Chinese ingenuity ?

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.

A right-wing sanctioned, Limbaugh-inspired, home-spun supported, neighborhood-disseminated theory of the origins of covid-19 is that the Chinese government somehow is using this virus to gain control of financial markets and put the rest of the consuminglaughing emoji3 world under their control.  Thus, we suffering Americans are experiencing toilet paper shortages at our local stores.

Hurrah for the Chinese.  They are thumping us where it hurts.  Best way to win the trade wars is to force the world to use corn cobs in the loo.  I can just imagine those tiny hands and smiling faces in Peking factories singing, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, Oh what a relief it is.”

What’s that you say?  “Larry, you’ve gone bonkers with all this social isolation, that’s the Alka Seltzer song.”  Hmmmm, think about it for a moment – plop, plop, splash, splash, oh what a relief….

Sorry, folks.  Rational thinking, truth and intelligence cannot counter the bull crap cropped-laughing-emoji2.pngfloating around my neighborhood (sorry, there I go again with this insane train of thought).  Seriously, there is no relief to the stupidity to which some Americans will stoop to promote their conspiracy du-jour.

 

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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what’s the cost ?

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.

My neighbor and I are finally back on speaking terms after the 2016 elections.  Both of us were probably too adamant in our political stance, too certain that our candidate was the right one.  Harsh words led to over-the-fence glares and avoidance at the mail box.  The god bless americacost of being right was a wounded friendship.  Today, with November elections approaching, what price am I willing to pay to be outspoken and will I again stir up neighborhood animosity with placards in my front yard?  Is it worth it?  Will I risk physical harm by sporting signs on my pickup truck?

Hell yes, I’ll do it again.  If friendships and relationships can’t survive differences of opinion, then perhaps there wasn’t much to work with anyway.  If I can’t drive to the market or the library or the post office safely, then perhaps we have already lost the battle.  I marvel (and would love to be a mouse in the corner at dinner time) at the marriage of Kellyanne Conway and George.  Good Lord, what conversations they must have over lobster and steak.

We cannot afford not to exercise our rights to political opinion.  If neighbors, family, friends, and others who have a differing viewpoint can’t deal with my opinion, that’s their problem and they need a refresher course in democracy and civics.  GO BLUE!

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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share, shelter and clothe

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. 

– it is my humble opinion –broken hearted

Apparently many in the secular world of politics who profess Christianity and a number of those preaching from America’s pulpits have not read the text of Isaiah 58, verses 7-10.  Or perhaps they have read it and believe it to be irrelevant in today’s world scene where children are caged on our southern border, where desperate refugees are turned away from a safe haven, where poverty and destitution among American citizens are reaching epidemic proportions, where suicides among young people and veterans are increasing, where the homeless are turned out into the city’s streets and rural wooded areas, where it is still legal in 30 states to discriminate against gays and lesbians regarding jobs, housing and social services, where oppression of minorities is advocated by those in power, where the funding for basic necessities of food and housing is being slashed, where it has become OK to persecute dissenting voices, where the ostentatious wealth of the wealthy is nothing less than socially immoral.

This appears to be the legacy our current Washington, DC powers are building.  It would be far better for those Christian leaders to honestly admit their intentions and agendas and lay their cards on the table for all to see.  Instead they attempt to deceive under the guise of God-inspired leadership.

But, what do I know?  I am just a simple and unfiltered man.  However, from a different culture and a different time come these words of wisdom:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

ISAIAH 58:7-10

FRANCISCAN ACTION NETWORK

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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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last chance saloon

old codgerAha!  Got your attention, didn’t I?  You thought we were going to talk about honky-tonks, bar rooms, whiskey swigging and loose living, didn’t you?  Well, sorry to disappoint.

Today, we will talk about last chances.  Life has no guarantees.  That new hobby you have been wanting to pursue?  That lunch with a dear friend whom you have not seen in months?  Or taking the grandkids to Disney World, but delaying it until tomorrow because of “pressing responsibilities” at home or at work?  My friends, do it now.  You may not have a tomorrow.

DO IT NOW!  Grab that paint brush and create your masterpiece on the blank canvas waiting on the easel.  Make a phone call and a lunch date.  Do something that will become a great memory with family or friends.  All we have is now, this moment.  Make the most of it and decide what in this life is truly important.  A quiet time in your rose garden or washing the windows?  A walk in the woods or attending that dreaded county commissioners’ meeting?  Writing a beautiful poem or writing your legislators?

As much as you and I would like to believe the world needs us for its survival, it does not.  The world around us will continue.  It will continue in its madness and it will be unconcerned as to whether we missed the last chance to create beauty and joy in our lives and the lives of others.

Last chances untaken become missed opportunities.  The past is littered with regret over the things we should have done but “didn’t have the time” or “waited until tomorrow”  to do.  Smell a rose, paint a picture, write that poem.  The world may not care but you and I  will be richly blessed.

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DC shenanigans

ratLiving on planet earth makes it difficult to avoid the continual stream of bull crap coming out of that humming nest of discontent called Washington, D.C.  It stinks up our air waves, phone screens, civic meetings, and neighborhood chit-chats.  It presents itself as material of utmost importance even though most of it is nothing more than glorified, recycled, regurgitated, repurposed manure fit only for its final repose on the compost pile.  Unfortunately, even the worms and maggots (read between the lines and use whichever news services you find offensive) find difficulty digesting what is being presented as newsworthy and consequential.  And yet, we gorge on it like pigs at a feeding trough.  Yeah, me too.  Guilty as charged.

We, you and I, need to grow a pair.  You heard me right.  We (women included) need to show our cojones and refuse to allow this chapter of historical malcontent so much space in our brains.  It is, after all, just a brief blip on the radar screen in the history of mankind, just a grain of sand on the beach of humanity, just a fleeting moment in the nefarious schemes of world governments.  Is it worth the sleepless nights, the headaches, the heartburn, the ulcers, the broken relationships and the emotional anguish?  Is it?

I don’t know about you, but my time is more valuable.  I know what my political philosophy is, I know my priorities in relation to fellow man, I know whom I will vote for in our upcoming primary election and I definitely know whom I will not vote for in the 2020 general election in November.  It’s a settled, done deal.  Can’t get any easier than that.  There is no need to spend endless hours analyzing the talking heads on TV or wasting precious moments arguing with neighbors and friends who think my brand of politics is lunacy.

For me it’s all about time and how I choose to use it.  It’s about mental space and whether I choose to abuse it.  Tomorrow is never guaranteed and I will be seriously pissed off if I have spent my last day on earth fussing and fuming about a bunch of nincompoops sitting in the halls of government with their heads up their nether regions.  I am worthy of a more substantial, fulfilling day than that.  How about you?

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one, two, three, what are we fighting for?

Different generation, different side of the continent, more sophisticated weapons…but folks, it’s the same old bullshit.  Sending young men and women off to fight the war that lines the pockets of corporate greed and political corruption.  We have learned nothing, not a damned thing.

an easier, softer way

if you are sober today, give yourself and your God a hand

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“Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now….we thought we could find an easier, softer way.  But, we could not.” 

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, chapter 5, How It Works

Wisdom from the BIG BOOK, the alcoholic’s bible, teaches us that there is no easy way to transformation and restoration.  We cannot hang on to old ideas, we cannot party with the old crowd, we cannot entertain previous bad habits and expect a sustained, peaceful sobriety.  Millions of successfully recovering alcoholics will testify to this assertion from HOW IT WORKS.  For us there is not an easier, softer way.

Those of us who profess a faith walk and try to follow earnestly the God of our understanding know this principle applies to all aspects of our lives.  Discernment is an integral part of daily living.  Not only recognizing a spiritual value, but following the direction of that moral compass becomes a driving force in our lives.  Talk the walk and then walk the talk.  We cannot conveniently turn on and off the spiritual connection which has returned us to sanity.

And so it is that when discussions of social, political and religious significance occur, we have a choice – wallow in the easier, softer way of complacency and submission to the status quo or advocate what could be infinitely more difficult, but principled.  Our guide?  It has to be that same moral compass, that discernment which we discovered through the grace of sobriety.  It has to be what was learned by giving up the easier, softer way.

I recently witnessed a conversation between two upstanding members of the community.  Debating politics, one offered an opinion that his Christian faith had no bearing on his choice in the upcoming 2020 Presidential election.  The moral character of his candidate had nothing to do with fitness for the office or ability to lead.  The booming economy and low unemployment rate were, by far, a more important barometer than any character faults and defects.  Maybe he is right.  Maybe it is okay during the election cycle to put away in a box the faith and values which have transformed our lives.  Maybe the economy, stock markets and retirement accounts are more important than the life and work of Jesus manifesting through us.  Maybe.  What do you think?

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a better way

Fr. Richard Rohr, in the mission statement for the CENTER FOR ACTION AND richard rohrCONTEMPLATION, shares the following:

“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.”

It’s all about energy, isn’t it?  Physical exertion, emotional expenditure, spiritual contemplation – it all revolves about the issues that are present in our lives.  Where we spend our time and energy determines who we are, what we advocate and ultimately the state of mind we enjoy in peace or endure in turmoil.  Therefore, next time I am tempted to jump into the mud with the other mud wrestlers (or whatever else hangs out in the slime), perhaps I should remember the exhortation of Fr. Rohr.

…and they all chimed in, “Yeah, Larry, and we’re going to nominate you for sainthood.”

Y’all ought to know by now that I live by the principle of progress rather than perfection, that lofty ideals are meant to be pursued, not attained.  It’s the journey, not the destination that constitutes a successful life.  Striving for a world dedicated to non-violence begins in me with every action, thought and prayer offered to the cause of personal earthly peace – “oppositional energy only creates more of the same.” 

That’s difficult to digest.  Does it mean that I should not be concerned about the injustice and hypocrisy which permeates the world?  Should I just throw my arms up in frustrated surrender over the racism and intolerance infecting American society? Should I sit in my quiet place with my beads and prayer shawl praying away the hatred and bigotry?

No, certainly not.  I should continue to see with dismay the horrors of social injustice, I should continue to speak out against the racism in my neighborhood, I should continue to protest by whatever resources I have the denigration of brothers and sisters of another race or creed or nationality.  But, I should not jump into the mud and lather up in my own  hypocrisy, intolerance and bigotry.  Justifying my disagreement and winning a victory over another’s viewpoints is not the goal of non-violence.  Proving the insanity of national politics will not make ours a better country.

I refer often to the wisdom of the ancients.  The thoughts, the words, and the sayings which have survived the test of time have done so because they are – wisdom.  In my opinion (and yes, I have many) the one nugget of wisdom erringly ignored by religious leaders and politicians alike is lead by example.

What examples are we choosing to lead us and guide us through an extremely violent period of world history?  Whom do we choose to inform us and thereby sway our opinions?  To what and to whom do we listen?  What do we read and view on media screens?  Where are we expending physical, emotional and spiritual energy?  Is it oppositional or is it conducive to understanding and peaceful solution?

Hillary (yeah, don’t allow the name to betray your religion) famously said in her campaign, “When he takes the low road, we take the high road.”

Doesn’t really matter whether she meant it or actually lived it.  The advice is great wisdom.  Let’s not get mired in the mud (or sewage) which poses as moral guidance or political leadership.  Observe it, digest it, and then continue to follow the compass which points true north.  Let our criticism of the bad be tempered by practice of the better.

Center for Action and Contemplation

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I will not!

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.  But those that will not break it kills.  It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.  If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” ERNEST HEMINGWAY

broken hearted

The very good and the very gentle and the very brave – let’s focus on those words.  The world system seems to despise those who have a moral compass, those who are peacemakers, those who have the courage to march to a different drummer.  Governments, religions, and financial systems do not honor a man/woman who answers their demands with “no, I will not live that way.”

We are labeled ‘unpatriotic’ if we do not toe the current disgrace posing as a legitimate government.  When we kneel in obeisance to compassion and tolerance rather than stand pledging  allegiance to the cloth symbol of a nation, we are castigated as revolutionary and disrespectful.  Well, maybe we are.  All great accomplishments in governing have been manifested by protest.  No, I cannot be silent when brothers and sisters of a different color or creed do not equally enjoy the fruits of the nation they have served in battle and embraced as home.

I will not profess the creeds of religions which deny even the most basic human understanding that all creatures are made in the image of the One whom they profess as God and Savior while simultaneously endorsing locked cages of children on our border and a war in the Gulf which threatens the citizens of Yemen with epic, catastrophic starvation.  No, I will not.

I will not participate in the corporate destruction of our sacred ecosystem for the sake of increased profits of corporations which have abdicated ecological responsibility in lieu of financial extravagance.  While much of the world’s population  lives without the basic comforts of adequate food and clean water, placating the luxuriant appetites of the privileged at the expense of the marginalized poor cannot possibly advance the survival of our species materially or spiritually.

Enough is enough.  Enough corruption, enough hatred, enough greed, enough racism, enough killing.  Where will we choose to stand as our country approaches the threshold of despotic, authoritarian leadership?  As the earth’s ecosystem is screaming “enough” where will our allegiance be placed?  The answer for each of us is within.  When that quiet voice of protest within becomes a scream reverberating throughout the universe, then, perhaps, we can be assured that we have done enough.

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