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Back after a Knee Replacement

I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.  (Emphasis added.)  

Steve Maraboli, in Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

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This is a real gem that Steve Maraboli gives us.  It is a keeper.

Look around at our culture and politics – people are always trying to change.  They lobby for us to be as they are – often without any introspection as to who they themselves are.  This is really quite arrogant – ignorant – utterly unwelcoming and ridiculously foolish – destructive even.

I have been in the hospital from Monday (this week) to Wednesday (of the same week) to have my second total knee replacement.  Frankly, it was a very special experience from beginning to end.  I had the extraordinary pleasure of having remarkable men and women attending to me.  Many were from the Caribbean and African countries, one or two from India and several from the U.S.  Absolutely beautiful people – inside and out.  Loving, kind, pleasant, warm-hearted, and good at what they do.

It was interesting that more than a few cozyed up to me for conversation – excellent conversation – the type you have with a good next-door neighbor.  We talked about living at a spiritual depth, finding out how you might do the best for others with the skills you possess, having patience, aspirations, child-rearing, aging, the wonderful gifts women have, and retirement.

Such symmetry.  Those who helped me, gave me a chance to help them.  There is hardly anything that is so satisfying as helping one another.  These people were friends and I was made the richer for their friendship.  Strangely, some remembered me from my first knee replacement one year ago in February 2017.

The content of these conversations was just as Maraboli said: a help in which others are revealed to themselves.   Isn’t that the best we can do?  Isn’t that a blessing?  How fortunate we are!  People – just people, God’s children … not divided by gender, race, religion, ethnicity and such.  Sacred beings.

Shalom.

 

 

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Life and death are at war within us.  As soon as we are born, we begin at the same time to live and die … If by chance we become fully conscious of it, not only in the flesh and in our emotions but above all in our spirit, we find ourselves involved in a terrible wrestling, an agonia not of questions and answers, but of being and nothingness, spirit and void. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Last night I watched Part One of Ken Burns film on the Second World War.  I saw the war from the perspective of the common man and woman, the families in small towns and large cities.  It is, of course, a story of all ethnic groups, all races and religions, rich and poor, farmer, factory worker, school teacher, professional. Yes, it is the story of Americans when we were once One and united – neighbors, friends, a community, a proud and patriotic nation – people from foreign shores who arrived to make a new life and seize opportunity in a free society.

Burns shows us what we once were – before we became “fat” and fancy, successful, too expectant, spoiled, too focused on our own welfare and too rooted in demands and divisions from one another.

Once we lived implicitly what Merton describes: we were conscious of our supreme value – yes, of our God-given value – the divine equality of the soul.  Friends, this was how we once lived … You see victory in this world and the next comes only to those who live this way.

I grew up on a street with World War II vets in a working class city known for producing more U.S. Marines per capita than any city in the country.

The ethos of our greatest hour is now misplaced.  You see its absence in Members of the Congress – in the Flakes, Schumers, Pelosis, Durbins, Waters, et al … in the public chorus of “me first, only me” special pleaders whose arc of complaint stretches from the banal to the bizarre, and among the over-privileged in the entertainment industry and in the lost souls of media.

What we see is clear evidence of a loss of faith – of wisdom, perspective, patience.

In a secular society there is no transcendent purpose, no eternity – no moral context and all-embracing narrative.  No – secular life lacks meaning, leaves us shallow and self-absorbed – dependent, unhappy, … with an emptiness that breeds drug use, sexual chaos, hatred and violence.  Godlessness, we see, produces self-destruction.

Time to wake up.  We have regressed.  We lack the honor we once had – and the valor, bravery, virtue, honesty, confidence, integrity and purpose of our recent past.

Shalom.

… consciousness of (only) the present may lead to an elation based on illusion: the illusion, namely, that we are the culmination of the history of mankind, the fulfilment and the end-product of countless centuries.

Carl Jung, M.D. in “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man”

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Jung warns us that when we lose track of our place in the long saga of human history we begin to think of ourselves as special and forfeit access to both truth and humility.

It follows, of course, that mistakes and miscalculations escalate when this we lose perspective.  In the present day, by the way, the wise live on the foundation of a humility and reality that is garnered from knowing the nature and course of humans as rendered in the long record of human existence.  There are, as the present world demonstrates, fewer wise men and women than once there were.

Jung makes, by the way, this point – to think more of ourselves than we are entitled is the error of modern man and the action of those misguided elites is a testament to their destitution.  Boy, don’t we see that with the Democrat Left, within the massive federal government, in Hollywood, among celebrities and so many other quarters.

Observes Jung: ” … modern man … is … the worst conceivable disappointment of the hopes of humankind.”

I do not know if I agree with that or not – but I do know that absent knowledge of human history and the truths it establishes, we deny reality, forfeit humility, create our own discontent, multiply both errors and the margin for error.

I know this as well – the Judeo-Christian religious narrative is an invaluable source of knowledge and wisdom and that dismissing this narrative is the single most foolish mistake we make – indeed, this alone accounts for the relatively easy destruction of our nation and the West.

Shalom.

Postscript – If what Jung has said makes sense to you, you’re best play is to be very discreet when it comes to listening to others.  Case in point: Does anyone on CNN make any sense?  Do they (and others) warrant your attention?

” … the greatest enemy of the Gospel is ideology.  Ideology is a man-made format of how the world ought to work, and Christians instead believe(d) in the revealing truth of Scripture.”  (Emphasis added.)

Charles Colson

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Human beings since the beginning of time have wanted to proclaim their own divinity.  We do this no less today than we always have.

Think about government and politics today.  We place confidence in government in a manner that thwarts our reliance on God and diminishes the growth and development of our faith.

When we vest trust and need in government and politics we undermine our faith in God, reduce the scope of our human, psychological and spiritual existence and our wisdom, certitude and contentment.

The limits of human institutions has been recorded in the New and Old Testament.  We are less able to perfect the world than we think.  Yes, our ego is not a path to omnipotence but rather often a display of our limitations and our need of God.

Our political party on the Left does just that: having no relationship with God and relying on the (dubious) “genius” of man and woman – it stubbornly sells what does NOT WORK, namely: man’s reliance on man to the exclusion of God.  Frankly the failures of the Left are visible in history and in the world – now and for years prior to today.

The trust in man, politics, ideology and government is a primary source of our many present problems and divisions.  Only a fool would continue to advocate further self-centered reliance on man and man alone.  It is time to humbly admit our estrangement from God and take responsibility for many follies that this behavior has produced.

Vesting confidence in government as we do is vesting confidence in man and woman and that is one of the primary ways this nation draws away from God and advances secular existence to the exclusion of our relationship with God and the contentment and stability that faith produces.

Shalom.

 

 

 

… there is no god more jealous than single-payer health care.

William McGurn, in The Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2017

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This is Mr. McGurn talking about the infant Charlie Gard and how the courts deprived his parents of their rights to make lawful decisions as to his medical care.

Mr. McGurn understands precisely the totalitarian power of centralized government and how that power takes liberty and freedom from innocents – in this case a sick infant and his devoted and loving parents.

I have represented parents, innocents, and impaired medical patients in such cases.  I won each of my cases in this area and I know from real world experience that Mr. McGurn is exactly correct in what he says.

A few points in Charlie’s case to amplify the danger that a single-payer regime presents for all of us.

One, hospitals can go to court to override the lawful wishes of parents who diligently, wisely and faithfully care of their sick child.

Two, the hospital’s interest can be as simple as this: a child may occupy a bed that does not earn them sufficient pay-out and they resent the child’s occupancy of that space.  Yes, I have seen this.

Three, a hospital may have the view that the child’s “quality of life” is not sufficient to warrant his treatment and by this reasoning they can deprive the child of life-support care, i.e., the hospital can end the child’s life over the lawful objection of his parents.

Four, as in Charlie’s case the court may appoint a Guardian over the affairs of the child who will opt to side with the court and the hospital, thereby validating the death of a child.  Imagine a Guardian as someone claiming to represent a child with whom he has no conversation, of whom he has no knowledge and with whom he has no relationship! Imagine that Guardian being paid by the state – yes, this does happen.

One wonders if that Guardian would like Charlie’s parents to determine that her or his children deserve the same result: that is, death over their objection.

Case in point, the Guardian in Charlie’s case runs a “charity” that supports “assisted suicide.”  (As reported by Mr. McGurn of The Wall Street Journal.)

Yes, a single-payer system is a stacked deck.  A deck that is aimed at the weakest among us, and at those the state deems “disposable.” Honestly do you ever hear of a prominent actor and his wife or politician and his wife having their medical decision-making as to their child taken from them? No you don’t.

This is the single-payer system.  Or shall we say this: in Satan’s single-payer system the costs to innocents greatly exceeds money.

Mr. McGurn’s concern ought well be noted.

Shalom.

God, we pray for little Charlie Gard, for his parents, and for us as we learn the reach of godlessness and suffer its consequences.  Help us correct the wrongs we see.  Help us to value once again parents, children, family and faith.

The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics.  Fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.  (Emphasis added.)

Samuel P . Huntington

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Do not Islam and Marxism display the truth of Professor Huntington’s remarks? Is our national security not, then, contingent upon America and the West knowing who they are and who their rivals are – what is the bedrock of our identity and their identity?

American and Western identity rests on our classical legacy, Christianity, the relationship between church and state, freedom of religious expression, free speech and free elections, the rule of law, civil society and the peaceful transition of political power, free market economics, and our historic national footprint.

When cultures clash, as they do now, one must have a very clear understanding of who one is.

When cultures clash radical variation in basic identity within a society is a luxury that cannot be readily accommodated.  That said, a political party like the Democrat Left whose identity is based on: perpetual radical social and economic “change,” the centralization of cradle to grave power in the federal government, creating conflict through “identity politics” which manufactures angry “victim classes” and enslaved government dependents – compromises the nation’s security.  A state of perpetual internal flux puts in question one’s basic identity – it distracts and creates unnecessary and dangerous discord.

Indeed this is where we are today: division within while those within and without who wish our defeat grow stronger and more intent on our destruction. 

To make matters worse, very few of those who occupy political office have any inkling of the challenge we face and the fundamental question it raises.  The question?  Who exactly are we?

In a clash of cultures not knowing who you are is fatal.

Shalom.

 

 

Bravo!  President Trump in his Speech in Poland raised this critical issue: The West and America are unique and worthy of respect and existence.  The issue is now will the Left and the Marxists be seen for their errors, mistakes and godlessness and will they repent?  

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… philosophers of the Enlightenment sought to use reason alone to establish a new basis for political and social life, one that was separated from the past.  They tried to create a secular morality that any reasonable person could understand and affirm … they extolled the freely choosing individual. (Emphasis added.)

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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In his book Simply Sane, psychiatrist Gerald May, M.D. tells the story of a heroin addict whose addiction was tied to the frustration he experienced when that he was not as “responsible” as he expected he ought to me.  That is to say, each of life’s frustrations promoted him to seek a way to feel powerful and full, whole and strong.  His route to the experience of autonomy was heroin.  For others, of course, it is alcohol.  For others sex.  Still for others, make-believe – or consumption, or prescription medication, or status, or the stage, showing-off, or wealth … yes, even violence, spousal or child abuse.

So much for the Enlightenment and the notion of the individual’s power, wisdom, discipline – his or her ability to cope with their own poor choices and a world full of others who get to “freely choose” … only to enhance the odds of calamity and disappointment in each individual life.

In Chicago last weekend,  some of those “the freely choosing individuals” managed to “freely choose” to shoot 100 other “free choosers.”

Look around you.  Is it not possible that we have over-estimated people’s capacity for all this self-acclaiming navigation?

Think, Bill Cosby.  He was a “Free Chooser.”  Think about abortion mills, lot of “free choosing” going on there.  How about the federal “genius” who attempted to “rescue” children from a religious cult in Waco, Texas, and managed to burn to death scores of those same children while getting several federal agents killed as well.  Another “free chooser.”  Nitwits beyond imagination.

Don’t you think we have demonstrated the obvious limits of the human person? Are we not worse off for having ushered God out of the spotlight in favor of “freely choosing individual?”

Look about in politics, lots of delusional “free choosers” there?  No shortage of calamity. No a surplus of humble (hence wise and less dangerous) good old people – each skeptical of the omnipotence the Enlightenment (we might call it the “Stupid-ment”) ascribed willing-nilly to the imperfect human being.  Ya, that heroin addict might have been sober and content to expect less of himself and others.  It is, afterall, hard enough just being … just being a human being.

It always strikes me as real idiocy that we do not understand the wisdom and power of humility.  I often gag when I hear the graduation speaker or college prof tell the audience” “go and change the world!” Balderdash.  Wisdom would say: be skeptical of your alleged genius, focus on doing no harm – cherish established wisdom and the traditions which house it.

Shalom.

By the Way: Memo to the Enlightenment Wizards – We now know from brain studies that reason has nothing to do with moral development or initiating moral choice, rather these matters are instinctive.  Yes, the human person is designed to seek good and reason only fortifies the instinct or justifies the errant decision to override what is instinctive. “Freely choosing individual” … my Aunt’s banana!!!

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

… the Almighty will not pervert justice …

Job 34:12

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The Comey matter has generated a whole lot of conversation which reflects a broad ignorance among the politicos, media personalities and commentators (lawyers included).

Well aside from the inane partisanship among the Democrat Left, assessment of Mr. Comey’s worth is simply summed up in Job and the applicable quote above. To wit: Comey perverted justice.

You see, an investigator does not have the power to make the decision as to whether a person is or is not prosecuted, nor does he serve as a jury determining a person’s innocence or guilt.

Lest we exclude Ms. Loretta Lynch (the Attorney General) from her unforgivable behavior in meeting privately with the husband (Bill Clinton) of a person (his wife, Hillary Clinton) while his wife is the subject of a very serious FBI investigation – Ms. Lynch might well be reminded that she, too, in her inexplicable airport runway meeting served to pervert justice.

Neither Mr. Comey (head of the FBI) nor Ms. Lynch (the Attorney General of the United States) displayed any rudimentary regard for justice nor any evidence of the simple requirements of their ethical duties as lawyers.

Far beyond the obvious breach of legal ethics and of their respective, defined roles as judicial officers – both Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch remind us that a bright, well-educated person might be expected to grasp the concept which Job pronounces – that is: that justice is to be cherished not perverted.  Alas, neither were up to the task.

Sadly the mish-mash of frantic, idiotic public comments about Mr. Comey’s lawful dismissal by President Trump just underscores the worthlessness of listening to the news media, politicians, and self-claimed legal wizards on virtually any matter they care to mention.

Voices of the uninformed are many these days.  Talk though they may – they have not much of value to say.  Best find truth in what can be trusted.  Scripture will do very nicely.  To wit: Job works just fine in sorting out Mr. Comey’s dismissal and Ms. Lynch’s poor judgment.

Shalom.

Start each day with a task completed.

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This simple piece of advice is from a Navy Seal’s list of things to do or remember, his prompts to keep him aimed at excellence.

Why would it be important to complete a task at the start of each day?  Because it builds the experience of achievement, of accomplishment and imparts the message and habit that “you do,” you have a goal and you achieve that goal.  As such it sets the day up for other tasks to be faced and finished.

I was, soon enough, as a child living in public housing with my mother. Work was in short supply and money was too.

We lived in a small apartment.  But it was clean and orderly and we were as well. Our living quarters were swept, dusted, organized.  We ate breakfast each morning. I was never late for school.  My clothes were clean and pressed.  I had a shower each day.  I did not miss school.  My homework was done, my reading assignments too.  I had a routine. My mother knew where I was and when to expect me to be home.  I knew where she was and we were both reliable to do and be as we were expected.

Before my feet hit the pavement each day – there were tasks done and tasks to come.

I was the first in my family to attend college – not as a brilliant student – but as a person who applied myself to the task.  The first also to become a military officer, attend law school, enter the professions, and pursue graduate study in both American foreign policy and theology.

In the course of my life I brought my mother a house, a car and a small business.

Start each day with a completed task.  Make it more than one and that is all the better. Accomplishment comes from habit.  Good habits breed achievement. But more to the point – completed tasks build toughness, confidence, fortitude.

Life is a sacred gift.  You are the biblical servant given a talant (coin) by your Master.  Your coin is life.  Use it.  Multiply the gift of life my attending to tasks, completing them – making each small thing a task well done.  Live fully … and the right way.  Achievement follows.

Shalom.

Afterthought – In a nation of dependents, have we not diminished people – made those created for full life consigned to far less, too brokenness and perpetual discontent?

Frankly, this is the godless manner of the Democrat Left.  They breed victimhood so they might reign over dependents and stay in power.

Think about it, President Obama was so proud to have grown “the dependent class.” Seems pretty sick to me.  I prefer life to bondage.  How about you? 

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