Click Map for Details

Flag Counter

Monday, June 18, 2012

That One Final Effort of Love As Amended

Lhasa Apso
First, I begin by including a blog entry from last week. It reads:

No one wants to feel guilty, and sometimes we go to great lengths to avoid this feeling. It is awesome to contemplate what has transpired in human history on a societal as well as an individual basis due in part if not in whole to this driving motivation. We can at times find ourselves in a situation where we simply must act – feeling that even if in the end we are not successful, we will have done the very best that we can, and thus by making such an effort can live with ourselves. How many times has this one last best effort been the decisive one that has changed the course of events? Often the fuel for this drive to do one's best is love. Nowhere is the efficacy of love more clearly demonstrated than in these situations where tragedy is at times averted by sheer effort, determination, faith, and luck (presuming chance had anything to do with it).

Today we received great news. An e-mail arrived at work from our coworker, Joe. Several weeks ago he and his wife Jenna traveled to the North Carolina mountains for a vacation. They took with them their pets, including Shadow – a small black dog. Somehow the dog got lost in the mountains and Joe and wife had to return home to St. Petersburg without her. This past weekend in one last great effort to do their best to find her, they returned to North Carolina. They searched again without success and were preparing to leave for home when they got a call from someone who had seen their posted flyer. The caller said that a little black dog had been on their back porch for four days. Joe and Jenna immediately traveled the 3 miles and 400 foot incline to the caller's residence. There on the porch was Shadow – smaller now, having lost much weight in her ordeal. On hearing the good news that Shadow had been found, we rejoiced in St. Petersburg as well.

Essentially such commitment to the promptings of the heart and mind underwrites courageous integrity. In the end of his series Ascent of Man, J. Bronowksi relates that in filming the first episode of the series that took place in the valley of the Omo in East Africa, a small plane with the cameraman and the sound recordist aboard crashed. No one was injured, but they had to wait several days for another plane. When it arrived, Bronowksi asked the cameraman if he had rather not someone else film shots that had to be taken from the air. But the cameraman replied, “I've thought of that. I'm going to be afraid when I go up tomorrow, but I'm going to do the filming. It's what I have to do.” Then, in the last words of the series Bronowksi said:

We are all afraid—for our confidence, for the future, for the world. That is the nature of the human imagination. Yet every man, every civilization, has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do. The personal commitment of a man to his skill, the intellectual commitment and the emotional commitment working together as one, has made the Ascent of Man. (The Ascent of Man, Volume 13-DVD).

This commitment is a form of disciplined love, and on it rest the survival and ascent of civilization. Jenna and Joe in their actions showed us the core value foundational to the human enterprise. This evening I would like to retell their story with a few decisive amendments.

Jenna and Joe traveled on vacation to the Great Smokies in North Carolina. There, they lost their dog Shadow and had to return to Saint Petersburg without her. Several weeks later they planned to return to the mountains in a last-ditch effort to find her. This would require taking several days off work. When Joe approached his supervisor to request several days off to find his dog, the supervisor said that a special project was scheduled for that weekend and its importance allowed him to get approval for double-time pay, plus a bonus if all went well. Surely the search for a dog did not matter as much. But Joe insisted that he must go find Shadow. The Department manager heard of the threat to his pet project and called Joe into his office. He told Joe that he had been observing his good work on the job, found him exceptionally skilled and loyal, and was contemplating arrangeing an early promotion for Joe; but that the project for this weekend was a crucial test. It would reveal if he were the responsible and committed type that deserved promotion. Surely the search for a dog did not matter as much. But Joe insisted he must go find Shadow. Joe's father-in-law got wind of the pending promotion and had a little talk with Joe. He told him that he was proud to have him as a son-in-law, that he knew he was the type of young man who would operate in the best interest of his daughter. Surely he would postpone going to North Carolina and take advantage of this great opportunity to further his career. But Joe insisted that he must go find Shadow. Finally a wealthy close friend approached Joe. He told Joe that he must look reality in the face. His dog was most likely dead by now, and the lost dog was nothing in comparison to the offer he was willing to make. If Joe would be willing to give up his foolish idea of returning to the mountains to engage in a hopeless search, the friend would purchase an exquisite white Lhasa Apso for him. This purebred would be a much more appropriate dog with which to grace his family. With this, Joe began to reconsider what was in his best interest, and that of Jenna's. Surely he had to see things realistically. So in the end he relented. He decided that he and Jenna need not go find Shadow. He would stay in Saint Petersburg, get double-time pay and a bonus, secure his future with promise of a promotion, please his father-in-law, and end up with a young, fresh, high-status breed for a pet. Thus, in the end, he forgot all about Shadow. Surely we must conclude that not only did Joe and Jenna come out winners along with the those who generously offered persuasion, but in the end good sense triumphed over foolishness. Now at last we can feel deeply reassured and happy about the long-term prospects for humanity.

Print Page