Category Archives: responsibility

The Diminishing of Awards and the Meaning of Words

Gifts versus Rewards

Have you ever gotten an award only to wonder later why you really got it? Decades ago, I attended a summer day camp in my hometown. Between games and the walk to the local swimming hole, there was quiet time where children colored. Now, I was very good at coloring and on that first day of five, I got the “Coloring Award.” I felt so proud of my accomplishments. The next day a girl scraped a knee and later she got the coloring award and my nine year old mind wondered, “How?” The following day, another hurt child got an award and I began to wonder if my coloring was that good after all.

Awards usually mean something. Gifts are unearned, but awards are suppose to recognize accomplishments. Whether one agrees with the outcome of the deed, awards such as The Nobel Prize usually recognized scientists and statesmen who excelled in a particular field or endeavor. Lately, some of the names awarded can make one wonder about the motivation. Foundations and scholarships can easily be influenced by public opinion, popularity, politics psychological fads and other nonfactual based criteria. The Prize oftentimes becomes The Gift.

When I taught piano, I usually gave a scholarship to at least one student at a time. It is interesting to note that with only a couple of exceptions over the 38 years I taught, most students valued the piano lessons less when it was given to them. I then had to adopt the practice of three strikes and then the scholarship was withdrawn. I’m a slow learner at times and it did take a while to accept the fact that people value more the things they earn. So, usually I tried to recognize as many students as possible in the piano recitals. Students loved earning my “Busy Fingers” awards, since most students who weren’t music major material could still excel in their technical studies.

Words versus Actions

There was a chorus we would sing in church that goes in part:

What you do speaks so loud,

that the world can’t hear what you say.

They’re looking at your walk,

Not listening to your talk;

They’re judging by your actions everyday. . . .

It was a catchy tune with a big, serious message. As we look around us and hear the use of words change to often mean the opposite of it’s intended use, it is more important than ever to remain clear in our communication, meaning and actions as to our intent. Rather than “preach” to you, you may ask yourself, “How many of these quotes from remarkable individuals in history reflect the times we are living in today?’ By the way, all the quotes can be found from a wonderful website: https://www.azquotes.com/

William Shakespeare

  • What a terrible era in which idiots govern the blind.
  • No legacy is so rich as honesty.
  • I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed!

Mark Twain

  • No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot.
  • I was educated once – it took me years to get over it.
  • Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
  • If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.
  • It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
  • A little more kindness, A little less speed, A little more giving, A little less greed, A little more smile, A little less frown, A little less kicking, A man while he’s down, A little more “We”, A little less “I”, A little more laugh, A little less cry, A little more flowers, On the pathway of life, And fewer on graves, At the end of the strife. (An aside, I find this missing in the news today).
  • Every civilization carries the seeds of its own destruction, and the same cycle shows in them all. The Republic is born, flourishes, decays into plutocracy, and is captured by the shoemaker whom the mercenaries and millionaires make into a king. The people invent their oppressors, and the oppressors serve the function for which they are invented.

Albert Einstein

  • Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent People Ignore.
  • The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
  • The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.
  • There is no vaccine against stupidity.
  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
  • Be a voice not an echo.
  • Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
  • Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.
  • The more I study science, the more I believe in God.

And, I didn’t include so many others. Though, for those who may need it, here’s a few from Will Rogers:

  • When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.
  • There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
  • After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him… The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
  • There are men running governments who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.
  • I would love to see Mr. (Henry) Ford in there, really. I don’t know who started the idea that a President must be a Politician instead of a Business man. A Politician can’t run any other kind of business. So there is no reason why he can run the U.S. That’s the biggest single business in the World.
  • The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.
  • The problem in America isn’t so much what people don’t know; the problem is what people think they know that just ain’t so.
  • The taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it except they keep coming back
  • I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

These quotes show the reasoning abilities and humor lost in so many of today’s generation. Here’s one from current times and I close with a final quote to think on:

Denzel Washington

  • Man gives you the award but God gives you the reward.

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The Gift of being Thankful

A culture left behind?

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything. One can construe I’ve nothing to share because in the areas of art and music I now lack common sense. But, in my defense, I share a new page on improvisation covering the use of the Alternate Bass and I am starting an new section of my own arrangements! You can look for them under Improvisation and Arrangement tabs.

4WH7044_largeI’ve been teaching drawing to a lovely young adult. The subject about clouds came up and I was explaining to her that as clouds approach us they are higher and farther up from the horizon line and this is very evident when viewing mackerel clouds. She had no idea what mackerel clouds. I explained these clouds signified wet weather in 36 hrs. She had no concept of forecasting weather before the age when satellite/radar imaging is seen on smartphone.

The youth of our country are missing out on a great deal of life experiences. Fewer go to orchestral or traditional, acoustical concerts, they don’t wait weeks for their favorite book to arrive via media mail, they don’t learn social skills by working out differences on a pickup softball or football game in the backyard and they occupy themselves most often by playing or communicating with digital devices.

A better Gift

You see images of children frantically ripping off giftwrap to get to the present. They see it and maybe ooh and ah a bit and then immediately go on to the next gift. They don’t comprehend the time, expense and or thought that went into the gift. When there is so much offered to them, they can’t seem to value that there was a cost to the gift. There was an expectation that the gift is to advance the enjoyment and development of the child.

It comforts me to know that children still prefer printed books over e-readers. Parents still value the importance of music lessons, especially piano. Children still like to express themselves artistically with hands on material. With the frenzy of gift giving, you would hope parents revert to the tried and true giving of gifts. Christmas and birthdays were never complete unless we received a book. Some years there were a few more presents, often just one or two more (and one or both were often clothes). My parents did well trying to give us one thing we would really use. It’s hard to go wrong with books, music lessons, art classes or archery instruction. These expand the child’s world through words or improves their sense of accomplishments and helps eye, hand and mind coordination through the mastery of a skill. Yes, these are often solitary pursuits, but they are shared socially. By the way, if one of us children in my family struck out in the present department, we still better not make faces, pout or not be thankful because giving thanks is giving back a gift in return. After all, even God thinks it is wrong to be unthankful (2Timothy 3:2 “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”). Much of our news is generated by stories of unthankfulness. It seems as if everyone is focused on how they are offended or unappreciated instead of being thankful for a country where they can express themselves and have the option to choose how they will live their life.

So, think about your gift giving, may you have a good response. Here’s a link to a past post about thanksgiving. Be Thankful!!

The Monotony of Politically Correct Art/Music

Setting out to create politically correct art and music.Capture18

I’ve heard a bit more discussion about political correctness come up in the news lately. (Definitions are found at the end of this blog). The former Bruce Jenner and the “Black Lives Matter” group helped push it to the front. I will only say, I believe, since we are made in the image of God, all lives matter. All lives deserve our love and respect until their ungodly, inhumane acts demand otherwise. If you don’t believe in God, nothing else I believe will matter to you. I could go on but this blog is mainly about art and music. I think art is nothing but communication without words. So, what is my art saying? Am I politically correct?

The PC Composition 

Music should be easy – it’s universal! So I start to compose.

If I use any half notes, would African Americans object? I better use an equal amount of “white” notes and “black” notes. In fact, they will have equal time value, because the black notes deserve equal time. This makes time signatures of no value now. This means there’s no need for bar lines. Forget the key signatures. Many can’t play them, so I better leave them out. In fact, all notes should be the same pitch because I know those who can’t carry a tune would be offended by those who can. There will be no words to worry about. Good. Also, include no instruments to remind some listeners of their inadequacy to learn an instrument. It’ll be like giving awards to every participant for their excellence (a word with no meaning – but don’t tell anyone!) Boy! That’s  All done!

The PC Canvas Has to Be EasyArt, like morality, consists

Art just has to be easier. After all, art critics swoon over exhibits containing a cross submerged in urine and embalmed baby parts. My art should be tame and safe. I started to draw a face – just any face. But then I thought, if I drew an Indian Native American maybe I’d offend a Black African American. But if I use only pencil, will I offend a Latino? I mean, how can I draw black lines on paper and not offend someone? Even if I chose paper the color of a Latino’s complexion, wouldn’t I offend an Asian? This is getting really complicated. No matter what I do, I am sure to offend someone. What do I do if I offend someone who has only one eye or has wrinkles?

I will settle on a safe rendering. I’m confident I have not offended anyone, but I am hardly pleased with what I see. It in no way exemplifies how I see the world.

994408_240134136163913_736443705_nThe Not-So PC Conclusion

When Daniel (in the Bible) was taken into captivity, the first things Nebuchadnezzar’s reign did to subjugate them was change their diet, their names, their words (language) and their religion. Fortunately, even the barbaric (is it okay to say this?)Babylonians recognized excellence, and Daniel and his friends were rewarded for their achievements. Life is full of contrasts. Hot versus cold, spicy or sweet, these foods are all praised. We need all the variety in life. We need the planners and nurturers and teachers and doers. We need high and low energy people, those that encourage and also offer helpful criticism to meet the various needs of our lives.

Yes, I have been brutally hurt by words. I am offended almost daily, but I know this culture is not friendly to my values. But I refuse to let it control me. I will embrace the high notes I will never sing, I will play my piano with no guilt because I put in the effort to learn how to play it. I will draw and paint the dignity of each life and the pleasures of creation with wonderful contrasts and colors and not be ashamed because I know in my heart I am not malicious. I am not a racist. I am loving and caring and honest and full of life!

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politically%20correct

Full Definition of POLITICALLY CORRECT:  conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/american/politically-correct

Politically Correct: conforming or adhering to what is regarded as orthodox liberal opinion on matters of sexuality, race, etc.: usually used disparagingly to connote dogmatism, excessive sensitivity to minority causes, etc.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=politically+correct

#2 Politically Correct: 1. The laws of moral and ethical relativism; all systems of cultures and thought are equal in value, steming from a perceived guilt from white liberals who believe that the Western Civilization is the root of all evil to the exclusion of all else. 2. A powerful form of censorship. abbr: PC

Political correctness has a basic flaw. If all views are equal, why do some who embrace this view feel the need to push this agenda as the “correct” one at the same time demonizing other views as “incorrect”?

by tradesman March 31, 2003