Archive for December, 2012

Love’s Illusion

coutinho-talkI was surfing the Internet today and came across a web cast by Paul Coutinho:

There was a holy man who wandered the forests, always lost in the presence of God. Through his wanderings, he came to the city one day and found a young man, a wonderful man, and said to him, “Why are you wasting your time here? Come with me into the forest, and I will show you how to experience God, peace, and happiness.” The young man said, “I can’t do that. I have a wife who loves me dearly; she would be devastated if I went away. I have children who depend on me. They love me so much. Our family is so close to one another. There is so much love in this family. I cannot just leave them and go.” The holy man said, “This is an illusion. It is a figment of your imagination. They don’t love you the way you think they do. You don’t love them the way you think you do.” And the young man replied, “Of course I do.” So the holy man said, “Let’s test this.”

The holy man suggested, “I will give you this little potion. When you go home, drink it, and you will fall down as if you are dead, but you will be aware of everything that is going on. I promise you that shortly I will come and revive you.” The young man agreed. He went home, took that potion, and fell down as if he were dead. His wife was the first one to find him, and she began screaming and yelling and could not be consoled. “This husband of mine,” she cried, “I love him so much. Why did God take him away so soon and so quickly?” His children also could not be consoled. All the neighbors were in the house trying to help the family. They were also talking about how much they loved this man. And the young man was thinking, I hope the holy man comes now, because he would then see for himself how much I am loved and cared for.

The holy man appeared. He asked, “What happened?” The wife said, ‘This husband of mine — l loved him so much and now he is gone, and I do not know what I am going to do without him.” The children said the same thing. The neighbors were talking about him too. The holy man announced, “I can revive this man. I have this little potion. If I put it into his mouth, he will come back to life.” And everyone stopped crying and looked forward in hope. “But there is one condition for this potion to work. One of you has to take half of it, and you will die. I am sure you love him very much and will have no problem doing this.”

The wife spoke first. She said, “What is a home without a mother? This man does not know how to cook. This man will not be able to take care of the children.” So, she said, she could not possibly take the potion. The children said, “Papa lived a good life. God will reward him. We are young and have our own lives to lead.” The neighbors had their own families, so no one among them was willing to take the potion. The holy man revived the young man, and without turning back, the young man followed the holy man into the forest.

Now, I am not suggesting that you leave all your loved ones and go into the forest. Don’t give your loved ones and friends more importance, more value than they have. Jesus said, “Unless you hate your father and your mother and your brothers and sisters, you cannot be my disciple.” I am not saying that you should stop loving your family. Jesus did not say that. Jesus said, “Love them with all your heart and all your soul. Love them like you love God. Love them like you love yourself.” Love them, but know that you have to let go of them at the same time so that you will be able to follow God totally and unconditionally.”

This is something that we all need to think about. We all have to face this illusion in some manner, and the consequences of how we do so are very real. Meditate on the grace to be more compassionate but have the strength to follow your true ‘North.’ Because when you have a true relationship with the Buddha or Christ, you will experience love everywhere. When you have a relationship with the true compassionate God, good things happen, wonderful things happen.

In compassion, we celebrate the good, because that good is also a part of us. When some person in the world does something extraordinary, I am drawn to that person, and I also feel extraordinary. I share in that experience because that person is part of me. If someone is celebrating, I celebrate with that person. If someone is hurting, I hurt with that person. So I am part of every person’s life, and each person is part of my life. Experiencing that human interconnectedness through our divine connection is the transition from charity to compassion.

Compassion is both very Buddhist and very Christian.

Only One Resolution Required

Love In the SandWhen Jesus was asked what one must do to enter the kingdom of heaven is answer was to love: Love God, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Core to the Christian vocation is the call to love. There are many examples in the gospel about how we are to love. Accordingly, descriptions of love are qualities we all strive for:  love of enemies, giving to the poor, mourning with those who mourn, etc. But perhaps the deepest desire of Jesus was that we may all be one, being one with God and each other.

In The Emergent Christ, Ilia Delio writes about the role of Christ and our role in evolution.

Love is the metaphor for Christ and that divine love incarnating evolution is the work of the Spirit. To be engaged in the mystery of Christ is to be caught up in the Spirit of new life, creativity, imagination, and openness to the future.”

As a Buddhist, love is really all we have time for. Love is the only New Year’s Resolution required. On Kristen Tippet’s “On Being,” Mr. Jon Kabat-Zinn phrased the concept accordingly:

It doesn’t actually take any more time to say good-bye or hug you know, your children or whatever it is in the morning when you’re on your way to work. But the mind says, “I don’t have any time for this.” But actually that’s all you have time for, is this because there’s nothing else than this. So when your four-year-old can’t decide which dress she wants to wear, that’s not a problem for you, unless you make it a problem for you. That’s just the way four-year-olds are. And the more we can sort of learn these lessons the more we will not be in some sense running towards our death, but in a sense opening to our lives.”

Thus in 2013, may love be all the only resolution we require.

Kung Fu Lives in Everything

everythingiskungfu1While randomly channel surfing today, I stumbled upon the ‘New Karate Kid’ for the fifteenth or so time. There, in the thicket of training his apprentice, Mr. Han quoted:

Kung Fu lives in everything we do! It lives in how we put on the jacket, how we take off the jacket. It lives in how we treat people. Everything is Kung Fu.”

Seriously, as a practicing Buddhist for many years, it was the first time I really absorbed the quote. In truth, the quote has broader implications. This is about the soul’s inner spirit, it’s about how we eat, live and love … Kung fu actually means ‘skill.’ In order for us to survive, we must master everything we do.

In true form, if you are Christian, then Christ is in all things, just as Christ is in you. If you are Buddhist, then the spirit of love and Buddhism is in all things, just as the spirit of love is in you.

I have commented upon the ‘Butterfly Effect’ several times.  In truth, if our love is in everything we do, then everything is loved. If our hatred is in everything we do, then all things are hated. If we wish to seek the spirit of Christ, then Christ’s love must be present in everything we do and say. If we wish to experience enlightenment, then the spirit of Buddha must be present in everything we do.

Love is in everything, at every moment of each day. It involves our lovers, our coworkers, the waitress, the guy or gal at K-mart, even the guy who shines our shoes. There is no magic elixir that can give us all life’s answers. There is, however, only one basic principle – love. No matter what happens, no matter what our faith is or is not … we are all bound together. May it be bound in ‘Love.’

Maybe for 2013, we should live that instead of our independency.

resolutions-2011Only eight percent of New Year resolutions are successful. So, with such abysmal odds, here are some suggestions for better New Year resolutions.

1. Accept the best in all relationships.

Look around. Know what you want and how to ask for it. Do not hide you real self and don’t expect the world to move during rebound after rebound. If you’re Buddhist, you must be honest with yourself about who you are. If you’re Christian, you must be honest with yourself about who you are. Accept that everyone is flawed, there is no perfect.

2. Live, Love, Learn and Leave A Legacy.

While Stephen Covey coined the phrase, it bears repeating. Contrary to what others believe, we are here to enrich the world, to make someone’s life a little better. Live to that standard each and every day.

3. Create a Bucket List

Some use a ‘bucket list’ as a life goal, others use the ‘bucket list’ as life ending goals. In any case, By accomplishing worthy items you to create compelling stories about how you lived.

4. Visit 10 Different Places

Seeing this resolution on the Yahoo Lifestyle bog made me think of all the places I have visited but never bother to photograph.  If you’ve got the travel bug and want to see a bit more of the world, make a New Year’s resolution to visit some interesting places and make a visual record of the year.

5. Do not believe anything simply because one heard it. Read, study and validate thoughts.

6. Focus on change, not results.

7. Dwell on the future, not the past.

8. Find someone who thinks they are alone and convince them they are not (from Mother Teresa).

All it takes is to affirm our solidarity with them, and tell them that their tears weigh on our conscious, that their cries reach our hearts, and to convince them that they are not alone.

Change isn’t easy. It takes effort. Much of the time we are run by habits and emotional patterns. But all things are possible. So let’s make good resolutions – and figure out how to embody them!

242px-Nikola_from_1294At its best, Christmas is about giving to all ads showing a concern for others. Though Christmas has become a popular Christmas tradition of gift exchange of and the willful opportunity to exercise generosity, it is important to remember the Saint Nikolaos, also called Nikolaos of Myra. Nikolaos of Myra was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra.

When he was young, Nikolaos sought the holy by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There as he walked where Jesus walked, he sought to more deeply experience Jesus’ life, passion, and resurrection. He obeyed Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nikolaos used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra.

Bishop Nikolaos became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.  He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, saving sailors by calming seas and protecting children. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return. Basically, St. Nikolaos helped regular families facing a familiar crisis’ to which all relate.

In Buddhism, we express similar loving-kindness or metta, a quality that expresses a selfless concern for others. Loving-kindness is often illustrated by the following image: as a mother loves her child, so we too should we love for all living beings, without exception.

The nativity scene upon which the Christmas tradition focuses, displays the affection of a mother for her child – the Jesus-child who was, himself, to grow up to become a teacher of love and compassion. As James C. Harrington recently wrote, it’s important to remember the real manger:

According to Christian tradition, Mary and Joseph ended up in a small, stinking lean-to cattle stable, with hay mixed with manure, a far cry from the clean, hand-crafted mangers displayed by the churches and the pious nowadays. Jesus was born in a meager shelter for his young, homeless, traveling parents, rejected by the townspeople.

So, when we stand back and look at the reality that the nativity writers wanted to convey, it was starkly different from the Macy’s parade, soft Christmas carols in candlelight or a gaggle of consumer items stacked under the tree in the front room.”

It’s important to remember there are many who’s life’s manger is differently than depicted. The hard truth is that for many, our own manger is full of fatigue. It smells; is complicated by addictions, is beaten down by depression; filled by doubt, unemployment and has both anger and love. Still, awash in all its untidiness, our mangers are filled with hope and compassion.

Yet we are all called to be compassionate, as is our creator.

In an expression of compassion, God answered the anguished cry of humanity by making “the problem of evil” His own. In Christian tradition, God Almighty became Immanuel, “God with us.” He lived as we live, suffered as we suffer, died as we die, yet without sin. And He, being the God-man, overcame the power of death in order to give us eternal life.

Christ came for compassion. Nikolaos of Myra was a man of compassion. Each lived their love. And Buddhists recognize and honor the compassion of love.

This compassion or karuna acknowledges one’s own happiness and material well-being while recognizing there are others who are unhappy and suffering. God became man. Thus, from a Buddhist perspective, in our heart’s we can acknowledge suffering. All of us have a profound sense duty to be St. Nickolas-like – a duty that makes goodwill ‘our own;’ to own it and in essence to share the burden.

That’s the real Christmas message. Own this compassion in your life.

New Year’s Resolution

2011-year-resolution-400x400Someone asked me today if I had any new year’s resolutions. And in truth, I usually make no resolutions, for like most, I usually end up breaking most, if not all resolutions made. Instead, I quietly informed the inquisitive fellow that I would probably watch “Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall … and Spring.”

Whether one believes in the Buddhist tradition or not, the film shows the emotions and stages of life in comparison to the passing of seasons.  Like many countries, South Korea does have ‘four’ seasons. In truth, I find this movie a similar paradox to life, in that all of us must learn the way our ‘higher-power’ intended for us. Each of us must proceed through each season until we find the enlightenment (i.e., that connection to our higher power).

The audience is reminded of the Buddhahood of all creatures. The compassion extended to the dead woman and her equation with the Buddha, reminds the audience that all creatures are “future Buddhas” and need compassion. Conversely, this is the same compassion embodied by Christ. It’s the same compassion eluded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi (I have no weapon but love…), Nelson Mandela, and many many others.

The movie’s Director, Kim Ki-Duk, stated:

I started this film with the question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Everybody needs their own chance to ask themselves what life means to them, especially when a person goes through a painful period.

The changing of the seasons, which most people witness and which no one of us can affect at all, offers experiences (lessons) in beauty, time, and acceptance, just as the aging of a human being has its own inevitability, its own facts and knowledge. Buddhist thought, which advances the path to peace, and encourages leaving anxiety, conflict, and desire behind, is a way of seeing all of existence as always present in one form or another, with each being and thing something we are connected to (connected to all, there’s no need for desire or envy).

As I begin to look unto the new year, I am full of new reflections, impassioned, as they remind me that something else exists. But the true renewal comes from an inward look, that is likely to come to mind in private moments, possibly late at night, as I think about various things—what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, whether I can get a favorite pair of shoes resoled for an affordable price, American politics, a favorite Afghan or Thai restaurant I haven’t visited in a while, my preference for this or for that.

But whatever those thoughts, I am reminded of something else exists. And that ‘something else’ is both wonderful as well as baffling.

kids_distortIn the wake of the Newtown tragedy, we are left wondering of the nature of God. ‘Theodicy,’ that is one’s attempt to justify God’s goodness despite the existence of evil and suffering, is often personal.  And if we are going to bear arms, as some pastors and lawmakers suggest, then he who bears should be willing to step deep into the level of Theodicy, and more so, into the depth of pain and anguish of children left untreated for decades.

If we are going to solve the problem of random gun violence, or any violence for that matter, then we must prevent our personal past from becoming the future. By not doing so only further wounds the heart and creates one less reason to live.

A word of warning – the road is painful.

This writing is very personal for me. As a Buddhist, I believe whatever received must be shared. Yet my story and the personal nature of Theodicy in and of itself remains a silent memorial – only in my heart. The story is difficult to share and extremely difficult for those with similar experiences as well.

Almost 45 years ago, at the age of eight (8), I was raped.

I was spread-eagle on my bed, each limb tied to one bed post. Never shall I forget the rope, tied against each wrist and each ankle. Its course rough thread itched as each limb was pulled taught. Unable to escape, no way to move, I could only look unto the heavens and pray for a God that simply never came.

Never shall I forget the stripping of clothes. The rapist was methodical, almost with expert precision, and was able to rip, cut and shred with ease. The cold scissors ran inside my thigh and with symmetry of a surgeon my undergarments were quickly discarded.

For the first time in my life I laid bare. Looking back, I’m still amazed at the coolness of the afternoon air as it rolled over my body. The breath of my rapist heated me and I felt the heat of each exhale, each drip of perspiration. Slow waas he, inhaling and exhaling.

Never shall I ever forget the laughter, as I was outlined head to toe – once by a finger, another by a feather and another by tongue. I was teased and tasted.

His first taste was of the foreskin as his tongue rolled over and around. Lips then surrounded my glans, sucking and biting while laughing as my testis rolled through his fingers. His tongue separated my meatus and I felt saliva entering my urethra. In some perverted way our fluids have been forever intertwined.

Nocturnal silence haunts me still. At the age of eight (8) I was transformed and consumed, inwardly burned and internally seared by a branding iron.

God never came. And I have been looking for an answer ever since.

Fast forward 45 years … My attacker is considered a Catholic man of honor, with a family and grandchildren of his own. He succeeded, becoming a well-known business man. As for me, my soul was murdered and I fell into a silent abyss, becoming a stranger, an observer … both insignificant and invisible, nothing more.

In today’s world, we hear thousands like this child cry. But millions of other voices remain silent to the world never.

The lessons to learn from the Newtown tragedy have no easy answers nor easily resolved.  It requires both some form of gun control, but also requires each of us to assess and change how we treat each other. Part of the answers and many of life’s problems can only be found from within and comes from treating each other in decency and love. We must be willing to transcend the deepest corners of our children’s lives and find the heart and soul. If we do not, many of the insignificant and invisible will arise, usually in places we care not to see.

The very act of agape love requires all of us to stop the pain of loneliness and issolation. No gun or control law will assist with that.

The Better Way

gods-loveAs relatives began to say goodbye to their slain children, some were exposing perspectives to combat school shooting violence.

Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett says schools should hire armed guards to protect their students. Many, like that of The Ministry of Dr. Patrick Johnston, believe allowing students to carry concealed weapons on campus would prevent some or all campus killings. The Dr. Johnston’s Ministry recently stated “Gun control laws do not protect good people; they disarm good people. Bad people are encouraged, not intimidated, by gun control laws.” Lastly, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch will visit schools this week to discuss increasing security, including putting guns in elementary schools. Chief Finch’s statement is not uncommon:

  • “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered.” [Larry Pratt, Gun Owners Of America]
  •  “Had Connecticut not had the no guns in school laws….Had the principal, the maintenance man, a teacher, been allowed to keep a gun in their office, maybe just maybe, this would have come out differently.” [Bob Irwin, The Gun Store]
  • “I only wish the kindergarten teacher and principal in Connecticut had been armed.” [Dr. Keith Ablow, Fox News]
  • “[S]o looking at this tragedy that happened with K-12, we might have to have an armed employee at the schools, that’s a measure, that’s a measure.” [Michele Fiore, Nevada Assemblywoman]
  • “Look at what has happened, all these attacks this year have occurred where guns are banned.” [John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime]
  • “Well, I believe those of us who are licensed to carry, are responsible people, shouldn’t be prohibited from carrying in schools or other places.” [Steve Dulan, Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners]

An LSU student blogger offered a unique solution:

i [sic] would be more for putting a prison-like fence around the school that had one entrance/exit with armed guards at that entrance. i [sic] think that would be more effective at keeping people who don’t belong at the school out at isolate the school from everything else.

While all of these perspectives are interesting, they are not very implementable. First, you’re not going to force teachers to arm themselves. Many teachers are simply not capable of ‘dispatching’ a potential combatant firing a semi-automatic assault rife. Secondly, I am not sure any school district wants the liability of controlling weapons or a potential shoot-out that may only increase the number of injuries and fatalities. Third, let’s unequivicolly state most elected officials are fearful of raising the sleeping dragon.  Just who is that sleeping dragon? Well, the National Rifle Association (NRA). In the last election cycle, the NRA spent twenty-four (24) million dollars in electoral contributions, donating to over 200 elected officials.

Non-violence is at the heart of Buddhist thinking and behaviour. The first of the five precepts that all Buddhists follow is “Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.” Buddhism is essentially a peaceful tradition. Nothing in Buddhist scripture gives any support to the use of violence as a way to resolve conflict. Responding to the Newtown tragedy is about doing what’s right. It’s a combination of available legal measures while simultaneously evaluating and refining security plans; testing crisis plans; proactively controlling visitor access and control; updating emergency communications procedures and reinforcing perimeter security.

It’s time like this that men of goodwill must look within and find indelible foundation of love; the very breath of life; the very signature of grace God chiseled unto our soul and bring forth the lasting foundation change. If our nation believes this nation – these United States of America – is the greatest nation on earth, then we must honor and respect all that God created with our own positive action.

GunsAs we slowly digest the trauma of this past week’s events in Connecticut, all of us are brought to the table with some deep burdensome questions. Why is it we are the way we?  Why?

Outside of Connecticut, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reported that since 2005, there has been a multiple-victim shooting every 5.9 days in the United States, with 87 people dying of bullet wounds each day. And just today, 210 people across the country have been shot.

Accordingly, the most dangerous city for mass shootings is Chicago, the organization said, which has suffered through 17 shootings and resulting in 30 deaths and 72 injuries. Of those shootings, thirteen occurred in public places.

Fareed Zakaria in his CNN article, ‘Time to Face Facts on Gun Control, basically calls it as it is:

We have 5 percent of the world’s population and 50 percent of the guns.

But the sheer number of guns isn’t an isolated statistic. The data shows we compare badly on fatalities, too. The U.S has three gun homicides per 100,000 people. That’s four times as many as Switzerland, ten times as many as India, 20 times as many as Australia and England.

Whatever you think of gun rights and gun control, the numbers don’t flatter America.”

Additionally, outside of prayer, many Respect Life Apostolate offices within the Catholic Archdiocese is silent. In such events and the message often appears dated to life’s day-to-day pressures. In fact one local chapter’s last ‘blog/website’ message was dated November 5th, requesting prayer about the November 6th election.

Still, much of the clergy is like that of Pastor Rocky Veach, whose church has 75 members.

In times like these, there’s no really good answer. Words really don’t express enough. Our approach is just that you have to show people love. You have to be there for them and be understanding, even though nobody besides the victims can really understand what they are going through.

In light of the fact we are a gun toting God fearing country, with respect to the guns we own, is prayer, condolences and thoughts the best we can do? The weekly television show, Meet the Press wanted to find out.

In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, most pro-gun rights politicians have gone underground. NBC’s Meet the Press reportedly invited the 31 senators, Republican and Democrat, who openly oppose stricter gun control laws to appear on the program. However, none accepted.

Well, there is one exception: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told Fox News Sunday that he believed more guns are the answer to violence in schools. “I wish to god she had had an M4 in her office,” he said of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the shooting.

Seriously Representative Gohmert …. Is this the best we can do?

ap_Connecticut_School_Shooting_kb_121214_wgIn the calm cool morning of Newtown, Connecticut, a lone gunman killed 27 people, many children.

In the wake of the most recent gun violence, I watched President Obama speak and thought about his words:

“As a country, we have been through this too many times.  Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.  And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

Then I read an NBC news report:

The weapons used in the attack were legally purchased and were registered to the gunman’s mother, two law enforcement officials said. Two 9mm handguns were recovered inside the school. An AR-15-type rifle also was found at the scene, but there were conflicting reports Friday night whether it had been used in the shooting. 

Of the recent shootings President Obama quoted, I have always seen several key reports.  First was the shooter mentally ill? Secondly, were the guns used in the shooting spree legally purchased? As if the shooting has lessor impact if the weapons were ‘legally’ purchased. And third, the best any of us can seem to offer prayer, as the Vatican parsed in their statement:

“The Holy Father was promptly informed of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and he has asked me to convey his heartfelt grief and the assurance of this closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all affected by the shocking event. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy he asks God, our Father, to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”

So in response to all this, I can only state, “What a crock of bullshit.”  And to America, I openly ask, “Is this the best we can do? Spiritual strength will triumph over violence by the power of forgiveness? This is seriously the best we can offer these families? This is the best we can offer any family?”

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (PDF), more than 58,000 gun shops in this country while there are fewer than 20,000 Starbucks world-wide. Think about that America. There are 38,000 more gun shops in America than Starbucks world-wide?

And the best we can do is offer prayer to the afflicted … to the great Lord our God … who overcomes all with love? While we do nothing?

Last time I checked, America is composed of those who engineered the ability to walk on the moon, successfully combated several forms of cancer, perform heart transplants, feed the poor, donate to hurricane and earthquake victims.  We have the capability to create weapons of mass-destruction, to build beautifully aesthetic buildings, put GPS on a phone, created the toilet, toaster, Twinkies, automobiles, air conditioning, clean water, toothbrush, Scope, antiperspirants, Microsoft and Apple products, chocolate, artificial heart, ATM, atomic weapons, Band-Aids, baseball, football, beds, beer, bifocals, paper towels, toilet paper, pasteurization, PayPal, Penicillin, coke and diet coke, gasoline, electricity, heaters, cameras, microprocessors, etc.

Yet when it comes to some form of gun control, the best we can say is, “… console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”

I’m not claiming to revoke one’s right to bear arms. But can we not do something more?

At this time year, the Ghost of Christmas Present will visit many. Beware of his words:

They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom.

We are so Ignorant! Is this really the best we can do?

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