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Reader Views welcomes Tania and Lana, sister co-authors of the modern classic children’s book “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” Tania and Lana are being interviewed by Juanita Watson, Assistant Editor of Reader Views.
Juanita: Reader Views is happy to have the opportunity to talk with the two of you today. Your book “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” is in its second edition and being considered a modern classic in the children’s book genre. Would you start by telling readers what your story is about?
Tania: “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” is an Award-Winning children’s picture book which is considered a fable, since it has several deeper messages and is full of animated characters. The setting takes place in the beautiful Red Rock Canyons of Sedona, Arizona. The tale of Bonnie Bee and Benny Butterfly and their magical meeting “one calm spring day” introduces us to the wonders of their individual worlds. Bonnie shares that she works for the Queen pollinating flowers and making honey, while Benny explains that butterflies are smart enough to change form through metamorphosis. They become best friends but, to their dismay, the Queen discovers their secret meetings. Consequently, the Queen grounds Bonnie to the hive preventing her from seeing Benny. Benny is distraught; however, through the power ofand , the two find their way back together and eventually marry “in ’s harmony.” Their offspring are Buzzy Bizzy and Butterbee twins with cuddly bee bodies and bee-dazzling butterfly wings. The Butterbees represent tolerance, positive “bee-attitudes” and creativity sharing the amazing talents of both bees and butterflies! “They float like butterflies and buzz like bees…”
Juanita: What inspired the Butterbee idea?
Tania: The genesis of the Butterbee Concept was inspired by our own childhood background. Although we have lived in the States for many years, we were born and raised in South Africa in Umtata, Transkei – the same birth place as Nelson Mandela. While growing up we witnessed, firsthand, the intolerance of apartheid or racial segregation. This situation served to create our deep belief in tolerance and inclusion of all regardless of race, culture or religion. The incredible diplomacy of Nelson Mandela eliminated apartheid; however, many people in South Africa as well as populations world-wide are still suffering from the extremes of discrimination, intolerance, poverty, illness and lack of education. The Butterbee Concept is timely since there is so much in the media about intolerance. I am devoted to sharing the importance of tolerance which leads to more peace in the world. For example, while studying psychology in college I was president of the International League of Friendship which focused on “Unity through Diversity.” It wasly to share music, food and dance from many different countries and honor the unique traditions of each culture. We all can learn so much from our differences to make the world a happier place.
Lana: Our business, Bee Unlimited, Inc was born from a dream I had about a bee with the world in its wings. Curious about the bees in general, I began to do research and discovered that aerodynamically the bee is not supposed to fly but it does! This is symbolic of overcoming life obstacles and that “anything is possible.” In 1995 I was involved in a near-fatal accident caused by a troubled teenager grabbing the steering wheel of the car. Both my legs were crushed and the woman in the other car sustained a devastating head trauma, while the boy was only slightly injured. I endured excruciating pain and many months lying flat on my back. Nevertheless, with faith and determination I learned how to walk again and slowly heal the emotional wounds. Why was this teenager so unhappy? This tragedy was another impetus for writing “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” Butterbees inspire children to overcome challenges and tap into their innate gifts developing healthy self-esteem at an early age so they may grow into happier teens and adults.
Juanita: How did your collaboration begin?
Tania: Many years ago I was in a relationship with someone from a different culture and was confronted with issues that arose when marriage was considered. In the course of a conversation with Lana, she mentioned that our offspring would be “Butterbees.” She explained that the bees lived on one side of the river and the butterflies lived on the other side of the river but they were forbidden to cross over to play together. However, one day a bee and a butterfly decided to explore what was on the other side of the river. They became friends, fell in love, finally got married and had butterbees as their offspring. I was very inspired by the Butterbee idea and wrote the original story with ease and flow. The story was written in prose for an older age group with a slightly different story line incorporating a little boy named Beema who was from a blended marriage.
Lana: After a period of time, I edited the original story into rhyme. From then on we collaborated together on the book, illustrations and Butterbee plush toys. Since the Butterbees are a combination of both bees and butterflies, they are metaphors for all the children of the world to honor similarities and celebrate differences. The point is that today there are many blended families in the United States so it is important to have an open attitude to this phenomena. I am grateful that the Butterbee idea sprung into my head, since now we have the Butterbee book, plush toys and pluppettes (plush puppets). As we worked on the Butterbee Concept, it evolved to incorporate the themes of tolerance, creativity and positive “bee messages.”
Juanita: What is the age range for “How Butterbees Came to Bee!”?
Tania: The age range is for children three to eight. However, the story is also considered a fable for older children and adults, since there are deeper messages and morals accompanied by metaphor / symbolism through the animated characters.
Juanita: Who are the characters of your book? How do they contribute to the significance of the storyline? What do they represent?
Tania: I will share about the characters I usually play when we facilitate “Butterbee Buzz” workshops for children and Lana can address the characters she plays. I love butterflies and act as Benny Butterfly who explains his amazing transformation through the metamorphosis. He relates his life cycle with a “bee message” for each stage including the caterpillar – “bee smart”, the chrysalis – “bee safe” and the butterfly – “bee awake” and “bee alive.” In essence, children are like butterflies with a beautiful soul that embraces change and growth.
The Queen Bee is the character who demonstrates intolerance causing separation between Bonnie and Benny. However, when the Butterbees are born the Queen has a change of heart since she realizes how much she loves Bonnie. The Queen makes has a shift in her awareness and connects with her inner being. There comes a time in our lives where we choose to turn inwards to find our inner joy and acceptance so we can accept others.
“The Queen had a happy and smiling face,
Now that she had found her own knowing place.”
Hearing the news of the Butterbees birth,
She began to dance with glee and mirth.”
Lana: Bonnie Bee shares her gifts of pollinating the flowers and making honey. As mentioned before, the symbol of the bee is that “anything is possible”, since aerodynamically the bee should not be able to fly. Its wings are too small and delicate for its body, yet despite these limitations, it takes easily to the air. We teach children to “never give up.” Ultimatley, the bee represents overcoming adversity and focusing on the sweetness of life and abundance (honey).
Bizzy and Buzzy Butterbee are the twin offspring of Bonnie Bee and Benny Butterfly. Butterbees represent the best of both worlds with the gifts and talents of both bees and butterflies. They are metaphors for all the children of the world to foster tolerance and acceptance of oneself and others as well as inspire children to tap into their creativity.
“We bet you’re bessed with talents too.
Why don’t you try to name a few?”
Uqualla Quail is the “wise one” who brings spiritual teachings into the story line. She gives advice to Benny about following his heart and intuition.
“Bee patient, she said, follow your heart.
Listen inside to your knowing part.”
When the Butterbees are born Uqualla continues to share words of wisdom with the Butterbees about intuition, the inner spirit and acceptance.
“Inside there is a knowing place,
Where lives the soul and loving grace.
It helps us when we’re feeling sad,
To know these feeling aren’t so bad.
It helps us see others as they are,
Accepting all creatures near and far.”
Juanita: What are the underlying messages in your book?
Tania: The underlying messages in the book relates to three main themes:
1) To foster tolerance and acceptance – honoring similarities and celebrating differences.
2) To teach positive “bee messages” such as bee kind, bee patient, bee honest etc.
3) To inspire creativity tapping into gifts and talents to enhance self-esteem.
Juanita: What are the positive and uplifting sayings that the Butterbees teach readers? How did you come up with these very catchy messages that are obviously great fun for children?
Tania: The positive and uplifting sayings that the Butterbees teach readers are “bee messages” which are scattered throughout the book in the illustrations. We came up with the idea by using a pun on the bee. The “bee messages” are related to ways of bee-ing or attitudes that we all can benefit from when we practice them more consistently – to mention a few – bee kind, bee joyful, bee creative, bee accepting and just bee you!
Lana: Here are some of the Butterbees’ bee messages from the book:
“Hive and seek is our favorite game.
Finding “bee ways” that we can name.
Bee helpful, bee wise, bee loving and true.
Bee happy, bee kind and just bee you!”
Juanita: What changed in your second edition? Would you tell us about your award-winning backpack special, and the various awards “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” has won over the years?
Tania: Our first edition Butterbee book was a smaller book with our own illustrations that a graphic artist computerized. Although the pictures are cute, the second edition has David Michener’s illustrations which are animated and give the characters life. Some of the text was only slightly changed.
The award-winning backpack package consists of a Butterbee book and the Butterbee twin plush toys Bizzy (the girl with pink wings) and Buzzy (the boy with purple wings). In addition, we decided to make the toys more interactive and are happy to say we have Butterbee Pluppettes (plush puppets) arriving soon.
“How Butterbees Came to Bee!” is the recipient of the following Awards:
1) The Benjamin Franklin Award – 2002. Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book Fiction by an independent publisher.
2) The i-Parenting Media Award – 2004. Butterbees won two i-Parenting Media Awards. One for “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” and the other
for the Butterbee backpack book/toy combination.
3) The Mom’s Choice Award – 2005. Judged by an influential group of women including Julie-Agner Clark, creator of Baby Einstein.
4) The Parent-to-Parent Adding Wisdom Award – 2005.
Juanita: Would you comment on David Michener’s wonderful illustrations that bring the Butterbees to life? How did he come on board for this project?
Tania: David Michener, the illustrator, was a key artist for Walt Disney Studio for 35 years, until his retirement in 1987. He directed several animated films for Hanna Barbera. We were honored to have him re-illustrate our original Butterbee book because he really brought all the characters to life. David came aboard the Butterbee Project in a very synchronistic manner — it was meant to bee! Lana can share the how we connected with him.
Lana: I had met Karen Grencik, a book agent, at a seminar. She fell in love with Butterbee book and toy concept so she agreed to be our agent for a period of time. One day she was outside her house when she saw an elderly man passing by on his daily walk. They began to chat and she asked him what his line of work was. He replied that he was a retired Disney animator. Karen’s ears perked up and asked if he would wait while she ran inside to get the first edition Butterbee book and Butterbee plush toy. He thought the Butterbee concept was great and suggested that the illustrations would be more effective if they were real not computerized. One thing led to another and in a few weeks he agreed to illustrate “How Butterbees Came to Bee!”
Juanita: What makes the Butterbees story such a popular choice in children’s books?
Tania: I think educators, parents and grandparents are drawn to books that inspire children and have uplifting messages. Some adults have commented that there is so much negativity and violence in the media and in movies. They appreciate that “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” is a simple, fun, light-hearted tale that expresses positive values and attitudes that they want children to learn and practice in their lives.
Juanita: What are some comments you hear from children reading your book?
Tania: Here are some comments directly quoted from the children’s work sheets:
“What I found interesting was when Bonnie told the truth to the Queen.” – Brittan
“I like the Butterbees when they are born – they are cute.” – Caitli
“Follow your heart wherever it leads you.” – Sarah
“My favorite part of the book is when Benny and Bonnie had kids.” – Anely
“I liked the attitudes like happy, smart, safe, prompt because it shows how a person feels. – Amanda
“I learned lots of attitudes like bee kind and bee safe. I learned about the life cycle of the butterfly. I like that you used rhyming words in the book.
I especially liked saying , “buzz hum, buzz hum, buzz hum hum hum.” It made the story more fun. How did you make up the story? How did you think
about doing a butterfly mixed with the bee?”- Denise
Lana: Many kids have written comments about writing more Butterbee books.
Juanita: Would you tell us about your “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” workshops and presentations? What is your company’s vision?
Tania: Along with our book and Butterbee toys, we facilitate “Butterbee Buzz” Creative Workshops in schools, stores, botanical gardens, museums and other venues. Our target groups are kindergarten, first, second and third grades. However, we have been invited to present to middle school kids, educators and the elderly. We adjust the level of the workshop depending on the age group. For the younger kids we dress up in bee/butterfly costumes and read the Butterbee story in an animated way using plush toys and puppets. Sometimes we have the kids play the parts of the characters while the rest of the audience repeats the phrase “Buzz Hum, Buzz Hum, Buzz Hum Hum Hum” when we turn a page. The workshops are interactive, since we facilitate fun sing-a-long songs, discussions about interests, talents and the positive “bee messages.” Other activities involve stretching and breathing which helps concentration as well as creative visualization, movement, writing and drawing to stimulate right brain creativity.
When we facilitate older kids and adults we discuss the concepts of fable,, metaphor, symbolism, onomatopoeia etc. We encourage the awareness of the deeper truths in the book and how to integrate these messages into every day life. They participate in a visualization process and creative writing. In addition, we explain the process of self-publishing and inventing a product with the purpose of inspiring othersto take action on their ideas and have them manifest.
Sometimes we focus on current events including the Tsunami in South East Asia and Hurricane Katrina. We had the children write a “bee compassionate” letter with a butterbee drawing to a child in a disaster area. The notes were very empathetic! Here are same sample letters and poems we collected to make a booklet titled “Voices of Compassion” during “Read Across America Week” from Cocopah Middle School – 2006.
“I am so sorry that you had to go through that terrible incident. “Bee cheerful, brave and happy. Make the most out of your life and put the past behind you.
You have the power to “bee awake” and make a difference. Do what you love best and never give up no matter what. “Bee cheerful.” – Alexanrdra
“As you are probably experiencing right now Hurricane Katrina- this is probably the worst hurricane that hit. But you stayed strong as my parents always told
me ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and in your case it is true. You are truly a survivor.” Cocopah Middle School and me will pray for you. – Katie
When you have a frown,
Turn that sad face upside down,
Sure sometimes things go bad,
One thing that won’t get you far is getting mad.
Never give up hope,
There is always a way to cope,
Try hard to fill your heart with glee,
Be just like the Butterbee!
Believe in the impossible
Everything will be OK
Love family and friends
I believe in you guys
Everyone will be alright
Very lucky to have survived
Hopeful to become bigger than life
Optimistic towards the future
Peacefulness in the soul
Energy in a new beginning
Lana: Our company’s vision is for The Butterbee Project to go from a grassroots level to soar and become a household name. This will be accomplished by a company picking up the Butterbees to publish a series as well as producing an animated movie / educational TV series, and other licensing /merchandising. We want the message of “tolerance and unity through diversity” to reach people from all walks of life and to also give back to children’s charities.
Juanita: What was your favorite part of the “sisterly” collaborative writing process? Do you have any plans for any other books?
Tania: There are two sayings that I have picked up from various seminars. One is “teamwork makes the dream work” and the other is “two is the power of eleven.” Although at times we have our differences, having two people working on a project has added to the creative process. Also, we have been an immense support for one another – when one has not been able to work on the project the other has taken over and vice versa. Although we are currently fulfilling the dream, we need more team members in order to reach children on a larger scale- nationally and globally.
Lana: We have plans to write a series of Butterbee books related to inspirational themes of tolerance, creativity and positive bee attitudes.
Several synopses are in the works.
Juanita: How can readers find out more about you and the Butterbees?
Tania: Our website is . (In process of being re-vamped). Individuals can call to order “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” and Butterbee Pluppettes or schedule “Butterbee Buzz” Creative Workshops at 480-220-4441 / 1-888-321-1717 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Juanita: Tania and Lana, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. It has been a pleasure hearing about your fantastic book and the wider Butterbees vision. Your message is universal and timely, and we wish you all the best in making the Butterbees a household name. Do you have any last thoughts for your readers today?
Lana: I want to mention that we are very excited to have the Butterbee Pluppettes (plush puppets) arriving in early May ’07. Also, we would like our readers to know that “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” has been endorsed by Mark Victor Hansen best-selling co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
“Read and absorb this superb book with your children.
I love it! It shares truth and inspiration.”
Finally, thank you to Juanita and Reader Views for the interview and to all our readers “Just Bee You!”
Tania: Thank you for this opportunity to share the Butterbees. We have birthed and nurtured the Butterbee Concept with “How Butterbees Came to Bee!” and the amazing positive Butterbee characters. It is our dream that the Butterbees go to the next level and soar so that the message of tolerance touches children’s hearts and the child in every adult. The Butterbees message to the world is to help uplift humanity and to “soothe the sting of intolerance” in a light, fun way. Children are our future – through the Butterbees essence we can give back by “Positively Pollinating the World One Child at Time!”
With all of the controversy surrounding Harry Potter, including cries to ban the book from schools, the novels have done something that American parents and teachers, as a group, have failed to do. They have made our children.
A recent study by Scholastic notes some intriguings among the s of Harry Potter’s world. Parents and s both credit Potter with getting kids to for fun; just over half of the kids ed said they neglected to do so before latching on to the series. Almost two thirds – 65% – have noted improvements at school since they started Rowling’s works.
More important than grades, however, is the entire shift in attitude towards reading. Previouss have found that children’s reading drops after the age of 8. The average Harry Potter reader, however, start the series at 9 and continue to read – and reread – the books as they get older.
Reread the books. This single statement spoke volumes to me. Most people I know read a book once and then never again. Most people, who will watch the same movie over and over, refuse to read a book they have alreadyed because ‘they know how it ends’. They watch the same television shows with the same expected, overused endings. Yet we have kids now reading and rereading books. The idea boggles the mind.
Speaking of mindboggling, you do realize that most adults read less than five books after they graduate school, be it high school or college. Reading is apparently too difficult for most people. But Rowlings has lured her audience to read not one but six books, and eagerly anticipate the seventh. Not only that, but according to the aforementioned, half of Harry Potter readers will seek out a new series to devour. One in three – that is 33% – intend to reread the series. Oddly, only 27% intend to look for a new Rowlings book; perhaps the rest are afraid of being sucked into another ten year series.
You can put me down for all three sections, personally (no word was spoken on overlap, by the way). I will reread the entire series immediately before Book 7 comes out, trying to time it so that I receive my book ‘just in the nick of time’. That’s how I managed the last two books. I will continue to seek out new books and new series to read. And I will eagerly anticipate Rowlings next book – although I might wait until she concludes her next series before I start reading this time around.
Man must seek thefrom within himself. Seek and you shall find. Do not go to your church, or to the to find answers on true faith. The Most advanced minds of today study the universe for answers. They look all over the world and outer space to find answers. They study things like “Is there anything in black holes?’ Do other life forms exist? Are there other universes out there? This seems unimportant to me. Man is the greatest creature in the universe. We should study the great powers inside of of a man. If there are other creatures out there,and other universes is above it all. is that which no greater can exist. We have a connection with God. After all, man was created in the image and likeness of God. He breathed his life into us. With the power of God all is possible.
Christians must start practicing brotherlyamong themselves, and other religions. I remember when I was in high school. I was a fan of sports and other activities of my school. It was my town and it was my school. We talked bad of other schools and other towns, they were our competitors. If I was born in a different town and attended a different school would I be a fan of that schools events,and feel a sense of belonging to that town. Maybe I would be talking down on the same school I was presently in. It is because it is human nature to be a fan of your own group, city, state, country, or religion. We Must remember that we are all children of God. No man is greater than another, and there is no chosen religion or group of people any less or any greater than the other. Christians disagree, among themselves, and other different Christian religions, on what is exactly correct. What about the rest of the world, non Christians, who don’t know of Jesus or the ? Can they find God? Know this the ten commandments can be summed up in just two commandments: One: Love God with your whole heart., and Two: Love your neighbor as you would yourself. Any man,or woman who obeys these two commandments, shall find God.
Man communicates with with God through his sub conscious mind. “Rich people focus on what they want. Poor people focus on what they don’t want.” “What you visualize will appear.” What father would deny his son that which he can provide. God provides us what we ask of him. Do not ask for material things of the world. You are not calling upon a servant to bring you food. You are not ordering an innkeeper to provide you with a room. Never ask for gold, love, good health, petty victories, fame, success, or happiness. You must ask only for guidance that you may be shown the way to acquire these things. God will show you the path, but you must act and take the first step.
“God shine your light upon me. God grant me the strength to remain in your light.”
One of the prevailing themes throughout Ishiguro’s novel is the question of. This article will explore the notion of as it relates to moral judgments and moral character and to what degree (if any) it is embodied by some of the major characters in the novel.
We will begin by looking at Stevens’ description of a great butler by defining him as one who is “possessed of a dignity in keeping with his position”. He goes on to say that “great butlers wear their professionalism as a decent gentleman will wear his suit”. There is no question that Stevens’ role as a butler is much more to him than a mere occupation, it is the embodiment of who he is. As such, it has a profound impact on his moral character. We will now look at some of these instances.
Steven’s total immersion into his role as a butler causes him to appear, on the surface at least, as something of a programmed automaton rather than a human being. This is evidenced by the cold manner in which he reacts to his father’s death and depicts him as a man of limited human feeling. His duties as a butler call to him more resoundingly than do his duties as a son. Another example is his cold attitude towards Miss Kenton when he receives word of her aunt’s death. In this scene where Stevens is debating whether or not to comfort Miss Kenton when he hears her crying, we see him almost crack the veneer of his role for the first time, but once again, his duties as a butler supersede his duties as a human being.
Iris Murdoch would probably not see Stevens as virtuous or dignified because he fails to put human emotions into the equation of his moral decision-making. Murdoch thinks it is wrong to make a distinction between thought and action and Stevens does exactly this on many occasions. At this point in the novel, Stevens would have defined himself as a dignified butler, But Murdoch would probably have defined him as a human being lacking all dignity.
Stevens can also be viewed as a tragic character because his entire set of values is based on a tradition that is coming to pass. Stevens strives for the impeccable standards of a “great” English butler, but he is left solely to judge his accomplishments since he is one of the few remaining individuals who have retained the set of values to be able to gauge the performance of a butler. Stevens’ new employer, Mr. Farraday, is in no position to ascertain the quality or standards of an English butler and, in fact, strives to engage Stevens in “bantering”, which falls far outside the realm of professional duties in Stevens’ eyes. To do so would take Stevens outside of his role, therefore, outside of his dignity.
At the point in the novel where Lord Darlington fires the Jewish maids, this raises moral questions on the part of Darlington himself, Stevens, and Miss Kenton. Stevens describes the hierarchical society in which he lives as a wheel where the gentlemen reside at the hub and where the rest of society strive to get as close to the hub as possible without crossing the boundary. I prefer to think of it as a giant swimming pool in which the upper tier of society is splashing merrily about and making the decisions that will affect all of the land-lubbers, while the middle-class and perhaps the “great” butlers reside on the outskirts of the pool, and the hierarchy continues all the way out into the desert where society’s dregs reside. Darlington, obviously, defines himself first as an elite member of the pool party, and second as an individual. This becomes evident when he fires the maids in spite of the fact that he may very well think it is wrong on an individual level. Darlington justifies his decision by saying that “there are larger concerns”, but later realizes that he has, in fact, peed in the pool. One gets the impression that Lord Darlington’s intentions were noble; he thought that he was performing an act for the greater good. But as a proponent of utilitarianism would say, his intentions do not ameliorate the consequences of his actions.
Stevens’ reaction to the firing of the maids is predictably apathetical when he reprimands Miss Kenton for her outburst, “Miss Kenton, I am surprised to find you reacting in this manner. Surely I don’t have to remind you that our professional duty is not to our own foibles and sentiments, but to the wishes of our employer”. Some would say that here, Stevens is deferring a moral decision to his superior. However, we later learn that Stevens found the dismissal of the maids distasteful. Therefore, his decision to defer to the wishes of Lord Darlington is a moral decision in itself. He decides to do nothing in the face of what he, himself, finds unjust.
In contrast to Stevens, Miss Kenton voices her outrage to the injustice being done and threatens to leave the employ of Darlington Hall if it is carried through. As we learn later though, she fails to act on her threat. Many would see this as an act of cowardice on the part of Miss Kenton for failing to carry through on her moral convictions. Indeed, Miss Kenton herself even says, “It was cowardice, Mr. Stevens. Simple cowardice. Where could I have gone? I have no family”. It is because of this passage, however, that I wish to argue that Miss Kenton is not necessarily a coward as much as she is a victim of the hierarchical system of which she is a part.
On this note, I am compelled to reveal a trapping of personal experience to clarify this position. During my years in the broadcasting business, I encountered a number of situations which I found morally distasteful. To give a specific example, while I was working as a newscast director at a local television station, we were providing coverage of one of the shuttle launches. On this occasion, we were flipping back and forth via a split-screen double box from reporters in our newsroom providing commentary to a direct feed from NASA of the launch. At some point during the coverage, the news director came into the control room where I was stationed and asked me to superimpose the logo for our local satellite truck over the NASA video. Obviously, this would be an attempt to make our viewers believe that our station had a live local crew in Cape Canaveral, and just as obviously, it would also be a blatant lie. I voiced my objections but the news director was persistent in his request and after some sarcastic mumbling, I finally deferred to the wishes of my superior.
There are numerous other examples that could be cited, not the least of which would be local media involvement in such altruistic causes as collecting food and clothing for the less fortunate, blood drives, etc. The moral goodness of these acts would seem to be unquestionable since the end result is unmistakably positive. However, altruism, in my estimation, is doing something for the common good for its own sake. Local media will unfailingly have numerous cameras and/or reporters present at these events to immortalize the “goodness” of their employer and to subsequently use it for shameless self-promotion. I daresay that if a law were passed to prohibit the use of community service to promote ratings for the media outlet who sponsors it, we would see a marked decrease in “altruism” on the part of our golden-hearted local media.
So, the questions raised here are these: Did I lose my dignity when I, like Miss Kenton, failed to act on my moral convictions? Is there dignity in an act of altruism which has a selfish underlying cause?
In response to the first question, I believe that it would have been impractical for me to have quit my job over this issue. As a young man in my early twenties, my opinions concerning morality had just as much spit and vinegar as other young bucks. However, when one gains a true insight as to how the world actually operates, and learns that the phrase “all men are created equal” is little more than window-dressing in one of our most revered documents, one must necessarily dilute the vinegar in his bottle of moral judgment. Would Miss Kenton have had more dignity as a pauper who acted on her moral convictions? Would I have had more dignity standing in an unemployment line wondering where my next job would be, and knowing that I will inevitably face the same kind of moral dilemmas there also? The answer to both questions, I think, is “no”. As to the second question, it comes down to a matter of motive and consequence. The moral goodness of the act of community service by the media can be arrived at by whichever of these, motive or consequence, is assigned the greater value.
The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of us temper our moral decision-making in deference, to some degree, to the world and life as it actually is. Ideals are fine, but they will not pay the bills. In this regard, most of us are no different than Miss Kenton. So, if Miss Kenton is a coward, I daresay that the vast majority of us are also cowards.
A thinker such as Nietzsche would probably find little dignity in any of the three main characters. Certainly, he would associate Stevens and Miss Kenton with the slave morality. Stevens’ entire identity is bound up with serving his master, and Miss Kenton’s actions (or lack thereof), reflect little better. Here, a Marxist viewpoint can be put forth that a socio-economic system that depends on servants requires that a segment of the population be denied its sense of self. This is exactly what Nietzsche disdains most vehemently. The Marxist view can be taken a step further when we recall that Farraday presents Stevens as a commodity, “I mean to say, Stevens, this is a grand old English house, isn’t it? That’s what I paid for. And you’re a genuine old-fashioned English butler, not just some waiter pretending to be one. You’re the real thing, aren’t you?”. Nietzsche would say that Stevens was Darlington’s slave and now he will continue to be Farraday’s slave as evidenced by his commitment to master the art of bantering at the end of the book.
Darlington would appear to be associated with the master morality, but Nietzsche would probably find little dignity in him either because Darlington defers his moral decisions to “larger concerns”. Nietzsche would disdain the notion that value grows out of our relation to one another or with the community.
Finally, it can be said that Stevens is a character who drained himself of individuality in order to perform his role, and during his road trip, he begins to realize the high price that he has paid for this. Stevens’ epiphany occurs when he breaks completely out of character in making a poignant confession to a total stranger, “All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really-one has to ask oneself-what dignity is there in that?”. In saying this, he finally rejects his justification of living not as a human being, but solely as a butler. Also, I disagree with the notion that Stevens’ desire to banter with Farraday is an indication of his continuing slave morality. Indeed, bantering requires the individual expression which had given Stevens so much trouble throughout the novel. I believe that Stevens’ first showing of true dignity occurs when he finally strips away the veneer of the perfect butler and shows himself to be a thinking, caring, feeling individual. To think as an individual is the greatest dignity that can be afforded to any of us, and this is exactly what Stevens has deprived himself of until he is confronted with the.
This wonderful book entitled, The Dalai Lama’s Book of Wisdom, is written by the Dalai Lama himself and is packed with wonderful thoughts. The book is divided into four sections as follows: Part One: Contentment, Joy and Living Well; Part Two: Facing Death and Dying; Part Three: Dealing with Anger and Emotion; and Part Four: Giving and Receiving. The language in the book flows very well and is easy to understand. This book is not written for Ph.D. students. It’s written in normal language for anyone to read and clearly understand its words.
The Dalai Lama addresses thes in Part One as follows: 1) That there is suffering; 2) that suffering has a cause; 3) that there is cessation of suffering; and, 4) that there is a path to such freedom from suffering. The first part of the book spells out these areas. He uses the analogy of short-term and long-term consequences in his explanations, and states how a person’s intelligence may oppose the long-term factors because of the short-term immediate feelings of gain.
The objects of enjoyment, desire, and material wellbeing are also discussed regarding the Buddhist literature and the five types of desires which include: form, sound, odor, taste and tactile sensation. The fact that these may bring about suffering and dissatisfaction depends on how a person uses his or her intelligence is also discussed. He ends Part One by stating that “Good Conduct” is the way in which life becomes more meaningful, constructive and peaceful. Additionally, he states that the quality of these actions is dependent on a person’s mental attitude.
Compassion is addressed in Part Four. The Dalia Lama states thatis the most wonderful and precious thing and he believes human nature is ate and gentle. The lack of compassion has a damaging effect on the developing brain of a child he states, and those who are not compassionate instill fear into others which turns them away. He acknowledges that positive development is a result of compassionate conduct, which leads to happiness, and assist others in overcoming suffering. This section also indicates that all should be looked upon as equals, which leads to genuine development of compassion.
The Dalia Lama also makes several references to another book. He states it is an excellent source to read and is entitled, A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, which is a classic Buddhist text. He has read the book and found it to be very instructive and informative. He concludes by stating that giving to others instills positive qualities, virtuous states of mind,, and greater happiness. Additionally, he states that such feelings only lead to a transformative state of and compassion for others when conducted with goodwill from one’s heart.