The bones of controversy are picked clean….

“Beginnings are delicate times….” — Princess Irulan, from Dune, by Frank Herbert

The Princess knew what she was talking about, most certainly. Much of the success or failure of human interaction is determined at the very beginning of a relationship, and in spite of what we are all taught about not doing so, we place a lot of faith in first impressions. This very human characteristic actually extends itself into the interactions between any two living creatures, and if you doubt this, just watch two dogs, or cats, meet for the first time, and note how carefully they observe the protocols of interactions between members of their species.  Or better yet, watch a dog and cat meet for the first time; the care, and the tension of taking that care is obvious in every move they make, in every twitch of a whisker. It is reminiscent of watching an old movie with a ballroom of 17th century dilettantes dancing the minuet; very formal and studied, each move sliding gracefully into the next, to the tune of a lively harpsichord, with political intrigue simmering just beneath the smiling faces. Quite entertaining actually….

How that applies to writing a daily blog should be fairly obvious; how to perform the minuet with all the proper moves is not so clear. Every morning one must search for the key to that day’s beginning; sometimes it is a quick, easy search, others, not so much. Today, we are hitting the middle mark, and will settle for that….. let us now Pearl…..

“Brace yourselves.  We’re about to try something that borders on the unique: an actually rather serious technical book which is not only (gasp) vehemently anti-Solemn, but also (shudder) takes sides.  I tend to think of it as `Constructive Snottiness.'” — Mike Padlipsky, Foreword to “Elements of Networking Style”

“The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mood of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; for happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.” — Charles Langbridge Morgan

This is a very pretty thought; moreover it is quite perceptive and insightful. Too many folks chase happiness as if it were something they can catch and stick in their pocket, never realizing that a) happiness never runs away; it is always with us, waiting to be noticed, and b) the only way to keep it, is to let it be; it is like a universal solvent, and not subject to the laws of physics, only the laws of metaphysics. Getting caught up in the pursuit of happiness in reality blinds one to its presence; but it is always near us, like a faithful old dog, wagging its tail and gazing at us lovingly until we have the time to give it any attention.

Trying to hold on to happiness, as if it were a piece of candy that we keep in our pocket until we want it, is a sure way to lose it, for it is more like a passing breeze on a hot day than any solid, graspable item of desire. In some ways, happiness can be compared to fear, but as an opposite, a mirror image, as it were; if one holds on tight to fear, it will take over one’s entire being, and never leave. Only by letting it go can we overcome its power over us. But happiness also cannot be held and kept, it must be found by letting it go, and learning to value the changes in life that can lead to its gentle embrace….. allow it to grow up, and become a constant, boon companion in all your life’s events…..

According to Descartes, “Dittoheads” don’t exist… — a correct deduction from an unknown smart Aleck

I was talking with an old friend yesterday, and the subject came around to discussing the underlying reasons that so many of the religious faiths in the world just couldn’t figure out how to get along with each other, despite the fact that the basic underlying belief systems of all of them preach tolerance and faith in one’s fellow man, as taught to them by their particular religious prophet or icon (Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, God, Yahweh, Odin, etc…..). Now, when we were discussing it, the subject of the latest pronouncements from the conservative politicos currently taking up far too much space in the news of the day was touched upon, whereupon I suddenly began a rant of monumental proportion, about 3 solid minutes of preaching, in this case at least, to the choir.

My primary point, in response to his observation that I tend to bash Christians a lot, more so than other faiths, was to respond that a) they are the ones who are making the most noise, and the most outrageously ignorant pronouncements all over the news, even in other countries, and b) by the evidence, Christianity has more examples of historical events that prove that the basic tenets of the faith, as given by Jesus, were, from the very first day after his death, twisted and manipulated to suit the private agendas of the supposedly faithful leaders of the church than any other of the major faiths (though they too have had more than their share of bloody moments in history). I’d wager serious money that Jesus would just cringe at the thought of inspiring any part of the Inquisition during the middle ages. And he would certainly have gotten a big laugh out of the mere idea of an army chaplain, right before he began chasing them like he chased the moneylenders out of the temple…..

My rant eventually ran out of steam, but not before I had finished my point, which is, I regard all religious organizations run by humans to be perversions, both of mind, and of spirit. All of them have been used by unscrupulous sociopaths, (who can be quite charming in person, smiling genially as they slip the knife between your ribs) to further their own ends, to make themselves rich in money, and in power over others. One of the most common tales in every culture is the one about the renegade (priest, monk, priestess, pastor, imam, pope…choose one or all…) who oppresses and terrorizes the populace who throng to their magnificently ornate edifices of worship. The story exists because it is true in all cultures; no one denies it, yet they deny it every day, as they return to the scene of the same old organized crime (yes, they are no different than La Cosa Nostra, La Familigia; they just dress funnier….), and submit themselves to their dogma, blind to their own blindness…… and I am comforted, a small bit, to know that I’m not the only American who has felt this way…..

“I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature.  They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.” — Thomas Jefferson

“It matters if you don’t just give up.” — Stephen Hawking

The importance of this pithy little statement can be best understood by knowing what makes Stephen Hawking an authority on the subject. For those who do not know him, Stephen Hawking is a world-renowned and -respected scientist, specializing in Physics, but his expertise is certainly not limited to that one subject. He is commonly held to be the most intelligent man of our time, on a par with historical icons such as Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and very few others. His IQ is not able to be measured by the inadequate tools we have; his intelligence is off the scale to which the rest of humanity is limited.

His work in astrophysics and quantum mechanics has progressed those fields into entirely new vistas of investigation. His goal, he says, is to seek and discover a Unified Field Theorem that will reconcile all of the various types of energy and matter in the universe, and how they interact, with equations explaining how Gravitic, Electromagnetic, Electrical, Biological, and Atomic energies are connected and related to each other. In other words, one world-view that explains all the various parts of reality that we can perceive, and some we can’t.

His intelligence, and strength of mind and spirit, is such that it matters not at all to him that, due to congenital defects, his body is twisted and deformed out of all normal shape. He cannot walk, and so must use a powered chair to move around. He cannot use his hands reliably, or speak without assistance by mechanical devices, so he adapted or invented the technological devices needed for him to be able to communicate with others. According to all that medical science knows, he should have died before reaching puberty; he is now, I believe in his late forties, or possibly older; the only explanation doctors have is that he keeps himself going with will power.

So, coming from Stephen Hawking, the above statement takes on an entirely new, and powerful, meaning…… a precise personal expression of that meaning is left as an exercise for the Gentle Reader…..

“He is not a lover who does not love forever.” — Euripides

Here is an idea that, to my mind, and my regret, that has fallen out of favor in today’s society. It seems today that people enter into love with a preconceived notion that it won’t last forever, that people change and fall out of love, so one might as well be ready for that. To my mind, this is a very sad, pathetic view to take about love.

I prefer to think that any emotion that has been demonstrated innumerable times over the course of history to be capable of lasting even beyond death, well, it doesn’t die as easily as might be commonly held. To be frank and earnest, (tough for me, my name is Ned), and completely honest, I too have suffered moments where I could envision a time in a relationship I was in would, in fact, fail to last. Those moments usually came, though, when I observed a certain look in my lover’s eyes, a vacant, deceitful kind of look that gave me a hint that they were holding back complete commitment.

In my world, Love is very akin to Duty. As I’ve said previously, Duty is a choice we, and only we, make, and once made, is inviolable. Death, for me, would be an easy choice, if the only other choice was to abrogate my Duty. Love is also a choice, and I regard it therefore as being subject to the same strict laws of observance as my Duty. Once in Love, it becomes an imperative to never fail to do all in my power to preserve it, and to never, ever stop leaving my heart open to feeling it. It just never made sense to me any other way…..

Maybe I was more lucky than I had thought until just this moment, for I just realized that I learned this attitude from my father, who never once discussed this with me, but showed me every day how to live it….. From the day I was born, until the day he died, his Love for my mother, brothers, and sisters was the center of his entire life’s purpose, his raison d’etre, and there were no days off in his world, not from Duty……or Love….. and I know, from his actions, that his Love did not die with him….. damn Skippy it didn’t….

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Boy, (and boy, does that date me, or what?) here is a truism that just about anyone who thinks of stuff other than the next TV show can relate to; and, it’s is what I would call essential knowledge. Knowing, and just as importantly, feeling this, is what will prevent me, or anyone with honor, from ever neglecting to speak up for a friend, or just someone being violated, when it is needed.

Every day, we see in the news another report of a teen suicide, or multiple deaths of that nature, and it is widely acknowledged that “bullying” of vulnerable teens is a significant contributing factor in the statistical rise in such sad endings to lives just begun. And, according to what I read, it is also acknowledged that this rise, or at least increasingly focused attention on something that has always been around, can be attributed to a rise in the number of people who allow, or are taught, to let their fears and prejudices, and their sense of entitlement, make them behave as common bullies, otherwise known as “cowards”.

I worked for about eight years as a psychiatric technician on programs specializing in treatment of teenage individuals with a variety of mental or behavioral dysfunctions. Depression and suicidal ideation were fairly common, as both are a cause of, and a result of, poor or distorted self-image (some depressives believe themselves to be better than others, oddly enough; it is this perceived difference that feeds the depression by its tendency to produce isolation from others). It is not the only factor in such cases, but a most significant and powerful one.

Bullies are on the other end of the spectrum of types of disturbed behavior; bullying is most easily explained when one understands that the impulse is rooted in the bully’s fears, and the underlying ignorance upon which the fear is based. When the disturbed bully finds an appropriately weak, vulnerable peer, they are compelled to strike out, and the victim is compelled to retreat so far into the mind-set of being a victim, that they become their own worst enemy, and destroy themselves.

I considered it then, and still consider it one of the most difficult cycles of abuse to understand, and one of the most difficult to treat, for either type of individual….. a very thorny problem it is, and one not very manageable in the current state of our society. In reality, the situation is a microcosmic replica of the overall state of society, with all its ills.  Ignorance, fear, and disturbed psyches are rampant, and the more people that are born, the more complex and difficult to solve the situation becomes……

I wish I had an answer, but, beyond doing what is suggested above by Dr. King, there isn’t a lot we can do, at least to my knowledge. But, speaking out is much better than silence, in the face of evil we confront every day….. maybe you can’t save everybody, but you can often save the one we are with, just by speaking up…..

I guess I had a lot to say this morning….I’d probably be wise to stop here, so y’all can get on with your day. For me, it’s another Sunday as a retired dilettante, just like any other…. so, y’all take care out there…..

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.




2 thoughts on “The bones of controversy are picked clean….

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