NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

Saturday, July 9, 2011

COMPETITION -- ME AGAINST THE WORLD -- ME, IN THE WORLD?

THIS IS NOT JUST HUMOROUS,
IT IS CHALLENGING
Thank you, Doug Savage.  This is a very demanding thought.  The "thought" of competition came to me this morning while listening to the story of how the sons of Jacob had to swallow their pride and their guilt since they had decided to throw themselves at the feet and the mercy of their brother Joseph.  He, whom they had nearly killed, but subsequently saved by selling him to some Egyptian merchants.  He, in turn, saved his whole family from sure death by starvation by using the high position of power and influence that he had attained in Pharaoh's court.  I had to think that he had to be one tough competitor to be a lowly stranger in the land of the highly civilized and rise to a position of authority and power in the capitol. I admire people like that.  I admire people who are starving, yet go to New York to jump-start a career.  It's the thing to do for certain people.  You know, "If you make it here you can make it anywhere."
I remembered Joseph, of course.  I fairly wept when I heard the reader declare the forgiveness with which Joseph covered his brothers.  It got even more emotional when he had them swear an oath that when his prophecy that they would someday be liberated, came to its realization, they were to bring his bones back to the Promised Land so that he could be buried by his ancestor, Abraham.  It is powerful when someone who has won it all doesn't forget where he/she came from.  
I was also thinking of the time when, at the very front edge of my change of careers I was talking to an older friend of mine about my career plans.  I said that I was not really afraid about being jobless for very long since I have a master's degree and speak, read and write four of the popular languages of California.  He was not impressed.  He prophesied that I would soon find out that the world is populated with people with more education, better focused education and who speak read and write seven languages and who have five certificates to prove their value to the world.  The truth of his words was soon slamming head-on into my life.  What a lesson!
I did OK, but I never forgot that prophecy.  How could I forget?  I had to confront its existence in fact, every single day.  
It took a long time, but along the way I discovered that I would win some and loose some, not simply based on cold, hard reality, but helped along by that other little respected, but highly effective reality, politics.  I hate them.  But I also like to eat.  Slowly but surely I came to realize that as difficult as it is, getting into league with the competition can contribute the key to the answer to tomorrow's dilemma.  I didn't learn that in the vast ocean of me vs them, all 5 billion of them.  It was more me, side by side with the strict few immediately below and immediately above.  I learned this from observing the behavior of lawyers in the courtroom, and in the "courtyard" so to speak.  In the courtroom they are locked in "deadly battle," yet they are civil to one another once they cross the threshold and go to lunch.  Go back to the cartoon by Doug Savage and think about it a little bit more.  The lawyers know something that we don't always know and appreciate.  They know that the key to their winning the argument is perhaps to be more clearly revealed to them through the behavior of their direct opponent than through the efforts of their very own labor, both individual and corporate.  This is an extremely counter-intuitive conviction that I have about life.  This is a conviction that I have developed because I came to this conviction by going back to my friend Karl Marx and his philosophy of material dialectics.  It is in the fruit of the tension between the negative and the positive that new manifestations of the truth are born.  The courtroom is the perfect laboratory for this exercise.  I saw it on two occasions from the jury box and at least four other times in the deposition room when I sparred face to face with the claimants' attorneys for hours on end.  There were two of those.  One who taught me how not to be a human being and the other taught me some of the positive lessons illustrated above.
I leave you now with one of my favorite sayings.  It does not come from anyone famous, but from a fondly remembered fiery ice hockey opponent against whom I enjoyed "playing." He used to say, "Competition is good for the soul."  I agree and I respect his insight. I did not cry at his funeral, and he, naturally, will not cry at mine.
...neither should you.
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