Why am I here?

Certainly you have asked yourself this question. Perhaps you asked it many times. You could have been sitting in a boring class that seemed to have no relation to real life. If you went on to college there may have been several of these classes because they were listed as “requirements.” “Reflections on Man,” for example, may sound like something meaningful, but I am pretty sure my only reflection was on the meaning of the course itself. “Philosophy and Religion” as well as “Behavioral and Social Sciences” requirements provided me with plenty of opportunities to ask, “Why am I doing this?” On its lowest level, I guess you could say I was doing if for the grade.

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Family gatherings can also drive you to ask our topic question. Good old Aunt Pearl may compel your attendance at her twice annual family gatherings. That would be the ones without music or television where the adults would try painfully to keep some sort of conversation going. Her cookies and hard candies just were not enough to keep you from wondering why you continue to attend these family gatherings that seemed forerunners to family wakes. By the time Aunt Pearl passes, you will feel like you have already attended her wake on many occasions. After the kids get hyped up on candy, they may provide some comic relief to go with Aunt Pearl’s annoyance (or passing). The conclusion may still be, “Why Lord? Why?”

Of course, you may find yourself at one holiday party when you know a better one is going on elsewhere. The reason for this may be that it is some sort of social obligation. Still you wonder why you are at Orville’s party when Wilbur is so much more fun. Even though the holidays usually seem to race right by with January and February lurking around the corner, time seems to stand still at Orville’s party, leaving you to wonder “Why am I here?”

For the last dozen or so years, I have thought of this question on the grand philosophical scale. That is, I have literally wondered why I am here, on earth, in this place, at this time. I figure there must be a higher calling, if I could just find out what that is. In Catholic grade school, we were taught to seek our vocation in life. Lately when they call to pray for vocations, they generally mean they need more religious to join up.

Still we all may think “Why am I here?” You might have the pleasant thought that it is because your mommy and daddy wanted you, but in my case, I am pretty sure that is not it. If you think it is because the stork brought you, you are either from Alsace or too young to be reading this blog.

In church we read out the intentions or invocations. These are prayers where we call on the Lord to help us. One at the end usually goes like this, “For the intentions we hold in the silence of our hearts (pause), we pray to the Lord.” In recent years this pause was where I filled in a request for acceptance, which has to do with chronic foot pain, and a desire to have the answer to the question on why I am here. There must be some reason beyond tossing off clever quips on social media sites.

There was a priest whose sermons never left me with the “why am I here” feeling. It almost seemed like he is just talking to me. So I confessed to him one day that I felt there must be a grand plan. I felt frustrated that I did not know it even though I prayed for the answer. Of course, he urged me to keep an open mind and be receptive. What else could he say? He was not going to pass along God’s response. No voice was coming to us from a cloud. No one will give us a 140 character response on twitter (or 280 if you are blessed with extra letters). He did the only thing he could, he listened.

In the meantime, I thought I would just take whatever reasonable opportunity I could to help people out and keep my ears open. It reminded me of the frustration felt by the Bishop at the beginning of the holiday classic The Bishop’s Wife. At his wit’s end at not finding what he needed to build the cathedral, he prays, but if you see this holiday movie, listen to what he prays for. Is it really a cathedral?

Just like our movie hero, it finally came to me. I was a bit surprised that it took so long. It was there all along. Unlike Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, I did not have to travel the world for the answer, nor did I have to go to Oz. While I was lending a helping hand, and enjoying new adventures with some of my friends, new and old, I discovered something. It was never one great thing that I was supposed to do. It was a lot of little things, and they would add up to the reason why, and they have. In case I have not been clear let me just state it this way, “Do the next right thing.” That’s it. Really! As you move from adventure to adventure, helping when asked and finding help when needed, you will see the answer that was never to be had at Aunt Pearl’s house. Check below the video.

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Separate Is Not Equal

The Case for Equality

Segregation in the United States was struck down in the landmark decision in Brown versus Board of Education (Topeka, Kansas).  The court held in a unanimous vote that the policy of separate but equal was inherently flawed.  This set aside an 1896 ruling that allowed for separate black and white schools, not to mention other institutions.  By 1954 the court had realized the flaws of the earlier thinking, perhaps marred by personal prejudices, and ruled against the notion of separate but equal.  The establishment of two separate classes of people meant by its very nature that they were unequal in standing.

Despite the high court ruling, discrimination and segregation continued to exist throughout the 1950’s.  In fact it took federal government intervention in the 1960’s to force the end of segregation at some southern schools.  Governors Ross Barnett of Mississippi and George Wallace of Alabama famously tried to stop integration of universities in their states and maintain segregation.  While Governor Wallace remained popular in his state, Barnett, an avowed segregationist, was a one term governor.  Ending segregation by court ruling, did not change the opinions of many.

The prejudices of earlier times continued to plague the following decades, court rulings not withstanding.  It was impossible to erase generations of discrimination with some decisions of the court.  Indeed, many grew up learning discrimination and hatred in their own homes.  It would not so easily be set aside.

While a variety of equal rights were secured through the remainder of the 20th century by court ruling and legislation, there was one area where discrimination was being written into state laws.  Indeed the fear card started to be played anew when rights for certain citizens were being discussed.  It started when the Hawaii Supreme Court held in 1993 that the refusal to grant same-sex marriages was discriminatory.  In the years that immediately followed many states, including Hawaii, wrote laws to ban same-sex marriage.  In 1998 voters in Hawaii gave the legislature the right to define marriage as an opposite sex couple.

The systematic adoption of such laws across the country set up two classes of people.  The 104th Congress piled on in 1996 with the now infamous Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  This law institutionalized discrimination and denied basic benefits to same sex couples that were provided to opposite sex couples in almost a thousand laws. This included estate benefits or right to inherit, joint tax filings, survivor social security benefits, and so on.  The very establishment of another class of citizen would be the eventual downfall of DOMA.5doma

The federal government had always held that whoever a state recognized as married was married, but then they tried to deny benefits under DOMA to those a state found to be married.  The most egregious example was brought to the attention of the high court in United States v. Windsor.  It was a fight taken up on behalf of an elderly woman whose marriage in New York did not seem to matter to the feds when her partner died and they took everything.  They did not recognize her right to inherit.  Either the feds recognized the marriages that were recognized by states, or they did not.  They could not have two classes of citizens.  The court saw DOMA as “a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment” and struck down some of its provisions.

Despite this ruling, as well as overturning California’s attempt to ban gay marriage through Proposition 8, there are still a majority of states that declare that a particular two people in love are not equal to another two people in love.  It is the case of setting up another class of citizen.  Apparently, many states are still under the notion this is OK.  People talk about the institution of marriage as if some God came down from on high with a set of rules about this.

Yes, I already know what some are thinking, but since I do not know ancient Aramaic, I will not pretend that the interpretations and translations of the Bible handed me by the religious right are necessarily correct.  Nor do I buy into any of the other scare tactics they use to convince us to set up a separate class.  That separate class thing just does not stand up against any test when Supreme Court justices have to sit and listen to it.

In the new political climate states are introducing “religious freedom laws” and “bathroom laws” that are discriminatory at their cores.  They allow for setting up separate classes and separate treatments of various people, not because of criminal activity, but for who they are, who they love, who they identify as.  Will the current high court strike down this discrimination, or institutionalize it as present leaders would like to do?

THANKS, NOW LEAVE

Some community organizations serve their members and alumni well. Others struggle under the weight of their “leadership.”

SERENDIPITY

Not Welcome Anymore, by Rich Paschall

Roger was a busy guy.  In recent months he absolutely could not find time to fit one more thing into his schedule.  The local pastor, Jared, was even busier and usually kept to a tight schedule.  His time was parceled out like the hosts he distributed on Sunday.  So it was a bit of a surprise when he dropped an email on Roger asking to meet.  “Perhaps we can get together for coffee on Thursday afternoon or Saturday morning,” the message read.  Roger picked Saturday.

When Roger turned 60 he had promised himself there would be no more big projects.  He felt he was done with community organizing, large social events, and big family gatherings.  “All the work should be done by someone else,” he thought.  But then there always seemed to be another great idea and that meant “one last hurrah.”

When a long time…

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Pride

When I posted the following three years ago, I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.  Also note, at the time of this writing Benedict XVI was Pope. 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.
The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected (at the time of this original article), old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.
Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility (the current year’s awesome revival thrills lifelong fans). The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.
With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

Note: Comments in italics were added to the original article for purpose of updating.

IN SEARCH OF PEACE ON EARTH

It does not look like a New Year will bring Peace on Earth, but we can hope.

SERENDIPITY

The Same Auld Lang Syne, by Rich Paschall

Another year has begun and we can see it is indeed the same as days gone by.  The old days are not forgotten as old conflicts rage on and new ones have arisen.  If old acquaintances happen to be forgotten as one year passes into another, old hatred, old disputes, old border wars, old and new religious battles carry on as if they will forever be remembered.  Are these disagreements worth the killing of men, women and children standing on the other side?

In our neighborhood, just as in many around the world we conclude our year wishing “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”  It is on our greeting cards and in our songs.  It appears in Christmas stories and is heard from pulpits and lecterns around the world. The invocations I read to those assembled at noon mass at our church on Christmas Day included a…

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Walk Out On The Ledge

Let go of toxic memories

English: Glass balcony at the skydeck of the W...

English: Glass balcony at the skydeck of the Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of things we hold onto as we get older.  Memories are certainly top among them.  We cherish certain ones and tell those stories over and over.  Grandchildren learn to tolerate them while their parents and grandparents take great delight in tales of yore.  We may hold on to certain pictures and mementoes solely because of the happy memories they conjure up.  A coffee cup from Nashville, coasters from the Black Hills, shot glasses from Texas, wine glasses from Germany, videos from France and pictures from the glass ledge at the Willis Tower in Chicago may all be things whose value is far greater than the money it cost to acquire them.  So we display them with pride and keep them around us for years and years.  Long after we can partake of such adventures, these items will jog our memories and warm our souls.  There is no reason to let go of them, even if they get crowded out by newer items.

Some hold onto bad memories as well, but the toxic ones must be let go or they will poison your life.  Perhaps you know someone who continues to stew in the hot juices of bad times.  They may do so openly so that everyone gets tired of the sad tales.  They may internalize these bad memories and let them eat them up from the inside out.  How can you let go of such things that hurt so much?  How will you ever rid yourself of past times when the thoughts are so painful you can barely speak of them?  For those wallowing in evil past, it may seem an impossible task, or at least not as simple as I will now make them sound.

Let go!  That’s it, just let go.  Starting that process is tough, but oh so rewarding once complete.  You do not need to tell the world, but you may need to tell someone.  In 12 step programs they will tell you to admit to yourself and to another that you are powerless over this problem (addiction, memory, whatever).  This is an important step, because the sooner you realize you can not change the past, the easier it will be to leave it behind.  If you have seen portrayals of 12 step groups, you may have seen people start out by announcing who they are and what they are powerless over.  Once you have said it, there is no more worry about the bad news getting out.  It is out there and you can begin the process of walking away.

Some say, “Let go and let God” (higher power, fate, whatever).  Leave whatever it is that bothers you in the hands of something higher or greater, because you can not change it anyway.  If you are guided by what is good in your life, you can leave the past at the side of the road and travel on.  In the Catholic Church, they taught us to ask forgiveness of God for what troubles us.  The part about telling another, even somewhat anonymously in a dark confessional booth, may have grown to be an archaic practice for many of the faithful.  Nevertheless, that part about telling yourself and telling another can be an important step in leaving the past sins, or whatever troubles you, behind.  Indeed, some people with bad memories spend fortunes on psychiatrists so they can try to figure out how to say out loud what is troubling them inside.  I will not pull a Tom Cruise on you and tell you there is no need for psychiatry, but I will tell you that steps forward are up to you.

A while back I posted a little about my past and it made brief mention of some things that even close friends and family would not know.  The bad parts needed release and that may have been part of my purpose.  I stated even before then that I was intrigued by a book of letters by writers to their younger selves.  I did not know what would come out when I sat down at my desktop to write to the 14-year-old me, but was not too surprised at the most solid of my memories.  I can understand as a result of the exercise how some traumatic moments can control you for decades into the future.

After you let go, it is time to fill in the empty spaces with the good memories.  Toss what reminds you of bad times and let your pictures, videos and various souvenirs be only those of good times.  Go out and make new memories to fill up your mind.  If there is a lot of happy times bouncing around in side your cranium, there will be little time to dwell on what should have been purged long ago.

Let go of toxic people too!  Recently a friend posted on facebook a comment that it was easier to get a toxic person out of your life than out of your thoughts.  I replied that with enough good friends, the bad ones can be sent to the corners of your memory banks.  He reminded me that it is harder to do with family.  Yes, I know that well but if you have to trigger someone from your life, it is best to do so and stop taking the crap.  Once you have moved forward, absolutely, positively do NOT do so with regrets.  Do not wonder what could have been done with all the time that was wasted on someone, or worse, all the money.  That just brings it back to the top of the page.  For gosh sake, let go!

WE STAND WITH PARIS

We Stand With Humanity, a political commentaryribbon-black_68

On September 11, 2001 we stood with our fellow citizens of New York, and Washington DC as well as those who died in a field in Pennsylvania.  It was a natural reaction to a terrorist act on the homeland.  We were not the only ones to stand up and condemn this action.  It was condemned across the world.  The acts of 9/11 were not just taken symbolically around the world as an attack on all citizens of the earth.  The bringing down of the World Trade Center was literally an attack on the world.  People from more than 90 countries died in New York.  People everywhere were outraged.

In the wake of the tragedies in Paris, Beirut, Egypt over the Sinai and elsewhere across the globe, do not let your Tea Party friends explain that some right-wing bigots with hand guns could have stopped these tragedies.  Don’t let their hate of immigrants or other religions fool you.  Some of the worse tragedies of all time have happened here, they are not confined to other countries.  No idiots “packing heat” will stop a well-coordinated attack by terrorists.

We stood with Paris after the attacks on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.  At that time I explained, as did many that “Je suis Charlie.”  It was not that we could identify with “Charlie.”  The magazine was a bigoted publication that repeatedly provoked a particular “religious” group.  It was because an attack on freedom of the press anywhere in the world, is an attack on all our freedoms.

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Now we stand with Paris again.  The coordinated attacks this week in the French capital are an indication of the lengths these terrorist groups will go.  Are they to be feared?  Of course, that is what they want.  Will the world stand up against ISIS and those who claim responsibility?  It is the only response.  Humanity must stand together or this type of thing will never end.  We should learn the lessons of a house divided.

It is important to point out that no matter what terrorists spokesmen may claim, this is not an act of religion.  The phrase “Terrorism has no religion” has been trending on social media.  Muslim leaders around the world condemned the attacks (Washington Post).  Pope Francis has referred to the global terrorist attacks as “piecemeal WWIII.”  It is probably in that light that we should consider our global response.

All attacks on innocents should be taken somewhat personally  As a society we must consider what is next.  Putting hand guns on the persons of right-wing bigots will protect no one and is not a plan at all.  Certain Republican candidates will now find the opportunity to spread hate and fear while spewing the NRA (National Rifle Association) party line.  We need something better.

I did not know anyone in New York or Washington on 9/11, but I watched in horror as many of us did.  They were my countrymen and citizens of the world that died that day.  We did not have to know them to mourn them.

Now I have come to realize that I have many friends in Paris, so this recent tragedy hits home to me more than it does for some in our country, I would guess.  Four of my friends reported their safety on facebook.  A few others have not yet commented.  I have sent them my concerns.  Any tragedy in Paris is like a tragedy down the street from me.  The world is our global village. Good people of all colors, nationalities, and religions must have a coordinated global response to the “piecemeal World War III” or we will be standing up and mourning these tragedies over and over.

 

Pride

Recently I saw a post on my facebook newsfeed questioning the need for a Pride Parade and Pride events in general.  Someone responded that if your group was suppressed or discriminated against for a long time, you might feel the need to speak out and express your pride in who you are.  It was an important response to the issue, but I see it as more than that.  It is also based in the need that people have to feel important, significant, meaningful.  We all look for purpose in life and we all want to be proud of who we are.

When I posted the following three years ago I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.   

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.

The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better, I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the Benedict XVI was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.

Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.

With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

For more thoughts on your own true colors as well as the song below visit Don’t Be Afraid To Let Them Show on SERENDIPITY blog.

Why do you care?

Seriously, why do you care?

Symbol of the major religions of the world: Ju...

Symbol of the major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What’s it to you how others get along as long as you have yours?  Let them get their own!”  You may have heard many versions of the “What’s it to you?” question in recent years.  You may have been told, “Never mind about them.  It is not your problem.”  If you have a comfortable living, I suppose you can walk away from a lot of social problems.  Indeed you can rant and rave against any notion that we should help others.  “Let them help themselves,” you may add.  “There is no need to concern ourselves about that problem, because it is not our problem.”

When exactly did we come to the philosophy to protect the wealth of the rich and to hell with the poor?  When did social security, medicare and unemployment benefits become terms that are to be tossed around like dirty rags into the trash?  There was a time when the Republicans across the aisle and their leaders called for additional taxes on the “haves” in order to help the “have-nots.”  Now many of them act as if this never happened.  Perhaps part of the problem is that they are all part of the rich themselves.  They pay themselves big salaries while trying to figure out how to give the elderly and the poor next to nothing.  To them “Entitlements” is a dirtier word than the seven dirty words George Carlin could not say on television.

On the other hand, some might argue there is a moral imperative that comes into play here.  That means we must take action, or not take action, as required based on a moral reason that comes from within ourselves.  This is like the voice inside that compels us to do right.  It is imperative that we do the right (moral) thing.  In modern philosophy I guess it is the same as saying, “do the next right thing.”  Suppose, however, there is no voice from within urging us to make the moral choice.  What if our inside tells us to ignore the needs of others and to protect our own?  What if our inner voice issues no commandment of reason (imperative) and there is no morality to be heard?  My friends on the left side of the aisle may call that the Tea Party voice, if they like.  I caution you that the Boston Tea Party was not what it seemed.

Whether or not there is a moral imperative to drive our decision-making, shall we also ignore the voice of the major religions that speak of our moral obligations?  Of course, there are people who do not follow any religion, but the vast majority of  people do associate themselves with one of the major religions.  Followers of Islam and followers of Christ both believe in the obligation to help those in need, Jews believe they are commanded in the Old Testament to help the poor, other major religions here this calling as well.  So how is it that political leaders can claim to be both religious and opposed to social programs?  Religious leaders here and around the world have encouraged the continuation of lending a helping hand in the tough economic times.  It is not a matter of whether there is enough to go around, it is the issue of whether there is a willingness to share.

Islam believes that it is a moral obligation for Muslims to share with the less fortunate.  It is a way for the rich to understand the needs of the poor.  A young man in Cairo recently told me that his family was fortunate enough to give a camel to the poor each year.  Some may give a goat or lamb.  Pope John Paul II wrote in his 1981 encyclical letter on social justice, Laborem Exercens, that there is a right to life and subsistence.  In other words there is an obligation to meet the minimum needs to the poor.  The Vatican’s Justice and Peace department have urged world leaders to create a fair economic system.  It called on Catholics as a “moral imperative” to help the poor.  U.S. Catholic bishops have urged Congress to extend social programs.  House Speaker John Boehner, a practicing Catholic, has been challenged by a faculty member of Catholic University regarding his willingness, almost stubbornly so, to cut or eliminate certain social programs.

Why should Congress care?  If they are not urged by some moral imperative from within, or pushed along by some moral obligation stated by the major religions, then by what standards do they rule over others?  In preserving as many of their own dollars and that of their wealthy friends, have they lived up to the social contract?  Do they care that men were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life?”  Or have we dropped “all for one” in favor of “each man for himself?”  Let’s look at this in an individually selfish way then.  Is is not better to preserve “domestic tranquility” by helping the poor when needed, rather than letting them fall into desperate and hopeless situations?  Crime rises in desperate times because if there is no hope, there seems to be little to lose.

 “The public revenues are a portion that each subject gives of his property in
order to secure or enjoy the remainder. To fix their revenues in a proper
manner, regard should be had both to the necessities of the state and to those
of the subject. The real wants of the people ought never to give way to the
imaginary wants of the state.”Thomas Jefferson

“Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all
from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property
in geometrical progression as they rise.”Thomas Jefferson to James Madison,
1785

Pride

When I posted the following two years ago I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.  Also note, at the time of this writing Benedict XVI was Pope. 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.

The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.

Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.

With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

For more thoughts on your own true colors as well as the song below visit Don’t Be Afraid To Let Them Show on SERENDIPITY blog.