awkward is the day; how can Yahoo! show a picture of a young Japanese woman amidst the rubble, and along side it, have a link to easy dinners to prepare for the week?
How do we do that and still consider ourselves a compassionate lot?
Sure...life goes on...can't stop progress...sunrise, sunset...gotta keep on keepin' on...me oh my.
Somehow, over the weekend, I landed upon a movie featured on BET; I know, I know...white girl meets black TV...coupling two realities not normally associated with one another (and with that, just had a wisp of Anita Dunn rushing through my head...mumbling something about Mao and Mother Teresa)...
the movie, "Not Easily Broken" -- carried a message of redemption, intertwining the mishaps and misgivings of personal relationships, mostly of that of a husband and wife, but also tying in a sweet connection of a long lost father and son; we witness stories dealing with life and death, love and marriage, loss and forgiveness, coming at us with break neck speed and in the end are left with a final narrative from one of the movie's main characters: "sometimes you gotta let life turn upside down to know how to live right side up."
Now, maybe that line doesn't mean a thing to many of you; but given I heard it, after reading a book simply titled, "WHeN GOD WInKS aT YOU" by SQuire Rushnell (and yes, that's how he spells his first name) -- you just gotta realize something a whole lot deeper is going on.
And no, in this moment, I can't even begin to ponder the 'what is there to learn aspect' -- in a 'what in the world can we take away from this, that we may somehow find a way to shelter, comfort, and assist all of humanity moving forward' kind of way; for glaring at us, right smack dab in the face, is the stark, cold reality of one more natural disaster having it's way with us around the world -- life, in Japan, is literally and figuratively, physically and economically, spiritually and emotionally, totally upside down.
And yet, even though my life pales in comparison, it would seem just as upside down in my own mind.
Which brings me to David Brooks, and his Sunday column, "WE ARE NOT THAT SPECIAL" (at least, that was the title for the UT in San Diego -- however, the piece is originally penned, "The Modesty Manifesto")
He opens with this: "We're an overconfident species. Ninety-four percent of college professors believe they have above average teaching skills. A survey of high school students found that 70 percent of them have above average leadership skills and only 2 percent are below average."
He goes on showing all the ways in which our self-esteem is well and good -- and then some -- and then immediately takes us down a notch noting perhaps a clear lack of follow through, just poor performance, or fooled by our own delusions; all of which stand in our way of truly getting somewhere, especially up against the talent of the rest of the world; basically, he concludes, there are a few holes in our really big boat.
big. really big. did I say big?
Connecting all of this to the social dilemmas and political dramas of our day, he sets us up like so...
"..if the rise of consumption and debt is in part influenced by people's desire to adorn their lives with the things they feel befit their station. I wonder if the rise in partisanship is influenced in part by a narcissistic sense that, 'I know how the country should be run and anybody who disagrees with me is just in the way.'
Most pervasively, I wonder if there is a link between a possible magnification of self and a declining saliency of the virtues associated with citizenship.
Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation..."
going on to wonder if we really have what it takes to make the fiscal sacrifices along the road ahead...
Bringing me to the conclusion:
...and then again, sometimes,
some things are simply decided for us.
Without question, sometimes a strong willed and sturdy self-esteem can be of good use to us, especially when the going gets tough; it may just end up being the last thing standing with enough life left in it to take us to the next station, the next port, the next parcel of dry land -- which, for all intents and purposes, may seem like miles and miles away...questioning every minute, if in fact, we are even headed in the right direction at all.
You know, at the press conference just last Friday, Obama responded to a question of a reporter, who was inquiring about the president's own involvement with the makings of the new budget -- the same budget that is a year and a day late, a few [1.6 trillion] dollars short (just another hole we pour money in); dismissing any notion of any lack of initiative on his part, he says to the guy, "it shouldn't be that complicated..." as if it's all on his colleagues, the other lawmakers, too stupid to figure it out by now.
and then I begin contemplating the wonderment of David Brooks...
a "narcissistic sense..."
the "magnification of self..."
the "anybody who disagrees with me is just in the way."
Yes, indeed -- and then again, sometimes, some things are simply decided for us.
Make it a Good Day, G
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