Monthly Archives: August 2016

Revisiting One of the Greatest Speeches of the 20th Century.”I Have A Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

For this 53rd anniversary of what has been deemed one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, the historic speech “I Have a Dream” by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

www.writerssecrts.com proudly presents a revisiting of that speech with words of what might have been Martin Luther King’s if he had been alive to speak to the people today.

Excerpts from the book

ebook cover Martin Luther King“We Are Not Afraid”  Revisiting the Life and Work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Available at: http://amzn.to/2iz28fz

Tune in to a special reading by the Author Dr. Jeffrey Lant and read along with the text below.

Author’s Program Note

Good day, my fellow Americans and my fellow citizens of
Planet Earth. We have gathered today to hear one of the
greatest orators in the history of our species. He has let it
be known that he has something of epochal importance
to impart…. and we have gathered in our billions to hear it.

I do not overstate the case when I say “billions”, for Dr. King’s
audience today is composed of more people than any other
event in human history. Why so many? They know this man…
They respect his vision… He has helped them before, and they
feel certain he will help them again, touching their hearts, changing
their lives, soothing their troubled spirits.

“I Have A Dream”

The last time he called us together was August 28th, 1963, for what
came to be known as the “I Have A Dream” Speech. He reminded us
that without dreams there can be no progress and without progress the
people suffer and die, tragic evidence of our undeniable culpability.

That was a great day for dreamers and visionaries across the globe;
a day when light replaced darkness for so many and millions felt
hope for the first time in their challenged and overburdened lives;
blessed at last by “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”; mere
words no longer but active possibilities to be used and enjoyed.

“Sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation.”

Consider the man and his titanic mission. An entire race danced noxious
attendance upon an anxious majority of the population; the one determined
to preserve its superior position; the other oppressed and fearful they would
make even some trivial error against the baleful Jim Crow system of profound
segregation, thereby calling upon them their “betters” certain and severest
retribution.

Trust between the races was non-existent; cooperation unknown; amity
as fleeting as a frosty smile that didn’t last. The richest soil of the nation
produced only a bumper crop of fear, hatred, and the “strange fruit” of
premature death and hideous disfiguration, no one safe, black or white,
north or south, day or night, no matter how acquiescent or careful.

Let us now consider this man and the responsibility he shouldered, always
at terrible risk. He was in the prime of his productive life when he heard and
took to heart the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

He has come here today to bring freedom to us all, freedom and joy.

Part 1 Dr. Lant introduces the program and comments on the action.

Good-Day, World. Welcome to the WritersSecrets Sky Box high above the
stern, majestic Lincoln Memorial, scene of so many historic moments in the
life of our Great Republic, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s iconic
1963 “I Have A Dream” speech.

We have gathered here and around our tumultuous globe to hear a revered
and venerable man of God help us at a time of earthly crisis and unparalleled
challenge. The program begins with the greatest of Martin Luther’s hymns, “A Mighty
Fortress Is Our God”, written in 1529 by a man so honored by Reverend Michael
King, Sr. that following a 1936 trip to Germany he renamed himself the Reverend
Martin Luther King, Sr. and his seven year old son Martin Luther King, Jr. Access
any search engine and feel the power of the church militant tapped by the Reverends
King for their great endeavors; available, too, for yours.

“With our powers we will fail/ We would soon be defeated/
But for us fights the chosen man/Whom God Himself elected.”

And so the adamant, soaring words are lifted higher today on the largest video
screens available. Now the colors… the music… the lyrics punch the sky as we
move gently in Washington, D.C. from radiant afternoon to expectant evening.

One senses destiny here today. It is the kind of day you will relate to your
grandchildren with pride. “I was there!”, and those who had neither time nor vision
will rue this day of loss for a lifetime, bowing their heads in shame…

Arrival

“There you catch a glimpse of Dr. King being helped out of his car, to be greeted
by the Mayor of Washington, DC at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. His son Michael
King, Jr. helps him out and hands him his cane. This cane was given to him by a
former member of the Georgia Ku Klux Klan who participated in lynching a young
black man. A silver plaque was engraved, “Father forgive me.” When questioned as
to why he used this cane, his invariable response was, “There but for the grace of
God…”

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of  the coming of the Lord.”

On the night of November 18,1861 Julia Ward Howe went to bed as usual and
slept quite soundly, waking up to await the cool gray of dawn. Then, all of a sudden,
she experienced the thrill that is creation, long lines of a desired poem clear in
her mind.

“I must get up,” she said, “So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed and found
in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day
before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.” As so was
born “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, with its perpetual call to action and robust
certainty indicating purity of heart and God’s will and glory.

Now these irrefutable words are playing above me for the world to know, along with
the inspired music. For this night at least, God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the
world. Find it in any search engine for here is happiness, too long deferred, too little
known, our right, pilgrim that you are.

“Glory, glory Hallelujah/ His truth is marching on, and you are called to join “while
God is marching on

Part 2  “Here in my heart I do believe.”

The most mild of twilights is now the most perfect of nights, the huge crowd
disciplined and respectful, intent alone upon listening to the final notes of Julia
Ward Howe’s magnificent poem on freedom’s cost.

Then her notes of adamant purpose are superseded by the anthem of the
Civil Rights Movement, the cause that changed America and brought
international leadership and renown to Martin Luther King, Jr.

The man, his moment, his anthem, his message all come together here,
now. If there is kismet, it is here.

The crowd leaps to its feet as if by a single movement. There are cheers,
shouts, whistles, and most of all a million clenched fists, the symbol of
revolution and what its supporters can and will give towards its success,
not just now… but every day in its ineluctable purpose. This is why Dr.
King has come again to the Capital of the Great Republic. And so this 87
year old leader is wheeled to a shared destiny, for we have all travelled with
him and shared in the important results we have achieved together.

Thus the men’s chorus of Morehouse College serenades with the greatest
tune in their repertory, sung to the most famous of its alumni (class of 1944,
aged 15). “You can do anything” they have been told since birth… and today they
believe it and know they have never walked alone.

“We’ll walk hand in hand”… “We shall live in peace”

and then alternating on the vast screens;

“We are not afraid…” and “We shall overcome.” Like so many worldwide I
brushed away a tear, then another, and said a private prayer, for I knew, we
all knew, we could do this thing and be the better for it, or we could die by certain
inches, excuses, denials, expert only in looking the other way.

When I looked up, this man of men was at the platform, frail, held so he would
not fall; the prophet who had come so far over so long a distance. He knew what he
must do to ensure we would do what we must do. If this could be done, then anything
could be done, and we must work hard to ensure it would be, for our chances were
dwindling, the planet, our single home, at greater risk every single minute; our end
if not yet predictable, at least imaginable.

After wave after wave of cheers, the acclaim began to subside. A professional
to his fingertips, he knew just when to step in and take command. After several
raucous minutes, he grasped the podium. We knew he would give his last drop
of blood, willingly, joyfully, with gratitude, glad to have what he needed, the
support of generations, including even the love of those who had once upon a time
hated and despised him, anguish and murder their ready tools.. These, too,
against all predictions had learned from him. “Father forgive me…” The power of
redemption was always near at hand when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was nigh.

As he took his place at the podium, each and every one of the giant screens
burst forth with the most famous of his many famous quotations, “I Have A Dream”
and as these words took flight to the very gates of Heaven, the crowd was on its
feet again, with their thousands of approbations, approvals, enthusiasms, and
motivations. The crucial connection between Prophet and people took place
making this a thrilling experience for all.

Just then a gust of wind blew through the assembled masses, his striking
doctoral gown from Boston University billowed, reminding us that here was a
scholar, a theologian, a pastor, an historian, a writer, an orator,  a visionary,
a thinker and most of all a seeker after Truth. He had done his work, and it was
well and truly done. Hallelujah!

The Speech

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest
demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”

This is how I began my remarks to you in 1963 and this is how I begin them to you
today. My words were candid and urgent then. My words are candid and urgent
to you today. Let me begin with gratitude.

So many  of you here today, so many of you around the globe have worked
together that I can report with pride this day dawns better than yesterday, and we
stand together to ensure tomorrow will be better yet. This is good news
indeed, and we can feel proud of what we have done and what I know we will do
together. Hallelujah!

There are many reasons why we are better off today than then, and I place them
before you now. We achieved them together. Let us then celebrate them together
too, always remembering that further progress is dependent upon maximum unity.

I call upon you now for that essential unity. I have a dream… and that dream is
your complete and utter commitment to freedom here! Freedom now! Freedom
forever and ever. Amen!

Will you, dear friends and colleagues, join me in making that commitment,
for the good of all is dependent on the work of each?

I have a dream that all are equal before the law, no one above the other, fairness
and equality our constant and never-ending goal.

I have a dream that the benefits of education be available, and joyfully too, to every
child, and that this education include art, music, and all the liberal arts, for these
contain the essential wisdom of our species.

I have a dream that no one should want for health care. No people, no nation
can be great when so many lack the basics of sustained health and necessary
nutrition. Now is the time to achieve this goal.

I have a dream where women who want to work do so with equal pay for equal
work. A great nation must be a fair nation and that fairness, long overdue, must
come now.

I have a dream that air be clean…. that water be pure… that animals be
protected and plants as well.

And most of all, I have a dream that there be peace on Earth, good will towards men.
This is the most important dream of all, and the most pressing.

Whether these dreams stay dreams or whether they become hard-won reality and not
just philosophical possibility depends on each of us. If a single person hearing this
message declines to help implement it, the dream must wither and die. You see, we
either ascend together or we decline together to that extent.

That is why, as I conclude my visit with you, I remind you all not just that we shall
overcome but that we are not afraid. We know the work is long and arduous. We
know many will obstruct and deride. We know this is not the goal of days, weeks,
or even decades.

However, we must take up the burden for it is not just my dream that is at stake.

It is the dream of every one of us, all children of God wherever we are, however we
pray. Be not afraid we shall fail, rather be afraid we must fail if we do not walk
together hand in hand. If we do this, failure is unthinkable, our victory sure and
certain; once blind, now found, each and every one of us by amazing grace
that saved a wretch like me.

Envoi

Having finished his historic remarks, he slumped in the arms of his first
son. But he wanted just a minute more, to look at the site of his great triumphs.
He was tired now and it showed. But what also showed was his confidence
that his message was even now growing, his life’s work secure.

All over the great mall people were singing “Amazing Grace”, the well-known
lyrics on every screen. and holding hands, each link a bridge to tomorrow..

One giant screen showed Dr. King shaking hands with the people great and
small who came to touch him and see him off. In a moment, he was in
his car, now speeding into the dark night of eternity, his home for the ages.

This e-book is dedicated to Patrice Porter who urged me to write it and watched
it grow until her tears showed me I had written it just as she had wished it to be…

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business
when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartener in Downers Grove, Illinois,
publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned
four college degrees, including the Ph.D. from Harvard.

He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the
first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands
of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television
programs.

He has founded several successful corporations and businesses
including his latest at … www.drjeffreylant.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” have garnered nine prizes
that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs
of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” You’ll enjoy the read by
this man of so many letters.

Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of
becoming a successful writer.

Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

Tune into the original “I Have a Dream” speech given Aug. 28th 1963

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Excerpts from “In My Own Voice. Reading from My Collected Works” Vol. 1

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Book Series

Tune in to Dr. Jeffrey Lant Introducing his brand series

“In My Own Voice.  Reading from My Collected Works.” below and read from the introduction of this fabulous new series.

Excerpts from  Vol. 1 Introduction

Each of us, in our individual lives, has a moment or two of epiphany. That is to say, a moment of surpassing importance and significance. Mine took place along the hot and sticky asphalt streets of summertime Downers Grove, Illinois.

 

You could follow my progress by the skid marks in the asphalt. Chances are, I was on my way to the library. There was a perfectly logical reason for this speed into the metropolis, and that was the fact that it was one of the few buildings in the community that was air conditioned. Therefore, it needs no explanation from me. Everyone in the state of Illinois knows the peril of that temperature, and the need to escape it.

 

My mother had begun taking me to the library very early in my life. I was such a regular participant in the programs and readings the librarians delivered, that I had my own chair with my own name, rather like a Hollywood producer, “Ladd”.

 

I was voracious about stories, could never get enough of them, and was always grateful to be advised on their presentation and explanation. In this way, the librarians came to present me with readings from the great poets… people like Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg.

 

I can well remember being told by the ladies one day that they had a present for me… and so they stationed me in a rather dark, gray room, everything cool to the touch, and turned on their latest acquisition.

 

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long. — You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan’t be gone long. — You come too.

 

“The Pasture”, Robert Frost (1915)

 

I played this poem so often, each time hearing a little more of its author, the often irritated and irascible Robert Frost. I like the way he rolled those three little words: “you come too.” Only he didn’t pronounce it like that. Great poets have great eccentricities, and his were encapsuled in his rendering of these three words. Thus “ah you come too”. It was a call to come and be sociable, come and share, come and see your neighborhood and everything in it.

 

So powerful and so unfading were these words that when Robert Frost’s Cambridge home came on the market, I almost bought it, just so that I could sit in the parlor and read my envious friends from the poet’s ghost that resided there with all its poems, just for me.

 

Now, I have the opportunity to read my own works… to you, and hope that you will hear just how personal they are, and how each one, so powerfully written, touches your heart, because that is what I aim for.

 

This book contains five of my favorite essays… the one that I wrote when I turned 65; the one bringing you inside a great nor’easter; the one detailing the foolish hijinx of Captain Owen Honors, United States Navy; the one detailing the turbulent life of Amy Winehouse, a warning if there ever was one; and finally, one about the Andrews Sisters… three girls who kept America jumping throughout its greatest war, and reminded us what we were fighting for.

 

I have a special word for all you young people reading these essays. You have so many media choices that you may well overlook the importance and value of hearing authors read from their own works. This is something you need to do… you need to hear what they write, in their own way, and you need to recite what they write in your own way. If you cannot do this, you will miss so much of the pleasure of both author and reader.

 

And this special note to you library ladies: you did me such a life-changing favor so many years ago. Now, I want you to take what I have written, what I have recited here, and pass on the importance of the writers voice for the next generation, and the next after that.

 

And now without further ado, the first chapter of this book. Read the text along with the video, then read it again, until you are as expert in my quirks and foibles as I am myself.

 

Dr. Jeffrey Lant

From The Red Drawing Room

Cambridge, Massachusetts

August 2016

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

A Gift from Dr. Jeffrey Lant to help all writers Master the Art of Writing

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For a Friend, Grieving.

Reflections by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Many great musicians have written notable funeral music. The need for such music is great when a beloved one passes… because words, no matter how apt, seem inadequate to their soothing task, now urgent; and so we look to music for the solace words cannot give. Thus I have selected Edvard Grieg’s “Funeral March for Rikard Nordraak” composed in 1866 to accompany these reflections.

 

It was written in honor of his friend and fellow Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak, who died in March of that year, just 23 years old.

As a posthumous gift to his friend, Grieg wrote this piece at once, writing it as a piano piece in A minor. He so valued it that not only did he travel with it so that it could be immediately available for his concerts… but he directed it be played at his own funeral. And so it was, in 1907, in an orchestration by Grieg’s friend and colleague Johan Halvorsen.

You will find it in any search engine. It is at once sombre, intimate, and, as all such music must be, uplifting. For it is the privilege of music to inspire and guide us to a better place where we can remember uninterrupted and without rush or hurray. As I listen, I feel sure Grieg knew that place, and I want you to know it, too.

My dear friend,

We men of science and education, we men of sophistication and travels, we men of thought and reflection, we think we will be ready when the news arrives… but we are all, despite calm reflections and thoughtful preparations, caught unawares by the unfathomable realities of the death of the person we love.

The news catches you up. Whatever you are doing, no matter how important it was just a moment ago, is important no longer. You r thoughts, all your thoughts are now about the great voyage already commenced by the dear departed.

We know this death. We have seen it before and yet… and yet… this death is unlike any which has come before because it touches you so in the core of your humanity. This is your friend who has died… your friend now gone… your friend in the process of leaving you forever and everything that was his, forever. And you scream, this cannot be… yet you are a man of science and understand when humans die. But science cannot help us here… any of us.

You want to rush to any window and throw up the sash, to see the heavens clearly… to see, though you know you cannot see, the great spirit of your friend ascending… as surely it must be.

You want to run and open your front door, racing out into the courtyard, where in the brightness of autumnal night, an unimagined immensity of stars overhead, you are sure, you are sure some trace of that great ascending spirit can be seen.

Yet you see nothing but what you have always seen… and this will not do, for a great event is occurring, as your friend is leaving you forever… and going where he must go and you cannot. You feel a sense of uncontrollable urgency… that this injustice cannot be, that this friend cannot and must not be taken from you and far away, forever, gone for all eternity. There is panic in your mind and in your heart. Something is happening that sore afflicts you… and yet there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you can do, can think, can say. This is where despair begins… and the pain is unbearable. Now you truly know loss and wonder that any human can bear it.

And yet we humans do bear it… it is the hardest thing we must do… nothing is more difficult for all this occurs to us, in front of us, around us… yet nothing we say or do matters, and this maddens us and reminds us of our immutable limitations and how we, so grand and significant in our own minds, are as nothing set against the immensities of time, space, and of God, whom now we recall and beg for understanding, relief, and serenity.

And God hears us.

And gives us the balm of grief.

And it is this grief you are feeling now and which has brought me to you, to succor and relieve you at this great moment of great loss. For no human should ever grieve alone, burdened by memory. God does not demand so much of us; He recognizes the frailty of our humanity. And gives us each other for comfort.

Thus I shall sit with you a companionable while, no words necessary between you and me. And we shall, from time to time, speak of indifferent subjects, and so break the gloom. And in this amiable silence, you will, I know, think of the one gone before… for that matter is pressing.

Then, for I know you so well, you will remind me of a tale of this friend now gone, a tale you told me once in happier days. A tale of wit and joy and laughter… for your friend departed was clever and had a touch of devilry about him. And we shall laugh together… and thus I shall advance my task, the task of helping you resurrect joyous memories… the memories that bridge despair and make bearable so much unbearable sadness. Such memories offer a lifetime of solace… and it is my task to prompt you to remember, as if you with your great heart ever needed such prompting, much less now. In this room, in the gentle silence, there is healing. There is life and there is vibrant memory. So necessary. So soothing. So peaceful that, for an instant, we forget the sad occasion which brings us together and expect the friend to knock and, smiling, come within.

But just as we must never be overwhelmed by this occasion and the burden of memory, so we must never forget and so push away the bright memories that remain… for in these memories of him are many of the best memories of you. And we must never risk these in our reaching for serenity. For such serenity, if it comes at the cost of memory, was too high bought.

So, remember….

Go out now in the chill autumnal night and now look up again. There, though you still cannot see, there your friend, his spirit, ascends with your love and grief, intermingled for eternity. Look now and in your mind’s eye see all rise together. You a part of him, as all who know him and remember also are, for he traverses eternity with friends, and that, too, is solace.

Grieve! Grieve! This night away… and the day that follows… and let the warm tears flow, for he well deserves this final salute.. yours so rich and freely given.

A life has ended… a dear life… a life beloved, a life which has given and accepted love… this life is complete now and truly gone. But as it ascends unto eternity it calls down to us, the living, for the continuation of our love in memory and stark remembrance.

Look up, for his great and unending spirit speaks to you now… and bids you fond farewell. Give it now… and fully… for if he leaves this part of him with you, so he takes, and forever too, a great part of you with him, and so wherever he is going, you, his friend, are going too for evermore and forever, always remembered, never forgotten, and always loved. For he was rich in that as you have always also been.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

 

On Decision Making, with the Assistance of “Captain Jack”, HMS Surprise

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: I first became aware of Captain Jack Aubrey and his ship, HMS Surprise, while I was undertaking some research on the music of the Spanish Court of the Bourbons. I was surprised, indeed delighted, to discover that Captain Jack was an aficionado of this sophisticated dance music, the best example being Luigi Boccherini and his celebrated suite “La Musica Notturna delle Strade di Madrid” (1780), and so I became an aficionado too.

This was only the beginning of things I learned from Captain Jack, rightly called Lucky, and his cosmopolitan circle of friends, who seemingly existed in every port on all the Seven Seas. Jack was a sophisticated being… he always knew what to do, and when to do it. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

Still, his precise deliberation and inability to procrastinate were a terrible price to pay – for some.

And at no time was it easy, even when he made it look easy, as he so often did. The decision might come down to “yes or no”, but arriving at that point could be catastrophic. That is why I am writing this article today. We live in a time when people, even our designated leaders, make a positive science of eschewing responsibility. They are in for the photo-op, not for the hard business of actually making decisions. You might call our age the Age of Avoidance, since our entire structure is based on the shifting sands of irresponsibility and postponement.

The gravest decisions in the shortest times

And here we need to put Captain Jack under the microscope, for he was a decision machine, as were all captains in His Majesty’s Service. They had to make decisions, often the most serious of decisions, after quickly sizing up the situation. They didn’t have days, or weeks, or months to decide… they did not have the luxury of saying “I’ll decide tomorrow”. They had decisions to make, sized up their options, and made their choices.

Let us be clear, their decisions were not based on popularity, nor on the basis of how easy these decisions could be made. They had a decision to make… they made it… they lived it… and their sleep was not disturbed because of it.

Tortured by indecision

Now I wish to introduce you to a youngish man of my acquaintance, by which I mean he is still on the sunny side of 40. Like Captain Jack, he was a Navy man, only this time, United States Navy. Captain Jack would have started at the lowest step on the ladder for officers, midshipman, aged about 13. From here, there was no way but up. Of all the things he learned at his induction into the Navy, there was one that trumped all: it was the ability to decide to make a timely decision, and to make it without regret or second guessing.

Leaders make mistakes

Those mistakes were not so clear at the time they were made as when discussed by our “20/20 crew” afterwards. Never wrong, never doubting, always certain.

My young friend was not trained as an officer, and was not given the inestimable education in making decisions which could later prove to be mistakes. Leaders make choices, leaders make mistakes. They need to discover in their conscience if things could have been done in a better way. They are always keenly aware that those “better decisions” were not always available when their decisions had to be made.

In other words, they were willing to admit they were imperfect, that their decisions could have been better, but only in retrospect. My poor friend has not yet come to the understanding of this point. His advance to junior leadership has been painfully slow… he misses job after job because he balks when decisions must be made. He can be asked question after question, but the answers befuddle him. His employers want decisiveness, but they get instead his inability to say or to decide between A or B, or even C.

Thus, instead of leadership qualities, he projects uncertainty and indecisiveness. Thus, he projects a fear that he will do the wrong thing, and so, regrettably… he does. For such a man, upward mobility must be a long, painful, and frustrating journey. That is why when you see him, he seems to tremble. He knows, for he fears, he will be asked the question that has no answer. And of course, he will be… leaders always are.

Instead of facing decisions with bold audacity, he makes decisions that he hopes will please the people. That is the worst policy of all. People may seem to want to be catered to, but what they really want and know they need is severe integrity, knowing the truth, propounding the truth, evoking the truth, and facing every advance upon the truth. Which brings me to the most important story about Captain Jack and the HMS Surprise.

The Straits of Magellan where irrevocable decisions must be made

There is a place on the Earth where water seems to boil and hiss; where mayhem is the order of the day, every day. It is called the Straits of Magellan after the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521). There, the winds are so powerful and contrary, a ship can be trapped within the constant movement of wind and water. You must go when you can, as fast as you can, or you will stay trapped, until the inhospitable elements are hospitable to you for just a moment.

Captain Jack was one of the many whose ship was immobilized, waiting for a moment only an expert mariner could discern, the moment the winds began to change. To take advantage of the slight wind and always turbulent seas, he lowered his small boats to begin the exhausting duty of pulling the HSM Surprise into the wind, called kedging or warping.

 During day and night, his men manned the oars, waiting, hoping, for the tiniest gust of wind that would commence their liberation from their relentless oars. And of course, it came, leaving the men to scramble as best they could back to the HMS Surprise so they could begin their epic escape.

Sadly, two men were left in the small boats trying to hack the rope that bound them to the Surprise, ropes which held them enthralled. Unless these ropes were cut from the Surprise, the weight of the dinghies would capsize her. One of these scrambled to safety. The other, axe in hand, worked to separate his small boat from the majestic warship. Thus, he was never entirely focused on his proper job, because that job had changed with the wind.

 Moments ago, he was separating boat from ship. Now, he was fighting for his life. He needed to get back to his ship, and immediately so. However, here, fate intervened, and everyone realized Captain Jack needed to make a decision, of life and death.

His first option was to slow the Surprise, and extricate the man overboard at the worst possible time: when he was fighting to capture the wind. He needed to focus on that wind, which benefitted all, and not merely the one man overboard. Captain Jack had an instant to decide which of these two immediate options he must choose from. And then, he ordered full speed ahead, man overboard, to die overboard.

Now if you’d like to see a picture that evokes the great seas, their interminable size, and the very definition of hell, call up the scene from the film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”, released in 2003, starring Russell Crowe as Captain Jack. The scene of that sailor bobbing up and down in the inexorable waves is haunting. The image will stay with you forever, as it has stayed with me.

So, Captain Jack made a decision, the decision, and a popular man was lost to the disgust of the entire crew, except for the Captain. The man who was thus lost at sea was friendly with the Captain; none knew him better. Yet despite their friendship, he didn’t pause. The decision rose up in his mind and heart, without challenge or second guessing. This is what leaders do. Leaders do not opt for the easy way. There was nothing more horrifying to Captain Jack than watching his friend pushed to a watery grave in the prime of his life.

What would you have done? Yes, what would you have done? Leaders must operate in the role of uncertainties, but they cannot let these uncertainties dictate policy. They must use what they know, even if to use it is horrifying, as it was horrifying in this instance, man being crushed by nature because the Captain, his friend, chose not to stop and imperil his mission.

Musical note

This scene is horrifying enough without the haunting music, “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”, composed in 1910 by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). With these notes, he transforms a tragedy into an unspeakable reality, all done by his friends, who loved him so, but let him die, all in the name of duty, and because a leader must lead, come what may.

A personal note. Dear friend, I have never told you all I am telling you in this article, and you will perhaps be unhappy with some of my opinions and observations. But if you wish to lead, as you have told me on frequent occasions you do, then do so.

Towards that end, I ask you one simple profound question: would you have used Captain Jack’s first option, cutting the ropes that bound the dinghy and the man-of-war, thereby ensuring the life of the man no longer overboard? Or would you have done what he did, to his own unspeakable horror, lowering neither boat nor more men, but keeping strictly on his mission, thereby rendering death inevitable?

 Now listen to the music, and remember, you have no more than two minutes to make the decision. You must make the decision wisely and well. You must make the decision forever. You must make the decision and never pine upon the answer you gave, for whatever the decision, you are the Captain, and your decisions are as resounding as God’s own.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIhZbvlCjY0

 N.B. Teachers: use this article to teach leadership and decision making. Everyone of your students needs this information. You have my permission to use it.

 About the author:

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is one of the most well-known authors in the world. He writes with a scalpel, on many different subjects, all pertaining to the betterment of Earth, and what you can do to work to improve matters too. Right now, over 100,000 people follow Dr. Lant, and you should too, because his flow of useful information to you is never-ending and enriching. His Twitter handle is @jeffreylant. Follow him now. You will be glad you did.

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[Video] Excerpts from “In My Own Voice. Reading from My Collected Works.” Vol. 2

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Book Series.

Just for you an introduction into Vol. 2 of the new “In My Own Voice” Series by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

 

Excerpts from the Introduction of

“In My Own Voice. Reading from My Collected Works” Vol. 2

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Now available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KGH013M#nav-subnav

“In this book, I take you to a place where every writer ought to go, but so few even know it exists. I am talking about reading aloud what you’ve written. The whole point of writing is to motivate a fellow human being, to seize their mind, their brain, their entire being, and suffuse it with your thoughts, your point of view, your unique take on the human condition, all its manifestations, and the improvements you offer.

I am a fanatic about that human voice… at ensuring that it be heard, and that it do its unique work transforming a situation from A to B, and on to C.

I have become, if not famous for, then certainly a fanatic in the matter of grabbing the mind, holding that mind, changing that mind. That is to say, being tenacious in the struggle every writer must not only engage in, but win. For make no mistake about it, a writer’s life is about struggle, pain, and the triumph of truth.

In this book, I help you deliver yourself because it is only through your skills and attributes that you can win this significant, indeed pivotal game.

What’s so important about hearing prose anyway? Won’t just reading it do?

To ask the question is to realize how silly, indeed detrimental it is. What is the reason why you write in the first place? Is it merely to pass a few hours in harmless endeavors? If you believe this, than you will never be a writer, much less a force for human improvement. So let’s be clear with each other: this book is for the fighters, the dreamers, the visionaries, the people who have a better idea, and will do whatever is necessary to implement it, and achieve the broadest possible change and recognition.

As I write this book, I feel my blood pressure rising. I think of all the would-be writers I have known. I think of the lies they tell, and oh, yes, their assertion that they are still writers indeed, when their quota of writing is small or nonexistent, and they do not go forth to fight for a better world, because such fighting makes for dirty hands… and we all wish to stay clean, don’t we? Even at the cost of truth and our God-given integrity.

So, I write this, not for the lazy and slothful, not for those who will not try hard enough, not for those whose truth is disposable, and whose integrity doesn’t exist at all.

I believe I hear a stampede to the exits about now… for you say, “That Lant character, he’s too much!” And I say back to you, you non writers, non readers, “You are too little!”

I have selected for my further remarks about the necessity of not just how to read your poetry but your prose aloud, five articles of my extensive composition, articles which I may have been the only person alive to read aloud, as if before the discerning auditors of the ancient coliseum, when a writer would step forward and assail the audience with the best language on Earth, the written language, brought to life by its creators and its affectionate followers.

When you write, you must be in that amphitheater before those hopeful and critical crowds. You must take every skill you possess so that the auditors of your privileged audience may be touched by the fire that you bring. Now, as you ready yourself to bring the words to life, you transcend beyond mere writer, beyond a slinger of words and phrases, and you become the Messenger of God, touched by nobility and the hand of possibility.

Why did the creator give us a brain, and the capacity for touching souls, and transforming situations of no merit whatsoever into our new, better realities?

Why indeed.

I’m going to, now, make sundry remarks on the five stories I have chosen for this all important point… the best prose, the best poetry, is read aloud and necessarily involves you, the reader, the performer, the enlightener. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage”. What he meant by that was that each of us, particularly those who christen themselves writers, have within us the power to transform, to change, not just in picayune ways, but radical, and that this ability does not just exist here, but everywhere you bring it, in whatever format you use.

We have, through our discerning brain, the power… but do we have the will?

One of the saddest things one can see is a poet or writer who burns within… who sees the great fires down the great vistas, and knows he can make the world a better place through his constant application, but does not do so, for terror, fright, horror, anxiety, and alarm… these take precedence among the cowardly, and it is these cowardly you must eschew, for they bring us nothing but defeat, ignominious, spineless, disgraceful.

I dedicate these next lines to you, fair-weather writer. You say your vision is pure, but who would know, since you scarcely share it with us, and then, in a shuffle-footed way. Writers, if you have something to say, for God’s sake, say it!

Do not rely on a single word of approbation, encouragement, or enthusiasm. This is not what you live for, if you are more than a fair-weather scribbler. You dream for change! You dream for transformation, or transcendence, for the better thing that your choice language may open up to the rest of us! Your language and how you deliver it is the engine of the change you say you want. Remember, you work for God.

And so it pains me when I see particularly young writers, the ones who should be fueled by sacred fire, when I see them throwing in the sponge in such early days because they want the compliment, and not the victory. As I said, I have chosen just five articles out of my vast array, and I intend to give you some worthy instruction about what I’ve written, what you’ve read, what it all means, and how you can benefit.

Let us start with a story of fortitude…”

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

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When You Meet a Kindred Spirit, reach out to them… especially when they are about saving our threatened language. Meet Huck Gutman.

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

Author’s program note. I’m going to do something different today, something occasioned by my discovery (compliments of The Boston Globe, September 21, 2011) of Huck Gutman. The theme “music” for this article will be an instrument we all have — the human voice — this time wielded by a master of delivery, Robert Frost.

Many years ago, over a half century in fact, I used to ride my bike from the tiny hamlet of Belmont, Illinois into the nearest town, Downers Grove, so I could sit in the cool recesses of the public library. I had many objectives and purposes there, books, of course, always books. But there were the records made by authors and by those very special authors called poets, one of which was recorded, and most memorably, by Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963).

I can recall to this day Frost’s reading of “The Pasture,” a selection from his volume “North of Boston,” published in 1915. It begins so…

“I’m going out to clean the pasture spring; I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away (And wait to watch the water clear, I may); I sha’n’t be gone long. — You come too.”

I doubt I can convey to you now — though I shall try — just how evocative, how thrilling the simple words, powerfully rendered, “You come too”, were to me, for I was a boy who longed to see the world and meet its people, and here was an invitation to accompany this special man who had a simple mission he made seductive…

“I’m going out to fetch the little calf That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young, It tottered when she licks it with her tongue. I sha’n’t be gone long. — You come too.”

Oh, how I wanted to go… and I believe Huck Gutman wanted to go, too. Before you meet him, go to any search engine and listen to Robert Frost read, especially “The Pasture,” then return here for I want you to meet Huck.

Sensitivity and a love of words from an unlikely place — the Capitol.

Huck Gutman is what Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables to you) would call a “kindred spirit.” She, an author too, loved words and would have written Gutman a nice note complimenting his labor of love; she would have deemed it an act of lexicological solidarity to be lavishly complimented… I agree.

Huck Gutman, a civilized man.

Gutman is 67 years old, an age at which many seek the joys of retirement — travel, golf, socially sanctioned sloth subsidized by Social Security… but Gutman has other fish to fry. This long-time professor at the University of Vermont (where I myself gave many workshops in business success) now serves as chief of staff to the Senate’s most “out there” liberal, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. Since the senator has his hands full resurrecting America’s anemic Left, Gutman is kept busier than most of his administrative peers. But he makes time for another occupation, one which keeps him grounded and of good cheer… he is an avatar of words and of words properly read… particularly the diamond-sharp words of poets.

And he has set himself the (perhaps Sisyphean) task of building civil bridges in the epicenter of internecine political warfare through the love of poetry, of words, and of language. Whew! This is truly a labor of love… but one bringing a special joy to the growing cadre of those who like the likable Huck… and appreciate what he is doing. His e-mail list includes 1,700 readers who include all the Senate chiefs of staff, several White House staffers, university presidents, academics, journalists, and former students.

His point is simple, profound, and absolutely necessary to the well-lived life: “It’s to remind them there are other things than the debt ceiling and Social Security.” Amen.

Here’s how he does it…

Every couple of months or so, Gutman, on leave from the university, makes time to find and circulate a poem. It may be from Ancient Greece, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, or William Carlos Williams — there are no limits but one: it must be a poem by a master, a poem that can (if properly read) read well.

Gutman, educator to his fingertips, presents the work with one admonition. “LISTEN to the poem.” “The worst thing to do with a poem is to try to get at its meaning. We have done an absolutely horrendous job in teaching people how to read poems.” I go even farther than Gutman here… we have done the same horrendous job teaching people — and not just students either — to read prose, novels, letters, speeches, too.

Gutman’s solution is to encourage his audience to read for enjoyment, just as they would listen to music. Gutman is right, but reading his carefully considered selections, for all he gives his readers a few directional signals, is not enough. They need to read aloud, one of the great joys our speed-reading culture has left behind, to the detriment of human communication and meaning.

The marvelous human voice.

Most every day I write an article; the subject range is unlimited. Like all authors I like to have these articles (which can easily double as scripts) read and read widely. But I also insist on them being read aloud, each and every word

My experiment in reviving the joys of recitation started in our online Live Business Center where 24-hour-a-day monitors give out effective business advice… and also read my newest article or any of the hundreds of classics. I must confess: there was a universal, almost rebellious opposition to this innovation by the people who had to read the word aloud. What a mess!

They mispronounced words they’d used since grammar school.

Tripped over anything longer than a couple of syllables.

Disdained the helpful dictionary… making even more errors.

Moaned, groaned, complained that they were being “forced” to learn.

Killed every inflection, every intonation, every emphasis and so rendered brilliant prose banal.

Tossed necessary punctuation away… and thus forced the collision of words which to provide full meaning, needed careful enunciation and precise delivery.

It was brutal, excruciating, painful… . But I knew, despite the squawks and maledictions, I knew, I say, what I was about. I insisted on my point and moved forward word by liberated word. To great effect…

Now monitors take pride in reading these articles… and reading them well by mastering the text, individual words they have not previously encountered, including the mot juste which can make or break a composition. This article, starting today, will enter the repertoire… to touch people worldwide who are charmed, enchanted, comforted and enlightened by the human voice properly used.

Last words (for today) for this fellow New Englander and his romance with words.

Thank you… thank you for allowing all the poets you have carefully selected to speak again and anew, profoundly, passionately, resoundingly. For this you have been rightly praised. Let me add these words to your plaudits. They are from Joachim Du Bellay (1522-1560) “Heureux qui comme Ulysse qui fait une belle voyage.” You deserve such a voyage, and with the multitudes of poets who travel with you, will always be welcome wherever you go.

* * * * *

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four university degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities and is quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 50 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com

His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” has garnered nine literary prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now at www.writerssecrets.co

More can be found on Dr. Lant on his author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

Watch for his new series “In My Own Voice” Assorted Selection of Readings From My Collected Works.

Dr. Jeffrey Lant read aloud for your listening pleasure.

A gift to you from Dr. Jeffrey Lant to help in your writing endevors

Get a FREE Copy of “How to Be a Writer Who Makes Money, Flies High and Dazzles the Folks Back Home. Oh Yeah!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE

Ready to Get Writing Then “Oh Darn I Need My …” Checklist of What Writers Need.

blue room preparing to writeWriters #1 priority should be having a space just for writing.

When you go there you want to let it be know that you are there to write and you want  no disturbances.

That would include disturbances from the phone ringing, notices of messages coming in, etc.

Once you have that all taken care of and you settle down to start writing there is another thing that would disturb your writing –

Not having everything you need handy.

Remedy –

Checklist of 7 things to make sure you have handy when preparing to write. You may consider writing out your own personal checklist to go over before you get down to writing.

  1. Writing tool in good repair that are reliable and accessible. Think pen, pencil and eraser. Paper, notepads and notebooks. Computer, Laptop or Netbook. Let’s not forget our dictionaries and thesaurus.
  2.  Clothing – Keep a sweater or shawl handy for if you’re feeling chilly, your favorite bunny slippers to keep your toes comfy or perhaps wear layers that you can take off if the temperature is rising.
  3.  Have your favorite drink handy and some water.
  4.  If you need munchies to keep you going have then at the ready.
  5.  Have all your research material together so you not hunting it down.
  6.  Gather your inspiration around you. Here’s a nice list that Writing With Mom put together “What starts a story out for you? Is it a conversation with a cousin? Seeing old photos? A daily prompt from a book or webpage you like? How about your journal, or the writings or possessions of a family member–an heirloom that you admire in a case, or use everyday. For some it’s a place, a date or an occasion. Others write methodically from a task list. They have a neat outline of what they want to say and can go down the list working one subject at a time and feeling a great deal of accomplishment. Some look for contests or open calls for submissions and can write inspired by the given topic. Maybe it’s something you notice on the ground, the funny title of a book, or a childhood memory. Pinpoint your inspirations and gather them up.” See more of her list of writer’s needs at the source: Writing With Mom
  7. Organizational tools – file folders to keep all your writing in, including notes (never throw anything out until your project is totally complete). This is for your hard copy and have each separate writing project kept organized in it’s own file and saved in Google Docs or whatever cloud storage you use, on your computer, flash drives. Make sure you have a backup file for anything stored on your computer.

Okay there’s a beginning for you now get your own personal checklist together for disturbance free writing.

A gift from Dr. Jeffrey Lant to help in your mastery of writing –

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Setting Up Your Personal Writing Sanctuary

Make priority # 1 to have a writing place that’s used only for your writing.

It could be a room,  a little nook or even just a desk but make it your very own writing sanctuary.

George_Bernard_Shaw_writing_shedDylan_Thomas_writing_shedLet it be know that when you are there you are writing and under no circumstances should you be disturbed.

“But the Internet in general—and social media in particular—fosters this notion that everything should be shared, everything is communal. When it works, it’s great. But it specifically doesn’t work, I think, in the realm of cultural production … Good novels aren’t collaborated on. Good novels are produced by people who voluntarily isolate themselves, and go deep, and report from the depths on what they find.” ~ Jonathan Franzen

Interestingly Completely Novel points out that “Maya Angelou wrote in hotel rooms, requesting that everything be removed from the walls, in order to avoid distractions. She brought note pads, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a Bible in order to write, plus sherry and cigarettes for a little ‘down time’. –

JK Rowling famously wrote the first Harry Potter book in an Edinburgh cafe. Taking her baby out for a walk was the best way to get her to fall asleep, and then she could carry on writing in a cafe.”

See more at: Completely Novel

Here’s 4 unusual spots where famous writers found their writing sanctuary:

Gertrude Stein discovered that the driver’s seat of her Model T Ford was a perfect place to write. Shopping expeditions around Paris were particularly productive for the writer. While her partner, Alice B. Toklas, ran errands, Stein would stay in their parked car and write.

D.H. Lawrence preferred to write outdoors, beneath the shade of a tree. He found a trunk to lean against wherever he went, from pine trees in New Mexico to great firs in Germany’s Black Forest. Discussing his predilection, Lawrence noted, “The trees are like living company.”

• In 1917, Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard, started a small publishing company in their basement. Despite the new venture, Woolf did not give up writing. Every morning she walked down to the basement, and strode past the printing press and into a storage room with a cozy old armchair. Her pen would fly while the press whirred in the next room.

Agatha Christie had two important demands for the renovation of her mansion. She informed her architect, “I want a big bath, and I need a ledge because I like to eat apples.” Christie constructed her plots in a large Victorian tub, one bite at a time.

Find 10 more at the source of this article: Writers Digest

But Remember –

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” ~ E.B. White

Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Writing Sanctuary  in his “Blue Room”

The picture with caption were from his memoir – “A Connoisseur’s Journey. Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy.”

Available at: http://writerssecrets.co

The video below is from video snippets caught as Dr. Lant was writing his memoir live onscreen. He is reading the section from his memoir about his writing space he is working in, his office or as he calls it his “space capsule”

See 40 video snippets caught in the creation of “A Connoisseur’s Journey” also available at: http://writerssecrets.co

blue_room_with_caption

 

 

A Gift from Dr. Lant to help you in your writing endeavors –

Get a FREE Copy of “How to Be a Writer Who Makes Money, Flies High and Dazzles the Folks Back Home. Oh Yeah!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE anctuary,famous

Will the reluctant Crown Princess of Japan become the reluctant Empress of Japan sooner than Her Imperial Highness had expected? What then?

Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

When you look around the rooms of your home and see this needs mending and that needs tending; when you see the stack of bills growing higher and higher, your ability to pay them diminishing almost by the hour…

When your friends are the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, people of no particular consequence, many of whom you don’t even like very much, it is hard to feel a grain of sympathy for the woman who really does have everything, including her throne, representing the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan, dealing with the business of Emperors and Empresses for over 2,700 years – the longest in the world for an imperial or royal family.

Yes, the Crown Princess of Japan, Masako, has but to wave a magic wand to gather even more things than she already had, things which didn’t make her happy. The story of the Crown Princess has become a fairy tale; a fantasy… but it has never been a happy story for Her Imperial Highness, and all her relatives amongst the Imperial Family.

I have followed the vicissitudes of Her Imperial Highness’s life for many years now, and was therefore not particularly surprised that her ailing father-in-law, the Emperor Akihito, wanted to lay down his duties prior to his demise. After all, he’s had prostate cancer (2003), and heart problems (2012). He is 82 now; more frail than an Emperor should ever be, but still dedicated to his many duties which have not kept him out of the public eye. Quite the contrary.

It is important, indeed imperative, that the head of the Imperial House look like an Emperor, despite his myriad pains and agonies. With the help of his Imperial Consort Michiko, the first commoner to marry into the Imperial Family, he has succeeded in presenting the nation with a record of kindness, consideration, and active involvement in the many difficult affairs of his people.

It was expected that such a paragon would stay in his Imperial office until the inevitable end. However now the Emperor has asked his nation to allow him to have a few years of peace and serenity, and the comfort he so deserves. But of course, in the busy business of politics, things are never easy… particularly when it is the last Imperial Throne on Earth at stake.

Here, the Crown Princess, while not featured in any of the stories that just came from the wire services about the pending Imperial resignation, was in fact a key player – though I’m sure she didn’t wish to be.

A modern Japanese woman finds herself going from her career in diplomacy to the ancient rituals of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

When you look at Crown Princess Masako, you see a modern Japanese woman struggling to come out of a chrysalis, and live the life of any other bright, well-connected, well-educated woman anywhere on Earth. She was never really an ordinary woman. Her father was a senior Japanese diplomat, and they lived the ultra-privileged life that such diplomats and their children so often do.

She went to supremely good schools, where she was invariably selected to offices, and made a supremely good impression on the teaching staff. These schools were like a gilded staircase, starting with the private Roman Catholic girls’ school Futaba Gakuen in Denenchofu, Tokyo.

Up and up she ascended. Following Futaba Gakuen, there was Belmont, Massachusetts High School, just down the road from where I live. Then Harvard/Radcliffe, where I was assistant to the president. Then Balliol College, Oxford, then back to Harvard. Each was carefully considered, carefully weighed in the balance, for she was to be the symbol of the new Japan and its emancipated women. But fate had other plans for the stylish diplomat on the fast road to success.

Enter Prince Naruhito

If there was no Prince Naruhito in the mix, Masako, we can speculate, would have married a senior diplomat or government official, traveled extensively, knowing everyone of consequence, and would have become a model for the burgeoning female sex as they struggled to advance themselves from that chrysalis to the full freedom of a Monarch… Butterfly. But there was a prince, and he did pursue his suit – three times – until at last, reluctant Masako, citizen, became the most reluctant Princess on Earth.

And here’s where the story gets interesting… complicated… sad… for now the woman who had everything, knew just how little that really meant, when your whole life was a cauldron of vituperation, condemnation, criticism, control, and disapproval. Masako had made the devil’s own deal.

It manifests itself in this way: the Japanese monarchy reigns but does not rule. The department of government which most concerns itself with the affairs of the monarchy is The Imperial Household Agency. It rules, whereas the Emperor and all his family does not rule… they reign. Which is to say, they live with the minimal amount of power imaginable. It is a formula for stress, frustration, and aggravation when you, the symbol of the new Japanese woman, are told exactly what to do, exactly how to do it, and exactly when to do it, by the rigid and unyielding officials of The Imperial Household Agency, 1,053 strong. These were Masako’s grave and serious opponents.

And so, in short order, she began to deteriorate. When she did not bear children, except for Princess Aiko, who, as a woman, had no place in the Imperial succession, the woman from whom so much was expected found herself in the most gilded trap in the world… from a self-fulfilled woman doing what she wanted to do, and making real decisions about real issues, she found herself in an instant interned in the most ornate prison on Earth. Her Imperial Highness became a prisoner crowned with the grandest title on Earth.

Prince Naruhito had succeeded in getting what he wanted, and thrust her into a situation where she could not get what she wanted and had expected from life. The whole Japanese nation watched this cosmic melodrama play itself out. Everyone knew the battle for Masako was in fact the battle not just for her soul, but for the very direction of Japan, and a society which was so often crippled by conservative habits. This included the old Imperial system, which now had Masako firmly in its grasp, ancient, rigid, and sternly in control.

Constant visitors from Japan

While this story was in process of evolution and development, an unexpected part of it came to my front lawn and residence. You see, from the grass outside my front door, I can look down Cambridge Street and see Harvard’s Center for International Affairs.

Masako studied there, and I was once their fund raising and development consultant, during the productive years of Professor Samuel Huntington. Then, I could turn my head to the right, and see across the Cambridge Common the headquarters of what was then called Harvard/Radcliffe College, where Masako studied, and where I was assistant to the president.

Thus, inadvertently, I became part of the Crown Princess of Japan’s walking tour. The tourists, Japanese all, would gather of a Saturday morning all under a little vinyl flag held by the guide in the Forbes Plaza. In this place, I had my bank, Cambridge Trust Co., my first Harvard office, in Holyoke Center, and the place where the painting of Governor Forbes of the Philippines was painted by Pietro Pezzati. Forbes was one of Peter’s first commissions, while mine was his very last.

Thus, the artifacts of my life were like the artifacts in hers… or at least of her unique Harvard tour. Each place the Japanese tourists went, flicking wildly, uncovered yet another aspect of my Harvard and its environs. Thus the tourists, concerned only about whether they secured the best shot or not, followed the Princess’s progress through the Great Gate of 1885, up the steps of the Widener Library, the largest collegiate library in the nation, thence to Harvard/Radcliffe College, where I had my office on the 2nd floor of Fay House, thence to the Center for International Affairs… every part of her tour was, in fact, an element in my tour. For where I had gone she followed, and where she led, I followed.

Thus, it was not so very strange when the tourist buses started stopping in front of my front door, where they could see me walking in the Cambridge Common, gathering groceries at the local convenience store, or writing… for I have never stopped writing to this very day.

I came to know just what times the buses would be outside… and there was a puckish humor about my actions… after all, I knew how to wave the Royal wave; I had been tutored at Windsor Castle, where I did my research for my first book, “Insubstantial Pageant” (1979). Thus, I gave the Royal wave, a turning of my right hand, as the cameras clicked, snapping me into Japanese eternity.

I once asked one of them just who they thought they were photographing on my grass, and the response made perfect sense for this “Alice in Wonderland” tale. This tourist turned to me and said, “You look like Prince Charles”. And damn well if I haven’t for most of my entire life. Besides, when I did my work at the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle, the Japanese were there taking my picture in the Round Tower, because, after all, I did look like Prince Charles from a considerable distance.

What will happen to the sad little Princess?

The Japanese nation now confronts an interesting dilemma. Should they let their respected, if not precisely loved, monarch go, to the rest he so obviously requires? Or should they say, “Emperor you have been, Emperor you will die”. Masako is caught up in this drama. It’s very likely some formula will be found to give the Emperor what he wants, without outraging the conservative habits of this deeply conservative nation. After all, in the long history of the dynasty, many Emperors were dethroned or resigned, to enable a stronger leader to emerge. It’s not a very radical idea.

Thus, it is likely Prince Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne while his father still lives. But what will happen to the sad little Princess whose dreams were snuffed out with the connivance of her husband, who made her promises he knew he could not keep… not the best way to start an Imperial, or any, marriage. He loved her so much he outraged the woman and her beliefs to get what he wanted.

Last words

I would like to believe, and in the near term, too, that the Princess can secure some kind of balance between the career woman she was destined to be, and the Princess of the old regime that she became. This is the problem that the future Empress Masako, so soon it seems destined to ascend the throne she never wanted, must confront. Ironically, the diplomatic uses she learned as a young woman will now become of the greatest possible value, for it lies within her power to liberalize the ancient institution so that the Imperial Household Agency does not destroy them all with views that are arcane and irrelevant.

I intend to send a copy of this article to the lady of the Chrysanthemum Throne. She has suffered because of the promises her husband made that he could not keep.

She has suffered because of the cadre of over 1,000 blind old men who presumed to pinion royalty and diminish its glamor and effectiveness, blind old men who make up the Imperial Household Agency.

Princess, out of your long suffering can come not just a great lady, the role tailor made for you, but a new and better approach to the very essence of monarchy. You will, during your tenure on the high exalted throne of your nation, stand occupying a position where so many good changes can be made. You have known great sadness, but now your great years of joy and purpose and happy use are at hand.

God save the Empress, for she can do so much good.

Musical note

I have selected for the music to accompany this article “Gagaku”. “Gagaku” is characterized by long, slow songs and dance-like movements. It is the oldest of the Japanese traditional performing arts. It is performed at banquets and ceremonies in the Imperial Palace and in theatres throughout the country, and encompasses three distinct arts.

The first, Kuniburi no Utamai, features ancient Japanese songs, partially accompanied by harp and flute and simple choreography.

The second consists of instrumental music (especially wind instruments) and a ceremonial dance developed on the Asian continent and subsequently adapted by Japanese artists.

The third, Utamono, is danced to vocal music whose texts include Japanese folk songs and Chinese poems.

Influenced by the politics and culture of different periods over its long evolution, “Gagaku” continues to be transmitted to apprentices by masters in the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency, many of whom are the descendants of families with deep roots in the art.

It is not only an important cultural tool in confirming Japanese identity and a crystallization of the history of Japanese society, but also a demonstration of how multiple cultural traditions can be fused into a unique heritage through constant recreation over time.

 

Final question

Can a 21st Century Princess and the usages of an ancient court work together, observe the best of both, and save the essential nature of the  world’s only remaining Imperial Throne? This is what we all await.

About the author

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is a well-known author on many topics, including international relations, and the monarchies of the Earth. Go now to see his over 55 books:

http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/

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