Friday, July 11, 2008

Response to a Dear Friend . . .

In another forum, a close friend was lamenting that "life seems to be punishing" him for some reason. The following is my original response. I didn't, however, leave it posted at that forum.

I can certainly see how one could feel that life is punishing. I have felt and every once in a while I continue to feel something along those lines. I've done more thinking on this subject over the past few years than I care to admit. I have been wondering what has been going on or more appropriately what I could do to regain even a portion of the "easy life" I enjoyed just a couple years ago. I'm not wanting to sound like a whiner but there are times I want to just scream for the punishment to end...

To that end, I have to take a step back. I have to consider everything and try to place things into perspective. I truly believe that choices I make can and do affect the direction my life will go. Sadly, many of these choices aren't made with as much forethought as they should be. Interestingly, a lot of choices we make do not seem like choices until it is too late. I think this is why we try to teach our children to predetermine what they will do in given situations so the choices are already made when the time to act comes.

Anyway, one choice we make daily determines our perspective. If we are bogged down in worry and concern, many times that will affect our decision making ability in a poor way. If, however, we try to change our perspective, looking at things from a more disconnected place sometimes we'll make better decisions that will improve our lives.

“If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.” ~ John Heywood

I don't know. It is far too early in the morning for me to be making any sense anyway.

I have some things that need to be addressed at the office this weekend and next since next Friday is the last day of operations here. A week from Monday I'll be in my new office, working in a new position and those people who are currently working for me will be working for someone else. I'll have an additional 45 minutes added to my commute. . . As it is, I am not eating dinner until 8 o'clock most nights. . . Anyway, at least I still have a job, right??!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What the Bleep?!!???

During lunch today I heard a radio commercial that has been playing an awful lot lately. It utilizes a series of bleeps, buzzes and other audio dingbats to replace words that cannot otherwise air on broadcast television or radio. I am pretty certain the advertisers and the executives that developed this ad were pretty proud of themselves. At the risk of sounding a little prude, I found the bleeps to be more offensive than had they actually utilized the real words. Seriously, what is so cute about substitute words or sounds?

I am not someone who can actually judge others for their choice of words. I have tried in recent years to clean up my language but I have not always been as particular about the words I choose to speak. A few years ago, when I decided to clean things up, I remembered something my grandfather once told me, which at the time went in one ear and out the other.

Speaking on profanity, Grandpa said, “you communicate nothing more clearly than your own ignorance.”

I have to say, I cannot agree more heartily with his statement. Why is profanity becoming more acceptable today? As it is, you cannot hardly go a hour without hearing the Lord's name taken in vain. Exclamations that express absolutely nothing more than frustration or strong dissent are offensive and add absolutely nothing of worth to a conversation.

The commercial. A young man enters a store and after the clerk responds that the item he seeks is out of stock, replies with a series of bleeps that allow the first letter of each obscenity to be heard. It certainly doesn't take a lot of imagination to understand what words are being covered up. It is no less offensive either. In fact, I think it more offensive. Do they really think they are pulling the wool over someone's eyes?

Profanity and the replacement sounds and words all communicate the same thing. My grandfather, he was right.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Just wiggle your fingers

Another tricky thing to do: simultaneously rotate the index fingers of both hands clockwise. Do it slowly at first, but then pick up speed. Try to go faster and faster, and pretty soon your two fingers will be going in opposite directions!

The Strong and Hardy

So, what is fair? If your oldest does something special, something that truly is outside her norm and is great can you reward her for it if your youngest does that same thing all the time? If your second oldest always gets A's and B's in her classes but your oldest struggles to maintain a C average, is it fair to reward her for getting all B's?

Nature is a cold, calculated world that rewards strength and punishes the weak. The laws of Darwin hold strong to this premise. Survival of the fittest, or more appropriately, survival of those who change to meet the demands of the environment, is the rule of the world. Humankind bucks that rule.

The strongest among us are apt to help the weak. We see the value that even the weakest among us have to offer. Why is this so? Why do we consider the benefits to society the weakest have to offer? Greater humanity rises above the baseness of humankind to move beyond self. This is why civilizations work.

What is the honest difference between the greater humanity and the baseness that can be humankind? Do we truly value those who have made the effort to break free from the bonds of selfishness? It is certainly human nature to be more engrossed in the details of life that pertain to or are most interesting to self. At a quick glance through history, recognizing those who have lived their lives in one ambitious endeavor to promote self is easy. Even if we limited our attention to those who were the most successful, the list would be extremely long. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and now, Gates, are examples of extremely successful powerhouses who after a life of waltzing over the top of others, gaining extreme success in the business world at the expense of others, turn to a more fulfilling existence of philanthropy.

Each of these men, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and William Henry Gates III were/are considered giants, building significant enterprises. They were ruthless in business. That ruthlessness led to vast dynasties. The former two are more notably remembered for philanthropic endowments. Bill Gates, on the other hand, is just beginning on his philanthropic life. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world, was established in 2000. Bill Gates announced on June 15, 2006, that he would move to a part-time role within Microsoft, leaving day-to-day operations management in July 2008 to begin a full-time career in philanthropy, but would remain as chairman and advisor.

So, why? Why do these giants of the business world, after decades of brutal, cold business decisions devote their lives to charity?

“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.” ~ Albert Einstein

Darwin, as far as humankind is concerned, you're wrong!