628: Rules and Mercy

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Today’s people believe themselves unique from all others, and entitled to special consideration in honor of that fact. Yes, it is a fact that you are a totally unique person – JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. This uniqueness is both unremarkable and ubiquitous – that means it is universal, and something that is universal certainly doesn’t make you unusual, or deserving of special considerations for being exactly like everybody else.

Rules (and laws, for that matter) come about because somebody caused a problem, a serious problem, and the rule or law was established to prevent someone else from causing the same issue – in other words, somebody screwed up and now everybody else has a rule/law, including those who didn’t need it because they’d never do it, anyway. Like murder, for example. It’s against the law to kill another person. DUH. Despite it being against the law, with specified serious consequences up to and including we (as a society) will KILL YOU BACK – apparently, that potential consequence doesn’t stop a whole lot of people from doing it anyway.

Aaron Dickson, President of the Board of Directors of the Texas Prison Museum stands on November 19,..

And this, for something so serious that it could very likely end up terminating your unique existence on this planet – they do it anyway.

Now, imagine this mindset, the murderer’s mindset, applied to all the many smaller rules and laws that exist to keep order in a society: I’m going to do it anyway because this broken rule/law won’t (usually) kill me. This is the recipe for chaos in society, and friend – we are THERE.

The evidence is there to show we have arrived. A quick Google search supplies the frightening fact that people KNOW that texting while driving, which BTW, is illegal nearly everywhere, can kill (and does kill, on average, about 11 people a day) and yet  35-45% of people DO IT ANYWAY. More than 15 of every hundred adults (37.8 million) in the USA is a smoker, KNOWING it can and does kill. The list of irresponsible, life-threatening risk-taking continues in like vein for many, many behaviors, for many, many thousands of people.

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This doesn’t include the little stuff that is designed to make a workplace, a home, a school an orderly place to function. If people are so contemptuous of the stuff that can and does KILL people, I suppose it is entirely within character for them to frequently, usually and completely ignore all the others, too. I can only assume this is because, as a totally unique individual, I am therefore cosmically exempt from all strictures and consequences. hahahahahahahahaaha, yeah, right.

There is such a thing as mercy. God offers it in the act of salvation, and occasionally, He suspends His usual laws of the universe and miraculously bails out someone from the natural consequences of their own actions – or circumstances beyond their control. It happens too often to be just chance. Occasionally, and more and more frequently in this modern age, judges and other administrators dispense mercy to individuals who also don’t deserve it.  That WOULD BE the definition of mercy: salvation, or grace extended to the undeserving.

COUNTING on mercy to absolve you when you deliberately flout rules and laws is stretching it. Very few escape justice (man’s or the cosmic variety) forever in this life, and no one escapes it in the next.

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625: Not Perfect

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I am not perfect. That is why I am Christian. I know full well I am not perfect, and that I need my God and a church family to help me be a better person than I would probably be left to my own devices. I need encouragement, I like being useful to others, I like helping out with activities and outreach. I need Christian accountability in the same way an alcoholic needs AA – when I am out of fellowship, I slide into sometimes destructive behaviors and ways of thinking that are not always uplifting and wholesome. I don’t want to focus on the problems, but instead – the possibilities. That’s not who I want to be, that negative person – so I attend, where I am in community with others who want to be reminded of all the good things we can do in love, and who we can be following the greatest example I can find. Church goers aren’t attending a saint’s club, but instead, a hospital for sinners who are looking for and wanting a better way. That’s a good church.

If I was a perfect person, I would not need a church family, or God, for that matter. I could be out enjoying my Sundays with all the other perfect people who don’t feel the need to attend. Why do perfect people need anybody or anything else?

What I am is trying to be better today than I was yesterday. I am not perfect, and don’t pretend to be.

582: Remember

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Remember how it felt when Obama was elected the first time in 2008? Remember how you celebrated victory, and what you had to say to those misguided people who were bitterly disappointed? Remember when he was re-elected in 2012, and you were proud and sure of the rightness of the world, feeling vindicated about all you knew to be right and true about America? Remember?

THIS is how it felt to the other side in 2008 and 2012.

*sigh*

Do not put your trust in kings and princes (or presidents). God is every bit as much in control right now as He has ever been. He is able to create a victory out of a horrible mess, and He is working to have things just as they should be, which we often do not see or understand.

Remember when you said to give Obama a chance to prove himself? Ditto.

Remember when you said suck it up, buttercup, you lost, now let’s move forward to get some serious, much-needed work done for the country? Ditto.

Remember when you said to respect the American process, and the office of President, even if you could not respect the person? Ditto.

Remember when you said it’s time to heal divides, and work together for the good of everyone? Ditto.

NOTHING about what you said then was WRONG. It’s just harder to hear it and embrace it sitting on the losing side of the fence. Believe me, I know – and Trump was never my candidate.

579: The dumbing down of America

My brand spanking new hubs has obtained a job managing one of two employment agencies in our tiny south Georgia town. I have taught high school and middle school (some) for 26 years in Georgia (all over the state). What he is reporting is a confirmation of what I have been observing for decades.

Employment agencies offer their services free to job seekers. Companies contract with them to vet their potential employees, but the company ultimately gets the final say in any hiring, and the employment agency gets a finder’s fee for vetting candidates on behalf of the employing company.

As part of the candidate process, there is a drug screening, an employment application and interview, and a screening employability skills exam. Sort of a very low-level SAT. VERY low level. The questions include: how many inches are in three yards. How many is a half dozen. What is 50% of 150. Plus other similar mind-blowing, difficult, major league, scholarly questions. Most applicants (teens to adults) fail the screening exam.

I have taught high school in my state for 26 years. His results absolutely do not surprise me. And we are getting worse, not getting better- I do not care WHAT the government pundits are telling you about improving test scores.

Our schools took out career/life classes like shop and home economics. They replaced them with curriculum that presupposes all of our students are headed off to college. Yeah, right. The governor of Georgia just released his new “mission goals” for Georgia schools. It includes the statement that ALL Georgia students will earn college or career credit before they complete high school. “•Every child in Georgia will earn college and/or career credit before they graduate high school.” Yeah, right.

Our school’s students get multiple, multiple chances to complete work, including retaking major tests. Try that in real life – unlimited do-overs. Only GOD is that kind. And, as a teacher, I am forbidden by my school administration to assign a score of zero when a student turns in nothing for an  assignment. I have to assign them points of credit – for NOTHING. Last time I checked, breathing was not an academic activity.

What I am allowed to teach in the courses I am employed to teach is mandated by the state government. I cannot teach reading to a child who cannot read. LITERALLY, not my job. I am teaching pre-Engineering. ONLY. Even though I am also state certified in English, grades 6-12.

I try. Invoking the overarching academic goal of literacy skills, I  require my students to write reflection essays in MLA format over their Engineering assignments. I have high school students who cannot write ONE correct and complete sentence, much less a coherent essay. Some cannot even to this day capitalize their first and last NAMES on a paper. I wish I was lying. And this, from native speakers of English. Our Spanish native speaking kids are blowing the American-born kids out of the water. Let’s not even discuss the MATH. I have taught how to figure the square yardage needed to replace the carpet in a room EIGHT SEPARATE TIMES, and still have high school students in the class who cannot compute it correctly. Carpet sellers, you may freely rook customers in south Georgia, because they have no clue you are going to cheat them. Have at it.

And the beauty of this? The government, and most parents, will tell you it is the teacher’s fault, all of it.

Yeah, right.

4 more years.

4 more years.

My mantra.

578:Random sh…..stuff.

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The government has married many, many women. These women marry the government when they choose to stay at home and have children to support themselves on the government dole. Many actually refuse to marry their children’s father(s), and raise those children in a nuclear family, because they are unwilling to give up the free government money. When they can obtain benefits that are sometimes more than they can earn working a no-skills job at minimum wage (all many are remotely qualified for, if that), where is any incentive to work? There isn’t any.

Our government is enabling addictive behaviors among many, dis-encouraging them to get jobs and support themselves. The trouble is, cutting them off also disenfranchises the innocent children they have spawned to earn their living upon. How do you provide benefits to children while not encouraging their deadbeat parent to spawn more children to get an even bigger government handout support check?

Is it just me, or does anyone else absolutely despair at the fact that either Clinton or Trump will win this upcoming election? They are both awful candidates – how did we sink this low, that these two are our choices? Boggles the mind, for those who have one – which means not many Americans, evidently.

IS anyone actually campaigning to do away with police? Seriously? That isn’t a country I want to live in. Yes, I understand that not every single police officer is ethical. Guess what? Neither is every single practitioner of any other profession: medical doctors, politicians (duh), lawyers, judges, presidents, preachers/priests, scientists/researchers, sports athletes, you name it. We are routinely and frequently advised by the news (if you can trust journalists (:-() that people of all professions fall short of the glory of God, or even of basic honesty. Still – I think we are far, far better off WITH a police force than without one.

Learning to live with another human being is hard work.

I have discovered that getting thin takes hard work and dedication that I do not possess on a continuing, daily basis – and THAT is why I continue to be fat, despite intermittant and dedicated short-term willpower. One slip undoes DAYS of good behavior – sometimes weeks. 😦

Whether someone is gay (which lifestyle I personally disagree with) or chooses to abort their offspring (which choice I disagree with) ultimately does not affect me in any way whatsoever. What those persons do affects them and their lives – and you know what? People have the choice to throw away their lives in various ways, including suicide (which I also disagree with) and their decisions are their own. Their decisions are between themselves and their God (or lack thereof) and YES, they may be ill or mentally unfit when they make those decisions. It isn’t always apparent that they are unfit when they choose to do themselves harm with drugs, food, alcohol, gambling, sex, or any number of other life-destroying choices. YES, we should do what we CAN do to encourage people to do better things and make better choices. NO, it isn’t my fault when they make those choices anyway, when there are programs and options they can take, and don’t. For the love of God, I have enough to do trying to live my own life in an ethical and caring manner. Enough, already.

I dislike out present cradle-to-grave government. I do not believe this is what government was supposed to be doing. I want OUT. Repudiating my American citizenship is an option, but I also don’t know another country to go to and at present there is no such thing as “citizen of the world.”

Our government pushed native American Indians onto the worst land possible as their “reservations.” Now that they are discovering those lands have resources and are not as barren as was originally thought, Americans should PAY them for the use of those resources. Plus, we need to GO AROUND their reservation lands when we have some project for the nation, like the pipeline. We stuffed them onto those lands – now, BACK OFF. Respect what we made them accept in the first place!

A teacher has a huge influence on their students. But nobody can save every kid. It has to be a two-way street. I can choose to reject every overture you make. I can refuse to learn, and some students do choose exactly that. Maybe later they will gain some interest and motivation. Maybe another teacher will try again and reach them next year. Maybe school isn’t for everybody – imagine that. Not everything is a teacher’s fault, like not every cop or politician is a bad one. Heck, there are even a few competent and ethical used car salesmen out there.

Enough, already.

577: Maturing with Age

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I hope everyone is aware that growing bigger and older does not equate with becoming a mature person. Achieving the age of majority and being considered a legal adult has absolutely nothing to do with making wise decisions, or living your life in a mature, healthy manner.

Maturity is coming to grips with yourself, all of yourself, the good, strong parts that you like and celebrate, and the shameful weaknesses that you have struggled to overcome, and that you may still struggle to overcome – but at least you have named them, and in so doing, you have robbed them of their power in your determination to rid them from your character and life. You can look back at your personal history and come to some sort of peace with it, knowing and accepting that you were not perfect, and that you are no longer that person, thank God.

Part of that maturing is understanding that even if you could go back and change things, that you would not do so. This is because you made the decisions you made thinking they were the best ones you could make. Looking back with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, I can see that decisions I once made for the greater good (not only for me, but for those I was responsible for) didn’t work out as I had hoped that they would. I could not have known that looking forward -no one could have known that. Thus, I would not change them. They helped me grow and mature into the person I have become, who is not the person who others knew years ago.

My conscience is clear. I made my apologies to those I  wounded along the journey (both deliberately and unintentionally). What they do with my sincere regret is not in my hands. They will have their own maturing to do, as they come to terms with their own flaws. All humans have them.

I am responsible for me. I always have been, even when I blamed others in my youth, arrogance, and ignorance.

Maturity is a hard-won badge of honor. Not everyone gets there.

566: Choosing

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There are some who think that having a good life is a matter of simply choosing to have a good life: looking on the positive and choosing to be cheerful. Well…..sort of.

There is a very great deal that I can do to improve things by simply refusing to get mired down or sidetracked by the circumstances of life. I can plan, and live courageously, without succumbing to my fears. I can decide each and every day to try again, and to make it my personal best – yeah, I know all that. Get up once again, and move forward.

Sometimes, though, thinking positive thoughts isn’t all that is required. Sometimes there are physical problems which need to be dealt with, usually with diet, exercise and lifestyle choices I need to amend for the better. YUCK. WORK. Yup.

Sometimes I need to seek out and/or accept a helping hand from a family member, a friend, or a professional counselor/doctor. The point is that I am working on making it better, and that I don’t give up working on it until it IS better – whatever that takes. My ultimate solution may not be your solution. That’s why the world is such a big place. My solution does not have to be your solution. Why do you think they make so many different forms of transportation? What works for me, works for me.

My daily choice is to try again, and to keep trying until I find that blend of practicality, extension and reservation of myself that works for me. Not to give up, and settle for situations and people that do not work for me. Sometimes that is endurance, and sorts out with time, and sometimes I need to choose alternatives. And, sometimes it is serendipity – which is a big word for God’s finger stirring the pot of soup that is my life until the good bits float to the surface.