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.