Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute 6

Two profound thoughts on how we treat each other:

"We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity."                                                                                                                                                -Stride Toward Freedom, pp. 94

"You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."                                                                                                                                        -Wisdom of MLK, Jr., pp. 205

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute 4 & 5

Since I missed a few days here are two thoughts from Dr. King worthy of your contemplation:

"A civilization can founder as readily in the face of moral and spiritual bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy."

                                                                                                                   -Where do we go From Here, pp. 186

Wow, what would be the peril for a society that is dangerously bereft of moral, spiritual and financial stability?...  And the bonus quote is a beautifully expressed truth (one of my favorites):

"No work is insignificant. If a man is called a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'"

                                                                                                                                        -Wisdom of MLK, Jr., pp. 2

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wacky Wednesday 2011, Vol. 1

Time to get back to laughing... especially at the expense of others.  Every family inevitably takes a bad family picture or two.  But there are a few obvious things to stay away from... nakedness would appear to be one of them:
Babies, toddlers and children are cute without shirts but when mom and dad start showing the skin (and chest hair) things have gone just a bit too far.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute 3

The dead (especially the marytered dead) are readily respected and easily praised.  I wonder how the secular world and anti-God progressives (Dawkins, Harris, Stenger and the general body of academic elites) would treat Dr. King if he were still alive.  He was fixed in his Christianity and made no apologies for it as a driving force for the benefit of mankind.  Here is but one very short declaration that surely would not sit well with many who trumpet reason and ridicule God ordained standards of morality:

 "The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals."

                                                                                                     -Wisdom of MLK, Jr., pp. 52

Monday, January 24, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute2

Here is another bit of wisdom from Mr. King.  Even in the racially charged atmosphere of his day (when he might have been justified to do so) he refused to take a destructive road of racial or political opportunism:

 "We are not going to allow this conflict in Birmingham to deteriorate into a struggle between black people and white people. The tension in Birmingham is between justice and injustice."

                                                                                                                             -Wisdom of MLK, Jr., pp. 26

Friday, January 21, 2011

Martin Luther King Day.... Week..... Month..... Character!

One of the dangers of having any day designated as a remembrance for some cause or person is that it becomes something of a token.  Take Mother's Day for example:  we shower our mother's with praise, gifts and favors on this one day when in reality we should do that every day of the year.  Likewise I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would gladly surrender "his" day (i.e. Martin Luther King Day) for Martin Luther King character.  That is to say that his life was all about encouraging the development of a specific kind of character by individuals.  A single day, while it provides a degree of social recognition for his contributions and may encourace the adoption of his teachings, is entirely insufficient for the development of personal and societaly character at the heart of his efforts.  Like Christmas and July 4th, once the day comes and goes we take down the decorations and "move on".  This is the double-edge sword of holidays.

Well, since Martin Luther King, Jr. is solidly on my short-list of amazing people (and yes I am fully aware that he, like everyone else had some mortal shortcomings), I will make an effort to provide a thought a day from his own writings for the next little while.  Most of these will be extremely short but they have great depth and demand our ponderous attention.  Here is the first:

"Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed. Whether we realize it or not, each of us lives eternally 'in the red'."

                                                                                                                        -Where Do We Go From Here?, pp. 181

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our current economic difficulties: A little context is illustrative... and suggests that we can survive this

I am engaged in a love affair with history.  And by default a love affair with generations that have gone before.  For all of our self-aggrandizement about being so "advanced", so sophisticated, so civilized I suggest we would do well to have a little more humility than we do.  Also I would suggest that we stop looking to others (especially to the government) to save our sorry buttocks.  To this end I give you a little historical context:

In 1893 the United States economy sank into its worst depression ever. Six hundred forty-two banks closed and an incredible sixteen thousand companies shuttered their doors. The most actively traded company on the New York Stock Exchange - National Cordage - went belly-up. Giant pillars of the economy such as the Northern Pacific Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad crumbled. America had experienced economic downturns before, but this was much bigger, lasting for four frightening years, from 1893 to 1898. At one point, four million workers were idle - more than one-fourth of a labor force of fifteen million - at a time of no government support for the unemployed.

-James Bradley, The Imperial Cruise

I understand from firsthand experience the current difficulties but I submit the following as a fact:  things could be much worse.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The first law of collective traumas and disasters: Do No Harm!

The terrible events that took place in Tuscon (just "down the street" from my Arizona community) this past weekend are exactly the type of collective traumas that I study.  My disertation explored similarly tragic events that transpired in Jasper, Texas and Laramie, Wyoming.  I am specifically concerned with the social element of how these events unfold, metasticized and can effect the entire community.  Through this first hand research and my examination of the literature extending to more traditional natural, technological or man-made disasters I have identified what I consider to be the first law of extreme events (which includes disasters, collective traumas, terrorist acts, mass shootings and the like).  The law is simply this:  Do not react in such a manner as to expand the impact of the disaster.  This principle is a macro application of the micro or personal guideline for medical practitioners:  first do no harm.

Unfortunately this law is violated with frequency by politicians, agencies and the news media when responding to extreme events.  This type of involuntary (and sometimes negligent) socio-slaughter was evident in reaction to Hurricane Katrina, to the Gulf Oil Spill and is already rampant in reaction to the shooting in Tuscon.  Actions, reports, claims, accusations and uninformed conjecture have a negative effect and can create more social harm than the event itself.

The evolution of disasters and extreme events have a natural life cycle.  There is a time and a place for both altruistic generosity, for greiving and for a critical evaluation of cause.  When these are out of place and out of their normal time frame it is as if a patient undergoing delicate heart surgery were cut open without anesthesia and without sufficient equipment at the cardiologists beckon call.  This is the reason why I consider the following statement --from an individual ,a so called public servant who should be an expert in establishing public peace, who should know better-- the most irresponsible and the most injurious action subsequent to the actual shooting:

I do not care what political tendencies you (my reader) may have.  This type of rush to judgement and assignment of blame is socially detrimental.  The nearly instantaneous politicization of this shooting is a social tragedy.  We must hold our public officials, our political representatives AND our news media accountable for the damage they are facilitating.  The body politic cannot be so roughly treated during such traumatic experiences without grave consequence to our future wellbeing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

An uncomfortable challenge to an age of intellect and progress

As I become more familiar with the great minds of those who have lived before (through their own writings) especially as they contemplate the challenges, accomplishments and conditions of their day I am more convinced that there is nothing new or unique.  This is not to say that the future will not hold any new inventions or progress will halt.  We are quite adept at adding new layers of icing to the cake of human experience.  But at the core, the main issues facing humanity, nations, families and individuals are the same as they have always been. 
This is both comforting and disconcerting.  I am a lover of learning and involved in the world of research (what I like to equate with "discovery").  I have found, however, that rarely do we discover anything that was not known previously. The area that may contradict this assertion is the natural or "hard" sciences where, for example, we've advanced in our understanding from atoms to nutrinos to quarks to leptons to dark matter... but even with regard to these, the intellectual processes of discovery underlying the addition to our store of knowledge is largely the same.  What is more, the human elements that cause debate, disagreement and resistence to these "new" conceptions of the world around us are the same that faced Copernicus and Galileo. 
The same human (you might say social or psychological) challenges that bedeviled our predecessors of the Roman, Ottoman or 18th century British empire face us today.  I am amazed to find in the writings of Epictetus, Voltaire and Edmund Burke discussions that are entirely applicable to our most contemporary problems even though these (used simply as examples, when we could just as easily have identified Aurelius, Adam Smith and Mao) lived two hundred, four hundred and a thousand years ago.  Perhaps a specific quote will better help me make my point.  Consider Voltaire's observations on the nature of human beings and the operation of society from this short excerpt:
Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian transact together, as though they all professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none but bankrupts. There the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist, and the Churchman depends on the Quaker's word.

At the breaking up of this pacific and free assembly, some withdraw to the synagogue, and others to take a glass.  This man goes and is baptized in a great tub, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost:  that man has his son's foreskin cut off, whilst a set of Hebrew words (quite unintelligible to him) are mumbled over his child.  Others retire to their churches, and there wait for the inspiration of heaven with their hats on, and all are satisfied.
If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another's throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace.
-Letters on the English (thanks dad for brining this to my attention)
Now while the world has "changed" since Voltaire's observation in that a number of new religions have entered the scene (Mormons, Jehova's Witnesses, Scientology, etc.), the fundamental conditions which he outlined and which apply to social or political reality are the same!  To borrow a few trite, but nevertheless sage, phrases to summarize: 
-the more things change, the more they stay the same.
-those who do not know history are doomed to repeat its darkest chapters (I took a little editorial liberty on that one).
the answers (to so many of our contemporary challenges) are out there... they have already played themselves out in the history of mankind.