21 November 1956
Had lunch with Mary Anderson today and after lunch we talked for a couple of hours. Mary Anderson feels safe to function in her family circle only, or in her professional, but – shuts out experience to the unfamiliar even to the extent of not permitting herself to have lunch at Wolf’s when she has never been there before. Aside from her familiar beat she is no pioneer – in fact off her beaten track she is no pioneer, rather, a timid soul.
A few highlights from our conversation:
Expounded my feelings about Vincent Peale – saying he was a theological fraud dangling material success to those who follow the path of righteousness. Mary took issue with me. Her view was – right as I might be, Peale appealed to a certain element of the population who would never accept any standard unless they were appealed to in that fashion. She said it was like the Horatio Alger books. Certainly, they expounded material success at the end of the trail, but in the meantime inspired a number of boys to learn good habits of workmanship and application they might not otherwise feel were worthwhile, i.e., the moral, the hard-working, the just would triumph.
Well, there is value in everything. To be sure there is more than one way to teach. A t the same time, however, the ideation still rests upon a material prize – the competitive reward goal when questions like – how many can reach the top goals? How do you readjust when circumstances or your own ability or hardship, accidentals, trip you and your pursuit? Do you blame yourself for your lack of success in not having us chair when there is only one chair in the room and 10 people claiming seat?
After listening to Mary Anderson preach the perfection of God – that God is law – that each person is born with all the potential of goodness in him – after excusing no one under any circumstances for not knowing the Truth – since God’s law is perfect and each one has the capacity to choose – and ignorance of the law is no excuse (and she has been preaching this absolutely since I have known her) I asked her, after she recounted her [?] over her sister and herself upon her niece’s elopement – why since she believed all these things why she had no peace of mind when people whom she could not control set her into a tizzy when they were close to her? Where was her sense of balance or philosophy of life that stood her in good stead?
All through the afternoon I interjected hints from time to time to the effect that, yes, potentials to goodness are in everyone, but that environment, proper guidance, etc. Influenced, enlarged or subtracted from regular development on the perfect path she expounded. She accepted nothing of what I said at least in our conversation – always going back to her theory of God’s law – God is perfect – we need no one to tell us – we have all the essentials within ourselves – we were born with the knowledge.
A little later – talking about a Bar Association meeting or whatnot – she said the speaker exploited the theory of the “influence of words”.
I could not help but recognize the lack of harmony in her various statements. The minute you recognize influence of any kind in one sphere of life – you must recognize it in other spheres.
Therefore, when she claims one does not need any special guidance or influence to know what you are born with – i.e. God is harmonious, law, and perfection and shuts out guidance and influence – she is setting her religious views in a vacuum, sterilizing them from reality.
No wonder her philosophy brings her no peace when a trying family situation rears its head. She speaks of cause-and-effect – but recognizes none of them ration is close to her.
We also spoke about people decide other people’s values. One person looks another over and decides: ignorant, uneducated, not worth bothering with, we are on different levels.
I said very little; just listened. While Mary was talking my mind kept meditating on the line in “Prophet in the Wilderness” which I have noted here earlier, where Schweitzer’s test was the ancient Christian test: whether or not you thought of men as “masses” or as people… Whether you looked at people from the ego or material center within yourself, or from a personal center of creativeness and goodwill.
So long as that center is sound, external chaos can exist but there is an avenue of approach to, if nothing else, some understanding of the chaos.
And, oh yes! Before I finish these notes for the day – one more thought – not connected with Mary Anderson – rather with Blanche
A perfectionist never gives a person much of a chance to…
I thought this is going to be so easy to say, but it isn’t. I guess the reason I have stumbled here is because I am using the wrong word: “perfectionist”.
Let me try again:
When you are ego-centered, and someone rubs you the wrong way or tries to tell you something or maybe you do something that goes against your group the reaction (at least on my part) is to slam the door in their face and never give them a second chance.
Now I’m getting down to cases:
This whole alliance deal with Blanche has pointed out the side of my character very sharply to myself. When certain tender toes of mine is stepped on (in this case Blanche’s roughshod disregard of my wanting to stay longer at Alliance and my conversation with Margaret) my antenna signals threat. In the past, such a warning signal immediately close the door to such a person. My vulnerability, my fear of not being able to cope with such a person (past mother dominated pattern), took precedence over any other aspect of such a person’s worth, value, or what have you, and I immediately prune to them out of my life.
No wonder. I have been such a lone wolf. I am only now realizing a little glimpse of the intensity of my fears and how it has carried over to those I have known. My lack of self-confidence, fear of submission to domination, my vulnerability due to the possible influence of others, my lack of quiet belief in my own values have shut me off from contacts entirely whenever the earmarks of threat have appeared because I felt I could not control the influence and demands of others.
This all stems back to my adolescence, when I had my self-confidence practically destroyed because my mother could not grant me the right to be an individual.
She was not creating and building a sound person, she was asking complete submission to the premise “mother knows best.” And – no one knows absolutely and irrevocably in every instance life what is best. Life all too frequently calls upon you to play by ear and with the limits of our tone deafness.
It has been my experience that an author’s first books are best – future books are often improvisations of the simple original thing.
Somehow, I feel, when life gets complex and chaotic a return to basic fundamentals – the raw materials that originated the problem need to be re-examined in order to reconstruct the wrong directions taken which compounded and caused the complexity or chaos. Complexity is all right, but unsnarling chaos is something else again.
Definition of chaos: confusion; a confused mixture; or state of disorder; in wild confusion
The premise upon which our present-day industrial society is founded consists of regarding desires and wants as though they were basic necessities.
Definitions (philosophically or logically):
“premise”: to state in advance, as an explanation or introduction; to make an explanation for hand; a statement accepted as true from which a conclusion is drawn.
a priori: from that which precedes; from cause to effect; opposite to a post he or a (inductive reasoning)
a posteriori: from that which follows; from effect to cause; opposite to a priori (deductive reasoning)
Goethe has said consistently and unforgettably one thing: that the supreme need of man is to be himself and, being himself, to grow in ethical perception and action. Goethe darkly recognized that there will come a time when man’s self-reliance would be menaced by the emergence of mass will. Schweitzer: “Goethe is the first to feel something like dread regarding man. At a time when others were unconcerned, he divined that the great problem with which the man of the future will grapple is how the individual shall survive and come in conflict with the mass.”
. . . a generation of declining standards.
Schweitzer to a crusty Műnstertal peasant: I’m a hardened beggar myself. Let me give you a piece of advice. Never say die. If one door shuts, another opens. Keep hoping.
When anyone builds up his own ego, at the expense of another – that is wrong. The individual needs to develop – but not by oppressing others. When power over others masquerades as individual development (for one or the few) is destructive and built on shaky foundations.
To develop the best in others creative. To crush the best in another in order to enhance one’s own esteem is destructive.
Even when another individual is egotistical and self-centered, crushing them by force is a dangerous process. A better way of implementation should be sought – not immediately resorting to force. If one door shuts in your face, perhaps another door will open.
My problem of coping with my mother is quite a universal problem of mankind’s.
Life must have purpose and meaning, or it is unbearable.
The businessman who made chemicals for fighting flies during the war – reduced to using his plant to make foam for beer.
The ditch diggers who kept digging and filling up holes – they tell the foreman they were going to quit – until the foreman told him they were trying to find a break in a water line. They were ready to dig holes.
Always replace what is empty, ugly, dirty with something full beautiful or clean.