2015

23 December 2015: Time of the year to live fully

Time of the year to live fully

December 23rd.  Americans scurrying around, anxious they missed someone on their list. And probably have, though he/she is someone not on their list. But who ought to be. Himself. Herself.

The anxious, overwrought segment of the American populace that is paranoid about personal safety and angry about their wants not being met is growing. They identify terrorist threats and attacks as their greatest concern. They conflate their wants with their needs. They deny responsibility for their failings, instead point fingers elsewhere. “It’s not my fault that I…”

Pampered adults still swaddled in Pampers. Products of sheltered upbringings in a helicopter society. Protected from personal stupidity. And responsibility. Never having felt pangs of hunger, not from missing lunch but from not having food. Food, a disposable commodity.

Residents of a gonger society dependent upon flashing lights, bold red print, and screaming sirens to warn of danger. Or that their parking brake is on when they put their vehicle into drive.

The question before us this season of yule: Are the terrorists winning?

If the terrorists’ goal is to make us physically less safe, the answer is no. But if their goal is to make us quiver and shake, to throw out ideals bequeathed to us through the blood and sweat of our forefathers and foremothers—liberty, freedom, and equal justice—then the answer is yes.

My bet is those who live in terror of terrorists attacks, whether from abroad or hatched at home such as the Planned Parenthood, San Bernardino, and Charleston shootings, are also ones who don’t take responsibility for their own short-comings.

There’s a correlation between narcissism and a sense of entitlement, and between those and insistence that government authorities from the local constable to the president guarantee their lives will not be shattered by…

Ever.

Ben Franklin famously stated, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The subtext of that statement is that liberty and safety are diametrically opposed. One cannot have both completely. It’s a balancing act. Freedom or fascism. You choose where between.

To be free means to face uncertainty, insecurity. To live in a world of grays or vibrant colors but not in one with only black and white. Or good or evil. Or two ways of life and doing things: mine and everyone else’s.

To be free means to live fully each day in a sea of complexities. Where there are no easy answers. Where danger lurks.

True freedom depends upon personal responsibility. Safety does not. You can be made safe or set free. But you cannot be made to be free.

Freedom is the greatest gift to give yourself.

It begins in the heart. It’s called courage, which comes from the Latin cors, which means heart. It’s the lesson the Cowardly Lion learns in “The Wizard of Oz.”

I have made a friend who has one leg. Her name is Martha. Martha skis regularly at Mary Jane where there are no bunny runs. She skis on a prosthesis. Martha is far from alone. Many disabled people—paralyzed, without legs, blind—tackle Mary Jane’s daunting terrain. They’re disabled physically, not in the heart.

Martha wears a smile daily. Martha is completely free.

You can be too.

Move past fear. Don’t cower.

Take ownership of failings. Shows others you are human with a secure sense of self.

Wear a smile every day, especially during tough stretches.

Put things into perspective. You could be in Syria or Sudan. Or Texas.

Take time to be quiet. Go one day without speaking.

Give yourself that gift that truly keeps giving. Then we’ll have a chance for peace on earth.

As the hymn says, peace begins with me. With you.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Happy Chanukah. Happy Kwanza. Celebrate the Solstice.

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