Archive for the ‘Citizenship’ Category

No Labels   2 comments


Image provided by vanogfashion.com

Image provided by vanogfashion.com

Today I was looking at a Scripture passage that really caused my thoughts to venture into the “what if” category.

Here is the passage:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28, NIV)

While I realizing that this is how God views us, I know that this is not how we operate as humans.  We are all about labels.  We usually label people early in our encounters with them.  The label that is placed upon an individual impacts how we interact with them.  The labels often assign a sense of value.

So here is my “what if”…..  What if we lived with out labels?

I realize that some would argue that labels help create order in our society.  So there may be a sense of anarchy in my question.  I also realize that sometimes labels are assigned subconsciously.  There may even be some benefit to labels.  However, I see a lot damage caused by labels.  I see lives impacted in negative and long-lasting ways.  I see bullying committed by the use of labels.

So I am back to my question……  What would happen if we lived in a label free society?

I am eager to hear your responses.

Your Blue Jay   Leave a comment


Image provided by attheedgeofthewood.com

Image provided by attheedgeofthewood.com

This morning I was watching for a brief period of time an encounter between a blue jay and a squirrel in the tree outside my office.  I have learned that blue jays are quite an aggressive bird.  They seem to be the bullies in the bird world.  So while they have beautiful color on the outside, they do not have the same kind of beauty on the inside.  As I watched this encounter between the squirrel and the blue jay, I heard both of them making quite a lot of noise.  It was clear that they were not easily going to coexist in the tree.  Both of them seemed ready to take the other on and movement closer together occurred in intervals.  Eventually, the blue jay must have decided that taking on the squirrel in a physical way was not the wisest move so the bird flew out of the tree and to the ground below.  The squirrel moved down the branches so that it could continue to posture and yell at the blue jay.  This round was clearly won by the squirrel.

After watching this encounter, it made me ponder what I mentioned earlier – blue jays are the bullies of the bird world.  I thought about the bullies who I have encountered in my life.  I am pretty sure that all of us have had bullies in our lives.  These are the people who tend to make a lot of noise and can say and do some pretty damaging things to other people.  Some of them our outwardly aggressive.  Others use passive aggressive techniques.  Whatever their mode of operation, the goal of intimidation to achieve their desires is always the driving force behind their words and actions.

How do you handle the bullies in your life?  I have come to find that as difficult as it may be at times, the best approach is to call them out.  When I identify their bullying behaviors, I can then confront them.  There is nothing easy about dealing with bullies.  However, if bullies are left alone and allowed to continue their behaviors, they will leave a wake of disaster in their path.  Lives can be damaged or destroyed in the process.

We hear a lot about bullying going on in schools.  I would argue that this type of behavior extends far into adulthood.  You can find bullies in work places, organizations, churches, and community settings.  It is time that we all work to confront and put an end to these behaviors.  It is time that we deal with the bullies, just as the squirrel dealt with the blue jay I saw this morning.

So who is your blue jay?  What are you doing about it?

Reaching High   Leave a comment


Image provided by charliebilello.tumblr.com

Image provided by charliebilello.tumblr.com

I have never truly understood people who are willing to settle.  There are people who are content with just obtaining the minimums of life.  Now before anyone of you decide to lecture me on contentment, I agree that there is value to finding contentment in what we have, however, I do not see that as a reason to consistently reach from something higher.

I am the type of person who feels that I need to always be setting my focus on something higher than where I am and what I have.  I can be grateful for what I have achieved in life.  I can be grateful for all that I have been given.  However, I believe that what I have achieved and what I have been given should be used to assist me in obtaining new goals and new achievements which will benefit me but should also benefit others that have been placed in my life.

For me, part of the adventure of life and what creates a drive in my life is the ongoing strive for a higher goal.  This is true for all aspects of my life.  Whether I am looking at my professional life, my community life, my personal life, my faith, or my relationships, I want to always strive to be better in those areas.  This requires me to continue learning, to listen to others, to commit time and energy, and to do self-evaluation.  I believe that the Lord always has something more that I need to work toward.  I also believe that the Lord will provide what I need to move higher in the areas that will benefit others and myself.

So for my life, my motto is:  Keep reaching higher, there is something more which you are called to do.

Not Perfect   Leave a comment


I had the privilege of spending some time in Washington, D.C. this week.  During some free time, I explored some of the monuments and museums, some which I have been to many times.  I thought about some of the people these monuments honored.  I thought about some of the amazing pieces of the history of humanity and nature that were represented in the museums.  I thought about the government of my nation.  One of the thoughts which recurred to me many times was none of these are perfect.  The greatest leaders, which the monuments are tributes to, were not perfect.  The men and women who are remembered for their bravery and their sacrifices in battles were not perfect.  The government of our nation is not perfect.  The very monuments themselves are not perfect.  Yet, they all have a lasting impact on our nation, our world, and myself as I stand and reflect in their shadows.

This has led me to realize something which is very important about myself, and I would dare to say about each of you who read this…. I am not perfect.  However, my imperfections do not limit my ability to have a positive and lasting impact upon others.  Much like the women and men who are acknowledged and honored throughout our nation’s capital, in spite of my imperfections, I can contribute in meaningful ways to the lives of others, my community, and my nation.  As a believer in the Lord, I can acknowledge my imperfections with confidence that in my weaknesses and failures, the Lord can still use me and can bring forth good.

So my challenge to each of you today is to not allow your imperfections to limit your contributions.  Give the best of what you have in your service to others.  Let the Lord overcoming your imperfections with the Lord’s perfection.  Contribute and do not sit idle.  While you or I may never have a memorial erected in our honor, none of the men and women with monuments ever expected such an honor.  They just did what they could to contribute to the world around them for the benefit of the world.

A Deserving Thank You   1 comment


Honor FlightI had the honor and the privilege of serving as a guardian on my father’s honor flight this past weekend.  In addition to the great joy I obtained from accompanying my dad on his first-ever trip to Washington, D.C., I had the joy of serving as guardian to two other Korean War veterans.  The day was filled with activity and I truly came home exhausted but it was a very moving day for me as well.

I have been to Washington, D.C., a number of times.  This is one of my favorite cities to visit.  Maybe it is because of the history buff that is a part of who I am.  Maybe it is because of the many historical and memorial sites that there are to see.  Probably it is a combination of both.  However, this trip provided an experience that none of the other very moving and meaningful trips to D.C. has provided.  What I found to be truly amazing this time was the type of response that this group of veterans, mainly from the Korean War but also a few from World War II, elicited in people.

The first major response occurred as we left the jetway of our plane.  From the door into the terminal to the door leading to our buses (about 3 city blocks in length), there were people lined up to greet these men and women.  They received hugs, handshakes, and most importantly words of thanks from every person along the path.  There were people of all ages in this greeting party.  There were boy scouts, girl scouts, military cadets, veterans, and average citizens lining the walk.  I watched with great joy as the veterans responded to these greetings with amazement and great happiness.

However, it did not end when we left the airport.  Everywhere that we went, people would walk up to one of these veterans and express their gratitude for their service to our country.  Some would have tears in their eyes.  Others would give hugs and kisses.  Still others would do it with a simple handshake and kind words.

When we arrived back home, there was a huge crowd to greet us late at night.  They stood on the tarmac and cheered loudly as each veteran walked down the steps from the plane and had their name announced with the greeting, “Welcome home……”  There was another military honor guard that met us and created a walking path of honor for the veterans to move toward the terminal.

As I watched and listened to all of this, I was awestruck.  I realized that this was the welcome home and the words of thanks that each and every veteran deserves.  Some of the people would tell the veteran that this is what they should have and did not always receive when they first returned home from the war.

So to my dad, and to each veteran who has served both in periods of conflict and periods of peace, I say THANK YOU!

Person to Person   Leave a comment


Detail

Detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a fabulous conversation with a friend over coffee this morning.  We were discussing the situation in Syria and all the elements involved in it.  During the conversation, I stated that often we have conflict because people do not have knowledge into the background of a person or a group of people.  We do not understand what has occurred over time that cause the individual or individuals to respond and act in manner which we see.  My friend asked how we might get a handle on this and we came to the agreement that it takes person to person conversation.

Since that discussion, I have been thinking a lot about various situations where person to person contact would create a different dynamic.  There are some key points to keep in mind as conversations happen:

  1. You need to listen as well as you talk.
  2. You need to go into the conversation wanting to learn.
  3. You need to realize that you may still disagree but you will have a much different understanding regarding why.
  4. You need to not prepare to prove them wrong.
  5. You need to not have a goal of changing them.
  6. You need to remove labels and view the person as a person.
  7. You need to be willing to open yourself to them and that goes beyond just words.
  8. You need to remain in conversation and not arguments.
  9. You need to reflect on the conversation afterwards.

I am convinced that this is a vital to making a difference in how to deal with conflicts.  Maybe if more individuals practiced this approach, we would live in a much different world.

Never Forget   Leave a comment


Today, we remember once again.

Please watch this YouTube video……. Blaze’s 9-11 Video Tribute

Posted September 11, 2013 by thoughtfulbeliever in Citizenship, Community, Experiences, Life

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