Monday, November 21, 2011

"... with sorrow and with great compassion..." / UC Davis and Portland

(The photo of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet came from here.)

I never watched "Kung Fu" when it was on American television from 1972 until 1975, the year the Vietnam War ended. "Kung Fu" is set in the years after the devastation of the American Civil War. Richard's sister, Dorothy, gave me the complete "Kung Fu" series on DVD when I saw her and her husband after visiting Richard's grave at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in 2008. Dorothy, ten years younger than I am, watched "Kung Fu" on TV when she was in high school. While watching the episode called "The Demon God" a few days ago, I was startled to hear the following:

"You are the enemy who is not the enemy. We are of the many, not of the few. We are necessary and useful."

Caine says this to the scorpion who stung him earlier--the scorpion whose life he had just saved and who then showed him the way out of a place where they were trapped together.

If you are curious and have about an hour, this episode (in 6 parts) can be seen on YouTube. The theme of "the many and the few" runs through it. It is a decidedly awkward vehicle but timely, given American participation in another war is scheduled to end on December 31, 2011, and in light of the events of the past week at UC Davis, Portland, and around the world--the 99% and the 1%. Maybe I'm making too great of a stretch here, but the connection was there for me.

Thanks to Beth for this:


Weapons are the tools of fear.
A decent person will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint….

Our enemies are not demons
but human beings like ourselves.
The decent person doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor do they rejoice in victory.
How could we rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of people?
Enter a battle gravely
with sorrow and with great compassion
as if attending a funeral.

circa 550 BCE (Tao Te Ching)

May the policeman with the pepper spray be protected some day by the students he assaulted, and may he return that protection and human kindness by showing them a way out of a place they are both trapped.

Anything is possible.

About a week ago, I saw the body of a green bird with red on the top of its head. It was lying near the door of a small store I was about to enter. It must have flown at the window. There was no apparent injury. Gently picking the bird up, I tucked its tiny body into a soft resting place in the the ivy near the doorway.


Loren said...

Kung Fu was one of my favorite television shows during the years it was on. It helped me to see "westerns" in a new light, though my favorite part was the flashbacks to his days in China.

This also reminds me that it might be about time to dig out the Tao Te Ching and reread it.

bev said...

My youngest brother and I used to like watching Kung Fu. I remember liking it because it seemed to suggest that taking the peaceful route and avoiding conflict were the more honorable way of dealing with those who express themselves with violence. Also, that wielding power comes with a responsibility to use it wisely. I historical timing of the series in relation to Vietnam seems significant and intentional.

I have had a difficult time watching the UC Davis footage because the behavior of the police seems so arrogant. The restraint of the student body during the incident, and the next day when the chancellor walked by as they stood in silence, exhibits the responsible use of power.

Kinglets are such tiny birds. It was good that you put the body in a safe resting place.

Anonymous said...

the photo of the rck a great illustration for the text preceding it. a hand up for beauty which we need in these times. grateful for the young people who have woken. happy thanksgiving. kjm

Anonymous said...

It's been a long time since I watched the Kung Fu series, but you remind me that perhaps I should watch it again. I have forgotten most of it.

I haven't watched the pepper spray video, the still image was enough to deter me. I love your wish for a sane future.

Lately we have had ruby-crowned kinglets in our backyard trees. So small and full of energy.

am said...

Loren -- I'm still in the process of watching all the episodes. I find myself walking in Caine's footsteps, seeing things through his eyes.

bev -- Yes. Using power wisely. I didn't watch the UC Davis pepper spray footage but did watch the chancellor walking in the dark through the silent people.

One thing I remember Caine saying was that he wasn't afraid to die, or afraid of death--I don't remember his words exactly. He was able to remain present and act in self-defense, without intent to kill. I was startled, though, in the last episode I watched, when he knocked a man out of a boat into the water, and then rowed away. There was no evidence that the man surfaced. Not sure what to make of that.

Did you ever read The Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula LeGuin? It just occurred to me that the theme of that was that the more powerful a person is, the greater the responsibility to use that power with the greatest of caution.

kjm -- Yes. Powerful to see the young people awakening as a world-wide community.

robin andrea -- Wonderful to hear that you have Ruby-crowned Kinglets in your trees this time of year!