Long, long ago and far, far away, I came to the realization that many arguments evaporated after dinner was eaten. Ought to be a prerequisite to attend any public forum, school function or household discourse. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know the effect of missed meals on those police reports measuring the influence of drugs and/or alcohol?
Friday: The crowning event showcasing Toledo’s diverse and talented progeny, the premier event of the season, always worth the wait - The Children’s Theatre Free Friday Performance 7 p.m. Seats not strictly limited to adoring aunts, uncles and grandparents, but they do fill fast. Details via slideshow on website link here.
Thru Saturday, Gallery 505 highlights area makers and crafters across a range of media…
It’s here! Thanks to John Morgan, Common Ground Garden Community links to Toledo’s First Annual Walk in the Park (WitP) including download registration form. Sign up before September 7 for for Early Bird discount. Details on Facebook link here.
Vision:Toledo on Facebook links to an August Movie Night fundraiser for Toledo High School’s JV Cheer team here.
It’s that time of year again, where all the summer stuff disappears from the store shelves as temperatures soar into the 90’s, replaced with notebooks and lunchboxes and thick winter coats. Toledo School District posts early notice of Meet Your Teacher Night in August, details here.
Warning: I’m going to pet some people’s fur the wrong way with this one. I waited just a bit to approach this controversial subject to carefully outline my thoughts and feelings on this particular piece. YMMV:
Vision:Toledo’s Facebook page linked an article here about a Toledo man who rebuilt the Harley Davidson motorcycle his wife of 30+ years was riding when an accident took her life last year. His background in mechanics provided the skills needed, and rebuilding the machine was certainly a means of facing his grief and moving forward. Confessing he and his bride “gave their lives to the Lord” adds the spiritual dimension only wind-in-your-face motorcycle enthusiasts can appreciate. Stealing Cheese Days Car Show People’s Choice Award is a testament to his love of his wife and his craft.
Gifting it to his daughter brought to my mind a jarring disconnect. Let me explain.
M. Scott Peck, M.D., is widely known for his bestseller The Road Less Traveled, in which he argues psychological and spiritual growth are indistinguishable, an on-going evolution toward a healthy relationship with the Almighty. Any divergence from this path leads inexorably down the road to Perdition. As long as one continually adjusts their compass toward The Greater Good, it is reasoned, that one will walk in Light.
Less popular was his work People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. In it he recognizes a undercurrent of evil in seemingly noble endeavors and lives, defended by idealistic goals and supported by evidence of well-intentioned deeds and beliefs. Beyond cults, fundamental extremists and pagan groups, this deep-rooted trait permeates the very essence of those so afflicted.
More than 40 years later one example outlined in detail still haunts me in its stark, rationalistic simplicity. Below I attempt to reconstruct my recollection of the dialogue:
An interview with a teenager, at the behest of the school counselor noticing suddenly falling grades, revealed an understandably depressed youngster. His older brother had committed suicide the previous year. He seemed unable to deal with the welter of emotions such an incident leaves behind. His parents, a stoic Mid-Western, working class couple, had neither the time nor tools to comfort their remaining son.
The interview dialogue, which I read aloud to a stunned listener and a gradually growing audience in a coffee shop, went something like this:
Doctor: Do you know why you’re here today?
Doctor: I understand you’ve been having some difficulty in school this year.
Teen: (mumbles noncommittally)
Doctor: You must have been deeply affected by your brother’s death.
Teen: Yeah, I guess.
The 15-year-old keeps his gaze down, picking at sores on his hands. Further attempts by the interviewer to open a two-way exchange follow these lines:
Doctor: Do you like dogs?
Doctor: I hear you have a dog.
Doctor: Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you had a dog.
Teen: it’s my Dad’s dog.
All the responsibility for the dog’s care is assigned to the teen, it arises, but no bonding between dog and caregiver emerge. It becomes evident the dog is simply one more chore on his daily list. So the doctor sets off an a new tack:
Doctor: Christmas was last month. Did you get anything special for Christmas this year?
Doctor: What did you get?
Teen: A gun.
At this comment, the doctor consciously works to remain calm.
Doctor: Oh. What kind of gun?
Teen: A .22 rifle.
Now the doctor’s head reels, as the boy’s brother took his life with the same model. Hesitating, the Doctor asks: Isn’t that the same kind of gun your brother had?
Almost collapsing with relief, the Doctor corrects himself: Oh, I thought it was the same kind of gun.
Teen. It wasn’t the same kind of gun. It was THE gun.
The rest of the interview was understandably hazy in the doctor’s memory, but the depth of his horror was unmistakable.
Confronted with this unthinkable breach of parental love and nurturing, the parents defend themselves with claims that “any boy his age would be glad to have such a gift," and "money doesn’t grow on trees," etc.
The teen never returned, the doctor never learned what became of the young man.
The doctor’s very belief in the basic goodness alive in all fellows was shaken to the core. Did these parents truly, deeply, honestly not understand the gravity of their actions? The message sent?
In a quote from that volume: “When I say that evil has to do with killing, I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder. Evil is that which kills spirit. There are various essential attributes of life -- particularly human life -- such as sentience, mobility, awareness, growth, autonomy, will. It is possible to kill or attempt to kill one of these attributes without actually destroying the body. Thus we may "break" a horse or even a child without harming a hair on its head."
In the end, the author revises his view on the inherent loving nature embedded in humans, and his very definition of human evil.
Disqualifications: I am not a biological parent, widowed spouse nor mechanic. Nor a man, if that’s an important qualification. Not a mainstream Christian, though I feel the presence of a power I have yet to define at work in my life. I have no medical degree nor counseling credentials.
I do, however, read voraciously (have since I read teacher’s copy of The Third Reich aloud to astonished sixth-grade girls staying “in” from recess. I was in second grade.) on a broad variety of topics, fiction and nonfiction, technical manuals, scholarly dissertations and children’s stories.
Further, I have well over 100,000 miles on my own motorcycles, in less than ideal conditions, though none of them were Harleys. In my early cross-country travels I logged a million+ miles (in a considerably larger vehicle) and witnessed plenty of accidents. Motorcycles are not accorded the wide berth they need to safely share the road with other vehicles.
My Dad was staunchly NRA, and for years taught gun handling and safety classes to “women and children.” ‘Nough said.
(Note: this is not a forum to discuss blame, shame or guilt.)
While I don’t subscribe to bad karma or jinxed machinery (lemon vehicles excepted - but that’s faulty work), I find myself equally supportive of solid science and the Divine, still resorting to the abbreviated “Please God” and “Thank you God” even when faced with a simple mechanical issue.
Yet that fine line between engineering marvels and history wavers for me when I read about that beautiful, heartfelt treasured motorcycle going to the daughter, who “can’t wait…”
In that matrix between my ears, this message evokes that stunned disbelief M.Scott Peck experienced.
This piece may incur strong responses in some - motorcyclists, arms aficionados, mechanics, the deeply religious. Not for the first time do I risk offending my generous audience, those who have not hit “Delete” by now.
And now you know a little more about me.
Photos from TOT archives unless otherwise noted.
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