AMERICANS ARE SEARCHING the world for tranquility.
The reasons for the search are familiar. City life is impersonal, hectic and lonely. The specter of the bomb hangs over us all. Families cope with the economic realities of a working father and mother. Tension rises as parents do battle over who washes the dishes and diapers, who, in short, deserves to be freed from household chores. What was once settled tradition has become uncertain trepidation.
Yet where do we turn for relief from the tension? We pay money to adolescent gurus who giggle back at us. We buy books to show us how to meditate transcendentally. We watch yoga ladies in black leotards on public television entwine their limbs, curl their bodies and condition their lungs to swell and shrink in sync.
We have ignored an American solution to our taut, jittery nerves.
His walk was slow and measured -- the swaying arms gently and rhythmically matched the motion of the legs. There was no strut, shuffle, prance, or run, but a stride.
Benny didn't chatter, yammer or yak. He enunciated slowly. When he showed emotion, he didn't scream. His hand rested easily on the side of his face -- the elbow supported by the other hand. In this way he showed tranquil contempt for having to get excited.
The key, Benny would say, is to coyly stare away from the source of anxiety. Bosh to the notion that every emotion must be shown! An emotion can be coddled, lulled, or even ignored.
The mantra of the accomplished Bennyite should be "Oh, Dennis." For those suffering from extreme tension, try the more pronounced "Rochester." Repeat either phrase often while practicing the stride and enunciation. Imagine lunch hour in mid-Manhattan, or any major city, if instead of bumping and shoving we adopted the mannerisms of this son of Waukegan.
Conversion to such an American philosophy need not be painful, but if a crisis of confidence develops, remember that Benny dropped his earthly name, Kubelski, and adopted Benny, or Be-Nhi, as it shall come to be known. Remember too that Benny came from Illinois, the home of another prophet before his time, Adlai Stevenson.
It is considered no random coincidence by the Bennyite that but for an insignificant "o," Benny's initials are the same as the book of Job.
Sure, Ghandi and others wore loincloths and walked quietly among the people. Our prophet, Be-Nhi, followed the American tradition of show biz and vaudeville -- he wore Robert Hall suits and played the land. He caused laughter to spread among the people, and as Norman Cousins will tell you, laughter can make disease disappear.
Benny was supposed to be cheap and miserly. This aspect of his character would certainly attract members of the "me" generation. The rest of us know Benny wasn't really like that.
The day will come when we shall chuck out our Ravi Shankar albums and sitars and play "Love in Bloom" on American instruments like the banjo, or tuba. We will tell our gurus to shove off and look to Waukegan, the birthplace of Benny, for our comfort and tranquility.
The movement shall be known as the new EST -- Enunciate, Stride and Take it easy.
The neophyte will become the master if he is able to look a mugger in the face who has just demanded "Your money or your life," and calmly reply, "I'm thinking, I'm thinking."