Saturday, May 14, 2016

THE FLYING FICKLE FINGER OF FATE

WHO AM I?
From 1968 to 1973 comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin hosted the weekly comedy variety series on NBC called “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowan_%26_Martin%27s_Laugh-In
         Each week the, two presented an award for the most dubious achievement; the dumbest, craziest news item of the week. The “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” Award was also called the “Rigid Digit”, the “Winged Weenie”, the “Friendly Phalange”, the “Nifty Knuckle” or the “Wonderful Wiggler.” The award was a Gold/Silver sculpture of a hand with its index finger pointing, adorned with two small wings. It rotated in a circular “Whoopie!” circular motion. Recipients included the City of Cleveland whose Cuyahoga River caught fire (due to pollution), The Pentagon (5 times), and L.A. Police Chief Ed Davis who wanted to install gallows so that hijackers could be more easily hung. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_M._Davis)
         Esquire Magazine ran “Dubious Achievement” awards annually for many years. You can Google that title and come up with some laughers which many people post online.
         Here’s what others have said about “Fate.”
“Meaning is invisible, but the invisible is not contradictory of the visible: the visible itself has an invisible framework, and the in-visible is the secret counterpart of the visible.” M. Merleu-Ponty, Working Notes[JY1] [JY2]  (The Soul’s Code, James Hillman, pg. ix)
“Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruits of his character.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“He that waits upon fortune is never sure of a dinner.” Benjamin Franklin
“Fortune knocks at every man’s door once in a life, but in a good many cases the man is in a neighboring saloon and does not hear her.” Mark Twain
Are you living your fate or destiny?
WHY IS FATE HERE?
     Some will say there is no such thing. It is all coincidence. That our brains are hard-wired to look for meaning. This is all superstition. Baseball teams are not “fated” to lose. Or win.
Or, is it actually possible that fate is an agent that changes everything? Is it “fate” which causes my paramedic son’s ambulance to arrive the moment before it is too late to save a life, and fate which causes him to arrive a moment too late? Or are heavy traffic here, light traffic there, the elements of fate?
Fate has been called the “guardian angel” who at the last moment saves the child from plunging into the swimming pool. The Ancient Greeks called fate “Okemah” and described it as the being which carries you like a vehicle.
Others have called Fate “Lady Luck” or “Fortuna”. To Eskimos and others who follow shamanistic practices, fate is your spirit, your free soul, animal soul, your breath soul.
Some call it luck. What would you call it when a person in a trailer in Kansas and a tornado rolls through and they survive despite the fact that everything around them is totally obliterated? Luck, right? Fate, right? But, are the people who live in Oklahoma “lucky” over and over again when the tornado goes just over there? Are they now unlucky because of fracking earthquakes or does “fate” have anything to do with that?  I like the Forest Ranger who has been struck by lightning 6 or 7 times and lived to tell about it? Maybe they’ll live to tell about hundreds of tremors a week and their survival will the the amazing thing.
The reality is that we believe that fate is a quality of being a part of our lives. Fate is something else which cannot be explained by the physicality of life. There is more to our lives then meets our eyes. That’s what humans believe, don’t let any smart phone tell you different. It is more fun and rich to live a life which has the random and unexplained in it.
Even mediocrity can be a “fate”, right?  It once was attributed to the “stars”. Here’s Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”: “We, the poorer born, whose baser stars shut us up in wishes…” Shuts us up in wishes. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.
Mediocrity. Poor choices. Does fate make those poor choices, or do I? Do we blame “fate” for our stupidity? Yes. I can tell you that. Some people, let me raise my hand here, risk to draw on an inside straight in poker, ignore symptoms in cancer (hand down), drive drunk (hand down). We choose. Not fate. Duhh.
Each individual has genius, their own unique selves. Now we’re at the good stuff!
But, genius belongs to everyone and no person has all the genius or can be the only genius. What? But, I’m special, right?
Genius may be an invisible escort for a whole group of people. That family. That band. That team. That school. Those gals. They know how to do it. They are special. Unique. More than just one person in whom genius or character lives.
If you are fated you know that it is not you that makes these “fateful” things happen. But, when it comes to genius, we seem to claim our genius because we are special! Oh, sure!

WHAT DOES FATE WANT?
The “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” sometimes points at you and sometimes points away. It is important for you to look at your life and to understand that there have been moments when fate has visited you and was with you. Maybe saved you. Something impossible happened.
You should look at your children and imagine that they and their lives will have moments of fate in which things will become radically different and they themselves will be able to release their own genius, or sink back into depression and despair. It can go either way.
Fate wants you to know you can work with luck, fate, destiny - work with others and help them understand that they have gifts beyond belief locked in their little souls.
The intention is to broaden your view of life so that you will not give up hope so that you know that your genius in the right place and time can work miraculous things, can lift the sinking spirit.  So that, when you least expect it, that winged weenie, wonderful wiggler and nifty knuckle will appear for you.

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved
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Friday, May 13, 2016

DICKINS’ SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT AND RUTLAND (VT) REFUGEES

Excerpt from “The Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and April 2016 news reports.

NOTE: Of the four million refugees fleeing Syria, only 2,192 came to the U.S. in 2015. A firestorm of vocal anti-refugee criticism was fueled by fear following the bombings in Europe. In April 2016, Rutland, VT Mayor Louras announced his plan that by Christmas 2016, he hopes that 25 to 30 Syrian refugee families will be re-settled in Rutland. Some citizens have applauded Mayor Louras compassion. Lawmakers and others have strongly criticized the announcement because no resources or plan was to be seen. Perhaps Charles Dickins’ “Ghost of Christmas Present” has some advice for us.

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present: said the Spirit. “Look upon me.”
“Scrooge did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles..”
            Christmas in Vermont will no doubt be frozen. Refugee families will come wearing and carrying whatever they have from camps in which they have been sleeping in tents. Speaking no English, they will be dropped here in the care of big hearted, generous Rutland who is expected to provide housing, food, fuel, furniture, bedding, clothing, transportation, ESL, friendship and jobs.
“...it was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas holidays appeared  to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older. ...”
“Are spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge.
“My life upon this globe, is very brief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends tonight.”
            Time is of the essence for the refugees. A young mother, scared, malnourished, faces the immense prospect of learning a new language, finding a job, paying rent and keeping the family warm. They must “make it” or, and what happens if, they “break it”?
            The only support the refugees have, really, are what the few who care in the local community will make available. Whether this resettlement works or not is now up to Rutland. In the same way that Rutland has, more or less, taken up Project Vision and tackled joblessness, housing, poverty and addiction; Rutland now has new citizens.
 “Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from under your skirts. Is it a foot or claw?”
“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it.” Was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”
“From the foldings of its robe, it brought forth two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
“Oh, Man, look here. Look, look down here,” exclaimed the Ghost.
Other than Native Americans who were here first, the ancestors of all Americans were once newcomers to this land. Have we become less eager to put out the welcome mat for refugees or immigrants? Is the idea of a “welcoming community” to be scuttled by acrimony? What will it cost Rutland if it is?
“They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have fulfilled their features out, and touched them with it s freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled the into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.”
            The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) has addressed the needs of those who have fled around the world for more than100 years and is organizing in Rutland. Stacie Blake of USCRI wrote: “The young children who have never lived anywhere but a tent in a dusty, impoverished refugee camp retain their optimism, and readiness to learn and soon laugh in school with friends and a world of opportunities.”
“Scrooge startled back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.”
“Spirit, are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.
“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it,” cried the Spirit, stretching out his hand towards the city.”
What option does anyone really have who has lost everything to intolerance, war, or famine besides to flee and throw themselves at the mercy of a community? Hopefully one with a big enough, generous Spirit. Otherwise, it’s Scrooge’s option which remains when time runs out in this next, frigid, bleak Vermont winter.
“Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end.”
“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.
“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ...
The bell struck twelve.”

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved
Revised by the author from "WHAT WILL BECOME OF THEM? - THE SPIRIT OF THE PRESENT VISITS EBENEZER SCROOGE” a chapter in “Th3Simple
Questions: Slice Open Everyday Life”, Westbow Press, 2014
 ISBN 978-1-4908-7124-0


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