R-E-S-P-E-C-T

What is it that most people desire, few people give, and the world lacks?  Answer respectcropped-c6fe7102aaf9242136b451907b02957d1.jpg and you win the prize.  Respect as a noun means admiration, regard, appreciation, courtesy.  Used as a verb it can mean avoid interfering with or causing harm, treat with consideration, admire, value, look up to, revere, heed, obey, attend to, defer to.

Unfortunately, a dictionary full of words is meaningless if the heart of mankind does not hold reverence for the divine nature of each creature on earth and the divine nature of the earth itself, i.e., respect.

How about self-respect?  Do you and I wrap ourselves with arms of abundant self-esteem and self-love?  Why not?  Are you not lovable?  Are you not a creature of earth designed with a loving divine nature?  Oh, I see.  You don’t consider yourself worthy.  You are saying that the Creator did not know what he/she/it was doing when your body and soul were on the printing press.  Wow, how arrogant is that?

1967 Aretha Franklin written by Otis Redding

follow the leader?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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Follow the leader.  Just a child’s game?  How about Simon says?  For us they were playtime activity intended to teach interaction with other children.  But, have you ever considered the ramifications of a 5 or 6 year-old being taught to follow a designated leader wherever that person leads or to do explicitly what Simon instructs?  Of course not, they were just games for children.

What about adults?  Life is not a game.  Do you and I have enough self-confidence, enough courage to walk away from the herd trailing after a proclaimed leader when we know that person is dishonest and corrupt? Whether that person is speaking from the pulpit of a church or from a governmental office, do we have the cojones to say, “No, I will not follow you nor do as you say?”

Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu were such men.  They viewed their country’s status quo as unacceptable.  Violence was not the answer; however, passive disobedience created movements which fueled social action that could not be ignored by national leaders with their trailing herds and toadying sycophants nor preachers with their ‘amen & hallelujah’ congregations.

It was called civil disobedience.  In the months leading up to November 3rd, we should, each of us, consider what it is we are willing to do to press forward on a path which honors the validity of all citizens whether white, black, brown, religious or non-religious,Picture6 gay or straight, wealthy or poor, Muslim or Christian.  When our elected leaders ignore us, when our spiritual mentors speak untruths, our options as a nation dwindle.  However, a greater power within each of us commands us to disobey government and religious leaders when that obedience would be illegal, unlawful and unjust.

The days of child’s play are past.  A new era in American history is upon us and its future will be determined by whom we choose to follow and whom we choose to obey.

These words from CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE by Henry David Thoreau are well-advised in today’s political turmoil:

The government, according to Thoreau, is not just a little corrupt or unjust in the course of doing its otherwise-important work, but in fact the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice. Because of this, it is “not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize”. WIKIPEDIA

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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RELIGION – relic of tribalism ?

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

Okay, I get it.  Religion has inspired great acts of compassion, it has led man to creatediversity spectacular works of art and architecture, it has provided us with beautiful literature.  So, before you light the fires around my stake, consider this.  Perverted interpretation of religious belief has also caused immense human suffering, it has destroyed cultures, it has promoted the degradation of our earth and natural resources in the name of an unproven, man-created god.

Tribalism was essential to ancient cultures to preserving their beliefs and insuring their survival.  The caveman with the biggest clubs usually won the battle.  Armies with the most manpower prevailed over weaker enemies.  Scorching the neighborhood was an acceptable price for winning.  My God-belief is better than yours.  He (yes, most violence in the name of God worships a male entity) needs my defense.

WE ARE NO LONGER CAVEMEN.  With the historical destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 the USA entered mankind into a new paradigm of warfare – a pattern embracing the ability of one culture to bring annihilation to the entire planet.  Unfortunately, we continued to maintain the caveman attitude of tribalism.  We continued to thump our scriptures and proclaim limited access to an omnipotent deity  through a religious philosophy of exclusion – only this God is real, only this belief is true, only this scripture is valid.  It is rampant tribalism with a continuing caveman mentality.

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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bottom feeders

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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When was the last time you exclaimed, “Eureka, I have lost everything, all that has given me a sense of security and happiness is now gone?”

I remember a few of those profound moments of self-realization – when I finally divested of a toxic relationship which included the entirety of my possessions and my house, when I walked away from my own life-time dream to chase after and share the dream of  another person, when I closed the door on a promising corporate position to reorganize my life and follow the path of sober-living.  And honestly, I don’t remember screaming, “Eureka.”

I repeatedly found myself on the bottom rung of the ladder which had promised to lead upward to wealth, happiness and security.  The bottom was so near and the top seemed so far away once more.  This was not where I intended to be at ages thirty-five, forty-four and sixty-two.  However, following the most recent self reckoning ten years ago, I did not look again to the top hoping to some day be the man whom I felt others wanted me to be.  Miraculously, money, prestige, social standing, worldly success did not matter.  I became blissfully content to feed at the bottom.  There, where most of the world’s population dwells, egos are reduced to  a manageable condition, wants finally become distinguished from needs, and smelling the roses becomes more desirable than beating the crowd to the top.  Poor materially, but enjoying immeasurable inner wealth.

Dorothy Day (1897–1980) said much the same: “The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose.” [1]

Richard Rohr at CAC. ORG continues with this comment:

“From that place, where few would expect or choose to be, we can be used as instruments of transformation and liberation for the rest of the world.”

When we stop climbing those ladders set in place for us by others who have been part of life’s journey, we finally see the truth and reality of our life and the tremendous need for us to feed with the rest of humanity, not from lofty perches atop mountains, but at the bottom where we meet the poor and destitute, the homeless and persecuted, the sick and defenseless.  Centuries ago a man of great wisdom called them “the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3) and promised them the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Imagine that.  Heaven is not a few steps above the top of the ladder high in the clouds; rather, it is upon the ground of humanity where our ladders have been standing all this time waiting for us to step off…or fall off.

Reference:
[1] Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement (Orbis Books: 1997), 86.

CAC.ORG

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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it’s OK for me to love me

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

BREAKING THE SHACKLES –

You never do anything right, you are a failure.

No, this is a fallacy straight from hell used most often by parents, sometimes spouses and (surprisingly) adult children to mold us into the type of people who fit their ideal of successful.  If you or I are living life to fit the expectations of other people, we will never be complete and fulfilled.  We will always be people-pleasers.

God did not make a mistake in creating the uniqueness that is you or me.  Everything about us is exactly as designed, perfect in every way.  Abilities, creative energies,  passions were not handed out randomly or haphazardly.  Life’s great challenge is to recognize those gifts and use them unselfishly.

Instead of lamenting our alleged deficiencies, instead of listening to a nagging spouse or complaining child, every morning let’s gaze at the reflection in the mirror and whisper words of admiration and love to the image we see, “You are wonderful, I love you.”cropped-c6fe7102aaf9242136b451907b02957d1.jpg

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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INTEGRITY

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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Mayor Pete – Bill Maher

copyright unshackled 3I refuse to carry QUEST into political tit for tat, but I sure as hell will endorse a candidate who is intelligent, of sound mind, a patriot ( did not claim bone spurs), a veteran, a man of vision, under the age of 70, well-spoken, educated, honest and witty.

When asked by Bill Maher if he had considered the possibility that Trump will claim a rigged election and refuse to leave the White House, what would he do?

Mayor Pete responded smilingly, “Well, it will be kind of awkward when Chasten and I move in.”

 

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Higher Power

If you are sober today, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity – STEP 2 sober emoji
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. – STEP 3

This is the miracle of restoration.  It is not dependent on anything you or I could do to alleviate the addictions which controlled our lives.  Yes, we had to talk the walk and then walk the talk, but ultimately the grace of a power greater than us brought us back to sanity, restored us to meaningful lives within families and communities – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

God as we understood God is, for many of us, the premise which carries us over the hurdles of previous negative god experiences.  No longer do we feel obligated to profess this faith or that in our daily faith walk.  Surely, each religious philosophy of the world whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. has nuggets of truth and wisdom; however,  life changes when the God we follow is personal, loving and compassionate not corralled by any particular philosophy.  As is human nature, we attempt to describe and define, but usually discover that our minds cannot comprehend the greatness or fathom the depths of that which we call Higher Power.

Whether your God or mine is a who, a what, a where, a when, male, female, genderless, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or simply the fellowship which supports our sobriety, give this Higher Power a round of applause today for keeping us clean and serene.

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why are you here?

A few days ago I pondered “why am I here?”  Today, it’s your turn.  Why are you here?cropped-c6fe7102aaf9242136b451907b02957d1.jpg  Are you living your life, your dreams, your hopes?  If not, why?  Jobs, finances, family responsibilities, social commitments, civic duties?  Self-doubt maybe?

“Heck, Larry, I couldn’t do what I want or dream about.  That would be too selfish.”

I understand what you are saying.  The kids need me to guide them through the teenaged years.  The boss cannot get along without me today.  The government will go to hell in a hand basket if I don’t keep on top of things.  My community will lose its appeal and attraction unless I attend and contribute to its civic meetings.  And Lord knows my spouse cannot get along without me.  I am so necessary in every thing – except my own life.

Here’s some advice from an old codger who’s been around the block a few times.  Live your life as if you are important, follow your dreams, develop your creative skills, love yourself like no other could love you.  And guess what?  Your world will swoon in your presence, people will gravitate to you because “you have it all together”, your face will radiate with the joy happening within.  You will finally be the you which the Lord of your life intended.  Simple to understand, but difficult to practice.  This is not narcissism; rather it is pursuing the enlightened existence for which we were created.


“This above all: to thine own self be true.  And it must follow, as the night the day,  Thou canst not then be false to any man.”  SHAKESPEAREyoung, mature, old