Month: January 2016

Will it Be That Way?

Since I don’t get live TV, I have not watched any of the debates until they are on YouTube afterward. I hear and read what others say before I watch for myself. This can be good, but not usually. I often disagree with the commentators about how various candidates did.

Though I have not been writing down all the promises, I have tried to pay more attention this cycle to remember some, in case they get elected. Then I will see if some or any of these come about. I have this thing about trustworthiness that causes me to pay closer attention than ever before.

Not, of course, can any person do in reality what they truly believe they can. There are unexpected variables that occur that make those things impossible to do. What is important is that when changes occur, the person is honest in saying why the particular promise can’t be fulfilled. At least we can depend on that.

Encountering Criticism

The prevalence of general disbelief of those far and near to us is not news. Much of the time our close circle of friends and relatives are likely to think generally as we do regarding the existence of an almighty creator at least, and even of his son, our saviour.

Dealing with those who don’t believe and become more vocal about it either ties us more closesy to our faith, or it makes us wonder. Wondering is fine, and even necessary. If I cannot provide an answer about my faith, maybe it isn’t very viable. Yet, once our faith is strengthened, we can ask questions for which they do not have answers.

The presence of mystery need not throw us off balance. We will always have more questions than answers. The human need to know everything will motivate unbelievers to fill the gaps with so-called science. They will claim the more science discovers, they more holes there are in our beliefs. I advocate the opposite. The better the science, the more our faith is confirmed. We can go on in spite of the wind blowing in all directions around us. Our battle is not with them (flesh and blood) but against greater spiritual entities. God will fight the hard battles. We just need to continue.

It’s Not Your Fault

We have been influenced into doing and thinking things we would have thought illogical and unproductive a few years ago. We are worried about what others will think of us to the point we are ashamed of being who we normally are. This is true even if we are decent people and cause no one any harm.

One way I have seen thins evident is by being ashamed of what our ancestors did or didn’t do. I have been enjoying using a popular program to trace my lineage back in several directions just to think about their surroundings and what the world was like when they were alive. Putting actual names with our known history has been valuable to me. For the most part, everyone I have come from were farmers, usually with large families, who came from the Carolinas to the south. One was in Boston when was married in 1738. They usually raised their own farm hands. I did finally run across one who appraently owned “negroes”, as the census shows. This I did not know, but it was a fact. They were some of the relatively few who did so, at least of those from which I sprang.

I do not feel at fault nor guilty for what they did two hundred years ago, when thinking about such things was much different. The five or six generations from then until now have changed a lot of things, such as farming itself and ways of life.

I will not let others make me feel as if I have done wrong by what those distant relatives did. I do not have to share everything they did to honor their existence and what they contributed to my heritage otherwise. It was part of the landscape (literally) at the time.

Forgetting our history drastically increases the chances we will repeat those things. The better I remember the actions of those before me will help me avoid the same mistakes. I am much more concerned about my example for those who will follow me. That’s something over which I have some control. We all do.

The Circus of Politics

It seems our politics is strictly about graphics, photo ops and one-liners. Many want to know who “won” a debate. Every photo used in ads by the other candidate shows them in their worst expression possible. What’s happened to the once dignified process of electing officials?

Actually, nothing has happened to the process. From the beginning elections and campaigning for office has been a brutal business. Perhaps the earliest presidents were truly thought to be the best statesmen and leaders. It wasn’t long before parties popped up and the game was on. Research the newspaper editorials and cartoons of elections during the decades before, during and after the civil war and you will find nasty, comical and extreme depictions of various candidates. It is true, Lincoln and Douglas held a series of debates that were based on the better formats of actual debates. There were not TV schedules to shorten the events. Each candidate took pretty much as long as necessary to get his point across.

But that seems to have been a rarity compared to other campaigns and elections. For the most part, our politics have always been a circus of high emotions, personality conflicts and mud wrestling that is what we see today. As is typical, all candidates promise to make things happen they cannot possibly do, because they will not have the power alone to instantly fix the problems we see. The problems is if anyone does put ideas in their proper context, he or she will not get noticed. Is it truly impossible to run a respectable campaign anymore? It would seem so, but you and I don’t have to be ruled by emotion or quips. We still can give thoughtful consideration to morals and virtue when we go to the polls. I’m doing my best to keep calm, let much of the dust settle, and see what we have to do to make a difference.

Respect for the Respectable

My friend, Christian brother, and community example was laid to rest today. I read the obituary, and another did the eulogy. There was not enough that could be said about the man who spent the latter half of his life serving God, the community and the wider area every day of every week of every year.

His life was the epitome of class. He was always a gentleman. Even when he and I disagreed, it was never personal, but respectful. It was impossible to be angry at him, because he never incited anger. He listened thoughtfully and responded, not reacted. He never gave a knee-jerk answer to me. He might even give the idea a few days’ thought before responding. If he couldn’t see things the same way I did, he explained why. He retained his convictions, while allowing mine to be intact.

He left notes to his family for them to consider. These were statements of wisdom he had gathered over the years, and put down on paper the last few months. He kept his independence as long as possible, not wanting to be a burden, but at last was grateful for the care he received. He did what he did best, serve his community as best as he could, and did it better than most. If we can do even part of the same, our communities will be much better after we’re gone than when we arrived. This we can do, if we are willing.

Cruise Control

One of the modern conveniences of driving is the cruise control setting. We simply set the speed we want, push the button, and relax. We can keep a constant speed without tiring our right foot. It is a great thing, indeed.

But when we get into hills and curves, the cruise control is not such a blessing. Going uphill, the car has to accelerate to keep the speed we have set, so the engine has to increase it’s RPM’s and use more fuel. Going downhill, it has to relax it’s grip and the car can coast and gain too much speed. When we negotiate curves, we have to apply the break, disengaging the cruise control, and then reset it if we want. Cruise control was really designed for flat straight highways that offer little variation in roadway.

We would love to put our lives, minds and emotions on cruise control. We could then focus on one or two things, or not focus at all and watch the world go by without assuming any control, or responsibility. Life does not allow this. There are too many curves and hills in our lives to simply set the speed and let the engine do all the work. If we try this we will crash and hurt not only ourselves but others as well. We must use our ability to negotiate the uneven terrain of life so we can survive and learn from them to continue the good things we can do.

We all remember the last sharp curve that we thought would do us in, but we braked and turned just in time. We hope we never see another one like that. No one wants to anticipate the next dangerous place where we aren’t sure we can make it next time. Experience makes good drivers, and good life negotiators. If we can stay on the road, we can handle the next curve. Don’t panic, drive!

 

Generational Trust

There is no better gauge of whether a person is considered trusthworthy than his ability to be considered so by more than one generation. One generation (twenty years or so) does not bring about the good that needs to be done.

If two or three generations can see without too much effort that a person is a solid example of virtue and wisdom, then they will learn. How many of us quote our grandparents as much, if not more, than our parents? It will likely be that the extra years and steady lifestyle has a greater impact. It won’t take many years to spread the best of the permanent things to the outer edges of that ripple caused by a life will-lived.

Let us watch and learn from those who are experience enough to be wise, and wise enough to allow themselves to be exposed to the scrutiny of questions from the young people. It will survive for years if we do not waiver.

Broken

Our world, to a large extent, seems broken. One question is, “Who broke it”? Another question is, “Who will fix it”? These are basic observances and questions that plague those who think about such things.

We love to be considered the ones who have the ability to answer both questions, and promise we can do so. The truth is (and I do not propose to be original or unique in these answers) sin has run rampant, and repentance and submission to God are the solutions. No human can fix these; we can only admit and submit.

This may sound simplistic, but if you can offer better answers, I’m open. Until we realize we are broken we will not be open the the only sulution offered by God.

“Can’t we just all get along”? No, we can’t, not without admitting our weakness and coming to God for strength.

We make things too complicated, and mire ourselves in a maze of efforts. I believe this can often be attributed to the fact that if we make it as difficult as possible, we have an excuse for not doing anything. We can, and we must, if anything will get better.

Hot and Cold

I man and woman I knew told me about a new electric blanket they bought. They put it on the bed, looking forward to a comfortable night’s sleep. The only problem was they put it on the wrong way. She like it warm, so she turned the temperature control up. He liked it cooler, so he turned his control down. Yet, they didn’t realize they were each controlling the other’s temperature. As she got colder, she turned it up higher, making him sweat. As a result, he turned his down, freezing her. It was a while before they realized something was wrong, and corrected it.

It seems we do that in other areas of life. Strong feelings on certain topics call for strong feelings in the opposite direction for someone else. Strong feelings lead to strong words, and perhaps in strong actions. Any movement toward compromise brings condemnation of “laying down” or “giving in”. The word “betrayal” is thrown around rather freely.

I am a firm believer in having some non-negotiables in ethics and morals. If we begin a conversation with the most basic premise we can, and find agreement, then add the rest, we will find quickly the differences. If we then sort them out, realizing we will not get all we want, we can move forward. We too often tend to be “one issue” advocates in too many areas. This is why we turn up the heat on one side and freeze the other. Can we find out the problem and work to solve it?

Stuff

How much of your belongings have you used in the last year? How about the last five years? Does it all seem to multiply without you buying or being given anything else? There are things I own that I haven’t seen since our last move, 11 years ago. This is both a confession and a statement that something my be wrong with us (or maybe just me).

It’s no wonder we see those photos on social media of the small cabin by a lake or stream in the woods and so many would want to live there. We are trying to get away from the responsibility of our stuff! We don’t know where to put it, and even rent facilities to store it out of sight. We keep it “just in case”. What does “just in case” mean? There is no catastrophe I can imagine that piles of clothes, appliances and who-knows-what will be useful. We once had homes, but now the homes have us. Held hostage by stuff, we have to clean, move, store and rearrange it all.

If you have managed not to fall into this existence, good for you! The largest room I would ever need is a library. I keep saying “some day”.