Posts Tagged ‘moral values’

HOT SEASON

June 25, 2017

June is the month of tests and exams. Here in Kyiv, a lady I know told me that she and her 17-year-old son had been writing cheat sheets (“shporee” – in Russian) all the night before his test to be held on the following day. Which sounded very unusual to me: I could never have thought that a parent and a child could collude to cheat during a test. In connection with this I remembered a story I heard from an American mother at one of Chicago schools. Her daughter, while sitting in English class, cheated on a vocabulary test looking up a definition. When back at home, she told her mother about the fraud. The mother said the girl had to confess to the teacher about her doing. The first thing the mother knew of it was the paper the daughter handed her with a glaring “F” softened by the teacher’s scribbled “Thanks for being honest.” “Can you believe it? Both of us, Brenda and I, were happy about the result!” the mother said.

My conclusion? First of all, honesty costs, but it buys a clear conscience. And, second of all, honesty begins at home.

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THE TWO WORLDS

May 30, 2017

Before I went to jog this morning I wrote down (not to forget) a couple of themes on a shred of paper to blog on somewhat later: the standardized external testing in Ukraine, Morgan Meistling (an American artist), Anna de Moscou (or, Putin the Historian). However, after my fifth lap round the nearby lake there cropped up a new theme which I immediately put on top of the list while the theme was still fresh in my mind.

2017-05-30fm-t-shirt-e1496155015232.jpgFrom what I could judge, they were a father and his daughter (the girl was about 9-10 years old). I was running and they were walking in my direction. The daughter had a T-shirt on with the print “Franklin and Marshall.” The three words spoke volumes for me. Our daughter had earned a BA degree at F&M College before she went to the George Washington University to study economics. For a few years my wife and I were getting the Franklin & Marshall magazine (along with our daughter’s phone bills, which, for some inexplicable reason, the administration decided to send to parents, rather than to students :-)), newsletters from the administration, etc. Shall I say, how thrilled I was when I saw the familiar words on the little girl’s T-shirt? To be candid, at some other time, I would pass those two without any word, but now, after five kilometers of jogging, I might have got more “hormones of joy” in my blood than usual, so I slowed down and, pointing to the girl’s T-shirt, addressed her father: “Franklin and Marshall College… My daughter was a student there…” The least of what I, probably, expected from the man was an understanding smile or a glint in his eye. No such luck! The man looked sullenly at me and paced on without a single word, his daughter following him.

I stood for a moment or two and resumed my jogging. Yes, I felt a little awkward and embarrassed. I tried to comfort myself thinking that I had grown in a less antagonistic society, or that the man had no idea about what F&M was and the T-shirt had been bought elsewhere at a market, or that an upside in this situation was that I might use the case to dwell on it in my blog.

And there was something to dwell on. Just one, seemingly unrelated event: I was buying some fruit in a supermarket. As usual, I filled a plastic bag with apples, tied the bag, put it on a scale, pushed all the required windows on the monitor, took a price tag that moved out of the slot and stuck it on to the bag. When, later, I was paying for the apples 2017-05-30scaleat the checkout I noticed that there was an innovation there: before scanning my bag, the operator weighed it also on HER scale that was just next to her (in the past there was no scale at the checkout). First I thought that the double-weighing was done to make sure that scales in the supermarket hall were right. When I came home with the apples my wife explained to me that some buyers could first weigh a smaller amount of fruit or vegetables, stick a price label corresponding to that amount, and afterwards add some more fruit/vegetables of the same sort into the same bag. To prevent the theft, the purchase was weighed at the checkout too.

It looks like I keep living in a different world. I work in my study-room filled to the very ceiling with good books written by intelligent people. When I read through the books, I cannot but think that the world cannot but become better due to the millennia-long effort of the great minds whose names are imprinted on the book spines. But when I go out into the street I see mostly suspicion and mistrust. What is sad about it is that people in the street have every reason to be suspicious and mistrustful.

THE CHOICES WE FACE

September 10, 2015

2015-09-10Kim DavisWhen I woke up this morning the sky was dark and “Turkish”: in the east the crescent of the old moon was hanging right over a very bright star, which, as Google told me later, was the planet Venus. I grabbed a camera and, still drowsy, snapped a picture of the Moon and Venus’s rendezvous. Incidentally, in Ukrainian and German(my second foreign language) the Moon  is the masculine gender and Venus – the feminine, which fits my conservative views of who should meet whom in so small hours of the day.

Yes, my views are becoming more and more conservative. It seems that in present day journalese this word acquires the meaning of “old-fashioned”, “outdated”, “deteriorated“, “retrogressive”, “bigoted,” etc. A clerk from Kentucky (U.S.A.) – a Christian “conservative” – refused to issue a marriage certificate to a same-sex couple. The to-be-married bride and groom (their names are given, but I’m not sure who is which) sued Kim Davis asking the judge to punish her. Instead of fining the clerk, as the plaintiffs sought, Judge Bunning went beyond that and jailed Ms. Davis. As I understand, there are no definite prescriptions of incarceration terms for such cases and Ms. Davis can be staying in prison as long as the judge decides – probably until she “repents.”

Ms. Davis could have done differently – just as her colleagues did (“I don’t want to, but I will follow the law”, another lawyer, who is also a preacher’s daughter, said). But that would have run against her moral principles, against her conscience. So, she made her choice.

I am not in the least interested in the casuistic macramé the American judiciary is webbing at the moment. I only see this little great Christian on a witness stand and hear her voice when she, being asked whether she approved of same-sex marriage, replies – with courage in her heart and tears in her voice, “It’s not of God.”

That’s how things work in America. In Ukraine we throw grenades. If I weren’t a Christian, I would be on the side of Ukraine.

OUR VALUES

October 31, 2011

This evening I turned on the channel RETRO – you may watch some good classical films on it. I was lucky: Jean Gabin was starring in La Horse. The title seems to be a borrowing from English into French: in French argot “la horse” means “heroin.” In the film Auguste Marouilleur (Jean Gabin), a rich farmer, rules his large family with a heavy hand. His grandson Henri, a barman on a ship, is involved in drug trafficking. When Auguste finds a hideout with Henri’s heroin, he has a tough talk with the grandson and destroys the drugs. The gang immediately reacts by burning Auguste’s barn, killing his livestock and raping his daughter. Auguste isn’t the one to be intimidated. He tells his family to remain calm and not yield to pressure. He refuses to call the police either. “None of our family has ever been imprisoned”, he says to Henri, “and I don’t want you to go to jail.” After the five mobsters who tried to intimidate Auguste are killed, the police intervene but they cannot prove that Auguste or any of his family have been involved, so the case is closed. The final scene of the film shows the family having breakfast at a long wooden table. The camera zooms in on Auguste. Calm and unperturbed, he gives instructions about what is to be done on the farm that day. Suddenly Henri volunteers to give a helping hand, which has never been the case before. Auguste accepts it as something quite natural: “You may, if you wish,” he says to Henri.

Of course, the main attraction of the film is Jean Gabin. He puts much of himself in his part (“Quite a bone to gnaw!”). But I also thought about some conservative values which are propagated in the film and eventually preserve the positiveness of our existence: hard work, morality, justice, stability, reliance, honesty. Thanks, Jean Gabin, for refreshing these “old-fashioned” concepts.

“WE’RE NOT AFRAID OF BIG BAD WOLF…”

October 6, 2011

This restaurant chain boasts of its presence in three major cities of Ukraine. In Kyiv there are seven such restaurants. Besides serving meals, the restaurant offers entertainment of questionable standards – like “hot ladies parties” starting from 10 p.m. I have never been to that restaurant and, hopefully, will never be. On the other hand, if there are people who prefer such locations, they are probably free to attend them. What depresses me, however, is its name – MAFIA. I realize perfectly well that the owners of the restaurant chain could have selected this name only because they knew it would be accepted by society as something which is rather normal and not offensive at all. The owners could have chosen any other name of the kind – Contract Killers, for example. Or Thieves, or Muggers, etc. Everything would be stomached!

The restaurant’s advertisement is put up in the biggest shopping malls of Kyiv. Every time I see it, I think about how much the bar of what I call “social sensibility” has been lowered. People cease to possess the capacity of receiving societal impressions, they stop being socially minded. They lose empathy. They are not hurt by what may be painful to their neighbor – by such names including.


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