Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Daily Dose of Reality

The following item by an anonymous author, with numbers which are only approximate, has been widely quoted for many years, and puts it all in perspective:

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:
57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 would be Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would
be from the United States.
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
ONE would be near death; ONE would be near birth
ONE would have a college education
ONE would own a computer.
When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, you recognize that you are indeed among the fortunate......

And, therefore . . .

If you woke up this morning
with more health than illness,
you are more blessed than the
million who won't survive the week.

If you have never experienced
the danger of battle,
the loneliness of imprisonment,
the agony of torture or
the pangs of starvation,
you are ahead of 20 million people
around the world.

If you attend a church meeting
without fear of harassment,
arrest, torture, or death,
you are more blessed than almost
three billion people in the world.

If you have food in your refrigerator,
clothes on your back, a roof over
your head and a place to sleep,
you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank,
in your wallet, and spare change
in a dish someplace, you are among
the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If your parents are still married and alive,
you are very rare,
especially in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile
on your face and are truly thankful,
you are blessed because the majority can,
but most do not.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them
or even touch them on the shoulder,
you are blessed because you can
offer God's healing touch.

If you can read this message,
you are more blessed than over
two billion people in the world
that cannot read anything at all.

You are so blessed in ways
you may never even know.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tahoe was beautiful this time of year. In truth, it’s beautiful anytime of year, but with a fresh blanket of milky white powder atop the evergreens, it was awe-inspiring. Heavenly Village sits nestled in towering mountains and the glistening aquamarine waters of Lake Tahoe. This was just what Samantha needed after the hectic holidays. Sam had always been close to her family, and she truly enjoyed spending time with them over the holidays, but this year with her father gone, things had been different. She had always been very close to him, he was the one who understood her best when the rest of the family just didn’t seem to get it. He was always the one on her side of the fence, encouraging her, listening and providing her with a sense of being. He was also always the one to fend off the questions from the rest of them. Why aren’t you dating? Isn’t there anyone that seems interesting enough to give a chance? Don’t you want children someday? This isn’t healthy, Sam. She knew they meant well and were only concerned for her but she wished they’d back off. Why was it so hard for them to understand? Lately it seemed to have gotten worse, probably because they knew the loss of her father was going to take its toll and make matters worse. What they didn’t seem to understand was that she was already committed, she had already given all of herself to one man and although it had been five years since he disappeared, she wasn’t ever going to be able to look at another man the same again. Five years she thought, it was hard to imagine it hadn’t been longer. It felt like a lifetime, more like a thousand years, a damned eternity even. At the beginning she kept herself busy with the investigation, trying to find answers only to discover more questions. Now she just felt blank. Numb. Off in the distance a squirrel attempted to chase off his nemesis. Trying to push the thoughts from her mind, she watched the foreign shapes take form in the snow as he pounced from spot to spot before scurrying up the next tree. The branches bounced as he jumped from limb to limb and droplets of silvery snow plopped to the ground below. The air hinted of vanilla and pineapple from the abundance of Jeffery Pines that lined the mountainsides. The air was crisp and refreshing. It had been years since Sam had skied. Five years at least and she felt a bit tarnished. Her father had taught her to ski on this very mountain when she was just 5 years old. Although she hadn’t been here for quite some time, this mountain was like an old family friend. Growing up, Sam’s family had taken several trips a year to ski Tahoe. It felt strangely consoling to be back. Heavenly was always her favorite mountain with lifts and spectacular views on both the California and Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. She remembered the laughter in her fathers voice as he’d told her to slow down a little. She glanced back in the squirrel’s direction before she decided to head down the mountain. He was no where in site. She pushed off with her right leg and began a slow slalom weaving back and forth across the mountain. The slopes were starting to get busier as it shifted from early morning. A group of college aged kids blew past her, playfully hollering and weaving among them selves. Two girls lagged behind engrossed in conversation away from the group. She was starting to feel more comfortable with each turn and began relaxing when suddenly a familiar voice spoke loudly from behind.
“Hello Sam”
She tensed up, whisked sharply to the right, stopping dead in her tracks. She turned her head to his voice and feeling nearly frozen in place, she toppled over….

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Homicide of Civility

When did it become an acceptable practice within society to take what you can get? When did the ever increasing entitlement issues become so prevalent? It has become second nature in our culture to take advantage of, to take more than earned or deserved and to knock others down on our climbs to personal success and gains. People used to only take what belonged to them, the things they had worked hard to gain. I remember a time when hard work, grace and civility won out. Reaching out and extending a hand to your neighbors use to be common practice. Communities came together to help each other in times of need. If something was desired, goals were set, plans were put into action and bridges had to be crossed in order to reach those goals. Now, you could consider yourself lucky to cross a figurative bridge without being thrown into the gulley by someone else attempting to beat you to it. Entitlement simply put is your right, what is due to you. People don't simply owe someone something because they simply want it or need it, even if they have an over abundance of it laying around in waste. If you desire it, work for it, take the necessary steps to gain it. When did we lose respect for our elders or stop biting our tongues when we didn't have anything nice to say? What happened to principles and doing the right things for the right reasons? We easily accept and fall into common practice but majority does not make something right or acceptable. Take slavery for example. There was a time when it was an acceptable practice. Many whites viewed themselves as superior to blacks. In fact majority ruled. Many people who suspected the practice was wrong simply went along with it because majority did. Clearly slavery was unethical, inhumane and down right wrong. Yet it happened. What I'm saying is, just because the guy next to you is getting ahead by stepping on your head to get where he's going, by no means constitutes you doing the same to the guy under you. Instead grab his hand, pull him up, let him climb to his goals also. Help your neighbors, pray for people, extend your hand. Restore grace and humanity. Never give in to majority when it goes against moral judgement and values. Change what you see as unjust. Encourage rather than criticize. Simply put, do the right thing. Over and over, do the right thing until it catches on. Remember a time when this was majority. Follow the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi, " Be the change you wish to see in the world." Practice them. Teach them. I'm not saying the whole world is full of bad people, I'm just saying there are a handful that are real shitheads. Pray for them, they are the ones who need it most. Remember, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Mother Teresa said it, and more importantly lived it. Jesus practiced it, preached and taught it. He died for it. Why are we so willing to lose our passion for life? The world needs each one of us to take the steps make it happen. We have a responsibility to ourselves and each other. Be the change. Take a stand and make a difference one person, or family at a time.