In Memoriam, Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013)
Champion Idealist Portrait of Nelson Mandela
The Captain of his Soul.
He had been in jail for 27 years, where some of that involved hard manual labor. Dust, sweat, and blood: the breaking of rocks into gravel or working in a limestone quarry. As he details in his autobiography, it was a Long Walk to Freedom.
“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Passion requires Temperament
Success requires Circumstance
When interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, he was asked, “How could you forgive the people who imprisoned you for 27 years?” Mandela answered, essentially, that he didn’t have the time to waste on revenge or hating. He had a divided nation to forge into a united nation, for he had a passion, his country: The Union of South Africa. When he was released from prison, he had a job to do, and a job to finish, and if he didn’t do the right thing the country would have torn itself apart.
“I am fundamentally an optimist.” – Nelson Mandela
The prison system is designed to try to take away the dignity of the prisoner. It is designed to take out the enthusiasm for life. It is designed to break a man down. But there are some men, based on who they are: their Temperament and their unique journey in life, that instead become equipped to succeed in their goals, for it is enduring of trials and tribulations and becoming better for it, that forges the ability to cope and succeed with near impossible tasks. Case in point; unite a country divided by race.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. — Theodore Roosevelt
The continent of Africa is littered with countries that have been, or are in, ethnic chaos or that are ethnic cleansing basket cases: Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia). Mandela had to find a cause that all South Africans could cheer for, to unite in. He garnered the hosting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup — and it was a simple rugby team, the Springboks, whose captain, François Pienaar, Mandela inspired with the Roosevelt quote. Said Pienaar ,”He talked to me and encouraged me in our efforts on the field, to win the World Cup.” The Springboks had now one black player, but still in the eyes of blacks South Africans was considered a symbol of the all white, apartheid South Africa. The Springboks had been the target of international controversy and protest since 1960, banned from international play because of the Union of South Africa’s whites only policies, until the breakup of apartheid. Mandela championed the team whenever and wherever he could, despite the team’s initial unpopularity. As the 9th seed in the tournament, the team defeated higher ranked teams to get to the finals. After the underdog Springboks had narrowly won, in extra-time, the epic Final 15 – 12, President Mandela, wearing a Springbok shirt, presented the World Cup trophy to captain Pienaar, a white Afrikaner. The gesture was widely seen as a major step towards the reconciliation of white and black South Africans.
Invictus Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul
My friend, David West Keirsey, died July 30, 2013. He was 91. I’m so proud, and fortunate, to call him my friend. Up until a few years ago, he was Professor Keirsey to me, and I hadn’t seen nor spoke to him for 30 years.
As far as I know, Dr. Keirsey was humankind’s last Gestalt psychologist, and that’s something you should know. His ideas are historic, and I’ll be writing much more about them, and similar things, for the rest of my life. First, though, before I tell you more about Dr. Keirsey, I want to tell you about my friend, David, and the loves in his life.
David loved his country. He was a proud veteran of World War II. He joined the Navy in 1942. After flight training, he took his commission as a Marine fighter pilot and flew several missions in Japan towards the end of the war. He wrote in some detail about his military experience in his autobiographical essay, Turning Points.
Those times, and the depression before the war, had a lifelong impact on David, as it did with everyone from the greatest generation. He believed we were morally obligated to fight World War II, and he knew many who gave their lives protecting our freedoms. He considered himself lucky to come home, and grateful, for the rest of his life, that he did. Thank you David, for your service, from all of us.
David loved questions. For the past 18 months or so I’ve been meeting with him on Mondays for three or four hours, often with his son David Mark, talking about temperament and psychology, and many other things. I often took notes on my iPad. I put them in my “Mondays with David” file on my computer. I love asking questions, he loved answering, so our friendship grew. We had much to talk about, and it was always fun. (You can read more about this from a prior blog, here.)
At times he became frustrated, his memory sometimes needing more and more of his depleted energy. More than once, when I arrived for a visit, I’d ask, “how was your weekend David?” He’d reply, with a smile, “I don’t remember, but I’m sure it was fine.” Once he added, again with a smile, “. . . although I could try to retrieve the information for you if you wish.” It takes energy to retrieve information. At 91, you have the privilege of choosing where you want to spend your energy. It was a polite question anyway. I always knew where he was every weekend. He was with his wife and his family. He cherished his weekends.
Once we started talking about something he was interested in, he became focused, taking his memory to task, retrieving important ideas, if triggered by the right question. Precision, more than anything, was his forte, organizing and analyzing ideas to a depth only a very few can imagine, simplicity his reasoned pursuit, efficiency always a welcome bi-product. He never stopped “tinkering,” often spending hours at the computer, changing single words at a time in his many essays about temperament and “madness.”
I put madness in quotes because, well, David wouldn’t have it any other way. Professor David West Keirsey was so much more than Temperament Theory. His humane, holistic, and thoughtful explanation of “madness,” is above all else, his legacy to humankind, as far as I’m concerned. His seminal work, Dark Escape, provides our species, for the first time in human history, a way out of the “madness” of modern day psychology and psychiatry. I will be writing much more about this.
David loved to read. He read everything. I mean everything. I mean anything, and everything, and that started when he was a seven year old, and it never stopped. The last time I saw him he was reading a favorite novel, for the fifth time. Why? “I might find something new – and I like it,” he said. This wasn’t unusual. From Turning Points:
I began reading when I was seven. Read (most of) a twelve volume set of books my parents bought, Journeys through Bookland. Read countless novels thereafter, day in and day out. I educated myself by reading books. Starting at age nine my family went to the library once a week, I checking out two or three novels which I would read during the week. Then, when I was sixteen, I read my father’s copy of Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy. I read it over and over again, now and then re-reading his account of some of the philosophers. (Long afterwards I read his magnificent eleven volumes—The Story of Civilization. I also have read his The Lessons of History many times, this being his brilliant summary of the eleven volumes.)
I mention Durant’s book The Story of Philosophy because it was a turning point in my life, I to become a scholar as did Durant, thereafter reading the philosophers and logicians—anthropologists, biologists, ethologists, ethnologists, psychologists, sociologists, and, most important, the etymologists, all of the latter—Ernest Klein, Eric Partridge, Perry Pepper, and Julius Pokorny—of interest to me now as then.
So, I said to myself, who better to ask questions than someone who has read everything – over and over? He had so many useful answers. I’ll be sharing them with you too.
David loved words. Not as a wordsmith or author, though he was certainly both. He loved words as an etymologist – the only one I’ve ever met. He often said he may be the only one left. David studied words. From Turning Points:
I became a scholar, one of three boys in the scholarship society in 1942. I took a course in word study. I have studied words ever since, even during the war, pasting lists of words on the bathroom mirror wherever I stayed. Why etymology (word signs) instead of linguistics (word sounds)? Because word sounds shorten with use becoming only remnants of what they were, while word signs are written and therefore remain the same. My interest was in what is written, not in what is spoken.
Many times on Mondays, triggered by something we were talking about, we’d go upstairs and sit at his computer in his comfortable, book-filled library – me to his left, him behind the keyboard – looking at an online etymology site, researching a word. He called it “fun” and, wouldn’t you know it, so did I.
David loved kids. He started working with troublesome teenagers at the Verdemont Boys Ranch as a young psychologist, figuring out ways to manage these boys, and to help their families. He worked in schools most of his career, doing the same, training thousands of teachers and counselors and psychologists in methods that work, not theories that don’t. He began collecting the many techniques to manage and counsel adults and children that was to become the core of his unique and highly successful Counseling Psychology graduate program at California State University, Fullerton.
He wrote some remarkable essays in defense of children, and every parent and professional should read them. So, please, do that. You can read Drugged Obedience in the School here, and The Evil Practice of Narcotherapy for Attention Deficit here, and The Great ADD Hoax, here. There are many other important and useful essays you will find at the same site.
His solution to helping troubled and troublesome children? “Be nice to them, and keep them away from those drugs.” We had a lot in common about kids. I’ll also be writing about useful child management techniques, from a temperament point of view..
David loved his family. David Mark, his son and lifelong companion, joined our Monday morning conversations often, and I cherished those times in particular. A gifted computer scientist, David Mark called his father “Daddy.” He honored his father.
The two of them could, and often would, debate an obscure, yet important idea with the same passion as when the debate started 30, or 40, or even 50 years earlier. His father honored him too. Often, when it was just David and me, he would boast about his son Mark, as fathers who love their sons often do. How lucky they were to have each other. I envied them.
Every weekend David and his wife Alice went to Del Mar to meet with the rest of the Keirsey clan and, when they didn’t, family members came to their home. David and Alice traveled and vacationed with their children and grandchildren. The two of them together made sure they gave their family the best gift you can give to people you love: wonderful memories.
Mostly, David loved Alice. What was the first thing this returning WW II veteran did when he came back from the war? He married his junior college sweetheart, Alice. He admired her so. “Alice has done such a wonderful job of keeping our family together and close over the years,” he often said, with much pride.
When you walk up the circular stairs of their beautiful home you will meet all of the family. Alice has dozens of family pictures and other mementos adorned on the walls and on the stairs – and everywhere else throughout their warm, loving home. This, you can tell, is a family that cares for each other, and they are grateful to have each other to love. I recognized their family quickly. I come from one too.
Alice – he called her “babe” sometimes – from they way he like to tell it, was a dynamo of her own when she was working in elementary schools. David said she was always the head of a department or committee or project, or part of some other crusade to care for all those kids for which she loved and cared.
They never quarreled, he told me, more than once, because, he said, more than once, “we were made for each other.” That certainly proved to be true. They were married in December, 1945. I was two months old.
Why did it take so long to write this, and anything else, for that matter? Well, honestly, I’ve been mourning my friend. Just a few days before he died, my wife and I visited David and Alice at their home. As we were leaving, I leaned over, gently grasped his hand to say goodbye, and to tell him, “I’ll see you soon, David. I have another two or three thousand more questions to ask.” Without hesitation, he replied, “Good,” and added, “I have two or three thousand more answers.”
His spirit, more than willing, his body, so weary. During some of our best conversations, he would remind me, and David Mark, “there’s still much work to be done.” Lucky for me, he trusted me with all that he has written. The answers to my questions are all there, and that’s good. I will be doing a lot more reading. It’s not the same though, and not nearly as much fun, as asking my friend, David, just a few more questions.
You can tell a lot about a person when you know the loves in his life. I admired him. I loved him too. I miss him, very much.
Mondays, for me, will never be the same.
“I just want the world to understand, there’s no such thing as ‘madness.’”
Sir David Paradine Frost, OBE (7 April 1939 – 31 August 2013) was an English journalist, comedian, writer, media personality and television host.
After graduating from Cambridge University, Frost rose to prominence in the UK when he was chosen to host the satirical programme That Was the Week That Was in 1962. His success on this show led to work as a host on US television. He became known for his television interviews with senior political figures, among them The Nixon Interviews with former United States President Richard Nixon in 1977, which were adapted into a stage play and film.
Frost was one of the “Famous Five” who were behind the launch of ITV breakfast station TV-am in 1983. For the BBC, he hosted the Sunday morning interview programme Breakfast with Frost from 1993 to 2005. He spent two decades as host of Through the Keyhole. From 2006 to 2012 he hosted the weekly programme Frost Over the World on Al Jazeera English and from 2012, the weekly programme The Frost Interview. [Wikipedia]
[Les Shuck was an important colleague of my father, Dr. David West Keirsey, for Les, as a school administrator, often ran cover for David’s “experiments” in human intervention for helping “troubled and troublesome kids.” — without punishment and drugs. For an analog, the dog whisperer Cesar Millan, changes the dog owner’s behavior as much as the dog’s behavior. “Fixing the kid” also involved changing the adults (both parents and school personnel) behaviors too: not an easy task since the adults never saw themselves as part of the problem. Les and my father often worked together to get results. With the backing of Les and Leeland Newcomer, a Fieldmarshal Rational, (ENTJ in those days) my father gathered and developed his techniques of “corrective intervention” in Covina and Newport-Mesa School Districts. In the bureaucratic school system, even in the fifties and sixties, it took significant strategic intelligence to swim against the traditional “simple fix” (which often made things worse) tide of beatings, other punishments, or chemical pill pushing. Although chemistry wasn’t used as much in the fifties on children (most of psychiatry hadn’t caught on that easy money making trick yet), it has grown wild ever since (because of money). ]
I have many memories of him, some early memories have that misty, but warm quality, of the fifties, an age of innocence.
You kinda of realize things slowly. Kids must learn. Things emerge into your consciousness.
I remember when I realized he was just a man around the time I was a young teenager, he wasn’t all powerful, he was human. And later I realized what a man. A Rational Man, just like me. And his ideas have changed many lives for the better.
And of course, he is of the Greatest Generation. An American marine fighter pilot, who at one time was sitting on a carrier off the coast of Japan, ready to invade their homeland. Not thinking of a future. Then there was the news.. Atomic Bomb. He now had a future, he could go home.
He returned, married my mother, went to school on the GI bill, and embarked on career as a psychologist. School psychologist. Helping troubled and troublesome kids.
And he was Maverick, in ideas.
Dr. David West Keirsey with self portrait.
He was “Just like me..” — Oh, what a lucky person I am.
What did “just like me” mean?
As it turned out this situation was unusual, although I did not know it at time and it took me a few years to realize it. And as a father myself, I understand it much more as time goes on. Your friends and family are rarely “just like you”.
The Father-Son relationship is complicated, whether or not you are a chip off the old block.
Being “A Chip Off the Old Block” — is not the usual situation, in life, as I was to learn from my father.
We both were interested in ideas. As it turned out he would name our type of person as “an Architect Rational” (and lastly a “Designer Rational” he was always tinkering with his theory) — but that is much a later in life. We both loved to examine and debate ideas, he respecting my thoughts despite my youth and naivety.
He was a great listener. But he was always willing to debate ideas, and question the conventional.
My most vivid memory, and recurring memory of him was when I was about 12 years old, I came back from school and he had asked me what I learned and queried me about my new found knowledge. Can a set be a subset of itself? That is the question my father put to me when I was about twelve years old, when I was being taught “new math” in junior high school and trying to explain to him math. I said “Yes, a set can be a subset of itself.” My answer at the time was less than satisfactory for my father, for he understood things much more than I did. A lively debate about this question ensued for many years between us and this question morphed to many other questions. The ensuing life-long dialog and debate between the two of us has covered a wide range of issues about life, both in the physical and behavioral sciences. My father spoke more of the behavioral sciences, I, more of the physical and computer sciences, and all the while both of us spoke of how words best be used.
He was well read in philosophy and psychology — and he loved history, particularly Civil War and WWII history, given that he was in the WWII. But ultimately he considered himself a “wordmeister.” He studied words. And he studied persons. He considered himself a personologist.
Beginning at an early age, my father would talk about the works of Oswald Spengler, Herbert Spencer, Will Durant, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ayn Rand, Georg Hegel, Maurice Merlau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Wolfgang Kohler, William James, John Dewey, Ernst Cassirer, Isabel Myers, Milton Erickson, Jay Haley to name a few.
In the last years he had physical ails that dimmed and slowed his brilliant mind, as the impromptu video below shows. But he still retained an intelligence and humor far beyond the ordinary, up to his last few days.
By the by. Yes, I contended with my father on the ideas. He needed someone to bounce his ideas off. And, in the last few years he kept forgetting that I did put up some of his publishable work on madness (after trying to get him agree to let some of it out for about the last 10 years), here. — David Mark Keirsey.
The awards are given to individuals who are “famous” (if possible) and have significantly impacted the world, to illustrate and highlight the Four Temperaments. Keirsey Temperament Theory maintains all four Temperaments play important roles in society and we need all kinds of people to use their developed natural talents, to do the best at what they do best.
No doubt, the Crafter Artisan, Chuck Yeager, another test pilot, the first to break sound barrier, might have been impressed, although Yeager being very competitive in nature, he might not have openly expressed it. Why give that “engineer” any credit?