the body

Sometimes we think too small. Sometimes we get stuck in the details. We lose sight of the big picture. Our bodies are composed of matter as is everything around us. Sometimes we forget that just like our body has many parts, we are part of a larger body. Many days I feel we are focused on our separateness rather than the whole we are a part of.

Author and pastor, Rob Bell suggests that in the modern age, we have become fixated on the individual. Our culture idolizes the “rugged individualist.” The TV show “Survivor” celebrates the winning individual. The Miss America pageant searches for the ideal individual female to represent American beauty. “American Idol” pits talented individuals against each other in an effort to determine the most talented.

Many in America have been frustrated with the inability of Congress to work together to function in a way that best serves our country. Unfortunately, our political system is based on competition rather than cooperation. Competition does not encourage unity. Our forefathers wisely noted that unified power can often be destructive so when they designed our government, they built in checks and balances to prevent consolidated power from running amok.

We have become focused on our differences, and instead of respecting those differences, we have built walls around ourselves to protect ourselves from the other. We have become contemptuous of those who think and act differently than we do. We have allowed partisan politics to divide and separate us into groups focused solely on survival of the group. We have ceased to see others as members of the whole body, and instead, we view them as threats to our well being.

Imagine if our body systems began to fight against each other? How long would we survive if our nervous system was at war against our circulatory system or our digestive system was at war with our immune system? Those suffering from auto immune disorders are painfully aware of what the war between systems does to their body. We have bodies composed of systems, and we are a part of a larger body. We are members of a family, a neighborhood, a city, a state, a country, a world. If we stay stuck at an individual or group level we may make the mistake that we can and should survive apart from the whole instead of as part of the whole.

I think we have forgotten our membership in a body much bigger than political parties. We have forgotten we are American citizens with rights and responsibilities to the whole system. Our country also operates as part of a world body. Some leaders think that we should adopt a policy of isolation and focus solely on the needs and wants of Americans. I can see where there might be times when that strategy is wise and makes sense. When you get sick, your body has a way of slowing you down and forcing you to pay attention to the system which is out of order and needs healing. But staying at home in bed permanently would be a path to death, not life. Sometimes we need to focus solely on our own families to ensure that the individuals in it are healthy and thriving. Sometimes we need to band together to solve community issues. When this happens, we are more concerned with our own community than the one down the road. I think America has a well deserved reputation for helping out countries in need. And sometimes we help to the detriment of our own citizens.

What I am suggesting is that for systems to work well, there needs to be balance. Instead of focusing on the destruction and elimination of a system within a body, we need a thorough examination of what is working and what is not working within our systems. We cannot afford to isolate ourselves and focus solely on how we are affected. We must recognize the whole. We must not insist on our own way. We must realize that different members of our system require different things in order to function properly. If our country is to move forward, we must change our focus and shift our viewpoint to adjust for a much wider range than the needs of only ourselves, only our neighborhood, only our community, only our state, only our country. We are members of a much larger body. We need to think bigger, not smaller.

Now let’s refocus a little closer to home. Change begins with us. We cannot expect our country’s leaders to cooperate and get along when we cannot get along with our family members or our neighbors. We have to stop pointing our fingers at each other insisting that the other is what is wrong with America. We are a country of others. We have to begin working with individuals before we can work with groups. And we must work with other groups before we can fix systems. Ignoring each other or bashing each other keeps our focus small and leads nowhere. We can choose to be gracious toward one another or we can choose self-righteousness. But the choice is ours. We have to stop assigning blame and start working together. Or we can keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll keep getting the same result wondering what’s wrong with people. If we want true change, we must be willing to change ourselves.

Respectfully…
AT

 

[Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash]

introducing our annual guest writer series

Since the inception of the Intramuralist nine years ago, we have enjoyed a spirited discussion covering hundreds of — actually, well over a thousand — topics. It’s been thought-provoking, encouraging, and often challenging… sometimes all at the same time.

As stated here frequently, the goal of this blog is not that we persuade one another into all thinking the exact same thing. We don’t. We can’t. And I don’t believe such clonal thinking is wise nor necessary.

The goal of the Intramuralist is to learn to communicate in such a respectful manner that others can actually hear what you have to say. The reality is that if a person isn’t willing to communicate respectfully, the chances of them being heard readily diminishes.

The Intramuralist desires to be heard. I desire to hear you. I desire for each of us to actively listen to one another. And if we listen well, ask good questions, and interact respectfully, each of us can and will be sharpened.

I desire to be sharpened. And yes, I desire to grow.

Exemplifying that desire to listen to others, for nine years, we have offered our infamous Guest Writer Series at the end of summer. The series is a collection of insight, opinion, and offerings from someone other than me, published in late July/August of each year. If we are going to be sharpened, we need to listen to persons other than one — or rather, other than only the insulating likeminded.

I believe this year’s writers to be excellent. They are intuitive, thoughtful, and diverse. They hail from various professions all over the country… from a business executive to a stay-at-home mom… from a writer to a nurse… from a student to a salesman…

They speak with different styles, using varied tones.

Collectively, no less, they have chosen a wide variety of subjects — subjects in which each of the respective writers is individually passionate. For example, beginning Tuesday, in the next few weeks, you will hear opinions on evolution, climate change, adoption, etc. You’ll hear from one about the importance of our individual, physical health — encouraging each of us to take sincere stock in such. You’ll hear from some articulate millennials — one on what it’s like to live in a foreign land this summer — and another talking to parents about what it’s like to grow up with depression.

We learn from the varied angles… angles different than our own.

You’ll also hear several commentaries on current challenges affecting our society, culture, and government. I appreciate the varied approaches to how we navigate through the seemingly increasing incivility. That is a theme mentioned by many.

Also planned is a multi-part series on why a person would choose to be a Democrat or a Republican. It is logical and well thought out and not inflammatory in any way. Remember that each perspective is sincere and respectful; hence, we can be sharpened and grow.

Let me also be clear to state that the perspectives shared may or may not be opinions I agree with. But again, agreement has never been my goal. My goal is for respectful dialogue. I am committed to respectful dialogue. Always.

Additionally, during this time, I will be taking a bit of an intentional respite, resting and reflecting and being recharged. Rest is good, my friends. It helps us do what we’re called to do; it’s important to rest intentionally. I thus look forward to the break, but I look equally forward to being back and penning multiple (exceptionally witty) posts upon my return.

So sit back. Enjoy. Learn. Be sharpened. 

Let the author know what you think.

But do so respectfully. Always.

Here’s to the 2017 Guest Writer Series, introducing 15 expressive guest writers, starting Tuesday. I can’t wait. The broad diversity, the sincere articulation, and the mutual respect…

This, my friends, is good.

Respectfully…
AR

 

[Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash]

the “together”

Seasons are good because they don’t last forever. With eternity being the only thing that lasts, wisdom is gleaned by maximizing the seasons… recognizing what’s present while it is there — not immobilized by pining for the past nor reaching only for the future. Seasons give life value.

I’ve been struck by the seasons shared in my current community, seasons that surpass our individual differences, differences we too often choose to use as a divisional source or force.

Together, we have experienced the tenures of presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump.

Together, we have watched seven summer Olympics — in Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens… in Beijing, London, and most recently in Rio.

Together, we cried the day Diana died… maybe, also, for Michael or Pres. Reagan. At least then our heads were bowed, our voices softened, and our hearts were full of respect.

Together, still, on 9/11, we stared at the television in shock but no awe. That remains one thing seemingly still so huge to attempt to wrap our heads around.

But the experiences within these seasons shared have not always been so “big”…

Together, we have celebrated the birth of our children, their noted growth and accomplishments — ours, too — both personal and professional. We have huddled, too, in some heartbreaking moments of mourning. I will never forget, for example, our “Best Friends for a Day” post, where a series of planes, trains, and automobiles in the middle of a blizzard in the wake of my sister’s death on the eve of one of my son’s greatest successes led to a precious, shared experience. Again, it was together.

The beauty of shared experience is the “together.” The value is that it comes and goes in seasons.

Are you maximizing where you are while that you are there?

The moving vans soon come to pack up my stuff and haul it away. No worries; the Intramuralist will continue… just from a new home base. We are moving to a new community.

While there is excitement in all the newness that accompanies a move, this isn’t, obviously, totally easy. It’s hard, in fact, for we have maximized our seasons. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This thought keeps swirling in my head, such seemingly simple words…

“There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.”

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” is one of those iconic Shel Silverstein poems written to children but yet so poignantly also written to us. We often miss the joy that children inherently have; we let obstacles and other stuff get in the way. We thus miss the beauty of the seasons. Silverstein encourages us to go to the place that children know… stepping back, sensing the joy, seeing what our kids see.

What do they see?

Seasons.

And they see the value of sharing them together.

Respectfully…
AR

 

[Photo by Joseph Young on Unsplash]

motive

mo·tive
ˈmōdiv/
noun
1. a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.

_____

No doubt the Intramuralist is fascinated with much — from the big to the small, serious to silly. I am fascinated with much. For example … how the media has morphed into a generous giver of editorials as opposed to an unbiased sharer of news… how even the intelligent seem to utilize extensive hyperbole and exaggerated rhetoric… and how my very friendly dog continues to ferociously bark at any under the grand height of three feet tall… (watch out, Yogi…).

But one aspect that fascinates me time and time again — recognizing that fascination is not necessarily good or bad —   is the all too frequent assumption of motive.

We assume we know why someone does what they do or says what they say. We assume we know the why. In other words: we assume we know — and… we know with certainty the motive of another.

Excuse me, but may I be so bold to repeat the above definition?

A “motive” is a reason for doing something, especially, one that is hidden or not obvious.

Hence, if it’s hidden, that means we — you, me, Yogi, etc. — can’t actually see it. And if we can’t see it, we can’t confirm it to be true.

What is true is that sometimes we can make an educated guess. But educated as it is, a guess remains still at its root, only a guess; it will never qualify as fact. Because a person’s motive is hidden, we cannot confirm a guess as fact without the other’s verification.

Oh, yes, I’ve heard the convenient, clever logic, posing a thoroughly thought through motive for another and then attempting to reinforce our, uh, guess with the logically porous, “well, what else could it possibly be?”

It could be lots.

In fact, it could be something that we don’t know or are incapable of knowing.

On last week’s edition of “The Rubin Report,” a YouTube political commentary created by Dave Rubin, the self-identified classical liberal interviewed author Andrew Klavan, who shared that he’ll often opine about the current President, assessing what he feels  the President has done either right or wrong; he sees some of both.

Klavan and Rubin then discuss the many who can see only right or only wrong. And then they address the assumptions we make about the motives of others — supporters, detractors, or none of the above. Here’s the part of their conversation that yes, fascinated me [emphasis is mine]:

KLAVAN: “… People think that if they disagree with you, their reasons are rational and your reasons are personal — that’s what they think…”

RUBIN: “… that concept of impugning your intellectual opponent’s motives is such a sad thing that has seeped into everything.”

Yes. We tend to think there is only one right perspective.

We tend to think we can accurately identify the motives of another.
And when we find others who don’t hold our same perspective, we are often tempted to impugn their motives.

We then also tend to forget that motives are hidden and not obvious.

That, my friends, is, well, fascinating.

Respectfully…
AR

community

Yesterday was my birthday. It was full of all sorts of precious moments…

… waking up, thanking God for a beautiful, mild temp day in the smack-dab, middle of summer…
… indulging in toasted coconut donuts — a treat — also a favorite…
… attending a baseball game — with sweet seats — an all time favorite pastime…

There was some work, too, to complete this day, as my current “to do list” remains ongoing and especially active. But work is a necessary part of life; it made sense that some would be true on my birthday, too.

But the simple key I wish to speak of this day stems from the warm and witty wishes shared with me throughout the day…

… cards in the mailbox…
… calls and texts on the phone…
… meetings face-to-face…
… greetings via social media…
… from the moment I awoke until I went to bed…

It was so fun to hear from hundreds…

… my family…
… friends…
… persons I’ve treasured for decades…
… persons I’ve treasured for days…

But here’s the part that made me scrap what I previously intended to share this day…

I am a big believer in community: a feeling of fellowship amid a group of people, doing some sense of life together, with a common interests or set of values. Yesterday, I got a sweet sense of authentic community.

I heard from all sorts of people…

… from 9 to 95…
… men, women…
… children, teens, college kids, adults, and the elderly…
… my college friends, my kids’ friends…
… friends from elementary or high school…
… friends from baseball, show choir, church or even my favorite vet’s office…
… singles, married, widows, and divorced…
… gay, straight…
… black, white, Latino, etc…
… Christian, Jewish, Muslim, even agnostic and atheist…
… Democrat, Republican, and WBNRN (“Want to Be Nothing Right Now”)…
… white collar, blue collar, and varied levels of education…
… friends from all across the globe.

My point is this: none of the above differences diminished the community experienced yesterday. None of the above differences got in the way. In other words, we didn’t let our individual differences trump what’s most important… that is — dare said on my birthday — loving one another well.

I felt the love, respect, and appreciation that all people deserve regardless of individual difference.

I felt community.

And it was good.

Thank you to those of you who reached out yesterday. Thank you even more for the contagious example of authentic community you modeled to the rest of us. 

Let’s not allow differences to obstruct what is good. Let’s not choose that. Instead, let us allow those differences to educate and sharpen one another.

Respectfully… always…
AR

indivisible

The meeting was called to order. Together they recited the Pledge…

“… one nation under God…
… indivisible…
… with liberty…
… and justice…
… for all.”

And then the small city’s mayor, after four minutes of sharing only his own thoughts, ended the meeting due to a public comment on a fellow council’s member’s Facebook page — a member with whom he shares multiple dissimilar views. The comment suggested that another council member’s behind be kicked. This was then referred to as the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and “threatened violence.” On a hotly contested night by a hotly divided vote, the meeting was abruptly adjourned. There would be no governance taking place that night.

“… one nation under God…
… indivisible…
… with liberty…
… and justice…
… for all.”

In my sweet, small town, we seem to currently be having trouble getting government right. We seem to have trouble remembering that those in charge only have said position and power due to the consent of the governed — all of the governed… not just the ones with similar views. And then we justify a lot of fighting. The fighting obstructs the fixing of the challenges they were elected to address.

I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked. Our quaint suburb of 12,000 plus is merely a microcosm of what we’re seeing on a grander scale… the finger pointing, the indignant offense, and the vast hyperbole articulated in the offense… and then, of course, more resulting division.

Have our leaders forgotten what “indivisible” means? Have we?

And what will it take to end the fighting and start the fixing?

One of the movements the Intramuralist has been watching is a group called “No Labels.” It’s an organization that began some seven years ago, as over 1,000 citizens from each of the 50 states gathered together, sharing their frustration with Washington’s “business as usual” way of doing things. And so Democrats and Republicans convened for the purpose of launching a movement that would prioritize our entire country over any party. Party affiliations need not be shed, but fixing America’s problems is more important.

I appreciate, especially, this stated belief: “As long as they are intellectually honest, we respect conservatives, liberals, and anyone in between who has a sincere desire to address the nation’s problems. No Labels supports a diversity of viewpoints; we think it’s one of America’s strengths.”

Agreed. Allow me to share more…

“No Labels is building a movement for the legions of people who are tired of a political system that simply doesn’t respond to the priorities of the vast majority of the American people.

We believe that to solve a problem — any problem — leaders first need to unite behind goals, and then commit to a rigorous process to achieve those goals.”

So when I see the diverse co-chairs of Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman… the varied viewpoints, backgrounds, etc. of vice-chairs Charlie Black, Lisa Borders, Al Cardenas, and Mack McLarty… when I see the left and right come together — with no place for the yellers, screamers, nor disrespectful — I’m encouraged (www.nolabels.org). I also think they know their Pledge.

What again does “indivisible” mean?

It means to stop fighting, start fixing, and commit to being respectful.

Together.

Respectfully…
AR

a chipmunk, robin, & toad

As the boxes are packed and the moving van looms, I’ve learned to sit back, relax, and intentionally reflect upon the things I love about my house…

… the conversation booth, where we’ve sat and shared and laughed and cried and even lit numerous birthday candles through the years… friends, strangers… all have been welcome…

… the basement built for (mostly) playful roughhousing and fictional reenactments, remembering the many days my teens and ‘tweens decided to channel their inner Batman, Han Solo, and Adam West…

… and my outdoor, covered patio — shielded by the winds and the rain all seasons of the year, where we’ve sat with blankets in the cold, shorts in the sun, and coffee, etc. in so many precious quiet times…

… so many days have been sat in silence there… so many times I’ve sensed something so more than me…

Off of that patio, we’ve been blessed with near three acres of land. It’s all pretty flat — good for the 70 yard football field our boys enjoyed each fall — goal posts and all. And in the very back of the yard, we share woods with the neighbors — full in the summer and leafless in the fall, when we can actually see those neighbors.

What else we see in the yard has been beautiful these past 18 years. I’ll admit… this city-girl has never been a huge nature fan, but God changed me these many years, showing me a beauty that the city never sees. There’s just something about deer grazing and galloping through the yard each week that causes the me to stop, drop, and watch roll. Then the hawks soar high above, again reminding me of something bigger than me.

The wildlife sightings have been wonderful. In fact, just yesterday, all at the same time, I spotted a chipmunk, robin, and toad. And then it dawned on me, the bigger point for today’s blog…

The chipmunk scampers about the ground, taking everything in so quickly… making such fast decisions on what to believe and where to go. It’s small and spotted and mostly brown, but with that lightning quick speed, I don’t often notice his color.

The robin seems to either sit or soar. It sits on the branches, with its seemingly proud perch, taking in all of its surroundings. But then on a whim it takes off, soaring either low to the ground or high above — a totally different viewpoint than the chipmunk.

And then there’s that toad. With no disrespect intended to the tailless amphibian, he’s a little bit slimy. And he just kind of sits there. He only seems to jump when he feels like it, and while he’s not exactly my favorite kind of animal, I find myself fascinated with how he takes it all in, observing, aware of his surroundings, never moving seemingly irrationally.

Here the chipmunk, robin, and toad are all so different. They are animals, no less, but they see the world differently.

And yet, we don’t have conversations about how better a toad is than a chipmunk… how wiser a robin is than a toad. We recognize the irrelevance of comparison.

We appreciate each for who he is — never expecting them to be something they are not… never judging the robin for his red breast nor the chipmunk for his spots.

We appreciate each for who he is, thankful for how he/she was uniquely, beautifully created by the God of the universe.

There is no judgment. No comparison. Simply appreciation.

Oh, how I love my backyard…

Oh, how we can learn from the animals…

Respectfully…
AR

death to our relationships

On the recent holiday, columnist Christine Emba wrote an insightful piece for The Washington Post. She shared that “in between the flags and fireworks, such a major milestone is as good a moment as any to take stock of how our relationship is doing.” And then she spoke of the deteriorating communication in our country. Utilizing the research and wisdom of The Gottman Institute, co-founded by married doctors John and Julie Gottman, and respected for years by the Intramuralist, I thought her application of the Gottman’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” — communication styles that can predict the end of a connection — was excellent. Said Emba, “These four — criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt — spell death when it comes to interpersonal relationships.”

Death to our relationships. What a sad state of society.

Emba continues in her analysis… (Note: please remove all partisan hats… know, too, that the added emphasis is mine…)

“… Unfortunately, today’s United States has all four in spades.

Start with criticism: Making ad hominem attacks on a partner’s character, rather than discussing specific behaviors. C’mon, #Resistance: It can’t possibly be true that every Republican who supports stronger border vetting hates Muslims, or that anyone who opposes federal funding for Planned Parenthood is a creepy misogynist bent on instituting a ‘Handmaid’s Tale’-style forced-reproduction regime. Yet moral disparagement is too often the go-to stance. We’ve all but abandoned the harder path of seeking to understand the real reasoning behind an opponent’s views.

Then there’s defensiveness — self-protection in the form of performed victimhood or righteous indignation. ‘The media is lying about us,’ cries the right. ‘The news is fake, the papers are frauds, and all of them are conspiring to undermine us. And how dare reporters attack our president this way — have they no respect for the office?’ But Russia might have interfered in the election; the president might be profiteering from the Oval Office. Instead of addressing the real problems at hand, we seek out someone to blame.

Stonewalling, when one listener simply withdraws from the conversation, is one horseman that has been at a full gallop for years. In 2009, even before Barack Obama was inaugurated as president, Republicans resolved that, in the words of one former senator, ‘If he was for it, we had to be against it.’ The policy held through two full terms. In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked confirmation hearings for Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland for an unheard-of eight months. A recipe for productive give-and-take? Not so much.

The most destructive of all is contempt: true meanness, statements handed down from a position of superiority and meant to disrespect. In marital relationships, contempt is the single greatest predictor of divorce. In our national debate, it’s become all too common. Hillary Clinton famously lamented the ‘basket of deplorables’ opposing her during the election; as the new administration moved forward on its agenda, one New York magazine analysis was headlined ‘No Sympathy for the Hillbilly.’ To many on the left, Trump voters are fools. A loss of dignity, autonomy and health care is exactly what they deserve.

It’s an equal-opportunity problem, and, no, it isn’t all about President Trump: Both right and left have engaged in the breakdown-inducing behaviors that have put our democracy on the edge of divorce. While the right has been the source of some of the more obvious offenses in recent years, these aren’t new phenomena — and the fixes aren’t, either.

Though the Gottmans were speaking to unhappy couples, their advice suggests a way forward. The antidote to criticism is to offer a critique of the specific problem at hand, rather than resorting to attack. To end defensiveness, take responsibility. Building a culture of respect can end contempt. Boorishness has an equal and opposite reaction, but breaking the cycle of anger requires that someone — from either party! — step up and take responsibility for change, even if the results aren’t immediately apparent.

While a national political system isn’t quite the same as a marriage, it’s built on the same foundation: a commitment to shared values, a positive approach to conflict, strong communication.

Perhaps for our 242nd anniversary, we can trade a few horsemen for an attempt at harmony. Our relationship may be on the rocks, but it’s still worth saving.”

Amen and well said.

Take off the partisan hats, friends… as neither side is anywhere close to cornering the market on wisdom, integrity, and especially, communicating consistent respect to all.

Respectfully…
AR

without compromising

Sometimes we’re at our best when speaking the elementary to adolescents. We’re more clear, more concise…

We’re better at sharing wisdom in ways that are patient and gentle without compromising boldness or truth.

We point fewer fingers. We emphasize the hope.

Perhaps because it wasn’t a campaign rally or PR event, there wasn’t a massive news media presence nor was there any reliance upon a TelePrompter. There also was thus minimal reporting on the address when it was given. Here was Chief Justice John Roberts, delivering the ninth-grade commencement address at Cardigan Mountain School in a small New Hampshire town.

With his son in the audience, he shared what The Washington Post would later publicize in an article entitled:

“The Best Thing Chief Justice Roberts Wrote This Term Wasn’t a Supreme Court Opinion.”

After solely reading one paragraph of his approximate 11 minute address, the Intramuralist concurs. After instructing the students to stand and applaud their parents and others who had provided significant guidance — and then joked that he would later be able to report that his speech was “interrupted by applause” — Roberts shared the following wise words with the budding teens:

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.”

How often are we impatient? … solely looking at the negative? … simply pleading or demanding that our circumstances change?

Are we missing the blessing? … the blessing in which…

Unfairness helps us know justice…
Betrayal teaches us loyalty…
And loneliness shows us the need for friendship and fellowship…

Roberts continues…

“Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten to know many of you young men pretty well. And I know you are good guys. But you are also privileged young men. And if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you’re privileged now because you have been here. My advice is don’t act like it. When you get to your new school, walk up and introduce yourself to the person who is raking the leaves, shoveling the snow or emptying the trash. Learn their name, and call them by their name during your time at the school. Another piece of advice — when you pass by people you don’t recognize on the walks, smile, look them in the eye, and say hello. The worst thing that will happen is that you will become known as the young man who smiles and says hello. And that is not a bad thing to start with.”

Since all men are created equal, it’s wise to treat each other as such.

Smile and say “hello” to all those along your path. Don’t look down on or point fingers at anyone; neither wins friends nor influences people for good.

I love it when one is wise but still patient and gentle without compromising boldness or truth.

Well done, Mr. Roberts… well done.

Respectfully…
AR

Respect, Cheers, and Happy 4th…

241 years ago, the Declaration of Independence — a brilliant document written by Mr. Thomas Jefferson — was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. At war with Great Britain, the 56 signers announced the independence of the 13 sovereign states and that the American colonies would no longer be under British rule. The colonies seemingly operated independently for decades; this, no less, was the official decree…

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The Intramuralist is no historian. I come from a layman’s perspective at best. But even sifting through the historical papers and accounts depicting the times, I still can’t completely grasp all that led up to such a decree. Learning much regarding those key political events from grade school on (… thank you, Mr. C… thank you still, Miss Jane…), after Britain neglected their American children for so long, when they finally did step in and attempt to actually focus on those across the Atlantic, Americans must have felt as if government was so out of touch… the rulers had been too distant and did not have Americans’ best interests in mind.

So what does one do? What does one do when our sense is that government is so out of touch?

I don’t believe we’re going out on too much of an editorial limb here to assert that a significant number of Americans — all over the partisan map — has felt government has been out of touch for years… decades, for some. Our self-evident truths have been distorted… “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

The truths have not changed, but perceived distortion has been prominent.

Noting first that according to the declaration,“Governments are instituted among Men” in order “to secure these rights” — and also, that government’s power comes only from “the consent of the governed” — it seems we are struggling as a society for multiple reasons — reasons far bigger than the ego and efforts of any of the recent elect.

Distortion of the self-evident truths comes when we are judgmental… We sometimes look at ethnicities, ages, genders, and the religious faithful, etc. as something less than equal. We, for example, at times feel emboldened to judge both the LGBTQ and evangelical community. My sense is that we are not to aver nor render consequence upon either.

Distortion comes when we are demanding… We sometimes declare that in order for “me” to pursue “my” happiness, “you” need to accept what “I” do as good… “you” need to believe what “I” do… for “you” need to realize that “I” speak truth and therefore “you” do not. Friends, I wholeheartedly believe there is a respectful way to embrace “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” without demanding that everyone else thinks like “me.”

And finally, distortion of these truths comes when we no longer thank nor acknowledge who our unalienable rights have been endowed by. Government is not the giver of every good and perfect gift. Government is not omniscient nor omnipotent — especially in a government that only has power because the people governed have consented to such.

While the rhetorical, political climate seems to continuously digress — with each so-called “side” believing they are somehow justified in their denigration and denouncement — I am increasingly concerned that more will advocate for a separation from “the political bands which have connected them.” Granted, there’s a key difference between now and 241 years ago…

The persons who were out of touch in 1776 lived approximately 3,539 miles away. Today, the persons we may perceive to be out of touch might live right next door. Hence, a separation is not helpful, healthy, nor effective. Also not helpful is judgment. Demandingness. Nor a lacking in true thanksgiving.

This 4th of July, may we follow the founders’ final written words… together… with our neighbor… who may or may not think differently than we… “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

A brilliant declaration indeed.

May we mutually pledge our respect and support to one another.

Cheers. And happy 4th.

Respectfully…
AR