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Who were you? Who are you? Who will you be? — Religion and Politics

There are subjects one would assume are “done to death.” And maybe that’s a fair statement for the one I’m intending to address with this post. That having been said, I also firmly believe there are things that cannot be said too often. Further, there are differences in presentation that may cause a given point or perspective to be “driven home to” those for whom it may not yet have affected as it ought. It’s my hope that this presentation will contain such differences.

Having dispensed with what amounts to a “traditional disclaimer,” allow me to address that about which this article was intended to speak.

Were I to look into my past, I would see an individual who was entrusted with information not by any means readily available to “mere mortals.” That may be a bit of an overstatement, but the reality is, I was one with a security clearance that allowed me to see things that were certainly not “available for public consumption.” I can tell you with assurance, that some of the things I learned in that position are to this day not matters of common knowledge.

Having said that, the question you might ask me today is, “So what?” Your question would be entirely valid. Though my past seems to have been an exciting and interesting one (to some at least), it is my past.

To be sure, I am responsible for my past. As well, I am in a position wherein I am expected to refuse to release information gleaned from my time in it. This “duty” I discharge to the best of my ability.

Even so though, this time in my life is no more. To be clear, this is not something about which I’m sad. It was interesting, it was exciting, but it is the past.

Piecing all together, this means that I shouldn’t by any means be living in that which was. It’s done. It’s over. That’s that.

Having examined the basic import of those things past, let me take just a moment to address things yet to be.

There is little in many senses more important, but less certain than the future. It is hoped that the future will be a good time for each of us. It is desirable that we can and will, be at least helpers to a bright tomorrow. Though this is true, we can never say with certainty that this is how things will conclude.

There are so very many variables in what might be, that even if we do our level best to make the time to come the most wonderful it can possibly be, we may find that it’s nothing like what we desired at its coming.

This can be a good thing or a bad one. Stated in the most basic fashion, our futures can either far outstrip that which we thought would be the best possible, or end up being entirely horrible in nature.

It’s fair to say that the future is not clear and that it’s far from known or given.

Even so, it should be our intent to make the future most wonderful time possible.

This brings us to the final consideration. That consideration would be, “Who are you?”

We cannot say with certainty what the future will hold, nor can we say entirely, what the present has for us. Clues to both can be found in “what has been.” The past my help us to be informed into the things that are or may yet come.

In some instances, we can look at what was with an understanding that our future is likely to look as did the past. In others, we may decide that the past was not what we would like to see as we move ahead and act in ways we hope will change the future such that it doesn’t resemble the past.

The most important part of this little work, is that the place where the future may be forged, right here in the present. That’s not—again—to say that we’re totally in control of that which will happen, even in the present. But we can work to react to that which we do not control in ways that we believe will result in a better future.

To be fair, the results of our interactions may not be positive, our best intentions aside. It is even possible that “bad behavior” or improper actions on our part, may result in the best ends. Even so, it’s far more likely that proper, reasonable responses on our part, will result in a better, brighter future.

The one thing that we can say with certainty though, is that the present is the time in which the future can be changed and the past can be rectified or preserved.

I’m by no means trying to indicate that the process of making the right decisions—-of taking the best actions—-is a simple one. While that’s the case, if we don’t even try though, we have no hope or assurance that the future will be in any regard steered by us (at least, not in any way other than inaction or uncertainty on our part).

There are those who would argue that it’s preferable to not affect the future through our actions and risk doing so in a negative way, than to forge ahead, and manage to do so in a positive one. It’s certainly the right of folks to choose that course. As for me, I believe I have ideas that are worthy of consideration and more, enaction as time moves forward.

If you cannot say the same, I suggest to you that you should seek to change, for in the best case you will affect the future positively either by accident or inaction.

For my part. I have every desire to impact that which is to be through positive, reasonable, constructive means. I may well fail, but it shan’t be for want of trying.

The two takeaways here are:

  1. The past is gone, the future uncertain, the present is here, all actions and intents will be in it. Act accordingly.
  2. How the future looks will be somewhat dependent  on what you do, say and think today, preferably through the “lens of” the past.

Thanks for your attention, and may your time be good.

Business For LinkedIn Health and Fitness Philosophy Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

Religion, Politics, Philosophy and Relationships

One of the rarest things I have experienced in my neither greatly short, nor particularly long life, are people who I can account “kindred spirits.”

This is rather amazing when you consider that I ought to have a great deal in common with folks who are Christians on the basis that we claim Christ as our Savior and Lord.

It would be one thing if the people in question were in disagreement with me only on minor and insignificant matters, but alas, this is far from the case.

I find that, if people are willing to discuss the more important things that one ought to consider, I am substantially more likely to find myself in disagreement with them, than in accord.

It’s a certain thing, that in any given situation when dealing with opinions and beliefs, there are but three possible “outcomes.” These outcomes are based on the idea that two people disagree (if they agree, there are but two, both can be correct, or both incorrect). In the case of disagreement either one is correct, the other is correct, or neither is.

Obviously, my preference is to be the one who is correct. Often though, my realization is that I’m not that person. How often am I in the “other camp?” My profound hope is that it’s not something that happens regularly, but the reality is, I shouldn’t be terribly surprised to hear it happens more frequently than not.

There is a very propitious result of that realization though–that is, the recognition that I’m certainly incorrect at times (again, maybe more times than not). That end, is that I am pretty much constantly a person willing to listen to what others have to say.

The logic behind this–besides that I know well that I may be in error–is simple. Broken down it is that if people are willing to listen to what others have to say, it is entirely possible that they will do one of two things, either they will teach or they will learn.

As I get older, I find I am more likely to be in the “teacher’s position” than in the learner’s. The reason for this, is that I have had a great deal of time to consider what I say and the beliefs that “back” what I utter.

To be clear though, that by no means indicates that I am not open to learn–to be educated in my error.

There is a liberation in my position the like of which, I would love for others to come to know. Since I’m aware of the possibility that I believe and espouse error, I can hear the statements of others–the expression of their beliefs–from a different perspective than I fear many others possess.

I can be civil, courteous, nice, friendly and–dare I say it–even even loving to my fellows even when we disagree.

There are certainly beliefs that can damage or even destroy a friendship, but believe it or not, for me, the “set thereof” is quite small and very severe in nature.

The point here, is that I have yet to count a person as someone with whom I am not a friend over disagreement, and that’s pretty much regardless the realm.

It is unfortunate to me, that there are many folks who do not deal with life in this way. They allow the fact that they substantially disagree with others to cause the termination of their relationship with them, even when they can civilly disagree with them and remain friends.

For my part, the attitude that prevails is, “We can disagree most strenuously, but still, we can maintain our friendship.”

I acknowledge freely, that this is not absolutely always the case. At the same time though, I say again that I have found very few instances where differences in belief led to the needful dissolution of a relationship, and most particularly of a friendship.

Whether our disagreement is religious, political, philosophical, or in some other arena matters little, if at all.

The point here, in my view, is that if one decides he or she is going to do his or her best to treat others with respect and civility, disagreement aside, his or her examination of those disagreements can be at least interesting, and at best life changing.

When on the other hand, people choose to be either offended by, or offensive in, the expression of beliefs, the result is virtually always unfortunate.

Worse yet, when a person refuses to discuss his or her beliefs in the aforementioned areas.

If you refuse to explain to me how you have come to believe what you’ve come to believe, I can neither readily learn from you, nor easily teach you.

If I’m unable to learn from you, I’m a poorer human as a result.

The other side of the coin–if I am unable to teach you–it is you who loses out.

I would that more people viewed life in this way. Much of our time should be spent either teaching or learning. What makes this even more interesting is, the person I teach in one moment is very likely to be a person from whom I learn in the next.

If I start from the place of understanding that says, “Even the inexperienced and those without massive intellects are often worthy educators.” my whole life changes.

I may still decide that such a one will not have a great deal to impart, but that doesn’t by any stretch mean they have nothing of which they are aware that I am not.

As such, it always behooves one to be–as is the Biblical admonition (paraphrasing)–quick to listen and slow to speak.

This is a learned art, and one at which I am much further from expertise than I would like.

In the end though, the “final lesson” I would seek to teach is, civility, respect and courtesy may at times be hard to give to others, but they are virtually always admirable, reasonable traits to possess.

Thanks for your attention, and may your time be good.

Health and Fitness Philosophy Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

My Rights – Religion and Politics

It’s a normal work day. You wake yourself up at 5:30AM, having luxuriated in an additional half hour of sleep (you normally wake up at 5:00AM if not a tad earlier).

You make your first morning cup of coffee, and drag yourself through shaving, brushing your teeth and showering.

You gather together all things needed for the day, and put them into your vehicle.

You get your still-sleeping-child into clothes and out of bed, brushing his or her hair along the way.

The two of you make your way out of the house, grabbing a “treat” for your child on the way out the door.

You lock the door, and walk toward your vehicle.

Suddenly, someone you’ve never seen before jumps out from behind your car and informs you that you need to give them food, or money to buy food. They inform you that, “Food is a right and as such, you must provide it to me if I can’t do so for myself.”

Up to the last paragraph, the descriptive might roughly match that of the average father or mother and child, getting out, on their way to a “normal day.” That last bit though, seems just a little far-fetched.

In reality though, it’s not as distant from reality as one might assume. You see, every day I work, a portion of my income is taken from me on much the same premise, as if a person did exactly as I have here presented.

In fact, what actually happens is just a little bit stranger than what I’ve written.

In the one case, at least the individual for whom the supposed “right” exists is telling me I need to support him or her. In the “true to life case” though, it’s government telling me about the person’s “right” as they pick my pocket to supposedly pay for that person to eat.

What actually happens to the money collected? Your guess is likely as good as mine. So much money is collected and so very much of it is used for administration, and things other than feeding the person whose “right” I’m supposedly supporting, as to make it anybody’s guess.

The one thing I can say for sure is this. The same folks who are supposedly “looking after the rights of” these supposedly underprivileged folks, are assuredly not looking after my rights, or those of my family.

How can I say this? Simple. Those people are willing to require taxes are taken from my earnings regardless what’s happening in my life. They have zero idea what I’m going through, nor do they care. In fact, based on how they do things, they cannot care.

The best for which I can hope, is that they will give back some of the money they’ve taken due to perceived “extenuating circumstances” come the day of reckoning (aka, “tax day”). That means, if me and mine starve between now and then due to some situation or circumstances beyond our control, it’s no business or concern to those “helping the needy through taxation.”

And this is not just a matter of sustenance. I know people who are supposedly indigent who get far better health care than I could ever afford (even though I pay for health insurance).

The same sort of thing sort of applies to education. Though I wasn’t nearly as “far-seeing” in my youth as I am today, and I didn’t fail to go to college strictly because I knew I couldn’t afford it, I knew well, that I could not afford the crushing cost of a “higher education.” Further, I have amassed a sufficiency of debt in my lifetime, without taking out loans to “get knowledge.”

I work as a “professional” nonetheless, making relatively good money in the process.

That being said though, the result is that I supposedly “pay for” a lot of folks eat, to have a place to stay, to support their children with food, and school, and for a variety of other things.

Lest you be tempted to say something like, “So do I, and it doesn’t bother me to do so.” Allow me to make a couple of observations.

  1. You may believe you’re supporting others “with your taxes,” but considering the average person pays income taxes and gets most or all of them–if not more than what they paid in–back at the end of the year, you might want to check how that has worked for you before making such a statement.
  2. There are things I like, or in which I believe, that I have zero expectations you will support. Put simply, “Just because I’m okay with something, doesn’t mean I should expect you will be likewise.”

Again though, the reality is that the government spends a small percentage of what it takes in on such people and circumstances.

It’s actually worse than this though. You see, every day a plethora of stories pepper our news media (however negligent they may be) with abuses of systems designed to help those in need. Simply stated, billions of dollars per year are wasted on people who are not in the least, needy.

That’s just considering the obvious cases, by the way. There are a good many people who perpetually make bad life choices, then expect society at large to “lend them a hand” when they cannot or will not support themselves.

It should be well understood, that I’m not saying there’s nobody out there in legitimate need. On the other hand, it should also be clear, that many such people will never qualify for, much less get such aid as would help them to overcome that need.

More importantly, stating that such need is not a need but a “right,” is in my view, most definitely errant. Rights cannot be taken away, they are not bestowed, they exist.

I have no right to food, nor to housing, nor medical coverage, nor education. Your saying I do notwithstanding. If I have no such “rights,” how is it others assume they do? This is a fine question with no good answer.

Thanks, as usual, for your time and attention. May your time be good.