Literary Character

When we see persons of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see persons of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.
– Confucius
Cyrano de Bergerac
I don’t remember the year, but I remember my disgust with my mother that she was going to force me to watch Cyrano de Bergerac with her – an ancient (strike 1) foreign film (strike 2). In my teenage gut I figured it would be pretty lame. I was so wrong.

Almost right away, Miguel Ferrer started lobbing verbal darts and  then the rapiers came out. I was entranced, much to my mother’s amusement. I think she figured out that I would empathize with a man who had a physical deformity (my physical development was behind that of my peers) and chose to respond with eloquence. That or, she knew how much I had enjoyed the Musketeer movies with Michael York and figured I would place this within that genre, albeit with a certain degree more tragedy.

My dad has always been a fan of John Wayne and Roy Rogers characters, but those archetypes and characters never resonated with me. I grew up with 3 brothers and as the smallest guy in my class with a quick temper so my scrappiness could have been drawn to those characters, but spending a lot of time inside because of allergies opened up the world of myth, fairy tales, and literature to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am uniquely my own person. But the way we connect with characters from books, movies, and TV harkens back to Confucius’ point – if we value their perspective, we seek to equal them. That’s the impetus behind the “WWJD?” and “WWBD?” (What Would Batman Do?) philosophies. When I’m faced with a decision, I often think about not just the morals instilled in me by my parents and the people that have helped mold me, but also the characters of literature who have inspired me would handle the situation.

There’s a part of me that’s Cyrano, Mercutio, James T. Hart, Lloyd Dobler, and untold numbers of comic book and Austen heroes. It’s not the me of all the time, but when I shake off the lethargy that inevitably manifests as we struggle with reality, it’s the me I aspire to be.

Who are your literary heroes and what aspirations do you draw from them?

Can I Get a Little Peace on Earth?

Peace on EarthHere’s a simple question: When you tell a friend “Have a great day,” who is the target of the sentiment? Your friend, right?

So if you’re putting out good vibes towards someone you care about or are at least do not wish ill upon, doesn’t it make sense to tailor your message to them rather than yourself?

Despite this simple philosophy of trying to wish well unto others by overlooking our differences, it seems that every year people take this season as an opportunity to bash others who attempt to maintain some degree of neutrality in their words of well-wishing. I’ve got friends who are Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Pagan who may or may not celebrate Christmas as a holiday, but certainly observe the New Year and maybe one of the other solstice holidays so I say “Happy Holidays” except on December 25th when I wish friends a “Merry Christmas.”

Meanwhile, Fox News jumped all over President Obama for failing to invoke the almighty during his Thanksgiving YouTube address (he included the reference in the text version), even though his two immediate predecessors had both opted out at least once.

A week later they were railing against the governor of Rhode Island for spending taxpayer money on a “holiday tree lighting” and not having the good sense to invoke “Christmas” (something his predecessors in colonial New England actually sought to avoid due to the perceived Pagan influences dating back to the solstice celebration of Yule).

I’m just asking for a little religious tolerance – a little peace on Earth and good will towards mankind. Sure, you have every right to say what you want to say, but consider your audience and please, don’t jump on the government or your company for trying to maintain a little respect for all mankind instead of just one denomination.

That said, I want to wish all of you and yours, regardless of faith, a very happy and healthy holiday season

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