Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Two To Tango

We, and them. Throughout history we’ve perpetuated it. The essential dichotomy is felt in the bones. Even when we overcome differences of race, of physiognomy, of language barriers, or even of social circles, it remains, however subtly, an 'us' versus 'them'. “We are not on the same page about this,” one person tells another. The implication is clear: my viewpoint is better than your viewpoint. We are not enmeshed in the necessary appreciation of the dual tensions it takes to do a tango. Too often, we hear entirely different music.

Life itself will do that to us, divide us, that is. From the earliest age we learn who is first, last, and somewhere in between. And as our sophistications grow into the apportionments of ourselves in the Venn diagrams of our circumstances, we become inured to the concept that we are right, they are wrong, and we go right, while they may take what’s left.

Politically, it becomes easier and easier to determine who is who. A great many of us more readily align with This, or with That. Religiously too. Even morally, we can become dis-ambiguous. And as for ethics? Well, the definitions of that concept fills volumes, so where is there a fine line to be drawn, over which one will not step? No, it is the traditions and the acculturations and the belief systems that we grow up into becoming, from child to adult, and seldom do we easily reach past the pastures of our forefathers. Seldom do we give up our identity. Seldom do we accept our sublimation into a greater whole. We are too much clung to our mortal coil, fearing we shall lose all identity if we no longer retain a ‘nationality.’ So it goes. On and on. Even much elongation of new generations will proudly say, “I’ve got the blood of a Zoroastrian in me;” especially if it be true.

And so Us versus Them continues. Thing is, it matters not at this time for particular distinctions. In our long history (even yet to be) we shall still call some, Romans, and some others, Greeks. So too do we readily call people by country, by school, by city, by family name, by ethnicity. We retain an identity. And we are 'us', while they are 'them'. So it goes.

Eventual integration is a myth. At best engendered in small groups, among individuals, it very much gets called into question (integration, that is) when the larger group sees itself more readily as an Us, versus a Them. (Anyone who has suffered marginalization knows the feeling.) 

So much is at stake when being ‘different.’

Thing is, how do you become entirely 'accepting'? That’s right, You. If not you, then who? We each are responsible for inculcating an ethos of integration that entirely absorbs the ideological differentiations extant amongst us, and allows us to inculcate instinctual compassion, sincere compassion, intuitive compassion, enlightened compassion, and persevering compassion, unconditionally. Really?

Yes, there is an appreciation of duality in the challenge. That is the point. Ideological egocentricities perpetuate the tensions in the historical making, present, future, or in our recent past too. We are each responsible for not only allowing it all ‘to be’, but also for nurturing it all ‘to become’. To become what, precisely? Well, it is certainly not the eradication of our statues, or even the changing of place names that shall alter us, each by each; it is the clarification of history's significance, such that we might learn from the mistakes of the past, truthfully, factually, considerately, and most especially, compassionately.

Are some things worth tearing down?

Indeed. “Tear down the wall” was a deeply symbolic event.

And so too does tearing down the wall between 'us' and 'them'. 

Trouble is, as just about everybody knows, it takes two to tango.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Comparative Considerations


‘Take nothing personally.’ At least, that’s what The Four Agreements invite. Also, ‘Do not compare yourself with others, for always there will be lesser and greater persons than yourself,’ says Desiderata; (which was at first purported to be a 14th century inscription in a hidden church wall, until someone discovered that the poet, Max Ehrmann, had written it, sometime in the first half of the 1900’s.) And then there’s my own observation about comparisons, called:

The Ten Pears

 A man sees ten pears in a bin at the store. ‘This one looks the best,’ he determines, and buys it.

A woman sees nine pears in the same store. ‘This is the best one for me, she avers,’ and buys it.

Another woman comes along to the pears. ‘Of the eight, this is the best,’ she smiles, and buys it.

A girl is next, sent by her mother. ‘Out of the seven, Mom will like this one the most,’ she’s sure.

A man sees six pears in the bin, and he carefully concludes that the one he takes ‘is best, indeed.’

Another man arrives, carefully examines the five, and picks the very best one for himself too.

An older woman, knowing fruit, sees four pears left. ‘Hm, here’s the best one for me,’ she thinks.

Another old man, seeing the three pears, thinks, ‘Ah! Now here’s the very best of the three!’

A very busy young man sees just two pears. ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, ... nope! This is the better one!’

At last, the lone pear sits there, until someone, wanting a pear, sees it. ‘Lucky me. I found a pear!’


Thing is, for each pear in the bin, someone found it to be the best, each time.

So... indeed, we compare by contrast, certainly, but at each stage of  our participation in evaluation we have only the ones before us by which to choose. As such, my having received the honour of being among ‘the world’s best oil-painters’ hardly really needs be taken personally. After all, yes, 72 countries participated, but only the artists who happened to send in their works to be evaluated were among those chosen. And then too, in all the categories (like fruit in a grocery store,) how many were ‘pairs.’ Well, enough entries for my ‘third place’ not even to be isolated, but paired, ‘tied’, with another artist, Eugene Kuperman, (whose ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ (shown below) strikes me as superbly profound, not only in its execution, but in its symbolism too.)

We who write books, who make music, who paint paintings, who do theatrical shows, who make movies, who act and dance and teach and lead and serve, in whatever capacity, are doing what we can with every one of our products directed at being accepted by someone else. Yes, someone ‘other’ may find this product better than that (even among my own works I’d place rankings); but the thing is that each thing that we do is paired with our energy, our intuition, our instinct, our talent, our state of mind, our physical health, and our innate ability at a given time. And time itself, we know, can affect even the very best of pears; (ha!, ask any fruit fly.)

Take nothing personally. Do not compare. But certainly, it is appreciated that one likes my fruit.

Now then, anyone up for getting 'the perfect pair' of my novels? See them at:

And see ALL the art at: