Stand or Fall

Weeping Angel
The time is now
The time to live is now
The time to love is now
The time to forgive is now

I see myself in a fog when I am down.  I see myself in a clarity that usurps the haze when I am happy.  I think about myself, my life, and when I think about the things I stand for, and how that has reflected in the life I have chosen, I am appeased.  Suffice to say that I had many unpleasant experiences that I brought upon myself.  I take part in the ownership of that struggle, but isn’t this what makes our travels cultivate the lessons we’ve learned?  When we are able to distinguish between the good the bad and the ugly after we have tread upon soiled ground is a part of the journey we are destined to make.  The observance of what one stands for is something discovered.  How one manages this discernment is also the by-product of “that for which they stand.”  In all the heartache I have faced, in all the disappointment, and the tribulations of this life, I can still hold my head high and celebrate that for which I stand.  The Magnum Opus of my life’s work lies not in the work I have achieved professionally, but rather in the pursuit of an ethic I have remained true to through-out my personal life.  I am not special, nor am I privileged, and most certainly I am flawed.  Bruised and worn down by others I stand, judged with the shallow temerity of others I stand.  But the tenacity that runs deep within me stems from a very existentialistic starting point.

At times I am unable to make sense out of a world gone mad.  A world that includes the modus operandi of those that continue to take from others less fortunate, a conduct that compels and deludes one’s self-absorbed ego into wanting more.  Ironically engaging in this behavior will never quench their thirst given this criterion.  Giving something valued to another has many possible distinctions.  If one freely gives another something of value to them, and the recipient also values this gift, then the acknowledgement of reciprocity can exist.  If again this scenario takes place, but the recipient is unappreciative of the gift, and they take the gift for granted, then the chance for reciprocity is not likely.  The expectations of so many people who have come to think they are entitled to a certain outcome, lifestyle, and are usually “me” driven, have a very short sighted view of the world.  The world does not revolve around our expectations.  We are not the center of the universe, but many continue to think this is so.

Have you allowed others to take advantage of you?  Were you in shock, or appalled by the attempts and successes of this behavior?  To see the good in people can have detrimental side effects when we deal with others if we do not chose to look closer and ignore the signs of a flawed ego.  Getting beyond the ignorance of others, getting beyond the callous and capricious arrogance is something we all must fare.  Surrounded by the public I am reminded every day that for a people who posses such wonderful qualities, we are still subject to the transgressions of an untempered society.

If you look at historical cases of civil unrest, rioting, anarchism, and lawless behavior, you will find many examples of those placing themselves and their needs above that of another in times of duress.  This is an extreme case of those who fight to prevail their circumstances albeit much has to do with self-protection in many cases.  When our civil duties are disbanded, when we hold no allegiance to the society we are in, then the rule of “self” will come to be.  “Every man for themselves”, or I’ll get mine seems to come to mind.  The Twilight Zone episode “The Shelter” seems to bring this point into light.

The Shelter

STARRING CAST: Larry Gates, Peggy Stewart, Sandy Kenyon, Mary Gregory, Joseph Bernard, Moira Turner, Jo Helton, Jack Albertson
WRITER: Rod Serling
DIRECTOR: Lamont Johnson
SUMMARY: Doc Stockton, the town G.P. physician, celebrates his fiftieth birthday one evening with family and friends, when suddenly a news report comes in over the radio that some UFO’s are approaching Earth rapidly and that everyone with a bomb shelter should get inside it immediately. But Stockton is the only one in the neighborhood with a bomb shelter, much to the dismay of his neighbors.

Unfortunately, the sad fact is that situations such as the one presented here have happened all over the planet.  But these particular people prove to be so incredibly self-centralized – refusing to use what few resources they do have to make sure their own security and that of their children – that it’s hard to feel sympathy for them.  The final moment, where they march up and out of the wrecked Stockton house, surely never again to speak to the Stockton’s – or each other – is a head-shaker.

The fact that we mistreat others is subject to the value we assign to our role in the harmony with natural order.  If one adopts a philosophy such as Locke’s Social Contract in that Locke believed that natural rights were inalienable, and that the rule of God therefore superseded government authority; and Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that democracy (self-rule) was the best way of ensuring the general welfare while maintaining personal freedom under the rule of law, then that addresses the governing body of the society.  The Lockean concept of the social contract was invoked in the United States Declaration of Independence, but where does the personal ethic of our harmony within a society take hold?  The tyranny of a government is well-known and we have countless cases through-out history, but what of the personal conduct within our society?  Laws were created to have controls on our society.  Moral behavior is profoundly more complicated since it deals with behavior that may be legal, but would still be deemed as wrongful and detestable and have extensive possibilities and outcomes depending on the circumstances.

The tolerance of such actions may just be the issue.  If we direct our talents to pay-it-forward, if we direct our acuity to develop our children, if we direct our own behavior on a path that aligns with wisdom, then maybe we have a chance in manifesting a better destiny.



Count Blessings not Desires

What do you appreciate?

Is it having a home to call your own?  Is it living a lifestyle that many others cannot afford?  Maybe its the pleasurable moments in our lives that make us smile, relax, and enjoy with the company of those that we care about?  Could it be that it’s the next meal that we can’t wait to suppress our hunger with, and some of us do not even know where it will come from?  Could it be that we are ecstatic with a new pair of shoes that completely cover our feet and actually fit?

During the time a person is establishing themselves in this world, they have to face a barrage of challenges in the midst of all of our social comparisons and inventories we take in, in the midst of all of our societal dockets and what it means to be successful in this world, we can sometimes become lost and lose focus in more meaningful values.  The want to have more, the want to be more, the want to expect more out of life is something that is modeled throughout our lives.  Wanting to fill a void with material possessions, or wanting to seem as a success to others is often the motive we use in pursuit of a social status we think is envied.  Just look to your local grocery store and view the magazine covers in the check out area for examples of the mass exposure in what is communicated.

Early on in my educational pursuits in college I wanted to help children afflicted with Autism.   I’m not sure why I was drawn to this but the want to help children with neurological and behavioral issues somehow captured my attention as a young psychology student.  I also was entering a time in my life when I was observant of those I was attending school with, and how they were able to navigate the college years of their lives.  The struggles of a student will vary in degree and in kind; the finances, living conditions, social conditions, employment conditions, are all very clear to one that had to self-finance their pursuits.  Even as my career interests were not solidified and unknown, I began to see changes in my peers and myself during that time in my life.

My perspectives changed due to the influences that affected me at the time.  What I find interesting is the outlook of those that have not had to struggle as hard as others in achieving their goals.  I am not talking about the gifted, but rather those enabled or those who did not have to necessarily make their own way for themselves and had the benefits of a financially supportive family, whether it be in finance or some other attribute.  Similarly maybe they have flourished in their career paths as nods are dispersed to a select few whereas others do not enjoy a similar perk simply because of their connections.

What is most clear are the attitudes formed and demonstrated by those who have not had to fight for their place in their respective careers, or perhaps have not had to compete for grades in contrast to those who have not had to work and can spend much more time studying.  Of course there are many who have had greater challenges, and many stories that will fill the spectrum of experience within this topic, but in general, and in my experience I have seen this to be a fairly common trait.  There are as many inspiring stories of those who have risen above their means to achieve goals against many odds and challenges.  I salute you.  And there are those who have had the luxury and presumption that they are special via some proxy association.  I find this arrogance disturbing due to the circumstances it is built on.  The insolence from non-recognition is obtuse, but on the other hand, those who are grateful for their circumstance despite their preferential appointment can be acknowledged and acceptable.  Given the fact that they simply have awareness, and are less prone to be contemptuous, they will fare better in the working world.

I give reference to the political world through appointment and election/selection.  Those multi-term serving politicians who have been in place for years, sometimes act as if they are above us, and must therefore administer over us.

Gratitude is relative.  The man who covets expensive shoes has average shoes.  The man who covets average shoes has worn shoes.  The man who covets shoes has no shoes.  The man who covets feet has no feet.

Perhaps we should not be interested in having great possessions, but rather one should have fewer wants!

Whatever path you have taken, be grateful for what you have.  Do not lose sight of the gifts you have been bestowed.  Do not grieve over unfulfilled wants.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.”  — Epicurus–

“A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

“The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

“The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

“The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions – and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else – the small stuff. ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’

“‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

“One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. ‘I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

– Unknown