Archive for December, 2005

Illegal Immigration and Your Security

December 28, 2005

Recently, a fellow online-blogger, Warner Todd Huston, wrote an article on the “rethinking” of 14th Amendment. In his article, he conveys the nonsensical, the heresy of, one of my US Representatives from Colorado, Tom Tancredo, of the 6th District, as wanting to redefine the 14th Amendment in the name of controlling illegal immigration. Yes, most of us understand the history of why the 14th Amendment was needed and added to the US Constitution. Simply, it was to correct the wrongs of servitude and slavery of black Americans.

Nevertheless, some would have one believe that the 14th Amendment is the causation of bureaucratic, debt-ridden, high security threat to the nation. In that, by tweaking the amendment that our crises to our welfare services would dissipate, shrivel, and go bye-bye. Okay…that might work. But! What about the illegal immigrants already here? Surely, we would have offer some sort of amnesty, or a grandfather act to ensure the fairness of those who already in the system? Right? Or do we do some sort of deportation (internment camp) round up and start shipping them back over the border?

Moreover, some would have one believe that illegal immigrants are “birthing” there stay in America, and thus, creating an anchor, or as the term goes an “anchor baby” so they can stay here, in case they get caught in the US illegally. That may be, but these people are not Tribbles, and for the record, they are human, and therefore entitled to not only their civil rights but their inalienable rights endowed by the universal creator known as the human community.

So, the question remains, what do we do about the illegal immigration situation? First, we must start enforcing the laws that are on the books. Second, depose any politician who supports the policy of “sanctuary”, which simply states that the police officers “disregard” obvious and suspicious identification given by “undocumented workers.” Third, prosecute and heavily fine employers that “knowingly” hire undocumented workers.

Admittedly, the third item above will be more difficult to execute, but with record verification to reveal the discrepancies should expose corporate corruption. If the social security numbers come back invalid, then have ICE, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency, target those businesses and verify eligibility of the workers at the job-site. Meanwhile, border and port security should be increased by technological and personal means; if that also means building a wall, so be it. Nonetheless, what we need not do is to redefine what now affects all Americans. This is what I mean. The 14th Amendment guarantees the following,

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

In other words, no matter who your parents are, you are a US citizen if born within the territories of the United States of America. This means something. Illegal immigrants, for the most part, are not here to be nefarious but are to aspire to the American Dream. This does not mean, however, that we should disregard our own security with the barbarians at the gates of America. What it does mean, however, is that we are more vigilant in protecting the dream; and, preparing the nation for crisis.

Unfortunately, to date, our government has done a vastly incompetent job in preparing the nation for such crises (see the examples of Hurricane Katrina and Rita). And, for the amount of money we have spent on the War on Terror, protecting the home front has been last on the list. Oh yes, there has been domestic spying, and warrant less wire tapping, and the disregarding of the rule of law by a president when he deems it necessary. Nonetheless, the security of the nation is still at risk, with flood of illegal immigrants coming through southern, as well as the northern borders, with our shipping ports being severely insecure, it has been surprising that no other incidents have occurred. So, how will changing the 14th Amendment make us more secure when the insufficiencies of our own inequities regarding our own US borders? It does not. It will not. Nor will it ever! The time for enforcing the laws on the book is at hand; let us get these tasks done first. So say we all!

Upon Reflection

December 15, 2005


There is a benefit in attending school when you are an older adult one has the ability to exercise, to tap, one’s own life experiences. In so being, that one’s accessible experiences to debunk the philosophy of “theory” versus “practical” applications, which are examined in the enchantment of youth, and the various entrapments, has its benefits. Oh, one can still explore the esoteric, the obscure, but attending school as a more seasoned individual gives perspectives on the nature of things ; the way of things—if you please. In as much that life can be often be viewed personally, as a mere card game, in that, one’s own personal narrative lets an individual not only examine the qualities of life’s as a card game , but allows one to expand one’s purview, such that, life’s experiences may evolve into a more complex game for the mature adult—such as chess.

 

The evolution of growth from this game of life, chess that is, is far more representative, the subtle machinations of life workings can be viewed remotely, and objectively. Life’s pitfalls such as dealing with death, illness, and aging are “on par” for the more mature person’s journey of life. In the card game of life, however, the brevity of each hand reflects the short term perspective; chess can be both. The choices an individual makes, good or bad choices, guide the individual toward the either shorter or long term path. These paths may render the complexity of life’s games, chess or cards.

The chess metaphor allows for the evolvement of wisdom (of which covers the individual with satisfaction of lessons well learned); in the game of cards, the nakedness of instant gratification may be sweet and victorious, but mistakes once learned can be often repeated as a matter of course to facilitate the outcome (and sometimes need to do so). Admittedly, the short route (similar to the riskier and bolder moves in chess) is often more treacherous and rewarding as well as needed, but must we always be convicted by a steady pain to tender our evolution?

 

Yes, we must; through conviction of our spirit, we suffer for its enlightenment, and for its obtainment of knowledge with the maturing adult.

 

Should we not to learn from our previous convictions and crevices? The crevices that are our lowest moments in life; of which, the pitfalls and valleys are part of life’s journey as well as its emotions. Should we not build over these previous crevices? Should we not tear down old emotions, vices, attitudes, and moralities? I leave you with your own musings to decide such things.

 

However, to return to my point of the benefit of attending school, I should say, university, late in life, aids in the critical thinking of the subjects’ one has to attend. Furthermore, the benefit of a mature adult attending school later in years, at least for some, is the appreciation of history. To understand the “preciousness” of reflection, or its intrinsic satisfaction , before taking action in order to assimilate knowledge as well as the consequences that are found in the modality (in so being that the lessons of life are repetitive and can be seen as models or templates to provide instruction through allegories, metaphors, parables), and mortality of life’s toll. So, why do I set forth the beneficiaries of the mature student at university?

 

It is a means of introduction, an explanation to the discourse of the work of Giovanni Boccacio, the Decameron; in which, I will parlay momentarily. But let me first address one presumption, that death is wasted on youth, and as such the melancholic ideals—the trials and tribulations of life—are trivialized. The dearth of their appreciation of it sets the mature and youthful apart. To fully ascertain the certainty of it, death that is, one must be close in proximity of it. Admittedly, this is a generality, and death can compact (to reduce) the youthful heart, but I set my sights on a different plain, and that discussant is Boccacio’s plague, the revealing allegory of the complexity of life’s games, such as chess and cards.

* * * *

I remember as youth, in the 1980’s, when AIDS had plighted the consciousness of the American public. It was after the go-go 1970’s decade, from a historical perspective, represented: the western-American “sexual revolution,” the culmination of civil rights for women, the apex of the Feminist movement sought the passage of the ERA amendment to the US Constitution, and the country, the United States, was in the midst of an upswing of a conservative culture war movement.

 

The seemingly fresh paint on the wall of America’s culture war climate was and had been actually rooted in the mores of an older evangelical movement that steadily grew in the twentieth century. Fomenting, as early, if not earlier, as 1906, after the San Francisco earthquake, the Pentecostal charismatic movement a.k.a. Evangelical religious leaders advocated for t he county’s correction before God’s eyes. They pointed toward the difficult trials Americans were facing daily as an indication: cholera epidemics, pandemic flu, tenement living, racism, poverty, and war were its symptoms. But the root villain of this despair was science, and the symbol of this declension of moral values was the revered scientist Charles Darwin. For he represented the challenge to the “core values” of Americans, and their beliefs for the creation of life, this later culminated in the Scopes Monkey Trial, in Tennessee in 1925. Although, the evangelicals won, the exposure of the trial subverted Americans beliefs on the creation of life. It was as if a youth, wrought with emotion, began to realize their own irrationality and started to mature, into a rational adult.

 

In any event, the Pentecostal charismatic of the early twentieth century, transformed into the more politically activated evangelical Christians of the 1970’s. But they were not alone, Islam, the radical Arabs, in the Middle East, had taken its own evangelical turn in the 1970’s, but expressed it with guns. Evangelical Christians and Arabs sentiments were on ascension and both came in concert to the world stage at the end of 1970’s with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, and Pat Robertson’s 700 Club along with Ayatollah Khomeini’s overthrow of the Shaw of Iran with his “revolutionary students.”

 

For the Evangelical Christians, it had been a culmination of events, which had set their political sights onto America’s consciousness, but one precipitous event seem to inflame there “soul,” the passing of “abortions rights” to women, in the US Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade. As for the Ayatollah, and the groups that would follow its radicalism, it was the oppression of the Shaw and the clash of civilization with the western-American mores, and its religious fanaticism with Israel . This inflammatory period resulted in a shift of American politics, consciousness, and ideals. And, the finding of a leader that represented the shifting of those beliefs, but held firm of the ones that America held golden: truth, justice, and the American way of life. He advocated conservatism with a pragmatic voice; he was seen as the fatherly figure that led us to redemption, salvation, and strength; to resolve the crisis of America’s heart and was elected to restore the majesty of the presidential office of the United States. He reversed the youthful forays of the country and provided a more seasoned perspective as he guided the American public through its own Bocaccio’s plaque tribulation. He was President Ronald Reagan and he used his life lessons of chess to guide America and Americans out of the crisis to come.

 

* * * *

 

It was a sunny afternoon in 1981, mid-June, when my mother told me that, her friend, her bassist (electronic), had suddenly died on stage while performing a local “gig” (show) up in Boulder. At the time, they did not know what exactly caused his death, but they knew it had something to do with immune system; it was later be identified as a variant of AIDS.

 

It, AIDS, was the biological crises of the 1980’s; no one knew exactly how it was contracted, but the one certainty, it seemed, to be afflicting what the politically correct referred to as “marginalized” communities: minorities and homosexuals . Fear ran rampant, religious leaders, implicated, indicted, and prophesied that, AIDS was a sign from God as being displeased with our sinful nature. Others indicated it was the filth, the laziness of these communities, and the lack of moral fortitude that had brought down “God’s” punishment.

Similar punishment arguments were brought during the plaque of Boccacio’s Decameron, he says, “the most beautiful of Italian cities, noble Florence, was attacked. It started in the East either through influence of the heavenly bodies, or because God’s with our wicked deeds; sent it as a punishment to mortal men; and in a few years killed innumerable quantity of people” [my emphasis]. Take note, this pandemic was an illness that consumed the entirety of Europe with or without God’s help.

 

So, for Boccacio’s Decameron, God condemned man’s choices of free expression and will, and it was man’s fault for the suffering at hand. Thus, the sinful nature of the 1970’s was the same as the sinful nature of the era of the Black Death. But let us not take a reductive stand for the motive of religion and limit it to the disease alone. No. Some used the machinations of religiosity to foster an agenda for power, money, and acquisition. Yes, the opiate of religion was used as an artifice of misfortune to triumphantly tocsin the return of His glory against the masses.

 

In a real sense, religion played the cards of its hands against the other cards of the masses to exhort its control for authority. This exhortation was also true for the evangelical Christian movement in the 1980’s as the spread of AIDS instilled fear to the public. (See religion latest example of terrorization: the disasters of hurricane Katrina, Rita, earthquake in Pakistan or for that the matter tsunami in the Asian Pacific quadrant have been illuminated as God’s wrath). Thus, emotionalism ran high as the dearth of rationality ebb to the lowest crevice of life’s trials; religious shrill drowned out reason and empiricism.

 

By comparison, the fated 1980’s tussled with narratives similar to those in the Boccacio’s Decameron: friends, families, and acquaintances isolated themselves away from one another; wild acts of perilous behavior seeded the flames of fear. Some turned their fears inward, while others tempered themselves through prayer, some through moderation, some tried to splash emotion with common sense, and yet still, others partied with raucous joy and left their desires to fate. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die! Thus, the rational of the American public as a spire above the waves of uncertainty, but like a passionate adolescent, impertinent and impatient, they wanted a new set of cards to be dealt, as they tried to come to accept their own frailties. “Life is not fair!” is the cry of the teenager.

 

Regardless of these attitudes, the American public in comparison to the citizens of Boccacio’s Florence were that of fearful people trapped by the uncertainty of the disease that enveloped them. Some thought by simply touching a homosexual one could contract the disease; no one knew for sure, if by touched, by saliva, by air, by the sexual act itself transmitted the contamination of death. In Boccacio’s time, however, the variants strains of the plague were transmitted in this manner . Nevertheless, the psychology of fear was the same, some groups and persons used this opportunity to increase divisiveness with the “marginalized” communities.

In addition to this divisiveness, the culture of fear meted out another layer of ostracism. A gulf of separation by the “hegemonic,” “normative” community was necessary for the co-option of the mundane, the Middle American, into “behaving” properly in order to maintain order. And yet! AIDS spread into the heterosexual community cross contaminating through blood transfusions and sexual activity. The befoulment of AIDS and the Black Death contributed, handling of bodies and their fluid aided the spreading of the disease faster. It took the “bravery” of an all American boy, Ryan White, to bring the sanity to the consciousness of Americans.

 

This all American boy returned and reminded a nation of its compassion. He, Ryan White, reminded the public that not everything was simple as a card game, but had areas of grays, not merely black and white. He reminded a nation of their own children, and that tragedies of life are more complex and that their quantity for wanting their nakedness of gratification, the raw moment, was populated with people.

Real people are not a hand of cards to be tossed away, nor are they pawns (used in chess for basic moves), but are complex and each of them are the kings and queens of their own destiny. In Decameron, this too was true, it took the literacy of the elite to understand the walls in which they hid behind was their own ignorance, and in America it took the en masse media to embrace and remind Americans of their greatest treasure—their children and their propagation of future hope. The solution may seem different, but they are the same. The educated elite of the Decameron help transfer fear into providence; in that, they found their own treasure and light to traverse their darkest of times. While an educated American public restored the calm of civility in order to treat each other well. And, as in all things, the experience of time shunted (collapses) the impatience of fear; as a youthful, misguided, and raucous impertinent behavior that is attributed to lack of understanding and that of the inexperienced and the unexplainable—the mystical awe—became swallowed by the measure of time as those who become more seasoned prevailed as their wisdom recollected the words of Dante, from the mouth of Beatrice,

 

Know then, O waiting and compassionate soul,
that is to
fear which has the power to harm,
and nothing else is fearful even in
Hell….

These words were later reshaped by one of our nation’s great stewards, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” and so it goes the mature adult, upon reflection of history, and the wisdom of practical experiences versus theories and philosophies of life's games are exposed. These experiences provide truths that are not ruled by the cards, but by the complexities of a more complex game called chess. And as for me, though I did not understand all the tragedies of AIDS epidemic, at the time, I some how muddled through the crises and found balance; it might had been the early exposure from my mom and her calmness when she reported the death of her bassist, or it simply might had been stoic leadership of a great man that led us through many crises during the 1980’s, with his compassion and wisdom, once again that man was President Ronald Reagan. Nevertheless, for whatever reason for my clarity, there was a greater shade of gray as I lived through “biological crisis” of the 1980’s and I realize the complexity of life’s game is not that of cards, but of chess….End notes

1 The obvious reasons for attending school late in life for most adults are for economic reasons, but as one goes through experience of university, there are opportunities to challenge one’s ideals and perspectives, but the experiences of life gives credence to the validation or refutation of theories of philosophy.2 A Reference to Lucretius’s philosophy, who felt that, a person’s existence merely, was that of the material world and saw that worrying about those things outside of the self –meaningless.

3 Greek Philosopher, Cleanthes, spoke of life’s trials, in form of playing cards metaphor. He also used the analogy of the play to explain his philosophical point. To understand, to appreciate the card game, the hand that has been dealt in life, and to seek reference within the hand, and understand our place in the consequence of the play of life. Probable first reference for Shakespeare’s oft quoted, “All the world a stage.”

4 By on par, I mean, “on average” a person’s life has tragedies, but also joys and celebrations; which seems in the short term, like an euphoric high or a devastating loss that can be, upon reflection, the tribulations of life’s journey.

5 One may assume, I mean the accumulation of knowledge, but I literally mean the evolvement of it. Like in evolution, knowledge can be observed as trials and errors. In essence, either knowledge is true or false. In evolution, either the life works within the frame that helps create it, or it does not and it fails. Think of it this way, knowledge let’s move forward or backward, build or deconstruct the culture in the same way evolution establishes a foot hold, thus allowing the knowledge to build or branch off into new undiscovered knowledge, which then allows for more trails or errors.

6 Petrarch, in his story, Mount Ventaux, thought so. He describes his ascent with Gherado, his brother, who took the shorter route as he traversed the long circuitous path.

7 My professor Kurt Pond reminded me that the satisfaction of experience contributes to the mature adult.

8 In the 1970’s, the decade was considered to be that of “free love”; sexuality or sex was deemed “cost free” or “consequence free,” for women with the advent of the birth control pill reaching mass production, and the access to have an abortion gave women the power over the bodies. From the religious conservative view, promiscuity was rampant, even salacious to the extreme. In the US, by the end of 1980’s, a correction had resulted in the return to its puritanical roots regarding sexuality, while in Europe a maturing realization of its own sexual identity became an underlying temperament.

9 Equal Rights Amendment which failed, seeking the equalization of woman in not only in liberties, but in status and in pay, and was supposed to be the establishment of women’s self sovereignty. However, as a result, though many aspects equality are still muted, the shift in women obtaining power and money has been radicalized many times to their benefit since the 1970’s.

10 In a unpublished work by Jack David Eller, Culture to the Ultimate: The Anthropological Study of Religion, he discourses on the fundamentalists movements of the 1970’s, he describes the rise of Orthodox movement, from the right-wing Likud party elected in Israel in 1977, in 1979 Moral Majority founded, and the Islamic Revolution under Khomeini took hold, these movements signaled a shift in the planetary consciousness. In the years that followed, the fundamentalist movement gained political clout as the militancy Islamic grew. (source Jack David Eller unpublished book, page 145…I understand from the author it will be published soon.

11 As a young adult, I voted for him in the mid 1980’s, but I did not always agree with him. I voted for the man, not his issues, I disagreed with perspective on abortion, but I felt strongly that government should always remain limited. Government should be an indicator of the people’s will, and that regulations, laws, should pointers of the people’s desire. Not instruction of how to behave, or how to act. Ronald Reagan for me upon reflection communicated the charisma, the imagery of the US, and its beacon of hope of the experiment of light the US proclaims.

12 One of the most divisive social mores of the twentieth century and beyond, has been the controversy of sexual liberty, the definition of nature verses behavior, and the right of the person to chose their sexual identity, or the person inherited, meaning heredity choice, being born with, their sexual identity coded in the person. For me the argument is mute, whether born or inherited why a person chooses a particular style of life is their enumerated right and condemnation of such choices are against the society of men, and his right to exist as a free individual.

13 This is a paraphrase of oft quoted remarks from Karl Marx, that, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

14 There seems to be a dispute of who first said this first, between Imhotep born a few thousands years before, or in the Christian gospels written in the majority by St. Paul. In any event, it is public domain and now clichéd reference to “enjoy the moment.”

15 According to the Decameron Web site, the scientific causes came in four shapes; the bubonic (which is insect related) and was the most common, and did not transfer human to human, while the pneumonic plague was contracted during the winter and affected the respiratory system, and the other two; although rare, were 100% fatal, because the septicemic and enteric plagues respectively affected the digestive and blood systems. Cited from the Decameron Website:

http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/plague/causes/sci_causes.shtml.

16 This term was created what by the political activists considered the oppressed minorities, in that, societal state of affairs “marginalized” their conditions for success. These groups, homosexuals, Hispanics, and black communities became shunned.

17 A young man, named Ryan White, enabled Americans to get over their fears and start doing hard research enabling the government to better understand the causes and infection rates. This critical mass moment seemingly somehow reached the underpinnings of the dominated. He represented everything that they were and also everything that “marginalized” communities were not. He was them, and by ill fortune, he had received the disease.

The Story of Aeneas

December 1, 2005

We Must Remain Stoic

Introduction:

As some of you know, I am attending a local community college here in Denver for my core requirements for my eventuated master’s degree in International Business Relations. Part of that requirement is a taking humanities course in World Literature; and so it goes, elements of the paper require me to follow a certain criteria: revealing of personal narrative, compare present and past cultural or social events, and at least two quotations from media events as well as at least two text quotes from class readings assignments. I have also noticed, if the paper has a slant to the left better the grade; and, so it goes, my latest musings….

I have a catch phrase, “It just another day in paradise,” when I am asked how am I doing. Granted it is also a sappy Phil Collin’s song, but the meaning of my moods, attitudes, and perspectives are communicated quite well. Sometimes, when asked by perfect strangers the aforementioned question and my previously report response, our eyes will meet, and nothing more needs to be said. It is not a code phrase for a liberal, or a conservative, or even an empathetic minority. No these words go beyond contrivance, they are understood, and are at the deepest of level, that I, and we are to appreciate what we have in the here and now. In many aspects, my friends often hear this off the cuff response, and they know I am doing “fine,”—well even. That I am taking the world day by day; neither good or bad; it is what it is; the nature of things[1]; and, this by definition, they know that I am being stoic[2]; at least on a base level anyway.

So, when I said to a classmate, one of the most influential statements in class this semester was, “I know that I do not know,” this base philosophy surprised her, coming from me. And yes, I agree it is. But in the last fifteen years of my life, I have struggled to name the day to day of what my subsistence has been, my dhukka [3], my burden, my suffering way of life; has led me to this liminal[4] moment in my life.

Let me explain, for many a year it was okay for me to simply go to work and go home. Sometimes, I go out with friends, or on a date, or go out on a vacation. But as Marcus Aurelius posited,

“How small a part of boundless and unfathomable time is assigned to every man? For it is very soon swallowed up in the eternal.”[5]

In other words, life is short, and time is all too brief and yet seems all too grand to be examined. In essence, we are a tiny speck in the universe and our brief moment of existence is infinitesimal to the web of life. And thus, he goes on and says,

“And how small a part of the whole small part of substance? And a small part of the universal soul? And on what a small clod of the whole earth you creep?”[6]

Thus Aurelius indicates, that we are mere mortal beings within a vast cosmos, and it is our pietas[7], our fate, to live within the greatness of it, and thus, Aurelius concludes,

“Reflecting on all this consider (sic) nothing to be great, except to act as your nature leads you, and to endure that which the common nature brings.”[8]

Which places my sentiment of my past self, to merely be satisfied, to stew within my own restlessness and angst, only to be deconstructed in my life’s turmoil, and in a sense, I am and was the lost tragic stoic figure. I craved for more of the same, but was dissatisfied[9], never sure of which level to be at, only to find acceptance within a small parcel of my world, physically in space-time and mentally against the laws of Maya.[10] I know that I do not know, and that is okay. My life today confronts the esoteric and brings clarity, simply, because it is time do so and my own personal history has shone me.

Therefore there are times within history, such as in the story of The Aeneid, by Virgil, for instance, that the vehicles of expression are used to tell the story of a fallen Troy and the resurrection of its leaders; coming out of the flames and ashes with Phoenix wings spread over the known world of the time, the death of Troy is transformed into a rebirth of a new civilization called Rome. Thus, through metaphor my own personal narrative has embarked on its own redemptions, through ashes and fire, I understand the redefinition of the self; and, I see similarities to the story of The Aeneid.

Not in the heroic or epic sense, but similar through the use of The Aeneid’s allegories, parables, and histories to tell the narrative of life’s of stoicisms. In the case of Aeneas, the main protagonist of The Aeneid, the author Virgil, uses symbols and myths to convey and reveal the origins of Rome and the characters who founded it. In brief, the story of The Aeneid is an accounting of the trials and tribulations[11] and by the way of example The Aeneid’s story arc illustrates the gravitas and philosophy of stoicism.

The story begins after the fall of Troy and the perilous voyage of the Trojans citizens arriving with their storm battered ships on the shores of Carthage. In the descriptive words of Virgil,he narrates how the people of Teucrian stock[12] were brought down by their overconfidence[13], the judgment of Paris[14], and the cleverness of the Spartans. Aeneas, the leader of the refugees, is visited by his mother, Venus, to tell him that not to worry that he has arrived in land that will welcome him and his fellow Trojans. He, Aeneas, before the escape from Troy had lost many friends including his wife, Creusa, as well as during the voyage (See the history of the American pilgrim as a corollary as they fled religious persecution from the Church of England). With great pietas, however, Aeneas continued on through his tragedies and triumphs with urging of his gods and the resiliency of his heart.[15] He understands that he must push forward for not only himself, but for his son—Ascanius. This is his stoic moment. Not because he is nobly sacrificing himself for his son, but he knows that the steady path will lead him to his redemption and salvation.

In book two, he, Aeneas, tells Dido, the queen of Carthage, of his fated Troy (some might say similar to the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11 equals the emotionalism of the Trojan’s demise)[16], and the losses he suffered. As the story unfolds her compassion grows and she falls in love with him, with the aid of Venus, Aeneas’s mother, and her other son Cupid. However, unlike Aeneas, Dido’s past demises had left her jaded and emotional, because of her first husband’s death at the hand of her brother Pygmalion. She never truly resolved the issues of life’s cards being dealt to her[17] and so, in book VI of the Aeneid, Virgil shows her ultimate dysfunction with her suicide in a “conversation” with Aeneas. So embittered she is with her life, she cannot see beyond the hanging stone above her head[18].

In contrast, although Aeneas is spurned on by his gods to conclude his destiny and leave Carthage for his descendents in order to found Rome, he is almost monolithic in his rationality. But interestingly, as the story swells, Aeneas is aided by the Sibyl of Cummae, a prophetess, that provides the consistency for his stoicism; she fills the bill, in that, the old adage “behind every great man there is woman,” establishes her as the best of political advisers. Such advisers tactfully guide and empower their leaders, and yet refrain from gleaning for the power for themselves, they understand their role. Inauspiciously, there are those, such as Karl Rove[19], who have failed to understand their role. But, Sybil of Cummae steady gaze of “seeing” gives the protagonist, Aeneas, the resolve to come to terms with his past transgressions and move forward, admit mistakes. This, of course, is the difference between arrogance of thinking that you know what is best and ruling through righteous leadership, and Sybil understands that difference as an adviser.

Unfortunately, such advisers in the current political atmosphere are unavailable, because of present histrionics of days gone by within the United States does not allow for admission of errors. The atmosphere of polarization and absolutism shunts us, and leads us to ill advised ideals, such rallying words that “we must stay resolute,” “never surrender,” “by admitting such; we show our infirmities,” according to the supporters of White House policy, never having to admit wrongness, despite evidence to the contrary, “be lost in emotion of the past,” they advocate through words of implication, “and continue the rage of anger, never forget the fear of our darkest day—9/11 and be soothed with our righteous mission;” only brings harm to our just cause of redemption and salvation.

Hence, we continue the see the world through Tantalus’s eyes. These are the arguments for “staying the course” is also mistakenly seen as being stoic, and sometimes reified as the same as “being resolute.” Though similar in definition, the philosophy of stoicism requires more. It requires for us to be adaptable and flexible; stoicism requires us to be honest with ourselves, to confront life head on, and understand the trails of life, the highest joys, and the lowest moments, is the nature of things.

So when I say, “that it just another day in paradise,” I am demonstrating my own brand of stoicism and I am rightly adapting to the cards being dealt to me in life. And as for the current political environs, if we are to survive as nation, we must learn to adapt to the trials and tribulations of life. “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility” must remain stoic in order to secure our Liberty[20] to retain our ability to protest, to dissent, to acquiesce from authority, whether from the ability of a free press or the right rebel against injustice of might, America must remain the beacon of hope for the world. This noble experiment of light must not ever be extinguished.

Footnotes

[1] This is a reference to Lucretius’s philosophy see The Bedford Anthology of World Literature Vol. 1, pages 785-787.
[2] In being stoic, I have surrendered to the complexity of life. I understand that the challenges before and after me are just that, challenges; inasmuch, that I continue to reach for them is also part of stoicism. In learning this distinction, in striving to a better existence, I have changed from merely survival, to the attainment of continuity through enlightenment of “being” within the moment. There is a difference…
[3] This is a Hindu-Indian word for suffering, but it is also has a layered meaning, in that. the soul of the individual also suffers, both spiritually in the emotional sense, as well as the physical sense.
[4] In earlier papers, I have discussed and defined this word as to mean—transition. Victor Turner, famed anthropologist, first used this word. He sought a way to describe the moment within the transition of a culture, of an individual, or a civilization, crossing the threshold to a new beginning. The action itself, in a sense, is a “mystical moment,” whether long or short lived the moment of “liminality” becoming exorcised through both perception and perceptual growth of the event
[5] This quote is from Marcus Aurelius works called the Meditations, to what the editors of “The Bedford Anthology of World Literature” Vol. 1 refers to as a spiritual diary, see pages 1639-1642. The excerpts in the next following lines are from Book XII, paragraph 32 (see the bottom of 1641 and top of 1642).
[6] See previous note.
[7] Pietas –as defined, it is our duty, our obligation to appreciate the moments of triumphs and darkness within the short certainty of life. To understand the duty and honor for the sake of family, friends, and compatriot in arms gives meaning to one’s existence.
[8][8] See footnote 5. In essence, life’s journey is long, if your lucky, living the past is riddled with what could have been, is to defeat the spiritual journey of the self. It is the day to day that is enduring, and knowing when to celebrate. All clichéd—yes, but the element of truth within allegories, metaphors, and clichés births the epiphany when the spirit can crossover from understanding it to transcending it.
[9] Put another way, as Lucretius describes the Faustian nature of the human drive, before Christopher Marlowe set paper to pen. Lucretius, eloquently states, “…no one knowing what he really wants and everyone forever trying to get away from where he is, as though mere locomotion could throw off the load. Often the owner of some stately mansion, bored stiff by staying at home, takes his departure, only to return as speedily when he feels himself no better off out of doors…” In essence, we are so busy worrying about trivialities that, we forget to simply stop and enjoy the moment of the “now.” The materials we collect along the way brings for the providence of our true nature—the journey of self-discovery. (See The Bedford Anthology of World Literature Vol. 1, pages 786-788, specifically in the edited version, last paragraph).
[10] Maya is the Hindu/Buddha deity of delusion.
[11] In the political arena of today, describes America’s action in the War on Terror as “resolute,” uncompromising, and even stoic. In that, there are “good times,” “bad times,” even “horrific times,” but we muddle through and “stay the course” in order to have victory, although it may take a lifetime to win.
[12] Reference the founder of Troy, King Teucer, who descendents became the Trojans.
[13] By “overconfidence,” I mean that the Trojans, after years of war with Spartans, they ignored not only their Laocoon, their priest, but their prophetess (by designed of the gods), in foretelling the fate of Troy.
[14] Prior to the fall of Troy, Paris, the son of King Priam, had judged a beauty contest between Helen, wife King Menelaus of Spartan, the queen of the gods Juno, and the Venus. Venus promises Helen’s heart as a bribe for Paris, if he judged her well. He did so. Thus, began the fall of Troy, when Paris led with his heart and chose unbridled passion, and received the curse of Juno.
[15] On a personal note, I understand such loss, my grandmother, grandfather, on my mother side, and my father, who died of cancer. The closet of which was my grandmother, in many ways, her spirit (she died fifteen years ago) lives on within me. She was the “lightning bolt” (a reference to Zeus/Jupiter being the god of lightening and thunder) who inspired my sense of righteousness. Zeus, according to Edith Hamilton, role changed over time from the impetuous god who spread his “seed” to mortal women and his vengeance, he later became the deity for justice transforming him into a god who is more temperate and just.
[16] In many respects, the Twin Towers were the symbols of Western-American culture successes and triumphs. They were one of the beacons of system that represented capitalism and democracy. They were the gates of free expression and liberty that the barbarians demolished as they clamored through.
[17] Cleanthes, the founder of stoicism, discourses on how one “must act out his or her part in the best way possible,” despite the trials and tribulations and eventuated “outcome.” Essentially deal with the “cards” dealt. (See page 1636, in The Bedford Anthology of World Literature, vol. 1).
[18] Dido had become like a ground swell of emotion, being overwhelmed in emotionality, and like Tantalus, used as the example of Lucretius, Dido has been swept away in the maze of chaotic irrationality, instead of living in the here and now. (See pages 785-788 of The Bedford Anthology of World Literature, vol. 1)
[19] Karl Rove is president political advisor of President George W. Bush, and reifies the work of Niccolo Machiavelli in The Prince, who seems to worship the machinations as form of ministry to adhere to.
[20] Of the italicized words, in the last sentence, there are no more powerful words than these from the introduction of our United States Constitution. See the US Constitution as the reference.