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Second Verse Same as the First or History Oversimplified

picture credit: Windows insert, earth free clip-art

Back in the dark ages, when I was in Elementary School, when we would ride the bus for field trips, we would sing our versions of popular songs.  There was one song that had one verse, repeated once.  Well, we would drag it on verse after verse by chanting between verses, “(whichever) verse same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse,” and make it so.  This was continued until we got bored of it or the driver/teacher told us to stop.  As we, Mother Earth’s children, have traveled on our field trip of life, we have been singing the same song for millennia.

The earliest records for both Assyria and Babylonia started about 3000 BCE (before common era).  These cities each became, in turn, large and prosperous civilizations, becoming that way by conquest.  You know, looting, burning, smashing crashing, killing, maiming, and carrying away of captives to increase the “working class”, all because they were “The Best” and they could.

They were replaced by the Persians who were replaced by this guy named Alexander (either the Great or the Worst, depending on which country you are from) who was followed by folks from a small town named Rome.  Christian crusaders took over when the followers of Jupiter quit.  When they finally got their tails kicked in the Holy Land, they started in on each other.  England vs Spain vs Portugal vs France vs you name it.  Vikings vs everybody (hey, I actually like these guys, got my red hair from somewhere).  In between inter-country wars, civil battles raged.  And as we have heard all to loudly lately, the followers of Allah have joined the chorus for centuries.  Now just about everyone is singing along.

That neck of the world woods didn’t have a monopoly on war.  India first saw the Aryans vs the Dravidians.  Then came the Maurya Empire, the Gupta Empire and bringing it into the CE (common era) the Huns and the Mongols.  Next were the Portuguese followed by the British.  Now they just squabble with their Pakistani neighbors.

From the year 1766 BCE to 1912 CE when the Republic of China was established, China had 10 dynasties: Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Mongol, Ming and Manchu.  The Communist party took control in 1949 and has been fighting neighbors (and themselves) since.  Where’s Confucius when you need him?

Mama Earth hasn’t heard any different tunes from her Western Hemisphere children.  Civilizations such as the Anasazi, Aztec, Inca, Olmec, Maya, Wari and Zapotec didn’t become great and powerful by passing out fudge and popcorn.  Never mind the “sweet harmonies” sung by the European settlers.  Now, well, we’re still at each other’s throats.

The song has become louder and worse at time has gone on.  War horses; sharper, harder to break and longer range hand weapons; catapults and battering rams for breaking down battlements, flaming oil for pouring down battlements; gunpowder leading to large and small firearms (makes better fireworks, thank you); and toxic biology are part of the cacophony.  Selfish pride, bigotry, lies, hatred and the refusal to forgive add an off-key harmony.  The loudest dissonance so far is the atomic bomb.

The most that we, the Shelley Elementary field trippers, got from our teacher was an exasperated order.  I’m afraid we, the Planet Earth field trippers, will get much more from our galactic teachers of Karma and God.  Isn’t it time we sang the last verse?

What do you think?  Thanks for reading.

picture credit: Windows insert, earth free clip-art

Are You My Mother? Nope, Silly, I’m Your Nurse.

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up on the likes of Dr. Seuss, Robert Lopshire and P.D. Eastman.  So, naturally, when I started Respite Care on Saturdays for a Kindergartener with nursing needs, I took along some of my daughter’s old books.  My favorite of all is “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish”, by the ever-fabulous Dr. Seuss.  So, again naturally, I expected my little guy would feel the same.  Sadly, no.  His choice is “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman.  An emotionally wrenching tale (if you’re a little one) of a baby bird who cracks out of his egg to discover no mother and sets off in search of her.  He finds several creatures that are not his mother until, at last, he finds her.  And if the truth be told, it is an equally wonderful book.

My Little Guy is a sweet, energetic, loves-to-be-helpful, 5 ½ year-old going on 3.  He likes eating berries, climbing on counters, squeezing mayonnaise onto his plate (not eating it with anything mind you, just squeezing it), brushing teeth (needed or not), taking walks, looking at my ears through my stethoscope, watching Bubble Guppies on Nick Jr. and wearing costumes (two or three at the same time, think Iron Man on the bottom and Spider Man on the top).  His favorite words are, “I help” and “What!?!”.

There are so many quality children’s books on the market today that it is easy to overlook the oldies and goodies.  If it weren’t for “Dr. Seuss day” in the Elementary Schools, it may just be as easy to overlook “The Cat in the Hat” himself.  If Theodor Seuss Geisel is remembered, Philip Dey Eastman should be remembered also.

  Theodor Seuss Geisel

(his middle name is Bavarian and is properly pronounced Zoice, but he accepted the Americanized pronunciation as it was widely used and rhymed with Mother Goose)

Phillip Dey Eastman
Carrier Choices author, political cartoonist, poet, animator, book publisher, and artist

He started with adult magazines, cartooning and illustrating (Life, Liberty, Judge and Vanity Fair to name a few).

screenwriter, children’s author, and illustrator

He started with Walt Disney Productions as an assistant animator, story-sketcher, and production designer.

Army Service Wrote pro-Roosevelt political cartoons, drew posters for the Treasury Department and the War Production Board.  In1943, he joined the Army and was commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces, and wrote films Drafted in 1942, assigned to the Signal Corps Film Unit, under the command of Theodor Geisel.  They not only became colleagues, he was considered Geisel’s protégée.
Number of books, first book 60, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” was his first 14 (illustrated 13 of them), illustrated only, 4, “Sam and the Firefly” was his first (“Are You My Mother” is one of his two most popular books)
Pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo Lesieg P. D. Eastman
Outlook of others At first was negatively critical of Japanese Americans, then, after the war had a change of heart and used “Horton hears a Who” as an allegory for Hiroshima and the American post-war occupation of Japan.  He dedicated the book to a Japanese friend. Member of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Audubon Society
Children None, he said “you have ‘em, I’ll entertain ‘em.” Two sons.  Alan Eastman and Peter Anthony Eastman

Phillip Dey Eastman may not be as well known as Theodor Seuss Geisel, but for anyone who has ever heard or read “Are You My Mother?”, “A Fish out of Water”, or “Go, Dog, Go”, he is just as well loved.  This includes My Little Guy and me.

Who was your favorite author and what was your favorite book as you were growing up?

Thanks for reading.

The Fearless Benjamin Lay

photo credit: Wikipedia, Benjamin Lay

When you think of the abolition of slavery in the United States does the name John Brown come to mind?  Most probably.  What about Benjamin Lay?  No?  Didn’t come to my mine either, until I heard a program on BYU Radio, Thinking Aloud, January 18, 2018. http://www.byuradio.org/episode/e7966899-c247-4f18-b76c-0ed246064c04/thinking-aloud-marcus-rediker-the-fearless-benjamin-lay.

The host, Marcus Smith speaks with historian, Marcus Rediker about his book, The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist.

Benjamin Lay was a 20th Century man born in the year 1681 in Colchester, England.  He was raised a Quaker and so learned to have a pure belief in Christ’s love of all mankind.  His anti-slavery beliefs were increased when in 1718 he moved to Barbados as a merchant.  He saw a man commit suicide rather than be hit again by his owner.  In 1731 he emigrated to Abington, Pennsylvania, United States.

He lived in a cave, drank only milk and water and wouldn’t wear or eat anything made from the loss of animal life or provided by slave labor.  He made his own clothes and grew his own food.

He had Kyphosis or hunchback and his arm were as long as his legs.  What he lacked in stature, he was just over four feet tall, he made up for in bravado.  He was very verbal against slavery, capital punishment, the prison system and the wealthy (and as he saw it) hypocritical Pennsylvania Quaker elite (especially the slave owners).  He not only spoke out at every opportunity but he published over 200 pamphlets expressing his views.  Not only was he verbal, he demonstrated against slavery.  One winter, while standing outside a Quaker without a coat and with bare feet, he told passersby that slaves were made to work outdoors in winter dressed the same.  He briefly kidnapped the child of slaveholders to show how Africans felt when their relatives were sold overseas.  His most remembered act was at the 1738 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Quakers.  Everyone who was anyone in Quaker circles was there.  He dressed as a soldier (Quakers are generally pacifists) and loudly preached against slavery.  After quoting Bible scriptures stating equality under God, he plunged a sword into a Bible containing a bladder of blood-red pokeberry juice, spattering it over the nearby people.

Popular opinion of him changed from annoying loudmouth to an inspiration to follow.  Abolitionist Quakers kept his picture in his home.  People seeing him would honor him and express support.  He died in 1759 and was buried in the Abington Friends Meeting graveyard in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

Somewhere along the time line of history, he was forgotten.  Possibly brushed under the memory rug in favor of Revolutionary War heroes and they replaced by pre-Civil War abolitionists.  I think, we should remember him and bring his 20th Century attitude into the 21st.

If you would like to read more,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Lay, has several reference and suggestions for further reading.

Do you want it through the door or the window?

              photo credit: Google search Dordrecht The Netherlands, AmsterdamTips.com

I gave myself a nice case of “writer’s block” for Christmas.  Since I was long past due to post this, I was bemoaning my lack of ideas to my husband.  “Oh, I have a lot of stories,” he said.  “Tell me one,” I said.

              photo credit:  family file

Ron’s parents grew up in The Netherlands in the towns of Dordrecht and Rotterdam and moved here just after World War 2.  Both cities are a few miles from the seacoast with Dordrecht sitting on the end of an estuary.  Neither the Stam or the van der Laan families had an abundance of money.  In fact, my mother-in-law had 18 brothers and sisters, so she grew up with an appreciation for thrift.  Just after they were married, before Mom and Dad emigrated, Mom took a sewing class.  The teacher sold Mom her organ.  Both of them liked music, so having a ready-made source sounded like a good idea.  So, they brought it home, set it in place, and discovered that it had worms living in it.  Well, they didn’t have the know-how or funds to exterminate and repair any damage caused by the delinquent renters, so they decided to take the thing back.

But, the sewing teacher didn’t want it back (imagine that!).  Out of frustration, Dad told his sister about the situation.  War survivors are tough people.  They learn to not take nonsense, to value kinship and friendship.  One such was a friend to Dad’s brother-in-law.  He was a large man, large of stature and of voice.  He hauled the organ to the teacher’s place and told her, “here’s your organ back.  Do you want it through the door or the window?”

The money was refunded.

Two fabulous books that will give you an idea of the resilience of the Dutch people at that time are “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom.  Both can be found at your local library.

A Tale of Turning Hearts

A tale of turning hearts

Yesterday, November 18th, I attended my Aunt Lugene’s funeral.  She was 11 days shy of her 93rd birthday and had been in ill health for a while.  The service was a celebration of her life.  She had been a patient Army Wife, mother, grand-, great grand-, and great-great grandmother.  “The best grandma ever”, was a phrase used by more than one grandchild.  Warm, loving, accepting were among the many descriptions.  Tears were shed, and she will be missed, but no one was inconsolable or hopeless.  This was partly due to the feeling that a wonderful woman was finally out of discomfort and in the arms of her sweetheart again and part of a unique biblical prophecy.

Malachi chapter 4 verse 6 speaks of a last-days turning of “the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.”  I have been to other family funerals, with the same batch of cousins and sisters, but at no time has anyone suggested a family reunion.  Oh, yeah, the basic “we only get together for weddings and funerals” comment was made at least once, but this time, the suggestion of a full family get together was made and agreed upon.

Perhaps this was because Aunt Lugene was the last of the “parents”.  The last of my paternal grandparents’ children/children-in-law.  The generations officially moved up in ranks.  Death is closer to the now “old folks” (my level) especially since a cousin on that level has cancer.   I think more so it agrees perfectly with the trend to know one’s roots.  Several companies exist in many countries, to help one with genealogy.  I can think of at least two popular television shows in which people are helped to research ancestry.  Even my co-worker was bitten by the bug and has been researching her and her husband’s lines to find out just how German they are.  Turns out they better like Sauerbraten and Pumpernickel.

There can be something elevating in finding out about one’s ancestors.  My co-worker discovered she has two relations who were published poets.  They have works in the Smithsonian Institution and hob-knobbed with noted poet John Greenleaf Whittier and showman P.T. Barnum.  Pretty Cool.  Beats being related to the cheap schnook who snuck into the circus!

One can find mysteries in genealogy.  My father-in-law used to claim that the Stams were descended from royalty.  One day, we took a good look at my sister-in-law’s pedigree chart.  The father/son chain was interrupted with a mother/son link.  Her father was a Stam.  King’s mistress???

And one of these days I may find out if my dad was right when he told me one of my great-greats was an employee of Napoleon Bonaparte, who changed his name when he hightailed it to England after his boss got “fired”.   I know which great-great grandfather was a Scottish Seaman, but not which was a Knight in England’s Wars of The Roses.  And, there’s probably a horse thief in there somewhere.  Hey, they had children too.

I suppose this summer the first Hebert James Morris Family Reunion will be held.  That will be good.  Thanks for reading.

The Story behind “The House Behind the Cedars”

photo credit:  https://alchetron.com/Charles-W-Chesnutt-1199237-W

“I think I must write a book. I am almost afraid to undertake a book so early and with so little experience in composition. But it has been a cherished dream, and I feel an influence that I cannot resist calling me to the task. . . . The object of my writing would not be so much the elevation of the colored people as the elevation of the whites–for I consider the unjust spirit of caste which is so insidious as to pervade a whole nation, and so powerful as to subject a whole race and all connected with it to scorn and social ostracism–I consider this a barrier to the moral progress of the American people: and I would be one of the first to head a determined, organized crusade against it.”
–Charles W. Chesnutt, journal, May 1880

“The House Behind the Cedars” written in 1900, is a story about post Civil War racial identification, prejudice, relationships and does not have a happy ending.  But, if it did, it wouldn’t make anywhere near the powerful statement that it does.

Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 20 June, 1858, two years before the Civil War.  He was largely self-taught, even when he took the legal bar exam in Cleveland, Ohio, and passed it.  His family moved to North Carolina and at the age of 14, he worked as a pupil-teacher at Fayetteville.  He taught at other schools for black students in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina.  In 1877 he became assistant principal of the “normal school” in Fayetteville.  This was one of a number of colleges established to train black teachers.  It later became Fayetteville State University.  He was a long-time supporter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  He loved literature and education.  He saw it as a way to show that not only Black lives matter, but that All lives matter.  He had good reason to believe this.

His parents were both free “blacks”.  His father was the son of an African American house slave, and her European American owner.  His mother was also bi-racial.  The word back then was mulatto.  Charles inherited enough genes from his European American ancestors to pass as “white”.  Back then that would have meant a much easier way to prosperity and financial security.  The ladder of life would not have been as hard to climb.  He chose however, to be honest with himself and his total ancestry and identified himself as “black”.  Back then, things were “black and white”, yellow and red too I suppose if you looked at Asian Americans and Native Americans.  If you didn’t label yourself, someone else would.

He married and moved his family to New York for a while and ended up back in Cleveland.  He wanted to raise his children in a more accepting atmosphere than the Southern States and appreciated the literary atmosphere New York offered.  After arriving in Cleveland and passing the bar exam, he started a very successful court reporting (legal stenographer) business.  So, when he finally put his life experiences as a “white black man” into story, he had a variety of tales to tell.  His works were widely recognized and awarded.  These works were sketches, essays, short stories and one novel, “The House Behind the Cedars”.

In short, (and this “Reader’s Digest version does the story no justice at all) Rena and John Walden are brother and sister, light skinned, African Americans or Negros as they were called then.  Okay people, it’s a word.  It comes from the Spanish word for black, “negro” (pronounced nae-grow).  Yes, it was incorrectly applied, let’s face it, no human being has truly black skin or, except for a person with Albinism, truly white skin.  Yes. it was shortened into an insult, but in this reference, it is correctly used.

John is quite a bit older than Rena and at the beginning of the story is coming home to take his sister into society.  He has changed his name to Warwick and is a prosperous “white” man.  Their mother reluctantly gives late teenaged Rena leave to go and help John with his newly motherless child.  Rena becomes enamored with high society and the finer things in life.  She is courted by a young man, a genuine European American who wishes to marry her.  Until that is, he finds out she is a “fraud”.

From the chapter “The Bottom Falls Out”.  “At first he could see nothing but the fraud of which he had been made the victim. A negro girl had been foisted upon him for a white woman, and he had almost committed the unpardonable sin against his race of marrying her.”  http://www.online-literature.com/charles-chesnutt/house-behind-the-cedars/

Rena, rejected and forcibly removed from the life she almost knew, leaves.  They try to forget each other and can’t.  She falls into a deeper and deeper depression until she returns home, physically as well as mentally ill.  He decides that she is worth being his wife no matter who she is and arrives at her mother’s house to find she has just died.

My first impression was “you’ve got to be kidding, why on earth did you write this?”  Then I put the end into historical and literary context.  Even if he would have revived her and married her, in that time their life would have been one long struggle.  He would have truly had to have loved her more than his life, and he wasn’t written that way.  The characters were basically honest, caring people who were saturated with a system that rewarded one look and punished another.  They were living inside, on both sides, societal lies and had to balance feelings and beliefs.  I realized from the way Chesnutt gave all characters, even a lowly delivery boy, quality and humanity that he was decrying the unequal treatment of his time and expressing the belief that all lives matter.

There is a slogan and an accompanying group in the news.  “Black Lives Matter.”  They do, they truly do.  However, the more I hear of and from the group, the more I agree with Larry Pinkney.  Mr. Pinkney was one of the founders of the original Black Panther’s group and is a member of the Black Activists Writers Guild.  When asked recently, on the show InfoWars, to comment on the Black Lives Matter group, he said.

“The most diplomatic thing that I can say about Black Lives Matter is that they are a farce.  They’re not about serving.  They love attention but in terms of going into the community and doing something, and by doing something I mean serving the people, body and soul which we used to say, not jumping up on prime-time news and talking about black lives matter as if all lives are not precious.  All lives are precious.  We have a commonality and if they were sincere and for real about wanting to change the systemic chorus that people across the board, black, white, brown, red and yellow people, that we face, then they would find commonality, work together even with those with whom they might disagree.”  https://www.infowars.com/larry-pinckney-to-the-nfl-get-off-your-knees/

Much has changed since Mr. Chesnutt’s time.  Much has stayed the same.

What do you think?  Thanks for reading.

Two other places to read about Charles W. Chesnutt are http://www.chesnuttarchive.org/classroom/biography.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_W_Chesnutt

If you would like to read more about Mr. Pinkney look at http://blackactivistwg.org/Larry%20Pinkney/

 

The Societal Pits and the Emotional Pendulums

“The Pit and the Pendulum” is a short story by the 19th century horror master, Edgar Allen Poe.  It tells of a Frenchman’s brush with a horrific death during the Spanish Inquisition.  For those of you whose history is a bit fuzzy, the Spanish Inquisition was a forceful, futile attempt to keep Spain Catholic.  It began in 1478 and wasn’t definitively abolished until 1834.  Heresy was illegal and punishable by death so the Inquisition was started to be sure there were no unjust executions.  Good intentions gone awry and taken too far.  About 150,000 people were charged with crimes and 3,000 to 5,000 were executed.  Eventually targeted were Jews and Muslims, former Jews and Muslims who were thought to have not given up their ways, Protestants (although they were already in the minority), Witches, blasphemers, bigamists, sodomites (LGBT?), Freemasons, and women who did not fit the accepted idea of how a woman should act and what she should do.  It started out with “evidence” gathering:  testimony from neighbors and observations of the accused’s activities to find anything that would show a lifestyle other than mainstream Catholicism.  For example, a family who routinely bought extra food on Friday and none on Saturday might be observing the Jewish Sabbath.  After not too long, physical coercion was added.  In other words, torture.

In Poe’s story, a man has been found guilty and condemned to death.  He is placed in a pitch-black cell and discovers, by almost falling into it, that there is a deep, water and creature filled, circular pit in the middle of it.  He passes out and awakens strapped to a wooden palate.  His prison is now dimly lit.  This light is enough for him to see a sharp blade suspended above him.  He watches the blade swing slowly right to left dropping a small amount with each swing.  With the help of the local rat population he is able to free himself.  Now, however, two opposing walls of the room move toward each other, pushing him into the pit.  Just when he is on the brink of destruction, the walls stop, his cell is entered and a French army officer grabs him.  Spain has been invaded.

This summary does not do the intensity of the story justice.  Check out your local library or The Literature Network (link on the list to the right) for the full story.  What it does is form a basis for comparison to today’s social pits and emotional pendulums that we, the citizens of the world, should strive to not fall into and work to not be destroyed by.

The pit of tolerance, the pendulum of respect.

One definition of the word tolerance as found in good ol’ Meriam Webster is: “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs and practices different from one’s own.”  Should one allow another to practice religion, live a lifestyle or have a belief system that is different?  Certainly, as long as the religion, lifestyle or system does not injure, kill, damage, steal, extort, you get the idea.  Should the other in turn allow the one to practice religion, live a lifestyle or have a belief system that is different?  (With the above restrictions of course.)  Again, certainly.  What if the one has a request of the other, seemingly benign, that the other deems a violation of belief or an insult?  Tolerance becomes a pit when the pendulum of respect has not stopped at its middle.  Meriam Webster tells us that respect is: “to consider deserving of high regard” or “to refrain from interfering with.”  In this case, the pendulum swings from respect of self but not others to respect of others but not self.  At the former end, the request is denied with the requestee feeling insulted but justified and the requestor feeling upset, angry, insulted and wanting satisfaction.  Pistols at 100 paces has been replaced by court dates, less deadly, more expensive.  At the latter end, the request is granted, leaving the requestee frustrated and let down with himself for going against his beliefs or not standing up against the insult.  The requestors will be perfectly happy and blissfully unaware, leaving the possibility open for repeat actions perhaps not with such a satisfying ending.  If the balance of respect for self and others is obtained, the requestee either kindly denies the request adding a suggestion of where to go for fulfillment, or he finds a way to fulfill what is asked and not compromise his beliefs.  Above all, he does not take insult.  The requestor, having the same balance, accepts the denial and goes elsewhere, or finds a way to fill the request himself.  Above all, he also does not take insult.

The pit of bigotry, the pendulum of fear.

A bigot according to Webster is:  “one intolerantly devoted to his own church, party or opinion.”  Bigotry can be innocently created when one ignorantly stays staunchly with one’s belief system and excludes all other information.  This kind reverses with knowledge:  getting to know the strange neighbors, learning about another church, culture or way of life are examples.  The creatures in the pit of bigotry are fear fed.  Fear of losing one’s identity, fear of physical harm, or fear of divine retribution are common pit food.  Usually one’s sense of self solidifies with knowledge.  Love one another as I have loved you is divine counsel.  But, physical harm sometimes is a valid concern.  The pendulum of fear swings from fear inspiring intolerance, leading to negative or destructive actions to fearless acceptance of any and all.  Acceptance that is so wide open one loses sight of moral proprieties and divinely set boundaries.  The central point contains enough concern to inspire thought provoking conversation and learning about how “their ideas/lifestyle” and “ours” can peacefully co-exist.  Mental strategies are then created and put into place to “love the sinner and hate the sin.”  Friendships are created, bridges are built, understanding and love flourish.  On the one end of the swing are the actions that are all to commonly reported in the media, fighting, lawsuits, sustained hatred, lawlessness.  Leaving the pendulum on the other would be a boring day on CNN indeed, but is that the best for each side?  If the difference is just difference, ancestral nationality, language, food choices, religious beliefs, all those parts of cultural difference, stopping the swing at the wide-open end may be as good as resting it in the center.  However, if the difference is associated with a moral imperative or divine command, the Acceptor could easily lose spiritual balance.  Should one be rejected due to ways of living that are contrary to our ways?  As above, as long as those ways do not injure, kill, damage, steal, extort, etc., most certainly not.  Should another embrace the ways to the point of avoiding subjects that, through stating truths, negatively criticize the way or shun one?  Should the other be so concerned with the feelings of the one as to give comfort and apologies when anything is said that puts the way into a negative light?  If that way is against divinely set boundaries, most certainly not!  Feelings, desires, wishes are not sins.  As the saying goes, “stress is when the mind overrides the body’s desire to choke the daylights out of a jerk who desperately needs it.”  Crime would be actually doing it.  Crime is committing actions that violate man’s law.  Sin is committing actions that violate God’s laws.  There are various consequences for crime, but only repentance for sin.  Repentance involves a measure of discomfort.  That’s the way God communicates the need to change.  If one feels uncomfortable during a conversation, perhaps God is saying something and one needs to listen.  For another to attempt to relieve the discomfort is doing one a grave disservice.

The pit of despair, the pendulum of selfishness.

Despair is beyond sadness or depression.  It is losing all hope, all confidence in one’s life.  The pendulum of selfishness swings from narcissistic “I am the center of and reason for all life” to uncontrolled selflessness.  This is putting others before self to the point of neglect of basic needs and fostering feelings of worthlessness.  Despair flourishes at this end.  In the center, lies an area where one is able to meet one’s basic physical and emotional needs and then gives to others.  This area also includes allowing others to give, while graciously receiving the gifts.  Unless genuine mental illness is present, we, human kind, need to be needed.  We need to feel worthwhile and important to those around us.  The best way to do this is to serve and graciously accept service.  Mother Teresa once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  The upside-down is also true.  If you love people, you have no time to judge them.  Keeping your selfishness pendulum in the center not only avoids despair, but also bigotry and keeps tolerance and respect in a healthy balance.

Thanks for reading.

Retire or Retread?

Next Life chapter:  Retire or Retread

What is your next Life chapter?

Now and then, on my way to here and there, I see shells of a tire on the roadside.  Not the whole tire, just a piece of the outside, as if someone cut a ragged slice off of the tread.  Sometimes they are called Road Alligators, but I have always heard them called retreads.  According to Dictionary.com, a retread is a tire that has had a new tread glued onto or cut into the old, worn down surface.  So when a set of automobile tires no longer passes inspection, the owner either re-tires (buys new tires) or retreads.  A retread is also a person retrained for a new job or “a person representing older or previous times, ideas, policies, etc., especially when they are deemed passé or tiresome.”

                Two of the definitions of the word retire are, to remove or withdraw oneself and to quit working or leading an active life due to age.  In two years, I will retire from my position in Granite School District.  I will quit working full time as a Registered Nurse but I have no intention of withdrawing or removing myself from an active life.  I think I’ll retread.  Art classes sound good.  Volunteering in a hospital or school doing “busy work” to free up the Nurses and Teachers is another option.  Or maybe I’ll be a story reader in my local library.  Most of all I intend to be a person who represents older values.  Much older, as in “in the beginning was the word”, especially when they are deemed passé or tiresome.

So, what is your next Life chapter?

 

Little Free Library Update

This story about a story is wonderful! The book and likely the series sounds very interesting and worth the look.

Records of the Ohanzee

Little Free Library There’s Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror on top of the stack!

Two years ago, I dropped off a copy of the first edition of my book, Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror, in the Little Free Library that stands beside the local bike trail. (See the original post from August 2015 here.) I wrote an inscription on the inside in the hopes of one day hearing from someone who happened to pick up the book. Weeks passed, then months and years, and I assumed that the book must have disappeared somewhere along it’s journey.

And then–just last week–something amazing happened. This appeared on Instagram…

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You can imagine my surprise at seeing one of the few original copies of my book make an appearance after so many years. But this wasn’t simply one of the originals…

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…it was the copy I left in the Little Free Library. And…

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“Just a piece of string”

photo credit: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/06/the-what-and-why-and-how-of-bearing-a-testimony?lang=eng

Latter-day Saints have a service each first Sunday of the month called Fast and Testimony meeting.  The day before we fast two meals and give the cost, or more to the Fast Offering fund.  Then in place of a regular church service we have a time when whoever wishes to may stand and bear testimony to how the gospel and God have helped their lives.  Yesterday was Testimony meeting for September.

One young member, about 10 or 11 years old.  Stood and bore a beautiful testimony of how forgiveness helps her.  She come from a loving, supportive family.  They sit reasonably well behaved during church and I have seen her help with younger sibling.  So, at first glance one wonders what she has to forgive.  Well, she’s the oldest of four girls and as the second oldest of five girls, I can relate.  She has three younger sisters!

She stated that forgiving someone makes her feel good.  That she thinks it is easy and then finds out it can be hard.  She said, “I think sometimes, we say we forgive, but do we really?  I have to forgive my sisters and I have to forgive my friends, and I have to forgive myself.”

photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/yarn-colors/

The story goes that one day, a soldier traveling between battles, found himself in a small town.  He was jauntily strolling the streets when he saw a length of colorful string on the sidewalk.  He picked it up and put it into his pocket thinking, perhaps I can use this, it might bring me luck.  Later that day, as the soldier was enjoying a simple but delicious dinner, he was accosted by the local constabulary, arrested for theft and taken to jail.  It seems a girl had lost her brightly colored purse and someone had seen the soldier pick up a brightly colored object and place it into his pocket.

Try as he might, even by producing the string, the soldier could not convince the suspicious folk he was not the thief.  Some days later, the purse was found and the soldier was unceremoniously released.

Feeling that he was justly insulted for being unjustly condemned, he tried to obtain an apology from the locals, to no avail.  Finally, he left town but told his tale of woe to everyone he encountered, without ceasing.  In fact, his last mortal words were, “a piece of string, it was just a piece of string.”

I looked for a picture of forgiveness and found a quote, lots of them.   One site listed 2461 quotes tagged as forgiveness.  Obviously more people than my young church sister think that forgiveness is important.

Someone, perhaps the great philosopher Anonymous wrote, “To heal a wound you need to stop touching it.”  As a nurse, I understand that.  Even a simple cut can become infected and enlarged if not treated properly and then left alone to heal.  A small scab may become an ugly scar if repeatedly ripped off before it falls on its own.  How many emotional wounds do we keep touching?

My young church sister asked the question, “I think sometimes, we say we forgive, but do we really?”  I’m asking what if?

What if the leaders on both sides of the conflict in ___pick a place____ decided to take Oscar Wilde’s advice, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much?”  Well, that’s pretty obvious, ISIS would simply be an old Egyptian goddess (a peaceful one at that), and the newspaper would be a lot thinner.

What if then, if you and I forgave our sisters, brothers, friends, parents, children, co-workers, idiots on the road or in Congress, would we even have the inclination to make enemies?

Above all, what if we forgave ourselves?