Sunday, May 18, 2008

3 Unexpected Life Lessons

I have spent most of this week-end writing about how Hugo Chavez uses the historic figure of Simon Bolivar in his speeches to legitimize himself and create an identity for his followers. Here are some unexpected fruits of this labor:

1) It's a tradition for Venezuelan politicians to act like they're the re-incarnation of the heroic Simon Bolivar, but it's not a randomly-occurring tradition. Come to think of it, all traditions have their rationales; many times the tradition outlives the rationale. And if you want to, you can probably find a more effective way to celebrate the rationale than the traditional one. For example, make sure you're sitting down, because this example is mind-blowing.

My mother NEVER prepared turkey for Thanksgiving for her family. I mean, not even once. I'm sure for those who know me well, this explains a lot. For the rest of you, let me assure you that we had absolutely delicious Thanksgiving meals, and still do, and the importance of gratitude was firmly imprinted on all the offspring.

2) The most interesting parts of this dissertation happen when I'm able to relate perspectives from history, rhetoric, psychology, economics, and politics. Higher education in the world today (almost) unilaterally encourages extreme specialization, certainly knowing one area really well has its value. It's also true that knowledge gained from one discipline, informs knowledge in another discipline, even if, or especially if the two areas are apparently completely unrelated.

3) Help can come from the most unexpected sources. Today an old friend from high school, I mean from WAY back, called me out of the blue. After sort of catching up with each other, she offered to help proofread this opus. When someone offers you a hand, take it! Even if she can only stand to proofread five pages of this tome, that's a humongous help for me, for which I am grateful.

If you make the commitment to keep learning, to continually increase your awareness, you do it. Look for the answer and it will appear!