Pokémon Part Deux

Pokémon Part Deux

Pentecost 58


Yesterday’s post elicited some interesting comments.  Apparently the most heavily downloaded game in recent history is not supposed to be criticized.  Someone even asked me how I dared to compare people spending time playing a game with people spending time trying to achieve world peace.  Allow me to explain my thought process, please.


Henry Hazlitt, one of the economist’s quoted yesterday stated that when we are able to see that for which we spend money and our time, then we feel it is profitable.  “The Broken Window Fallacy is enduring because of the difficulty of seeing what the shopkeeper would have done. We can see the gain that goes to the glass shop. We can see the new pane of glass in the front of the store. However, we cannot see what the shopkeeper would have done with the money if he had been allowed to keep it, precisely because he wasn’t allowed to keep it.” 


I also reference environmental activist David Suzuki and his describing the same thing with an example of a corporation polluting a river instead of a broken window.  Once the river is polluted, Suzuki explains that a costly program will be implemented and residents will purchase bottled water because the naturally flowing water they had depended upon is now polluted.  While the grocery owner will appreciate the increase in sales of bottled water and some people might be hired to work the cleanup program, overall quality of life has suffered and the individual has lost money in his/her pocket because of the need to purchase the bottled water.   


Hazlitt summarized that we never get to see what positive things might have been wrought with the money that was instead spent on repairing the broken window.  Suzuki also posited that we would never know what programs might have used that cleanup money if the pollution had not occurred.  Economic winners are always easier to track than the losers and Hazlitt proved there will always be losers in such a thought process.


In offered the opinion that world peace offers a much quicker and clearer path toward economic prosperity and general well-being.  Monies spent on the destruction and subsequent injuries could be spent on finding cures for naturally-occurring illnesses.  Instead of fighting each other, the economies of said countries could grow with stability and increased growth which would provide more trade opportunities, increased production and escalated job growth and prospects.


So what, are you thinking, does this have to do with Pokémon Go?  This latest reality-based mobile game is said to get kids off the couch and out into the real world.  After all, the more you move around, the more opportunities you have to score points.  Like the broken window fallacy, though, we fail to see the real picture.  While these players are moving around capturing and accruing points, other things are left undone, other sights unseen, other responsibilities left undone.


I proposed that what we really need is a Peace Go game.  We need to recognize the points the world accrues when we do find a cure for a disease like cancer.  Forty years ago people died from AIDS but today, people are living with it longer than anyone ever dreamed possible.  Two years ago, an ice challenge dared people to pour ice cold water over themselves.  Those who failed to take the dare paid ten dollars and many paid rather than get soaked in freezing water.  Yesterday it was announce that those monies have resulted in medical breakthroughs.  I know of no one who died from the ice bucket challenge but today many have a better chance to live because of it.


I suggested that we need to start awarding points to those who see opportunity in ordinary living and create extraordinary living for others.  We need to expand our definition of a hero to include the teacher who teaches a child how to say thank you, to the stay-at-home mother who teaches courtesy to her children, to the father who works a dull job but provides for his family.  We need to realize that we all are players in the reality game application called life.  The only way to really win that game is to create and support peace.  Otherwise we are all losers. 


World peace may seem like an ideal but if it happens, it will be a tangible reality that benefits everyone and everything.  It will not give power to just one person or group.  No one ethnicity or culture will be supreme.  What we will have will be a winning strategy for life, foe making every day extraordinary, every life having value and opportunity, of mankind coexisting together and with his/her natural environment.  Our points will not be on a scorecard but in the faces of all we encounter.  In the game of life, we need to change our goals from beating others to wining together.



Lent 1


They will be all over today…. the people with a little smudge on their forehead.  Today is Ash Wednesday and for many, it is a day to make visible the cross that was placed on their foreheads in oil at their baptism.  In some beliefs, the ashes are the remains of the palms from the preceding year’s Palm Sunday.  In others, they are the remnants of the holiday decorations, the greens which hung throughout the Christmas season.  Just as the wearing of a yellow hat or numbers tattooed on the arm signified one’s religious affiliation during the mid-1900’s in Europe, these smudges are a sign of faith, of commitment, a sign of being part of something larger than themselves.


During the next forty-six days (I count straight-through, including Sundays), we will plant a garden.  We aren’t growing a rose brush or even vegetables, although this is the time of year in the northern hemisphere to start to do that.  We will be growing ourselves.


The purpose of this blog is to explore the connections we have with others and for the past two years we have done just that.  We’ve woven stories, explored through literature, exchanged recipes, and traveled the world seeking sacred places and artifacts.  However, it is time to look inward and undertake the hardest thing of all – a look at ourselves.


This is not going to turn into a self-help blog; don’t worry.  I am neither that knowledgeable nor qualified.  The conversations will continue, I hope, about all of mankind.  Like any good weaver, though, we need to take stock of our fibers and for this series, we will look at the fibers of our own being.


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” The spiritualist Rumi gave us our challenge.  However, I am not so concerned with you changing yourself as I am about you finding value within yourself.  We are all uniquely made individuals and we all have value.


In his book “Make the Most of You”, Patrick Lindsay quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.”  Lindsay mentions that there are three actions we all can participate in:  leave everything better than how we found it; wear our scars proudly; unleash our own song.  In this series, I want you to plant thoughts that will help you blossom.  I want you to sing and sing your own individual song as it becomes harmonious with the rest of mankind.


Being an individual in this world is not easy.  Last night, the United States officially began the process of electing a new president by voters in New Hampshire taking part in the first primaries of the year.  For the past eight or nine months, the candidates have engaged in efforts to make themselves unique and the debates have illustrated how much they are striving to be just like their constituents while at the same time trying to make themselves stand out from the crowd.


One winner of the primaries last night did this by seeming to join a party, although he is officially still listed as an independent.  The other did this by misbehaving, interrupting, screaming, and instead of discussing himself, discussed what was wrong with everyone else.  If one was trying to find depth in any of the debates, one left very disappointed.  If nothing else, the process thus far has illustrated the need for a search of self and there is no better time than for us to begin our own right now, starting today.


One of my favorite philosophers of the twentieth century was not a philosopher at all.  She was an actress, the late and magnificently great Katharine Hepburn.  “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

Colombian writer and reporter Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in his book “Love in the Time of Cholera” explains what we must realize in order to grow a better version of ourselves.  We have to understand that “human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

I hope you will join me in this series of self.  We really cannot afford to waste this opportunity.  We never know if we have a tomorrow so we owe it to ourselves to give today all we can.  Trust me…You are worth it.





The World Tree

The World Tree

Pentecost 175

What do Indo-European, Siberian, and American Indian religions have in common?  What do the mythologies of Hungary, Turkey, Mongolia, Germany, Finland, the Slavic nations, Scandinavia, China, and India have in common?  Better yet, what is the significance of the order of mammals to which mankind belongs to the first two questions?

The answer to all three questions is …a tree.  I’m not referring to the more modern definition of a tree which is used in computer science, a tree being a way to organize abstract data.  I mean a tree as in botany – the climbing kind of tree that offers shade and can be climbed, offering a delight afternoon of fun for youngsters and a source of refuge when needed.  Trees are plants, plants that have an extended stem, known as a trunk, which supports branches and leaves.  Trees are perennial plants, which means they have a life cycle greater than two years.

In the northern hemisphere we are at the end of the autumn leaves color tour.  On trees all over, and especially in the northeastern United States of America, leaves have given way to yellow, red, and brown hues before they fall to the ground.  Technically, chlorophyll breaks down as the amount of sunlight decreases and photosynthesis ceases.  This causes the bright green of the tree’s leaves to fade to yellow, gold, and then orange.  Glucose, another part of the tree’s nutritional system, can become left in the leaves and this causes them to appear red or purple.

Now imagine you know nothing of the science of trees.  All you know is that the leaves suddenly turn into a palette of earth colors.  No wonder the concept of a tree, a world tree, features in so many religions and mythologies.  This large, colossal tree supported the sky and linked the earth to the heavens.  With its roots going so deep into the ground, it also joined the Underworld to the rest of creation.

For the Mayans, the tree was symbolic.  Its strong trunk represented the inner strength of mankind, of each of us.  The branches spread out in all four directions of the compass, something which greatly appealed to and was noticed by these ancient and brilliant astronomers of the new World.  A tree’s branches were also symbolic of the connection between human beings and their gods.

We all have roots; we all have a past. Different species of trees have different types of roots.  Some go very deep; some are quite shallow, growing along the top of the ground.  Some seem very strong while others are gnarly and, well, unattractive.  Sometimes our own past is not so pretty.  That past, however, gives us roots and, if we let it, can nourish is just as the roots of a tree gives it sustenance.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once remarked:  “In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”  One can also pick a culture and find a mythology about trees.  They do much more than simply tower over other plants.  They stand as natural monuments to life itself.

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”  Albert Einstein recognized our need to explain the world with myths and the importance of science in helping us achieve a sense of humanity.

We are indeed all part of a world tree, a family tree of mankind.  Lord Tennyson summarized it most succinctly:  “I am a part of all that I have met.”  Lest you think such thoughts are only ancient history, let me leave you with a quote from someone in this century, Ellen DeGeneres.  “The truth is, we are all one connected thing.”  We are indeed connected.  Like trees in a forest, we may stand independently but we comprise together one large entity, the family of mankind.  That is not a false story, something dreamed up on a cold winter’s night.  It is fact.  It is science.  It is…life, our life.  We are both tree and gardener, a part of the arbor and the arborist.  Nurture the tree within you today and respect the ones standing next to you in this large garden we call our home, our planet earth.