Sunday, October 18, 2015

Read this while you are waiting, Dixie Dear

Books well worn from being well read .... if I had to name one book I value most, it most likely would be a slim volume entitled, "The Lessons of History," by Will and Ariel Durant. Actually (I love that word), I have about thirty books beyond those shown here written by the Durants, all read at least once and tucked away in boxes in a back bedroom awaiting shelves to place them upon or the next move, whichever happens first. Durant was a teacher, a philosopher, a historian and, together with his wife, Ariel, formed a prolific writing team. You might notice adjacent to the Durants are books by Joseph Campbell. He was a mythologist, a writer, a teacher of literature and a lecturer. One of his books was entitled, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces." I have read it and, I think, everything else in book form written by Campbell. He and Durant are among my "heroes." I have not mentioned Campbell often, while the Durants appear here periodically. I will turn more to Campbell someday, but tonight leans on the Durants again. One of the things I like most about both men, beyond the workings of their minds, is the fact they both married women who once had been their students. Read into that what you wish. As for the music, I have used this song before. Other than I like its sound and anything that has to do with the color blue, "Baby Blue," by Badfinger is about love which might have been, but was lost in the turmoil of living life .... seems to be a good fit here.

Some dialogue between Dudley, an angel,
and Julia, the bishop's wife,
who does not know Dudley is an angel,
from the novella, "The Bishop's Wife"
by Robert Nathan -- 1928

Julia: But people do grow old.
Dudley: No, not everybody. Only those who were born old to begin with. You, Julia, were born young. You'll remain that way.
Julia: I wish I could believe you.
Dudley: You may.
Julia: .... I simply don't know what to think of you, Dudley. Whether you're serious -- or joking.
Dudley: Well, I'm at my most serious when I am joking.

Treat others as you wish to be treated

There have been past posts in which I wrote about working in a prison system .... actually, running one for a time. It probably was among the most interesting work I have done because of the intricacies of the relationships between individuals incarcerated there and those who worked there.

There was a point where I operated a unit in which I had the worst and the weakest inmates together. It seemed like sort of a challenge at the time, and I relished it. I took the meanest, those in on alcohol and drug offenses, those on the edge of crazy, the racists, killers, rapists, the con men, the dumbest, the brightest, those in on big time felonies, those in on pretty petty stuff, the youngest, the oldest. I took them all, about two hundred of them at any one time, and mixed them up in a building that once had been a college dormitory.

The trick was to keep them all relatively happy, to have them (both inmates and guards) follow the rules, avoid fights, keep contraband out (drugs, home-made hooch), and live in relative harmony.

I did a pretty damn good job at it, and had a number of successful "graduates" and very few who seriously hated my guts. The primary reason this was possible was because of one basic rule: Treat others the way you would wish to be treated if roles were reversed. I was told that the first day I went to work there, and I lived by those words in as much as it was possible.

Do not get me wrong. I also consider myself a mirror, and when you look at my behavior you probably are seeing a reflection of your own .... and, misbehavior is not advisable. I can be an absolute hammer, both verbally and physically when it seems appropriate and necessary. People always have a choice with me, and occasionally someone will make the wrong choice simply because I approach with a smile and a kind word. Never mistake a smile and a kind word as a sign of weakness.

The moral of this piece is that if a group such as that just described can get along, live among one another, keep relative peace and tranquility, why cannot Republicans and Democrats do the same and get along? How about Muslims and Christians? How about black and white and yellow and red? (I suppose that one is politically incorrect.) Anyway, I assume you get my drift.

The reason is quite simple. Inside the "joint," there is "the man" who runs it. Hopefully, he will be a benevolent dictator. On the outside, we increasingly live in a "me first" environment where everyone wants to be "the man" -- or "the woman." As historian and philosopher Will Durant correctly explained it -- freedom and equality are opposing forces and cannot flourish together:

"For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails, the other dies."

It is amazing how many people cannot comprehend that.

Durant goes on to explain his thesis, but, from my point of view, the logic of the statement needs no further explanation, only a bit of thought.  If you read only one book in your life, I would suggest "The Lessons of History" by Will and Ariel Durant. There are no miracles in it, only reality as defined and demonstrated by actual history. And, if you are among the "history is written by the winners" crowd, you are a literal tree stump and I am sorry to have wasted your precious time. Reality, past and present, is there for anyone who cares to look for it -- sometimes even dig for it, both literally and figuratively.

As the system now exists in the United States, we are drifting into anarchy. If individuals cannot learn to treat others the way they wish to be treated, there will be big time trouble -- no doubt.

I will leave it at that, maybe to resume another day, maybe not.


Fram Actual said...

Another twenty-four hour rule post ....

Initial comment period ends ....

Thank you, if you read it ....

Fram Actual said...

Since there are no comments here due to my twenty-four hour rule (which I am free to break) and since I had more on my mind than I originally wrote regarding this post, I will add a postscript here in the form of a comment.

Reading and writing about Sylvia Plath is what brought my mind back to Badfinger. I think it was a remarkably fine band -- with some really cool, neat songs -- and a particularly fated band. In the photograph of the band members shown with the video appearing here, from left to right:

Pete Ham committed suicide by hanging himself at the age of twenty-seven; Tom Evans followed him on the path of suicide, hanging himself eight years later at the age of thirty-six; Mike Gibbins died of a brain aneurysm at age fifty-six; Joey Molland is alive and well and living in Minnesota and still making music.

Something special ....