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Legal Commentary: Counseling Kevin
By Kevin Funnell
Did statements like that lead the powers-that-were in Athens to force Socrates to drink hemlock?
"Excessive navel-gazing can lead to blindness." Anonymous.
When I was a 13 or 14, I took religious instruction one night a week in my local church, from a decrepit old priest I'll call "Father Don." One evening, Father Don was impressing upon us, as only Catholic priests and nuns, and (I am told) Jewish mothers, could, the impermanence of life and the serendipitous occurrence of death, in order to scare us away from such bad habits as swearing and touching ourselves. Father Don asked us to imagine ourselves happy and joyous and without a care, laughing and reckless and heedless of the world around us. Suddenly, a car careens out of control, jumps the curb and plows headlong into our merry youthful band of original sinners, smashing us instantly into quivering masses of protoplasm oozing down the front of the devil-driven car's front grille. What if, just prior to that sudden cessation of life-as-we-knew-it, we'd had an impure thought? Like, maybe, about the way the front of the fuzzy sweater covering Helen Carmallio's chest rose and fell with each breath taken in and out of her heaving bosom as I dreamily contemplated her preternaturally womanly figure each day in English class? Well, if that thought had raced across (much less lingered within) my wayward mind before I could wash away the sin of it through confession (now called, "reconciliation") before I died, well... Purgatory for eons, if I was lucky. Dwelling with all those degenerates who ate meat on Friday.
"What does that tell you about how you should live your lives?" Father Don asked us.
For several seconds we all sat perplexed, our furrowed brows communicating not deep thought, but suspicion that this might be a trick question. Suddenly, from a back pew, came a chant from Ozzie Miller, a young man of no depth and even less self-restraint: "PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!"
That's one opposing view to Socrates'.
Here's yet another, told to me by a semi-famous female bodybuilder, a woman of great beauty and physical strength, and possessed of a wealth of experience in matters of the heart (being twice divorced and many more times "love-lorn"): "I have always said that I run my life based on emotion, instinct and faith. It makes for a few interesting conversations with the scientists at work. I just look for the best in humankind. Even the most loathsome person usually has something decent, kind or beautiful in them. I choose to believe that it is a matter of finding, accepting and reveling in that hidden beauty."
That's another view, one I don't share, but a variation on a theme that I hear frequently: "Don't over-think. Follow your heart." I don't think of myself as a cynic, but she obviously never met Adolph Hitler, or even a lawyer.
Somewhere between Socrates and Anonymous, and the head and the heart, there has to be a sweet spot. Ya' think?
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