February 26, 2017

Marcel Marceu“It’s good to shut up sometimes.”  (Marcel Marceau) – as seen on the Jack’s WinningWords blog some time ago.

Enough said!


Is ignorance the new norm in government?

February 25, 2017

One cannot watch the nightly news without coming away with the thought that we are trapped somehow in some perverse nightmare where the inmates have indeed taken over the asylum and ignorance and insanity have become the order of the day.

At our state level in Michigan we have leaders with no background or experience making ignorant decisions about the state’s future and tax policies. As one recent editorial put it they appear to have arrived at the capital in a clown car.

At the national level we now have both a Congress and the Presidency ruled by ignorance, arrogance, “alternative facts, and conscientious stupidity who are seemingly intent on destroying the foundation upon which this great country was built – the immigration of people who yearn to be free.

I have collected some quotes that seem appropriate for our current situation…

“Fear the ignorant man more than the lion.” – Turkish proverb

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”  (Confucius)

“War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.”

― George Orwell, 1984

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

― Walter Cronkite

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”  ― Harlan Ellison

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”  ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Collected Works

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”

― George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara

It can be rather depressing to read through those quotes and consider them in light of our current situation; however, one can lean on one’s faith to get through the day and this time of turmoil. A recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog offered this advice –

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  (Charles Dickens)  Dicken’s, A Tale of Two Cities, describes a situation much like the present in which there are two views of the same world, living side by side.  I have friends who believe we’re now living in the best of times and others who wake up daily to see things getting worse.  The divide between rich and poor widens.  Dickens’ hope is in the death of inequality and a resurrection to a better age, built on the ashes of the old.  There is a God!  Hold on to that hope.  The best is yet to come.  😉  Jack

We may well be witnessing the flames of ignorance creating the ashes of our old world; but the best is yet to come, if we hold on to hope and a belief that there is a God (and maybe get out and vote next time).

Here’s hoping that the best is yet to come.

Make the choice to change your life…

February 25, 2017

“Choices, Chances, Changes.  You must make a Choice to take a Chance, or your life will never Change.”  (Quote Observations) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

In life inertia and momentum often work together to keep us from changing our lives forlife-choices the better. Inertia keeps us glued to one spot, to one way of thinking or to our prejudices. Momentum keeps us headed in the same direction, rather than take a different path.

There is a comfort to be found in always doing the same things, never making changes or trying new things. One of my dad’s favorite phrases was “go with what you know.” At the same time, there is a discomfort to be experienced because one doesn’t ever try anything new. It is that haunting feeling that you may be missing something that is really much more rewarding than staying the course. You may never meet Mr. or Ms. Right, if you never venture away from the path that has kept you from meeting them thus far. An old saying states that “opposites attract”, but you’ll never know if that’s true if you only associate with people who are the same as you. You must take a chance to make that change in your life.

new-way-forwardYou may say that you are happy with your life as it is; happy to be in the little rut that you’ve carve out for yourself in life by treading the same path every day. Yet most of us have enough self-awareness to know that there may be (must be) something more to life; something that will increase our sense of self-worth and accomplishment; something that is currently missing in or lives. That something is likely not on the well-worn path that you are on; otherwise you might have encountered it by now. You have the choice to make to take a chance or not, in order to change your life for the better by finding that missing element in your life.

For some in the GLBTQ world the choice is whether to come out of the closet or not and todiversity live openly in the lifestyle in which they feel most comfortable. For Transsexuals it is the choice to identify and live with the gender that they feel in their heart, not the gender that was inscribed on their birth certificate. For everyone on that spectrum it is the choice to take the chance to change their lives by living openly as they wish to live, instead of hiding their identities in fear.

For many the change that they seek is found in service to others. It is in that service that caregiverthey find the missing sense of accomplishment and self-worth that their day-to-day work life was not supplying. For some the change may be to finally establish a relationship with God, through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as their savior. Many may have gone through the motions of going to church all of their lives and never taken that final step of accepting Christ. Make the choice to take that chance and change your life forever.

Have a great weekend.

Trying to understand the greater happiness…

February 22, 2017

Jack Freed use this quote in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – recently – “Smile, things are going to work out.  You may not see it now, but you’re being directed to a much greater happiness.”  (ThisInspiresUs). Jack went on to write – Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled or afraid…I am with you.”  That’s the greater happiness.

hurry hurryIn today’s find it now, buy it now, do it now world, having the patience, the perseverance and faith to wait for that greater happiness goes against the grain. We have become an instant gratification society, while religion has remained a “hope for it, pray for it, wait for it” practice.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to having the faith that the promised “greater happiness” will come is dealing with the fact that this state of greater happiness will come after we have left this earth. For many people, the thought that they have to die to be born again into the state of greater happiness is not something that can easily accept or internalize. People want that state of greater happiness now, here, while they can enjoy it within the

mystery head

current physical world that they know. They cannot even conceive of the next life, the one promised to those who believe in and accept Jesus as their savior.

Another factor is the kind of hazy descriptions that we have of that next life – a house of many rooms, one of which will be ours or a peace that passes all understanding or looking upon the face of God. We have a hard time relating to that within the context of what we understand about this life. Some other religions have created extensive and elaborate descriptions of the afterlife, mostly using terms and examples from this life, so that the adherents can relate to it. It is so much easier to imagine Heaven as being just like this world only better.

Perhaps a big part of our challenge as Christians is to let go of any thoughts about this life and this world and just trust that the next life and the greater happiness that is promised to us there. We need to stop worrying about whether we’ll be reunited with our lost loved
ones in heaven or whether our past pets will be there with us. That’s all the stuff of this world. We should focus instead on the fact that we will be united with Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit and all of the Saints in a greater happiness that we can’t even imagine – fee of pain, free of cares, free of fears, free.

So, maybe believewe need to substitute much more believing, in place of all of the effort we make to try to understand the unimaginable. We can’t and don’t need to understand, we just need to believe and accept. Once we let go of the things of this life, we are ready for the things that come in the next. It is sort of like those cute ads for the web site; we have to let go of the things we don’t really need any more for this life and certainly not for the next. If I can let go of the baggage of this life and just believe; I’ll be better prepared to experience the promised greater happiness – maybe I’ll even experience a little of it here. What a wonderful thought that is to focus upon today.

Let go and have a great day!

What time is it? Life time!

February 21, 2017

“Time is free, but it’s priceless.  You can’t own it, but you can use it.  You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.  Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”  (Harvey MacKay) – source: the Jack’s Winning Words blog, of course. Jack went on to mention that there’s a famous Walter Payton quote: “Tomorrow is promised to no one.”

As I get older, time become much more precious and much less taken for granted. That’sworking against time why I often write about not wasting time on regrets about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. That is time that you could be using to do something today. As today’s quote says, time is priceless; it is more valuable than money, but it is also fleeting. You need to invest your time wisely. If you do, you will get a return on it and that return will be the good feelings that you end the day with, having done the right things with your time.

Like a good investor, you need to do some research first, to see what things there are out there in which to invest your time. You have no charts or weighty market studies to read, but you do have your Bible and perhaps spending a little time with it and maybe with the Arthur will help you see what you need to spend your time upon. reading-bibleThat’s not to say that you won’t end up going to work and putting in your hours there; but a few moments of quiet reflection each morning might help you remember why you are putting in those hours and the important people in your life that the money which you make supports. Sometimes it’s hard to see your daily job as being God’s work; but it can be if you see it in the right light, as part of God’s larger plan for you.

So, take a few moments of your time each morning to thank God for giving you another day and think about how you will invest the time that you have been given. Yohelperu may have to give 8 hours to a job and you may sleep for another 8 hours; but, that still leave you with 8 hours that are totally yours to invest. If you choose to do nothing with those 8 hours, you will likely get nothing in return. However, if you find a way to use that time helping others, serving others or volunteering for others, you may find that the 8 hours you need for sleep come more easily and the feelings that you have at the end of the day transcend just being tired, because feeling satisfied makes being tired feel better.

Tomorrow is promised to no one, so make the best use of today. Got to go. I’m out of time.

Do good, feel good…

February 21, 2017

“When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That’s my religion.”  (A. Lincoln) – from the Jacks Winning Words blog. Jack’s remarks included the fact thatLincoln Lincoln was not a very religious man, but a good man who did know the Bible quite well and made his life an example of trying to do good. I would hope that all of us live to some extent by the same philosophy. At the very least that philosophy is based upon knowing the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.

Sometimes I wonder, as I’m watching the news each night about all of the bad things that people do, how they grew up not being able to tell the difference between right and wrong right-and-wrongor even worse, knowing the difference and making the choices that they do to take the bad path. Do they feel bad when they do that or are they just numb to those feelings? Maybe for some, doing bad things makes them feel good, or so they think. I can’t even imagine how robbing or shooting someone could make one feel good. I feel the same about people who show prejudices and hatred against others, no matter how different they may be. How can that make them really feel good?

Every now and then, I’ll say something stupid and flip, maybe about something that my wife has done or said and she’ll call me on it. Shen will say, “Did that make you feel better, jerkto point out my mistake?” I suppose feeling small in those moments is equivalent to feeling bad. I sure now that it doesn’t feel good. I’ve been known to comment out loud, in
fit of road rage, about something that someone else may have done while we were out driving somewhere. She calls me on that, too; sometimes without saying anything at all. I realize that I’ve done another bad thing and that makes me feel bad.

I think it’s important that we admit it to ourselves, and perhaps to those around us, when we’ve done bad (or stupid or insensitive) things; and, where possible, to make up for them. It’s the right thing to do; and, while it is not my religion, it is part of my religion, a teaching from my religion and the thing I am called upon to do by my religion. The words of James 4:17 sum it pretty succinctly – “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

helping-2For Abraham Lincoln and for most of us, just knowing the difference between right and wrong and between good and bad is no enough, we must choose to do what is right and good in order to feel good about ourselves and about life in general. So get out there this week and do good. It’ll make you feel good, too.

Put it behind you and get on with life…

February 18, 2017

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Too many of us don’t heed the words of Emerson and start each day with a heavy load of baggage from the past. Those who can start each day with a “that was then, this is now”baggage frame of mind have a huge advantage in life. The absurdity of clinging to the past is demonstrated in the ads for Let Go, the web site for selling stuff that you don’t really need anymore. A person dangling over a cliff but stubbornly holding onto a bowling ball is no more absurd than us carrying around the worry or guilt about something that has already happened or may happen some time in the future. There is little that we can really do about either, but they both could consume immense amounts of our time and energy.

It is important that we move sad memories of losses of loved ones from the front of our minds, where they may weigh us down, to a place in the fond memories section of our minds, where we can revisit the memories of good times as often aas we’d like.  Worry and fear about things that may happen in the future need to be placed in little metal boxes and put aside to be opened and dealt with, should any of those things come to pass. Mistakes made yesterday need to be assigned a place in our mind’s knowledge base under the lessons learned category.

It might be helpful to end eacerasing-blackboardh day by putting away the things that you’ve been thinking about or worrying about or regret having done. File a place to file them in your mind or resolve to discard them, but don’t keep them for tomorrow. Those things, those mistakes, those doubts, those losses are over, so let them go. They are so yesterday. Erase them as you would a blackboard at school. Tomorrow you start with a clean slate that has yet to have any failures or successes written upon it.

Perhaps using a standard little business trick might help. The first step is to write down those things that you are carrying around with you from the past. Then prioritize that list from most important to least important. Then work your way down the list, using the thought process:

  • Is there anything that I can do to change this? (If it is in the past, the obvious answer is NO)
  • If I can’t change it, is there any value in keeping it in mind?
  • What can learn from this to help me in the future?
  • How can I let go of this?

Just going through that process may help you put the things on your list in the right perspective in your mind. It will, at a minimum put a less emotional and more rationalwoman-praying light on them. If you feel that yo still need a little more help in dealing with them, remember that God is always right there, ready to offload any burden that you want to give Him. The serenity that Emerson mentioned may be found in the act of prayer and the decision to let’s God’s will for you to prevail.

Have a great and unencumbered long weekend. Put all of yesterday’s nonsense behind you and get on with life.

Be the best you in existence…

February 16, 2017

Every now and then I go out and look for quotes about a theme that I might want to write about some day. Such was the case today when I decided to write about being yourself. Today’s headline come from a quote by famous inspirational trainer and speaker Zig Ziglar – “You will make a lousy anybody else, but you will be the best “you” in existence.”

So, that kicked off a whole series of quotes about being yourself that I found to bedepression2 inspirational and I hope you do, too. I particularly liked this one as a starting point for thought and discussion – “Be what you are. This is the first step towards becoming better than you are.” – J. C. Hare & A. W. Hare. Too many of use try to be what we think someone else wants us to be, sometimes to fit in and sometimes because we think that is the key to success and sometimes just because we don’t yet like ourselves. The first step towards being the best you that you can be is to drop the mask and abandon the fake persona that you have been hiding behind.

It is likely that all of us want to improve and be a better person than we think we are right now. The first step is getting real about what and where you are now and perhaps the walking mandirection in which you are heading, which I wrote about yesterday (see Do you need to change direction) . About your current state and the direction that you are currently taking, a quote from Hardy D. Jackson seems appropriate – “Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.”  Sometimes the “it” that quote is referring to your job, sometimes to the relationships that you are in right now or questionable friendships that you may have . If you look into your own heart and cannot see that they are right for you, then it might be time for a change. According to Carl Jung that pause to look into your heart is critical because, as he says – “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” So, look into your heart and awaken the real you.

As you are looking for, and awakening, the real you that is inside you, deep in your heart; maybe the words of Howard Thurman will help – “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Once you have looked inside and come alive the words of Dr. Suess will finally make sense to you – “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Once you have freed your soul of the shackles of trying to be someone else or to be what you think someone else wants you to be, you are free to heed the advice of Parkenham Beatty –

“By your own soul, learn to live

And if men thwart you take no heed.

If men hate you have no care.

Sing your song, dream your dream,

Hope your hope and pray your prayer.”

 At that point you are well on your way to becoming the best you that you can be – the best you in existence. I think then you will find the words of Oprah Winfrey to be meaningful for you, too – “I was once afraid of people saying, “Who does she think she is?” Now Ithis-is-me have the courage to stand and say, ‘This is who I am.’”

For those who seek guidance in the Bible, visit 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” Stand up proudly and say “this is who I am” and then be the best you in existence. You’ll feel better about yourself and others will start feeling good about you, too.I’d like to meet that person someday.

Do you need to change direction?

February 15, 2017

“If we don’t change directions soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.”  (Prof Irwin irwin-coreyCorey) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write a little about Professor Irwin Corey, who died recently at age 102. For those who don’t remember the Professor, here’s a link to one of his appearances on the show Late Night with David Letterman in 1983 – .

Every now and then our lives can get as nonsensical as the Professor and we need to step back and take his advice. Fist we may need to clearly see where we are going and decide if we really want to get there or continue in that direction. The bedrock upon which AA and NA and all of the rest of the self-help programs that seek to aid people in changing their direction in life is recognizing that you have a problem and making the conscientious new-way-forwarddecision to change direction. All of the programs are really there to support that decision and change in direction your life.

In order to clearly see the direction in which you are currently headed and then make a rational decision about whether to continue along that path, it is important to be temporarily at peace and free of the distractions of your daily life. For many, those moments of peace and focus come during the times when they stop to pray. For some that is a rare occasion, but for many that is a daily time to pause, empty you mind of other things and have a frank discussion with God and with man prayingyourself. Some call it soul searching, you may call it meditation or whatever. The point is to temporarily let go of the things that clutter you mind and focus upon what it is that you want out of life and whether the path that you are on will take you there or not.

Sometimes when you meditate on your life you may have to admit that you’re off on a sidetrack, perhaps totally distracted by the urge to make money or to achieve some goal that will bring you temporary pleasure. Those may be the times that you need heed advice that I wrote about some time ago and say “so what”. So what if you get that next pay increase or that promotion. Will that really make you happier and take you another step to what you want out of life?  Most sidetracks on the railroad lines end up at a dead end and so will you, if you don’t change direction sometimes.

We become so consumed by the pace and requirements of our day-to-day lives that we goallose track of the goals that initially set out to achieve or the dream that originally launched us on our journey. No one sets out to work until they drop or to ignore their family and friends in pursuit of more success at work. They just end up with their heads down charging full speed ahead so much that they miss the turns and changes in direction that are needed some times to reach their ultimate goals in life. Neither does anyone really define their goals in life purely in terms of money or position. People who take the time to really reflect on their goals in life tend to use terms like happiness or fulfillment or usefulness or love to define their ultimate goals.

So, perhaps it is time to take the Professors advice and find a quiet moment (maybe in prayer) to assess if the direction that you are currently headed in will get you to where youwoman-praying really want to end up. It’s almost never too late to change directions, otherwise you will end up getting to where you’re going. If you do take that time during prayer, you might find the directions that God can provide for you to be the ultimate GPS system for your journey. Just like you do in your car, use prayer to reset your destination and then listen to the directions that God gives you.

I’ll see you along the way.

Maybe the recent election has started something else…

February 14, 2017

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”  (Fred Rogers) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

The recent Presidential election may have been the end of both the Republican and Democratic parties as we have known them; and maybe that’s not a bad thing. There was an article in the Detroit Free Press about the new movement which has sprung out of the election of #Tweeter-In-Chief. The paper dubbed this emerging organization of people objecting to and resisting the changes that #POTUS is trying to decree as the Liberal Tea Party. I seriously doubt that this handle will stick since neither the original Tea Party people or the nascent resistance “movement” really want a liberal group to be associated with that term.

Certainly, Trump laid waste to the old guard in the Republican party and shows little intention of working very hard to rebuild bridges to the very leaders that he criticized during his campaign. They are, after all inhabitants of the “Swamp” that he promised to drain; although, thus far he just seems to be exchanging one set of old alligators for a new set of crocodiles. So far only two elected members of the Republican party in Congress have shown any real backbone by voting against one of the questionable nominees for important government jobs that #POTUS has put forth. Both, it might be noted are women.

The Democrats didn’t really fare any better in the latest election, having the dark underside of their party leadership exposed by WikiLeaks. One of the better postmortem analyses that I saw correctly laid the blame not just on Hillary’s campaigning decisions but on the overall sense of entitlement that the Democrats have developed over time. They seem to sound a bit like a broken record from the 20th Century which when played just repeats the phrase “we’re the party of the working people” over and over, as if that is sufficient reason to vote for their candidate. I’m not sure that they even understand who “the working people” are anymore; although Bernie Sanders tapped into the a big group with a message that seemed to resonate with some of “the working people.”. I still think that it would have been a hell of a race between Trump and Sanders, or at least more fun to watch.

Enough Monday morning quarterbacking. Where do the parties go from here? I fear that the Republican Party has sealed its own doom by swinging way right and embracing a populist message. As I’ve written here before, I still recall the moderates within the Republican Party, which kept it somewhat balanced. There seems to be no room anymore for anyone who won’t swear allegiance to the dictates of some obscure far right economist or to the restrictive social issues of the far right religious groups. And heaven forbid that any Republican ever have the backbone to stand up to the NRA. There is little hope for moderation, bipartisanship or even intelligent decision making for those beholding to the Republican Party and their financial backers.

Unfortunately, the Democrats have themselves fallen victim to this trend, albeit in the opposite philosophical and political direction. One seems to have to prove their liberal credentials to the extreme to be accepted by the Democratic party and its current leadership. The complaints that the Democrats have become a bi-coastal party and a party of elitists does have a ring of truth to it. The other complaints that surfaced during the last election that the party has been taking minority voters and union voters for granted also holds some water. Those issues deserve to be addressed and need to be addressed before the Democrats can reclaim any leadership in Washington.

I have heard from a number of people that they held their nose and voted for one candidate or the other, which indicates a serious degree of dissatisfaction with both parties. The idea of it perhaps being time for a third party has gained a little traction in the post-election angst of those who feel left behind by both parties. I’ve opined here before about the need for that new party, a centrist party unencumbered by the pull of either extreme right or left and more concerned about running the country right than trying to force a set of moral standards on everyone. In the mid-20th Century these politicians were called moderates, which is now a dirty word in both parties. The last semi-successful third party effort was mounted by Ross Perot and was a populist effort. Many might say that Bernie Sanders effort was also populist, but he chose to stay within the confines of the Democratic Party; which, in retrospect, was probably the wrong decision.

It is somewhat sad to think that in order to be successful today one must be a Billionaire or at least have a few of them in your corner (that is, if you are not peeking out from their pockets). I’m thinking of sending a message to Michael Bloomberg to challenge him to jump in and get active at the Presidential level. He seems content right now to sit on the sidelines and take pot-shots at #POTUS through the vehicle of his Bloomberg Business Week. Perhaps at 75 he is considered to be too old, but at least he could put his billions to work either revitalizing the Democratic Party or starting a new third party. I’ll bet he could get Warren Buffet to jump into that effort with him.

So, anyway, maybe it took a shock like the election of #Tweeter-In-Chief to awaken the giant; that huge majority that is not really comfortable way off on the Left or Right of the political spectrum.  We shouldn’t have to hold our noses to vote for someone to be President of the United States. Let’s get people back in Congress and eventually back in the White House who can work for all of the people of this great country. Maybe this started something new. Join the new movement and take back our country.