August 19, 2015 admin

PURPOSE: Plain Living and High Thinking

by Karen Hudson

It was not any one person or experience that shaped my attitudes.  It was the ethos of the entire community.  My brother and I were fortunate to grow up in an area populated by the descendants of New England Puritans and Scandinavian emigrants. From our mother’s extended Danish family, we were bathed in unconditional love.  From our father’s, there was an emphasis on strong-as-steel individual responsibility and personal integrity.

It was not any one person or experience that shaped my attitudes.  It was the ethos of the entire community. 

“You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better from you,” the Danes taught us from our earliest days.  Plain living and high thinking were emphasized by our father. We were told that our strengths and talents were to be used for community, nation, and world—not merely for individual gain.  Ostentation was not valued: “Hygge,” the Danish concept of warmth, trust, joy in each other and in community, was highly prized. There is a reason why sociological studies find that Denmark is the happiest country in the world.

“You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better from you,” the Danes taught us

We realize that this way of life is out of sync with a competitive, dog-eat-dog world. Our habitual attitude, treating all people equally, is puzzling to some.  We do acknowledge that we are not perfect, and we accept our own flaws as we accept the shortcomings of others.  We do realize that some may think ours is a utopian view, unrealistic and naïve; but we grew up among people who lived it, and we try to model it ourselves. The longevity, the health and happiness of our forebears provides powerful witness to the wisdom of this way of living.

 

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