“Везде, где есть корыто, там Вы найдете свиньи.” May 30, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of May 30, 2011
“Везде, где есть корыто, там Вы найдете свиньи.”
Considered to be the father of modern Russian literature and the foremost of Russian poets, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799 – 1837), wrote a novella in 1832 that was not published until 1841, after his death. Dubrovsky. Though a tragic love story of a young nobleman (Dubrovsky) whose land was confiscated by a greedy aristocrat (Troekurov), who then falls in love with the aristocrat’s lovely daughter, Masha, and then gets shot in a duel with her father…, and, oh, never mind. The point is that in his novella, Pushkin grants us a less-than-gracious commentary on contemporary society with— Везде, где есть корыто, там Вы найдете свиньи. Wherever there is a trough, there you will find pigs.
Sadly, this observation is blatantly apparent. It alludes to a world where prosperity abounds (aristocratic elitism); herein we find gentility, grace, refinement, philanthropy (to a point), and excessive amounts of money gathered together within the property of a small segment of population. Enter the pigs; those for whom enough is never enough; the greedy, ravenous, voracious predators whose appetite for more is insatiable. Such was the case in Pushkin’s era: such is the case in ours. It is observable from Wall Street speculators, to Hollywood’s wannabes. It pervades our pharmaceutical commerce down to our Welfare recipients. Where there is a trough… . Pigs.
When you were a kid what brought you delight? A bear, a doll, a new bat or magic star-wand? What satisfies you now? Granted, as we mature our desires mature alongside; but for many of us, we come to a point when our wants overtake our needs. We want everything, rationalizing that we truly need it. Hummm. Even so, in a society with an abundance of discretionary wealth expenses will ALWAYS rise to meet income. Pigs?
In every era throughout history there have been individuals who have forgone their station in life and chosen to do with less— Siddhārtha Gautama (the “awakened one,” the Buddha), Jesus (the “promised one,” the Christ), Charles Wesley, Mohandas Gandhi, Robert G. LeTourneau, Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, David Rockefeller— all lived/live on far less than life might have granted them. ALL gave away more then they needed to live, from Jesus’ fish to THE PLEDGE [the group of billionaires who have agreed to give away 50% of their personal wealth (
)]. But giving is not the exclusive business of billionaires. You and I have just as much responsibility to care for our world’s needy as do they.
The buck stops here.
Rather, the buck should start here. In these days of financial hardship for many, it should behoove us to give out of our poverty as much as others can give from their wealth (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4). We are none so poor as to lack a modicum of grace toward others. And it’s not just about the money.
There will always be Toughs aplenty that draw us to suck of their bounty. There will always be Pigs who will do so. But we can choose to do otherwise…, in every area of life.
Have a nice week,
distractions May 26, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of May 23, 2011
What keeps you from getting things done? For some, it is no less than life’s chronic interruptions-children crying, screaming, being teenagers. Illness. [Whoever finds the cures common cold should be knighted!] Piles of paper that needed your attention yesterday, last week…, last year. The basement, the attic, the lawn. Your relationship with your husband/wife, or parents/children. Wanting to be in a relationship: wanting to get out of one. Not enough money. Not enough time (a.k.a.- getting behind). Daydreaming. Fantasy games. Gaming…, and, of course, various addictions.
There is no end to the myriad of distractions that come assault us on a daily basis, preventing us from attending to the weightier matters of life. When I was a teenager I remember then Secretary of State Dean Rusk saying “A man without a singular over-riding purpose will waste his life doing important things.” His words have pressed upon me the critical nature of the passing of time. We all have the same amount; the question is what we do within its restrictions.
The issue here is not so much time’s management; rather, it is those things that distract us from accomplishing what we set out to do. Be sure that there will always be distractions. Some must be addressed immediately, but far fewer than we usually give in to. Pleasant distractions are the most appealing to follow. A sunny day, a simpler issue on my desk, a pleasant conversation with a co-worker. Difficult distractions-a criticism, a bodily injury, emotional turmoil, an accusation, or even a threat, are much harder to cast aside. They invade your mind and spirit and prevent you from clear, logical thinking, from being imaginative and creative, let alone being productive. These distractions dissipate soul, mind, and spirit. Some guidance-
1. Think about the distraction before you act. But DO act.
2. Resolve it as best you can as quickly as possible.
3. Accept guilt if it is warranted; seek reconciliation.
4. Leave accusation to the defense of God and others.
No…, wait. This is not about some logical/rational, practical series of steps to get back on track. This is a matter of the heart. If you are passionate about something, someone, your heart will drive you to commit the greater part of your energies to it. Distractions are anything that dissuades you from your passion. Distinguish them from responsibilities. Responsibilities must be part of your passion. Passion is often mistaken for what you want to do. To be sure it IS what you desire; but desire’s context is duty. DO what must be DONE: it is a indispensable component of passion. Distraction decreases with fewer variables on the table.
Oh yes, one more thing. Honor God; honor people: make a difference.
Have a nice week,
Truth troubles May 19, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of May 16, 2011
Ever since Immanuel Kant (1724—1804) laid the groundwork for the development of Phenomenology (dichotomizing Truth into upper and lower stories, subjective truth and objective truth) our world has been plagued by the false assumption that religious beliefs and moral choices are a matter of personal preference. This thinking expresses itself in today’s culture as “Well, as long as it works for you.” Which is tantamount to saying some truth is as capricious as personal whim or personality difference. One culture’s truth is no longer applicable to another’s. Thus has relativism overtaken us all to believe that much truth is a matter of individual rendering of reality. [Right now I’m praying the builders of this Airbus A380 didn’t believe that.]
But of course, they couldn’t believe that. Their Truth has a basis in real life. Thus, I must be mistaken—my Truth (beliefs) is not as valid as theirs as it rests in Kant’s upper story. You see the quandary we’ve created? Of course, we meet the same dilemma if we attempt to verify history. You weren’t there; I wasn’t there. The events were recorded and reported to us by media, online, or in ancient documents. How can we deem them reliable? Even scientific postulations beg some faith. The evidence seems to point to a Big Bang. Ok. But WHAT banged? Where did it come from? I wasn’t there; you weren’t there. It is as if science and religion coalesce as history traces itself back to that initial burst of energy. My best guess is that, as we move forward, we will be very surprised to find discovery and revelation once again come together.
Maybe it’s time we reconsidered the idea of Truth as one unified whole, as it actually is. Science hopes, one day, to be able to explain everything. Good luck with that. Religion may already offer explanations that boggle the mind. It’s called faith— trust in something beyond understanding that deserves our allegiance. The more we seek the God of Creation, the more we will discover the complexity of this Creation to be beyond science…, yet, someday, discoverable by science. Not a surprise. Jesus Christ, the surprise magician!
So whatever your belief, in science or faith, remember that they have been intrinsically entwined from the beginning. It is only our feeble minds that need the separation for the sake of understanding. Maybe it is not reconciliation between the two that is necessary. Maybe it is the humble admission that we have had it wrong for too long. TRUTH, all truth, is One. God’s Revelation and our Discovery are the rubric around which we need to wrap our minds and our hearts to make sense of this wondrous world of ours. Get to it.
Have a nice week,
It was a dark & stormy night… May 11, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
It was a dark & stormy night…
It was a dark & stormy night… .” So the mystery begins, drawing us into its furtive intrigue. For some of us reading such a mystery is an escape, an alternate realm wherein we leave our realities behind. For others, their lives are already dark & stormy; there is no solace in such an escape. Or so it seems. They need the exhaustion that extreme sports or exercise drains from their body. Still others carry their darkness & storms within, never finding relief or rest. Their souls are devoured in secret isolation.
There is an evil that lurks on the edges of all of our lives. For some, it creeps inside barely noticed; one day we awake to find it has taken over every aspect of our lives— our loving, our caring, giving, peacefulness, and sense of nobility. We succumb to this evil unwittingly, because it is so pervasive across our postChristian culture. At other times we cooperate with it wholeheartedly; giving sway seems the only way to survive in this shark infested economy, the only way to get ahead. We give over our integrity to this evil because it doesn’t seem to matter as much as our own need for self-preservation.
His raises some core questions about life— Upon what is my personal integrity based? How valuable is my own sense of nobility among men? How will I know evil when I see it? When those dark & stormy times come, what will I let go first? My faith? My ethics? My trustworthiness? Conversely, what principles will I never relinquish? These are NOT questions to raise in the midst of life’s twists & turns. They are issues to be settled well beforehand, when your soul is alive and your mind clear of corruption. For, of a surety, corruption will come upon you. How will you respond? Who will you Be in the muck and filth as it presses in on all sides? How will you maintain clarity within your heart and soul as depression sucks you down?
- Steel your soul through weekly (if not daily) times of silence, before God, and give your soul a rest.
- Give yourself over to those novels, those athletic challenges that bring you enervation & exhaustion.
- Serve your employer with integrity. Go beyond what is required of you.
- Allow people to love you. You were designed to be loved…, and to love.
- Consider getting ahead by empowering others.
- Re-evaluate the whole question of God. How well do you know Him? Has He given you any clues about who you are or who you need to Be in order to make a difference in this world?
- In writing, describe your own sense of nobility.
- FEAR is normal; get used to it. Get used to becoming a HERO, too. Rise to the occasion.
- FAILURE is also normal: get used to it. It is the context for successful humility.
- Never try to hide from God or your friends. Somehow, they will both know exactly what’s up.
In the long run how you walk through those dark & stormy nights will provide the context for your sunnier days.
Have a nice week,
Insignificant significance May 5, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
EmPulse for Week of May 2, 2011
A theme that continues to pop up both in counseling and business these days is that of significance. Am I significant? What does it mean to be significant? How will I know if I am significant? There seems to be an inherent fear of being insignificant in all of us. We dread living lives of mediocre existence, of humdrum sameness, of being no more than background noise in the grand symphony of life.
Yet few of us who live seemingly insignificant lives realize the significant roles we play in the journeys of those around us. Many years ago I gave a lecture at Middlebury College on the importance of blending ones scholarly worldview with everyday practicalities— like taking out the trash. Eight years later I ran into a successful businessman in Mad Martha’s Ice Cream on Martha’s Vineyard who reiterated the eight points of my talk back to me; and then he thanked me for changing the course of his life. I didn’t even remember speaking at Middlebury College, let alone what I had said. What I deemed an insignificant lecture was quite significant for someone else.
Often, what we consider an insignificant act is used by God as something of great significance. “God is in the details.” once said Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), a German born American architect. It’s the little things that one does in life that are the ultimate contribution. Only a few are designated to discover the great mysteries of our God. [And you may yet be one of them.]
But there is a flip side to this coin too. There are hundreds of thousands of people whom the leaders of our society deem insignificant. The “little people,” the hoi-polloi, the middle class, the lower class; the people who matter not a grain of salt until the next election. If you believe you fit into this category, do not disdain your status in life; for you are truly mistaken. You are higher than the rulers of this world. The little acts of kindness, your heart of forgiveness and graciousness, add to your measure more than anyone with the power to govern a nation with a hand of might. Do not think of yourself as insignificant, a stay-at-home-mom, or a dad working far below his educational level; you are giving to others what you can to the best of your ability. You are of little insignificance; you are, rather, quite significant, beyond what you imagine.
Life should not be about the pursuit of trophies. To be sure, in sports, trophies are appropriate, as are markers through rites-of-passage, and awards for great achievement (like graduating from elementary school or receiving the Nobel Prize). But our significance, no matter our station in life, should come within— from the humbling realization that whether we like it or not, we are mirror reflections of the God of the universe. This alone should elicit a desire in us to contribute to the significance of others. Is this what you are about? Is it part of your company’s ethos and core values? Does your church seek to serve those outside its walls or only the faithful? (We already have Country Clubs doing just that.)
Significance, like beauty, is found in the eye of the beholder. You cannot make yourself significant. You can only BE significant. Your significance lies within the core of your Being. Rest assured in that. What you DO may never be noticed; but it will never be insignificant. We are all made of greater stuff.
Have a nice week,