Post # 353  A PLEA FOR RATIONAL PERSPECTIVE (An Editorial)

Our nation is exclusively peopled by immigrants (and their descendants) who emigrated to America, seeking a better life for their family and themselves. So many responded in earlier years, to Lady Liberty’s gracious invitation, as framed by the poetess, Emma Lazarus, “Give me your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free…” We have disappointingly observed, that many such Americans, after settling in, have been in favor of an unfair roadblock to the admission of others, situated similarly, from the achievement of their American dream. How soon these ungrateful forget.

We will state, preliminarily, that we, like all American law- abiding citizens, believe the law must be upheld in fact and in principle. We would, also, at the outset, firmly state that a national policy, separating children from their parents, is morally, far worse than the offense alleged against their parent, (being unregistered) for which that separation is decreed; it is a crime against Nature, itself inarguably a more fundamental evil than, c the failure to be registered.

Our laws (and most European laws) have always made the crucial distinction between offenses which were “malum in se” and those which were classified as “malum prohibitum.” Malum in se,” refers to acts which are, ipso facto, evil in themselves, ex: murder, larceny, robbery, burglary, rape and kidnapping, and are severely punished as such. Malum prohibitum defines acts which would otherwise,\ be legal but have become illegal because a statute or ordinance makes it so. There is no relevant venal, or evil intent necessary, merely the commission of the prohibited act, ex: passing a red light, failing to have a permit for street sales, or for an elevator inspection or littering. The commission of acts, no more serious than malum prohibitum are, appropriately, given light, sanctions, especially for a first offense.

Those who, critically and most self-righteously, relish the epithet “illegal immigrant” seem to have lost sight that the sole illegality  charged, is that of non-registration, viz., not having required paperwork (prohibitum). Those affected, like our forebears, have simply and admirably, sought to obtain a better life for their families. The Trump Administration, itself, guilty of so many (yet unpunished) serious offenses against our country and its citizens, delights in stirring up his responsive, low-information base, to the detriment of many worthwhile applicants for admission; many of whom could possibly add great value to our nation.

We declare, as we did at the outset of this writing, that there is no crime, however heinous, comparable to the offense against Nature and Humanity, as by the Trump decree, directing the destruction of young children’s lives by having them forcibly snatched, kidnap style, from their parents. [Reader, add, if at all felt necessary, merely because of their lack of paperwork.]

This is not the “America” we grew up to know; we are ashamed and greatly alarmed.

-p.

Post # 253     LAMENTATION 2: THE BOTTOM LINE

We recently experienced a chilling second thought, regarding the “surprise” result of the past Presidential election. The eerie thought was to the effect that it might not have been the outlier that most of us had agreed it was. Our optimistic assumption, that the election result was a “one-off” or aberration, unlikely to be replicated, seems now have the unfortunate possibility of being incorrect.

This blog has dedicated a major portion of its posts, doggedly, to the assertion that self-enhancement and orienting perspective is acquired by reading, and an interest in the arts and the humanities, that such involvement and participation is, at one and the same time, the route to a fulfilled life experience, and as well, the making of a valuable citizen; and by extension, a stronger nation. We have, perhaps too often, referred to the instruction of Thomas Jefferson, that the success of a democracy depends upon an informed and literate citizenry. Our nation’s events of late, seem to have morphed that wise instruction into a bitter explanation for its present failings.

It is our lamented observation that we have become in large part, a nation of spectators, or viewers, as opposed to participants, readers and independent thinkers. It would be (temporarily) comforting to believe that the elevation of a Donald Trump, to the Oval Office was an aberration, but it would likely turn out to be inaccurate. A nation of spectators is in obvious and stark contrast to a nation of independent thinkers and doers. It is not a coincidence that the ignorant, egotistical and completely unfit, successful, candidate for President, had previously been a popular game show host for an audience that, presumably. prefers cheap and ephemeral diversion to quality, thought-provoking entertainment. It is a reluctant and tragic conclusion, but it seems to us that the viewed image appears to have triumphed over the written page.

It has been our expressed opinion that the essential soul of the citizen, was initially and effectively stolen by the demon of electronic communication. It is an inadequate, ersatz trade-off for in- person interaction, among other things, because the parties to the electronic exchange are situationally isolated from each other and deprived of voice recognition, warmth and communicative spontaneity. The reading of e- mail communications is not distinguishable from viewing of impersonal data and the addition of  inane emogees is an adolescent, cold and inadequate substitute for the natural expression of emphasis or feeling. Could we simply put away our not-so-smart phones and talk spontaneously to each other, relationships would be more meaningful and satisfying. Constant reference to one’s electronic devices for human company (as opposed to physically socializing) or for answers to problems (as opposed to thinking) is an indication that we are mere dabblers, idle spectators in life, as opposed to doers and participants. Electronic conversation, efficiently serves to distance ourselves from each other. In addition, does anyone recall the practice of writing and receiving personal letters? Written correspondence is a form of communication permitting the writer’s thoughts to be selectively and accurately expressed. Such means of expressive personal communication has become obsolete, and useless to our mindless spectator population.

Recently, we recommended an enjoyable book to a neighbor. His spontaneous and remarkable response was, “How long is it? I never read a book that contains more than 200 pages.” My shock, and critical appraisal of the neighbor was later replaced by a feeling of compassion for him. The latter sentiment was founded upon his avowed limitation of life experience, and on the pleasure and personal benefit he was denying himself. He was also, depriving himself of the possible acquisition of useful and enlightened perspective, required for a balanced and acceptable life. He is clearly living within a set of self-imposed boundaries which, defensively, shields him from the responsibility of maintaining an identifiable  identity and is apparently satisfied with being a mere spectator of, as opposed to being a participant, in life

Another individual advised me that he is employed by a large bridge construction company and is the head clerk in the company’s accounts payable department. I could well imagine the responsibility for the supervision of the huge expenditures for labor, equipment and materials, of such an enterprise, and attempted to inquire about his undoubtedly busy job and personal responsibilities. His sole responses were limited to the bridge “we” were building. It was apparent that his personal identity was entirely submerged in the company (“we”). He was not responsive to my inquiries concerning his personal responsibilities and specific job. He was just another spectator.

Even an uninformed and uninvolved citizen may feel the social obligation to appear to maintain some sort of a political and economic opinion. By reason of an episodic exposure to an exciting speaker or demagogue, he may accept and adopt the speaker’s representations, and predictions; this is certainly predictable if his buddies do. Independent inquiry is entirely non-existent, as is the acquisition of an opinion, or “personal” point of view; merely social participation and agreement with his (equally ignorant) associates. There has been little meaningful discussion or debate, and absolutely no inquiry as to truth of the demagogue’s representations. Another  spectator event, and one that is entirely non-deliberative.

It may, conceivably, be possible to create some sort of a mandatory (perhaps part-time) program of education and general uplift, for our poorly educated fellow citizens, inclusive of reading good literature and other enriching studies. Otherwise, democratic elections and the very conduct of government, and our elections, may continue to earn the description of a societal spectator sport, (instead of a rational and essential civic responsibility) leaving thoughtful and dedicated citizens to continue to live in a state of serious disappointment and existential alarm.

-p.

Post # 252    THE RESTITUTION OF A FELLOW CITY DWELLER

Mankind, the signature accomplishment of the process of evolution has, as such, morally inherited the obligation to act, when necessary, to eliminate wrongdoing and bigotry practiced towards his fellow man, and arguably, any other planetary inhabitant. It might be felt that homo sapiens was implicitly invested, to the extent of his abilities, with the general oversight of the planet, inclusive of its fauna and flora. By way of illustration, a miscreant who destroys property and nature, by igniting a forest fire, or one who practices cruelty to animals in his conduct of the reprehensible “business” of dogfighting, would be appropriately sanctioned by man’s designated societal authorities. Regardless of the status of the injured on the planet’s perceived hierarchy, bias and overt acts of injustice, responsibly require appropriate comment and the just imposition of suitable sanctions.

At times, bias and injustice are practiced against victims who, by reason of the limited extent of their natural-born capabilities, may not be equipped to oppose it (or, indeed, may not be cognizant of its existence). In our zeal for rectitude, we, responsibly, feel the obligation to speak out in such instances.

For as long as our memory serves, the “Feral” or “City” pigeon, has been deprecated to the point where it is often referred to as a “city rat.” Serious efforts to exterminate this innocent, attractive and harmless bird, founded upon such hateful misperceptions, have been undertaken in the past, and we understand, presently continue to be under way. The spurious grounds, for such lethal programs are, (1) they multiply too fast, (2) they are “dirty,” (3) they spread disease and (4) they produce a large quantity of natural waste.

Before we proceed to fully and easily discredit such allegations, we would like to make some observations about these these populous and popular birds. They generally appear to be city dwellers, and have amused tourists in New York, England (Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square), Paris, (all the major parks and public gardens), Rome, Venice’s St. Marco Square and, in fact, all the Cities we have had  occasion to visit in Central Europe. Observing them and feeding morsels of crackers, bread or popcorn to these people-friendly birds, is a delight to all tourists, especially children. Additionally, wherever we travel, their frequent presence is a nostalgic reminder of home, regardless of the country visited, (since they all look and behave identically alike, everywhere) and are a welcome sight.,

They emit a soft “coo,” in contrast to the bizarre raucous sounds of certain other birds, such as jays, crows and magpies, they have varied, pretty feathers, they are not predatory (except to insects), they have an entertaining hop accompanied by humorous head movements similar to the “boppers” from the rock and roll era, and, they are very intelligent. As to the latter, studies reveal that they can learn a full 25 letters of the alphabet and, remarkably, also possess the capacity to conceptualize.

Since ancient times (year 2500), by reason of their homing instinct, they have been used very successfully, as messengers; crucially so in wartime. In more current history, they were of vital use during both world wars (this was long before the advent of digital communication) and have, reportedly, saved tens of thousands of lives. Pigeons have demonstrated, amazingly, that they can return home within the space of the same day, even when they deliver a message, 400 to 600 miles away. It was interesting to read that the Rothschilds used pigeons to impart private financial information to their offices, worldwide.

With reference to the fallacious charge that pigeons spread disease, authoritative studies show that the transmittal of a disease to a human being would, in fact, be a most rare event.  As to the other spurious critique, that it “produces a lot of waste,” it has not, to date, been definitively shown whether the pigeon’s manufacturing capability, in this respect, is to any extent, comparable to known human, canine or feline production capabilities of the subject material.

coo !!

-p.

 

 

 

Post # 251          EXECUTIVE PARDONS, A VESTIGIAL ANOMALY (An Editorial)

The extent of homage universally bestowed on our Founding Fathers is deservedly limitless. Their radical (for the 18th Century) motivation and idealistic goal, was to create an entirely new type of nation, one, where the prevailing principle was the equality of all men. Their declaration that all men are created equal, was the revolutionary death knell tolling the demise of the unjust practice of societal privilege, based upon birth, existing historically in Mother England and Continental Europe. The First Ten Amendments were drafted and permanently incorporated into the United States Constitution (“The Bill of Rights”). It assured the franchise to every American to freely act, provided no injury was caused to another.

The Legislative branch of government issued laws to preserve such declared equality, and to do away with previously unjust legal practices, which had prevailed in European jurisprudence; thus, it abolished. ex post facto laws and prosecutions, bills of attainder, double jeopardy and the like, in keeping with the desire to create a just and equitable system of jurisprudence for all. In time, Civil Rights legislation was enacted, to ensure equal rights between Americans of every color and ethnos, legislation recognizing the equal rights of women was enacted, and equal rights for all became the official watchword of the American way and the American jurisprudence.

In criminal cases, juries were mandated, and the decision of guilt required the unanimous assent of all jurors. The legal standard for the determination of guilt was “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Our  system of laws resolved to risk the possibility of the acquittal of a guilty party, to prevent the possible conviction of an innocent person. Judicial sentencing guidelines were legislated to assure equality of treatment and avoid arbitrary sentencing.

Respectful attention to case precedent, and an established procedure of judicial review, clearly  demonstrated the dedication to treat all citizens, defendants, property holders, taxpayers, contracting parties, petitioners, as well as the criminally accused, in an equal and consistent manner, in keeping with our national resolve.

American Presidents, elected by the people, are assigned by them, virtually unlimited powers to be properly used, as necessary, in the stewardship of the nation. This is in stark contrast to the age-old theory of the divine right of kings as the foundation for a monarch’s powers and authority. Under the system of government, wisely established by our farsighted founders, the authority and powers of the American President are ultimately held in check by the two branches of government, serving simultaneously with him; a Legislative branch, also elected by the people, and a Judicial branch appointed with the consent of Congress. (The Supreme Court). Any act of the President, deemed excessive or arbitrary, can be held in check by any of the two other branches of government [ “Checks and Balances.”]

Incredibly, there has existed, since its inception, a provision of the U.S. Constitution, shamefully inconsistent with the established national resolve, that all men are created equal; and, as a consequence, rights were not to be granted or denied arbitrarily at the whim and caprice of a Monarch. The carryover of to our Constitution, of the unfettered, undeniably, arbitrary power of the Chief Executive to pardon individuals, guilty of criminal conduct, for his own reasons or no reason, is an atavistic relic, a shameful vestige of the Middle Ages, historically applicable to the reign of European autocratic tyrants.

This power of  Presidential pardon is blatantly inconsistent with the established American system of laws, and our signature moral philosophy of government.  Inscribed in our law, in every facet of the relationship of government to citizen, there are mandatory and unassailable assurances to the effect that all men are equal, and therefore, to be treated equally. The age of unlimited privilege and arbitrary decrees by tyrants, prevalent during the dark ages, has absolutely, and logically, no proper place in our democratic republic. It is, in reality, an infected vestigial organ and should be excised from the body politic, by amending the Constitution, before it degrades to the stage of national peritonitis.

-p.

Post # 250           VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!

We can take great pride in the genius and political morality of our nation, particularly, regarding its protection of the rights of citizens from government infringement, among which are freedom of speech and belief.  Fundamentally, it is such protected freedoms, in conjunction with certain nuanced features of the American society, that provide the catalyst for the production of copious issues.  These factors are, variations in educational level, wide economic disparity, stubborn traditional, ethnic or religious predilections and, the most dramatic and causative, the (universal human) prevalence of perception, over objectivity.

It may be observed that the existence of a multitude of divergent and competing views, is, in fact, symptomatic of a free and healthy society; notably, one that can be contrasted with existing repressive regimes, characterized by an enforced propaganda line, and a mandatory national mantra. We appreciate and revere our founders for their valuation of liberty over conformity, and for their encouragement of differences of opinion and free and open debate.

Accordingly, we can find no supportable reason to favor general reconciliation, or unanimity, on all subjects, and affirmatively applaud the existence of a wide diversity of views; provided they are thoughtful, honestly held, and not harmful to the nation or its citizens. We energetically support diversity of outlook, and therefore emphatically quote the French expression, “Vive La Difference” (although the French use it to celebrate the difference between the sexes). The ultimate goal of our democratic republic is the public good, and not mind-numbing unanimity.

There is, however, a category of issues, which does require resolution. In this category are those matters in which an optional choice of action is presented by a governmental authority or, arises between private parties, and requires  democratic determination. In most governmental matters, an approved formal proposition or a referendum is issued to the public; in private matters, a town hall meeting may be convened, or a written questionnaire publicly disseminated.  Debates, in these matters are salutary and useful, if (and only if) the contending sides strictly confine their positional arguments to the highlighted issue, exclude extraneous subjects, and, importantly, exclude personal feelings, which latter feature predictably, will cloud the issue. We offer an illustrative, fictional anecdote.

[fictional anecdote]: A middle-aged married couple mutually decide to redecorate their living room. Both husband and wife, generally, seem able to agree as to everything, with the exception of the couch. She has always had her heart set on a deep rose color fabric upholstery, he has always wanted brown leather.  As a practical matter, resolution of this issue is required. Their ensuing debate will, no doubt, resolve itself in some fashion; (but only) if they are wise and disciplined enough to (1) strictly limit the discussion to the specific issue, the couch, [and nothing else] and, (2) refrain from using the word, “you” in the discussion.  The use of the emotionally provocative word {“you”], under such circumstances, will surely divert the debate from the specific issue, couch color, to personal or marital subjects; perhaps,to one not geared to satisfactory resolution. This is an illustration of the commission of the classic mistake of inserting “personalities,” into the discussion; the other, equally major mistake is the insertion of extraneous subjects (viz., other than the specific issue).

To achieve useful results by debate, it is necessary that the parties focus their presentations, strictly, and without exception, on the designated issue. Such exclusive focus, and the avoidance of extraneous issues, will facilitate the best chance for a positive outcome, and avoid the unnecessary staging of an emotionally distressing and completely useless soap opera. At times, despite mutual adherence to such mandatory guidelines, it may, nevertheless, be necessary, in order to attain a resolution, for the parties to engage the services of a neutral third party, with sufficient experience in the relevant area.

As to all differences of opinions or view, it is our sincere recommendation that, whenever possible and practical, the parties, maturely and amicably, “agree to disagree” as to the disputed subject.

ADDENDUM:

Pliny says: People who believe that there is an answer for every question, are unduly optimistic, perhaps insecure.

-p.

 

 

 

Post # 249      MAN, THE ETERNAL TOURIST

Useful in studies of the human life span, the noun “longevity” would be presumptuous and inaccurate, unless one were to observe the caution, that it is merely a comparative term, the use of which is normally restricted to studies concerning mankind’s rather short life. The term is selectively awarded to those relatively few individuals, fortunate enough to attain the age of one hundred years or thereabouts. Considering that our planet’s existence is measured in many millions of years, one can appreciate the relative brevity of each man’s franchise and the practical value of the prod, “life is short.”

The extent of the lifespan of homo sapiens is so ephemeral, so relatively limited in length, that it might well be permissible to assign to him the status of a mere visitor to the planet or, functionally, a “tourist.” The quality and intrinsic value of each tourist’s relatively brief life visit is, fortunately, a function of his own choice. A life, albeit short, dedicated, at least in part, to self-examination, enhancement of knowledge and mature perspective, ultimately results in the development of a valuable citizen, with the reward being the experience of a satisfying personal life.  A life of disinterested ignorance, and reductionist insularity, is a shamefully limited enterprise, lacking in meaning, understanding and depth; in sum, a wasted visit. The latter style of tourist lacks the understanding, knowledge and perspective to be accorded judgmental responsibility. Additionally, In his activities as a “tourist” (in its more common usage) by reason of such limited knowledge, he visits our unique institutions, and magnificent national sites, but does so with resources inadequate to appreciate their historical, symbolic or national significance.

Such observations are analogous to his foreign travel experiences. Educated and aware tourists who travel to foreign venues of historic or artistic interest, derive especial pleasure and satisfaction from their recognition of historic or literary sites, previously read about. The tourist who merely “takes in” (is simply present at) the available sights, without any personal attribution of significance, can be assured of a vapid and disappointing experience. Man, as a tourist on the planetary surface, whether at home in his domestic life, or out on his travels, (nationally or internationally) requires insight, understanding and sufficient background, to attain fulfillment and satisfaction. In our brief lifetime tours, we need to avail ourselves of (and not, ungratefully, ignore) evolution’s generous gift to mankind of an advanced brain, by the dutiful pursuit of self-enhancement and knowledgeable perspective.

Not long ago (we have noted this anecdotal experience in a prior post), a gym acquaintance complained bitterly, that he wasted his annual two -week vacation, by foolishly deciding to visit the Old City of Prague; he said he “had nothing to do there and it was boring”. We shall opt to reveal the astounding fact that this person is a college graduate, indeed, a practicing dentist. Prague? Of all the opportunities for touristic stimulation, Prague may well top the list. The Old City is awash with ancient history, Medieval and Barouche architecture, ancient fountains, a world famous medieval clock, ancient Disney-like mysterious churches, the Charles River and the Charles River Bridge, The Oldest Synagogue in Central Europe (home to the apocryphal Golem), the museums, numerous music venues and available concerts (Prague was Mozart’s hood), the open Public Square with food and demonstrations, the assorted restaurants and so very much more. The evident conclusion is that the individual must bring with him sufficient resources (background and sensitivity) to the touristic experience, as he is undeniably required in his private life. Judgment and perspective, at home or away, is the product of an open and enlightened mind. Enlightenment and perspective are vitally essential to, properly and satisfactorily exploit the short period of life which is allotted to us.

The apparent key to making the most of our lives, as tourists visiting, and traveling the planet, is to invest some portion of his limited time, in the acquisition of such necessary knowledge and perspective. Self enhancement can easily and enjoyably be attained, by reading good literature, by formal learning experiences and by exposure to the arts and sciences. Despite our relatively brief appearances on the planet, life can, be exciting and meaningful, if we but will it.

Exceptionally gifted individuals have historically been recording the accumulated wisdom of the ages, readily accessible to everyone. Reading the great books is a fulfilling and enjoyable way to obtain knowledge and enhance understanding. Authors, great playwrights, poets and artists, have eternally portrayed man’s plight on earth and the essential issues with which he is confronted in life, furnishing audiences and readers with valuable perspective. Joy, satisfaction and confidence, derived from one’s pursuit of enhanced knowledge and fulfilling experiences, constitute the great reward thus earned, during his stay on the planet. John Locke famously said, “All mankind is born with a clean slate” (“tabula rasa”). The successful human tourist furnishes that slate with fulfilling self- enrichment and judicious perspective. New books are being written, and original art created, for further and future reference by succeeding parties of tourists, to ensure to them the continuing availability of self-fulfillment.

 

-p.

Post # 248      SOIL and SOILED

It can be observed that some subjects, deserving of thoughtful examination, are overshadowed by others, more highly controversial, or emotionally charged (such as gun control legislation, a woman’s right to choose and immigration policy). One such eternally bypassed subject, meriting comment (notably, at this season) is our Planet’s valuable, life-giving soil.

The Summer has just declared a tactical victory; its sudden and aggressive campaign, encountering but scant resistance from an inconsistent, diffident, and clearly disheartened Spring season. If one were to implant a human persona on the past Spring, it would no doubt, confess great relief, finally to be replaced, after such an embarrassing and atypical three- month period. Continuing with such configuration we trust that it will earnestly aspire to a more acceptable performance next year. As a result of such diffident and limited performance of the expired season, topical subjects such as gardening, produce, soil chemistry, climate and tree health, were given short shrift, and easily drowned out by the din of other subjects, particularly politics. We look forward to a less equivocal performance by the next Spring, and the consequent resumption of seasonally relevant subjects such as, wildflowers, organic soil, rainfall, and tree health.

One such drowned out subject, admittedly, one not normally invoking heart-pumping, acrimonious controversy, [albeit worthy of comment] is that of soil and its existentially necessary function; a topic which is customarily overlooked or underestimated.

We are frankly disappointed and annoyed by the occasional employment of the words, “soil” and “dirt,” as if they were synonyms, and accordingly interchangeable. In accurate fact, they are as inapposite as the words, “friend” and “foe,” or, as different as the polar chemical distinctions between “organic” and “inorganic.” Soil (and not dirt) is a sacred, life-giving and life sustaining medium, without which our planet would soon replicate its inert rocky satellite, which we call the Moon.

Found in the upper layer of the planet, usually in black or brown color, our planet’s soil is deservedly credited with being the ultimate nursery for all known life. It is the permanent domicile for flora; thereby affording guaranteed sustenance for all living things, including homo sapiens. Soil is composed of various organic remains, clay and rock particulates, decayed organic matter, and has the natural property of both storing and releasing water. It is functionally, the (metaphoric) universal womb, credited with the birth of all planetary life. The Judaic-Christian Bible, interestingly, names the apocryphal first man, “Adam,” which is Hebrew, for “earth.”

Anyone with the slightest degree of sensibility, should find it aesthetically offensive, to use the words, soil and dirt interchangeably, as if they biologically qualified as identical twins. “Dirt,” itself, refers to such universally objectionable and unattractive matter as oil, grease, grime, dust and undesirable contaminants; with the potential of rendering man and his environment unclean, unattractive, and often, unhealthy. Unlike soil, it performs no useful function; to the contrary, it can have substantial deleterious impact on all life forms, including man, in the form of infections, diseases, allergic responses and other objectionable manifestations; not to mention the deleterious general pollution of the air we breathe and, indeed, the planetary atmosphere.

Recently, we were confused in our reaction to an agricultural worker, interviewed on a television program, who described his calling as “dirt farmer.” The subject distinction obviously, was lost on him. In any event, we would plead for mitigation of the sin committed by our derisive laughter, by reason of our uncontrollable and creatively visual imagination.

-p.