Archive for February, 2014

I too would love to know your answers to these questions. And will post my answers later.

101 Books

Here we go again.

It’s the fifth edition of Literary Would You Rather, a fun little game I started doing on the blog back in October 2012.

You know the drill, so let’s get started:

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The Gold Standard

 

A child finds a shiny rock in a creek, thousands of years ago, and the human race is introduced to gold for the first time.

Gold has been around since the very beginning of time, I mean, if you look at old pictures, even the fruit in the Garden of Eden is shinning gold.

There is the river Pison out of Eden, and “the land of Havilah, where there is gold: and the gold of that land is good”

The Incas referred to gold as the “tears of the Sun.”

Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” makes mention of gold as the glory of immortals

A sign of wealth among ordinary humans. 

The first metal widely known.

The historical progress of technology,

development of iron and copper-working is the greatest contributions to our species’ economic and cultural progress –

but gold came first.

The earliest history of human interaction with gold is long lost to us, but its association with the gods, with immortality, and with wealth itself are common to many cultures throughout the world.

Early civilizations equate gold with gods and rulers,

Gold was sought in their name

dedicated to their glorification

Humans intuitively place high value on gold,

equating it with power, beauty, and  elite.  

Gold, beauty, and power have always gone together. In ancient times Gold was made into shrines and idols (“the Golden Calf”), plates, cups, vases vessels of all kinds, and jewelry for personal adornment. Makes the wearer feel important, vital, essential.

The ‘value’ of gold was accepted all over the world. The intrinsic appeal of gold itself has that universal appeal to humans-The Midas Effect-The Gollum Obsession. Is all that glitters truly Gold?

But how did gold come to be a commodity, a measurable unit of value?

Since gold is widely distributed all over the globe,

Gold, measured out, became money.

Gold’s beauty, scarcity, unique density

the ease of being melted, formed, measured

made it a natural trading medium. 

The concept of money allowed the World’s economies to expand and prosper.

A monetary standard made the world economy possible. The world economy that is bending and melting faster that the ice caps…as we assume the position: on your mark get set…GOLD

 

has always been powerful stuff-material, substance, matter, things, objects, bits and pieces, possessions.

Chains, slave bands, wedding bands that bend all too easily.

I am not trying to be a goldmine of information, but listen carefully

Even though we put gold on the highest platform

The Greeks had a different word for excellence.  And the concept of a human-specific excellence is a legacy of the Greeks.  Indeed, the Greek word areté is translated into many words it is  thin, almost knife-like now. 

Virtue, goodness, and excellence. 

it tends to mean “being the best you can be,” or

“reaching your highest human potential.”

Reaching for the gold

These are the people who created the Olympics, because Arete also encompasses all that is competition.

 

Now step back and think about this for a minute.

 

The notion that it is possible to aim ourselves at our potential is rather an astonishing assumption to make.

So far as we know, house cats, horse flies and hippos do not assume that self-improvement is a worthwhile activity. But human beings do. They make this astonishing assumption about themselves.

In our society, we tend to believe–without any hard proof, mind you– that we each have a potential that we can and, more importantly, should work toward realizing. In fact, most people agree that the best of us are those who strive to lead lives of excellence, who seek to perform at the peak of our abilities no matter the circumstances. Do we still have a heart of gold? Or

The Greeks gave us one of the oldest answers to the question of what is an educated person? 

An educated person is one who more fully realizes his or her potential for excellence, one who strives to lead an excellent life. Not one who is handed a metal of gold for doing what one is suppose to do.

Whether we agree with this or not, it is an answer that is still very much on the table in this debate, as we will no doubt discover in our own time.

It is better for you to be free of fear lying upon a pallet, than to have a golden couch and a rich table and be full of trouble.

Competition is, of course, one of the sacred words of the American vocabulary and of its capitalistic economy; it was the force that drives forward the advance of material progress and prosperity, that spurs the discoveries of science, that hastens the development of the arts.

We know too that competition was the essential element in ancient Greek and especially Athenian culture. Yet if you try to think of a corresponding abstract noun in Ancient Greek you will think for a long time. 

The word is Agon, which our agony has its roots. 

Are we a slave to the gold, to victory?

To standing on the highest podium marker? 

Or have we, in our quest to conquer all that is gold, found ourselves in agony? 

Hateful strife that gave birth to painful toil. . .

famine and fearful sorrow, fighting, battle, murder, slaughter, quarrels, lies, disputes, lawlessness and ruin. . .

“Wild honey smells of freedom 
The dust – of sunlight 
The mouth of a young child, like a violet
But gold – smells of nothing anymore because there is no longer value in all of our gold.

 

In fact, Plato speaks of life free of all the domestic and common worries of the ordinary man, as happier than the life men believe most happy, they were always reminding the winner that he is still a human being, not a god.

Not made of gold.

“Gold to airy thinness beat.” 

What glitters may not be gold; and even wolves may smile; and fools will be led by promises to their deaths.”

So what has happened?

But yet we have so many people today that strive

to be the most powerful,

who think they are gods, with a little g, but prideful nonetheless. 

Is this the gold standard we have today?  

The singer and activist Harry Belafonte confesses in his new autobiography, “My Song,” that he learned a thing or two about raising kids. “I wanted to give my children all they wanted, all I hadn’t had. In so doing I may have deprived them of what they needed most: the grit and the tools, to take on the world and make their own way.” Surely, Belafonte, like most parents, wanted the best for his kids. But he rightly asks if it is best to reward them for just showing up.  No.  It isn’t. 

Just showing up does not get you the gold.  Just showing up does not equate to arête! You have to make something happen.

We all have to strive through the agony, with arête and stop thinking we are as good as gold.

We aren’t.

“Gold conjures up a mist about a man, more destructive of all his old senses and lulling to his feelings than the fumes of charcoal.”

After studying children’s coping and resilience mechanisms for over 40 years, a Stanford researcher says too much praise may lead to less resilient children. Acknowledging children’s every day achievements, will likely have negative repercussions on their motivation to work toward them. “Parents should take away the fact that they are not giving their children a gift when they tell them how brilliant and talented they are.” 

Sometimes you’ve got to pull up your big girl panties and deal with the negative-with not earning gold.

Perhaps if we didn’t put such a golden child price tag in every athlete or rock star or Hollywood star—

Perhaps if we offered the gold, silver and bronze for actual achievements, kids would learn lessons that better served their needs as adults.

Perhaps if we let them lose and teach them to congratulate those who win, we would help them build the motivation and endurance needed to face real life challenges, e.g. sustaining a long-term marriage or securing and maintaining good employment-getting off welfare-stop begging with a hand out and start working with two hands—four very elusive trophies in today’s world.

“There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,
Doing more murder in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.” 

The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

You won’t be a vice president with a car, and free cell phone until you earn them.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping—they called it opportunity.

Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you are.

In some schools they have abolished failing grades.

This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself.

Do that on your own time.

Television is not real life.  Even reality TV isn’t real anymore, but yet they still keep crowning a victor

Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.

Life is not fair—get used to it! Nothing is handed out on a golden platter or in a golden spoon…ever!

Accomplishment =Competition+success =the next gold standard.

 

A child finds a shiny rock in a creek, thousands of years ago, and the human race is introduced to gold for the first time, and continues to vie for it, claw and scratch for it, devour it to make us all feel worthy. Don’t be a Midas and lose everything trying to obtain as much as you can.

The only thing you should do is remember the golden rule and that Every moment is a golden opportunity for him who has the vision to recognize it.
  

 

 

A Little Stone: The Rippling Repercussions of Bookshaming by Priscilla Thomas.