Post # 248    DOUBLE INDEMNITY: An Editorial

We confess to a penchant to occasionally beginning our writings with specific reservations, indicating, in each instance, what the respective writing is “not” about. In keeping with our nuanced inclinations, we would state that this note is not again about, the disappointing level of citizen education and awareness (with reference to Thomas Jefferson), necessary for the success of a democracy (exhibit” A”, election of Trump), nor, once more, on the miscreant, carbon producing entrepreneurs who deny climate change, and esteem profiteering above considerations of the health of the p lanet and its resident human beings.  Having thus, dutifully, expressed our denials, we are now free to plunge into the selected subject.

We would confidently declare, that a country’s population is its most precious national resource, more vital than the ready availability of water, oil and other fuels, forests, minerals, fertile soil, rainfall and other featured assets as may be pedagogically enumerated in any text on geography, or geopolitics.

We have selected the present subject because for too long, we have been hapless witnesses to a dishonest and incapable government, supported by many, less than knowledgeable, American citizens, [tactically manipulated, by a few very wealthy profiteers], with the consequence of a potentially weakened nation. This unacceptable situation, exacerbated by a current, popular disrespect for academia and education, greatly troubles us, as it surely does, other rational and informed Americans.

It is instructive {and frightening] to realize, that in the first third of the 20th Century, a relatively small size nation, Nazi Germany, came perilously close to conquering the entire world. Additionally illustrative is the fact that, in 1948, a relatively small and inadequately armed group of Holocaust survivors, miraculously defeated several invading Arab armies, inclusive of the Arab League [the latter, professionally trained and armed by Great Britain]. To our understanding, the explanation for such phenomena is to be found in the level of dedication and education of the respective populations, resulting in the vital capability, to be quickly and efficiently mobilized.

Our past writings have mourned the apparent descent of our educational and cultural priorities. Large numbers of Americans are literacy-challenged, as well as demonstrably ignorant as to matters beyond their personal life experience. The general decline in American culture, can readily be deduced from the general, widespread preference for cheap, ephemeral entertainment, rather than enduring and profoundly rewarding experiences, such as theater, art, literature and serious music. Such decline in motivation and interest in personal growth and enhancement, is necessarily limiting, stultifying and counterproductive as to the ability to use reason in the making of responsible judgments. Is there any wonder concerning the selection of the current President and the installation of his sycophantic cabinet?

Fundamentally needed repair and enhancement of the educational and cultural life of our nation are vitally indicated, generally, for the attainment of self- knowledge, fulfillment and respect for others, but no less importantly, for our cohesive safety and ready mobility, when and if needed.

It is shameful and veritably irrational, that our nation’s young people (our most valuable natural resource) are obliged to incur decades of personal debt to obtain a college education, that public educational media is obliged to frequently beg the population for support, that museums and so many public cultural attractions are monetarily prohibitive for the poor, and, significantly, that adequate health services are not readily available to all Americans. Necessary existential services and publicly accessed education are appropriately and ethically the proper responsibility of a moral and empathic system of compassionate capitalism; thereby keeping the republic wise and strong. Ignorant citizens who reflexively decry this outreach as (dreaded) “socialism”, need to astound their friends, by picking up a book, to discover the definition of that poorly chosen and reflexively asserted word as an “epithet’.

A successful and secure country is one that is one comprised of citizens who are independently valuable, literate and participatory in the affairs of their government in peacetime, and, as world history teaches, readily mobilizable in times of crises. There is no more valuable, useful and protective resource than people, whose proper care and nurturance are vitally essential to the quality of their lives, and, additionally, the secure existence  of their nation.

-p.

Post # 247       A MARRIAGE AND A NEW AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Having been reared in the national credo, “All men are created equal,” we have paid little heed to the affairs of the British royalty and are sanguine concerning matters of pomp and ceremony, from any source, as demonstrative assertions of a nation’s purported greatness. However, we are fortunate in having amended our usual resolve, and witnessed the television transmission of the marriage of Prince Harry, of England to the American, Ms. Meghan Markle. Our thoughts went well beyond the beauty of the ceremony, performed in the historical Anglican Cathedral where English royalty has historically celebrated their marriages. Our spirits soared, in the appreciation of what such an eventful wedding signified, historically and sociologically, for mankind’s progress toward peace and human justice. Ms. Markle, a commoner, is black and beautiful, but uncontrovertibly black. They will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Surrey (after the late Duchess of Surrey ,who opposed slavery.)

We find it quite remarkable, that a European nation which has so exalted and taken pride in its historic tradition, as exemplified by the consistent perpetuation of its medieval pomp and ceremony, can now be recognized as the innovator of a vitally needed and dramatic step toward racial justice. While many American television viewers are still socially adjusting themselves to inter-racial commercials, England, who, not so very long ago espoused the statement that non-whites were white men’s (missionary) burden, has warmly welcomed a non-white young bride to its intimate Royal Family.

As we viewed the imperious Duke of Windsor, (surprisingly and perilously close to looking happy) accompany Meghan down the aisle, we thought of the many novels of the 1800’s, by such great English authors as, Dickens, Trollope, Elliot, Thackeray and Austin, in which people of color, stereotypically, servants, slaves and other “inferiors” were designated as “blackamoors”; Queen Victoria must be agitating in her grave with disbelief. King Leopold of Belgium, under whose tutelage of the Congo, hands of black slaves, working in the rubber plantations, were punitively amputated and kept as warnings to others [ See: “Leopold’s Ghost”, or Conrad’s, “Heart of Darkness,”] is another demonstrable example of the unenviable status of black people in Europe. In our country, self- styled, “The land of the free,” it was not so long ago that The Supreme Court of The United States, ruled that black slaves, legally, were agricultural equipment and that, accordingly, run-aways could be returned to their owner [Dred Scott Case].

The wedding was a happy and romantic event, but, historically, a giant step toward a better and more exemplary future for mankind. In addition to the traditional English royal pomp and ceremony, the wedding’s program explicitly and markedly articulated a black presence. In addition to the attendance of black guests, including of course, the bride’s mother, one of the sermons was delivered by a black minister (episcopal); members of the wedding entourage were black, there was a black solo cellist and a black American Gospel Choir singing “Stand By  Me.”. While we, in the US, are busy, gradually adjusting to the novel  inter-racial television commercials, our old, stodgy mother country has forever advanced the worldview as to race relations.

What will the dedicated haters who comprise the White Supremacy groups do now? After all, one clearly, cannot be “whiter” than a member the English Royalty. We have especial pleasure, in imagining the mind- set of those low information, flat earth bigots, who ignorantly see themselves as “defenders” against the “mongrelizing” of the white race, when they learn that a Royal English Prince married a black American bride with mankind’s universal approval.  From this day forward, they will only have their bald heads, Nazi flags and tattoos to be proud of, and not their skin color.

[Our sincerest congratulations to the happy bride and groom.]

 

-p.

Post # 246 COUNTERFEITING “THEY”

Conceivably, there may be no more falsely asserted nor condescendingly used word, in the Anglo-American lexicon, than the pronoun, “they.” The word has positive utility in reportage, general observation, and in grammatical conjugation. Nevertheless, it seems to be employed, all too often, to mask a speaker’s lack of sufficient information, yet advance his desire to be convincing, by its counterfeit use and spurious reference. The false, referential use of the pronoun “they,” regarding a subject under discussion, has become a commonly used strategy, employed with the obvious intention to be persuasive, by means of an attempted (false) assurance of the speaker’s impeccably objective observations, viz., “that’s what they are saying.”

We, definitively are not, in this writing referring to the benign intention behind use of the word “they,” as employed with young children, with the intention that the child feel secure (as being an accepted member of his recognized group). It may be reasserted here, that notwithstanding such nurturing intention, the lessons of “we” and “they,” provide the seeds, ultimately, for human prejudice, and by sad empirical extension, conflict and war. However, this topic has been the subject of earlier writings.

In this note, we are specifically directing our focus to the counterfeit use of the word “they,” to disguise a lack of sufficient factual knowledge, by the mythical reference to such third- party pronoun, as a purported authoritative source of information. We are all only too familiar, with such faux declarations, such as, “That is what they are wearing,” “they are saying or doing”. The referential use of “they” is particularly vexing and insensitive in the context of parental chiding of their children; accordingly references to “they,” are universally derided by teenagers; for identical reasons, the tactic is deemed presumptuous and objectionable, when used as in adult discourse as well.

It is a justifiable source of pride that modern American society places great value, legally and sociologically, on the individual citizen; whose rights are insured in its Constitution and Laws.  Every American has the franchise to live his as he wishes and make his own choices. provided he does no harm to other citizens, and generally conforms to normal societal expectations. It may strikingly be observed that, included among our generally non-conforming citizens, are many estimable folks who have contributed in great measure, to the advancement of mankind, in science, humanities and the arts.

The advertising industry is entitled to a free pass, regarding its assertions as to currently acceptable style (“what they are wearing”). The motivation of the industry, familiar to all potential consumers, is to increase sales, by positive industry assertions of stylishness and modernity. Their assertion of “in fashion” is understood, and not misleading, within its nuanced context. Their statements, “That is what they are wearing,” is universally understood in such context, as an expected portrayal by that industry.

It is the desire to subjugate and derogate individual taste or opinion, by arrogant declarations, voicing spurious assertions in an authoritative tone, while wielding the pronoun “they,” as supportive argument, by “pseudo-knowledgeable” self-anointed arbiters, that merits our distain. The reprehensible desire to purportedly assess or value selective reality, such as, “That’s what they are wearing” “That’s what they are saying” “That’s where everyone goes now,” usually delivered in tactically persuasive tones, is a shameful and misleading attempt to appear authoritative and convincing.

Such sham, pseudo-authoritative declarations of accuracy or societal propriety, regarding subjects such as, religion, politics, style, economics, scientific advances, by the cheap tactic of the assertive declaration of a counterfeited “they,” amount to no more than a despicable and vain attempt to portray the false impression of wisdom or knowledgeable experience. They are predictably made by insecure individuals, seeking (undeserved) recognition as an authoritative resource.

One may do well to merely recognize and observe this manifestation of personal insecurity, for what it demonstrates concerning the declarant; however, in response to a speaker’s authoritative references to “they,” one might do well to respond with a friendly query, such as “who are you referring to,” or some other request for clarifying specificity.

-p

Post # 245   A BREATH OF GOOD NEWS (poesie)

An exuberant staccato of woodland songbirds
Dutifully issuing the “all clear” signal
Broadcast throughout the attendant forest,
“Morning showers are now done”.
Responsive critters resume their scamper,
Shaking off rain droplets from over- saturated leaves,
In their eternal search for sustenance

This now, is the rare and ephemeral moment
To savor woodland’s grand cru distillation,
By pleasurably imbibing inhaled offerings
Of the woodland’s aromatic, breeze- borne liqueur,
That rich, primeval mother nature musk
That bodes pleasure to all the senses.

Mercifully, it preserves the present assurance,
That our planet is (yet) alive and verdant.

 

-p.

 

 

Post # 244       SEEING, OR BELIEVING

Man’s vision which normally involves his seeing an object with both eyes (binocular vision) is productive of two separate, slightly different images, transmitted from each eye, separately, for interpretation by the appropriately specialized area of the brain. The slightly variant images are of vital importance, in that they afford to the viewer, depth perception, a sense of distance to the object in view, and the direction and speed of its movement.

The complement of a pair of binoculars, [two small, attached telescopes] enables viewing the desired object with an optical boost which enables a closer and better view. An alternate viewing device, the monocular, [single, small telescope] will also magnify the object, but with limitations. Unlike the binoculars, it cannot convey depth of field, distance nor direction and speed of movement. These two optical devices are the selected metaphors du jour, for contrasts in human nature, and the varying degrees of human perception and consequent understanding.

We have often written concerning the intimate and important subject of (what we have elected to call) our periodic life-long private conversation with ourselves. It is to be admitted, in fairness, that one’s personal, long-term observations and feelings regarding certain subjects, do have some impact upon his translation of received visual experiences. Accordingly, we all see images, organized for us by our brain, in a somewhat subjective manner [our perception] often, with some degree of variance from other viewers. To be sure, such subjective perceptions cannot stray too far from mainstream perceptions considered to be within societally acceptable limits, lest one be adjudged a deviant, and consequently, unacceptable as a continuing member of that society.  We each may see the color red somewhat differently, nevertheless, everyone is legally obliged to stop at a “red light”.

To further pursue our optical metaphor, we are aware of too many American citizens who see (by choice or inability) with at most, monocular vision, lacking any interest in the enhancement of their own life, or participation in the welfare of our nation; evincing little depth of perception, and reductively blind to the responsibilities of modern living. In a democracy, this imposes onerous and unfair challenges and  burdens on the (binocular) people, who affirmatively subscribe to the tenets and manifest obligations inherent in personal growth and responsible citizenship.

We have often cited the pragmatically wise instruction of Thomas Jefferson that, for a democracy to be successful, it must have an informed (binocular*) and literate society. Our Founders envisioned a democratic republic where divergent points of view were to be tolerantly and intelligently debated among its citizens, so that a responsive government would, indeed be,“by and for the people”.

In a much earlier, elegiac post, “The Death of Civic Amity,” we sadly observed that, contrary to the intentions and prophesy of our (optimistic) founding fathers, citizens of divergent opinions have refrained from engagement in constructive, neighborly exchanges and debates; but have, instead, chose to develop insular groups, internally united in opinion, whose relations with other like groups of differing opinions, may be characterized as bordering upon cold war hatred. Many of these insular people would appear to be monocular adherents to ignorant and reductionist dogmas; others may be independently monocular. A clear and illustrative result is the shocking election of the current leader of our nation, a disturbing embarrassment and a real danger to many monocular, as well as binocular, people, at home and abroad.

The only conceivable antidote is to return the nation once more, to a nation containing a democratically decisive number of literate and informed citizens; perhaps through a combination of better public educational, as well as individual self- improvement programs. The achievement of such aspiration will certainly be difficult; but failure to do so, as soon as possible, will likely result in the continuance of the present worrisome state of our naton, one that no reasonable person would aesthetically desire to magnify and examine, up close.

-p.

 

 

*Not known to be included in any T.J. writings or attributed statements.

POST # 243    SHAKING THE OLD FAMILY TREE

The number of television commercials offering professional investigative services into the subscriber’s family history, appears to be noticeably on the increase. Such companies warrant accuracy, based upon their asserted employment of modern procedures, including DNA science. We have little familiarity with these investigative methods, chemo-biological or otherwise [ nor, as to the extent of their validity, especially when applied to ancient items of evidence] nonetheless, for the purposes of this writing, we are willing to assume that the results, reported by such investigative companies, are responsibly accurate.

We recognize the value of an individual’s interest in his familial history as a matter of general information or curiosity. Moreover, from the standpoint of family identity and integrity, such personal history can afford to the subscriber, a comforting sense of security and continuity. We have some concerns, however, which we will shortly disclose, regarding the possible (problematic) motivation and (mis)use, by some of the recipients of such investigative results.

It would be useless, and impractical, to attempt to cite the many blogposts we have published, in which as the main, or subordinate theme, we have urged the rationally sustainable proposition that the entire human family, possesses equal potential for wisdom and advanced thought, regardless of geography, skin color or ethnicity. One does not read in Darwin or Spencer, nor in any of their eminent scientific successors, any suggestion that, Nature, in the process of delivering evolution’s most generous gift, the advanced brain, to homo sapiens, favored certain groups over others; ostensible differences in development, where they may exist, would appear to be the products of culture (religion, ethnicity) and not innate capability.

In related writings, we have strongly urged the retirement (or expulsion) of the noun, “race” from the lexicon. The concept, necessarily implied in the word, has proven to be capricious, unscientific and purely subjective; furthermore, history has demonstrated that self-serving assumptions inherent in such verbal construct, have reliably served as purported justification for dominance and bigotry.

To again state our purpose, our concern is not aroused by an individual’s understandable and perhaps, commendable, curiosity concerning his family tree; it relates specifically to certain instances of improper motivation for the search, and the reductive misuse of the search results.

Most of our written efforts have been devoted to expressing the vital need for the individual to develop his own distinct and personal “self-image,” or “personal identity.” We have suggested that one’s (objective) perception of his own persona, may be derived from his recollection of his own cumulative history of behavior. We would additionally add that the extent of his valuation of the human goals of self enhancement and objective perception, are relevant considerations. Folks who may believe that their “true self,” or persona, will be revealed through a search of their family history, (as if personality traits are bequeathed to future legatees), are wasting their money on such a delusional expectation. Self- knowledge can only be attained by a personal, sometimes, painful, inner reflection of one’s successes and failures. There are no valuable clues to be unearthed regarding the provenance of any enduring family trait, as may be fantasized, in any revealed history obtained from distinctly different people, albeit one’s relatives, living in divergent settings and earlier times.

We do admit to a measure of distain, however, for that class of individuals, characterized by a lifetime of inflexible, stereotypic inclination, who vainly seek, from the use of such search services, ratification of their own unfounded, reductionist, and often, perniciously bigoted views. Such folks do not search for a window on their family history, but instead, (fruitlessly) seek confirmation of the rectitude of their reductive and bigoted mindset. Moreover, they blindly and ungratefully give no thought, to the wasted potential, so generously invested in them by evolution (in common with every human being), for the development of knowledge, advancement and self- awareness. Such ignorant and selfish rationalization does not entitle such exemplars of ingratitude, and shameful waste of human potential, to any more than family shrubs; certainly not trees.

-p.

Post # 242     FINAL SCORE: NATURE 4, NURTURE 0 (a true narrative)

Wisdom may be obtained in various ways; the easiest and most accessible of which is by reading fine literature or authoritative works on any elective subject in the humanities or science. On rare occasions, it can be anecdotally acquired by an unusual life experience, delivering a memorable message. But, this is a narrative, and we should not hesitate, any further, to begin the story.

For upwards of two decades, we have been the titleholders of modest country property, abutting a pretty pond, in Kent Connecticut. We commute to it from our apartment in New York City, weather permitting, provided we have no conflicting engagements. We are avid gardeners, and in addition to raising flowers, have a special interest in raising flowering shrubs and small trees.

On one October, we celebrated a significant birthday, and received a gift of two very young pear trees. The problem was that the young trees were “bare rooted” (as opposed to being wrapped in soil) and planting season was at least six months away. Not knowing what to do, we telephoned the local agricultural extension for help. We received the prediction that the young trees probably would not survive. We pressed further and were told that it would be a “long shot” but, if the trees were kept extremely cold for the next several months (6), that there was some “slight” chance of survival. We have two bathrooms in our N.Y. apartment, and dedicated one to this chancy six months project, by keeping the window to one bathroom open (and the door closed) all winter, to keep the trees cold. In April, we brought the little bare branch pear trees to Connecticut, gently scraped the roots, and, after adding a small quantity of growth hormone to the soil, planted them, and awaited results.

Mother Nature was especially merciful; not only did the nascent pear trees live, but they survived the next few seasons, grew substantially high and produced normal, healthy leaves. Although they developed and grew tall, they did not, for some reason, produce any buds for reproductive flowering. The trees were similar, but different varietals, which, we were advised, was the necessary combination to interact sexually. After nine years of disappointing chastity, we bought and planted one other varietal and thereafter, a second varietal of these pear trees; still no buds.   One year later, we had a truly unique experience. Despite the complete absence of any flowers, a single pear had miraculously appeared, on one of the two original trees. We could not fathom how a fruit could be produced without a flower-fertilized (sexual) connection, and humorously called the event an “immaculate conception”. We cut the singular pear into several pieces to share the miracle with the family.

The following year we were surprised and overjoyed to observe that (after eleven disappointing years) the trees, in season, produced their traditional white flowers, and later, a modest crop of fruit. The harvested pears, after one week, softened and were delicious treats for the family; there were only about thirty harvested, but we were exultant.  We assumed that, when we return this year (2018), there would expectantly, be plenty of beautiful, delicious, green pears; enough to make presents to family and friends. Did we mention that the property abuts a beautiful pond? Perhaps so; but we did not mention that the pond is inhabited by a large industrious beaver. When we returned to our country house in Spring, having been absent for a few very cold months, we made a sad and frustrating discovery. There would be no plentiful crop of pears this year, or any year; the beaver chewed down and removed all the pear trees. We suppose that they were just the right size for that big tooth rodent to fell, and then to drag down to the water for his lodge, or some other large underwater infrastructure project.

Let us set aside our grief for the moment and return to the theme expressed at the outset of this sad, but enlightening narrative, viz., that sometimes wisdom may be acquired from an unusual experience. We did learn a valuable lesson from this event; and it certainly, was not, the trite maxim “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” [ we, to the contrary, heartily approve of hopeful optimism, especially under such facts as this narrative]. The enlightened lesson is that, all of us who fancy ourselves, “owners” of property [ by reason of the filing, in some County Clerk’s or Register’s office, documents called Real Estate Deeds, with our names on it, prepared and notarized, bearing official seals, in accordance with the written law of homo sapiens] are in error. Our exclusive ownership is indeed, recognized and legally respected by other homo sapiens; but not by the beaver, deer, squirrels, foxes, otters and other creatures in nature. Our documents are unknown, irrelevant, and of no interest, whatsoever, to the critters, who are the authentic owners and original inhabitants of the property. Mr. Beaver does not owe his rights of residency of the pond, to the performance of an officially choreographed legal transaction, nor to official legislative fiat. He, and his fellow forest denizens, are, always were, and will continue to be, the rightful owners and possessors of the land, by the incontrovertible law of recognized inheritance. In accordance with the universal and eternal Planetary Law, we are mere squatters.

-p.