For Form's sake and Custom
"Tom took his whipping and went back to his seat not at all broken-hearted, for he thought it was all possible that he had unknowingly upset the ink on the spelling-book himself, in some skylarking bout- he had denied it for form's sake and custom and had stuck to denial from principle. "
I have many quotes from Tom Sawyer clipped to memory but this one always makes me laugh. Mark Twain had a sensibility about him to capture an essence. Regardless of gender, race or age, he was able to relate and recount a person's exact sentiment in a given situation.
The thought that makes me reflect most on this quote today is one of accepting a reality because it's plausible not because it's certain. Tom took a lashing for something that was not entirely his fault but he figured, on balance that it was justified. More to the point of who he was, he spared another a lashing that they would not have been able to recuperate from.
How often do we act out of ritual versus inquiry? Something becomes a habit thus it is deemed "correct" or usual. So we take our beatings through our own created circumstances one way or another. We can also then become hero's through motivations we are completely unaware of.
One thing is sure, Tom is consistent with his ingenuity, and that is balanced with his honesty and ability to act. His purity brings him to levels of compassion rare to see and when he has to measure right and wrong his conscience always delivers.
In considering the acts of yoga Tom would be amongst the most revered of sages most certainly. I had at one time heard that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Fin were being banned from schools. I can understand, the language being a sensitive subject there. Hard words are used. Words that hopefully have lost their place in our culture but I never sensed the author as a slanderous type. I see him more as a documentarian, who left us a piece of history that we can grow from if we choose or hide from if we choose. My daughter is not much of a reader but I am very happy to own nearly all the civil war classics so that if she decides one day to pick them up she can have a perspective that is both terrible and beautiful because this is what life has to offer us and if the possibilities are withdrawn we miss the opportunity to try and if we have no reason to try, most of us won't and what sad world we would become.