Do Something Good

22 01 2015

chains

Please do something good with no reward in mind and no benefit to self.

Please serve your brothers and sisters with compassionate love that you felt as a child toward another.

Please make something spectacular of your own design and imagination and creativity and share it with no one.

This is how we heal America.

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You coulda fooled me!

31 01 2011

I need to preface this post by saying I don’t 100% agree with the sentiment expressed within.  I do, however like the way I expressed it and think there’s some food for thought here.  It’s easy to be hyper-sensitive at times and perceive things that are not actually taking place.

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“He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.”
— Brigham Young

Tonight I went to a dance.  It was weird, but I was there.  It was a dance in downtown SLC at a Masonic lodge put on by some people who throw parties and dances for single people over the age of thirty five.  So I went with a friend for something to do, to hang out, dance a little, mingle, munch on some snacks, say hi to some friends and call it a night.

It was good for the most part, but I do have one big complaint.  And I hate to complain.  I used to like to complain a lot.  I used to have a good old time blogging and criticizing people, complaining about all sorts of crazy and unimportant things I found irritating in my life.  That was back when I was basically miserable inside; happy on the outside but tormented on the inside.  Now I’m what you see is what you get.

So I wandered down to the area where all the people I know are dancing and they’re laughing, having a good time and dancing.  Now, the deal here is that all the guys want the women to like them and they’re all trying to impress all the women.  And all the women want to look good enough to be accepted by the other women and to be liked by all the guys.  So there’s this dynamic going on of human mating rituals, showing off, trying to impress each other and all sorts of one-upsmanship and I’m just there to hang out.  I could give two shits about impressing anyone or making a love connection.

what's your perspective?These are people I know, I’ve associated with in the past; not people I’d put on my Christmas list or to whose funerals I would be invited, but they are people I’ve shared the social spotlight with and we have common friends.  When I go to these dances I don’t get all excited and immediately run out on the dance floor and start cutting a groove to China.  I like to stand back for a while, watch everyone, see who is around, watch what’s happening, have some snacks, meet a person or two and then maybe dance a little bit.  I think because I approach it this way that some people think I’m being a snob or anti-social.  It’s not that at all; I just like to soak things in.  I’m different from most people and I don’t feel like I have to jump into the fray to avoid missing some critical moment in social evolution.  OK, that was a snobbish comment; maybe I should take it back.  It doesn’t apply to everyone but I know it applies to some.

When I finally got down to the group I started dancing with my friend and I said hello to a few of the people there from across the room; talked to one or two of them a little bit.  There were some casual hellos given with a little courteous wave of the hand but it was mostly insincere, formal gesturing.

When the whole shebang was through the house lights came up and all the glad handing and hugging commenced and people started saying their goodbyes.  This is where it was really apparent that I was not part of the pack.  Eye contact was avoided with me by people I’ve had lengthy intimate conversations with in the past and except for a few of them who are genuinely cool people, nobody had any time or interest in my being there.  I only bring this up because I know why it happened like this.  It’s because of my past; because I spent some time in jail and that I have a reputation for associating with more rough-around-the-edges sorts of crowds.  In short, it’s a result of the choices I’ve made in the past.

Now, it does bother me on some level but I really want to say it doesn’t bother me at all, and tomorrow it isn’t going to bother me one bit and I’m going to feel like I shouldn’t have made this blog post at all; but like I said in the preface, I think there’s some food for thought in here.

Truly, it doesn’t really bother me other than just on the surface.  I mean I could take them or leave them, except that they’re my brothers and sisters and I do care for them and love them, but they’re just people, regular people who have regular lives.  They come and go; they’re not a critical part of my life.

But this sort of thing has never happened to me before although I have witnessed it happening to others in this very same circle.  I have seen people come and go from this social circle because they become offended and feel ostracized by the indifference of others.

I like to talk to people.  I like to say hello to strangers and make conversation with people I don’t know.  I like to make someone I don’t know laugh and try to make an impression on them to help them feel like there’s somebody out there who found them interesting enough to give their attention to.  That’s what uplifting our brothers and sisters is about.  And it’s not about doing it just to get it done, it’s about being sincerely interested in another person.

This sort of snubbing I see going on with people of this age only happens in Utah and in the LDS social circles.  It’s sad but true.  I certainly hate to be critical of my people; and they are my people because of my ancestry, my culture and the group I primarily identify myself with.

The core of our religious beliefs is Jesus Christ and love, compassion and service.  The purpose of our very lives is to help up build the kingdom of God on the earth and welcome all of our brothers and sisters into the fold; especially those who have been lost and wandering; not to shun them because they have habits or tendencies toward things that go against the teachings of our gospel.  Because to be completely honest, all of us are guilty of that very thing.  If that were not true none of us would need repentance.  It’s just that many people have bad habits that are easy to hide, that don’t outwardly offend others or make others out-rightly uncomfortable.

don't do it!Say there’s one guy who shows up reeking of cigarette smoke, wearing a Headbanger’s Ball t-shirt and another guy shows up who has just spent the past three hours watching hard-core pornography in the privacy of his own home.  How easy is it to pass judgment in a case like that?  The outward appearance is important, but the truth is more important.

Sometimes I wonder if the feeling is that if they associate with me they will somehow be categorized by their peers as being sympathetic to whatever behavior or experience in my past opposes their values.  I have a checkered past and it surely rubs some people the wrong way.  And there are others who look right past it and know me as the person I am; not for the light that shines on me but for the light that shines from me.

Often times, people close themselves off and huddle together in their social groups like Jr. High School kids.  I know they don’t do this on purpose and I know they have bigger hearts than I’m making it sound like, but their actions certainly mean something.  I know they do good things and give service, are good parents, good friends and good, honest citizens.  I tried to socialize with them, I tried to be a part of the crowd, tried to be friendly, tried to open up but there’s something going on, something about me that threatens or otherwise makes them feel uneasy.

Somebody is going to read this blog post and word is going to spread and then they’ll know how I feel, then they will feel justified in ignoring me because they can point to the attitude expressed in this blog post and say it’s because of my own behavior I feel this way.  But I didn’t feel this way until tonight.

Look up!So I got this off my chest, it’s just a rant and it’s probably an overblown misunderstanding but the essence of what I’m saying is surely going to resonate with some people who understand exactly where I’m coming from.  Then there will be the defensive group who won’t have a clue what I’m talking about and think I’m just being a jerk.  Then there might be a couple who are exceptions, who were actually very cool to me and who don’t belong as part of this rant, but who mistakenly think I still mean them too.

You can’t make everyone happy all of the time.  There’s no use in trying, so I just tell the truth, call it like I see it, speak my mind, say what I’m feeling and let the cards fall where they may.  This makes some people uncomfortable but I live life with a clean conscious knowing that I’m honest and truthful.  People don’t have to guess what I’m thinking or wonder how I feel.  Despite all of this ranting, I have nothing against any of these good people and I admire all of them in many different ways.

It’s just unfortunate that some of them feel uncomfortable.  Is it my fault or is it their problem? I don’t know.  I don’t think it really matters anyway.  I think what matters is that the future holds good things and that everything is going to be just fine and that I have no reason to bitch about anything.





Give because it’s the right thing to do

14 01 2011

Sometimes you have something to say to someone that they need to hear. It’s the answer they are looking for, but it’s not the answer they want and it’s not scratching the itch they’re feeling at the moment. So you offer it up and it’s not received in the way you hope it will be received.

What do you do? Do you get angry, frustrated, begin to point out how this person is missing the picture or missing your point? No, that doesn’t help anything. You’ve set out to try to uplift someone and if they don’t absorb what your offering, certainly don’t respond by tearing them down and giving them a dose of, “Well if you don’t take what I’m giving then I’ll put you in your place, mister!”

You’ve put it out there and it’s out there. It got to them the best it could and it will come back at a time when it’s able to fit into position within them, to settle in and be of value to them. It can’t be forced if there’s no holding place for it to settle into. Time needs to pass and experience needs to create that holding place for your words to comfortably settle in and and take their place to have meaning and fortify their being.

I once offered a homeless man a cup of hot chocolate I bought for him, specifically for him. My son Spencer, eight years old at the time told me to give a homeless man a cup of hot chocolate as a gift of compassion while we were out that day. I thought that was an amazing request and was so happy that he had been learning good things at such a young age. As his dad I was going to take the opportunity to follow through and solidify in his young and developing character the value of giving, service and compassion.

So we walked into Starbucks and I bought hot chocolate for the three kids and an extra for the sign-holder and went down to the street level and I held out the cup of hot chocolate to the man who is holding a cardboard sign, which is telling us, “anything helps.” It was winter and it was cold. He was bundled up with gloves and a hat to cover his ears and head and he was huddling up to keep warm. I thought it was a nice gesture. I said, “here’s some hot chocolate, we got it just for you.”

He just looked at me and said, “I can’t hold it.”

I repeated and said, “I just bought it for you, it’s fresh warm, and it’s good.”

He said again, “I can’t hold it.”

So, what was I supposed to do? Get upset and react in anger? Being turned down is something you don’t hope for, but it happens and it’s OK. The point is that my little guy had the heart to make this offering of compassion to someone he saw in need, and he did it without worrying about what others around him might think. He was only concerned for this man who was holding out his hand.

So we took the hot chocolate and were going to offer it to someone else but there was nobody else around to give it to. We shared it and it was good, and we talked about this experience and we were able to see that sometimes people who are in need don’t want what you have to give and that it’s OK. The important thing is to offer, and to love them. Their reaction or response is their responsibility. Our responsibility is to be kind and to give what we can. If it is not understood that is OK. Sometime in the future that guy will remember the group of people who offered that hot chocolate to him and that memory will have some meaning and value. That day it didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that the experience was meaningless. It was important on many levels, and a selfish reaction of anger or contempt because of the rejection by the beggar would have turned that opportunity into something ugly and nasty.

Let’s all rise above ourselves and make the best out of every situation, and when we are rejected or surprised by the reactions of others, let’s be grateful for the opportunity we had to make any sort of offering whether it was accepted or not.

The moral to this story is to be bold, but not overbearing.  Be compassionate, but not forceful in giving.  Do things for the benefit of others, to make the future better, to make the world a better place.  Remember that your influence is like a seed being planted.  At the moment you plant it, it is unseen, buried and goes unnoticed.  But in time it grows and nobody remembers who planted it or where it came from, but the tree is there to offer fruit and shade and beauty to countless people who find themselves in its way.  To be noticed for your efforts is not the reward.  To bring comfort to the lives of others is.







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