Post # 460      HAMLET, IN IRAN

Tragic events, recently appearing in the media, can well be seen as another confirmation, of our ever-present message, that great, classical literature and art, eternally, depict mankind’s universal challenges. We have declared that this enlightened realization, is what makes great art, meaningful and referentially useful, and have consistently, recommended the reading of great literature, and participation in the arts, as mankind’s best route to acquiring wisdom and mature perspective.

The recent shooting down of a Ukrainian (Boeing, Airliner), killing all 179 passengers, [mostly Iranian] is the latest example of the historically tragic, atavistic, and useless aspiration for revenge. The previous, tactical, American killing, of a highly placed Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani, reportedly, was the motivation for the downing of the plane, mistakenly, thought to be American. The fact that many of the airline passengers, of the aircraft, destroyed by such military reprisal, were Iranian, not American, is ironic, as well as tragic; were it a play, it would be within the canon of a “revenge tragedy.”

However, the intended theme of this writing, is the ethical, and eternal dilemma, of the temporal desire for revenge, and its ultimate and complete, uselessness.

In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the issue of revenge, is central to the plot, but as we, ourselves, read and interpret the bard’s meaning, is dealt with, dismissively.  The play, with which admirers of Shakespeare, are certainly familiar, examines the subject, and as we interpret it, subtly demonstrates, that revenge, is nothing short of, existentially, futile and useless.

It will be remembered, that the plot of Hamlet, is centered around Hamlet’s desire to exact revenge for the murder of his father, the late King of Denmark, by Claudius, the pretender to the throne, as demanded, by the ghost of his father, the murdered King,

The play, as a Shakespearean tragedy, predictably, ends badly, but, to the point of our theme, not before the famous, and, to us, meaningful, graveyard scene [“alas, poor Yorick, etc.”]. In the scene, the skull of a familiar of Hamlet’s childhood, is held up and the deceased, nostalgically and painfully, mourned and remembered.

As we perceive Shakespeare’s [electively inserted] graveyard scene, which expressly, articulates, mankind’s, virtually, imminent, mortality, one is invited to see the existential futility, of revenge, and, it’s pursuit, as a waste of precious, days, in the time-limited franchise of mankind’s life. We are of the considered opinion, that Shakespeare may be suggesting, that the ethical dilemma, posed by the wasteful, and often useless, desire for revenge, is subordinate, to our obligatory need to live life, while we still can.

According to the media reports, revenge was the obvious and admitted motive, for the intentional, downing of the erroneously chosen, [Ukrainian] Airliner, and the consequent, tragic deaths of its many innocent passengers. It was inarguably and unjustifiably, a tragic and meaningless, waste of many innocent lives, and, unfortunately, yet another cogent instance, of history repeating literature, repeating history.

-p.

 

 

 

Post # 459   OF CARROTS AND SELFIES (redux)

We willingly confess to an irresistible inclination to dwell on the vital formation and referential utility, of a candid, self- identity and image. As we perceive it, and have written, one’s felt self- image, is the result of a cumulative recollection of his past actions, particularly, his responses to external stimuli, favorable or, otherwise, his established capabilities and his personal perceptions. This may be what Socrates meant, when he famously taught, “Know thyself.”

We have often made the declaration, that every major judgmental determination, such as, the question of “morality,” is arrived at internally. Accordingly, we have written that the attempted instruction of the latter virtue, using the popular practice of external rewards and punishments, (religious or secular) is useless and potentially, harmful; it teaches the wrong lessons, viz., those of stealth and selfish motivation, instead of the valuable and enduring standard, of self-respecting, judicious, choice.

We would take the liberty to cite one more, among the many cogent, illustrations of the dynamics, of internal judgment. As can be readily and empirically demonstrated, the true essence of “personal success,” is an internally generated, sense of self-fulfillment, and not some publicly demonstrated, symbolic, accumulation of treasure.

The proper jurisdiction and venue, where such internal determinations, are forensically litigated and decided, is within the Courtroom premises of one’s own introspective reason and perception. It may be noted that, there are no statutes, in such consequential environment, authorizing the right of appeal; although, an impulsive, or unduly harsh, personal self-determination, is often capable of amelioration, or thoughtful amendment.

As a caveat, we do not dismiss or downgrade, iny any way, the indispensable function of overt appearance or demonstrated persona, especially, regarding essential, societal interpersonal communication. Conversation, itself, would not be possible, as a practical matter, without the mutually, recognizable identity, and familiar frame of reference, of the engaged parties.  In this writing, however, we are concerned, specifically, with the private, intrapersonal audit of the thoughtful individual, rather than his publicly displayed, appearance.

We have one more caveat, for purposes of clarity of intended meaning. The general practice of taking photographs, of ourselves, or with friends or family, of babies, children, events, places visited, pets, sunrises, and other subjects of interest, for future recollection, is certainly an approved, one. Depicted, memories of people and, of reminiscent events, are valuable, for many reasons, not the least of which, is a recorded, sense of continuity of life, and the nature, and history, of our personal relationships. Such phenomena, additionally, assist us in our perceptions of our evolving and changing reality, and our successive adjustments to reality. We, on the other hand, are concerned about the often observed, apparently incessant, drive to take selfie, after selfie, presumably, in the vain attempt, to produce a photo of oneself, which ever more closely, comports with the photographer’s fantasy about him, or herself, [usually inspired by, and modeled upon, unrealistic, criteria, observed in the media].

Even the kindest and most patient of readers, may by now, be [justifiably] puzzled. How is the subject of the futile, multiple recording of one’s appearance, in the vain search, to satisfy a selected fantasy, at all, related, to the subject of “carrots?’ The latter, an orange colored, root vegetable, has admittedly, been paired, by us, with the word, “selfies,”  in the title of this note. The salient reason, is that while the carrot plant evinces a nice green display in the garden, its real intrinsic value and exceptional beauty, is under the visible surface.

This mini-essay, has been denoted above, as a “redux,” because we have previously dealt with the identical theme, in a slightly different way. In the earlier writing, “Fred Rogers and Selfies,” we recalled an especially, meaningful installment of his wonderful and emotionally educative, children’s show. In the subject installment, Mr. Rogers, and his entire studio of children, sang to, and with, a young boy, confined to a wheelchair and evidencing the sad and dynamic activity of cerebral palsy: “It is you I like, not the clothes you wear, or the way you do your hair, but, it’s you…” This, insightful lesson, about true intrinsic worth, taught to the children in the studio, and those of the television audience, is a lifelong lesson for everyone, young or elderly.

We were, again motivated, to write on this subject, (“redux”) following a, disappointing, witness, from a park bench, [ while awaiting the rare advent, of an on time arrival, of the inglorious M-10 bus] of a young, rather attractive, woman, completely self- engrossed, and oblivious of her surroundings, taking and rejecting, selfie, after selfie, with, and without, the aid, of a “selfie stick.” She, we assume, was vainly, seeking a photo, which would comport with some personal, private fantasy, about herself  As we recall, when the bus finally arrived, she was still peering, intensely, at her “smart” phone.

If carrots had the ability and propensity to instruct, that intelligent vegetable, (please verify, with the esteemed, “Bugs Bunny”) would teach the lesson, that its own true value and beauty, are unseen, and exist below the ground, and that, analogously, in man, true beauty and value, eternally and universally, reside, below his visable surface.

p.

Post #458  MENAGE A TROIS

Since the nineteenth Century, the American political scene has been dominated by two major political parties, and, perforce, has accurately been designated, as a two party system of government. In a two party system, the party holding a majority of the electoral votes, is referred to as the “majority”, or “governing party”, while the other, is the “minority party,” or the” opposition”.

It would appear to us, that a democratic, two party system, is preferable to the multi-party (usually) Parliamentary system, as being more representative of the individual voter, viz., more democratic.  It has historically been the case that, in the multi-party, parliamentary system, in order to form a (legal quorum for) a ruling government, a combination of (divergent) parties is, usually required, thus giving more voice to the voters of a minority party (added by statutory necessity) than is democratically warranted. This concern is obviously, non -existent, in a two party system, where “winner takes all.” The successful election of one party, in a two party system, such as ours, thus, completely and democratically, signifies the expressed selection of one candidate and his avowed platform of intentions, over the other.

The system and tradition of two advertised candidates, affords to the voting public, a clear, known and predictable choice, between the persona and political stance of the respective candidates, and their intended programs. Under a system of, “one man, one vote,” governmental policy, thus, is democratically designated, by the prevailing choice and expression of the people.

We have noted, with great dismay and concern, the recent rise, in this country, of a new, unforeseen and perilous form of “populism.”  As known, the essence of populism is a belief which appeals to those ordinary people, who feel that they, and their interests, are disregarded, in favor of an established elite. It seems to us, that, in the U.S., such a perception, is not generally maintained, relative to the subject of economics, since there is a plentitude of opportunity, for such expression, within the traditionally, accepted platforms, of the Democratic Party. Populism, instead, appears ,rather to be, a “tribal” feeling of joint insecurity and, a felt presumption, of the haughty disapproval and dismissal, of their interests, by the better educated and more sophisticated citizenry (“the elite”).

Some of these, self-conscious, “populists” would, if they voted at all, might, in a different frame of mind, go Democratic or Republican; such populism, in general, having no ties to any one economic or political theory or another. It may well be, that many of such feelings of disrespect, are self-generated, or subjectively perceived, whereas, others may, indeed, be based on empirical experience.

Nevertheless, such perceptions, whether real, or insecurely imagined, do, in fact, exist, and appear readily exploitable by demagogues and other “snake oil salesmen,” who falsely and tactically, portray the false impression of intimate identification with their plight, and appeal to such perceived insecurity, for political or other purposes.

Donald J. Trump, a former, mediocre, television host, of an inane television game show, nevertheless, proved his acumen, as such a perverse, missionary of misleading propaganda, to these, less sophisticated, sensitive and, presumed, deprecated, people. One recalls, the tactical, populist representations, of the purported claim of superiority, and brazen, widespread scorn, directed at the common man, allegedly charged to the fictional, “coastal liberals.”

It is essential for the Democratic campaign, to recognize such dynamics and the motivation, of these millions of voters; based on their perception, of being dismissed in significance, by the portionof the nation, termed, the “elites,” (meaning more educated, and favored). They are not described by, or members of, a particular political party. The National disaster of the Trump election, was not, to our understanding, a clear victory of his Republican Party, as such; functionally, it was, in large part, a victory, based upon the additional  supplement, of amorphous populism, viz., not political science but, rather, sociology. Such segment of the National community, can be, functionally, likened to the influence and dynamics, of an additional, or “third” party.

This is, the essential reason, for the Democratic Party, to change its, present, errant, emphasis, on beating Donald Trump as its primary goal. It must wisely alter such poorly conceived, emphasis, which will predictably, help Trump, by rallying the extant tribalism, and accentuating the basic, misguided, message of the populist, voters.

The Democratic Party’s emphasis should, more effectively, be on the traditional platforms that made that party great: fair labor practices, including, working conditions and adequate wages and benefits, health care, regulations protecting the citizen, the consumer and the environment, equal rights for all, prison reform, banking and credit reforms, protection of voter’s rights, a sensible program of gun regulation, old age and retirement benefits, a vigorous infrastructure program, water purification and forestry preservation, a more equitable tax policy, relief to the needy and disabled, lobbying reforms, tuition assistance to students, support for  cultural, arts and education programs, efforts to ameliorate climate deterioration, non-political judicial selection, efforts to eliminate illiteracy, regulation of the pharmacy industry, regulations protecting the purity of drinking water, food and the safety of medicines, elimination of capital punishment, improvements in educational assistance to the States, and many other vital and needed issues.

To deemphasize the above traditional Democratic positions, in favor of the criterion, articulated, viz., the perceived ability to defeat Trump, is to exalt the importance of Trump (which would greatly please his egoistic and neurotic, persona), but far worse, it would invigorate, the extant, tribal, instinct, of that unpredictable, “third party,” the populists, and their defensive, delusions. It would also, foolishly, ignore the very platforms, that built, and won elections for the Democratic Party.

-p.

 Post # 457   A LETTER TO THE U.S. CONSUMER COMPLAINT SERVICE

United States Federal Government
Department of Citizen Complaints
Capital Office Building,
Washington, D.C
Gentlemen:

It is with appropriate gratitude, that we acknowledge having the good fortune, among the entire, world-wide population of human inhabitants, to have been be born, and to reside in this country, with assured benefits of liberty, as prescribed by the Nation’s Founding Fathers, and as guaranteed by its Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The Founders’ declarations concerning universal equality of all citizens, sagely and properly, eliminated the centuries-old, European system of privileged birth, and its unfortunate consequence of privileged classes. We especially appreciate the constitutional assurance, proscribing governmental interference with the right of every citizen (in principle) to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Since childhood, we were assured that these rights were, inviolate, eternal and enshrined; virtually, secular icons, to be, equally hallowed by all Americans. We learned to be proud of our country of birth, and in its, unfailing, moral rectitude. We were, in our younger years, however, not made aware of the ugly National blemish of inequality of race and gender. The Nation, we have happily, noted, has, recognizably made considerable progress, in this disappointing and unjust area, but, yet, cannot, claim, complete accomplishment, of its promised, universal equality of rights and freedom from bias.

We were taught, as schoolchildren, the American, semi-religious dogma, called “Manifest Destiny,” pursuant to which it was the prescribed, and inherent, duty of our Nation to expand its territories to the Pacific Ocean. We were never, informed, however, about the consequential Governmental program of removal and killing of innocent, Native Americans, and the destruction of their ancient culture, in effecting that xenophobic destiny.

Decades later, we were advised that the Indochinese War (Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos) was, imperatively, necessary in order to stop the formation of a dangerous Communist bloc, with Red China. The war lasted about 20 years, killed thousands of Americans and their allies, and an untold number of Asians, and tore our country apart, perhaps, irretrievably. After the war, Secretary, Robert McNamara, one of the war’s original promoters, and architects, expressly admitted, in his subsequently, published book, that the bloody war had, been an ignorant mistake; that, there was never a realistic threat of the feared, “United Communist Bloc;” in that, China, Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia and Laos, have historically, been, mutual enemies. [ Query, why did it take, Harvard’s McNamara, et al.so long to discover the error? The war lasted 20 years]

Americans were always justifiably proud, that every citizen had the inalienable right to vote. Nonetheless, one observes, hypocritical travesties, such, as poll taxes, voter blocking, deletion and interference, and the wide-spread, undemocratic practice of gerrymandering, persist, to date. Would you also reconcile, the fundamental democratic guaranty, of one, man, one vote, with the continued maintenance of the Electoral College?

The Constitutional principles of Separation, of Church and State, were always earnestly maintained, by the Founding Fathers to be a fundamental guaranty of liberty, yet, we still suffer from religiously motivated, government proscriptions of the woman’s choice of abortion, have foolishly, meddled in the vital subject of contraception, and discouraged sex education in schools.

We were taught about the Separation of Powers, [Executive, Legislative and Judicial], functionally, and, in addition, the ability, of one branch of government, to prevent, the abuse of power by another branch.  (“Checks and Balances”).  At present it seems to be an impotent dynamic, as amply demonstrated our current President, and his illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of unauthorized powers.

Our Nation received the assurance, since the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that America was to afford to the lower and middle classes, new and needed social programs, and the amelioration of want, by empathic benefits, included in a new American concept, of a compassionate Capitalism. Yet, the present government, in Washington, has permitted moneyed interests to exercise their influence, in eliminating, or reducing them (welfare, food stamps, unemployment and sick benefits, regulations of safety in the workplace, purity of food and water, fair housing and other like programs).

The Constitution, as is known, expressly, forbids cruel and unusual punishments, yet, America still tolerates, in too many jurisdictions, officially approved, killing of convicted individuals; euphemistically, called, “Capital (as in decapitation) Punishment.”

We have, publicly and accurately, represented ourselves as a Nation of immigrants, and their descendants, with an eternally open door, to welcome the poor and endangered, immigrant, as enshrined in our Statue of Liberty. Nevertheless, particularly, in the past few years, contrary to our history, Laws, our pretensions to decency, the government has permitted false and defamatory representations of fugitives and other immigrants, with brown skin, as undesirable, criminals, and has taken steps to block their immigration, as well as, mistreated them and separated their families.

We have acknowledged that the most valuable natural resource, of a Nation, is the quality and sophistication of its population, but have not been responsive to the need for assistance, to students, in the financing of higher education; resulting in substantial, life-long indebtedness of its graduates. Additionally, the government does not support, the cultural growth and improvement of its citizenry, by its denial of financial support to the Arts and Sciences.

The Courts, by their decisions, have permitted the misreading of the Second Amendment, to permit the free commerce and ownership of guns. A, objective plain reading of the same, especially with knowledge of the history of its time, clearly indicates, that, in order to induce the several States to (surrender much of their respective sovereignty) to an established federal government, their (the State’s) right to maintain an armed militia. would be preserved. The cynically intentional and tactical, misreading has earned miscreant members, of the gun lobby, multiple millions of dollars in profit; it is also the cause of an untold number of innocent deaths.

We continue to hope, together with, as well, we assume, of other loyal and believing, citizens, nevertheless, is that these past issues will be addressed and corrected, and not be shielded, or avoided by hypocritical and misleading euphemism. Our aspiration is and that the avowed, and traditionally laudable, image and promise of America, would continue in its progress toward the elimination of injustice, extremes in inequality, unfettered individual freedoms. We would, significantly, hope, as well, for a return to rational governance by leaders who are just, capable and sufficiently knowledgeable.

Until the foregoing is accomplished, would you please be kind enough to afford us some guidance on what to teach our young children.

Respectfully,

Pliny

Post #456 (fiction #5)   THE THREE BROTHERS*

If by some chance, you happen to drive through the small hamlet of Cheeseville, located in South Oregano County, Nevada, please be sure to stop at the Pizzeria, on Main Street, owned and operated by the Mozzarella brothers, Vince, Angelo and Bradford, (the latter, eldest, and third brother, from a previous marriage of their mother, Mrs. Angelina Mozzarella). Please be sure to ask for Bradford, or Vince, and say hello, and see how things are going. The three brothers are the owners and operators of the “Goomba Pizza Parlor, Ltd.” a well- known, successful business establishment, exclusively patronized, by self-styled pizza aficionados, throughout the entire, Oregano County.

You might ask Brad or Vince, whatever became of the Wolf Bakery, and Mr. B. Wolf, its vicious and loathsome proprietor. The last we heard, Wolf, who decided to incorporate pizza into his muffin business, had applied to the Superior Court of Oregano County, for an Order of eviction, against Goomba Pizza Parlor, Ltd., and, additionally, for a judgment for punitive damages, against the three proprietors.

To bring the reader up to date, the relevant facts are as follows. Wolf, a carnivorous and aggressive personality, had, conspired to, and by some sleight of hand, succeeded in, procuring the lease to the premises of the pizza parlor, and thereafter, as, tactically planned, in his drive to force the brothers out, raised the rent to an impossible amount. It seems that Wolf’s muffin business was in steep decline, and he lusted for the pizza parlor, which, in addition to being very profitable, was in vogue throughout the entire County. He also entertained an unreasonable hatred, against the three brothers, for many other reasons, besides business, among which was, jealousy over the desirably, close interactive relationship between the brothers (including the half-brother), who spent most of their working hours, happily, singing. When the brothers learned of certain unsuccessful attempts, by their new landlord to injure their business, they added to his irritation, a confident lack of concern, in face of the vicious (and, so far, unsuccessful) attempts by the, cunning, landlord to destroy their business.

What they wisely, did was to continue to pay rent, at the previous agreed rate (as opposed to the tactically, impossible rate, imposed by the new landlord, Mr. Wolf), which, in accordance with, the Landlord and Tenant Division of the State Supreme Court, Mr. Wolf learned, to his dismay, denied to a landlord, [ who imposed a penalty rent on his lease abiding tenants] the right of summary dispossess, for non-payment of rent. The landlord angrily, and tight-fisted, threatened further legal action.

The second attempt by Mr. Wolf, consisted of an attempt to falsely advise the public, that the pizza company, Goomba Pizza, Ltd., included, amounts of sawdust, in their pizza crust, to save money. This second attempt, slandering the product of the three brothers, was laughed at, by the highly satisfied customers, who were well aware of the method of preparation of the product, and immediately recognized the falsity, as well as the evil motivation of the slanderer.

The third (and, apparently, the final) attempt, was the costly engagement of a local attorney, with local political connections, to obtain a Court Order of Eviction and Damages, against the brothers, for withholding his right, as landlord, to possession, based upon the grounds of inadequate (but, regular) rent payments. This proceeding was brought by, Order to Show Cause, in the Superior Court of Oregano County, itself, [as opposed to proceeding in the Landlord and Tenant Division]. The case was still pending, when last we heard, and such was the reason we requested that the traveler, referred to in the first paragraph, speak to Vince or Brad; to obtain a report on the outcome of the third attempt, of the landlord, Mr. Wolf, to recover the building premises and oust the three entrepreneurs.

As it happens, just before the publishing of this writing, we received a text message, which, (happily) read: “The application of the Landlord, for possession of the premises, and for punitive damages was denied, due to the Applicant’s evident, deceitful action. It   was further ordered, by the Court, that, the three tenants are granted damages in the amount of $…….. against the Landlord, Mr. Wolf by reason of the latter’s illegal and inequitable business practices.

The three partners were happy and celebrated, in their usual, musical mode.

-p.

* We, emphatically deny, any and all, similarity between the foregoing narrative, and the children’s story, “The Three Little Pigs.”

Post # 455  ALL MY SONS (A pliny editorial)

Readers, old enough to remember, the dramatic (1948) movie, (or later release) “All My Sons,” starring the celebrated actor, Edward G. Robinson, as protagonist, may recall the plot, and its timeless message. The picture, based upon a play, by Arthur Miller, told the story of an airplane parts manufacturer, who, in order to keep his business from failing, knowingly, shipped defective airplane parts, to the military, during the pendency of World War 11, causing the death of several servicemen. The narrative, [a morality play, in our estimation], leads to an inevitable tragic ending, morally portended, by the commission of the mortal sin, of exaltation of individual need, over societal and moral responsibility. We understand that the Miller play is being revived for current audiences.

In common with all great works of art, “All My Sons,” articulates an eternally, ageless issue, in its case, the vexing choice, between financial survival and social and moral responsibility. This specific issue is eternally important, but it is one that is, especially, at this moment in our history, inarguably and existentially, relevant.

If mitigation, to some minor degree, is compassionately, to be accorded the protagonist, in the movie, it might be conceivably based, upon the rationality of his errant choice, the objective fear, of financial ruin. No such minor mitigation, can justly be allowed, to the big oil magnates, responsible for climate change, and conceivably, irreparable injury to mankind and the planet. Google search, reveals that one partner of the Koch Brothers business entity, David Koch, has a net worth of $44.9 Billion, and his brother, Charles Koch, with $44.8 Billion, Dollars. Like the fictional protagonist in “All My Sons,” these irresponsible, or more accurately put, psychopathic entrepreneurs, secure their profits from death. In the case, of the detestable Koch brothers, and other merchants of atmospheric poison, the homicide and injury is not limited to man, but also, to the Earth’s entire fauna and flora.

The declaration, of the revered, ancient Hebrew Sage, Hillel, and its later iterations, by Emmanuel Kant, and in the Christian, “Golden Rule,” prescribes the fundamental, and morally essential, basis of all human justice and empathy, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The profit seeking entrepreneurs in the oil and gas industry, the saintly, Koch Brothers, are the elite, among the unapologetic perpetrators, and financial beneficiaries of, serious and possibly, permanent, anthropogenic damage to mankind; including, the biophysical environment and ecosystems, biological diversity, natural resources, global warming, environmental degradation, such as ocean acidification, extinction of species, ecological crises and ecological collapse.

We wonder what these Koch miscreants, think of themselves; do they have a conscience, or sense of morality? We, in the desire for accountable accuracy, term such people, ”psychopaths;” who would, intentionally, create the risk that our living, verdant, planet, and its inhabitants, would be degraded and reduced to the stage, of a lifeless, orbiting sterile moon- like rock, in their insatiable, neurotic, and psychopathic drive, for unlimited billions of dollars. Do these monsters have offspring? Do they go to some church? Do they examine themselves, introspectively? Can they sleep at night?

The protagonist, in the merely fictional, movie, “All My Sons,” at the end, commits suicide, in remorse for his immoral choices. The Koch Brothers, and like (non-fictional) entrepreneurs who psychopathically, value profit, above human life and planetary habitation, yet continue to thrive.

Such villains can thrive, however, only in a nightmarish environment, such as ours, today, where a miscreant, Chief Executive, can permissibly, legally and publicly, break up families, and install the separated and helpless young children, in governmental wire cages.

-p.

Post # 454   COMMEMORATING PARENTAL DISCIPLINE

Human, experience, has ineluctably, demonstrated, that there are no reliable formulaic prescriptions, in any degree useful, in matters concerning human behavior, as contrasted, by analogy, to the dynamics of chemical formulas, with empirically, predictable outcomes. For this reason, we have consistently impugned and detested  aphorisms, for their arrogant, ignorant and reductionist presumption of saintly rectitude, as hallowed solutions, to man’s presenting problems.

It is difficult to rate these inane, substitutes for reason, in order of merit, since it is difficult to discern merit in any of them. However, at a time in our current events, in which the phenomenon of “candidacy,” is presently operative, we would select a particular homily, as a frontrunner, for the very worst, and which, in our view, has little real, “bottom of the barrel,” competition. It also has, in its atavistic stupidity, provided us with the subject of this note. It pains us to be obliged to repeat the same, but we do so for referential identification purposes only: “Spare the rod, and spoil the child.”

We suspect that the home-spun laureate, who authored this shameful inanity, may be from the same school of classic literature as is, the simpleton, who is responsible for another well known, hoary, travesty, “Children should be seen and not heard.” The latter aphorism, suggests that well brought up children, should be silent, inactive, potted plants, rather than, enthusiastic and welcome participants, in normal family interaction. The parent who abuses mandatorily silent children, certainly is not, in any way, in the running, for a Fred Rogers gold medal, for parenting.

Someone might, generously and defensively reply, that these are traditional (“old”) homilies; to which we would, emphatically state, that in contemporaneous speech they would, accurately, translate to, “Child abuse and cruelty, are the accepted, and recommended modes of rearing children.” We would confidently declare, that there exists, no possible moral rationale for striking a child, [nor keeping him mute].  We are parents, and, candidly admit to experiencing, at times, the feelings of stress and frustration, inherent in child rearing, but, have never reacted to our frustration by physically, acting it out on the child. No one, we believe, beats his child, as purportedly, claimed, “out of love” or because, “he loves him.” Moreover, the child will not, likely, perceive it in that way. The child is physically abused, by the parent, as a result of the inhumane, venting of his own impatience and lack of understanding of kinder and vastly more effective, alternatives. An errant child, may forget the intended lesson, but he will not soon forget the painful treatment. Under such a regime, he, predictably may, later in his life, replicate such learned, cruel behavior.

There are far more effective, appropriate and loving policies, founded upon a taught sense of the child’s respect, for himself, and his own self-image. It should be emphasized, that, if a child is to behave properly, for the purpose of avoiding punishment, what will his behavior demonstrate, when he knows the disciplinary adult is absent. Lessons in rewards and punishments, place the subject of behavior in the wrong context, and are foolish, and self-defeating lessons; promoting the values of stealth and caution, instead of rectitude. We would offer the following, hypothetical illustration:

Supposing that [hypothetically], on some unusual impulse, I stole your cell phone. The next day, fraught with remorse and anxiety. I return it to you, confess and profusely and sincerely apologize for my wrongful act. You, being generous in nature, forgive me, and state: “I forgive you, let’s forget all about it and pretend it didn’t happen.” He may actually, forget about it, but I certainly cannot. I am still, internally plagued by the question: “What kind of person can I be, to have stolen his phone, in the first place?”

Morality is an internal phenomenon, closely aligned with one’s self- image (self-identity). By analogy to a long term savings account, a charitable or empathic act, is like making a deposit (reinforces) a perceived moral and just, internal feeling of identity, while a selfish or wrongful act makes an expensive, at times, a lasting withdrawal, from that account. For properly socialized individuals, self-appraisal is a vital ingredient in their life’s assessment, and a consistent positive self-image, is crucially important.

The truly enlightened and responsible parent, will endeavor to instill in the child, an internalized, and candid, sense and awareness of “himself” and his valuably essential, self- worth. This, admittedly, takes considerable time, and much disciplined and instructive patience, on the part of the parent. The child must learn, ultimately, through much patient and loving instruction, to be his own moral and empathetic supervisor, and when he does so, will, predictibly, grow to be an empathic and honest adult; and, at some, future day, an enlightened parent.

It must be said that, in such a proper program of enlightened teaching of virtue, perhaps, the most effective element, as an instructive model, is the exemplary behavior of the parent, himself.

-p.