Grandmothers Rule

There’s a book by Rudyard Kipling called “Kim.”

A young orphan boy grows up in the shadows of the himalayas during some of the greatest political intrigues of the late 1800s.  We learn of political struggles between the British Empire, the Hind, the Punjab, Afghans, Tibet, and even the Russians.

Mark Twain claimed to read the book at least once a year, it’s that good.

Here’s some excerpts from the very end of the book, where an old Kulu woman of Saharunpore tells us how the old and the young live together.

We who go down to the burning-ghats clutch at the hands of those coming up from the River of Life with full water-jars, yes, brimming water-jars.  …  It is true that the old eat the young daily.

Mothers have not the wisdom of our years.  If a child cries they say the heavens are falling.  Now a grandmother is far enough separated from the pain of bearing and the pleasure of giving the breast to consider whether a cry is wickedness pure of the wind.

When one cannot dance in the festival one must e’en look out of the window, and grandmothering takes all a woman’s time.

I watched my father make his way to the “burning-ghats” in his own way.  I’ve also seen neighbors and friends about my age doing the same thing with their parents.  It’s our turn to help our parents in this transition.  And it can feel as if they are feeding upon us.  How wrong is this, that we also fed upon them for many of our first years?

What strikes me about Kipling’s words, beyond their insight, is also how much they tell us about the strength of family relationships for that time, that place.

Consider the popular movie, Crazy Rich Asians.  The underlying theme is the strength of the family, the responsibilities of keeping everything working properly.  The father is never in the movie, ostensibly because he’s off taking care of the empire.  It is also the basis upon which the heroine is evaluated by the mother.

Family relationship ARE important.  It’s critical to have a baby, a mom AND a dad, and then some grandparents nearby.  We’ve been losing sight of this for many years, and it’s something many people never think about.

Hearing Kipling’s thoughts on the subject reminded me to think about it again.  And to thank all those families out there that still have all their parts.  Money doesn’t matter.  The health of the family does matter.  Love holds it all together.  And it’s the best way to grow the future.

Finally, consider what Kim and others say whenever something annoying happens.

It’s all one.

 

True Killers

There’s this great report put out by the Centers for Disease Control, it’s all about how many people die of things in the USA.  It lists lots of reasons, and helps the government set policies to help its citizens live longer, happier, more productive lives.

wait till you see what's inside.

Except it doesn’t always seem to be working.  There’s been a drug crisis going on since the 1960s, and today it’s morphed into an even worse epidemic.

So, here’s another perspective on our problem.

Perhaps the list the CDC maintains is the wrong place to be looking.  What we should  consider are things having to do with behavior.

For instance, perhaps the suspects we should consider are these: Loneliness, Stress, and Boredom.

What can Stress do to you?  We know it can accelerate heart attacks, stroke, and many other things related to aging.

What about Boredom?  That gives us time to play with drugs, experiment with risky behaviors, and wonder why life is worth living when the going gets tough.

Finally, what about Loneliness?  When we’re lonely, we tend to think about our pains, we magnify our problems and minimize our blessings.  When we’re lonely, we can also be alone.

One of the biggest causes of loneliness is being alone.  If we’re alone, we can make mistakes.  Mistakes can be big ones, like leaving the stove cooking something when we go to sleep.  Or sitting in a running car when the garage door is closed.  Or taking the wrong medicine at the wrong time.

These three things can exist in any age group, any population, at any time.  Addressing the causes that underlie the reasons we die may be far more effective than simply trying to attack the reason.  It has to be better than what we’ve been doing, simply because what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked.

So the next time you see a horror film, go with someone.  Talk about it.  Make sure it’s a relaxing experience.  My guess is you’ll live to see another day.  And another.

 

Where There’s Smoke

They always seem to go together.It’s no coincidence that if you see smoke, there’s fire somewhere inside.

If you live inside a house, you’re taught from an early age to save your life by GETTING OUT.

Drop.  Roll.  Know your escape route to safety.

That’s the easy way to save your life.

What if the smoke you are seeing isn’t from inside your home?

What if the smoke is coming from your society?  What if the news is full of tragic stories?  What if your family and friends are touched by random violence?

What if your planet is being harassed by unthinking newly arrived inhabitants, who litter, obliterate, and violate huge portions of its landscape?  What if the Amazon is cut down?  What if we fill the atmosphere with CO2 and methane?  Why does it matter if we drive so many species to extinction?

These are all variations of seeing the smoke inside your home.  Many people see the smoke, and are crying out as loud as they can: FIRE!

My question is this.  Why can’t more people see the smoke?  How many more cries will it take to move the majority of people?  What will it take to get governments to act?  Even more critically, what will it take to make all governments act in unison?

If you are studying any social discipline, including philosophy, these questions should be at the top of your syllabus.  Your “discipline” should have a methodology, a basis of axioms and reference in which you can answer this question.  Better yet, if your discipline is mature enough, it may even suggest an optimal route of making our world a better place.

If not, then, all I can say is…

Drop.

Roll.

And …

 

 

Man Tongue

Sorry, this isn’t what you may think.  Tongue has to do with language.  Not sure why we call languages, tongues, but maybe it’s because the tongue has a lot to do with it.

I’m working to learn French.  It’s not easy.  They really make your lips and ears work hard.  The tongue?  Not so much.

One big thing that was hard for me to understand was this: Groups are either girls or guys.  In French it’s << elles >> or << ils >>.  (Sorry, the whole double carat is French as well.)

Anyway, say there’s a group of five women walking down the street.  You’d say, “women walking down the street.”

What about five men doing the same thing?  You’d say, “men walking down the street.”

Here’s the fun part.

What if the group is four women and one man?  You’d say, “men walking down the street.”

Yup.  I know, it seems crazy.  Wait.

What if it’s an entire stadium of women watching a football match?  “Women watch football.”

Now, put a single man (he might be married, I meant one person) into the crowd, and guess what you have to say?  That’s right.  “Men watch football.”  Yes, even if the ENTIRE crowd but one has freudian-based penis-envy, you have to say, “men.”

For the longest time this drove me nuts.  It still drives people nuts, because it purposely marginalizes women.  I don’t like marginalizing women.  I like women.

But why does the language do this?

Remember, languages have been around a long time.  Even French.  And there’s a good chance that the French didn’t invent the whole gender bias thingy.  So we have to go back thousands of years to the source.

What was going on thousands of years ago?

Murder.  Mayhem.  Massacres.  Maybe.

In short, it was quite the heyday of times.  Possibly like game of thrones.

If you were a guy, and very sensitive to not dying, and someone was describing a crowd of people to you, what might be of great interest to you?

If it was me, I’d want to know if there were any men in that group.  Specifically, men who might want to hurt me.  If the group is all women, I’d feel better.  Not really.  I know what women are capable of, because I’ve been happily married for a long time.

But if sword thrusting and mace wielding are your concern, then you want to know if men are around.

Result?  You use your language as an early warning system.

It’s only an idea, don’t go ballistic.  But for a real answer, I’d look to this guy.  I enjoy his videos.  In the meantime,

Bonne journée!

 

First Gift, Final Gift

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I’ve had a glimpse of how our society deals with death.  I spent ten days with Dad in a wonderful hospice house.  We spent the first half getting the pain meds out of his system, and the other half getting him strong enough so he could leave the place.

I spent many hours with him as cheerleader, advocate, and caregiver trainee.  However, there were many hours where he slept, so I got to know everyone.

What impressed me most was how many workers and volunteers truly care about their mission.  They are unsung, so I’m singing about them now.

However, there are also so many patients, mostly alone.  They were waiting.  Waiting to die.

Here’s the surprise.  Some of them are done.  As a gift to their children, they are content to hasten the process.

If you’re shocked, or sad, you should know that is how I felt.  At first.  When I listened to their stories it becomes obvious that many people are giving themselves up so that they are no longer a burden to their children.

It’s a wonderful gift.  It’s their decision.  And my only regret is that I’m not sure how many of those children appreciate that decision, that final gesture.

Creating a baby is only the first step to what will be a lifetime of joy.  But there are so many hard hours ahead.  Children who grow up tend to appreciate the gift of life given by their parents.

But the second greatest gift can be found at the end.  It is the parent letting go, and letting their child be free of their burden.  It’s sad to see them go, but it’s also a chance to celebrate their life and begin looking forward again.

To all those unsung parents who have sacrificed much during their lives, and then at the very end, life itself, for the benefit of their children, I thank you.

We should all thank them.

The best way to do that is to never forget them.

Mom and Dad.