“Illness is a cross, but perhaps also a guardrail. The ideal, however, would be to draw strength from it and to refuse its weaknesses. Let it be the retreat that makes one stronger at the proper moment. And if one has to pay in suffering and renunciation, let’s pay up!” ~Albert Camus
“Liberty is the right not to lie.” ~Albert Camus
“Sometimes offers for help are actually cries for help.” ~Unknown
“The main thing, when the sword cuts into your soul, is to keep a calm gaze, lose no blood, accept the coldness of the sword with the coldness of a stone. By means of the stab, after the stab, become invincible.” ~Franz Kafka
Every Friday morning, Ada Sunrise Rotary, my civic club, meets at the Aldridge Hotel Banquet Room starting at 7 a.m. Meetings start with a ringing the ceremonial brass bell, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, a non-denominational prayer, introduction of guests, announcement, “Words of Wisdom,” a guest speaker, singing the “Friday Song,” an appeal to donate to Polio Plus, and, ending the meeting, “The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do” …
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
I didn’t join Rotary to change or reform it. When Robert and Jennifer Greenstreet, long-time friends, invited me, I thought it sounded like fun, that it would be a good source for community news for my newspaper, and an important way to represent our newspaper as a civic-minded product.
When I joined, two and a half years ago the “Words of Wisdom” segment of our meetings usually consisted of one of the buzz-cut set telling a slightly off-color joke that started with something like, “So this 80-year-old couple is about to make whoopee, but they’re both a little deaf…”
I decided that I might have something more erudite to contribute, so about a year ago, I started bringing in some of my brainier-sounding books on science, philosophy, sociology, writing, creativity, and so on. As I did so, everyone began to realize that I might be making a worthwhile contribution to the discourse, and that I was at least attempting to be well-read and creating an atmosphere of ideas and learning.
As the last six months or so, from July 1 when Ashley became president, has evolved, more and more when we get to “Words of Wisdom,” Ashley’s eyes, and everyone else’s, immediately turn to me.
Last Friday I read this from Albert Camus’ The Plague…
“The evil that is in this world always comes from ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more-or-less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue, the most incorrigible vice being an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for it the right to kill. The soul of murderers is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.”
I bring my journal to Rotary every week, and it gives me a chance to write, if I haven’t, for the week, as I wait for breakfast. Thus, I concluded that I should be more consistent about writing down my words of wisdom, and make it a regular feature here on this blog.
To find words of wisdom, click on the category by that name, or simply go to the search box and type “words of wisdom.”
Hopefully, I will be a wise man, and not a wise guy, as time goes by.
“What is life? It is a flash of a firefly. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~Crowfoot, Blackfoot Chief
I saw a woman in the parking lot as I walked to my car after photographing the Free Fair. She used a walker and seemed very unsteady. She told me she’d had a stroke, that left her with an uneven gait and slurred speech. I helped her to her truck, and put the walker in the bed of the truck for her.
It seemed like the right thing to do, but I was the only one helping her. I think this was one of the most important things I learned by taking care of my wife Abby at the end of her life: we all benefit from acts of kindness and generosity, and it is our duty as humanitarians.
There is a scene towards the end of Richard Attenborough’s 1982 movie, Gandhi, where the late Om Puri, playing the role of a Hindu man whose son had been killed by Muslims, bursts onto a terrace where Gandhi, weakened by weeks of fasting, is lying on a bed.
The man throws a chapati at Gandhi and shouts, “Eat! I’m going to hell but not with your death on my soul.”
“Only God decides who goes to hell,” the Mahatma responds quietly.
“I killed a child. I smashed his head against a wall!” the man screams.
Gandhi winces and asks, “Why?”
The man’s eyes well up with tears, “They killed my son, my boy. The Muslims killed my son.”
“I know a way out of hell,” Gandhi whispers. “Find a child. A child whose mother and father have been killed. A little boy about this high; raise him as your own. Only be sure that is a Muslim and that you raise him as one.”