Are You Among the Living Dead?

Napoleon is alleged to have said “History is a lie agreed upon.” But what of your personal history, the one you carry around in your head? Is it a lie? How often in recalling past events have you changed your mind about what you believe happened? Memory can be a funny thing,  allowing doubts to creep in and change your perspective. That’s because you’ve been learning new things, things which should’ve thrown past beliefs into doubt. You’re a living, changing organism, interacting with the world of people and events every day, which allows you to add the new things you’ve learned. If you insist on hanging onto what you once believed to be true in the past, in spite of new knowledge, you’re in danger of dying of old age before you’re old enough to suffer from dementia. Some people die of old age in their thirties or even twenties! You probably know some. They don’t even know they’re dead. They still carry the past, never daring to question what they once believed.

Welcome to the Age of Dissent

“Dissenters are often portrayed as selfish and disloyal, but Sunstein shows that those who reject pressures imposed by others perform valuable social functions, often at their own expense. This is true for dissenters in boardrooms, churches, unions, and academia. It is true for dissenters in the White House, Congress during times of war and peace.”  Excerpted from “Why Societies Need Dissent” by Cass R. Sunstein

In attempts to explain various periods of time, history books are riddled with AGES: the “AGE of this” or the “AGE of that”.  Will future historians call the times we are now living through the “AGE  of Dissent”? Or the “AGE of Stupidity”?

Being neither a historian nor a genius, I was led to ponder where I fit in until I finally understood I had become a contrarian—one who is, of course, contrary; we do not wish to fit in.

We’ve reached a dichotomy. The time will come soon when we must start anew. Find the best that’s in you and use it to start your New World.

A Little Bit of Nonsense

This is how the world ends, not all at once, just a little bit at a time.

 Why is J. D. Vance’s little bit of Jabberwocky making such a big splash? Twas brillig and the slithy toves –you know the rest–doesn’t everyone?

I’m appalled by this pandering to an opportunistic quasi-hillbilly who has indecently laid claim to the name. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised since it’s simply more of the same: disrespect for a people who fought to independently carve out a life for themselves and their children in the wilderness through their own labor.

Although I left eastern Kentucky many years ago in order to find employment I continue to be proud of my heritage. My ancestors were pioneers in eastern Kentucky, several generations (including one great great grandfather who was about two years old) coming into what is now Letcher County in the Adams Wagon Train.

I’m proud because I know what we stood for in the beginning and still do. I took my heritage with me when I left, passing my values along to my own children. I taught them to take pride in our ancestors who built this country from scratch. There may be a few bad’uns somewhere in our lineage but if there are, then God Bless Them.

Find Your Own Truth

To be a person of truth, be swayed neither by approval nor disapproval. Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are. — Rebbe Nachman

It sounds simple. To be a person of truth, be who you really are. But what if, one day, you realize what you’re reflecting is other people’s truth, not your own?. First it was your parents truth; you were thrilled by the light of approval in their eyes. Well, of course! What are parents for, after all, but to teach us their own truth. We have to start somewhere.

But deep inside us is our own truth. Which may conflict with our parents truth. You are not your parents; you are growing into your own person. Only you can know the truth of who you are. And the only way you can know your truth is by examining your beliefs. Where did they come from? Do they have the ring of authenticity or are they things you were told and accepted without question?

If you find some shreds of old beliefs that don’t have the “ring of truth” do you dare to explore the possibility they are wrong? Are you willing to modify them into what does ring as true to you? And then are you willing to resist being influenced by other opinions?

Rebbe Nachman says “Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are.” The key word is “work” because finding our truth is not easy for most of us. We have to dig for it, defend it, even suffer for it.

But in the end, to know your truth is to know pure happiness.

How do I Offend Thee? Think on What I Say

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I offend thee? Let me count the ways.
I offend thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach when I say good riddance to your
Shackles of propriety. You say I’m not allowed
To have beliefs that differ from your own. Even though such
Beliefs come from my heart and mind only to guide my own life,
Not to inhibit yours. I offend thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. That America
Is the land of freedom to believe as one’s conscience allows,
Not as others say. I offend thee with the breath, smiles, tears,
Of all my life! And, if God chooses, I shall offend thee until death.