Friday, July 13, 2018

Insight: Everything happens by Lorraine Glowczak

"Hello everyone,” the email began. “I won’t be able to make it to tonight’s meeting. We received word from my brother that today might be the day and I want to spend time with my family.”

The email, sent to a board of directors of which I am a member, was referring to the individual’s 24-year-old nephew who is in the process of taking his last breaths. He was diagnosed with brain cancer six months ago.

The news comes on the cusp of my reading the book, “Everything Happens for a Reason – and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler. Bowler is a cancer survivor and an Assistant Professor of Duke Divinity School.

Although I am one to hop on the think-positive-train wholeheartedly, I have always hesitated when “everything happens for a reason” is uttered. I believe, without a doubt, we have some control over what happens in our lives and we most likely have control over our responses. But is it safe to say that EVERYTHING happens for a reason?

I think it is possible that some things just happen and when they are unfair, confusing and painful we tend to apply human reason to make sense of it all. This, in and of itself, really bears no issue. 

If one believes that absolutely everything happens for a reason, fair enough. But it can become an issue, when one is certain of a specific viewpoint. It has the tendency to create judgment and make us overly certain of our personal truths which seem to give us the freedom to apply the “reason” philosophy on everyone - in every situation.

In the midst of painful experiences, such as cancer and other unbearables, this certainty can cause greater harm, pain and damage to those who are already suffering.

Bowler shares some of her thoughts on how people responded to her cancer. “My [email] inbox is full of strangers giving reasons. People offer them like wildflowers picked along the way…they want me to know, without a doubt, that there is hidden logic to this seeming chaos. (p. 112).

Bowler states the hardest lessons come from the “solutions people” who tell her that attitude is everything and it determines one’s destiny. “I am immediately worn out by the tyranny of prescriptive joy,” she said.

I’m not offering what each person should do or believe. I can’t. Because no one owns the copyright on truth. What I’m suggesting is that perhaps we should not make assumptions in certain circumstances where the lines of reason are fuzzy. Especially for those already facing horrendous situations. What good is it to be right in such instances if it only wears down an already weary and broken person?

In terms of whether there is a reason for everything or not is not as important as the awareness that what we say, can and does have a great impact on others.

So, let’s just agree that either everything happens for a reason or everything happens for a reason and enjoy our perceptions while being mindful of others.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Insight: Freedom, Independence and Unity by Lorraine Glowczak

When this edition of the Windham Eagle newspaper hits the newsstands on Thursday and arrives in mailboxes on Friday, the Fourth of July celebrations will be behind us. Or will it?

In my observation, what I find amazing about this holiday is that we celebrate in unison, despite our differences. Now almost 240 years after the first celebration, the enthusiasm around the birth of American independence is just as strong as ever. Granted, it may be different than the first days of merriment, it is the one holiday that most people all over the nation celebrate together and have since its inception.

It’s true that we no longer hold mock funerals of King George III to symbolize our freedom from the monarchy as in the early years, but we do celebrate in one or more of the following ways: parades, patriotic music, backyard barbecues and picnics, swimming, boating, kayaking, laying on the beach and, last but certainly not least, enjoying the fireworks that light up the evening skies.

The gathering together as American citizens to celebrate in this way, whether we agree with the politics of the country or not, is an important foundation for another type of independence. The independence and freedom to exist in alignment with our perception of a life well lived.

John Adams, who assisted Thomas Jefferson in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, was no different. He worked closely with five other individuals (including Jefferson) to draft a formal document to justify the separation from England. Despite his deep-seated views, he worked with others to meet a common goal for the common good.

But Adams has been referred to as a radical in various ways. It is said that he believed the correct date to celebrate Independence Day was July 2nd - because that is the date the Continental Congress voted in favor of the resolution for independence. It didn’t matter to Adams that the resolution was formally adopted two days later, on July 4th.

To remain genuine to his personal viewpoint, it is reported that Adams refused invitations to attend or celebrate 4th of July events as a form of protest. How’s that for showing your independence on Independence Day?

The fact is – Independence Day can be celebrated every day and in our own ways. Is it easy to live together individually, celebrating it all? Well – maybe not easy but it’s possible and it can be done. How?

If we remember that we all warrant freedom and independence, no matter what – then I think we could celebrate each other uniquely, together in unity, and the freedom that comes with both every day. “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” (Lincoln).

I think we all deserve it, don’t you?