Imagining a Better World

Four Pillars of Society, And How to Topple Them

Federal Way Conservative

There are four pillars that hold society together. These are institutions that are critical to any functioning group. Without them, the survival of the group is in peril.

We all agree that government is one of those pillars. Government exists to fight evil with force. In government, we bestow the right to kill, imprison, write laws, and enforce them. Without government, it is a simple matter for evil men to band together and overpower the good. Government is simply good men banding together to keep evil men from doing so.

The second institution is business. We need to be economically prosperous, and our amoral corporations are the way we do this. This allows people to come together to seek the economic benefit of themselves, and thus each other. Without business, it is impossible to grow and move food around society, and impossible to secure the physical blessings of liberty.

The…

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The Difference Between Showing and Telling

We’ve all heard it a hundred times: “Show, don’t tell.” I don’t like most rules – I’m a rebel – but I actually buy into this one. There are exceptions, and as with any rule a good writer can defy it, but it generally holds true that in many ways large and small a writer should not be telling a story as much as showing one. You are your reader’s guide in another world, showing them the way. You don’t leave your readers here and tell them about it after you get back.

But let’s look a little deeper at one of the meanings behind this “rule.” It goes deeper to the very heart of the art. The principle is the same, its importance is the same if not greater, but have you thought of it, and how many times have you forgotten it? I know I, personally, don’t always remember it. And yet it’s so simple; how do we forget it?

It’s really not complicated, mysterious, or surprising. The simple fact is that we, as writers, are observers, explorers, students of beauty and wonder; we take pictures of our findings, pictures made up of words, pictures of things nobody else has ever seen. But sometimes we forget that we’re students, not teachers–don’t we?

What I mean, in plain language, is this: It’s our job to show our readers what we see and what we think, but not to tell them what to think.

We’re fiction writers. We write about feelings, not facts: not tangible things that you can see and touch, but higher things, things that can’t necessarily be proven to exist but we know exist nonetheless. Sometimes these things are clearly visible in the everyday, if you look. But sometimes, we become so enthusiastic about what we’re seeing and what we’re showing our readers and what our story means to us, that we forget ourselves and start to tell our readers what to expect and what to think as we’re writing.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. What our readers see might not always be what we meant them to see; and that’s okay. That’s what art is all about. That’s the beautiful thing about it. If anything we should be trying to make the pictures we present clearer, if we want to guide interpretation by the strength of an artist’s sutlety; but we should not be telling people what to see in our art.

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Quoth Lao Tzu

I have my hands full trying to control myself, much less other people. I just want to master myself and leave everybody else to God – the only One who can deal with them.

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Blogging F.O.R. a Reason: Getting Back Into Blogging

Photo Credit: horizontal.integration via Compfight cc (altered)

Photo Credit: horizontal.integration via Compfight cc (altered)

Time to come clean about my five-month hiatus and what caused it.

I’m lazy.

All right, it’s not quite that simple. Ultimately, that’s the answer, but it’s more involved than it sounds. Let’s delve into this, and we’ll call it . . .

Blogging F.O.R. a Reason: Getting Back Into Blogging

Because people like to remember things this way, and because it works, you guessed it, F.O.R. is an acronym for remembering the three elements of my new blogging mantra.

(It might also have been the FORD system for introverts who aren’t comfortable bringing up dreams with strangers, and if that was your guess, it wasn’t a bad one. Even though it was wrong. Shame on you.)

And yes, I just came up with that acronym on the spot and oh-aren’t-I-clever (never as clever as I like to think).

F is F.O.R. Fear

Laziness. What is it? It’s a fear, I think. Some might say a fear of hard work, but I believe it goes deeper than that. I believe laziness is the fear of failure.

Don’t try and you can’t fail, right? That’s how it feels sometimes. Blogging (or writing of any kind) can feel futile sometimes because it’s almost like writing a message in a bottle. For one thing, the bottle might just sink. Or it might end up in the hands of somebody who has no use for the message. The chances are really incredibly slim that your message will reach someone who can use it.

You’re afraid of those who don’t want your message, the ones who don’t know how to use it and will scoff at you for throwing it into the sea. When you think of these people, you can just hear them: Keep your message to yourself. Nobody wants to hear it. Nobody will listen to you.

So you don’t throw the message. Instead, you just stay stranded on your little island, alone, stationary. You’re not going anywhere, but at least you didn’t stick your neck out and fail, right?

Wrong.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said: If you try, you might not succeed, but if you don’t try, you can’t possibly succeed. Well, believe it. It’s true.

It can be tough to put yourself out there and tell the world what you’re thinking. You’re always wondering if anybody will listen or if anybody will care. You don’t have the answers. You’re always doubting.

The first step is recognizing what you’re afraid of and why. The second step is remembering why you ever started blogging in the first place.

O is F.O.R. Objective

Surely you had a reason to start a blog? Of course you did. You had something you wanted to say. You had a message you wanted heard.

No, wait, sorry. You have something you need to say. You have a message that should be heard.

If you keep it to yourself, it won’t be. You have to put it out there.

Take me, for instance. I have a message that should be heard, but until today, I forgot what it was. I had to read the Who Am I? section of my own blog to answer that titular question. This is what I discovered:

“I write because it is my passion. I write as an act of religious devotion. I write because I want this world to be a better place.”

Because I want this world to be a better place. Because I want to search and understand myself and to encourage others to do the same and help them in that effort. Isn’t that worth sticking my neck out for?

Chances are that something like 99% of the people who find my blog, won’t care what I have to say. They won’t listen and they might misunderstand me. Sure. It happens.

But I write for that one out of a hundred, that 1% who will hear my message and will care. Because no matter how many people there are out there who won’t give a flying fart, there’s always the 1% who will be touched by what you have to say.

I discovered that recently when I received an email from some one who’d read a comment I posted on an article across the internet. They googled my name and found my blog, and my email, and got in touch with me to tell me they appreciated what I said in that comment.

I posted that comment a couple of months ago, and I almost didn’t post it at all, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to stick my neck out. But I did, because I felt what I had to say needed to be said. And somebody found my comment, and it meant something to them, enough that they sought me out to tell me so.

And just think: if they hadn’t sought me out, if they hadn’t stuck their neck out, it might have been months more before I found the courage to blog again.

They reminded me why I do what I do. This is your invitation to remember why you’ve read this far into my article. Remind yourself why you started blogging.

R is F.O.R. Resolution

When the idea for this article hit me, I almost said, Nah, I’ll write it later. Tomorrow. Tomorrow’ll be a good day. I’ll do it then.

No. I won’t. I knew I wouldn’t.

It’s now or it’s never. No matter what your objective is, it’s nothing but an empty good intention until you act on it. You have to take action. You have to resolve to blog.

Maybe your New Year’s resolution was to start a blog or to post every week or every day. By now, you’ve probably failed that resolution. Try again. Maybe you want to abandon it. Don’t.

Think of what’s at stake. Your voice risks going unheard. Your message might never reach the person it could touch and inspire. If you don’t take action, nobody will ever hear what you have to say.

So go. Go! Sit down at your typewriter and bleed. Cry if you don’t want to do it. Shake if you’re afraid. Just don’t let anything stop you. Never forget why you’re in that chair typing away on that keyboard.

You’re blogging for a reason.

Get Into Blogging

I assume, if you’ve read this far, you have a blog, had a blog, or intend to start a blog. If you do, great, keep it up; if you had one, get back into it, or start a new one if that’s your inclination; if you intend to start one, yes, God yes, go do it.

You need to be heard.

Just remember: Never fear. Focus on your objective. Resolve to take action. Fear, Objective, Resolve, because you’re blogging F.O.R. a reason.

And it’s a pretty good reason, isn’t it?
Do you have a message you want to share with the world? Go share it.

Do you have a message you want to share with me? Comment below, or contact me.

Categories: Imagining a Better World, Writing Passion | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Walk with Roses and Discoveries

by Karen Arnold

by Karen Arnold

A few days ago I took a walk. My favorite park for strolling and taking in the scenery is a five minutes’ drive.

Did you notice the irony? I drive to some place so I can take a walk. Huh. Never occurred to me until just the other day, but that’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it, isn’t it?

Get in the car, drive somewhere, what’s so strange about that? I hardly think about it. It’s totally normal. What could be more natural?

Maybe . . . walking?

On the one hand, I wanted to walk in the park, not in the city. So I took the fastest, most efficient way to get through the tedium and reach the pleasure quicker. That’s not really cutting corners. I have a saying: Walk fast so you’ll have time to smell the roses when you get to them. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

But on the other hand, what else am I missing, along the road between my home and the park? How many restaurants and shops that I’ve never been to, never thought of as more than a blur going by? How many people I’ve never met? How many experiences I simply haven’t had because I’ve never even thought of them?

At least once a week, I go to the same park to escape the “rat race” of the city and get “back” to a more natural setting. I go there to get away from all the stress of work, home, family, you know, all the routine. Only now, that freedom has become a part of my routine. It’s just another way I’m giving in to the habit of habit. Another missed opportunity for exploration, discovery, and growth.

So I’m faced with a choice between the familiar, assured gratification of a simple pleasure, or the prospect of an opportunity to have unforeseeable experiences.

I’m not entirely sure what this post is about. Seems to be about several important things. All I know is that I’m probably going to take a walk tomorrow, and leave my car at home. And maybe read Thoreau’s Walking again. Familiar with it?

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Quoth Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee’s got a lot of the uncommon sense that a lot of common people could sure use. Very inspirational.

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The Elements of Forgiveness

Dear Readers,

Something dawned on me recently. It taught me a lesson that I realized a great many of us could do with learning, and all of us should be reminded of. So I’m going to share this experience with you.

The Elements of Forgiveness

by Ed Yourdon

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight cc

Recognition

A couple years back, I hurt someone—even the best of intentions and the highest hopes can fall in disastrous ruin if executed poorly, but that’s another article entirely. The offense in question was mild, not serious at all, but of the kind that ends up getting blown out of proportion, and it was purely personal between that person and myself, so it won’t be mentioned. The point here is that I hurt them, and so they hurt me in return.

It’s not that they were consciously out for revenge, mind you—but they were hurt and they showed it, and that hurt me. They treated me coldly and unkindly, and that hurt me. I had not intentionally done anything to hurt them, but I had hurt them anyway, and that hurt me.

I felt guilty, I felt horrible, and even as soon as the next day dawned I knew I had to make it right—but I wasn’t given the chance. It would be a long time, nearly a year, before I would be given the opportunity, which I took at last and apologized, and did everything I could to make amends. Well, it came out right in the end—I was forgiven.

But I had carried my shame and my guilt for a long time before that happened. I had to deal with that. Sure, everything came out all right, I apologized, I was forgiven. I bore all the guilt and all the responsibility, I never once tried to shirk it or pin it on my friend, I never blamed them outwardly or inwardly. It was my fault. So I fixed it.

And life carried on, but without even realizing it, I was still hurt. To be fair, I had been treated unjustly. I had been hurt too. There was a lot that my friend could have done a lot sooner; like give me a chance to make things right, which was much more in their power to gave than it was in mine to create. Just to speak fairly, they could have done the human thing and met me halfway. Granted, they never knew how much they had hurt me, too—but couldn’t they have made an effort, like I did? Just a little?

I never blamed them though. I carried all the guilt and all the responsibility, and I never once let myself blame them.

At least, that’s what I thought.

 

Confessing your Anger

And then only recently, I realized that I was still hurting, but I didn’t quite know why. And, well, I realized it was because I was still wounded a little by what had happened; I’m a writer, I’m an introvert, I’m sensitive, and I value all my relationships highly. Well, this was a valuable relationship, and it was wounded for a while, and it healed, but I didn’t—yet.

And and that’s when it came to me: I was angry. I was bitter toward my friend for the pain they had caused me without ever as much as an apology. But I had never been willing to admit it until that moment. I had never been able to let myself think a thought of blame against them. And then I saw that that was my mistake.

I denied my anger. I bottled it away in my heart so tight that it began to poison me from the inside. I lied to myself. I told myself I never blamed them. But secretly, unknown even to myself, I hated them for everything: I hated them for the way they had treated me, I hated them for their blindness, I hated them for their hypocrisy, I hated them for leaving me so long to suffer on their behalf. In the core of my heart, of course I still loved that person; you can hate and still love. But somewhere in my heart, I did after all hate them.

I just never let myself believe it. I shouldn’t have done that; I should have been honest with myself and accepted that anger and that hatred. I should have opened myself to it, recognized it, and admitted to my disbelieving self that it was, after all, there. I hated them, and I should have confessed it a lot sooner.

Now, if this was a romantic relationship, if I had loved this person that much, I would have confessed to them personally that I felt that hatred for them. Without that pure, open-hearted honesty I can’t believe in the strength of a relationship that intimate and that sacred. With a woman I loved, I would have worked it out with them. I would have gone through the same process I’m about to describe with her. I would have asked her to help me learn from the experience and find a way that we could both, in future, be more considerate of each other. (And to be realistic, it might have ruined our relationship. But if that’s true, then obviously we didn’t have a relationship worth preserving anyway.) But in the case of this particular friend, it was not necessary for our relationship to have that close a bond. We didn’t have to live with each other, and thank goodness. So this didn’t concern them. This was something I had to work out for myself.

And so I had to confess my anger, let it go, and do the one thing that I had never done for them, because I never thought it was possible or necessary: forgive. I never forgave them because I never admitted that there was anything I had to forgive.

 

Cleansing Yourself

And then, when I accepted that I hated them, I didn’t want to hate them anymore.

I realized that my bitterness was selfish. There was no good reason for it. It was unnecessary and unhealthy.

Step one was letting the anger take control of me. I let that happen. I let myself hate. And then I felt dirty. I was filthy with hatred, and I didn’t like it. The next step was to clean myself.

That old, half-forgotten pain, the resentment, the anger, the hatred, all of it: I washed it away, I washed it right out of me and let it flush down the drain. I let it go. And the miraculous thing was, then, it was gone. I didn’t hate them anymore.

Like dragons starved in their cages, I had let my emotions free; they came out, strong with desperation, hungry for escape, eager to unleash their fury. I let them ravage until they had tired themselves out, I let them consume until they had their fill, and I let them destroy until they had destroyed themselves. When their energy was spent, I slew the dragons. They died, and with them, all the anger and all the hate they had fed on was dead with them. It was over.

Then there was only one thing left to be done. Repair the damage.

 

Healing

I had to forgive my friend for what had happened. I had to let go of the past, and accept that what had happened, had happened, and it didn’t matter anymore.

People make mistakes. But you love them anyway. I had made mistakes, and after all, I had been forgiven. They still loved me as much as I still loved them. Sure, we’d hurt each other, but that’s a small thing between friends. Anything either of us did was nothing compared to all the good things we had done for each other; forgiveness was just another one of those natural things friends do.

I didn’t blame them. Not because they hadn’t done anything wrong, not because I was taking all the responsibility, but because we had both done what we thought was best to make up for it, in our own ways. I really didn’t blame them now—because there really wasn’t anything to blame them for.

 

It Can Be the Little Things, Too

I used a large-scale example, but sometimes we let little, everyday annoyances push us a little further than we should, too. Forgetting is good, but forgiving is better. It’s a positive stance, rather than a merely neutral one, and it can be the turning point in a bad day. The everyday mistakes deserve to be forgiven, and they can be forgiven in the same way.

People can be frustrating—they can do the stupidest things. So now you’re angry with them, and don’t try to tell yourself you’re not, don’t try to suppress the feeling; admit you’re angry, admit that they’re an idiot. Kick a table—it’s the idiot, tell it so, hurt it (and possibly your foot), admit it’s an idiot. Even if it’s not physical, make that admission.

Then, let it go. Your anger is spent, now wash it away, breathe it out. Get rid of it. Now forgive; maybe they’re just having an off day. You have those too. So they’re an idiot; you can be an idiot in your own ways too, you know. They’re only as human as you, they’re no more an idiot than you are, and they deserve to be forgiven as much as you do.

 

by Luc De Leeuw

Photo Credit: just.Luc via Compfight cc

A Few Reminders

Counting to ten really does help. Patience is important. Not to overlook and to forget, but so you can calm down and take a step back to remember all the reasons that you’re being unfair.

Take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror. Think about how little you’ve done to earn forgiveness yourself, and yet how much you still deserve it—simply because everyone does.

They’re not seeing from your perspective, but their own. Things may look different from over there. That’s why communication is important. Most of the time, people don’t even realize they hurt you unless you tell them. Showing it, on the other hand, usually only makes matters worse, because they may not understand why you’re suddenly treating them so coldly.

Sometimes it’s best to forgive and move on. Especially if it’s a first-time offense, just forgive it and let it go. There’s no reason to make a big deal out of it if you don’t have to. You don’t always have to talk it out.

Bear in mind, God forgives. If they’re worthy of His forgiveness, you would put yourself above Him and say they’re not worthy of yours?

 

One Last Lesson

And I think something else to be learned from this parable. It was good of me not to shirk the responsibility for my actions, and to own up to my own mistakes; but to shoulder as much guilt and shame as I did was really very unfair to myself. It’s hard to learn from an experience when you’re spending all your time wishing it had never happened. I blamed myself impractically, blowing my own crime out of proportion, and I blamed myself too long. I never let go, I never moved on, and I never forgave myself.

It’s wise to take responsibility for the mistakes we make. And if it’s in your power to make it right again, you should. There’s no hiding from that. But that’s part of letting go and moving on. You did wrong; that was an accident. Now you’re doing the right thing. Forgive yourself, and trust yourself to make good.

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Read This Now — No Excuses

Stephen McCranie

Click. Read. You’ll be happy that you did.

 

Click on the image, follow the link, read. No excuses. No distractions. No delays. Do it now and read. I don’t care if you’re a writer or an artist or a human being. Go read this, even if you’re a Martian. Everyone needs to read this.

Read it. Now. Why are you still here?

 

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Changing the World Starts at Home

Because here’s the thing. Here’s the thing that a lot of us, too many of us, myself included, don’t get, and certainly don’t live by.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Mahatma Gandhi

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

That’s it. Do you realize how much better life would be if people lived by their ideals before they started forcing them on everyone else?

If everyone in the world had to earn a license before trying to improve other people, very few people would be legally authorized to improve the world, and it might actually improve. Only the people who were actually successfully living by their grand theories would be granted these licenses, and only those people would be allowed to tell people how to live their lives.

Because obviously, they know what they’re talking about by experience. Their theories are more than theories. Most of us build our theories on ideas, whims, desires, and as for facts, a few, but only the facts we like.

by Виталий Смолыгин

Photo Credit (altered)

But you have no right making a “better” world if you’re not trying to be a better person. Until you have a real tangible idea of what a better world is, because you’ve lived it and seen it first hand, you don’t know what you’re fighting for.

 

Be the Change You Want to See

Don’t try to control the world just because you can’t control yourself. And for once be honest with yourself and admit that that’s exactly what you’re doing.

The best, the only way to lead is by example. You can’t tell people they’re living their life the wrong way and expect them to like you, much less believe you. If you want them to believe they could be living a better life and buy into your formula for it, you have to be giving them demonstrations and free samples. Live the life you’re advertising.

by Fran Hogan

Photo Credit (altered)

Be the person you’re telling them they should be, be the better world you want to exist. Even when it’s hard. Show them the effects and the benefits of living the way you want to live. Treat them with the love, the kindness, and the sympathy you think the world needs.

Don’t be a hypocrite and a bigoted prude. If you’re not living by your “morals” then you have no right preaching your empty theories. You want to help people improve? Support them on their terms, not yours.

Another important thing to remember is that a perfect world isn’t as far away as it seems. The individual, if they look for it, can tap into that world, and experience paradise in their own life. It’s there for anyone who chooses it—it’s a choice. The world is what you choose to make it, so choose happiness.

We all need to spend less time trying to change the world, and more time trying to change ourselves.

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One Destination, Thousands of Roads

by Karen Arnold

by Karen Arnold

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

– Lewis Carroll

Where am I headed?

Am I on the right road?

Is this what I’m meant to be doing?

Did I make a mistake?

We spend altogether too much time worrying about the past.

Those things in the past you regret or long for are long gone and what you did is done. What has been is gone, and whether you wish it could be again or wish it had never happened, it has nothing to do with your future. It’s a part of who you are now, but it isn’t and won’t be a part of who you become unless you let it.

I’m all for learning from the past, evaluating previous performance to enhance the next, etc. but it does take time. And the more time you take to figure out how to get where you’re going, the less time you spend actually getting there. The trick is to plan well enough to make the trip faster, don’t plan so much it slows you down.

You have one destination. When you get there, you’ll see that. Just remember that wherever you’re going, there are a thousand roads to get there. Some are easier, some are harder, but they’ both lead to the same place, and they’re both beautiful in their own ways.

You may not know where you’re going and you’re bound to take the wrong path sometimes. That is true. But if you just keep moving forward with your eyes open, that doesn’t matter as much as we think.

 

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