Brevis Ipas Vita Est Sed Malis Fit Longior – Adversity

Father Mulcahy 3The title is Latin for “Life is short, but trouble makes it longer.”  Recently I was reminded of the power and blessing of adversity.  One of the comments that struck me was, “You will all experience your own Gethsemane’s.”  Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives and became famous in the New Testament for the place where Jesus went to pray and, according to the New Testament, completed the atonement.  Gethsemane remains a symbol of hope for people experiencing trouble, difficulty, or adversity.  However, the thought of us experiencing our own Gethsemane individually intrigues me as a concept.

One of the scriptures that holds a lot of hope for me comes from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 7-9:

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands
.

Nowhere is recorded how long Jesus spent in Gethsemane; one might presume the time was longer than an hour, but less than 8 hours.  Beyond that, I cannot guess and will not venture an opinion.  However, the thought that adversity will be but a small moment rings like an eternal truth in my mind.  Let me elaborate on this point, my wife and I spent 6-months homeless, living out of our car, showering at her mom’s apartment, and working as often as I could find work.  During this time, I was studying for a master’s in business administration and struggling with depression for feeling like an absolute failure for not being able to provide a home for my spouse.Adversity is an advantage to embrace, not an annoyance to avoid. | Art Coombs Art Coombs

Yet, as I look back on this homelessness period, it seems but a small moment.  While I know mentally that the timeframe was six excruciating months, the truth is that the adversity felt like a moment even during the adversity and the months following.  My friends found during this time were such an incredible solace; my wife’s family and even my studies became lifts to my spirit and a balm to my mental processes.  How grateful I am for the adversity that has shaped me since this event and the incredible people who supported my wife and me.

Interestingly, in M*A*S*H 4077, the final episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” the poignancy of Father Mulcahy’s predicament with losing his hearing has become more meaningful since this episode of homelessness.  Indeed life is lived forward and understood backward.  As Father Mulcahy said, “What good is a deaf priest?”  The value is found in learning and living, but the learning and living is the adversity shaping us physically, mentally, and spiritually.Grit - Defined

Long have I pondered what a piece of clay must think as it is placed on a potter’s wheel, and if it realizes that when the potter is done, the adversity on that wheel will make it something beautiful, useful, or both.  Whether you believe in god, God, or gods, what are the adversities in your life making out of you, and will you recognize yourself when the potter is done?  Will you care what the potter has made you?  Those two questions lay on my mind, not with weight, but nonetheless with power.  A final question struck me as Father Mulcahy was marrying Klinger and Sun Lee, will we respect the potter for the work invested in creating us through adversity?

30 Best Adversity Quotes To Regain The Courage | Brainy ReadersIt’s no secret to those who have known me that I did not like serving in the US Navy and the pressure cooker of the USS Barry (DDG 52) from 2000-2004.  I have often cursed and shook my fist at the sky over the experiences during the US Navy.  Yet, even now, the experiences in the US Navy are felt as a small moment, and time does help heal wounds.  Better still, time tends to soften the edges, and one of the other things I have found is that how we choose changes how we remember.  I loved being “haze grey and underway” in the navy.  Many things were better while sailing that worsened to the point of breaking while in port.  More to the point, being “haze grey and underway” was always an adventure, fun, and never dull, even while pulling five and dime watch standing, doing maintenance on a pitching deck, or even climbing the mast while underway to fix something broke.

Adversity QuotesMajor Winchester leaving M*A*S*H in a garbage truck reminds me of my time in the US Navy, very appropriate.  As soon as Major Winchester came to M*A*S*H 4077, I watched to see what pranks could be done to Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third.  I loved watching Charles become the butt of a joke.  Yet, even as I type, I cannot help but wonder, was a garbage truck appropriate; is it disrespectful of the potter to see another person struggle and heap more scorn upon them?  Charles’ life changed dramatically and horribly; his ways of thinking, the path of his life, and even his belief in his own self-worth were constantly challenged and scrutinized.  I can understand Charles’ experiences more now than at any time previously.

Having been homeless multiple times in my life, one of my greatest difficulties is seeing someone putting up their petition for help and not being able to help.  I know there are a lot of scams out there, but that has never mattered to me; not being able to help bothers me greatly.  The war in Ukraine, the orphans left after war and storms, the hunger and depravity in this world, those individual adversities we see all around us.  I always want to help.  Long have I thought if I could relieve an ounce, a dram, a smidge of suffering, I could sleep better at night or know I succeeded at something.  Life has taught me how to fight, then it taught me how to think, and then my body was injured, and I am left stuck somewhere in between—proving that adversity comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and types!Adversity Quotes

Please know, I am not maudlin or melancholy about my life.  I have some great stories, met some truly amazing people, and lived to tell those tales.  All I ever wanted out of life was to be “an interesting old person,” and if I can keep reading and thinking, and especially writing, I should be able to tell some of those stories.  If I died tomorrow, I could say I lived a rich, full life, with no regrets.  I have no complaints and look forward to learning a lot more.  Bringing up another exciting facet of adversity, the learning that comes through adversity.

For example, did you know you do not teach adults?  Anyone who tells you differently does not know what they are talking about.  Teaching only happens to children, and if those kids are like me, barely even then.  For adults, you help them see their life experiences in a new light, applying existing knowledge to current situations to improve how they think.  You do not teach adults; they teach themselves; as an adult educator, my job is to help them learn how to think.15 Quotes About Overcoming Adversity Never to Forget

I know a kid, now an adult, who had been molested, beaten, and suffered greatly.  Growing into a scrappy adult, this child had experienced the horrible and survived.  Sure, you might teach this kid how to reach a formulaic solution, but the core knowledge of life, this kid held a doctorate.  Adversity had trained this kid how to think, how to act, how to understand, and how to fight back.  While other kids learned how to wield a bat and hit a ball, this kid was learning how to throw punches, duck, dodge, and handle pain.  While some kids learned how to cook, this kid already knew how to cook and could make meals out of practically anything.  Adversity taught this kid, and the student was worthy of the master’s teachings how I have longed to be as apt a pupil to adversity’s teachings as this kid.A Layman's Blog: Pasternak on adversity.............

When considering the potter, as we are placed upon the wheel, then into a kiln, are we clay, easily molded, or a rock choosing to be chased off the potter’s wheel for refusing to change and be moldable?  A young adult uttered the saddest commentary on life I have ever heard.  My father did it this way; his father did it this way; his father did it this way; going back as far as family memory can relate, I am doing it this way.  When I saw the stubbornness of this person, I felt like weeping for the potential lost to generations who choose not to change.  Adversity gets us asking questions; for me, those questions are always about how I improve—improving myself, a process, an environment, the situation, anything that can be changed to drive improvements.John Wooden Quote: "Adversity often produces an unexpected opportunity. Look for it ! Appreciate ...

Another book referred to the “captivity of the fathers.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevia sings the song of “Tradition!”  Is adversity trying to tell us there is a better way, and tradition is trying to hold us back?  In previous articles, I discussed how a friend of mine related that he is the first generation of his family who could read, and his children and grandchildren are graduating college because as a child, he was forced onto a bus, driven to Oklahoma, and forced into school and off the Indian reservation.  He experienced traumatic adversity as a child of seven.  The blessing of that adversity has lived and made him every day since, but to make him, the traditions of his fathers had to be forced out of his mind by formal education hundreds of miles from his northern Arizona home.  I weep for that little boy but cheer for the man he became and cherish my friendship with a man who had to justify two worlds.  Beware the traditions of your fathers so they do not become captivity your children must suffer to escape.

Not for any other purpose than trying and making the adversarial moment something I do not have to repeat.  I have repeated too many adversarial moments; there must be a better way to live!  For example, I was forced into bankruptcy twice!  I hope to learn from my mistakes, and if anyone knows how to raise money, improve earnings, and live more fully within one’s means, I am all ears!  If you know how to monetize a website, I will trade for this knowledge and assistance.  Bringing up another powerful tool of adversity, placing us into situations where we can help and will choose to be helped.Adversity Opportunity Quotes. QuotesGram

One of the reasons why some adversarial incidents last as long as they do is because we are proud people, and giving help is easier than accepting help and multitudes of times easier than asking for help.  My first time homeless, I had to get off the streets as walking the streets all night was interfering with my ability to work a complete shift.  Plus, it was cold, and those nights in Auburn, Washington in October and November were miserable!  So, I asked for help from a church, and asking for help was one of the most challenging events in my life.  In fact, asking for help has never gotten easier with time or experience.  I would rather get beat with a brick stick than ask for help; is it any wonder that pride is one of the seven deadly sins?Adversity | Adversity, Lds quotes, Church quotes

To ask for help, I felt I needed to have a plan to repay the money.  I demanded that I stick with that repayment schedule, even after being told, very kindly, that I did not have to repay and that there was no debt to repay.  How often do we make the pains and problems of adversity worse because we struggle to ask for help or feel a need to repay debts when there are no debts?  The reality is that when adversity appears to drag on and on without end, being a relentless taskmaster, many times I am the problem making adversity worse.Adversity Quotes By Famous People. QuotesGram

Bring us back to that garden near the Mount of Olives and the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Leaving me with a final question, how do I know when enough is sufficient?  I do not know how to answer this question, nor am I sure I am asking the right question; I merely know that adversity is not occurring because the intelligence’s of the universe want to see me struggle, adversity is not happening because I committed a crime or deserved being punished.  Adversity is a tool that helps us gain strength and I am weak, and the only way to get my attention is to put me in situations where I can grow through the things I suffer.  But help is always available; this is another lesson adversity teaches.  Help, assistance, support, we are not left bereft of these in our times of need, and this is a comfort and a hope.

Knowledge Check!Let us choose to be more charitable, relieve suffering where we can, ask for help when we need, and choose to make today a little better than yesterday through our involvement in the world around us.  I am not asking anyone to go broke helping those putting up their petitions, and it does not matter where the money goes.  Be the hand reaching out, and you WILL always find a hand reaching out to you; this is the final lesson adversity teaches us.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Taking a Longer View – Actions Really Do Have Consequences

Bobblehead DollIf you are dead set on living a life devoted to the philosophy of, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die,” there is nothing I can do to help you.  Feel free to stop reading now.  If you are suffering from the consequences of overeating, a hangover, and are feeling nauseous from being too merry on the merry-go-round of life, keep reading, we might have something for you to consider.  If you are not one of the people described, you might want to consider continuing to read for some moral support.

Throughout my life, people have been made available when I have been ready to learn.  They have also been made available to laugh and scorn when I needed my butt-kicked and to provide remedial behavioral therapy when I have gotten way off the beaten track.  For which I am eternally grateful!  One of the first of these people, who made a significant impact in my development for the good, I might add, was Miss Murphy.  A school principal, who left the nunnery to help save children, she did a phenomenal job.  She also gave me the worst chewing out I ever got, the most brutal punishment I have ever had to take, the best compliment I had gotten to that date, and made me feel like a million dollars, all at the same time.  I left her office thoroughly convinced I was never going to do, whatever I did, again.

Grit - DefinedYears later, when I heard the comment, “Decisions Do Determine Destiny,” I knew exactly what the speaker was talking about, for I had experienced this phenomenon.  This is the first principle in need of understanding. If we live in the here and now, every behavior has an excuse, and depravity, abuse, murder, everything abhorrent can be excused for tomorrow we die—what a terrible way to live.  When our choices do not have consequences, and those consequences do not have long-term effects, we, as vapid human beings, lose an eternal spark of goodness, a willingness to strive, and a desire for achievement.

Consider with me a common theme since the early 1960s, it is a theme I am thoroughly sick to death of hearing, but it is a pernicious and invasive theme, “Free Love,” “Love is Sex,” “Love is All You Need,” “Just Love.”  By perverting love, the morals of society broke, chains of modesty were sundered, social decency was abolished, and curbs of compassion and care were thwarted.  Worse, it opened, for everyone to see, the windows of perversion that lurk inside some very troubled souls.  Today, it is considered normal to have statistics from the CDC regarding the number of live births to single, unwed children ages 10-14, decisions determined destiny, and the consequences are dire indeed!Courage

Consider for a moment the following from President Jefferson:

A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.”

Hence, one can deduce a person is taught morals from their society and then is personally responsible for the continuation of that society by living the morals as taught.  What are your morals?  Who taught them?  What are you teaching as morals?  What morals do you live in public that you refuse to live privately, and do you see a disconnect in this moral behavior?

In asking these questions, I am not holding myself up as a moral authority, the moral police, or the enforcer of the moral squad.  I am just as prone to moral stupidity as the next guy, and I am often worse, as my wife continually reminds me.  I suffer for my mistakes and faux pas, just like everyone else.  So, please do not think I am making any judgments here.  As socially wired creatures, humans adopt and adapt to the social norms in our surroundings minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and we make a life by adapting to the environments when we cannot change the environments.Anton Ego

For example, when humans can control the weather inside a building, we change the environment to make it hotter or cooler based on our desires.  We do not alter our behaviors to fit the environments unless we cannot change the environments.  For example, being outdoors, we cannot change the weather, so we pack extra clothes for cold conditions, waterproof clothes for wet conditions, and make do in hot conditions by changing behavior and drinking water.  Does this make sense?  When we can change the environment, we prefer to change the environment than our behavior, even if it means we suffer consequences.  For example, dressing in revealing clothing to satisfy a trendy designer and packing a heater because the office is always “frigid.”Bait & Switch 2

Unfortunately, taking a longer view is not inherently natural in human beings; we are not born with a desire for delayed gratification.  Hence, we must choose, do we want a marshmallow right now or six marshmallows in 15-minutes?  Neither, we want the first marshmallow right now and the rest of the bag while we watch TV over the next 60-minutes, and we will accept the painful stomach ache, nausea, gas, possible vomiting, and the other discomforts because we got our marshmallows.

In our family lore, there is a story told of my older brother and a large bag of salt-water taffy.  It is near Halloween, and a large order of orange jack-o-lantern salt-water taffy Halloween candies have been procured.  The flavor is orange and anise, like a cross between black licorice and orange, and the amount is somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds.  My older brother gets caught stealing some candy, and my mother claims he will be forced to eat all the candy by himself in her infinite wisdom.  After much vomiting, a lot of whining, crying, and my father’s helping hand, the entire bag is eventually emptied.  But, the lesson that was supposed to be taught to stop stealing was not the lesson learned.  What happened, my older brother got better at getting the younger brothers in trouble, and he kept right on being a petty thief.  Why was the lesson learned not the one desired?  My brother made a choice, that choice had consequences, and he liked the consequences, even though the consequences made him sicker than Irving, the drunk dog on M*A*S*H.Father Mulcahy 5

Taking us back to the longer view and consequences.  We can have a short view, live for today, and die tomorrow.  Lots of people in the history of the Earth have taken this road.  But, what was their satisfaction?  What was their heritage?  A friend of mine related a story of a person with a short view and ended the story with, “He was an enjoyable idiot.  “Fun to have around during leisure time, a pest during work time, and a scallywag who could not be trusted to walk a dog.”  If that is the heritage you want to leave, be my guest; I promise not to try and stop or interfere.

For the rest of us, let’s consider what these morals are teaching in society.  Do we really want American society, a society built upon hard work, personal discipline, and individual effort, to be wasted for instant gratification and immediate death?  Do we want the American experiment to end with one bourbon, one shot, and one beer, where the rent is never paid, the job never worked, and the lifestyle unlived?

Knowledge Check!All I ask is that you take a minute, think about what you want people to say about you after you leave a room, and then live the way you want to be remembered.  I worked with a man who lived his principles, and I salute his willingness to live his principles.  He was going to die at age 40, with a fifth of Jack Daniels empty by his head, an empty six-pack of Mountain Dew scattered around his bed and empty bags of Lay’s Dill Pickle potato chips on his blankets.  He worked very hard to meet his end as he wanted while I knew him, and I have no doubts that he met his fate as desired—good guy, great worker, but not an example I would ever choose.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Knee-Jerk Actions – Micro-Aggression or Humor: A Choice!

Exclamation MarkLet me be clear, upfront, and personal; I am not here to tell you what to think, how to think when to think, or where to think.  I will not force my opinions and ideas upon you as the global corporate media does.  I will offer ideas and suggestions and how you proceed is your affair.  Your choices will determine your destiny.  I aim to aid you in understanding and viewing the world a little differently to improve your destination.

Action vs. Reaction

Action encapsulates intention, producing accomplishment from organized activity; action is a process of thinking, acting, and becoming.  Only in physics should we ever consider every action having an equal and opposite reaction.  Why; because for humans, any reaction gives control to someone else and removes intentional controls.  A reaction is all about response to stimulus, no thinking, no changing, no intent, no organized activity, and no recovery until we, the human agent, retake control of our action.Paradox

Easy example, consider the toddler throwing a fit.  The toddler is trying to obtain a reaction from the parents favorable to that toddler’s individual desires at that moment.  However, any good parent will not respond to the toddler’s demands and usually provide behavior correction to enforce the thought that the toddler cannot make demands.  To regain control over the stimulus provided, the toddler must correct behavior or will not gain control over the future individual actions without additional parental intervention, an undesirable activity.  Thus, early on, the toddler will realize actions do not bring reactions but decisive action by parental figures, which is generally not the desired outcome.

Action versus reaction is an essential principle with foundations in moral agency, individual agency, and long-term consequences.  However, if the parent reacts to every toddler fit, the toddler gains power over the parental figure, which is an undesirable activity for the parent.  Action versus reaction is not splitting philosophical hairs or linguistic nuance; action is an intention-producing accomplishment; the reaction is an intentionless activity where self-control has been given to others.Calvin & Hobbes - Irony Hurts

Victor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and Robert Solomon, author of “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice,” both speak to this action versus reaction principle in a manner easily grasped.  We, as individuals, might not be able to control our every environment nor control the activities of others upon us, but we can control our actions in response.  Retaining control of self, improving who and what we are, and keeping the power of intentional activity.

Knee-Jerk Reactions

The ‘knee-jerk response’ is any reaction that is done automatically, without thought.  The knee-jerk reflex is what’s known as a mono-synaptic response. The impulse only has to jump from one nerve to another once.  Thus, the medical definition for a social activity, a knee-jerk reaction, requires no cognitive thinking, no intention and is the worst form of response to the intentional stimulus of others.

Bait & Switch 2For example, Speaker Pelosi tore up President Trump’s State of the Union speech record on live, national TV as a knee-jerk response to the sitting US President.  Of all the US President’s Speaker Pelosi has experienced, her behavior to President Trump was the most toddler-like, and people quickly excused this behavior as “Trump-Derangement Syndrome (TDS).”  Thus, we can drop the “knee” in knee-jerk responses and describe the activity aptly as being a jerk.  No thought, not intentional activity (even though the action has intention, the brain does not register cognitive effort), and the reaction to the stimulus is mono-synaptic.

Micro-Aggression and Macro-Aggression

Micro-aggression, according to Webster, is “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”  What is missing in this definition; individual perspective.  Micro-aggression is a personal choice to take offense at “a comment or action that” is judged to be “subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally” expressing what is considered by person one to be “a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”

Social Justice WarriorMacro-aggression is the complete opposite and are “obvious, intentional, above-board insults, where there is no chance of a mistake on the part of the transgressor to be provoking, insulting, or otherwise discourteous.”  But, again, the definition does not include the fact that the person claiming another person’s activities are macro-aggressive is a personal choice, a judgment, and a socially powered decision.

Social Justice Warrior 2Micro- and macro-aggression are often claimed to be “triggered” by specific words, colors, foods, waters, fruits, and a host of other items.  Essentially using fear and envy to demand people act differently or the consequences are toddler-like fits and fussing, picketing, rioting, looting, e.g., acting like a terrorist.  Thus, micro- and macro- aggression is nothing but the toddler throwing a temper tantrum because they are not getting what they want at that moment.  While claiming their aggression is on behalf of someone else, and their acts of terrorism are excusable because the aggression was triggered by someone or something else.  This is like the eight-year-old older brother or sister throwing a fit that the toddler was punished and claiming they are behaving irrationally in support of the toddler’s tantrum.  How many parents will buy this logic; I do not!

Humor

cropped-laughing-owlLove them or hate them, comedians have changed since I was a kid sneaking peaks of comic relief on cable while washing dishes late into the night.  Comedians now carefully pick their materials based upon their perceptions of the audience.  Thus, we have classes of comedians, including “Shock Comedians,” who try to be as offensive as possible and still get laughs.  We have political comedians; some come down equally on both sides of the political aisle, others are as cemented to a political agenda as they can be and use their “comedy” as a tool to influence their audiences towards that political agenda.  We have a host of comedians dedicated to helping people laugh and others who see themselves as able to influence, regardless of consequences.

I am not providing marketing to any comedian by giving examples of the statements made above.  You can certainly use a search engine to find these examples for yourself if interested.  You might even be able to think of several instances from history, especially recent history, that fit into the descriptions provided.  As I said in the beginning, you remain empowered to think as you prefer.

Bobblehead DollMy point is that humor, like every other emotion, can be a tool to build or a tool to destroy, and the choice of build or destroy rests in the user, but the consequences rest in the hands of the audience.  Consider this for a moment, how fast would a “Shock” comedian change their tune if the swearing, foul and degrading language, and behaviors manifested on stage did not get a single laugh, or worse, resulted in people standing up and walking out?  Some would change quickly, others it might take a little more pushing, but the result would be the same, a changed comedian.  Why; because capitalism works!

The comedian is the greatest example of capitalism at work in the world.  People will pay money for entertainment, but if the entertainer insults, denigrates, and derides, that entertainer is history and is told to find a different line of work through capitalism.  The pattern of comedians can be witnessed and applied across the spectrum from politicians to judges, from businesses to non-profits, all because capitalism works.

Why?

Why this article; why now?  On Monday this week, I received an email talking about micro-aggression.  The author used greeting cards and their sayings as representations of trigger events for micro-aggression.  We have the US President (Fraudulent or Not) being hostile and aggressive towards unvaccinated people.  But unvaccinated people are not spreading the Delta-Variant COVID virus; vaccinated people are.  We have social unrest in Cuba, where nobody is taking notice because for too long, the social elite has said that Cuba, as a Marxist-Leninist country, is a good thing and cannot stand watching their lies become evident.

Knowledge Check!Like the disc-jockey’s of my youth said, “And the Hits just keep on coming!”  Pick a spot on the globe, and you will find problems, issues, and concerns driven by micro- and macro-aggressive people who refuse to understand the difference between action and reaction—leaving this article as an attempt to aid in making better decisions.  How you choose to respond to the day’s events informs the political leaders and social influencers if they are winning or losing.  Thus, choose better, knowing that the social influencers and political leaders want you to react, not act!  Hence, choose to act.  Choose to use your moral agency and individual agency as a tool to intentionally choose your following action in the process of becoming who you want to be and not what others want you to be for their selfish gain.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.