Essential Elements

2 Jul

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This is not an easy time to be a human being on planet earth.

Some of us have canceled newspaper subscriptions and sworn off electronic news reporting.  It used to be said that “no news is good news” but that’s not true anymore.  Many would say that “all news is bad news”.  The earth and its inhabitants are suffering in alarming ways.  Under these circumstances we hold on tightly to philosophical or political ideas, defending them to the death…literally in some cases.  Religion for many has become an important anchor in the storm, but then we fight savagely about who is right and who is wrong…more often than not it’s the other person who is following the wrong dogmas and doctrines.  The average person on the street seems to feel disconnected, powerless to make much of a difference, and resigned to take one day at a time, hoping for the best.  In our worst moments discontent produces despair, despair leads to fear, fear to anger, and anger to violence.  One wonders how long humanity and the earth can stand the endless assault of fear and her children.

I don’t know anyone who has practical answers to the perilous problems that wake us in the morning and send us into the darkness at night.  I certainly don’t.  But perhaps instead of fretting over the problems, each of us might consider focusing on the possible, which is finding a meaningful balance in my own life and choosing to live each day in that balance.  To that end I offer three words that are engraved on the little pendant on my neck chain.  In these three words I find a measure of hope, not for solving world problems but for helping me hold onto my humanity while at the same time honoring yours.  The words are Serenity, Wisdom, and Courage.

Serenity is not easy to come by, but it’s possible when we are intentional.  Decisions made from a state of anxiety, choices born of fear, actions taken in knee-jerk reactions to hatred or prejudice only deepen the abyss.  On the other hand, decisions and choices and actions that are the products of thoughtful reflections of a calm mind, an intentionally quiet spirit, are much more likely to find common ground with my neighbor who seeks the same balance.  Serenity does not mean withdrawing.  It means finding the better way, a way that unravels the tangles of our turmoil.  So, seek Serenity…find a way to tap into that which is already available…use any method you can find to calm your mind and hear creative possibilities.   Serenity.

Wisdom is not knowledge.  One can know a great deal but have little wisdom.  Wisdom is most often the product of engagement and experience, the give and take of living, a synthesis of information and experience that produces insight.  It is accumulated, acquired through interaction, and it is much broader than one’s opinion or personal preference.  Wisdom takes the other person or culture into account, considers broadly, and then seeks congenial conversation toward a common solution.  Wisdom is not weak.  It is sorely missing in current cultural, political, and religious arenas.  Knowledge is useful only when it is tempered by wisdom, and wisdom is acquired when people are more concerned about drawing circles rather than lines in the sand.   Wisdom.

Courage is not bravado and bluster.  It does not hide behind weapons or words.  Courage is the ability to overcome fear or despair, an ability that is too often misrepresented by threat or intimidation.  There is no courage pill to swallow; rather it is developed over time when one risks, takes a chance, tries the unusual, dares.  It is fraught with uncertainty and few guarantees, and in some cases it requires great sacrifice.  But without courage based on wisdom that comes from the balance and stability of serenity, we will continue to isolate ourselves from each other while doing great harm to our home, the fragile planet that gives us all life.  Courage.

Serenity. Wisdom. Courage.  In my life and in your life, those essential ingredients just might make a lasting difference.

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