Tuesday, August 24, 2021
So, you want to live a happy life? In Plato's Republic, Plato writes about the idea of happiness. Plato contends that one who is moral is the only one who can be truly happy. To be satisfied is but one of many parts of the perfect life, but I think it is essential. A person's life experiences dictate a person's reality of life. No two lives lived the same. What is true is dictated by a life’s reality based on life’s experiences. While others may judge your life, it is your life that you can make perfect for you. To worry what others, think, we live a life of pure disappointment. As an avid reader of the bible and Greek philosophy, I find it remarkable how much Greek philosophy is found in the bible. When Plato wrote about the cardinal virtues, we find the same virtues in the bible. Plato brought four cardinal virtues to us through Aristotle: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. God gave us three cardinal virtues.
1. Prudence: "right reason applied to practice." Prudence is a virtue that allows us to judge correctly what is right and what is wrong. When we mistake hate for disappointment, we are showing our lack of prudence.
2. Justice: "the constant and permeant determination to give everyone his or her rightful due." Injustice occurs when we as individuals or by law deprive someone of the right to be innocent until proven guilty. I believe legal rights can never outweigh natural rights.
3. Fortitude: We all face obstacles as we gather our life's experiences for evaluation under prudence and justice. Fortitude applied correctly is reasoned and reasonable in our quest to overcome fear.
4. Temperance: Restraint or the idea of seeking virtue in all that we do. There is passion, there is vice, and there is the middle road we call virtue. We should want to strive for the mean in all our desires.
There are three theological virtues. Corinthians 13:13: "And now abide faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love." In original Greek, the word "agape" is used. This word is translated into English as charity. I consider the highest form of love to be charity.
1. Without faith, virtue is unattainable. God has allowed you to live your life as to what is true to you. As a follower of Jesus, put your faith in Jesus and follow his teachings, your quest for Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, and Prudence can be obtainable.
2. Without hope, we can live our lives like an unbeliever in God. I tell you not how to believe, as God has allowed you to live your life as to what is true to you. We hope for union with God when our days on this earth are over, and we will be delivered into heaven as we practice faith, hope, temperance, fortitude, justice, and prudence.
3. The most important of all virtues is love. Without love, our time on earth will be spent lonely and afraid. Our attention to love starts with family. As parents, we should have a positive impact on our children's lives, we sacrifice so that our children may succeed, we sacrifice unselfishly. Be kind to one another, compassionate, caring, thoughtful, and render acts of kindness. When we practice this love, charity will be evident outside the home. We will be delivered into heaven if we practice love with faith, hope, temperance, fortitude, justice, prudence, and follow the ten commandments.
I am not a perfect man. Life is lived by risk and reward decisions every day. I have practiced justice, temperance, fortitude, and prudence in assessing the risk and reward decisions I make every day and in my interactions with others. It is the 10-commandments that bind our virtues and dictate a way to live ideally. My ideal of faith may be different than yours. Yet, it goes without saying, "I am a Christian, that is to say, a follower of Christ." Christ never asked us to worship him, that was man’s idea.
I am blessed to be in love with my life partner. My wife is God's gift to me, as without her, I would have floundered in eternal failure. Our family has been blessed, but not without the fortitude to practice the seven virtues and the 10-commandments. I say practice because we are not perfect in our practice; that is why we need God's forgiveness. I have overcome many obstacles in life, I am sure there will be more yet, when all is done, I can say that being a part of this family has pretty much been a perfect life. I can only hope that each of you is a part of a family that loves you. When each family member lives by this guide; odds are great that you will live an ideal life within your reality. God gave you this life to live, and you are the sum of your experiences, good and bad. You can lead as perfect of a life as your reality dictates when you are mindful of the seven virtues and the 10-commandments.
Sunday, August 15, 2021
The lack of Knowing thyself, compulsive excesses, and surety brings ruin in American politics today.
"Know thyself, nothing to excess and surety brings ruin"
"According to Plato, in his Allegory of the Cave, most people are like prisoners living their entire lives staring at the wall of a cave, mistaking dimly lit shadows for reality." In America today, I see the allegory ever-present in our lives and the existence of these shadows, are represented by a bias media, greedy politicians, and America's citizens whose gullibility leads us to the desired hate and division which has been perpetrated by our leaders. If we do not stop looking at the shadows on the wall, we will continue this self-destructive way of life and America will fall like so many empires before her. One could say this fall is inevitable, After all, there is not one empire that has survived, and each empire that has failed in the past; falls for the same humanistic reasons. Empires rise and fall, yet I believe empires will cycle from great to poor to great again and sometimes over 1000's of years. For this to happen, internal country conflict must be quelled. The Chinese have done this through communism but at the expense of freedom. America, choosing freedom and God early in the empire, is now threatened by those who seek to rule unjustly, by squelching freedom. The African continent could rise to be a mighty empire but only after they stop killing each other. African continent wars, 1000's of years old, in some cases, will never allow Africa to be great again. Europe has gone the way of China, creating a union block resembling socialism, whereby its leaders have stifled freedom, free enterprise, and god-given rights. South America has gone by the rule of dictators whose greed, stifles freedom, whose socialist governance, has pitted man against man and created a human condition whereby the existence of the many takes every waking hour to survive. Muslim Nations, at war with each other for 1000's of years, at war with the Jewish Nation of Isreal, stifling freedom, free enterprise, and freedom of religion, will never find themselves in a position of power or empire. America will fall, if we do not start electing leaders of high moral value, and to be honest and upon reflection, I have not met a politician of high moral values in a long time.
Quoting Nelson Mandela, "Learn to know yourself… to search realistically and regularly the processes of your own mind and feelings." Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, statesman, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election." I believe Nelson Mandela represented the very best of leadership. When Americans are confronted with American politicians whose greed dictates their reason, America ends divided. In part, we are divided because the individual American no longer takes the time to know thyself. Americans today allow politicians, the media, and others to tell us how we feel, who we are and why.
In a recent blog, an attempt was made to reflect upon my own feelings and processes. I am not so sure American generations have ever given much thought to "know thyself." Past generations have focused on knowing God. In 1940 seventy-three percent of all Americans belonged to a church. Today 47% of Americans belong to a church. While church attendance declines, division in our nation through political bias has increased, so what happened?
Does the lack of understanding "know thyself" to some degree, combined with a decline in church attendance and a belief in a God, affect societies' interaction with each other?
Sigmond Freud had said, civilization is constantly being created anew, and everyone being born must work their way up to being civilized beings. To know thyself is not knowledge you are given at birth. If we are born into nontraditional families, if we are born into poverty, if we are born into predilections, if we are born into a society where low moral values dictate our reason, if we are born into a society whereby our faith in God waivers, we as a society will not obtain the education or indoctrination as to the health and well-being the good sense to know thyself and God.
Both his parents were illiterate, but being a devout Christian, his mother sent him to a local Methodist school when he was young. Baptized a Methodist, Mandela was given the English forename of "Nelson." Nelson was a man of great faith. He hid his Christian faith to continue his work of unifying South Africa. Many ministers who preyed with Nelson regularly knew of his faith while in prison and throughout his life. "He was a profoundly religious man: he believed sincerely in the existence of the almighty. Nelson also understood the importance to "know thyself." When we reflect upon our lives, we should ask this one question. Do I know what I take myself to know?
Knowing ourselves, understanding our weaknesses, and our strengths are paramount. Knowing oneself is easy when deciding what I want and what I like. Yet, we seem to be gullible when it comes to politics, history, science, or religion. We believe what other people say, and the individual believes without due examination. We are like a flock of sheep, following one off the edge of a cliff without thinking or reflecting what the individual feels or knows to be true. Americans today tend to say, I think, without even considering another point of view.
Knowing God is a reflection of one's own life. God is great, forgiveness divine, where humans will fail to forgive. Knowing you live an imperfect life, learning, and acknowledging your limitations is but one key to introspection. A great leader will know thyself and God. Nelson Mandela, a great leader, was such a man, as was Martin Luther King. They were great leaders because of their faith and not a lack thereof. In America today, we lack faith and reflective thought when selecting our leaders, and subsequently, why our leadership is so poor. We know not what good leadership looks like today; we know not better. We Americans are not blind to see this truth; we are blind because we do not take the time to understand ourselves and God first.
Take some time to write about yourself, your beliefs, and what you want out of life. Being honest with yourself will be the hardest part. Once you have this idea of self, like what I wrote about myself, you can find the right people you want to be around, I hope you find God, but that is for you to decide. Find your way forward. I believe a person who knows themselves well knows how to spot characteristic ways in which one spins or otherwise distorts positive and negative information. Only then can we remove ourselves from harsh reactions towards one another; we stop believing everything we see in the media, every word spoken, every page of the internet. We begin to recognize positive qualities in our leaders and ourselves, rather than believing everything we hear. We push our limitations and poor qualities into closets where they reside like skeletons. We, the people, can make America a place all can live without hate for one another. If we do not we fall.
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