Archive | October, 2013
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One Way

29 Oct

One Way

Polarized people worship at the altar of “OneWayness”…and we’re getting better at it all the time.

Is there only One Way to do religion, or politics, or bake an apple pie, or make a salad? If you are a sports fan and listen to the stunning variety of National Anthems sung before the first pitch, you know that one song can be sung many ways…unfortunately. For some of us One Way means my way, and, of course, that’s the right way. But that inflexible One Way usually leads to frustration and defensive fear. The One Way sign on my street is meant to ease congestion, provide safety and and keep us all moving, but it’s just one approach…there are other routing systems that might work as well. Traffic circles, or Roundabouts, accomplish the same goals and they have multiple entry and exit points. They are more like a dialogue than a stern pronouncement.

I remember hearing as a child an old saying that was meant to make the point of diversity and variety: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat!” I understand the point, but I wonder if we don’t often pay a lot more attention to the skinning than to the cat.

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Kind Words

26 Oct

This photo was taken in a local hospital…yes, a hospital…inside. Beneath the photo are the words: “you are now in a No Passing Zone”. A few more lines remind hospital workers that no one is to be overlooked or passed by without a greeting. No one passes a room with a call light on. No one is too busy or too much in a hurry to answer a question, give directions, or make someone else feel welcome and valued. Everybody is responsible for hospitality.

Those of us who have been passed by or overlooked or ignored know the uncomfortable feelings associated with that kind of behavior. Imagine what it must feel like to experience that every day because you are poor, shabbily dressed, uneducated and unwanted. So let’s establish No Passing Zones everywhere we go…starting today. Everyone deserves courtesy and a kind word, and that kind word might be the very thing that transforms the giver as well as the receiver.

The Importance of “3”

21 Oct

Flip a coin.  Draw straws.  Check your horoscope.  How do you make decisions?

The pressure is on us all to buy things because that’s the way our economy works.  The more I spend and buy, the better the overall economy.  At least that’s what I’m led to believe.  But what I do is end up buying things I really don’t need.  I may want it, but I don’t need it.  That doesn’t stop me, though, and so I make the ill-informed, emotional decision to spend money for the newest edition of this or the latest version of that.  My decisions are influenced by pretty pictures and phony promises.  I’m the joy of Madison Avenue…and I’m tired of it.

I think most of us make decisions to satisfy three particular areas of our lives.  The first is Ego.  The second is Altruism.  And the third is Personal Gain.  When I analyze my own reasons for doing the things I do, trying to be as honest as possible, I discover that my ego often demands a hand in the game…is this going to make me look good or bad?   Or, that my desire to be helpful is made at the cost of others’ welfare…my family or loved ones.   Or,  that I calculate how the choice is going to put more coins in my pocket…is this going to benefit me financially or emotionally?  I’m not saying that Ego, Altruism, and Gain are bad things; they just get out of balance and lead me down some regrettable paths that might have been avoided if I had some mechanism or method for making thoughtful, better informed decisions.

So here’s what I’m going to do.

 I’ve decided to take a deep breath and ask myself three questions before making important decisions.  The first is “Is this the right thing to do?”  The second, “Am I doing this for the right reasons?”   And, “Is this the right time to make this decision?”  The right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time.  And, yes, I know that some standard has to define the “right” – whether that standard is ethical considerations, or philosophical concepts, or spiritual beliefs.  Mine happens to be the last one, so I will ask those three questions against the background of my spiritual foundations.  Is this potential decision consistent with the principles of my spiritual understanding…it is the right thing?  Am I about to make this decision for reasons that contradict or undermine those beliefs…is the reason appropriate?  And, is this decision coming at a time that will most support or fulfill those foundational beliefs or is it ill-timed, better considered at a later date…is this really the right time?   No one can say that decision making is always easy, but maybe something like the three questions will help me avoid the regrets of poorly made choices.

It beats flipping a coin.

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Through The Fog

8 Oct

Through The Fog

Bridges serve a good purpose. They span otherwise impassable places. They are even beautiful sometimes. And even when the fog moves in, bridges can still speak of strength and connection. So many dots need to be connected in this world…so many dreams need to be linked up…so many chasms need to be spanned. The human bridge of compassionate understanding is always under construction. It will finally lead us all where we need to go if we persist in building it.