The First Seven DIOGENES Awards
Last week I posted that I was prepared to post these awards “In Search Of Honest Men and Women In Politics, The Media Or Advocacy!” and open the awarding to your suggestions. Here are the first seven, in alphabetical order. Without naming names; I was surprised at names that folks did not offer up, particularly in the field of “Advocacy”, some of whom if suggested I would have rejected as ineffectual egomaniacs.
Keep your nominees coming, and thanks for the very nice thoughtful response.
Thinkers Think And Talkers Talk; Patriots ACT.
(1) Jimmy Carter
Transcript of Former President Jimmy Carter's Remarks on Racism at an Emory University Townhall Meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009
Question: Do you still believe that racism is an issue that President Obama is facing in passing bills in Congress?
President Carter: Yes, I do. Let me answer this question very carefully.
I think it is completely legitimate, and to be expected, to have tough, sometimes even unfair debates about major issues that face our country. Health care is one. I think it is within the bounds of political propriety, for instance, for opponents of President Obama's proposal to raise the false claim that there are death squads, and that everybody that is over 65 years old is going to be deprived of medical care, to let them die early. Those are the kinds of claims that have been made against them. That's okay.
But when a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the President of the United States of America as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, or when they waved signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds of the way Presidents have ever been accepted, even with people who disagree.
And I think people that are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American. It's a racist attitude, and my hope is, and my expectation is, that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the President of the United States.
(2) Glen Greenwald
(3) Dennis Kucinich
(4) Rachael Maddow
(5) Michael Moore
(6) Bill Moyer
(7) Keith Olbermann
THE DIOGENES AWARD
In Search Of Honest Men and Women In Politics, The Media Or Advocacy!
Diogenes of Sinope (Greek: Διογένης ὁ Σινωπεύς Diogenes ho Sinopeus), also known as Diogenes the Cynic was a Greek philosopher, born in Sinope (modern day Sinop, Turkey) about 412 BC (according to other sources 404 BC), and died in 323 BC, at Corinth. Details of his life come in the form of anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius, in his book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.
Diogenes of Sinope was exiled from his native city and moved to Athens, where he is said to have become a disciple of Antisthenes, the former pupil of Socrates. Diogenes, a beggar who made his home in the streets of Athens, made a virtue of extreme poverty. He is said to have lived in a large tub, rather than a house, and to have walked through the streets carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He eventually settled in Corinth where he continued to pursue the Cynic ideal of self-sufficiency: a life which was natural and not dependent upon the luxuries of civilization. Believing that virtue was better revealed in action and not theory, his life was a relentless campaign to debunk the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society.
Diogenes was born in the Greek colony of Sinope on the south coast of the Black Sea, either in 412 BC or 404 BC. Nothing is known about his early life except that his father Hicesias was a banker. It seems likely that Diogenes was also enrolled into the banking business aiding his father. At some point (and the details are confused) Hicesias and Diogenes became embroiled in a scandal involving the adulteration or defacement of the currency, and Diogenes was exiled from the city. This aspect of the story seems to be corroborated by archaeology: large numbers of defaced coins (smashed with a large chisel stamp) have been discovered at Sinope dating from the middle of the 4th century BC, and other coins of the time bear the name of Hicesias as the official who minted them. The reasons for the defacement of the coinage are unclear, although Sinope was being disputed between pro-Persian and pro-Greek factions in the 4th century, and there may have been political rather than financial motives behind the act.
According to one story, Diogenes went to the Oracle at Delphi to ask for its advice, and was told that he should "deface the currency," and Diogenes, realizing that the oracle meant that he should deface the political currency rather than actual coins, travelled to Athens and made it his life's goal to deface established customs and values.
In his new home, Athens, Diogenes' mission became the metaphorical adulterating/defacing of the "coinage" of custom. Custom, he alleged, was the false coin of human morality. Instead of being troubled by what is really evil, people make a big fuss over what is merely conventionally evil. This distinction between nature ("physis") and custom ("nomos") is a favorite theme of ancient Greek philosophy, and one that Plato takes up in The Republic, in the legend of the Ring of Gyges.
Diogenes is alleged to have gone to Athens with a slave named Manes who abandoned him shortly thereafter. With characteristic humour, Diogenes dismissed his ill fortune by saying, "If Manes can live without Diogenes, why not Diogenes without Manes?"Diogenes would be consistent in making fun of such a relation of extreme dependency. He would particularly find the master, who could do nothing for himself, contemptibly helpless. We are told he was attracted by the ascetic teaching of Antisthenes, a student of Socrates, who (according to Plato) had been present at his death. Diogenes became Antisthenes' pupil, despite the brutality with which he was initially received, and rapidly surpassed his master both in reputation and in the austerity of his life. Unlike the other citizens of Athens, he avoided earthly pleasures. This attitude was grounded in a great disdain for what he perceived as the folly, pretense, vanity, social climbing, self-deception, and artificiality of much human conduct.
The stories told of Diogenes illustrate the logical consistency of his character. He inured himself to the vicissitudes of weather by living in a tub belonging to the temple of Cybele. He destroyed the single wooden bowl he possessed on seeing a peasant boy drink from the hollow of his hands. He once masturbated in public, saying "If only I could soothe my hunger by rubbing my belly." He used to stroll about in full daylight with a lamp; when asked what he was doing, he would answer, "I am just looking for a human being." Diogenes looked for a human being but reputedly found nothing but rascals and scoundrels.
When Plato gave Socrates' definition of man as "featherless bipeds" and was much praised for the definition, Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato's Academy, saying, "Behold! I've brought you a man." After this incident, "with broad flat nails" was added to Plato's definition.
‘Don’t you fear me?’
‘Are you a good or a bad man?’ Diogenes asked back.
‘Good.’ Alexander retorted.
‘Then I don’t see any re ason why I should fear you.’
The precise scope of the conversation is the demonstration ‘Don’t waste my time. If you must find reason to waste your words and efforts for nothing, find a reason better than wasting my time.’
During another interaction Alexander came to see him and asked him to pay tributes. Diogenes never bothered and simply asked him not to block the sunlight that he was enjoying. Alexander acknowledged his courage and said that if he were to be born someone else he would want to be Diogenes. His practice of ridiculing the world in an attempt to bring man face to face with his follies is highlighted by the most popular instance when he was roaming around the town in bright day light, with a lantern by his side. When asked what he was doing, he replied ‘I am looking for one honest man in town’. He is infamously known to defecate at market place, masturbate and spite people who wore the mask of status symbol and false honor. This was one man who did what he practiced and saw the things in the lights of man as an animal that didn’t need much to survive. He found better friends in dogs than another human being, because dogs like him, were not hypocrites. But where did such a practice come from? He could have easily found isolation somewhere in the forests to practice life the way he wanted to, instead of attempting to prove how unaware people were, but somehow the thought didn’t cross his mind. Perhaps a few more generations of practice could have led the followers to isolation, but the idea itself didn’t blend with the Western school of thought.
The Greek philosopher Diogenes was a homeless beggar who walked the streets of Athens with a lamp, looking for an honest man. As Wikipedia tells us, "Sympathizers considered him a devotee of reason and an exemplar of honesty. Detractors have said he was an obnoxious beggar and an offensive grouch. Believing that virtue was better revealed in action and not theory, his life was a relentless campaign to debunk the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. This attitude was grounded in a great disdain for what he perceived as the folly, pretense, vanity, social climbing, self-deception, and artificiality of much human conduct. As he put it, instead of being troubled by what is really evil, people make a big fuss over what is merely conventionally evil. Diogenes is said to have urinated on some people who insulted him, defecated in the theatre, and pointed at people with his middle finger." No wonder they kicked him out of his home town, Sinope.
Well, we,(“the guy left”) haven't done any of that - yet. Besides, to quote Pete Stark, in those cases where people deserve it, "I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg, it wouldn't be worth wasting the urine."
But as an acknowledgment that we should at least have been flipping some people the bird, but could not compete with the teabaggers in offensive opprobrium, I have decided to take the positive approach in addition, and have inaugurated THE DIOGENES AWARD, which will be presented to any honest person we find.
I am going to ask all of you to make nominations for this award! Simply send the name to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit it/them as a comment and I will take it from there.