Divine Neutrality, Blog. Science, Philosophy

Thanksgiving

November 30th, 2015

thanksgiving2015

Remarkably there is a non-denominational holiday devoted to gratitude; Thanksgiving. This year I have been blessed to celebrate it with all four of my children, all of my four grandchildren plus my sister and their families. Here is the picture.

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The Tick

May 1st, 2015

The Tick

Sadye 1996 August 1997

Perhaps it was a tick lodged in her skin; that tiny black spot on the left side of her neck. Perhaps it was only the crust on a healing skin wound. It’s hard to spot that devilish insect unless you inspect carefully. You get ticks playing in the woods and that’s what Sadye does. Play in the woods. A forest of trees and undergrowth surround us on all sides. Sadye is five years old. I’m her dad. At breakfast her mother noticed the dark fleck.

Sadye doesn’t want her mother poking around the skin of her neck. She runs away. She won’t hold still. She screams. It mounts into a tantrum ending in uncontrollable sobs. She is being violated. She has been unjustly accused of harboring ticks.

Her mother is distraught and anguished. She knows that if you don’t remove a tick within hours it can cause serious illness. Lyme disease. She pleads with her little girl. She only wants to look at it. She promises not to touch. Looking won’t hurt.

The rock of logic is too heavy a burden to bear. Sadye collapses into sobbing hysteria resisting this new attack with even greater determination. Her mother gives up. She retreats. Out of Sadye’s earshot she confides to me that she will inspect it at night while Sadye is asleep.

Later, I drive Sadye to her play school. She is in a happy mood. I say to her: “Tell me what you would do. You are in the middle of the street. A car is coming toward you. Would you run out of its path? Or would you stand there and cry because the car will hit you?”

“I’d run away,” is her response, enthusiastic about playing a game of questions and answers.

“Well,” I say, shamelessly exploiting her exuberance, “you get out of the way because the car can hurt you. You might be so badly hurt that you couldn’t run and play anymore. A tick can hurt you also. It can put you in the hospital as surely as a car can. You should get out of its way,” said I, pontificating mightily. “Let us remove the tick if it’s there. Crying won’t make it go away,”

“Dad”, interrupts Sadye, “when a car crashes the tow truck comes to take it away.” …

How weak mere reason is against the mightiness of drama.

Later that day I picked Sadye up from play school. In the car, after reporting on her time at play, Sadye says, “The tick is gone, Dad. I washed it off myself. With a wet tissue.”

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Luftmensch

October 15th, 2014

elfiWest Los Angeles in early July of 1977.

I find myself caught in the force field of a magnetic man. His name is Arthur Doctor. A Jew. Born in Russia – in Vladivostok – but raised in Detroit. Sixty-two years old. Moderate height. Chunky. Pocked and wrinkled face, long flowing white hair – not quite shoulder length – sparkling blue eyes and a friendly smiling face. Somewhat nervous appearing and fidgety. Speaks with a heavy east coast, New York accent. Something like a Garment District Jew who left the garment district many years ago to live in California.

In Yiddish, Luft means air and Mensch means person. The expression, Luftmensch, comes from the small Jewish ghetto towns – Shtetels – of late nineteenth century Eastern Europe. A Luftmensch was a person without perceivable employment status who would leave his wife and children at home each morning and disappear onto the road and into the marketplaces. To buy a little here and to sell a little there, until, out of the Luft, comes enough profit to feed his family and to survive another day. Arthur Doctor was a Shtetel Luftmensch operating in Los Angeles.

Arthur had no family, and his profits exceeded survival needs, but he actually did live by taking advantage of whatever the day brought him. Not only had I seen him do this many times, but I knew his lifestyle because one such day brought me to him. Less than two months after I met him I found myself with the keys to his apartment, the keys to his post office box and to all of his automobiles – four of them, all carefully recycled. I was taking care of his affairs while he pursued an undertaking in Europe! He had put $20,000 into my hands with no legal hold on the funds. His psychological hold was strong.
(more…)

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