I came in to work early that Tuesday morning, and even jokingly said to my friends “hey, today is 911; I hope nothing bad happens!”
Yes, that actually happened.
Soon afterwards, another co-worker came in and said he’d heard on the radio that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers, and it didn’t look like an accident. We turned on a TV, and proceeded to watch in shock and horror as the second plane hit; soon after that we closed the office and went home, since we honestly didn’t know if it was world war 3 breaking out.
I went home and proceeded to watch hours of live news, and like so many I was filled with anger and thoughts of revenge. I remember then President George W. Bush giving the best speech he ever did, about how we’d find the people who hurt us and bring them to justice.
I saw the whole world gather in compassion and solidarity for one shining moment, and collectively mourn the loss of 3,000 lives.
And then, it all changed.
First, the story of what happened began to change: I heard the live reports saying they could still hear secondary explosions going off inside the towers before they collapsed, but soon that was buried. I heard them say the Air Force had shot down flight 93 over Pennsylvania, only to hear the story change to passengers fighting back took the plane down. I saw the United States having a mission and mandate to go into Afghanistan and get the people responsible mutate into an attack on Iraq and a war against Islam.
Initially, my response was to go very deep down the conspiracy theory hole; and see my own confidence in our country evaporate with the global good will we’d enjoyed. I saw us go from innocent victims to would be world conquerors.
Ten years later, I see things much differently.
I largely gave up the conspiracy theory approach. The full story of what happened that day was never revealed, and probably never will be; obsessing over it now was nothing more than a recipe for paranoia bordering on insanity.
The philosopher George Santayana defines fanaticism as "redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim", and I think that has happened to many of us. Did you notice how little impact the killing of Osama Bin Laden seemed to have on the American people, when that goal was what started the ‘war on terror’ in the first place?
And more than that, how can you have a war on terror in the first place? Terrorism is an idea, and you can’t kill an idea. Post 9/11 we went from Al-Qaeda as our enemies, to Afghanistan, to Iraq, to ‘terror’ with a heavy implication that the religion of Islam is the enemy of the United States.
How is that even possible? How can a belief system be the enemy of a sovereign nation?
I was recently listening to a Christian radio station, and they were promoting a conference called ‘confronting the Muslim menace’, and I found myself yelling at the radio what a bad idea that was. I must have missed in the Bible where Jesus was preaching the ‘confronting the Gentile menace’ sermon!
The reason why that is, is the same as the number one lesson I took from September 11, 2001: we can’t counter hate with hate, or ignorance with ignorance.
Let me be clear, I recognize there are times that an armed response is appropriate, and I truly give thanks to all the men and women who risk their lives to defend us. But more importantly than that, I wish they didn’t have to risk their lives for this conflict.
Through a combination of corporate greed and political rhetoric, this ‘war on terror’ has the makings of a conflict that never ends. Remember, killing Bin Laden had NO EFFECT on it; and every time this conflict kills an innocent victim, or causes people to suffer, all we are doing is planting the seeds for the next generation of people who hate us and want to hurt us.
So here is what I suggest: forgiveness. Give up whatever anger you still feel in your heart for what happened that Tuesday morning, 10 years ago. Especially if you consider yourself to be a Christian person; forgiveness is the foundation of the faith. And if people who claim to believe there is a higher order to the world, and worship the same God can’t find a way to get along (and Allah is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob), then what hope is there for everyone else?
Christians and Muslims are not enemies. Americans and Arabs are not enemies.
There are unquestionably people in this world who don't want peace, but if we are consistently operating out of a place of love, then their message of hate will fall on deaf ears, and the seed of terrorism will not find a place to grow.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those we lost on September 11, 2001 and every day since. But let us honor their sacrifice by arming ourselves with knowledge and understanding, so that something like this can never happen again.
I did a short video here to thank everyone for voting to make me the next featured blogger for Beliefnet in the Hope & Inspiriation category!
In it I explain a few things:
*Why you are NOT damaged, broken, or flawed *How to get over anything that is bothering you *How to help people and give advice *And one more time: thanks for everyone who voted for me to become the next featured blogger with Beliefnet!
I look forward to taking the next step in our journey together!
Question submitted via Formspring: “I was watching your video clip 'Tainted love' & EVERYTHING you were speaking of is me. I am in a relationship with a man who cheats lies & really is a hypocrite. But still I stay. I recently figured out that 'love' is not enough. I totally agree with you. I tried to tell him that his response was 'love conquers all' I disagree. I've even gotten to the point of telling him not to love me anymore but to just CARE about me & how his bull makes me feel. My question to you is: I know he's no good, I know I could never trust him, I know when I look at him & we are speaking to each other I'm questioning every sentence...why am I afraid to leave? Why do I feel bad for this 'man'? Why do I feel if I let go I'm going to miss out on something? I honestly think I'm going crazy.”
Well, there is good news, and there is bad news: The good news is, you aren’t going crazy. The bad news is you are going sane in a crazy situation! Let’s review: 1. You can never trust him (a problem) 2. When you talk, you are questioning everything (no communication == no relationship) 3. He is ‘no good’ and has shown no real interest in changing.
If you look at it from his perspective, why *should* he change? So far, he does whatever he wants and you accept it; so what’s his motivation to stop?
So, to answer your question as to why you are afraid to leave: the answer is simple, but it’s not easy. The reason why you are afraid to leave is that *you don’t really believe you deserve better*.
Something inside of you has chosen that you deserve to be treated this way, or at least don’t really deserve to be treated better.
Look back at your past relationships is this a pattern that has repeated? Choosing bad guys, and / or driving the ‘good’ guys away…maybe because they were “too nice”?
Maybe when you were growing up your dad, or another important male in your life treated you or even your mother this way-or wasn’t around at all-and you learned at an early age that this sort of neglect and disrespect is what ‘love’ looked like, and you’ve been playing it out ever since.
Unfortunately, even though being able to see this pattern means you can change it, it doesn’t mean it is going to be easy. In fact, it’s probably going to be hard as hell! You have a lifetime’s worth of living into this self-image, and it will take time to start to truly love yourself, and realize you don’t have to put up with this sort of treatment.
At some point, you’ll have to decide enough is enough and leave. You’ll be sad, but don’t go back; you’ll miss him, but don’t go back; he’ll beg and possibly even change a little bit for a little while; but DON’T GO BACK.
Remember, words lie but actions tell the truth. It doesn’t matter what he says, he clearly doesn’t believe you deserve better…do you?
Every moment of love and attention you are giving to him is love and attention you are taking away from yourself.
The answer to this one is a complicated one, since there is a cultural / religious answer, and a biological / practical answer.
A lot of controversy has been caused by citing the 'one man, one woman' Biblical definition of marriage in relation to gay marriage. The problem, however, is the Bible has several incidents of polygamy (one man marrying / sleeping with multiple women, such as: In Exodus 21:10, a man can marry an infinite amount of women as long as he provides for them equally; Islam has a similar rule with a maximum of four wives.
In 2 Samuel 5:13; 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3, King David had six wives and numerous concubines.
In 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
In 2 Chronicles 11:21, King Solomon's son Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines.
In Deuteronomy 21:15 "If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons...."
Jacob married both Leah and Rachel, etc. So, while there are certainly counter points to every point of view, a universal 'biblical' definition of marriage doesn't really exist.
As an aside, if you want to know more about what the Bible does and does not say about polygamy in the Old and New Testaments, click here. The article is more than a little biased, but it's an interesting overview nonetheless.
The second answer is it's our nature to settle down with one person, but in reality that isn't really true, either. Very few primates mate with one partner for life (and we are primates). In the vacuum of cultural pressures, monogamy isn't really in our nature. An explanation for this is the 'cheap sperm' theory that one man can conceivably impregnate multiple women, but a woman can only be pregnant by one man at a time. This means that women are innately more valuable to a community then men are, but that one man can 'service' far more women. Look at how a group of gorillas or even elephants live for an example.
If, then, marriage is not necessarily 'Divinely Ordained', and doesn't even really make sense biologically, why do we do it?
First, it makes a ton of sense culturally. Especially in the early days of Humanity when we lived in wandering groups; swapping children to create an extended family by marriage created larger and stronger family groups (and led to the creation of 'civilization'). It also helps spread DNA and strengthen resistance against illness and genetic defects. And, it (arguably) reduces conflicts between males for available females.
Now, doesn't that all sound romantic???
OK, here are the emotional reasons for marriage: If you love someone, and want to spend the rest of your life together, then by all means stand in front of God and men and declare it (I did).
And men and women represent two halves of a whole; that while complete apart can unite to become something greater. It's true that a bad relationship will make everything in life harder, but a good relationship is like a rocket booster on your goals. Two people united in love and trust will accomplish more and go farther both spiritually and materially than any one person alone.
So what's the 'purpose' of marriage? There isn't one, besides the choice to do it.
If you both want to do it, do it. If you don't want to, don't. Be careful, though, about people who don't want to do it because they are afraid of commitment, or are just waiting for something better to come along! Getting married doesn't mean s/he is never going to leave!
As for when is a good time to get married, I suggest between 25 and 28. 25 is a little towards the young end of the spectrum; I got married at 25 but I'd done a LOT of living and seen the world by then. 28 is moving towards the older end, since ideally you'll be married for a year or two before you have children, and by 30 her body will start to betray her by *demanding* children!
Under no circumstances get married at 18, or even 22 or 23. There are people who do this and it works for them; but for the most part you will change so radically during those years that you'll wake up one day and not know each other. Honestly, what's the rush? If you're in love, it will last until 25; and if you are concerned about getting married so you can have sex, I'm not sure God really cares
So there you have it: there's no compelling religious reason, and not even a really compelling social reason (no matter what your mom might say). But, if you find that special someone who you can love, support, and respect; and who is going to love, support, and respect you as you climb the mountain of life together, do it.
“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.” -Socrates
Psalms 35 is a rather lengthy passage, so I have pasted it down below. Like any passage from any scripture, there are many ways to interpret this. First and foremost, it has to be seen in context; David wrote this around the time he ran from Saul the first time, and he had just faked like he was insane in front of Abimelech, who drove him away. So, he was writing this at a particularly low time in his life.
The number one thing I take from it, is that people had the same sort of problems we have today, over 3,000 years ago when this was written! Even David, the giant-slayer, was worried about his enemies and what people thought of him!
In this Psalm, he is praying to God to deliver him from the hands of his enemies, which God in turn did. So, a happy ending, right?
Not quite! First, recognize that David took that deliverance and allowed his newfound power as king to corrupt him. He went on to murder a man (Uriah) so that he could have his wife (Bathsheba). Despite David being punished for this, the child born of this union was Solomon, the wisest man of all time! From this, you can see both how 1. God will deliver us, but 2. it doesn't mean we can do whatever we want; but 3. even from the worst situations, God can create blessings for the whole world, but 4. it doesn't mean we escape responsibility.
What I REALLY take from this, is the thing no one wants to hear: responsibility.
Note, David's story begins when he is chosen by God to be the king; but he still has to fight Goliath, a task no one else is even willing to consider. His faith in God is greater than literally everyone else's in the land of Israel. He stood up to do the seeming impossible, and God delivered victory into his hands. However, this victory was not the end of his problems, it was really only the beginning! What this means is just because you are being prayerful and faithful, it doesn't mean you won't have problems, in fact it means quite the opposite!
And, once David was king, he still had to take responsibility for his actions regarding Bathsheba, which lead to a civil war in his own household. That means that just because you are delivered, doesn't mean you can do whatever you want and assume you'll get away with it!
The final thing, is passages like this make it easy for people to think they can sit back and wait for God's intervention in their lives, but you can't get that if you read it in the context of David's life. He fought Goliath, fled Saul, and fought literally for years before he became king. We don't know how old he is when he is chosen; the Bible only says he was 'young', and he was around 37 years old when he finally became king.
Even though he had faith, even though God had promised him a certain destiny, he TOOK ACTION to make his goals become a reality.
That's what I take from the passage: faith, action and responsibility are the keys achieving our goals and our destiny.
“I have a question for you: I didn't earn as much money over the summer as I planned, so I want to find a way to bring in extra income next school year. I already have two (small) jobs for this fall, but I need to make about another $120 dollars a month. I noticed that my fear of *not* having enough money really got in my way of having stable income this summer. While I put in countless applications to various employers this summer, I didn't *feel* wealthy at all. (Plus, I bought into the economic downturn fears.) I guess it all boils down to the fact that my faith is faltering right now, especially in the area of money. It's challenging for me to let go of control and just TRUST the Universe. Even though I *know* it's not true, when I ask the Universe for the job I want, thoughts of "You're asking too much," pop into my mind. Words of wisdom on this situation are greatly appreciated “
Before we go too far, let’s check in to see what Big JC had to say on the matter:
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Money can be one of the hardest areas for people to find success in; probably THE hardest with love running a close second.
The reason why this is, is you can always look around and see what you do (or don’t) have, and it can be difficult to stay faithful and excited about what’s coming, when for now all you can see is the oatmeal and ramen you’re living off of!
There are a couple of things you can do to cure your worries and open yourself up to truly receive all the Universe has to offer:
The first thing (as you have probably heard me say) is focus on how greatful you are for what you’ve already got. For instance, have you stopped to truly thank God / The Universe for the two jobs you already have? With the economy being what it is, lots of people are dying to have one job, and you’ve got two!
That reminds me: the economy.
I won’t say I’ve personally been immune to the economic downturn; it’s definitely hit me in the wallet. But, what two things I know for SURE is 1. there is always a market for people who work hard and do a good job. And, 2. the winds of money are ALWAYS blowing, you just have to know how to turn your sales. Don’t get caught up in the gloom and doom they try to scare you with to get tv ratings or sell papers; the world-wide luxury market is doing better than ever. Seek out things you can read and watch about how well some people are doing rather than hearing how terrible things are out there.
The second thing is to hold on to your faith. I know, you said you are having trouble staying faithful, so this is kind of like defining a word by using that word! For me, as a business owner with a wife and two small children, I would have been well within my rights to panic when things got lean. The thing is, I know FOR SURE no matter how hard things get, I always, ALWAYS have my needs met. I have cultivated an absolute certainty in the fact that God has my back. Since, as we’ve talked about before, you can worry OR you can faith, but not both. Worrying is telling God that He can’t handle it, so you need to come up with something!
So, when these worries come up redirect your thoughts to how grateful you are for how things are. Remind yourself of all the times your needs have been met, and especially all the times you worried and anguished over things that didn’t happen at all, and how pointless it was to waste that much energy.
One other thing: rather than chase a dollar amount ($150 a month) decide what you want to do. What kind of thing would you do for fun? Many jobs in college downs pay less, but that isn’t a difficult amount of money to bring in doing almost anything. Choose to focus on the type of job you want (Office? Retail? Humane Society? Macy’s?) and focus on finding it rather than the money. Let your teachers, family, friends, and church members know you are in the market and see what God / The Universe is trying to send you. If you are feeling called to work, answer it without being overly attached to how it might manifest.
You say you are afraid that you are asking for too much, I say you aren’t asking for enough! Fear and anxiety are wasted energy; after you’ve done all you can, be still and wait for the solution to present itself. Walk in faith and gratitude that God / The Universe has your back. You are great, and I love you!
Most people aren't really dumb at all; technically they have the brain capacity of a super computer!
So why is it that they *seem* so dumb?
The first thing is, most people just don't apply themselves.
A negative trend in our society is the belief everything should be 'fun'.
If something isn't instantly entertaining, people tune out. The problem with this 'microwave mentality', is most things in life worth achieving take a long time to do, and aren't really much fun at all!
There's actually no such thing as boredom; boredom is really a lack of presence. If you are truly aware of the present moment, you'll never be bored about anything ever!
The second reason is, many people just process information differently.
It's important to know what your learning and communication styles are. That way you can know the best way for you to learn things, and how to explain things to people in a way that they will understand.
So, 'dumb' people have to decide to exert the effort to try and learn new things, and we can learn how to communicate with them in a way to make learning easy, and even 'fun'.
I am keeping this one short to make sure the right people read the whole thing!
(Unedited) question submitted via Facebook: “Hey Dave, one thing I would like to add to the question of how it is possible for some people like Tony Robbins to be so emotional and energized most of the time: There are two controversial opinions on that issue. One opinion is that one should always try his best, be at peak states and live with passion and great emotions. The other is that emotions do harm to the person and that one should be a peaceful person, trying to breathe slowly, meditate a lot and avoid stress. I have the impression that religions like Buddhism are favoring the second option and modern coaches, great leaders and so on prefer the first one.
Is there a right or wrong, is my impression false, is the middle way the best?. What do you think? I mean you might be similarly busy, so what is the secret for this unbelievable endurance, or do you have bad days, too??”
In EXTREMELY broad strokes, coaches like Robbins teach that you embrace life, and embrace the world; that everyone is already perfect, and there is nothing wrong with you. That means your emotions are a navigational system that you can use to attract what you want into your life.
Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches that this world is an illusion, and being too attached to things can only cause you pain. A common misconception is that Buddhism teaches the world is 'bad', but that isn't true; a better way of saying it, is that this world is one big distraction.
So, which one is right? The question of which one is 'right' or 'wrong' isn't the question, so much as which one can you apply and live by?
Human beings are emotional creatures, and while you can learn in a few weeks how to focus on your positive emotions, it may take decades of meditation to gain total control over ALL your emotions.
In the Kabbalah the far left hand path is called the Pillar of Severity, and the far right hand path is the Pillar of Mercy. The path up the middle is the 'Middle Path' and is the fastest, but most difficult.
As in most things, the middle path is probably the best one, but it's not easy to realize be able to dedicate yourself with 100% passion to your goals in one instant, and be willing to let go of them completely in the next; but that's what the spiritual path is all about!
As for me, I certainly have my own ups and downs; but instead of moving between 2 and 6 on a scale of 10 like most people, I tend to move between an 8 and a 12!
The reason why this is, is I choose to perceive the world as being on my side, and God being everywhere and watching over me.
So, if my goals don't manifest in the time table I'd like, I realize it just means something better is happening. Even if something 'bad' happens, like a flat tire for instance, I choose to perceive it as helping me somehow (like maybe helping me avoid an accident I'd have been in further down the road).
Can I prove it? Of course not, but I walk around happy all the time and you can't argue with results!
Yes, you read that right: you, and only you, are TOTALLY responsible for world peace.
How can this be? Here are some clues:
“One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him.” -Socrates
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself -Islam
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. -Judaism
In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is sum of the law and the prophets -Christianity
Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss -Taoism
We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part -Unitarianism
This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. -Hinduism Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful -Buddhism
One word sums up the basis of all good conduct... loving kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. -Confucianism
One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated -Jainism
Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself -Zoroastrianism
Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself. -Baha'i Faith
I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all. -Sikhism
We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive -Native Spirituality
Every religion in the world has given us the keys to solve all of our problems, if we will apply the solution. The answer is simple: treat others how you want to be treated. If everyone did this, all our problems would be instantly solved. Imagine: no war, no poverty, less sickness and more healing.
If doing the right thing isn't a good motivator, it still makes sense in an ultimately selfish sort of way: be good to others SO they'll be good to you.
The bad news is, you can't make people do this (trying to force people to do what they don't want to do is what got us into this mess).
But nothing and no one is stopping you from changing. No one is stopping you from being the change you want to see in this world.
And, just in case you're thinking “sure, it's easier said than done, though”... all I can say is: stop whining.
Yes, it takes effort to hold ourselves to a higher standard, but considering the alternative is the end of the world and human extinction, it's got to be worth the trouble.