Archive for November, 2014

And I thank you.

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

I’ve been listening to a lot of scientific talk about gratitude. It’s a vital, evolutionary product, they say. It’s sounds too good to be true: if I simply imagine people who have done kindnesses to me, contemplate them in my heart, feel that warmth of thanks in my chest – I strengthen; I grow; I feel real happiness.

There’s a lot of talk about forgiveness, too. There’s a whole science to it. And again, it’s not just the forgiven who flourishes with the gift – but the forgiver.

In my life, it’s never obvious who I have most wronged. Do I cause more harm when I leave – or where I go? Do I inflict more when I hold back – or when I set free?

I am a Christian so I feel guilt. I do the best I can for myself and I feel bad about it. I look to Christ to help me know what to do, and he seems to say: ‘why are you forgiven? – because you love.’

I love so very much. And I thank you.

 

Tossing for bucks

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

I remember (I think I remember) John Lennon talking about coming to the US and going on stage to discover the crowds just continually screamed. No-one could really hear anything, so he just stood in front of the mike and yelled nonsensical noise. The crowd just screamed; screamed to be screaming.

I’m not sure why this comes to mind right now. In some of my own conversations it feels like I get half an idea out and someone is already talking to divert me. It’s true – I don’t really know what’s going on. Sometimes I pause to listen and sometimes I just keep speaking into the voices.

I watch various headlines as they pop in and out of websites, and I think maybe they’re just being tossed out to see if they get attention. It’s like a competition for the most interesting phrase – whatever idea might bring the most eyeballs to a particular page. Then, if I’m unlucky enough to care about this murderer or that billionaire or some other movie star – I’ll click to pursue the inevitable nothing on the page that follows.

So it becomes any weirder combination of things that’s attractive – say, a sexy female billionaire, or a pre-adolescent killer. For some reason, people were briefly interested in the guy who shot Bin Laden. The day before it was some guy who got Ebola. I was thinking, I’d click on the link if the guy who shot Bin Laden got Ebola…

Conflict theory

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

We all agree – this is surprising: we all do agree – that our children’s futures will be less bright than ours as kids. We all agree that money purchases politicians, and legislation is no longer written for the American people. The regular headline is: ‘families earn the same as in 1970.’

What isn’t clear, anywhere, is why.

Decades ago I was educated in Conflict Theory (then called Marxism), and I was recently chided for being out of date. It was well taken. I am out of date. So I started thinking – did I ever understand conflict theory in the first place?

I was a deep blue collar kid and it seemed to me there were two classes: workers and owners. Workers were broken and cowed, and owners were deliberately beating them down. For all my acquired, and sophisticated, language, I never really got much beyond that. But today, at least publicly, we don’t see a bunch of owners – even the lauded billionaires – out there concertedly attacking the middle class and demonstrably beating it down.

Yet there is a small group of owners who live life quite differently than the multitudes, and the multitudes’ prospects are universally seen declining. Now I wonder, is it possible conflict doesn’t imply enmity?

Conflict theory is nice because we can see how a change in relative power might cause something positive to occur in history. Today’s eroding liberties and declining opportunities invite the idea most of us are under attack – certainly, we’re suffering physical damage. But we can’ t really blame the rich if we want to be just like them.

So I’m left with no useful theory at all.