Friday, March 17, 2006

Money or Happiness is There Really a Difference?

Should one work for money or should one find a career that assures happiness?  Actually that question is not a choice, if acted upon correctly prosperity and happiness are inevitable.  Here is why this is true.  We all know that we live in an imperfect world, right?  Let’s think about that for a minute.  In my mind the world is perfect; it is in the lives of its inhabitants that the imperfection occurs.

I have engaged in activities simply because I thought they would provide wealth, and I did acquire a lot of money.  I then behaved in ways I thought would provide happiness, they didn’t.  Here is the solution, it is simple but difficult.  Look around and try to find examples of excellence.  I don’t mean simply something that is just good, I mean really excellent.  After searching for awhile you will find some examples, some that will surprise you.  As you look deeper you will find two more things: prosperity and happiness.  Why?

The simplicity is this; the world seeks perfection or tends towards perfection.  It is the most desirable quality because it cannot be attained in an absolute sense.  The simple act of trying is in itself so rare that it too is valuable.  Couple the striving for perfection with an activity that brings personal satisfaction to the striver and without a doubt prosperity and happiness will follow.  This is not an overnight situation, it takes time.  It might take a few or many years to achieve this state, but with belief and effort success is unavoidable.

The reason most people never arrive is due to the difficulty of continuing against what seem to be setbacks, poor initial choice of activity and subsequent discouragement, laziness (another name for fear) and finally most people don’t believe my theory is true.

Dreams can’t come true if they are never dreamt.  When planning or imagining anything about what you want to achieve always make your fantasy the most extreme example of the success you think you want.  In a fantasy you are in charge and it always works out the way you want.  Do you want to be the most knowledgeable archaeologist on earth?  Dream it, it will happen.  You’ll have to work on it, but without the dream your subconscious has nothing to work on.

All personal success and happiness comes from satisfying an internal urge.  That urge must be stimulated.  For some this stimulation is easy but most of us have to search for what is best.  This search can be made simpler this way.  By remembering that success and happiness are the two most powerful stimulants and thinking about the wonderful euphoric feeling you got when something you did was most satisfying, you then know what you want to repeat and are on the right track.  If you look at your life as a quest for dollars at the end you will fail.

If you do something, anything, productive and you are among the best to ever do that thing, money will chase you around.  People want to be around excellence, they love basking in its reflection because they don’t understand it.  The wealthiest people are those who respect themselves and enjoy helping others.  Money should never be an objective it should and will always be a by-product of excellence.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Life

This is Makena Grace Curley, born March 6, 2006 to Kevin and Beth Curley. This is my wife's and my third grandchild and we are happy to have her. I certainly hope her life turns out to be a happy and productive one. She has a great start as she is surrounded by a loving extended family. This is something every child needs but fewer and fewer in today's world are lucky enough to have. I chose this picture because it appears that she is looking out at the world with a skeptical gaze. I know the feeling.

She is named after a village in Hawaii, on Maui, so perhaps she will have a sunny and mild dispostion with only the occasional blustery storm.

I wonder what changes will occur during her lifetime? Space colonies, cancer cure, endless religious warfare, decline of US influence in the world, all of these are possible perhaps probable. The advances in technology are really unimaginable because truth is certainly stranger than fiction. As Tom Clancy wrote "Fiction has to make sense, the truth doesn't" The interesting part of the changes she will see is that such changes will be amazing to those already of age, while to her and her contemporaries it seem like a natural progression. Which of course it will be.

Anyway, Welcome Makena. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sainthood for All

I was educated by the Roman Catholic Church in a series of what was known at the time at parochial schools.  I guess the term was used to illustrate the narrow focus of the curriculum.  A Catholic education, during the 1950s and 60s was an experience that I liken to a military experience.  It wasn’t that much fun at the time but as a survivor it’s an experience that cannot replaced or truly explained to anyone who hasn’t been there.  There was a certain ineffable quality of love and brutality that kept one alert, wary, with a strong longing for escape.

The education was first class.  Even I, a poor student at best, managed to absorb knowledge and life skills at a survival level far above my public school counterparts.  I haven’t kept up with my schoolmates but it wouldn’t surprise me to find most of them as successful citizens contributing to the community.  The emphasis in the program was learning not financial gain, which is a little unfortunate for those who don’t get to live in a convent or rectory.  Nonetheless the intellectual life was, as I now realize, quite amazing.  The assumptions of the plan included the idea that the students were capable of being stretched to the limit and so they were.  You could fail; you could be as many grades behind as necessary to get you to the level required by the Church’s idea of an educated person.  We had students that were two and sometimes three years older than the grade level.

So with all this brain power cooking away in a world that was and is rapidly changing, how did and does the church think people will continue to believe in the spiritual agenda?  I come to this question because as I was watching the newscrawler at the bottom of my television picture I noticed a tag about some priest investigating a possible miracle cure by the late Pope John Paul II.  I got to wondering about this.  In Christian life death is the beginning not the end of existence.  I began to imagine John Paul getting to the pearly gates and being told to head on back down to earth if he wanted a better seat in the room God reserves for His closest friends.  It must be crowded in there. So, do these dead holy people have to circle the planet looking for a worthy cause in an effort to earn Sainthood?  I noticed that there were actually two potential miracles to investigate to establish the rationale of Sainthood status.  Let’ suppose this is something that is real.  What happens after the confirmation is made, do the miracles stop?  I can’t remember hearing of recent miracle investigations of the actions of, oh, let’s say St. Joseph.  Is it the case that once a dead person shows enough life to cause a miraculous action that they can accept a certain status; something like class 1 saint and relax around heaven?

I have long ago left organized religion to those who enjoy living with ghosts and who earn a living scaring the hell out of people instead of nurturing the heaven in them.  All of us have a certain spiritual longing that is difficult to cope with and to pin down effectively. For that reason I never disparage anyone’s beliefs but I do wonder why they believe it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Our Similarities are Killing Us

In the long view, a view that is very difficult for humans to adopt due to our short life span, there a great many more cultural similarities than there are differences.  This is true especially when considering the Western Civilization vs. Eastern Civilization.  Consideration of these two cultures ignores others in sub-Saharan Africa and pre-Columbian South America.  Let that be the case for this discussion.

As I type and you read we are still feeling the aftershocks of the Roman Empire, it is likely that this will always be the case barring the extinction of peoples wanting democracy, a certain appreciation of life and its gifts.  Admittedly Roman civilization was derived from earlier Greek, Etruscan, and most likely other not so well known cultures.  Rome refined the classical Greek thinking and lifestyle and added a mechanical logic to previous philosophies that is felt today.

The effects in Europe are obvious from the various languages and customs, nearly all of which are Latin based. The Germanic and Celtic languages are survivors of so-called barbarian tribes that did not fully assimilate the Roman ways, the same goes for Scandinavian, and even more remote peoples like the Basques.  In every other way Roman influence is obvious in architecture, legal systems, political life, commerce, and even social customs. The United States of America is, at its roots, a Greco-Roman society.

The Middle East, or Asia Minor as it was once known, is susceptible to the same analysis.  The Greeks got there before the Romans and had a tremendous impact on the area.  A Greek family, the Ptolemy’s, actually became Pharaohs, and ruled Egypt for centuries; Cleopatra being one the family’s more notorious members.  Hellenic culture prepared the way for Roman conquest and in fact Jesus Christ was undoubtedly a Hellenistic Jew whose followers longed to overthrow the Roman rule in Judea.  As Christianity blossomed it moved to the City of Rome and ultimately its liturgy, hierarchy, and laws found their basis in Roman traditions.

As Rome disintegrated slowly over hundreds of years Christianity was used as a unifying tool by Constantine in his bid to takeover the empire, he was by the way a native of Trier in what is now Germany.  He moved the empire east to Byzantium, renaming it Constantinople in his own honor.  This beginning grew into the Ottoman Empire at a much later date.  It was here that the amalgam of Christian and Jewish thought was coupled with a desert peoples need for a creed.  Thus was born Islam.  The essential tragedy of modern life is that the combatants all the same basic belief system.  It’s the bells and whistles that make the difference.

The Arabs, Chaldeans, Persians, Jews, and Christians are doomed to a death struggle if they fail to recognize the similarities that are currently driving them apart.  All are descendants of the influence of Greco-Roman thought and lifestyle; either in acceptance or denial.

The European system of monarchies and feudal lords was based on Roman governors and nobles left isolated throughout Europe by the fall of Rome.  The Caliphate, though much more centrally organized, is a direct offspring of the methods employed by the rulers of Byzantium.  The heirs saw no need to reinvent the wheel.  Modern problems are caused by a system of political and religious development that was not parallel, or to the extent it was there has been a significant lagging behind in the Islamic nations.

This is not the only explanation but it is one and it is one that should be considered and examined more closely.