May Day – A time to Bloom

Bloom Where and When You can

05.01.2019

Easter 2019

 

Today is May Day, a day historically set aside to celebrate spring and flowers as well as being a day to recognize Labor Unions and the common worker.  It is also less than twenty-four hours after yet another school shooting, this time at the University of North Carolina, United States.

 

The following is an excerpt from an article in the Fort Worth (Texas, USA) newspaper “Star Telegram”, written by Deanna Boyd.  Names have been omitted due to the age of the individual at the center of this article.

On Oct. 4, 2012, [X] called 911, telling a dispatcher, “Uh, I just killed my mom and my sister….”I felt like they were just suffocating me, in a way,” he told the dispatcher, according to a recording of the 911 call. “Obviously, you know, I’m pretty, I guess, evil.”

Responding Parker County deputies found [a woman] and her daughter dead of multiple gunshot wounds inside the house on [XX] Lane in [subdivision and town].  The young man was arrested at the scene.  In a written statement, he told investigators that he had devised a plan to kill several family members after watching [a] remake of the movie “Halloween,” in which a boy murders relatives.

“While watching it I was amazed at how at ease the boy was during the murders and how little remorse he had afterward,” [X] wrote in his statement. “I was thinking to myself, it would be the same for me when I kill someone.”

Sheriff’s officials have said [X]  used a gun stolen from his grandfather, a retired Fort Worth officer, to commit the slayings.  [X]  told investigators that he had intended to later kill his grandparents and two other sisters.   But after the slayings of his mom and sister, [X]  — in a state he described as “very shocked and scared” — instead placed the gun on the kitchen counter and called 911.

“I know now though that I’m done with killing. It’s the most dreadful and terrifying thing I will ever experience. And what happened last night will haunt me forever.”

 

We think we know so much and especially as young adults and teenagers, we can be intensely certain that we think we know something.  Philosophy is about the “knowing” but how do we know?  Sadly, many cult leaders never give their followers the chance to reflect upon their actions.  These misguided young people searching for knowledge and truth are sacrificed for the greed and egos of others.  At a time when so many are resorting to violence as an answer, we need to stop asking when will then killing stop and start asking what are these young people thinking.  Philosophy is about the search for knowledge and it is a search conducted without a great deal of physical action, just mental.  For that reason, many disdain it and consider it, to borrow from Shakespeare, “much ado about nothing”.  Some say that about spiritual sects and religious denominations and faiths.  We study to prevent knowledge from passing us by, from slipping through the hours of our living.  The ancient philosophers saw the world moving on and asked why.  We need to question our daily actions in the same way.  Did what I do yesterday have value?  Did I connect with another, friend or stranger?  Was there a purpose for my being?

 

There is no one hard and fast rule that will be sufficient as an answer.  The religions of the world usually claim love to be the answer but how do we live a healthy love for all?  We will each have our own answers and paths of both learning and exploration.  The future is, after all, ours to construct and write.  Hopefully, we will connect with others and thrive.  Hopefully, others will look back upon their connections with us and be thankful for them.  Mostly, though I hope you never feel what this young man has felt.  “It’s the most dreadful and terrifying thing I will ever experience. And what happened last night will haunt me forever.”

 

A common meme that has been around for decades is the admonishment to “Bloom where you are planted.”   Mary Engelbreit, a children’s author and renowned illustrator and artist, is often credited with this saying but it predates her.  Some claim the phrase is Biblical and cite Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 but it never actually says we should bloom where we are.  Others claim that was the intention of Paul in his writing to the church in Corinth, the text of which is found in 1 Corinthians 7:17.

 

The advice is good but is comes more from common sense than from spiritual or religious teachings.  What about the saying thrive to survive.  Often people ask if they are merely surviving or if it possible for them to thrive.  In writing for the website The Chopra Center, Tamara Lechner suggests that “There is a fundamental difference between thriving and surviving. Surviving means, “to continue to live or exist,” while thrive can be defined as “to grow or develop well, to prosper or to flourish.”

 

In many countries surviving is a difficult task.  Is it possible to break out of the mindset of survival mode to thrive?  Lechner offers this advice:  “Thriving happens when you have a life of purpose, vitality, connection, and celebration. This isn’t tied to a specific salary, job title, type of car, or relationship. Material possessions are not part of the recipe to thrive. Follow these four steps to stop surviving, and start thriving.”

 

Life is not about being haunted.  Life is for living and living for the best outcomes for all of mankind.  Enjoy today.  It is the first day of the month of May and, in many areas, the true first day of spring.   Live your faith.  Exist, believe ,rejoice.  Mostly, I hope you smile – at another but also at yourself.  When we seek to thrive and help others do the same, then we have a much brighter future, one in which everyone has a chance to bloom, grow, and flourish.

 

Embrace the passion

Embrace the Passion

Day 29

Lent 2019

 

Literature is often life’s greatest teacher.  Today I turn your thoughts to two often forgotten but very influential writers – Harper Lee and Umberto Eco.  Harper Lee was a daughter of the Deep South, that part of the United States of America that was explored a century before the Pilgrims began their epic ocean crossing.  Born in Alabama, Harper Lee died in the small town she wrote about in her ground-breaking novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

 

While Ms. Lee sought to show the world its true reflection, Umberto Eco looked for the same in symbols and signs.  Umberto Eco was a scholar but sought to see how the world viewed itself through not only words but also music, religious icons, signs, symbols, and graphic artwork such as cartoons.

 

In Past conversations/blog posts we have talked about the image people sometimes set for us – the restrained studied indifference that is seen as being socially correct.  Neither of these writers wasted time with any of that.  They both embraced their beings and their worlds and sought to make both a little better while keeping their eyes wide open.  In short, they both embraced their living with passion, great passion.

 

Both writers also had legions of critics.  Harper Lee’s critics were usually rather silent, that is until her second book was published last year, “Go Set a Watchman”.  Her first book gave us a distinct hero and was written as a commentary seen through the eyes of a child.  People were comfortable with that because it gave them an excuse for their living.  It recognized that we all live each day with the experience for that day the same as a child’s first time as doing anything.  In her second novel, however, Lee expected her readers to have grown a bit and gives them an adult story that is complete with raw, unapologetic truth.  No one wanted to be held accountable and the book was met with great negativity.

 

Eco’s biggest critique was that he saw nothing as being too menial and looked for meaning in everything.  The writer Salman Rushdie who would later have to live in hiding because of a death contract on his head placed there by Islamic Extremists once described a novel of Eco’s as ““humorless, devoid of character, entirely free of anything resembling a credible spoken word, and mind-numbingly full of gobbledygook of all sorts.”

 

Umberto Eco spoke at least five languages and never apologized for his passion about what he saw in the world.  He once explained his viewpoint to the London newspaper “The Guardian” in 2002: “I’m not a fundamentalist, saying there’s no difference between Homer and Walt Disney… but Mickey Mouse can be perfect in the sense that a Japanese haiku is.”

 

Harper Lee, though looking very different from the stereotypical Southern damsel yet always reminiscent of the grown-up version of her character “Scout”, explained her lack of hurt feelings this way:  “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.”  She also explained her title”  “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy….they don’t do one thing except sing their hearts out for us.  That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

 

Both writers sought meaning and encouraged their readers to find the passion in their living.  Sadly many people are frightened when confronted with someone doing just that.  Do we really fear passion or do we fear what their passion requires of us – a true and honest look at ourselves?

 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” brought the inequities of racism into focus and gave meaning to the daily struggles of its victims.  Umberto Eco’s novels are a bit more involved, his most successful being “The Name of the Rose”, but they do much the same thing.  In spite of having once won a literary competition for young Fascists as a lad growing up in Italy and later a member of the Roman Catholic Church, Eco was considered a liberal.  As a girl growing up in a small town in Alabama, Lee walked among the tides of racism every day and brought a liberal, humanist approach.

 

Both of these writers embraced life and humanity in their passion for writing.  They saw the need for greater humanity in the world and encouraged people, by their example, to embrace the passion of living.  Sometimes the truths about which they wrote were discomforting.  Passion is not always wine and roses and warm sweaty embraces.  Passions can sometimes hurt.

 

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for,” said Harper Lee during a ceremony in 2007 when she was awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom.  She had lived in New York City for decades but returned to her Alabama small town home that same year.  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

 

I invite you to crawl inside your own skin and walk around in it.  I am not talking about  the skin the world wants you to wear but the skin that makes you feel alive, that gives you a passion for living.  Embrace your own passion and then make it your identity. 

From Victim to Victorious

From Victim to Victorious
Day 19
Lent 2019

Often to invading armies, the residents of the lands to be occupied are portrayed as potential enemies. They almost always are deemed to be threats to the continued existence of whatever regime has ordered the attack. The Romans probably had little idea of who they were conquering when they invaded Britain and Ireland. The Celtic and Druid culture centered on their pagan gods and goddesses and magic was an integral part of their beliefs, a magic that the Romans believed came not from good but evil. The Romans destroyed the Celtic and Druids’ religious sites and when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, many Britons converted.

It was to this culture that a child named Patrick was born. He was born a Roman citizen to parents Conchessa and Calpurnius. The Roman Empire extended from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean and his home was not near Rome but in the Roman British lands. As a young teen he was kidnapped and forced into child labor by pirates. The life was hard and unfair – the makings for a deep need to extract violence as payback. The exact location is disputed but we know he was an aristocrat, his family second-generation Christians. Patrick was well educated. One fateful day he and his father’s servants were taken prisoner and his life changed dramatically. In an instant he went from living a life of luxury to that of servitude and despair.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom.” The first Beatitude seems contradictory and, let’s face it, a bit defeatist. Do I have to be in dire straits to win the prize? Certainly the millions who purchase lottery tickets might argue with that reasoning since seldom do any win. I know of no other human living or deceased whose life portrays this Beatitude better than that of Patrick, the saint whose day was celebrated earlier this month.

It is said that Patrick believed “If I have any worth, it is to live my life, so as to teach these peoples, even though some of them still look down on me.” His life is often celebrated worldwide with the wearing of green, symbolic of the country from which the pirates who enslaved him sailed and the country to which he returned to share his faith and spirituality.

Patrick wrote that he saw his escape in a dream and he did indeed escape and return to his family. He did remain in Britain, however. He would return to minister to the Irish and to share his creed for living. His life remains shrouded in mystery with many things attributed to him, including the banishment of all snakes from Ireland. What is known is that in the midst of his troubles and captivity, Patrick found solace in his beliefs and faith. “I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s host to secure me against snares of devils, against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature, against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.”

You might argue that someone with such conviction was never truly “poor in spirit” and I would understand that interpretation. I would offer, nonetheless, that there were days in which Patrick sorely felt downtrodden and exhausted and in that, his physical spirit did indeed seem poor. We need to recognize that we all have those days. We also need to recognize that other people have them, too.

Patrick of Ireland, as St Patrick is often known, serves to represent to me a living testament of how, although we might be victims of another’s cause, we alone control the effect it has on us. The man known as Saint Patrick, in whose honor many have celebrated with parades and parties, wanted us all to find strength in our faith and beliefs, not mugs of beer. We truly inherit the kingdom when we live with assurance and generosity to all. We also make our own environment by how we react with positivity. We all are victims, at one time or another, of something beyond our control. With conviction, though, we can write a life story that, like Patrick’s, will be victorious, not just for ourselves but for others. When terror strikes the world, it challenges our sense of security.

Living the Now

Stories of the Human Spirit

Week One

2019.01.12

 

Living in the moment is often described as the art of now.  During the next six weeks we will discuss how to perfect our ability to do just that as well as read about stories of the human spirit that illustrate this.  After five years of daily postings on this blog, I took a week off to do just that – live in each moment without deadlines.  John Steinbeck once wrote “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray” and my vacation plans did just that.  Still, it was in that week of chaos, spelled f-l-u, that I realized the true meaning of a favorite quote of mine:  “You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”

 

Our concept of normal is whatever is familiar to us and so, Julie really thought her life was fairly normal.  She had grown up going to public school and once a week took part in scouting activities in the troop that met at a neighborhood church.  Going to the scout meetings meant her parents did not have to find a babysitter for her after school on meeting days but it also meant she would learn different skills.  The other girls were cordial but as an introvert, their lack of including her in a close circle of friends really wasn’t too troubling.

 

As the years passed Julie continued in scouting although nothing really was a favorite pastime except working with the disabled youth her troop spent time with at a nearby community center.  In the summer she volunteered as a counselor at a camp for the disabled and enjoyed the interactions with the campers.  They made up for the camp lifestyle which was definitely not her style and the lack of inclusion from the other counselors.

 

Winning a college scholarship, Julie continued her studies and, seeing the world through her roommates’ eyes, realized her “normal” was not quite like everyone else’s.  Being forgotten at home had not been the normal for others nor was the exclusion by relatives.  Still, there were classes to attend, papers to write, and a degree to finish.  Life went on and Julie went about it each day.  She convinced one of her classes to volunteer at a local residential school for the disabled and continued to volunteer each summer as a counselor.  There were joys to find in each new day.

 

Julie began her last year in college with great anticipation.  In six month she would have the degree she had worked so hard to attain.  Her family had emphasized their pleasure at anticipating her graduation and having her out on her own which is why she was so dumbfounded when both parents told her they were suddenly going to stop helping her fund the last six month of her education.  Her two parents had divorced years earlier and their acrimony had reached new levels with Julie as the game piece being used to punish each other.  She had a part-time job so she asked for extra hours to pay for a place to store her belongings.  It was little more than a storage unit with no utilities or a place to sleep.  She sold her car to pay for the rest of her tuition and supplies.  Julie earned one meal a day at her work and became an expert at washing up in public restroom stalls.  Using the public restrooms just before dawn meant she could wash her hair in the sink and then leave with no one realizing her hair was now wet.  Walking the two miles to the college campus gave her hair time to dry and her early arrival gave her time to study and complete assignments.

 

The spirit of the disabled youth she had worked with was Julie’s example.  She had watched kids struggle to walk, delight in learning to write their names, and exude joy in breathing in each second of their lives.  These kids who had so many obstacles took each minute as it came and had never given up.  Julie was determined to do the same.  She sometimes slept behind a friend’s apartment or, after offering to clean up the choir room after choir practice, on a couch in the music department at the local church. 

 

On a cool spring day, Julie walked across the stage to receive her diploma.  She had been homeless the last six month and no one had noticed.  Not once had her appearance seemed different to her classmates.  She had relied on the skills learned as a child, the examples of those many deemed incompetent, and completed her college education with honors.  Her life exemplified Brian Tracy, Canadian author and motivational speaker, statement:  “You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”

 

Life does not come with guarantees and I sincerely hope none of you ever end up in Julie’s position of being homeless.  I do believe, though, that we do have in our history a wealth of knowledge that helps us meet the challenge of each new day.   I will close with another of Tracy’s quotes:  “The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.”

 

So how do we start to perfect our ability to live in the moment.  Years later someone asked Julie how she had found the strength and courage to keep going during her last year in college.  “It was simple”, she replied.  “I kept breathing and as long as I was breathing, I needed to live today so I’d hopefully be able to do the same tomorrow.”   This past week I lived in the moment of being ill and breathing was sometimes a bit uncomfortable.  However, it gave me a great understanding about the concept of breathing through the moment. 

 

A young man picked up a phone in a phone booth in the middle of the dessert one day and received the same sort of answer.  The setting was Burning Man, an electronic arts and music festival for which 50,000 people descend on Black Rock City, Nevada, for eight days of “radical self-expression” – dancing, socializing, meditating, and yes, even a bit of debauchery.  One can see all sorts of things at Burning man but a phone booth in the middle of nowhere that purported to be a direct line to God was unusual, even for Burning Man.  The voice at the other end had one word of advice – Breathe.

 

“Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall,” writes Jon Kabat-Zinn, the biomedical scientist who introduced meditation into mainstream medicine. In order to feel more in control of our minds and our lives, to find the sense of balance that eludes us, we need to step out of this current, to pause, and, as Kabat-Zinn puts it, to “rest in stillness—to stop doing and focus on just being.”  We need to stop, breathe, realize we are living in this moment and not two days away, and breathe in the “now”.  Once I gave up trying to pretend I wasn’t ill, I started to improve.  Stay focused on the here and now and let tomorrow worry about itself.

 

 

Thoughts on Tradition

Thoughts on Tradition

2018.11.24-25

Growing Community

 

It is that time of year in which traditions seem to take on a higher priority.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or something else, almost every community has its winter solstice-time traditions.  These traditions are generally passed from one generation to the next, and they provide a very important connection to the past.  Thus, these traditions are a direct link from the past to the future.  They give us direction, personal relationship and serve to honor the culture from which they originated.  We receive our core values from our traditions. 

 

Traditions and core values are important because they provide the framework of a community.  Within a family traditions serve to provide us identity.  Most of our traditions are based upon our history and they provide the framework for who we are today or in the present.  Our traditions reinforce the values we hold dear, the core values that help define us.  Through our traditions we celebrate those things that are dear to us and that we consider important.  By such celebrations we honor our role models, the tenets of our religious and/or spiritual beliefs, and the structure upon which our communities are built.

 

What happens when we stop honoring those traditions?  Award-winning author Frank Sonnenberg cautions that if we stop honoring our traditions, “our beliefs will get so diluted, over time, that our way of life will become foreign to us.”  Within the modern-day community, though, there are often differing traditions.  Our traditions do provide us a forum to show what is really important to us but what if our neighbor does not celebrate in the same way?

 

In the past culture is what brought a community together.  Culture referred to a pattern of human activity and the symbols which gave significance to tradition. Culture is represented through the art, literature, costumes, customs, and traditions of a community. Different cultures have always existed in different parts of the world. The natural environment greatly affected the lifestyle of the people in that region, thus shaping their culture. The diversity in the cultures around the world was also a result of the mindsets of people inhabiting different regions of the world.

 

Today, however, we have a far more mobile society and a community is often the home of varying cultures.  Culture has served to link people and their value systems.  Have we lost that in the 21st century?  Can we create culture among so many different behaviors?  At a time when people are shouting “remember the reason for the season”, have we forgotten how to be civil towards each other?  Traditions serve to unite us but at this time of year, they also serve to divide us.  Lawsuits will be filed to determine what symbols can be placed in public locations.  People will decry the “happy Holidays” that encompasses the complete community to honor a man who advocated love for all.  Can such a traditional saying meant to show support for all really be so divisive?

 

Traditions developed as a way to continue the family unit, to illustrate identity and for celebration.  Unfortunately, there are many who fear embracing the whole community.  Rather than our traditions promoting empathy and the engagement of citizenship, too often they serve to be contentious. 

 

I hope this year as we celebrate the core values behind our traditions we remember to let those traditions evolve.  We have a few traditions in our family that have developed from less than perfect times.  On a day where most people in our community and country eat turkey, we include hot tamales on our table.  We do serve turkey as well as ham, green bean casserole, corn pudding, stuffing, filling, dressing (the last three being very similar but each representing all sections of the cultures from which family members have been raised), potatoes (usually two kinds), etc.  A prominent spot on the table, however, is reserved for the hot tamales.  They represent a Thanksgiving gone bad but yet, at the end of the day when all we had to eat was one can of hot tamales, a day in which we truly appreciated our blessings and togetherness. 

 

It is wonderful to have the picture-perfect traditional dinner or holiday tree, etc.  Nonetheless, we should not consider the holiday ruined if it is not impeccable or flawless.  In our communities we need to strive more for inclusion and smiles rather than a movie-set depiction of any holiday.  I think the best way to keep our traditions – all our traditions – is by remembering their reason.  Most traditions are based upon love and strength.  This year I hope we find the strength to honor those who are different and share the love of life with them.  We build stronger communities through the tradition of community – the coming together, the engaging of others in a shared experience called life.

 

 

Losing a Community – Lessons of Stan Lee

Losing a Community – Lessons of Stan Lee

2018.11.13

Growing Community

 

With pen and paper, Stan Lee created communities of fiction that, sometimes, became fact.  All of the quotes in today’s posts are his.  Stan lee passed away earlier this week at the age of 95 but his legacy will live on in his characters but more importantly in their examples and dialogue.

 

Two weeks ago I happened upon an advertisement for a house in Calabasas, California.  I still am not sure what I entered into the search engine to arrive at this site and yet, intrigued by the house pictures, I happily spent twenty minutes there.  It was a real estate website and the houses featured were gorgeous – large, sprawling, and guaranteed to make anyone envious.  Yesterday, as I watched the national news about the horrific wildfires in California, something looked familiar.  Then I realized it was part of one of the houses from my earlier search in Calabasas.  Sure enough, the captions showed I was correct with the location. 

 

The community I had so envied fourteen days ago was not smoldering rubble.  No one would be envious of those who had lost their home.  Fourteen days ago the houses I had viewed online seemed flawless and one would have assumed that their owners led charmed lives.  “No one has a perfect life.  Everybody has something that he wishes was not the way it is.”

 

When we think about community, as I mentioned last week, we tend to think of a homogenous area where people share many things in common.  Today, many families in Calabasas are sharing grief and horror.  “I think people have always loved things that are bigger than life, things that are imaginative.”  I was certainly envious of those mansions I had viewed online.  They not only tweaked my envy but my imagination.  I had spent time pretending I lived there, happily forgetting the knee pain the winding grand staircases would have increased or the problems in cleaning the yardage of windows.

 

This had been a community of my dreams but not of my reality.  I could not fathom having clothes and shoes enough to fill the massive walk-in closets.  In truth, I would not enjoy such but still, for a brief time, it was fun to imagine living in such a community. 

 

“Every day, there’s a new development…There’s no limit to the things that are happening.”  The day after I had perused those impeccably designed grand manors in the California community of Calabasas, I looked about my own much more modest abode.  It was time to do fall cleaning and prepare for holiday decorating.  Suddenly I was very happy to have thousands less square footage as I had more than enough to clean and declutter.  I was content to live in my own community.  Now two weeks later I grieve for those very people I had recently envied.  Their homes were consumed by a fire that cared little for their grandeur.  Now, instead of needed my admiration for their magnificent lives, they needed assistance from ordinary people like me.

 

Farther north another wildfire raged and a family with a one-year-old toddler had to leave everything and evacuate.  As they sat far away from the fire that leveled much of their hometown of Paradise, they understandably wondered if their home was now a pile of ashes.  Suddenly they received a Face Book message from a stranger asking about their address in Paradise.  An ambulance loaded with patients had been stuck in the town of Paradise.  The nurses and patients had sought refuge in this family’s garage.  The Borden family home had provided protection from the raging fire which created a community of those rescued and this family.

 

Community is not just a geographical location and through organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and others, we can create our own community and be super heroes.  “America is made of different races and different religions, but we’re all co-travelers on the spaceship Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”

 

Stan Lee once said that the greatest super power is the ability to help another.  Today we have the opportunity to help our community by rendering aid to those devastated by these wildfires.  We also need to look ahead and enact policies that will reduce such in the future.  We cannot control Mother Nature; she is a super character in her own right.  We can, however, plan, prepare, and protect for future generations. 

 

“It’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion….There is only one who is all powerful, and his greatest weapon is love…. We all wish we had superpowers.  We all wish we could more than we can do.”  We can do something, however, and we should.  “Life is never completely without its challenges. … The power of prayer is still the greatest ever known in this endless eternal universe.”

 

There has always been much discussion about the afterlife but perhaps we need to focus on the community of the here and now.  When we insist on derisiveness and division rather than building community, then we lose not only today’s communities but the chance for those of tomorrow.  We need to be the super heroes of today and offer whatever aid we can to our fellow man.  This is how we grow a community, even one that appears to have been lost.  After all, things are only lost when we stop giving them value.  As long as we value community, we will create it.  Then we will all be super heroes.  

 

 

 

 

Growing a New Day

Growing a New Day

2018.11.07-8

Growing Community

 

As I often do, before beginning this series I did some research into the word “community”.  The dictionary is the best starting point and yet, in this case, I found it outdated – and I researched ten different dictionaries.  Perhaps that is one reason we are, in the 21st century, having such a difficult time growing community.  We haven’t updated our definition of the word to fit the world in which we now reside.

 

One can debate the pros and cons of social media from sunrise to sunset but only a fool would try to deny its existence.  Someone wanting to know the business hours of a retail, medical, or even religious facility no longer opens the telephone directory or newspaper to locate such.  Today the Internet is the place to find answers and information.  Any business or organization that fails to have on online presence is effectively operating in the dark with no way for its audience to find it.

 

The most common definition I found for the word community was “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often has a common cultural and historical heritage.”  The problem with this outdated definition is that today a community is more likely composed of members with difference cultural and historical heritage and most definitely multiples religious and spiritual beliefs.  In the 21st century, our neighborhoods are not just around the block but also online.  That one fact has expanded each person’s community to include people from other cultures, ethnic heritages, and, most importantly, varied life experiences. 

 

As we seek to grow our community, we have to be open to differing opinions, ways of operating, varied clothing.  We no longer have communities where everyone eats the same thing on Tuesday nights or prepares chicken soup exactly the same way.  As our personal space has decreased with the increase in the human population on this planet, our ability to learn and experience different cultures has increased.  With three quick clicks of a computer mouse or keystroke, one has access to multiple ways of cooking meatloaf or a meatless loaf.

 

There are funerals every day on this planet and yet, the one funeral we all need to attend we haven’t.  We need to bury yesterday and let the “status quo” rest in peace.  Today is a new day and we need to embrace it, not fear it.  Change is inevitable as is evolution.  Despite what certain pundits would have you believe, evolution is not a nasty word.  It means growth – nothing more.  Our sense of community needs to evolve as well.

 

A popular advertisement likes to claim it is not genetically modified and yet, its main ingredient, wheat, has been genetically modified by Mother Nature and mankind throughout the history of agriculture.  The origin of wheat is traced by archaeological evidence to 15,000 BCE from the regions we today call Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Armenia, and Iraq – an area better known as the Fertile Crescent.  This area experienced great climate change with various Ice Ages and vegetation normally used for food became scarce.  Those living in the area had to seek the seeds from the plants growing in higher elevation, plants previously considered weeds.  Once gathered, these seeds were cultivated and became a basic food source which later figured prominently in many religious ceremonies and beliefs.  The seeds had to adapt to a different growing environment and mankind learned various uses for them.  From a staple grain cereal to the basis for liquid refreshment, wheat has gone from being a weed to a prominent role in the diet of the human race.

 

The ballots are being tallied and after Tuesday’s vote in the USA, a picture is beginning to form as to what new day will be the face of tomorrow.  Some will lament over what was not accomplished while others will spend their time bragging.  Neither will be productive, though, unless it leads to growth.  Change is how the world and each of us in it prepare for tomorrow.  We grow, we increase our knowledge, skills, and abilities, we provide for the future by our evolution. 

 

Community is perhaps best defined as “relationship”.  When we are in community, we have acknowledged a rapport with each other.  We accept we are in many ways connected and are, at the same time, different.  We are linked by our presence on this planet and perhaps by species but more importantly, we acknowledge and value each other, creating a liaison that will link to a brighter and more productive future. In this affiliation, we will grow not only a new day but also a new world, brighter in its being with hope for peace and better living for all.