Crocodile Tears

Success isn't about the money you make.  It's about the difference you make in peoples lives. 

Really? On reading these recently well-published lines recited at the latest political convention,  I questioned what one had to do with the other:  what the money I make has to do with what I may mean to another person.

Questioning, a Socratic method for an intellectual understanding of the world, has been an important element in my life. Fortunately it has not been my only resource. Good fortune, too, that what I accept without understanding does not negate or require me to forego critical analysis.

I know well how a simple moment's welcome embrace of optimism may surrender critical analysis.  Love, they say, is blind.  I know also that I've come to need a sustained optimism that absolutely requires freedom from any and all emotional blackmail.  And emotional blackmail is always the feeling I have when put upon to exchange a spiritual value for a  material value.

Success describes a favorable material outcome.  When material outcome has not been favorable I cannot find any comfort in re-assigning the notion of success to another realm.  A re-assigning so entire that the economic issue becomes altogether negated.  Which is exactly what such a statement is designed to do and I just don't like it.

What I may like even less is the implication that spiritual concerns trump material considerations. Why should they? And why should a spiritual concern be held hostage by any concern with the material?

In coming to see the uberRich as essentially greedy and mean-spirited have we been victimized by the notion that poverty brings about a greater spiritual life?  I think the first is probably more common than not.  I also fail to see the truth in the opposite's extrapolation:  when impoverished the spiritual life is enhanced.

Both political parties seem to require a high level of emotion rather than a calm collected look at current economic and environmental realities.  I see men and women become weepy-eyed, hands over their hearts gazing at the flag on the podium and I think crocodile tears. Meaningless displays. A brief passing emotion utterly lacking in integrity.

All I really want is a reasonably intelligent, reasonably competent person in the White House.  I don't want to have love him (wouldn't a her be great?).   I don't even need to like him overly much. I don't need the president to have a popular spouse or adorable children.  It's a job.  Maybe if the focus were on that and that alone we might get closer to a bit of sanity in this modern man-made world.

I once touched an alligator, as close as I'll probably ever get to a crocodile.  She was leg-bound and snout-wrapped,  ready to be re-located or I'm sure she would have eaten the hand I used to stroke her strangely marshmellow-like belly.  She was alert, contained and indifferent to our mummer'd sounds of wonder.  Every part of her being was held in readiness for freedom from her bonds.  But she did not cry.

I think of her today and imagine her living in one of the last great swamps.  Sunning herself on a grassy bank.  Mating when the urge is upon her.  Laying her eggs in a small hole dug with all the alligator care in the world.  Floating under a blue, white-cloud filled sky.  I think of her and can not help but envy the integrity of her life.  She did not cry when bound.  She did not shed a tear.