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… those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Mt 23:20

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Make no mistake there are distinct, substantive differences between our two major parties.

Do not be deceived the last electoral result highlighted the very real difference between the common citizen and the elites: those with power, money, status – the intellectual and celebrity class, globalists, the media, the perpetual Washington insiders whose class status is far different from Mom and Dad in small town U.S.A. , and between the ideologues, “special pleaders,” and mere citizen taxpayers.

Frankly, the privileged class lost and the most politically-focused of them (the Left and the Washington wags who are used to being “important”) are offended and not taking their bite of humble pie very well.  Yes, their obstruction and rhetoric is destructive – having gone beyond civil debate.  Actually, their behavior mimics the Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature who fled their state and hid from their official duties so as to thwart the election of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Like all actions people take, the angry objection to the voters choice of President tells us about those who are upset.  One thing it says is this: politics and power is a high priority for them – probably too important for their and our wellbeing as a nation.  Make no mistake a subset is NOT greater than the whole.  No one is more important than the nation.

It is always hard to speak to your Brother and Sister when they must be reproached – but speak we must – speak calmly, in a soft voice, as a friend, with authority and care. Reconciliation is the goal and it must always be.

Losses are difficult for many.  Those of us who have lived modestly and, in my case, on the “wrong side of the tracks” amid the very serious conflicts one can encounter – we are used to life’s ups and downs.  We learned long ago that no one wins all the time and that it is the losses which actually teach us the best lessons, impart the greatest truth and wisdom.

The one thing that we need now is a calm conversation with those who are most displaced by their perceived loss.  For civility to return, maturity must be cultivated and in this instance it means those hurt must listen to the voices of those who care for their welfare and that of this nation.  Yelling, fighting, anger will only inflame and put much at risk … including each of us.

Remember the opposite of love is not hate – but rather: indifference.  We cannot afford to draw battle lines, engage in nasty and dishonest behavior, retribution, character assassination, or violence.   Honest, calm conversation is the need.  An end to extreme language that excites ideologues and flames the fire … it must cease today, now.

I hope we are all to the task.  It is the humble who are exalted.  They are strongest who life has humbled.  Make no mistake – in the end the humble remain standing while the prideful fall. 

Shalom.

Postscript – I am always amazed that the “talking heads” on T.V. and many elected officials talk and talk without ever citing an authority – the words of someone whose insight and wisdom they share.  You have to conclude that they are talking through their hats, haven’t cracked a book since the 3rd grade.

You wonder: why would I listen to these people?  They really do not warrant my time.  They do not.  Happy landings.

 … words have power.  Words can light fire in the hearts of men.

Patrick Rothfuss, in The Name of the Wind

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Yes, words can inflame and we have been very loose with our words, caustic, harsh, antagonistic, divisive, hateful.  Our words can and do provoke others.

Republicans were hunted down yesterday by someone fueled by ideology. Words, harsh words – played a role in this act.

We had best take an honest account of our self.  We have demonized others, labeled them, made them targets, counted them “deplorable.”

This has been building for four or more decades.  This has got to stop.

One can only pray that we are kind enough and strong enough to put a stop to the hatred and demonizing that is so prevalent.  God help us all.

Shalom.

[Note: I had prepared a longer analytical post on violence and culture, but given the present inflammatory climate I have opted to offer what I hope is a helpful and more unifying post in the hopes that we might look critically at our self, our culture, and what we and others say.]

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

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.

I feel that the dormant goodwill in people needs to be stirred.  People need to hear that it makes sense to behave decently or help others, to place common interests above their own, to respect the elementary rules of human coexistence. (Emphasis added.)

Vaclav Havel

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Washington, D.C., politics, and American culture at large needs an infusion of goodwill.   For without it we will cease to exist.

You see the chaos created by undifferentiated egalitarianism.  You see, I hope, that each person or group striving to get his or her, or their “own way” does enormous destruction, creates hostility and division where none need exist.

Look around, we are awash in selfishness to the point that those characteristics which hold this Republic together are being breached, impaired – perhaps destroyed.

In my lifetime I have not seen such reason for concern for our nation’s future as I do now.  I realize, sadly, that there are apparently no statesmen or compassionate clerics, or wise and selfless writers, or artists whose love of this Land and others offer voice to call us back to our better selves.

We have no Vaclav Havel and that shows you the debasement of this culture at this time.

Getting to this point has been a long and steady process of decline – not attributable to one factor, or a handful of key factors – but rather one thing stacked on another all united by “hurrah for me” and “the hell with you.”

Having tried to awaken others to this decline by writing and discourse, I have now begun to take the problem in my own hands.

Recently, I was on the main street of my local small town and a lovely, aging, African-American lady was standing at a crosswalk, cane in hand.  She was the picture of sweetness and dignity: hair done “just right,” red sneakers on, dressed in a sporty outfit exactly right for her age and the cool May weather.  She was cuter than cute – a nice lady for sure.

I noticed her apprehension, as if she was a bit hesitant to cross the street. Sensing that I said, “Would you like a hand crossing?”  She said, “Yes.”

I held out my right arm and she grasped it and we began our steps and when we had but a few strides, I tilted my head toward her and said, “I just love the company of pretty young ladies.”  She smiled warmly.

Goodwill.  We have it in us.  But we must claim it … it is on you to do so.  We cannot continue to live each day in hostility … when love is so easily accessed and friendship so essential.

Shalom.

If you believe this message will help us all – share it with at least one person or more and ask them to share it with others.  We hold peace in our hands.

Thinking About America and a New Presidency

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We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living.

Stephen King, in Duma Key

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Democrat Congressman John Lewis from Georgia and a leader in the early days of the cause of Civil Rights for Black Americans identifies President-elect Donald Trump as an “illegitimate” President but gives no reason for this claim.

Things such as this make you wonder if Stephen King isn’t right in what he says in the above quote.

Congressman Lewis has been in the U.S. Congress for a long time.  He has been a Democrat for a long time.  The Democrats have held power in the Federal Government for a long time and hold virtually exclusive power in major American cities – yet, the problems in the inner city remain.

One wishes Congressman Lewis would not speak so loosely.  We do ill is to divide, to do well is to unite.

Partisan politics (which sadly is the only politics the Democrats practice and pursue) makes us weaker as a nation, divide unnecessarily and forestall the welfare of many, many people.

We all make regrettable comments.  The public ones like this can be very destructive. When unity and cooperation are needed, division is very costly, a tragic wound.

Americans need to work together.  We live in troubled times and others wish us ill, desire our destruction.  We need not help them in their cause.  

In times such as these, partisan politics destroys.

Unity NOT division.

Shalom.

… the first Christian hermits abandoned the cities of the pagan world to live in solitude.

Thomas Merton, in The Wisdom of the Desert

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Why does a man live alone in nature, removed from the population and the city?

‘Tis a useful question.

As for the 4th century men who did so we can say, as Merton does, that they sought their salvation, saw its individual characteristic and their own responsibility for its solicitation.

Indeed, they saw that the pagan society that they knew offered little to further their salvation.  Rather, they concluded that it impeded access to it.

These men would not let the ways and values of the pagan culture destroy them, co-opt them.

They took no comfort in the Cross becoming part of the presiding temporal powers.  This, itself, is particularly interesting.  They seemed to know that civil matters where not spiritual in nature, that to The Divine alone belongs the primacy.

Think for a moment: these men saw Christian life as spiritual, as “extramundane” – as simply existing in the Mystical Body of Christ … and they saw that their responsibility was to seek life in Christ.

These men stood for the idea that man was personally responsible for his life and what it said of him and of God.  

Contrast that with today – when so many are captured by the common denominators of secular culture, its herd, its folly, its untruth and its destructive, conflictive and unsatisfying ways.

These men did not wish to be ruled by the decadence.  They did not see themselves, mind you, as superior to others but rather only more intent on living in accord with their faith. They lived socially in aid of one another and strangers as governed by their faith and “the charismatic authority of wisdom, experience and love.”  They “sought … their own true self, in Christ.”

Today I live on a ridge looking out on rolling pastures, forest, and mountains. Minutes ago the sun rose in the East over mountain peaks announcing once again that God reigns eternally …

Each sunrise – unique in its colors and hues – raises up God the Creator … enkindles my gratitude.

In my solitude, quiet makes the music so much sweeter and evocative.  In the solitude, I think of God in a daily silence, and meet the Desert Fathers.  In solitude, I have good company.

Shalom.

A Post Today for Parents and Children

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Our consciousness does not create itself.  It wells up from unknown depths … it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep …

Carl Jung, M.D., in The Psychology of Eastern Meditation

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Jung would say that we are not born tabula rasa – with a clean state.  No, his views is that each person’s brain has a history of human experience and within each person is a psyche that will seek expression, fulfillment, realization of personhood.

Jung would say that each of us is born with “a high complexity” and “existing determinants” that persist throughout each life.  Yes, in many ways we play out our particular being within this divine design.

The fact that we share this excursion seems, it appears to me, to promise our completeness provided we accept life, its lessons and – listen to the cues we observe within – evolve as we are uniquely called to life within this divine design which is itself made to insure uniqueness and commonality.

It follows, in my mind, that relationships with others, intimacy, marriage, love, family, fellowship, friendship, community and nation flow from this magnificent divine design.

What a gift is this life and its living.

Shalom.

The moments of hell come when everything militates against the open heart.

Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs

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Those things which are true rise up and converge.  You see, what is true and good is lighter than air, cannot be held down.  Did Christ not rise up?

In his book Everything Belongs, Catholic priest Richard Rohr reminds us that “Group-think is a substitute for God-think.”  Oh, that the Left might consider this as it applies to a whole range of its misbegotten ideas, “causes,” and views!  I think, in particular, of “identity politics” – the childish, godless idea that life is “my group/my view against your group/your view.”  Such an attitude translates thus: we are good, the other guys are bad.  It divides and makes enemies, not friends.

Identity politics (a Democrat staple for decades) is shameful.  It fosters idolatry.  It says me and my group are “special” and you are: a racist, a bigot, a Nazi, a misogynist, etc.

Closing the heart opens the doors of hell.  Identity politics closes the heart.

When we separate from one another we forego the enchantment that resides in faith, and hope, and belief.  We limit our full human development; we assault the Spirit, deny God and injure the soul of others.  Identity politics is assaultive, destructive, hate-filled.

Identity politics and its name-calling denies that we are all divinely created and each only a little less than God, made in God’s image. 

Identity politics blinds us.  It keeps us from the revelation of God – God as God resides in all of us, in all that sits within Creation, and rests in the world to come.

Over the last few years I have had some wonderful chance encounters with African-Americans, individuals who were strangers to me.  In the course of simple, friendly conversations we have each shared time as friends, neighbors – just people.  In these encounters I have taken the liberty, in the light of wonderful fellowship, to simply say to them: “Thank you.  I have so enjoyed our conversation. May I offer this opinion: I am so sick of those who divide us and keep us apart.”  In each case, my comments have been met with warmth and complete endorsement.

Friends, the open heart is the gateway to heaven.  Enough with “identity politics.” Brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends will do just fine.

Shalom.

Please join in a modest act of evangelization – share this post with others if you feel so inclined.

Remember St. Francis’s dying words: “I have done what was mine to do; now you must do what is yours to do.”

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son …

Jn 3:16

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This is the starting point of Christian life – that God, out of pure love of us, came to us incarnate so we would cease to be alienated from the source and meaning of life – mortal and eternal.

Indeed, in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ we are offered this: all the things we do that divide us from God, and one another, can be overcome if we but believe and act on our beliefs.

In this, Christianity transforms us, makes us brothers and sisters and places our relationship with Him above all other things.  Such is the solidarity that God has created with us and the dignity His love of us proclaims for each person.  In this we are raised up, exalted as His children.

God’s love of us transfigures us, identifies our worth and calls us into our full being.  In this comes confidence, courage, tranquility, forgiveness, honor, humility, fellowship, unity, love of others.

This gift gives the primacy to God.  Yes, it is not man and government, nor commerce, nor power, nor politics, nor control, nor wealth, nor status, nor celebrity, nor possessions, nor gender, nor race, nor title, nor sexuality that comes first – but God and our identity as His children and our call to serve others, not self, as God serves us – that is who and why we are.

This is the foundation of a nation that possesses a Christian heritage.  This is a way of being that offers fellowship, community, family, unity – a nation of One – an indivisible nation, a family of many as One.

That said, where are the voices to reprimand the violent protestors?  Why no unifying voice from Mrs. Clinton?  Why the divisive intent of Ms. Stein’s recount?

Are we not in need of unification?  Cooperation?  Do we not face foreign adversity?  Domestic challenges?  The rise of hostile entities in the world?  Unsustainable deficits?  Unemployed people?  A sea of idle dependents?

Exalted by God’s great act of love, the silence of some and the divisiveness of others stands without condemnation.  What does God imagine in this?

Shalom.

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