Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What the World Needs Now...

I have come across a few disturbing articles on the internet in my time. There is a lot that sucks in the world. I worry especially about our children, and the influences they will or may be exposed to. That's just background for the following insight.

It occurred to me that what the world needs is more people to be really good, exceptionally good.

And so, what the world needs from ME is to be exceptionally good.

But we often misunderstand what good means. A lot of "good people" are "shocked," "outraged," "offended," by what they see in the world, on the internet, in the behaviors of others. I don't think that is what the world needs. I don't recall anything about Jesus being shocked or outraged, except that one time when he was angry about the money changers and merchants in the temple area. More often, he was saddened. I remember the rich young man who didn't answer Jesus' call because he had many possessions, and how Jesus looked on him with love.

Any way, not to go on too long about it, I think what the world needs from me, from Christians, from all moral people, is exceptional goodness without the "moral outrage," but with mercy, compassion. It is a sad world, and the "bad people" who are making it a sad world are the saddest people of all. And they need from us, the example of goodness, and the balm of mercy and compassion.

Maybe we Christians can find a "right" and sometimes even a "duty" to "fight back" on some level, but I think the obligation to fight back is relatively rare, certainly not as common as we have come to see on the internet, all the outrage, and taking offense, and arguing and name-calling, even amongst Christians.

And of course, this applies firstly and mostly to those closest to me. To set an example of goodness, and to be merciful toward others who fall short of goodness. Being "good" doesn't give me a right to get offended or angry with someone else's bad behavior. But it probably gives me a duty to be more compassionate and merciful.

I'm going to try to start the new year with a resolution to strive to be both exceptionally good, good in everything, not making allowances for myself, and my questionable behavior, while also making allowances for others, praying for their weakness and struggles, forgiving them readily when they hurt or offend me in some way, showing them patience and kindness and gentleness as much as possible, avoiding any taking offense, outrage, arguing, anger, harshness, that sort of thing where I might claim to care about "the right thing," when in reality, I'm making it all about me, even if it's just my frustration in not being heard, etc.

So, there you have it, the world, my small world, and the big world, with all the concentric circles in between those two extremes, needs ME to be exceptionally good, and exceptionally merciful.

The song is right: What the World Needs Now... is love, being as good as possible, and as merciful as possible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stress

I listen frequently to podcasts about health, and the one thing I have noticed they all seem to have in common is the belief that stress is probably the greatest force in the decline of western health, and the increase in obesity.

They all recommend meditation, mindfulness, meditation, etc, as means to combat stress.

One doctor in a podcast I listened to today said, basically: "We don't want to heal just to take away a health issue, but so that the patient can go on to live his life as his best self. We are more than our bodies."

I don't know this doctor's faith, but he also emphasized that the greatest stress disturbance in our lives is loss and grief, especially the anticipation of the end of our own lives. He says that fear is behind much of our grief in losing a loved one: "This is going to happen to me someday."

He said we need to come to terms with, accept the reality, that all of us are going to die. He seemed to imply that we should live with the understanding that this life is not all there is. And, interestingly, he said that we should live in such as way as to make our ultimate death not the fearful, terrible thing that it often is in our minds. We should live in such a way that our death is seen as a doorway to hope fulfilled.

We have to avoid regretting the past because it is done and gone. We can't change it. We have to avoid fearing the future. It hasn't happened yet. It may not happen at all, but it most likely will happen in the way that we fear if we let fear guide us. We have to live the present moment, it is all that we have. It is our only real guarantee because it IS, now. So, since the present moment IS our life, NOW, we ought to live it, and each one that we receive, in the best way possible, doing the good that the moment brings, being grateful (that's another really important element in good health) for the moment and for all that it brings with it.

And IF there IS an afterlife (as I believe there is) by living each moment mindfully and gratefully, with kindness, mercy, and real love, we are giving ourselves the best preparation for an actually happy death.

Then we have nothing to fear. And we reduce our stress. We can be happier, healthier, and more hopeful.

Simple, ain't it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Doing is not Being

I recently read "A Daughter of the Land" by Gene Stratton-Porter, and I came across this passage, spoken by a new daughter-in-law of her husband's family, particularly his mother:

"...there never should be the amount of work attached to living that there is in that house. It's never ending, it's intolerable. Mrs. Peters just goes until she drops, and then instead of sleeping, she lies awake planning some hard, foolish, unnecessary thing to do next. Maybe she can stand it herself, but I'm tired out."

It struck me, because I think much of modern life is like this. Too many of us are far too busy, and often busy with unnecessary activity. We create a need to do things that ultimately exhausts us, and we starve ourselves of peace, of real happiness, of the joy of a true idleness that isn't texting, surfing, doing, fixing, making, watching. We are an on-the-go people who no longer know how to simply be. Our lives are all about doing.

That being said, I am going to sit and simply be for a while.