And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things.
One of the best things in my life is the people I know and what they share with me. One of my friends who I hold in the highest regard is Tim Nation who directs a center that provides a wide range of valuable services to the people of my city and my state. Today I want to share something he wrote in his most recent newsletter for it is a message many of us can use.
Spring Cleaning – Letting Go of Our Past Ways
Let go of what drags us down. It is time to let go of stereotypes about others. Sounds simple but it’s not.
A few years back while I was visiting a youth forum organized by the city council in South Bend, a teenager addressed the audience telling everyone he was tired of being feared for being black. He said when he approaches intersections where cars are stopped at red lights, he hears people pressing their electronic car locks – click, click, click. What was the audience’s response? Laughter.
How many times can we watch television news, movies and read newspaper articles that leave an impression there are only two sides of each story – good and bad people – right and wrong ways?
How do we address these issues at Peace Learning Center? We say, “Attack the problem not the person.” and “If it is to be it is up to me.” – these ten two letter words can make all the difference. “No one makes you feel or do things – the only things controlled by you are what you say and what you do.”
And in deeper ways, we help people explore their own perspectives through exercises such as “perceptions based on partial knowledge” and a “speak out” session where we hear from people in groups that are frequently oppressed to learn how to be an ally to those who are being bullied or left out.
Recently, while attending a workshop at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, I heard from Eva Kohr – a survivor of Auschwitz and the Holocaust as well as Kizito Kalima – a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda.
Both of these incredible people told similar stories about a will to live despite facing their own deaths – a refusal to let others dictate their fate. They were targeted by those who labeled them as “the other” unworthy to even live.
What is their response now that they can look back on the situation and know they are now free?
Forgiveness and its power to heal were gifts they gave themselves and others. This is not just a general pardoning of a situation; they actually forgave those who took away their parents, siblings, family and friends. Eva Kohr made sure we all understand that tolerance is not good enough – no one wants to be just tolerated, they want to be accepted.
Kizito Kalima now raises funds to send books to the children of the tribe that attacked his people. He stamps the inside cover of each book to let the reader know the book was donated by the Kalima family, in hopes of making peace and understanding. Kizito remembers that just before the genocide, all the local religious leaders ordered everyone to bring their books – especially holy books – to a book burning. By taking knowledge away, leaders were in a better position not to be questioned.
We fear what we do not know. We owe it to ourselves and our children to get out there and learn more. Spring cleaning means letting go of past ways that drag us down and making sure everyone has a right to the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If you would like to know more about my Friend Tim and what he does go to http://www.peacelearningcenter.org/about_us1
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Louis B. Smedes
An atheist was spending a quiet day fishing when suddenly his boat was attacked by the Loch Ness monster. In one easy flip, the beast tossed him and his boat high into the air. Then it opened its mouth to swallow both. As the man sailed head over heels, he cried out, “Oh, my God! Help me!”
At once, the ferocious attack scene froze in place, and as the atheist hung in mid-air, a booming voice came down from the clouds, “I thought you didn’t believe in Me!”
“Come on God, give me a break!!” the man pleaded. “Two minutes ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either!”
Restaurant sign on Main Street, Camden, Maine: Come on in. The locals will enjoy your accent.”
Bernie took his wife Sadie to see a psychiatrist for a check up. After examining her, the doctor took Bernie to one side and said, “I have some very bad news for you. There is nothing I can do to help your wife. Her mind has completely gone.”
“I’m not really surprised,” Bernie replied, “Sadie’s been giving me a piece of it every day for the last 50 years.”
Henny Youngman remarked once that, in his will, he is leaving his body to Julia Roberts. “If she can’t wait, she can have it now,” he added.
A minister ended services on Sunday morning the previous week by saying to the congregation, “next Sunday I am going to preach on the subject of liars. And to familiarize yourselves with this subject, as a preparation for my discourse, I would appreciate it if you all could find time to read the seventeenth chapter of Mark during the week.”
Last Sunday, the preacher rose to begin, and said, “Now, then, all of you who have done as I requested and read the seventeenth chapter of Mark, please raise your hands.” Nearly every hand in the congregation went up. Then, said the preacher, “You are definitely the people I want to talk to. Because there is no seventeenth chapter of Mark.”
What do you get when you play country music backwards?
The guy gets his girl back. He gets his pickup back. He stops drinking!
An elderly woman from Brooklyn decided to prepare her will and make her final requests. She told her rabbi she had two final requests.
First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered over Bloomingdales.
“Bloomingdales!” the rabbi exclaimed. “Why Bloomingdales?”
“Then I’ll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week.”
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies. The editor is somewhat senile.
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