Friday, September 28, 2012

Never Stare Down the Barrel of a Gun

It seems that there are a great many reasons to be hysterical in this society.  We are continually inundated with messages blaring at us in this world.  Two seem to be particularly brash - friendship and sex.  Social media seems to be the thing people are always doing, constantly, every hour of the day.  We know from research that many people get addicted to checking tweets, updates and the like, even to the point of falling into cold sweats and panic attacks if they do not log in within a certain time.  It is also no shock to anyone that we live in a highly sexualized society.  Fifteen years ago I would never have dared to discuss sex on the internet for fear a teenager might hear about it.  Today we find it everywhere.

My point?  When we are obsessed with something, anything, we tend to be less satisfied with it.  We are often not satisfied with our status updates if no one comments or likes it.  We may get into a serious relationship and then become upset if our sex lives do not mirror what porn videos teach us we ought to have.  And because these are the priorities of society at large, it seems more important that we get our way in these arenas. 

People, go take a walk under the clear blue skies.  Read a book.  Close your eyes and listen to beautiful music.  Get to know and fall in love with yourself.  I received an email from a family member whilst in my greater internet seclusion which gave a general update on her family.  I cherished it!  How many times had I seen her online before and casually skimmed over her words?  When we walk away from our obsessions and lessen our barrage of outside noise we are able to better prioritize and recognize what is important and what is not. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Social Kung Fu

My brother has studied kung fu and other various types of self defense from the time he was very young.  His other hobby has been analyzing how people react to each other in the social realm and masterminding ways to get others to think him cool.  As his only younger sibling, I was, for better or worse, voluntary or not, the person on whom he practiced his arts.  Among the other aspects of my education I learned a great deal about the need to view life through the eyes of others and to protect my soul against blows, physical or emotional, from the world around me.  Allow me to share some insights. 

The social world can be more painful than being a kung fu punching bag.  A physical blow does not generally take years to heal.  A series of social blows can.  Care to avoid them?  Here we go.  Firstly, if we want to appear well in social intercourse, we must avoid taking incessantly for hours about the same thing.  If you happen to have an obsession employ your journal or as I do, a blog.  People needn't be held captive by ongoing one way conversation but they might enjoy a daily or weekly blog post relating to politics, nuclear warfare, D&D or whatever else you constantly have on your mind.  I would also suggest broadening horizons, ever broadening them, that your mind also may be expansive.  People are often impressed when they know you can discuss a range of topics with passion, but are also open minded enough to accept other viewpoints.  They tend to stand in awe.  Also, if we extend our learning we are not always at hand.  Be at hand for those you serve but remember that in the difficult, unforgiving social world, people also tend to take overly eager people for granted.  Finally and most importantly, fall in love with yourself. 

If you are in love with yourself, you will not commit the sometimes henious crime of trying to fit a certain mold or image.  Be yourself.  Enjoy yourself and enjoy life.  People are most impressed when, to be frank, they see someone so absorbed in their own pursuits but still friendly and kind, that they seem to stand alone and aloof from this world.  Keep your kindness, friendliness, seek to serve others, but also always, always, remember that being your best self is the wisest person to be. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Mormon's Idea of Heaven and Hell

I have received many requests to address this topic and indeed it is one that I have often considered conveying within the context of my blog as I have always found it an interesting concept.  Many people believe in one heaven and one hell.  The concept is simple: good people go to heaven and bad are condemned to fire and brimstone.  Easy, right?

However, it seems to me that people are not either white or black.  Generally we find among our human brethren and sisters various shades of grey.  So let's try to decide what should happen to a person who goes to church when they find it convenient and more or less seem to be decent human beings except perhaps on the more entertaining of weekends.  Should they receive the same reward as the greatest of prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists?  Hmmmm....  Well, then we have to condemn them with Hitler and the like.  Strange decision. Mormonism answers that kind of troubling issue.

Mormons believe that there is more than merely heaven and hell.  There is the highest level of glory which we call the Celestial Kingdom where the valiant go to perfect happiness together with their families and can progress in glory and light.  Then we have the good, upstanding people who were not valiant in their testimony of Jesus and who gain a wonderful glory without their families and without progression.  Then we find liars, murderers, harlots and the like who also achieve a certain measure of glory but far less than those who were generally upright.  Then those who knew what was right, had a solid knowledge of God and Jesus Christ and maliciously decided to fight against righteousness are consigned to reside with Satan. 

So in essence, what you gain from the next life corresponds directly to what you put into your spiritual progression in this one.  Simple concept, and everyone is placed where they are most comfortable.  After all, a person who has fought against righteousness all their lives would be less comfortable in God's presence than they would be with the damned souls in hell.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Haven't We Met Before?

I have alluded to the fact that I believe very much that all people lived in the presence of God before their births.  Indeed, I know it.  I know it more surely than I know I exist in this present mortality.  And if we have all lived before, does it not follow then that we knew many of our present associates before we met here on this temporal earth?  I know I did. 

Again, I was born with this knowledge and there have been those in my family who I have always felt I knew intimately long before I could have met them in this mortal state.  I know that in at least one case the feeling is very much reciprocated.  But let me lay before you an experience I had as a young child.  I was always a very spiritual person and when I was five I remember seeing in my mind's eye the face of a much older man and the impression that I would meet him someday and that I would teach him something he needed desperately.   

Four years ago I arrived at a certain place in my typical pursuits and came face to face with a man old enough to be my father and who I recognized instantly.  I spent two years silently studying him from a distance and am now quietly engaged in subtly teaching him how to let his true colors shine.  Perhaps I knew you.  Perhaps you knew me.  Perhaps we are meeting here at this blog post in order to teach each other something.  Perhaps long ago we knew our present friendship was meant to be. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Word on Abuse

I have for most of my life seen, heard of or dealt with abuse on many levels and in various ways.  I have acted as a counselor for those being abused.  As a child my family took in two girls who were being abused within their home.  I have worked with abusers and helped them turn their lives around.  It is a topic I know quite well.  And one of the interesting things is the psyche of abused person.

Likely a person will never clearly, rationally think "I am being abused."  It doesn't come like that.  They will usually blame themselves, particularly if they grew up in a house with domestic abuse, because they will have been told over and over that the behavior is their fault.  This kind of thinking perpetuates the abuse and allows it to continue.  The other thing a person will begin thinking is that abuse is normal and acceptable.  Let me be clear.  It's not. 

If you feel like you are continually afraid, cannot speak out, have to walk on eggshells, are never good enough or deserve verbal or physical distress, I am talking to you.  The people who are creating this emotion in you are abusing you.  Period.  And the good thing is that you are more powerful than they are.  They may seem physically stronger, they may yell, scream, break things and the like but you are eternally powerful and their greatest fear is that you recognize your own potential.  Once you recognize your own worthiness, and make no mistake - you are a worthy person, their cruelty will have no hold on you.  I know a person who has had to stay in an abusive situation in order to protect her kids who do not know what happens behind closed doors.  Her eventual recognition of who she was and other circumstances that God placed in her life has turned her abuser into a cowering pitiful sight and his hatred now has no where to go except into himself.  My love and blessing to you and good luck!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Begin Education Early

I read a headline recently that posed the question: Do we need longer hours of school for children?  Bear in mind that this came as I was still wiping away the tears from having to relinquish my precious five year old to an agonizing seven hours a day of kindergarten (he's fine with it.  I am the weepy one.).  Naturally I began to consider the situation.

My friends, I fear we have a terrible habit in this world of giving our children away rather easily.  Seven hours a day seems to me more than sufficient if a parent is already teaching the child from home.  It is, after all, the parents' responsibility to help teach the child.  The school, while helpful, is really only a second line of defense.  One teacher to twenty or thirty children is rather a difficult proportion.  But one parent teaching only a few kids every day makes life easier on the child, less stressful for teachers, and promotes a closer knit family.  And isn't that what we want, after all?

Solid educations in all respects must begin in the home.  And it finds its strength in the parents being as well educated themselves and attentive to a child's needs as possible.  I recognize that this is not always possible, that single parents work around the clock, that ignorance may claim families for generations and the like, but we can always do something.  If we can read at all, let us teach our children to do so.  Let us educate them about current events according to their age level.  My son has created a lego rendition of NASA's Curiosity and knows all about it.  This very evening my daughter cuddled up to me on the couch past her bedtime to watch Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  She loved it.  And most importantly, we need to teach the difference between good and bad, and that they are precious human beings.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Love You Passionately!

There is a greater kind of love than the ones we generally view in today’s society.  I am convinced that morality has deteriorated to the point of rendering most human beings past natural feeling or even comprehension of the greater joys of life.  We as humans are capable of greatness unmatched, joy unconsidered and friendship blindingly bright.  Nevertheless, we often sacrifice these moments of bliss to immediate gratification.

One situation that frequently returns to mind is the concept of pure friendship between man and woman.  I have often heard people claim that no such situation can exist without some sensual motive creeping behind it.  Such may be true for those who have no control over their own lustful appetites, surely, but I know from experience that it is not only possible but fully agreeable and one of the brightest circumstances that adorn human life. 

I have from my childhood found the teachings of the masterful John Taylor among my favorite passages in literature.  In his eloquent words “you may say that that is not natural.  Then we ought to be changed from nature to grace.”  And when we taste the sweetness of the light of grace we understand more fully that we are beings of eternal light and altogether capable of strong, unwavering attachment on a great many levels.