Than Serve in heaven.”
I didn’t comment about President Biden’s speech on the first anniversary of the insurrection on January 6th. I wanted to wait a week to get all the pieces of my responses together. I’m not sure why some old guy, in his twilight years, is so adamant about the situation in America today. Many Americans have bought into Biden’s speech, but what drives me about the others?
I can rattle off a handful of reasons for my zeal. I danced with death twice back in 2008. I had fallen off a ladder resulting in a subdural hematoma, which means my brain was bleeding. The neurosurgeon, Dr. Kaakaji, told my family that I had a 50/50 chance of making it through the surgery. The same year, I had a da Vinci prostatectomy. However, the cancer had spread beyond my prostate. Dr. Liauw suggested using an experimental hormone therapy and then radiation.
Both treatment plans were successful. I’m alive and have no further problems with either issue. Equally important, those two dances woke me up to the reality that I am mortal. You know that you aren’t immortal intellectually. Dance with dance,, and you grasp that reality in your gut.
Another trauma that changed my Weltanschauung was when my family moved from Pennsauken, NJ to Mt. Lebanon, PA. I left Collins Tract Elementary School just before sixth grade. I was an above-average student in a nice middle-class community, but we moved to Mt. Lebanon, the 19th best school system in the country and the wealthiest community in Western Pennsylvania. I learned two things while at Mt. Lebanon; I was dumb and poor.
That duality of feeling both dumb and poor was a curse for several decades until I realized that I was neither. I’m not an Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking. Nevertheless, I have taught at several different colleges for the past quarter-century. There are loads of professors with a higher IQ than I have, but very few are as driven to teach as I am. I don’t want any student to make the same mistake as I did decades ago.
My third axial moment was discovering my family in Myanmar. I met them on my first trip to Myanmar nine years ago. I returned about four years ago and again during winter break from teaching two years ago.
Moh Moh was my tour guide on my first trip, and Ko Ko, her husband, was my tour guide on my second trip. On my third trip, we toured as a family to some places I had been before and sites I had no idea even existed. Ti Ti was nine when we first met. Snow and Fatty were four and two at the time. My three granddaughters have grown up a great deal.
My family has given me a purpose in life, which drives me. However, there seems like something else that is floating in the recesses of my mind that I haven’t grasped yet. There is something that pushes me to understand.
Nonetheless, what do I see when I look at America? White Americans are going through the reality check. Not all Americans are WASPs, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. America has two conflicting Weltanschauungs. The one worldview that creates the problem has to do with hubris. Hubris, the mindset of false pride, is the basis of ancient Greek tragedies.
Hubris wasn’t limited to the ancient Greeks. The famous English poet, John Milton, wrote Paradise Lost, in which the fallen angel, Lucifer, tries to make all the other angels worship him and fails.
God banishes Lucifer to hell. Lucifer, always ready to comment on life, uttered, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”
Interestingly, Milton’s Paradise Lost is a paradigm of America. Lucifer, aka Trump, has been pushing racism. Trump doesn’t like blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Middle Eastern Muslims, etc. Trump is into white supremacy.
Trump and his acolytes are white supremacists. What rattles a 21st century Lucifer and his followers is their feeling of inadequacy. White supremacists realize that non-WASPs can often do better than they can. For example, Obama won two presidential elections and only one election for Trump. Congress did impeach Trump twice, though. However, Trump wants to be remembered, but he isn’t some deity.
I realize that Trump saw himself as a learned student in college and life in general. Somehow, he missed reading the Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was the king of Uruk, Sumerian city-state ca. 2800-2500 BCE. In that epic, he went on his quest to find immortality and found the only immortal in the world, Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim told him to find and eat a particular flowering plant because that alone would assure him everlasting life. Gilgamesh found this plant and returned to Uruk, intending to eat it. However, a snake ate it first. While the snake achieved immortality, it was a teaching moment for Gilgamesh. He realized that immortality wasn’t possible. He stated, “Forget death and seek life.”
The story of Gilgamesh is essential for all of us to comprehend. Live a noble life like Gilgamesh. The alternative is the behavior of Lucifer, Trump, and nearly all Republicans. Racism, voter suppression, cops killing blacks, racial profiling, and prejudice need to be addressed if Gilgamesh is your mentor.________________________________________________________________________________________
This video is of President Biden’s speech on January 6, 2022.
This is the text of his speech.