Black But Not Blue

This morning I am black to the elbows. It is chimney cleaning day. This year the chimney is getting a good cleaning just a few days after the end of the heating season; after the embers have all died. The whole setup is now clean, glass and all, and ready for the curing ritual, at the beginning of the next heating season in October.

It came as quite a surprise this week, to relearn a lesson that I had learned as a teenager. Lost in the details of survival, this lesson was lost to me, until this week. And where did I come to learn this lesson a second time? I learned it on Facebook, to my astonishment.

When I was a teenager I attended an outdoor music festival in Toronto. It was the sixties. Peace and love and making a better world, were the supposed agenda of the young. I was seated on the grass, about half way to the back of the audience area. The crown was too close to the stage, it was a problem, and the singer of the band asked the crowd, the peace and love crowd, to please stand up and all take a few steps back. There were two of us that stood up. There was no moving back, because not one other person in the crowd was giving any ground. That is when I learned the lesson that the better world that most of those people were looking for was a wholly personal better world. Me and mine, that is what “we” meant to a great many of those “flower children”.

After that experience I did a lot of observing. I found few real world examples where people who talked of the “we” actually meant anyone other than “me and mine”.

There is a sort of flip side to what I have observed. It consists of people who claim that everyone is completely selfish, that human nature is violent and aggressive, and that there is no other motivation in the world other than self-interest. I do not buy it, as a package. Sure, the people who talk a good “we” seem to be consistently self-referencing, and self-serving. But then there are those that spend no time flapping their lips, and a great deal of time exercising their freedom to be kind and compassionate. They are all around, if you watch you can find them. If you merely listen, you will miss them though, they are not frequently out there shouting over the crowd for attention. They are busy working towards a better world.

Facebook facilitates a quick grab for attention, but does not seem to offer any concrete ways in which to enhance our lives, or for us to enhance the lives of others. Clicking “like” is not a social movement. A series of unrelated comments do not constitute a strategy building discussion. Facebook is an empty vessel, in my opinion.

I am going to try and teach myself to watch Facebook for instances of people exercising their freedom to be kind and compassionate in concrete and meaningful ways. I don’t know if it is possible in an environment based on being visible and popular. Maybe not, but I am going to watch anyway.

Ontario Barns April 21, 2013 [Taken at 90 km an hour, through a closed car window.]
Web 007 red white

Today’s Snack

Nuts and Berries: roasted whole almonds and dried cranberries.
NutsANDberries

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 17.4°C
Dewpoint: 5.6°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: SE 9 km/h

Quote

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln
1809 – 1865

“The Lone Ranger and Tonto were ambushed by Indians. Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, “looks like we’re in trouble here.” Tonto says, “What mean we, white man?”
Who knows where this came from, good call though.

4 Comments

  1. Bex

    Being that I found FB an “empty vessel” as well, I cancelled my membership there after only a few weeks – I realize some people think it keeps them in touch with family/friends, but there are other more personal ways to do that, surely.

    But you mentioned something that stimulated a short story, a true story, about which I was surprised when I heard it. It’s concerning the murdered young man, Travis Alexander, whose murderer has just finished up her trial and is awaiting the Verdict from the jury now. The Defense in that case trashed Travis big time. It was the only way to save the life of their client, his ex-girlfriend. So people may now think of this deceased man as not-so-nice and this story deserves retelling. It was from one of his best friends who related it last night on a show I was watching:

    Travis was driving home one day when he drove by a vagrant-looking man who was by the roadside. He stopped his car and got out to talk to him. He found out this man was very down-and-out and had nothing any longer, so Travis put him in his car, took him home to his house, had the man take a shower, gave him some clean clothes, and then fed him. Then, he could have just kicked him back out into the world, but he didn’t. He made a few phone calls, and he drove the man downtown to see the manager of a small eating place whom he knew and he pleaded the case for this man to hire the vagrant, without any references except for the word of Travis. The man hired him on the spot, and that man now has a job and a life.

    Now THAT gives me a big lump in my throat – just re-telling the story. And to think that an evil-woman like Jodi Aria murdered this human being… unthinkable.

  2. Bex, very sad that a person capable of such kindness left this world through a tragic act of evil.

    Facebook is all talk, and as you point out, actions speak much louder than words.

    Facebook still serves a function for me, the lesson I just relearned for instance. Living in isolation, I find it helps to know that people are still alive and OK.

  3. “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
    Abraham Lincoln
    1809 – 1865

    This is your quote for the day, and I think it rings so true, not only for politicians, but for us ordinary folk, as well. If we have power in our own little lives, some optional money or time, how do we spend it or use it? To get more “stuff” or to help someone else? Do we treat the waiter with respect or do we speak disrespectfully? Those smaller actions speak volumes about character.

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