3 April 2018      

Good day, and welcome to our first week of April!  Spring is making its
mark on the world as time moves on and on, and we hope that you're able
to make some positive and helpful marks upon the world, also!

Looking through Love's Eyes
Zig Ziglar

Important Places
Robert Fulghum

Are We Building Strong Communities?
tom walsh

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The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of
others only a green thing which stands in their way.

William Blake

Happy the people, and happy they alone, who can call
today their own; They who are secure within can say,
tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

John Dryden

One who is afraid of time becomes a
prey of time.  But time itself becomes a prey
of that one who is not afraid of it.

Nisargadatta

  

Looking through Love's Eyes
Zig Ziglar

Goethe made a rather profound statement when he said, "If I treat you as you are, you will remain as you are.  If I treat you as if you were what you could be, that is what you will become."  Those words of long ago express in a unique way what love is about.  As I reread them for the umpteenth time, I think of the love in a family and the way we see each other.  Looking at your mate as alive, well, and alert rather than nosy, or seeing him or her as exercising good judgment and thrift instead of being shallow and stingy, will have a profound impact on your relationship.  If you think of your mate as being expressive instead of talkative, and if you consider him or her sensitive and caring rather than touchy, your respect and admiration for your mate will grow, and you will develop a deeper love, appreciation, and understanding of him or her.

When you take that approach, you will have mastered one of the great lessons of life--namely, that when you love someone, you do not react to the symptoms of behavior, but you respond to the need that your mate might have.  In this process you will learn that love will always give you the benefit of the doubt.  Over a period of time you will realize that you do that not because you want to do what is right, but because you have become that kind of person.

The underlying message behind all of this is that you can change, and in the process you will have a substantial influence on the life of the other person.

Each of you will win, and as a couple, you will win.  That's the way to beat the daily grind.

 
If He Can, You Can

Kacey McCallister lives in Keizer, a suburb of Salen, Oregon.  He plays basketball, and in baseball he has been catcher and covered positions at first base and in the outfield.  His play was so spectacular that a Little League team in North Carolina dedicated its season to him, and disabled Boy Scouts in Georgia were inspired by him.  People all over America have been inspired by Kacey, who lost both legs at the hip when he was run over by a truck a few years ago.

He does all of those things by propelling himself with his arms.  He has a tremendous attitude and a determination to live as any other youngster wants to live, and the nation is applauding him.  CNN sent a crew to the family's home to do a story on him.  Kacey said he was more motivated than ever:  "I want to show them that I really can do all this stuff."

In today's world when too many people complain about everything, here's a role model who is determined to make the most of life.  Where do his drive, commitment, and enthusiasm for life come from?  I suspect his mother and father are much of the source of his inspiration.  Instead of spoiling him by catering to his whims and allowing him to feel sorry for himself, they've made the wise choice of encouraging him to believe in himself and letting him do everything he can do, while still being available to help when it is required.  That's love in action, and the results are spectacular.

   

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Important Places
Robert Fulghum

Hair grows at the rate of about half an inch a month.  I don't know where he got his facts, but Mr. Washington came up with that one when we were comparing barbers.  That means that about eight feet of hair had been cut off my head and face in the last sixteen years by my barber.

I hadn't thought much about it until I called to make my usual appointment and found that my barber had left to go into building maintenance.  What?  How could he do this?  My barber.  It felt like a death in the family.  There was so much more to our relationship than sartorial statistics.

We started out as categories to each other:  "barber" and "customer."  Then we became "redneck ignorant barber" and "pinko egghead minister."  Once a month we reviewed the world and our lives and explored our positions.  We sparred over civil rights and Vietnam and lots of elections.  We became mirrors, confidants, confessors, therapists, and companions in an odd sort of way.  We went through being thirty years old and then forty.  We discussed and argued and joked, but always with a certain thoughtful deference.  After all, I was his customer.  And he was standing there with his razor in his hand.

I found out that his dad was a country policeman, that he grew up poor in a tiny town and had prejudices about Indians.  He found out that I had the same small-town roots and grew up with prejudices about Blacks.  Our kids were the same ages, and we suffered through the same stages of parenthood together.  We shared wife stories and children stories and car troubles and lawn problems.  I found out he gave his day off to giving free haircuts to old men in nursing homes.  He found out a few good things about me, too, I suppose.

I never saw him outside the barber shop, never met his wife or children, never sat in his home or ate a meal with him.  Yet he became a terribly important fixture in my life.  Perhaps a lot more important than if we had been next-door neighbors.  The quality of our relationship was partly created by a peculiar distance.  There's a real sense of loss in his leaving.  I feel like not having my hair cut anymore, though eight feet of hair may seem strange.

Without realizing it, we fill important places in each other's lives.  It's that way with a minister and congregation.  Or with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, co-workers.  Good people, who are always "there," who can be relied upon in small, important ways.  People who teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the dailiness of life.  We never tell them.  I don't know why, but we don't.

And, of course, we fill that role ourselves.  There are those who depend on us, watch us, learn from us, take from us.  And we never know.  Don't sell yourself short.  You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think.

It reminds me of an old Sufi story of a good man who was granted one wish by God.  The man said he would like to go about doing good without knowing about it.  God granted his wish.  And then God decided that it was such a good idea, he would grant that wish to all human beings.  And so it has been to this day.

   

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Be aware of wonder.  Live a balanced life-- learn some
and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance
and play and work every day some.

Robert Fulghum

   

 

Are We Building Strong Communities?

Can I talk about politics for a moment?  Over the past (almost) twenty years, I've kept away from politics because I don't feel that this site should be in any way partisan, and that the idea of living life fully is something that should transcend something as volatile and personal as political beliefs or preferences.  In today's world, though, I'm starting to get the feeling that politics are strongly and directly interfering with people's ability to live their lives fully--that decisions being made in political arenas are affecting us so strongly that it's often impossible for us to simply be happy and to accept life as it is, for so many of the decisions are pushing people into situations that truly sabotage their ability to make the most of their lives.

So many people these days are forced to work more than they want to or more than what's good for them simply to make ends meet.  Many people are forced to work 50-60 hours just to pay the rent and bills.  People are constantly choosing sides, being asked to condemn those who don't agree with them rather than trying to understand the other perspective and accept the fact that not everyone is going to agree about everything.  And we're constantly being made to feel helpless--like there's nothing we can do to improve the situations we're in because the people who are making political decisions for us have no idea what we truly want or need.

I'm not going to choose sides politically--goodness knows there are enough people doing that (and very loudly).  And when all is said and done, we really shouldn't be choosing sides, anyway.  We should all be working towards the good of all people in our society, because we know that as long as we have poverty and sickness and people suffering, none of us can live our lives completely fully.  Each one of us is a part of many different communities, some healthy and some not, and when we choose sides we lost focus on helping those who need help and start to focus on pushing personal or professional agendas.

   

What should young people do with their lives today?  Many things,
obviously.  But the most daring thing is to create stable communities
in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.

Kurt Vonnegut

   
Our politicians are hurting us regularly because for the most part, they're more interested in preserving the status quo and keeping their jobs than they are in serving the public they were elected to serve.  It seems that the days of the public servant have come to an end in most cases, and the days of the professional politicians who are more interested in preserving their income and influence have not just arrived, but firmly entrenched themselves in our society.  Because of this dynamic, we're finding it harder and harder to give help to those who need it.

At the base of this problem is a complete misrepresentation of the social programs that we have developed to help those in need.  They have come to be presented as taxpayer-funded charity, but that's not what they are at all.

We have to remember that social programs that help the needy exist to help to stabilize society as a whole.  We feed the hungry partly because if we don't, they will find other ways to deal with their hunger, and many of those ways may destabilize their communities.  We help the poor to get an education because if they stay poor, we end up paying much more money on law enforcement, prisons, and crime prevention than we would pay in poverty prevention programs.  Yes, we may spend ten million dollars on this program, but if it saves us thirty million dollars over the next ten years and helps people to live in peace and relative prosperity, than it's definitely worth it.

We also help them because it's the right thing to do.
    

Human beings are a part of the whole, called by us "the universe," a
part limited in time and space.  We experience ourselves, our thoughts
and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical
delusion of our consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our own personal desires and to affection for a few
persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this
prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living
creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Albert Einstein

    
Unfortunately, our poor people often have been made out to be villains who are basically stealing money from our government, and from us, the taxpayers.  Yes, there are people out there who try to scam the system, but we need to find them and deal with them--we can't let the bad ones make us think that everyone who receives assistance is bad.  If we do that, we're allowing them to rob us of our objectivity, and to take away our ability to make rational choices based on evidence at hand rather than rash decisions based on emotional responses.

Rash decisions almost always come back to bite us eventually.  They're rarely effective decisions with positive results.

The truth is that few of the people who receive government assistance want to do so.  They're stuck in situations that make them unable to fend completely for themselves.  The single mother who is working two jobs that both pay poorly really needs the food assistance, and more than likely doesn't want it--but she appreciates the fact that she's able to feed her kids.  The man who was injured on the job and who can't work presently appreciates the fact that there's a program that helps him to pay his rent and buy food while he's out of work.  He'd much rather still be at work and not in pain, but that's where he is in life.  For us to play judge and jury and call him a slacker is completely out of line, for we really don't know his situation at all--we only see it on the surface.

If we really want to be living our lives fully, we need to stop judging others for what they do and focus more strongly on what we can do to improve situations.  If there are ten million people getting aid, what can we as a society do to make sure that five years from now, only five million are getting aid?  And the answer isn't to make it harder to get that aid--the answer is to improve the job situation and to make rents more affordable.
   

We are responsible for one another.  Collectively so.  The world is
a joint effort.  We might say it is like a giant puzzle, and each
one of us is a very important and unique part of it.  Collectively,
we can unite and bring about a powerful change in the world.  By
working to raise our awareness to the highest possible level of
spiritual understanding, we can begin to heal ourselves,
then each other and the world.

Betty Eadie

   
As a society, though, we often try to provide Band-Aids in order to deal with cancer.  We don't go after root causes--we go after symptoms.  And our politicians are so often so busy playing games to try to make their sponsors happy that they lose sight of the long-term needs that will make ours a safer and more productive and more compassionate society.

I'm not saying at all that we should simply throw money at every problem that arises.  But we should be putting more money into education, not less; more money into a healthcare system that works, not less; more money into fighting poverty, not less.  And that money needs to be spent in practical ways that other countries have found to be successful, not in the ways that we've failed at time and time again.

We are part of a community--actually, we all are part of many separate communities.  Communities are only as strong as their weakest members, just as chains are only as strong as their weakest link.  We strengthen the entire community when we bolster those who are facing hardship, and we simply can't afford any more to pretend that things are okay with everyone when so many children are homeless and starving, and when so many of the members of our society are finding it impossible not only to thrive, but just to get by.

   
More on community.

   
   

  

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When you have worn out
your shoes, the strength of
the shoe leather has passed
into the fiber of your body.
I measure your health by
the number of shoes and hats
and clothes you have worn out.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

  
Fear of failure

So much of life involves risk
and the possibility of failure.
If you are not afraid of failure,
you will take many more risks
in your life.
The more risks you take,
the more alive you will feel.
You are afraid of failure
because you fear rejection.
The moment you give up seeking
acceptance from others,
your fear of rejection will disappear.
And with it, the fear of failure.

Leonard Jacobson
   

  

It is essential that our love be liberating, not possessive.  We must at all
times give those we love the freedom to be themselves.  Love affirms the other
as other.  It does not possess and manipulate another as mine. . . . To love is
to liberate.  Love and friendship must empower those we love to become
their best selves, according to their own lights and visions.

John Powell

    

  

   

A new way of reading has been here for a while now.  And while we still love our books, if you're like many people, you get tired of lugging around the books that sometimes weigh more than anything else we carry.  Imagine carrying hundreds of books--novels, self-help, history, travel, you name it--and reading them comfortably on a no-glare screen, setting things like text size to your own preferences.  It's a great experience, and it's available to us now for less than the cost of ten books.  And there are plenty of free books to download, especially timeless classics--you can easily get enough free books to pay for the Kindle.  Give yourself the gift of wonderful literature that you can easily bring with you, wherever you go!

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