Friday, April 21, 2017
As long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed reading quotations written by my favorite authors, political and socially active leaders, as well as those few unknown individuals.
A quote can capture a thought or express a fact in a way that either has a certain punch, is eloquently stated or contains a distinct humor that gets a mundane opinion across in an exceptional way. A quote usually touches upon a universal and everyday truth that, although simple, is difficult to express in a unique way.
I have many favorite quotes. You can find my most beloved preferences on my desk at work and on my walls at home. There is one quote, that always rings the most sincere to me. It is a statement from Niels Bohr, a Danish physicist who helped to develop the understanding of atomic structure and quantum theory. At one time he had said, “A truth is a truth so deep that not only is it true, the exact opposite is also true.”
Which brings me to my weekly insights.
When I first became the managing editor of The Windham Eagle, I looked forward to writing this weekly column and I continue to do so. I have always enjoyed taking a closer look at life around me, tousle through the observations that come my way and then come to a little lesson that helps me on my way for daily living. It is my hope, as a writer, that it helps the reader in some way too.
I must admit, I struggle a bit from time to time with this column. It’s not that I lack for words to express my thoughts, because I have plenty. However, I know that while I put my reflections on paper, there is more to what I consider. I know that when I write my truth as I have learned and perceived it; there is another side to the story.
So, while I express an insight that usually holds a “glass half full” perspective, I am aware the other side exists. And this is where the difficulty lies.
As tough as it is to write with the paradoxical truths in mind, I have decided that I will continue to wear my rose-colored reading glasses and let Pollyanna have her way with me.
Building a stronger community by seeking common ground
I don’t know about you, but I am disheartened by the fact that our country is so divided. That we here in the state of Maine, that my neighbors and friends, have such different worldviews and sets of facts that inform our decisions. I’m sad that we continue to label each other to the point of judgment and pre-conceived notions. Our brains seem to be conditioned these days to see the world in black and white. With this in mind, what kind of knee-jerk reaction does this statement provoke?
I am a self-proclaimed Liberal. A Progressive, in fact. Perhaps even a Democratic Socialist. To some of you, I am an elitist snob, an atheist, out of touch with the struggles of the common man, a person who wants and expects the government to solve all the economic and social ills that plague our country, a peace-loving hippie freak that welcomes immigrants with open arms and wants to take away all your guns. To others, I am a passionate warrior of the marginalized in our society, working hard for the underdog, a person who supports the power of government to create a more equal society, a staunch feminist, an anti-war “dove”. The problem is I am so much more than all of this.
I’m pretty sure I have things in common with Conservatives out there. I know I share values with other Christians. I’m confident that I can come together with other parents around education policies. Many of us agree that our current healthcare system is flawed. I think we all want to live in a community and a world that is safe.
I want to take action to heal the divide, but the chasm seems too large. I want to stay engaged, but I don’t want to “fight”. I want to make a difference, but it seems so futile. I am left feeling paralyzed, not knowing quite where to begin.
Why is it so hard for us to come together? Perhaps, we feel that it’s all out of our control. I certainly feel that way sometimes. But maybe we can sow the seeds of change, to make our community a true place of coming together. We don’t have to feel hopeless or helpless. We can look upon each other with love and compassion, and take simple steps, right here in Windham.
Avoid labels: talk about individuals, not stereotypes.
Seek and share facts that matter: stop with the hurtful and angry Facebook memes and avoid fake news.
Mix it up and engage in community activities that bring us together: attend church suppers, hang out at the local playground, volunteer for a community organization.
What are we waiting for? In the words of Howard Zinn: “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world”.
Mary Anne Moisan
I would like to relate a story I feel is appropriate at this time, as it relates to the season, and the sacrifice made by our Friend, Jesus. We’ll call it, “The Legend of the Dogwood Tree”.
Once upon a time, the dogwood was as mighty as an oak. Then one day, the Roman authorities decided to use it for the cross of Jesus. Upon learning this, the tree was seized with sorrow. But Jesus sensed the agony of the dogwood timbers over the cruel duty they were forced to perform. And in His great compassion Jesus said: “Because of your sorrow over my suffering, you shall henceforth grow slender, bent and twisted, so that your wood can never again be used as a cross.
And you shall bear blossoms in the shape of a cross. And on them shall appear a crown of thorns and nail prints stained with red, so that all who see them will remember that I carried you to Calvary.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Last week, I met with a group of individuals while we planned on the agenda for an annual meeting in an organization I belong to. The topic of discussion for that meeting will be Civil Discourse, with a specific focus on difficult conversations with those whom we disagree.
Since that meeting, the art of respectful and considerate communication has been on my mind. It seems these days, courteous conversations are difficult to come by and humanity is escaping our grasp.
Especially, when there are such divisive perspectives in the world – not just in the political climate – but in life in general. It seems to have become common place to be uncouth, using obscenity to convey a point. In fact, the ill-mannered expressions are becoming admired as “telling it like it is.
I’m always for telling the truth as one perceives it, but we do live in the 21st century where one can expect to participate in a civilized society.
This brings me to the childhood story -“The Three Little Pigs.”
I went to the Public Forum on Affordable Care Act held at the Windham Public Library this past Wednesday. Dr. Jane Pringle of Windham was one member of the panel. She said the other evening she got the opportunity to read “The Three Little Pigs” to her grandchildren.
We all know that the wolf represents life’s true challenges and the third pig shows us that hard work pays off.
Dr. Pringle shared another lesson she learned from the children’s classic regarding pig number three.
|Would you open your door?|
After she put her grandchildren to bed, she said it dawned on her how courteous the third pig was to pigs number one and number two. After failing with the construction of their houses and had no place to live, the third pig welcomed them into his warm, safe and well-built home. He could have easily laughed and scoffed at them, telling them to buzz off. He could have belittled them, reminding them just how “stupid” they were. After all, any smart pig knows that you don’t build a home with straw or sticks. Especially, with big bad wolves in the vicinity that have a destructive nature.
It’s true. He could have easily been grumpy with the two others and no one would have blamed him. But, that third pig? He was a civilized young soul. Although he was a pig, he had a heart filled with humanity.
We are presented with everyday challenges and the less civilized we are with one another, only increases the possibility of daily stress. A touch of compassion in our conversations doesn’t really take that much work and it might even give each of us added strength to ward off the wolves that pounce into our lives unexpectedly.
I don’t know, just a thought here. But of the three little pigs, I will always attempt to do my best to be pig number three.
Friday, April 7, 2017
We are now in the time of Advent as we soon will share the journey of Christ to Calvary.
My prayer to share:
Gracious Lord, we thank you for a nation where we can worship you without fear. Help us to know that our freedom has been bought by the blood of some of our best young men. Teach us to know that we are in debt to the past. Bless those who are in places of leadership. Give them the courage to always do what is right regardless of the political consequences. Grant that our people will be united in spirit so that we may do justly; have love and mercy and always walk humbly before you, Lord. Have mercy upon us and forgive our foolish ways. In the name of Christ, we pray.
Served in the Korean War for his country and our freedom