I read a great article recently that was a summary of a lecture given by NY Times columnist Bret Stephens. He stated that “to say we disagree” are words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. His reasons for presenting this dialogue was due to his concern about the polarization that is taking place in our society and our country, stating that we are judging one another morally depending on where we stand politically. He contends that this is a moral threat to our nation’s welfare because our polarization is geographic, personal, electronic, and digital … based on different facts as seen through different environments and lenses. This divisive rhetoric can make our voices hoarser but rarely does it sharpen our thinking, much less change our minds. He would like to see the standards for a discussion or debate to have guidelines or principles to help overcome these obstacles. These would include: to listen and understand … to question and disagree … to treat no proposition as sacred and no objection as impious … to be willing to entertain unpopular ideas and to cultivate the habits of an open mind. Sounds reasonable but in reality it appears to be difficult. Maybe we should consider his statement that every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea. He concludes by saying that in the ART of disagreeing well, we should try to understand well, read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely, grant our adversary moral respect, give him/her the intellectual benefit of the doubt, have sympathy for his/her motives and participate emphatically with his/her line of reasoning and most importantly … allow for the possibility that we might yet be persuaded of what he/she has to say. Good stuff to ponder in our society of conflict and in my opinion, good principles of PEACE. PEACEBWU.com
Living in the country on a farm called Cotton Valley, there was a family of Ducks. Mother and Father Duck and their two children, Jay and Nancy B. Duck.
The Duck family was very content and happy. They swam and frolicked on their small pond, enjoying every day the gifts of fish and grass that were available and abundant.
Mother and Father Duck loved their children and were very involved with bringing them up in a safe and happy environment, from sun up until sun down, every day. Father Duck was a great role model for both children. He would spend many hours each day teaching Jay and Nancy B. Duck how to fly and keep out of danger. He and Mother Duck loved every second of the time they had with their family.
Jay Duck was the oldest Duck duckling and was extremely smart, learning all the lessons that he was taught. One day, he came to his mother and told her that he wanted to go out on his own into the world. His mother listened to him intently and told him that she would discuss this with his father.
That night, when the sun had gone down and the sky had grown dark, with a crescent moon and thousands of stars twinkling high above, Jay and Nancy B. Duck nestled in their nest with drooping eyes. Jay Duck could hear his parents quacking about him and his desire to go off on his own.
He heard his father tell Mother Duck, “I need to tell him … I really need to let him know.” He heard these words several times as his parents talked into the night. As he fell asleep, he could not help but to be curious about what Father Duck meant by saying that he needed to tell him something. What could it possibly be that his father needed to tell him?
The next morning as the sun began to rise over the small pond, Jay Duck opened his eyes and saw next to him Father Duck gazing down at him with his kind and caring eyes.
As he gradually began to wake, Father Duck placed his wing on Jay Duck’s head and started to quack. He began by telling him how very smart he thought Jay Duck was and how proud he was that he had learned everything that was taught to him. He told Jay Duck that he deserved to go off on his own and see the world. And then Father Duck said to his son, “I am telling you this but there is something else that I need for you to know. I am aware that you are growing up and that you might feel the urge to go out and learn and experience all that is out there beyond our home here at Cotton Valley. You deserve to have those experiences. But I need to tell you how much I will miss you when you leave. I will miss not seeing you swim and play in our pond. I will miss not seeing you soar in the sky. I will miss not seeing you become an expert fishing duck. I will miss not seeing you wake up every morning and going to bed every night. You need to know this, son … I will miss you very veery much.
Father Duck wrapped his wings around his son and squeezed him tightly as tears fell from his beak.
As Father Duck waddled away, Jay Duck tried to remember why he had ever wanted to leave this place called home.
There is one GOD
The GOD of Abraham … the Jews
The GOD of Ishmael … the Muslims
The GOD of Jesus Christ … the Christians
All the same GOD … ELOHIM … YAHWEH … ALLAH … JESUS
From the beginning, GOD has asked the people to …
Love GOD with all our hearts … with all our minds … and with all our souls
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and the Word was GOD.
Again, what does GOD ask?
Love your GOD with all your heart … all your mind … and all your soul.
AND … love your neighbor as you love yourself.
The very simple message from GOD is …
To love GOD and to appreciate all that GOD has created.
GOD has created everything … including humanity.
Every individual person is GOD’s creation.
What GOD has created … is from GOD.
Therefore, what GOD has created … GOD loves
GOD’s request is that humanity can acknowledge GOD’s absolute omnipotence and to love and appreciate GOD as the one and only GOD.
As such, GOD wants each human being to understand and appreciate that we all, individually, are loved by GOD. GOD created each of us and every one of us is unique and special to GOD. When we are capable of recognizing that GOD loves us … then we are asked to love all of GOD’s children in the same way.
When we do this … then and only then … we will live our lives without the need for human laws or rules. We will be governed by the love of GOD.
My eleven year old granddaughter will often tell me that I am a hypocrite. It is her way of saying that I might have said or done something that was contrary to what I had said or done before. An example might be when she has seen me get angry and say something inappropriate … she will repeat what I have told her on numerous occasions … “anyone who gets you mad … controls you.”
She is often right … I am a hypocrite and for me to write this is hypocritical because I am certain that I know what GOD is asking of me and the rest of humanity and yet I constantly fail to do what I know to be the will of GOD.
For me, the life and teachings of Jesus are clear and precise as to what GOD wants from me. It starts with the Greatest Commandment. Love GOD with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And then … go into the world and love your neighbor as yourself. All the other laws and rules are built in this foundation.
How can I deal with all the other rules … the Ten Commandments … or other things that Jesus tells me to do if I do not have the basic foundation in place? I can’t.
And here is why I am the biggest hypocrite of all … more so than most anyone I know. I am very clear about what the life and teachings of Jesus tells me to do and what GOD wants from me.
I will start with the most repeated admonition of Jesus in the Bible … “Do not be afraid”. My fears are a direct slap in the face of the Greatest Commandment. It says that I do not love GOD enough to respect HIS creation … I do not trust GOD. Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself”. To worry is to fear. I often worry about my family … my wife, my children … my grandchildren. I worry about money and being able to pay for my old age. I worry about my freedom and the future of the country I live in. I worry about the outcome of a Carolina basketball game. How ridiculous is that?
It is hard to misinterpret … “do not be afraid”. Do not be afraid of people who threaten the safety of my family. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Anyone who loves his father and mother more than me, anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39).
Why then am I afraid of terrorist? Why am I afraid of immigrants from Syria? Why do I even own a gun? Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who ask you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5: 39-42).What is hard to understand about this?
If I were able to get the basics right … the part about loving GOD … appreciating GOD and all that GOD has created … if I were able to be in absolute awe of GOD and the reality that GOD is beyond my capacity to understand or conceive of HIS love and grace … maybe then … I could begin to judge the flaws in the other humans that GOD created. BUT … Jesus says, “do not judge, or you too will be judged. Why do I see the faults of others when I cannot see the the same or worse faults in myself? I am a hypocrite … my granddaughter is absolutely right.
My fear comes from my lack of faith in a GOD who has all the answers and even knows all the questions before I can ask them. I have become calloused in my heart … in my soul and in my mind. I have lived to this point in my life where I have justified too many of my actions that were in direct conflict with what I know is the will of GOD. I have failed to recognize the omnipotence of GOD and to love all that GOD has created … most especially … my fellow man.
The message from GOD is this … I created you and all other humans and all of creation … I love you and all that I have created more than you have the capacity to understand … I can do whatever I choose … I choose to love you in spite of all your failures … that is MY gift … MY grace.
When I am able to find and accept the love and grace of GOD … I will find GOD. When I find GOD, I will not be afraid of the world. Instead, I will be humble, I will be compassionate, I will be tolerant … I will sell everything and follow the will of GOD.
BUT … even if I do not choose to find and accept the love and grace of GOD … GOD will get HIS way … GOD will find me and love me anyway.
I have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation many times during my life time. The message has been the same … Love GOD with all my heart … all my soul … and with all my mind. Love and appreciate all that GOD has created. Love my fellow man.
I am a hypocrite … I know it. I would like to be less of a hypocrite … not because of my granddaughter but because I would like to feel humble, I would like to be more compassionate, I would like to be tolerant, I would like to be less judgmental, I would like to have no fear. I would love to be engulfed and overwhelmed by the purity of GOD’s love and grace. And the beauty and the assurance is …that one day … I will be in those warm and loving arms of GOD. How great THOU art.
The message of PEACE starts with: Civility … Courtesy … Tolerance
This means that we try to allow others to voice opposing opinions without condemnation or judgement.
PEACE does not require us to agree with opinions that differ from our perspectives.
To be a person of PEACE requires great patience and understanding. It is hard work. Very few are capable of being good PEACE keepers at all times.
In our world today, where the range of opinions and political positions go from one extreme to another, it is easy to let our emotions overpower the rule of being civil to one another.
And when only one side is trying to be civil, it often seems impossible to see why civility is worth the effort.
BUT … if more of us try to understand our individual importance in conveying a message of PEACE … a message of Civility … Courtesy … Tolerance … maybe we can play a role in making our community and our world a better place.
None of us can be PEACE keepers all the time BUT we can get better at keeping the PEACE if we try.
The most frequently used phrase in the Bible is … “do NOT be afraid”. In the Old Testament, GOD tells us, “do not be afraid”. In the New Testament, Jesus constantly says, “do not be afraid”. Paul tells us, “do not be afraid”.
When Jesus was alive, His world was ruled by the Roman government. There was no democracy. There was no free speech. The Jews had no army, no militia. They were completely at the mercy of the Roman Empire and whoever was the ruler at the time. As seen by how Jesus was convicted and crucified, there was no justice. There was no fair play. Pontius Pilot could decide to condemn and punish without having any reason other than his sole discretion. This was the society in which Jesus walked the earth. And He told His followers, “do not be afraid”.
After the death of Jesus, the reason for the spread of what we now call Christianity, was not the words of the men and women who were believers in Jesus … it was their actions. They were not afraid. Stephen was not afraid to be stoned to death. Paul was not afraid of being thrown into prison and killed. Peter, the Rock of the faith, gave his life for Christ. The many martyrs of the early church who were tortured and killed for their belief and faith in Jesus … they were not afraid. Their actions are what convinced the world that Jesus was the Son of GOD … not the rhetoric.
In America today, many who profess to be Christians, are living in fear. They can justify their fear. There is so much to be afraid of when we have so much to protect. We fear for our wealth and our retirement. We fear for our children and their future. We fear for our own lives and the lives of those we love. We are afraid that we could lose our freedom. We fear poor health and growing old. We are not willing to admit it but we live our lives in constant fear. We fear the poor. We fear being poor. We fear terrorism.
The French government has said that it will continue to allow Syrian immigrants to come into France.
The husband of one victim has declared that he will not allow fear to win and encourages the world to love and pray for those who are responsible.
It is unfortunate that we fear the suicide bomber who has no fear.
I AM who I AM … I AM PEACE … DO NOT BE AFRAID.
Since the beginning of time, I have been revealing the same consistent message to humanity. I AM who I AM. Recognize who I AM and know that I AM the creator of everything and every human. Everything that I create is an original piece of art … every snowflake … every tree … every animal … every person. I have given humanity a special role in MY creation. I have implanted within every person … who I AM. There is no exception. You will know this when you die. No human who has ever existed in the past, present or future has the power to resist who I AM. MY time is without boundaries. I AM before time existed and I AM after all time has expired. I have chosen to give humanity everything but one thing. That is the capacity to comprehend and understand: INFINITY … ETERNITY … DEATH.
Since the very beginning of your existence, I have revealed my presence in and through the lives of MY creation. You have stories of men and women who have shared MY message. I have revealed to you through people who are perceived by many to be flawed in their humanity … Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, David, Ruth, Mary, Judas, Paul, Stephen, Constantine, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Smith, Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King. These are but the ones who are known to the masses. Every person that I have created is a messenger for who I AM and yet you often choose not to listen to who I AM and what I desire from each of you.
I ask that you acknowledge that I AM GOD. I created everything and everything that I created is MINE. I exist in all that I have made, therefore, all that I have created is good. If you choose not to acknowledge who I AM and choose to be afraid of ME and what I have created, then you are choosing to be absent from ME during your short human existence. The good news for you is that when your time ceases to be, MY time with you will continue for eternity. I AM who I AM.
To define the word PEACE is impossible because it has as many different meanings as there are people. An objective of this blog is to be a place where all of us can share what PEACE means to us individually. I am starting the ball rolling by giving my definition of the word PEACE. For me personally, PEACE is the realization and acceptance that our human differences … our sex … our physical attributes … our mental attributes … our religious beliefs and ideologies … are our greatest gift. By collectively acknowledging and accepting this definition of PEACE, humanity can manage and resolve all issues without the use of coercion, force or violence.
I keep giving you the answer … You keep flunking the test.
Give out HUGS to all you meet …
Helping … Us … Grow … Spiritually
Many years ago before America was a nation and there were not many people living in our country, Santa Clause was flying his sleigh from New York, down the eastern seaboard when a dense fog came off the Atlantic Ocean.
On this cold Christmas eve night, as he crossed over what is now the southern Virginia boarder, Santa could barely see and decided to stop before he had an accident. As the reindeer-driven sleigh descended in the heavy fog, Santa saw a dim light far below. As he came closer to the light, he thought is must be a large fire in an open field.
However, when he landed, he discovered that it was not a fire but a large tree that was made of bright lights. Sitting on a log next to this glowing tree was a small person, not three feet tall. He was dressed in tiny, doll like clothes, home spun from cotton and little wooden shoes carved from tree trunks that were pointed on the ends.
As Santa approached this small fellow, he asked, “who are you and how did you make this large tree light up this way?” The little guy replied, “Hello Santa. I am a elf and I have magical powers. I saw that you were in trouble, so I created this tree to guide you to safety in this dense fog.”
Santa was flabbergasted. “How did you know that I was in trouble?”, he asked. The elf seemed baffled and he repeated, “I am a elf and I have many special powers that are unique to only elves. Elves do not grow old. We can become as small as a mouse or as large as a house. We can be in many places at the same time and we can see danger in the future. These are only a few of the many magical powers that elves have.”
Santa took a step backwards and stared at this strange little fellow and bellowed with laughter. “Why, I can hardly believe what you are saying but it must be true. You saved me from certain disaster. I can not thank you enough.”
“But I still have a difficult situation on my hands”, he continued “and unless I can find a way to see though this dense fog, I will not be able to deliver my presents to the rest of the children in the world.”
The elf cocked his head and thought for a second. “I think that I might be able to help you”, he said. As he spoke, he began to skip around Santa’s sleigh with it’s team of reindeer and suddenly the little elf hopped up on the smallest reindeer’s head and asked Santa, “this one here, this reindeer with the bright nose, what is his name?”
“Rudolph”, Santa replied. “the other reindeer often make fun of him because of his funny nose.” With that, the elf gently tapped Rudolph on the head and BANG, all of a sudden: his nose became so bright that it lit up the whole sky.
Santa could not believe his eyes. Rudolph’s nose shone so bright, he would be able to drive through the densest fog with no difficulty. Santa was so pleased that he began to cry, “you are a very, very special elf indeed. Are there other elves like you?” “Yes”, replied the elf. “We are all around, unknown to most humans.”
Santa asked, “would you consider joining me and helping me prepare and deliver Christmas presents for children all over the world? Maybe you could recruit other elves to help also. There seems to be many more children every year and I can hardly manage to keep up with all the work.”
The elf thought only a moment before he shook his head with delight, “I would like that very much”, he said. So Santa climbed back into his sleigh, grabbing the elf by his little hand and pulling him on board. “What is your name?”, Santa asked.
The elf replied, “I do not have a name. I am just called elf.” Santa thought for a second and said, “you are very special and if you had not chosen to help me tonight, I would not have been able to deliver Christmas. You are a very special blessing to me. Would you mind if I called you BLESSING?” And with that, as the sleight began to rise in the sky, little BLESSING began to glow.