Archives For October 2011
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I see from my statistics that the following post is one of my most popular. So I thought I would bring it back for another round. Nothing has changed since I wrote it in January.
That is a question that has been on my mind the last few days. I have lived for more than six decades on this earth so I have been exposed to probably millions of different situations but what is the saddest? The list initially was quite large but the more I have thought about it the more it shrinks. I think I am finally down the one thing and that is lazy minds. I know, on first thought, that seems a strange answer. After all there are things like world hunger, hatred, prejudice, homelessness, constant wars, and many other things that seem more serious. But the more I have thought about it the more I am convinced that all of the above mentioned things are a result of lazy minds.
Our ability to think is perhaps the most significant thing that God gave us to separate us from everything else in this world. Being able to analyze our circumstance and then make knowledgeable decisions and then changes is something only man can do. God gave us our intellect so we could develop it and use it to further his kingdom on earth. When we lay back and refuse to use our God given intellect I believe we are sinning against God at a most basic level. Lazy minds are not limited to any particular ethnic group, economic scale, or spiritual sphere. It is endemic across the entire spectrum of human condition.
Lazy minds allow us to just sit back and take on our parent’s prejudges as our own. If our parents didn’t like Jews or Blacks or Hispanic or whatever then we it is likely don’t like them either. If only we exercised our minds and found that all these prejudges are without any merit or reasoning whatsoever we could more easily purge them from reality.
Lazy minds allow others around us to control how we perceive almost everything in this world.It is just easier to have someone to show us one way of thinking and not even consider that there are other possibilities. It allows politician to tell us what to believe, marketers to tell us what to buy. It allows others to tell us what to believe about almost all aspects of life including our spiritual one.
Finally lazy minds prevent us from solving many of the otherwise solvable problems in the world. We have the technical ability to eradicate most of today’s problems if only we got off our butts and did something about it. World hunger is definitely something that is fixable. The main thing that prevents us from doing that is we have not figured out how to interact with each other or how to choose leaders who could do that as our representatives. We allow our leaders to tell us what to think, who are enemies and friends are and almost everything else about our living in this world. We let them separate us into clans that they say must battle each other.
Lazy minds prevent us from knowing who God really is and what he expects of us. We allow others to tell us their truth about God instead of discovering it ourselves. We allow others to selectively point us to the particular words in the Bible that “they” deem the most important instead of studying all the words ourselves. We allow others to tell us who to avoid or even hate instead of following God’s command to love one another, even our enemies.
We allow one generation after another to try and take the easy way through this world. Why study when we can be world class athletes? All of us in one degree or another refuse to exercise our minds to even a small percentage of their capacity. It is just too easy to let others think for us. That is the saddest thing in the world to me.
I love a dog, he does nothing for political reasons. -
Will Rogers — December 3, 1933
It never ceases to amaze me just how much of a sage Will Rogers was! I know Will was always surrounded by dogs in his life. I also know that I have been surrounded by dogs much of my life. Especially since my marriage of twenty six years ago. I think there is a TV show entitled “Its Me or the Dog” or something like that. If my wife were to have to make that choice I think it would be the dog instead of me :) But as usual I am getting off track here.
One thing that makes me a dog lover is their unconditional love of their owners. I don’t like being the center of attention when it comes to most issues but I can’t avoid being the center of attention of my dog Beulah’s life. She is my constant companion; where I go she most often goes with me. To Beulah it doesn’t matter that I am deaf. She has ways to communicate with me that don’t depend on my hearing. The way she wags her tail, the way she uses her nose to nudge me works just fine. It doesn’t matter them I am a shrinking senior citizen who seems to lose a little more mobility as the days go on; as long as I am able to provide her with the required one or two daily walks she is happy.
But one of the things that I appreciate most, especially in today’s world is that Beulah does nothing for political reasons. It seems like everyone has a political agenda now days. Beulah could care less about such things. Her main concerns are our daily walks to the mail box (I am getting nudged now about that so will have to end this post soon), her afternoon naps where I join her on my/her couch when I can, and of course her evening meal. Politics are as far from her mind as the man in the moon. Thank you Beulah for taking me out of that world. Now it is on to the mailbox with Beulah tugging me all the way.
There is some very interesting stuff going on with the Wall Street Rallies lately. The latest theme of these rallies are “We are the 99%”. This draws from the fact that currently 1% of the U.S. population controls about 50% of the total wealth in the country. Due to the high umemployment at a time with correspondingly high bonuses for the super rich (1%) the people are finally starting to realize that something is wrong with the current way our capitalist system is operating.
This 1% number rivals even the medieval serfdom times in the Middle Ages! And given the exodus of middle class jobs and high unemployment the serf mentality seems to also be taking hold. Getting back to the interesting thing as mentioned in the beginning of this post, it seems some of the 1%, or at least those near the 1% are joining the 99%. To the right is a picture of one of those individuals. I’m sure there are many in the “real” 1% who are screaming that “Those are just the spoiled rich kids who don’t appreciate the power that was given to them….” In some ways that is probably true but since a good percentage of the 1% got to where they are by the elimination of the inheritance taxes deemed “death taxes” by the spinners hired by the 1%.
To many in the 1% their wealth is I suspect kind of secondary to them. The accumulation of the money and power is what they are actually addicted to. The money itself doesn’t mean as much as the power. I read somewhere recently about how stressful J.P. Rockefeller II life was due to the pressures of inheriting such tremendous wealth. I’m sure those who are without a job in today’s world and are having trouble putting food on the table or the keeping the bankers from foreclosing on their homes don’t have much simpethy for the “poor stressed rich people”
I certainly celebrate the 1% who are standing with the 99% to put more power to the people. When this condition reached its peak in the 1700s in Europe it resulted in the French Revolution. That was certainly a bloody one for the 1%. I certainly hope that doesn’t happen again but we do need to fix this total inequality before it does.
So, here is to you 1%ers who have a conscience.
But what do I know….
Here is a quote from Jim Wallis over at Sojourners that will be the foundation for this post.
Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began, the talk about inequality has been greater than I can remember it being for a very long time. This has been the elephant in the room in our discussions about the economy that nobody wanted to say out loud. In the last hundred years, there have been two peak periods of great inequality in American society—just before the Great Depression, and in 2008, right before our current Great Recession. And in the mysterious and secret global transactions between investment bankers and hedge fund traders, the profits continue to grow.
From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector peaked at 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In the 1990s it reached postwar period highs by going between 21 and 30 percent. But this decade it hit 41 percent. These profits weren’t from products, and weren’t always from finding the best use for capital, but from money-making more money for a new class of super-rich financial traders. And now, when their risk taking, greed, and selfishness created a mess for so many others, we bailed them out and left everyone else to suffer in the economic wilderness of unemployment, home foreclosures, pension losses, deep middle-class insecurity, and rising poverty rates.
It is indeed encouraging to me also to see the amount of attention that financial inequality is getting in the U.S. today. Almost everyone who is knowledgeable on the topic admits that the conditions in the financial sector currently pretty well mirror what they were prior to the Great Depression of the 1930’s As the quote above mentions this sector of the economy is not about enriching lives in general or making products and services that are beneficial to the general population. It is about making money with money. Hedge funds for example are nothing more than gambling on what direction the stock market will likely go. They produce no benefits to any one outside the person trying to game the system.
President Bush bailed out these guys just before leaving office and it seems that, as Jim pointed out above, it left everyone else to suffer unemployment, housing foreclosures, pension loses and the resulting very deep middle-class insecurity. Some are now pointing out these times as being the “Post Hope America”. Given the bitterness found throughout much of our world today there might be, but I hope not, a reality to that phrase. Will the Wall Street protests accomplish any good toward these ends? Who knows. But like most root level protests they must stay active for several months if not years before they are deemed serious by those yahoos in Washington. The only thing that might result in a quicker recognition is a wholesale change in the people in congress. But that will even be over a year before it can happen!
But what do I know.
Christ, in sending the [people] to the scriptures, sent them, not merely to read them, but carefully to search and ponder them. And did he not say, “Read the scriptures,” but “Search the scriptures.” … Their meaning is not expressed superficially or set forth in their literal sense, but, like a treasure, lies buried at a great depth. And those who seek for hidden things will not be able to find the object of the search if they do not seek carefully and painstakingly.
- St. John Chrysostom
Homily 41 (John 5:39-47), A.D. 390
John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities.
The above title is something that many people espouse to live by. But in my opinion you can’t just go with the flow in your retirement life. At least not the way I perceive it or at least not in the beginning. Going with the flow is allowing things to happen without much outside intervention. When we enter your retirement life each of us needs to have some plan on what we are going to do and what we hope to accomplish. Without that plan going with the flow could mean getting up every morning, watching TV all day and then going back bed at night. It could mean being a full-time couch potato! This type of flow is indeed hapless and very easy to get trapped into.
For most of us retirement from a full day job is the first time in our adult lives that we are free to choose just about everything that revolves around our life. Of course if you are married those decisions have to be passed by your better half. :) When we enter our retirement years most of us have no set commitments or tasks that burdened us during our full-time employment years. We can choose what we want to do and when we want to do it. For some of us this is a very exhilarating time, for others it might prove to be pure agony. There is nothing wrong with going into retirement without this plan fully in place but you can’t let time slip by and “go with the flow” for too long.
In reality your initial plan usually ends up being only a starting point and many time doesn’t resemble what you finally end up doing but that is OK. Personally there is only one or two of the items from my initial list still on my life plan. Some have been modified in some details and others proved to simply be something that I really was not interested in. Experimenting with what you want to be in your retirement years is actually one of the most stimulating and exciting things that will probably happen to you.
So, don’t just go with the flow when you enter your retirement years. Try to determine who you want to be and then set out a plan for accomplishing that vision. Maybe who you want to be is quite a bit different from who you presently are; maybe the two are the same. But don’t pass up on the opportunity to make changes in your life now that you are free of many of the day-to-day burdens that hampered you prior to this time.
I am now in my eleventh year of retirement from my corporate job. This time is the most exciting, fulfilling, and enjoyable times of my life. They can be for you too with just a little planning…..