So we've come to the last of my miscellaneous thoughts that I jotted down here and there over the years. If there is a common thread to all my stuff, it's that, in the final analysis, there is something that unifies all that is. And I mean everything, from rock and ridge, bunny rabbits to race horses to the Whole of humankind. A story that Joseph Campbell told on the PBS's "Power of Myth" series expands upon this idea:


In Hawaii ... [t]here is a place there called the Pali, where the trade winds from the north come rushing through a great ridge of mountains. People like to go up there to get their hair blown about or sometimes to commit suicide... . One day, two policemen were driving up the Pali road when they saw, just beyond the railing that keeps the cars from rolling over, a young man preparing to jump. The police car stopped, and the policeman on the right jumped out to grab the man but caught him just as he jumped, and he was himself being pulled over when the second cop arrived in time and pulled the two of them back. ... Everything else in his life had dropped off - his duty to his family, his duty to his job, his duty to his own life - all of his wishes and hopes for his lifetime had just disappeared. He was about to die.

        Later, a newspaper reporter asked him, “Why didn't you let go? You would have been killed.” And his reported answer was, “I couldn't let go. If I had let that young man go, I couldn't have lived another day of my life.” How come?

        Schopenhauer's answer is that such a psychological crisis represents the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization, which is that you and that other are one, that you are two aspects of the one life, and that your apparent separateness is but an effect of the way we experience forms under the conditions of space and time. Our true reality is in our identity and unity with all life.

        This story points out the universality of the “common good” that we all participate in. And of the unity that can be realized immediately in a situation involving just three people.


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Copyright 2001, Gary Kline