Dragons I Adore

As part of a writing assignment, I describe one of my favorite hobbies.  I love to collect interesting and unique dragons.  Dr. Wedin, our writing instructor, asked each of us to do a short piece on any hobbies that we had.  The following is my contribution to this assignment for our writing club.  I have included a few of my dragons. 

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I collect dragons.  Dragons are popular in many world cultures.  Three countries have dragons on their national flags.  Many more places such as Moscow also have dragons on their flags.  In China, the color of a dragon is symbolic.  Red, yellow, green, black, purple, white or gold, they all have different meanings.  A purple dragon represents love and romance.  A gold dragon symbolizes wealth and prosperity.  A white dragon is an omen of death.  There are nine types of Chinese dragons.  Some fly, some live underground, some have horns, and some are spiritual.  Dragons in China are generally benevolent or helpful to people.

In Western culture, dragons are usually depicted as evil.  We are all familiar with Saint George and the dragon and of course the famous Smaug in Tolkien’s story, the “Lord of the Rings.”  Throughout medieval history, one of a knight’s principle roles was to rescue women from dragons.  Why dragons loved to steal women is a good question since I have never heard of a dragon that ate a woman?

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While most people regard dragons as mythical creatures, some people believe that dragons once really lived.  There is some evidence of this in the Bible.  The Book of Job, chapter 41 — seems to describe a dragon in great detail:

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth” (NIV).

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In Indonesia, you can still find a live dragon known as the Komodo dragon.  It does not fly or breath fire, but you would not want one as a pet.  The Komodo dragon is actually a species of lizard, but who knows, maybe the Komodo dragon is a descendant of some long dead dragon that once roamed the world with dinosaurs.

I am fascinated by the variety of dragons.  Some are cute and cuddly.  Some are mean and ferocious.  Some are noble and dignified.  Some are evil and malignant.  You can find a dragon to represent just about any value or virtue that is important to you.

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My dragons keep me company and help reflect my different moods.  I have dragon paintings, dragon sculptures, dragon paper weights and a computer dragon which watches over me while I am writing or engaged in some internet search.  At night, my dragons keep the evil spirits of the world from entering my house.  They are my guardians and my friends.

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When I pass from this world, I hope my wife will bury my dragons with me.  I will need to take them to the next world to begin a new adventure with them there.

Time for Questions: 

Do you collect anything?  Why or why not? If so, what do you collect?  Why did you choose these to collect?  What is the most fun for you in terms of collecting?

Life is just beginning.

You can’t take it with you, so who will you give it to?

The Best Writing Club in the USA!

author-at-work-1170x716Big News!  They are going to make a movie about a writer’s club.  They made the movie “The Book Club” staring a host of elderly semi-retired actresses and now they want to make a movie about a writer’s club.  I am volunteering our club.  It is the best writing club in the USA with so many talented writers.

“Poppycock” you say!  “There are hundreds of writing clubs across this country and there are more talented writers than there are spaces on the Times Best Seller list. What makes your writing club the best?”

“Thank you for asking.”

Well for one, our club has the greatest teacher in the entire world.  She is a retired Professor Emeritus (Whatever that means) and you would never (even if you looked high and low) find a better writing teacher.  I will say more about our instructor later and why she is so great.

Now you may not know too much about a writing club or then again, you may think you know a lot.  Perhaps you think you know why someone would join a writing club.  If you are a non-writer, the usual reasons that come to mind are:  Fame, fortune and the power to influence thinking.  These are certainly lofty goals and one that anyone might be forgiven for believing worth pursuing.  They are not our reasons though.  We meet for two hours every week during the best weeks of the year in the mid-west to share our stories and to listen to the stories of others. Our goals are not so egotistical or grandiose as fame and fortune.

What makes a great writing club besides a great instructor?  You could define a writing club by its demographics.  Ours is primarily comprised of elderly retired folks of mixed German and Nordic backgrounds.  Women outnumber men in our club by a three to one ratio.  We are middle class people with about fifty percent of us having a college education.

A more interesting way to define a club is by its type of writers.  I believe we are unique in this area.  Why are we unique?  The answer is simple.  Most of us are too old to give a damn about fame and fortune.  We will probably not live long enough to enjoy any new-found wealth or fame anyway.   Our average age is probably close to 75.

There are three types of writers in our club.  We have nostalgia writers, fiction writers and persuasive writers.  I put myself in the last category.

Nostalgia writers in our club often write stories about memories and friends and relatives that are long gone.  It might be stories about growing up on the farm.  It might be stories about life in the St. Croix valley.  It might be stories about the old school days when there were one room school houses.

Nostalgia writers love to share their bygone days with younger relatives and other people.  The times and days they write about might not interest too many people, but there is little worry about that.  A writer writes for themselves often more than other people.  The accuracy of their memories might also be tainted with the passage of time but often these memories are so funny and colorful that no one in our club really cares about how accurate they are.  Maybe the story happened in 1957 or maybe it was 1947, it really does not make any difference to those of us listening.

The fiction writers in our club delight in telling involved and esoteric stories about themes that came out of their fantasies or some whimsical vision they had.  However, our fiction writers are no starry-eyed idealists.  They are under no illusions that they will make the best sellers list with their stories.  They are also not motivated by fame and fortune.  We have tales of frogs, sheep, goats, aliens and humans who have adventures that you could only dream about.

In the six or so years, that I have belonged to the club, I have heard many fabulous stories of people, animals and events that were totally imaginary.  Sometimes, Carolyn our instructor will give us an assignment like writing about a cow in Norway that prompts our creative powers.  The results are stories written not for the best seller list but to exercise our brains and to employ our imaginations.  Most of these stories will never find their way into publication (excepting our fabulous local paper which weekly features the writings of various club members).  We do not get paid for getting published, but we are more than happy to share our stories with a wider audience.  There may be a Hemingway or J. K Rowling in our club, but no one puts on airs or has pretensions of grandeur.  We leave it up to the Gods to decide who will become immortal.

writing pen

I should tell you about the final group of writers but first, before I forget (It happens quite frequently with age) I want to tell you about Professor Carolyn Wedin, our writing instructor.

Now the typical idea of an English teacher sends shivers down most anyone’s spine who has ever been in school.  Grammar, punctuation, spelling and syntax are enough to make the hardiest soul give up the idea of becoming a writer.  But even worse are critiques such as: “That is shoddy writing, that is the poorest piece of writing I have ever seen or where did you steal those ideas from.”  Destructive comments such as these happen often enough in school to make any normal person hate English and writing.

Carolyn has the unbelievable ability to encourage all of us to keep writing.  She makes each of us think that we are wonderful writers.  She motivates us to be better writers with gentle ideas and suggestions rather than harsh criticism or comparing our work to others.  She seldom ever worries about syntax, grammar, spelling and punctuation.  I have often sat and listened to what I thought was a horrible piece of writing only to hear Carolyn provide ideas for improvement and say little or nothing that would smack of condemnation or disapproval.  I marvel at her patience and endurance and compassion. In the end, Dr. Wedin is teaching us not only to be better writers but also to be better people.  Judge not others less ye be judged yourself.

So now we come to the final and last category of writers in our club.  It is the category I put myself in.  These are the writers who write to persuade others.  The people who think that something they say can make a difference in the world.  We want to change the hearts and minds of people.

Speaking for myself, I write social and political satire with the goal of helping other people to better see and understand the foibles that our culture often pursues.  You may think this is a narcissistic goal or perhaps a naive goal and maybe it is.  One thing is certain.  It will never garner me fame or fortune.   But (you should know by now) that is not why we write.

As any writer will tell you (Paraphrasing the great French National Anthem):

Writers! Form your battalions!

Write On! Write On! Write On!  Write_On_logo

Time for Questions: 

Do you write?  Why not?  Have you ever tried writing?  Would you like to be a famous published writer?  It all starts with your first sentence.

Life is just beginning.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”  — Madeleine L’Engle

Four Things You Should Know About Facebook and the World

I have lost track of how many years I have been using Facebook.  However, I have not lost track of all the times that people say to me “I never use Facebook (FB) because it is etc., etc.”  They then proceed to give me a litany of reasons why they: 1. Have never used Facebook or 2. Why they think Facebook is useless.  I have found the following four beliefs to predominate among the reasons why Facebook has been deemed as either useless or even dangerous.

  1. Facebook is a waste of time. It has too much stupid stuff and trivia.

I would be richer than Mark Zuckerberg if I had a dollar for every time I have heard “What do I care about what people had for breakfast today.”  Great, you don’t want to know where I went, what I did, who I saw and what I eat?  Use your little finger to scroll down or push delete or go to another site.  I have lots of friends who do care and who want to know what I am doing.  I have had many comments on my FB site such as “It was so much fun to follow you on your trip.”  “I love your postings.”  “Thanks for sharing.”

If you think my postings are trivial, meaningless, inane, or asinine, great.  I respect your opinion.  So “Defriend” me.  Go elsewhere for your trivia.  Find your daily dose of bullshit someplace else.  But don’t criticize something you have never tried or condemn others because you find their lives not worth knowing about.

  1. Facebook can’t be trusted. They will sell valuable information about me.

Facebook is a business first and foremost.  How do you think Zuckerberg got so rich?  FB is full of advertising and advertisers want to know everything about you, so they can sell you stuff you don’t think you really need.  They will convince you that you really need it.  This has been going on since Moses convinced Pharaoh to let his people go.

Do I trust FB not to sell my innermost secrets?  Do I trust Zuckerberg not to share information about me with advertisers, political marketers, vendors, pollsters and other information seekers?  No more than I would trust hanging from the Empire State Building with my wife’s sewing thread.  You must either be deaf, dumb or blind if you think you can trust anyone selling you something or giving you something for free not to have some hidden catch or some gimmick to get more money from you.  Did you ever notice that FB is free or has that escaped your attention?  What is free?  Do you really believe it is free?

As far as information privacy goes, observe the following that I tell all my students and you will probably not have much to worry about.  It goes like this: “If you want to protect your privacy, then do not text, tweet, photo, Instagram, email, voicemail or say anything in public that you would not put up on a billboard in downtown New York.”  Period.  That is the only way that you will protect your privacy today and I doubt even this admonition is full proof.

  1. Facebook is full of lies and “false” facts.

So, you want to make decisions based on evidence, data and facts?  Facebook is no doubt full of bullshit, opinions, innuendo, conspiracies, lies and unsubstantiated claims beyond counting.  The lies on FB are more numerous than the stars in the sky or the molecules in the universe.  However, I will tell you a secret. There is no evidence, data or facts that are 100 percent true.  Everything we know about the world is only based on theories buttressed by repetition or replication.  The more our predictions happen, they more confident we are they are accurate.  However, science in like the weather.  You don’t count on the weather forecaster being 100 percent accurate unless you are a fool.

Throughout history, we have seen theories and facts overthrown by newer theories, newer facts and newer evidence that help better match reality with theory.  The world was once flat, then it was round, now it is more elliptical.  Our knowledge of everything keeps evolving and changing.  Some people see it as a search for the TRUTH.  However, the TRUTH does not exist or if it does, it is only like the wind.  It will blow one way today and another way tomorrow.  Facts, data and evidence have a probability of being accurate.  They will never be 100 percent true.  My father used to say, “believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.”  I have found this to be moderately good advice.  It works very well on FB and on the Internet in general.

  1. Facebook should be a social media and not political.

“John, you are too political.”  “I don’t want to hear your rants and raves.”  “Why can’t you keep your politics out of your Facebook site.”  “Facebook is for family and friends and should not be political.”

The splash page on my FB site now shows a picture of Elie Wiesel and a quote by him that reads “To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”  He also said, “We must take sides.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  Before this, my splash page had a picture of Martin Luther King and a quote by him that read, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

I believe that living in a society and hence to be social means to be political.  If you live in a society, politics is the coin of the realm that defines the rules and procedures that govern the interactions between human beings.  No one can be apolitical in a society.  To believe so is to lie to yourself.  I put my politics out there.  I don’t care if you like them or if you don’t.  I want others to know that there is someone in the universe who probably feels like they do.

Before Trump was elected, I put up a Hillary sign in my front yard.  My neighbor who was also a Hillary supporter came over to warn me.  She said “John, I would not put that sign up in this town if I were you.  It could be dangerous.”  I decided to talk this over with my wife Karen.  I did not feel that I had the right to jeopardize her safety as well mine.  She said that she supported keeping the sign up.  My decision was sealed by her willingness to risk whatever might happen by putting a sign up in a mostly pro-Trump rural town in Arizona.  A week or so later, one of my good friends who lived nearby saw my sign.  She asked me to if I could get her one.  I did get her a sign and I think we might have had the only two Hillary signs up in our town.

I use FB as a means to share with others who in these rather trying times might have fears of speaking out or who might feel that they are alone.  I want my friends to know that I am political and that I share with some of them the same beliefs, values and ideas that they have.  I firmly believe that we cannot change our present problems or deal with issues by silence.  However, if you don’t like my politics or ideas then you can do as so many others have and simply defriend me.  Frankly, they say we are defined by the company we keep.  I would rather keep company with those who share similar convictions about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Time for Questions:

Do you use Facebook?  Why or why not

Life is just beginning.

“You should protest about the views of people you disagree with over major moral issues, and argue them down, but you should not try to silence them, however repugnant you find them. That is the bitter pill free speech requires us to swallow.” — Julian Baggini

 

 

 

Do you value old things or old people?

Did this eight years ago. Still like it.

Aging Capriciously

Antiques and time seem to go together. The older something is the more likely we are to call it an antique. Have you ever wondered how old something has to be before it is an antique? Rocks are very old and no one calls them antiques. One person’s antiques are often another person’s junk. The one thing I notice about antiques is that people of the “time” were more than happy to get rid of them. The last thing in the world they would have thought of was to hold onto these “antiques.” Back before their “antique” became “priceless,” if they could have traded up for something newer or better they would have. However, once something becomes an “antique” we want to hold on to it regardless of how useless or out of style it may be. Antiques seem to write their own rules for style.

Those who are into…

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My Name is Carmen: I Murdered Two Children

The following story is a work of fiction based on a true-life trial and murder.  This story follows a somewhat different history from the real-life story but will certainly be recognized by many as related to the story of Yoselyn Ortega and the Krim’s family.  The story occupied a major place in most newspapers for many months.  For any parent, it is a horror story.  No one can imagine the despair and misery that the Krim’s have gone through.

As I followed the trial, I was struck by the fact that so many of the newspaper articles about the murders were looking for a motive or reason for Ortega’s actions.  Ms. Ortega never testified at the trial and I suspect that many people thought it was simply a matter of allowing or encouraging her to “tell the truth.”  If only we could ask Ortega “why” she did it, we could find her motive and reason.   I have followed many related stories of murders and I have been struck by the lack of “truth” that is ever found.  Not just because suicide seems to be a way out for many murderers but even when the murderer is alive to tell their story.

two children

My name is Maria Carmen Fernanda Lopez.  I am a Columbian citizen.  I want to tell my story so that everyone will understand.  I am now in jail for the murder of two children that I was responsible for taking care of.  I was their nanny.  They say that both children loved me and in truth, I often loved them back.  The entire world wants to know why I murdered these children.

The prosecutors told a lie.  What they said about me was not true.  They wanted me to look very evil so that I could be convicted.  My defense attorneys also did not tell the truth.  They did not know me.  They only wanted to save me from receiving a death sentence.  It did not matter if the truth was told or not.  The psychiatrists who found many reasons for what I did do not know the reason why I murdered the young girl and young boy.  Each of the psychiatrists had a different theory.  I do not like to argue with anyone, so I simply agreed with each of them.  Nine different psychiatrists and nine different theories.

I never had the opportunity to testify.  My attorneys said it would be better if I did not.  I was convicted anyway of first degree murder.  I would like for you to hear my story.  Maybe, you can understand.  I do not deny killing my two young charges.  It was like killing my own children.  The children were very kind to me although sometimes they could be spoiled brats.  But what would you expect with a rich mother and a rich father both of whom could lavish much time and money on their children.  Most of the time they were fun to be around.

I was born in Cali Columbia in 1961.  I was one of twelve children.  My family was very poor.  My father sewed and fixed shoes for a living.  My mother tried to find enough food each day to feed us all.  I was the fifth oldest child and my job was to take care of all my siblings who were younger than I was.   I guess you could say I received nanny training when I was growing up.  I only went to school through the eighth grade.  No one in our family went any further.

I had a cousin Luisa who in 2001 emigrated to the United States.  She had a father who had received a degree in engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.   He wanted to move up in the world and he was able to get a visa and a position with an electronics firm in New York City.  Luisa, her mom and her dad all moved to the USA.

My cousin Luisa and I were very close when we were growing up.  Luisa always had nicer clothes and was much prettier than I was.  Even though her family had much more money than mine, we were like sisters.  She had lots of boyfriends and we would sometimes sneak out at night to share time together.  She would introduce me to many young men, but I was very shy and not very good looking.  My first child was with one of these young men.  We did not marry, and I named my young boy Mateo.  Mateo’s father disappeared a few years after Mateo was born and I never saw him again.  My father was not very happy with me, but unwed pregnancies are the norm in Columbia.  My mother was actually very happy to have a new addition to the family.

A few years after Luisa moved to the USA, she wrote me a letter and asked if I would like to live with her in NYC.  I wrote back and replied that I would love to if I could bring Mateo along as well.  She wrote back that “Of course, you can bring Mateo.  Furthermore, I think I might be able to arrange a job that you would be very good at.”  She did not say anymore, and I was very curious.

I discussed going to the USA with my Mom.  She thought it would be a good opportunity for me but where would we get the money.  We did not have enough money for a bus trip to Bogota, never mind NYC.  My dad was also agreeable since it would be two less mouths to feed.  However, he did not have an extra peso to spare.  Sadly, I wrote back to my cousin to explain that it might be years before I could save enough money to come to the USA.

In a very short time, I received a letter from Luisa.  In the letter was a voucher for a one-way ticket to NYC.  Luisa said I should let her know when we would arrive, and she would meet us at the airport.  I immediately told my mom and dad.  My mother seemed sad to see me go but my father did not seem to care.  I packed my bags and purchased a ticket on Avianca S.A. for two weeks later.  I wrote Luisa and gave her our flight number and arrival time.

We arrived in NYC without any problems.  Luisa met us at the airport and we took a taxi to her apartment in Queens.  She was now living in her own apartment and had a very good job with Verizon company as a translator.  Her Spanish skills and good people skills had allowed her to work up from a customer service representative to a position as manager in one of their bi-lingual call centers.   Luisa had an extra bedroom which I was placed in.  My young son Mateo had a couch to sleep on.  We all hoped that I might find good employment and be able to rent my own apartment someday.

After catching up on family, friends and Luisa’s life in NYC, I was anxious to ask Luisa about this job she thought I might be good at.  Luisa explained that in NYC there were many wealthy families who wanted dependable mature women to work as caretakers or nannies for their children.  Such families were not hard to find, and she knew several families who were currently looking for a good reliable nanny.  With her recommendation, she was sure I would have no trouble finding a job.  My one concern was how I would take care of Mateo who was now eight and take care of someone else’s children.  Luisa said that I should not worry as she could help me with Mateo and most nanny jobs had some degree of flexibility.

Two weeks later after several interviews I was placed with Eric and Sarah Clarke as a nanny for their children.  They were a young couple with two children.  One child, Noah was six and in kindergarten.  The other child Emma was eight and going into the third grade.

Eric was an executive with an aerospace firm and travelled a great deal.  Sarah worked as a Public Relations specialist with the Magrino Company in Manhattan.  The Clarke’s lived in an area known as Tribeca in Manhattan.  It was a very wealthy neighborhood but very convenient in terms of Sarah’s job and Eric’s need to travel frequently.  From Tribeca to the Magrino company was less than twenty minutes by the metro or by car.  Both Sarah and Eric had a great deal of job flexibility and could often work at home.   This last point was what made me accept the position since I felt that I would not be needed twenty-four seven and I would be able to find more time to spend with my own son.  I was going to be a “live-out nanny.”

My starting pay rate would be $18. 00 per hour and I would work ten-hour days except for Wednesday and Thursdays when I would only work five-hour days.  I would work five days a week unless special occasions arose.  In the event of weekend work, my hourly wage would be $26.00 dollars per hour.  My gross salary would be $720 dollars per week.  I would take home about $600 dollars per week.

My expected job duties were as follows:

  • Meeting the children’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs.
  • Undertaking all tasks related to childcare, including doing the children’s laundry and preparing the children’s meals and cleaning up afterwards.
  • Caring for the family pet.
  • Meals for the children when parents were not home.

griefI worked for the Clarke’s for about two years.  During that time, I got along quite well with the children.  They were mostly well-behaved and pleasant to be around.  We would go on outings after school and take many walks.  I would buy them ice cream cones and take them to see the animals in the zoo and on library trips and museum trips.

I also got along very well with Eric Clarke.  He was not around as much but he was always polite and treated me as one of the family.  Sarah was a little more difficult and controlled the purse strings.  I had thought that after two years, I should get a raise, but she refused to increase my hourly rate.  She would sometimes ask me to do other jobs which I did not think were in my job description.  I generally acquiesced to her requests.

Now it has been said at my trail by the prosecution that I was angry at Sarah for pushing more work on me and for not paying me enough.  It is true that I thought she could be unfair at times, but I also appreciated the many times she helped me out when I needed help.  She was often very generous and was by no means a skinflint or cheapskate.  I harbored no ill will to either Eric or Sarah.  Then you might ask: “Why?”  Why murder two innocent children?

I have heard all the explanations.  I suffered from mental illness.  I was crazy.  I was overworked.  I was stressed.  I was angry.  I was feeling humiliated.  I was insulted by Sarah.  I was told to by voices in my head.  I did not have enough time with my own son.  I was jealous of the money and status the Clarkes had.  I was going to lose my job.  I was just plain evil.  EVIL, EVIL, EVIL.

Evil or Good

I am glad that I was not asked to testify.  I would not have known what to say.  I would have been asked “Why?” and no one would believe my answer.  You will not believe it.

We seem to think that whenever there is a killing, murder, suicide or mass atrocity that if only the victim lived we could find out “why?”  Humans have an insatiable desire to know the answer to the question: “Why, did they do it?”  The truth is that there is often no reason.

Theodore Bundy, Charles Whitman, James Huberty, George Hennard, Devin, Patrick Kelley, Adam Lanza, Seung-Hu Cho, Omar, Saddiqui Mateen, Stephen Paddock and the list goes on and on.  Why?  Why?  Why?  The public wants a logical reasonable answer.  The police want a motive.  The prosecution wants a reason to convict.  The defense wants a reason to acquit.  Our mental institutions want another reason to try out different therapies.

insanity

Why? Why? Why?

Don’t you think I owe the public an answer?  Don’t you think I owe the Clarkes an answer?  Don’t you think I owe my family an answer?

parental grief

What explanation or reason could possibly make any sense for such a vicious, depraved and wanton act of destruction?  Would any explanation make sense to Noah and Emma?  Would any explanation expiate my guilt and remorse?  What explanation would you believe?

I am certain that I have no explanation you would be satisfied with.  Maybe that is the real definition of craziness.  To do something with no reason, logic or explanation that can possibly make any sense.  I wish I could live my life over again, but I am not sure it would make any difference.  I have explored alternative realities and they all lead right back to this cell that I sit in today.  The ultimate tragedy of my life is inexplicably bound up with murder and chaos.

mother and dead child

They say I expressed no remorse or regrets during the trial.  I appeared to be a selfish and narcissistic person who was only concerned with herself.  I shed no tears.  But what good would regret do?  It would not bring back Noah or Emma.  What good would regret do for the Clarkes?  It would not bring their children back.  It would never help Sarah to forget the horror she saw.

In truth, I have no regrets.  I am a victim just as much as anyone else in this tragedy.  There is no escaping our destiny.

Time for Questions:

Is it possible that people do not know “WHY?”  Why do you think that people do evil things?  Are all of us evil at some point in our lives?  How do we overcome evil?  Is there really a devil who “makes us do it.”

Life is just beginning.

“One might expect that the families of murder victims would be showered with sympathy and support, embraced by their communities. But in reality they are far more likely to feel isolated, fearful, and ashamed, overwhelmed by grief and guilt, angry at the criminal-justice system, and shunned by their old friends.” — Eric Schlosser

 

 

 

 

The Seven Categories of Morons

morons

There is an epidemic sweeping America.  It is an epidemic of stupidity, naivete and short-sightedness. It has infected between 25 to 40 percent of the American people.  Higher numbers can be found in some sub-groups which seem particularly vulnerable.  I call this disease “Moronitus.”  You may well ask where I get my numbers from.  The bottom figure for this disease (25%) is the number of people who voted for Trump.  The top figure is the number of Americans who in the last Pew Poll gave Trump a high approval rating.  I mention some sub-groups have even more Morons.  This would include the Republican Party with 73% of its members approving of Trump and certainly groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and other Alt-Right groups which no doubt are almost 100 percent infected by Moronitus.

You may think you know what a moron is, but I doubt it.  The conventional definition of a Moron has to do with intelligence.  This is wrong.  Intelligence is a passé and incorrect means of identifying someone suffering from Moronitus.  IQ has nothing to do with being a moron.  Let me clarify this.

Morons can be highly intelligent.  Morons can be rich.  Morons can be good people who love their family and give money to charities.  Morons can be lawyers, teachers, judges, blue collar or white-collar workers.  Morons can hold high and low positions in our societies.  Morons can be greedy, or they can be generous.  What then is a Moron?

Well, first, a Moron is a person suffering from Moronitus.  Of course, that is a circular definition.  More definitively, a moron is a person who believes something without thinking.  The three major symptoms of Moronitus are:

  1. A belief in something without any substantive facts or evidence.
  2. A belief in something simply because someone told you it was true.
  3. An unwillingness to change a belief when confronted by overwhelming facts or data.

Those who suffer from the disease of Moronitus tend to fall into seven major categories.  There are several other categories, but a clear majority of Morons can be found in the seven categories I am going to describe.  Many of the people suffering from Moronitus will be found in more than one category.  Some of the other categories I might mention that have many Morons would include:

  • Those who believe that guns deter crime
  • Those who believe that throwing money at social problems will improve things
  • Those who believe that the more military/police we have the safer we will be
  • Those who believe that all criminals or people who break the law should be thrown in jail
  • Those who believe that we can stop people from taking drugs

The categories above would be interesting to explore, but I want to stick to the seven major categories of Morons.  In the remainder of this blog, we will look in more depth at each of the seven categories of Morons or should I say those who suffer from Moronitus.

(A Disclaimer, if you find yourself in one of these categories and are offended — TOUGH SHIT.  The truth may just set you free.  If not, I don’t give a fuck.  If you are my mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or best friend, a Moron is a Moron.)

The good news is you don’t have to suffer from Moronitus.  It can be overcome.  However, it will require you to exercise your brain.  If you are like so many lazy Americans who can’t get off the couch to get some exercise, exercising your brain might prove to be a very difficult task.  Help can be found to those who really want to overcome the disease.

Here then, are the Seven Categories of Morons:

racists

  1. Racist:

If you believe that some people because of color or ethnicity are either superior or inferior to others, you are a Moron.  If you think that people who look like you are entitled to more privileges than others, you are a Moron.  If you think, that the only thing needed to overcome racism is to forget the past and move on, you are a Moron.

Racism is not a disease.  It is an action of a mind that is warped by Moronitus.  A group of people who either believe all the negative things they read about others or who simply accept malicious intolerance that benefits their tribe at the expense of other tribes.  Racism looks at the world through the opposite of the proverbial “rose colored” glasses.  Racists see everything different than they are as somehow threatening their existence.  The racist wants those who are different than they are to be isolated and destroyed.

religous zealots

  1. Religious Zealot:

If you believe that your GOD is the only God, you are a Moron.  If you think that those who don’t believe in your GOD will be smitten and go to hell, you are a Moron.  If you think that practicing your religion makes you superior to other people, you are a moron.

God save us from the “True Believers” (To use the phrase from Eric Hoffer) because they are willing to destroy everyone and everything in the name of their beliefs.  A True Believer justifies their intolerance and bigotry by the belief that their GOD would want to destroy the “unbelievers.”  A religious zealot or True Believer can belong to any religion.  Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus can all be religious zealots.  Look at the world around you and you can see the mayhem caused by these religious zealots.  All in the name of promoting “THEIR GOD.”

climate denying caucus

  1. Anti-Environmentalist or Climate Denier:

If you think that short-term economic gains are more important than long-term environmental planning, you are a Moron.  If you think that humans are not wreaking havoc on the environment with a result of global climatic change, you are a Moron.  If your think that Capitalism will do what’s best for the world if left unregulated, you are a Moron.

I could present all manner of scientific data in the hope of convincing a Moron that climate change and global warming are real and are impacts caused by human mismanagement.  However, if you are a Moron it would not have one iota of impact on your belief system.  Facts, science, evidence and data have absolutely no impact on the thinking of a Moron.  Immediate benefits, opportunism, greed, personal advantage and short-term thinking are the only factors that matter to a Moron.

sexism

  1. Sexist:

If you think that men are superior to women, you are a Moron.  If you think that women exist for the purpose of taking care of and pleasing men, you are a Moron.  If you think that women are too emotional and cannot make good decisions, you are a Moron.

America is not the first, last or only nation to be infected by sexism.  However, to this date, America has not had a woman president.  According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which, as part of its annual Global Gender Gap Report (2017), ranked almost 150 countries on gender equality, the USA ranked 49th out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality.

We have too many Morons in this country who think women have come far enough or even who feel that women have gone too far.  How many people have rejected the right of women to marry other women or who make jokes about women in non-traditional positions?  The #MeToo Movement has shown the low regard that many men in positions of power have towards women.  Male icons are falling faster than the one can count as women keep coming forward with accusations of abuse and sexual harassment by men in power.  This includes men in high positions in politics, high positions in religious organizations and high positions in corporations.  The adage that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” would certainly seem to apply to the use of power to take advantage of women, children and other men.

trickle down theory

  1. Trickle Down Economist:

If you think that poor people are poor because of bad choices, you are a Moron.  If you think that the best way to help the poor is by helping the rich, you are a Moron.  If you think that a society is better with no rules or regulations to manage income inequality, you are a Moron.

The famous historian and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said that “That government is best which governs least.”  Too many so called “free market supporters” think that this means “No government rules or regulations are needed.”  They seem to conveniently or ignorantly overlook the last word in Thoreau’s quote which is “least.”  Least does not men “none” or not at all.

Adam Smith, known to most students of economics as the Father of Free Market Economics or the invisible hand of the market place (Laissez Faire Theory is beloved by conservatives and those who support the idea of little or no government interference in the market place.  However, a reading of his most important work (The Wealth of Nations) would show that Smith was far from adverse to the role of government in the market.  The following is a list of government activities which Smith noted in his book as appropriate for government.  Keep in mind that when Smith wrote his book, society and the world was a much simpler place than it is now.  One can only wonder how long Smith’s list would be today.

Here is a list of appropriate Government activities taken from Smith’s book “The Wealth of Nations”:

  • The Navigation Acts, blessed by Smith under the assertion that ‘defense, however, is of much more importance than opulence’ (WN464);
  • Sterling marks on plate and stamps on linen and woolen cloth (WN138–9);
  • Enforcement of contracts by a system of justice (WN720);
  • Wages to be paid in money, not goods;
  • Regulations of paper money in banking (WN437);
  • Obligations to build party walls to prevent the spread of fire (WN324);
  • Rights of farmers to send farm produce to the best market (except ‘only in the most urgent necessity’) (WN539);
  • ‘Premiums and other encouragements to advance the linen and woolen industries’ (TMS185);
  • ‘Police’, or preservation of the ‘cleanliness of roads, streets, and to prevent the bad effects of corruption and putrefying substances’;
  • Ensuring the ‘cheapness or plenty [of provisions]’ (LJ6; 331);
  • Patrols by town guards and fire fighters to watch for hazardous accidents (LJ331–2);
  • Erecting and maintaining certain public works and public institutions intended to facilitate commerce (roads, bridges, canals and harbors) (WN723);
  • Coinage and the mint (WN478; 1724);
  • Post office (WN724);
  • Regulation of institutions, such as company structures (joint- stock companies, co-partners, regulated companies and so on) (WN731–58);
  • Temporary monopolies, including copyright and patents, of fixed duration (WN754);
  • Education of youth (‘village schools’, curriculum design and so on) (WN758–89);
  • Education of people of all ages (tythes or land tax) (WN788);
  • Encouragement of ‘the frequency and gaiety of publick diversions’(WN796);
  • The prevention of ‘leprosy or any other loathsome and offensive disease’ from spreading among the population (WN787–88);
  • Encouragement of martial exercises (WN786);
  • Registration of mortgages for land, houses and boats over two tons (WN861, 863);
  • Government restrictions on interest for borrowing (usury laws) to overcome investor ‘stupidity’ (WN356–7);
  • Laws against banks issuing low-denomination promissory notes (WN324);
  • Natural liberty may be breached if individuals ‘endanger the security of the whole society’ (WN324);
  • Limiting ‘free exportation of corn’ only ‘in cases of the most urgent necessity’ (‘dearth’ turning into ‘famine’) (WN539); and
  • Moderate export taxes on wool exports for government revenue (WN879).

The above list is taken from the paper:  What Adam Smith Actually Identified as the Appropriate Roles for 18-century Governments, by Gavin Kennedy

Kennedy has said that

“Smith’s ideas are still not faithfully represented in modern economics….I am skeptical of classical economists claiming to be his ‘intellectual heirs.’  Even today the ‘neo-classical’ perpetuate the myth of the ‘invisible hand’ and ascribe it to the market.  All markets work using visible prices (and cannot work without them!). What then is the role of an invisible hand?  That even Nobel Prize winners repeat the canard of the ‘invisible hand’ is disappointing, to say the least. The Austrian School likewise promotes the myth of the ‘’invisible hand’ which is also disappointing.” — Grasping Reality with Both Hands.

patriotism

  1. The Patriot:

If you think that Americans are somehow superior to other people are that other nations are inferior to the United States, you are a Moron.  If you think that the United States has a right to coerce, interfere with or preach our way of living to other nations, you are a Moron.  If you think that God prefers America to other nations, you are a Moron.

It has been said that “Patriotism is the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel” (Samuel Johnson).  When all thinking fails whether in diplomacy or politics, fall back upon a belief that your country is exceptional or superior to other countries.  You can use this belief as a justification for war, preemptive attacks, embargos, tariffs or undermining the duly elected government of another nation.

Patriotic Zealots have a great deal in common with Religious Zealots.  In the name of their country rather than their God, they believe that they have the right to impose their will and ideas on other people.  My Country is synonymous with MY GOD.  God Bless America and screw the other countries of the world.  God prays for victory for America and defeat for its enemies. We are justified in whatever we do in the world because we are superior.  In the name of patriotism, religious leaders line up to say victory prayers for Americans because we are the “Chosen People.”

trump supporter.jpeg

  1. Trumpists:

If you voted for Trump and still support him, you are a Moron.  If you think that because Trump is rich that he is smarter than other people, you are a Moron.  If you think that Trump cares about the poor, lower classes or common person, you are a Moron.

Trump has according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (America the Trumped) been able to achieve the following in only 1 ½ years of holding office:

  • Promoted White Nationalism
  • Slashed Civil Rights Enforcement
  • Created a Deportation Machine
  • Banned Muslims
  • Attacked Voting Rights
  • Shredded LGBT Protections
  • Encouraged Police Abuses
  • Revived Debtor’s Prisons
  • Undermined Public Education
  • Eroded the Rights of Students with Disabilities

I would add to this list:

  • Sanctioned Sexism towards Women
  • Dismantled Environmental Protections
  • Created Greater Income Inequality
  • Placed the USA in a Position of Lower Esteem with other Nations

There are those supporters who believe that Trump has managed to improve the economy (A myth fostered by those with little or no economic education) and those who believe that Trump has helped restore America’s Stature with the rest of the world, another myth.  In fact, the economic recovery started under President Obama and Trump has merely jumped on its tail end.  As for American stature with the rest of the world, we now have the lowest approval rating in recent American history.

“The survey of opinion in 134 countries showed a record collapse in approval for the US role in the world, from 48% under Obama to 30% after one year of Donald Trump – the lowest level Gallup has recorded since beginning its global leadership poll over a decade ago.”

Trump is an unrepentant liar.  The sad part is that his Moronic Supporters believe everything he says.  Anything he does is viewed by his supporters as being great and wonderful.  Most of his supporters are about as simplistic in their thinking as Trump is in his.  No amount of evidence or facts will change the mind of a Trump supporter. They are the Penultimate Morons.  There has never been a category of Morons in history who are more simplistic and myopic in their thinking than a Trump Supporter.

Well, there you have it.  My Seven Categories of Morons.  I sincerely hope that you did not fall into one of my categories above.  But if you did, there is still hope.  You can overcome the Disease of Moronitus by doing the following:

  1. Question everything
  2. Look for evidence to confirm or disconfirm your opinions
  3. Look for opposing viewpoints
  4. Question authorities
  5. Read

I fear that I may be preaching to the choir here.  If so, please feel free to share this blog with anyone you know who may be suffering from Moronitus.  Good Luck. 

Time for Questions:

Why should we challenge our thinking?  What are the limitations of facts and data?  How do we know who or even what to believe?  How can we change our world for the better?  What difference can we make?  Can we make a difference?

Life is just beginning.

“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity.  We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.” — Stephen Hawking

 

 

 

Autobiographies from the Dead — Jesus Christ the Martyr

black jesus

I am adding a few new autobiographies to my series.  I had stopped with seven, but it seems appropriate to add several more.  Thus, I really should not have said that this series will end since so many “dead” people still have stories to tell.  If you have not read my other “Autobiographies,” I strongly urge you to do so and add your comments or thoughts to their stories.  I know many of the “dead” will appreciate your perspectives.

38000-christian-denominations-good-luck-choosing-the-right-oneThis week, you will hear from one Jesus of Nazareth.  He has been called by many names including: Messiah, Emmanuel, Christ, Lord, Master, Logos (the Word), Son of God and by himself more often The Son of Man.   He is often credited with being the founder or perhaps foundation for a popular religion called Christianity.  Today, it is difficult to see the link between the teachings of Jesus and many of these so-called Christian religions.  I have it on good authority that Jesus never ever preached killing anyone and yet many of these so-called Christian religions are continually waving a banner of mayhem and destruction at those who think differently than they do.  Anyway, it is time to let Jesus speak for himself.

Jesus Christ the Martyr

I never thought it would end like this.  Where are my followers?  Where are my disciples?  Only my mother, my sister and Mary watched me die.  All the rest – gone – all have deserted me.  The crowds I taught, the people I healed, yet they chose me to die over a thief and a murderer.

Jesus or Barabbas

I repeat:  My God, My God, why did thou forsake me?

What did I do to deserve this?  Toward the end, I could see it coming.  I wanted to have it pass by me, but I could not deny my beliefs or still my voice.  They were constantly trying to silence me.  Finally, they arrested me on “Trumped” up charges of sedition and blasphemy.  It was called blasphemy to try and tell the truth to people.  It was called sedition to try and address unjust laws.  The rulers of my time incited the people with lies against me and turned many of my followers into haters.

Jesus-being-flogged

Who would have ever thought that I, a man of peace and tolerance, would be stripped, beaten, tortured and nailed to a cross to die.  It was a painful death.  The thirst, the suffocation, the spear piercing my body were unbearable.  I cried out in vain:

EliElilema sabachthani!

The crowds laughed at me.  The soldiers mocked me.  My close family looked on while my followers hid in the shadows and in their homes.  I felt abandoned by all.  All my good works.  All my thoughts and ideas.  All that I preached and dreamed and hoped for now seemed in vain.

Jesus with Mary at the cross

I started my mission for those who were forgotten or persecuted.  I taught the sick, the poor and the outcasts that they were truly loved.  Our leaders despised and looked down on these people.  I taught them what would later be called the Eight Beatitudes.  My principles of life were all summed up in these Eight Beatitudes.  I never denied the Ten Commandments, but the Eight Beatitudes are my legacy to the world.  They represent the sum of my teachings and the goals of my life.deny god by your actions

Everywhere I look today, I see my principles torn and shredded by tyrants, by demagogues and even by people who profess to be my followers.  I have yet to see my Beatitudes enshrined in bronze as is so often the case with Moses and the Ten Commandments.  Why have they forgotten my most important teachings?  When will my teachings be placed in courtyards and on billboards?  Why are they anathema to so many people?

 

Let me explain what each of the Eight Beatitudes mean.  My body and soul will not depart this world until I have accomplished this task and until humanity embraces the ideas I gave my life for.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

christ says help the needy.I am talking about greed here.  I am talking about wanting more and more regardless of the effects it has on the earth.  I am telling you that happiness does not come from having more of things.  The only true happiness comes from helping others.  It is better to share with others who are needy than to amass a fortune that you cannot take with you.  Those who berate the tax collector and call him a sinner and cheat are no better than the tax collector.  Indeed, those who refuse to pay their fair share for the life they are given are worse than the tax collector.  

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

god told me to hate youI am talking about sin here.  I am talking about grieving your mistakes and injustices towards others.  No one can walk in this world without hurting others either deliberately or by mistake.  But the people who will be comforted in the next world are those who regret their mistakes and injustices and ask for forgiveness.  They are the people who acknowledge their sins and mistakes and try to make amends.  I was not perfect, and no one born of this world is perfect.  The good and just man admits his vices and tries to overcome them.  The good and just man tries to make amends to the people he has hurt or abused.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

child-for-hours-simply-because-hes-a-muslim-youre-not-13669022The narcissist and the man full of hubris will do injustice to all they meet.  The narcissist thinks that the world revolves around his needs, wants and desires, and is content to ignore the needs and wants and desires of others.  The man of hubris is overly prideful and arrogant and thinks that he has earned the right to have more than others.  Both feel that everyone else is there to serve their needs and that their needs come before the needs of anyone else.  The injustice done by these beliefs amounts to a mountain of intolerance and discrimination towards anyone who is perceived as inferior or beneath their consideration.  For this reason, I say “Do not look upon yourself as being better than others.  Remember that there but for the grace of God, would you go.”

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

The righteous man looks for justice.  The righteous man looks for what is good in the confucious on good thoughtsworld.  No one who is not seeking righteousness and justice can expect to find peace.  I say that your task is to look for justice where there is injustice.  To look for goodness where there is wickedness.  You can never complete your search.  Your hunger will never be sated.  Your thirst will never be quenched.  Each generation must take up the search because evil is in our own hearts.  Only by looking to replace evil with justice and righteousness can the evil that is within us be banished.  We are all born with original sin, but the righteous man is the one who overcomes their sinfulness by replacing it with a goodness that transcends earthly needs and desires.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 

christians and gaysThose who show mercy towards others will have mercy shown towards them.  I lived in a time when lepers, Samaritans, non-Jews and many others were thought to be unworthy of mercy.  Mercy was always for those in our own tribe.  This meant mercy for Jews if you were a Jew.  Mercy for Romans if you were a Roman.  No mercy was to be shown to the poor for they were lazy.  No mercy was to be shown to the sick because they were sinners.  No mercy was to be shown to those of other religions because they were “non-believers.”

I say that those who only show mercy to those of their own tribe, only to those who are like them, will never have mercy shown towards themselves.  I have said before that:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. 

fakechristiansI say to you that the pure of heart are those with integrity and character.  They are without selfishness and seek primarily to do good for others regardless of the cost to themselves.  They are not opportunists who try to squeeze the most for themselves at every turn of events.  Neither are they sycophants who yield their ideas and actions to others so they can creat more profit for themselves.  The pure of heart are not greedy.  They are not profit driven.  They are not out for fame and fortune.  The pure of heart care only about the good they can do for others.  Others include the entire human race and not simply those who belong to their tribe or religion or country.  Those who put humanity above patriotism, humanity above family, humanity above friendships and humanity above self will surely see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. 

peacemakersRage, jealousy, ingratitude, intolerance, bigotry and fear are the enemies of peace.  Those who want peace must be willing to beat their swords into plowshares.  If you follow my Beatitude, you will disarm yourself.  You will throw down your guns.  You will deactivate your nuclear weapons.  You will turn your armies for war into armies for education.  There is no peace possible in aggression.  There is no peace possible in hatred.  There is no peace possible in defensiveness.  The only path to peace is to turn the other cheek.  How many times have I said you must do this to find peace?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil.  But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.   And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.   Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

I will someday be extolled for giving my life so that others may be saved.  It will be said about me that “He gave his body and blood so that they may have eternal life.”  Yet, I see a world now where people are so afraid of each other that they carry concealed weapons, where they lock people up for the slightest offenses and where they have weapons to destroy the entire planet many times over.  I do not see a peaceful people.  I do not see peaceful governments.  I do not see peaceful leaders.  I do not even see peaceful Christian churches.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Martin_Luther_King_1872702iActions speak louder than words.  All those who cry out “Lord, lord” will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  What good is the salt if it has lost its taste?  Those who speak beautiful words will not enter my kingdom without beautiful deeds to match their words.  I spoke out my ideas and thoughts. I challenged the powers that were corrupt.  I was taken up to the mountain and promised fame and fortune and power by Satan if I renounced my beliefs, but I remained steadfast.  I was persecuted and crucified, but I never renounced my beliefs.  How then do you think you will be saved by being nice to others and by silencing your thoughts in the face of evil?  No one who speaks my name should expect to escape persecution.  There is no change without struggle and oppression.

These are my Eight Beatitudes.  These are my meanings for each of them.  If you want to follow me, follow my teachings.  Do not say “I am a Christian and follower of Christ” when you reject any one of these Beatitudes.

I must leave this this place now.  I cannot rest in peace.  My body has been stolen and taken to some hidden place.  But my body is only temporal.  It is my soul that now cries out for justice.  But it is not the justice of revenge or the justice of retribution, it is the justice of love.

They believe I will come again.  I hear their words praying for the Second Coming of Christ.  It is impossible.  I cannot come back to a people who practice hate and vengeance and violence in my name.  My soul will roam this planet for all eternity if my name continues to be blasphemed by the hypocrisies of those who say, “Lord Lord” or “Jesus is my Savior.”

Jesus looking at the earth

I go now, but I go to ask my Father “why?”  What was this all for?  Is there some difference on earth that I do not see or was it all in vain?  Please Father, help me to understand.

Time for Questions:

Are you a Christian?  Why or why not?  If you follow Christ, what difference have you made in the world?  How are you helping the poor, the sick and the needy?  Do you have to be a Christian to help others?  Have you read the “Parable of the Good Samaritan?”  Who was his brother?  Who are you brother or sister to?  Who do you hate?  Why?  What would Jesus say?

Life is just beginning.

A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.

 

 

 

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