I Am A Rock…

2018-04-18_17-23-20.pngSince I was a teenager in the 1960s, one of my favorite musical groups was Simon & Garfunkel. One of their most popular songs was “I am a Rock”. Due to my Aspie traits, I was somewhat of a loner back then so this song just “spoke” to me.  My mother had abandoned me a few years before, so that probably had something to do with it too.

The song is basically about a desire to avoid pain and heartbreak. In order to avoid being hurt by relationships, the subject of the song refuses to make friends or fall in love.  Of course, this approach to life is very isolating and painful in itself. The last two lines are evidence that this way of living is more dreadful than the alternative of being hurt.

It would be several years before I fully understood that no one is an island and no one is especially a rock.  But, it was kind of nice to think that others had gone through what I did during my turbulent teenage years. 🙂

It has been over thirty years since I last heard this song, but I still keep a copy of the lyrics along with many others and read them on a regular basis.

 

 

Wk- About Humanists Part 2

There has been a very long-standing debate about the morality of man that I was not until recently totally aware of.  It has to do with where the goodness of man comes from. Is it an innate characteristic or one gleaned from our spiritual side?  That is the question of this post.  Who said I didn’t tackle the tough stuff here at RJsCorner (ha).

First, let’s see what the various Humanist organizations say about themselves:

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I remember in my Evangelical days that humanists were not called humanist but instead secular humanists. I wondered what the difference was? Here is what Wikipedia says is the history of that:

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So, secular means those who reject or at least not concerned about religion. Given the current state of humanism, at least what I have come to learn so far, you can be a humanist without being secular. To make sure we are on the same level, there is the definition of secular:

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Unlike my once Evangelical friends, I am not at all frightened by those who proclaim to be humanists. In fact, they sound like someone I would like to know more about.  I will be doing just that in future Squawks.

If you believe their words, and why shouldn’t I, then they are:

  • about adding to the greater good of humanity
  • we are all responsible for shaping our own lives.
  •  duty bound to oppose actions that violate human rights.
  • are not better or worse than others.

It sounds like a pretty good list to live by if you ask me.

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Spring Has Sprung!! Hallelujah

For this artsy Saturday, I want to give you a taste of Spring.  This picture was taken about a year ago at the Prophetstown State Park here in Indiana.  It is beautiful to me because of its simplicity…

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The Capacity To Enjoy Less…

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Will Rogers is my favorite source for quotes but sometimes I discover wisdom elsewhere.  🙂 In this case, it is Socrates. For those who might not know the guy,  he lived 2500 years ago and is credited with being the founder of Western Philosophy.  His words above are probably more relevant today than when he originally spoke them.

Now I know this message is very counter to capitalism and if it were fully practiced in the USA our current economic foundation would likely collapse. Our economy  depends on each of us spending more and more, so developing the capacity to enjoy less is tantamount to heresy. But, it sure does lead to a more peaceful life if you ask me.

If it were up to me I would be living in a 300 square feet “tiny home” on a postage stamp piece of land. But, it is not up to me as I can’t seem to convince my wife of the joy of less.  But there are things I can do without her concurrence. One of those is over the past few years, I have shrunk my wardrobe to one-fourth its previous size. All of my clothes now reside on a three-foot closet rod. Even with that, I find I wear less than half the things still hanging there. My barn which was previously stuffed full of things I never used is now pretty much empty.

I have found that living on less is much easier than I imagined. I definitely have developed the anti-American capacity to enjoy less.

I Voted Yesterday

IMG_0187I want to let you in on a couple of secrets I have. Since they closed down all but one of the polling stations in my town I will be voting early now. The last time I voted on election day I had to stand in line with a hundred or so avid Trump voters. That was agonizing! When I voted yesterday at the courthouse there was just one other person in front of me. So, one of my secrets is that as long as I am here in Trump country Indiana I will continue to vote early.

The other secret is that in the primaries I usually declare myself a Republican! Now hear me out before your blood pressure explodes. 🙂 No, I haven’t gone to the dark side.  I do that so I have two chances to vote out the radical rights that inevitably run for offices now. We presently have a county commissioner up for re-election who thinks he is Donald Trump’s brother, or at least he acts like it. I did some research and voted for his primary opponent. If that doesn’t work out I will vote against him again in the November elections (early of course). This strategy probably won’t do any good but at least it will make me feel better.

I kinda feel like I am lost behind enemy lines where I live. Republicans dominate everything here from local offices through the national ones. My voice seems more a shout in the wilderness than anything else. But, I will keep shouting…

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Toxic Evangelism

Sadly the word “Evangelical” has come to mean a very negative thing for many people but to see it deemed toxic is simply frightening. But that is what happens when you mix Christianity with politics.  As the old saying goes it is like mixing ice cream with horse manure. It doesn’t hurt the manure but it sure changes the flavor of ice cream.

My friends over at RedLetterChristians recently held a prayer vigil near Liberty University. Liberty’s president Jerry Falwell Jr said any if any in the praying group step on his property they would be arrested for trespassing.  That is not the expected greeting of one Christian to another but that is what you get in today’s most recognized brand of evangelical. It is nice to see at least some versions of Christianity are sticking to their foundations.  Far too many have abandoned their principles in order to condone their politics. That makes the word evangelical toxic indeed.

I want to close out this post with some thoughts from Will Rogers almost a hundred years ago. Can you even imagine what he would have to say about it today?

If some of these birds would follow His example instead of trying to figure out His mode of arrival and departure, they would come nearer getting confidence in their church.

If they are going to argue religion in the church instead of preaching it, no wonder you can see more people at a circus than a church.

Missionaries are going to reform the world whether it wants it or not.

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Waiting In Line…

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canstockphoto35801773.jpgI have never been a person who patiently waits in a line. It has always seemed like a total waste to me. I will most often do anything to keep from having to stand behind other people. Now that I have taken the “One day at a time” approach to life, I want to live what I have left of life as fully as I can. Waiting in line is just not in that scenario.  And as Will said in the quote above many things just aren’t worth the wait.

Most of my grocery shopping occurs during the early hours when the store is almost empty.  I can order just about anything from Amazon now and have it on my doorstep within two days. Why drive an hour round trip to search through aisle after aisle trying to find what I am looking for and then wait to pay for it?

At an even higher level, I have come to more fully understand what the mantra “Simplify” means. I try to always stop and ask myself “do I really need this?”  Many times the answer is “No”.

Of course, there are times when waiting in line has to be tolerated. One of those times for me was when I wanted to get something off my bucket list. That something was a week at Disney World. Even though I visited the park during the off-season the lines were still pretty gnarly.  I loved my time there but will never do it again. 🙂

No Man Is Great If He Thinks He Is – Will Rogers

The topic of this post is the new quote in the header above.  I imagine everyone with an IQ above a cucumber knows who I am talking about.  #CO3 thinks he is the greatest human being ever to walk the earth!  But, I guess there are also some around, who do have the IQ of a cucumber who agree with him.

I’m sorry Will, but I gotta improve what you said here with some similar words of my own. Quote.png

This one just seems more appropriate to today’s primary situation, doesn’t it? If my quote is applied, #CO3’s greatness is about that of a cockroach, isn’t it?  But maybe I am just being too harsh.  I suspect deep down he knows what he is, but would never admit it. On the other hand, maybe he has been playing the part so long that his reality, like him, is severely bent. Yeah, I think that is likely the case…

My Garden, Be it ever so humbleLet’s end this post on a lighter note.  I seem to be fixated on cucumbers lately and that is probably because it is now veggie planting season here in the Midwest.  I think we had our last frost of the season a couple of nights ago. The weather this week is supposed to be in the 70s.  I uncovered my veggie patch today in anticipation of another fruitful season.  Lots of cucumbers, zucchinis, and tomatoes are in my future. 🙂

Happy Spring To Everyone!!

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#CO3 = Current Oval Office Occupant

The Happiest People in the World?

You know the old saying that “money can’t buy happiness”, and happiness is the most sought-after thing in life for most of us.  Happiness is even embedded in our constitution, LifeLiberty and the pursuit of Happiness. So, the question is just what does bring on happiness.

2018-04-15_12-18-05.pngObviously, money is not the answer so what is? To answer that question we need to find the happiest people in the world and ask them that question.  In the March 30, 2018 edition of The Week magazine, they identified Finland, closely followed by Norway and Denmark as the happiest people.  That just doesn’t make sense? For much of the year, Scandinavia has few hours of daylight and temperatures far below zero! So, what makes them the happiest people on earth?

I know all the Scandinavian countries are for the most part socialist. Does having universal healthcare, free education, abundant infrastructure make them happy? I’m sure it does but the happiest? I  know the very idea of happiness is hard to quantify. That same study shows the US sunk from 14th to 18th last year. Given our current political environment, I’m shocked it didn’t tank further.

Ok, let’s get to it. Social psychologists tell us we are social creatures. Much of our happiness as stated in the aforementioned article, flows from connections to other people, our sense of community and joint purpose. (I think that is the key). Danes have a word for this “hygge” I guess that matter more than wealth or GDP.

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The Perfect Picture

I have about 20,000 pictures in my personal portfolio. Probably one-third of them could be deleted and not really missed but that is beyond the purpose of this post.  I have a list of about a hundred or so that are 5stars. One of the top ten in that category is shown below.  I entitle it  “Box of Eggs”.  I think my attraction to this picture is because of its symmetry. My Aspie traits are particularly honed to order and symmetry. I found the picture in a Des Moines museum some years ago.

So, for this artsy Saturday, I give you a “Box of Eggs” yet again…

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Everybody’s Happy But Me…

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Sometimes I get the feeling that I am the only one in the world that doesn’t lead an “Ozzie & Harriet” life. I know I am dating myself with that phrase as it refers to Ozzie and Harriet Nelson which was a TV show eons ago. 🙂  They were America’s ideal fantasy couple in the 1950’s.

It seems my wife and I are constantly arguing about almost everything.  If I say up, she says down.  I have it seems more than my share of health maladies that plague me. Bad bones, a prostate the size of a watermelon (just kidding), a back that is as stiff as a board.  Why am I plagued with all this when everyone else is about great vacation, smiling families, and always going to parties with hundreds of friends.  At least that is how it is shown on Facebook. So many families just seem to be having Ozzie & Harriet lives if you believe their Facebook personas.

I guess the kids have moved on to other sites than Facebook but I’m pretty sure even those sites are about bragging how great your life is. The more virtual friends you have the more popular you are perceived. Even on Facebook, this old 70+-year-old is constantly getting “friend requests” from kids who I have no idea who they are. Somehow or another they ran across one of my RJsCorner posts and found another person to add to their list.   How sad is that? I think we all need to get out of the virtual world more often and cherish the real friends we have.

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The Land of Opportunity.

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2018-04-08_15-12-25.pngWe need the above quote now more than ever. With #CO3 trying to shut down our shores to keep everyone out, we must remember that is simply NOT what America is about. That paranoia is driven by the 25% of us who fear one thing or another.  #CO3 and his supporters see others different from them as potential competitors for jobs or at the worst as those who might do us harm or threaten their lifestyle or even their very lives.

America has been and will be again the land of opportunity for each us who are willing to put the work in to make it happen. It will once again welcome those wanting to be citizens of our country. Let’s never allow the fearful ones to deny us the fact that America IS the land of opportunity.

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#CO3 = CurrentOvalOfficeOccupant

Fat Americans…

Let’s face it, America is becoming a nation of fat people. Everywhere you look you see people who are many pounds heavier than they should be. They say that four in ten of us are significantly overweight.

2018-04-08_11-27-52.pngThe experts say one of the major causes is a poor diet. While fast food sales grew almost 25% in the last five years so did the American waistline. It has become a rarity that a family actually dines together anymore.  Everyone with an IQ over that of a mushroom knows that fast food is high in fat and calories and low in fiber and vegetables.

I personally struggle every winter season with putting on a few extra pounds. I exercise too little in the cold weather months and it is about the only time I eat sweets to any degree. I jokingly tell my wife that I have SAD (Seasonal Adjustment Disorder) but sometimes I really think I do. At least I have the seasonal depression that goes with it.

I don’t know if depression brings on weight gain or the other way around. I often wonder if those people who are way overweight are concerned about it? I know there are actually groups who now celebrate being fat! I guess that rationalization is just plain easier than trying to take off the pounds.

One of the saving graces to this trend is that today’s teenagers are faring better than adults. Only 20% of that age group are fat with only  5% are morbidly so.

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Cutting Taxes Is The Easy Part…

2018-04-23_18-51-12.pngAs the new header says the GOP just loves to cut taxes but that is the easy part.  They just don’t seem to be up to the more difficult part of cutting spending, or at least cutting it where a majority in Congress will agree.  They most often propose to cut entitlements as they call them.  Those are things that help the average citizen along in life. Things like Social Security, food for the poor, healthcare for those who can’t afford it are near the top of the chopping block list for them.

They don’t seem to realize that we are a nation that cares for the welfare of our citizens.  We, as our constitution says, promote the general welfare of our citizens. We care for each other.  The ironic part of the enigma related to this is that most of the GOP claim that the US is a Christian nation.  Jesus, who is the foundation of Christianity, said the two most important things in life are to love God and to love each other.  It’s hard to make anyone believe we love them while at the same time stripping a safety net out from under them.

I saw something the other day that shows that for the last forty years or so the Democrats have been more fiscally responsible than the GOP.  One of the biggest flaws of the GOP is that they can’t stop throwing money at our war machine, even when they don’t need it.

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The Enigma

2018-04-18_08-28-11I am starting yet another series this week about the giant enigma of our times. Just so we are clear on what I mean, I will give you a definition. For you who are observant, I’m sure you have already figured it out from the new header above. The Republican party was one of Will Rogers favorite subjects. He just couldn’t figure them out a hundred years ago, and not much has changed in that respect with them since then. In this series, I will take Will’s words about the GOP and see how they fit with today’s party.

canstockphoto31485978The GOP has almost always been about the most affluent among us.  There are probably hundreds of reasons for that, but I kinda think that funding politician’s careers is near the top of the heap.  Why grovel for ten thousand $10 contributions when you can get the same amount from just one person.  All you got to do is to promise that you will look out primarily for that guy and he will open his overstuffed wallet.

But the thing that really gets me about all of this is how so many folks who struggle through life are strangely in the GOP camp? It just doesn’t make sense to me.  That question will be one of the driving factors in my study of the GOP enigma in the coming weeks. In reality, I don’t think this enigma will ever end anytime soon. It will just have to be pushed aside by the rest of us.

I hope you enjoy my attempt at explaining an unexplainable enigma…

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