Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ask yourself if it's really worth it.

This has been a hard year. It's just one thing after another. Right on the heels of several deaths of friends, my older brother had a surprise heart attack complete with a double bypass, and just this week he had emergency surgery to remedy the C-diff infection he contacted while recovering from the first surgery. This is going to mean huge adjustments for him, but without the surgery, he would have died. HE WOULD HAVE DIED. As I write this, he is still under controlled sedation and probably will be for a couple more days.

My mom was supposed to be on vacation in Atlantic City, and my brother was supposed to be feeding gorillas at the zoo. He was looking forward to his summer job. (He retired a few years back and now does pretty much whatever he wants.) But instead, Mom's getting worn out running back & forth to the hospital, where my brother, who used to take me to the movies at Christmas and buy me records, is currently unconscious.

So let me ask you: is it worth it?

Is it worth it to get the last word in every discussion or debate, even f someone's feelings are needlessly hurt?   Is it worth it to speed up so the guy in the car next to you can't change lanes, because you're in such a freakin hurry? Is it worth it getting irritated at a squalling child in a public place? Is it worth it to always get your way? Is it worth it getting pissed off at some ridiculous comment someone posted on Facebook?

Well, is it?

I'm not saying we should never get angry, or that we should never fight for something worthwhile. Anger is often the root of many great accomplishments, because it spurs people to action. No, I'm talking about all the mundane stupid shit we're so quick to get irritated about, and yes, I'm as guilty as anyone. But this last month or two, and especially this week, I've been giving that a lot of thought.

How hard is it, really, to just slow down for two seconds and let a fellow driver over? Unless you're driving a police car or an ambulance, you're not in that big of a hurry. The universe won't collapse if you pause for two or three seconds. How hard is it to say "okay, fair enough" and let someone else have the last word? How hard is it to give away just a sliver of lovingkindness? It doesn't cost you anything. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, it neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg.

And instead of judging strangers, how hard is it to remember that everyone is fighting a battle of some kind? Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. We never know someone's circumstances.

Think about it. And till next time --- open your heart as well as your eyes, for the heart often sees more than the eyes can comprehend.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thoughts on July 4.

Once again, it's Independence Day in the US, and once again, I'll encourage everyone to watch the John Adams miniseries. John Adams often gets short shrift in history, but he was truly a dynamic figure, and he was completely dedicated to his cause. The Boston Massacre case could have destroyed his career, but he took it anyway because he believed in everyone's right to a fair trial under the law. For just a moment, ponder the gravity of that risk. Then ask yourselves who among us would be willing to take such a risk now. How many would set aside their personal gain for an idea?

These are the times that try men's souls, as Thomas Paine once said - over 200 years ago. That should give you a clue that our country has never been completely free of trying times. The times are always trying; it's only the issues that change, and even then, they don't really change all that much. In 2012 we still have concerns about the state of the economy and the reach of the government's control. Political campaigns were just as vitriolic then as now, even without the influence of social media.

Our country isn't perfect, because we aren't perfect. It can only be as good as we are, and as mere humans, we are inherently flawed. Our history isn't pretty, but it's made us who we are, for better and for worse. I can only speak for myself, but I'm happy to be here. And if you're not - well, stop flapping your jaws about how we're going to hell in a handbasket, and start doing something about it.

John Adams did.

Till next time ---