Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections in an Empty House

The house is temporarily free of revelers whose annual holiday intrusions are insistently spent in an inebriated state of mind. Needless to say not much writing has been completed over the last two weeks. Officially the year end festivities will cease this evening, but I'm longing to resume writing and find the tranquility of a currently quiet home inspiring. The solitude is shared only by Clio, the proclaiming Muse, whose scroll dictates the order of my post.

Before continuing with the promised reflection on The 1913 Armory Show, I wanted to share an observation my daughter made over dinner during the holidays. We were dining at our favorite Tampa, Fl, locale: Ceviche. The smells of fresh baked bread, and roasted pork, wharfed the air in an atmosphere like that of a rustic church. Plates of many Spanish tapas were spread across our table: oxtail braised in red wine; roasted peppers stuffed with veil and sausage, topped with a light sherry sauce; and, of course, a plentiful serving of Ceviche De La Casa. My attentions were devoted to sampling the dishes, and sipping glasses of white Sangria, constantly freshened by the ceramic pitcher attended to by a ever observant waiter, when my daughter spoke.

She began a torrent of blaming the nation's current financial woes on college graduate programs offered during the late '70's and early '80's. She insisted the curriculum of the day were too respondent to theoretical teachings and to a concerted ideal that was formulated among many of the leading business schools.

Graduates had come away with a conveniently assessed persuasion that all businesses are entities incapable of conceiving morality. Therefore, a profit organization is only responsible to profitability without consideration of consequence. The new order of these "captains of industry" were then obligated to abide to this creed. My daughter was convinced this illogical thinking had seeped into the psyche of America, and was transparent in the concepts of most corporate ceo's and most political leaders.

When she noticed that I was more responsive to the diner and drink, she stared at me intently before shouting-

"Dad! Their reasoning is psychopathic. Our modern society is being manipulated by teachings that have given rise to sociopath leaders."

The statement caused both me and the waiter- who stood holding the pitcher of wine beside where I sat- a moment to pause and reflect. I then noticed my daughter reaching for her purse. When she pulled out a folded sheet of paper, which she began to unfurl with avid authority, I suspected my dining was to be placed on hold for a while, and decided it was probably a good idea to have the waiter prepare another pitcher of Sangria. I was about to approach him, but his glance indicated my order went without saying, and returned several minutes later to prepare the wine.

She began to read descriptions of the behavior of sociopaths, pausing ever so often to raise her eyebrows, and widen her eyes, as an indication to note the defense of her surmise. When she read that sociopaths never recognize the rights of others, and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible, she again turn her assured expression on me.

"Sound like any of your old Wall Street cronies, dad?"

Actually I could have named a few, but merely suggested she continue.

She then read how sociopaths were pathological liars, with an ability to create complexities about their own powers and abilities.

"Sounds like the spinnings of political pundits, or the false allures of commercial advertising to me, doesn't it?" She offered with another stare.

They lack remorse, and see others around them as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. They have no concern with wrecking others' lives and dreams, and are oblivious to the devastation they cause. They will not accept blame on themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

When she was through she folded the piece of paper and returned it to her purse.

"Today, these attributions are admired by many in competitive vocations, and are consider traits of leadership. It is the root cause of why many industries are failing."

She then clutched her glass of wine.

"Social Darwinism has failed our Republic." She concluded before taking a sip.

I took this as a sign to return to engaging my fork and knife, which I delightfully procured.

"You are not at all alarmed by my observation." She asked.

"No," I responded, "it will change."

She peered across the table, distraughtly, as I continued cutting my food into eatable portions.

"It will turn," I offered, "it always does. This sort of appeal to avarice behavior was evident at the turn of the century; it ended with the great depression. We managed to turn things around, then, and created a sustainable economy that lasted nearly sixty years. America will gain its moral compass. It will come again."

"How?" She asked.

I paused, with fork and knife still firmly gripped in the clutch of each hand.

"Well, your young and ambitious, and you've observed this national character flaw. Do you honestly think you're alone with your observation? It may correct with the guidance of your generation, perhaps. Still, it will change. In the long run people become bored with immorality and self-serving acts."

She smiled.

"Finish you dinner, dad!

I need to begin preparing for the last evening of a ever disappointing decade, and anxiously anticipate the last dance of 2010. My resolution for the new year is to work with the people, to treat the insanity that is slowly eroding the wealth of the middle class, and discouraging the dreams and efforts of some many aspiring working class heroes.

Let's mark the new year as the moment in time to begin this goal!

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

Charles Dickens

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