“It has always seemed strange to me…the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.” ~ John Steinbeck
I love his writings, but I don’t care about these traits of success and failure according-to-Steinbeck. His life was kind of a wreck (as opposed to my life of lucky charms), and if you’ve read anything by him, you see his books reflected that. Somehow I think he’s right, however, and this is as frightening an idea as any. Maybe the key words in his quote are “in our system.” But whose system is “ours”? Americans? Humans?
I’ve created new links (look to the list at the left) and am going to be adding more new links promoting compassion – to embody that same kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling Steinbeck mentioned – regardless of the reversal of the deliberate desire for moneycoin fortune and deliberate shrugging-off of the complacency and comfort necessary to truly become involved in the art of the philanthropist.
As the weeks go by I will be compiling all kinds of things into the Great Big Bank of Karma. Maybe I’ll duplicate it as a tab over here, in spite of the lack of confidence on Steinbeck’s part that these kindnesses can ever be traits of success.
When Jonah was a baby, I envisioned bringing him into my world of commie pinko do-gooder bleeding heartedness…of keeping him at my side as we served food at soup kitchens and put quarters into meters and handed out flowers to lonely folk, bringing arts & crafts toys to kids in hospitals, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, hanging out with veterans at the VA hospital… Oh, I had all kinds of notions and ideas. He’d grow up learning to give back, to be a good, loving, thinking, compassionate man.
It was one of the hardest illusions to have to watch fade before my eyes — and one I want to re-embrace, if only on my own for now. Maybe all is not lost – if we are able to mitigate Jonah’s aggressions to the point of nonexistence (or close to it), maybe as a teen or young adult I could try to bring him with me and we can do somethings to help somebodies somewheres. I will not die feeling as though I’ve never done anything of significance – and if I can’t teach it to my Boo, I can live it. Andy does a lot of soup kitchen work (and God knows what else he doesn’t tell me about) where he lives. He can’t bring Jonah along either, of course. But we can do what we can do in his name, in honor of Boo, so to speak.
For now I watch my boy hurt instead of help others. It is a frustrating turn of fate — like when my Fox-watching conservative mother adopted a baby girl who turned hippie. Lo siento, madre.
So Andy brought Jonah up to see me and my mom yesterday. Jonah wanted this and that, all kinds of things to eat and do. My mom’s next door neighbors were away and kindly offered us the use of their pool once again. This time I took video, and upgraded my account so I can imbed it…somehow…I think. Let me try. The auspiciously cool thing about it is he dived a few times during the 3 1/2 minute video, which he hasn’t been doing much lately:
“…and the music of the pearl drifted to a whisper and disappeared.” ~ The Pearl by John Steinbeck