So. I don’t think people in the United States have been educated enough into thoughtful reasoning. Voters vote against their own self interest. Taxes get cut, but then so do services and people blame leaders. Being a leader becomes very uncomfortable. So then the only people willing to serve are extremely ambitious, obsessive, angry or partisan. In his book, “Servant Leadership,” Greenleaf mentions that leaders need to be cultivated and sought out byÂ groups. Today leaders are shot down constantly in our society, figuratively and literally. So only the grimly determined survive, usually questionably motivated.
Library services are being cut severely in Michigan. Education is being cut. Whose responsibility is it? The politicians? Nope. It’s everyone’s responsibility. Right now when I hear complaining, I respond (usually inside my head but not always, sometimes outloud) what’s happening in our state and country must be what people want to have happen.
Education must be a lower priority than less taxes. Bush got re-elected because a majority of voters subscribe to some or most of his policies. I disagree with both of this situations but am willing to accept that I am in the minority and will continue to exercise my responsibility as a citizen to inform myself and vote and even write a letter to somebody once in a while.
Reading a book requires sustaining thought. Sustaining thought longer than the number of lines on a screen or minutes in a television broadcast. It takes thought to look beyond the propaganda of most of the news reporting in the world, much less in the USA. Partisans are often surprised when their agendas are applied to themselves or someone they love. I think this is a lack of foresight or reasoning.
When I am asked to explain why Proust is important to me I usually feel like I do a lousy job. Then I remember that Proust took seven volumes to say what he had to say. And that he had a fine mind that I continue to learn from.
Conversation can illuminate. And in some way I think of reading as extended conversation. Proust has taught me things about life experience, memory and the “aha” moment.Â There is so much more to his ideas than the basic shock of unbid memories that come to him from his teacup.
I guess I think that community is the womb of ideas. The concept of community is very weak in the USA right now. I look to my small group of friends and family but even more so to the peopleÂ who have recorded their responses to living.
This means books, music, poetry and art.
Recently I have been playing through the music of an obscure Cuban-American composer, Rene Touzet. Since he is obscure, it intensifies the effect that his notions about music (playfulness, dance, elegance) come directly from him to me via the notes he wrote down (mostly in his old age). It is like a transmission from him (now dead) to me through the medium of beauty. He is teaching me even though we will never meet.
This is true to some extent of much of the music, poetry and writing I read. It’s why I seek out the stuff of the past. Not because I think it is a heritage I need to preserve but because it continues to help me learn how to live and enjoy life.