Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The Importance of the Importance of the Importance of Living
Strange the things we discover while looking for other things. Today, while searching the net for certain concepts contained within the perennial classic guide to living -- "The Importance of Living", by nobel Laureate, Lin Yutang -- I was led to a column called "The Importance of The Importance of Living", by Linda Nicholls, who, among other things, is a great-great-grandmother. I'm not sure of the recency of the photo, but lordy, if it is recent, I would have to proclaim the importance of The Importance of The Importance of Living, at least to the degree to which it may have contributed to the remarkable preservative by-products. For, as Ashley Montagu discovered, evolution is the degree to which we retain youthful characteristics and flexibility. Apes suck at this. We are different. And so in differing degrees.
Frankly, I think Yutang's classic should be read along with Tzu's "Art of War" and Clauswitz' "On War", by those who would choose war as a "viable" option. The "Tao te Ching" and the poems of Rumi would also be useful reads before hurling your citizens into a death and more death situation. Instead of yanking from the top shelf, too many leaders these days pull from much lower shelves. Even the bottom shelf.
Mister Yutang reminds us of the worth of non-soldiers, who are at least as worthy as soldiers and soldier-type folk, for whom taking (or giving) orders is a way of life. But this is but a small part of large life, and one that is to be looked at as unfortunate. Civilization, as Erich Fromm noted, began as an act of disobedience...but may end in an act of obedience.
Fascism feasts when all are of one mind. But who are the enemies of multiculturalism?
Yutang shares Whitman's love for the cosmic and free individual. Groupthink can go to Hell.
Yutang, more importantly, celebrates the importance of humor, particularly as regards political ideologies. When he wrote the book, in the late 30s, Germany was the big offender. Ultra-conservatives East and West are the big offenders today.
The world needs to lighten up. Let the sunshine in!
While the world, buying their philosophy from the bookwall at Wal-Mart, becomes ever purpose-driven, Yutang helps us understand the meaninglessness of such inventions.
While the true purpose of life, which relates to the laws of Heptaparaparshinokh, gets buried among the plethora of infantile fantasies.
A wise man won't be busy, and a busy man can't be wise.