Friday, November 07, 2008

Words Are Organic

I have thought about my parents a few times this week because my parents loved President Kennedy. They had two hardcover photography books of the First Family. I think one of them was a Time-Life publication. It might have been called Camelot. And sometimes my mum would pull them out...and many times over the years the subject of where they were when he was shot would come up at family gatherings.

I think I understand aa bit more why the motif of that First Family was so dear to their hearts, how J and J Kennedy reflected their ideals at that period of their lives...and even how their eventual pessisim and cynicism...their change in life choices became more selfish etc. I feel now that the robbery of Kennedy's life and the crushing of those ideals...refelcted or connected to the changes my parents went trhough...from hope and family or community to a more cynical and self interested phase: were a little like an act of self-protection from disappointment.

My parents really believed later in life that there wasn't any value in hope or their attitude towards ideals was extremely suspicious. They had seen that dreams and ideals could be killed: community energy could be ripped away. I guess also with Nixon scandal too.

I see a metaphor in Obamas accomplishments ...to the Berlin Wall being torn down (November, 1989). The young people who tore down the Berlin wall had learned vital lessons from Tiananmen Square(spring, and June 1989). They spread word of mouth and knew how to rally much much more prepared than the students in Tiananmen did...because they were able to study the media coverage and the fallout.

In this way...Obama may have a lot of a mess and intense challenges...but his staff and his advisors also have the wealth of history on "what not to do" and how to mobilize from taking notes on the last 50 years...much like the word-of-mouth activists and mobilizing of the Berlin Wall take down.

Contrary to the idea that Reagan was influential o the Berlin Wall coming down...it was actually rock and roll and a movement building slowly unknown by people like Reagan. The influence of bands like Pink Floyd mirror the influence of Will.i.am in the Obama campaign and it's grassroots energy.

I think one thing that has hit me this week is the difference in the kind of sense of hope from us now to the kind of hope of people shocked by tragedy (and then becoming cynical or self protectionist).

I am thinking of Victor Frankl's idea of a tragic optimism...one that knows about the tragic side of history and humans...but being re-visited and felt by so many of us now...

I have heard in some of my other web board encounters a kind of "warning" like...too much hope is unrealistic...etc etc

But I think part of what the naysayers are missing is that the hope or excitement of people right now isn't a naive hope or a hope with vested interest in materialism or pay back. But hope spiritually or emotionally combined as well as "taking care of business". This is why Obama's popularity and his platforms have not only been a victory for African-Americans and for variety of skin colour...they are a victory for people who have not been part of the materialistic trends or feel they want to re-evaluate society's function of the last 50 years.

I think hope has evolved it's meaning or layers of meaning in the last 50 years...

As an example, according to Victor Frankl meaning can be discovered in three ways:

* By creating a work or doing a deed
* By experiencing something or encountering someone
* By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering

The “existential aspect of Frankl’s psychotherapy maintains man always has the ability to choose; no matter the biological, or environmental forces. An important aspect of this therapy is known as the “tragic triad,” pain, guilt, and death. Frankl’s “Case for a Tragic Optimism” uses this philosophy to demonstrate…

“optimism in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential, which at its best always allows for:

Firstly, turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment.

Secondly, deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better.

Thirdly, deriving from life transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action."


Related Links:

My visit to Dealey Plaza last year
Victor Frankl
An interview with Victor Frankl on YouTube

13 comments:

tweetey30 said...

I have to admit I dont know what to think of our new president but on the other hand I hope he keeps what he promised to us Americans... I mean some get in and dont keep a word they said they were going to change for the American people. Well I just hope he can.. Well hope things are good for the two of you.

Candy Minx said...

Hey Tweetey, well, he seemed fairly commited to keeping his goals in his press conference this afternoon. I think the issue will be if he can find the people who WILL also be invested in the platforms he advocates. I was pretty impressed with him speaking with the press today.

Bridget Jones said...

CM, your thoughts are close to my own. My family lived near Boston when Kennedy was in office, and even though I was quite young (12), I can remember the vitality, energy, hope and drive for good that was everywhere. When JFK died, it was if all of us had been transported to somewhere dark and dank, that wasn't relieved in any way until Regan came along, and that only lasted a bit. The air's lightening up with Obama, and long may it grow.

Gardenia said...

My goodness, this was deep - and soooo insightful. I think you are so right about hope and I think yes, that a collective hope turned inward after the Kennedy assassination. (My at first urgent prayer for Obama has been for safety and will continue to be.) Anyway, I realized my shift to hope with this election was pinpointed by you....a turn from the self protectionalism if you will - to some renewal of hope outside of myself - for the world.
You want to know smething funny? I have all of Obama's books and have delved into the first one - I want to "know" this man.

pjazzypar said...

Thanks for sharing your insights. Did you notice that Obama gave is acceptance from behind bullet proof glass? I visited the Sixth Street Museum last year (I think we talked about this before) and found it to be a fanscinating, but extremely sad place.

Candy Minx said...

Bridget, interesting stuff. It's strange the memories we have as kids huh? And its also amazing how much children pick up on ...I had this distinct memory of my parents changing...or else it was me startig to see the world ina differnt way? Thanks! I love the Boston area...you must have a lot of interesting memories from those days.

Gardenia, I am glad to hear you feel some hope or lightening. I am always nervous when Obama is publicly speaking...this week he's been folllowed a lot and I began to really notice the secret service folks. We all have a self protection. Also, I think there is a fear of "looking sentimental" too or of being soft if we believe in things. It's been so popular to be cynical and "know everything" Nothing new under the sun etc. I think thats why so many people hate on movies and music...they want to sound "worldy".

Pjazzypar, I was kind of fre flwoing thinking on this. Hard to say if it's "correct" or if I am on to something...more stream of conscious...no I did not see or have any idea Obama was speaking behind a sheild...it makes sense though. Sad but better safe right? Oh yes, we must have been to the 6th Floor Museum near the same time. It was fascinating! And I was brought to tears many times. I think Obama has a simialr quality as Kennedy in the interest and love from all around the world.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Candy. I've been reminded of the Berlin Wall repeatedly since the election. That sense of the people, fed up with the current situation, standing up in a powerful display of unity and saying "enough". We're so lucky to have the democratic machinery to do this as part of a normal election cycle. Even so, the drama was breathtaking and deeply moving. Think what those East Germans had to brave to get their way.

The idea of tragic hopefulness is spot on. One hopes, too, that the realism we've developed will also keep Obama safe. No more rides in open cars or pauses on balconies deep in "hostile" territory. Just as you reacted strongly to Bhutto's behavior that contributed to her death, I have to suppress a certain amount of anger at JFK and MLK for not taking better care of themselves. MLK might not have been able to avoid his fate, but, with all the security available to him, JFK certainly could have.

Back to the Berlin wall: it would be a useful exercise to see how Germany squandered all the good will and positive energy from the opening of the wall. Nowadays, you often hear sloppy talk of how nice it would be to have the wall back. A lot of lazy compromises were made back then that insured stillstand. That stillstand has allowed extremist parties to gain a foothold that has led to violence against foreigners, etc. Fortunately, the rest of Eastern Europe appears to have taken a more dynamic path.

Candy Minx said...

Greg, hi, aahh...you know...I always thought there was something about the time when Kennedy was killed and how vulnerable the situation was in the convoy. I used to think...it was an innocent time and he was so trusting. But when I went to the Smithsonian once...I saw a display of Presidential personal artifacts. They had on display T. Roosevelt's glasses with a bullet mark from an attempt on his life. I realized I had been naive and that the risk comes with the position...just like many leaders and kings. I found out there had been something like 15 attempts on various Presidents. Maybe Kennedy was too confident in the press and adoration of people he forgot not all people feel the same way. I feel very bad for anyone in public positions. Compare to singer Jennifer Hudson whose family lived in a regular neighbourhood etc. Her familly must not have realized they might be targets just because she was famous and financially successful.

Forget the hassle of tabloids...there is a real risk in being famous on any level!

I want to look into what you say about how Germany has squandered the compassion of the Berlin wall coming down. Has anyone written a book on this aspect?

When I was in Germany...I was very struck by how aware people were of being tolerant and well versed in community equality and sensitive to minorities. The reports on skin heads in the last 7 years was depressing.

tshsmom said...

I like your take on the election!

If nothing else, the election has given us HOPE!

Gardenia said...

Candy, revisiting your writing. I enjoyed this post so much! It is puzzling, that people seem afraid to hope for one reason or another, but it just isn't cool to admit that - so from there it gets complicated and you broke it down so well.

I relate to everything emotionally, so see things from this point of view - I think the thing that swayed my vote finally was the negativity, the emotional impact of fear, derision, and even hate, coming from the other party - to elect someone on the basis of fear seemed to me to give power to more fear, so I went with the opposite: hope.

The possibility of so much danger crossed through my mind one night as I prayed for our president elect and his family - I was shocked. More shocked when I later found out there was a plot.

Who, on earth, would want that job? It doesn't pay that well.

It will be interesting to look back on all this in a few years.

Candy Minx said...

Whew, Gardenia, you have hit on something...about how so many people are more comfortable with fear than they are with hope. And if hope is too strong a word, how about happy? The thing about fear is one has to give up options of peace of mind and calm and happiness in order to allow fear to rule. Yikes!

I think there are a lot of things, hope or fear aside...that are much more grounded and interesting to watch in the next year. The people that Obama picks to work with...I think he has already made some great choices. I am fascinated and have a fiar bit of respect for Rahm Emanuel. (did you know he lives a block away from us? We see him and his family all the time and say "hi") I am interested in some of the options Obama has with people who are dedicated thinkers and workers and with tons of experience. The two most obvious people are JohnKerry and Hilary Clinton. I think John Kerry should be for Defense.

And then there is all the more light hearted but not less interesting stuff to watch for...like what other amazing dresses will Michelle Obama wear? Where will the children go to school? What kind of dog will they get? Will they build an indoor basketball court? (there is already an outdoor basketball court!) Will the Obamas redecorate the White House? Who will be the traditional poet at Obama's inauguration? (Maya Angelo was there for Clinton, Robert Frost for Kennedy)

We have a lot to work towards and to think about to watch in the coming year.

Janet said...

That's why I've become cynical...I'm sick of disappointment. But...I still have hope! And on the plus side, I'm also an eternal optimist. Weird combo, eh?

Candy Minx said...

Janet..."tragic optimism" I think thats the way to go!