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Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.  (Emphasis added.)

Mother Teresa

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They placed Nikolas Cruz’s younger brother in a facility for a mental health evaluation.  He is 18 years old, Nikolas is 19.

You know the thumbnail story of their lives – given up for adoption, a history of personal difficulties, thoughts of fetal alcohol syndrome, poverty, adoption, living on the edge – a home life that required the police to respond to their house multiple times a year, a failed school life, being ostracized, rejected by peers, self-mutilation, despair, confusion, learning problems, thrown out of school, abandoned – left to their own destruction.

They say Parkland is a family town where people care for each other.  Hard to see that in Nikolas and his brother, in the way the school system took a very deprived kid and threw him our of school with no oversight or care.  Hard to see the good people of small town U.S.A. in a good light when we know these kids lived a variant of being unwanted all their lives.

Parkland was not too long ago a smaller town without the Yuppie homes with big rooms.  I gather from news reports that remnants of its earlier status might be known by the few trailers that still house some families.  One imagines a sharp contrast between what might have been a short time ago and what is now.

Nikolas and his brother are lost kids, kids who likely needed care – maternal, paternal, familial, adult care … who needed real institutional support and particularized education and preparation for adult life.  Like all of us as children: they needed stability – the loving consistent care of an able adult, encouragement, predictability at home and in their small childhood world – truth is they needed love and care more than the lessons of rejection, alienation, confusion, defeat, loneliness and despair which seems to have come their way over and over again.

The story of the Parkland tragedy is at its core a story about lost children – and specifically lost boys in a culture and time that them.  It is a story that indicts not those who are unwanted but rather those around them who took no care to shepherd these lost sheep.  Shame in this Lenten Season!!!

I know these kids, I might have been one but for a mother who cared and sacrificed, two uncles and a loving grandmother, a great aunt and uncle, kind neighbors and childhood friends who accepted me and are today (now 68 years) still my brothers and sisters.

I am quite honestly sick and tired of those I see in public life, in positions of authority – with some exceptions.  They’d be best to leave us alone – go off and experience the realities of a hard and precarious life that humbles you by having you ask of yourself as I did as a child: what will happen to me if my mother dies?

If we demonstrate anything daily, it is this – all the talking heads and celebrities, and politicians, entertainers, media folks and those in authority everywhere – those who lay claim to our attention … might want to stop (as we all might) and ask: Do I see the Lost Sheep?  And what do I do when I see them?

Shalom.

 

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A guy needs somebody to be near him.  A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.  Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s as he’s with you.  I tell ya, a guy gets lonely an’ he gets sick.

John Steinbeck, in Of Mice and Men

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Like many people yesterday and last night I watched television coverage of the Parkland, Florida high school murders.  Frankly, the most significant and most revolting aspect of this tragedy is simply this: no one – not one person – knew Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old student who committed these murders!

Most troubling: no school official seemed to know anything about a young men who was within their jurisdiction.  No teacher appeared to tell us who he was.  No school counselor appeared to tell us who he was.  The school principal never appeared at all.  Those who previously disciplined the student did not appear.

The police chief spoke – he could offer no personal information on the lad.  Not where he lived. Who were his parents.  Whether he had full or half-siblings.  How long he lived in the community.  Who he had known.  What he might have done in school.  What grade level he had been in.  How long he was in the school or the Parkland educational system.  Whether he has received psychological or counseling services through the school or benefited from medical or mental health or social services referrals.

This kid was an absolute stranger to these people.

Listening to the coverage – it was as if this fellow just appeared out of thin air.

The state “dignitaries” likewise knew nothing about this young man.  The Florida Governor was a blank sheet as to Nikolas Cruz.  Ditto the Florida Attorney General, the Parkland School Superintendent.  No one knew Nikolas Cruz – No one.

As you sit today and ponder what happened in Parkland, Florida, yesterday – there is one thing you can know for sure – those who had charge and care of student Nikolas Cruz did not care for him, did not know him … and in effect put him on course to these murders.

A gun did not kill these murdered students.  Oh noabject, inexcusable indifference of adults did.  Shame on those who failed this young person.

Let’s face the truth, Friends – we have become a culture devoid of intimacy.  Simple caring and acts of friendship are fewer – far fewer – than they once were.  And yet we fool ourselves while dividing ourselves into small self-centered and angry groups separated by race, politics, gender, sexual “preferences”, ethnicity … at the same time we shun God and those who believe in God.    

Indifference and those who are indifferent killed these high school students the very same way they killed Nikolas Cruz.

Some Ash Wednesday in the year 2018!!!  If we ever needed God, we need God now!!!

Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

Shalom.

The Aftermath.  One day after the Parkland tragedy and the hysteria commences: talk of mental illness without any indication that Mr. Cruz was ever diagnosed … and talk of banning guns … Yet, not any evidence of introspection.

It is always easiest to point blame away from ourselves.

Let’s be plain.  Parkland is a small town of 23,000 people.  Until the 2000-2010 it was a town of 8000 plus (according to Wikipedia).  The school was probably the largest government entity to have direct daily contact with its population.

Are we to assume that this small town threw a mentally impaired kid (without a family) out of school with no concern for what he might do or whom (including himself) he might hurt?  If so – forget mental illness and guns – these people need to focus on their conduct and responsibility. 

 

 

 

 

Computer Issue: Late Post Today

… words we have half digested are the distillations of great questions that must be faced if one is to live a serious life: reason-revelation, freedom-necessity, democracy-aristocracy, good-evil, body-soul, self-other, man-city, eternity-time, being-nothing.

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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This from a short chapter in Bloom’s book titled “Our Ignorance.”  The point that Dr. Bloom makes is that these couplets over the stretch of human history are the sorts of couplets to examine if one is to know what a life is, how communities are formed, how one might distinguish truth from what is false and come to insight, contentment, purpose, meaning and the like.

Good enough, to start.  Yes.

Bloom is telling us that words and their application over time convey vital lessons – carry wisdom from age to age and he is saying we have lost touch with these couplets and their value and are the worse for it.

In his discourse he shows how this decoupling manifest itself in the present age by focusing on the intimate desires that have heretofore been (throughout the ages) repressed but now set loose to our disadvantage.  Of course, he focuses on sexual desires and shows how the loss of stable points of reference such as the couplets he mentions leave us in a hideous and utterly disordered state as to our sexuality and its healthy and life-giving nature.

In a compelling short 13 page chapter he shows how being uncoupled for the collected wisdom and good health habits leave us unable to sort good from bad.

Today we see this in spades – Weinstein and the entertainment industry, Lauer and common media, the ravages of adult female teachers exploiting underage male students, killing of unborn children, the focus on body as all-important and political, assorted gender advocacy as the ground of all being, etc.

Bloom shows us how the abhorrent becomes normative to the un-doing of a formerly stable culture and its essential institutions like family and marriage.  This is America today – the uninformed promote disorder and produce destruction … 

I offer a case in point from today’s news.  It is reported in different news sources that a wealthy fellow in California who is active in Left politics employed a young black male “sex worker” and furnished the “worker” a drug injection which killed the young man.  According to the news accounts, not much has been done to hold the older man responsible for the death.

Reading this story I could not help but see that when standard modes of healthy living are abandoned and dark, ugly, sick, exploitive conduct is treated as normative – we lose the ability to see that a life was lost, another is being wasted, exploitation is a community standard in California, and intimate and sacred sexual expression between a man and a women has been bastardized, debauched.

Professor Allan Bloom is a pretty smart guy.  Your faith entrusts you with the good and just things in life.  As a faithful person – you’d better start claiming your sacred space lest we all be absolutely lost.

Have you not had enough of this destruction and decadence?

Shalom.

Short Post, Swollen Knee

… God speaks in the silence of our heart.

Mother Teresa

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For God to speak, we must listen.

I give you a short story.

A short numbers of years ago, when I was a vowed religious Brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross living at the University of Notre Dame, I said to my colleague and Dear Friend Br. Tom (a remarkable guy in so many ways), “Tom, you look like you need a break.  How about we take a road trip.”  (I often drove Tom on over-the road journeys and on them we had some of the most insightful and restful conversations.)

Tom took the bait and suggested that we go to see a very special exhibit of the terracotta Chinese Soldiers at the Indianapolis Children’s Art Museum.

Arriving before our chosen exhibit opened, we noticed there was an early morning one-person play in memory of Anne Frank.  Just right for us.

So we entered a small theatre in which there was a set that replicated the small attic room in which young Anne hid from the German Nazis who were intent on sending her and other Jews to labor or death camps.

The theatre lights dimmed with Tom and I sitting alone at center stage.  Then a petite, dark hair young girl walked on stage and paused in the stage light to speak eagerly.  Indeed, she was offering us the words Anne had recorded in her extraordinary diary of those months in hiding.

Her words were hopeful and candid, youthful and optimistic.

The young actress instantly transported us back to that time and its deadly peril.  Yet, our guide was full not of dread, but of vitality and spirit.

The one-act performance lasted about 30 minutes and our young, lovely guide exited.

Tom and I sat unmoving.  Our still silence seemed right.  Our Anne Frank had brought us to quiet tears, humbled us, caused us pause, regret for those lost … shame for what we do when God is rejected, dismissed … ignored.

In young Anne – in her truth, and courage, and spirit  – we heard God speak.

We exited in time without a word – waiting moments to speak so we might live in the sound of God’s voice.

… be still … and hear God speak … 

Shalom.

I would like to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.

John O’Donohue

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There is wisdom in what John O’Donohue says.  Indeed his words tell of our growth and mission in life, our divine identity – how we have been made to be.

A very smart and pleasant young doctor confided in me recently that he and his wife often wondered if they were doing enough with their skills to help others.  This, of course, is a wonderful way to think.  Their interest was to use their skills to help others.

Implicit in this desire is a proper and good orientation to life.  Their desire to serve registered with some urgency – they wanted not to waste a day in which they were not doing their best for others.

He asked my thoughts.

I offered him this: patience.  I assured him that life will unfold as it is intended and in the process he and his wife would know with a compelling certainty that there was a next step to which each would be called.  In what I said I was stating what O’Donohue has said, namely – be as the river and let life flow and in the flow unfold.

When you think about it – there can be no wisdom without a practiced patience and the peace and humility that patience brings.

The river does not get impatient, nor does it create its own sea into which it might flow.  Rather it merges with the circumstances of its path, the terrain it traverses.  Our life is no less river-like.

Yes, we can have a broad direction.  We can elect an orientation – to teach, to write, to paint, to build, to care for others or what have you.  But the details for our life await in life’s flow.  Our purpose is told to us over time, played out in time.

Yes, we know with reflection and life experience who we are.  This is a process that takes a lifetime – with definition being more refined as years pass.  But the key to the larger nature of our journey is to let the journey happen.  We are all on a sacred mission, called to be – and in this we must first of all relinquish command and let life happen to us.

Be as the river that flows and unfolds.

Shalom.

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.

 

 

Aging is no accident.  It is intended … we become more … of who we are simply by lasting into the years … the final years … the fulfillment and confirmation in one’s character.

James Hillman

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What if your life is a measure of your growth in character?  What if the opportunity you have to live this life is precisely so you may grow in character?  In understanding?  Wisdom?  Patience?  Kindness?  Confidence?  Empathy?  Compassion?  Insight?  Maturity?  Integration?  Mercy?  Courage?  Faith?  Humility?

What if Jim Hillman is right?

How have you treated aging?

In my lifetime I’ve seen us more and more neglect this question: what is it to be a human being?  During the same time we have traveled while neglecting the wisdom of the ages, the treasures of the classics, religious narrative?

Pause a minute.  Think about what your life actually is, what it might expect of you?

Pretty serious business.

Shalom.

 

You never have to change anything that you got up to write in the middle of the night.

Saul Bellows

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Live your life like you wrote it in the middle of the night.

Victor Davis Hanson tells a funny story about his wife.  Apparently she was watching Donald Trump the candidate on television.  For her it was a case of “first impression.”  She called to her husband to come see “this guy,”  He joined her and she asked something like this: “Listen to this guy – do you think he has any guilt in saying what he says?”  Mr. Hanson says, “No, none at all.”  Mrs. Hanson, a “middle of the roader” as to politics, says – “I think I could vote for this guy.”

Trump lives his life as if he got up in the middle of the night to write it.  Freedom.  The soul fully engaged, no self-deception – living what you got.

This scares the heck out of the programmed and the pretenders.  It is as if – unfamiliar with Truth – the imposters are confronted with reality – with what they have steadfastly ignored, and avoided.

When you think about it freedom is in sharp contrast to the figures we see in political life: the fearful, contrived, scripted, cranks, whack-jobs, the predatory heavy breathers, social climbers, the inbred sons of the wealthy, the wannabe’s and others seemingly washed ashore after some colossal hurricane to stand damp, disheveled, dazed and confused.

Leadership requires authenticity.  Those who lead are real.  Not ideologues.  No, they live what comes and make headway.  They are unperturbed.  They have not just seen the movie, they lived the movie.

Yes, there are good people in public life – but they connect with others because they write their story having gotten up in the middle of the night to do so.

Much of life is in the middle of the night.  Sleep not.  Freedom waits.

Indeed, how can those who are not free themselves lead a free people?  Most public figures today prefer you to be the sleep they are.  Ah, the night is so liberating – in its sacred quiet and moonlight.  It is not conquered, you know.

Shalom.

 

You are so hard on yourself.  Take a moment.  Sit back.  Marvel at your life: at the grief that softened you, at the heartache that wisened you, at the suffering that strengthened you.  Despite everything you still grow.  Be Proud.

Tibetan Wisdom

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Grief gives.  Heartache gives.  Suffering gives.

Gifts come in unexpected wrappings.  Receive the gift.  Live in the gift.  Breathe in the gift.  See the sky in the gift.  See the sun in the gift.  See the trees and the mountains in the gift.  See the sun and its shadows in the gift.  Feel the wind in the gift.  Touch your memories in the gift.

Never be captured by things less than God.  There is no daily confusion that surpasses eternity.

See the gifts.  Accept yourself – a child of God.  Smile at it all.  Be settled in what is reality not what is less.  What is temporal is only temporal.  What is Divide is Eternal.

See the gifts.  Life is a gift.  You are a gift.

See the gifts.

Shalom.

More Money for YOU!  Well this week you are getting more $$$ in your paycheck because of the Trump Tax Reform legislation.  Mind you, Democrats in the Congress opposed this legislation.  The message is plain: Democrats want more of your money for them, for bigger government, to give to others.  Progress?  Yes, we are ATM’s no more! 

Weasels and Liars.  Yesterday a dismissed former F.B.I. Director tweeted about “weasels” and “liars.”  Irony is interesting.  Introspection is essential – humility its product.

FISA Memo.  Will the release of the FISA memo spell the end of the Democrat Party?  One might think so given the energy its Party members are putting into fighting its release to the public.

… there is no real teacher who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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If you want to understand what has gone wrong in America you need understand that higher education (and now elementary and secondary education as well) proceeds without regard for the soul – nay, it repudiates the existence of the soul … and this proposition alone explains the hostility and idiocy of the American Left as it emerges in politics, media, entertainment, the press, the academy and even among religious institutions.

The question of course comes: can a society hold itself together without regard for the soul and all the harm that comes from its exclusion?

Look around, the evidence is quite clear – and the answer followers.  The answer is “No.”

You think I am wrong?  Look at families or shall I say the fragments of family.  The protection of child sacrifice.  The presence of sexual assault, child abuse, gang murders, mass shootings, avarice and greed, foul language, intergenerational public dependence, addictions, pornography, adulteries, public corruption as it emerges in our high offices – among the law-keepers and those charged with keeping us safe.

Look too at the greed of ex-Presidents and their spouses who must glorify themselves while filling their pockets with money and and their lives with fine possessions.  Contrast that with President Truman who carried his own luggage to the train station when he departed from the White House.

There is nary a moment in the news that does not say to us: we are soulless.

Universities are sadly and tragically disordered and corrupted.  Things must change.  Those who preach moral disorder must be ignored, challenged, discredited.  We have gone in the wrong direction for some time – and the destruction is widespread.

The restoration of belief and faith, and morality, and virtue, honesty and honor, and community, and fellowship, and family, and religious worship, and humility, and sacrifice, mutual and self-respect, civility and individuality responsibility is essential and immediate.

… there is no real human being who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Shalom.

Observation – When some men and women in the U.S. Congress sat on their fannies as others stood in shared respect of mothers and fathers whose teenage daughters were murdered by violent teen gang members –  we see the soulless … and we saw this in the recent State of the Union Address.  Shameful.

No one can govern who is soulless.  Pay no attention to the soulless except to rebuke them.

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