Sunday, December 17, 2006

Adolph Nobody

The Gift, Voyage, Open House, and Adolph Nobody

By John Taylor; 2006 December 17

What is the Gift?

On Thursday night we held our Philosopher's Cafe meeting, subject: "The Gift." This strange topic was suggested by a young woman of a mystic bent, name of Maryanne, at the previous meeting. It turned out to be a fortunate choice, intuitively chosen, and helped my ongoing investigation of property and private ownership. As various people (there were five men and two women present) gave their answer to what "gift" meant for them, it turned out that this idea is obliquely but surprisingly closely linked to property and to questions like, "What do we own?", and, "What can we give?" As always, Stu introduced the topic and set the ball rolling with his own perspective of what gift means. Bruce said that the greatest gift is our own life, and that was hard to argue with. Stan, the founder of this branch of the Socrates Cafe movement, pointed out that "gift" is closely tied to justice and the idea of reciprocity; one friend gives one gift, the other returns it in a different, not always comparable way. As Jesus said, "Cast your bread upon the waters and you will find it coming back to you manifold."

Mark, a teacher at Dunnville High School, told of a gift of inspiration that one of his early teachers gave him without even knowing it. He suggested that a good student should delve deeper in the information that was handed out, to make it her own by taking, shaking and baking it (my own inadequate phrasing). Mark always remembered this lesson and now, as a teacher himself, tries to return the gift by giving it to his own students.

The question came up of whether bad things that happen can be thought of as gifts. If you are born blind, is that a gift? The blindness may be bad, but a person can make it into a gift by showing courage and resourcefulness in dealing with it. Others with less bad on their plate are inspired to take heart.

Maryanne backed the idea that the gift is not what happens outwardly but our reactions. She told of her bout with cancer. She knew before the doctors did that it was cancer, and then knew before the tests came back that the cyst was benign. Her gift was not so much the specific knowledge that her intuitive capability gave her but an iron assurance that this life is benignly purposed, that she would live on in a future life. She pitied her brother who was put through the same batch of tests with the same diagnosis, but he suffered oceans of stress, suspense and anxiety because he did not know what would happen, yes, but mostly because he considered that he had a great deal at stake, his life, the greatest gift, as we had already agreed life is.

Car Voyage to Toronto

Yesterday was Zamenhof Day, the time when Esperantists celebrate the birthday of Ludwig, inventor of the world's most popular artificial, or as Esperantist prefer to call it, planned language. The Toronto Club had an open house celebrating its first centenary. Tomaso and I drove to Hamilton, left the car there and went the rest of the way with Hamilton Esperantist Janush in his minivan. The traffic was, as always, choked, frenetic, crazy. We both were forcefully reminded of why we are so viscerally reluctant to go to the big TO.

Hamilton's traffic is much worse than it was when we moved away ten years ago, but it is empty compared to Toronto. For his own reasons Janush took the Young Street exit off Lakeshore and we entered a sort of pedestrian heaven looking down at a car window into motorist's hell. The road was so packed we slowed to a walk, then to a crawl, then to a snail's pace, and finally it became a parking lot, all the while pedestrians rushed blithely by. Young is Toronto's main drag, and the word is appropriate in a different way from smaller places like Dunnville. Here on a Saturday night you could stage a drag race with room to spare, but along Toronto's main drag the word means that if you picked out the slowest walker with a walker and chained all the cars to that person, you would be multiplying the speed of traffic by several orders of magnitude. Main drag indeed.

Bracketing the horror was a street sign I had never seen, with two arrows pointing both left and right, with a bar through it. No left or right turns. You are committed when you come here, and there is no flinching, no turning away. Street after street we were faced with that dread sign. The few corners that did not have it had so many pedestrians walking by that it was impossible to turn anyway. At first I relieved the boredom my usual way, by taking photos of the bright lights and buildings as tall as you can crane your neck up to see. Then a cop car drove by and Janush asked that I put the camera away lest we be stopped. The cop pulled to the side at a corner milling with several police officers on foot, arresting a drunk in handcuffs. Thomas, looking on in the back seat, saw his first arrest. When we passed this incident I thought the traffic might speed up, but no difference was perceptible. Anywhere else an arrest with cops all around would snarl and slow up the pace of traffic, but here it made no difference one way or the other; it was the ubiquitous volume of traffic taken to its ultimate extreme.

Esperanto Open House

The open house was pot luck. Do not get me started on pot lucks. But at least we got a meal, albeit a mixed one. Hoss from Rochester, a vegan, had cooked some green cookies cut into the form of green stars (the symbol of Esperanto) made without milk, eggs or animal fats of any kind. He also had some homemade ice cream. The server, Alico, was charmed when Tomaso asked for "nur iomete, mi petas." Her children refuse to reply in anything but English. We took some of the star cookies home for Marie and Silvie, who could not make it because Silvie was on an excursion for her Pathfinders group. Two or three of the men sported sweaters featuring the green star. I asked where they got them and they pointed out Lunjo, who knits them at cost. I ordered one right away.

Thomas kept interrupting me to play tag and a game we made up on the spot -- his shoes had come off, as usual, and I would fling them at him and try to wing him, and he would try escaping. Fortunately, he was not hurt and nothing was broken. It was a long trip, so anything to keep him active while he is out of the confines of his car seat. Then a young fellow in a green starred sweater invited him to draw something in his sketchbook. This kept him active for a while. Then another fellow sat down at the grand piano and staged a sing along. My favorite was "Esperanto, estas la lingvo por mi, por mi." I remet Bernard Leach, who learned the language in England back in the fifties. He told me that there had been an active group in Hamilton in the sixties, long before my time as an Esperantist. There was Drago, a recent immigrant from Korea, though most other new Canadians there were of European background.

There is a relaxed, friendly atmosphere at Esperanto meetings that you do not find at any other sort of group I have experienced. Feminist, anti-racist, and other human rights meetings are invisibly backed by the spirit of the Baha'i principles, but the activists there usually have a negative mindset. There is a feeling of being united more against than for something. Baha'i get-togethers are loving, supportive and spiritual, but there is often a sense of being pressured and tense. We are concerned and the concern shows, for the weight of both this world and the world of spirit are weighing down hard on our shoulders. Esperantists, on the other hand, are very much for something, they hold up no villains, nor is there any pressure. There is just a neutral language to uphold and use as much as we can to communicate with. So you meet people and talk, and there is no feeling that you should be doing something else.

That said, my feelings attending this centenary meeting were also tinged with nostalgia and sadness. My Thomas was the only one there under thirty years old, and most were older than me. Unless there is a major shift in regime and public opinion, it is very unlikely there will be even a memory of this movement a century from now.

Adolph Nobody, or, Why even bother with Esperanto?

For me, the answer was in the snarled traffic. On the way back an entire highway had been shut down with everything blocked up behind for many kilometers. Finally, crawling by, we found the reason the Gardiner was a parked garden; a wrecked car lay precariously on its side in the middle two of six empty lanes. Think of the staff hours wasted. Busy lives made busier, spending several hours a day waiting for traffic, working to pay for their vehicles, to insure them, repair them, and in a thousand other ways to pay for blood spilled on the streets, and illnesses resulting from the pollution.

All this is intolerable.

All is the direct result of the tyranny of Adolph Nobody, running a beautiful world into Nothing. Adolph decreed that manufacturers continue producing as many cars as people are stupid enough to buy. He pays our so-called leaders to look the other way. And we all churn away at his vile idea free ideology, to the tune of seventy billion tons of poisonous puss pumped into the air each day. Adolph rules insanity, and his native language is English. Anybody whose native language is not Adolph's can just join the oppressed majority who are paying for it all, and be the first to die when the crunch comes. When his rule starts running with blood and millions (if not billions) begin starving and dying -- and it is just a matter of time before that happens -- maybe then people will start thinking about a sensible infrastructure, a world government to take Adolph Nobody's place, and starting to speak an alternative, truly neutral language.

1 comment:

orzo said...

Glad you liked the cookies, John. The ice cream was from Scott of Toronto, I believe, but I (Hoss) did contribute the Shepherd's Pie, which was also vegan!