We find our place in time by setting calendar landmarks. The Gregorian Calendar year is such a landmark that helps measure time. As 2019 ends, we will be ending such a landmark and right away begin a new one.
Many of us have the habit of making new resolutions for the new year. It is a healthy habit as goals create landmarks that motivate us towards progress, and progress gives us a sense of fulfillment.
We may have set goals at the beginning of 2019; have we fulfilled them? Maybe life had different plans for us last year so if we have not fulfilled our set goals, what other accomplishments constitute our 2019 legacy? Was it a year lived? Was it a year endured? Did we make good with the time allotted us? What kind of goals should we set for 2020?
We can make goals to lose weight, pay off our credit card debt, to save money for a certain item or project, but time goes by so fast, (or so t seems as it has always gone at the same speed), and none of us knows when is the road ends. I recently saw a short film where they reported the findings of interviews that they had had with the dying. “What is your biggest regret?” they asked. Each replied and surprisingly, the majority of people expressed that their biggest regret was not what they had done wrong or the mistakes they had made, but their biggest regret was all the things that they hadn’t done but wished they had, especially concerning their relationship with loved-ones. If we knew we were to die before the end of 2020 what would be our goal then? Would it be to make sure to spend quality time with our loved ones? To restore broken relationships?
Another thing to think about. We decide what we put in focus or what we decide to blur, so may we be wise as to what we decide to blur or to focus on in our new years’ goals. Let's blur the things that cause division and issues and 20/20 focus our attention on the things that really matter: our relationship with others.
The old adage says, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”
A family is like a body. It’s made up of many parts, some that we are proud of and others that we’d rather either hide or disguise. But whatever the makeup of our family, and whether we are religious or not, we are now approaching the time when families get together.
This causes old demons to reappear, and old family issues that we tried to ignore all year long and prefer that they would remain quiet under the nicely decorated table are again exposed.This forces us to deal with these issues that do not go away just because we choose to ignore them.
Setting aside all calendrical, theological, and historical controversies about this story, next week people will be getting together for a meal around the idea that about 2,000 years ago a special child was born. A child who, due to indifferent ignorance had to be born in some sort of animal shelter or cave and whose first bed was an animal trough. While this child had little or no value to the local hostelry and whose death was sought by the local government, the poor and the destitute came to honor his birth. He later was known as He who receives the rejected, and opens His kingdom to the dejected.
May we honor Him on that day by warmly receiving the rejected and opening our arms to the dejected ones of our own families.
At least once a year I dedicate time to the study of the story of Joseph the son of Jacob in the Bible. Joseph’s life seemed to follow Murphy’s law, “If anything can go wrong, it will!”
What I like the most about this story is Joseph’s attitude. While his jealous brothers sold him to slavery, when the time came that he could exercise full revenge, Joseph instead comforted their fears. His trouble never provoked anger or cynicism. He instead saw that everything that happened to him was part of a grand divine plan.
When life becomes difficult and complicated, when we are hit with problems and injustice, many of us worry, get angry, seek retribution, validation, or even vengeance. We feel very justified in these feelings but do they help? Do they help bring us peace? Does vengeful retribution restore our lives to its previous conditions?
Being bitter or vengeful is like taking the poison, and hoping that the other person dies.
Whether one believes in a divine destiny or not, is an issue of its own, but it must be said that Joseph’s attitude provided him with a peace that eludes most of us when life seems to deal us a cruel, unmerciful, and unjust hand.
I am reminded of the movie Bridge of Spies where a man faces the death penalty under accusations of being a spy.
From Bridge of Spies.
The philosophical adage, “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”(Latin: "after this, therefore because of this") is a logical fallacy. It states that, "Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X." It is often shortened simply to post hoc fallacy. A simple example of it is "The rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise."
The Post Hoc Fallacy is a crude simplification of facts according to their chronology, in order to come to an easy causation verdict. Prosecutors often use its seeming logic but defense attorneys are usually quick to refute it with the statement, “Correlation does not imply causation!”
The problem with the post hoc logic is the same as with all formulas or truth: It becomes wrong or false when taken to an extreme. A person can go out while forgetting an open candle in their room and come back to their home on fire. It seems logical to assume that the fire was due to the abandoned candle, but unless it was actually visibly witnessed, there is always the possibility of an unknown factor X that would want to make authorities believe that the fire happened because of one person’s inattention.
It is easy to make negative judgments about people’s lives by using the post hoc logical deduction, but are we always right? Isn’t there a factor X in their lives that we are not aware of? The thing is that it is as easy to assume the positive as it is to assume the negative, and at the end of the day, we might be wrong either way, so why not rather assume the positive?
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"