Friday, July 31, 2009

Civility


I’ve been wondering lately if the world has been flooded by some alien ray that eliminated civility from humankind.

I look at the contention stories permeating the global and even the local press in all regions of the world.

Bombings and hatred in Iraq.

Killings in Majorca.

Nigerian forces clash with extremists – 300 killed.

Taliban plans to disrupt Afghan election.

Riot police in Iran disrupt a graveside rally.

Police and civilians yelling at each other in America.

Talk show hosts calling the President a racist.

Drivers yelling, honking, gesturing to other drivers

It goes on and on.

Wouldn’t you think that all people alive today would have some experience of or observation of hate, prejudice, violence or anger and not like it or want in or near their lives.

The poor attack the poor because they see what they don’t like in others in themselves and can see no way out of what they don’t like.

The rich belittle the rich because others have more or less than themselves and they live under the illusion that success, security and safety is having more.

Republicans criticize Democrats because that’s what those out of power do even though partisanship relinquishes their elected responsibility to seek the greater good for the whole.

Religions contend with other beliefs saying my way is the only way to worship the one God of All That Is.

The old besmirch the young because that’s not the way they did it and they can’t remember their own youthful enthusiasm for the zest of life.

The Young disrespect the elderly because they see their own passage in the old and cannot accept vulnerability and decay.

Race diminishes race because few understand the sacredness of culture, traditions and family is the same for all.

This stuff has been going on since the beginning of humankind.

Perhaps it is just remembering what civility is and then practicing it because it is the right thing to do. It makes you feel good plus you get it back a hundred fold.

I know civility existed once, at least when I was a child. I was taught manners and respect and admonished when I didn’t embrace them.

Our neighbors were known as Mr. and Mrs. You didn’t sass an adult, teachers had the authority of parents, you wrote a thank you note for a gift or a kindness, you dressed up to travel and down to play, you earned the money you needed; you didn’t take it from someone else and you said thank you and no thank you when you were offered something.

I think civility and ethics are one in the same and I define them both as sets of unenforceable values by which we choose to live. Ah…should choose to live.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Texting While Driving


I don’t know about you, but I think some Americans are very stupid or very dumb or intellectually incapable of discerning simple reasoning. (The latter is the nice way of saying the same thing as the former, but you knew that.)

Why should it take precious taxpayer dollars and the time and efforts of Congress to enact a nationwide law mandating states to make texting while driving illegal?

And this is almost as stupid. Who paid for the study to find out that drivers who text while driving are more likely to have an accident? Daaahh! That took a lot of analysis.

Of course it’s a dumb thing to do, so dumb that if we are going to take the time and effort of four Senators, and their staffs and eventually Congress as a whole to prohibits operators of cars, trucks and mass transit from texting while driving why not make the penalty really serious.

Here’s what I suggest. If the person texting while driving does not see the idiocy of doing so then they should not be allowed to drive. It’s obvious their intellectual gas tank is empty. They are incapable of making safe decisions. They probably think it’s OK to go through a red light because they don’t look both ways to see if anything is coming.

Forget a ticket and a fine or points on the license. If caught, the law should mandate a year's suspension of driving privileges, confiscation of the cell phone, prohibition of having a cell phone account for three years and remedial classes on how not to be stupid.

Here are two frightening statistics: 50% of teenage drivers text while driving. One in four adult Drivers text while driving.

Unbelievable!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

That Other Place


Let’s see, I talked about illness. I’ve posted on the end times. How about beyond the omega? Here are some wild speculations on that other place. You know, that place we might or might not go after we’re finished here.

I’m not sure what to call it without conjuring up some image of ethereal clouds, fluttering angels, pearly gates and a guy named Peter checking entry credentials.

My belief is based on spiritual imagination, but other imaginings are just as valid as are beliefs concreted in the comfort of dogma.

I think that next place is whatever we choose it to be to the extent our spirituality can create it.

I believe it is a place filled with magnificent loving light that heals, comforts, and gently teaches how to love unconditionally. Conversation is by thought not words.

It is a place of peace to remember forgiveness and feel embraced by unconditional love in the presence of All That Is. There is no judgment.

Are the souls there aware of our dimension? I think so, but with the knowledge that time is an earthly illusion and does not exist and in a twinkling of a star we’ll be there so they look upon us with a new kind of love, tolerance and shared appreciation of our material choices in order to experience and grow toward the Divine oneness of the Source.

Our state of being in that other place is in a constant condition of youthful appearance sustained with total awareness, omniscience and phenomenal devoted appreciation of a glorified presence. There is no pain, no worry ever.

In my imagination the place is a vast divine nature personified with cacophonies of melodic music resonating in unbelievable harmonies that are alive in the dance of sound. It is a place of artistic creation where what you think manifests through the inherent divinity and beauty within you.

The flora and fauna in that place is cloaked in a sentientness of radiant shimmering. Grand flowerbeds of brilliant color festoon the eternity in a vibrancy never seen here.

Travel is instantaneous; think it and you are there and vistas, vistas beyond imagining in their grandeur, depth and expansive wonder and awe.

Solari like structures of alabaster and gold come to mind as benevolent centers of learning with courses in joy, appreciation, wonder and the levels of compassionate light.

Trillions and billions of souls move here and there in the joy of being in the moment, in the Now and praising the All That Is.

The air is filled with fragrances and aromas of divine light like nothing ever experienced on this plane. Rainbows are everywhere.

It is a place where you are hugged by a loving light and know it.

Sounds like a nice place. What if that’s where we were before we came here? Enjoy your Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thanatology


Another thought brought on by my recent health issue.

There comes a time when all of us will think about death and dying. It is an inevitable process and one that we choose not to think about for obvious reasons, but it is one that must be considered in order to evaluate life choices and validate transition considerations.

I’ve often wondered since we all know it's coming someday, why we don’t spend some quality time when we are healthy and sharp minded to think about the process, not the illness or what gets you, but the process, the experience that is the catalyst of change.

For me, it is not the dying that concerns me; it is the way I go. Like many of you, I have children and the last thing I want (please pardon the unintended pun) is to be a burden to them or even to others.

I rather like the ice flow idea of the nomadic peoples of the north or the itinerant tribes of ancient times who would just leave you behind as they traveled to new pastures.

Since that’s not done in modern societies we have to think about the process and our personal responsibility and participation in it.

Nearly ten years ago Bill Moyers hosted a PBS series on Death and Dying. It was excellent and I hope it will be repeated someday. Most of us have not let our loved ones know what are wishes are.


Do we want extraordinary measures to keep us alive when the time is apparent that we are dying? Do we have our affairs in order, a will, and a living will? Do we wish to be buried or cremated and where would we like our remains to rest? Other than leaving a will to disburse the stuff I’ve accumulated, I don’t suppose I’ll much care what happens to the suit I wore in this consciousness.


These are all tough things to talk about for our culture celebrates the sanctity of life, and finds it difficult to acknowledge its ending.


Besides the PBS Moyers series, Time magazine that same year had a cover story called "Dying on our Own Terms," I've read it. I hope you do too.


We may not go gently in that goodnight, but we are going to go someday. Talking about it may make the passage a little more palatable for everyone.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hospital Stay


I wrote most of this post while still in the hospital getting my heart rhythm back in sync. What an experience! I was new to this. I’d never been in a hospital overnight before let alone a few days and this was a surprise for me.


Coupled with deep and devoted medical concern from so many nurses, doctors and staff there are a few individuals with focused detachments of seeming disinterest. Some personnel who are attending to another patient walk by an occupied bed, as close as two feet, and ignore the person in it, neither a nod nor a glance. I finally started to say hello to anyone who walked by. That worked.


I believe smiles are healing, kind words are comforting, and in the proximity of shared auras or even clinical space it is imperative to acknowledge the duality of our oneness. All it takes is a simple action toward another carried by a smile or a nod. I would recommend this policy to all care-giving practitioners everywhere.


Other observations are noise, accommodations and common courtesy. There should be a small hooded bedside lamp for those who want to stay up late and read and not the large bright overheads that disturb roommates.


All televisions in shared rooms should be equipped with bedside earphones. The little speakers hooked to the bed rails are useless for private listening and are an annoyance for those who choose to read, have a quiet rest or sleep. All televisions should be off at eleven at night or earphones must be used.


There should be a placard in each room for all patients to read detailing common courtesy to your roommate. It is obviously needed for my first roommate was foul mouthed, complaining, loud, inconsiderate and rude. His family and friends showed up late for visiting hours and stayed an hour past posted hours and intruded into my private space behind the curtain.


My second roommate was quiet, but had his television speaker on 24 hours a day even though he was sleeping, plus his bathroom etiquette was atrocious. I finally had to walk down two hallways to find a public facility before someone came to clean the room toilet, that person, by the way, smiled, nodded and asked, “How are you?”


If a patient wanted to call the nurse, they would push a red button on a call apparatus and a very loud response would broadcast in the entire room waking everyone. There has got to be a better way.


I do appreciate the fact that most nurses are over worked and bogged down with paperwork and most hospitals are under staffed. I also think patients need to be as considerate as possible to the health care professional most of whom are there because they care, not because it’s a job.


Patients also must take some responsibility for their own healing.


Thank you to those who sent healing wishes via blog comments or my Gmail account.


More on the morrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Experience

Good Morning

No long post again today. I am in the hospital correcting a heart
health issue. I have not been a patient in a hospital since birth.
Lucky me, yes.

I have some interesting experiences to write about.

Hopefully tomorrow.

Thanks for tuning in.

RGS

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sorry no blog today and Thursday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yosemite


If you’ve never been to Yosemite National Park you should go. I’ve been there several times and each visit takes me to a place of wonder and awe.


The National Park Service puts it this way on their website.


Not just a great Valley...

but a shrine to human foresight, strength of granite, power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.”


Yosemite has a special history to it. It was discovered by a group of white men chasing Indians in the High Sierras of California.


The men were on a killing mission. They were hunting some Indians whom they thought raided a gold miner outpost. No white man had ever been inside the distant valley from Sacramento until this posse urged their horses up and into the high valley.


But once inside the valley, when they saw the vistas with the falls, and what we now call Half dome and El Capitan, their anger abated and man for man they were mesmerized by nature's grace.


Around a campfire on a cold and snowy night, one of the hunting party, Dr. Lafayette Brunnell suggested the place be named as a memorial to the Indians they were trying to kill.


The Uzumatee.


In time the name changed a little, but it is the origin of the name of the park today. Uzumatee became Yosemite.


The real name of the Indians, who had not raided the miner’s outpost, was Ahwahneechee. The tribe had inhabited the valley floor for thousands of years. Today there is a stately old log hotel on the valley floor of Yosemite called the Ahwahnee lodge.


Yosemite is a place where the human spirit embraces the grandeur of nature and sees that they are one.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Walter Cronkite


Monday's Post:

A man dies and they celebrate his life. That's probably the way it ought to be. We come into this world, make choices, have some success, make sacrifices, laugh a little, love a little, cry a little and when we're done we're called home; in many ways it is a time to rejoice.


Walter Cronkite was called home. He finished his work. And now his work is left for others to begin, for great men exist that there may be great men.

Mr. Cronkite died on Friday. He was 92 years of age.

I first met Mr. Cronkite in Vietnam in 1968. He was there on his quintessential visit that led him to declare to a nationwide audience that the war could not be won. The disclosure led President Lyndon Johnson to say to staffers that if I have lost Cronkite, I have lost the nation.

I was a CBS affiliate reporter assigned to Vietnam in January and February of 1968. My cameraman and I were headquartered in the Hotel Caravelle in Saigon and from there we would hitch rides with military units to interview and tell the story of local servicemen and women fighting and serving in the various theatres of battle throughout the country.

One night after several days in the field we came back to the hotel in Saigon to ship our film back to the states through the courier pouches of our network, CBS. We were having dinner at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant; a couple of tables away sat Walter and his producer Ernie Leiser.

I waited until they finished dinner and I hesitatingly walked over to Mr. Cronkite’s table to introduce myself. Walter was gracious, courteous, inquisitive and offered help in the filing of our stories.

He thought for a moment and said to me, “didn’t you recently do a story we ran on CBS news about a train wreck and explosion in Indiana.”

I said yes. I was thrilled. He, Mr. Cronkite, remembered.

Go ahead two years and circumstances found me reporting for the CBS Owned and Operated Station in New York. Walter’s office was in the same building.

I would see and talk to him in the hallway and occasionally we’d ask him for a comment or interview on journalism or the passing of a colleague. He was always accommodating.

Eventually we both left CBS.

About three years ago I was working on an independent documentary about the Nuremberg war crime trials. I called Walter’s office to request an interview with him since he was a UPI pool reporter covering the trials in 1945. Through his secretary he agreed to the interview.

A few days later I arrived at his office at the CBS headquarters in New York, Walter got out of his chair, shuffled over to me for his step was then frail, put both arms on my shoulders as he stood in front of me and said: “Old friend, how long has it been and how are you?”

Great men exist and I was fortunate to know one and admire one.

“That’s the way it is.”

-0-

Epilogue:

Watching all the fine tributes to Walter and seeing the clips of old newscasts and events, I am saddened at what daily television news has become.

There will never be another anchorman like Walter who commands the attention and respect that he did. He was trusted because he was willing to be vulnerable, to be the common man, to laugh at himself and to hold to the highest standards of journalistic integrity for all to see.

So many of today's television news readers are publicly opinionated, professionally rude to their guests or interview subjects by interrupting, shouting and giving short shrift to complicated and convoluted subjects and especially not listening.

We are missing today the simplicity of content. We are missing today the courtesy of contextual explanation. We are missing today the time devoted to clarity and understanding. We are missing today the reportorial grace in both tragic and beneficial human events; the elegance of life and its noble accomplishments and we are missing the adherence to personal and professional integrity.

Yes, I am saddened, but I am also optimistic that we can bring those qualities back. It starts by believing we can and then doing it.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Samaritan Ethic


A question to ponder. Can we be fair to our perceived needs and to the law and at the same time embrace a Samaritan ethic to be of service to another?


The current economic down times have renewed the debate, in many parts of this country, on the legality of welfare help and medical treatment for indigent undocumented immigrants. Some people believe denial of services is rightly based on the foundation of law and is therefore a misuse of social coffers when medical care is provided for the poor who are illegally in this country.


Belief, either in a creation theory or the evolutionary hypothesis eventually leads to the inevitable conclusion that we are each a part of the other and all a part of All That Is. We are certainly one in the finiteness of life and in its bountiful opportunities of constant choice.


The quintessential question is, what authority, what individual has the ability or the right to detach from their humanism and say to any man, woman or child who is ill, in pain, or in need, "Go, there is no help for you here." Who could do that and still sleep comfortably?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Meadow


Thursday’s Post:

We’ve had so much rain around here, especially during the month of June, that I have been unable to mow a meadow below my home.

Finally today it was dry enough and I got the chance to mow and what a surprise.

The meadow grasses and what I thought were weeds, which I normally cut to about four inches, had grown to over eighteen inches and lo and behold the field was filled with wild flowers.

There were daises, buttercups, lavender, Lilly’s of the Valley, Bluets, Forget-me-nots, and some bright blue flowers I can’t name; the meadow was speckled with brilliant color. Some flowers were tall, some were short, and there were broad leaves, thin leaves and all shapes and sizes in-between. I felt sadness as my mower powered over them. This was the first time in many years that they were allowed to grow to their fullness and flower.

As I circled the acreage cutting the field into a lawn again, I wondered how often that happens to people, especially young people who are cut off by the blade of parents opinion, teachers, group mores, social conditions and condemnations before their individuality can flower into full creative potential.

Authorities, both secular and religious, customs, both political and social often inhibit, if not restrict, the young from choosing a different path than what is or has been the norm.

How many great discoveries have we cut in the bud by saying we don’t do it that way, or we’ve never done it that way or that’s not the way it’s done. How many creative geniuses have we stifled because Dad or Mom went to that school and so should you or you’ll make more money doing this than that.

How many hearts have we broken or bent in saying, “you must, you should, you’d better, and you owe me."

Let the unending field of human color and its innate creativity blossom into greatness.

I believe as philosopher Joseph Campbell espoused, “Follow your bliss” and you will be happy and successful in the context of your happiness and the world will be a much better place for all of us.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Spirit Road


The Spirit Road

© 2009 Rolland G. Smith


Some roads are traveled less as I once read,

But in my youth I did not understand

That roads need not be paved for rides or tread.

It takes an ageing life to know paths grand.

Within life’s choice of ways are trails too

To let us stand aside, bestride, our walk,

And trust the wonder that each step’s a school

To learn the truth that life is: walk the talk.

The forks are there at every bend and shade

For us to choose and take an unknown way,

Or not! And if the wild choice is made

We hope the consequence will not betray

The knowing from within our spirit mind

And leave our soul’s advancement way behind.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Cheney Sandwich


Good Monday Morning…

This is a sandwich post this morning. Here’s the first piece of bread.

Over the weekend I was angry reading the news stories that former vice-president Cheney hid some things from Congress that I believe he shouldn’t have, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Then yesterday after dinner I sat on high deck overlooking a plethora of green from various trees blending into the grassy hues of a lower meadow. A gentle summer breeze moved the leaves and pine needles in a waving tidal symmetry of motion and all seemed right with the world.

I reread the following and though assuaged by nature, I still felt it deserved to be posted.

I am disturbed over the news that our last vice-president withheld vital information about a secret intelligent operation from the committees in congress whose responsibility it is to oversee executive branch choices so that an excess of power does not usurp the law.

Mr. Cheney apparently believes he is above the law and reproach. He assumed his intellect, position and power allowed his determinant decisions to circumvent the Constitution of the United States.

He circumvented the rule of law and directed others to hide information that he knew would be contrary to Constitutional, moral and even civilized principles.

Mr. Cheney should be prosecuted for his egregious flaunting of power. This is not a republican or a democrat political issue. Although unfortunately it will end up being that. It is a legal issue and all legal issues are open to interpretation, even the ones that shouldn’t be.

My take on it is that Mr. Cheney committed an illegal act while in service to the citizenry of this country. His unlawful actions should be adjudicated in a court so that it never happens again by future power possessed individuals who happen to ascend to a leadership position.

Mr. Cheney seems to embrace the old Barry Goldwater motto, "Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice." That thinking was rejected nationally in 1964 and that abhorrence sustains to this day.

Dick Cheney’s kind of conservancy is inimical to the greatness of America. Conservative values have a rightful place in American politics, but not when singular and suspect judgment breaks the law. He and all those in authority at the time are culpable of deceiving congress and by default the American people.

Am I harsh? Yes! It is time the wishy-washy politicians in Washington embraced the principles of America, the principles of common good and not the partisan particulars that hide behind accusations, innuendo, and obfuscations and especially power.

Shame on you Mr. Cheney. Once again you failed your oath to America.

Now here’s the other piece of bread of the post sandwich.

As I watched the breezes melodic movement flow through the flora of the trees, I once again acknowledged that I live in the present. The past, while it is a conscious memory, is no longer active or valid as a judgment except in my mind.

The future too is an illusion of hope, wonder and imaginary expectation. So while the foul wind of memory is still in my mind, the fresh wind of NOW caresses my spirit and I embrace the moment in the conscious choice of unconditional love.

Blessings on you Mr. Cheney. I'm glad you are no longer in a position of power.
 
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