Electing to …

Electing to ….

Pentecost 170


In 2011 author Judith O’Reilly decided to do one good deed every day.  In an article written for the London-based Daily Mail’s online publication fittingly known as “Mail Online”, columnist Bianca London interviewed O’Reilly.  ‘I didn’t realize when I made the resolution that New Year what I was taking on,’ she says in the epilogue to her book.  “I’d made resolutions before… but the idea of doing one good deed a day morphed into something else again.  ‘This year made me question what a good life is, how we give our lives meaning, and what it is to love.  ‘It also taught me that people don’t always want the good you want to do, and that doing good – believe you me – is harder than it looks.”


Today in the United States, voters are twenty-four hours away from electing a new President of the United States of America.  It has been an election that many claim is unlike any other.  A candidate considered to be ill-suited has parlayed his lack of experience into an asset.  The more experienced candidate has been criticized for living a life that – well, gave her experience.   However those voting choose to vote, I hope they  will focus on the spirit of living and remember that, through our voting, we show our the beliefs we profess to hold dear.


I recently got called out by a person regarding my “seemingly liberal views” in a comment.  I always enjoy feedback and often answer direct questions.  I respect everyone for having a point of view because I also have a point of view.  However, this person asked me to apologize and explain my stance so, my first deed suggestion for this series, is ….respect.


Earlier this year I told you about my attending a lecture series having five parts.  The last speaker talked about the environment and said several things that were, scientifically, not factual.  Did I stand up and scream “Liar!”?  No, of course I did not.  This person had the right as an invited speaker to say what they wished.  I deeply regret that some people walked out of the meeting thinking erroneous facts but respect for another required that I say nothing.  There were several courses of actions I could have taken afterwards.  One would have been to engage the speaker in some polite chatter and asked for their references, casually mentioning what I felt might have been said in error.  Another would have been to send them a letter comparing my references with theirs and asking for what clarification or reconciliation they knew.  A third would have been to accept that the series was more about gathering together than about academic learning and that others probably realized this as well.


I elected the third course of action, out of respect.  Was it a pleasing choice?  No, not really but I do believe it to have been the best.  I could, of course, be entirely wrong about that and would love to hear your thoughts.  I sincerely hope no one left the meeting and became a vegetarian because of the speaker’s comments that beef cattle are ruining the atmosphere with the amount of methane gas they discharge.  The truth is that dairy cattle produce twice as much methane gas as beef cattle.  Becoming a vegetarian may be the best health choice for someone but such a decision should be based on health and religious reasons, not a misspoken statement given in a speech.


Was I disappointed that the speaker gave out erroneous information, this being just one example?  Naturally I was but again, that is the decision this person made.  We all make such decisions, whether it is to jaywalk or pull into a parking place someone else had their eye on or even to short tip a server for their services.  These decisions reflect on our being and illustrate our own spirit of living.


I will not apologize to my readers for being a liberal because I don’t think of myself that way.  Reminding that the person screaming about one man’s infidelity also committed infidelity in his own marriage and did so in his multiple marriages does not necessarily make me a liberal.  It means simply that I have a brain and memory and am putting both to use.


I firmly believe if we put eight people in a room and ask them one question each regarding the topics of religion, faith, lifestyle choices, or even just fashion preferences, for each question we would probably receive at least twelve difference answers.  We should insist everyone think exactly the same as we do.  We must respect another person’s right to their own opinion, even when it contradicts their own actions.


It is that contradiction that I hope to illustrate and, perhaps, cause us to consider.  I firmly believe most of us are good people and try to live good lives.  We sometimes just don’t stop to think and yes, that includes me.  Never think I hold myself up as a sterling example.  I am, as my bio states, a struggling wanderer on the road of life and I have fallen into more than my fair share of pot holes and taken wrong turns in life.


Life is a journey and I hope in this blog and particularly in this series, to offer a few ways to make that journey a little more pleasurable and effective.  I hope I have, in this series for Pentecost, challenged you during this series to make this time a little less ordinary and a bit more productive – both for the world, your community, and most importantly, yourself.


“You were ordered to obey to Allah, and you were created to perform good deeds.”  While I do not identify as a Muslim, I really do appreciate this quote.  The author is considered to be the first person to convert to Islam, being a cousin to Muhammad.   As a collector of quotations, he is among my favorites.  Respect today that wisdom knows no labels or sectarian divides and do yourself a favor by reading up on this man and some of his quotations.


William Shakespeare once wrote “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”  We can all do our little part to make the world a better place.  It is, in every religion and spirituality, part of the credo for living.  Whether liberal or conservative, non-religious person or devout, doing good just makes good sense.  It doesn’t take a lot of money to create a smile.


As those of us in the USA go to the polls to vote tomorrow, I hope we will vote for a better tomorrow for all and not simply allow fear to be our compass.  The point of living is not to do so in sixty-second sound bites but to make a meaningful and lasting positive impression.  Richelle Goodrich sums it up very succinctly:  “Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone’s day.”


Real Fear Motivates

Real Fear Motivates

Pentecost 158


Recent events have indicated that stress levels in the United States are directly linked to elevated levels of stress.  Many blame the rhetoric of the Republican candidate while others feel it is the alleged dereliction of duty and proper security protocols by the Democratic candidate that are the cause.  Some have washed their hands of the election process completely which adds to the stress of others who firmly believe such an attitude will lead to anarchy and the dissolution of the nation.


None of this stress is creating anything but more accusations, however.  Where is the cause and effect?  While negativity does lead to elevated stress, it can also create action.  IN today’s climate, the higher stress levels claimed by many are simply leading to more verbiage without greater action.


Jon Huntsman, Sr. is well known as the founder of a global chemical manufacturing company.  What might not be as well known is that he gives away a great deal of his income.  He became a serious humanitarian in 1992 after a diagnosis of prostate cancer.  En route to the hospital, he wrote a one million dollar check to a homeless shelter, another to a local soup kitchen feeding the homeless and poor, and half a million dollars to the clinic that first diagnosed and discovered his tumor.  He later began his own cancer foundation at a cost of over one billion dollars.


This humanitarian has long been giving away his money, which totals well into the billion dollar range. Founder of a global chemical manufacturer, his serious giving days began in 1992 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. On his way to the hospital, he gave a one million dollar check to a homeless shelter, another million to a soup kitchen, and $500,000 to the clinic that first found the malignancy. Huntsman would go on to found his own cancer foundation, which cost him more than one billion dollars alone. His donations have even gone so far as to knock him of the Forbes list of wealthiest individuals. 


It is said that there are no atheists in a foxhole during war when bullets or missiles are flying overhead.  True fear motivates people.  The reality is that fear creates its own cause and effect and in order to withstand the fear, we seek to do something, to make the situation better.  There are those times where we have no control over the fear.  We can control our response, though.  Behavior to bring about positive changes helps us destress.  Making what has become ordinary during this election something extraordinary can be as simple as doing something.


Volunteering to be a mentor or, if you do not feel academically capable, volunteering to help behind the scenes at such locations, is a perfect start to living your beliefs and helping your local community.  Rather than listening to someone tell you how to live, go out and live according to your beliefs.  Baking or providing cookies for public servants like firemen or police officers is an easy first step.  Being a Big Brother or Big Sister is another and these programs have training sessions to help you get started.


If making hats or weaving plastic bags into water proof mats is more your style, your local homeless shelter would be happy for donations of your handiwork.  One of the easiest ways to make a blanket is to purchase a yard of flannel and then fringe each end.  That is done by cutting slits five inches long on either end.  The strips become fringe and the blankets is an easy yet warm addition to any homeless person’s bedroll, lightweight yet a good layering insulator for cold nights.


Hopefully, you will not wait until you are scared or have a diagnosis of a life-altering or possible life-ending disease.  It doesn’t take a million-dollar paycheck to become a humanitarian.  We all have the ability to help another and when we live grace, we receive grace.  Life is really just that simple.  Life is much more that going about your daily schedule stressed out.  Life is about making positive change with positive action.