In this blog I will be trying to get to the truth about what is really important in life, and to write satirically about what is not - all in my quest for The Stuff Reality is Made of.
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is quite what it seems - by P.K.Odendaal - June 2013
There is a saying that one cannot judge a
book by its cover, and yet that is exactly what we do every day.
I think that the thing we do most every day
is judging some item, thought, person or action and that is our life. At least
it is mine, but I am sure it is the life of many other people as well. And then
some people have the nerve or audacity to say that we should not be judgmental.
That is like saying we should not live. I can, off the cuff, think of at least
over a hundred judgments, even if they are only value judgments, which I make
every day. I judge whether the things I, or people around me, or in the news,
are valid, morally correct, politically correct, true, good, bad, expedient,
prudent, important, considerate, enjoyable, fattening, equitable, life
threatening and a host of other things.
The other side of the coin is that we
should judge nothing and take stoically what comes our way without
discrimination and suffer the consequences regardless. That is a life I am not
interested in at all, although I will live stoically through my own faults and
errors, because they are of my own making. They did not just come my way. I was
the author of it.
In its most simple form it is the case
where the mother tells the daughter, on a hot day, to wear a jersey or sweater
because the mother is cold today. There is a judgment of value necessary for
the daughter to make on the instructions of the mother, and to then refuse the
jersey in order not to be smothered in heat. The other way out is to comply with
the instruction and then carry the jersey in her hand wherever she goes. That
is called material or physical baggage.
After which she will leave it inadvertently
at some place while she minds other business. The location of the place where
she left it will of course be forgotten by then. When she gets home she will
have to explain to her mother where this jersey is, especially if she visited
places the mother does not like. She may opt out of the responsibility by
lying, ignoring, blaming or back chatting. That is called emotional baggage.
So we see that anything has the capacity to
load us with unnecessary stuff - whether it be physical or emotional - and
physical baggage can be manifested in the soul, if not treated properly at the
physical level. And this mark or wound in our soul comes without us actually
realising it or its origin or its result in our lives.
And that is what is simply known as
carrying too much or unnecessary baggage. It reveals itself in material things,
but even more so in emotional things, and as we are not materialists, we will
pursue this on a more general or meta-physical level, although we are not
restricted to emotional baggage.
Conventional wisdom, our old enemy, is
always there to let us take a quick look, to let us take a quick decision, and
to let us suffer the consequences in a lethargic way, and so the adage says
'Act in haste and repent at leisure'. And I am sure you smile at yourself now,
for having taken that extra burden because you did not think. Mea Culpa.
Sometimes I visit the offices of colleagues
or other business men and I often see the plaque on their desks which says
THINK. Shocking! What should I or they think? Most people I know only think of
tea and lunch time and the women of what they will wear tonight. George Bernard
Shaw once said: 'Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have
made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week'.
That is not the ambit of my monologue here.
I have conditioned myself, as you may well
know by now, not to take the first road which shows up - I try to take the one
less travelled. Many times in my life I have been approached by people who
bemoan their fate due to the indiscriminate, hypocritical or inconsiderate
actions and ways of other people, instead of straightening it out with the
guilty person themselves.
If we listen to them, then we will only
hear the one side of the story and agree with the injured person that it was a
bad thing for the offender to do, we sympathise, and we will be regarded as
good listeners or passionate people. What we should rather have done is to have
considered the case of the offender of the injured party. Many times you will
find that the offender also has a case to complain about, and mostly a better
case, because you only heard the wrong one and probably less than half of the
case of the offended.
It reminds me of a well-known case described
by one of South Africa's well known writers, C.J.Langenhoven. He was a
parliamentarian, advocate, writer and genius of inventions. Once he had to
defend his client against a claim on water rights in the Water Court. After two
weeks in court, he won the case for his client. The plaintiff's advocate then
came to him to congratulate him on his victory, on which he said: 'Thanks my
learned friend, but you know; if I had your client's case I would have won him
the case in one day'. He once said in parliament that half of the members are
donkeys. The Speaker commanded him to retract that insubordinate statement to
which he said - Ok, I will retract. Half of the members are not donkeys. It
seems that he looked at both sides of the coin.
It all comes to the point that nothing is quite
as it seems. It is mostly presented to us in camouflaged form. In fact, most of
the time the other side is more right than we think we are or we are more right
than they think they are. Likewise the truth and the fiction lie close together
and well concealed under layers of cosmetics, jargon and prejudice. It is for us
to do some abstraction. The adage about statistics is well to heed: 'What it
reveals is interesting, but what it conceals is vital.'
Shall we take some time and consider the
thing before us properly or even take counsel on it? No, we do not have the
time for that - we are too busy and it is not so important. Let's just do it - like
Niké would have us do.
So, if we really want to look at all angles
of the case we will be known as indecisive persons. So we bend under peer
pressure and let it be. I used to be very
indecisive, but now I am not so sure about it anymore! And it is here
that the famous Murphy's Laws come in. They were generated from an idea that
nothing goes quite as it should and nothing is quite as easy as it looks. They
are all paradoxical laws - as life is.
Let us take the first one: 'If anything can
go wrong, it will'. I do not believe in Murphy's Laws at all, as I call it the
cry of the incompetent. The person did the thing and he thought that all would
work out well. Where has this ever happened? Had he but the time and
inclination, he would have considered the alternatives of which one would certainly
have been that things could go wrong. He never thought it through or made
provision for the inevitable - as the inevitable is mostly that something can
go wrong. A case in point is the wars of the USA. Most of the wars which the
USA has started with vigour, ended in catastrophe, and the few that it started
in apathy, ended in victory. I mean - that is on a grand scale. And you and I
are much less informed than the USA is.
And that is why I never believe the scoops
or breaking news of the newspapers and television, although they boast that
they give you the story behind the story. It is clear to me that they give us
the story as they see it, and the best way they can put spin on it to be
credible, which is of course not quite what it is. History (and news) is
written by the victors, not the vanquished.
What shall we do?
I will pursue the other side of the coin,
the other person's case, the opposite of conventional wisdom, the deeper
meaning and implication every time. I know there is more to it than meets the