Believe you me…

“Show me a man who has the same values, and beliefs at 50 that he had at 25, and I’ll show you a man who has wasted 25 years of his life.” Muhammad Ali

As Beliefs Grow Up…

Beliefs are the first children we ever have. Like real children, beliefs begin arriving long before we are prepared for, or qualified to have them. As they grow, they end up raising us in sense, as children raise their parents. Hopefully this allows us to evolve with them in an expanding, and symbiotic relationship. As time passes we become increasingly intimate with, and committed to our beliefs.

For many, their beliefs will be the only children they ever have. Who doesn’t want to show off their children…? For others, their beliefs will be children so well-crafted they’ll rarely be exposed. Beliefs define us, express us, and explain us. They are malleable, often in flux, and very sensitive to the fingerprints of others.

beleif3

Beliefs; the first children we ever have…

Like our real children, we can be guilty at times of not executing the most proper custodial care in the raising of our beliefs. Our beliefs grow as properly as we nurture them, and direct them to. And also like children, our beliefs can be at odds with each other – despite that they are our own. We’re all familiar with feuding siblings. In that context I’ll suggest we’re just familiar with feuding beliefs living in our heads.

Like protecting our children from harm, we seek to protect our beliefs from harm in hopes that they will grow, and serve the world well. As a culture, it increasingly seems that protecting our own beliefs more resembles projecting them. We shoot our beliefs like arrows at others before they can get to ours with theirs.

Essentially, on the playground of life, we’re pitting the children of our minds against one-another rather than encouraging them to play nicely.

No Means No…

In the tired, and unsolvable debate over god, God, or no God, something should be considered; to continually attempt to change somebody’s beliefs once they have said, No Thank You, is an not only an attempted rape of that person’s most precious asset, it is an attempted murder of their mind’s children.

A good friend attempted to witness Christ to me several weeks ago. He did so softly, and congenially, but was persistent in his approach. I know this was an act of love on his behalf, and an attempt to make a positive impact on my life. I respect that. I’m certain, however, that he never considered he was attempting to make many of my children – my own beliefs disappear by pitting his to hurt mine. Perhaps when he reads this, he’ll view things differently.

I do not begrudge him for the attempt. I remain hurt though, and feel somewhat violated that when I said “no”, as I explained the comfort I have with my own beliefs, that he didn’t take no for an answer, and wouldn’t let it go. At that point, it was an emotional rape attempt.

I have been witnessed to many times prior. Several ended in the destruction of friendships, and business relationships. Not only would they not take no for answer, they attacked my beliefs, and did so in very disparaging ways.

Now that may be taken as anti-Christian statement, but I assure you it is not. It is a statement in favor of respecting the children I have raised in my mind – my beliefs. I know many atheists who are just as guilty, and just as evangelical in their approach to converting believers, and both sides should learn to end the conversation at the first, No Thank You.

The Playground Of Life…

Most parents spend a great deal of effort teaching their children to play well with others. Maybe it’s time we place just as much effort into teaching our own beliefs to play well with others. At the workplace, online, at social gatherings, and sporting events there are no recess monitors. We are self-policed – or not. I believe we can do a better job than we currently are.

Discussing beliefs around the campfire with friends...

Discussing beliefs around the campfire with friends…

We’ve all thought to ourselves, I should be more… I’ll suggest those thoughts most always arise from an internal fear we may have or develop. We don’t get angry with ourselves for questioning our own beliefs. However, when we are approached with, you should be more… we immediately take offense. There’s a disparity there that doesn’t work.

Too many people are having their beliefs attacked by the bullies of fear too often in these times. The term discourse is falling out of vogue again, as bipartisanship has. When somebody attacks our beliefs, or attempts to change them, maybe we shouldn’t get angry with them, and fight back by shooting our beliefs. Perhaps we should simply pity them, and offer them a hug, and seek the common points first. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP  button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this little gem from Australia’s Pat Capocci.  Enjoy…

Of dogs, and immigrants…

Broad brush strokes…

When we refer to any group, or reference their actions as a collective, we are often making a mistake. My favorite example of this is when people refer to the American founding fathers. This is often done in the context of, The founding fathers would have…

News flash; there was no such thing as the founding fathers as a collective. Similarly, there is no such things as in nature, Hollywood, or the sports world as collective entities.  Still, there are times when it’s useful, and even appropriate to paint with these broad brush strokes. I’m about to do that – twice.

Reflections from a sidewalk…

One year ago next month a conversation took place between a dear friend and I – she and I share a daughter. We were enjoying lunch at a sidewalk café on a Chicago afternoon. The following day our daughter was to graduate from college, so the conversation was reflective on our child’s life. The slow pace of the lunch provided a relaxed dialogue, and gave us a chance to talk without hurrying our girl’s future into place.

As the conversation flitted back and forth through time, the talk was peppered with thoughts of how we humans believe we should live our lives versus we how actually choose to. The two sides of that same coin are often left unreconciled by many. In a serene moment my daughter’s mother and I distilled all we really need to know about how to live our lives into just two words; dogs, and immigrants.

On dogs…

She explained that we should all live more like dogs. Dogs, she said, live in the moment. She suggested that so long as dogs are in a safe environment, they live relatively stress free lives, and are appreciative of whatever it is they are doing at a given time. Be it feeling the warmth of the sunshine on their body, enjoying a piece of food or a human touch, dogs, she suggested, don’t look back or beyond.

Dogs love unconditionally she continued, and humans would be wise to do the same. She explained that dogs are loving creatures with forgiving hearts. Dogs hold no resentment, and when given love, they tend to pay love back – with interest.

Lastly, she stated, that dogs are humble. Though each has a unique personality, dogs tend to understand that they are here to follow, not to advise, and that humans would be wise to live the same way. A dog, she said, has no ego.

Though I could not disagree with any of her points, I explained that I feel people need more than those qualities to prosper as a society.

She may have her roaring moments, but Peachy is the most humble dog I have ever known...

She may have her roaring moments, but Peachy is the most humble dog I have ever known…

On immigrants…

I explained to her that I feel we should live more like immigrants. That immigrants, like dogs, tend to be humble, but hard working. Work, I reminded her, is what we humans are here for.

I live in a town with a large immigrant culture. Many come from Central America, and Mexico. Most of the immigrants I have come to know here are among the hardest working, and most humble people I know. I find them more inspiring than I do professional athletes or even astronauts. They also tend to be reverent, and respectful.

When I cross paths with, or interact with the local immigrant culture, they are often on bicycle or on foot en-route to their long days of picking fruit or working elsewhere in agriculture. I have employed several through the years for both short, and long-term work. There are many commonalities I have observed with them as a collective, chief among them is that I am almost always met with a smile, and a greeting.  Most often their shirts are tucked in, they say please and thank you to everything that moves, and they value a dollar – not covet it. From most of them, I sense something genuine.

Let the work day begin...

Let the work day begin…

Among the immigrant population here, there seems to be no real sense of resentment that they are on foot or on bike rather than a Lexus. I feel a genuine sense of gratitude from the immigrant culture that a dog might also have, but a wealthy neighbor probably doesn’t. Immigrants, I believe, sense and appreciate opportunity far better than most of us, having often sprung from more stark beginnings. Many I have known see little use for even a lunch break.

I believe living in this community, with its high concentration of immigrants, has inspired me to live a more humble, and harder working life. I am grateful that I have a chance to interface with these inspirational people most every day of my life.

Inspired from eye level, not from above…

I watched an inspirational video this morning of athletes who all looked like action figures. They were covered with sweat, and performing brave exercises while voices in the background increased in volume as they repeatedly offered motivational clichés espousing the merits of gut busting work as a means of pursuing achievement. I admit I felt largely inspired by the video – at first.

As I watched this video though, I could not help but think that if that same music, and those same motivational voices were superimposed of over scenes of immigrant workers picking fruit, or of stay at home moms juggling laundry, cooking, and children, they would have inspired me as much. I was taken back to that conversation I had nearly a year ago, of dogs and immigrants.

Meme picking…

Barring an advancement in genetic engineering which might enable us to splice the highest traits of immigrants with those of dogs and implant them into the psyche of the average American, I can only hope that for inspiration, we begin looking around at some point, and not up.

In the end I can’t really say we should live more like dogs, or immigrants. I will suggest though, that we should seek out qualities to improve our lives from the collectives which may seem to be beneath or beside us, and draw less those from those who appear to be above us – professional athletes in particular.

Now I know there are lazy immigrants, mean dogs, and mindful professional athletes. However, it’s my firm belief that if our founding fathers were alive today, they all would “like” this essay on their Facebook pages. Be well… rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Jill Andrews. Enjoy…