David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Education


• A controversy arose in 2010 about a mosque being erected near Ground Zero — that is, near the site of the former World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the infamous 11 September 2001, terrorist attack. Actually, the “mosque” would have been a community center with a prayer room rather than a mosque, but most people railing against the “mosque” did not know that. In the United States, of course, the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion, but many people railing against the “mosque” seem not to know that. Two women who do understand that, and who understand something that Roger Ebert writes (“Where one religion can build a church, so can all religions”) are a couple of strippers near the 9-11 site. Cassandra is a stripper at New York Dolls. At first, she was concerned that the call to the five daily prayers of Islam would annoy the neighbors, but once she learned that no loudspeakers would be used, she said, “I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s freedom of religion, you know?” And Chris, a stripper at the Pussycat Lounge (and a Red Cross volunteer who helped 9-11 survivors, and a woman who lost eight firefighter friends and neighbors on 9-11) said, “They’re not building a mosque in the World Trade Center. It’s all good. You have your synagogues and your churches. And you have a mosque.” Mr. Ebert writes, “Cassandra and Chris reflect American values more instinctively and correctly on this issue, let it be said, than Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, Harry Reid and Rudy Giuliani, who should know better.”

• At a family gathering that included nine-year-old Joan, the niece of drama critic Alexander Woollcott, the rich patriarch of the family looked around, smiled, and announced to all, “I will give $50,000 to the parents of my first great-grandchild.” Excited by the offer, Joan asked, “Grandfather, does it have to be legitimate?” Joan was quite a character. She was the second oldest child, and she started school at the same time as her older sister because she did not want to be parted from her. They went through 1stgrade together, but the school authorities decided to keep Joan back because of her age, although she had passed first grade. Joan did not agree with the decision. She went to the 2nd-grade classroom, and even after she was sent to the 1st-grade classroom, she kept showing up in the 2nd-grade classroom, sitting at an empty desk, and laying her 2nd-grade homework in front of her. One day she showed up at school with a bouquet of flowers. The 1st-grade teacher said to her, “Joan, dear, what perfectly lovely flowers!” Joan replied, “Thank you, but they are not for you.” Joan then went to the 2nd-grade classroom and presented the flowers to the 2nd-grade teacher. After a few weeks, the school authorities gave up and let Joan stay in the 2ndgrade.

• Doug Butler teaches the craft of farriery (equine hoof care, including making horseshoes and fitting them to the hooves of the horse). When his son wanted to learn the craft, he told him, “Get a hundred pieces of steel and turn them into a toe bend and then bring them back to me.” His son did that; it took him several days. Next Mr. Butler told his son, “On each of the ends, make a heel.” He did that — for a total of 200 heels. What was the result of all that work? Mr. Butler says, “By the time he got to number 195, he could make a good heel.” Mr. Butler’s mentor was a Scottish master blacksmith named Edward Martin. In Colorado, Mr. Martin judged a horseshoe-making contest in which Mr. Butler competed. When Mr. Martin arrived, he did not just judge the contest; he also made horseshoes. The competition organizers told him, “You don’t have to make the shoes. You’re the judge. We flew you over here from Scotland, and we don’t expect you to make the horseshoes.” Mr. Martin replied, “If you can’t make the shoes, you’ve got no right to judge.” Mr. Butler says, “So he made them, in a lot less time than it took us, and they were better than any that we made. So we had great respect for anything he would say to us. There was no murmuring about his judging.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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