#12–Slaying Fear

Everyone,  everyone, harbors at least one fear in his or her heart.  If you claim you don’t, you are afraid someone will find out what it is and use it against you.  So come on–just admit it.

We had a leisurely lunch with our mentor and friend and she admonished us to not hold back in writing and not self-edit, but rather share openly and honestly.  We countered with we didn’t want to offend.  Her response was if some readers found it offensive, they always had the option of not reading, so no offense would be taken except on their part, not ours.  She was right.  Without question.  No argument.  If we are offended by what is said or written, we can exercise the option of not listening (even while we appear to listen), or simply stop reading.  That was the slain dragon of fear of offending.  We thank her for it.

We have known a lot of fears in our lives.  Mostly, upon extensive examination, we have found our fears are based around those who might truly (or as we perceive) have power over us.  These are the ones that can make nightmares realities.  They can disrupt and change our lives and nearly everything we thought we had mapped out.  In the real world, this can be a co-worker, a boss, a segment of society uncomfortable with us, or persons who simply like to exercise their authority over others because they can.  You have to admit, those last mentioned are scary in more than one way.  So what to do?

They can appear as Dragons to be slain.  We can envision ourselves putting on our mail, drawing a magical sword that can turn to fire or unbreakable magic metal, and charging towards the Dragon that threatens us.  OR…we can slay the fear of the Dragon, and it becomes inconsequential, a mere replica of the problem–our own FEAR.

Confession time, here.  We are afraid of the full moon.  But no, we are not.  We are afraid of the memories and feelings the full moon elicits from our very souls.  It quickly reminds us of those who exercised their power over us in a godawful way.  The full moon?  Simply a symbol of FEAR.  We work on slaying the fear of the full moon, trying to remember that it is simply a symbol.  We use different methods, such as saying, “That was then-this is NOW.”  Or we cut the invisible strings that pull at us as we see the full moon.  But the fear is so engrained that these give temporary relief, and even though we so appreciate the temporary relief, we know we have not truly slain our FEAR.  WE KNOW full moons will come as designed by the universe, every month.  We KNOW we can’t change that.  We KNOW we are powerless over the cycles of the moon.  But now we realize we are not powerless over the memories nor the fear.  Each month, each full moon, we step forward, one more step further than the previous month, to slay our fear rather than the dragon moon.  Is it momentous, advancing rapidly?  NO.  It is step by step, month by month, year by year—SLOW AND STEADY.  Our progress is measured by being able to drive when there is a full moon.  Our progress is measured by not cowering behind locked windows and doors as the moon rises to its full glory outside in the night.  Our progress is in acknowledging it and calming ourselves down.  Yes, it is slow, but we whittle away with our sword of courage, regrouping during the day to face the night and moon again.  And the fear is lessened by an inch here, a half-inch there.  We are slaying our fear.

Wow!  Is this great or what?  Look what we just did!  We wielded our sword against two fears in this blog!  The obvious was our incremental slaying of our fear of the full moon.  The other–now get this–was slaying our fear of writing this at all and not fearful of you, the reader, being offended or ridiculing our fear!  Ahhhhh—on to more dragons!  Thank you dear friend and mentor!  What a great thing you have given us!  We are slaying fear!

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#11–Words

We remember in the early 2000s, we had applied for and gotten a two bedroom apartment with six swimming pools in the complex.  We were so proud of ourselves.  We had received some money from a dear friend.  Our daughter found out and wanted 7k to buy two dogs.  It was to be a loan that would be paid when the dogs had litters and would be fully repaid within two years.  She came from Pennsylvania to Bakersfield to get the money and then head further south of Bakersfield to purchase the dogs.  When she arrived, we proudly gave her a tour of our newly acquired apartment and the personal touches we had added.  Her comments were that the carpet was obviously worn in several places, some paint was chipped around door moldings, the closets were small, the tub caulking was missing in a places and the kitchen was absolutely repulsive with all the dark wood cabinets.  However, the 7k she had come for seemed to meet her standards.  She asked us how we could live in such a dump just before she left, having wasted thirty minutes touring our godawful apartment. We waved to her as she pulled away and went back into our now shabby apartment.  The apartment we had been so proud of we now saw as our shame.  Her words bounced around in our head, traveling to our gut, stinging on the way.  Other words came back to us and joined hers.  Similar words–“You’ll never have anything.  You’ll never amount to anything.  Your head is in the clouds.  You should be ashamed.”    Words.  Simply words.  And we remember them now.  Why?  Because we want to make sure we never repeat them to anyone else!  No one should hear them, and they will not, from our mouth.  Hence, the following poem:

Words

Words sting,

They destroy…

And they can inspire.

How to shield?

Ignore? Walk away?

Grasp the ones that lift.

Conflicting hearts

aspiring to be strong,

battle to understand.

Step by step,

learning to quell fears,

they find strength within.

Do GOOD without,

build from inside…

silently rise.

The Shield of Silence–

Endure–Rise–Act

neither predator nor prey.

No more words.

#10–Little Sins and Counterparts

A “minor” sin, little sin, is one we all are living with and suffering from…that of lack of work ethic, combined with incompetence.  If this sin goes unacknowledged and ignored as one that is simply a symbol of our current time and the “swinging of the pendulum,” it will fester into a Cardinal Sin of SLOTH.    Let us cite some examples for you.

First, we do not wish to label a generation, such as the millennials, or even the baby boomers.  This insidious little sin crosses many generations.  An example would be when we taught at the university and also at the junior college.  College students are often representative of the world outside the campus.  We had students wander in late, think they should receive a passing grade simply by virtue of having occupied a seat the prescribed number of classes, and who gave no thought to becoming competent in English, both composition and reading skills, which we tried to teach.  The prevailing attitude was that competence wasn’t needed–only passing the class with the minimal amount of work.  But this was not all the students.  There were the ones who paid attention, sought knowledge, put into practice what they had learned and questioned, became competent in their field, and held a high work ethic.  At one point, the subject of getting a job came up as they were being taught how to write a resume to obtain a job.  When questioned as to what they would offer an employer on the resume and their work ethic, most were lost, and wondering what that actually meant.  Seeing the expressions of bewilderment on their faces, we were taken aback.  This was not a ruse.  These people had little to no knowledge of what a work ethic meant.  So we led them, as a class, to relate experiences they had had working for an employer at any job.  The perfect time to teach.

As together, we explored what an employer might want, what their employers had asked of them, a look of near astonishment replaced bewilderment on their faces.  The hypothesis was presented to them that Employer X would hire an individual to work from 8am to 5pm.  There would be 15 minute breaks every 2 hours and a 45 minute lunch hour.  They would be given a list of things to be done during their work hours that was to be completed by the time they left work in the evening.  Now, what would they do?  How would they do their work and keep their job?  They all said they would follow the rules.  So we asked about being on time to clock in.  Several felt if they were no more than five or ten minutes late, it should not be a problem for the employer.  We asked about break time limits.  Again, several felt that extending break times by up to fifteen minutes longer than given should not upset the employer.  Lunch?  Again, they seemed to feel 45 minutes could easily be extended to an hour or longer because everyone knew it would be hard to eat and get back to work in a mere 45 minutes.  We stood looking at them, then each who had said they should have more free time on the job and on the clock.  We then smiled and said, “And at the end of your workday, I will thank you and tell you you are fired.”  Gasps were audible and finally, one student raised a hand slowly and said, “Then what should we do to keep a job?”  We had their full attention, even those that had shown little interest in anything we tried to teach.  We asked them if they would pay someone who took liberties with the time clock like they seemed to feel were reasonable?  They didn’t hesitate and shook their heads no.  We then told them the work ethic we had been raised with and they listened raptly.  Be there a few minutes early.  Shave a minute off breaks and return to work.  Likewise with lunch.  Let the boss know it is almost time for you to clock off and ask if he/she needs you to help with something else or might need you to stay a few minutes later.  We received a few “wow”s and then, “Will it really matter that much?”  We nodded and said, “Yes.  Things like that are noticed.  Little things like that show you care about your job, you care about your boss’s rules.  You want to keep your job.”  Then we asked, “Wouldn’t you notice?”  After some short thinking time, they nodded and several said, “That makes sense.  I can see how that would make an impression.”  We told them that was work ethic.  Later, after the quarter/semester had ended, some of them came by our office and thanked us for that lesson in work ethic because they had landed a good job and knew they would be able to keep it because it paid off to give the boss their best work.  Of course, those who always thought they should pass for having warmed a seat in our class forgot work ethic by the evening of the day they had learned about it and suffered the consequences.

 Incompetence is another little sin, that often goes along with a lack of work ethic.  If one has no work ethic, one will not care about becoming competent in their job.  This really gets to us.  There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a business where no one seems to know the answer to your questions.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to talk to someone in a governmental office who cannot answer questions, any questions, you may pose regarding, for instance, social security, or medicare, or medi-cal, or services you may need.  Even more infuriating is being passed from person to person with no one ever answering your questions!  An example of this was a call we made to Social Security and after being transferred five times, and receiving no answers except, “I don’t know but that’s our policy,” we asked #5 in a cold and measured voice, “How old are you?”  After much stammering, the answer was “32.”  Still controlling our rage, calmly we said, “Well, I’m 66.  I have been transferred 5 times and been on the phone for over 45 minutes.  If you transfer me without giving me an answer to my question, I will hang up.  But before you do, I want you to remember this.  Are you listening?”  The voice on the phone quietly said, “Yes, ma’am.”  So we went on,”Someday, you will be 66.  You will have been transferred to one person after another and you will hear ‘I don’t know.  It’s our policy.’  Then and only then will you understand how I feel!  So you either answer my question or I will come down and camp at your office, asking for you by name.  Now can you remember what I just told you?”  We heard a quiet “Yes, ma’am.  But I don’t know the answer,” and added “Please?”  We countered with, “Is anyone in your office competent enough to answer?”  She whispered almost, “I don’t think so.”  So we thanked her and hung up.  Inside, we were livid that people that worked for Social Security were so incompetent in their jobs that they could not answer our question!  Where did they get these people?

This kind of incompetence is prevalent everywhere!  Sales floor people cannot be asked a question about items in the department they work in.  They don’t know where anything is or how something works.  HMOs can’t tell you what you need to know about coverage. After all, didn’t they send out a pamphlet?  And don’t get me started on civic leaders and governmental leaders right up to the very top!  We have an occupant of the oval office who does not read, is ignorant of how foreign policy works, loves ignorance in general and appoints incompetents to his cabinet and to head such jobs as EPA as we all choke to death and can’t drink the water.  The secretary of education knows NOTHING of public education.  Is this a trickle down thing?  Incompetence at the top trickles down to Wal-mart employees?  See how this can turn into total devastation?  No work ethic and no competence in the majority of fields we have to try to deal with and maneuver?

This didn’t just apply to our students in college.  This applies to old men trying to make more money and hold more power–incompetently and with no work ethic–as much as it does to the high schooler who will do as little as possible to get by and not worry about being competent at anything.

Okay, we could go on and on, as we are sure you could about work ethic and competence.  But we truly feel that we get what we demand and people rise to the bar as it is raised.  It is time we demand a work ethic coupled with competence.  In the meantime, the counterpart is to battle this by being as competent as possible in our lives and dealings and practicing a genuine work ethic that others can see and will strive for.  WE HAVE TO CARE ENOUGH TO CHANGE THIS SLOVENLY BEHAVIOR.  We try.  We hope you will, too.

Well, tomorrow is another day and another sin 🙂  We hope you’ll join us!

#9–little Sins and their Counterparts

You know, to tell the honest truth, when we write about Sins, it can get depressing–both in seeing how it controls a lot of our environment and also within ourselves.  That isn’t exactly fun.  Geez!  How do priests and preachers and clergy deal with it week after week, and some beat it to death even daily?  It would never be our chosen profession!  However…there are a few Little Sins we all commit–or at least we do.

DISDAIN AND RUDENESS top our list of petty/little sins.  Boy, nothing riles us more than rudeness, accompanied by disdain!  This may seem petty on our part, that we let something so supposedly insignificant as rudeness get to us and yes, we own that.  Remember the song from “Frozen” that everyone from age three up could sing over and over?  “Let it Go.”  (We have come to hate that song 😦 ).  Still, it is out there, and so is the act of being rude.  Add disdain with being rude, and you would not believe the intestinal fortitude it takes for us not to become physical–like putting our fist into the mouth of the perpetrator.  Aren’t we awful?  We can’t let it go.

We have been treated rudely and disdainfully and though it angers us, we handle it in the moment and afterward, go home or leave the situation and think of all we could have said, all the ways we could have said. We do get over it.  Other times/instances we do not.  The ones we cannot forget and take personal umbrage with are those actions directed toward others that are obviously vulnerable and  mostly unable to defend themselves.  One instance we will never forget could have never occurred if the offender could have just shown a little common decency.   We had stopped at the local 7-11 to grab a quick cup of coffee.  Another being had pulled up at the same time.  We and the other being exited our individual cars and headed for the entrance.  A homeless person sat against the building front, with their dog.  Both of us passed by the homeless person.  The being first looked at the person huddled with his animal against the building, gave a “hhhrrumph” of disgust and strode on.  We passed and said, “Hi.”  Well, the damage of the rude disdain had done its work and the person simply stared at the cement walk he was sitting on.  The being ahead of us also got coffee, bumped into us, demanded we move from her way (which we did not), and loudly complained about the dirty vagrant sitting outside, in her way.  The cashier smiled, nodded, looked and saw no one and shrugged, smiling again.  The being left.  We grabbed some of the hot items that were like 2/1.00, and smiled, paid, and went back out.  The person had shifted farther toward the corner so as not to be seen and stay out of the way of the being who was ahead of us exiting.  We smiled that he and his fur baby were out of sight of the cashier, applauding his ingenuity as he tried to stay somewhat sheltered from the elements.  We went to where he was and said, “Hey, man.  You and your baby hungry?” and we reached toward him with the whatever it was we had bought.  He barely turned his head, saw the food, and nodded.  We literally put it on the ragged blanket beside him and said, “Maybe this will help a little.” He looked up at us and we looked into each other’s hearts and eyes.  He never said a word, and did not pick up what we had put beside him.  We patted his dog then, as he watched us, and looked back at his face and said, “You be safe, okay?  Not everyone is like that bitch.  You try to have a safe day, sir.”  He nodded, picked up the food, and started to take a bite as he broke some off for his dog.  His eyes watched us get in our car and we waved goodbye.  He tentatively lifted his hand.  We cried all the way to our destination.  Tears of sadness for his plight, tears of anger and rage at the woman there were not enough defamatory words to describe.

She was rude.  She showed him nothing but disdain.  She was less of a human being than the person she was so scornful of.  We wanted her to be cold.  We wanted her to be hungry.  We wanted her to feel what the man she had such contempt for felt.  Her disgust  hurt him as much as if she had kicked him in the gut.  She kicked his spirit!

Have we been rude to people?  Of course.  We were rude to the woman who demanded we move out of her way by planting ourselves in her way.  And we know we have been rude unintentionally by not knowing the protocol for certain situations and blustering our way on through.  We know we have intentionally been rude by dripping a sarcastic “Oh, really?” on someone’s conversation.  We also have selective hearing at times, which is rude, when we do not want to answer someone or be in their presence as they call to us.  As we get older, that one gets easier and easier to pull off. 🙂

Have we shown disdain or acted disdainfully?  We did as children, to survive.  If we had not displayed aloofness and contempt, we would not have made it.  But around those who are not attacking or demanding from us?  No.  Again, we will refer to our favorite aunt who taught us daily, to always remember, “you can learn something from everyone you meet–so don’t go around getting on your high horse–learn”  So, as persons, when not under attack, at all ages, we would question why, or what was going on, rather than thinking we were better than someone else, or act cold towards them–disdainful.  We didn’t have to feel less-than, but neither were we feeling superior to anyone.  No.  We better back up.  We would feel less-than many times, as we learned the why or saw what a person was going through and felt they were far superior to ourselves.  But no, we did not feel superior.

We feel lucky to have obtained an excellent education and the degrees that allowed us to work at a good paying job.  But we are also so grateful for the people in our lives that have never finished high school who have taught us so much, been the best friends ever, loved us.  We have lived in a custom made house we helped design and known the freedom to have what we wanted because we had access to over 250k a year income.  And we have lived with friends, lived in neighborhoods where you checked locks on windows and doors due to a criminal element all around us.  We have been on top and have barely managed to stay off the streets.  We have known excellent health and fought the stigma of public health care as ours deteriorated.  And the people we have met!  The people who have made our circumstances rich whatever our circumstances!  They are brilliant, they are kind, they are loving.  Educated beyond belief, no formal education at all.  People who have never splashed in a puddle after rain and people who come get you to splash with them.  People who never missed a meal and people who don’t know where the next meal will come from.  Oh, the experiences they can share!  Oh, the things they can teach you–from a book, from their music, but most importantly  FROM THEIR HEARTS!  They connect!  We connect with them!  They are not intentionally rude, never disdainful.  They carry the counterpart of rudeness and disdainfulness.  They want to understand, to share and love, regardless.  They want to learn, to be open.

We see rude and disdainful people as insecure, petty, shaking in fear that if they don’t put up the front of being superior in all ways, they will be found out and oh god!  they are just like everyone else and someone told them that was not acceptable.  There is no superior person, religion, race, sex.  And it angers us, fills us with rage, to be talked down to or see someone else talked down to.

OK.  One little side note before we shut this down.  One instance of our being unintentionally rude was being at a dinner with our supposed superiors, and setting our table of eleven peers aghast by belching loud and long.  We didn’t mean to but sometimes, as we told all the shocked faces around the table  “Hold the burp and bear the pain or let it out and bear the shame.”  They seemed appalled, rightfully so we guess, and our face was so hot.  But we had to thank the powers that be that we hadn’t had to fart!

See you tomorrow!

#8–Cardinal Sin of LUST and its Counterpart

This blog post on LUST has been written, deleted, and written and deleted, and now–we give up and will just trust the reader to separate it all and take what works for personal edification and toss the rest.  We would pick and choose the different Cardinal Sins to write about, but as our field narrowed down, we found ourselves avoiding the Cardinal Sin of LUST.  We did not want to write about this sin.  It makes us uncomfortable to the point of making our stomach burn and our eyes overflow with tears.  Extreme, huh?  Yes.  We admit it–our whole being revolts against this sin, so we will try to temper our feelings and reactions–but so far…  anyway, here goes.

LUST, by definition, is a wanton sexual self-gratification of a person by victimizing another.  The Catholic Church believes that God created humankind, and humankind, in the Garden of Eden, fell prey to sinfulness via the serpent.  We all know the story and blame either Eve for falling prey to the serpent’s wiles or Adam, succumbing to Eve’s wiles.  Does it really matter?  You know, it might, depending on your given sex.  But we are playing with an idea here that distracts us from LUST.  We own this diversion.  We might as well do this and get it over with.  Bear with us.

To us, lust is the most heinous of all sins.  It appeals to the most base instincts with little thought for the damage it does or the harm that ensues, sometimes for a lifetime.  Both male and female experience lust.  Businesses and advertisements appeal to the lust people feel when seeing what they consider a “hot body.”  Abercrombie & Fitch were known for hiring muscular young men to stand shirtless in the doorway to their stores.  Females, hormones flowing, were titillated by the handsome, smiling and buffed body luring them into the store.  Young and old alike would feel a sexual excitement wash over them.  Likewise, males, young and old, frequent beaches, looking for the females with the scantiest covering and fantasize touching that supple female body.  Terms are thrown around by females about a male’s “package,” while males talk “T&A”(tits and ass).  We apologize here for saying what you already know but would rather not acknowledge.  But all of this is harmless, right?  Men and women are sexual creatures.  God created all so it is in the makeup.  If people were not sexual, there would be no procreation (just ask the Catholic church) and humans would have died out, extinguishing themselves.  We get this.  Besides, sexual gratification between two consenting adults is a wonderful, exciting, beautiful bonding between them.  We are here because of it, you are here because of it–so where does lust enter the picture?  When is a sin committed?  Remember what we just said–BETWEEN TWO CONSENTING ADULTS.  When this is forgotten, or ignored, movements like #metoo surface.  LUST IS  THE SIN OF FORCING YOUR INABILITY TO CONTROL YOUR SEXUAL URGES ON ANOTHER WITHOUT CONSENT OR THOUGHT.

Our society promotes, more so before the #metoo movement, that sense of sexual predators simply doing what comes naturally.  Women cannot be victims of rape when they wore provocative clothing.  They asked for it.  Women cannot agree to dinner and a movie, allow a male into their home for a drink after said date and then tell the male “No.  I don’t want to have sex.”  Hey, he took her out, she owes him.  Really?  There are so many examples of lust being used to excuse forced sex in the workplace, or violent rape because a woman walked alone and was vulnerable.  LUST  is base and a heinous sin when acted upon.  LUST often requires a victim, a body it can be foisted on.  There is no question of consent; it is “I want to acquiesce to my baser instincts and I will force it on you so I can be satisfied.”

Now, we will share what most bothers us about lust.  When an adult decides a human under the age of knowing consent will be the outlet for their sexual drive.  There are those who say that this type of person is not doing anything wrong because they stay at home, fantasize, and look at “chicken pornography” on their private computer.  (For those who have lived a sheltered life–chicken pornography is a photo album of young children in various sexual poses, forced into sex acts while photographed, naked and vulnerable to the adult photographing them.)  So the watcher/ user of this stuff is not hurting anyone by simply watching so they aren’t actually committing  the sin of LUST?  Really?  There are no victims of the base drive?  Who took the damn pictures so the “good” person could just watch and not commit the act of depravity?  Who PAID for those pictures?  Who defiled those children?   Victimless?  Ask the kids who live with knowing their naked bodies are being slathered over by Lusting, not hurting anyone persons.

Lust is not a victimless sin.  It has far-reaching and debilitating effects for those it chooses to involve.  It is not a private sin.  How did you feel when you realized President Clinton committed acts of LUST with the young woman in his office?  We hope rightfully appalled!  How do you feel now with a being in the highest office in our land who gleefully talks about “pussy grabbing” and lists conquests because as he says, “when you’re famous and rich, they let you do anything you want” ?  Probably less appalled, right?  It is the NORM now.  Hey, you gotta take care of your needs and take care of you first.  And if you’re in a position of power, everyone knows you can do what you want.

We have seen that same sexual lust in the lust (base drive) for money, power, self-gratification all the way around.  If a being gets away with self-gratification in one area, the being will branch out to please self and only self in other areas.  The true SIN OF LUST is that it is selfish and thinks of no one but self, leaving victims and devastation and destruction in its wake.  Ask anyone who has been the victim of another’s lust.  It may have happened sixty years ago, but it is not forgotten and the wound still bleeds when it happens again to others.  But adults using children is the lowest it can go.  Why do you think so many people seek professional help?  Why do you think so many of us are hyper vigilant, always knowing where the nearest exit is, who keeps eyeballing us, hears untoward comments, or overly friendly overtures?  As children there was no escape.  As an adult there are at least a few options open.   But forgotten?  Never.

So what is the counterpart to LUST?  It is the virtue of CHASTITY.  CHASTITY by definition is refraining from sex.  But its synonyms are refraining from base instincts by adhering to decency, modesty.  Chastity, decency, modesty, are virtues that we can all adhere to.  We aren’t denying ourselves by strict abstinence.  We are thinking, which is not that hard, when we consider satisfying our own needs, which is NOT a sin, but rather, considering the consequences by regarding the feelings of others, how would we feel if we were the object of having others needs met and if it is indeed decent  and are we using modesty in our quest.  Chastity also means purity–of thought, action, regard for others.

In short, we know we all experience lust in one instance or another.  It doesn’t become a SIN until we act on it without regard for those we foist it on or force to gratify our individual needs above all else.  The world, our culture, is rife with LUST.  It destroys.  It perverts.  It leaves havoc and destruction in the lives of its victims!  It cannot be ignored or turned a blind eye to!  It will destroy everything and everyone it touches–all for the drive for self-gratification of one selfish and base individual!

Okay.  You were warned.  We will not apologize for what we have written because it is our take, in our heart, on the sin of LUST.  See why we left it to last?  We did not enjoy writing this blog.  WE had to face our own devastation due to LUST.  Please think about it.  You surely know someone who has experienced this, too.  No more turning away.  DECENCY/CHASTITY/MODESTY are needed.  But to us–it comes down to caring enough to exercise DECENCY.  And we leave it here.

Tomorrow–the “little sins” and their justifications and damage control.  Hope to see you back–especially after today 🙂

 

#7–Cardinal Sin of Envy and its Counterpart

Envy, by definition, is to be jealous and bear ill will toward those who may possess what the individual who expresses it wants or desires to have for their own.  Okay,  here we go.  Often, we will say we envy someone who got the Tesla car that we would love to have as our own, to show off and drive around and make others envious.  Or we may look at the person with the huge house and beautifully landscaped yard in Beverly Hills and envy their having it while we live in crowded circumstances with a “cracker-box” tract house.  We don’t think it becomes a cardinal sin of envy however, until we truly do bear ill will toward the person who has these things.  We ALWAYS want to have the best, look the best, even inspire envy amongst others.  But to wish that the owner of the things we desire be hurt, physically or in any way, or resent that owner to the point of hating them without even knowing them–that’s a sin.    So, do we commit the Cardinal Sin of envy?  Well, sorta, kinda.  Let us explain.

First, we don’t really tend to envy someone else’s material possessions.  Of course, living in Bakersfield during the summer, we truly do envy those who don’t have to worry about cooling bills and/or have their own private swimming pool.  Ahhh, to have no worries about keeping cool!  But we do not wish them harm.  Our tendency would be to make friends and get invited over to swim and sit in a cool house:) .  With our friends, we find ourselves ecstatic and joyous over their getting a new car, a beautiful home, a pay raise, new carpet, and on and on.  We don’t envy them or resent their obtaining what they desire.  We are happy for them.  We have been ridiculed for this, but sincerely, we are happy for them and thrilled they allow us to share in their joy and excitement.  We naively, we guess, thoroughly enjoy their happiness!  Happy people are great fun to be around!

So how do we commit the Cardinal Sin of envy–sorta, kinda?  Well, honest truth, if we get to be around people who are intellectual, practically geniuses, or talented in music, sculpting and painting, or any of the arts, creative…oh, how we ENVY them!  We sorta, kinda commit the sin of envy in wanting to have their brains, their talent, their sheer brilliance.  But never, NEVER would we wish them harm or bear thoughts of ill will toward them.  Who, in any realm of sanity, would wish ill or harm to a creative and brilliant person?  We sometimes dream of being able to write a song, create a masterpiece, sculpt or paint a memorable work–and we envy those who can so much!

We had a best friend from seventh grade throughout high school.  We were good in English and writing papers, he was great at the sciences and math.  We edited and corrected his papers to turn in and he literally got us through geometry and most of chemistry.  We made a good team and appreciated each other’s “talents.”  Then we graduated high school and we went on to raise kids and become an English teacher at two colleges and he was ushered into NASA as an astrophysicist.  Of course!  He was that brilliant!  I was envious, but so proud to know him and have been around such a wonderful mind.  He, too, shared our type of envy.  As high schoolers, we would talk about who we would like to have an hour or so with if we could be with anyone in the world.  Of course, the first names that came to mind for both were George Harrison of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and oddly, Goethe.  Then my friend said, seriously, Galileo, and we wistfully said Gandhi.  He wanted to pick the brain of Galileo and we wanted to know the peace and wisdom of Gandhi.  Yes, we both envied these great thinkers and people of wisdom.  Wish them harm?  NEVER!  Envy their insights?  oh, YES!    Both of us had seen the destructiveness of sinful ENVY in our individual lives and had no desire to be caught up in it.  Our families had shown us numerous examples of how miserable they were because of what they couldn’t, or simply did not have that others did.  It was not something we aspired to.

We did both appreciate the opposite, the virtue countering Envy.  It was GRATITUDE.  Being raised in a poor farming community, going to high school in the neighboring “bedroom city” of the rich and well off, we saw and knew what Envy inspired and brought about.  And we were grateful, felt a real sense of gratitude, that we could distinguish between surface wealth of the city we went to high school in, and the poor town where our neighbors helped each other out with kindness and compassion.  Everything we saw of wealth centered around materialism, who had what, where their city’s  students would attend college after graduation.  Our small town cheered on both students who acquired a trade after graduation and helped out their families and neighbors and cheered those going on for a college education.  WE felt supported!  Their city’s people lived in constant fear of being snubbed for not maintaining the status quo.  We were encouraged if bad times fell upon us.  Yes, we were grateful, felt gratitude.

Now, when we look around and are aware of the current environment, we still feel gratitude.  We have a roof over our head.  We have food.  We have friends.  We have those who love and support us.  How can you envy those with the big house who live alone with no one to talk to?  How can you envy those with the money to buy whatever they want on a whim and no one to share it with?  A car now, new to you but “used” to the world, gains smiles and genuine happiness for you among friends.  And on another level, nothing is more bolstering than sharing what you have with someone who does not have that and receiving a smile and hug of thanks.  No, we can’t take a trip overseas and see Greece, Portugal, France, Ireland–places we would love to see and experience.  But if our friends are fortunate enough to do so, and think of us and send photos and share their impressions, oh!  WE ARE SO RICH!  And we are ever so grateful to them for sharing!  Even today, this very day, it has rained and been cold but now the sun is breaking through the clouds.  Our souls feel gratitude for the sunshine and our sense of peace as it glistens on the puddles.

Yes, we envy others.  We envy their minds, their calm and striving spirits, their bravery at asking questions aloud that we only think in our minds.  But never would we envy them to the point of ill will or resentfulness.  So have we sinned?  That is for someone else to determine and we will just remain full of gratitude that when we can be around these gifted and peaceful souls we are inspired to create more, be more, learn more, love more so that we can share more.  You be the judge.

So tomorrow our last Cardinal Sin and then the little ones that pull everyone down to the same level–heh heh.  Hope you’ll find those thought provoking, too.  🙂

 

 

#6–Cardinal Sin of Wrath and its Counterpart

The last sins we will talk about have little humor and provoke much thought.  The previous ones we have blogged about have some humanness to them that, though we may wince, we feel in good company as we know everybody does it, don’t they?  WRATH,  however, has the synonyms of anger, revenge, rage.  Those are not things we like to think about as much since when we do, we see the darker sides of ourselves.  It may be okay for you to peer into that side or depth of your essence, but it is not one we are comfortable with at all.

In today’s culture here in our country, wrath, and expressing wrath outwardly, has become an uncomfortable norm.  Never have so many shown WRATH so openly and almost proudly.  People of color are attacked in anger and wrath with no remorse and few, if any consequences.  People of differing religions are attacked with WRATH also.  And then there are the people attacked because of sexual orientation, because they are female, or poor, or homeless, or just “bother” others by being different.  By definition, WRATH shows little or no reasoning on the attackers part, is generally illogical, and is calculated punishment to a real or imagined injustice or opposition.  If you are having trouble following this, think of the term “blind rage.”  Getting it?

We have tried to steer clear of politics in our blogs, or issues faced by our nation.  We know we are biased and we want to be fair and we have felt if we apply it strictly to our experiences and our little world, we will offend no one.  But when we think of WRATH, we immediately are transported to the man who sat with black parishioners, prayed with them, then killed them, one by one because he was showing his anger that he in his white supremacy was not being acknowledged and lauded.  We know.  We should steer clear.  But the WRATH  of angry white people is like a cancer.  The cells of hate divide, invade other cells until the cancer becomes spread throughout!  But back to our personal dealings with WRATH…

We have seen the dark side of human beings.  Seen things you would never want to see.  We have seen animals abused and tortured.  We have seen human beings abused and tortured.  We have seen smiles on the faces of abusers as they hurt other beings in fits of rage, wrath, with their reasoning (if one could call it reasoning at all) being punishment needed to be meted out so a lesson could be learned, or because the offending party had been rude, or pushy, or asking for it.  Friends have been raped because the person full of wrath thought they were snooty or were “asking for it.”  Animals have been beaten to death because they were “defiant.”  See?  Wrath is anger to the point of no reasoning.  This Cardinal Sin is assuredly “a deliberate and purposeful violation of the will of God.”

We truly believe when one acts with WRATH, to teach a lesson, to punish, to lash out in anger by bullying, torturing, name-calling, delighting in hurting and harming others, it is a grave and serious SIN and should carry heavy consequences.  We also feel it is a sign of gross feelings of inferiority because the wrath truly comes from being exposed as being less-than, or weak, or intellectually unequal to others.  So one example in our experience.

Being little, young in age, and a girl, is a disadvantage in a home filled with constant undercurrents of rage and the need for revenge against the world in general.  Children learn from their parents and their actions.  Whether this is good or bad depends on numerous factors and how that child adapts to situations  outside the family circle.  Instead of furthering our own trials and events onto others at school or places we went as children, we could sense when another our age was experiencing similar events at home.  That created a bond between us and the ones we instinctively knew were suffering also.  We had a choice.  Choose power over them, bully them since we knew they were already feeling weak, or champion them, defending them against others or anymore bullying.  Clothes, color, church or no church, shoes or no shoes–we were one with them in spirit.  This became our essence, our being, our life.  We protested the Vietnam war.  We protested the deaths at Kent State.  We protested corruption and lies.  We doubted everything, questioned all authority, read with zeal everything we could about every injustice being committed so we could battle it, not with wrath, but with learning and intelligent debate.  And now, in our senior years, it seems all the anger, the wrath, the revenge against others with no REASON has reared its ugly head once more.  And who carries a deep feeling rage and wrath now?  WE DO.  We want this unreasonable, insane hate and wrath to end!  It makes us physically sick!  We see it bubbling, being accepted, nurtured, fostered by the ones who are supposed to protect and lead and we are looking inside and screaming “NO MORE!  NOT AGAIN!  NO ONE SHOULD LIVE THROUGH THIS AGAIN!”  Do you see how it works?  There is no justification for the vengeance and cruelty we see now against people who are poor, non-white, non-evangelicals, not straight, or are sick, disabled, uneducated.  We repeat–there is NO JUSTIFICATION for this!  And this is why we dislike looking at our dark side, the side that is WRATHFUL.  That is why we can find no small hint of humor in WRATH.

So we look to its counterpart–the virtue of PATIENCE.  Patience is what your mother or that mentor you looked up to always said, “Take a deep breath and count to ten before you act.”  It may sound trite and cliche, but it has kept us from doing some really dark and unpleasant things, honest truth.  Unless you are a saint, and you may very well be, dark thoughts of wrath and how to carry it out have probably crossed your mind at some point in time.  Remember that guy that thought he was god’s gift to women that pinned you against a wall when he thought no one saw?  Oh, yeah.  What you could do to him!  Or how about that woman that made the comment about the poor old man in the line in front of her, being so filthy and obviously a “stupid re-tard”?  Did you wonder if you cut her tongue out of her mouth if it would cure her “problem”?  Or the guy that kicked the dog, dragging it, then kicking it some more, then finally throwing it to the side of the road, helpless and with broken bones?  Did your dark side want to hurl your WRATH at him full force and kick HIM?  Drag HIM?  Kick HIM some more and then leave him by the side of the road with broken bones?  (Geez we hope your dark side wanted it!)  But PATIENCE wins out and someone does see you being pinned up against a wall and takes action to help you and see the guy appropriately punished.  PATIENCE lets you see the cashier also hear the comment the woman made and take time with the man who is dirty, showing him kindness and caring and making her wait longer in line.  Patience lets you feel good about somebody seeing the dog being abused, filming it, then rescuing the dog and the guy facing felony animal abuse in court.  Things don’t stop on a dime because we are offended or upset by what is happening.  PATIENCE says it will come round and your flying into a whirlwind of wrath and rage will probably only exacerbate the whole situation and nothing good will come of it.  That’s when we fall back on the phrase, “Karma is a bitch.” ( And pray for it to come round.)

There’s even more to PATIENCE.  Something we often forget, and we think others do, too. Here we have quite a few examples of patience being the virtue that wins over all.
We will limit ourselves to one that stands out in our heart and mind.  We were teaching a class, and two burly college students carried a dispute they were having into the classroom from where they had been threatening each other in the hall.  We had heard loud slurs and name calling going on and it didn’t stop as they entered our classroom.  Quickly, we scanned the room and saw some getting ready to take sides and others looking fearful and almost cowed by what everyone could hear in the exchange.  We knew we had the choice of demanding they get out and calling security, as it seemed ready to come to physical blows, or we could try to diffuse the situation.  We rapidly counted to ten, taking in a deep breath, and placed our suddenly small body between the two young men.  They looked at us with disgust as we quietly said, “Just what the hell are you guys doing?”  Just for a brief, and we do mean brief, moment, the two stopped and looked at us like we were crazy–and we felt crazy.  Then both started loudly saying unintelligible words and we put a hand toward each and said, “Take a breath, guys, because I can’t understand a word either of you are saying.”  Again, there was a pause, then confused looks on their faces.  The wrath and anger melted and we breathed again, knowing it would be okay–maybe not over–but at least temporarily okay.  Others who had been ready to join the fiasco started talking, and some even laughed and the ones cowering looked relieved.  Everyone agreed things had gotten “out of hand” and we discussed appropriate times and places for “disagreements” and class was held with glares between the two adversaries, but no outbursts or action.  PATIENCE.  Stop.  Wait.  THINK.

PATIENCE says it won’t last FOREVER!  PATIENCE lets us have time to think and then act.  PATIENCE teaches us to RESPOND and not REACT.  And oh, it’s so hard!  Had we acted like we felt in the example, we would have started telling both of them off, pulled rank by being the one who could summon security, and felt godawful after the fact.  PATIENCE doesn’t condone what we see happening, but it gives us a chance to think about it and respond with maybe, hopefully, a solution or at least a meeting of the minds, so to speak.

Anyway, this blog has taken us where we are totally uncomfortable, but if we don’t get it out, it will be tomorrow and we have a couple of sins to go, so…  🙂  In summary, wrath, our own or others–scares us to death.  Patience is a learned and cultivated virtue.  It’s one we think is needed more now than it ever has been.  That’s our take on it.  See you for the next sin! 🙂