In Brief — What sounds like being seated in a restaurant is, in fact, your invitation of four people, past and present, to join you for an exchange of thoughts on topics of interest. [Written in May 2017.]
Revelations of Values —
Who do you invite and why? The invitees speak your language regardless of where they come from, when they lived and no matter the changes that might have taken place in the world. The people you invite can share thoughts and insights with you or with each other. Your selection tells about your values, so you need to think carefully about the four you invite. No doubt there are many people who might be considered, but you can choose only four. Which four will you choose?
Don’t be afraid; there are no right choices, only your choices. We are all different. Your choices reflect your interests; mine reflect my interests. Remember that fear is the mind-killer.
Try to limit your explanations to between twenty-five and fifty words. I may exceed that number, but this may give you an idea of what I meant by “Who do you invite and why.
My Choices and Reasons —
There are tens of thousands interesting people who have lived or are alive today. Some may even be your hero or heroine, yet you choose another. Some examples are: Socrates, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Lao Tzu, Adolf Hitler, Neil Armstrong, Winston Churchill, Nefertiti, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Charles Lindberg, Mao Tse-tung, Nelson Mandela, Molly Ivins, Joan Baez, Satchmo Armstrong, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Warren, Jonas Salk, etc., etc.
Here are my choices and the reasons I chose them. Although some were on my list, I chose another. Doesn’t mean the edited ones aren’t important to me, but there were four others who made the cut.
Leonardo da Vinci — A true polymath, he was an artist, inventor, scientist, architect, sculptor, anatomist, pacifist and an all-round fascinating genius. Known best for the Mona Lisa, his famous art works are legion. Though a pacifist, he designed military weapons. Centuries ahead of his time, he drew a helicopter and other flying machines. It has been speculated that he was homosexual.
Bertrand Russell — A Nobel Prize laureate, he won the prize for his writing, not the mathematics for which he is noted. He was a philosopher, writer, social critic and active anti-war pacifist. A liberal socialist, he wrote on subjects as varied as human sexuality, religion, linguistics, metaphysics, ethics and logic. He was atheistic and opposed to any form of totalitarianism.
Nelson Mandela — The first president of post-apartheid South Africa, he spent twenty-seven years in prison for his political activities opposing the apartheid regime. A lawyer, he devoted his life to freeing the black population from the iron grip of the murderous apartheid system. Land reform, black poverty, HIV/AIDS were his focus. The Nobel Peace Prize recognized his tireless pursuit of peace.
My fourth choice was a dead heat between Clarence Darrow and Mark Twain. Thus, four became five. I considered Eleanor Roosevelt, but she ultimately gave way to the men.
Clarence Darrow was a lawyer who defended the downtrodden and victims of narrow-mindedness (Scopes), government persecution (Bill Haywood) and the unpopular (Leopold/Loeb). He was a leading member of the ACLU, a supporter of women’s rights, an agnostic and a lifelong civil libertarian.
By contrast, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was a prolific writer, humorist, lecturer and publisher. Opposed to the hypocrisy of religion, he nonetheless remained a Presbyterian despite his writings being scathing denunciations of organized religion. His humorous observations are as apt today as when he wrote them. Like Darrow, Twain/Clemens was an active civil libertarian. Even today his writings are being censored, not surprisingly by religionists and conservative politicians. He must be chuckling on that heavenly cloud.
These are my choices for some stimulating conversation leavened by humor. You may notice that all of my guests are from the past and that there are no females among them. I readily admit that there are many outstanding women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, but my guests are exclusively male. There may be room for some psychologizing there, but I can argue that there are practical reasons, too.
Let’s hear about your choices. Come on. Share. Give us a peek into your thinking process.
The Weekly Sampler—
As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15, 2017, blog (“A Simple Reading Assignment”) for more thorough instructions.
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