by Glen Ford
To give recognition, or to receive recognition, is generally thought of as a positive thing. Recognition is to acknowledge as by some reward or tribute. 1 It could be a pat on the back with a job well done, a trophy/plaque or some other token of acknowledgement conveying approval. That’s the first thing that comes to mind, at least for me.
There are other meanings though in other contexts. The formal act of acknowledgement of existence which can convey approval or sanction. Now sanction can mean authoritative permission, but the sense I am meaning here is a provision of law which enacts a penalty for disobedience to the law or reward for compliance. Karma if you will.
I want to break this word down a little more, to work back to the root. To recognize is to know again, to perceive something as identical or similar to something previously known. Also in law it means to examine to discover the truth. Next step back is to cognize. This is to perceive; to become conscious of as an object of thought-it is an act of awareness. Let me take one more step back. A cog is a tooth or projection, usually one of a series, on a wheel/gear, for transmission of motion to or receiving motion from another wheel. This can be directly or indirectly. An example of directly is gear to gear like a can opener. Once I engage a can opener there is a gearwheel attached to handle I turn. It interfaces directly with a gearwheel on the cutting wheel which is the blade and a friction wheel to turn the can. After a little work, eureka, there be tuna fish or whatever the goal was. An example of indirectly is a bicycle. Here the cogs of the first gearwheel indirectly engage via a chain cogs on a second gearwheel. The first has pedals attached the second has the drive wheel attached. I push the pedals and off I go.
Whether the cogs engage directly or indirectly it requires work to make progress and it helps if I have some awareness of where I am going, what my intent is, what my desire is. Productive work requires intelligence.
1. The ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations, reason, also the skilled use of reason.
2. The ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests). This second definition supports the occult definition as the ability to do work.
Now, I would like to relate a recent experience, then attempt to tie it all up at the end.
In a store parking lot last week as I was putting my cart into the cart corral, I heard someone just pressing on the horn and on and on. It turned out to be a dispute over a parking spot. The first guy (Sam) had passed a spot up against the building and was backing up to take the spot. The second guy (Harry) was coming down the aisle towards the store. The aisle was lined up with the open spot and Harry was on the move to pull right in. Sam was backing up to get spot and Harry was on the move for the same spot, horn just blaring away. They both stopped in time to avoid a crash. Then Sam edged back and Harry crept forward, horn still blasting.
Eventually Sam got back enough to turn into the spot but Harry pulled straight in first and jumped out of his truck to go tell Sam off for nearly backing into his truck, what was Sam doing? In such a rush was Harry that he missed putting his truck into park and only made it to reverse. As he is headed over to yell at Sam, he was knocked off his feet by the door he had also left open. Fortunately there was a woman passenger in Harry’s truck who managed to get a foot or a hand over to the brake before he got run over by his own vehicle. Sam and Harry exchanged heated words for a minute, then parted.
Once it was clear they were not going to come to blows, I stood there shaking my head and laughing. Harry saw me and said “Yeah, did you see what he did?”, apparently looking for confirmation that he was correct and had behaved appropriately. Trying to help him, I responded “Yes, I saw him, and I saw you too, you big dummy!” His face went from angry to confused and back to angry. He flashed me a hand gesture and walked away. He did not get that the only real danger to his vehicle came from his parking lot road rage, by jumping out of his truck while it was still in gear. I hope he gets it eventually. I guess his brain slipped a cog, which brings us back to recognition.
This quote I remember as coming from the late Wayne Dyer though I cannot find a citation. “You can neither love nor hate something in another person that you do not first recognize in yourself.” This Quote is from Hermann Hesse “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”2
The point is, my discomfort in what I witnessed stemmed from my recognition of that behavior in myself and how it made me feel afterward. I used to be that guy on a fairly regular basis. On this path of awakening, I am grateful I do not have to do that anymore. That’s not to say I do not do that anymore. I do still occasionally slip a cog in my brain, fail to pause and consider the options. That is the difference between proactive or reactive. Successful change requires vigilance.
Just recently I went off on my neighbor, four or so weeks new to the hood, over barking dogs and interrupted sleep. This was the first time I met them. By the time I got back in my house I was already regretting it. Within minutes I left them a note on their door apologizing and asking for a second meeting with them under better circumstances. Later that day they came over, we met appropriately and have since made nice. The dogs still bark during the day; they are brought inside mostly at night now. Had I gone and introduced myself when they first moved in, I would have had a foot in the door to speak with them civilly about the situation instead of imaging their machinations to disrupt my sleep until I snapped and embarrassed myself. On this occasion I caught it myself, if a little late, and made amends. I am grateful, however, to have people around me who will point things to me when I miss the mark.
When I spoke to Harry I truly was trying to help him see himself. The first step to solving a problem is to recognize that there is a problem.
Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”3
I am here to express that the examined life is no picnic, no walk in the park. It is a lot of work, but work is required to gain meaningful experience, to think, to gain awareness, to acquire knowledge and increase consciousness. That is what it means to be human. Otherwise what is the point, it is a dog eat dog world, life is a bitch and then you die? I need to see this with better eyes.
If come judgement day recognition as referenced at the beginning of this article is desired, it would behoove me keep pedaling the re-cognition bicycle.
Copyright © 2015 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC
- All definitions are from The Lexicon Webster Dictionary, Hardcover. Publisher: Delair Publishing Company, Inc. (1971), 2 volumes; Author: Kellerman, Dana F., editor, ISBN: T000002441.
- Wikiquote https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hermann_Hesse
- Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_unexamined_life_is_not_worth_living