Tuesday’s Quotes, October 16, 2018 – The Path to World Peace

“Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace prize at age 35. The prize was awarded for his promotion of non-violent tactics to end racial discrimination in the United States. It seems appropriate to remember some of what he said in his acceptance speech.

It often feels like we haven’t come nearly far enough in the last 54 years.

Image from the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial in Washington, DC

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Very ancient history

Repost, with a few changes, from October 13, 2017.

“there are two different ways of writing history: one is to persuade men to virtue and the other is to compel men to truth.”
― Robert Graves, “I, Claudius: from the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius”

Yesterday was the anniversary of Roman Emperor Claudius I’s death in 54 A.D. Like many of his family, his death did not occur naturally – he was poisoned, likely by his wife – setting the stage for his great-nephew, Nero, to become Emperor in his place. I’ve always loved the writing of Robert Graves (Gods, Graves, and Scholars is a particular favorite), and I found his writings on Claudius – and the wonderful miniseries starring Derek Jacobi – to be completely mesmerizing. Such an unlikely ruler, and yet obviously far more clever than he was given credit for being. He lived to be 63 – itself surprising, and managed to survive as Emperor for 13 years. When younger, he had little interest in politics, perhaps one of the reasons that he lived long enough to become emperor, and he was actually a respected historian. Although no longer in existence, it seems that he wrote an extensive amount about the histories of Rome, Carthage, the Etruscans, as well as other regional history.

Strange anniversary to mark, perhaps, but we can always learn from history, and some historical persons are too fascinating to ignore.

Of course, as noted previously, October 13 didn’t exist in Rome in 1582.  The Council of Trent gave us one of the reasons why ancient anniversaries are impossible to get right. Claudius’ own family provided a couple of others by inserting months into the calendar to further immortalize themselves.

To borrow a line from Douglas Adams’ “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe“:

“Time is bunk”.

Image from http://www.history.com

Weekend Contemplations, again

As a typical NY State autumn week winds up – temps bouncing between tropical heat and humidity, rain, and arctic cold and damp – and still insufficient leaf color change for new leaf peeper photos – I mentally prepare for another bout of cold, wet weather for the coming weekend (snow flurries possible?!), and the necessity of a trip to clothes shop with my daughter tomorrow. In other words, it’s cold, will get colder, and I need quiet time under a blanket with some mindless television and a good book before dealing with Saturday shoppers.

On balance, to be fair, this has been a fairly good, and relatively quiet, week, but once again, a couple of exchanges have left me scratching my head, and pondering these words of the truly remarkable former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt:

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes … and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

It is a constant surprise that more people don’t seem to understand that actions really do speak louder than words.

Photo of High Falls taken last Sunday during a brief break in the rain.

Tuesday’s Quotes – October 9, 2018 – Time

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”  — Eckhart Tolle

In 1582, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar to replace the increasingly out-of-sync Julian calendar. The Julian calendar had served since 46 BCE, but it was off by 11 minutes per year, and after over 1600 years in use, it was out of time with the seasons, which meant that Easter, traditionally celebrated at the Spring Equinox, was moving further and further away from spring. Hence the need for a calendar that kept better time. Leap days were adjusted to not only be once every 4 years, but also to be skipped if a year is divisible by 100, unless it is also divisible by 400 (correcting yet another issue with the Julian calendar). Unfortunately the Gregorian calendar is still out of sync with the solar year by 26 seconds, so we’re several hours off and by 4909 the calendar will be a full 24 hours off (assuming no new calendars before then).

It took a couple of centuries for full adoption of the new calendar (presenting a challenge when trying to make sense of anniversary dates since there is an 11 day difference involved & which 11 days is dependent on when a country chose to adopt the new calendar), but its initial adoption in the Catholic countries of Italy, Poland, Spain, and Portugal in 1582 involved an adjustment of dates from the end of the day on Thursday, October 4th being immediately followed by Friday, October 15th. So today is a day that did not exist in 1582 in Italy, Poland, Spain, or Portugal.

“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”  — Albert Einstein

Image courtesy of nasa.gov – when we look at the stars we are looking far into the past.

Weekend thoughts

After a contentious week, I am looking forward to a weekend with no concrete plans. Other than my Sunday blog post (speaking of contentious), which is already in progress. And of course there’s volunteer work to catch up on.

But autumn is my favorite season here in the northeastern US, and it is a weekend… Perhaps the rain will hold off long enough to get a leaf peeping drive in, now that the colors have begun changing.

In light of the contentiousness of the past couple of weeks, I offer up this thought as the week winds down:

“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away. ”     — Zhuangzi

Tuesday’s Quotes October 2, 2018 – Happy Birthday, Gandhi

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”  — Mahatma Gandhi

Reflections on the on the anniversary Mohandas K Gandhi’s birth in 1869. And sadly, still a question that needs to be asked. Perhaps one that we should never stop asking if we want to build a more peaceful world.

Image from http://www.history.com/topics/mahatma-gandhi