to rationalize away for too many.
It's a wish I've voiced.... But too many of these folks are cemented within protective barriers - both real and psychological...
Yes, I'm wishing they would have to face the real needs and humanity of the majority of people.
And I know the best we can do is to keep our own hearts in the right places. And do whatever we can, in our own ways, to make a difference.
Thank you for reading and caring.
Hi Thera - on this:
"...placing the "big guys" where they might have to face their own hearts and ask themselves some questions"
My first reaction is, prison would be a good place. Not quite in keeping with the spirit of your post, though. And not quite realistic given they are writing the laws.
I also think they are too emotionally invested in a certain outlook - one where they are 'good people doing their best', that changing their world-view is not a serious prospect either. THere is too much pain in such self-reflectivity.
My less compassion-oriented opinion, is that we the people are the enablers here. They wield power as they please because and only because they have legitimacy. And they have legitimacy because, and only because, WE LEND IT TO THEM. I wanna see some return on that loan...
LSD, stories, and pitchforks, then. OK?
Prison.... yes, narcissists and sociopaths become depressed in prison. Depression leads to reflection....
We WANT things to change. We work for them to be different. But sometimes I wonder if our country is just too large, too much a prey to forces which control propaganda. I'm not giving up and admitting defeat on a political level. However I'm also considering how even spiritual leaders can become unhinged from suffering and preach bigotry and exclusion - as if it was a gospel. So are some "churches" - for example - too big as well? Media empires? Media moguls?
Maybe I'm off base, but it sure looks to me like peace and justice and equality are hardly closer to becoming realities now than when I first became aware of the problems in my long-ago childhood. Yes, I can do some good for a few patients - but mostly it's an uphill battle against molesters and child abusers and powerful forces that many individuals feel powerless to change.
I wish it were only a perception problem. But truly, it's hard to help people feel strong enough to confront even the forces they might confront! Too many people, oppressed by forces beyond their control. And beyond my control as their therapist. Or their hospital volunteer.
Imagine me, faced - as I was, this morning, by a brief email.... little more than a few words from someone last night - howling (so speak) from memories of torture on the "holiday" so many enjoy - but not this suffering (adult) soul, who was always abused and tortured even worse on any holiday another kid might look forward to.
For some things, even therapy can hardly make a dent! I am grieving many things here. Vicarious suffering, you might call it. Of many types. For many reasons.
And musing... on a Sunday morning... with friends. Before I set off to do my little bit at the hospital. (Perhaps the most meaningful thing I do all week!)
Peace to all. I must be off....
hahahahah. You can make me laugh unashamedly in a context where I would ordinarily feel constrained not to:
My first reaction is, prison would be a good place
hahahahahah I will laugh it this throughout the day.
Very beautifully said TheraP.
In my experience both the heart and mind must work together to move beyond attachments.
And in answer to your question... how can we help them to 'weep' the answer is 'there is no one way' but as you say to but to be present in the moment.
To know in some moments it is our role to weep and wish they would join us and to know they are fulfilling theirs.
And the next to perhaps do be an example of compassion as we determine not to let our own hearts be closed and unable to respond.
And another a blast of discernment may jolt us to express adamantly in no uncertain terms the wrongness and damage of another's thinking.
Inquiry, questioning, is what frees the mind in my experience.
A very, very wise man once expressed that sometimes it takes a violent shake to free a man from his mental prison. For some people compassion is to blatantly call out their lies and expose the ill thinking. Others may respond to the soft, gentle, loving presence of a generous heart.
Being present in the moment doing the best we can to both trust and act appropriately is to me what is called for.
Discernment is of the essence, as you say. And I know for sure you are doing your part! Thanks for your words of wisdom. :-)
We are swimming upstream against their ongoing efforts to further isolate themselves from the consequences of their actions.
The one thing that stays with me, the one idea that will not go away, is that while the "big guys" need to be insulated from physical consequences, they do somehow relish the thought that they are able to inflict the harm the do to us. That the creation of suffering is, for them, not only a means to profit, but some perverse form of entertainment.
It is also why the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal, and their incomprehensible legion of adherents, felt not obligated, but privileged, to use torture as a means of "enhanced interrogation" during their reign. They knew bloody well that the information they gained was of dubious value, if indeed it was of any value whatever. That was not why they did it.
They did it - or more properly, had others do it for them - because they liked the thought of inflicting carefully measured, and well-documented, escalating doses of torment on human beings from far away, with barely pronounceable names. The suffering of others, so long as they are "furriners" of no immediate consequence, is seen as a form of entertainment, by which they can point, and laugh, and slap each other on the back, and pose and preen and tell themselves and each other how tough and manly they are - for having some underling of questionable moral capacity harm another at a distance.
Does anyone really doubt that the "torture tapes" provided some horrific late-night entertainment for Cheney or Rumsfeld?
For the investment bankers, the market manipulators, the contemporary "robber barons" of society, it's similar, minus the chains and beatings. I'll wager that in some corner of their psyches, these criminals are excited by the very thought of throwing people out of their houses, ruining the retirement funds of the aging, and wrecking the public commons they themselves strive so wholeheartedly and single-mindedly to remove themselves from.
I question whether there is any way to re-create the connection to society at large that has been so diligently and thoroughly severed.
Even a monster like Henry Ford, long ago, realized that if he paid a worker enough to buy one of his cars, he'd buy one of his cars. No longer.
These characters, they're destroying America for both fun and profit. Too often, in our rightful desire to condemn them, we focus on the profit. We can not forget that their profit, while considerable, is no longer enough for the plunderers of the upper stratum. They are now in it for the enjoyment of "the game".
I think you've put your finger on it, OG. It's not ignorance or simple greed - it's willful repression and abuse in the service of power and pleasure. Which is so far removed from what most of us envision that even we, who see the deeds, fail to plumb the kind of "cold heart" such deeds flow from. It's as if, to feel alive, they cannot weep - they must relish that others squirm or suffer or weep. That is a difficult truth to face. Perhaps more difficult than the horror of their deeds! The horror that for them it's a "game".
I appreciate your analysis here. And elsewhere. I am in awe of that. And, as always, I LOVE your avatar!
How many rich men leave the castle they grew up in, insulated from the suffering of the poor, and see anything other than a playground designed for their own personal enjoyment? There seems to be a paucity of Gautama's in that department. Getting "the big guys to be present" seems a rare thing. Such personalities have their own peculiar faith that instructs them in the virtue and correctness of their actions. Self interest nearly always trumps "enlightened" self interest in a system that places material wealth as the single best measure of a human's worth. That paradigm is supported by the poor who wish only to join the rich, to share a night on the town with the rich and famous. The magazines in any supermarket check out line bear witness to this enabling of the 'haves' by the 'have-nots'. So we do our best, and change what minds we can, when we can. And try to put right thought into action, selling water by the river, as it were. I believe Fundamental change in society does come from within us all, and every effort we make individually helps move the group in the right direction.
When those at the top fail to heed the warnings of discontent, revolution, unlike single payer, is never off the table. In our current political model, that may simply entail voting those who don't fulfill their obligations to represent the best interests of their constituents, and not the corporation's best interests, out of office. Our only weapon for achieving open and unrestricted dialogue today is the internet. China being aware of this, has more or less successfully controlled debate and discussion over the internet within their borders.
The first thrusts are being made by the corporations to control the internet in our country. in the final analysis, the importance of this battle may outweigh that of healthcare reform or regulation of the financial sector.
I understand the feeling of being ever more isolated, the further down the path we travel. Perhaps that's just a function of life. We live together, but in the end we all die alone. Perhaps it's the imminence of our ultimate demise which brings the feeling of growing solitude to anyone paying attention. The blessings of kindred spirits become more profound as the solitary nature of the journey becomes more apparent. Know that you're not really alone amiga. We're all, ultimately on the path, just some further along or behind. Done rambling now.
The blessings of kindred spirits become more profound as the solitary nature of the journey becomes more apparent.
Your presence here is a great blessing, amigo.
I didn't mean to imply I'm lonely. And any suffering willingly undergone - through presence - is always meaningful and transcendent. And thus, even in solitude, such an experience leaves one feeling uplifted in a way I cannot explain. Nevertheless, feeling "understood" is important to us all. And that makes the journey less solitary, I think.
Peace, my friend. :-)
'Twas a lovely ramble, though, Miguel. And it is often those dying alone moments I think about in regards to people in my life who have committed callous deeds with utter disregard for the lives they have harmed. I wonder how they will experience their last moments alive? Will they want to ask forgiveness, to die with fear? For so many I think acquistion of wealth and goods are the only way they know to stave off the emptiness inside, and their terror of death.
I want to die well.
"to stave off the emptiness inside" - how true.
It is not the fairness or unfairness of "life" that is the problem. It is the unfairness of society which is the problem. WE play our parts in the functioning of society - regardless which society we are in. The problem is that society is structured in such a way so that the routes we run, the ways we live, the people we know, are very much like ourselves. This is particularly true of the "big guys" as they are more highly insulated that other parts of the population. However, they are not alone in that isolation.
The problems of seeing what is happening are exacerbated by a cultural mantra that says "Those who are struggling are doing so because of their own damn fault."
How we make people - "big guys" or not - see what is happening and not explain it away is a dilemma. However, how does one make anyone see anything? You can't. They have to be at a place where they can see. So the best things (in my opinion) is to live the life that connects and reaches out. Those who are ready will be touched by that, be changed by that, and pass it on.
Rowan, your words here are very wise and helpful. Thank you.
These humane yearnings for comprehensive spiritual change, awakening, enlightenment or whatnot are touching. But they are also generally futile. And when heavily indulged as a permissible substitute for practical action, they can be enfeebling and crippling.
Human beings are political animals, and the kinds of social changes that are most needed are the ends of the types of endeavors for which politics exists. Those of us who want a different kind of society than the one we have now need to work together in solidarity to achieve the power needed to change our society's rules and power relations, and to limit and thwart the power of those who oppose our desired changes. That's the way it is. In human societies of any complexity, we find profound social fissures, deep ideological disagreement, raging conflicts of personal interest and permanent and persistent social conflict as a fact of life. It is politically debilitating and unhelpful to dissipate the energy and stamina needed to fight for change, and to win those fights, by wallowing in self-pity, grief, and fantastic, childish dreams of near-cosmic changes and mass spiritual conversions.
The changes we need now are changes that are going to be accomplished, if they are accomplished at all, against the wills of some very powerful people. That's how real politics always works. Fortunately, we have the rudiments of a system that might still allow for the possibility of generally "peaceful" democratic change though strenuous and turbulent political activism in the face of angry and determined opposition, rather than requiring violent revolutionary action.
Societies operate according to institutions, causal systems and rules. A society is not a patient; it's something human beings have built. And it can be broken down and rebuilt. Our society doesn't need to be cured. It needs to be fixed. When societies don't function as well as they could, that is not because the human beings in the society are psychologically sick or abnormal. It's because even normal and healthy human beings fall into frequent conflicts and struggles as they make their way in the world, and the social rules and institutions that have been developed to manage, mitigate and resolve these conflicts in a tolerable and imperfect manner are amenable to improvement.
As Shakespeare illustrated in King Lear, we come into the world crying and will possibly leave that way. In the brief interim, we can either cry our way through life, or we can work, struggle and fight in comradeship with others to make the best out of a natural and social world that is filled with many forces out to dominate, oppress or destroy us. Even the relatively optimistic Mahayana strains of Buddhist thought in the east recognized that the wheel of samsara is the human condition, and in a thousand eons the "big guys" are not going to become enlightened, filled-with loving kindness or therapeutically cured of the wills to power and domination.
Here is a little chaff tossed to the wind, lets see if anything falls to the ground.
Perhaps those we would show, or have share, the suffering of our world, are in fact suffering themselves. This being the case they would have no desire to enable hopefulness in the less fortunate. Could it be an inborn trait for survival; another Darwinian facet from our past that we have need to outgrow?
Just ideas really-like I said, a little mental chaff. I mean I find it difficult to believe that the cream rising to the top has curdled into a thick rotten crust trapping the rest of us bellow. I am afraid history has verified this; but of the future?
M. Paul

I always maintain hope. No matter how bleak things look. There are many good people in this world. Of that I have no doubt. And however much pain and suffering is dished out by some, I do believe each good deed makes a difference in the universe. We cannot always see that. But I believe it.
Yes, hope. Why else would we expend our energy to have this discussion with each other?
M. Paul
It's an old saw. Walk a mile in another persons shoes. But, it fits here.
A mile isn't enough.
Walk in another persons shoes until the soles are worn out. Then the understanding might begin.
Such wisdom! How true! Thank you, flower...
As always thank you TheraP. Silence is a great teacher.
I was watching CSPAN the other day and I turned off the sound because the lying was so irritating. I concluded that now the only reason to watch (not listen) to CSPAN is to play a little game of trying to decide whether the guy on the screen really believes his lies or is aware of his untruthfulness. For this game the sound must be off and so it is when reading any history. What is going on today has always been going on as you observe in your reference to the Psalms. As always a few see it but only as strangers.
In Nausea Sartre comments that having a past is the luxury of property owners. I don't have a vault of pictures of my life or other artifacts that prove that I ever did really live on this planet. All there is a piece of jawbone and a few teeth fossilized in some rock somewhere that prove that I "could have existed." For all the rest you have to turn on the sound and it is all lies.
A few see it but only as strangers....
Larry, sometimes a line just comes and is permanently etched in my tiny brain.
Sounds like a great title for a book.
Wow, dd, you're right! It would make a great title. I sense one of your blogs coming on....
And as always, I value your perspective, Larry. You have a way of clarifying things which I might have put in a roundabout way.
Thank you! It's a sad thank you. But that's only because the topic is a sad one. Bringing up Nausea is definitely in order. It does make one sick. "Sickness unto death" - just popped into my mind. Kierkegaard again! Sounds like existentialism is in order. (In a comment above, I thought of Viktor Frankl - how suffering can be endowed with meaning and that allows us to transcend it.) Seems that that's what we're addressing now.
Yes. Viktor Frankl. I must go back and read him again. I had a friend in college, a Pole, who spent his childhood in Auschwitz. He was the only member of his family to survive. He was 26 to my 19 years of age. His advice was always try to be as happy as you can because you never know when it will all end.
Be silent, fast, meditate, retreat - but then go out and be happy. This is the work of the moral life.
I'm trying to figure out what is important to me, and to stop throwing money at the big guys. I was raised to be a consumer, and it is hard to stop spending money on things and entertainment, but I'm trying.
It's like we all need to try to be monks in way. I mean in a good way. Thinking long term. Conserving. Using what we need but not being greedy. Sounds like you're on your way... Well, I always think that every time I see your bike carrying the hay stack!
Thank you for this. I've got about two cents to throw into the pot, and if I miss, just forgive me for the bad aim.
Here's the question as I understand it:

How can we make the big guys more present?
One thing I think we can do is stop thinking of them as the big guys, and maybe more important, help then stop thinking of themselves as the big guys. We do like to make idols of our politicians, whether they want to be idols or not. I have to go back to an old guy, John Winthrop, first Governor of Massachusetts. Last time I quoted him around here I got thwacked for quoting a witch burner. (He didn't burn anyone). But he had it right when he describe the relationship between the magistrate and the citizenry.
I entreat you to consider that, when you choose magistrates, you take them from among yourselves, men subject to like passions as you are. Therefore, when you see infirmities in us, you should reflect upon your own, and that would make you bear the more with us, and not be severe censurers of the failings of your magistrates, when you have continual experience of the like infirmities in yourselves and others. We account him a good servant who breaks not his covenant. The covenant between you and us is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose: that we shall govern you and judge your causes by the rules of God's laws and our own, according to our best skill. When you agree with a workman to build you a ship or house, etc., he undertakes as well for his skill as for his faithfulness, for it is his profession, and you pay him for both. But when you call one to be a magistrate, he doth not profess nor undertake to have sufficient skill for that office, nor can you furnish him with gifts, etc., therefore you must run the hazard of his skill and ability. But if he fail in faithfulness, which by his oath he is bound unto, that he must answer for.
I'm remembering how Obama got thwacked for the Beer Summit he held on the White House Lawn. How common of phony cried the pundits, professional or self appointed. Why not "Good for you, Barack," invite some more ordinary folks over for a chat and a brewski?"
Jimmy Carter got razzed for wearing a cardigan and turning down the heat. How plebian--and he talked funny too--the wrong kind of funny--Plains funny not New York funny.
So the next time I'm tempted to star fever, I'm going to imagine the object of my adoration sitting on the porcelain throne, constipated, with piles, and noticing the paper roll is empty.
And the next time I see someone striving to be ordinary, even for a minute, I'm going to cheer him/her on. I can help presence that way, I think.
I like it, Mike! :-)
I'm not going to pull it now, but I read verses from Proverbs that touched on this fine quote from the governor.
This is great stuff. I really do not like to hear others trash Carter. He truly was the closest this country ever came to having a philosopher king.
I would bet that like Harry, he put his privately purchased stamps on his private correspondence. ha
I like how amike frames the issue. "How can we make the big guys more present?"
I would suggest infiltrating the big guy psyche with the Spirit of Youth. And I'll let Randolph Bourne explain that:
[Y]outh is the incarnation of reason pitted against the rigidity of tradition; youth puts the remorseless questions to everything that is old and established – Why? What is this thing good for? And when it gets the mumbled, evasive answers of the defenders it applies its own fresh, clean spirit of reason to institutions, customs and ideas and finding them stupid, inane or poisonous, turns instinctively to overthrow them and build in their place the things with which its visions teem. . . . Youth is the leaven that keeps all these questioning, testing attitudes fermenting in the world. If it were not for this troublesome activity of youth, with its hatred of sophisms and glosses, its insistence on things as they are, society would die from sheer decay. It is the policy of the older generation as it gets adjusted to the world to hide away the unpleasant things where it can, or preserve a conspiracy of silence and an elaborate pretense that they do not exist. But meanwhile the sores go on festering just the same. Youth is the drastic antiseptic. . . . It drags skeletons from closets and insists that they be explained. No wonder the older generation fears and distrusts the younger. Youth is the avenging Nemesis on its trail. . . .
Our elders are always optimistic in their views of the present, pessimistic in their views of the future; youth is pessimistic toward the present and gloriously hopeful for the future. And it is this hope which is the lever of progress – one might say, the only lever of progress. . . .
The secret of life is then that this fine youthful spirit shall never be lost. Out of the turbulence of youth should come this fine precipitate – a sane, strong, aggressive spirit of daring and doing. It must be a flexible, growing spirit, with a hospitality to new ideas and a keen insight into experience. To keep one’s reactions warm and true is to have found the secret of perpetual youth, and perpetual youth is salvation.
Then where are Gen X and Gen Y? AWOL, as far as I can tell. And I rue it greatly. As does Rowan, who has them in her classes every day.
Quite a discussion here! Too bad I lack the time for such discussions these days. One thing about youth - you have more time!

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