3551– Sunday, August 11, 2019 — Win- Lose or Can Win-Win Save Us?

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Here is a question for you.  It deals with the following hypothetical situation.

You are at a garage sale.  You do not know the seller.  You spot a vase that he/she has marked for sale. The price is $5 US dollars.  However, you suddenly realize that it is an ancient antique Chinese vase and you know that it is worth at least $50,000 US dollars.  What do you do?

  1. Buy the vase for $5 dollars and sell it for as much as you can.
  2. Tell the buyer that the vase is worth at least $50,000 dollars.

I have asked many people this question.   A good friend of mine says he would tell the seller.  He maintains that honesty and not taking advantage of people is the right thing to do.  Another gentleman, whom I met at my three-day Jesuit retreat this year, proudly told me that it is a case of Caveat Emptor.  He would buy the vase for five dollars and sell it for at least $50,000 dollars.  Just as an aside, my friend who would tell the seller the value of the vase drives a used pick-up truck which he bought for under $10,000 dollars.  I noticed my acquaintance at the retreat drove off after the retreat in a $75,000-dollar Porsche Cayenne.  Not sure what to make of this contrast but it is interesting.

Many people have taken one side or the other on this issue.  I was running the other day and suddenly I thought “I would buy it for $5 dollars, sell it for $50,000 dollars and then split the $50,000 dollars with the original seller.”  The original seller would be happy, and I would be happy.  I realized that with a little thought, I had come up with a win-win and not a win-lose situation.  I wondered why I had not thought about this solution at first.  No one I had described the situation to had thought about it either.   It made me reflect about a number of battles that I have seen over the years while living in the Wisconsin North Woods.  These “battles” have often become quite acrimonious with a great deal of animosity and bitterness between the combatants.

  1. The battle between Indians and locals over fishing rights.
  2. The battle between snowmobilers and cross-country skiers.
  3. The battle between power boaters and canoers.
  4. The battle between bicyclists and ATV riders.

The most recent battle up here in Northern Wisconsin is over CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Food Operations) versus small family farms.

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In each case, the situation plays out as follows.  1st. We have the hostility between the two groups or sides over some interests or goals.  2nd. We have a town council meeting called to help ameliorate the conflict.  3rd. Each side gets to air their grievances or make their claims for their group at the council meeting.  4th.  The town council comes up with a solution that a:) neither side is happy with or b:) one side wins and the other side loses.  Seldom if ever is there a recourse to a win-win scenario.

Now my ex-wife once explained to me before our divorce that there is not always a win-win solution.  I concede that is the case.  However, I will also argue that all too often we do not sit down with the other side and look for a win-win solution.

Further hampering the problem, is that these issues often become political.  The Governor, Mayor or some other political authority will convene a committee to study the issue.  The committee will seldom be knowledgeable experts or authorities, but instead will consist of a group of people with political influence or with a vested interest in a particular outcome (usually having to do with financial interests.”

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A case in point is the recent committee that was convened by the Governor of Arizona to come up with a DCP (Drought Contingency Plan).  After twenty years of ignoring the water problem in Arizona, the Governor was forced by the Federal Government to come up with a written plan to better manage the dwindling water supply in Arizona.  Arizona’s Governor appointed thirty-eight members to the steering committee.  It was billed as a “bipartisan” committee of citizens with a broad range of perspectives on the water issue in Arizona.  The committee was divided into the following groups:

  • Municipal leaders from cities and public works groups (8 members)
  • Agricultural interests (6 members)
  • Home Builders/Development (5 members)
  • Tribes (3 members)
  • Industrial (1 member)
  • NGO (1 member)
  • Miscellaneous (3 members)
  • Legislative Leadership (4 members)
  • Central Arizona Project Board Champions (2 members)
  • Governor’s Office (2 members)
  • United States Bureau of Reclamation (1 member)

Two co-leaders were selected to run the steering committee.

If you look at the backgrounds of the committee members, you will find mostly managers, lawyers and career politicians.  There is a scattering of individuals with some background in conservation, but they are a small minority.  Fifteen of the committee members are politicians.  What you will not find in any noticeable numbers are biologists, conservationists, environmentalists or ecologists.  The very experts that one would think would be more important to solving a water crisis than for instance five real estate developers.  Speaking of real estate development, after the committee finalized their plan, the Pinal Council for Economic Development stated: “There is no reason to stop economic development in Arizona.  We have plenty of water.”

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Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr said that the plan, far from being groundbreaking, represents another run at “business as usual” for the state.  As the Arizona version of the drought plan is now written, she says it’s propping up what she sees as unsustainable growth and unsustainable farming practices.  Many critics have noted that the plan has little or no conservation component.  It is a plan to subsidize more water drilling in the aquifer.

My contention is that we need win-win solutions.  We cannot ignore economic development, but neither can we ignore our environment.  We cannot sacrifice the future for the present or vice versa, sacrifice the present for the future.  However, the solution to many of our problems requires a win-win format that is not governed by money and political interests.  If our country keeps allowing the politicians and lawyers to make the rules, we are surely headed down the path of oblivion.  There is an anti-intellectualism and anti-science bias in this country which I believe is gradually destroying our ability to make decisions based on science and facts.

“The citizen cannot cease to need or to be at the mercy of experts, but he can achieve a kind of revenge by ridiculing the wild-eyed professor, the irresponsible brain truster, or the mad scientist, and by applauding the politicians as they pursue the subversive teacher, the suspect scientist, or the allegedly treacherous foreign-policy adviser.”  — Richard Hofstadter

 

3559– Saturday, August 3, 2019 – Jesus:  An Untold Story

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My name is Jesus.  The story I am about to tell you is true.  It happened to me one sunny day in June.  I had risen early that morning and my apostles were either out with their fishing or others were still in their beds.  I had been notified the day before that a friend of my grandmother’s was ill and most likely dying.  I decided to visit her and see if there was anything that I could do to ease her suffering.  She was an elderly woman and I doubted whether I could help her very much, but I thought I would at least try.  Her name was Ketziah.  She was named after one of Job’s daughters who was a distant relative.  I had not seen her since I was a little boy.  I remember her as a fun loving and very happy woman.

My journey started out in Nazareth.  Ketziah lived in Cana, a journey of about 10 km.  Walking, slowly, I thought it would take me about 2 hours to arrive there.   I left early to avoid the daytime heat which in June can reach 95 degrees or more.  The road to Cana passes through flat agricultural land and pasture lands.  Dotted with a few olive groves and many flocks of sheep, I was enjoying a quiet reprieve from the usual chatter with my apostles and particularly the throngs that often gathered around me when I preached.

I started to pass through a small rocky outcrop when suddenly a rough bearded man jumped out from behind a large boulder.  “Stop” he yelled.  I greeted him with the traditional greeting of “Shalom.” I asked him what he wanted and how I could be of any help to him.  He replied, “Your money or your life.”  I answered, “I am very sorry stranger, but I have very little money to give you.  I have less than a quarter shekel and I need that to buy lotion for a dying woman.”

“I don’t care about the dead, only the living.  And since I am living, I want whatever money you have, or you will surely forfeit your life today.  If you die, it will be senseless, since I will get your money anyway.”

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I stared at the stranger and suddenly I could see the future.  Our lives were intertwined in ways that I would never have imagined.  I spoke “Stranger, I have the gift of seeing the future.  Some people say that I am a prophet and that when I call upon my Father, he can make things happen.”  I see that you and I will have business together in the future.”

“I do not care about the future or the past, I only care about today.  And today, you are here with some money and I am here with some hunger for food.  I am beginning to tire of this conversation.  You had best decide shortly which is more valuable to you, your money or your life.”

“Stranger, my life is forfeit anyway, for so it has been prophesized.  But your life is hanging in the balance.  If you kill me today.  You will surely lead a short life.  If you let me pass, you will live to an old age, albeit your life will never be a happy one.”

“Friend, you make me laugh.  Are you saying that if I kill you, you will somehow find a way to kill me?”

“No, I am saying that our fortunes are intertwined, and that I will someday give up my life for yours.  If you kill me today, it will never happen, and you will die sooner than you would like.  Your death will be very unpleasant.”

The bandit thought about this situation for several minutes.  What had at first appeared to be a rather risk-less endeavor had now turned into a situation with conceivably frightful consequences.  If this man could really see the future, his own death might depend on what he did at this present moment.  Were the few coins this goy had really worth the chance that killing him might bring his own death?

“I have thought about your words friend and I have decided it is too nice a day to kill you.  I will let you be on your way.  Just remember to be grateful to me for my kindness and offer whatever prayers you can for my long and healthy life.”

“Stranger, I assure you that today, you have saved your own life as well as mine.  We part now but we will meet again.   Please tell me your name before we go our own ways.”

Friend, everyone knows my name.  I am famous far and wide.  I am the spawn of the devil and the bane of rich people throughout the land.  I have taken more shekels from taxpayers and Pharisees and hypocrites than I can count.”

“I am the son of the father.  My name is Barabbas.”

 

3563– Tuesday, July 30, 2019 – Can We Ever Really Find Ourselves?

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Over the years, I have often found myself searching:  Sometimes for my purpose in life, sometimes for the meaning of my life, sometimes for who I really am.  Goals, strategies, plans for my life always seem to revolve around the answers that I find to these questions.  Sometimes these questions seem like fantasies or to paraphrase the famous nihilist philosopher Max Stirner: “Wheels in my Head.”  My wheels spin around and around and around and I wonder if I ever come back to a new place or am I just a hamster on a spinning wheel.

It is very difficult to know anyone else.  I frequently attribute motives and behavior to others based on a very weak assessment of their intent.  We all want to know why someone did something and we assume that if we can only find the right information, we will be able to understand why.  Why did he do this?  Why did she do that?  We are sure the answer must exist.  If only, they had left a note or a manifesto.

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Can we ever learn the real motives of others?  Is it ever possible to walk a mile in anyone else’s shoes?  Do they really know why?  I wonder if it is even possible to know our own selves let alone anyone else.

It is difficult to look into our true selves since a great deal of our ego and self-image is based on skewing the results of what we find.  We paint ourselves as better than we might really be.  We look into a mirror and seldom see how much we have aged.  We look into our hearts and perhaps never see how hard they have become.

I think I am smart and wise, but more often I am just very judgmental.  What seems as a positive trait to me can and does come across as presumptive and derogatory of others.  I prefer to think of myself as intelligent and not judgmental.

I pride myself on being competent.  I always finish what I start.  I believe that I do a good job at everything I do.  But I am dismissive of quitters and I am a perfectionist who looks down at the work of others.  I have very little compassion for people who I think are fuck-ups.  I prefer to think of myself as competent and not compassionless.

I think I am pretty tough.  I am no wimp.  I can take pain, high temperatures, low temperatures, rain or hail and I will slog through the muck and mire with the best of them.  But I am defensive and thin skinned.  It takes very little to rub me the wrong way and then I will launch a withering attack designed to protect myself and preserve my image.  I prefer to anoint myself as tough and not defensive.

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I take no shit from anyone.  I speak my mind.  I voice my concerns and I will defend my positions regardless of who I am dealing with.  Be it boss, client, spouse or friend, I stand up for what I believe.  I often seem angry.  I can be mean, sarcastic and ill-spirited towards friends and foe alike.  I am heedless of when I say things and how I say things.  I am more concerned with being right than understanding what right is.  I prefer to think of myself as a man of integrity and not an angry man.

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I am a very resourceful person.  No matter what the situation, I can usually find a solution to a problem.  I pride myself on being quick thinking and creative.  Pride can lead to intolerance and I am cold to those whom I think are incompetent or who do not measure up to my standards.  I prefer to think of myself as resourceful and not cold-hearted.

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I love creative adventures and delight in coming up with new ideas for places to visit, things to see and events to attend.  I am always on the lookout for novelty and adventure.  Karen lists this as one of the things that she loves about me and how it keeps our relationship interesting.  Talking about places that I have been and things that I have done can be boastful and off-putting to many people.  Who besides Karen and I care that we have been to thirty-three countries?  Seldom, do our children, let alone our friends, want to see all the pictures of the latest trip we have taken.  I prefer to think of myself as adventurous and not boastful.

I pride myself in having a wide range of knowledge about many different subjects.  I read a great deal and I spend a significant amount of time studying and learning about new ideas and new things.  I have always enjoyed being on the forefront of new technology.  To some, I am too opinionated and think I know more than I really do.  Some see my search for knowledge as a way to be superior to other people.  I prefer to think of myself as knowledgeable and not opinionated.

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I think I have a great deal of insight into human nature and I think that I am very tolerant as a result of these insights.  Nevertheless, there seems to be a large group of people who think I am intolerant of their views and opinions.  I am often seen as too opinionated and dismissive of contrary viewpoints.  I prefer to think of myself as insightful and not opinionated.

I am John Persico, a man of intelligence, competence, toughness, directness, resourcefulness, creativity, knowledge and insightfulness.  To others, I am John Persico, a judgmental man who is often without compassion, defensive, angry, cold, boastful, opinionated and intolerant.

Who is the real me?  Like Jekyll and Hyde, who will I be today?  Does anyone see the real me?  Do I see the real me?  Is there a real me?  Am I a chameleon or totally schizophrenic?

“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete.  A self is always becoming.” — Madeleine L’Engle,  “A Circle of Quiet”

 

 

 

3568– Thursday, July 25, 2019 – What the Democrats Must Do to Win!

There is a simple truth that seems to be ignored about politics and elections.  The reason we vote for someone is because of what we think they will do for our country, our family, our friends and our own lives.  We do not vote for someone simply because they are Black, White, Indian, Asian or Latino.  We do not vote for someone just because they are old, young, middle aged or because they are poor, middle class or rich.  We do not vote for someone because they are Catholic, Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish or Protestant.  Some of these factors may play an ancillary role in our voting preferences but the two major reasons we vote for someone are these:  First, as I have said already:  “Is the message that we hear from the candidate in terms of what they will plan to do if elected and how we see those plans either hurting our harming our lives.”  The second reason we vote for someone concerns whether or not we trust them to deliver on their plans and promises.  Regardless of what they promise, we are not going to vote for someone who cannot deliver the goods.

If the Democrats want to win the upcoming election, they must accomplish three major tasks:

  1. They must consolidate their candidate options
  2. They must consolidate what they claim they will do if elected
  3. They must create an appeal that transcends major partisan and factional differences in this country.

I will briefly address each of these tasks.

Consolidate the candidate options and selection process:

The Democrats currently have a three-ring circus with 24 candidates.  This situation will eventually lead to a knockdown, drag-em through the mud free for all.  Notwithstanding the fact that all of these candidates will spend millions of dollars that could be better spent later on in the election by focusing on one candidate and getting out the vote.

The Democrats need to create a system like the Vatican uses to select a new Pope.  Major party leaders caucus with potential candidates.  The top two selections then move on to regionally selected caucuses designed to reflect a broad base of opinion across American politics.  The two candidates are paired down to one at the National Convention where the final candidate is selected by the usual methods of speeches and caucusing.

Consolidate the plans and goals for the party and candidate:

Every candidate has to have a plan and a promise to deliver this plan.  Right now, we have 24 candidates all promising the world to the American Public:  Free health care, free tuition, forgiveness of student loans, reparations for African Americans, redistribution of the wealth.  These freebies are just what got the Democrats saddled with the moniker of “Tax and Spend” in the first place.  Furthermore, these promises insult the intelligence of the American voter.  We all know that deficits are running to astronomical highs and that if you give someone money, it must come from someone else.

The candidate promises and plans must reflect the party platform.  Likewise, the Democratic party must accept and support the candidates plan.  The plan must be simple, bold and memorable and must cut across partisan and narrowly focused interests.  I suggest that four issues would create a base that would excite and motivate a large majority of the American public to vote Democratic.

  1. Minimum wage

Increase minimum wage. This is the wedge to continue subsequent strategies to reduce the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  Talk in terms about money that the average person who does not have a degree in economics can understand.

  1. Improve the Affordable Care Act

The ACA was a start to creating a better health care program for a large percentage of people who could not afford it.  Most Americans realize that the system has its faults but just like with Social Security, they do not want to abandon it, they simply want to see the faults addressed. Do not talk about creating a new system. Talk about improving the existing system.

  1. Term limits

I am a progressive, but I have talked to people from Arizona to New York who include evangelicals, 2nd amendment supporters, conservatives, Tea Party members and anti-immigration people.  We have vast differences on major issues, but one issue where I have found common ground with all of these disparate people is on the issue of “term-limits.”  On this issue, I find near universal agreement that we need limits on how long people can serve.  There are many benefits from term limits including:  Minimizing the influence of money and lobbyists, reducing the role of money in campaigning and getting new ideas into the political stream.  The Democrats should take up the challenge and have the guts to pursue an issue that will have profound effects on the political process in this country.  One or two terms and no reelection down the road.

  1. Accessible voting

The past few decades have seen increased efforts to narrow the scope of participation on our political process.  Americans want a fair and equitable system of electing its representatives.  Many people now realize that politicians have gamed the system.  This has included efforts by both Democrats and Republicans to tilt the rules and table in their favor.  This has to be addressed and should be a primary goal of the Democrats to create a level playing field.

Create an appeal that transcends major partisan and factional differences in this country.

Calling people deplorables is not going to unite this country and will only create more division in a country already divided beyond anything comparable in its history except perhaps the Civil War.  If we want to unite Americans, we must talk to people that we do not like.  We must look past differences and find similarities.  We must speak out against injustices regardless of which side of the political spectrum they are on.  We must be fair and open minded and willing to reach compromises for the greatest good.

It was said that “Politics is the art of compromise.”  There is no room in government for rigid vows and oaths on political issues.  Democrats must condemn these practices and take the high road.  I have heard it said that we must find the person who can defeat Trump.  Speaking for myself, I don’t give a dam who can defeat Trump if they do not have the morals and ethics that I expect in myself and my friends.  Trump can win another four years before I will vote for someone simply because they “may defeat” Trump.

This is my plan for the Democrats.  Call me idealistic but I think that unless the Democrats can be idealistic, they will go down in defeat.

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

The Impossible Dream — Music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion

 

3570– Tuesday, July 23, 2019 – We Lose Our Way!

Every year, the first morning of our retreat, we get a sermon followed by a song in which one of the lyrics states that “We lose our way.”  This song “Lord teach us to pray” was written and sung by Joe Wise.  Joe now lives north of me in Arizona.  Somewhat of a coincidence since I have heard his song at each of my last 36 retreats in Minnesota where I used to live.  I called him some years ago and talked about the possibility of meeting him.  It has not happened yet.  He still sings religious songs and records.

I started thinking about this idea of “losing our way” in more secular terms when I returned to my home after the retreat.  Somehow the idea just stuck in my mind.  “We lose our way.”  So easy to do.

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We seek fame. We want to be remembered and honored.  We want to be celebrities.  We give up our lives chasing the Goddess of Fame.  We measure success by how much of a celebrity we have become.  We measure hits and likes.  We honor movie stars, sports heroes and heroines and royalty.  We follow their every doing in the gossip pages and the constant 24/7 news that swamps us with their comings and goings.  If only I was like Kim Kardashian.  If only I was popular and good-looking like Leonardo De Caprio or Dwayne Johnson.  Oh, how much better and happier my life would be.  We lose our way.

“We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame changes the game.” — Young Thug

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But maybe our Goddess is not fame.  Maybe our God is Greed.  More, more, more.  More money.  More sex.  More stuff.  More cars.  More and bigger houses.  Bigger is always better.  So, give me a bigger whatever.  Let me have bigger tits, a bigger cock, more muscles, bigger ass, bigger biceps, more hair, more youth.  Let me live forever.  Let me have piles of money to spend.  Let me win the lottery.  Let me win big at the racetrack or the casino.  If only I had more, I could be happier.  If only I was like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, my life would have meaning.  I would be a success.  We lose our way.

“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.” — Stephen Hawking

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Forget Fame and Fortune!  They are for stupid people.  Give me power.  Power is where it is at.  The God of Power Kratos personifies strength, might and rule.  With my three enforcers:  Nike for Victory, Bia for Force and Zelos for Rivalry, I can rule the world.  I can have the power to take anything I want.  I can make all the people bow down and look up to me.  I can tell others what to do and when to do it.  I can be the boss. I can be the ruler.  I can be in charge.  No one can tell me what to do.  Those who have power make the rules.  I will be the greatest ruler the world has ever seen.  If only I was like Donald Trump.  I could grab pussy whenever I wanted to.  I could kill anyone in Times Square and my followers would still idolize me.  I could say whatever I wanted to and insult whomever I wanted to, and I would still be loved and admired by millions.  People would kiss my ass everyday and want to know what I wanted.  It would never matter what anyone else wanted and it would all be about what I wanted.  We lose our way.

 “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.” — Georg Orwell, “1984”

 How do we find our way back? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3571– Monday, July 22, 2019 – How Writing is Done for a TV Series!

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I recently watched an episode of The Closer that was funny and challenging.  The plot kept us interested and despite being a murder mystery, it had many spots of levity in it. Karen and I decided to see who the writers were.  In the process, we found much more detail on how a typical TV show is now written.  I thought I would publish the following information as it shows the complex process that goes into writing a TV show these days.  The collaboration is proof of how important teamwork is to the writing process.  Seems like teams in writing are just as crucial to writing a script as teams in many business operations are to developing better products or improved processes.  Teams can handle more complexity than a single individual.  Evidence that more heads are usually better than one or even two.  The following material is from Fandom.

The Writing Process

A script is never the product of one writer’s work, despite the way they are eventually credited. Development of an episode takes place in the writers “room”, a traditional model for writing American television shows. The writers gather in the room to select an over-arching theme for the season, develop season-long story arcs, such as the Phillip Stroh story, as well as plotting character development over the season. Individual episodes are subsequently plotted out, aligning to the theme. Many good ideas for episodes never make it past early development stages because they don’t lend themselves to the four-act television format.

After an episode is “broken” into a series of acts and scenes by the writing team, a short episode overview, then a full-length script is written by one or more writers, assigned in the writing room. Individual writers may do extensive research or work with consultants when developing their scripts, adding to the accuracy of the show. In addition to Mike Berchem, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti serves as a consulting producer on the show.  They may also elect to take liberties with facts or procedures for the sake of plot. The writer(s) for any given script are generally on set while the episode is being filmed, where final edits can be made during production.\

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Credits

Writers for The Closer are members of the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA). The WGA represents writers during contract negotiations, and governs, among other things, how writers are credited. When more than one writer works on a script, the use of “and” versus “&” indicates the nature of their collaboration: “and” indicates the two writers worked independently on the script, either one after the other, or on separate sections of the script. On the other hand, the use of “&” indicates the writers collaborated on the whole script.

Season One Writing Team

  • James Duff
  • Mike Berchem
  • Nancy Miller
  • Wendy West
  • Rick Kellard
  • Roger Wolfson
  • Hunt Baldwin & John Coveny (writing team)

The above material was from Fandom.

3584– Tuesday, July 9, 2019 –  My Four Apocalyptic Horsemen: Fear, Cynicism, Despair and Pain

It has been nineteen days since my last blog.  I see that by my actuarial timetable, I now have 3584 days to live.  I have used up 64 days of my life since I started this “new” blog series.  I wonder if most writers think about the usefulness of their writing or what their writing has accomplished.  I was on a short vacation with my wife for ten of the last nineteen days, but I have found it very difficult to get back into my writing mode.  I question whether or not anything I have ever said makes one iota of difference in the world.  Do I write just to hear myself write?   I am not a person overly prone to depression but every so often I just feel like nothing is worth saying, doing or living for.

I recently wrote to an older friend of mine who has become very cynical and obstreperous in his old age.  I told him that I believed aging had four “Apocalyptic Horsemen” that we must contend with:

  1. Fear
  2. Cynicism
  3. Despair
  4. Pain

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I notice that many older people seem more fearful.  Some have said that ever since 9/11, America has become a nation of fearful inhabitants. We seem to embrace militarism and “heroes” to a degree I think never seen before in our nation.  Many people I know will not travel or go anyplace because “it is too dangerous.”  Fear pervades our thinking about politics these days and we seem willing to embrace demagoguery if it will keep us safe.  Benjamin Franklin said that: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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I also told my friend that perhaps my four horsemen were not shared by all of my age cohort.  When it comes to cynicism, I confess to having always been somewhat of a cynic.  I am very good at finding what is wrong with things, but I have a harder time finding what is right.  Theodore Roosevelt when commenting on the plethora of journalists who were muckraking during the early 1900’s made the following statement: “In Pilgrims Progress the Man with the Muckrake is set forth as an example of him whose vision is fixed on carnal instead of spiritual things… Yet he also typifies the man who in this life consistently refuses to see aught that is lofty and fixes his eyes with solemn intentness only on that which is vile and debasing.”  I would not want to be remembered as the guy who always saw what is wrong with the world, but I would also like to avoid being a Pollyanna.  Here again is the Golden Mean necessitating us to balance extremes and find the happy medium.

despair

Despair and depression seem to both suggest a feeling of hopelessness.  People are inherently greedy thus the world will never change.  People are self-centered, short-sighted, cognitively challenged, apathetic, etc., etc.  Easy to find reasons to give up.  Easy to believe that I cannot make a difference or that anything I do or say or write is meaningless.  We look for evidence that we are making a difference and evidence, like the truth, seems to be ephemeral and elusive.  I sometimes think I am too focused on searching for meaning as though it were the Holy Grail.  I have always thought or heard that life without meaning is worthless.  Viktor Frankl wrote an entire book on “Man’s Search for Meaning.”  He noted that: “Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

pain

Finally, we come to the icing on the cake:  Pain.  Young people can and will suffer pains as they go through life.  But for most younger people, pain is not a constant in their lives but only a temporary annoyance.  For the majority of older people, pain is a constant companion.  We wake up each morning, wondering what part of us will hurt, or whether or not we will make it through the day without pain in some part of our bodies.  Pain tempers our thoughts, our behaviors and our actions.  How much can we accomplish today before the pain sets in?  Should we go to see a doctor, or should we grin and bear it?

I am loath to include any quotes on pain since so many of them are telling us the benefits of pain.  Joseph Campbell intoned: “Find a place inside where there’s joy and the joy will burn out the pain.”  I wonder how much physical pain Mr. Campbell had while he was finding his joy?  I have not yet come to believe that pain is a stimulus for anything.  The old adage by Franklin that: “No pain, no gain” has too often been used by morons exhorting others to ignore their pains and suffer in silence.  For older people, pains do not go away.  We deal with pain because we must.  To give in to pain is to give up but to ignore pain is often impossible.

There you have it.  My four “Apocalyptic Horsemen:” Fear, Cynicism, Despair and Pain.  On any given day, I am confronting one of them.  Some days, I just want to crawl in a hole and hide.  Other days, I bound out of bed excited at the possibilities that lie inherent in a new day.  What are your horsemen?  How do you deal with them?

 

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