659: Ideas About Living

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All of us are tasked with the process of living this life we have. We manage this with varying degrees of success (however you measure success, which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish I am not touching).

Some of us (too many of us, in my opinion) are ended before we really have a chance to begin. Others have their brand new lives ended by a physical problem, an accident, or an illness in infancy – again, before they really  have a chance to live much of a life. Some, sadly, suffer the malice of another and are snuffed out of existence while still a baby, and others make it into childhood and get to experience some of the joy and anguish of living a life before one of those killers takes them out.

This is the luck of the draw – or part of the cosmic plan, given your philosophical leanings on the matter of our purpose in being alive. Some don’t get to grow up, and others choose not to grow up who do get to live long enough to make progress in that direction. We all can admit that getting older and bigger has absolutely nothing to do with “growing up,” or becoming a mature human being, right?

For those of us blessed enough (or lucky enough – or unlucky enough) to make it to the age of adulthood (maturity level notwithstanding), there is the question of how to live this life we have, and what shape and color our life is going to be, given our uniquely personal set of choices and experiences. Some of it we decide, and some of it is decided for us, and some of it just comes thundering out of nowhere and we deal with it the best we can. This happens for everyone. It’s different for everyone, which makes us all unique in our life path.

The nice part about this life living thing is that there is plenty of room in this world for all sorts of people, all living all sorts of lives. When the life you have chosen to live does not harm others, I have no issues with you and your choices. I may disapprove of the choices you make, but ultimately, those choices are yours to make. You won’t answer to me. Whether you will answer to someone or something other than me is a question of faith (and debate).

Where I have issues is with those who are earnestly convinced that they have the right of this living thing, and that their view of the right way should apply to all other persons, regardless of their beliefs of their experiences – and regardless of that other person’s ability, desire, or right to choose for themselves. I also have issues with those who sponge off of the effort of others, like parasites, in order to make their personal choices. Those choices DO negatively impact others who do not get the rewards for the work that they do.

What I can do about this is live my own life as ethically as I can, as much as I am able to control myself, growing and maturing into the best person I can be. And I can also live my life standing up to those who choose not to do the same.

 

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658: Personal Ethics and God

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Most of have a system of personal ethics we try to live by – a set of foundational beliefs. We try not to be hypocritical, even though sometimes we are. For example, most of us believe telling a lie is wrong, and then, we tell a lie anyway – when it is convenient, to get us out of a sticky situation, to save face, to avoid punishment, to avoid social discomfort (so-called white lies)….we actually DO lie, even though we philosophically believe that telling a lie is wrong. That is the essence of hypocrisy, and most of us are guilty of it.

Once you realize that you are actually a hypocrite in some situation dealing with one of your personal ethics, you have a conscious or unconscious choice to make – and either way you go, realize that you have actually made a choice. You can change the behavior to match your foundational ethic, and tell no more lies, OR you can change your ethic to match your actions; lies that benefit you are OK. Even if you just keep doing what you have been doing (being a hypocrite – telling lies and thinking yourself an ethical person who believes that telling lies is wrong) that is still a choice, and arguably, that is the worst choice of the three. It is also the choice that most of us usually make, because the other two choices (both clearly ethically superior choices that align your beliefs with your actions) mean that you will have to make some changes, and change is difficult. People are lazy, and change is difficult, involving work and thought and effort, and most of us are not up to that challenge, sadly.

If you believe you are a servant of God, just being an ethical person yourself isn’t enough. God expects you to put action to your beliefs (not just private philosophical thought) and actually do some work for the Kingdom. Sitting on your butt in your reclining chair might mean that you are doing no harm, true, but you also are a pretty useless servant of God, sitting there doing nothing but being harmless (and useless, too). Are you waiting on God to miraculously drop opportunity into your waiting, prayerful lap? Well, yes, He CAN. He usually DOESN’T. Get up and do something. He will let you know if you are not on the right track, what with Him being God, and all.

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And for the love of aforementioned God, don’t take pride in your character flaws. If you recognize a character flaw in yourself, guess what? God, in the form of the Holy Spirit’s conscience within you, has pointed out that area of your life and personal ethics (or lack thereof) that HE wants you to work on. That’s why you have come to recognize that aspect of your character and personal ethics as a flaw. The longer you go without correcting that flaw, the more difficult it gets to fix it, because you get really, really good at justifying your behavior to yourself, explaining to yourself why that flaw is not such a flaw, and how you aren’t really supposed to expend the effort to fix it, because, after all, God made you that way. That is the essence of disobedience. God didn’t make you that way – you did that yourself. You KNOW it’s a flaw. Flaws need to be corrected, especially once you have recognized this is a flaw you possess, and the fact that you don’t want to give up this flaw that you possess is part of your disobedience.

Whatever this flaw that God’s finger is on – you know it. You know it is something that you need to fix, you are just lazy, and possessive, and comfortable with it, and you don’t want to give it up, and do the necessary work, put in the necessary effort, to correct it. Realize this,  if your motivation to improve needs a little kick start: you are denying yourself blessings because of your willful disobedience. God knows He told you about it. You know God told you about it. God knows you know. You are being disobedient in not addressing this thing He wants you to give up and correct. Disobedience separates you from God and His blessings.

Prayers not answered? Be obedient to God’s prompting. Struggling? Pray and ask for the will and the strength to do what you have been told to do. Let go, and give up what you have been asked to fix. Yes, it’s work. Breaking any bad habit is work. But, you can do it.

And the blessings of obedience are worth it.

657: Teachers make all other professions possible

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I teach. I don’t talk about it much. When I was a new teacher, there was craftsmanship. It was an art. Computers took all of that away.

The policies under which I now work are absolutely NOT helping to produce productive, mature, responsible human beings. I am not proud to be part of the current process. I do not believe being able to retake a test is helping students prepare to take tests. I do not believe it is helping to require a teacher to put 50 points of academic credit in the grade book for NOTHING – no student effort expended whatsoever, other than breathing (not an academic activity last time I checked), not even including non-attendance as a factor – NO – I am told to award academic credit for NOTHING. How is that helping make a responsible human, employee, citizen?

Yes, I am doing all that I can do (and still keep a job) to properly, carefully, and competently educate and guide my students, working diligently, helping them become better young humans. Still.

There is only so much I can do in an hour a day to offset what they have (and have not) learned at home, and from the media, and their peers. Teaching responsibility is often a fairly painful process, and that isn’t allowed in schools anymore. People make mistakes, often painful ones, that cost them time, or money, missed opportunities, points, and other things they want. It is not getting those things when a mistake is made, and learning from the pain of losing out on something you wanted, that helps teach responsibility – and it isn’t allowed anymore. The rule used to be “no pain, no gain.” Now the rule is “no pain, no pain.”

Now, all that occurs when a student makes a mistake is that a parent calls and complains. Then I am told that an exception will be made. Nobody is learning to be responsible in school anymore, AS IF they are miraculously just going to achieve that state when they walk across that stage at graduation. Yeah, right.

When I am old and feeble, and cannot care for myself any longer, just shoot me. It would be kinder. I do not want to depend on the youngsters we are producing in American schools today when  I am unable to care for myself. I have seen what they think is a good job. Worse, I have seen what they think is “good enough.” Nope. Just shoot me.

656: Dreaming

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I am continually amazed at the “stuff” that comes up in my nightly forays into the land of slumber. Do your dreams consist of the strangest things, or is that just my demented brain?

Many people attach great significance to the things that they dream: the people, the objects, the settings and situations, the issues that crop up – even whether you dream in black and white or in color is supposed to have some sort of significance – or so I  am told. Dreams are portents of things to come, or the subconscious processing of things that have passed. I hope not.

Jeepers, creepers, I hope not. My dreams are nothing I want to see happen in my future, and many of them are nothing that has every happened in my past, and some of them are just surreal short stories or novel-length aberrations of a twisted reality I’d much prefer, like, and hope to think had nothing whatsoever to do with awake me.

Maybe that’s why I am up so late at night: I am just avoiding joining in the madness that awaits on the other side of waking.

655: Andersonville, GA

This tiny town was the site of a Civil War prison camp for captured Union Soldiers. Near the close of the war, it was every bit as horrible as German concentration camps. The death toll from starvation and disease was high, and the commemorative grave stones stand shoulder to shoulder, marking trench-style graves. There are stories of those who worked to relieve the suffering there in those last bleak years of the Civil War in the devastated South. The Union states who had soldiers die here erected monuments to their memory in the early 1900’s.

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The monument from the state of Wisconsin to commemorate fallen Union soldiers from that State who died and are buried at Andersonville.

Since then, this has become a National Historic Site in commemoration of Prisoners of War, with a museum on site, and a National Military Cemetery. It is less than an hour off Interstate 75 on the vacation trek to Florida, and can be seen in a few hours. It is worth the visit. Admission is free.

The neighboring village of Andersonville also has a small museum of Civil War artifacts, including uniforms of the armies and regiments, both Confederate and Union. This Confederate Drummer Boy uniform is one of only two like it known to exist. The little museum asks a small donation to view.

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654: Missing

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I started numbering these posts when I began purging myself using this medium as an outlet years ago when I lived and worked (teaching) in Morocco. There is a place here where some post numbers are skipped (no, I’m not telling), because I wrote some things that I was literally afraid to publish, but I still needed to process the feelings via this method of vomiting out what’s the problem (or the success, or the random thought) on this blank page that begins with a number.

This is therapy, and it damn sure costs less than a professional.

Speaking of that, I live and work now (again) in the United States of America. Very, very few of us here can claim to be impoverished (by world-wide standards). Yes, many of us are struggling here, but here, “struggling” usually still happens with a place to live, food, power, and running water. Of course there are exceptions, but generally, that is true in the USA: poverty is relative. This relative affluence (even in poverty) explains why so many hate us and still try mightily to come here. Where they are doesn’t come with relative affluence in poverty. I get that.

I understand that I am blessed beyond measure just by the happy accident of being born where I was to the parents who had a hand in creating and raising me. No, they weren’t perfect. Who is? I am mature enough (always have been, in this regard if not in others) to appreciate what they did for me. They were certainly quite good enough.

They raised me right, which I tried to pass along to the children I have contributed to this planet. I did wrong on my own – which any adult worth the title has to own. We don’t get every decision correct, and there are also the things we have left undone – even when we had good excuses/reasons.

I have had a good life – even the chapters I dislike, skip over, and just choose not to re-read. Thank you God, for being far more merciful to me than I ever earned.

653: Just Do It

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In the relationship scenario where partners are “supposed” to be equal, THIS is the guiding motto: Just Do It.

I am not counting the relationships that are based on servitude and power. I am not including relationships where service is bought and paid for, and yes, those relationships certainly do exist. I mean a relationship where two people are attempting to get along and share lives with each other – you know, the relationship most of us would like to think we have, are providing and are contributing towards.

Just Do It. If you see something that needs doing, just do it. Do not see it, and just pass it by, knowing that your partner will take care of it, because they usually do. If you are there, and see that it needs doing, Just Do It.

This includes cleaning the toilet, changing out the empty roll of tissue for a new one, cleaning the tub/shower when the mildew starts growing, sweeping/vacuuming, dusting, washing the dishes, putting the clean dishes away, starting a load of laundry, or folding and putting away a clean, dry load – feeding the dog/cat, or handling other pet needs like a bath, litterbox, walk, or vet visit, cooking a meal, or handling the billion and one needs associated with having children to care for and raise. This is only a starter list, and believe me, when the relationship gets lopsided with one partner handling most of the “maintenance” chores that just come with living? That isn’t a partnership. That is unpaid servitude. And it justifiably incites resentment in the person saddled with the unavoidable tasks of daily living. They ARE unavoidable tasks – that YOU are avoiding.

Just Do It, unmet, can be the reason why there isn’t any sex between you anymore. It is difficult to feel loving towards someone who is shirking daily tasks and leaving work for the other to do. It can explain why your partner is quiet and distant. You aren’t contributing to  shared living when you refuse to contribute to the little chores that come with living. Both of you live in your home. Both of you need to take responsibility for taking care of it, and your belongings within the home. Neither of the two of you should be responsible for all of it – and not even the lion’s share of it.

That’s why it is called sharing. That’s why you are called partners.

It your toes are smarting, good. Step up. Just Do It. Try your new commitment daily for thirty days, so it becomes a habit, and see if your relationship improves. An improved relationship is worth thirty days’ investment of your time and energy, right? If it isn’t, why are you even still there?

Just Do It.