Let us endeavour to live that when we
come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
Whether you think you can or whether
you think you can't, you're right!
Perhaps it's meant to be, or not to be. Sometimes it's just a test. Some tests determine if people will stubbornly continue despite having nothing more than wishful thinking on their side. If they let it go, then they pass the test. Other tests measure determination. If you succeed after putting in extra effort to show you're serious, then you pass. How can we tell if it's fate or some kind of test? That's the most important part of the test.
As civilizations develop, individuals start to specialize. Culture and social customs connect unrelated people who become increasingly interdependent.
Technology such as email, credit cards and telephones allows creating virtual neighborhoods that only include neighbors by choice. We can connect with others anywhere in the world. Money and the law become the primary means of interaction as personal connections weaken. Corporations are a worldwide community of stockholders and board members with few local ties. Less social interaction with those we depend on reduces the need to learn to get along and work things out. There's a tendency to want to be like people on TV rather than feeling like part of a local community.
As personal interactions and local ties become less necessary, we need to work harder to maintain them. At least once a week, do something from this list:
Becoming part of the big picture doesn't
make you smaller, it makes the picture bigger.
Many ideas grow better when transplanted
into another mind than in the one where they sprang up.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Learn from the mistakes of others - you
can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
We humans are sharers and learners. We add our own thoughts and creations to what we learn from parents, teachers, friends and mentors, and then pass our knowledge along to others. 30 years after the invention of the transistor, several manufacturers offered affordable home computers. The Internet and spam weren't far behind. The first space shuttle launch was less than 80 years after the Wright Brothers first flight. We can't all be rocket scientists or invent something as important as transistors, but we can enjoy the benefits and share in the accomplishments by understanding to the best of our ability. Anyone can climb onto the shoulders of a giant. Some offer their own contributions and others just enjoy the view.
Many people honor their heritage by passing on the traditions of their culture or society, like those endlessly circulating Christmas fruitcakes. Honoring your heritage doesn't mean never changing. Each tradition came from somewhere and took its place alongside earlier traditions. Our ancestors kept traditions because they served some purpose, even if that purpose is simply to remind us of someone or something from our past. As we sit on the giant of our own heritage, that giant can join others on the shoulders of an even larger giant. We can climb ever higher without leaving anything behind.
Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet
broke a chain or freed a human soul.
We can easily forgive a child who is
afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the
Many think of their beliefs and opinions as part of who they are, but what about the way they formed those beliefs and opinions? Before we were believing beings, we were beings capable of forming beliefs. The philosopher Descartes went so far as to doubt his very existence. He finally concluded that if he could doubt his existence, think about his doubt, and even doubt that he was thinking about doubt, then he must actually exist. He simplified his conclusion to, "I think, therefore I am." Before thinking about something you believe and how that belief is part of who you are, think about why you believe it.
Was there ever a time you believed something different? If so, what changed?
If you believe because someone told you to believe, would you change your mind if the same person now told you to believe the opposite?
If you believe because you "just know" it's true, what would you say to someone who "just knows" it's not true? How would you react if someone says the same thing to you?
If you believe it's true for you, could it be false for someone else? How could you tell if it's true for someone you just met? Is there a test for this belief?
If you believe because it's the only thing you know, how would you react to someone who knows more than you and believes differently?
If you evaluate various options and try to choose the best one, how do you react when you learn something new?
When people comment on your clothing, they're probably also thinking about your taste in clothes or the way you choose your clothes. The clothes themselves are just things that hang on your body and don't change who you are. The way you choose your clothes is a reflection of your personality. In the same way, why you believe and how you react to those who believe differently define you even more than what you believe.
Let him that would change the world,
first change himself!
Socrates (470BC - 399BC)
O would some power the gift to give us
to see ourselves as others see us.
Robert Burns (1759 1796)
Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 1910)
You must be the change you wish to see
in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)
We have met the enemy and he is
Pogo/Walt Kelly (19131973)
Ask not what your country can do for
you, do it for yourself.
Stewart Brand (b.1938)
Take care when giving advice. It might be given back.
Okum Taylor (b.1972)
Many people who've heard a foreign language encountered words in the other language that sound similar to words in English. The foreign words may sound familiar but could have very different meanings and the consequences can vary from humorous to catastrophic. If people have nothing else to go on, it's tempting to jump to conclusions based only on that little bit that seems familiar. We need to remind ourselves to slow down and ask questions before acting on something that may exist only in our imagination.
You may have played or heard of a game (sometimes called Telephone or Whispers) where people stand in a circle, someone whispers a message to the next person, and by the time the message gets around the circle, it's changed. As a message travels from our ears to our concious mind, it travels through various pathways controlled by our thoughts, feelings, knowledge, and past experiences. Some pathways are straight, others may have twists, bumps, trap doors or dead-ends. While traveling through an internal pathway, the message may change or part of the message may be trapped or erased. As we become aware of these pathways and observe messages passing through, we can learn to straighten out crooked pathways, seek shortcuts, and create new pathways. One way to explore our internal pathways is to observe ourselves thinking. This leads to a better understanding of our own thought process and the various associations we make.
As we explore our own pathways, we also learn how to listen and ask questions that help us understand the pathways of others. As we learn more about the pathways within ourselves and others, we learn to recognize actual needs, and how to separate those needs from strategies that we believe will help us meet those needs. We can learn to distinguish "feel-good" solutions from "do-good" solutions. We can share what's going inside of us in specific situations, and listen to what's going on inside others. If we catch ourselves wanting to jump in or interrupt with our own opinions, we can take that as a warning that we're focused on what's going on inside us rather than carefully listening to what's going on inside someone else.
If you not sure what the answer is, do you have some idea of what it's not? Either way, how would you decide whether to believe an answer you read somewhere?