Ask a sponge

A wonderful, wispy, weaving friend of ours is a lover of music.  She organizes chamber music concerts in our area featuring local students and professors of the best music schools in the area.  These are world class performances that we get to enjoy intimately, in fabulous homes with home-cooked goodies afterwards.  We also get to mingle with the performers, enthusiastic young people who are devoted to their art.

It’s fun talking with them, but at the same time there is the ever-present shadow of their fate hanging above them.  For their chosen field is intensely competitive.  To be sure, any of them could end up in the orchestra of a small city, but to become a world-class musician is to meet competition so lofty that most of us can’t even imagine.  That wonderfully happy person I’m talking with today is very likely going to have a crushed future.  They will not end up in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or going on a world operatic tour.  They will probably end up working as a music teacher by day, and in a small city’s orchestra on the weekend.

Part of me wants to hug them and wish them well.  Another part wishes that our world was a safer place that could hug all of them.  Why can’t our society be one that guarantees all the pretty good musicians a spot in a decent orchestra?  All the orchestras would be more average, but can the average concert-goer tell the difference?  I don’t think I could.  Why do we have to put hundreds of talented young artists through such hell, just so one might rise to the world stage and fame?

Here’s where our sponge comes in.  All life is an answer to a question; you only have to know how to ask the question and where to look.  The sponge is an animal that plays it safe.  It doesn’t go out of its way to explore the world, it lets the world take its babies wherever the current carries it.  It doesn’t fight to get better, it doesn’t work to learn, and it doesn’t go in for a lot of experimentation.  The sponge, every single one of them, is happy simply sitting on the bottom of the ocean.

Is this a bad thing?  Of course not.  Does it help the sponge survive?  It must, because they’ve been around a whole lot longer than people.  But does it allow the sponge to grow and thrive and push the boundaries of its existence?  And here the answer is no.

Those young people who dream of making a dent in the world must be allowed to try to the best of their ability.  Almost all of them will crash and burn, but it is their choice.  And in that attempt, they are also helping to carry the rest of humanity with them.  It is your choice to dream, to hope, to dare, and to fail.  Watching them fail is not tragic.  Taking away their chance to fail, that is the tragedy.

You, me, we, humanity, needs to grow.

Prepare to be squeezed!


Hate. Part 3.

Are you angry? What does it take to make you angry, Gentle Reader? Not so angry as to hurt someone. Angry enough to want to change the direction of humanity?

Will it take your loss of income? How about the loss of some of your civil rights? Perhaps they aren’t tangible enough to inspire you. What about the fate of a child who is not yet born? Or the death of a foreign child? What about the death of my child? Or will it take the death of your child?

If you were Trayvon Martin’s father, how angry would you be right now? [1] Would you be angry at Zimmerman? Would you want to hurt him? Would you be angry at neighborhood watch programs and want to stop them? Would you be angry at the gun lobby that allows self-appointed vigilantes to roam with insufficient training or background checks? Would you work to make them illegal? Or would you work to hold them to higher standards? Would you be angry enough to appeal the court ruling within the justice system? Or would you be so angry as to want to change the justice system itself?

How angry would you be? Think about it and answer yourself. It’s important that you know how angry you can become before you read the next paragraph.

Now that you know how angry you are, being the parent of a murdered child who died for no reason, ask yourself this; How far removed can you become and still be angry? For instance, you are now the aunt of young Trayvon Martin. How angry are you now? Next, you’re a family friend. Now, how angry are you? Next, you’re a neighbor, several streets away. Finally, you are yourself, reading about events so far removed that they could be fictional. Can you still be angry?

How I wish that you would be angry. Not violence angry, but angry enough to want to change the world. Angry enough to want a better future for all children. Angry enough to question the why and how of everything we think and do. Finally, angry enough so that you read these words, consider the import of these ideas in pages to come, and incorporate them into your own life. Only by doing this in some small way can you influence the course of humanity’s future. And it’s only if enough of us join together that we will make a difference.

Oh, how tolerant and accepting you must be, for I am angry all the time. My anger is expressed in words, in grand philosophical concepts designed to preserve humanity. How do you express your anger? What does it take to make you angry? You know hate exists in the world. Do you tacitly accept it as inevitable and move on?

Gentle Reader, I want to energize you. Not only to read these words but adopt their intent and help move our world away from hate. What does it take to make you so angry that you take action? Action enough to voice dissatisfaction with injustice, ineptitude, or laziness? Action enough to right a wrong. Action enough to change the world.

It all begins with you. Are you angry?