Value for Thursday of Week 20 in the season of Growth


Understanding is the next step beyond acknowledging another’s humanity and a step short of appreciation. I have found that when I understand someone better, usually, I can more readily get along with that person. There are fewer disagreements, and whatever disagreements we have will be tempered by my understanding, especially if the other person reciprocates.


True Narratives

Understanding is a key element in diplomacy. One of recent history’s great diplomats is Henry Kissinger.

Henry Kissinger

Understanding Jane Austen:

Other narratives on understanding:

Technical and Analytical Readings


Documentary and Educational Films


Fictional Narratives

Novels and stories:

From the dark side:


I understand the large hearts of heroes, / The courage of present times and all times, / How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steamship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm, / How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of nights, / And chalk'd in large letters on a board, / Be of good cheer, we will not desert you; / How he follow'd with them and tack'd with them three days and would not give it up, / How he saved the drifting company at last, / How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated from the side of their prepared graves, / How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the sharp-lipp'd unshaved men; / All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine, / I am the man, I suffer'd, I was there.  

The disdain and calmness of martyrs, / The mother of old, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on, / The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blowing, cover'd with sweat, / The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the murderous buckshot and the bullets, / All these I feel or am.

I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs, / Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen, / I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the ooze of my skin, / I fall on the weeds and stones, / The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, / Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks.  

Agonies are one of my changes of garments, / I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person, / My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.  

I am the mash'd fireman with breast-bone broken, / Tumbling walls buried me in their debris, / Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my comrades, / I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels, / They have clear'd the beams away, they tenderly lift me forth.

. . . .

I take part, I see and hear the whole, / The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim'd shots, / The ambulanza slowly passing trailing its red drip, / Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs, / The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explosion, / The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.  

Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously waves with his hand, / He gasps through the clot Mind not me--mind--the entrenchments.

[Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1891-92), Book III: Song of Myself, 33.]

Other poems:

Music: Composers, artists, and major works

Brooding and introspective, and composed in 1911 when Freud was in his heyday and Europe was heading toward war, Jean Sibelius Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63, “Psychoanalytical” (approx. 32-39’), appears to be the composer’s attempt to understand himself and the people of his time who were shaping the world. Sibelius called it “'a psychological symphony' . . . the stuff of Expressionism, murky dreams, and Sigmund Freud’s excursions into the unconscious.” “. . . the piece is stripped of any anticipated patriotism, instead presenting a dark and personal face, with its so-called ‘cubist’ sparseness, obsession with the tritone and economy of form making uncomfortable listening for many at the time.” “The Fourth Symphony contains some of the most shadowy and unsettling music he ever composed, but one way of looking at its firmly minor key ending might be to conclude that darkness and despair have been faced with courage, and through the transformative power of music put into a genuinely new perspective. Top recorded performances were conducted by Beecham in 1937, Ormandy in 1954, Jensen in 1961, Karajan in 1965, Maazel in 1968, Davis in 1976, Ashkenazy in 1981, Berglund in 1984, Rattle in 1986, Segerstam in 2005, Storgårds in 2013, Vänskä in 2013, Mäkelä in 2021, Nézet-Séguin in 2023, and Rouvali in 2024.

To sing a song properly, a singer must understand it; then he can phrase it. Frank Sinatra phrased, and employed rubato perhaps better than any other popular singer. Robin Douglas-Home said: “His phrasing is final, absolute, definitive. So logically and inevitably do the phrases follow each other that, after hearing him sing a song, that song never sounds quite right sung by anyone else.” These techniques seem to have arisen from an intuitive feel – an understanding – of the music and the lyrics. Arranger Nelson Riddle said that in his singing, Sinatra found “the tempo of the heartbeat”. His body of work includes a vast discography, and collections from the Capitol and Reprise labels. He left a large body of releases, which have generated an equally large volume of playlists. He performed live on The Frank Sinatra Show in the early 1950s, and at such venues as Paris in 1962, Tokyo in 1962, Oakland Coliseum in 1968, London ca. 1970, Carnegie Hall in 1984, and in Barcelona in 1992.

Other compositions:


Compositions, from the gray/dark side:

Music: songs and other short pieces

Visual Arts

Film and Stage

This Is Our Story

A religion of values and Ethics, driven by love and compassion, informed by science and reason.


First ingredient: Distinctions. What is the core and essence of being human? What is contentment, or kindliness, or Love? What is gentleness, or service, or enthusiasm, or courage? If you follow the links, you see at a glance what these concepts mean.


This site would be incomplete without an analytical framework. After you have digested a few of the examples, feel free to explore the ideas behind the model. I would be remiss if I did not give credit to my inspiration for this work: the Human Faith Project of Calvin Chatlos, M.D. His demonstration of a model for Human Faith began my exploration of this subject matter.


A baby first begins to learn about the world by experiencing it. A room may be warm or cool. The baby learns that distinction. As a toddler, the child may strike her head with a rag doll, and see that it is soft; then strike her head with a wooden block, and see that it is hard. Love is a distinction: she loves me, or she doesn’t love me. This is true of every human value:

justice, humility, wisdom, courage . . . every single one of them.

This site is dedicated to exploring those distinctions. It is based on a model of values that you can read about on the “About” page. However, the best way to learn about what is in here is the same as the baby’s way of learning about the world: open the pages, and see what happens.

ants organic action machines

Octavio Ocampo, Forever Always

Jacek Yerka, House over the Waterfall

Norman Rockwell, Carefree Days Ahead


When you open, you will see a human value identified at the top of the page. The value changes daily. These values are designed to follow the seasons of the year.

You will also see an overview of the value, or subject for the day, and then two columns of materials.

The left-side column presents true narratives, which include biographies, memoirs, histories, documentary films and the like; and also technical and analytical writings.

The right-side columns presents the work of the human imagination: fictional novels and stories, music, visual art, poetry and fictional film.

Each entry is presented to help identify the value. Open some of the links and experience our human story, again. It belongs to us all, and each of us is a part of it.

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