When I’m lost for words, I try and consult the wisdom of the Ages: The Bible, Our Founding Fathers, Philosophers, Yogi Berra. Let’s do Yogi first. “Hey Yogi, what time is it?” Yogi: “You mean right now?”
There, I feel better. At least for 30 seconds.
I have to tell you a story. I’m in New York City a lot. When I go out to get stuff, I can go one way and probably encounter two or three homeless people asking for money. I can go another way and not encounter any. On a cold rainy night about two weeks ago, I went out to get some stuff and my path intersected with a black man, about 70, distinguished looking, but tattered clothing. As our paths crossed, he said “nasty night.” I stopped to chat for a minute. As I started to leave, he looked at me and said “thank you for talking to me.”
That took my breath away. I’ve thought about that interaction every day. It reminded me of a magnificent piece of wisdom from an ancient source, Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish Philosopher, 25 BC, “be kind to everyone you meet, they are fighting a mighty battle.” Isn’t that the truth? Aren’t we all “fighting a mighty battle.” Sometimes it’s up close and personal and other times it’s a little further off. Life is an anxiety producing activity. As an Irish friend reminds me, “nobody gets out alive.”
I like to philosophize a bit from time to time, somewhat of an acquired taste. (Interestingly, I had zero interest in the subject when Jesuit priests, at the three Jesuit Colleges I attended were trying, unsuccessfully, to force feed me Aristotle, Descartes, Aquinas at my father’s expense). Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
Like one of the reasons I started this website was because I was fascinated with the subject of how the Conventional Wisdom becomes the Conventional Wisdom in American Political Life. I’ve solved that problem…those who refuse to be defeated, win. Those staring off into space drooling on themselves lose. Pick the group you’re comfortable with. It’s your destiny.
Oh yeah, philosophy. I’ve got a friend who is a monk at a Benedictine Abbey. I like to try out ideas with him. Like one of my thoughts is that there were at least a couple of extra Commandments that didn’t make it all the way down Mount Sinai into the Moses Commandments Kit. (Before going there, I have to retell the old story about Moses talking to his fellow Jews as he came down from the Mountain. “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I got the number down to Ten. The bad news is Adultery is still in.”) Bad beat.
But what surely should have made it into the Moses Commandments Kit were the following: Be Practical. Get Better. If you were in charge of designing all that is, wouldn’t you want the inhabitants to use what you created well and get better at it? As Joe would say “the Creator may not have gone to Harvard, but the Creator wasn’t/isn’t stupid.”
As for my Benedictine monk friend, my brainstorm was that biblical directive that “we must love our neighbors as ourselves” will be realized when it becomes apparent that it is the only feasible way for humans to survive on the planet. At that time, we will take our wisdom from the late Rodney King, “Can’t we all get along?”
Comments are welcome at tomc[at]wednesdayswars[dot]com. Comments will be addressed in subsequent posts.