Friday, June 21, 2013

Corey challenges us to philosophize

John Corbett as Chris
on Northern Exposure

Seems to me I once regaled The Toads in the Garden with a poem on existentialism, but that poem didn’t show my own philosophy.
Now Corey has prompted us to pretend we are hosting a morning radio show, like the one in the once-ever-so-popular TV show Northern Exposure, “Chris in the morning.” Chris would talk about any subject that caught his fancy, and wax philosophical for the benefit of his listeners in The Great White North. It was wonderful fun.
I am not a seriously philosophical person. I am not even a serious writer. My style is “humorous essay” and it translates into poetry fairly well, for the most part.
But philosophy? Well, I looked it up in an online dictionary, and there are as many definitions of the word as there are philosophers, but I like this one:
the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group
However, we have a friend who is a philosophy professor. We had dinner with him every night for more than two weeks, and I’m guessing he would choose this definition:
a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology (the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity).
I had to look up epistemology as well, because I’ve never seen the word before (after many decades dedicated to words) and still don’t know how to pronounce it properly, although I’ll probably remember how to spell it.
For my own philosophy, I have taken bits and pieces from all over. From doctors I have taken the directive “First, do no harm” and have found I cannot live up to it completely, but I do my best. (It was less complicated when I was single. Having a husband makes it easier for me to hurt someone’s feelings, I’ve discovered.)
I have no children of my own, but I have a much younger brother as well as nieces and nephews, and a grandniece and some grandnephews, and I share my husband’s six grandchildren. I also have an almost overpowering instinct, which I call my Mother Bear Instinct, to protect them.
With that instinct never far from the surface of my mind, I believe we have a responsibility to preserve the planet for the youngsters we love, for the youngsters our friends love, and for generations yet to come.
I recently saved a story from the Vancouver Observer, and got around to reading it today. It was scary. Australian climatologists have delivered an ultimatum. To stop using fossil fuels “or to become the dumbest intelligent species yet, to have knowingly caused our own extinction through wilful blindness. You choose.”
I live in Canada, a country once respected throughout the world for its actions on behalf of peace, sanity, and caring. We no longer enjoy that respect. Our present federal government doesn’t believe in global warming or in climate change, but instead believes in piping the crudest crude oil ever known, from northern Alberta to northern British Columbia, to be put into tanker ships and sent across the Pacific Ocean to the orient.
Oh yes, and laws about protests in Canada are becoming increasingly strict, to the point of disallowing freedom of expression, so what can we do?
I am old, unhealthy, and powerless. I wring my aching hands because of my powerlessness, but another part of my personal philosophy is that I am not in charge of events as they happen. To reinforce the validity of this belief, my dog refused to go for a walk with me today, preferring to wait for my husband. If I'm not in charge of the dog, I'm not in charge of much.
Therefore, I realize it will take more than just one voice, it will take millions of voices worldwide, creating a power much greater than Kay alone, to make the change before it is too late.
I cry for the children in my family, ranging in age from 8 months to 11 years, because scientists have warned us that we, as a species, will become extinct through our own foolishness. Not in my lifetime, but during the lives of our grandchildren, if things don’t change.
For more philosophy, drop in to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.


Susan said...

I would so enjoy conversing with you! This turned out to be quite profound in its down to earth rendering of what matters. Not harming, not harming, and not harming. May voices rise to demand governments implement solutions!

Susie Clevenger said...

If we would all live by, do no harm, what a better world we would have. May the voices of reason unite to become the change our world desperately needs. Fantastic piece Kay!

Margaret said...

... truly, a sobering philosophy. Wish I could say I don't agree... but I see great truth here... sigh.

aprille said...

I don't for a second think you are unhealthy :-)
You may be in poor health, but I reckon you are extremely health-giving and healthful. And of course, it is such a pity our voices don't count for enough.

Jinksy said...

If everyone followed your 'do no harm', the world would be a better place...

California Girl said...

heartbreaking commentary.

many of us in the States feel similarly.

Penelope Puddlisms said...

Interesting philosophical musings, Kay, that has me agreeing with many of your ideas! I love pondering, too, the way you did in this post and suspect that as Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
When voices speak up, there are ears to hear. Fear of identity is what prevents the voices speaking up thus the ears never hear.

It is a sad fact that governments everywhere have lost their ears - constantly seeking ways to punish and prevent the voices speaking up.

But voices WILL speak up, in small quiet courage and among all the ears other voices will be found and so the world goes round.

Here's a voice, it spoke out strong and eyes acting as ears have heard. There are some who will agree and others will not. But the voice has spoken.

Marian said...

oh Kay, such a well-penned rumination on what should be obvious to all. greed overpowers kindness. oh how i wish that were not the truth.

hedgewitch said...

Have been watching the coverage of the latest horrific spill of toxic oil waste up there--the Native Americans on whose land some of it occurred say 'it killed every tree, every bush--there's nothing living there now.' It frightened me, that we could, collectively as a species, allow greed to so dominate us that we could not just kill other species without a second thought, but our own. I think the people responsible have learned that money will get them out of every consequence, but I'm thinking they may have miscalculated, and all of us will pay. A fine, clear bit of essay, Kay. Thanks for it.

Helen said...

... as Susan mentioned, I would also love to spend an afternoon conversing, sharing stories with you. Tea and scones?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Kay, you nailed it. I drank in every word so gratefully. One can only hope the system topples and we are forced to change because that seems to be the only way we will. GREAT write, kiddo!!!!! And I loved "if I'm not in charge of the dog...."

Heaven said...

How sad dear but we do need more than a voice to echo the message ~ Thanks for the personal share Kay ~ have a good weekend ~

Herotomost said...

Kay, OMG you hit so many nails directly on the head I'm going to start calling you the Holy cow, from the basic mantra of do no harm, which may be the mother of philosophies, right down to the worrisome future of our children, you have written an essay that invokes thought, fear and a need for change on a global scale. I am very happy that you decided to pick up that keyboard of yours for this ally makes me think.

Joyful said...

I think if we all do our little bit to improve things, things will be better or at least won't get worse. Some people don't seem to have an interest in doing anything to make things better. That makes me frustrated but frustration isn't a positive type of energy so I try to avoid getting to that point ;-) It's great instead to think positively of people and the many good things that they are doing. It's also inspiring. I know you do good wherever you can so that makes you a change agent in my book. Hugs. xx

Joyful said...

p.s. I forgot to mention that I am disappointed in how far Canada has fallen as a country on the world stage as a peace maker.

Anonymous said...

Very profound thoughts - and we are certainly seeing plenty of degradation in our lifetimes. People are just crazy. They are driven by individual economic need (or greed) but are not bearing true cost. Agh. Thanks. k.

Jenny Woolf said...

I too become worried about the future when I think about it. But I think there's something in the idea that actually our world is better than it has ever been in human history right now. We might be heading for extinction (aren't we all?) but we have a better life than other generations of humans who have lived on this planet so far. And we cannot predict the future and never have been able to and this is why most people bumble along not changing things. Having said that, it is so important to stay vigilant because as you point out, WE humble folk are not the ones who make the decisions - it's the politicians who do. And our job is to keep them in check as much as we can. Because you know what, I bet they can't even control their dogs either.

California Girl said...

As cynical as I am I like your sentiment.

Kerry O'Connor said...

All change begins with one voice, one voice to inspire. I don't know the solution when the world is run by an oligarchy of global conglomerates and money is the only material given prime importance. Perhaps the human race has to be brought to its knees before it will change.