Tag: kindness

No One is Alone

I saw Side by Side with Sondheim in 1976 at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London in 1976, and became a Sondheim fan. Oddly I had already seen Company (at Her Majesty’s) and A Little Night Music (at the Adelphi), but this compilation revue finally hit me. Sondheim was a complex tunesmith and  a marvellous lyricist. Hot on the heels of this came Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along (which is coming back to London this Christmas).  Here is one of my all time favourite songs –  and one that has shaped my oddball sociology. It is from Into the  Woods.

You move just a finger,
Say the slightest word,
Something’s bound to linger,
Be heard.
No one acts alone.
Careful, no one is alone.

See Bernadette Peters sing it: You Tube

Sondheim: One of my musical heroes

Sondheim: One of my musical heroes

This is one of my favourite poems: I only encountered it a couple of years ago

Primo Levi

To My Friends by Primo Levi

Dear friends, and here I say friends
in the broad sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates of both sexes,
People seen only once
Or frequented all my life;
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond.
I speak for you, companions of a crowded
Road, not without its difficulties,
And for you too, who have lost
Soul, courage, the desire to live;
Or no one, or someone, or perhaps only one person, or you
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When everyone was like a seal.
Each of us bears the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by everyone.
Now that the time crowds in
And the undertakings are finished,
To all of you the humble wish
That autumn will be long and mild.

16 December 1985

Primo Levi was a holocaust and gulag survivor; he wrote the important  If This is a Man (1947); he died, almost certainly suicide, two years after he wrote this poem in 1987.

Imagining Better Worlds For All : Opening Imageries and Poetics

Everard Longland: Butterfies-Escape-The-Web(2011)

Over the coming weeks I am hoping to put together  some short pieces about a better world.

I have for some time been concerned about the failures of the modern world and our endless critique of it.We need some sense of a positive future thinking.

Although I am no simple utopian, I do like the idea of ‘thinking forward’ –  of Dreaming of a Better Social World for All.

Something has gone terribly wrong with our current values of markets and money.

The following captures a little of  what I think. It was presented at my British Sociological Presidential Lecture at the British Museum in October 2011. 

I am against a world riddled with the values of the market place
I need Cosmopolitan Hope – a dreaming forward-
in a world of often unbearable darkness.

I need Wisdom – experience and science ands art-
in a world of chaotic complexity.

I need Empathy- my bridge to the others –
 in a world of monologic terrorism.

I need a Human Flourishing  – a potential developed for all-
in a world of wasted lives.

I need Social Justice for all- a fairness and freedom and equality-
in a world ruled without justice

I need Meliorism – those practical actions
which will make the world a better place.

Above all: recall the golden rule:
Treat others as you would be done by.

And Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

 

Table: Dreaming of a Better Social World: In Defence of Social Values over Economic and Nationalistic Values  (in process)

Feature of Society and People to be developed Value Literature ‘Enemies’ to question & challenge
Hope; Melioration; Progress Progress; cautious optimism Science Fiction
UtopianismPhilosophers
Despair, nihilism
Role taking, empathy & dialogue Sympathy The Empathic Society; Dialogic ethics, Recognition theory, Monologic Terrorism; lack of empathy; a certain blindness in human beings
Altruism – concern with others Compassion, kindness & care Feminist Care TheoryThe Compassionate Temperament CrueltyViolenceSelfishness
Justice, Democracy and Social Rights Fairness, Freedom, Equality The Philosophies of Justice and Human Rights Authoritarianism; Tyranny of others, Elitism, Scapegoating, Bullying….Slavery, the Unfree, Unjust. Unequal
rights denied
Human Flourishing ‘The Good Life’ & ‘The Virtues’ Human Capability Theory with Rights and Flourishing Neglect, ExploitationDenial of opportunities,Incapacitation. Societies based on economic values centrally.
Cosmopolitanism Acceptance of differences Cosmopolitan theory/ Difference theory NarrownessEthnocentrism
Humanitarianism Societies based on caring for the others The Humanitarian Society Cruel, violent, genocidal societies
Wisdom Experience– both historical and personal;Science – both hard and soft;Imagination – both limited and unlimited Confucius and all the ‘wise thinkers across cultures and throughout history Folly , Stupidity (which is not the same as ignorance); Blind science, blind rationality.

 

Coming Tales

        1. The Hopeful Society
        2. The Empathic Society
        3. The Kind, Compassionate Society
        4. The Just and Rights Society
        5. The Flourishing for all Society
        6. The Wise Society
        7. The Humanitarian Society

 

Quoting Humanisms

 

 

 

‘One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life’
E M Forster What I Believe

One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life

E.M. Forster Two Cheers for democracy: What I Believe

Quoting Humanisms

Shakespeare- that great old humanist!

Love all. Trust a few.
Do wrong to none.

Shakespeare All’s well that ends well


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