“It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy. That is all that really passes for destiny. And you choose it. No one else can give it to you or deny it to you. No rival can steal it from you. And no friend can give it to you. Others can encourage you to make the right choices or discourage you. But you choose.”
I am not a Republican. And I believe that both the Republican and Democratic parties are fractured. That being said, there are a few mavericks (from both parties) who, in my opinion, are solid, respectable, and honorable. One of them is a war hero. Was a war hero.
He died today, at the age of 81 – after a formidable battle with an insidious form of metastatic brain cancer. It was most definitely not his first battle, but sadly his last.
He would have made a great President. One to be proud of.
R.I.P. Senator John McCain
Recent political developments in the United States have caused quite a stir across the globe. Social media is flooded with comments and rantings from both sides of the political spectrum. I myself have contributed to this “animated” discussion. But when someone (be it a friend or a family member) passes away in the middle of all the histrionics, everything screeches to a halt. It’s amazing how quickly we re-align our priorities…. because, at the end of the day, it’s family and friends that really count the most.
There will be other elections. Other presidents. What is done in one term can be undone in another. So, let’s chill out and focus on what really matters.
This post is dedicated to all of our loved ones who have gone too soon. And to the families and friends who are left behind to grieve their loss.
I love the poetry and writings of Kahlil Gibran and I always take the wisdom of his words to heart.
I hope you do, too.
by Kahlil Gibran
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Some great quotes to live by…..
… so, I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days and for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (September), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Greek philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.
PLATO & ARISTOTLE
Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) – School of Athens
Some famous quotes by “The Teacher” — Plato:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.”
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
Plato (427—347 BCE) was born in Athens, of Athenian nobility. He was the devout and most brilliant student of Socrates, and they became close friends. After the death of Socrates, Plato turned his back on Athenian politics. His most productive works were written in the course of three voyages to Sicily. He began to write the dialogues (writing in the form of conversation) ad this became the foundation of his philosophical teachings. Upon returning to Athens, he founded the Academy – the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Aristotle became one of his star pupils and closest associate.
Perhaps the most influential philosopher of all time, Plato is known for his usage of dialectic – a discussion of ideas and insights into the nature of reality. And his philosophy espoused cognitive optimism – a belief in the capacity of the human mind to seek and attain the truth, and to use this truth for the rational and virtuous management of life and government. He believed that all the conflicting elements in society could (and should) be harmonized. Each of these elements will flourish when they coexist in harmony. The existence of such a balanced society is impossible without virtue.
Plato’s Academy remained in existence for another thousand years. Centuries after his death, his philosophical system resurfaced as Neoplatonism.
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Some famous quotes by “The Student” — Aristotle:
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.”
Aristotle (384—322 BCE) was born in Stagira (northern Greece). He was the son of Nichomachus –court physician to the Macedonian royal family. Trained first in medicine, he then later went on to study philosophy with Plato (in Athens). Aristotle was a brilliant student, so much so that he questioned some of Plato’s teachings. After Plato died, Aristotle was not appointed head of the Academy. and so he left Athens for the islands. In 338 B.C.E., he returned to Macedonia to tutor Alexander the Great. When Alexander conquered Athens, Aristotle went there to set up a school of his own, known as The Lyceum. After the death of Alexander the Great, Aristotle opposed Macedonian rule and his rebellion nearly cost him his death. He fled to the island of Euboea, where he later died.
It is believed that Aristotle’s body of written work included as many as 150 philosophical treatises – of which 30 survived. From biology and physics to morals, aesthetics and politics, he wrote prolifically. Although his teacher (Plato) believed ultimate reality was found in ideas or eternal forms, Aristotle saw ultimate reality in physical objects, through experience. But what really distinguished Aristotle from other ancient, medieval and modern philosophers was that, according to him, the universe never had a beginning or an end. It was eternal. He also believed that change was cyclical. In the Middle Ages, Aristotle’s philosophy was adopted and fused into Christian doctrine, forming a philosophical system known as Scholasticism. Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church embraced Aristotelian thought as its official philosophy.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
READ SOME OF THEIR MOST FAMOUS WORKS:
The Trial and Death of Socrates, by Plato
The Republic, by Plato
Apology, by Plato
Politics, by Aristotle
The Neomachian Ethics, by Aristotle
Metaphysics, by Aristotle
“The work of an intellectual is not to mould the political will of others; it is, through the analyses that he does in his own field, to re-examine evidence and assumptions, to shake up habitual ways of working and thinking, to dissipate conventional familiarities, to re-evaluate rules and institutions and to participate in the formation of a political will (where he has his role as citizen to play).” ― Michel Foucault
Discourse on Reality, launching this Wednesday, will focus on current socio-economic, cultural, philosophical and political issues and challenges facing everyday men and women — across the globe. As the title suggests, it is meant to be a forum for intelligent discourse, where people can share ideas, commentary, and information on subjects that are current, relevant and affect our communities — locally, nationwide, worldwide. The objective is to learn, engage, raise awareness and, perhaps, become actively involved in the very causes, issues and challenges that we seek to address and remedy.
It is not my desire to write monologues day in and day out. Dialoguing with oneself becomes tedious after a while. To that end, I will be extending an invitation to anyone who may be interested in writing a guest blog post — within the scope of the subject matter discussed in the blog. The invitation is open to writers, scholars, community leaders, and activists — subject to my approval, per the guest blogging guidelines that will be available for review when Discourse on Reality goes live on Wednesday morning. Non-fiction authors who post a guest blog will also be invited to highlight their latest work on the “Books” page.
Discourse on Reality embraces diversity. This means: people from all walks of life, all cultures, all religions, all nationalities and ethnicities, all political and philosophical leanings, all genders and orientations.
Discourse on Reality will not provide a forum for hate, bigotry, and profanity. It’s one thing to be passionate about what you believe in, but it is quite another to spew out hateful commentary.
One blog will be posted by 9 am EDT daily, from Monday to Friday. Each day will focus on one theme, as follows:
MONDAYS – Socio-economic Issues (i.e. hunger, homelessness, health, education, environment and more)
TUESDAYS – Economic Issues (i.e. the economy, business, technology, and more)
WEDNESDAYS – Cultural Issues (i.e. civil rights, human rights, and more)
THURSDAYS – Philosophical & Political Issues (i.e. commentary on current political events/news, ideology, religion)
FRIDAYS – Philanthropy and Humanitarianism (i.e. role models and visionaries, non-profit organizations, humanitarian efforts and disaster relief, sustainability, and more)
I hope that those of you who have been tuning in to my heatherfromthegrove (a writer’s musings) blog will also check out Discourse on Reality this Wednesday.
As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.
Thanks for stopping by!
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As we wrap up poetry week @ heatherfromthegrove, enjoy this last one.
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John Greenleaf Whittier – born on December 17, 1807, in Haverhill, Massachusetts – dubbed as one of the “Fireside Poets“, this American Quaker was an ardent and vocal advocate for the abolition of slavery. His first poem was published in 1826, in a publication called the Newburyport Free Press. The paper’s editor was abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and it was Garrison who encouraged Whittier to take up the abolitionist cause – which he did on a local, state and national level. He was involved with the formation of the Republican party and was keenly engaged in politics. Whittier edited papers in Boston and Hartford (Connecticut) and – from 1857 until his death on September 7, 1892 – he was associated with the magazine, Atlantic Monthly.
Forgiveness – although famous for his lengthy poems, the most popular being Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll, this poem is one of his shortest and is often quoted because of its quiet but clear message of “forgive those who trespass against us.” Only when we forgive, can we truly heal. Forgiveness is freeing. And, to quote a line from the Prayer of St. Francis, “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”
Poem via poemhunter.com.
Image via pimminag.com.
His “office” ― Winnie’s, on Crescent Street (now named Nick Auf der Maur Street)
Je me souviens, indeed.
I was lucky enough to have been born and raised in Montréal, when the city was in its prime. I was a child during the 1960s and a teenager during the first three quarters of the 1970s. Whether we were anglophone or francophone, lived to the west of or to the east of Boulevard St-Laurent, politically “engagé” on the left or on the right ― we all could agree on one thing: what a vibrant, beautiful and culturally rich city we lived in! A cornucopia of brilliant intellectuals, musicians, artists, doctors, architects, street entertainers, chefs, business owners, restaurants, cafés and bars. The city boasted the best nightlife in all of Canada. The world fair (Expo ’67) in Montréal attracted people from every corner of the globe and oh, what a wonderful time we all had! And, over the years, one political drama after another kept everyone talking, debating, philosophizing and, yes, writing.
And at the city’s epicenter was journalist, politician, boulevardier (man about town) and Montréalais extraordinaire ― Nick Auf der Maur (a man who was true to his surname – translated from Swiss to English as “Off the Wall”).
In last Friday’s Montréal Gazette article, entitled “Remembering Nick: paying tribute to a Montreal original,” Bill Brownstein writes, and I quote:
“Rather, Auf der Maur was simply a former downtown city councillor and Gazette columnist — not normally the stuff of legends. He was also a world-class boulevardier and tippler and indiscriminate butt-pincher with a penchant for Borsalino headwear, Donald Duck ties and stinky Gitane smokes. And he was a friend to so many from so many different walks, as well as being the go-to guy for those from outside Montreal who wanted the goods on the city...
… Most importantly, Auf der Maur embraced all of Montreal. He was one of the precious few anglos whose voice carried well beyond the Main. He had street cred among francos as well as anglos. As the late Liberal leader Claude Ryan once put it: he was the only anglo who could fill a hall east of St. Laurent Blvd, the city’s Mason-Dixon linguistic line to many.“
If Ernest Hemingway and Nick Auf der Maur had ever crossed paths, they would ― I am certain ― have become lifelong friends.
Alas, Nick’s life was cut short (by cancer) at the age of 55. He didn’t live long, but he did live well. His charisma, humour, kindness and mischievous twinkle captivated many. His funeral service, held at St. Patrick’s Basilica (in Montréal), was standing room only with 3000+ people in attendance.
Nick died on this day, back in 1998. We remember him with a wistful smile and we raise a glass of our favorite spiritual concoction in his honour.
Yes, those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end.
NICK AUF DER MAUR
April 10, 1942 – April 7, 1998
Click on these links (below), for more on Nick:
An excellent book: Nick: A Montréal Life
A short film: Man About Town: Boulevardier
Images via wikipedia.org.