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Memorial Day Message

I watched President Biden’s Memorial Day Speech today. It is the best speech I have heard from him thus far. Here are a few of the highlights for me:

He talked about the Right of Remembrance. He may have meant “Rite”, but I thought about the current efforts in the country to keep particular parts of our history out of the history books our children will be using in schools. Every community’s history needs to find a place in those books. Our children should know the truth even the bad so that we can learn from mistakes and continue to grow.

He refers to the United States of America as “the Great Experiment.” Of all expressions this stirs patriotism in me the most. This nation is attempting to make a democracy work in a world where many in the world believe it can’t. It takes work, honesty, willingness to tell the truth and to change when needed. This phrase stirs me to be part of those who keep trying to make the country better.

“They died for us, for the freedom to…” I have heard this phrase multiple times. This morning I ask myself “freedom to do what?” For many Americans, it mean freedom to do whatever they want. But Biden stressed the importance of oneness…which for me, means caring for our fellow Americans. It is the golden rule applied. As I seek my own freedom, I seek the freedom of all Americans, especially those who have been deprived of their rights thus far.

He said, “Empathy is the fuel of democracy.” YES! As I implied above, Democracy only works if we are working for one another as much as for ourselves. Empathy is the capacity to see and feel experience from another person’s vantage point.

This was my favorite: “Every year we get a little more inclusive.” This gave me hope. When we are studying history, we need to tell the truth about the harms we have done, yes, but we need to also acknowledge the lessons we have learned and the improvements along the way. Sometimes I lose sight of these and that is when my patriotism wanes.

Today I thank those who gave their lives for my country. I hope to make their sacrifice worth it as I try to work with others toward the American ideal:  One Nation Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

CRISIS IN AMERICA

So far this year, in our United States of America:

Over 200 mass shootings
7,500 plus killed in shootings
23% increase over 2020

This past weekend, in our United States of America:

13 mass shootings in 8 states
13 dead and 70+ wounded,
each shooting involved at least four victims killed or wounded

This is a nation “Awash in Guns”
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey

 

Carl Jung’s Wisdom

I happen to love Carl Jung. He has made a difference in my life. I found on the web a list of his most insightful quotes. I would like to share a few of those today.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”

This one really strikes a chord with me: “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”

“The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”

“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.”

“There’s no coming to consciousness without pain.”

“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase of knowledge if he knows what it is not.”

“The privilege of a lifetimes is to become who you truly are.

from “22 of the Most Insightful Quotes from Carl Jung” by Justin Gammil

Emily Dickenson on Fame

Emily Dickenson wrote a poem years ago that for some reason resonated with me even though I was young. I think I intuited that being known, being famous, has its downfalls. In my responses to the blog I wrote about Trump the other day, I alluded to the problems that come along with fame and power. Here is what
Emily wrote:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Blessed is the man who has fame but understands it’s pitfalls and chooses righteousness. He knows himself.

 

The Trump Effect

I don’t know how your life has been effected since Trump came along. Before the election of 2016, I didn’t really know much about him. I don’t follow the rich and famous because I find them boring. For me, rich is meaningless. particularly as a reason to be popular. Give me character any day as a reason to pay attention to someone.

I never supported Trump. I didn’t even have to know what his policies were for me not to like him. Here are my reasons:

  1. He was unkind, even abusive in his rhetoric. My first introduction to him before he ran for office was a scene from The Apprentice in which he shamed a woman who failed to win whatever it was she was competing for. It was awful and it felt crushing to watch. There was nothing he could do after that to redeem himself.
  2. He was dishonest. There are many excuses for not telling the truth. Among these are…just joking…not having all the facts…everybody does it…trying to achieve a good end…it is just a little white lie…not hurting anybody. None of these hold any water with me.
  3. He was paranoid. He couldn’t seem to handle anyone disagreeing with him – anyone!. You were either 100% with him or !00% against him. Worse, those against him he treated as enemies and set out to destroy them.
  4. He was known to screw people for his own benefit. He claimed to be a great business man, but there was a trail of money he owed to contractors and workers that somehow managed to stay out of the headlines during the election process.
  5. He was sleezy. People who supported him didn’t seem to mind his treatment of women, even how he talked about them, but I did. He made me squirm. I thought that I would never allow him to be around my granddaughters if given the opportunity.

    No matter what I thought or felt, Trump became our president and served his four years. I don’t agree with all of what Biden is doing but he isn’t any of the above and that helps me to relax.

If we could say goodbye to Trump and move on, that would be great, but it isn’t happening. I am not talking about his control over his a party or anything like that. I am talking about the effect he has had on us, all of us. I don’t know about you, but I am struggling to remember how much I liked certain people before Trump came along. At one time it didn’t concern me whether a person was a conservative or liberal. There are definite political differences in my family, but we don’t allow these differences to get in the way of relationships. Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when our family was indeed nasty when it came to politics. There were some heated arguments. But over time it became apparent that we needed to make a choice to either let go and allow others to believe differently or to ruin the family. We chose love and respect. What little discussion there is about politics today, family members choose respect over trying to prove they are rights. Unfortunately, not all families have managed to find this level of acceptance.

Families are not the only communities impacted by this negative spirit of which I speak. A change has come over the country. Political parties don’t just disagree -there is genuine hatred between people. People are being threatened. Some have been physically harmed. The attack on the Capital Building on January 6 is one thing, but the continued threats to the members of congress and their families and the concerted effort to “punish” those who don’t agree is sick. I am seeing in the political world, national and state, all of the above traits of our former president. He left behind a poison and we are all effected by it.

I am genuinely worried about the families, neighborhoods, our country and the world at large. This spiral downward feels evil. I fear more people suffering, even being killed. To me there is only one answer: Jesus preached love, love with NO EXCEPTION! Remember “Love thy enemy”? Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King taught us how to disagree without violence. All of the major religions preach the Golden Rule as a guide to living in this world where others are different from ourselves.

It seems over-simplistic: LOVE. I remember the words of a song, “Love isn’t Love until you give it away” Love as an idea is worthless. We each need to grab hold of it and figure out how to apply it. Change our thinking. Stop the judgment,  Act kindly. Don’t just avoid abuse, but avoid abusive language. Don’t gossip. Don’t hold grudges. Show gratitude. Help those who are different from us.

As for political news, I now avoid listening to angry and judgmental rhetoric even by those who hold the same political position as you do. There are liberal news shows I no longer watch, not because I disagree with what is being reported, but because of the cynicism, sarcasm, and judgment in the voices of the hosts. I find they have the power to increase my anxiety level and throw me into a fearful stance.

I hope and pray we pull out of this dark place. I am working on it.

Meditation – Why Do It

Over the years, I have had a couple of experiences  (one is still strong for me) that occurred as I practiced meditation.

But for the most part, meditation itself doesn’t lead to any kind of psychic bliss, which some folks assume is its purpose. Peace, perhaps, but not bliss.

I see the fruits of meditation in the rest of my life, developing an eagle’s view, a deepening of hope, openness to the teaching offered me by nature, a consciousness of time, of connection, cause and effect.

Understanding of people, their struggle to be free, seeing them in their bondage.

So life in this way, is changing.

But do I feel bliss when I meditate? No. And somehow seeking it is to set myself up for disappointment.

So I do it because it seems the path chosen for me, an act of obedience.

And yet, I think of moments when I feel true Oneness, especially with nature, when I can call the trees and flowers or a blade of grass “companion”, when I am prodded to listen to critters, birds and four-leggeds, for the message they bring, when a word from a friend, a child, an author – that strikes me as a word from my God – a revelation, a direction, an assurance, a comfort.

Moments when I have peace and serenity, akin or close to moments of Oneness,  stillness in the midst of drama, often someone else’s drama, an “okay with the world”, accepting “life on life’s terms”, Okay, with a touch of joy.

From my journal September 8, 2014.

Reading my thoughts of 7 years ago, I see that I was on to something. I had practiced meditation for years in search of an experience of some kind. By the writing of this reflection, I had learned that spiritual experiences are not to be sought, they are given unexpectedly and uninvited. Their timing seems perfect most often in hindsight. They are not necessarily blissful or even good feeling. Think of the proverbial, “When God shuts a door, he opens a window.” Having a door slammed in your face is not pleasant but it is a spiritual experience.

Extending the door metaphor, over time one can stop before hitting the wood. They can ponder, prepare, rest in the awareness that God has another path that we might consider. Bliss comes when we trust that so totally that every experience feels right.

Today is always a good day. It is always, as my mother would say, “an adventure.”

 

Decisions and God’s Will

I wish I could say, at 70 years old, “Now I know how to live.” But that never happens. I keep trying new things when a way I’d chosen  doesn’t seem to get me where I want to go. Sometimes I get real and say, “I don’t know where I want to go.” or “I don’t know what I am supposed to do.” I don’t even know if there is a “supposed to.”

I heard a friend talking about this idea of “God’s will”. She is about 10 years behind me in age. She just finished 2 years of intensive education to qualify for specialized work in education. The study was so hard she often questioned whether this direction was God’s will for her. Even now, finally applying her new knowledge, she asks the question, “How do you know what God’s will when faced with a choice?”

I’ve grown weary of the question. I look back on my life with decisions and I think, “What if I’d chosen the other path?” The answer is simple to me: the place of arrival would be different. My path would have been different. Today, I would have a whole different set of friends. Would I appreciate them as I do the ones I have now? Would I be married? If so, to someone else? That would change the whole dynamic of my family. Would I be better educated, more worldly or the opposite? Are there opportunities that would have presented themselves that didn’t on the path I did choose?

(Sounds like “what if” and “the road not taken.”)

This I believe: Had I made a different choice that would have significantly altered the circumstances of my life. There would be something of me that would be the same as I am today. And there would be something else of me that would be different.

Back to my friend’s question. I think we expect the wrong thing of God when we expect him to make our decisions for us. I don’t think God cares much what job we take or education we pursue or where we live. Maybe, not even who we marry or how many kids we have. God creates us to be the special self, a unique presence in the world, no matter the choices we make. “Go into the classroom you’ve chosen,” God says. “Bring into it the shining light I have created you to be.”
“Go into that committed relationship and bring the your true self into it.” “Go into that job and be who you are as I have created you to be.” Because, YOU are the divine present in whatever spot in the world where you are standing.

That changes my mission. I see it now to become fully the person God created me to me to be. The decisions are mine to make. God suggests only that we make them lovingly.

From my journal, November  10, 2014.