The Aftermath

The Aftermath

Detours in Life

Pentecost – 22

 

One year ago over two thousand flights were cancelled as a fier and power outage at a Delta Air Lines control center affected air travel worldwide.   Many people found themselves facing changes in plans, delays, and certainly detours in their everyday living.  These were temporary detours to be sure but they still created a type of chaos that many saw as avoidable evil.  Eventually, though, people did get to their destinations and life resumed again.  It did not seem like it at the time but those affected by these flight cancellations were luckier than many.

 

Bombings worldwide have become less once-in-a-lifetime events and are on the verge of becoming more common.  Recently in a southern town a gun battle ended a discussion between two teenagers out for a movie on a Saturday night at a popular shopping open air mall.  The mall has a strict curfew – no one under the age of eighteen allowed after 8 PM without a parent or guardian.  The movie theatre had a line outside of over hundred teens, most without an adult present and shoppers mentioned this to the security standing outside the theatre.  Security took a “What can we do?” attitude and nothing was said to the teens violating the curfew nor was any law enforcement called.  That is, not until a few minutes later when a fifteen-year-old pulled out a gun and shot a sixteen-year-old.

 

Weapons have been around ever since man decided to eat something larger than himself.  Sitting on a shelf, that weapon will most likely do no harm to anyone.  With proper training and usage, it might even one day be practical.  When weapons are used to illustrate a point, however, they become deadly and innocent victims will most likely suffer.

 

The simply answer to get rid of all weapons is not the answer but what we do in the aftermath of such events is.  When faced with detours we need to focus less on the detour and more on how we handle it and what we do afterwards.

 

Acts of terrorism are detours but they can be avoided if we remain calm and take proactive approaches.  We cannot let radical evil alter the course of our lives and yet, we should and must confront the grief of so many lives lost due to evil.  Make no mistake:  terrorism is not about religion.  This is about greed and power.  It is easy to point fingers but we each are responsible for our own actions.  As the Anishinabek Indians, of the Algonquin Nation and located in Ontario, would say – “No one else can represent your conscience.”  Even the Apache, considered a southwest US American Indian tribe with a warring history knew that “It makes no difference as to the name of the God, since love is the real God of all the world.”

 

It is very hard to look in our hearts when dealing with those who have committed these egregious acts.  We would rather react with anger.  It is at such times we need the wisdom of the Arapaho:  “When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.”  I know what you might be thinking.  “They showed us no respect.”  That is true.  However, as an old Cherokee proverb points out, “The weakness of the enemy makes our strength.”  Their weakness is their need to strike out against innocents.  They know they cannot win by using logic and reason for their course of actions do not have any.  They must battle and they do not battle fairly.  They cannot win a fair fight so they battle the unprepared, the untrained.  They are cowards.

 

A Cheyenne saying advises us to “Judge not by the eye but by the heart.”  We cannot let the images of tragedy be our compass.  We must use our heart in determining our future paths.  We cannot think to honor those who have died by causing more death. The Delaware Indians believed “Good and evil cannot dwell together in the same heart, so a good man ought not to go into evil company.”  The Hopi agreed: “Do not allow anger to poison you.”

 

The Iroquois believed “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decision on the next seven generations.”  The Lakota a tribe that was the merger of the Sioux and Teton tribes of the US northwestern area said that “true peace between nations will only happen when there is true peace within people’s souls.”  John Lennon asked us to imagine a world where people lived to ether in peace.  Days after the Paris scenes of terrorism someone played his melody on a piano outside the concert hall of great carnage, the music soothing the pain.

 

Today many will face detours in their living, serious alterations in the life they had planned.  Whether from violence or illness or changing life situations, many will attempt to pick up the pieces of lives broken.  We need to let our faith anchor us as we offer goodness to the world.  The Pawnee Indians believed “all religions are but stepping stones back to God” and the Osage taught that “we must assist each other to bear our burdens.”  Let us use our energy to help our fellow neighbors to bear their burdens.  Let us remember to be that which we would like to see in others and cast aside thought of retaliation and further killings.  As the Shenandoah Indians proclaimed, “It is no longer good enough to cry peace; we must act peace, live peace, and live in peace.”

 

I have thus far taken somewhat a light-hearted approach to the various detours we face in our lives but some are deeply serious and life-changing.  How we handle the aftermath of these detours will determine what comes next.  Some detours are avoidable while others are not.  A driver crashed through a construction zone because he failed to be alert and take a different route.  A school bus slid off a roadway due to needing to turn around because its normal route was flooded by a sudden storm.   Both were detours of travel.  One was avoidable and the other not so much.  There were injuries in one and none in the other but both serve to remind us that even a simple trip home or school can result in a sudden detour.

 

Life gives us detours.  It is unavoidable but our response to such is critical.  All we can do is live justly and act, not react.  I ask that you seek the light and goodness and ask whatever your supreme deity is to shower love upon those who were affected.  We are all neighbors and need to remember that we are all called to be good stewards of our world and all living things.  The Oneida identified how to live with light and goodness:  “To be noble is to give to those who have less.  It is an issue of service and leadership.  Service is a spiritual act.  Service is the rent we pay for living, the anchor to our humanity.”

 

 

 

A Disappearing Act

A Disappearing Act

Detours in Life

Pentecost 8

 

They are one of the oldest legumes known to mankind.  They grow along the Rocky Mountains and were a staple of the tribe for which they are named.  Along with a blue maize or corn, they are all that remains of a most interesting group of indigenous people to live in North America.

 

The tribe is known as the Anasazi Tribe and they lived and then disappeared between 550 and 1300 ACE in an area now called Mesa Verde, Colorado.  IIN 1870 a photographer accidentally discovered remnants of the Anasazi civilization, a most sophisticated culture for its day and time.  Their life was based on agriculture and they invented innovative and creative ways for irrigation as well as constructed hundreds of miles of roads.  They did not have the wheel nor do we believe they had the means to transport animals except by foot.  Their homes literally hung on the hillsides and mountains and even today are accessed only by the most skilled of mountain climbers using modern ropes and pulley systems.

 

The word “Anasazi” exists in the Navajo language and translates as “ancient ones” when spelled Anaasazi.  However, it is also very similar to the Greek “Anasa” and “Zi” which translates as breath lives.  Some believe the name was the name of their queen and literally meant “Long live the Queen!”  Archaeologists have found evidence of the Anasazi in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, the “four corners region” as it is now known.  Many consider the tribe disappeared due to drought and a subsequent lack of food.  However, then the question is asked – Why not simply move elsewhere?  Others believe the tribe became disenchanted with their deities, the gods of their mythology and, once angry with the gods of their culture, they left, disappeared to…?

 

Today the closest neighbors of what would have been the Anasazi lands are the Hopi Indians.  Theirs is a culture very different from the Anasazi and no one believes they are descended from them.  It is very interesting that, while the Anasazi people have disappeared, one of their most prominent deities has not.  The Anasazi were the first to have myths about Kokopelli, the god of harvest, fertility, and plenty.  The Anasazi believed that a visit from Kokopelli would bring a bountiful harvest and good luck.

 

Kokopelli is claimed today by most American Indians and indeed many tribes have myths about him or a similar character.  Most described him in like fashion:  “ . . . everyone in the village would sing and dance throughout the night when they heard Kokopelli play his flute. The next morning, every maiden in the village would be with child.”  In modern times Kokopelli was compared to A Shakespearean character from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, Puck.

 

With these myths from the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, the newest lands of mankind’s living, we can see the similarities between all people.  Whether named for a Greek Queen or being used for a Shakespearean character, the history of myths and cultures follows similar paths.  Sadly, what does not disappear are our less than admirable traits – discrimination, fear, jealousy, and greed, among others.

 

What legacy has remained of the Anasazi includes their beans, a legume similar to the pinto or kidney bean and their blue corn.  What remains of the American Indians, even those extinct tribes are their words and names.  Almost half of the fifty states within the United States of America have American Indian names.  Other words, though create their own mythology.  American Indian words are often used to evoke images of might and strength.  A four-wheel drive vehicle originally created for military use became popular with the general population and one of their first models was named after a southeastern tribe – Cherokee.  Another model used mainly for off-roading was given the name of a southwestern tribe – Apache.  The military also appropriated American Indian names for one of their helicopters, the Chinook, and a missile, the Tomahawk.  Currently sports teams of all levels use American Indian names and the National Football league is embroiled in a dispute of such regarding the Washington Redskins.

 

For many, such appropriation of words from these indigenous peoples ensures that they will not be forgotten.  History sometimes is written for the victor and, in many cases, these indigenous tribes were not victorious in maintaining their lands or the ability to continue their culture.  Colonization sometimes becomes annihilation.

 

We can face that same dilemma when we are confronted with societal pressures ourselves.  Maintaining a lifestyle that adheres to one’s beliefs is not an easy task.  Remembering that faith is the strongest weapon is sometimes forgotten when we see the stories that terrorists create.  Nonetheless, faith is strong and it becomes stronger when we live it.

 

Life offers us a chance to detour from the heat of arguments to be vessels of peace.  We can either give in to the hysteria of fear or elect to be calm winds.  Faith is to be used, exercised, displayed, illustrated, and renewed each and every day.  We and we alone are responsible if our faith disappears.  It isn’t a magic act to live one’s beliefs.  It just takes doing it and that is the strongest force of all.  Sometimes life throws us a curveball and we must take a detour.  When we travel that road with faith, we ensure we will not disappear but make a lasting impression.

 

 

Enemies Gather

Enemies Gather

Pentecost 194

 

Today in the USA is a holiday, a holiday known as Thanksgiving Day.  Stories are told, depending upon one’s perspective about the American Indians living in the area hosting a harvest festival for the Pilgrims, newly arrived from England, or that the Pilgrims invited the Indian savages to a meal of giving thanks to the Creator.  It is a day set aside to give thanks, regardless of how you celebrate and many will gather with families to do just that.  It will not be a typical, ordinary day but rather one with platters of food and desserts, games, and frivolity.  It has been welcomed in this tense political climate and many consider it a pleasant change from the daily mood of the country.

 

In truth, the first Thanksgiving, taking place in 1621, was held amid much the same derision and division as people feel today.  The Pilgrims wanted to celebrate their first anniversary in the New World, a pilgrimage for religious freedom that had taken them first to Amsterdam and then Leiden in the Netherlands.  These Separatists had broken from the Church of England in 1607 but after a decade decided they needed to join the already established colony of Virginia.  Thirty-five members of the English Separatist Church joined other would-be settlers to embark on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Mayflower. 

 

Those undertaking the trans-Atlantic journey included a professional soldier named Myles Standish and the leader of the Separatists, William Bradford.  While still on board the ship forty-one men signed a document ensuring they would work together in a “civil body politic”, a document known as the Mayflower Compact.  The document would become the foundation for the first independent government of sorts in this new land.

 

The Mayflower failed to reach its intended destination of Virginia due to rough seas so those aboard hoped to settle in what was called New Amsterdam, now known as New York.  It was believed the two settlements were close together; we know today they are not.  Arriving in Plymouth Harbor in December, the newly arrived lived mostly on board the ship while they carried supplies to shore to build their living quarters.  Of the one hundred that had made the journey, over half died that first winter.

 

Living in the area were various tribes of the Wampanoag people.  The Indians had lived there for over ten thousand years, having originally been descendants of people from the Caucasus Mountain region in Eurasia. [The Arabs called these people Caucasian because of that although today the term is not used for American Indians but for people who came from west of these mountains, those of European descent.  Again, perspective has rewritten history.]    Those encountered by the Pilgrims as they now called themselves were of a group under Chief Massasoit, known as the Massachusetts tribe.  Tisquantum was an Indian living with this tribe, having escaped an attempt to make him a slave several years earlier.  Known by his English name Squanto, he had been captured by John Smith in Virginia and taken to England, as much a trophy as a servant/slave.  He had escaped and ended up with the Pawtuxet, another tribe living in the area.  Tisquantum/Squanto had learned English and served as a go-between for the two groups.  The Indians shared agricultural tips and hunting locations and the Pilgrims shared newer techniques for living.  In the fall of 1621 a joint feast was held amid the still simmering suspicions each group had of the other.

 

By 1622 power had corrupted Tisquantum/Squanto and his attempt to lead the Pilgrims in a revolt against Chief Massasoit failed.  He died later that year while leading an expedition around Cape Cod.  One of Massasoit’s sons, known as Metacomet or Phillip, assumed leadership of his tribe and in 1675, a war broke out between the two factions – Indians and settlers.  The conflict left over five thousand inhabitants of New England dead, seventy-five percent being American Indian.  IN terms of human loss of life, this was twice as deadly as the American War Between the States and seven times more deadly than the American Revolution or Wear of Independence.

 

That first ship the Mayflower had arrived in 1620 and was followed by the Fortune in 1621, the Anne and the Little James in 1623.  By 1630 some one thousand Pilgrim settlers were living the in Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Those first arrivals were known as “Old Comers” and many ended up leaving to go elsewhere due to the politics of the settlers. The term Pilgrim was not used until Daniel Webster adopted it in 1820 at the colony’s bicentennial.

 

What has not changed in the successive years of celebrating Thanksgiving is the fact that food is involved and groups of people gather, groups with differing opinions and usually lifestyles.  The momentum behind the celebration has also not changed – the effort being designed to give thanks.  Regardless of the year, the climate or the culture, gratitude is definitely worth our efforts.

 

Grateful people are healthier people and more successful.  They have lower stress levels and seldom suffer from depression.  Gratitude is not only seeing the silver lining of a dark cloud, it is living thanksgiving every day.  We are seldom if ever in a place where everyone is exactly alike or thinks exactly the same about anything.  Today as many gather together around the Thanksgiving table, some will like one style of mashed potatoes while others wanted candied sweet potatoes.  Turkey is the traditional meat entrée but many will have sausage dressing with it or oyster stuffing with their fowl.

 

The fact is that wherever we are, we are among those who are different, who at some point in history have probably been viewed by our ancestors as enemies.  Thanksgiving is a time to realize our uniqueness and celebrate our differences while recognizing that we all have something to offer to each other.  That first Thanksgiving was not a love-in.  It was a coming together with respect to give thanks to the Creator and creation.  It was time to celebrate the ordinary in an extraordinary way.  Hopefully, one day we can learn their example and live the lessons they passed down to us.

 

 

A Folk Tale

The Three: Willow, Branch, Leaf

Family of Man – Harvest

Pentecost 115

 

As promised, here is the story of Willow, Branch, and Leaf.

 

It is said that the creator looked through the clouds one day and saw a need for shade.  The heat from the sun provided much for the world but the people were beginning to spread their own type of heat – anger.  Grieved at this, a tear fell from the creator’s eye and from it, a tree grew.  The tree could bend and move as no other and it was called “willow” from the word meaning to roll and turn.

 

Beneath the willow tree three plants grew.  One grew outside the tree’s shade while another used the tree trunk to grow tall.  Still another stood straight and offered shade to plants around it, much like the willow tree did.   The plants provided food for the people who became more loving in the shade of the tree.  They reached out to each other more and life was good.

 

Nearby there were three sisters living together.  Different in appearance, the sisters loved each other and stayed together.  They believed their being together made them strong.  A visitor soon entered their life and spoke of other places and other customs.  Several nights later one of the sisters had disappeared and within the week another was gone.  The remaining sister blamed the visitor and cast him out.  She never spoke to strangers again and grieved deeply for her sisters.

 

Time passed and then the same visitor appeared.  This time he was accompanied by the second sister.  She told the elder sister that she had not meant to cause her grief but had wanted to grow and so had gone to see the different places the visitor had described.  She had come home now and had many different ways to improve their land.  The sisters hugged and were overjoyed.

 

One day after much time had passed the third sister appeared with her own family.  She was welcomed by her sisters and asked why she had stayed away so long.  “I needed to grow”, she replied.  “I also wanted to see the world, to make my own way.”  She also offered advice on different ways to do things but unlike her other sister, she eventually went back to her new home.  The sisters did stay in touch, secure in their love for each other which time had not dimmed.

 

A willow tree is very flexible and yet it is also quite strong.  Once believed to have possessed magical powers, its leaves are often used to help combat fevers.  Our folk tale of a willow tree being used to help alleviate heat has some scientific bearing.  The willow is one of the strongest trees, bending to the wind but never fully snapping or being brought to death by other forces of nature. 

 

The family of man is like the willow tree with all its different varieties.  We cannot ignore our differences but neither should we forget our similarities.  When we plant strong roots in our being of goodness and kindness, we will grow and flourish wherever we are.  Nothing can truly take away our love of family when we allow it to grow.  We too need to branch out and stretch ourselves both mentally and physically.  Through our actions of kindness and goodness, we drop leaves that can grow within other environs and improve the world.  Willow branches are said to be used by those believing in magic.  We can create the magic of goodness when we use our skills and actions for good. 

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu knows the value of our stretching and growing to spread seeds of goodness.  “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”  The family of man will grow when we remember to do good, not evil. 

 

Take Five

Take Five

Pentecost 99

 

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.  Two years ago this month I had to do a bit of parenting I never thought I would ever have to do.  I had to answer a text from one of my sons at college and on a church retreat regarding a news story he wanted to know about, more specifically if I had heard or seen on television.  Was there a report of a body found in an area lake?  I answered yes and then asked why.  Two days later I was hugging him as he came home for the funeral of one of his closest friends who had committed suicide.

 

Every year more than 800 000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds globally in 2012.

 

Let me repeat that number – eight hundred thousand.  For every person who commits suicide there are many more who attempt it and even more who have thought about it.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among those ages fifteen to twenty-nine years of age.  While seventy-five per cent of all suicides occur in love and middle-income countries, suicide is a problem that touches all socioeconomic levels.  The ingestion of pesticide, hanging, and firearms are some of the most common methods of suicide worldwide. 

 

Suicide is a serious public health problem, one that is completely preventable.  Today and tomorrow I will focus on this health problem and hope you will take five minutes to connect and show care to someone in your midst.  Trust me – Someone is counting on you and you might just be a life-saver to that person.

 

Everyone is at risk for suicide.  The link between suicide and mental health disorders, particularly depression and substance abuse such as alcohol is well-known, especially in high income nations, many suicides are impulsive acts.  They occur in a moment of crisis and exemplify a breakdown in the ability to cope with the stresses of life.  Financial problems, relationship breakups or chronic pain and illness are often the leading stressors that result in suicide.

 

There are some events associated with suicidal behavior, events such as conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss of a loved one.  Suicide rates are also high among those groups often bullied or targets which are seen as being outside the mainstream.  These vulnerable groups experiencing discrimination include refugees, migrant workers and their families, indigenous people, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/intersex (LGBTI) people, and prisoners.  The strongest indicator and risk factor for suicide is a previous attempt.

 

Someone you know has thought about suicide, possibly even yourself.  Each and every life is too precious for us not to take five minutes out of our busy day to connect with someone, everyone, and show them we care.  I will post more tomorrow on how you can be a superhero and save the life of someone who know and care about.  For today, please know that suicide is not an answer and that we do care.  You are a valuable member of mankind.  We need you, not just your memory.  Your life has meaning and purpose. 

 

Together

Together

Pentecost 69

 

Last night the world came together as it does every two years.  This time it was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The Olympics are not without controversy and these Olympics are considered the yet another installment of the “modern” Olympics.  We think of mythology as something akin to fairy tales, imaginary happenings and yet, last night, the world came together as part of a dynasty that, according to legend, was started by the mythical hero Heracles, also known as Hercules.

 

It is considered Olympic history that these games were held from 776 BCE to 393 ACE, a span of over twelve hundred years.  Most believe the games had been ongoing for a period of time before 776 BCE but this is the first year that the games were documented.  The single event was a race run by a naked runner.  A cook by the name of Coebus ran the 192 meters/210 yards and was victorious. 

 

This year is a continuation of the games’ reboot in 1894, the idea of a Frenchman.  A child during the Franco-Prussian War in which France was defeated, Pierre de Coubertin believed the key to France’s recovery was in strong athletes.  While others had tried to revive the games abolished by the Emperor Theodosius, Coubertin was a nobleman with the resources to persevere.    He founded the sports organization Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) and two years later proposed reviving the Olympic Games.   

 

“Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally. It inspires me to touch upon another step I now propose and in it I shall ask that the help you have given me hitherto you will extend again, so that together we may attempt to realise [sic], upon a basis suitable to the conditions of our modern life, the splendid and beneficent task of reviving the Olympic Games.”  In 1892 Coubertin gave this speech which was not well received.  In true Olympic spirit, however, he repeated it two years later at a meeting he hosted with seventy delegates from other countries and was met with more success.

 

Last night the world came together once again, this time with ten athletes marching homeless.  Entering under the flag of the International Olympic Committee and without a country to sponsor them, these refugees illustrated the current state of the world.  They also embodied the Olympic spirit, a spirit that Coubertin felt would benefit his country.  Their spirit will benefit the world and last night brought us together as one mankind, one people.

 

The flag bearer of this delegation without homes was a female swimmer Yusra Mardini.  She and others escaped the conflict and genocide in her native Syria and arrived in Turkey.  From Turkey the sought to reach Greece by boat but the boat’s engine died partway across the dividing waters.  Yusra jumped out and swam, pulling the boat and seventeen other refugees.  This petite young woman reached the shores of Greece and her journey continued to Macedonia then Munich and eventually Berlin. 

 

Riding in overheated and overcrowded busses and walking distances that would tire a marathon runner after swimming an event equal to those the Olympic weight lifters will endure, Yusra Mardini held onto her dream.  This year the IOC announced it would allow refugee athletes to compete under their own International Olympic Committee flag.  Companies such as VISA offered to help these athletes reach Rio so that they could compete.

 

The Opening Ceremonies told the history of Brazil as many countries do when the world’s sports stage comes to their shores.  However, Rio showed a ceremony that focused not only on the past but the present and the future.  They gave each athlete a seed to plant as they entered the coliseum which was then planted for the future Athletes Forest.  Nature has supported us and our life on this planet and while current emissions are putting such support in jeopardy, Rio 2016 planted seeds for the future.

 

The athletes are winners by virtue of trying but Rio showed us we can all be winners when we come together and work for the real meanings of life.  Coubertin believed  that the future was possible. “Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally.”  He believed the future was in the hands of those who ran a fair race in communion with all.  Yusra Mardini said it another way when asked about VISA’s corporate sponsorship.  “I think Visa is sending a message” that we “are all human in the end”.

 

We are all human in the end.  Together was can accomplish great things.  Together we can make an ordinary present into an extraordinary future.  With preparation, forethought and effort, we can create a better tomorrow together.

 

 

With Highest Regard

With Highest Regards

Lent 30

 

I can come across as a very serious person.  There are some things I take most seriously, things like respect, treatment of others, and honesty.  However, myself I seldom take seriously.  I believe having a sense of humor is vital to surviving life and I think if I cannot laugh at myself, I should not laugh at others.  Now, does that mean I have a good self-worth or a poor level of self-esteem?

 

Self-esteem is one of those words we all throw around but seldom really think about its meaning.  Most people consider self-worth and self-esteem to be synonyms but, as we discussed yesterday, they are not.  A good working definition of self-esteem is the confidence and sureness, satisfaction and assurance about yourself.  In other words, self-esteem is thinking highly about yourself.  Many dictionaries consider synonyms for self-esteem to be ego and pride.  While self-esteem is sometimes listed as a synonym for self-worth, self-worth is never a synonym for self-esteem.

 

Self-worth is defined as valuing oneself.  The true difference between self-worth and self-esteem is found not in the definitions or even the synonyms.  The easiest way to understand the difference between these two words is in their antonyms, the words that are their opposites.  Antonyms of self-worth are few.  In fact, generally speaking only one is ever listed and that is self-deprecation.  However, self-esteem has more antonyms, some of the most popular being ego, humbleness, humility, and modesty.

 

Having high self-esteem can become a rocky road and lead to thinking only of one’s self.  Self-worth, however, can lead to appreciating others.  When we are able to accept ourselves and value our complete being, then we can accept others and treat them with respect.  This recognition of our own uniqueness leads to an acceptance in the uniqueness of others.  It allows us to value the contributions each person makes to the world.

 

Having a good sense of self-worth leads to a life lived with positivity.  There is an ancient Cherokee American Indian story that tells the tale of two dogs being fed.  The moral is that the dog we feed is the dog that grows.  That may sound like simple logic but we often forget that fact when it comes to our own psyche.  When we “feed” ourselves negative thoughts, then we are feeding the wrong dog and turning our life into a self-defeating project with no hope of success.

 

We should feed the figurative positive dog within ourselves and help ourselves grow, nurturing our assets and building newer and better skills while emphasizing those we already have.  Discover what works for you and then capitalize on it.  Your favorite colors, music, etc. all will feed the positive dog within you.

 

When we use our unique talents and skills to help the world, our self-worth will grow immeasurably.  We will not need to follow the latest trend for a sense of self-esteem; our actions will give it to us.  When we learn to accept ourselves, then we can enjoy our being and live with confidence and contribution, laughing with pleasure not dismay, replacing sarcasm with smiles and delight in our being.  When our own personal value grows, then we can really blossom and enjoy being part of this wonderful garden we call earth.