About heroes

Cassandra. One of my heroes.

Cassandra. One of my heroes.

Honoring heroes is on the same path as praising God. I don’t actually believe in God, but I do honor heroes. The leap from heroes to God is not a big one. God, as I understand, is simply the role model for heroism.

One of my favorite heroes is Charles Kuralt. He sought out interesting people, and he told their stories on Sunday Morning, a television show. I loved it.

Another of my favorites was Rod Serling. His show was The Twilight Zone. He taught me how to imagine beyond my usual boundaries.

There were once heroes in the news business. Douglas Edwards was an example. And so was Edward R. Murrow. We have lost a lot over time.

What we need most, in my opinion, is a return to the examination of heroics. We are sorely lacking in that category. The silence of my readers makes that point in a way that speaks to me.

On seeking God

angelI read Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda, when I was a teenager. I re-read it many times. I considered it my owner’s manual for life.

He gives advice for our search for an encounter with God. As I understand it, we are first to choose a form for God’s presentation. It can be an array of lights.

It can be as a male figure, perhaps played by Kirk Douglas or Errol Flynn, or it can be in the image of Divine Mother, my own preference. I have not cast that part, but Cher is high on the list of candidates.

Yogananda told us that we are immersed in a dream state. I can relate to that. All of our institutions demand us to fit into their dream, and we try to do that as a survival mechanism at the expense of our own dream. We go to war in a dream state. Why else would we kill people?

I think we provide a service when we share the image we use to represent divinity to ourselves. Any thoughts you care to share?

On understanding our crisis

img005Men want to be in charge, but they do not want to expose themselves to risk.

We are taught in school, and on the job, and by the rules of society to disable our curiosity and sense of wonder. The same discipline is available in church as I remember, but I have not been in one for a long time. Things might have improved.

We are taught by every source of authority to “tone it down.” And we obey.

We pay an enormous price for that alleged safety.

I like to browse Tumblr for photos of women displaying their charms. I marvel at their sense of freedom and their joy. Men limit such displays of gusto to flattering professional athletes at public events by shouting and waving.

The United States was formed in an act of rebellion. The British were the masters of obedience and conformity. We have forgotten, I believe, the lesson in that, our learning experience.

There are areas of culture and life where I would enjoy more innovation and curiosity. I offer this short list:

  • Opening our imagination to expanded definitions of decency and morality. Why are boobs considered evil?
  • Why does skin color matter to so many people, and what can we do to influence their thinking?
  • Why do we eat meat? And beyond that, why do we obsess on doing that?
  • Why do we give so much authority to employers? They are ordinary mortals like us.
  • What moves us to consider being a servant a demotion?

I welcome your comments.


In defense of pleasure

Nude signI just finished Mark Haskell Smith’s wonderful book Naked At Lunch.

The subtitle is “A reluctant nudist’s adventures in the clothing-optional world.”

In it he examines our cultural values relating to nudity. He addresses our deep seated resistance to experiencing pleasure, much of it expressed as fear and suspicion about the human body. In the book he examines very thoroughly the origins of our fears about nudity, and he analyzes the debates that circle around this subject.

The book is 298 pages long and is, in my opinion, quite intense. It is well researched, and his writing never failed to entertain me. I like the sass and edge he brings to the subject.

I was raised in a family that was suspicious of pleasure and knew very little about it. My dad substituted alcohol in place of genuine fun. I tried to devise my own appreciation of pleasure, but it was a clumsy effort.

So, essentially, if some random dude, like a park ranger, finds your breasts erotic in some way, then it’s your responsibility to cover them.—Mark Smith

Pornography teaches us about our shared views about pleasure. Pleasure is deemed wrong, off-limits, and being wrong is touted as a way to enhance the experience. Porn informs us about our collective culture that is suspicious of pleasure.

I think guilt is a common view of the nature of pleasure. Mr. Smith defines a Puritan as anyone who is fearful that somewhere someone is happy.

Mr. Smith sets a standard for us in regard to examining our fundamental values. If we brought the same degree of intensity, wit, and humor to our exploration of all of our values and judgments I think we would do our society and our individual selves a tremendous service.










On guilt

preacherThe United States obsesses on guilt.

We pay a very high price for that in terms of anxiety, our eagerness to punish with or without justification, and lost opportunities that would otherwise come to us if we exercised our curiosity.

One of the wisest counselors on abandoning guilt was J. Krishnamurti. We do not easily abandon guilt for several reasons. Perhaps the most compelling among them is that we are driven by fear. In this context we credit guilt with restraining us from wandering off the path of righteousness. But who defines righteousness? Are they people we trust?

A little book titled On Fear contains some of his advice. I find K a difficult read, and this book is no exception. One of the points I did glean from it is that we are taught to compare ourselves to others, and doing so binds us to fear, fear of not being good enough, not being as good as they are.

I discovered Tumblr recently, and the website contains many, many galleries of photos that feature ladies at nude beaches and other textile-free locations. I noticed that I feel guilty browsing these sites. I winced at my own enjoyment of them.

I decided to enquire into this fear. I deem the guilt to be foolish and absurd, but there it is. I can learn something from this, and then I will delve into my other fears. I have plenty of them.

We have never, as a nation, worked at reducing our angst. Angst is defined as a feeling of deep anxiety or dread. We have, in my view, come to view angst as an expression of loyalty to our collective values. K challenged our loyalty to collective values. He urged people to be original and authentic. I’m working on that.

An executive’s guide to pornography

My second favorite teaching site online is YouTube. The first is TED Talks.

img005YouTube ventures wide and far in terms of subject matter. I have a master’s degree, and I have been treated as if I were a practitioner of pornography, and on more than one occasion.

I have been viewing YouTube videos of porn stars. It is extremely informative, and to me inspiring.

I learned, for example, that people outside the business are categorized as civilians. Porn stars do not, generally speaking, become jealous if their spouse performs for pay in sex scenes with other people. It’s viewed, so the interviews say, as just a day at work.

The YouTube site contains videos that feature topics such as:

  • What would you do if you were not in porn?
  • What drew you to this line of work?
  • Do you enjoy your work?

I have never been asked those questions by an executive at any of the name-brand companies where I have worked. We can learn some valuable lessons from pornographers.

I suspect that many executives view their employees as being pornographic. I was, even though I have a college degree, spoke in proper English, and always wore shoes. And a tie, when appropriate.

I want to emphasize that executives would do a great service to their organizations by asking more questions, exercising more curiosity, and setting aside hardened definitions of what people do and their value to the organization.

A lot is at stake. Our economy is in trouble, and I attribute it to rigid and brittle attitudes. As Robert Greenleaf reminded us, the role of bosses is to serve.

Your thoughts, my silent readers?