Ellen - Colours of Rainbow

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


 

Socrates, one of the founders of first Western Philosophy, also credited for being the first moral philosopher of Western Philosophy, was known for his teachings. He belonged in the era of late 400 BC in Athens and history of the period mainly contained dramatised works and philosophical dialogues. A priestess by name, Pythia who served as an oracle at the Temple of Apollo, proclaimed that no one is more wise than Socrates. Oracle during the period, was a person who served as a medium through which the god of Apollo spoke. But Socrates, not believing this prophecy, set out to find who was the wisest man. He interviewed teachers, artists, politicians who were considered wise. He would ask questions after questions to pin down to what they actually knew. He found out that everyone thought they knew a great deal, but actually knew very little and were ignorant of what they did not know. Hence he inferred that no one was wise, but he had a slight advantage over others, as he at least knew that he was ignorant. This led to one of his well known paradoxes, ‘What I do not know I do not think I know’ or paraphrased as ‘I know that I know nothing’. Socrates in his discourse of questioning in series, often resulted in both the student and teacher gaining knowledge. This is famously known as ‘Socratic Method’ and is well implemented even in modern day research & teaching. In the words of Pluto, ’He was the wisest and most just of all men’. But the most interesting aspect about Socrates, dubbed as ‘Socratic Problems’, was he never actually wrote his teachings and what we know about him comes from the works of his students Plato and Xenophon, along with a playwright, Aristophanes, a contemporary of Socrates. Socrates' relentless fashion of questioning, left him with only a few friends. He was later accused of being an atheist and was brought into trials, where he didn’t try to please the jury, but rather spoke the truth he knew, which to make his case worse, made indirect indications to how ignorant the jury were. The jury found him guilty and was put to death by making him drink a mixture containing poison hemlock. Socrates was 70 years old, had no fear as he lay on his deathbed, while his disciples wept in agony, a moment that was later beautifully painted by a French painter, Jacques-Louis David. Of the many things Socrates was on trial for, even including his unsightly appearance, one element that played a major role was his depiction in Aristophanes play, ‘The Clouds’. Though Socrates’s students, Plato and Xenophon never really vouched for the way Socrates was portrayed in the play, Aristophanes projected Socrates in a satirical way as a con artist, who taught his disciples about the art of deceiving others. With that, the human history saw its first inception of a genre that would entertain one, act as a pain relief, that which would find its way to be one of the best medicines, Comedy! From Satire to Sit-com, theatre to stand-up, mime to improvisation, comedy has found its way as an essential fragment is transcending the audience to a fantasy world where the shades of reality change and bloom. With few people in history who have mastered the craft, this is the story of one such woman, who has been in light for nearly over 3 decades, and who despite its cost at times, has walked with integrity, Ellen DeGeneres. 

 

From her phone call to God, to currently being, as self-claimed, ‘a work in progress’, Ellen has walked miles to reach the epitome of success, and with what she has gained & what she has lost, she continues to do so. Ellen was born on 26 January 1958, in Metairie, Louisiana. She had a very typical childhood, with working class parents, who got divorced when Ellen was a teenager. Ellen, while growing up wanted to be a veterinarian, but couldn’t pursue, as she felt she wasn’t book smart, and hence dropped school to do various jobs, such as waiting tables, selling vacuum cleaners, painting houses and even picked up clerical work in a law firm with her cousin. To ease her nerves while doing few public speakings, Ellen used to crack some jokes, which is where she sensed she could do this for a career. So, with her mother’s support, in 1981 she started doing stand-ups in local clubs and cafes. Slowly she started travelling nationwide, and in 1984, she was named Showtime’s funniest person in America. She finally caught her break, when she did a stand-up act and subsequently got to sit on the famed couch of Carson’s Show. She was the first female comedian to be asked to sit on Carson’s couch. Then in 1989, her career took off as a TV actress, in a short-lived Fox sitcom called Open House. Then in 1994, she started a sitcom named after her, ‘Ellen’, which was originally named, ‘These friends of mine’. Ellen won over the audience as the show reached its height of popularity in April 1997. But it didn’t last long. In a form of art depicting life, Ellen came out of the closet, in an episode named, ‘The Puppy episode’, which was one of the highest-rated episodes of the show. In parallel to the show, Ellen came out as a lesbian in real life, in the famous ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. Oprah, one of the world’s most famous philanthropists, coincidentally also played the role of therapist in the show ‘Ellen’, to whom Ellen confesses about her sexuality. Coming out, as significant as it is, the significance mainly depends on its reception by others. Though Ellen received many letters that showed heart warming adulations towards her, she also was on the recipient end of hatred, from people who thought it was against the biblical studies and few parents who accused her of having the difficulty to explain it to their Children. Noticing the tension that had built around, sponsors withdrew their advertisement, leading to the show’s cancelation in 1998. 

In September 2003, Ellen launched a day-time talk show, ‘Ellen’, which features her interviewing people from all walks of life, people from daily life to the then president of US, Barack Obama. The highlights of the show are in sharing narratives of people who have witnessed heart-felt struggle and made something of themselves, people or even often kids who can be a course of joy or inspiration, through their stories. Even celebrities come for promotions of their show or movie or any gig. She has been a Philanthropist herself, and has variations donations to her name, few of which are raising 10 Million for Katrina relief, 12.5 Million for Breast Cancer Research, 21.6 million for charity, nearly 35 Million for over thousands of families that she has found in distress. Her Oscar selfie raised 3 Million, in which she chose, Jude’s Children’s Hospital and The Humane Society. More importantly she has been one of the great promoters for Pay-it-forward, which could be so handy for our current economic model. Our economic model is mainly built on the barter system. In barter goods and services were exchanged for goods and services. Over time, the currency has taken over, simply because it holds the power to go for any kind of goods and services, at any desired time. So, the land properties have turned into very valuable assets. Not that there is a loophole in this system, but some departments in the social sector, especially the private sectors take advantage of this. For example, the medical expenses can be so pricey at times, and the health department knows that we are not going to turn away, since our health is at leverage here. Education also, at few places, demands more than what they offer. Not telling that everything should be free, but numbers can definitely be brought down, because on the beneficiary end, it would have linked to some rich parties getting richer. But with Pay-it-forward, principle is the beneficiary of a good deed is repaid with kindness to others instead of the original benefactor. This can hinder the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

Ellen has also been an animal lover and an activist, initially by going vegan and by investing in various other wildlife projects. She was even named “Woman of the year” by PETA in 2009. From winning various awards, including Prime time Emmy awards, People’s Choice Humanitarian Award, Mark Twain Prize, and many more on multiple occasions, she has hosted the 79th Academy Awards, famously known as Oscars, making her the first openly gay person to have hosted the event. She has been a beacon for the LGBT community, starting from her coming out on the most public of stages, risking her career. Former President Obama describes it as a courageous act and says that she made us challenge our own assumptions and made us realise that we have more in common than we realise. She was presented with the Medal of Freedom Award in 2016, for all her achievements, from Barack Obama. She attracted few criticism when she was seen at a football game seated with the man who had opposed same sex-marriage and was responsible for the Iraq war. She fended off by claiming that running into people with different views is inevitable as it is, she preferred to rise above hate and political views, by acknowledging her friendship with him. Along with which recently this summer, an investigation was operated in the sets of her show for allegations of hostile workplace environment. With 3 people quitting the show, Ellen understood the power she has, with the show under her name, and with which she also vowed to take full responsibility for what has happened. Being slammed for the ‘be-kind’ lady, Ellen was being put to question her kindness. But we don’t realise, in questioning that, she might be found guilty a few times, leaving us with hundreds of example where her kindness would have helped someone, made someone a better person, and I am sure it has, on hundreds of occasions with thousands of lives, and sure they would have paid it forward. Ellen started sharing the slogan, ‘be kind to one another’ in 2010, after a young boy, Tyler Clementi took his life for being bullied that he was gay. Bullying, an issue often treated as an epidemic in the US, had had its toll on Ellen. The world seems to have pushed everyone a bit on the edge, each one feels the need to write off someone, for the few mistakes made by them, knowingly or unknowingly, overlooking or rather being ignorant towards the hundreds of good deeds done. The Internet has become a place which is not that different to Athens of 4th Century BC, where people take no hesitation in slamming someone, with one of the degrading forms (more often than not) of modern comic, ‘Trolling’. Ellen is a self-made woman, who is the person she is, with many other things, that we may be unaware of, but knowing her core  intentions to make people laugh and have a laugh herself. A woman once on Ellen show thanked Ellen for being her Chemo buddy for 5 years, for letting her go to sleep every night with a smile, I mean how bad of a person can she really be!

 

 

“Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you are in the woods and you are lost and you see a path. Then by all means follow that path”

- Ellen DeGeneres

 

 

References: Wiki, Ellen, NBC News, WHP Barack Obama archieves. 


Submitted: October 25, 2020

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