the month of flowers, of sunshine showers ... and rainbows with leprechauns
and pots of gold at the end! Its a pleasant time for most, because
it signifies new beginnings and new growth. Its a time when wishes
and dreams can come true.
know about you guys, but for me it just signifies the end of another school
year, another upheaval in my life to contend with. Then again, new beginnings
usually do signify upheavals.
For Linda Goodman,
spring was something entirely different, wink-wink, nudge-nudge ... Yeah,
this is the month of her birthday. In tribute, I thought Id highlight
one of her favorite affirmations, from Star Signs. It seems to go
along with the theme of miracles and hope that spring often brings with it.
The affirmation is Lindas lightly retouched version of a prayer of
the Franciscan Order of monks. It reflects the spiritual attitude of the
orders founder, Francesco Bernadone - St. Francis of Assisi - although
the Franciscans believe the prayer was written after their founders
lifetime. Linda suggested that her version, which includes an affirmation
of miracles, should be spoken aloud, and sincerely meant, each new morning
of the day. It goes like this:
make me an instrument of your Peace
Where there is hatred, let me show Love
Where there is injury, let me give pardon
Where there is doubt, let me have faith ...
Where there is darkness, let me spread Light
Where there is sadness, help me find Joy!
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be understood ... as to understand,
To be loved ... as to love
Then ... miracle shall follow miracle
And wonders shall never cease.
In the everyday
world, that kind of sincerity and those kinds of hopes to do good in the
world are often met with ridicule. Since this column is about community,
I thought Id give you guys a little taste of MY community and of what
I think about how things are.
My tale begins
... on an unusually chilly and grey fall day, as I was slowly sauntering
up to the business building that holds my inevitably intriguing Philosophy
class. I climbed the three flights to the classroom and plopped down in my
usual front-row seat. Shortly thereafter, in walked the teacher, a grad student,
late as usual.
With his usual
jovial greeting, he said: If you guys want some extra credit, you can
go to this speech theyre having in the EESAT building about PETA. I
think theyll also have food ... vegan probably. The guy who is speaking
has been arrested 13 times and has been in prison.
the room as he said this. Then the wisecracks started. Hey! Can I wear
a completely leather suit and come in eating a leg of chicken? and
I'm going no matter what! I'll bring a turkey leg!
With every word,
I was seething and squirming in my seat more and more. What is wrong with
these people? Cant they see that its about more than being a
vegan? What is the fascination with trying to anger people and point at them
like they are fools when all they do is try to help animals? Why has it become
so important for us as a society to ridicule those whose only intention is
to perhaps help our fellow human beings and creatures? When exactly did this
policy come about?
So, as I was sitting
there seething, my teacher started his lecture. Wouldnt you know he
was talking about Machiavelli that day.
was all about power. He thought that virtue is ideal, but its not real.
His famous quote is, It is better to be feared than to be loved.
He thought that people dont care about the truth, what they care about
is appearances. He also came up with the idea that morality doesnt
figure into politics at all. It was more important for a prince to make an
example of people by cutting off their heads and putting them on sticks and
running around with them than coming in and being just and fair with people.
Machiavelli was considered to be the first political scientist, explained
the teacher in his irritatingly nasal voice.
That figures. Now
I remember one of the many reasons I dont like politics. If Machiavelli
is the poster child for politics, well ... in all honesty, thats pretty
fitting, even in this day and time. All you have to do is turn on the news
and listen to Bush talk or hear about the things that Saddam is doing or
planning to do. Thats why I avoid the news these days. Id rather
know nothing than find out whats going on out there that Im powerless
to stop. Not only do people not care about the animals and the environment,
they dont care about all the destruction that we are on the verge of.
Class ended soon
enough, and I walked out of the classroom fairly annoyed at the immaturity
of my classmates - and feeling the cynicism of Machiavelli. Then I realized
that I had Group Psychology next. That was probably the last thing I needed,
another lecture about how people tend to be sheep and are more likely to
conform than to do anything on their own. Further proof that the people of
the world could do nothing but be brainwashed and turned into the bleeding
masses that are used for nothing but for power purposes.
Yet, I still went
to class. I walked in and sat down in my usual front row seat, and waited
for the professor to begin.
today we will be talking about Moscovici and the concept of Minority Influence.
While we have learned about groupthink and group polarization, it has been
shown that one person can influence a group. This is called minority influence.
When minorities put out a clear and coherent message over and over, they
are more likely to influence a group over time. So, while the majority influence
gets immediate attention, the minority influence is like a persistent message
that, if presented plainly and clearly enough for long enough, will eventually
be accepted by the group.
Well, that made
sense. It was one of the few hopeful things I had heard all day. Maybe, just
maybe, if those of us in the minority - those of us who actually believe
in the power of love and light - were to keep our message clear and persistent,
eventually more and more people would listen.
So I listened to
the rest of my professors lecture and trotted downstairs to go eat
lunch. When I came outside, it was no longer a grey fall day. The sun had
broken through the clouds and it was a nice temperature outside. As I strolled
through campus, I noticed all the walks of life around me. College kids are
quite diverse, you know. I saw a guy riding a unicycle happily through campus,
a guy preaching about heaven and hell in the Free Speech area, people sunbathing
and playing Frisbee. I wondered to myself if it were possible. Love and light,
that is ...
It seems to be
what everyone delights in, so why not?
for this month! I hope you guys enjoy the month of the Ram and the Bull.
It could prove to be interesting. If you have any requests, suggestions,
or complaints, remember you can always PM me (enchantress299).