Thursday

Fear Nothing. We Have Work To Do.



The news has shown us all some disturbing stories this week.  I suppose they aren’t really “particularly” disturbing.  After all, there will be more next week.  Anyway, I’m not going to talk about those things here.  I’m going to ignore them in favor of reminding myself, and hopefully you, of something much more important. 

We have work to do.   

Look closely at his hands.  The gesture means “Fear not."
There will always be turmoil in the world.  Obviously.  And of course.  Yet everything is as it must be.  Chaos is a necessary condition for evolution.  And evolution is what we are all here for.  It may not always seem like it, but that’s a good thing too.  Fear not.  Everything is okay.

It’s a very old symbol,
carried down across many cultures for one reason.
Because it’s true.
Everything is Okay.
Fear not.
At the end of each day on planet earth, the net-positive quietly outweighs the net-negative, bombastic and intimidating as it may be.  Even if we can’t easily see it, even if it doesn’t make the news, everyday a man goes without food so that another may eat, a woman goes without rest so that a child may sleep, and entire communities volunteer for hardship so that others may reach higher potentials.  

Every day a great step is taken.  
How great?  Let’s take a step back for some perspective.  No, a little further… a little more… Okay that’s far enough.  Let’s look for a moment at the really big picture.
What we call history, all the way back to the Big Bang, is really the story of growth.  We exist within an ongoing process in which simple things grow into more complex things capable of more and more over time.  On this particular island in space, simple elements evolve into breathable air and sustaining water.  Simple cells evolve into plants and animals.  Autonomous animals evolve from creatures of instinct to creatures of reason.  All of that growth happened over billions of years.  

The next step?  Over the last hundred thousand years or so - a grain of sand on the beach of time - creatures of reason have begun to evolve into beings with the ability to recognize an aspect of themselves we generally refer to as spirit or “soul.”  
Evolution does not happen overnight.  Fungus does not suddenly become a tree.  Instinct does not suddenly become reason.  And humankind does not suddenly become whatever it is we are working our way towards in an instant.  Rather, steps taken in the direction of higher states come from acts of courage born out of necessity.  Some lowly worm had to climb high into the trees before the first butterfly could come.  A fish had to venture onto the land before anything walked.  And some human being had to trust in something about himself which he could not see or point to before he could do something no animal ever could – take a stand on principle.  

Animals do not rush into burning buildings or throw themselves onto live grenades that fall among their comrades.  Nor does every man.  But with each step taken, more and more will be able say I do not need to fear because death has no dominion over me.     
Courage is the key.  Where do human beings get their courage?  Faith.  Not the faith of dogma or religion (although such things can sometimes help).  Ultimately, any act of courage comes from an understanding, whether fully realized in a moment or something more subtle, that we are more than our current situation makes it seem.  
A baby bird can’t really know what’s going to happen the first time it jumps out of a nest high in tree.  But he suspects something about himself, a potential unrealized while he sits and waits.  

After that first act of faith, birds can fly at will.  

“Expansion” by Paige Bradley

Monday

Most Kick-Ass President Ever


Here's another reason why people should read history.

In fact, I would like to know how it is possible that I made it through grade school without hearing this story, without a single history teacher realizing that this would make every student a little less jaded, a little less self-absorbed, a little more courageous, and probably even a lifelong fan of American History. 

Teddy Roosevelt, the man who preserved our nation's beloved national parks so they would be nice and clean for our beloved oil companies when they arrived to correct the height of the mountains a century or so later, was SHOT in the CHEST, THEN delivered a 90 minute speech. 

Many years later, a very famous male-model of windbreakers and hair products named James Dean, said...

"Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today."

He wasn't talking about Roosevelt at the time.  In fact, he was probably just trying to get laid, but still, the sentiment is spot on.

Because as he stood on that podium, literally bleeding from the bullet of a fresh, and nearly successful assassination attempt, Teddy Roosevelt was still living his life, still leading, trying to be a guide toward a better direction.  His words on that day, kind of put things in perspective right now.  As history can sometimes do.

Here's some of what my new favorite President of the United States said before they pried him off the stage to get the freakin' bullet out of his chest.



"I am going to ask you to be as quiet as possible for I am not able to give the challenge of the bull moose quite as loudly. Now, I do not know who he was or what he represented. He was a coward. He stood in the darkness in the crowd around the automobile and when they cheered me, and I got up to bow, he stepped forward and shot me in the darkness. 

Now, friends, of course, I do not know, as I say, anything about him; but it is a very natural thing that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of awful mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers in the interest of not only Mr. Debs but of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taft.

Friends, I will disown and repudiate any man of my party who attacks with such foul slander and abuse any opponent of any other party; and now I wish to say seriously to all the daily newspapers, to the Republicans, the Democrat, and Socialist parties, that they cannot, month in month out and year in and year out, make the kind of untruthful, of bitter assault that they have made and not expect that brutal, violent natures, or brutal and violent characters, especially when the brutality is accompanied by a not very strong mind; they cannot expect that such natures will be unaffected by it. 

Now, friends, I am not speaking for myself at all, I give you my word, I do not care a rap about being shot; not a rap.

I have had a good many experiences in my time and this is one of them. What I care for is my country. I wish I were able to impress upon my people -- our people, the duty to feel strongly but to speak the truth of their opponents. I say now, I have never said one word one the stump against any opponent that I cannot defend. I have said nothing that I could not substantiate and nothing that I ought not to have said -- nothing that I -- nothing that, looking back at, I would not say again. 

Now, friends, it ought not to be too much to ask that our opponents -[speaking to some one on the stage]-I am not sick at all. I am all right. I cannot tell you of what infinitesimal importance I regard this incident as              compared with the great issues at stake in this campaign, and I ask it not for my sake, not the least in the world, but for the sake of common country, that they make up their minds to speak only the truth, and not use that kind of slander and mendacity which if taken seriously must incite weak and violent natures to crimes of violence. Don't you make any mistake. Don't you pity me. I am all right. I am all right and you cannot escape listening to the speech either."

Milwaukee, Wis., October, 14, 1912

It goes on from there... for 90 minutes.