Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Man Down," "Semper Fi?"

The United States Marine Corps has a most noble creed to live by. The latin "Semper Fidelis" or more the commonly used "Semper Fi" translates to "Always Faithful" or "Always Loyal" and demands unlimited amounts of respect among anyone who can understand the full meaning behind this.

Perhaps the reason for such copious amounts of respect for this idea of a constant faithfulness and/or loyalty, is that this is very difficult to live by and therefore mostly found in short supply. Perhaps to lower the pedestal and make the concept more within our reach, us non-Marines might encumber it with a heap of conditions. But, this does not bring us closer to being "Semper Fi," it only dilutes an otherwise worthwhile ideal. Always means "Without Exception" but is that possible? I believe it could be, at our choosing.

I would like to be more faithful and more loyal. Although not absent of these qualities: I am faithful and loyal to my wife but that's easy because I love her; She has has made my life a better place and I'm grateful to God for allowing me such a great blessing. What about all the other people? Do my friends and family consider me always faithful and always loyal to them? I am not qualified to answer that but wouldn't we all like to think of ourselves as holding within us the qualities of "Semper Fi?"

What if we could all know that if anybody ever asked our friends and family, one of the first things said about us would be "Always Faithful" Always Loyal," someone to be counted on to never leave anyone behind and never to ignore a "Man Down" call.

When someone in our reach falls for any reason and we metaphorically have the equivalent of a "Man Down" call,  are we there to catch them, brace their fall and help them up when they loose their footing? Standing together we are all stronger when facing life but are we "Semper Fi?"

"The Sting of the Scorpion" or Obedience and Consequence of Actions

"Disregarding what we know to be right whether through laziness or rebelliousness, always brings about undesirable and spiritually damaging consequences. We find healing and relief only when we…" Well, you should really watch "The Sting of the Scorpion" instead of this so here it is:

Red Carpet Gutter Nominations for Thanksgiving

Artist Mark Jenkins has made a very simple statement here about the value placed in our fellow human beings.

I suppose it could represent the non-corporate bail-out plan in place for the last decade of politics in many parts of the world. If you are not at the head of a corporation big enough to be invited when your government is making budget plans for the coming years, you may qualify for "The Red Carpet Gutter Nominations." If nominated you too could be on the "Fast Track" for the exciting new titles of the decade, like "Loser" or "Trash," some may even go as far as to name you a "Waste of Space" or "Burden of Society" if your cup has run empty. 

Maybe, if we all treated everybody according to their God-given potential, viewed people as who they might rise to be if given half a chance and we could all hold our heads up with dignity, facing each other again--without shame.

Wars, suffering, injustice and misery are not all indicators that God is an immortal God or a cruel and imperfect God with shortcomings but rather that we have been given the freedom and choice to act on the needs of our fellow human beings. Everybody helping everybody may seem a simple matter, yet people suffer and die all around us every day of the year.

Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to remember that God is the provider of all the good in our lives and we should recognize this by responding with thanks and gratitude in our personal prayers. But, blessings are not just for us to enjoy by ourselves, there is a great deal of happiness and joy to be found in showing compassion and helping others. In helping others we also help ourselves and it's difficult to remain depressed and worrying about material matters, if constantly surrounded by the gratitude, joy and happiness of those you've kept from falling and those whose sufferings you've eased.

When you lend a shoulder to keep someone from falling, suffering, pain and even agony, you not only spare them the scrapes and bruises but you also warm and strengthen their heart and resolve. We are all our brothers keeper--and they are ours. All is well when we remember just that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Overnight Success Story of "Societal Waste" "Losers" and "Trash"

Artist Mark Jenkins made an excellent commentary on the growing trend of conveniently categorizing people as "Waste," "Losers" and human "Trash" left by the wayside, while the truck of "The Overnight Success" is rushing past them, all sealed up with no room to spare in the background. The installation depicted above may be art but it is talking about real peoples lives, people that didn't climb to everybody's peak of adoration. 

The words "Loser," "Trash" and "Waste" has been around for a long time but it's tragic and sad when words of such a negative nature are turned into labels and applied to human beings with real lives, feelings, hopes and aspirations. Labels of this nature tend to stick in a most unmerciful way, yet their use is gaining momentum. 

Many political parties around the world currently refer to various population groups as "Losers" and government policies are made factoring in these groups as "Societal Burdens." This brings to mind terminology such as "Lesser Elements," used in Germany during the Second World War. Imagine people trying to improve their station in life all while knowing that they are officially referred to as "Losers?" That's a lot of pressure for any person to live under and as the pressure builds, people are wasting their lives and talents mainly seeking the approval of others, instead of focusing on peace and contentment within themselves and building up careers to suit their needs. Why are we treating people like this?

All around us there are people battling tragedies of various kinds, while seeing their lives shattered at no fault of their own. Families, loved ones, health, livelihood and careers are sometimes gone within moments and good people suddenly experience economic or emotional ruin as a consequence.

Sports, school, career, society, friends and family have winners and sadly also losers. The terminology is now a widespread trend and seems to have gained a solid foothold in many countries of the world. The popularity of such labels among groups that consider themselves successful or aim to be successful are spreading like a plague claiming large numbers of emotional casualties and lost futures.

The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:16
16 ... Ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

These people are not "Losers" or "Trash" but opportunities for all of us to grow. None of us have more than a fractional understanding of the "Yardstick" used by God in measuring the worth of a soul and we shouldn't attempt to judge everyone of His souls that we come near. Helping others in their time of need is not a time for us to judge them or saying they brought this on themselves.

The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:17-19
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

 19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

We can never know anybody's situation well enough to fully understand it but God does ask us to help our fellow beings. Helping others is a cure for many ails of the soul and a great way to make friends and gain a better understanding of God's ways.

The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 2:17
17 ...When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

A healthy competitive spirit improves performance and is a good way to develop sportsmanship and would by its very nature not bring about labels such as "Loser" and "Trash." Of other realistic reasons for using such strong labels on actual human beings could be lack of self-confidence, empathy, insight, understanding or it could simply have its root in misunderstandings.

While the symptoms of this trend are found in our choice of language, the real problem might have its origin in the competitive lifestyle, that now seems to saturate almost every facet of our existence. Competition can produce many good results but does often leave many more in defeat than with a glorious victory.

Because of the many possible connotations in the use of labels like "Loser" and "Trash," the scaring is likely to be deep, cumulative and lasting. Continued encounters of this sort will stay with a person and have a potentially lifelong negative impact. The use of labels will rob not only the person in question but society and in turn yourself for that persons potential income and future tax contributions.

We don't grow up dreaming of a life of seemingly unsurmountable obstacles or all the possible failures we might experience, when asked in grade school what we'd like to be when we grow up. Most people start out life wanting to be a success. This has it's price and when you're busy trying to ensure delivery when that big truckload of success is coming your way, it's far to easy to forget about those who might need a minute of your time, a helping hand or those unfortunates that got sidetracked along the way and didn't make it. Without a helping hand or a lot of helping hands, we could and most likely would all be "Losers" or "Trash" by the wayside waiting to be carted off.

But in view of Mark Jenkins work, is this how we have come to respect and treat the rights of other people? Do we leave them with sufficient dignity to go on living or ever succeed again? If we instead see each other as Brothers and Sisters, or possible reflections of ourselves under different circumstances and reach out a helping hand and actually help the person back up on their feet--instead of expecting or even demanding that they just "Shake it off" and "Cheer up, it'll all be okay!" If the tables were turned, wouldn't it be nice to have someone remember that in their time of need, you were there and you helped them when it comes time for your personal lesson in humility and you stand in need of a helping hand?

I firmly believe that the world would be a better place if we were all a little as described in the parable of the "Good Samaritan" that found a man, half dead by the wayside, helped him and bound his wounds. He then placed this stranger on his own beast, meaning he himself would have to walk beside the beast for the remainder of the route and brought him to the nearest place for care, payed for the further care and promised to settle the total bill upon his return--as the stranger clearly wasn't in a position to take care of these matters.

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