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I don’t know if you did what I did and that was to remain glued to the television during the inauguration of Joe Biden. I wanted to hear the sound he was making in his attempts to heal a deeply divided nation. Two words stood out: unity and truth, words with a long philosophic pedigree. There was an article in the paper yesterday about Poetry and Politics. Rhetoric has always played it’s part especially at times of national need, and for America this is a time of need. There is empty rhetoric and there are words that are followed by action that is truly transformative and what’s at the beginning of new chapter will find it’s full fruition. Seventy eight is late in the day to take on the problems America faces. Even so as Marcus Aurelius writes in one of his reflections: Nothing is too early or too late for me that is in your own good time. All is fruit for me that your seasons bring, O nature. Hopefully this is the time for Joe Biden. One ageing politician and one bright young poet spoke at the Inauguration. They both in their own way delivered the same message. Here are some of the words from Amanda Gorman’s poem: The Hill We Climb and my word is it some hill to climb, but you can't say that there isn't a determination.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Our tasks may not be so monumental but we also, if we care to take them, have our opportunities.
And talking of opportunities we took ours with a spendid first and very full session of our latest course: Click on this link to discover more about: Philosophy As a Way of Life.
WHAT'S AT THE BEGINNING WILL BE AT THE END
Whatever there is at the beginning of an action is bound to have a decided effect on everything that follows thereafter. It colours it all. When events meet you, you alone are the vehicle for action, whatever that action might be. Out of the realm of infinite possibility arises a response. How perfectly measured that response is to the purpose intended is for you alone to discover at that time. What is evident in the meeting of any need is that the attention can rest on nothing other than what there is when that need becomes known. If self consideration becomes the predominant factor the focus must be lost and with it the energy.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.
These are the words of Martha Graham the renowned choreographer. Blocking what is yours alone to do may very well arise out of the simple desire to ignore what the situation is demanding of you, not do it, or to do it with all kinds of personal considerations affecting the result. Here she is talking about the creative act. Our creative acts may not be something placed under a spotlight in a public theatre, but we do create. We cannot help it. We are creating all the time, for good or ill.
If your motive for acting is nothing whatsoever to do with meeting a genuine need, but is rather to do with the expression of some entirely self motivated desire, then the whole thing is going to be coloured by a narrow determination and imported into it will be all kinds of excitement and frustration. What is produced out of this can never be clear cut and simple, quite the opposite. It's bound to be complicated, full of an emotional pressure that is bound to have its effect on outcomes. Again it is one of those paradoxes that in order to produce something that is utterly our own - in the sense that Martha Graham speaks of it - we have to learn to remove from our actions things that complicate and confuse. Personal desire often does just that. Dedicating our actions to the greater good is a practice of long pedigree designed to create something that goes beyond any self imposed limit.
Make sure you start any action from the right place:
stillness not agitation, harmony not discord.
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