courage December 14, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
Socrates, Chin, Hammurabi, Abram, Moses, David, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Eric the Great, Charlemagne, Odo the Great, Elizabeth I, Peter the Great, Susan B Anthony, Clara Barton, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Annie Sullivan, Mother Teresa, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi, Sgt. Dakota Meyer. Every one of these individuals possesses a quality every person on earth must acquire— courage. In our present era we talk more about our rights than about our responsibilities; we are more concerned about bottom-lines than life-lines for others. We have become more a people of self-preservation than of self-sacrifice.
Self-protection and self-gratification are not, mind you, the definers of all of us; certainly not of those in the opening inventory. There are still some who put others before themselves. Why do they do this? They possess qualities that others deem weaknesses, or foolish. Qualities like, graciousness, forgiveness, humility, and courage. These qualities are not often rewarded in the civic arena. In fact, they go mostly unnoticed. Acts of kindness & courage are most often done in secret; actions which come to light only at a later date (if at all).
Amidst the stresses swirling about in our postModern/postChristian society it takes courage for many of us just to get out of bed to face another day. Things are not as simple as they once were. The smorgasbord of choices and decisions we must make every day— what to do with our time & priorities, our commitments, our financial restrictions, our emotional highs & lows, our energies & exhaustion, notwithstanding the ethical & moral dilemmas we encounter, are overwhelming.
Unless we each hold some guiding principles, some basic beliefs about life, faith, and trust in something (Someone) beyond ourselves, we will be quite confounded as to how to grapple with it all. You see, courage rests on a foundation of belief, which rests on a certain realties beyond individual mere self-preservation. Call it faith in God, belief in a “higher-power,” or even a “…if it is God’s will.” Courage rarely issues forth from a basis of superiority; rather, it arises from a sense of one’s own humility in the grand scheme of things, in believing that there are powerful forces at work in our world, that there is a greater plan in place, than my own puny little existence.
In the ancient Greek Temple of Apollo at Delphi, inscribed above the forecourt was the Socratic maxim— γνῶθι σεαυτόν. “Know thyself.” We would all do well to take a measure of ourselves within, before our fellow man (and women), and before the God who made us. For it is only from a true knowledge of who we truly are that true courage can take root and be called upon when the time is at hand.
Have a nice week,
prometheus December 6, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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The ancient Greek legend of Prometheus, one of the gods who sided with Zeus in the rebellion of the Titans, fascinates historians and art lovers to this day. The abridged version is that Prometheus was punished by Zeus for giving his creation, humans, fire, so that they would have a chance of survival in this newly created earth. Prometheus was chained to a rock on a high cliff where an eagle would eat out his intestines, stomach, liver, etc. every day into eternity. Then miraculously, Prometheus’ innards would grow back overnight, only to be devoured again once the following day. This was Prometheus’ punishment for disobedience.
In our era we dain to punish anyone for wrong-doing. (Excepting hardened criminals.) The very definition of “wrong-doing” is constantly in flux, as is any final word on right or wrong. Outside governmental, territorial, and local law there is little prescription to determine right from wrong, or good from evil. Those definers have given way to societal acceptability, majority rule, and the prevalent wave of moral opinion. How dare anyone judge my personal preferences in business practices, moral absolutes (or not), ethical decisions, or sexual/sexuality definitions!?! What’s true for me may not be true for you; but that doesn’t make it any less-true—for me.
Thus, in our homes, our schools, and in our courts, punishment comes in second to last, just short of the death penalty. This position stems from the belief that people are basically good. Given the choice between doing what it right for the good of the many, versus doing what is best for themselves, they will do what is best for society. Read any book on World History and you will come to a somewhat different conclusion. Punishment is just when it is rightfully deserved. The determiners of justice, in our society, are “a jury of our peers.” They are also our parents, our classmates, and those with whom share work responsibilities. Not measuring up is one thing; crossing the lines of trust and propriety are quite another.
When, throughout your life, have you deserved punishment for wrong-doing and did not receive it. If this happens enough you will come to believe that you can get away with anything. You cannot. Justice and Punishment always catch up. Believe it.
So why is it that a Holy God puts up with us!?! If any species on this planet has defied Him consistently, it is us. Why has the axe not fallen on our necks every day? What is He waiting for!?!
Not, mind you, without genuine remorse for deeds done— or left undone. Neither without a change of life, or at the least, the desire to live differently, more honorably, before God and men, with a sense of humbleness for our forgiveness.
So if you do not want to have your guts eating away at you day after day, or being gnawed on by a really large bird, maybe it’s time you owned up to the punishment you rightly deserve—and pray for the forgiveness you surely do not deserve. You might be surprised how ready other people, and God, are to set things right. You just have to do your part too.
Have a nice week,