Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Blogs First

I've BEEN wanting to BLOG. You know, throw all my mental ramblings into the NETherworld and let others entertain themselves with it all as they choose. I've decided to name it: G.I.M.M.I.E., Good In My Mind's Eye. Having long since wearied of the standard "NEWS AT 11" world of murder and mahyem, I thought I'd spend my ramblin' time and energy on those matters which seem to me to be praiswworthy and ultimately, redemptive.
I invite you, if you have made this brief journey with me, to offer up any comments, notes, observations, or items of agreement or disagreement as you deem fit, funny or fantastic. I do, however, insist that if you find my musings to be egregious and just plain stupid, that you share your thoughts in a distinctly courteous manner. It's always OK to disagree. It is NEVER OK to be disagreeable.
That's it. The ground rules. I blabber. You get your say. Heckfire, this could even become a conversation.
I've decided to pst, as my first-ever blog, an essay written a while back. Don't let the sub-title or first few lines throw you. It's ultimately ALL about redemption

                                                  Sage Against the Machine:
                                    A Set of Snarly Reflections on the State of Things in General

So, I’d like to do that very thing against which I so often complain, namely… complain. And it serves us all well, I believe, that I take special pains to eschew the voice of an elder who, looking aghast at the misbehavior and slackness of youth, pines for the better days of his own youth, or times more distant.
In the eleventh century, Ch’eng Hao, a philosopher during the reign of Sung Dynasty Emperor Sheng-tsung, wrote and presented to the emperor, an essay titled Ten Matters Calling for Reform. In this treatise, Ch’eng largely outlined those societal issues which he believed stood most sorely in need of amendment. None of Ch’eng’s issues would surprise any of us today. He stated that the Sage Kings had established laws based on human feelings and the proper order of things. He also noted that although laws change naturally into systems suited to current conditions, there remain, nonetheless, certain underlying fundamental societal principles, which, directed toward the good of all, never change.
            The first of these principles is the need for all classes, from the Sun King to the commoners, to have teachers in order to perfect their virtue. In his time, Ch’eng believed that this role was no longer filled, leading to the loss of respect for virtue and the enjoyment of doing one’s job well.
            His list of concerns includes government appointments not being made based on competence, and education failing to inculcate clear, moral obligations. He further stated that the arrogant display of military power had exhausted the national resources.
            Ch’eng also noted that natural resources, such as the fish in the streams and the beasts in the field, were being cut short in their abundance.
            Throw in a few observations about loss of proper ritual, and food and land distribution, and you pretty much get the picture.
            Our picture.

            Mind you, Ch’eng held out hope for reforms which could be put into practice.
Hence, his hopeful submission to the King.

            I  served for twelve years as Dean of Students at a northern California high school. All things considered, a fairly good one.  Good kids, good staff. Great view of the hills.
            And day following day, I found myself in contact with people, while seeing others in the news, about whom Ch’eng might easily rail.
            The thing that got me snarly the other day was the piece about the middle school students on Long Island who beat another girl badly, while the beating was being video phoned.
            I’ve not gone out of my way to garner a whit more information on this incident. Don’t need to really. I’d seen enough Jerry Springer-like behavior on my day job. This mostly involved parents who told me that I was picking on their kids, for no good reason. Or, that I’d lowered their self-esteem by indicating that something may be amiss with their current behavior.

            I fear greatly for this generation. Not that they don’t often read, or spend time examining the world around them, as much as  they are lacking diligent elders to school them in the ways of virtue, or the joys of a job well done.

            All of this puts me in mind of King Lear and Mickey Mouse.
            Lear, sighing at his aching bones, readily gave the keys and prerogatives of power to those who were neither ready, nor worthy. The end result, as so often occurs in Shakespearean tragedies, is that at the end of the story, everybody’s dead.
            His kids simply had not been prepared to assume responsibility.
            In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey blithely creates chaos by animating a horde of angry mops, which make a serious mess of the castle. Enter the Sorcerer, grim and unsmiling, to set things aright, and whack Mickey in the rear with a soggy mop. Linger a moment, or pause the video and look at the Sorcerer’s eyes. You’ll see the affection, and the hope the Sorcerer has, for his not-yet-worthy apprentice.
            Today, I had lunch with my brother, his wife and identical four- year old twin boys. Their sister was in her 2nd grade class, and unable to join.  I asked her dad to tell her that I would make up the missed lunch to her. She later told her mother, that I didn’t have to do anything for her, that she already knew I loved her.
            A seven year old who doesn’t demand “stuff”.
            Who understands the deeper meaning of the word, no.
            Who will never be seen on a video- phone treating another person badly.
            Who will, someday, be worthy of receiving the keys.
            Whose elders have raised her well.

            Ch’eng would be pleased.


  1. Great post Russell, and great musings, per usual. I can't wait to read whatever else you have to write.

  2. After reading this, I'm really excited that you've started a blog and I'll definitely be checking it regularly.
    I'm worried for my generation and the next as well.
    I've been thinking about telling you this for a while and now it seems relevant. One of the reasons that we (and by we, I mean those of us under 25) so often treat ourselves and our communties with disrespect is because we're constantly invalidated and disrespected by adults. But you were different. You were one of the few adults in my life who treated me like a human as well as kid. I remember the time I picked up a piece of trash and you happened to witness it and made me and some other students lunch. I know we should do that without expecting a reward but the fact that an adult took notice of something I did, especially something so small, and was legitimately proud of me made me feel validated. Not to mention, I've gotten into the habit of picking up litter and politely chastising others when they litter.
    The respect you showed me helped me to respect myself (and the rest of the world) a little bit more. I know a lot of your old students who feel the same. We kinda think of you as Mr. Warren, Dean of the Misfits. :]
    -Christina Primavera

  3. Seems like you've made an impact on so many lives. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. "Even the biggest imbecile in life will influence at least a million people in his/her lifetime." You are far from being an imbecile, at least that's the image that you project, so can you imagine the reach of your influence?