Post # 370     A LESSON IN REALITY

The following true story, took place in the Spring of 1961, in close proximity to a U.S. Army Base, “Aberdeen Proving Grounds,” in the nearby State of Maryland. As one might note, the name is indicative of its function as a military installation, part of the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Department, tasked with the repair and testing of armaments.

We were dressed in our pressed khakis, every crease in place, shined brass belt buckle, shiny black boots, “army neat,” as officially required. On our left shoulder we showed the First Army Patch, indicating that we were from the New York area. We walked, the short way to the regular public bus stop, just outside of the high security entrance of the military base, and learned that there was a wait of, at least, 45 minutes, before the scheduled arrival of the Bus to New York.

In close proximity to the entrance to the military base and the bus stop, was an ordinary looking diner. If we may be permitted to briefly digress, we would point out that the quality and taste of enlisted man’s food and coffee, under the best of conditions, would easily qualify as a full, determinative defense, to any military charge of criminal desertion. This latter condition, might conceivably be accounted for by the huge quantities of food, required to be cooked, making careful preparation impossible, but more likely, by the U.S. Army’s typical personnel policy, which, for example, assigned auto repairmen to positions as cooks, and cooks to the position of auto repairmen.

Considering the scheduled 45 -minute wait, we entered the diner with the anticipation of enjoying the remembered taste of a good cup of coffee. The appearance of the diner was unremarkable, similar to the diners to which we had become accustomed. There was, in addition to several tables, a long food counter, at which six, or so diners were seated. We took a seat at the end of the counter and ordered from the counterman, a cup of coffee and a slice of, inviting looking, apple pie. The coffee and pie were delivered in a few minutes, and we began to enjoy it (privately, and bitterly, contrasting the same with the analogous abomination, served in the Army).

No sooner did we begin to partake of our coffee and pie, when a soldier, approximately the same age as we, wearing the identical sharply pressed tan uniform, bearing the same First Army insignia, entered the diner. After mutually exchanging a nodding hello, he sat down at the lunch counter next to us. It seems that, he too, was on a weekend pass, and was also waiting for the arrival of the New York bus. He asked us about the coffee and pie, which we recommended enthusiastically. He ordered the same from the counterman, who seemed, in response, to immediately freeze. We suppose that we should properly mention, at this point, that my fellow soldier was black.

Not only did the counterman halt in his tracks, but the six or so diners, sitting at the other end of the counter, angrily looked up and seemed to glare. Neither the fellow soldier nor we, had any idea of the dynamics of the situation, until the counterman approached us, and shockingly said to the other soldier: “Look man, if you want coffee in a paper container, you can drink it outside.”  It took a while for us, to appraise the situation, but in a moment or two, we realized that we were confronted with an obvious and ugly occasion, of racial prejudice.  The other soldier then peaceably left, and we, in a state of shock, quickly finished our coffee and pie. The counterman then approached us and said, as follows:” Look, I don’t really care that much, but if I served him, I would lose my customers.” We silently paid our bill and left. To this very day, we sincerely regret our remaining the few additional minutes required to finish the coffee, and not, immediately leaving the diner, in solidarity with the other soldier. But, perhaps in mitigation, we were absolutely stunned into silence and inaction.

The instructive point is, that right thinking people may not be experientially equipped to quickly identify, and at once appropriately, react to matters outside their (moral) life experience. Most associate and fraternize with others who share their high principles and life ethic in common. The cited experience was, in actuality, perniciously obvious, but took us a few minutes to recognize. Overt acts of racial bigotry, in our early days, were matters we merely read about in a newspaper, or were informed of by television, but did not witness. Seeing an unexpected, real life, example of this previously known, dreadful pathology, required a little time for its recognition (by us and, conceivably, the other soldier involved).

We certainly do not recommend that right- thinking American citizens, deploy their sensitive antennae, in a continuous, sweeping, radar-like reconnaissance, in the search for discrimination, or other hateful behavior.  We do recommend, however, that good citizens remain aware of the existence of such evils and, to the degree that they happen to confront   them, to respond, peacefully, but firmly and appropriately.

-p.

 

Post # 369 UNDELIVERED MESSAGES

We will shamelessly confess, that our declarations as to what we have termed, man’s “private, lifelong conversation with himself,” appears as an instrumental theme running through a noticeably, great number of our approximately 400 blogposts. One’s privately recollected evaluation of the past history of his personal responses to life’s varied stimuli, eventuates into a fixed and stable self- identity, and as well a realistic understanding of one’s public persona. Our privately accumulated, and constructed, sense of honor and propriety, our degree of happiness, our feelings of success or failure, and our potential for true empathy [as we have consistently declared] are all internally generated, by our individual self-image, and our perceived role in life’s theatrical production. We have noted, however, the observed reservation, that the self-image, to some degree, may be tempered by an evident, uniform perception by other members of society. It has been our long-standing, and frequently stated, belief that, our personal morality, our sense of justice and fairness, as well as the nature of our acts, are principally dependent upon that privately held, self-image.

The most elemental and dynamic ingredient in the infrastructure of all human society, is the phenomenon of interpersonal interaction, viz., overtly expressed, public thoughts and action. In the private conversations with ourselves, thoughts, accurate or inaccurate, may well exist, as we think or presume to see them. By contrast, in interactive communication, messages are conveyed, only to the extent that they are actually spoken; in the employment of the naturally accepted meaning of the chosen words, and accordingly, heard as such. The mere intention to convey a message, is of little consequence, contrasted with the words actually employed, in the subject conversation. Subsequent disagreement, predictably, will occur when a speaker accurately recalls his prior intention, but erroneously remembers his words.

To possess utility, interactive communication requires the careful consideration of the specific words used. This is eternally so, based upon the mandatorily necessary assumption, that a person’s intention is reflected in his chosen words. This fundamental assumption inarguably, is at the basis of all rational communication. Accordingly, effective conversation, can only take place, when speakers specifically employ those words which accurately represent the particular thoughts they intend to convey. It may be a useful practice, in matters of especial moment, to consider, in advance, the specific content of one’s intended statements.

A frequent instance of undelivered messages is additionally incurred, when each of the parties to a conversation, does, in fact, concentrate upon the thoughts he wishes to convey, but does so, to the exclusion of the statements of other party. When there are two parties, each, respectively, laser focused on his own personal, thoughts, to the mutual exclusion of the statements of the other party, there is no conversation.  We offer the following, fictional illustration:

JACK: Say, Jill, you have no idea how big the fire in the school was last Thursday.

JILL: We had a kitchen fire last month.

JACK: Unfortunately, two firefighters were seriously injured.

JILL: My kitchen will never be the same.

JACK: We were advised that one of the injured firefighter is in critical condition.

JILL: They think it was started by the defective wiring of our toaster.

JACK: Oh! I have to go now, see you.

JILL: Me too.

JACK: Goodbye, good talk.

JILL: See you, yes, good talk.

Authentic awareness of the other party, is inarguably, mandatory in any rational conversation; such essentially basic requirement, nevertheless, is often ignored, and so, many messages, sadly, go undelivered.

-p.

Post # 368 MULLING OVER IMPEACHMENT (Editorial)

We are abjectly remorseful about being reoffenders, recidivists, concerning the several breaches of an earlier resolve. Our resolve was to resist all future inclination to post, on the subject of our miscreant and unprecedented, aberrant head of State. We have, nonetheless, reluctantly and apologetically, done so, but, in mitigation, only when events were so detestable and bizarre, that refraining to do so, would be wrongful, as akin to the historically verboten, “Sin of Silence.”  The present conundrum relates to the best action to take, responsive to the President’s wide variety of miscreant behavior (some, possibly as serious as treason). The same has now been confirmed by, among other things, no less than the (two years in the making) Official Report, of the duly appointed Special Investigator.

The U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 4, provides, that a sitting President can be removed, (but) only in the following manner. The Lower House of Congress files charges, an “Impeachment” amounting to “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” committed by the President (analogous to a grand jury indictment). After which, the charges set forth in the Impeachment, are tried before the Senate (analogous to a Criminal Court).

There has been an understandable and passionate outcry, for immediate impeachment, emanating from many Democratic Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a truly sizeable number of private citizens; maintaining that the arrogant, lawless President should be sanctioned and removed from office to affirm our laws and traditional codes of morality. Nonetheless, as set forth, below, the issue is whether it is wise at this time, to initiate the factually supported and meritorious process, a procedure which would, predictably, pass the Lower House, which contains a Democratic majority

It seems relevant to that issue, to enumerate the following two cogent considerations, (1) the controlling political party in the Senate, is the President’s party, the Republicans, and (2) the next Presidential election is no later than 2019.

Certain sage and experienced Members of Congress, notably including, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, are of the opinion, that we should not mount such a proceeding at this time. Her decision, as we apprehend it, seems to be that a present proceeding, albeit, clearly justified and meritorious, would help President Trump. It would necessitate a long (one year?) procedure, during which the Orange Demagogue would be allotted significantly more neurotically desired, television exposure, and may be able to convince some uninformed voters, that the Official Proceedings were, as fantasized by him, “a witch hunt”, in an attempt to re-litigate his election victory.

We too, have become impatient for justice, respecting this singularly obnoxious, unfit, dishonest head of State, yet, we feel, tactically obliged to agree with Speaker Pelosi. An impatient desire to see this charlatan punished, in order to summarily, reaffirm the rule of law and morality, could end badly. His purported posture as a victim of the political left, may find some acceptance, in some uninformed quarters. Trump has been divisive enough; his face has imprinted itself on the television tube, far too often. Congress would be further diverted from passing needed legislation, the international relationships with other heads of State and Countries, would be completely ambiguous (they are bizarre and unclear enough, already), the Nation could find itself vulnerable, due to perceived legal doubt created as to meaningful executive actions, and, finally, procedurally, because the Senate, being Republican, would never convict him.

The vindication of morality and the rule of law, under the present circumstances, must, necessarily, await a bit more time than our appetite for rectitude might prefer. America has another election in 2020, and this embarrassing miscreant can then be voted out. In any event, patience, will in this matter, go far to assure justice. A Trump communicated perception of a “bum’s rush,” may favor that oily demagogue, in his faux claims of political jealousy. While the Department of Justice will not indict a sitting President, they can, indeed, be effective in fully prosecuting him, when he is no longer in office (many of his crimes have a five- year statute of limitations). The understandably impatient citizen, should temper his desire for immediate justice, with the realization that there are years in which to legally indict and try Trump, when he is out of office. An improvident and impatient desire to (justifiably) punish Trump can result in his re-election and the consequent renewal of his period of Presidential immunity.

With regard to society’s demand for a public, principled and timely statement of the universal need for universal conformance with law and approved behavior, respectable American citizens have already rendered their decision, concluding that he is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, and can wisely, and tactically, endure awaiting the appropriate time for criminal action and just punishment.

-p.

Post # 367 (poesie) SECULAR DOXOLOGY (Primavera)

Let us all Praise,
The warming rays of mild sunshine.
Let us all Praise,
The re-awakening stir of woodlands.
Let us all Praise
The soothing balm of warm zephyrs.
Let us all Praise,
The awaited homecoming of birds and critters.
Let us all Praise,
The retreat of the tired mists of winter.
Let us all Praise,
The verdant renewal.

(Attributed to Leonard N. Shapiro,
(Spring, 2019)
-p.