Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Modesty, Further Lessons In Simon's Bushido.

I don't remember exactly what it was that the particular girlfriend said to me some twenty years ago, but the essence has stuck with me and distilled into a world view and way of being that is perhaps the major difference between myself and my younger brother Paul. The difference that most people find hard to reconcile because we both appear to be such different people. Irreconcilable because we share both the same nature (genetics, we share both parents) and nurture (for almost twenty years we were brought up by the same parents, be they our own or various step relatives, partnered with our own parents, both being remarried after their divorce).

So back to the essence of what was said to me so long ago. I do have to interject that I must have been a particularly arsey tosser as a teenager.

1: Try not to talk to people as though you are always right. The major problem with a world point of view that dictates everything is either right or wrong (black or white) tends to give you the belief that your point of view is right (no quarter for negotiation).

2: Always accept you can be wrong.

3: Other points of view can be equally as valid as your own.

4: Discussion is not argument. Discussion is a forum to test the level of your knowledge and faith in a subject, and a potential to learn new information and points of view on the subject. 

5: There are no winners in a discussion. It is not a contest. It is as valid to both agree to disagree, rather than escalate to an argument, or fight.

6: Just because someone does not have the same educational background it does not invalidate their point of view. Educational elitists should remember academia is not the real world. There are plenty of examples of people who did not do well at school (my own favourite is Einstein, but just as valid would be Churchill) who later went on to affect the entire world. Your university is only three to four years of your life, your education a mere twenty, if you stop learning after that your life is a poorer thing (in my humble opinion).

As an aside we are all told as teenagers that we are the future of the planet (I was told this, my godson was told this, his children will be). This fills us with pride and ambition. What we are not told is that very few of us ever have a lasting effect on even the small part of the world we inhabit. Fewer still achieve anything as an adult let alone as a teenager. Even if you succeed in some form or other you are likely to no longer be a teenager but an adult who is plagued by teenagers who are now being told they are the future of the planet much as you were previously. True Beethoven was writing compositions for the piano as a three or four year old, but how many other people existed contemporary to him that we have not ever heard of.

Unfortunately yes teenagers are the future of the planet (and I may have said this before), but they are the future cannon fodder, the future office fodder, the future factory fodder. On the whole we are the fillers to someone else's history, the extras to their excellence.

6: In the grand scheme of things we are but tiny cogs. As you are rushing around your oh so important life remember if it was not for everyone else we would not be able to exists. We all hang by a gossamer thread reliant on all the other people around us, it is a little thing to be polite and courteous to each other, and it makes a great difference.

From my time studying Buddhism I was particularly impressed by one story. there was a Zen master, who, on first meeting anyone, bowed. Firstly he bowed to remind him that he was better than no-one else. Secondly he bowed to remind him self that no-one was better than him. This is an affectation I have taken on. Over much of my life it has frequently been misinterpreted as ignorance of social position or manners, but I still continue to practice the ritual despite others ignorance of what I am doing.

Live your life as an example; don't do unto others as you would have done unto you (if you are a masochist that would mean you would have to beat up every one you met).

It is by small increments that we make the world a better place. The yoga idea that if I spend twenty minutes meditating, then the world has been made a more peaceful place, even if it is only by one person, for twenty minutes, carries into all aspects of life. If I pick up some litter, then perhaps someone will see me and learn from the example, even if no-one does then I have at least picked up some litter and improved things by a small part. If I am polite to someone I don't know, then perhaps someone will witness the same and react by doing similar, even if they don't I have at least made the world a nicer place for a short period for someone.

It is in small action that the small cog changes the world slowly but surely. Large radical change does nothing but aggravate the masses and effects them to react adversely.

In the words of Bill and Ted (sorry I know, I know, but it fits):

“Be excellent to each other!”

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