Aspiration or Inspiration?

“Treat others as I would like them to treat me.”

It’s a wonderful basis for living, and I adopted it many years ago. Of course, how effective I have been is open to debate, but I like to think that my “compliance percentage” is quite high. The problem though is that it is often misunderstood. I know that because, when I broach the concept with some people, they respond with “Aren’t you disappointed though when they don’t behave accordingly, or when you go out of your way to help somebody, but they never reciprocate … don’t you wonder why you bothered?”

It is so important to understand that the quote was not “Treat others as I would expect them to treat me”, but rather “as I would like them to treat me.”  Understanding the significant difference is important if one intends adopting that concept. An “expectation” that is not achieved can be really disappointing … but a “like” that does not follow through is just a part of living.

There are a number of areas which are important to understand if we are to role model effectively.

We have to understand that each of us is a product of so many factors – parental influences, childhood experiences, teen experiences, location, lifestyle, traumatic experiences, success and failures etc. etc.

Romantics will often stress our uniqueness; our individuality. They  are quite correct. Because we are all exposed to so many (and varied) influences as we proceed through life, we are indeed absolutely unique individuals. This means that I need never be disappointed at how “you” behave. I could of course not like how you handle a specific situation, but I just need to remember that your life influences are different from mine. If I can always remember that, then I can accept what you do/don’t do. I may not like  your actions in a specific situation, but I can accept that your life has taken you in that direction.

I am reminded of a lesson I learned many years ago when my two teenagers were being particularly challenging – “There is no reason why you cannot always love your children. You may not love what they do, but you can always love them for who they are.” – My issue with that was learning to separate the person from the action. I did not find that easy to do, but it makes so much sense when you think about it. Why should we stop loving anybody simply because of what they did, when all they did was behave in accordance with their life experiences?

We should perhaps each spend a little time to understand who we are … what/who were our biggest influences … who we admired, and why, as we grew up … what made us happy, and what brought us to tears … our emotional highs and lows …. our successes, and our failures.

If each of us was a cake recipe, it would indeed be a very complicated recipe, and each cake would be unique. Once we have grasped that perspective, it is so much easier to accept others simply for who they are.

“Treat as others as I would like them to treat me.”

Does this provide a goal for you to aspire to, or does it simply inspire more thought? Regardless of your answer, somebody once said “Role model how you would like the world to be.” There are more of us than there are politicians so, rather than wait for our leaders to move in this direction, we should simply take charge and demonstrate our desire for a better world. There are millions of us, so can you just imagine what such a common perspective could achieve?



“Once upon a time …”

Once upon a time … a Barn Owl nest was destroyed in a storm, and the only survivor was a young female. (“I’m a Barn Owl, so I can do this!”)

Once upon a time … a Jackalope (Antelope/Jack Rabbit) climbed into a rowboat to escape a storm, but the boat was washed out into the sea. (“I can’t swim, so I have to think this through carefully!)

Once upon a time, an abandoned kitten fell off a fallen tree and into a swollen river. He was lucky to be able to grab a branch and pull himself out. Exhausted, cold, and wet, he dragged himself into a hollow log and curled up. (“Did anybody leave any food in here?”)

Once upon a time, a man was planning his retirement.  His dream was to buy a little farm out in the country, where he could live the rest of his life at his own pace, and with the tranquility of the countryside surrounding him. (“It will be lovely to have no obligations to others, and just do whatever I want … and on my timing. Heaven!”

So what happens?

Well …. The Barn Owl accidentally bumped into the Jackalope, and between them they saved a kitten. All three found an old farm to live in and were planning on living “happily ever after”.

The man retired and, as planned, bought a little farm in the country. Everything went according to plan until …

The following is an excerpt from “The Odessa Chronicles”:

**  ***  *****  ***  **

Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jacob Jackson Pebblestone had worked pretty much all of his life, and was now retired and about to start living his dream. He had bought a small farm, out in the country, so that he could enjoy the sights and sounds of rural life. He had been planning for this moment for many years, and now here he was … opening the old wooden gate to his own little farm.

He looked at the gate and smiled, for engraved in the top bar were some letters. The letters were almost totally hidden by years of weathering, and blended in with the wood, but he had noticed them the first time he saw the farm. He had traced his fingers over the letter shapes, and quickly realized that they spelled “Moonbeam Farm”. Perfect! he had thought to himself. Perfect!

He walked cross the yard, unlocked the farmhouse door, and went directly into the kitchen, where he made himself a cup of tea. His belongings had all been delivered earlier, so he sat down and smiled. This was what he had worked for. His life, from now on, was going to be one of peace and tranquility.

His first night there was uneventful, but … the next morning? He walked into his living room and the cushions that should have been on his sofa were gone! He found them all piled up in the corner of the room, very close to the fireplace. He shook his head and thought, I don’t remember putting them there. Why would I put them there? Oh well, I’ll put them back on the sofa. He did so immediately. When he woke up the following morning, the sofa cushions were once again on the floor and near the fireplace. I must be moving them while I am asleep, he thought to himself.

He later went over to the barn and was also rather puzzled by what he saw. The barn had clearly not been used for a considerable time, and yet one small area in one corner was very neat and tidy. There was some straw there, which had an indentation in it, as though some small person had been lying there. He also noticed that, on the other end of the barn, there was a pile of small bones on the floor, as if dropped from above. He looked up, but all he saw was a large wooden beam, which helped to support the roof.

One night, he woke up rather earlier than usual and heard a sound from downstairs. He quietly got out of bed and put on his slippers. By the light of the moon, he slowly went down and into his living room, where he quickly turned on the light. He saw that not only was there only one cushion on the sofa, but he also saw a cat near the fireplace, with another cushion in its mouth!

He thought it looked friendly, so he bent down and said, “Who are you then?”

The cat turned its head to face Joshua, and said, “I am Dewey. Who are you?”

Joshua was in shock, as he had not been expecting the cat to talk. “Ummmm … well, I am Joshua Jeremiah Jonathan Jacob Jackson Pebblestone, and I live here.”

So do I,” said Dewey, “but I was here before you!”

**  ***  *****  ***  **

“The Odessa Chronicles” is a book of short stories based around those four characters, and is suitable for ages 4 to 104. If there is a child still within you, you will love the stories. You will love the characters involved. You will love how they keep their quite different personalities, and yet slowly progress to not only living together in harmony, but how they also eventually became best friends.

“The Odessa Chronicles” is available from any on-line book retailer, or direct from Friesen Press Bookstore. For reviews, has the most. Click on book cover over to the right (may have to scroll) for more information.



If I could catch a rainbow…

I was sorting through a box of old photographs in my “get the pics in albums” project, and came across this handwritten poem in my writing. While it is very good, I know that I did not create it so must have copied it from somewhere. Continue reading

We don’t need no education!

In the context of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, it (the subject line) may be worth contemplating but, to quote the late Leo Buscaglia in one of his talks, “You cannot teach what you have not learned.” Such a basic truth!

His context was love, and was stressing that you cannot teach somebody how to love, if you have never experienced love! I have not studied nuclear physics so clearly I cannot teach it. Unless I have learned the Spanish language, then I cannot possibly teach that either. There is no deep thinking involved as it is just plain common sense.

If we look at education in the context of what we learned from our upbringing, it could be interesting to identify exactly what we did in fact learn.

I learned that my father was the major financial provider; that I should not be afraid to attempt anything, and that frustrations can be released by a fit of temper! I learned that my Mom was the emotional support, the cook and housekeeper, and the “Dad pacifier” as necessary.

I learned so much more of course but, in the context of this Post, I learned to accept other races, beliefs and skin tones. I learned to help others if I could. I learned to base an opinion of somebody on personal experience  only. My parents were not a particularly social couple, but they would do anything for anybody if necessary!

In the event of a natural disaster, help has typically come from a broad spectrum of our species! In the current flooding in Texas, the offers of help from inside and outside the USA  have been reported regularly. People have driven for hours simply to do whatever they can to assist.

Thinking about Texas, and then the current racial unrest in Charlotteville, I have to really question the basis for racial discrimination and cannot come up with anything that makes sense… unless it is a learned perspective, or simply ignorance.

In Texas, there are many boat owners who are voluntarily helping with rescue operations. There are many police officers heavily committed to search and rescue. There are medical staff dedicating huge amounts of time to doing whatever they can for injured survivors, and our TV often shows coverage of so many “average citizens” helping out whenever an opportunity presents itself.

None of the above groups of people are going to be 100% “white” so I have to ponder some obvious questions:

In any racist community experiencing life threatening flooding (e.g.), would the person in danger refuse help from a person of different skin tone? If they were clearly going to drown in their vehicle, and a person of different skin tone was their only hope… would they really refuse the help? There are many cases of doctors being spurned because of their ethnic origins, but these are not usually in life/death situations. If those same people had been seriously injured as a result of an environmental disaster, would they really refuse life saving treatment by a doctor of a different ethnic background?

To answer yes would, to me, confirm total stupidity. To answer no would, to me, confirm total hypocrisy. Are these traits that are surfacing, an intuitive result of learned family perspectives perhaps?

I can understand and totally support disliking certain individuals, but that must not only have a tangible basis for the dislike, but must also be put into perspective. It is unreasonable to expect to like everybody one meets, but to base the dislike solely on skin coloring is irrational. It makes no sense whatsoever. I have worked with a wonderful doctor from Pakistan, and also with one from UK who should perhaps consider a career change. It has everything to do with the individuals and nothing to do with color.

There are many people who claim to be non-discriminatory, but deep down they still have “preferences”. Perhaps now would be a very opportune time to examine those preferences. If you were to find yourself needing potentially life saving help, and the only person able to do so was one that you really didn’t like too much… would you really have to think about what to do? If they are good enough to want to save your life, then surely they are good enough to earn your respect.

We don’t need no education? Oh….. I think we most certainly do!

Food for thought.