THE POWERFUL FORCE

The last few posts we have looked at how we as different faiths share the common bond of love and the desire to mature spiritually. It is when approaching someone who is not only different than us, but one that we may be at odds with that this becomes most paramount.

If our desire is to forge a bond with those who are considered our enemy we can only do so by relating to them on a level that we share. Using the power of love, which is a feeling everyone desires and everyone has the ability to give, is the most powerful way to do so. Looking back in history can only serve to prove this correct. Starting with the above example Martin Luther King jr. He did not curse those who persecuted him based solely on the color of his skin. No, he preached love, equality and acceptance. Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for a quarter of a century could have very easily moved to start a revolution upon his release and nobody would have blamed him. Instead he said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” That my friends takes a lot of love, but look what he was able to do.

As we think of those we consider enemies, let us begin to consider ways in which we can use love instead to make them our friends. It will not only be better for creating a result, it will be better for our heart and better for the world as well.

TOGETHER IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD

Today we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. American minister and civil rights leader. This gentleman is someone I greatly admire. He had the bravery to stand up and bring to light the deplorable treatment of his race. Knowing standing up to speak his mind and do what is right may very well cost him his very life is something I cannot grasp. Not only to do so on a personal level, but in the national spotlight so that every person full of hate would know exactly who you were and where you lived. Risking not only your safety, but that of your family and friends. How many of us would be willing to do that just because it is the right and just thing to do?

That bravery, as amazing and mind-blowing as it is to me, is not what I admire and respect most about this man. It is something entirely different and something we can learn from his legacy. His bravery to me is easily trumped by a skill that I think has gotten lost in those who crusade for causes of both racial and social justice – compassion. In everything he stood for, Dr. King never advocated revenge, he never proposed the use of violence or crime. He never asked to be given anything other than equality, which all people, everywhere, so richly deserve.

Reading this may sound like compassion is nothing to difficult, but think of this, in the time Dr. King was alive, he was spit on, called vile unspeakable names, physically assaulted, had his life and the life of his family threatened, and as we all know, ended up having his life taken.

Throughout all of this one would not blame him if he screamed things in return such as, “You owe me!” or wanted to burn down their houses and threaten their families in return. I certainly do not want to imagine what my reaction would be if I were treated in the same fashion.

What impresses me most about Martin Luther King Jr. is his not only willingness, but insistence on working together. Dr. King understood that to make equality work we need not only the qualities of bravery, strength, and persistence, but also those of compassion, faith and understanding. Much like Nelson Mandela when he was released after having 25 years of his life taken away solely because of his race, he did not seek revenge, but said “Let us work together to lead our country.” When I read that my first thought was, “he said what?!” How many of us would be able to put our egos and feelings of vengeance aside for the greater good? How many of us would be able to understand that violence and crime are not protests and will not lead to a solution.

Which brings me to another thing I deeply admire about Martin Luther King Jr. He always encouraged every member of his race to be the most upstanding individuals they could be. There is nothing that takes away the validity of prejudice, than proving their venomous opinions wrong through right action. Just as there is nothing that feeds the fire of hatred propagated by those filled with racism and prejudice than behaving just as they describe. There is nothing that shows these traits as being archaic and asinine as forcing someone to say, “See that person helping the homeless over there with a smile and compassion? We should hate them because they are gay/black/Muslim/left-handed or whatever idiotic hatred I feel like spewing today.” Then they are the ones who look foolish.

Any intelligent person knows there are good and bad people in each and every group you examine. In today’s world where hate can often steal the front page, we must work harder than ever to love and understand one another. We must do so by not only passing laws to punish discrimination, but more importantly by addressing beliefs and behavior behind the actions of hatred. Real change happens first in the heart, then in the court of law.

It will take all the strength we have not to respond to judgment and hatred thrust upon us with hatred of our own, but we must be vigilant in our fight to make the world a more peaceful and loving place. We must do that by not only being the best person we can be, but having patience, understanding and compassion for those who need it the most, those who hate.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. that I feel captures what we have been discussing here today.

“Darkness cannot drive our darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

So what is the meaning of life? Today we are going to investigate and answer that very question. You mean you will not have to climb to the top of some very tall mountain and ask a very old man with a long beard? No actually all you have to do is log on, click on this blog and read the writings of a man who feels old and only has a goatee. OK, I don’t know many of you. Some of you I only know fairly well. Even the ones I know very well how can I begin to tell you the meaning of your life? How if we have never met can I begin to tell you what the purpose of you being here is? Well let me begin by paraphrasing another man with a great name, Neal Donald Walsh, even though he may have his spelling all wrong I believe his thinking is all right. He said in the famous movie The Secret and again I’m doing this from my memory which can be suspect at times. He said there is no blackboard in the sky where God writes “Your purpose in life is ____” A lot of us would like to believe we are all preordained with some divine purpose and as soon as it is revealed our life will be easy and our path will be laid out before us. Sad thing is some people spend their entire lives looking for this writing in the sky. I’m here to tell you something very important – your mission in life is what you choose to make it – True you may have some divine inspiration along the way. We are all given some talents with which to work and things we excel at. We are all driven by different motivations. Martin Luther King jr. was angered by the injustice he saw to a point he decided his life mission was to strive for equality. Mother Theresa was saddened by all the people she saw who needed help that were being left behind so she dedicated her life to helping the poor and forgotten. Musicians see how their music can touch people so they try to spread that feeling to as many people as possible. I was disgusted by how much negativity is in the world so I decided to make my life’s mission to bring more positivity to the world. I am still trying to work out what Paris Hilton’s mission is, perhaps she is still searching. The point here is that your mission, your meaning of life is whatever you decide it is. What are you passionate about? If you noticed in the examples above the passion does not necessarily have to be a positive one to make for a great life mission. So if you find yourself feeling lost, wondering why you are here. My suggestion? Decide why you are here. Spend the weekend examining things you have a great deal of feeling for. Then decide what life means to you. Who knows your life’s mission may change several times in your life as you learn and grow. The main thing here is to understand you are the one who decides what life means to you. So ask yourself this weekend “what is the meaning of life” you can even try climbing the highest hill you can find to think about it. If you grow a beard while thinking you may have spent too much time on the question.

SAVIORS OF THE WORLD…

“THE dreamers are the saviours of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and die; it lives in them; it knows them as they realities which it shall one day see and know.”

James Allen from the book As Man Thinketh

 

The first few days of this week we are going to look at quotes from the book As Man Thinketh by James Allen. Today’s quote emphasizes the importance of dreamers. How many people’s lives are now better because of the dreamers? Whether we are talking about Martin Luther King jr’s quest for equality or Bill Gates vision to bring affordable computing to the masses. Dreamers always affect far more than themselves. As the quotes says, dreams often sustain us through all of our trails. What exactly does this mean? Let me cite a personal example. Recently I have been faced with losing my position at the Postal service and having to train the person who will be taking my job. Not only is this bad enough, but my future whether with the company or not is a mystery. Today I collected my personal effects from the office. A sad moment that made the reality of the situation very clear. In moments like this I am forced to examine my own skills at remaining optimistic. When life seems to have knocked you down, do yourself a favor. While you are down there contemplate what it is that keeps you going. For me it is a dream of what I wish to become. An author who can make a living bringing joy and a better life to others. Without this dream, without taking daily focused action towards its accomplishment I would feel at the mercy of my employer. In these hard times those who can inspire us become our saviors. The help us take one step further when we think we cannot. Even then we are at the mercy of their dreams. Do yourself a favor and focus on your own dream with certainty and positivity. Become your own savior.

USE YOUR RESOURCES

A funny thing happened to me the other day. Ok, funny things happen to me most days. Especially Friday because it involves my good friend Margie and rum. This was not one of those moments. You see, I am always looking for ways to improve this blog, and listening to ideas. Quite often you will see them make the pages of this website. While typing the post ‘Picking your posse’ last week an idea just popped in my head. Usually that is to hit the snooze one more time or have one more slice of pizza, but this was neither of these so I thought I should listen. I remarked in that post how my friends have changed and how I discovered I had naturally gravitated to a more positive and inspiring group of people. Why was I not using this precious resource? A lot of what you read here comes from the minds of great people in history. Lincoln, Martin Luther King jr, Tony Robbins, my own mother. Still here was this group of genuinely inspiring and optimistic people. Why have I not been picking their brains? So I started. I asked George, the insurance sales man his secret to happiness. Truly the world of insurance can’t be all sunshine and rainbows. I also asked Jim, who sells fireplace blowers. I began to ask all of my customers at both the post office and the bar what was the secret to their happiness. The answers varied, but there were some common traits as well. Then, proving that all people in our life are gifts I began to ask those less than inspiring characters I encountered the same question. Oddly enough, there was patterns there as well. Over the next couple of days we will explore both. For today, however, I encourage you to do the same. Find someone who has a genuinely sunny disposition and ask them their secret. I will let you in on a clue. Happy people tend to be eager to share what makes them so. You may even wish to do the same with those who genuinely seem unhappy. If nothing else you may get their minds pondering the joy in their life. See if you notice any patterns. Feel free to let me know. Oh, and if you see me on the street and have any ideas on how to make this blog better, feel free to do that do.

BECOME THE LIGHT!

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only Love can do that”

-Martin Luther King jr

“We’ve got a mind of our own so go to hell if what your thinking isn’t right. Love would never leave us alone, A-yin the darkness there must come out to light”

-Bob Marley, from the song Could You be Loved

Yesterday we examined the second part of Martin Luther King jr’s quote. Today I not only want to focus on the first part, but I threw in a lyric from Bob Marley as well. I did this for two reasons. One, they are both strong influences on my way of thinking and two, in this case they are discussing a similar point. In life we will always have periods of darkness. My goal in my own life as well as the goal of this blog and my upcoming book is to make sure those periods happen less often and with less severity. That being said, there will still be periods were our outlook is bleak. There are times when we shall hear from others how bad it is. This usually goes into overload near an election. Still as we discussed yesterday heated debates are not the answer. So what is the answer. The answer can be found in these two quotes. I have experienced this in my own life as well. About 5 years ago I was in a dark place both professionally and personally. I would’ve stated how neither situation was fair. How all my hard work and effort wasn’t being rewarded fairly. In hindsight I probably would have had a lot of people agree with me. Where would that have gotten me though? Standing around unemployed with a group of people nodding their heads in agreement as to how bad my situation was. Which would have only made me feel worse. I’ll be honest, I did stand around and bitch for a few days. It helped me get some things off my chest. Still for a man who follows and admires the likes of the gentleman above it became obvious that was not going to get me anywhere. So I decided with my ‘extra time off’ I would help a few more days at the meal program I worked at. Normally I helped once a month, but I did three days that week. Not only did it help me feel better that I was able to help others. Which, by the way, is one of the best cures for feelings of depression. It also humbled me. I was able to see the struggles far worse than my own that a lot of these people were facing. Some of them only children. I decided right then and there to be a light in the darkness. It has led to the creation of this blog, my book, a whole new circle of friends and many other amazing events I can’t even list here. The lesson? Sometimes our world becomes dark so we are forced to develop and show the world our light

Make the shadows disappear

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only Love can do that”

-Martin Luther King jr

Wow. That is a powerful statement from a great man. Might I suggest you pause for a moment and read it again. Ok, now that we have grasped the obvious power and truth to that statement, let us begin today by looking at the second part of that quote. we can begin to see how we cannot only go about changing our lives for the better, but the lives of our families, friends and our fellow-man. Conflict if ended in the form of debate, or violence never truly has a winner. Now before you think I am getting far to altruistic, stick with me for a second here. During the great divide that started both world wars ideals were challenged. People had conflicting beliefs and were unable to solve them in a peaceful fashion. The same holds true for the American civil war. In both cases there was a decisive military victor. So what then of the loser? Did they then agree to the opinions and ideals held by those who were victorious over them? I think we all can agree that was not the case. This holds true when I listen to people debate politics and to some of the more zealous, even sports. What do we really hope to gain by out debating another person? A momentary feeling of self-righteousness? A more resolute feeling about our own beliefs? More importantly, what do we stand to lose? A friendship? A good working relationship? Maybe even a peaceful household. Yes, we all have beliefs we hold dear, and well we should. We should also never fail to realize and respect the fact that other people may have feelings they hold in equal regard, but that differ from our own. Some people may approach us in anger for things they have no right to. Our political beliefs, our faith, or even the color of our skin. Now we can argue with these people. Prove their ignorance, but will it change their hearts? Not likely. Therefore, I suggest proving these people wrong with kindness, understanding, patience and love. I am not talking about cowardice, I am talking about the one of the bravest acts you can do. Respect their opinion without sacrificing yours. How to do this takes tact, skill and a lot of practice. I do not pretend to have all the answers in this arena, but I do not that Martin Luther King jr was right. hate will never drive out hate, only love can do that.

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING…

“People often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning”

-Mahatma Gandhi

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t you are right”

-Henry Ford

When it comes to anything the most important aspect in regards to whether you will succeed or fail is your attitude about the subject. These two quotes above from two great leaders demonstrate that. It is amazing to me to hear lots of people speak to defeat their own dreams. I wish I would’ve painted for a living, but now it’s too late. Some people when they hear I am writing a book tell me they were always going to write a book but never did. My answer is always the same “The get out there and do it NOW!” Yes, I do say the last word rather loudly, but that is because these people have been talking themselves out of their own dreams for years. Listen, I am not telling you to abandon your job and family and head off to the beach to surf your life away, but if you have a dream start on it. If your dream is to be an artist explore that talent. Start drawing, painting, sculpting or writing before work, after work whenever you can find time. Trust me in the beginning it is hard, but once that part of you comes alive again energy comes out of nowhere, passion explodes. You are eager to take an hour less sleep because you are doing something for your soul, that could very well end up helping your pocketbook. here is some bad news, your first attempts, they just might suck. Don’t believe me? Go back and read the first couple posts of mine here. I am not saying that to put myself down, just to show you that you have been denying part of yourself for years and it takes a while to develop a passion. Even if your first attempts leave you saying you should be satisfied with just doing that current job you despise, keep on swinging. The world is always grateful to someone living their passion. It could be an engineer designing safer roads or cars, a composer bringing beautiful music for all of us to share. I personally am overwhelmed and it is the best part of my day when I can hear how much this blog has helped even one person in the smallest of ways. Why? Because that is my dream, that is my passion. To help others live a life of passion and to discover the true beauty inside them. Now when you are beginning and you are putting out a less than polished product, you run into people I have mentioned before, Dream killers. Why on earth people will rain on other people’s parades and put down their dreams I do not understand. If I could count how many people have cautioned me and discouraged me about writing my book I would reach a pretty high number indeed. They may tell you they are just trying to not let you get your ‘hopes up’ I tell you get your hopes up! When you fall down, keep them up! In fact, when you are down quite often hope and faith are the only friends you may have. So make your hopes and dreams and faith strong. Feed them daily. Chase your dreams this weekend! Just begin to start chasing that passion! I’ll see you all in the winners circle!

MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear”

-Rosa Parks

Now some of you has let me know you enjoy my blog, but say “that stuff doesn’t work in real life” Here is a prime example of a women who overcame not just her own challenges, but the challenges facing an entire nation.  Still think you can’t turn your life into one that is positive and rewarding both for yourself and those around you?  Having an end goal in mind and staying focused on that goal makes everything if not easier, at least bearable.  You make a mistake, fall down on the path to your goal? Get up, dust yourself off at get back at it!  It has been said airplanes on their way from point A to point B are off course a full 90% of the time.  Constantly making minor adjustments to correct changes in wind, currents, air pressure and a million other factors I know nothing about.  How, if they are off course so often do they arrive, usually close to on time, at their destination? The easy answer is ‘radar’.  True, but what good is technology if you do not have a clear destination?  So decide on your destination.  Develop that resolute purpose so demonstrated by Rosa Parks.  If one woman could challenge the thinking of a majority of an entire nation, we can certainly overcome our challenges!  like the airplane with its radar, we have an internal radar.  It is called our feelings and current state of mind.  Have you ever noticed when you are engaged in an activity designed to bring you closer to your goal that even if it appears not to be going so well at the moment it seems easier to stay focused?  So make a clear decision on a goal, write it down, find or draw a picture of it to hang in the bathroom mirror.  Whatever you have to do to keep it in your mind.  Then stay focused and marvel at the great things you will accomplish. Whenever doubt starts to creep in, just think of that single woman sitting on a bus and all that she conquered.

TOGETHER AS ONE

“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools”

-Martin Luther king jr.

Judgement is one thing that can truly separate us from each other.  Let’s be honest, there are both good and bad people in every race, religion, culture, country and any other group you can break society down into.  Disliking someone based on the fact that they are different than you in appearance or in belief only hurts yourself.  Not only are you the one who gets upset, but you remove the possibility of meeting many fabulous people who could add joy and other great things to your life.  I am always surprised to hear expressions of prejudice in todays global world.  With as much communication as we have with each other and how interdependent we are on each other to me it seems antiquated at best.  Being an enlightened individual means keeping your mind open to all views.  Not that you have to agree with them, but as much as we would like others to respect our views, we should be honored to do the same for them.  I can not begin to convey the joys all my friends have brought me and can’t imagine leaving any of them out just because they are different then me.  So remember,  when you hold judgement against someone else, it not only affects their joy, but steals yours as well.