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H2O Man

(73,723 posts)
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 11:07 AM Dec 2015

Mid-Night Essay

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you, but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you
Cannot visit, even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them
Like you,
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows
Are sent forth.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
-- Kahlil Gibran

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since the horrors of the Sandy Hook elementary school, in Connecticut. It is really a shame that children have to worry about outbreaks of violence in schools. Or, their communities. Or homes.

This makes me think about children around the world, and how for many of them, high levels of violence have been occurring for decades. Even generations. And what impact all that horror has upon the survivors’ lives.

I think about how angry many adults become, after some of these terrible events, where they are ready, even eager, to send other people’s young adult children to distant lands, to kill or be killed. Even after most military leaders note that ISIS, for example, cannot simply be defeated by violence. Yet no “leaders” speak about what, other than violence, is required.

Many people recognize that no innocent people should be exposed to terrible violence, especially not children. Yet again, few “leaders” speak of non-violent dispute resolution -- and those few who do, are viewed as “unrealistic” or “weak.” As if there is anything “realistic” about trying to destroy an ideology of violent hatred with more violent hatred.

I think of Senator Robert Kennedy’s favorite Albert Camus quote, which in so many ways sums up Kennedy’s 1968 run for the presidency:

“We are faced with evil. I feel rather like Augustine did before becoming a Christian when he said, ‘I tried to find the source of evil and I got nowhere. But it is also true that I and a few others knew what must be done if not to reduce evil at least not to add to it.’ Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you believers don’t help us, who else in this world can help us do this?”

Tonight, many of us will be watching the republican debates for their party’s nomination for president. How very different it will be from RFK’s 1968 campaign message. The nonsense that will be spouted from these candidates is not the source of all evil, of course; rather, it is a byproduct of generations of it, one that continues the cycle by planting seeds of hatred. Yet, Americans will watch both the debate, and the news cycles that follow.

Maybe our culture should listen to children. Perhaps it is no coincidence that enlightened people throughout history have noted that true wisdom comes from the mouths of little children. Or that those societies that place the greatest value on children reach a higher status than those who do not.

17 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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Mid-Night Essay (Original Post) H2O Man Dec 2015 OP
As the father of four I get what you wrote. panader0 Dec 2015 #1
Thank you. H2O Man Dec 2015 #6
I think your OP could use this - DURHAM D Dec 2015 #2
Sweet Honey in the Rock is possibly the most powerful group of female singers ever Hekate Dec 2015 #3
I wasn't familiar H2O Man Dec 2015 #8
Much appreciated! H2O Man Dec 2015 #7
Great composition...you get an "A" libdem4life Dec 2015 #4
More and more H2O Man Dec 2015 #10
I remember, however, the idealism of the Boomers. We were going to stop wars and libdem4life Dec 2015 #11
Valid, important points. H2O Man Dec 2015 #12
.... libdem4life Dec 2015 #13
Kick and Rec, H2O Man Hekate Dec 2015 #5
Thank you! H2O Man Dec 2015 #14
Thank You Martin Eden Dec 2015 #9
Thanks, Martin Eden! H2O Man Dec 2015 #15
No easy solutions what to do (or not do) about ISIS Martin Eden Dec 2015 #16
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows Are sent forth. voteearlyvoteoften Dec 2015 #17


(25,816 posts)
1. As the father of four I get what you wrote.
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 11:25 AM
Dec 2015

They have been the best part of my life. I told them when they were small that I had a giant
umbrella of protection over them. I exert that umbrella by dint of psychic flexing. Now that they
are grown and gone, I can tell in a second, by their voice, if they are happy or not. But they are
always happy in the big things.
I love the Gibran quote, and the Camus "if not to reduce evil at least not to add to it."
That reminds me of hearing Ken Kesey speak once in Oregon. He told a story about how he and a friend
had walked into a bar just as a fight was about to begin. His friend walked between the two potential combatants
and holding up a pack of gum said gruffly "You want a piece of gum? You want a piece of gum?"
The spell was broken and the fight averted. Absorb evil if you have the power to do so.

H2O Man

(73,723 posts)
6. Thank you.
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 01:02 PM
Dec 2015

That story reminds me of a true life experience I had years ago. While it wasn't in a bar, it was close .....

My daughters and their mother used to attend a local church. This was in a tiny hamlet a few miles away. I've never been much for attending "services" in either bars nor churches, but one particular Sunday morning, I attended.

After the service, two men began arguing. Their conflict was becoming rather unpleasant, and it upset all of the kids there. Indeed, four girls were crying. So I went over to the pair of men, and eventually got their attention.

"What do you have when a wise man argues with a fool?," I asked. Within a split second, they were totally ignoring me, attempting to keep their backs to me. Thus, as they turned, I kept stepping around, too, and trying to force eye contact.

Eventually one, who I'll call "Paul" (as it is his name), turned to me and snarled, "I don't know, Pat. What do you get?"

I said, "Two fools."

The pair again turned away from me, and to each other, to argue. But no words came out. Finally, Paul turned towards me, with an angry sneer on his mug.

"Now, that's just something Rubin told me," I explained. "I'm not suggesting either of you are 'wise men.' No offense intended."

Paul laughed. The other gentleman did not. But the fight ceased for the moment.

I had done the work to get that church on the NYS and national historical registers. But it is closed now. I've heard that some of the Amish that have moved into the area are thinking of buying it. That would be a good thing.


(91,181 posts)
3. Sweet Honey in the Rock is possibly the most powerful group of female singers ever
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 12:36 PM
Dec 2015

That's a beautiful piece. Thank you.

H2O Man

(73,723 posts)
8. I wasn't familiar
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 01:04 PM
Dec 2015

with them, until now. That's one of the things that I really like about DU -- one can learn something "new" here!



(13,877 posts)
4. Great composition...you get an "A"
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 12:37 PM
Dec 2015

We are fast becoming a banana republic...3rd world country politically...and financially insolvent many times over. We are already an oligarchy to some extent...say in it up to our knees.

The billionaires and those politicians that are indebted...those they buy ... Are the Oligarchy. They only buy/donate to those that will do their bidding and give them the return on their investment. That's business politics. The two-party system is a sham. They give to both sides so both sides have to march to their drum.

Oligarchy (from Greek ὀ??????ί? (oligarkhía); from ὀ?ί??? (olígos), meaning "few", and ἄ??? (arkho), meaning "to rule or to command&quot [1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.

The choice...far more important than any other...is which way this country wants to go. Further down the road of this oligarchy (i.e. ignorance)...because in 8 years it will likely be a done deal...or to scratch and crawl back to some form of democracy where people "buy" with their votes. (Who can remember when that was?)

I'm pretty pessimistic and feel like the Oligarchy will win. It's too complex for most to see beyond gay rights, abortion, war ... visceral emotions ... rather than measured and reasoned intellectual discussion and education. Admittedly that is "boring" compared to the emotions currently aroused and poised to fight over.

Bernie's main platform is getting us out of the SCOTUS/Billionaire/anti-voting rights millieu. That's why not only is he not being covered by the press, but he doesn't offer the feel-good, political pandering of throwing out the above mentioned "bones" for the peasants to fight over.

H2O Man

(73,723 posts)
10. More and more
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 02:04 PM
Dec 2015

frequently, when I watch the "news," I find myself remembering the lessons that the Elders taught when I was a kid. And while my childhood was violent and damaging, I find myself thinking about how much worse so many children have it today. Now, I do not discount the many good things that lots of youngsters experience these days -- not everything is bleak. But, in the national sense, there are way too many bad things.

I agree that our society is an oligarchy. We are in the transformation from the industrial era that created a "middle class" post-WW2, to a high-tech feudal society. Among the "upper class," there are far too many who really do not care -- at all -- about the nation's children, much less those of other lands.

Yet, most of the time, I do not feel pessimistic. What is happening today is a consequence of what took place yesterday, and I've learned that for many people, true compassion and empathy only takes place at times of large, tragic events. This isn't good, and it sure as heck isn't "fair" -- but human nature in the context of high-tech feudalism can be distinct from human behavior in other contexts.

Still, I maintain hope. This isn't a Polly-anna-ish attempt to bury my head in the sand, a belief that a Power will come out of the sky to save us, or faith that a "leader" will solve our problems. It is because of the goodness I see in children and youth.



(13,877 posts)
11. I remember, however, the idealism of the Boomers. We were going to stop wars and
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 02:30 PM
Dec 2015

move to Peace and Love. We were young then, driving used VW buses (Don't come knockin' if this bus is rockin&quot with peace signs and flowers in our hair. In context, all was well. Education (at least in California) was cheap or free, if you got a college degree you were almost assured of a good job. Healthcare wasn't even on our radar. We had been brought up by the I Like Ike folk to believe all was well, there was plenty, and those who did not have much...well that was their problem. You just had to try harder.

But the Boomers are now in power, and our kids and grand kids have the same sense of entitlement that goes with the majority culture of their time. Now they need an expensive Master's Degree to go into major debt, instead of buying a house. And they Maybe they will get a job, which is why probably the feds will at least supplement K-16 schooling. And everything cultural has been notched up a few decibels.

Not disagreeing with you, but also hoping for the best. I am optimistic that the youth voting for Bernie see that and that this may very well be their time to take charge as a demographic to fight the oligarchy tide.

H2O Man

(73,723 posts)
12. Valid, important points.
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 03:46 PM
Dec 2015

I appreciate you making the points that you are …..and in no manner do I view them as disagreeing, much less arguing. The best aspect of DU:GD is when people discuss various ideas and insights -- and I do include when people do disagree respectfully. For it is rare indeed when there is only one “correct” way of seeing or doing things. More often, there aren’t really “right” or “wrong” opinions, anyhow ….though I do admit that I tend to value the thoughts of those forum members who lived through the 1960s- early ‘70s.

Tonight, when I get home to watch the debate, there will be two teenagers, one person in her 20s, one in his 30s, and two of us Old Folks. The oldest is a good friend who, back in the day, was associated with the Weathermen. Today, he is a doctor, as is his wife; they live a quiet life, raising a teenaged daughter. He is an active member in the Democratic Party -- especially at the town and county level -- and a stronger supporter of Senator Sanders.

I think that John Lennon was correct, circa 1973, when he said that the sixties were a premonition of the future. This was a while after Nixon beat McGovern, a truly discouraging chapter in American history. While I was never a “hippie” (I subscribed to YIPPIE! Philosophy, most of the time), the majority of my close friends and associates were. It wouldn’t be for a couple more decades that I came to recognize that gentleness is the greatest of strengths.

Some folks who were hippies raised their children in what they mistook for the best of ways. But they raised children with an oversized sense of entitlement, a lack of ability to deal with frustrations, and a wholly unrealistic view of what life held for them. Thus, there are lots of “kids” in their 30s and 40s, who had a hard time after college, when they found they weren’t great athletes, famous musicians, or other dreams they had.

I like to look at percentages. Because no generation is entirely “good” or “bad” -- the same generation that produced the hippies produced George W. Bush. But the percentage of young folks who are good, realistic, self-disciplined, and have a social conscience is encouraging. They are the best hope for the future ….maybe the only hope for humanity, at this point.

Anyhow, I ramble ….as I tend to do, on topics that interest me! Off to pick up my youngest daughter at college. It’s the end of her first semester. (The first club she joined was “Students for Bernie.”) Again, thank you!

Martin Eden

(12,894 posts)
9. Thank You
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 01:17 PM
Dec 2015

Thank you for those quotes and for cutting through all the chaotic noise to the human heart of the issue.

Violence breeds violence.

Grief and rage will find expression in more violence unless we choose to end the vicious cycle by mastering what we do with what is in our hearts.

H2O Man

(73,723 posts)
15. Thanks, Martin Eden!
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 04:10 PM
Dec 2015

I wonder how anyone could think that by increasing our violence aimed at ISIS, for example, there could possibly be any other outcome, than more youths there -- and here -- turning towards violence. As a form of dispute resolution, it can never end the cycle, only fuel it.

Martin Eden

(12,894 posts)
16. No easy solutions what to do (or not do) about ISIS
Tue Dec 15, 2015, 11:19 PM
Dec 2015

I think nearly everyone can agree ISIS is an unmitigated evil. My greatest concern is for the people living in territory ISIS controls, for people living in terror, for those killed and their surviving family members.

ISIS is the direct result of war crimes committed by the United States, in a war of choice based on lies. Human beings are suffering the unintended (or perhaps intended?) consequences of the violence we elected to inflict. We are responsible for this, but I have almost no confidence that any action we are likely to take will have any effect other than perpetuating the cycle of violence.

We are responsible for this. Is doing nothing the most responsible thing we can do?

In a better world, if such atrocities can occur in a better world, there would be a genuine United Nations with the capability, the will, and the mandate to intervene to take decisive action in humanitarian disasters. Although fundamentally different on many levels, I cite the example of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Does the world have a moral imperative to take action to stop such an atrocity, and can any action lacking military force be effective in that kind of situation?

I'm talking about one million, two million soldiers representing the overwhelming will of the united nations of Earth with all the necessary resources to defeat the forces of terror, supply all the humanitarian aid that is needed, and work with the people who live there to establish a stable government and an economy that will benefit the indigenous population rather than multinational corporations seeking to take rather than provide.

Sadly and most unfortunately, the better world I described with truly united nations acting together to advance a better future for our common humanity does not exist.

No easy answers, and the atrocities go on. When the most likely effect of any military action is to perpetuate the cycle of violence, the more responsible course is to cease engaging in violence.


(1,716 posts)
17. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows Are sent forth.
Wed Dec 16, 2015, 07:28 AM
Dec 2015

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you....

Thank you for reminding me of this idea. It is powerful.

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