Secular Parables & Aphorisms of the Week (Jan 25-Feb 1, 2014)

    Sunday, February 2, 2014, 5:02 PM [General]
    Posted By: Frank Burton

    Aphorism of the Week

    There are usually two sides to an argument -- and you must consider both.

    Parable of the Week

    The Ant, The Cricket
    In a small backyard dwelled an Ant and a Cricket.
    The Ant's industry provided homes and well-stocked pantries for her large family -- while the Cricket's mellifluous song brought joy to all who heard it.
    The Ant lived a long life of comfort, warmth, loved ones and many children.
    The Cricket lived but a brief life. Yet in spite of his sad ending in hunger and cold, he gave to the Ant -- and to all who'd heard his song -- the memory of dulcet beauty and mystery in their lives.
    Thus, industry and art both have value -- one to the body, the other to the spirit.

    February 1, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Week

    The freedom to dominate is not a freedom.

    Parable of the Week

    The Wolf Pack, The Lone Wolf
    They lived to roam the hills of the midnight sun.
    Together the wolf pack loped across the tundra in pursuit of adventure, and of prey. Their gazes darted back and forth among themselves, their hearts and thoughts in unison, their baying a chorus.
    The pack was merciless to those wolves who, from the grey blush of age or the loss of vigor, fell behind. It turned upon them and rendered them, devouring their flesh, before running onward.
    But one Lone Wolf was the strongest and most fearless of them all. Farthest-seeing, tallest-eared and keenest-nosed, he raced like the blowing wind, and leapt ahead of the pack, running free into lands far beyond the horizon.
    In winter's long night, he called back to his mates, in a long, solitary howl, of the visions he had seen. And yet he ran onward, far, far ahead of the pack.
    So did the time come when the Lone Wolf stopped -- to wait for the pack to catch up to him, to tell them of his visions and adventures.
    As he saw the pack approach in the low-hanging moonlight, over the distant hills behind him, and heard their baying, his breath quickened, and he loped toward them in joyful homecoming.
    But as he approached, the pack fell on him.
    And rendered him, devouring his flesh.
    Then, in uncaring ignorance of the visions that lay ahead, the pride of wolves ran on.
    Thus, the pack cares not whether you run behind or ahead of it -- only that you run apart.

    January 25, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Parables of the Week, Year, and Millennium (Nov 16, 2013-Jan 18, 2014)

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 4:46 PM [General]
    Posted By: Frank Burton

    Aphorism of the Millennium

    Even those who jump to their deaths find themselves screaming on the way down.

    COR's Aphorism & Parable of the Millennium are dedicated in admonishment of the Terracide now being committed by the Global Warming Denialism of the U.S. GOP representatives controlling America's CO2 emission policies and post-Kyoto environmental treaties. Gentlemen, the scientists' clock is etched in tombstone: In just 15 years, Earth is likely doomed to burn. And no level of denial, no length of apology, no begged-for suppression of the hatred in the eyes of your grandchildren, who will be History's last judges, will release your blame, and yours alone, for destroying everything.

    If you judge yourself human beings, rethink your denialism, and do it now.

    Parable of the Millennium

    The Seed, The Blossom
    Small and exquisite, the Japanese garden was tended daily by a master gardener.
    One spring day, as the master gardener was feeding his albino carp in the pond, a street urchin spied on him from behind a boulder.
    The master gardener yelled over his shoulder, "If you plan to stare at me all day, help me work!"
    So did the boy become the master gardener's apprentice.
    Over the next week, the boy dutifully planted all different sorts of seeds wherever the master gardener instructed him to. But he saw only the soft dark earth covering the dormant seeds, and not a single plant. Red-faced with frustration, the apprentice eventually blurted out to the master gardener, "Sensei, how can I learn gardening? All I see is dirt!"
    The master gardener looked long at the boy, and then said, "Very well. I will teach you the most important lesson of all."
    The gardener opened two small pouches strung from his belt, and gestured to the boy.
    "Come here and open both your hands."
    As the boy approached with his hands outstretched, into one palm the old gardener poured a small pile of perfect, gem-like black seeds, and into the other palm he dropped a clump of rough, dirty-brown seeds.
    "Plant these seeds, over behind that boulder where you first popped up! That will be your garden!"
    "In what order or arrangement should I plant them, Sensei?" the boy asked.
    "How should I know? It's your garden!" And the old man returned to stroking the heads of his carp, who rose like cream from the tea-brown depths of the pond to greet him.
    The boy stared down at his palms, and, seeing the lustrous beauty of the small, black, pearl-like seeds, decided to plant those in a broad circle -- to surround the ugly brown seeds.
    Later that month, the rains fell, and the Japanese garden burst with life.
    But as the boy raced one morning to his garden to see his circle of blossoms bloom, he skidded to a halt -- in horror.
    Before him rose a monstrous, stinking thatch of rotting black petals, coated in buzzing flies.
    With a cry frozen on his lips, he turned in utter dismay to the gardener, who had been sitting on the boulder, waiting for him.
    The gardener took one deep look into the boy's heart, and smiled gently. Then, reaching for his walking cane, with a swift whack he lopped off the festering blossoms -- to reveal a small patch of the most beautiful blue blossoms the boy had ever seen, sitting long forgotten in the center, where he had buried and forgotten the ugly brown seeds.
    "Oh, Sensei, what have I done?" the boy sighed.
    "You've learned the most important lesson of all, my son," the old man said, placing a hand on his apprentice's head. "And I'm not just talking about gardening."
    Thus, learn what it is that you sow -- for you shall reap it.

    January 18, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason (www.circleofreason.org)

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    Aphorism of the Week

    The faucet is not meant to turn off when the hand is placed beneath it.

    Dedicated in admonishment of the Federal judicial overturning -- on a technicality -- of the entire principle of Net Neutrality.

    Parable of the Week

    The Drain, The Fountain
    Children dove into a swimming pool.
    At the shallow end of the pool they found a hole, from which gushed a fountain of fresh, clear water.
    One child stuck his head into the fountain, pressed his hand on its spout to make jets of water that he could shoot at his playmate, and pressed his back to the fountain so that his body flew forward across the pool.
    So it was that the fountain became his favorite place to play.
    But the second child had found another hole, in the very bottom of the far, deepest end of the pool -- so deep it lay below blue-green water.
    He swam in circles far above this second hole, trying to get a better look at it.
    "Why is it so deep and so quiet?" he wondered.
    Finally, his curiosity irresistible, the second boy took a deep breath and dove, flailing his arms, to the bottom.
    And once he touched bottom, he placed his hand over the hole.
    It sucked in his whole arm, to his very shoulder.
    Only with the strength borne of panic was he able to pull out his arm from the drain and swim away, to barely keep his life.
    So it was that the fountain, too, became his favorite place to play.
    Thus, life flows between us -- and you are either a fountain, or a drain.

    January 11, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Year

    Religiousness and Rationality aren't oil and water -- they're apples and oranges.

    The Circle of Reason's 2014 Parable and Aphorism of the Year are dedicated to Pope Francis, for his recognition and defense of atheists' "conscience" and "doing good"; his call for Christians to turn away from ideology and prejudice toward open dialogue with atheists and non-Christians, to further community goodwill, tolerance, peace, charity, economic justice, and preservation of the environment; and his New Year's message that "we belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny...(which) brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one's diversity, and takes care of one another." Peace and long life, Pope Francis.

    Parable of the Year

    The One Way, The Many Ways
    Eating only of the fallen fruit of the trees and the milk of grazing goats, the small tribe yielded to other living creatures under all circumstances.
    They dwelled in huts built only of fallen branches, twigs and leaves, and moved out if insects made their home there.
    They had few children, because too many exhausted the natural fruit and milk supply, and tilling the land to grow more fruit trees, or fencing it to domesticate more goats, would evict wildlife into homelessness.
    The tribe built a mud brick hospice for dying animals, so that each could die a natural death with interference from none. Some of the dying thrashed in pain, but the tribespeople felt they should do nothing to hasten their end.
    Few plants and animals ever died at the hands of the small tribe. The tribespeople decided this reward was worth their sacrifice of good homes, large families, and ready food.
    Across the river, a large tribe ate of the flesh of cultivated plants and animals.
    Understanding that Man must consume either the leavings, or the essence, of life, they reasoned that the killing of plants or animals was necessary for their tribe to thrive, grow and explore -- because only a few could live on fallen fruit and milk.
    Yet they bred the plants and animals in open ranges to grow strong and, while living, live well and in harmony with their wild neighbors.
    The tribe killed only for food, not pleasure, and killed only what they bred, to not decimate wildlife and so harm other tribes or their own descendants. And they killed painlessly, with alcohol or hand-fed poppy bulbs, to prevent suffering.
    They built a fired-clay brick hospital for sick animals to recover, and when animals were dying helped end their suffering.
    Many plants and animals both lived with, and were later killed by, the tribe for their food. The tribespeople decided that the lives of these plants and animals were good, their ends quick, and their use for the tribe's survival justified.
    One day a woman from the small tribe, rinsing her long hair in the river's delta shoals, met there a woman from the large tribe.
    While the first woman bathed and the second bottled and inebriated a farmed catfish, they talked of their disparate lives.
    Each woman saw the other's earnest belief, and heard the logical arguments of the other that her people's actions were right, not wrong.
    Yet as the sun set beneath the distant hills, the women stared at each other, perplexed -- with halting glances at one's stuporous fish and at the other's protruding ribs -- and turned away.
    Later, each woman approached the wise ones of her tribe and asked, "How could we both be right?"
    The old wise ones gave them the same answer -- "Reasoning people can still disagree."
    Thus, logic is the straight path -- but leads from many places.

    Dec 31, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Week

    Denying our weaknesses strengthens them. -- via Harvey MacKay

    Dedicated in the wake of the Target Holiday Data Breach, in admonishment of U.S. banks' refusal to join the rest of the world's countries in upgrading their antiquated, non-secure magnetic strip credit and debit cards to microchip smart cards -- saving their money only to enrich criminals, impoverish retailers, and harm millions of inconvenienced U.S. credit card and victimized U.S. debit card holders.

    Parable of the Week

    The Monkey, The Sloth
    Rainforest carpeted the far horizons.
    A monkey -- chattering, jumpy and impetuous -- oft made fun of a thoughtful and deliberate sloth.
    "You are such a slowpoke!" the monkey yelled. "Can you do this?" And it back-flipped on a high branch over the shadowy abyss.
    The sloth slowly turned one eye to the monkey and replied, "That looks fun; but you should also keep your tail wrapped around a side branch -- just in case."
    The monkey laughed and hurled a dungball.
    One morning a serpent slithered high into the tree where the monkey and sloth lived.
    It coiled and tensed before the silent, watchful sloth.
    As the monkey, on a lone branch beneath them, chattered for the sloth to run away, the serpent struck.
    But the sloth let go of the branch on which it sat and fell away from the serpent's fangs, swinging down by one furry leg, which had been grasping a side branch.
    The sloth's swing carried it back up behind the serpent and, reaching up with its heavy foreclaw, it simply snipped the serpent's stretched-out body in two.
    As the fanged head of the dead serpent tumbled down toward the agog monkey, it startled and leapt high into the air -- but, not having considered the lone branch upon which it'd been hopping and prattling, the monkey grasped for another branch in vain.
    Together, the dead serpent and the screaming monkey plummeted into the tenebrous mist far below.
    Thus, thoughtlessness widens the hole through which the sands of our days pour -- let life pass as one considered grain after another.

    December 21, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Week

    Reform can still be incremental; and incrementalism can still be reform.

    Dedicated to the patience of Newtown, on the anniversary of the massacre of its children and teachers by a mentally ill gunman.

    Parable of the Week

    The Open Door, The Closed Door
    Ruins of a temple to gods now lost stood before the brash explorer.
    Therein lay a great hall, ending in two doors.
    One of the doors, small and plain, was wide open.
    The other, a large and ornately gilded door, was barred shut.
    The explorer bent over and glanced beyond the small, wooden-slat door and saw but an empty chamber in which lay overturned a shabby straw basket.
    "Bah!" his disgust echoed, in a procession of ghostly catcalls, through the cavernous cathedral.
    He turned to the ornate, barred door with his crowbar.
    Levering the heavy bar upright on its stony hinge, he quickly pulled the gilded door open, and ran into a large, dark chamber.
    And promptly fell into a deep pit, to his death.
    Slowly, the heavy bar tipped back and gradually pushed the gilded door closed, once more.
    So did the temple's greatest treasure -- a yellow diamond as large as an owl's unblinking eye -- lie undiscovered in the bottom of the small, shabby straw basket, lying beyond a plain, wide-open door.
    Thus, wise direction comes not just from open doors, but closed doors.

    December 14, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Week

    Clouds of pollution are the incarnation of clouded minds.

    Dedicated in admonition of the Chinese coal industry's choking of the cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

    Parable of the Week

    The Log Cabin, The Breadfruit Tree
    Tropical breezes wafted the salt-encrusted beard of the castaway, who dwelled on his Lilliputian island with but one, sole companion.
    A great, spreading breadfruit tree.
    As the years passed, the man became restless. Idling under the shade of the vast tree and chewing on a breadfruit, he said to himself, "I am the master of this domain! I want to have a nice house to prove I am a landowner!"
    These thoughts stewed in his mind, until, one day, he suddenly grabbed a sharp stone from the black sand and, raising it high above his head, split the breadfruit tree into lumber.
    He built a log cabin from the tree's trunk and branches, and placed a carved tree-bark crest, with his name engraved on it, on the archway of his front door. He read his name aloud and then danced about his new house, taking care not to trip over the hoards of fallen breadfruits.
    He then piled all the many fallen breadfruits into his new kitchen shelves, cupboards, tabletops and bins. And with an ache in his back, he finally sat down on his new, wooden bed with its soft mattress made of the breadfruit tree's broad leaves, and he was finally happy -- happier than he had ever been.
    That is, until he finished all the breadfruit.
    Thus, the world is infinite only in dreams. To live in the world, the world must live too.

    December 7, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Week

    Acquisitiveness is an emotion, to be balanced with perspective.

    Dedicated in admonishment of the forced servitude of retail employees on the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and of the Black Thursday mob riots.

    Parable of the Week

    The Yelling Man, The Reasoning Man
    Anger was the cave dweller within the man who yelled his way through life.
    He yelled at his son when the boy missed a soccer goal -- even though a small voice inside him said, "In truth, he and his team were outmatched this game."
    He yelled at his field hands when the monsoon flattened their soybean crop, even though his small voice had said, "In truth, there was no way they could have saved this harvest."
    As he barreled onward through his life, this angry man continued to ignore the small voice inside him.
    Until one day it shut up.
    For the dark remainder of his days, this man relished only in abusing all who crossed his path. But his pleasure was hollow -- because nothing ever seemed to go his way, and no man or woman called him friend.
    Deliberation was the glacial spring within the man who reasoned his way through life.
    He listened to truth's small voice -- and, in spite of his emotions, divulged only truth's words to his children and field hands, when they came to him in failure or fear. They were amazed that he always said the right thing, putting in perspective the hurts of the day.
    As he reached outward through his life, the voice of truth grew in this reasonable man, until it spilled out of him like spring water, and nourished the same voice in all who crossed his path.
    For the remainder of his days, both light and dark, this man felt the joy of clear and right actions taken, of the many things that went his way with effort and thoughtful persuasion, and of the many men and women who called him friend.
    Thus, emotion unharnessed is the font of life's storms, and reason unleashed of life's balm.

    November 30, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Week

    Silencing those who voice it cannot silence an idea.

    Dedicated to JFK on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

    Parable of the Week

    The Forceful, The Persuasive
    Rulers of men oft rise at night.
    Come into power upon the hastened death of his predecessor, he quickly cast off all whose ability threatened his supremacy. He declared himself king, and when he barked his imperial orders, those who disobeyed or hesitated were exiled or executed.
    One day he was to receive in his royal court the Leader of a powerful neighboring country.
    "This is a Leader?" the king asked, laughing, as his courtiers briefed him about the man he would soon meet. "He did not usurp power, but asked the people for it? He can be removed from power simply by a majority vote?"
    He smirked. "And he has never held an Army commission, nor ever fired a gun! Hah!"
    It shall be a simple matter to dominate this man in our trade negotiations, the king thought to himself.
    As the Leader of the other country entered the throne room, the king ordered him, "Kneel!"
    As the Leader kneeled, the king saw his face -- a face of complete calm and equanimity.
    The king became angered. "Why aren't you afraid of me, little man! I could have you executed!"
    The Leader replied, "So you could, but my people wish you to have this."
    He passed a scroll to the king, who handed it on to his general and demanded it be read before the royal court.
    Thus did the general read aloud the Leader's letter to the king -- who heard its words with growing incredulity and horror: "O King, we, the people of your neighboring country, have massed a great army and navy in support of our Leader, whom we love. Our economy is strong, and our armed forces are unified and at the ready in his support. We wish you well, but know that our Leader is to return unharmed, or your small military takeover will see this day its last day."
    The Leader then said to the suddenly perspiring king, "It is my gift of persuasion that is my power. Using it I've led my people into prosperity. My might is their gratitude." Then the Leader gestured casually around him.
    "Yet, look here, at the faces of all the men around you, O King. If gratitude resided there, indeed I would be afraid. But all I see is fear and hatred of you. In my country, these men would lay down their lives for their leader -- here, they will not."
    The king, in his fear and rage, exploded.
    "Kill him, and may war come!"
    The king's general steeled himself, strode forward, unsheathed his sword, and, sinews steady, raised it high -- and brought it down not upon the Leader's neck, but upon his own king's.
    After the thump of the head, the king's bejeweled body collapsed to the ground with the sound of dry leaves and tinkling chimes.
    "Our King, the fool!" muttered the general, as he sheathed his bloody sword.
    He turned to face the Leader. "If your people will agree to trade with us as peaceful neighbors, I will instate free elections for our people, too."
    Thus, the power of muscle is weaker than the power of reason.

    November 22, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Aphorism of the Week

    If warm, chop wood, carry water; if cold, chop water, carry wood.

    Dedicated in supplication to the social and software architects of Healthcare.gov, to remember the importance of being adaptable.

    Parable of the Week

    The Fog, The Sun
    Amid the ruins of a castle on a moor lived an old hermit and his young pupil.
    One day the fog lay on the moor like a spent lover, and all was grey.
    "See you the lowering fog, boy?" asked the hermit.
    "Aye," replied the boy, "I can spy nary a foot beyond our keep, teacher."
    Then his teacher asked, "And how is this fog like the lives of men?"
    The boy pondered, then replied, "Teacher, I know many a man and woman, 'tis true, who can see no further in front o' their faces than we do now."
    "Indeed!" the old man laughed. "But then, young one, what be the Sun that burns away the fog to show our far horizons?"
    To this the boy only shook his head.
    Gently the old hermit reached out with one long, withered finger, and tapped at the boy's forehead, and the boy felt the hermit's touch as if it were a droplet of flame.
    "Here is your Sun, boy. Here is your Sun."
    Thus, reason can lead to meaning and purpose -- by burning away the fog that lies ahead.

    November 16, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.

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    Secular Parable & Aphorism of the Week

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 3:03 AM [General]
    Posted By: Frank Burton

    Aphorism of the Week

    Fear not remorse, for it is birthed in high expectations.

    Dedicated to U.S. state-level civil rights- and economic- initiatives to decriminalize and cease imprisonment for possessing marijuana or other recreational drugs.

    Parable of the Week

    The Dodo, The Crow
    In a verdant field surrounding a farm lived a Dodo and a Crow.
    One year the farmland was sold. The Dodo and the Crow watched in silence from nearby bushes, while the old farmer glanced about at his past, stared down into his future, then slapped his straw hat against his leg like a horsewhip and walked away.
    Soon came a horde of earthmovers crawling with construction workers, who ripped up the crops, trees and wild underbrush -- to build a parking lot and tract homes.
    The Dodo ran about in circles. It squawked disconsolately when it saw its nest crushed by a tractor, leaving no underbrush to build anew. That night the cold winds came, and, to put the squawking Dodo out of its misery, a crew worker impulsively bashed in its head with his shovel.
    The Crow, too, lost its treetop nest the very next day. As the gnarled old oak fell and was chipped into mulch by workers, the Crow circled, a cruciform spectre, in the desolate sky. But, unlike the Dodo, the Crow set out the next day to build a new nest, where he could -- in the very top of the riggings used by the construction workers. With the crops all now laid waste, the Crow consumed the bodies of the shrews and mice uprooted from their nests and crushed under foot or wheel.
    So did the Dodo find a new way to die, and the Crow find a new way to live.
    Thus, the erasing of one path limns another.

    November 9, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason

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    Secular Parable & Aphorism of the Week

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 2:45 AM [General]
    Posted By: Frank Burton

    Aphorism of the Week

    To spoil something, overexpose it.

    Dedicated to the willingness, prior to any legislative mandate or ecological-pollutant toxicology report, of the CEOs of cosmetic companies Unilever (Dove, Ponds), Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno), The Body Shop, L'Oreal, and Colgate-Palmolive, to phase out the use of plastic microbeads in their facial scrubs, and to replace their non-biodegradable plastic beads (which have evaded waste-water treatment filters and invaded the Great Lakes) with biodegradable sea-salt or crushed seed-based microbeads. Superb corporate stewardship is not incompatible with -- and indeed necessitates -- environmental stewardship.

    Parable of the Week

    The Moneyed Politician, The Lone Candidate
    Voting was the pride of the tribespeople.
    They called their leaders "the People's servants."
    A tribeswoman saw one day that the law allowing pig farms to dump their manure in the village's stream saved money for the farms' owners but sickened the small children, and would someday sicken the entire tribe.
    "It is time for me to run for leader, to repeal this law and help my tribe," she announced.
    As a lone candidate she met -- one by one -- as many tribespeople as she could before Election Day.
    But her opponent was a moneyed politician.
    As lawmaker he'd passed the very same law the lone candidate sought to repeal. The pig farmers, who'd profited greatly when no longer required to cart away and bury their manure, lavished him with gold coins.
    With this gold the moneyed politician paid for rallies -- hiring poor people to attend and cheer. He passed out free food. He printed pamphlets proclaiming he was "A Leader for All the People."
    And he paid others to stand in the Village Square and heckle the lone candidate for her "ignorant" rejection of support for the pig farmers.
    Come Election Day, the lone candidate -- and her dream of a clean and healthy tribe -- was defeated. The People indeed had had the vote -- but one dictated by enticements and advertisements.
    Over the next decade, the tribespeople watched numbly as illness decimated them. Even the pig farmers eventually went bankrupt as the people -- their own customers -- fled to distant unspoiled lands.
    During all those years, the lone candidate's voice went unheard -- for lack of money.
    Thus, principal can make your decision, but only principle can make your decision right.

    November 2, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason

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    Aphorism of the Week

    The wise recognize their idiocy.

    Dedicated in admonishment of the decision of the Executive Director of South Carolina's Spartanburg Soup Kitchen to insult and shun volunteers to her charity who were atheists. Unlike the recent laudable outreach of Pope Francis to the atheist community, the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Director's assumption that morality is not a human trait but only a trait of religion was false, derogatory, and even factually refuted by the very fact that the atheists who she turned away had volunteered to serve (and to do so even anonymously).

    Parable of the Week

    The Unkind, The Kind
    Charity workers gave food and clothes to those with none.
    The first charity worker, a devout man, instructed the beggars who came for a meal or shirt to first pray with him -- where he intoned, "Let us give thanks to the Lord, your provider and your soul's salvation."
    Then his icy eyes, cracking open above his tightly clasped hands, glinted coldly at each beggar, as he sternly demanded, "Have you asked the Lord to save your soul?"
    And only if the beggar said yes would he receive a meal or a shirt for his back.
    The few who balked, or said they believed in no God, the worker sent to the back of the line to "think it over."
    So did this worker's charity line slow to a trickle -- until few beggars even approached his table, heaped with food and clothing, where he stood like a crab poised for an approaching minnow.
    The second charity worker was also a devout man, but felt it was not his place to demand anything from those with nothing -- and felt that all who came to him in need were kindred souls, no matter their beliefs.
    He passed out meals and shirts -- and a quiet ear -- to all who approached him.
    He asked from them nothing at all.
    All of the beggars blessed this worker, either with their thanks, their prayers, or even their own volunteering.
    So did this worker's charity line magnify, soon splitting into tributaries.
    And at their headwaters stood his former beggars.
    Thus, kindness flows from recognizing kindredness.

    October 28, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason

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    Secular Parables & Aphorisms of the Week

    Sunday, October 20, 2013, 7:48 PM [General]
    Posted By: Frank Burton

    Aphorism of the Week  -- October 19, 2013

    Silence can roar.

    Dedicated in admonishment of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Catholic Archdiocese's clerical leadership's suppression of recent allegations of priestly sexual misconduct -- seeking to protect the body of the Church at the expense of its soul.

    Parable of the Week

    The Small Soul, The Great Soul
    Great Sky River flowed above two raven-haired women of a forest tribe, long ago.
    One young woman lived her life back turned, instead of face on.
    She combed her long, black hair to entice the young men, but cared nothing for what lay beyond the cypress forest, or the far shore of Great Sky River.
    Over years spent neither exploring nor questioning, her spirit shrank into a hard little ball and died, long before the death of her body.
    But the other young woman lived her life face on, instead of back turned.
    She ignored her hair and the young men, at least long enough to ask, "What is beyond the edge of the cypress forest, and beyond the edge of the horizon?"
    "Who lives on the far shore of Great Sky River, or at its headwaters, or its end?"
    Over years spent exploring, questioning, and gaining in wisdom, her spirit swelled so, that it could no longer remain inside her body.
    And she overflowed into her people -- living on as teachings long remembered, even after her body had long since died.
    Thus, live on while your spirit is dead, or die while your spirit lives on.

    October 19, 2013, from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason.

    _____

    Aphorism of the Week -- October 12, 2013

    Ability may stumble behind the wings of vision -- but where better to hasten?

    Dedicated in supplication to the website contractors of the federal and state online Health Insurance Exchanges, that they work not only industriously, but smartly, to identify and debug the software errors currently barricading most online applicants from successfully registering or applying for healthcare plans.

    Parable of the Week

    The Untested, The Failed
    Mother and daughter sang in their dreams.
    When still a young, unmarried woman, the mother had practiced singing lessons until her voice was as beautiful as a songbird's.
    Yet she so feared the scorn of others that, after sneaking into the back of the auditoriums during auditions, she stood mute, never stepping forward.
    She took a husband and birthed her daughter -- who, baptized in lullabies, was the only audience to the gentle glory of her mother's voice.
    The daughter, when still a young, unmarried woman, practiced singing lessons as had her mother, until her voice too was as a songbird's.
    Yet she had heard so often of her mother's fear of scorn, and of her cowering in the dark recesses of audition halls, that on her own very first audition she marched to the stage, blurted out her name, and sang.
    She was scorned.
    But she sang before many audiences -- and scorn gradually transformed into grudging, then free, approbation.
    She failed to scale that pinnacle of which both she and her mother had dreamed -- but still she was satisfied, for she had given her dream her very best.
    Such satisfaction forever eluded her mother.
    Thus, it is better to fail than to never have tried. -- via Theodore Roosevelt

    October 12, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason.

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