… on… interest in humanity….

THE STORY OF OUR LIVES is a series of photographs of signs that when taken outside the context of their function (and sometimes location) have a dual purpose of telling our story of existence.   In other words after we are gone and our culture no longer exists,  how would others (or aliens) interpret our lives based on what the signs reveal – supposing aliens decoded and understand our language?

This latest image is a personal favorite:  It is simply titled THE STORY OF OUR LIVES #95

Story Of Our Lives #95

This image as taken at a demolition site.  I found this sign on what remained of a wall at the site.   It’s a fascinating and wonderful little chapter in the story of our lives.

While smoking has been deemed as bad for our health and in some cases has been made illegal as a result – it is in a location that has been destroyed, demolished.  The demolition had nothing to do with smoking.  This is a perfect metaphor for our lives.  Life is fragile and there is more than one thing that can disrupt, tear apart or destroy it.  So often we focus on the wrong things.   We go to great expense to make things like smoking, abortion, drugs, “assisted suicide” etc illegal.  And while those things may destroy our lives as we know it – we actively pursue other methods of destruction – war, income inequality, denial of medical care etc.   Is it better to deny a person’s choice of self-destruction  in order to insure the destruction of many?  That is what is happening in our culture and our world.  It is seen in our immigration policies, how we deal with refugees, it is seen in our responses to foreign powers that we have deemed as enemies.  It is seen in the laws we pass for our own people.

  • Is it better to deny an abortion for a life that does not yet exist only to – after it is born – send that life to war to die?
  • Is it better to keep that minimum wage so low in order to help corporations enrich themselves while people cannot afford health care?
  • Is it better to deny the right for a person who has chosen to end their life only to ensure ongoing suffering and the slow destruction for that person and their families?
  • Is it better to deny people safe harbor because you are afraid – only to have them die at the hands of their own governments?

What makes life so precious is that it is fragile.  There are any number of things that can snuff it out in an instant without our help – disease, old age, the environment (poisonous plants, wild animals, accidents, etc)

Two things make life something worthwhile:

  1. It is limited – we are all mortal – we will all die at some point.
  2. Choice – we all are born with the ability to choose when and how we will die.

Now this may seem like something of an oversimplification but it is none-the-less true.

… on… empathy….

Floaters
When is empathy good or bad?

So maybe Oasis had it right…

Don’t empathize with suffering – have compassion instead. Compassion = when you suffer you can choose to have it teach you compassion for others. A lesson I am still learning. Too often I’ve empathized with others suffering which has lead to my own suffering which makes me less useful. If I let suffering drive me to compassion I become MORE useful to my world.

… on… taking sides….

Blood On Both Sides

Blood On Both Sides

Some people claim “You MUST choose a side….”   But everything I believe dictates that I stay on the thin unpopulated line between two sides – the middle way.  I’ve lived too long and know from experience that when you create two sides and pit them against each other there is blood on both sides.   It is unnecessary “blood” shed.   Here are some songs from the 60’s & 70’s that have long been forgotten.  But they teach us some important truths.

… on… navigating storms….

Love Is The Lighthouse In A Storm

When we are in the midst of a storm – like the culture war that is raging here in America – there is only one way to get through it.  Love is the lighthouse and forgiveness is the light in the lighthouse.  Sure many people may say love is the light but that just seems to easy – even cliche.  I think that the lighthouse is love because it is the foundation that holds the light.  Forgiveness radiates.  How does this work?  Love is what we give to others and forgiveness is what we ask for ourselves.  We are all perfectly imperfect.  Have you ever noticed what happens when someone asks for forgiveness?  There is an immediate pause, a respite, a calm, things immediately de-escalate.  What would happen if the US asked Korea for forgiveness?  What would happen if the opposing sides – non-racists and racists asked for forgiveness from each other?  Would that not bring calm and open the opportunity for dialogue?  That’s what we need – and we don’t need to agree – we just need to stop hurting each other when we disagree.

So please, let this be our mantra: “I love you, forgive me.”
We can ALL learn how to live on love and forgiveness.

 

 

… on… a river of love….

River Of Love

There’s a river of love that runs through all time
But there’s a river of grief that floods through our lives
It starts when a heart is broken into
By the thief of belief in anything that’s true
But there’s a river of love that runs through all time

There’s a river of love that runs through all time
But there’s a river of tears that flows through our eyes
We fight through the night for freedom as it fades
Into a jail where we fail everytime we make a break
But there’s a river of love that runs through all time

I had to run before I knew how to crawl
The first step was hard
But I have had trouble with them all
But now the night grows darker
And the day grows dim
Cause I know I never will see you again
And I almost made you happy

There’s a river of love that runs through all time
But there’s a river of fire that burns with no light
The flame is the pain of dreams gone up in smoke
From the lies we deny and breathe until we choke
There’s a river of love that runs through all time

~T-Bone Burnett

… on… hate….

messages-from-the-future-22-evn-smlr
Being a citizen of the United States Of America the past 8 months have been excruciatingly difficult to endure.  We have a President (along with other White House leadership) with no self-control, no discretion, no discipline, no compassion and no love who continues to emotionally/psychologically abuse, harass and harm the very people he is supposed to lead.  Never has so much damage been done in and to the office of President of the United States than has occurred under Donald Trump.  It will only go to deepen the cynicism and distrust that people have for politicians.  I think the notion of a politician being a force for good is not even possible with the current leadership.  It has been depressing to daily and sometimes hourly see breaking news stories of how the President has, yet again, done something so outrageous and shocking that it is virtually unbelievable.  We are being forced to watch a reality media show that is seemingly never-ending.  And the media is focusing on the sensational.  Now I have no great love for the media and that is about the only thing Donald Trump and I have in common.  Our reasons for disliking the media are completely different.  I would like to see more investigative journalism and less sensational journalism.  Trump just decries anything he doesn’t like as “fake news”.  But it’s NOT fake news it is the reality we live in.

This past weekend we saw many developments in the United States.  The rise of racism, talks of secession, hatred for all things non-white.  And in the past few months we’ve been seeing the increased likelihood of nuclear war with North Korea, Venezuela, and a trade war with China.  Sure with all this “madness” it would be easy to throw in the towel and say it is WAY bigger than anything I can have any power over or change.  But I’m not ready to do that.  Now more than ever we need to be strong.

We do need to look at both sides of a story but we also need to address and stand up to those values and positions that would harm others or enslave them for ones own enrichment.  For example: The American Constitution has a provision for free speech and lawful assembly.  These laws apply to ALL people – even people who believe differently from me. So for neo-nazis, white supremacists etc; we must acknowledge they have the right to protected free speech (we just don’t have to like it).  Just like people who oppose them have the right to protected free speech.  Now I know a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable with that notion. But as a follower of Jesus Christ I am a FIRM believer in what he taught about loving ones enemies (I’ll explain more on that later). It’s just that in these troubled times it is difficult to STOP, take a moment, consider, weigh ones reactions before making those reactions public.  But that is exactly what we must do.  I do not love Donald Trump’s policies I specifically hate his approach to what should be collaborative, positive working relationships.  I hate his non-stop “twittering”.  But I do NOT wish him dead.  I hate now Trump and many in the white house continues to hold his business interests (even if they are in his children’s names – who are his official presidential advisors and aides) creating conflicts of interest. I cannot hate a man who is misguided, foolish, delusional and emotionally unstable.  I can honestly say I’ve had to think about this long and hard.  The past 8 months have shown me that we all have the capacity for hatred but we do not all act on that.  I understand why people may think that the only way to solve this crisis we face in America is to kill or assassinate Donald Trump.  I understand because I felt myself slipping into the same hate for hate thinking and had to stop myself.  I pray to God that Donald Trump is not assassinated.  Here’s why.  I don’t have any confidence in the Vice President that would take his place.  And killing Donald Trump would only give the alt-right extremists the martyr they’d love to have – which they would use to justify further violence.  On top of that as a Christian I am against the death penalty for anyone because I believe that just as God gives life he also takes it away it is not up to man take life away.  And anyone who behaves abominably should have the opportunity to change or, to use an archaic term, repent.  If they are killed we are depriving them of that opportunity.  So death is NOT the answer.  But Donald Trump should be impeached and that needs to happen ASAP (in my opinion).  I seriously doubt that Trump will survive to the end of his first term.

Sadly America can only blame itself for creating AND electing Donald Trump the tyrant. No one should be surprised by what he is doing.  He used the same tactics in his reality TV shows.  People who have participated in his shows “THE APPRENTICE” and “CELEBRITY APPRENTICE” have noted how Trump would pit people against each other, he would harass and harangue people to create and build drama in the show.  He is a victim of his own celebrity – believing in a false value of self.  Unfortunately, we can see that what works on television isn’t what works as a world leader.  He has also gotten support from an “Evangelical Right” that uses scripture to justify and encourage Donald Trump giving him a false moral justification for all he does.  This same type of Evangelical movement that uses the Christian Bible to justify white supremacy also supported Hitler and The Third Reich (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Evangelical_Church).   I also think it may be time to do away with the electoral college.  There was a time when the electoral college had value.  But in the internet age the electoral college is an archaic institution that can only do more harm than good.  It is time to elect leaders only by popular vote.

Now about love.  It may seem odd and unlikely to read about love in this type of post.  I think it is necessary to bring the needed balance and provide level-headed options to the discussion.   Please consider this; how do we love a tyrant, a despot, an oligarch, a hate-filled man? We CANNOT react in the ways he reacts.  We can find ways to slow down the discussion allowing time for all parties to think about their positions.  We can act respectful to them without agreeing with them.  We can seek to remove them from their position for their own good.  Donald Trump is clearly over his head and he is being battered on all sides continually and that would be enough to make anyone crack.  The kindest thing we can do for America is also the kindest thing we can do for Donald Trump.  Impeach him.  Remove him from the position that is causing him so much distress.  And wish him well as he leaves.  Now I’ll be the first to admit this is easier to type than actually practice.  Love is not some easy fluffy romantic notion – it is something we have to work at.

One of the benefits of writing this is that it also reaffirms what I believe and helps give me the strength I need to practice what I “preach”.  I cannot hate Donald Trump I can only hate the carnage he has created while in office.  I do not believe there are evil people only evil actions.  And I choose to not act evil or out of malice toward my fellow Americans, or any living beings.  And if I do act evil (because I am human and have occasional weakness) it is a weakness that I quickly seek to remedy.

Matthew 4:43-45 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Feel free to agree or disagree on any and all points.  That’s why it’s called free speech.  We can disagree and still be respectful.

***If you think more people should see this post – feel free to re-post.