Spirit

Emerson Was Right – Twice

Reading time – 1:21; Viewing time – 2:09  .  .  .

Chris Matthews’ new book about Bobby Kennedy ends with the words of John Glenn, former astronaut and senator from Ohio, relating his taking Kennedy’s children to their home following the assassination of their father and staying the night with them. He found himself in Kennedy’s study and saw on his desk a collection of poems and essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a couple of which Kennedy had marked in the margin. Emerson wrote,

“If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era? This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it [emphasis added].”

Surely, ours is a time of revolution, a time of massive upheaval in our country and the voices of change are loud and intractable. Oddly, the voices resisting the din of the revolutionaries aren’t embedded in the status quo, but instead are calling for their own change. Returning to the way we were seems to be dissatisfying to all.

That, then, focuses us on Emerson’s final sentence: “This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it.” Who, indeed, has what it takes to declare, “THIS is what we will do with it”? I don’t think a hate-filled, exclusionary specter will do, nor do I believe that just being against things is adequate. Our times call for wisdom in the face of our daily cacophony. We need a visionary who can see both the forest and all the trees, who can make sense of our reality and show us the better tomorrow we’ll build together. Then, in Emerson’s words, we’ll know what to do with it.

The other passage Kennedy had marked in his copy of Emerson’s poems and essays is critical to our time and will remain so:

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Lesson

Flight 93 National Memorial

Flight 93 National Memorial, Shanksville, PA

Reading time – 54 seconds; Viewing time – 1:54  .  .  .

I fly a lot and often think about the people on those four airplanes on that awful day, September 11, 2001. Most often I think about those on United Flight #93.

WTC AttackThere had been victims of terrorists before then, like those on the USS Cole and in the Marine barracks in Lebanon. And there were victims of terrorists on that very day aboard the airplanes that were flown into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. Each time they were hapless victims, either because they were scared into being compliant or they were simply blindsided. Not so for those on United #93.

The USS Cole is towed into open sea on Oct. 29, 2000 Photo: DOD by Sgt. Don L. Maes, U.S. Marine Corps

USS Cole is towed into open sea, Oct. 29, 2000 Photo: DOD, Sgt. Don L. Maes, U.S.M.C.

Todd Beamer’s name and face are in my memory, but more than those are his words: “Let’s roll.” He was telling his fellow passengers and, unknown to him, this entire nation, not to be victims. He was telling us to take action. And I tell myself that very thing, in part because of his words and actions.

[Ed. note: Check the PS below – it’s not in the video.}

We have fought back as a nation. That there haven’t been far more attacks is noteworthy and great thanks go to the good people who have prevented them. Still, our people have died in San Bernardino and Boston and Fort Bragg and Orlando and survivors still grieve.

Todd Beamer

Todd Beamer

In the face of so much suffering, others have heard the call and stepped up. Like Bill Badger, who stopped more killing at the Tucson Safeway store where Gabby Giffords and others were shot by a crazy in 2011. And Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, who stopped a murderer on a French train in 2015.

Whatever happens there are always lessons, and one of the lessons of 9/11 is to step up. To take action. To refuse to be a victim. Always, the imperative is, “Let’s roll.”

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PS: There are people who volunteer to do dangerous things for the rest of us.

Almost 14% of the people who died in the World Trade Center buildings were first responders who charged into those burning buildings in order to save the people inside. It’s on us to make sure that Congress honors our commitment to the surviving first responders – all of them – in order to ensure they get the medical support they earned through their courage and selfless dedication. Tell Congress there’s no weasel room on this: tell them to do the right thing.

Our military people were once accused of awful things, yet they are now held in the highest esteem. Regardless, in each case they were far from home and doing the enormously hard and dangerous things of war because we sent them to do so for us. Some never got thanked and some still wait for the medical support they were promised.

Please read John Calia’s post and then do as he invites. Let’s roll.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Spirit

Reading time – 47 seconds  .  .  .

Religion is all about rules laid down by people who lived a long time ago, rules commonly called dogma. Those people said (or somebody else said) that the words of their dogma were given to them by God or inspired by God. It is an act of faith to believe what cannot be proven, like the holiness of those written words. Billions of people make that leap of faith willingly. That is their religion.

Spirituality is different. It has no rules. There is no dogma and it requires no faith. It is simply about how we live our lives and the energy and passion we put into the world. Whether we’re living in the tiny cracks of life or on the mountain tops, we are all spiritual. The only question is whether we recognize it and the effect of our spirit on ourselves and on others.

And that is what has me troubled these days, as we see that about 30% of people who self-identify as Republicans say that they support Donald Trump. He lashes out in mean spirited ways and declares his judgment of doom on those he doesn’t like. He has simplistic and misleading answers for any question and everything is metaphorically punctuated with a middle finger. The more he does his crazy, angry dance, the more Republicans seem to like him. Compounding that are the other candidates who carpet bomb the country with their negativity, their mean attacks and their outright lies. Each of them has followers, too.

What is that saying about the spirit of all these followers? Not their religion. I’m talking about the spirit in them. It’s looking pretty mean and angry, judgmental and vindictive.

Spirit is about how we live our lives. We demonstrate our spirit in that way and it appears that a lot of Americans are living in very dark ways. That’s an evil spirit that affects all of us.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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