The Symphony of Life

Just imagine a group of 150 musicians each playing his instrument in any tune or tempo he wanted and trying to be the loudest in order to drown out his fellow musicians. That is what uncontrolled ego does to the world.

Lets make beautiful music together, clear and melodious. When you have about 42 minutes to enjoy this I highly recommend it but if you don’t, watch at least a small part of it to get just a hint of what I am trying to convey here.

That performance is well worth setting aside the time to hear and watch. Let it wash over you and stir your soul. It will do that if you let it and you will emerge cleansed of your immediate cares … at least for a little while. It does that for me.

Each person in the orchestra has his part as we do in life. Sometimes we have a prominent solo but we never dominate. Our efforts always are to blend with the whole. We are often in the background giving support to the soloist or to an entire section of the group. Even the rests where we are silent lend to the harmony and produce a needed effect.

Wouldn’t our world be wonderful if we all lived in harmony! We can make beautiful music together if we would only try.

Reflecting even deeper into our life of symphonic harmony we realize that the music of the world would not be remotely possible without the people who designed and created the musical instruments. We never see them and sometimes it is we who are in this supporting role. Never prominent but indispensable in our role. The least of us is important to the harmony of life.

Conversely, very prominent is the leader(s) of the orchestra. They have the awesome responsibility to guide us and maintain the harmony. But they too must subject themselves to the written score of the author.

And then of course there is the Author, Himself. He has not only created the music but all who perform it. It is God’s plan that is the music of life and it is God’s plan that we live in harmony to make it as He designed it.

Again, I say, Let’s make beautiful music together and leave ego and discord behind.

Some people fear that being grateful makes us beholden to someone. Maybe it is true but it is not to be feared. It means we have a friend who cares. That’s a good thing. We need to recognize God as our friend, not one who condemns and punishes. He created us and he does not want His creation to fail. That would be rather counterproductive wouldn’t it! God is not stupid nor should we be stupid either.

Maybe this should be our prayer …

Lord,
As we journey along the adventuress road of life
let us thrive in harmony with our fellows.
Let us blend out talents with them
to bring to fruition the plan You designed for us.
Let us avoid discord as we do our best
to follow your plan for humanity.
Let us play each of our assigned parts
using the talents You have gifted to us
ever aware of the beauty you have planned for us.
Amen

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Maturity – Step #4 – Adulthood

When we reach adulthood we are supposed to be mature. I see too many exceptions to that rule. I also see too many levels of maturity. Humans are designed in such a way that one group of people have an extensive maturity training period in their early adulthood. These select individuals are called “Parents”. They have the privilege and duty to care for one or more infants and in doing so should finally learn what self sacrifice is all about. For many, this extended hands on training period is a success. Unfortunately their is no screening in place to prevent completely immature adults from being parents. A few are so unable to control their selfish rages that they murder their children. Many fail to wean their children from their natural selfishness to various degrees.

To those of you who believe in “Original Sin” I suggest that since the “original” sin of Adam & Eve was the sin of ego driven selfishness (and what else could it be called) that Humans are born in that state. It must be removed or suppressed in order that we may live as God meant us to live … As His will be done … in unselfish love and justice. (But I digress.)

Adulthood  does not, unfortunately equate to maturity. I have come to believe that self centeredness is a condition of an immature person. It, not money, is the root of all evil. It is a state of uncontrolled ego wherein a person holds himself above others and holds his wants above the needs of others, He may not even recognize the difference between wants and needs, It is a condition of wanting instant gratification as opposed to inner joy. It is greed, not gratitude for what we have. Fanaticism is, I believe, a form of immaturity. Any degree of intolerance is immaturity. It is rampant in our society.

But, all is not lost. There is no deadline in this world for reaching maturity. Many, myself included, do not reach advanced levels of maturity until late in life and some never reach it at all. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Most religions have goals that promote maturity. They never give up and neither should we. I do believe however that there is a deadline. I do not believe that immature people are allowed into Heaven. C.S Lewis makes that point far better than I ever could in his book, “The Great divorce”. No it is not about marriage or the dissolution of marriage. It is about moving from Purgatory to Heaven. Read it.

But on the assumption that immaturity is not permitted in Heaven I suggest that in order to avoid delays or even rejection, we should be as mature as we possibly can before approaching those gates.

We can stamp out adult immaturity if we start with ourselves.

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Maturity – Step #3 – Childhood

Step #1, In the Womb and Step #2, Infancy, are required reading before attempting to understand Childhood in step #3.

The entrance into childhood, unlike the entrance into Infancy, is  a gradual transition. Childhood is recognized as the physical ability to speak and to walk and it is a condition of the person which lasts many years and moves through many stages. Our discussion is not concerned with the physical advancements but we will consider only the mental maturity of the person.

Unfortunately there are some who never advance to this stage in life. They remain completely self centered and self absorbed in spite of their physical advancement. However, for most individuals, childhood starts with a period of weaning. I do not refer to weaning from breast or bottle feeding, or both, but from  being self centered. Most infants, are introduced to others of their age. They learn they have peers, people just like them. They also begin to understand language and concepts. At first meaning is conveyed to them through tone of voice and facial expression and after a time communication develops. They begin to walk. The ability to Walk and talk usually defines the transition to Childhood.

It is then, during the extended period of childhood, that a person is weaned from complete selfishness to maturity. It is a long and difficult period beginning with the sharing of toys and progressing, hopefully, to love and have compassion for others. Selfishness is deeply ingrained during the preceding periods even though the periods are short. But they are lifetimes to the emerging child.

The success attained during Childhood is dependent on the personality of the child but more, I think, on the guidance and example the child receives during that period. Example of parents and other adults has the most effect On them. They learn primarily by emulating what they observe. There are several stages of development in childhood but they all come together when we speak of mental (and spiritual) maturity. The child matures physically and he learns certain skills. The former is natural growth and the latter is a result of education. They can occur and in some cases do occur without mental maturity. A certain amount of sharing is forced upon them but unless, through the example of parents and other adults, they see and adopt selflessness and a sense of justice to some degree they may progress through childhood with little maturity. Religious training sometimes helps but unless they see that their parents put value in their faith, this too may fail.

There finally comes a time when they are given leave to drive a car and consume alcohol. They think that they are mature and their parents pat themselves on the back thinking the same. They go off into the world as adults. Many are functionally ready. Some are not. Some have not been completely weaned from selfishness. What makes it worse is that, for some driven by inflated egos and bad example, selfishness has been reinforced instead of being minimized.

They are left to mature in the next stage, Adulthood.

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Maturity – Step #2 – Infantcy

Did you read what life is like for the Fetus in Step #1? It is necessary to understand what that must have been like before going on to this step.

Step #1 ends abruptly and dramatically. I can not speak to birth itself but its trauma is relatively brief and a one time event. It is what happens next that is relevant to this discussion.

All of a sudden the constant contact with the mother is gone as is the continuous nourishment. The umbilical cord is cut. Miraculously, vital organs that had never been necessary before go into action. This, of course requires no action or even knowledge by the infant. It just happens. Its the consequences of these actions that effect the baby and thus, his reactions. He (or she) becomes aware of hunger, a strange gnawing, a need unfulfilled. He cries out for it to be satisfied. He is fed and momentarily satisfied. But then the newly activated digestive system may cause discomfort, usually just air in the stomach, sucked down with milk. He doesn’t know what it is but he knows it is uncomfortable and he does the only thing he can. He cries.

His environment is no longer perfectly controlled and he responds only as he can to being hot, cold, or just uncomfortable. None of this is the result of conscious thought but it is an instinctive reaction. He soon learns that being wet or soiled is uncomfortable. That experience of constant closeness with mother was unconsciously reassuring and it is gone. That can be traumatic. That is why being swaddled in confining blankets is comforting to a newborn infant. The trauma is overcome at times by the need for sleep and with sleep comes peace for him and his parents. But imagine what it is like to be completely helpless and waking from a restful sleep. You are alone. Where is your human contact? Where is the one who provides for you needs? Terror invades and you cry out for help.  It is well to note that the infant who has developed the closest ties with its mother is the one most effected by the fear of she or any other source of comfort not being there. Anne, my wife, slept in a lawn chair next to our oldest son and held his hand so he would feel secure and be able to sleep. This continued for well over a month.

An infant, the product of his past experience in the womb, is self-centered, to the extreme. He only knows of his world and his existence. His mother, his parents, and anyone else is only there to attend to his needs. No one … nothing else … is of any concern. It is not a conscious decision on his part but an unconscious reaction to his environment. He is not being good or bad, he is being a natural baby. He has no choice in the matter. The infant is in a state of complete immaturity. We all start from there and go on to childhood.

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Maturity – Step #1 – In The Womb

We begin life in the womb as a helpless fetus. What has this to do with maturity? It is the starting point and the starting point of anything has profound effect on what immediately follows.

A Fetus is a person who is completely dependent on its mother. It lives in a safe and comfortable temperature controlled environment. It is nourished by the mother, continuously and without any effort on its part. Its digestive system and other organs are still in stages of development and at this time unused and unneeded. The fetus doesn’t even need to breath. It does, in the later stages of fetal development, become self aware to some extent and also aware of its mother and possibly some sounds outside its little totally secure world.

It lives, seemingly in comfort, and has no obligations to itself or others of which it is aware. It only has to develop and grow and none of that requires conscious thought and certainly no conscious decisions on its part.

This is the first step in life, our initial experience, our cornerstone of what will soon change dramatically.

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The Power of God

I am in awe of the power of God …
Not in His use of it, but in His restraint of using it. He does not command nor force compliance with His way. He invites. He teaches. He has not created a race of slaves, puppets or robots. He created us as thinking beings, capable of choosing right from wrong, good from evil. He does not smite us dead if we do not follow Him but will give us the rest of our lives to make the right choices. We can do no less than He in the use of what power we may have and turn it to be used for the good of all. It is called selflessness.
(Just something of which I have become aware on the way to where I am today.)
I think it would be wonderful if every person in the world would have been taught this from infancy and believed it. Wouldn’t it be a better world?

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Rabble Rouser Report #13

The 2012 election is over but people are still circulating these things. Sour grapes maybe? This time it popped up on Facebook over a picture of Michelle Obama accusing her of having 40 government paid aids compared to any previous first ladies’ 1. It is a total lie but the rabble rousers count on the fact that most people only read headlines and believe anything they read. After all they can’t put it on the internet if it isn’t true! If you believe that, I have some land in the Everglades I could sell you.

The rabble rousers use lies and half truths to promote their cause in attempting to discredit their opponents. They know that people believe what they want to believe and seldom, if ever check the facts. But the discerning readers do check and the Rabble Rousers do not realize that discerning people will find the lie. The fact is that the use of the lie removes all credibility for the cause the Rabble Rousers are trying to promote. Among discerning people, they do more harm than good.

I will not place myself as a member of the Rabble, the un-discerning and the gullible. You are smarter than that too … don’t fall for it. And … if you repeat and circulate the lie it will be assumed that you endorse it. We have no problem in an honest disagreement … but let’s keep it honest.

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