Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Careful Comparison 2/10/09

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

Joseph Campbell
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, whatever it is by you.

"One of these things is not like the others." Wasn't that the song they used to sing on Sesame Street? Or maybe they still do, I don't know. Maybe you were shown three triangles and a square and you had to guess it was the square that wasn't like the others. Or maybe it was an orange, a plum, a grapefruit and a softball. It's the softball that's different, of course, because the others are all fruits. But what if they took out the plum and put in a banana? Now you have three globes and a long, thin thing. Which one is different?

The game is supposed to help us to categorize things. But, even though the orange and the grapefruit are similar they are not the same, and neither of them resemble the banana. The fact is they are all different from each other. Even the two grapefruits are different. Which one of these things is not like the others? All of them.

Then it can get nasty. Here are three white men and one black man. Which one of these things is not like the others? Or even four white men or four black men can get categorized. "He's nice but he's not one of us." "He's not our kind."

To identify something or someone is worthwhile if, and only if, it is properly done. But making comparisons may rob a person of his individuality and either puts him into a group with a label, or it excludes him from others with whom he may have a lot in common. "Comparisons are odorous" Shakespeare says, and the smell may get obnoxious.

What's also bad is to label yourself as a member of some group of people in the attempt to find an identity. That is such an easy marching band to fall in step with, and we all do it sometimes. A fog of uncertainty about ourselves creeps in, the light dims and the band starts playing. It's so much easier to put the uniform on, get in line and not ask questions. So much more difficult but essential to our lives is to discover who we really are without making any comparisons with other people. It is our individuality that makes us different. You are the only one of your kind. You are not like any of the others and neither are any of the others. And being who you are is the great obligation and privilege of life.

DB - The Vagabond

Look at yourself in the mirror, smile at yourself, and mean it.


Big Mark 243 said...

I really dig the last line ..."Look at yourself in the mirror, smile at yourself, and mean it."

I do that for real, and thanks for trotting out ol' Joe Campbell! A summer was spent going thru his 'Masks of God' series ... had even OWNED them ... good that someone other than George Lucas is familiar with him!

a corgi said...

this was great advice, DB, young kids need to hear this; they want to be often labeled as something to belong, sometimes not really liking the label, but just that thought of fitting in; this would be excellent as part of a series of talks to young kids or something like that


Beth said...

The dangers of categorization...you point them out beautifully.

Hugs, Beth

Dannelle said...

I am smiling...can I stop now? Don't fence me it a pigeonhole or plant me in a container I am a wild flower...whee! Dannelle

Merry'sthoughtshopesdreamsandshemes said...

I came by your Blog after Valerie posted your quotes. I love your stuff! Merry

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I truly try not to label people, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

Gerry said...

My video companion Doc loves Joseph Campbell and in a long video we made yesterday I pinpointed another reason I get down, wanting recognition, publication, etc, too much when if I just think about it I know what I can't have that right now, so I need to be content with where I am and I will feel better. Gerry