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July 21, 2006
Epicurus the Greek philosopher held that the goal of man should be a life of pleasure, regulated by morality, temperance, serenity and cultural development.  Evidently, our government feels that we are not capable of moderating our quest for pleasure, that we are a nation of insatiable appetites and that all of our behavioral standards must be governmentally mandated.  Case in point, The Washington Post, 3-19-04 article on the beauty of the blooming Cherry Blossoms, “In Japan, people gather under cherry trees and drink sake, the strong rice wine, and sing.  Save for the alcohol, the scene at the Tidal Basin was much the same.”  Americans cannot handle their liquor, Americans do not know when to stop, Americans have no self-discipline?

The government is driving us to stay in our homes limiting the opportunities for social interaction.  Maybe within the confines of your domicile, you can drink, smoke and or dance?  But then again maybe not, since in some jurisdictions it may depend on your neighbors.  Unfortunately, all these edicts are driving us inward, driving us to the internet, driving not to inter-connecting with one another.  We are becoming a nation of spectators not participants.  We have become friends with our TV Friends, while our real world friends are becoming more and more inaccessible as venues for social interaction are curtailed.

The copy in a wonderful Grand Marnier advertisement says it all, “Meaningful conversation is back.  You might ask, ‘Was it ever gone?’  We think so.  It became yet another casualty of our over-accelerated lives.  The ‘e-discussion’ has replaced the ‘we’ discussion. Reality TV became a surrogate for discussing our own realities.  But the backlash has begun.  In those rare moments of self-reflection, we acknowledge our need for human interaction – the kind that forms a deeper connection with a father, a husband, a sister, a friend.  It’s these conversations that ground us, that bond us, that open our minds.  So come on.  Leave the paper unread and the e-mail unopened.  They’ll still be there in the morning.  It’s time to reconnect with the people that matter most.”

Conversation cleanses the soul.  Spoken exchanges of thoughts and feelings make us all feel better. Personal interaction filled with humor, laughter, pathos and wonderment is innately human and humans are innately social creatures.  But the no-no-nannies are doing their best to limit even that.

In the recent The New York Times Magazine’s Style & Entertaining issue, William Norwich makes a number of interesting observations stating, “…our point now, is that the desire to gather together and share food and tell stories, and maybe add a little night music and new clothes and dance, is basic to human experience, absolutely fundamental. In the year 2004, conservatives are still getting their knickers in a twist over rebels and body parts.  Only yesterday they were prohibiting alcohol.  Today’s Prohibition would censor whom you can love, honor and obey-and don’t even think about smoking a cigarette afterward.  Having fun is beginning to look la lot like civil disobedience.  And the smoking ban in New York restaurants and clubs has provided a boon for private entertaining.”

And home entertaining is great but it is not the same as the spontaneity which occurs in restaurants and bars.