01. Possessions … and Freedom from Greed

Freedom … from Greed

It is one of the most liberating feelings in the world
to observe people, in general,
speaking, agitating, and rushing frenetically about
in their mad rush to buy the latest technological toy,
sale item, or popular fashion accessory –

and to be, oneself, not the slightest bit interested
in what so evidently controls the thoughts and desires,
commands the attention, and dictates
the actions of the modern multitudes.

Truly, this is Freedom.

Greed – the mindless acquisition of amusements
and vanity toys – is behind the appalling superficiality
of 21st century humanity,

and – for anyone who might seek a life
with more meaning than the constant pursuit
of entertainment and ego –

I can promise that you WILL view the world
– and people – much differently,
once commercial advertising
becomes meaningless to your life.

Everything that I own

In considering the question of HOW one begins to
‘downsize’ one’s belongings,
I suppose the best practical answer would be:

“If you have not used it in the past 18 months,
you probably will never use it again.

[ It will go without saying that this excludes
emergency items such as a torch, batteries,
a Primus Stove, and such like.
These will be stored in a container that is
specifically marked for such things as ‘power outages’,
‘plumbing’, ‘electrical’ &c. ]

With the “18 month” guide, I refer to all
personal and household items,
accumulated acquisitions, and clothing.

A series of photographs below
show the contents of our house …

and – our version of an “attic” – tools, paint tins,
packing boxes, and bits-and-pieces for emergency home repairs …

WHERE and HOW to Begin … ?

There MUST be a sense of realisation – Shame, really –
that you have joined the world in mindless acquisition.
If that “Awakening” is not genuine,
then Do Not attempt to ‘downsize’ or reduce
your possessions … you will only replace them again.

“But, I truly WANT to change my lifestyle;
… How do I begin ?

Set aside those items that you have not used
in the past year and a half or so:
pick up each one, and ask yourself – Out Loud:

“Why did I buy this, exactly?”

Then answer the question – out loud;
talk to yourself:

“I bought it to impress (so-and-so)”,
“I bought it because it was on TV –
because ‘everyone else’ had one”,
“I bought it to feed my Vanity” –
and so on.

Then ask, “What does this do with my time?”
“What does having this do to my mind?”
“Could my time be better used than by
wasting it on this?”

When physically hearing the response –
you may well embarrass, if not shame, yourself.

Once all superfluous junk has been set aside
using that criteria as a starting point,

exercise personal integrity
in examining your own conscience to determine
which possessions most gratify Conceit –

that is,

identifying what things have been bought
in order to “impress”
those who are shallow enough
to actually be impressed by … ‘things’.

A Word of Advice

I would also suggest, however, that
you should not use me as an example:

I do not have one friend in the world
whom I might call up and meet at a cafe
for a frothy coffee:
there are not too many folk
who could live contentedly like that,

and so I would not wish anyone
to reduce their possessions
using what I own as their example …

IF you are determined to ‘downsize’
your own belongings, arrange somewhere
that you can leave the ‘discarded’ items
for a month or so.

If, in that time, your resolve is fixed,
and you truly do not need things
to secure happiness,
then, you may donate the items to charity,
if you so wish.

If it is something that is destructive to mind or morals,
– such as a television, books, CD’s, DVD’s &c. –
you effectively destroy it by taking it to the town dump.

If, on the other hand, the whole exercise was,
for you, a passing fancy … then no ‘harm’ has been done,
and you may freely return to the satisfaction
of your material objects.

Discernment

Everything that I own has either practical
or sentimental value: there is nothing in our home
that is a ‘fashion statement’ or ‘popular’ product.

I have always believed in quality, dependability,
– craftsmanship: one good item,
rather than three cheap ones.

Taking that little while longer to save one’s pennies
allows one to focus upon whether that item
is really an important and worthwhile purchase.

It removes that desire to ‘collect’ … IF
a self-disciplined mind-set
is behind every future purchase.

By limiting the things that you own
to the narrow and meaningful standard
of definite practical need (clothing),
and sentimental or edifying items (things) only,

you will have effectively removed the superficial dross
of impulse and greed from your life.

What I Own, and Why I Keep It …

Everything that I own is seen in this photograph …

The first of two watertight boxes
contains passport and personal papers.

A second square box protects 96 Kodachrome transparencies
from my days as a military and commercial photographer.

Two black notebooks contain forty years
of quotes from books.
Three books are kept for sentimental value.
And the original typescript of my dissertation
in archival plastic pages.

A plastic ‘under bed’ box carries all my clothes
folded in layers;

This old leather despatch bag accompanies me
wherever I go; and carries what you see –

A business card case as a wallet; uwagi (Jacket);
and two teacups (a personal idiosyncrasy:
going to the expense of buying a frothy Mocha coffee as a treat
does not include sucking it through a slit in the plastic lid
of a paper cup.)

as well as whatever book I happen to be reading at the time.

The shujou (stick) is carved from a Bo (oak staff)

One large duffle bag carries everything the first photograph;
the leather bag hangs at my side;
and my life can be taken with me wherever I happen to go.

Interest in “getting” things, and possessing plastic junk,
simply does not exist.

A Word about Books …

Reading is my entertainment.
Although having given away my library, I must note that,
over the years, the contents of my old books
have been committed (by sheer repetition:

re-reading treasured volumes a dozen times and more)
to my appalling memory … and, in key quotations,
to two notebooks which have served when called upon
to deliver a lecture at short notice.

A very well stocked antiquarian bookshop
provides an admirable and constant source
of quality reading material:
Once a book of interest has been read and re-read,
it is returned to the shop, which, effectively,
buys it back at a small loss to me; credits my ‘account’,
and I can browse for another title of interest.

It is impossible to describe the liberty
– the freedom – from greed …
from constantly ‘wanting’ things,

that comes with a genuine desire and concerted effort
to be rid of extraneous possessions – MOST of which,
have no redeeming merit whatsoever,
and serve only to gratify vanity and waste time.

I can also assure you that,
with the passage of a very brief amount of time,
one begins to look back with embarrassment
at the things that were once regarded as
“important” or “indispensible”.

Conversation, work in the garden;
the real enjoyment of a good book as entertainment,
makes one realise the vacuity and superficiality
with which multitudes conduct their lives

identifying themselves by the … things …
which they own.

For any who may be are considering “thinning out”
their own personal possessions,

I hope that the suggestions presented here
are of use to you, and that you will be congenial
– friendly, and leave a word of greeting.

Yours Sincerely,
P Livingstone

02. About This Internet Site …

Plain Lifestyle, Few Possessions, Great Contentment –
Humility, Modesty, and Empathy in a World of
Self-Deification, Hedonism, and Greed

Having observed – for the past 30 years particularly –
as the human race has descended to below the level of animals
in morality, as well as comparative mentality,
one is left to wonder how much more depraved
the modern masses can actually become.

Since 1990, “Self Esteem” – the worship of “Me”,
has replaced courtesy, consideration, and compassion
in the bulk of observable society.
Self-veneration – My Opinion – is now
the sole arbiter of what is deemed ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

Ten minutes on the Internet is more than sufficient
to reveal the viciousness of modern multitudes.
Rising above sheer laziness is too much effort
for the most, who are always looking for ways
to make life ‘easier’.

People now communicate by spewing filthy obscenities
and crude vulgarity; speaking of little else but vanity,
entertainment, or possessions;

and freely dispensing ridicule, abuse, and malice
against anyone who seeks to live quietly, considerately,
or respectably in this world.

I remember a world in which the terms “Lady”
and “Gentleman” actually had relevance:

when young women were not ashamed to be ladies,
nor sought to imitate the pathetic macho posturing
of vicious and vulgar men;

and being a mother at home
was the most honourable job in the world;

when men had enough maturity and respect
for their wives, their family, and people they met,
to tuck in their shirt and exercise self discipline
in conduct and conversation;

and when children were taught
enough respect for adults
as to address them as ‘Mr’ ‘Mrs’ or ‘Miss’.

It is heart-breaking to realise that everything that I value in life
– conscience, courtesy, basic good manners;
the ability to read, write, carry on a conversation;
speak and act with discretion and self-discipline –

have not only vanished, but are now derided
as “weakness” and viewed with contempt;

while skill and wisdom gleaned from mature
life experience is relegated to “Well, that’s your opinion”,

and to voice these simple observations is deemed
the outrage of … “telling people how they should live”.

It may well be that, in being presented with the recent
degradation of human society, your Conscience
may be telling you how you should live …

… I am not.

Do not dismiss me as being ‘The Villain’ for merely pointing out
something that can be clearly seen
by anyone having the age or interest to see it.

You can be an atheist, a Buddhist, a Christian;
you can hug trees, or worship the Third Moon on the Right:

as long as you do not inflict fear, pain, or injury
upon any animal, child, or peaceful adult –
I am not the least concerned with how you live
– provided you harm no peaceful creature.

Whilst my memories and life experience
may well reflect my disgust at the discernible degradation
of humanity in the space of the last 30 years particularly,

as well as my inability to find any point of similarity
between me and the modern world that I see and hear
displayed around me, the content of these discourses
are straightforward Observations.

Nothing more.

I am just one man who began using a computer in 2001,
because I could no longer buy ribbon cartridges for my typewriter.

The thoughts presented are merely observations
made by a man who has always been on the outside of the
“television mentality” of popular culture, with its fads, fashions,
and technological, brain-wasting toys.

I have simply spent more than 50 years
watching human society progressively degenerate;

and now lament the almost-complete elimination of moral decency
– courtesy, consideration; compassion, and conscience.

Criticism is good: it keeps a wise man or woman ‘sharp’ –
PROVIDED, of course, that the one doing the criticizing
is QUALIFIED by Humility, Wisdom,
and Mature Life EXPERIENCE.

Until we became familiar with the Internet
and ‘had a look around it’, I had never imagined
‘ordinary’ people to be as vulgar and alliterate;

or as vicious, callous, and apathetic towards anything
that did not immediately gratify their lusts, ease, or vanity.

Good people ‘post’ a nature video; a film-clip of their dog,
or even a portion of a documentary film,
and the comments that appear below
seethe with filth, vulgarity, and contempt.

I shall never forget the film on a mother with her autistic child,
and the comment from America that the woman should have
… “put your retard down”.

Or the assertion below the piece on the Amish farmer
and his wife, noting that “they are all pedophiles [sic],
brainwashed, and stupid”.

“What a f–king useless, boring life” declared another.
[ my edit ]

The depravity of modern mankind – especially young people –
is completely beyond my capacity to fully take in.

It took me less than a week to realise that I cannot
‘surf’ the Internet.

To attempt YouTube is to wade through a cesspool of filth:
find a video of bluebells growing in a woodland clearing
and, it seems, there will be some vile, obnoxious creature
spewing profanity and invective at that.

My brief look around the Internet taught me
about the 21st century – actually, it explained a great deal.

Why it was, for instance, that whenever I held the door open
for a young woman at the supermarket,
she tells me that she can ‘get it’ herself;

why people stand in the checkout queue
bellowing into ‘cell phones’ for all around them to hear;

… or why one cannot spend ten minutes in any public place
without hearing “f**k“ after each use of the word “the”.

They even have a slogan now – “WTF”.

The filthy obscenities of forty years ago
… are now a fashion statement.

There just is no lower depth of depravity than that.

It breaks my heart to see that any plea, which advocates
moral discernment, self control, or moderation,
is now reviled as “Hate Speech” –

and that this is a world where those who cry for
“Equal Rights” – once they get what they want –
are the very LAST to give equal rights
to those who are different from themselves.

If it makes Me ‘feel good’ … then it IS “good”.
No other criteria are required.

Moral Integrity is all-but non-existent in multitudes
who no longer have the ability to blush,
or feel shame about anything.

This is the 21st century: an age in which
human beings demand to live in a world where –

“Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law.”

And anyone who might reason them away
from that self-serving existence,
is dismissed as a sad fanatic
who has nothing of value to offer beyond … ‘complaining’.

Simply being ethical and quiet in the modern world,
is enough to earn the hatred of multitudes
in whose seared consciences, the very existence of morality
moderation, and self-discipline … is a ‘thorn’.

The chimney of (what was) our house is centre screen, below …

From Northern Ireland, having served, since 1981,
as a private lecturer and writer of bespoke documents
in Prescriptive English –

my wife and I live a plain lifestyle without television,
stereo, newspapers, or cellular telephones,
contentedly seeking to avoid the noise, vulgarity,
and ‘party’ mentality of modern humanity.

My lectures and written work reflects those (obviously) unwanted,
‘out-of-touch’ characteristics of moral decency
which are distasteful to modern humanity – yet which, nevertheless,
define me.

The topics upon which I speak and write are simply “Old Paths”
that are now despised by modern humanity …

… written from the perspective of a man who remembers

and laments

a world that is now long gone.

P Livingstone

03. The BBC … Rising from the Slime ?

BBC History …

Lucy Worsley: Jane Austin Behind Closed Doors

James Fox: The Art of Japan

The opportunity to see two particular BBC historians
presenting, via the Internet,
their respective television programmes,
has left me actually overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude.

No, not for the thoroughly well-done production
relating to two topics of profound interest to me
(this is the BBC, and one would expect
nothing less than technical excellence) –

but for the personal efforts made by both
presenters … in their personal appearance.

Seeing each of them was, for me,
to have been transported back to the time
when a certain aspect of society was so routine
– back then ! – that I took it for granted;

and whose subsequent, utter eradication from the world
I have never ceased to lament
throughout the last thirty years especially.

Both presenters hosted their respective programmes
dressed like the respectable men and women
amidst whom I was raised.

Unlike the slovenly ‘blue jeans’ androgyny
of the new breed of ‘Independent’ woman –
( ‘beg pardon: “female” – ‘we’ no longer use
the terms “men”, “women” boys” or “girls”
that once distinguished … Human … gender )

that featured in a few attempts to find historical viewing
via the BBC, over the past twenty years;

and, unlike the (for me) insulting, vulgar,
appallingly libidinous, low-cut attire clearly worn
to display the cleavage of several recent
British women historians …

… here was a man

dressed like ANY mature man

used to dress

on a daily basis;

and a woman

whose appearance is … well,

Feminine.

It was the first time that I can recall being so
overwhelmed with appreciation and gratitude
at Anything that was produced for the medium of television

– an invention that has spent its entire existence
obliterating the concept of the mother-at-home-family,
children-showing-respect-and courtesy-to-elders, and
personal-self-restraint-and-moderation-in-daily-life;

while at the same time, making vulgarity, violence,
promiscuity, and vacuity “normal” …
in the minds of all who view it.

Of course, I made the mistake of glancing down
to see the comments placed from the great mass
of the 21st century viewing public …

….. whose ingratitude shone forth
like some great advertisement
for all that is vicious, selfish, and crude.

“Why are you wearing a suit?” quipped one;

( Well, sonny, it is a once-common concept
that used to be known as “Professionalism” )

several whined because the audio ‘dropped’ in places;
and more told the channel owner to take the video down
and re-upload it to suit their specifications.
Not one of these malignant ingrates had the self-discipline
to say … “Thank You.”

Which is precisely WHY these two presenters
have brought a bit of bitter-sweet cheer into my life –

“bitter-sweet” because, of course,
once the programmes have ended
you are back into the 21st-century reality
of modern human beings.

Here, on these two occasions, the BBC has set aside
its 21st century formula of profanity and lewdness,
to offer programme hosts who could have just stepped out
of the 1960’s that I so fondly recall and lament

What a Pleasure.
What a Relief.

Just to have had a ‘taste’ of the world
that I had the inestimable pleasure of experiencing
in my formative years.

A breath of pure, fresh air … rushing in to
the choking chamber of polluted, poisoned smog
in which one is now required to exist.

What an escape.

I believe, always, in saying ‘Thank You’ –
in giving credit where credit is due.

Sadly, it seems that I cannot thank the person
who ‘posted’ this video, as I would need a YouTube channel
in order to do so;

and, of course, I dare not write
from the other side of the world,
to thank the BBC – whose Division of Corporate Greed
known as “copyright infringement”

would almost certainly remove the videos from the Internet
since nothing can be simply ‘shared’ any more
without greed-mongers demanding money.

But, to those two specific presenters in particular:
Thank You; you have allowed me to escape,
( for a little while ) back to a world
that I so desperately miss –

Thank you.

Whilst Miss Worsley’s dress is impeccable
in all her documentaries,
the young man is a new face for me …

and I wonder if I dare hope that this might
set a ‘trend’ for those who actually want to be
perceived as ‘professional’

to begin once again presenting themselves
as being mature enough, and competent enough,
to dress like adults
rather than ill-disciplined, lazy street urchins.

If not, and it transpires that this is but some
temporary aberration,

I am so very grateful to have experienced it.

P Livingstone

04. A Blind Man, a Dog, and Modern “Humanity” – For Pity’s Sake, Wake Up !!!

A Blind Man, A Dog, and Modern “Humanity”

For Pity’s Sake, Wake Up !!!

Living without television, radio, or newspapers –
whilst being of indescribable benefit to our moral conscience,
mental acuity, and family life – has nevertheless meant
that undertaking this Internet site in March of 2012,
opened us up to a torrent of “culture shock”
of depths that I could never have anticipated.

There have been – in the past twelve months particularly –
occasions when I have been confronted with aspects
of 21st century “living” –
that almost makes me panic in despair.

But the latest revelation has filled me with utter revulsion,
and I confess, makes me want to do away
with the whole Internet and computer – my only concession to,
and link with, the modern world.

I had – for the first time in more than a year –
occasion to travel into the “big city” specifically to visit
the one specialised shop
which stocked the type of very fine-nibbed pen
that is best suited to the copperplate writing
that I have used since a boy.

Walking along the busy city street,
I was aware of a slight ‘commotion’
on the footpath, just ahead of me.

It took a split second to realise that
the blind man ahead of me
was stopping abruptly: the cause being that
the beautiful Golden Retriever in the white harness,
was having a ‘personal crisis’ – yet,
while still trying to continue walking at the same time.

The man – realising that something was wrong, stopped –
the face around his dark glasses plainly confused.

Having left a veritable trail of faeces on the pavement,
the poor dog cringed – its tail low, its head hung down:
it knew that it had done something ‘wrong’.

The man, seeming to realise what must have happened,
produced a plastic bag and started to shuffle back
in the direction from which he had come.

But it was none of this that held my attention.

It was the conduct of the people – Modern Day Humanity:
the dozens of pedestrians who ignored that man,
ignored his need – his patently obvious need –
for help in a difficult situation;

and without a second thought, walked around the man,
and carried on their way.

Oh, one unbelievable creature did react –
expressing a melodramatic ‘sigh’ of vocal disgust
that the Guide Dog had fouled the pavement.

Thinking back now, I can only suggest that my brain
could not accept what I was seeing.

I was stunned – for a split second –
and found myself absolutely bursting
with utter contempt
for the … “humanity” … that surrounded me.

“Sir!” … “Sir” I said, running quickly to the man:

“give me the bag there, and you carry on.”

I continued:

“Your poor dog is hanging his head,
and if you will let me clean up his accident,
I would appreciate it very much
if you would give him a pat on the head …
and tell him it’s alright.”

Plainly, the man struggled to understand what I was saying:
he stuttered a bit, and looked dreadfully confused
as I took the plastic bag from his hand.

It certainly seemed as if he could not ‘take in’ the idea
that a stranger could extend kindness to him – and his dog.

The man thanked me several times, and paused –
as though making certain he had understood me.
Only then did he walk on.

I was thrilled that he reached down, said something,
and patted the dog on its head and neck.

It was my pleasure – my absolute pleasure! –
to pick up that dog’s mess.

But, as I looked up ahead at the backs of those who had
– moments ago, just walked past that man and his dog;
I could not help but think that …

I may well have just lifted a dog’s faeces off the pavement,

but that particular city block was covered in filth.

Self-obsessed, conscienceless machines
have seemingly replaced what, forty years ago,
were – generally – compassionate, empathetic
gentlemen and ladies.

Today, people dress like slobs, and act like slobs
… and no one bothers.

The average ‘man’ looks like a bag of manure –
unkempt, slovenly; shoulders slumped, back bent forward;
the pig-ignorance of wearing a ‘baseball cap’
at a restaurant table;
shoving their way through doorways,
perpetually carrying either a vicious sneer
or vacuous glaze on their face …

… while women have spent forty years
doing all that they can … to be ‘men’.

The ‘standards’ of 21st century “life” – or,
more correctly –

21st century existence.

Vulgar individuals are tolerated in public places:
spewing obscenities as part of their “conversation”;
wearing shirts with that depraved obscenity “F*CK”
fully spelled out for all to look at

… and a BLIND MAN is left to – ( what? ) –
get down on his knees and feel around
in order to clean up his specially-trained dog’s
Highly Uncharacteristic accident?

I understand that conscience
has been all-but obliterated from the human race,

but how Evil do ego-maniacal, self-venerating human beings
have to get, before they take a look around them …

and actually start to care about the utter extinction
of Common Decency in the 21st century?

A plea from my broken heart, to young people in general:

feed the birds in the wintertime;
say “Good Morning” to every expressionless, vacuous,
modern-minded human being you pass at the start of each new day;
stand in front of a mirror and practice, if need be,
to learn how to carry on an intelligent conversation,

but … please, for pity’s sake –– WAKE UP !!!

Stop the ludicrous obsession with ‘texting’,
get the earphones out of your ears;
break the addiction of constantly needing to spew trivia
and tripe into a “cell” ‘phone …

Consider … Ponder … Think – for a change:

– at least pretend that you are capable of considered,
independent, intelligent thought, without needing to
“look it up” on the Internet … or be attached to
some type of machine for constant mental stimulation.

Instead of being rude, crude, vulgar and loud,
have the self-discipline to speak and spell properly:

and, by so doing, set an example to everyone around you.

Practice Kindness … Consideration for others …
and Courtesy in public:

and start reversing this 30-year plummet
into self-serving, mindless oblivion that ( to an “out of touch”,
“old fashioned” recluse such as me ) seems to have
– with very, very little exception – gripped the whole
of what now passes for ‘humanity’.

When people conduct themselves with no more morality
than an animal, they are infinitely worse than any animal
because they have the capacity – and the conscience ( in theory ) –
to exist at a level higher than that of a beast.

The central characteristic of arrogant men
and religious hypocrites … is Pride.

PRIDE always demands attention from others.

Pride always seeks to dominate other people –
to shove itself right down the throats of society:

the malignant Self Esteem – of people
who are filled with the love and adoration

of themselves.

It is long past time … to give attention to those
who DESERVE it,
rather than to those who DEMAND it
in order to feed conceit and ego;

well past time for modern-minded human beings
to step down from their narcissistic thrones
and be less concerned about ME –

about Ambition, and ‘getting’, and Greed,
and Vanity, and Self.

What I witnessed today has disgusted me
beyond description.

A PSYCHOPATH is an individual who is
not the slightest bit concerned
that others will suffer because of what he does.

Or fails to do.

They know ‘Right’ from ‘Wrong’ …

They simply do not care.

There is no higher god than “Me”.
And the obscenely narcissistic stupidity
– voiced by more than a few, that … “truth”
is whatever I think it is.

Multitudes are bereft of any genuine sense
of moral responsibility:

can excuse away, or accept, any atrocity
if it benefits them.

They freely choose to show neither courtesy,
consideration, or compassion.
And it does not bother them in the slightest.

The 21st century is filled with psychopaths –

all one has to do is look at the comments of ‘YouTube’;
listen to the ‘talk’ of the massed multitudes;
see the narcissistic louts hammering noise from their
‘boom car’ as they obliterate the peace of all around them;
or just walk around in any public place
in this age of ‘self esteem’, hedonism, and greed.

I may not be able to slow the moral degradation
of modern humanity:
but, I do not have to condone it by my silence.

What I saw today was an utter lack of compassion
from a mass of people.

And when compassion is gone from any man or woman,
there is nothing left to distinguish them from a beast.

A blind man … left to crawl on a street …

… While the contemporary hordes walk around him.

I shall never, ever, be able to understand ( much less ‘fit in’ with )
the vicious mentality and malignant apathy

of Modern … “civilization”.

P Livingstone

05. Silencing the Lone Voice

His was the lone voice crying out in the wilderness.

And no one was listening.

Listening ?

It was not simply that people were NOT listening;
they were becoming increasingly irritated
at his rambling pronouncements and ‘doomsday’ speculation.

But to this one man, his concern
was of incredible significance:

– despite the fact that No One wanted to know.

The year was 1847 and, in the teaching hospital
of Aligemeine Krankenhaus, Vienna,
women who delivered babies were dying.

Or rather, women whose babies were delivered
by physicians and their assisting medical students
… were dying of what was termed “Childbed Fever”.

Women, in the other ward – by contrast,
who were delivered by the hospital’s midwives,
went home following successful births.

Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis
was not only bothered by the phenomenon,
he was determined to stop it – and took it upon himself
to discover and make known the reason
for the appalling rate of mortality.

Semmelweis was agonising over possible causes
when his colleague, professor Jacob Kolletschka,
cut his finger on a scalpel blade whilst
conducting the post mortem of a woman who had died
in labour.

Kolletschka died.

What was incomprehensible, though,
was that his body revealed the Same Symptoms

… as the woman who had died giving birth.

How – How ! – Semmelweis wondered,
is it possible for … a MAN
to die from a disease restricted to … WOMEN
in labour?

Upon considering the matter, Semmelweis
was absolutely certain that he knew the answer –

The transfer of disease from a physician’s hands,

following autopsy,

to the bodies of women in the wards.

Women delivered by midwives, survived.
Women delivered by doctors bore a good chance of dying.

Physicians conducted post mortems.
Midwives did not.

Physicians and their medical students
moved freely from scrutinising a corpse,
to examining a labouring woman.

They HAD to be – he reasoned – carrying infection
… on their hands.

Semmelweis began to insist that his colleagues
wash their hands with chloride of lime BEFORE
tending women in labour.

Whilst the idea of sepsis was, of course,
unknown to Semmelweis,
he was certain that it was NOT washing hands,
that led the deaths of women.

Using the mandatory washing of hands and instruments
in Chloride of Lime, the mortality rate in the physician’s ward
dropped from 18% to 1%.

But to physicians who worked with Semmelweis,
– the very idea that … THEY … could cause death
was, outrageous and insulting.

THEY … Were Doctors !

With his second year appointment to the hospital
not being renewed, Semmelweis was obliged to leave
the hospital in Vienna and return to Hungary where, in 1851,
he took up a new position heading obstetrics
at St Rochus hospital.

Where the death rates of women subsequently plummeted.

But now, his new colleagues were becoming
more and more irritated at Semmelweis’ insistence
that they were causing death by not washing their hands.

Never one to display great patience for apathetic,
vanity-saturated, wilful imbeciles … Semmelweis
began to write –
( much to the heightened irritation of those
to whose self-importance, arrogance, and laziness,
Semmelweis’ assertions were a threat. )

In 1861, Semmelweis completed a monograph
on the Aetiology of Childbed Fever, which conveyed
his insistence ( along with his all-too evident frustration
against care-free doctors ) that the death of women
was being caused by lack of proper washing by doctors.

Physicians were unrelenting in their contempt of Semmelweis’
warning of danger, and continued in their filthy habits –
infecting women with whom they came into contact.

On a holiday arranged by his wife,
Semmelweis was grabbed by several men
and dragged inside a hospital
that his wife had told him she wanted to see.

The hospital was a lunatic asylum

and Semmelweis realised – far too late –
that his wife had betrayed him,
and had conspired with Semmelweis’ own doctor
to have her husband ‘committed’.

Imprisoned in a lunatic asylum – the only sane physician
amongst a medical community full of them –
Semmelweis would die in the same madhouse from
… an infected cut.

A physician who insisted upon hygiene

was declared ‘crazy’ for being clean;

and died at the age of 47, in an asylum,

from a wound infected due to lack of hygiene

– the Very Thing about which
he had been trying to warn the world.

Betrayed by his wife;
despised by self-important medical doctors,

Semmelweis would not live to see his name
utterly exonerated by the work of Joseph Lister.

As a boy reading history, I would always try to find
a moral from which I could learn something of substance,
from the life of someone else.

I have persistently maintained that, to follow
whatever is popular and pleasing to the majority
of modern humanity – is to guarantee certain degradation
of mind and morals, and conscience.

The reaction of people demonstrates that my warning
is perceived to be little more than monotonous,
‘boring’ narrow-minded fanaticism.

I cannot but wonder if, with these thoughts
about Semmelweis – I may be the only one capable
of seeing the moral in the appalling tragedy of this man:

The moral that –

‘The Majority’ … are Wrong.

And that, there are times
when individuals who are declared
( by the masses ) …
to be ‘crazy’, ‘narrow-minded’, or ‘alarmist’,

are the only sensible and intelligent voices
amidst multitudes

who are either anaesthetised with vanity,

or just too lazy to care.

P Livingstone

06. A Folk Tale … and Real Life

detail, Urashima Taro Returning … – Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, 1886

The story is told in Japan,
of a responsible young man named Urashima Taro.

One day, whilst walking by the sea,
Urashima Taro noticed a group of cruel boys
poking and tormenting a baby turtle on the beach.

Possessing care and compassion for the suffering animal,
Taro chased the boys away,
gently lifted the turtle, and carefully
released it back into the sea.

Some time later, while in his little boat at sea,
Taro heard a voice repeating his name.

Looking around and seeing nothing,
he then looked into the sea to find,
floating beside his boat, a turtle.

The turtle spoke to Taro and told him that,
if Taro left the boat and climbed on to its shell,
he would transport Taro to the undersea kingdom
known as Ryugu-jo.

Though at first nervous and apprehensive,
once under water, Taro found that,
in that unknown environment – he could actually breathe.

The deeper he went, the more relaxed he became.

When the turtle arrived at a beautiful undersea palace,
a woman greeted him saying that she was a princess who
– wanting to visit the world of men, had changed her form:

She was the turtle he had saved on the beach.

In gratitude, her father told Taro
that he could stay in the undersea kingdom
for as long as he wished.

For many days, Taro enjoyed the thrill and care-free life
of the undersea kingdom.

After a great deal of time had passed, however,
Urashima Taro thought of his family,
and desperately wanted to se them again.

The princess told him that she could not force him to stay and,
as he prepared to return to his old life, handed Taro a box –
but telling him that he must never open it in the world of men.

Returning home, Taro saw that the people in his village
were all strangers;
and that his home was now an empty field.

On inquiring about his family, Taro was told that they had died
… several hundred years ago.
Taro realised that, in the days he had spent
frolicking in the palace,
many years had passed in the world that he had left.

Realising that there was now nothing left for him of his old life,
Taro remembered the parting gift given him by the princess.

Ignoring her warning, he opened the box and
– enveloped by a cloud of white smoke –
he was instantly transformed into an old man;
and in the realisation of this … Taro died.

I had never come across a satisfactory moral for this old tale.

But to me – one was always evident.

I view the world, I suppose, ‘from the outside’ –
as a man whom no one wants to know:
whom multitudes regard as narrow-minded and morose.

But I too, look at the world and – while they see me,
I also see them …

In Taro, I see the fate and future of the majority
of the human race of the 21st century:
impatiently despising all calls
to self control and moderation;
moral discernment and selfless living –
many of whom, I believe, will one day
look back from their death-beds …

and realize that they have wasted an entire lifetime
in the pursuit of vanity, greed;
entertainment, and ambition.

For me, this life is an opportunity to think
– and consider; and use the time given me
to humble myself;
to live as though I might one day actually have to
give an account of myself before God;
and to exercise empathy, discretion, and integrity.

“Good” or “Bad” … “Right” or “Wrong” – it seems,
is now determined upon nothing greater than

My house; My family;
My possessions; My career;
My church; My country; My memories –

“Me” … “My” … and “Mine”.

Urashima Taro realised – too late –
that the whole of his life was gone.

How many, I wonder, in the final hours of their life,
have developed the realisation – too late –
that the same was true of them ?

That the constant pursuit of Entertainment and Ambition
has stolen their entire life.

It was the observation of John Owen –
chaplain to Oliver Cromwell – that,

“And hence it is come to pass, that
wherever there have been complaints of
faults, miscarriages, errors

… their counsels have only been
how to destroy the Complainers,
not in the least
how they should reform themselves … ”

Those who are false,
hate those who are true.

The mass of people will have little or nothing to do
with a man or woman who displays sober-minded
consideration in daily life. Often, such a person
will be despised and ridiculed as “narrow-minded”.

Is that an insult … Or is it a compliment ?

I may not like to be without friends in my life, but
I can certainly appreciate Why it is happening.

And, as I have no desire to be – to imitate –
what I see and hear around me,
I am obliged to accept it.

I greatly value the lesson that I took
from the tale of Urashima Taro …

I choose to lament now – (to feel shame, and be sorry for
the times when I have selfishly, in ignorance, upset people)
rather than to realise on my deathbed,

that I lived life as a pathetic,
self-centred narcissist
whose sole incentive for existing
was the pleasure and promotion

… of Me.

P Livingstone

07. Austerity Measures ?

For the second time in a few months, someone
has presented the concept of “bio diversity” to me;
and, whilst this second occasion has been merely
as an aside to a larger, general question,

the first had been phrased as a definite challenge
– an admonition – that I ‘should be doing more to “care”
for this world.

As I did not address that first presumptive remark at all,
I thought it might be prudent to present a few thoughts
with regard to this notion that I, and folk like me
… Should “Care”.

I would have thought that it SHOULD Be crystal clear
from the content of this Internet site, where I stand
with regard to ANY aspect of kindness, care, courtesy
or consideration – most especially where peaceful
and gentle creatures – ( whether man, animal, or nature
in general ) – are concerned.

Dispensing Kindness Should be the practice
of Every human being that possesses
a working conscience.

There has been, over the past ( I suppose ) 15 years,
a renewed religion of EARTH WORSHIP –
that I remember being last foisted on us
in the early 1970’s –
under the phrase … “Ecology”.

What appealed to the hippies of the latter ‘60’s,
now appeals to the glass-and-chrome living,
machine-programmed urbanites of today.

It is a ‘bandwagon’ that is clambered upon
by the perpetually hand-wringing,
knee-jerk reaction masses of 21st century society:

… a ‘wagon’ which is driven OVER
the top of people
who are conscientious;

and driven AROUND those
who are the cause of damage
in the natural world today.

I have neither part nor interest in this decade-long
proliferation of Fear … from supposed –

“Over”-Population, ( the whole middle latitudes of Canada
consists of tens of thousands of acres of vast open,
unpopulated wilderness – as, I suspect, are the same latitudes
of Russia and Scandinavia (?) );

Disease,
the Sun,
the Seas,
the Temperature,
“Second Hand Smoke” –

and every-and-any-other Particle of Sand
that has been presented as an Avalanche,

in order to breed fear, dependence, and uncertainty,
in infantilized, subservient, self-obsessed,
hypochondriac masses.

I can only state again:

The destruction of plants, animals, and wilderness is a topic
that SHOULD BE taken up with the TWO forms of human life
who do just that –

1.)

those “film stars”, “celebrities”, politicians, and CEO’s
who go from A to B in Leer Jets and Limousines;
and have the walls and ceilings of their Californian mansions
decorated with 24 carat gold leaf –

… yet whine,

and call for the little old widow lady
in her cottage in Killarney
to practice “Austerity Measures”

and, 2.)

those wanton liquor-swilling, groin-scratching savages
who destroy nature with the noise and carnage
from ‘dirt bikes’, ATV’s, speed-boats, and Snowmobiles;
before flinging their stinking beer tins
wherever they happen to be standing at the time.

So Then – to raise any such matter
with a man who feeds birds all year;
and is moved to tears when he has to lay a mouse trap
because the little creatures have ventured into the kitchen

NO.

No.

I will not abide being equated with the self-serving narcissists
who regard this world and everything in it
as being here for their amusement … or source of profit.

As of this coming year, we ( in this pat of the world )
will be forced to do what folks in Japan have been subjected to
for awhile now – pausing to poke through all household rubbish
– banana peels go here; cardboard goes there;
batteries go here; and if-you-are-not-sure-where-that goes,
consult a list –

Voluntary Compliance and Human Automation.

And … WE will be forced to pay for the special bin
that will be delivered to our house.

Rotting food will be picked up once a week;
all other household rubbish, every two weeks.

Which is fine, of course, because corporations,
and politicians, and royalty … will all be doing
exactly the same thing.

Won’t they?

Ban the little old man from smoking his briar pipe
in a city park – that wisp of smoke
will kill your children !!!

but think nothing of the 600 cars, trucks, and buses
that spew benzene, sulphur dioxide, and carbon monoxide
all over you – and your children – every single hour
in Vancouver, New York, Moscow, Berlin, or Tokyo.

I believe it was Jonathan Swift who observed that

The Law is like a spider’s web:

it catches flies … but allows wasps, and hornets
– the large and dangerous predators –
to fly free.

The same is true of the fantasy plethora / deluge of
fear-mongering that has been proliferated of late.

Yes, I will do what I am told to,
because I want to live peaceably.

But – to those who are ever seeking to ride the rails
of nit-picking hypochondria;
or jump on the bandwagon of every newly invented
criticism based upon paranoid absurdities,

PLEASE –

If you have concerns about the abuse of this world,
or abuse in this world …

… you DIRECT your call for accountability TO
those creatures who are Responsible for the abuse.

And leave those of us who daily exercise
due conscience and consideration

to live our lives in peace.

P Livingstone