#JusJoJan Daily Prompt – Jan. 15th/17 – Mercy

This week I’m stepping back to read more of the wonderful posts by other bloggers. I plan to take a Time Out from politics and Donald Trump’s Inauguration. Here’s one post that moved me enough to want to re-blog.

Ladyleemanila

demolition-4

I guess it was anger that triggered it
Never knew the reason for tit for tat
The double assault with no mercy
There’s no way for us to flee

It was easy to say we were not the same types
People moan, grumble, groan and gripe
Fuelling the list of enemies or adversaries
Could we settle this and be friends?

Six days of never ending war
Smoke rising, wreckage charred
Where do we go from here?
Stop! I plead with a tear

mercy, mercy
I’m flawed
tired and weary of life’s struggles
I come to you for forgiveness
my Lord
have mercy
I plead

I’m nothing
without you
have mercy on me, my Lord
I’ve realised my mistakes, mercy, mercy
please do
what’s best
for me

forgive me
my sins
I promise to follow you, Lord
for without you, I am nothing
show me
the way
my Lord

For: #JusJoJan…

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Me in the Middle Looking for a Leader (Part 2)

free-leader-3

Pixabay

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This is the second post on what qualities make a good Leader.  The first ~ What Kind of Leadership is Needed for Our Time by Heather Plett ~ looked at Leaders as Host rather than Leaders as Heroes.
My good intentions have been not to get political on this blog.  I hope to explore these qualities without picking a particular candidate or bashing a particular candidate.  It seems the campaign season here in America has gotten way off track.  It’s become almost impossible to explore what Leadership means much less what kind of Leadership America needs at this time.
Today I’ve chosen a post by Arthur Rashapwww.promiseamericaindicator.com.   I’d love to hear what you think of Arthur’s definition of Winners or Losers and the qualities to look for in our Leaders.

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“Our society is replete today with a focus on winning. Rather than focusing on informing the public about positions, possibilities and programs, the candidates for public office (and the office holders once elected or appointed) seek attention and headlines by playing the game of personal invective and catering to their ‘fans.’ They make promises to attract contributions and votes, promises that they hope will get them to the “winner’s circle.” The media and the ‘reporters’ and pundits are obsessed with looking to see who “won” a debate, or who is winning their election ‘game’ as is predicted by the daily polls that get changed more often than the diaper of a six month old. We get a break-down of the supporters for the players in such games – which ends up creating substantial animosity between the groups.”

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free-winners-or-losers

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ARE WE WINNERS OR LOSERS?

  •  “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing”UCLA Bruins Football Coach Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders (not Vince Lombardi who did use this).
  • “It’s not that you won or lost, but how you played the game” – Grandland Rice.
  • The most important thing . . . is not winning but taking part”Pierre de Cubetin, Modern Olympic Creed.

Somewhere in the evolution of humans the concept of winning and losing – of being a winner or a loser – came into play. Think of the consequences of that concept: wars; slavery; sexism; discrimination of all kinds; the great disparity in income and assets; power being lodged in the hands of a few; ageism, and on and on.

There have been societies where the concept of equality reigns. There are societies where humans regard themselves as just being a part of the overall ecosystem with all living things support each other. The societies in today’s world have been largely minimized by “progress” and the taming and exploitation of the environment for those at the top of the food chain – we the modern day humans.

The underpinnings of religion aren’t involved with winners and losers: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Don’t beat them into the ground and exploit them for your own benefit. The examples set by those who have been the founders and acknowledged leaders of religions and spiritual movements – the way they lived their lives – demonstrated that they honored and helped all peoples, not singling out winners and losers. The sermons delivered weekly to congregations by their religious leaders ring high and mighty about being kind, generous, live simply– and how to live our lives according to these words is too often left in the sanctuary as the congregants file out.

Powell Davis, a prolific author of theological books and sermon collections, who came to national prominence in the U.S. through his liberal activism advocating civil rights for African-Americans and women and ethical stands against post-war nuclear proliferation and the methods employed by the American government during the era of McCarthyism, noted in this vein: “So far as I can see, all the great leaders—and the great exemplars of religion—possessed faith in life’s essence, in its hidden meaning, in its moral claim, and in the rightness of its inner spiritual guidance. And by this the great ones lived their lives. So must we. There are no problems greater than our power to solve them. There are no burdens greater than our strength. We shape—by every moment of our lives—the great decisions. Then let us venture still!”

Our society is replete today with a focus on winning. Rather than focusing on informing the public about positions, possibilities and programs, the candidates for public office (and the office holders once elected or appointed) seek attention and headlines by playing the game of personal invective and catering to their ‘fans.’ They make promises to attract contributions and votes, promises that they hope will get them to the “winner’s circle.” The media and the ‘reporters’ and pundits are obsessed with looking to see who “won” a debate, or who is winning their election ‘game’ as is predicted by the daily polls that get changed more often than the diaper of a six month old. We get a break-down of the supporters for the players in such games – which ends up creating substantial animosity between the groups.

And, isn’t all of this mostly a narcissistic ploy with one object – to be a winner, and leave all the others behind! So, look in the mirror, look to your left and your right, look around at all those who people your life, understand who is supporting the standard raised that our goal in life, our goal from the time we are old enough to go out and kick a ball, is to be a winner. That part of us – our ego – whose prime purpose is to provide protection so we don’t step off the curb and get hit by a bus wants to ‘win’ the game of who is in control of ‘us.’ It thrives and grows with all the accouterments of being a winner and does its best to take over to drive toward that goal and result.

Substantial awards – monetary for those who are “professionals” – are awarded to winners. Those players who are playing the infinite game, who complement their opponents, who are courteous and caring, who are observed doing the best that they can do in their current human condition, fall mostly in the category of “losers.”

What would happen if games were played in the context that they are all – in the end – part of the “Game of Life.” We are in it to play, to perpetuate the game, to do the best we can at the level of being part of the “ONE” of all life?

We are told that those who kill more of their enemies than the other side become ‘winners.’ This last century, there were well over 100 wars and many more than that number of conflicts that involved loss of life let alone damage to property and the environment. That then results in lots of “losers” – particularly in contests where there are one or several winners and many more non-winners or losers. Our views and rhetoric in politics, in sports, in relationships – in pretty much everything we ‘do’ are structured (too often) by this concept of winners and losers.

I would like to lift up the concepts advanced by James P. Carse, in a little book published in 1986 entitled: Finite and Infinite Games. His Chapter 1: “There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the game. Carse, who was a Professor of Religion at New York University and winner of the University’s Great Teacher Award, concludes the book in Chapter 100: “Infinite players are not serious actors in any story, but the joyful poets of a story that continues to originate what they cannot finish.” Then there is Chapter 101: “THERE IS BUT ONE INFINITE GAME.”

If, indeed, “We the People” are interconnected and understand that we are all part of the same gift of life and all are here to share and preserve the gifts we have been given and that one of our obligations and/or opportunities is to help advance the quality of life – life for all, – then it would seem that playing each and all games as if each and all were in and playing the Game of Life, with the understanding that the ‘bottom line’ of the game – whatever it may be – is to play and do the best you can do at that time and at that place.

If, because of our history, our education,

If, because of our DNA and evolutionary impulse,

If, because it does feel good to be declared special,

If, because to be heard and have our ideas for the greater good advanced,

If, because it is valuable to have our egos satisfied,

If we are willing to sacrifice much of what exists on this planet and perhaps elsewhere –

Then keep playing the finite game.

But how about taking a step back, opening your mind, heart and soul . . . and reprogramming to play the infinite game? Go on, it really is fun.

 Arthur Rashap

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The Power of the Dream

Reblogging ~King for a Day!

The other day I was stopped at a red light while on my way home and noticed a man standing on the corner with a sign.  This is becoming more of an everyday experience and we all respond in whatever way we believe will help.  This time I watched as drivers, one after another, stopped in traffic to give this man money instead of hastily taking off once the light turned green.  Homelessness is getting worse and this just shouldn’t be.  The everyday good souls get this! It’s like we’re all invisible and not being heard.  ‘Interesting how we, the ordinary people can see it, but the politicians can’t’

Then I came home and read this great post by The Happy Quitter.  It would be so good if we could see more and more of the changes she would like to see.

Then one of my Facebook friends, my niece, posted a YouTube Video which was written, produced and filmed by her son and other young people in a summer program recently.  It can be done and it’s great to see young people looking for positive solutions that can bring about change.

Let’s Talk Trash 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTqRnuVMoHA&feature=share

 

Here’s The Happy Quitter’s post ~ KING FOR A DAY

I hope you’ll follow the link to her website

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The happy Quitter!

queen-for-a-day

Being an emperor or an empress for a day, think about all the wonderful things one could do -all the rules and regulation one could change. I would make radical changes, changes that might even anger a few. 

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Me In The Middle Sharing Life Stories

014 - The Ocean

On May  12th I posted This Invitation to Guest Bloggers welcoming anyone who feels inspired to share a story about their life that gives inspiration and hope to the rest of us along this journey of life.  Some have already shown interest and I’m looking forward to reading and sharing what they write.  You can add your interest and desire to join us by adding your comment at the bottom of the Invitations post (HERE)

Here’s one of my sharing-of-life-stories.  It’s about 1,900 words.  Anything under 2,000 words is a good length for the Guest Blogger post.  Hope to hear from you!  🙂  

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When I was growing up, family meant to me a strong sense of belonging.  We were secured tightly in the certainty and pride of our town, our church and our country.  That was during the forties and fifties when families could find comfort in the knowledge that they were surrounded by the shared values of the wider community.

I was the middle child and the first daughter among five children, and I felt safe going about my life, navigating around my town.  When I returned home, our mother was always there for us and our father traveled to and from NYC working at the New York Herald Tribune.  Our routines rarely changed: Mass on Sundays; three meals a day at the same time each day when we were all home; and holidays celebrated in the same way each year.  There was very little lively debate on the current events of our country, and mealtime was usually spent listening to Mom who tried to keep the tone of the conversation positive and upbeat.  She was also the one who took the time to point out to her children the wonderful gift that the natural world provided us.  She stopped to point out and pass on knowledge about nature.  Our own backyard provided plenty of lessons about the miracles in nature.   There were many trips to the county parks, and nearby lakes and beaches.  I’d enjoyed exploring the waters, woods and beaches searching for shells, crayfish, frogs, fish and turtles with my brother.  There were lots of books in our home for learning about the natural world.

My first stirrings of political awareness showed up when we went to a campaign rally at the Teaneck Armory in NJ for John F. Kennedy who was running for President against Richard M. Nixon.  Standing outside in the massive crowd waiting for him to arrive, my sister and I came up with a chant:  “Jack be nimble. Jack be quick.  Jack’s the one whose gonna beat Dick.”  Our family was proud of the Democratic Party that was going to work towards electing the first Catholic President.

Family togetherness was a lot more challenging when I was in my 20’s and 30’s.    Although I did strive to maintain the routines of holidays and the continuity of tradition within my own family, our lives were affected by the outside social fabric that was unraveling.  The certainty and safety that was the theme of the fifties shifted through the unknowns and the upheavals of the sixties.  The swift changes within church and community, along with the questions raised by the horrors of the Vietnam War and the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy shook the foundations of our belief in an unshakable country.  The sexual revolution swirled around the family unit and there was open debate on long-held beliefs about family, church and country.  These were the headwinds that blew through my own life and that of my family.

I continued, in the true spirit of the middle child, to seek the middle ground as these outside forces played against the economic realities of the 70’s and the challenges of raising a large family.  A sense of belonging was created by my creating a flexible team spirit and planning family events that brought us together.  I was able to pass on the lessons my mother taught me to my own children, especially the wonder of our natural environment as a source of comfort and refreshment.

During those uncertain times many marriages ended in divorce.  That trend has continued and increased.  When my marriage joined the statistics, I (a homemaker with no college education) became the sole provider and nurturer of my five sons, ages 16 down to 5 years old.  It was a time of hardship and heartache when we lost our home and a steady income, as well as the spouse and father we had thought was there for us.  Though I didn’t actually feel it at the time, I promised my sons that we were going to make it through O.K.  In reality, our life was becoming a classic case for crisis intervention with no clear answers in sight.

My birth family lived a distance away from my home in Upstate New York and, as the political scene continued to unfold through those turbulent years, what was once our family’s political party of the Democrats shifted to the “certainty” of the conservative Republican Party ….. These shifters being dubbed “Reagan Democrats”.

My reality, and immediate focus, was on the urgency of meeting the basic needs of me and my family.  What was happening in the political scene was not even on the fringes of my awareness or interest other than fleeting images on the news.   In a new area for only a year, without any friends and family, I continued to plod through the trenches of what was real for us.  While I was seeking a means to house, feed and clothe my family, the political and social climate continued to wrestle with the opposing extremes of how family, church and country fit into the changing scheme of things.

This was a very lonely and isolating time for my sons and me.  I found it very difficult to share the severity of my own situation with my family.  When I would try I felt it was too disturbing for them to hear and that I was expected to deal with things on my own with strength and faith.  When your burdens grow heavy, ask God for strength…. And I did.  Each had their own hardships and realities, and I found it less conflicting to not talk much about it with them and just do what I had to do.   I was emotionally drained and overwhelmed with the upheaval that had become our lives.

At the time, I hadn’t even considered the political ideology playing out within my own family during the Reagan years, pitting welfare assistance and social issues against the re-building of America into the Shining City upon the Hill.  I felt that our life had become an altered state of existence residing invisibly alongside the lives of people going about the normal daily routines.

Family has always meant to me the realization that people care about you and are there for you through good and bad times.  It’s a complex mix of people and experiences that join us together in a strong circle of respect and love.  Family is, for me, not limited to having identical beliefs about family, church and country.  It’s more about sharing a belief and faith that somehow we’ll all make it through together.

And yes, my sons and I did make it through to a safer place, a stronger place.  I can embrace each one of them and truly say, “I respect you for the man you’ve become.”  They are each living lives that have evolved from their own convictions.  One son chose a career in law enforcement and lives with his family in Arizona.  Another son, a cardiologist, lives here in Virginia with his family  Two of my sons are teachers, one lives with his family in Brooklyn teaching art to elementary and middle school students and one who moved to the Middle East with his family to teach English to Arab-speaking students.  And another son has pursued his grandfather’s and uncle’s love for journalism while enjoying the physical labor of carpentry and landscaping.

Given the history of my experiences I’m no longer able to adhere to any absolute position on family, church or country.  I want to meet people where they are in life and accept that this is where their life has brought them.  My love of family, church and country has brought me to a place where I can recognize the flaws as well as the strengths within these very human institutions.  I hope for unity, but no longer expect it.  True to my middle child, common ground nature, I remain an undeclared moderate voter, who has seen conservatives, liberals, republicans and democrats all do very stupid things.  Today some say that John F. Kennedy would be a conservative republican.  I say, considering the lives and views of his wife, daughter and son who built their views on his legacy, he would most likely be a moderate like me.  My birth family is divided into conservative republicans, a green republican, me in the middle, and my oldest brother, a self-described “tree-hugging liberal” who speaks from life-long environmental experience.  Each of us seeks a better world for our children and grandchildren though we passionately disagree on how to achieve it and what that world will look like.  All of us share a deep, abiding love of nature and the wonderful world God has given us.  Though the levels of our role in preserving these gifts may differ, hopefully, we can escape the polarizing and hostile political climate of today and learn from each other’s experiences, hopes and visions.   In families, as well as political systems, there’s always room for compromise.

Family means sticking together while listening to and respecting each other’s hopes and fears.  It works best when everyone comes together.  It means shared sacrifice, shared struggle, as well as shared plenty and shared joys.  It’s not always easy to respect another’s personal boundaries and their own knowledge of what’s best for them while, at the same time, standing ready to advise and guide them when the need is there.

Family is where you arrive at the end of the road, literally and figuratively.  It can be one person or many people.  It can be physical or spiritual.  Sometimes family means putting aside what we want, and taking hold of what needs to be done in order to survive.  Sometimes it means asking others to share in the burdens of a common family need.  Family provides the best cushion an individual can have as he or she travels through life’s complexities.  All this needs nurturing, it needs educating, and it needs the support and guidance of church and country.

While I have had doubts and questions along the way, I’ve continued to believe in a God at the core of it all who is nudging me forward with the messages “This too shall pass” and “I am always with you”, along with the hope that we’ll all make it through.

Are we, as individuals and families, at the effect of what is going on in the greater world?  Yes and no!  We always have a choice.  Yet social and political movements can, and do, move us along and pull us into the mainstream of what’s going on in the greater world.  There’s no doubt that choices and decisions made can set us off down a new path, inspired by the times, and without clear outcomes in sight.  Salient risks?   What’s taking place in the public realm at a given period in time can effect and transform the private worlds of those living during that time.  The trick is to know when to hold firm to a foundation and when to move forward and take that risk, weighing how the possible effects of that risk could affect those around you.

The changes I’ve seen through my life, the bad times and the good times, have convinced me that God is not a conservative nor a liberal, not a republican or a democrat.  God is family, who loves us all and is always with us.

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Wells State Park

On May 12th I posted An Invitation to Guest Bloggers.  This is my sharing of an ‘Arrival’ story where I’ve reached a point in my life of acceptance, peace and contentment.  It’s a bit longer than I usually post (around 1,900 words).  

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Me in the Middle of Thinking SPRING!

Spring at MonticelloWatercolor and Ink pen sketch of a view at Monticello ~ Home of Thomas Jefferson

(c)  Mary Lou Q

I have been in the enjoiment of our delicious spring. the soft genial temperature of the season, just above the want of fire, enlivened by the reanimation of birds, flowers, the fields, forests & gardens, has been truly delightful & continues to be so … indeed my experience of the different parts of America convinces me that these mountains are the Eden of the US. for soil, climate, navigation & health.”  (Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Volney)

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Thinking about Spring starts me planning my next visit to Monticello, the Home of Thomas Jefferson.  Everything comes alive on the Mountaintop and seems to say that , just like Spring is a sign of Hope and New Life, so is Monticello a sign of Hope and New Life for our country.  Thomas Jefferson was a complex man and my favorite president.  Everyone seems to claim him for their political agenda yet he doesn’t quite fit the mold of labels.  He thought freely and with vision, and because of him and those who set our country on this great adventure we’ve continued to endure.  Monticello is a reminder of this for me. Continue reading