April 29, 2014

Evil in Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare understood human nature in an extraordinary way. I am often amazed by how much insight I gain by reading one of his plays. I found that the play Much Ado About Nothing allowed me to learn quite a bit about evil and the motivations of those who do evil.

Don John lets us glimpse into the mind of men who try to stir up trouble. He says, “I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause and smile at no man's jests, eat when I have stomach and wait for no man's leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and tend on no man's business, laugh when I am merry and claw no man in his humour.” He is simply following the whims of his physical being, and he acknowledges that he is a “plain-dealing villain.” In this play, Shakespeare helps us understand the ways of those who try to create discord.

Those attempting to do evil:
  • will use ignorant people to hurt others
  • can lead good men astray 
  • can sometimes reveal the true nature of those around us 
  • desire to make others unhappy for the sake of making others unhappy 
  • will use half-truths to create a believable lie 
  • do not care whether you “deserve” something or not 
  • can be overcome if good people will stand up to the evil 
Shakespeare’s insight into the nefarious workings of some human minds is outstanding, but he also demonstrates some things we can do to effectively work against those that sow the seeds of destruction.

Ways to effectively combat evil:
  • education and wisdom 
  • search for confirmation of suppositions 
  • maintain a strong moral code 
  • have appropriate relationships 

If Claudio and the Prince had only slowed down and tried to sort out the facts. If they had tried to seek justice or truth instead of revenge, Claudio would never have publicly humiliated the woman he professed to love. Don John’s plan would have been overturned much sooner and come to nothing. Maybe the play wouldn’t have been as interesting, but I think they all would have been happier.

Benedict's Change of Heart

"I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against marriage: but does not the appetite alter?  A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.  Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?  No, the world must be peopled.  When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married. "

Act III Scene I

Title Swap

The Day Breakers by Louis L'Amour
Atlas Shrugged by Ayne Rand
Teaching the Classics: A Socratic Method for Literary Education  by Adam and Missy Andrews
DK Essential Shakespeare Handbook by Leselie Dunton-Downer and Alan Riding

April 23, 2014

"1984" by Sonia McBride

I wasn’t able to get a copy of the book so I listened to an audio version. After listening to a portion of the book I eventually stopped because I wasn’t comfortable with the content. I went to the internet to find notes on the book. I was curious if the notes made from the section of the book I read were accurate and reliable. To my surprise they were. I chose to read the notes. I have many thoughts but will just share a few.

In the book 1984 George Orwell showed a nation where many freedoms and privileges that are so important to us had been completely taken away. Some may say, “All is well in Zion”, however, many of our freedoms have already been under attack and violated. It isn't difficult to see glimpses of Oceania’s society in our own. Our rights will continue to slip away if we are not careful to defend and stand up for what we believe in and know to be right.

In President Ezra Taft Benson’s book, “An Enemy Hath Done This”, he states, “If America is to withstand these influences and trends, there must be a renewal of the spirit of our forefathers, an appreciation of the American way of life, a strengthening of muscle and sinew and the character of the nation. America needs guts as well as guns. National character is the core of national defense.” This is what I love about learning and discussing with our children. I love reading the classics together. I have observed you and your children stand for truth and what you believe to be right. I am impressed with your children and their desires to be a force for good in the world.

Benson appeals to people everywhere to heed the words of Dean Alfange:

“I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon. I seek opportunity to develop whatever talents God gave me—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any earthly master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say—‘This, with God’s help, I have done.’ All this is what it means to be an American.”

We have a work to do as mothers of the children God has entrusted to us. We have a work to do as families in our society. It is so important that we read the scriptures together. As a family we were reading in 1 Nephi 19 verse 23, “…I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” It really touched my heart. If I don’t liken the scriptures to myself and my life then it’s just reading. In verse 24 it reads, “…and liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope…” I love that! The scriptures bring hope. We must read the scriptures and liken them to ourselves. I have read this so many times, however, it meant more to me this time since I have been pondering about how to gain understanding without having to read books like “1984”. I think one more important thing is to “remember”.

You are wonderful mothers! Thinking of you reminds me of the mothers of the Stripling Warriors in Alma 56:47,48 “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”

I am reminded of Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

We must read, remember and have hope…