Tina K. Russell

January 28, 2009

Who are you?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:55 pm

David Brooks:

What Life Asks of Us – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
In 2005, Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. [Political scientist Hugh] Heclo cites his speech as an example of how people talk when they are defined by their devotion to an institution:

“I was in awe every time I walked onto the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponents or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. You make a great play, act like you’ve done it before; get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases.”

Sandberg motioned to those inducted before him, “These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third. It’s disrespectful to them, to you and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up.

“Respect. A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect … . If this validates anything, it’s that guys who taught me the game … did what they were supposed to do, and I did what I was supposed to do.”

That is really wonderful. It reminds me of the philosophy of ubuntu, that “I am what I am because of what we all are.” If you live only for yourself, you’re just a sack of meat sliding towards death. If you learn to live for yourself and those around you, you can be part of something much more amazing and gratifying.

I don’t think I’m there yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

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October 6, 2008

The influence of Big Karma

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 4:15 pm

Simpson Guilty in Robbery Trial – NYTimes.com

I want to reflect on something for a bit. Two very recent stories have filled us all with shaudenfreude and satisfaction: Jack Thompson, the anti-videogame attourney with a history of bullying and harrassment, has been disbarred, and O.J. Simpson may yet be put away for life.

It’s important to remember, that this is exactly why you cannot get too caught up in hating someone (and I’ll admit to sadistic glee upon reading each of these stories): in the end, they always do themselves in. Even in the counterexamples, when jerks die rich and prosperous, you know they cannot be happy. When (New York hotel baron) Leona Helmsley died, leaving not a dime for her children but a six-million-dollar bequest to her dog, you know she could not have died a happy woman.

It’s not so much that people “get what’s coming to them”… bad things happen to good people all the time. But the things that you hate someone for tend to be the qualities that limit them later in life, so you should never let those qualities limit you. So take a deep breath and remember that people who are jerks tend to hurt inside, too… sometimes, more than anyone else. And if someone is arrogant, believing that nothing can touch them because of all the things they’ve gotten away with, that tends to bite them in the ass very hard in the end.

It’s not even that “living well is the best revenge,” though that is true… it’s that mean people tend to be their own worst enemies, so you can relax and focus on your own life rather than vengeance. The kind of person you’d have to be to be so mean… it doesn’t sound like a happy experience. It sounds like its own prison.

March 10, 2008

Lies and Consequences

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Tina Russell @ 9:31 pm

Stolen Suffering – New York Times

This guy is right. The problem with lies is that they dilute the truth, and the truth–even in this age of “truthiness”–is a very important thing.

Moreover, to read a book is to express trust in the author, and the author had better not betray it. I read somewhere about authors defending David Sedaris’s many outlandish exaggerations, saying that, as a humorist, he shouldn’t be held to the same standards as, say, a journalist. That makes me sad because–though I find his writing a bit tiring–a lot of people read his books and find hope, inspiration, and a reminder to look for the amusing or insightful in the little things in life. People who read his books establish a trust, and when that trust is betrayed, it makes me sad. (And remember, you can always use disclaimers if you’re merely fudging things… the nice thing about disclaimers is that they remove pretense and force you to stand on the quality of your writing. Part of what people find enthralling about David Sedaris is that he writes, supposedly, true stories about a fairly average life. When he makes his embellishments, he’s selling the readers on a false premise, and that’s deplorable.)

Of course, the op-ed linked above isn’t about humor novels, or exaggerations; it’s about gut-wrenching, soul-searching memoirs that have recently turned out to be complete fabrications. I express often that I feel that we are slipping too deeply into moral relativism and forgetting the basic concepts of right and wrong, of good and evil, and–as is relevant here–truth and falsehood. The author is right that we need to bring back the truth, and start giving it the respect it deserves.

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