I heard about a teacher who was talking about the futility of quarrelling. As he spoke, he related something his father had told him. His father was a clerical authority in his hometown of Dublin. As such, he owned a seal that he used in order to officialise documents. He told his adult son that one day, people stole his seal, and without his permission used it to sign official proclamations. His son asked his father then why he didn’t refute these proclamation in a public statement, thus exposing the guilty parties. The father answered something to the essence of,
“I am afraid that if I protest against the forgery, the people who did this to me will be angry at me and try to provoke me to anger. In any case, it will provoke some sort of issue that will cause me to waste my time and distract me from my more important duties.”
In his clerical care of people, this man had seen quarrels destroy lives, both on a national and domestic level. He felt that peace was essential for growth and an overall good life. He often taught that even if someone has many positive things in his life, he is not be able to enjoy it if he is quarrelsome and argumentative. This man’s philosophy was that most quarrels can be avoided if we just sensibly think about how irrational and counterproductive it is to waste time and energy in quarrels that really don’t make any practical differences anyways. He taught that before getting involved in a dispute, people should first ask themselves, “Is it worthwhile?”
I liked reading that article about this Irish man. I felt that it was a good philosophy, one that could bring peace to many a household.
Patrick G. Lumbroso
In politics, religion, and everyday life, it is so easy to misunderstand something by applying the wrong context.
We live today in a world that defines events by sound bites, short YouTube videos, and quick superlative statements generally taken out of context. We then use these short information bites in order to prove a point that was never there to start with. It is sad, but this is today’s reality.
Whether it is the Bible or the American Constitution, we all read the same words but understand them differently. Only one Bible was given, yet it is understood and translated many different ways. Only one American Constitution was given but till this day people argue over the meaning of some its statements. Why? Because we each read it from a different context. Even the idea of reading these things contextually is debated.
We are the recipients of the decisions of those who came before us. Before either endorsing or undoing these decisions, we need to understand what spurred them. We need to understand their history, not within our own but within their own context, according to their own merit. Only then will we be able to draw proper judgement and application.
Here is a little riddle to make the point.
A man left home running. He ran a little bit then turned left. After running some more, he again turned left. He continued running turning left again back home where 2 masked men waited for him. WHO ARE THE MASKED MEN?
You can guess the answer replying to this email.
Answer coming next week.
I am not at liberty to reveal details but this week I heard the debriefing of a security agent. This agent was talking about a security operation that though successful in its mission, cost him the trust of the people he was serving. For this agent, that loss of trust from people represented a blot on his success, a rain on his parade that he was not happy with. He knew he needed to learn something from it.
This got me thinking. It is important in life that we do the “right thing.” The “right thing” to do can sometimes be defined in simple terms, especially when we view it in terms of goals to accomplish, of missions to fulfill. Against criticism of our M.O. we easily justify ourselves with the words, “But I got the job done, didn’t I?” But is doing the “right thing” the most important things or is it also as important, if not more, to do the “right thing” right?
We live in a complicated world where there are many ways to measure success. One dayI watched parts of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. The teams were not judged only on who won the race, but they were judged also on the care they gave to their dogs as they did it. They could of course beat the dogs to death and win the race itself, but they would be penalised in points for not doing it “right!” It seems that in our society some dogs are treated better than people.
There are many privileges living in industrialised countries in our modern times, but sometimes the pursuit of these privileges may tempt us to forget the principles on which humanity is built. This week as I taught American History to a group of High-Schoolers, I fell on a quotation that I really liked: “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” Who said it? Dwight D. Eisenhower.
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"