Saturday, August 18, 2012

Life in My World – Political Science, Parks, Pinballs and People, and Purple Pie

Political Science.  I have only the final to take in my political science class.  Argh.  It has been a hard class.  Not good hard either, hard hard.  The text was a tangled mass of verbiage.  Here is a sample:

Augustine’s view of the fallen world is indeed the concrete world of our experience that always falls short of any ideal unity, particularly any ideal political or ethical unity. Plato would respond that this world is only real to the extent that it reflects the unchanging patterns of the higher realm of forms where there is no change or limit. For Augustine, this meant that evil has no essential being. It may exist, but it has no genuine reality or essential nature: it is the absence of form, that is, the absence of good. This view of the negation or darker side of existence is even clearer in Neoplatonic thought. Here, the material world appears as evil. It reveals itself as passion and desire tending inherently toward chaos and corruption, resisting the higher form of spirit that moves in the direction of order and unity. In the moral realm, Kant admits as much when he argues that the very absence of justice and perfect rationality in the moral affairs of this world requires that we believe in a higher realm where perfect judgment is rendered by a perfect judge.  Hegel points out how the existence of such negativity haunts the most carefully worked out philosophies of thinkers who, as we have seen, seek to account for such differences by excluding negativity as merely contingent or illusory. Nevertheless, passion and irrationality, war, violence, confusion, and a swirling void of meaning seem to stand in the margins of the most carefully reasoned systems as if to mock the dream of a rational and just world.  Hegel’s solution to this seemingly insoluble problem is to show how it is both futile and unnecessary to exclude negativity from reason’s calculations, since negativity is actually constituent to— an essential element of—a rational understanding of the metaphysical unity that philosophy had so long desired.

Page after page after page of this with a speed-back assignment at the end where truth looked false and false looked true.  (After spending five hours on one test and being as ignorant as I was before I began it, I prayed, “Thou knowest I need to pass.  Thou knowest these classes are expensive.  Thou knowest I don’t understand.  Thou knowest I have a time frame.  Wilt thou please help me?”  I pushed a button on the computer to continue working on the test and accidentally erased all my answers.  I groaned, “Noooooooooooo …………………”  With so little comprehension and twisted sentences there was no way I could remember what answers to choose again.  It was late at night when this happened, so I doggedly began working through the assignment again.  After forty-five minutes I submitted the test again with a ready-or-not attitude.  I got a B!  I was very excited and wondered if the Lord hadn't said it would be easier to wipe the slate clean and start me over rather than try and inspire corrections to wrong guesses.  I wonder what Aristotle, Locke, Machiavelli, Kant, and Marx have to say about that.) 

I had hoped to learn more from the course, but I am glad for the things I plucked.  Summed up simply:  there have been two basic philosophies of governance through the centuries, either you celebrate the individual or you champion the group.  Those that believe the individual should be acknowledged rely on self-governance, while those who champion the group believe that the rank and file do not have the capability to govern themselves and must be provided and cared for by the few who do have the ability.  There are different arguments within those two reasonings (“the end always justifies the means,” “man is inherently evil,” “man is inherently good,” “ownership of property is the beginning of destruction,” “ownership of property is the key to success,” etc.), but one of those two ideas of governance – protect the individual or protect the group –  settled to the bottom of every philosopher’s pot.     

Parks.  Yesterday I read the letter from a young man who will soon return from the mission field early.  He had some things in his life that needed correcting, so he will return home to make those corrections.  It was an inspiring letter.  A little later in the day I watched this video:

"for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved." (Alma 32:13)

I’m grateful the Lord has the power and ability to turn our slums into parks and make the ugly things of life into something useful and of great purpose when we turn to Him.  

Pinballs and People.  We had such a great time with the few days Cali and Levin spent here this week.  The fact that people in our families come in all ages, shapes, and sizes make families that much better.  

Recently Ray and Cali went to see Ray’s grandmother in a care center.  For a short time, Ray and Levin were in the foyer of the building while the residents were in the adjoining dining room.  Levin made his way to the door of the dining room and as the people caught sight of him, table by table the room went silent.  The residents smiled at seeing him and watched every move carefully. 

Recently I was visiting with a friend about the decision of moving into assisted living.  She confessed, “One of the reasons I don’t want to go is because there are no young people there, there are just us old people.  I need young people, too.” 

I thought about both of these scenarios when I took Levin outside one morning.  He bounced from place to place like a little steel ball in a pinball machine.  First he helped while I pulled weeds from the strawberry bed.   Next he went to the flowerpots, never quite trusting that he had permission to dig in them.  Next he went to the flatbed trailer parked in the driveway and patted his hands on the wooden slats in a drumming pattern.  When he caught his reflection in the car door, he went to see it and while he was there he looked underneath the car to see what was there.  Then he went back to the flowerpots, then back to the trailer.  When a bucket caught his eye, he toddled to it and tried to carry it across the grass.  He stumbled on it several times before he deserted it and then saw grapes hanging from the vines.  He reached up to pick a few and then went back to the trailer to pound on it.  Watching him bounce from discovery to discovery was so satisfying and entertaining.  I need young people, too.

Purple Pie.  Last night for a date, I made a blackberry pie and ice cream to eat while we watched Sherlock Holmes II.  I didn’t have any tapioca so I added flour to the pie instead.  Because we ate the pie warm, and the filling hadn't had time to set, some of the filling oozed out into the place where we took our pieces.  This morning I scooped out the oozed filling and made blackberry syrup for our pancakes from it.  It was great!  Especially because I had made some coconut syrup as well so we mixed the two together.  I'm not a great recycler, but I am good at repurposing.   


Alisa said...

I loved that video- shared with Jsy this morning and I am certain that he will share it with someone else.

Becky said...

What a great video.

Just this week I had the chance to share my past with someone who is currently going through something similar. Later, I shared with Jeff that the only way I knew how to move past all of that was to turn it into something useful and that I was grateful that I have been able to help so many people because of the negative experiences I have had. I am proof that the Lord does indeed know how to reclaim...thank you for this beautiful reminder.

Jill said...

Wow, that sounds like a hard class! I have a tough time focusing on passages like that. Congratulations on the B!!

That video made me cry! I am thankful I can be forgiven and changed.

I need young people too.

melanie said...

Yes, congrats on your B! I'm proud of you.

I have yet to watch a Mormon Message this year that I couldn't apply to my own life. I love this video, I cried too. I'm grateful that I have the infinite gift of the Atonement in my life. The talk is good too.

When we go visit my grandma, the residents at her place love my kids. They all stop and talk baby talk. I think they do miss those little faces. I need little people too. How did you remember that sequence of events? Levin is busy, busy.

Kathy said...

What a fun world...

Brenda Goodrich said...

Hmmm, first of all, good job on that political science class. Ayn Rand is easier to read and seems to come to the same conclusion that you did:) And, I appreciated your remarks in class today because they needed to be said and you did it sweetly. Babies around the elderly are magical. We used to go to Spokane to visit BettyLou's mother in a nursing home and it would take Ken forever to get to her room because every single person wanted a chance to touch or hold a baby. It made me uncomfortable, but Ken had been around elderly people a lot and understood the longing.
You're a peach.

Grace said...

Ugh. I got a sick feeling for you when I read that you deleted all your answers. That is the WORST! I'm SO happy you had such a good outcome though! Good job!!!

I loved that video. Thank you for sharing that. I love you!

Deidra said...

Four years of political science classes and I still really don't like classes like that. Sorry you had to go through it. (It reminded me of the readings I had to do for one class. I would read the page, realize I comprehended nothing, then start over. Again and again. So frustrating!)

I visit teach an elderly woman. Her and her sweet husband both were diagnosed with Alzheimer's this summer. Sometimes I think taking Millie is such a bother, but you've made me re-evaluate. They always seem to love her visits, even if I'm trying to keep her out of everything. I think I'll share her with them more often. Because she needs them just as much as they need her.

michelle said...

I thought of Ayn Rand as well.

I love your conclusions. I need young people, too.