Thursday, December 20, 2012

End of the Calendar Prophecy

I hope and pray that everyone is preparing themselves for the end of the calendar as we know it.  Anyone know where I can buy a new Maya Calendar since my old one ends tomorrow?  Anyway, here's wishing everyone a Happy New Calendar.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sign Of The Times

Walk/Don’t Walk signs can be very helpful when crossing a street. Like stop lights for automobiles they help control the flow of traffic. Without them it would be close to impossible to get across a busy intersection. They are really convenient when intersections have turn arrows for automobiles. Even should cross traffic be at a stop nothing can ruin a day like being hit by a car turning into the path we’re walking.

But are they absolutely necessary? 

I’m talking about when the walk path is clear, no cars are coming –or are a significant distance away to not cause injury or death- and the sign indicates “Don’t Walk”. Should we stay or should we go? Should we cross the street because we can or should we stay put because the sign says so? Do we put all our faith and trust in a machine to tell us when to walk safely or should we use our own intellectual abilities to reason as to when it is safe to walk? When the sign says emphatically “Don’t Walk” although our intellect tells us it is safe to do so, do we obey the sign or our own confidence in accomplishing the task before us, that being crossing the street safely?

I do not raise these questions idly. I have too often seen people standing at a street corner with no oncoming traffic and not attempting to cross for no other reason than that a little square box with a red phrase told them not to walk. These people put more faith in that mechanical sign than in their own common sense. They obey a machine that tells them not to do something they clearly could do instead of obeying themselves.

What does this say about humanity when they more readily obey a machine, while helpful is not the final say on our behavior, instead of our own common sense? What does this say about people who defer solely to a machine instead of themselves when they could clearly make a decision to take the initiative and override the machine’s instructions?

Are we getting too good at following orders? Are we becoming so good at being told what to do that we cannot cross a street confidently without first getting an other’s permission? In this case a machine’s permission? What does it say about us if we cannot act of our own volition but must wait for permission to do something we are clearly capable of doing all by ourselves? 

If we cannot cross the street safely without first getting someone or something else’s permission what more does that say about our individual abilities? Can we trust the people to critically think? Take the initiative? Problem solve? Take responsibility? Question Authority?

One can tell a lot about a person just by the way they cross a street. And what it tells us isn’t good.

And election day is coming up.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Suffering With The Compassionate

Compassion is "to suffer with".  How many people do we know who claim they are compassionate are really suffering with someone?  How often does it appear that someone claiming compassion is not suffering in the least with another?

I heard an ad on the radio where the voice over claimed that compassion was giving someone a glass of water.  I, to this day, cannot fathom how giving someone a glass of water entailed suffering of any kind on the part of the giver.  But it apparently made the giver feel better about herself.  The voice was also mentioning this as encouragement to the listener to be equally compassionate.  Well, I've given out more than my share of beverages and I can't recall ever feeling a sense of suffering with the recipient of said beverage.  I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of these recipients were far from suffering before I gave them their beverage.  Although they may have suffered afterward if they didn't like the beverage I gave them. 

The people behind this radio ad was a missionary organization.  Now, depending on where this glass of water was given and to whom it was given it might have been an incredibly charitable gesture.  But a compassionate one?  No where in the radio spot was there any indication of how the giver may have been suffering with the receiver. 

And there's nothing wrong with charity.  Faith Hope and Charity?  It's one of the Big Three.  But compassion is more glamorous.  It implies empathy and empathy is the new sympathy.  Everybody wants to be empathetic.  And when understood as "to suffer with", when used in a sentence compassion often doesn't even make any sense.  But it sounds good.  It makes the giver sound and seem important and special. Even if it's nonsense. 

Why be accurately charitable when we can be arrogantly compassionate?  Because we can get away with it.

When someone tells me that they are compassionate, or has compassion, I wonder if they really know what they are saying.  Do they really suffer with others?  Now, lending an ear is not suffering with another.  Saying "I understand" over and over again is not suffering with another.  Repeating "I'm here for you" is not suffering with another.

Mother Teresa had compassion.  Maximilian Kolbe  had compassion.  Father Damian had compassion.  They did a bit more than go around handing out glasses of water.  They gave more than their ears.  They did more than understand.  When they said "I'm here for you" they were also "there with", "suffering with" and verily truly really meant it.

Do we?