Remembering 9/11

It snowed and snowed, the whole world over, Snow swept the world from end to end. A candle burned on the table; A candle burned.                                                                                    Boris Pasternak

The spewing of ashes from the 911 attacke.

Not snow, but smoke, ash, bodies, buildings falling. Lives suddenly taken and after  candles were lit.  Hands reached out, humankind’s better side worked to master  the horror produced by what hatred of the other created. That spirit of caring needs to burn again.

I worked for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York City,  before, during and after 9/11; I directed mental health crisis teams.  Being there and being able to act allowed me to survive emotionally.  The others reaching out, trying to help were candles in the darkness and their light were blessings in the dark.

I know very few who did not light one candle or another on that day and  the days that followed. Partly, we responded because television took us there.  We saw the horror.  We saw ourselves in the victims as we do when nature makes the earth move, volcano erupt, waves mount, water rise, tornadoes swirl, winds rage or mountains of snow fall.  Acts of nature call us out against a common threat.

We respond less quickly when humans turn on each other which  seems the case now.   Too many of  us are busing ourselves with trivial amusements while the world grows darker.  I expected when I did my social media thing this day, to see recognition of 9/11 trending.  Instead nothing. Nada.  Not on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.   Apparently remembering 9/11 has become passé.

When I posted a picture from 9/11 on my status, only two people acknowledged the picture and yes, I am small potatoes in terms of followers, and I know more will in time respond.  But I also know if I had put up a joke, 10 or 11 people would have liked it.  A really good joke and I might get 30 likes.

When I went to see what the Word Press Daily Post was prompting its followers to write about on 9/11, here is what I found: Daily Prompt 9/11/2014 – “Voice Work:  Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?”

My heart sank and for a while, all I could say in my head was “Vanity, vanity. Worship of the idoltry of self. “

However, as  Emily Dickenson noted, “Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words  / And never stops – at all.”

The song I keep trying to hear is  that in time enough will light  candles for all in the dark.  I fear it will take a time of greater darkness for that to happen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson noted ”Faith and love are apt to be spasmodic in the best minds. Men live the brink of mysteries and harmonies into which they never enter, and with their hands on the door-latch they die outside.”

And believe me, I know the urge to keep my eyes on what lifts my heart in the moment.  Laugh and play is an important way to keep moving forward for. I indulge in all I can that makes me feel good and does no harm to others.  No one can stay emotionally strong on a constant diet of despair.

However, we must also remember what matters.  As Albert Einstein reminded us, “A human being is part of the whole called by us universe , a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

Much is made of the fact that suffering can lead to transformation and to a new manner of thought.  Transformation, however, is not always toward the light.  Which is why I  believe with all my heart, every person does the best he can with what he or she has been given.  For far too many, the fruits of their lives are full of bitterness and in time  leads them to evil acts.  Their free will is limited, but they are few compared to many who have been given much.

I know I have been given more than most.  Knowing that, I work to send light to those I meet. And while, I cannot do as much as others, but I can do something.  I can light candles.  So can you can.

Perhaps if a enough candles burn we will better see and be more willing to follow the path that leads to peace.

As always thank you for all you do and continue to care and share.

Katherine

How To Deal With Jealousy

Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, The Egyptians and the Jews; Modern Anti-Semitism.  Don’t believe the Bible is the word of God? You are not alone.

Cartoon reporting what some beleive is true about the Bible

Some Jews believe the Torah was delivered personally to Moses; others are less sure, many do not even believe in God.  I am somewhere between.  But I do believe the strength of the Jews comes from centuries of Torah study. That is also a major source of Anti-Semitism.

Today’s post is political and personal.  It shares my thoughts about why Jews have been hated across the millennium. That hatred is on the up swing and I two  explanations seem reasonable to me.

First, it involves how the Jews became wise or “Sly” as Anti-semites proclaim. Torah study does not involve rote learning but discussion. Gathering many opinions, looking at the past, but also adding thoughts from the present and honoring most.

An old joke says “Two rabbis plus a question about Torah equals seven opinions.”

Torah study leads to a fine tuning of critical thinking. What is that ? It is what allows the comparison of different opinions, thinking about what might be, better reality testing, greater creativity, inventiveness, and stronger survival skills.

Torah study strengthens critical thinking.  All educators want to make all children critical thinkers – will not happen, as a certain genetic requirement called brain capacity is also needed.  Studies show only 30 to 50 percent of any group of humans are capable of thinking critically.

Here’s a related thought: Surviving Jews were generally smarter than many of their brothers and sisters.  So Jews in general got pushed up the survival ladder in terms of brain capacity.

Second reason Jews are hated: Jews believe they were chosen to serve as a moral example to the rest of the world.  Moralists are not popular and very unpopular in today’s world.  So Jews were  chosen to be hated and most strongly by those who are troubled by their own moral standards.

However,  Albert Einstein noted: Morality is of the highest importance – but for us, not for God.”

For if we do not adhere to a standard of goodness, all will die. The commandment not to worship false idols comes to play, for it does not just mean wooden or gold statues or the Gods those statues represent.  It refers to all human desires that take us away from the Golden Rule. The Golden rule is the standard of moral behavior across all religions.

The Golden Rule is expressed as either, “Do not do to others what you don’t want done to you” or as “Do to others what you want done to or for you.”

Both matter; but the humans of the world will only survive if the first is followed. As  the Torah points out we all have a dark side and many of the laws and mitzvoth Jews are told to follow are efforts to control that dark side.  Not following our desires if at odds with bettering the world is not an easy path and most stumble from it in one way or another.

For as the Catholic Bishop Fulton L. Sheen once asked and then answered, “Why are those who are notoriously undisciplined and unmoral also most contemptuous of religion and morality? They are trying to solace their own unhappy lives by pulling the happy down to their own abysmal depths.”

But the bigger problem comes in wanting others to believe as we do. It is what led Christians to Inquisition.  Why is it so important to get others to believe as we believe.  Because beliefs that run counter to our beliefs shake our internal world, make us uncertain about who we are and what we believe.

As Robert Wilson notes. “In reality, both religion and science are expressions of man’s uncertainty. Perhaps the paradox is that certainty, whether it be in science or religion is dangerous.”

I converted to Judaism so my children would be Jews and not be put outside of the thirty three hundred year history of what it means to be Jewish.  . I studied for a year.  Basically, I had only one question? Must one be a Jew to be loved by the God of our understanding.  The Jewish answer. No. God is more  interested in behavior and acts, than  beliefs.

When I was entered into the Jewish roles  as a daughter of Sarah, my Rabbi told me, “I have taught you the laws, now it is between you and Hashem, how you obey them.”

Given that I am far from a perfect human being or a perfect Jew, I am grateful that the God I met and meet in my Torah readings is a God of Mercy.  Indeed, I think his mercy is so great, he wants all children of all faith to know the value of love and mercy. To me that explains, why he sits as watches as we try to sort out our differences.

What to do when faced with another’s hatred or your own jealousy?  One of my favorite books is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King.  It is about Merlin, the Wizard’s effort to educate the boy “Wart” who was to become King Arthur.

“The best thing ….is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

The more we learn about each other, the more we will realize we are one, the more we will understand each other,  the less we will hate or be jealous.

STAYING STRONG

Of course, one must also have strong  self-soothing skills  to move beyond hatred and jealousy. When you find yourself want to blame or judge another think of that as an opportunity to learn more about that person or about yourself. Other and self-awareness are major emotional intelligence skills.

Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness blesses the giver and the receiver.

Katherine

Links of interest

 Word Press Daily Prompt

Daily Post Sep 9, 2014 Next in Line.  A second #RoyalBaby will soon be joining the Windsors in England. Given the choice, would you rather be heir to the throne, or the (probably) off-the-hook sibling?

I would rather be neither. Trying to be me and a good person is blessing enough.

 

How to Win Life’s Lottery

Despite the popularity of the idea that we control our fate by controlling our thoughts, and we just need to “Do It, ” just doing it requires some luck.

Why to I rant so about this? Those of you who read me, are probably tired of those rants. Apologies, but just doing it does not work for the most people,  but  only creates despair or worse hatred.

For those of us lucky or blessed as some have it to have all we need and more, the danger is gluttony, wanting more and more of what feels good is always present.

The cries of just “Do it” do not feed the starving. Such cries lead to many of us who have much, feeling smug and less willing to help those who have less or little or not enough to survive on, let alone crawl their way to the good life.

Moreover, the cries of “Do it” are used by the advertising peopleto create dissatisfaction and increase sales.

Want the good life? Who doesn’t. Want to be happy? Who doesn’t.  I do.  Am I always happy? Ha. Not now, not through out my life. Am I always able to stay strong as I often suggest you do and as I tell myself to do? Not now, not through out my life.  Am I always calm and kind and grateful. No, no, no. But I look back on many years and am satisfied I have done the best I could with all I have been given and that has meant being blessed, having good karma, or more than some “a little bit of luck.”  I am grateful for that.

Here are today’ Emotional Fitness Training Tip:

Tip one: Life is a struggle, relationships often difficult, painful even murderous.  That is reality, thinking otherwise is delusional and twisted thinking at its worse.

Tip two: Happiness is illusionary, something we stumble on it in  amazing ways but only when luck or the blessing of whatever other powers control what we are given smile on us.

Tip three:  The poets, the sages of the ages, and the researchers know true happiness lies in our sense of being good.  “I have to live with myself and so I want to be good for myself to know.”

Tip four: Sadly our cultures or personal life experiences often teach  us that happiness means overpowering others, controlling others. Sad, but true, many  find happiness in violence.  Bullies learn to be bullies because it feels very good to force someone to do what you want.

Tip five: It takes a village to raise a child, and the more those who want peace for all make up that village, the greater the chance peace will come to this world.  Freedom is a major roadway to peace for all.

Tip six: The only way freedom exists is freedom for all to believe as they wish with one major exception. That exception? Forcing others in one way or another to believe as you do.

Tip seven: The golden rule, it all its forms is the true path to the good life, to feeling good about yourself, bringing peace to your heart, your small world, and the larger world we all inhabit.

Two forms of the Golden Rule exist. One form “Do not do what you would hate done to you. ” The second form “Do to others what you would others do to you.”

Tip eight: Even the Golden Rule in either form can be perverted. How? By drawing circles around and putting some in a circle labeled these  deservesto be treated as the Golden Rule says; those outside this circle do not deserve such treatment.

STAYING STRONG

Mostly I rely on  self-soothing  to get me through the very hard times we all face. One of the hardest practices is being grateful for all. Some say lessons are sent personally to you to correct unacceptable behavior.

That always seemed to be to blame people.  I prefer to think life is full of lessons. We all have much to learn.  When bad things happen, looking for some knowledge to add to our efforts to stay strong seems better than focusing on blame.

At the same time, we all fail to do what we can as best we can, so examining our personal behavior matters and as do working harder to do the best we can.

Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness blesses the giver and the receiver.

Katherine

Links of interest

 Word Press Daily Prompt

How to Endure the Unendurable

You endure the unendurable mostly by putting one foot in front of the other, and when that is not possible, just standing what I call “Dead in the water” for a

What is unendurable?  Events that change you forever. Such life blows  can be something as personal as the death of gold-fish or as life threatening as being in a war zone;  war zones’ include domestic violence or neighborhoods run by criminals.

Such events bring you to a stand still.   When standing “Dead in the water” is  the best you can do, hopefully others will be there tending you.

WHAT HELPS AFTER A LIFE BLOW

When you can begin putting one foot ahead of the other, here are some others have found to move them ahead.

First – Do what the very young do. Young children move forward the best because more than the rest of us the younger the children the more he or she  lives in the now.  A bomb goes off, their house burns down, a parent dies, and quicker than an older child or adult, the young child can be seen playing with a favorite toy or laughing with friends.

Too often grownups seeing such play, think the child is not affected by the unendurable. Not so; nature and the development of their brains at that time, gets they through and keeps them going by having them do whatever comforts them the most, usually play.

Adults and school aged children need a bit more, but the lesson being learned is a good one; as soon as pain and immediate danger are past, get back to the everyday things that comfort.

Next – reconnect with those you care about and who care about you.  Doing so is one of the things that comforts most.  For most of us  right after the unendurable, we need to be with those  who can help us affirm the horror of what happened.

As  the great philosopher Martin Buber noted:  “Man wishes to be confirmed in his being by man, and wishes to have a presence in the being of the other….sent forth from the natural domain of species into the hazard of solitary category surrounded by a chaos which came into being with him…secretly and bashfully he watches for a YES which allows him to be and which can come to him only from one human person to another…that the heavenly bread of self being is passed. “

At no time is this more important to connect or reconnect then when life blows strike. That is why the mental health professionals gather trauma victims for debriefings.  Talking about the horror helps particularly when it first hits.

Warning – going over the bad, however, reinforces the pain.  Current research finds constantly reviewing the trauma, which often happens in some talk therapy, is not useful.

As soon as possible, establish a normal routine with an emphasis on maintaining what we know tends to our physical well-being – getting enough sleep, eating properly, and exercising.

Finally, examine what the unendurable has done to reaffirm or shatter your core beliefs about life and what it all means. Everyone needs to find comforting explanations for the whys of life.

Don’t agree? Think about the universal cry of the traumatized  “Why me?”

We all know people who have lost or gained faith following a life blow.

For most of us, one or another religion serves to answer the why and how of life.  People of faith find comfort and hope in religious practice. My faith helps me.

I quarrel with my atheist friends who want to do away with religion.  Mostly these have lost faith after when prayers seemed to fail. I do not quarrel with any religion as long as it it allows those that do not encourage violence of one sort or another and allow others to  believe as they believe. or preach violence of one sort or another,

While I  do not  care not what anyone believes,  I do  want bad theology done away with.  Most of that theology centers around the idea that all should have the same belief.  In my mind, the atheists who want to abolish religion are in the same camp as those who say in one way or another, “My faith is the one true faith.”  Neither brings peace to this world.

All beliefs need to be examined against the Golden Rule. Harvard researchers Jerome Kagan and Sheila Lamb looked into morality around the world. They found that every culture promoted two values:

  1. Caring for the weak
  2. Justice and fair treatment.

When I taught this to my students, many rightful asked why if this is true is the world so full of violence?

My answer, “Because, we apply those values to our own, but not to others.  We put those  seen different, not in our family, clan, or tribe out of our caring circle.”

The beliefs that work best for all of us are those embodied by the Golden Rule.  To bring peace to this world, however, we must draw the circle of caring around all, not just our own.

 STAy strong

When a life blow strikes, and they strike all at one time or another,  a well-practiced self-soothing program  provides what the experts call resilience and help you move forward more easily.

Thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing. Kindness blesses the giver and the receiver.

Katherine

Links of interest

 Word Press Daily Prompt

September 5, 2014   Moved to Tears: Do movies, songs, or other forms of artistic expression easily make you cry? Tell us about a recent tear-jerking experience!