Bird Droppings September 9, 2020
Searching for integrity midst the fogginess of reality
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Buddha
I watch the news and pundits lauding their integrity and truthfulness as they command a hundred thousand dollar speaking fees and first-class accommodations. Then I think to a Hindu holy man who sat for twenty-seven years with his arm upstretched in honor of Vishnu, one of his Gods. In America, we say it is the American way, and many will pay to see that star-struck speaker who has little or nothing of any significance. I look back at that crazy holy man who, after all those years of piety, can no longer use his arm and a bird nests in his hand and a faint smile comes to his face as he has been of use. Who do I respect there, in all honesty should not even be a question?
Over two thousand years ago, another holy man walked about and taught us that we were to forgive our brothers. As their faith goes, he dies for all other’s sins so no one else would need to die. According to the writings that followed this faith, he was to be a blood sacrifice for all of humanity. A man who disdained wealth, war, injustice, and greed, and yet in today’s times, it is those very things that are driving forces within the faith that bears his name. How can we bastardize to the extent we have those founding concepts that were so far from where they have come?
“Character is higher than intellect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.” John Lubbock
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” James D. Miles
I have noticed things as I hurry out to drive away from the house the past two mornings. A partial moon greets me and glowing away as I drive down the dark roads. Yesterday an Opossum scurried across the road, tail held high in defiance as she or he dashed across the road. Little known tidbit an opossum will consume 5000 ticks a season. A few yards further and an eastern box turtle was sitting near the edge of the road just looking. It was an odd time for a turtle to be out, especially on the highway, as I pulled to the stop sign. Looking behind as I went to stop, someone else saw the turtle and moved it to the grass. As it turns out, it was someone on a little tiny Vespa scooter, and coincidently, we both ended up at the corner store. So, I wonder at these synchronistic events looking back each only a brief second of my days, but each has stuck with me. Were there meaning and significance, or were these only events that would have happened even if I had not witnessed them?
A few summers ago, as I drove to a graduate class yesterday earlier in the morning, I stopped or planned to stop at a specific store. This store is unique as its parking lot edge goes then across a field into the mountains. It was designed, or I would like to think of taking pictures of sunrises. As it would have, a glorious sunrise was coming up as I pulled in. It was a fantastic sight in the five or six minutes, and nearly as quickly as it appeared, clouds and rain rolled in. I got in the car and headed again toward class only to have a rainbow across my pathway. A massive rainbow in front and sunrise behind me, and I thought a minute or two different, and I would have missed both.
“I thank thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.” Matthew Henry
“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” Thomas Paine
“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what’s right.” Isaac Asimov
Prior knowledge and or experiences, John Dewey refers to as a basis for education that is to be. We build off that base and add to it almost as if prior understandings are a foundation for further understanding. So, I argue what if someone lives with criticism will they be able to learn tolerance. If a child lives with hostility, will they ever be able to understand peace? If a child lives with ridicule, will they ever be able to understand or know praise? It is possible for a child who lives with shame ever to know forgiveness. I am loosely borrowing from Dr. Laura Nolte’s “Children Learn what they live” poem from 1971. As I ponder that aspect of prior understanding and look towards some of our current society’s politics, I do wonder how people learn to be so self-centered and greedy. In his last speech to the UN, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said capitalism is in its death throes as we build a class of ultra-wealthy on everyone else’s carcasses. I look at Wall Street, which has always amazed me and how fortunes are made owning nothing but paper and someone else’s desire to own that paper.
Many people talk about and write about how our society is going downhill. As I watch and read, I often feel sociopathic and mentally ill are the driving forces in that rhetoric and those who reap fortunes on gossip and innuendo. Our local paper has a spin meter and sorts each day the political spin that follows each politician and each piece of legislation. We talk of repealing healthcare, and I wonder how many parents of severely ill children will want that now that insurance companies cannot dump them or exclude for preexisting conditions. I wonder how many breast cancer survivors will encourage their legislators to promote this plan as preventive medicine is given, and free mammograms are a part of the provisions. It all comes down to those with do not want to give up anything and see everyone else as a parasite. Sadly, we have come from an understanding world view to one of self-centeredness, and unfortunately, it appears we hold editions of that aloft.
“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” Aristotle
It has taken a long time to honor men and women who have shown bravery in combat. I recall some of the first Congressional Medal of Honor Winners awarded from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I wonder why many times we hold off on such events. I wonder why I see what I see, and others see nothing. I ponder daily why I can relate better to a Hindu holy man holding his arm aloft than to politician or former politician getting paid a small fortune to chatter on about a version of reality that only they see. It leaves me with my daily credo, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)