Posted in anecdotes, moral philosophy, tagged Benny Thomas, capitalism, education, ego, good manners, human dignity, Julius Caesar, Plutarch, St. Francis, St. John, time out on August 30, 2012 |
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Boredom is the enemy #1 to every serious occupation in life. A story which concerns St. John, a favorite disciple of Jesus is that he was once seen sporting with a tame partridge, by an archer who thought that the holy man should not waste his time in such frivolities; The apostle replied that if the archer did not at times relax his bow, it would lose spring.
Can there be time out for holiness? For a saint like St. Francis even frivolities shall prove his human quality in its naturalness. Addressing the sun as Brother Sun or the birds the revered figure of Assissi proved his time out was in fitness of God’s kingdom. The hand that wounds a man of God is an occasion for him to show his essence. He may dismiss it as natural of being among men of all persuasions and quality. For him forgiving comes easier because he is not only thinking of himself but also of another. Tyrants at home demand service and not understand those who serve also have sometimes difficulties in meeting their demands. They have simply forgotten others since they are full of themselves. Those who slash and burn rain forests do so because they want to aggrandize themselves at the expense of others. How can such fellows call themselves as human or decent?
The great Caesar as Plutarch tells us, on one occasion sought shelter under the roof of a rustic shepherd. At dinner time the meal cooked in rancid oil and served to him made the companion bristle with indignity. Caesar could accept the humble meal and thank him for his hospitality. Caesar proved his greatness even under straitened circumstances. He did not forget where he was and his place. He was a guest and having forced himself on another man’s hospitality knew how to behave. Like Caesar each of us is a guest here on earth.
Can there be time out for holiness? Or let us rephrase it like thus: Can there be time out from being human?
Tailpiece: there is nothing that can fix a problem like capitalism than fixing who we are and our decency to others who also have found sharing the space. None of us owns the earth. Perhaps education that we tout as cure-all is a travesty of true purpose of education. Think of damage done under initiative and free enterprise! colossal damage done by cretins in the name of bold initiative. Ptooii! Education on these fellows seems to fit the proverb:’casting pearls before swine’.
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Posted in cartoons, tagged Benny Thomas, black and white, daily cartoons, education, fings, learning, pedagogy, things and fings, wonder of this age on March 14, 2012 |
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I have a son who is a genius. The day Chuck was born I knew it for a fact. Didn’t he say, simplex munditis at 10 months? The first phrase he ever spoke was not in mother tongue as though he sensed he was making history of sorts.
The occasion was simple though. He lay in his crib and between drinking his constitutional and wetting the bed he had freed himself from his blankets. When his mother picked him up and wanted to tuck him back he just backed off to say, ‘elegant in simplicity’. His dimpled smile was right and his baby fat made him a dumpling. Later it seemed to me he didn’t have the patience to say the old blankets chafed him and in his birthday suit he felt great and like a brick of gold. Naturally he had to express his joy at being comfortable with a quote from Horace. Horace, no less!
At the age of four Juvenal and Goethe were jockeying for a spot in his intellectual firmament. Before he hit the five he knew Nietzsche was speaking his own lingo.
While his mother and I went from speculation to handouts.
Chuck was getting ahead till he had a title that was impressive. His bonus was phenomenal that spoke volumes than speaking 10 languages like a native.
One comfort we had in the cash strapped times was that dialects of the world were not in the immediate danger of extinction. From South America to Fiji our son Chuck had collected them all just in case.
One week end he dropped in to see us. He said he liked what he saw about us. Next thing he wanted to move in with us.
Before I could ask what was the idea he hinted the company was downsizing so he was on transition.
I was incredulous. I asked, ‘Son what with all your education?’
He was over educated he said and it was working against him. He shrugged and said, ‘Never mind Pop, I will find a way to brand my over-achievement into edutainment space.’
After fixing himself a sandwich he added: ‘meanwhile garbage is piling up on my elbow’. ( Later it struck me garbage was his pile of resumes returned unread.)
He was somewhat moody that he had not the bandwidth besides his language skills.
He said, ’Employers don’t want to wrap around their heads but park their behinds on shmucks who do not know their onions.
It was then I realized Chuck was a genius to his own hurt. I ought to have known: since the time he quoted from Horace by a spark of inspiration he was heading for disaster.
I gently patted him on his back and said ‘ Courage, son. You opened your life with such a stirring phrase far remarkable than Longfellow’s Excelsior. You quoted simplex munditis, unaided. I am certain Horace was at your bedside.’
My son’s eyes sparkled and faded. With downcast eyes he muttered, ’semel insanivimus omnes’*( We all have played fool once.)
Yes Chuck was right. He had played the fool to rely on his superior intelligence; just as his mother and I had warmed in our knowledge his genius was of a superior mode. The trouble was that the world only needed one with just enough skills to prove he wasn’t a moron.
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Chalk it to my innocence in economic matters, or I am out of step with the young eager beavers who gravitate to investment banking like proverbial duck to water, which perhaps is right either way. I often think of events I read daily while stretched on my mattress. When I am thus inclined I know my deposit in my bank is quite safe. Of course I lay on it to think and to feel safe. By the way my mattress serves as my bank. Some time ago, in 1995 I think, I quite clearly remember of reading about Nick Leeson, late of Britain’s Barings Bank. ‘I even thought had I the guts I could have stood in his shoes and busted Barings Bank before lunch and went out to do a few more to keep my day full’. But which Bank will employ for their most dangerous missions,(one of which evidently is in window dressing their annual reports,) one whose entire banking operation is restricted to his mattress? Lehman Brothers would have laughed me in my face to put it out of joint, I know for certain.
Only lately I realized there are two avenues that market economy takes to. Main Street and Wall Street. I am lifelong learner. So I went about asking questions. Then I asked those who dabbled in stocks Pug and Mug, who were sitting by the kerb. They replied, “ Economic meltdown, Ben. When we began playing in stocks sky was the limit and now it has come down and took us with it.” It seems one goes to Yale or some other university where all that you get is an education. It must be job-oriented, any fool will tell you that. Pug my Yale educated friend was signed up even before he left College to put ‘Greater-fool-theory’ to practice. As far as I can see the bubble burst just as Nasdaq bubble of 2000, Nikkei bubble of 1991,stock market crash of 1987and 1929, Florida real estate bubble in the 1920 and so on. Give a fool a bubble and all that he thinks of is buying up stocks and hope to sell to another. Meantime he trusts in God that it will not burst in his face till a greater fool could be found. Well I think I will lie on my mattress to think when it is going to burst again and over what. Honest to God I know that it will , only the details will change here and there. While Pug and Mug are out waiting for the bailout I shall sleep.
By the way I don’t sleep all that well what with nickels and quarters make my bed quite lumpy.
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