Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Letter to God

Dear God,

How are you? I’ve been meaning to contact you because, from what I hear, things just aren’t all that good right now. Your children are tramping all over this world you’ve created for us, killing each other, both in secret and in plain sight. They’re hurting each other, old and young. They’re acting in deprived ways, wounding each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They justify their hurtful behavior in the name of self-fulfillment. Some of these misguided souls even try to justify this brutality by invoking your name.

Others of us aren’t taking care of the things you've given us very well. We’re tearing down these lovely trees you’ve made for us faster than you can grow them back. We’re burning up the wonderful resources you gave us at rates faster than you intended. The oceans and very air we breathe bear the stain of our over-indulgence.

If current trends are to be believed, it’s getting awfully warm as well. It’s like the global air conditioner just isn’t working. I know you didn’t break it, so it must have been us.

For most of us, I don’t think it’s even conscious. We’re just so caught up in our own affairs that we haven’t looked around much to see the damage our obsessions, self-interests and ambivalences are causing. It’s not just in big global ways, either. Neighbors and family members are turning on each other, shouting, screaming, hurting, and, in extreme cases, murdering. We’re all behaving very selfishly.

I don’t think we’re all bad, though. Many have just lost site of how all of us are connected through you. Others may be hurt so badly, that it’s hard for them to think and act in good and charitable ways.

Everything we do, every act or thought, good or ill, creates ripples that spread out and affect everyone else. Many of us have forgotten that. We’ve been so concerned with our own survival, under trying conditions of our own manufacture, that we’ve forgotten that it doesn’t have to be like this. We don’t have to keep fighting and killing and polluting. We don’t have to keep screaming, and yelling, and hating. We can choose to love. You tried to teach us love, didn’t you? Even then some of us got angry and spiteful. We even nailed your Son to a tree in order to stop him from showing us a better way.

How stupid are we?

I’m sorry, God. I’m so very sorry. I want to apologize for all the times I’ve looked away from the truth of love and the importance of taking care of my brothers and sisters, my family, my children (who are also your children). I also want to apologize for all the others, even those who don’t want me to.

Unfortunately, I know that we’ll continue to screw up in the future. You know it, too. We’re imperfect creatures, after all. Of course that was the whole point, wasn’t it? To learn to get along with each other? To learn that people matter much more than things? I hope you can forgive us for not learning that lesson very well. I hope you can forgive me.

I also want to say thank you for giving us this chance to fix things. You’ve always been merciful like that, though, haven’t you? I just hope, and pray, that we can change our behaviors in time. There’s a part of me that can’t help wondering if, in some ways, we’re already too late.

In any case, I’m still here. I’m still behind you. I don’t always understand it all, but I’m trying. I love you. Help me to love your children as much as you do.

Your child,


Monday, July 16, 2007

14 Things that Make Me Mad

Fourteen things that make me mad, in no particular order:

1. Mean people.
2. Stupid people (often they're the same people).
3. People who don't respect their neighbor's privacy / property / person.
4. People who don't tip their waiter/waitresses.
5. Hypocrites.
6. Employers who value money more than the welfare of their employees and customers.
7. American's who don't vote because it's "a waste of time."
8. People who are disloyal to their friends and family.
9. Journalists and politicians that spout platitudes of "truth and righteousness" that can't be bothered to check the facts with those who really do know.
10. People who use the term, "Everybody knows ..."
11. People who think that it's okay to "screw" their neighbor.
12. People who use deception in the name of fighting deceptive people (intelligence operations and national politics not included).
13. Corporations screwing the consumer just to make more money for themselves. (When is enough money, enough money people?)
14. People who whine more than they act.
15. People who can't count.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Acting as an American

In the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson mentions five key elements that the then British Colonies wanted in establishing a new nation: Justice, Domestic Tranquility, a Common Defense, the General Welfare, and Liberty.

As we get ready to celebrate the founding or our great nation, I wonder about how well, in my own life, I am pursuing and promoting these ideals. I'm not thinking about this in national terms. That's a whole issue unto itself. What I'm wondering is how am I doing in my personal life, on a day to day basis. Would Thomas Jefferson approve of my day-to-day actions as an American?

Justice, taken from the perspective of the victim is easy to understand. It's a revenge mentality, pure and simple. When taken from the inner perspective of judging my own behavior, it's an entirely different matter. Am I dealing justly with my neighbors? Do I take actions based on unjust assumptions of a situation, curing and ranting all the while, or do I seek to understand what may lie behind a given event?

What about domestic tranquility? Am I providing that for my wife and children? Does my behavior in the household foster a sense of peace, or do I just get mad and start yelling when things don't go the way I expect? Doesn't that destroy the tranquility of the home? In many ways, that kind of thing also ties into the question of whether or not I deal justly with my family.

What about a common defense? Do I provide enough physical security for my home? Do my children feel safe in it? Do they feel safe around me? What about my friends? Do I strive to defend them when they aren't around? If others speak badly of them, am I loyal? Do I defend them, or join in the gossip in their absence?

What about the general welfare? I'm certainly trying to provide for the physical needs of my family. What about the community at large? I do give regularly to the charities of my church. It there more I can do?

Do I foster liberty? Do I grant my children their liberties, or do I unjustly stop them from exercising their right to makes mistakes because I don't want to be bothered? Do I grant others in my life their liberty? Do I accept that the guy in the lane next to me has just as much of a right to be on the highway as I do, or do I enter into a competition with him, curing him for not “getting off of my road?” What about my wife? Do I help her explore her own freedoms, to grow as a person? Do I honor her right to visit with family and friends and to pursue a life outside of the home, or do I impose too much on her in an effort to skirt my own need to help raise and care for our home and children?

I'd like to think that I'm doing all of these things well but, I also think it's useful to revisit them, and measure just how well I am doing. In some of my measurements I find that I'm doing much better than I ever have before. Other measures come up terribly short, and I know I have a long way to go.

Why all this talk about family and home on Independence Day? I think that being an American is more than just living within its border and obeying its laws. I think it’s participating, voting, and acting on a common ideal - the quest for more justice, more tranquility, more loyalty, more equality, and more liberty.

How are you measuring up?

Happy Independence Day.