this one has a slightly bitter flavor


Unusually I put up 2 posts yesterday. The reason was that Xmas Credo #1 was probably not totally appropriate to Facebook since I am “friends” with many young people and religious people who might find it objectionable or puzzling.

Annex - Fonda, Henry (Wrong Man, The)_02

The banality and disconnect of Xmas sentimentality seems to be telling on me a bit.

As usual I turn to ideas that comfort me with their challenge and edge. ┬áThe rant posted in Xmas Credo #1 struck me as amusing and pertinent. I think it says something clearly about “believing” and the credibility given to surface ideas, images and forms in the wonderful world of American rhetoric, entertainment, art, literature, what have you.


To simultaneously believe (or not believe) in God three ways is easy for me to understand. I usually tell religious people I am an atheist. This clears the air a bit. “I had no idea” one gentlemen responded to me. He had just been expressing anger at how a church community had treated him. I could tell he was re-adjusting my category in his head.


Anyway, I am mentally exhausted and facing more religious responsibilities as the holidays heat up.

I pretty much decided yesterday that Messiaen’s music would not be “happy” enough for the banal Xmas celebrations I am facing. His vision of meaning is one that attracts and makes sense to me. Recently I was rehearsing his music at a piano in a studio and someone walked in and remarked how “tense” the music sounded. It was in fact beautiful to my ears. But this person who was not uneducated in the ways of art and music heard it like movie music I guess.

Wednesday turned out to be a true “hump” day for me this past term. Hopefully today is my last one. Eileen (Mrs. Jupe) and I already have a date to go out tonight after she gets out of work. I look forward to that.

I have been writing very private poetry about my life. I have shown it to no one but quoted bits of it to Eileen.

I sometimes see the hysterical divides in our political discourse (which has leaked into and damaged personal discourse) as empathy versus responsibility.

Empathy is often supposed to be a relativistic, soft-headed liberal response.

Conversely, responsibility can be stereotyped as hard-heartedness, blaming the victim, and thinly disguised selfishness.

I am convinced we need both concepts in our lives. But I have been thinking of the criticisms of empathy that my dead mentor wrote in his book.

However lofty the original concept of empathy (a word that only came into the English language in 1922), societal regression has perverted the concept into a force that sabotages well-differentiated leadership. It is often a power tool in the hands of the dependent who want others who are stronger than they are to adapt to them.

It also serves as a rationalization for the inability of those in helping positions to develop self-control and not enable or interfere, a disguise for unacknowledged anxiety that leads to a quick fix, and an indulgence for those who are not in a position where they have to make tough decisions. But the most deleterious effect on leaders of the subversion of empathy is that it has contributed to a a major misorientation about the factors that go into growth and survival and the nature of what is toxic to life itself.

Ed Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix (1999 edition) p. 28

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