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 Copyright © March 2007

Understanding the Basics...Part 6

Things no longer taught in our Churches and Synagogues....

~written from the common sense perspective of The Winds of the Soul~

by Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.)

 
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While making every effort to embrace the given task and responsibility of being "good" that belongs to each and everyone of us while here on this earth, we should be ashamed to look to another to fulfill this responsibility, or ask another to fulfill these demands.

In untangling the "I'm my brother's keeper" myth, as we did last month, we've also stumbled upon another great truth no longer being preached from the pulpits of churches and synagogues in our nation today.  Namely..., to honestly stand and to the best of our abilities "be" for what we are all about; to be honest, personally engaged in "hard work" and "individual industry," while making every effort to embrace the given task and responsibility of being "good" that belongs to each and everyone of us while here on this earth.  We should be ashamed to look to another to fulfill this responsibility, or ask another to fulfill these demands. 

We alone are responsible for our intentions and the actions that follow from them.  We cannot claim that another should be responsible for what we do nor blame others for our glaring faults of non-involvement, non-expression, non-development and the like.

Copyright © 2006 Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.).  All Rights Reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, including but not limited to all forms of media print, audio, electronic and video reproduction, without the prior express and specific written content of the author, except in cases of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. 

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As Roosevelt opined, there is more to this life than the accumulation or the assurance of an "ignoble ease."  We are not placed here to find a cozy corner in which to hibernate, turning aside from the tasks at hand of being individually unique, and expressing that goodness uniquely, fearful of the uneasiness of life that may follow if we so engage ourselves.  There is a bigger prize here at stake than obtaining "a mere easy peace."

Accordingly, we can expect no free lunch.  No one has the responsibility of taking care of us but ourselves.  No one else has the responsibility to develop and strengthen our character but us.  To wit:  We are not our brother's keeper, and conversely, we cannot expect or demand that our brother become our keeper.  To do otherwise is slovenly, a core attribute of today's liberal-social Elitism, whose adherents claim that they can make and define our characters for us; we needn't bother....

I've been reminded of Teddy Roosevelt's speech on April 10, 1899, "The Strenuous Life," which emphasized the antithesis of liberal tenets, while then emphasizing the unseen prize of "individualism" that is gained when the effort of honest work and responsibility are embraced:

I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph. A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. It is hard to fail, but is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort.

As Roosevelt opined, there is more to this life than the accumulation or the assurance of an "ignoble ease."  We are not placed here to find a cozy corner in which to hibernate, turning aside from the tasks at hand of being individually unique, and expressing that goodness uniquely, fearful of the uneasiness of life that may follow if we so engage ourselves.  There is a bigger prize here at stake than obtaining "a mere easy peace."   

As I've written elsewhere, this life should not be mistakened as a game of golf wherein he who sins least, "wins."  The champions of this life are not those that simply have sinned the least, but those that have loved the right and thereafter acted upon that direction by trying to do good the most.

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Indeed, there is a grand difference between choosing between what is "right" and what is "easy," just as there is between a choosing a "safe life" over that which has been strenuously courageous, having risked everything in order to do good. 

No matter our failings in out attempts to do good (and there will be many such failings), the fact that we chose such courageous actions instead of playing it safe, speaks volumes to Heaven.  We gain nothing unless we are so engaged.  Let us say, "If I fail, let it at least be said that I was so engaged in a goodly task.  Then my shame is only if I decide to cower and not try again to complete the task." 

In every sincere effort of "trying to the best of our present abilities while engaged in a just cause is found great reward, no matter the results.  In this light, to not try again, to not take a chance again, is truly to be a failure, for in such a retreat from life, we have failed in our initial calling "to be all that we can be," by the Lord's Will....

The parable of the Talents given in Luke 19:12-27 speaks unassailably about the need for us to personally invest in the making of our characters courageously, fleeing from the fears of loss and the possibility of social disdain.  Doing what is "easy" will not be rewarded, and indeed, those that choose such will be taken from and given instead to those who have bravely done "right"....

Indeed, there is a grand difference between choosing between what is "right" and what is "easy," just as there is between a choosing a "safe life" over that which has been strenuously courageous, having risked everything in order to do good. 

Doing what is right as opposed to that which is easy takes courage and action.  It calls for us to literally "stand-up" and be counted, of choosing sides and enter the forum of debate, making clear how we feel and what we stand for without ambiguity.  It calls upon our faith and courage to do what is right, there being no possible merit in being silent witnesses for Goodness.   

And as healthy and needful as this wisdom is for the individual, it is healthy for the nation as well.  To be sure, on the merits of individual values are built the strength of nations.  It is in the absence of such values when nations begin to fail.

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"Here I stand. It's not a meek thought; it's a bottom line. "Here I stand. Here I will make my stand. I know what will most likely happen, but it does not matter, since I will not be moving. This is where I am going to make my stand. Hineni."

Writing in the Weekly Standard on 02/23/2007, contributing humorist Larry Miller wrote a superb piece on "standing-up" entitled, "Hineni," a satirical piece on how Congress, to their everlasting shame, has failed to stand-up for anything of late.  He writes:

"THERE ARE TWO WAYS to say "I'm here" in Hebrew. Like any language, there are probably lots more, but here are the top two.

"Po ani" means I'm here, or I'm present, or just present, the correct form when someone is, say, taking the roll. We used that one in Hebrew school when I was a kid. Brill? "Po Ani." Ingber? "Po ani." Littman? "Po ani." Miller? Miller? Miller? (Okay, most of the time I'd cut class to watch Soupy Sales, but I still remember what po ani means and I think that's pretty good. Besides, we thought laughing really hard at comedians had a kind of Talmudic value anyway, turning jokes into prayers, sort of a Jewish version of transubstantiation.)

The more formal or deeper expression is "Hineni" (pronounced hee-nay-nee). It means "Here I am," and is mostly used when God personally calls on someone in the Bible to do something difficult and important. Abraham? "Here I am." Moses? "Here I am." It's very complete and emotionally charged, and implies, "Here I am: ready, willing and able." There's a special prayer on Yom Kippur called "Hineni" which starts, "Here I am in deep humility . . . "

I don't know if God is making a lot of personal calls these days, but I have a feeling most of our responses as contemporary Americans would be slightly more equivocal, at least initially, and would at one point include, "Okay, sure, but . . . It's a little sudden, that's all. Hang on, let me turn the game off."

"Here I am" is a powerful and layered statement, but there's another meaning to hineni, even deeper and more resonant: Here I stand.

Here I stand. It's not a meek thought; it's a bottom line. "Here I stand. Here I will make my stand. I know what will most likely happen, but it does not matter, since I will not be moving. This is where I am going to make my stand. Hineni."

Christians and Jews have said one or another form of this many times in our histories; the Alamo and the Warsaw Ghetto are just two. It is, in many ways, the liturgical opposite of what is going on in Washington these days..."

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Without such an effort, happiness will forever elude us.  "Taking a stand" is part of the proving process of this life.  It must be undertaken regularly and faithfully to have any effect.  "Taking a stand" is not generally easy, but takes effort, honesty, and perseverance.

I like these ideas because they are sound and speak to the greater cause and responsibility to find our true characters..., and then be about the business of practicing and refining them for the rest of our lives..., instead of passively waiting to see what life will bring us, or worse, hiding them away from the world. 

Making an effort of becoming who we want to be, and whom God wants us to be, is a requisite to our own happiness, and thus a moral obligation to everyone else around us. 

Without such an effort, happiness will forever elude us.  "Taking a stand" is part of the proving process of this life.  It must be undertaken regularly and faithfully to have any effect.  "Taking a stand" is not generally easy, but takes effort, honesty, and perseverance.  

Indeed, it's hard work.

Any student of the Scriptures will find that those the Lord had called to serve His Purpose were already those that had learned and proven capable of taking a stand, and did so previous to any Heavenly call, at great risk and personal cost to themselves. 

As an example, just think of Moses and all that he gave up so as to do what was right and descent, not because he knew what was going to happen down the road, but because His character had been so set and determined that he could not deny the choice in front of him.  He took a stand to be good and to do good, which meant at that time to stand-up for his people, even if it meant that he would likely lose all that was slated to be his, even sacrificing his place of prominence and the promise that he was to rule all of Egypt. 

Now that's integrity!  Something that we don't see too much of today, or at least not nearly enough....

The value of being true, of taking a stand in defense of what we are all about, in making good on our internal and eternal promises to do what is good is what the Gospel is all about. 

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Taking a stand is part and parcel of being an individual, of trying ones mettle, and letting life brush up against us in those many refining but painful moments when we're called to make an accounting, proving who we really are.  This is not a passive event, but a daring and faithful one.

Though others have surely spoken about the power of being true, the Gospel inherently makes these demands of its followers in many ways.  In this vein, Shakespeare penned:

 

"This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man". (Hamlet Quote Act I, Scene III)."

 

We are not to hide our Light away from public view but let it shine for all to see..., not brashly after the manner of Hollywood or Washington DC, but humbly, after the manner of Jesus Christ.  It is a strength of character that is born of our faith and is founded in our love of His Goodness, and our wish that our hands be about that work and no other. 

Taking a stand is part and parcel of being an individual, of trying ones mettle, and letting life brush up against us in those many refining but painful moments when we're called to make an accounting, proving who we really are.  This is not a passive event, but a daring and faithful one.  Taking a stand often takes us into places where we've not been before.  It often makes waves, and makes others uncomfortable. 

For that reason alone, many decide to remain on the "safe" and "easy" sidelines of life.... comfortably remaining free from criticism and disfavor, being a friend to everyone but champion to none.  Hiding our potential talents and individualism away for fear of loss or ridicule....

Sadly, in this day of conformity and political and religious correctness, the notion of "Hineni" has become abridged to mean something else, generally negative, in most of our synagogues and churches.  To the religious-set, "taking a stand" is often thought to be rebellious and heretical, as it often challenges the status quo, and thus the already empowered hierarchy of religious power. 

For the sake of keeping the peace, it's become one of many Gospel tenets that has been diminished and trivialized.  But Jesus Christ, although wishing peace for all mankind did not claim that peace at all costs was his preference, stating:

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It is easy to sit back and not strenuously be engaged in forging our personalities and characters for the better.  It's easier to sit back and copy others, mimicking the thin veneer of their talk and their walk, somehow thinking that then we too will have arrived, instead of seeing the counterfeits we have become.

Matthew 10:34-42 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

Unfortunately, in this world of narcissistic Elitism, selective victimization, and the mantra of "you owe me," the notion of building a goodly strong character is often trivialized and shunned.  Conformity and mediocrity are less challenging, and thus are seen as the roads to peace.

The perversion of life-avoidance, of remaining undeveloped and personally irresponsible, of being safe and at peace at all costs, has bled into much of what our culture has become.   

It is easy to sit back and not strenuously be engaged in forging our personalities and characters for the better.  It's easier to sit back and copy others, mimicking the thin veneer of their talk and their walk, somehow thinking that then we too will have arrived, instead of seeing the counterfeits we have become.

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About the Author:  Dr. Gregory C.D. Young, Ph.D.(Oxon.) is a Clinical Psychologist, Neuroscientist and Physicist, having been educated abroad where he completed his postgraduate studies at King’s College, the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and then graduated and received his Doctorate from the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. He has been active as an author, popular radio and TV personality, public speaker, and biomedical researcher. He is the author of The Winds of the Soul~Heaven’s First Voice To Us books  &  The Winds of Forgiveness~Heaven's Healing Promises, as well as numerous other scholarly papers and works.

 

Warning and Disclaimer: Although the author and publisher have made every effort in the preparation to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information given in this eNewsletter and the books, The Winds of the Soul & The Winds of Forgiveness, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions of any kind. The information provided is offered entirely on an “as is“ basis and is simply the point of view of its author. Moreover, the information in this eNewsletter as well as the book is offered without warranty, claim of fitness, or therapeutic effectiveness and appropriateness, either express or implied, nor does it claim or seek to offer any form of diagnosis or treatment for any form of disease or dysfunction. Any individual requiring psychological intervention, diagnosis and/or treatment should always seek the professional services of a responsible and licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Neither the author or Davidic Publishing will be liable or responsible for any damages whatsoever or however defined, caused or alleged to be caused directly, indirectly, incidentally, or consequentially by the information contained in the eNewsletter and the books, The Winds of the Soul & The Winds of Forgiveness.

Spoiled brats demand that "true" character and their respective references shouldn't have to be earned but handed to them freely without labor or proof.  They want to be trusted before having to prove themselves worthy of such regard.  They want fun and ease without the prerequisite of labor. 

I believe that in all that we've been given, we are stewards.  And that means there will be an accounting of how we used and acted upon the things given to us..., and that includes how well we have built our characters, and how much of an increase of His Spirit have we rightly obtained.... 

Slovenliness, generally defined as poorly investing ourselves in what we do, should be expanded to include our laziness in defining and refining our personal and individual characters.  It can be further hallmarked by the intentional or fearful withholding of oneself from life, of choosing not to invest ourselves within the task of becoming what the Lord has commanded.  

None of this is what the Lord intended, of course.  But you wouldn't know it by listening to what is coming from today's religious pulpits....  They have forgotten for what purpose and from Whom comes our right to Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness.  Yes, there will be an accounting.....


 

 

 

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