Prompt 13

What is one word that describes you?

One word is insufficient, for you and I are not a manufactured byproduct of living organisms. So I will defy it with the following parade of words that tells about me: munificent, seI am sentimental, sympathetic, compassionate, funny (in a delightful way), naive (but more leaning toward gullible), agerasia, Renaissance, timid, introverted, vivacious (only when I am in the mood under right conditions with right company), blue-stocking, independent, unreconstructed, passionate when talking about books and history with kindred spirits, ambitious, neverending, resilent, optimistic, silly, sometimes pretty when my spirit is high, sybil, Cassadra, ancient, cosmopolitan, spiritual, witch (a good one), dreamer, laid-back, warm, dilligent, genuine, trusty, mysterious, and hopeful.

‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

The personification of success equals the characterization of the person in our society that has established an unwritten pervasive eugenic rubric of material success in representing where you live. The stories of Rags to Riches are mainly to blame because they are modern-day mythology of heroes and heroines or fairytales to imbue the populace with slim hopes that can also be dangerous, like mass-marketplace placebo anti-depressants. From Hercules to Cinderella, those whose success from their humble origins we love is not self-made as they claim to be in their memoir or interviews but are made of chance and circumstances. This book reveals how these outliers are not outliers but are insiders of the leagues of winners in sociological terms and facts.

The book opens with a remarkable bible passage from the Gospel according to Matthew, dubbed as the “Matthew Effect” thus: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him, that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” It means that success results from accumulated advantage and vice versa. The accumulated advantage is a combination of one’s ability and ambition interacting with the particular circumstances surrounding their rise over difficulties or challenges. Indeed, people who make lots of money must have burnt their midnight lamps to arrive where they are, but they also have people who help them and time to achieve their goals without worrying about other cares of the world. Hence, I don’t like JF Kennedy’s proclamation, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. You can criticize people on welfare as losers lacking motivation and diligence when they need personal structural guidance and constructive public assistance to help them stand on their feet. You can’t just leave those behind the race as being slow or inadequate for the race.

In ancient Greek mythology, the human race was born of mud by Prometheus and imbued with intelligence by Pallas Athena. Prometheus then gave sacred fire stolen from Olympus to make a better life. In the Old Testament, God blessed Abraham with wealth, who also helped his chosen few from those who instigated his wrath. Although modern-day outliers are not prophets or demigods, they certainly have their lucky stars. As Shakespeare agreed, “it’s the stars that govern our conditions.” Even if you disagree, you should not judge people who make less money than you, or no employment, or live in humble housing, thinking their situations result from their faults.

‘Courtiers’, by Valentine Low

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Queen Elizabeth II left this world, she left the palace door open from upstairs and downstairs. And it’s not a Downtown Abby because it’s not a palace, and we are talking about King, Queen’s Consort, Prince and Princess, Duke and Dutches, and the people who serve them of all levels. Indeed, the Royals do not manage their affairs without their helpers. This is a book about those helpers, especially the upper ranks called “Courtiers,” who have existed since the days of yore. Glamorous and fanciful as they may sound, the courtiers are the royal equivalent of assistants and secretaries in bureaucratic and industrial organizations. This book is about these helpers who deserve to be cast spotlights for their physical and mental hard work.

Working with the royals, as it were, is not much different from working with lawyers or any corporate heads or any paying masters who are at the helm of your livelihood in the real world. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of your bosses for fear of rage-firing or losing their favor for your financial security, which will affect your and your family’s welfare. When I learned that King Charles III sacked his long-term employees in Clarance House who had been loyal in their service to him and his family before the coronation, I was immediately on the side of the forlorn subjects whose lives were now upended with the loss of their steady income. Indeed, some of them might have received compensation that would give them enough not to worry about their future. Still, losing a job is undoubtedly a blow to mental equanimity, let alone material necessities. According to the narrative, the royal temper is a legacy of Elizabeth I to his son Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Harry is notorious for his tempestuous tendencies that have made the courtiers disaffected and displeased with the person. His precarious and unpredictable behaviors and inconsiderate remarks towards people who assist him contribute to the criticism of his wife Megan, who is also infamous for arrogant and unthoughtful deportment. The couple might have won the public’s sympathy, not in the least thanks to the power of Oprah, who took them under her aegis against the racist royal family and the British general, who discriminated against Megan for her being “exotic.” Stephen King once said that if you want to know what kind of person they are, you must go backstage with them. I am not hell-bent on slandering the duke and dutchess. Still, it will be an injustice, discrimination even, to forego or ignore what the courtiers witness and think about the famous glittering couple who has become one of the most scintillating Tinsletown couples in the world.

It seems to me that this book wants to give a fair chance to the people who rendered their services to these whimsical and capricious royal families, given that the courtiers have become targets of criticism for discrimination against Harry and Megan. Charles’s infamous temper is comparingly forgivable because that’s what kings and queens have been like, as it is their blood-blood characteristic. But Harry is a proud prince who champions equality on the one hand and hypocrisy on the other hand. If he really cares about his wife’s privacy and respectful treatment against racial discrimination that the couple so always clamoursuly voices about, then they should also equally care about those of the people who work for and under them, no matter how different opinions they may have. People who believe Harry and Megan deserve sympathy should look closely around them because there should be those who really deserve sympathy and understanding in situations far worse than the rich and famous duke and dutchess. In light of the above, I like reading this book that draws the curtains behind the royal stages where the courtiers busy themselves pleasing the spoiled royals. By the way, Princes William and Harry lounge around the palace in flip-flops and treat their guests or interview their employees at interviews to tea in a nondescript mug, not a royal china teacup.

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