Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Code of Silence                                                       

Pecoste Trugg taught me a valuable thing or two. His real name was Neil Anderson. Back in 1970, he shared my Solomon House prefect study at Pretoria Boy's High. Neil liked that exotic name, Pecoste. Perhaps his avowal one day to adopt it is why I never found him again, or why at our Boys' High 40 year Reunion, October 2010, he could not be contacted. In many ways, I owe him a thing or two.

Neil taught me the value of words. "That's a powerful word," he would say, and I would immediately weigh in, and revise my options. He taught me the value of body language and the value of the smile; he advocated Dale Carnegie. He taught me the value of accepting an other's and others' values. He was casual to my formality, precise to my carelessness, and laconic to my intensity. And Neil showed me the value of hard work, for he was almost always at his desk, intending to study to become a brain surgeon. He taught me chords on the guitar, Dylan's 'Lay lady lay, lay across my big brass bed,' and Cohen's 'Bird on the wire'. Though I still do not feel comfortable with the former, I cannot help but think of my long-lost friend whenever I play and sing the latter. But of all the lessons Pecoste taught me, the most valuable would be: The Code of Silence.

No, it was not that rather debilitating boyhood code of don't fess up or squeal on another; it was that experientially empowering practice of seeing to it that 'what the right hand does, the left should not necessarily know'. It involved doing works of good, of leading from behind, of living in the grace of an inner power thanks to the self silently knowing it'd rescued the fallen bird, given to charity, helped out another, or instigated a productive project without overt or known reward for the self. In fact, without either of us able then to articulate it, Pecoste was advocating the highest of mans' virtues in each of the very many epistemological models: the selflessness of action on behalf of others without the need to be acclaimed.

Well, there have been times in my life when I've been the recipient of such actions by others. The essential lesson of leading from behind was affirmed for me during my undergraduate studies in the late 70's in Canada, by Dr. Mary Richardson, who pulled me aside and first introduced me to the concept of gifted education. "True giftedness," she intoned, "is in the art of giving of the self to others; it is at the top of every hierarchical model. Begin with Kohlberg." 

Well, Kohlberg began in me the acquisition of an upwards spiral of evolutionary paradigms, such as Maslow, Johari, Gregoric, Dillinger, Dabrowski, Clare Graves, and Wilbur's Integral Holonics. Each concept empowered me with yet more articulation, yet paradoxically, in the very esoteric mention of their models, perhaps they now leave you feeling lost in my wordiness, disassociated by my ramble. "Knowledge is just a tool," I can hear Pecoste Trugg remonstrate, "never presume someone without knowledge doesn't have the potential." 

"But even more important than having a specific knowledge," Professor Mary Richardson would remind us, "would be to inculcate a sense of enduring interest in and generosity toward others."

Well, as the continuing recipient of such generosity, I am humbled, grateful, and indebted. I owe a thing or two, indeed.

The code of silence? Pay it forward.

What Judas would not say, Amen!

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