Peace

80. ELIMINATING EVIL

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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65. THE TOP 10 REASONS LIFE IS WORTH LIVING….OR WHY LIFE DOESN’T SUCK

you-are-here

When we go back to the 1800’s and take a snapshot of typical life, it was rather harsh, at least compared to how good we have it now. No electricity, an abundance of outhouses, no refrigeration, long hours, small wages, and no deodorant. I’m sure most were happy, but let’s face it, living was more about survival than enjoyment. I don’t know about you but I don’t think after a long day of plowing fields I would have the energy to go out and kill my dinner. Education was rare and information was limited. Sickness prevailed and medicine as we know it (if you could even find a doctor) was in its infancy. Obviously people got through their days in the most civilized and comfortable manner possible; if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here. One thing is for sure, I’d have a hard time regressing to a world without toilet-paper, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing. Knowing this forces me to be all the more grateful for even the smallest of conveniences. I am well aware that about half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day; and yes, I have researched this. I’ll wager that this same line of poverty was much more unbalanced in the past; at least I hope so, for that would be evidence of movement towards a better world for everybody. In any event, I believe we are moving in the right direction despite what the naysayers want to showcase.

Here are my top ten reasons life is worth living. They are equal in importance and the order means nothing.

  1. Never before in the history of civilization has there been a more open microphone to the world stage.  We now have the power to reach millions at the speed of light. What a wonderful, powerful tool! Victor Hugo wrote, “No one can resist an idea whose time has come.” Let expression abound, and eventually the best of the best must happen. Look at the commitment to reach the moon, or to cure polio, or to create a nation based on personal freedom, or even to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific. All of these things started with an idea expressed.
  2. Kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, and sharing are becoming the dominant shared viewpoint of the world. “How can I help?” is being heard louder and louder collectively. Don’t believe me? Read a few history books and see how prevalent the opposite used to be. As a result, the attitudes of prejudice, hate, resentment, and selfishness are on the decline.
  3. For those who suffer,there are countless others wanting to help. If you REALLY want to make a difference, If you REALLY need help, now could not be better. 12 step and other similar groups exist for every type of self-abuse and the same type exist for those who have been abused. All are volunteer and none ask for anything in return. This is a miracle of brotherhood and a gift to those who once were thought of as hopeless. I would be almost twenty years dead if not for this community.
  4. Information for almost anything is readily available to those with computer access. Granted, a LOT of what is floating in cyberspace is junk, but there is a legitimate line to most subjects we want to explore. The world’s knowledge is at the fingertips of (almost) anyone who can reach an internet connected computer. With a little application, all that is paid for through universities can be claimed for free.
  5. The universe is unfolding before our eyes. From the Large Hadron Collider to the James Webb Space Telescope, the cosmos in both its enormity and at the quantum level is being illuminated in ways that are breathtaking and unbelievable. Planets are being discovered and doorways to other dimensions are beginning to crack open. We stand upon a massive threshold that marks the end of our finite world. What once was science fiction is quickly becoming science fact.
  6. The variety of our expression as a race through the arts- music, dance, film, literature, and of course, painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture is expanding by both encouragement and availability. Again, let’s go back in time, to a place where paintings were only to be seen in museums, where the sound of master composers could only be heard in symphony halls, where the written knowledge of humanity was stored away on the shelves of scattered libraries to be enjoyed and explored by the few who could access them, where a moment of emotion, observation, and beauty was lost to time the second after it had passed.  All of these things, once rare and fleeting, are now solidified in preservation, and available (albeit two-dimensionally) to even the most remote corner of our planet.     
  7. The beauty of our home reveals itself daily. A single snowflake, The Aurora Borealis, a newborn baby, a distant thunderstorm, an elderly couple holding hands, the full moon, a glorious sunset, the sounds of crickets at night and songbirds at sunrise; these things and countless more are all we need to calm the day and bring balance to our restless spirit. It’s provided free of charge to those who stop and take the time to observe. Nature is the antidote to an overload of artificial environments; and everywhere you go, there it is.
  8. Redemption is available to EVERYONE. Thank God it is or I would be long dead. I believe no one is beyond hope. No one is doomed to live out their tomorrows based on what happened yesterday. Can a murderer become a savior? Yes. Will the universe ultimately deal to this spirit, this soul, what is just and balanced? Always. The fundamental reason I believe redemption is available to everyone is this observation; if it isn’t available to the “worst” of us, then it really isn’t available to any of us. YOU can make the world a better place just by shifting your principles and actions. I did; and I am.
  9. The world is becoming a MUCH smaller place. This will force one of two things; conflict or cooperation. I believe in the latter. Some conflict is inevitable, but coöperation on a worldwide basis must eventually take place or oblivion will be the result. The desire to live is our more powerful instinct. Knowing and spotlighting that our symbiotic relationship with the rest of humanity equals a continued existence will eventually force peace. We cannot survive without the people who grow our food, who makes our clothing, who create energy, or who transport goods. We are interconnected and dependant on the actions of millions of others. OUR current generations stand upon the edge of a cliff; we will either step up, or step off, and I for one cannot believe that those who will demand peace will remain silent. Within the next twenty years technology will have created instant translation devices effectively eliminating language barriers and this alone will serve to strengthen communication, understanding, and love of our fellow-man.
  10. We live in exciting times. Nothing against the past, but we now move toward new horizons at dizzying speeds. Those who lived only a little over a hundred years ago knew nothing of an electrified world with machines carrying man through the air and devices that would allow us to explore other planets and observe the farthest reaches of space. The idea that food could be harvested and kept fresh and edible for years was unbelievable. We had no idea what lay below the oceans surface, waiting to be discovered. Scientific progress is changing our perception of what can be accomplished. Medical advancements now save millions of lives that would have been hopeless even a few decades ago. Not only is our outer world growing, but the inner one as well. The perception of who we are and what we are capable of is changing. Anyone who has watched “What the Bleep Do We Know?” (the extended, down the rabbit-hole version) will get a feel for just what might lie in wait for the human experience. What then lies ahead twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years from now? We are witness to the largest strides in the history of our race. What a privilege.

Am I aware there are flaws and kinks in society? Of course; and I feel we have a long road ahead if we are to forge complete planetary respect for our diverse cultures and societies. There are millions who still suffer and live in squalor. There are those who do not know water is supposed to be clear. There are those who think only the rich wear shoes. There are those who live only to survive, and this is not acceptable to me. I feel the attitude of wanting and recognizing the world to be a better place is a fundamental responsibility. Keep in mind we have made it this far, and wonderful things have happened. There’s no reason this growth of wonder, imagination, and dreams cannot include everyone. Critical mass does not require a majority to move the rest of humanity, it just takes enough people with enough passion to sell their vision to the rest.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

34. A LIFE OF PEACE

peace and tolerance

“There is no serenity, no joy, no grace without embracing the attitude of tolerance.”

tol·er·ance

/ˈtɒlərəns/ Show Spelled [tol-er-uhns]

noun

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

 (this definition was pasted from Dictionary.com)
Freedom from bigotry. It sounds so simple and yet its influence can be as subtle as a reference to a single childhood memory. It’s impossible to move forward and take action without some sort of reference to the past. We equate what once happened with what might happen and make choices based on comparing the scenarios. Simple enough? Nope. We also do the same thing with emotional states. What has previously made us happy  will serve as motivation to seek out similar situations later in life; and what once frightened us we’ll remember, thus avoiding what might scare us in the future. In other words most of us (yes, including myself) pre-judge almost everything.
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To be honest I think in order to survive we have to pre-judge, but its usage must be limited. I’m willing to bet this food or diet will improve my health.  It looks like a storm is coming so I’ll bring an umbrella. The trip may be long, so I should fill up the gas tank. All well and fine as long as this attitude doesn’t cross over into the world of people. Not only is tolerance the  gift of being free from equating yourself with others, but equating yourself with who you used to be. Without these judgments we are able to take much more action. So much energy  and time is wasted on staying ahead of  those we think we must while trying to catch up with who we want to pass. The closest I come to continued competition in my life is to consciously work at becoming better than I was. That’s it. I do not, will not, equate myself with who I used to be. Just because I was slacking in one area yesterday is no indication I’m going to repeat the action. Who I was it not who I am. The same goes for you. I also do not consider myself better or worse than anyone I know. There is no doubt I do “play” to win, but not because my goal is to beat someone else. My goal is to prove to myself that I’m becoming better. Any outcome that is ego based has no appeal to me. Bragging rights, awards, fame, etc. are opposite examples of practicing tolerance.
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Do I have knee-jerk reactions to situations that bring up stereotypical perceptions and examples? Yes, all the time. A life of outside influences has programmed them into my hard drive. My salvation is that is I am to recognize these one-dimensional images of the world and send them on their way. I let them pass through without meaning and embrace a more nourishing, open-minded approach to those with differences. As far as I’m concerned everyone has some sort of gift to share, and if my defenses (or God forbid my offences) are in play, then I have blinded myself to whatever they have to offer. There are of course people I don’t want to associate with. Those with doubt, negativity, complaint without solution, and hostile attitudes need not bother trying to leverage me to their point of view. I honor their stand, but that does not mean I must incorporate these beliefs into my ethics. Were I to do that I would eventually become a completely unfocused, unproductive individual. I have my own set of goals and do my best to surround myself with those who support and encourage me. I’m willing to listen to other ideas and paths as long as they do not attack my current course.
Keep in mind tolerance is the mortar that bonds the entire structure of mankind together, while intolerance is the battle cry for all the violence and hatred that has caused nothing separation and destruction.
In one of my first posts titled “My Favorite Bumper Sticker” I talk about another aspect of this topic. It ties in nicely with this entry and it’s rather funny if you would like to check it out. The symbol I’ve posted as a picture accompanying this article is called a tolerance button, and can be found on eBay.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

29. IN SEARCH OF BEAUTY

Observing the Moon

I’ve always been intrigued by the night sky. As a boy I was privileged to have lived in the Colorado mountains far from the “pollution” of city lights. Sometimes, long after my parents had gone to sleep, I would quietly get out of bed and sneak outside just to look up and wonder. When the moon was new, the milky way, that massive arm of our galaxy, would shine in all its glory arcing from horizon to horizon. I knew some of the constellations and occasionally I would spot a shooting star. I never felt small or insignificant compared to the vastness that lay before me; what I did feel was connection to infinity.

Strangely enough it never occurred to me to try a more comprehensive approach until I was an adult. In my mid twenties (the late 1980’s) I was getting ready to attend a Pink Floyd concert. In anticipation of the upcoming event I had gone out and bought a nice pair of binoculars. One evening I happened to notice a spectacular full moon rising. On a whim I grabbed my new field glasses and set my eyes to something I had never truly seen. There before me, in detail I had never bothered to explore, was another world. Another world! I’m telling you for a fact the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I couldn’t stop looking. Eventually I bought a telescope and continued my gaze to even deeper discoveries.

It bothered me a little that I had completely ignored  what was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever seen up until that point. I took its presence for granted and I began to wonder what else I had treated with the same attitude. This thought was put on hold as my alcoholism (which had begun several years earlier) began to assert itself. Soon everything was either bleak, boring, or annoying. Life quickly became self-centered. Nothing met my so-called standards so disappointment was the only outcome. Those who helped me get past the chaos and disorder worked tirelessly to bring me back to sanity and beyond. Along the way they encouraged an attitude of gratitude which now is permanently woven into my being.

I began to see the smallest of things in new ways. Colors popped, my surroundings looked new and exciting. I began to pay attention to how everything is symbiotic. I realized that whatever created me also created the world that surrounded me. I’ve said it before, “I believe nothing exists that isn’t supposed to” which means that everything must have some sort of purpose. My respect for the smallest of life forms skyrocketed. That spider that used to give me the creeps I can now let crawl into my hand while I gently place him outside. The same life-force that compels me to survive is the same that pushes this little animal to do the same.

I now see the beauty in everything. Ugliness is an illusion, a judgment created and used to satisfy the human need to rank and label. All that surrounds us is sculpture, all we hear is music, all we communicate is poetry, and all we do is part of the harmonious dance of the universe.

Some may question the need, or perhaps the ability to see this quality in everything. Can I see the beauty in the starving children of the world? You’re damn right I can, if I didn’t see the potential to change it into something inspirational I would never want to. How about in the carnage left once violence has taken place? Yes, I see what has survived, what will ultimately prevail, and what will be learned that must never be repeated. For those that seem lost, the beauty of hope prevails. For those who live a life of cruelty, the beauty of redemption exists. For those who constantly criticize, the beauty of acceptance can be attained. For those who are vindictive, the beauty of forgiveness is available.

Expression of this quality is a gift not only to yourself, but to all those you associate with. Do I still look for fault and criticize things? Yes, absolutely, but always with the intent to create something better, or at least present solutions instead of problems. I consciously begin tasks and challenges by first knowing my involvement can transform them into higher beauty. Do I recognize some things as having more beauty than others? Yes. I’m not beyond that yet; but keep in mind I  know it’s in everything at some level, and I feel it’s my duty to find and acknowledge it . Actually, I think it’s ultimately everyone’s job to take what’s in front of them and make it better by expanding its beauty so much that it can no longer be ignored or hidden.

Please follow my blog. Comment and share as you wish.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood