June 09, 2022

01

Sunrise 10/27/2010 Oil Paint Rendered — Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
The most ignorant thing
is thinking that how we see things
is how things are.

How we see things is our interpretation of reality,
of how things are.

Alfred Korzybski and S.I. Hayakawa and others
have explored the differences
between our perceptions of reality
and reality "just as it is"
in their books on "General Semantics,"
which should be required reading
in all high schools worldwide.

What we make of the world
positions us to respond to the world
as though it is what we think it is.
We are boxing with shadows,
wrestling with ghosts,
and creating a hell of a mess of things thereby.

We have to step back,
sit down,
be quiet,
and observe ourselves thinking,
see ourselves seeing,
hear ourselves speaking,
feel ourselves feeling,
and just watch what is going on--
without becoming engaged by any of it,
beyond becoming curious
about the things that trigger
emotional responses in us.

Get to the bottom of it
without being hooked by it,
and develop a sense of the difference
between you and the things 
that make up your world.

"There is more to everything 
than meets the eye."

Get to know what that means.

–0–

02

Sunrise East Fork Overlook 03 05/30/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Brevard, North Carolina
When has peace ever been established
and maintained
without killing somebody
and/or threatening to kill somebody?

And how is ostracizing,
banishing,
barring,
expelling somebody
different from killing them
in societies where the tribe
is the foundation of life?

Why can't we live together
without the threat of death or abandonment?

When have compassion and goodwill 
ever been the foundation of lasting peace?

What does it take to live together
in ways that are good for everybody?

Why are there assholes who refuse
to abide by the rules governing the behavior
of everyone?

We have to have laws with execution attached
to deal with the Genghis Khan's 
and the Jeffery Dahmer's of the world
because they can't be trusted
to stay on their side of the line.

Rodney King nailed it with his,
"Why can't we just get along?"

Why can't we?

How would have Jesus 
imposed and maintained the peace?
The Buddha?
Gandhi?

We don't know,
and it is easy to imagine 
that they wouldn't have.
Jesus died refusing to take up arms
against the Romans.
The Buddha had an alliance 
with the princes/kings of his day
based on his promise of merit
and Nirvana.
Gandhi was assassinated
because he didn't have armed bodyguards.
And the Dalai Lama's bodyguards
carry automatic weapons
(Square that up with compassion
if you can).

Death, 
or the threat of it,
is the only basis of lasting peace.

This is a contrary equal to
life eating life--
to life depending on the death
of something.

Peace depends on the death of something.
Life depends on the death of something.
Death is the source/foundation of life.
And we have to make our peace with that.
How's that coming along for you?

We have to dance with the contradictions--
not deny them--
"Joyfully participating 
in the suffering/sorrows of the world"--
all our life long.
And then, we die,
and merge with the contradictions
at the heart of life.

Contradiction and compromise
all the way down.

–0–

03

Red Sails in the Sunset 10/12/2009 Oil Paint Rendered — Stonington Harbor, Deer Isle, Maine
We are never more than 
a slight perspective shift
away from having it made.

Having it made 
is being at peace
with our circumstances,
no matter what they are.

How long has it been?
Since we, individually,
collectively,
corporately,
as a person,
a nation,
as a world,
been at peace with our circumstances?

Know why?

Expectations.
Aspirations.
Greed.
Fear.
Agendas.
Opinions.

Know what it takes?

The right kind of emptiness,
stillness,
silence,
and the willingness/ability
to "Joyfully participate
in the suffering/sorrows
of the world"--
which is the willingness/ability
to say "YES!"
to life just as it is
(Joseph Campbell).

The trick of having/maintaining
the right kind of perspective
is a regular return
to the right kind of emptiness,
stillness,
silence,
in the right kind of way.

–0–

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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