Tag Archives: encouragement

I’m back! Encouragement for today – never stop trying to make a difference, to yourself and others

Man, what a busy couple of months this has been. Between the normal things of summer, a funeral for a friend’s mother, and the number of hours I have been volunteering at the local ambulance corps, it seems like I’ve been hitting the ground running almost every day.

You know what, though? After almost 13 years of being a home dad with 2 special needs kids, it feels good. Sure, I was busy with them, their schooling and making sure that the school system did what it was supposed to do where they were concerned, but it wasn’t the same. This is just – different. How? I don’t know if I can put it into words but I’ll try.

Working at the ambulance corps has taught me a lot about myself. It’s forced me to move out of my comfort zone (a zone that is reinforced by the fact that I fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum, and so it can be very hard for me to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar) to make new friends and learn to work and be part of a team again, and it’s also taught me that being older isn’t the same as being DEAD.

Did you catch that? It’s not. I was 44 when I received my certification as a New York State Certified First Responder. 44. I am working with a lady (and I am proud to call her that, too, as well as one of the most phenomenal friends I have ever been blessed to have) who is 30 and is a paramedic. Most of the other people in my class were significantly younger than I was. It would have been easy to just back off, drop out and say “Nah, I’m too old for this. Too old to change, to stick my neck out. I waited too long/started too late.” MAN am I glad I didn’t! I would have missed out on so very much, not the least of which was learning an entirely new skill set in order to be certified!

In the short time that I have worked with the Corps I have personally participated in:

  • Helping to ease the worry and concern of people who needed to be transported to the hospital, generally by informing them that I’m the driver and I “won’t do a stitch over NINETY” (That never fails to make them laugh) or some remark about running people off the road if I have to. (That gets a chuckle, too)
  • Reassuring those in distress that we will give them the absolute best care we can, and also to help the families realize that and ensure they know how to get to the facility to which we are bringing their family member
  • Learning to use the ambulance both in non-priority (no lights and sirens) and priority (lights, sirens, and the whole 9 yards) calls, and the safe way to do both. (Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just hit the lights, hit the sirens and stomp the gas)
  • Resuscitating a man who had gone into a full blown cardiac emergency (we’re talking no pulse, heart stopped, the works) and by the grace of God, giving him more time to live and hopefully get those things corrected that had caused it to happen

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Guys, gals, aliens from other planets – whoever is reading this – if you take nothing else away from this, take this away. Until the day comes when you stop breathing for good, it is never too late. It’s never too late to make a positive difference to someone else, or to yourself. It’s never too late to make a change in your life, to pursue a dream, or to learn something new.

The only one stopping you, many times – is YOU.

So, what do you say?

God bless, my friends.

A point to ponder, for today – but perhaps not the one you think!

Remember when I said I’d start listing products and their descriptions as far as preparedness is concerned? Yes, I do too – it just seems that I keep running across other things that, to me, are worthwhile subjects on which to post. I haven’t forgotten, honest! Keep coming back.

The image for today’s post, in case you can’t see it, says the following: “I’m only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.” Now, if you’re like me (and I’ll gladly tell on myself), you probably had the same reaction I did; namely one of “YEAH! Take THAT, you thin skinned beggars! If you get offended, that’s not MY problem!” Hopefully, as you continue reading, you’ll also come to the second part of that line of thinking, as I have, as well.

This saying, at first blush, seems like a cure for our hypersensitive, easily and almost constantly “You’ve offended me!” culture. At this point, I know I am weary to death of the seemingly endless list of things that people get offended over, hurt by, and seek to make others apologize for. It seems that being truthful now equals being mean. Being honest now equals being cruel. If you really love and accept others, you’ll never, EVER say anything about ANYTHING they do, because you’ll just accept them the way they are. This statement  puts the onus right back where it belongs – on the listener, for whether they are offended or not. Great, right? Well, not so fast. We, as the speaker, still do have responsibilities in what we say, and how it can affect what others hear and understand. The first part of that statement is true. Consider the classic sitcom situation in which the wife asks the husband if a dress looks good on her. Setting aside for a moment the fact that, because it’s a sitcom there’s no “good” answer because it’s a comedic setup, consider these two answers:

  1. “No, I really have to say that I don’t think that looks good on you. It doesn’t compliment you/your figure, I don’t care for the color/design”
  2. “Are you kidding? That hideous thing looks like you went to Omar the Blind Tent Maker to have it made. I’ve never seen something so ugly.”

Both answers, essentially, say the same thing; the person doesn’t like the way the dress looks. One answer, however, is tactfully honest and expresses the opinion without a lot of loaded emotion/emotional terms, while the other is brutally (even cruelly or obnoxiously) honest, and loaded with emotionally charged terms.

O.K., so what’s the Boot of Truth? How does this apply, or conversely, NOT apply? Well, let’s look at that. In the example given, the speaker is responsible for what they say. They are responsible for the content of what they say, and for making sure that it is given in a manner that is appropriate to the situation. (Sometimes, a hard truth needs to be said, and said plainly. There may not be time for tact, nor may it be appropriate. In some professional situations, or situations between persons, tact can be misconstrued as cringing, or as being subordinate.) I would go so far as to say that this is true in all situations; the speaker is responsible for what they say and how they say it – a lesson that I am still learning, and re-learning. No pedestals here! However, the second part of the statement may or may not be true.

In the case of the first answer, if the person posing the question then becomes offended and angry, I believe that the person answering has no responsibility for that; nothing to apologize for. Some people, unfortunately, want to ask questions but don’t want honest answers. Others will choose to be upset no matter what. Still others don’t want answers at all – they only want you to stroke their egos.

In the case of the second answer, however, there can be little doubt in my mind that not only would the speaker be responsible for giving offense to the person asking, but very probably should not be surprised if they rather suddenly get something heavy upside the head! Some people, unfortunately (and here I hang my head, remembering those days in my life) take a perverse pleasure in simply beating down other people and being harsh with them, for many different reasons. They hardly can say “Pfft. Not MY fault you got offended” with any honesty when they do so. Believe me, I tried. It didn’t work, and I wish I’d seen it sooner.

(Along with all of this, remember that there are, unfortunately, those who will choose – that’s the operative word – choose to be offended, no matter what. Whatever the reason is, those people are better off avoided. There are enough stresses and problems in life without having to constantly coddle and hand-hold people who, no matter what, how something is said or why, will take the road of being upset, angry, offended by it. That’s not what we’re talking about in this case. The responsibility does, indeed, lie with them – not with you.)

I’ll close with these two statements, taken from a podcast found here that deals with the topic of “Tact vs. Dishonesty.” I hope you’ll find it as enlightening as I have. The statements follow, below.

“Honesty should not be an excuse to be cruel, and kindness should not be an excuse to be dishonest.”

“Separate the content of your communication from the form and make sure that the content is honest, and that the form of the communication is appropriate for the situation.”

God bless, today, my friends!

 

A few things to remember, for today

  1. You can speak about the very real, physical/mental/emotional differences between men and women and not be a misogynist.
    1. Likewise, you can not like female comics/actresses, etc and not be a misogynist.
  2. You can speak about the differences in races and not be racist.
    1. Likewise, you can bring up facts and points that deal with racial issues that are true, however uncomfortable they may be to those who have an agenda to push or a narrative to push, and not be a racist.
  3. What you ARE is who you are, inside – the one thing that no one can possibly know. They can make a damned good guess, but they can’t KNOW unless they can read your mind.

Why am I posting this? I’m posting it because the Boot of Truth needed to be put, HARD, to the unending stream of name-calling, debate crushing tactics used by those who have an agenda to push and who only believe in and allow opinions that are the same as theirs.

What sparked it was the unreal number of articles listed accusing all those who think that the latest remake (it is a reMAKE – not a reBOOT) of the Ghostbusters movie is going to be about as funny as a broken leg, having seen the trailer that was posted on Youtube, of being misogynistic babies who hate women. I have seen terms like “man babies,” “man cry babies,” “misogynists,” “little boys” and the like so many times it makes me sick. It never fails to amaze me how when a man calls a woman names, is smug and patronizing, or talks down to her he’s a horrible brute, but when women do it to men, it’s o.k.

Add to that the fact that it seems, by all counts, that Sony is deliberately removing the reasoned, thought out arguments to why people believe the movie looks bad with a capital B and is leaving (odd, that!) the few comments that ARE, invariably, misogynistic in nature, and it makes you wonder just exactly what is going on here, but I digress.

Well, no. I don’t like the looks of the movie. I didn’t find the previews funny. I don’t find the comediennes funny. I’m also not a misogynist. Whoever wants to can call me one all day long – that’s your privilege. The Boot of Truth is that it doesn’t make it so. Too few people remember that. Names mean exactly Jack and Squat. 

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Male, female, like something or not, agree or disagree; stand up for your PoV, and damned be those who try and shut it down by labeling you. That’s a tried and true tactic for stopping real discussion – and it only works because people let it. Don’t be one who does.

I leave you with this quote from The Captain:
“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — ‘No, you move.'”

God bless today, my friends – and BE STRONG!

Prepping 1: Prepping pitfalls or, “the dangers of unending “what if?”

Hey there! If you are a return reader, thank you for coming back! I truly appreciate the fact that people find things on this blog worth reading. If you are a new reader, then welcome aboard! You’re just in time for a series that I am starting for people like myself; people who want to be prepared, and want to be realistically prepared, as opposed to trying to prepare for every scenario and every situation and for The End Of The World. I hope that something here, first of all, proves to be of use to you, and secondly that it keeps you coming back!

In the world of prepping, there are as many opinions as there are people, I have found. Some say to be as prepared as you can be for anything, some say to prepare realistically. Some say as many years of food, water and fuel as you can have and store, some say 6 months, some say one month. Some say have a bunker, some don’t; the list goes on and on. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and, even worse, it’s easy to simply throw ones hands up and say “What’s the point? I’ll never be prepared for everything.” That’s what I went through, on a personal note. Interestingly enough, that’s also one of the “prepping pitfalls” I have read about in different sources dealing with preparedness; the dangers of the never-ending “What if?”

There is also the argument of “skills” vs. “stuff.” In an article on The Prepper Journal, author Pat Henry puts forth the idea that one does not always outweigh the other. Yes, you can spend $1200 and more on a tricked out assault rifle, complete with scope, laser sight and all the latest mods, but if you can’t hit a bull in the backside with a bass fiddle (a cleaned up version of what my dad used to say) are you better off than the person with the hand-me-down .22 caliber who can clear a jam, reload under stressful conditions and consistently hit what they aim at? Yes, no matter how much food you have or water you have stored, eventually it will run out, and a person who can survive “off the land” is going to have an advantage in a complete TEOTWAWKI scenario (provided there isn’t fallout, roaming gangs of savages, etc) but as has been said before, are we more likely to face a scenario like that, or a scenario in which you are forced to be on your own for a time, using only what supplies you have and skills or things you have on hand, because of a natural disaster or man made occurrence?

So what’s the point, then? What’s the “Boot of Truth” in this case? The BoT is this: as has been said before – prepare according to what you feel is best, is necessary, and is likely, according to your needs, abilities, and location. Take an honest assessment of your skills, knowledge (or lack of them) and work to improve them. Start small, and build from there. Beware taking in every piece of advice, every opinion – even mine – because I’m not you. Did you catch that? Even my opinions may not work for you – and I’m o.k. with that.

Find what does. Here are a couple of good starting points to give you a jumping off point:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2013/06/12/prepping-101-a-step-by-step-plan-for-how-to-get-started-prepping-pt1/

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2014/02/26/preppers-list-of-supplies/

Next up – reviews of some emergency/preparedness items that I have purchased, have used, and can highly recommend for anyone to add to their general safety supplies at home!

God bless today, my friends – and let’s be careful out there – and stay safe!

 

 

 

“Disasters 101 – for those who think ‘it will never happen to me.'”

In keeping with my ongoing posts regarding realistic preparedness, I have what I consider to be an excellent post, courtesy of a blog/web page called Backdoor Survival. It is a page I frequent, and one that I have gleaned a great amount of helpful and useful knowledge from. I encourage any of you who are following these posts to check out their page, as well.

It’s a sobering (although far from comprehensive – think of that!) list of the possible disasters, both man-made and natural, that could befall us. To me, it’s also a good reminder to not become complacent and join in the oft-repeated refrain of “It won’t happen here/won’t happen to me.” Every one of us that lives on this planet (and if you’re reading this and NOT on this planet, PLEASE put something in the comments section – I’d be honored!) is potentially in the path of one of these disasters, and can stand to take the common-sense precautions that are appropriate for them.

I also am including a second link to an article on that same page, which is entitled “Beyond SHTF: How to keep your home safe from fire.” I have read, and may have even repeated here, that one of the pitfalls for those who seek to be prepared is that many of the “preppers” you see are portrayed as wild-eyed individuals who are preparing only for the worst case scenarios. Are those scenarios possible? Well, yes. In theory, I suppose anything is. Are they probable? That’s a much more realistic approach and question. A person is much more likely to lose everything due to a house fire, for example, than a nuclear war/zombie apocalypse/complete societal collapse.

Remember – prepare for the most probable, and then expand if you so desire. The links to the articles are below.

God bless, my friends, and remember – preparation doesn’t produce anxiety; denial does.

Disasters 101

Beyond SHTF – How to keep your home safe from fire

 

 

Survival, Prepping and You – a beginning

First off, for those who are still here and follow the blog, let me offer an apology, if I may. I have a habit of allowing other things to take precedence over posting on this blog. Some are worthwhile, some are very much not so, to be honest, but none of them are so time consuming as to prevent me from posting here. When you consider the reason I started the blog, and especially my earlier post in which I said that I was going to be sharing tips and hints regarding preparedness, it makes my laziness that much more inexcusable. To you, the readers, I offer a sincere apology and my promise that I will be more diligent in posting worthwhile things, and posting them more frequently. — The Doctor

The best place to begin, it is said, is at the beginning, and so shall I do here. Some of what I say may be repeated from earlier posts, but from here on out, I will be building on the posts in succession, so here we go. Before we get into the details on being prepared, how you do it, and what you may need or not need, I’d like to lay down some basic ideas.

  1. I am not a “survival expert/guru/instructor/fill in your favorite word for ‘know it all’,” nor will I ever profess to be. I am going to be sharing things and ideas that I have found and that I have found to be helpful. That may be ideas from other blogs, it may be products that I have personally used and can attest to, it may be information that is readily available on the internet. Come into these posts with the mindset of looking at the shelves in a grocery store. Yes, there will be some essentials that must be taken – food, water, shelter, in the case of survival – but the rest can be taken or not, depending on your particular needs. I believe in what is commonly referred to as “common sense prepping,” or “middle ground prepping;” essentially, prepping that the average person can do for the realistic disasters/situations in which they may find themselves. You won’t find any “dig a bunker and prepare for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)” information here.
  2. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I’m not going to advocate being prepared “for the day when…” whether that’s the zombie apocalypse, “the government” turning on us and marching us off to the death camps, or some plague being released on the people because of an experiment gone wrong. Not only are those scenarios unrealistic and extreme, but I could no more tell you how to prepare for that than I could how to prepare for complete thermonuclear devastation or an asteroid hitting the planet. Like I said – common sense, middle ground prepping.
  3. I read an article entitled “Don’t attack someone else’s SHTF plan as if you’re psychic,” and enjoyed the premise, very much. (SHTF, to maintain our relatively “G” rating on the page, would be “Stuff Hits The Fan,” but I’m sure you all know the more colorful meaning as well. The article, incidentally, can be accessed by the title) I want to continue that premise here by saying this: I always welcome comments from my readers. In fact, I am honored when they come because it means someone took the time to read something I wrote, and think about it. However, this can also be a very personal topic – and it doesn’t need to devolve into arguments over “You should/shouldn’t do/have/need” whatever. The truth is, as stated in the article, NO ONE knows what it will be like after a major, extended, life changing disaster that would cause the collapse of society. Whatever we may feel – let’s keep it civil so that I don’t have to do it for anyone. (That’s never been a problem, but hey, a reminder never hurt!)

With that out of the way, let me address the first topic many people come across when dealing with “preparedness.” Namely, “Why? Why should I be prepared?” I can answer that in a few statements:

  1. Disasters happen. It’s not a uniquely American quality, but here in the States we have a tendency to sing a favorite chorus, (ironically enough, we sing this for both disasters and the possibility of encountering violence from others) which says, “It can’t happen here/it won’t happen to me/it always happens to someone else.” Sometimes, an additional refrain to that song is, “I don’t need to do anything because the police/the fire department/the government will be there to take care of me.” Unfortunately, in far too many cases, this has been proven to be untrue. In a disaster, response takes time. Depending on your location, the magnitude of the disaster, and the principles of triage used when allocating disaster resources, it may be some time for “help” to get to you. Many times the demand FAR outstrips the supply, and it takes still longer. What do you do in the meantime?  Every location has the potential for some kind of emergency/disaster/disruption to occur, whether natural disaster, loss of utilities, civil unrest or the like.
  2. Preparedness is an antidote to fear and worry. Growing up in the northeast USA, one of my earliest memories is of the power going out during the winter. No power meant no furnace. No furnace meant no heat. We were prepared, though. We had backup sources of heat in the form of a wood stove and kerosene heaters. Our water lines regularly froze, which meant trips to the local fresh water spring to fill buckets and jugs to have water for drinking, cooking, sanitation and washing. I wasn’t worried because my parents weren’t worried. They weren’t worried, I see now, because they had come from a time when they were taught to be self-reliant and not wait around for someone else to fix it. That preparedness was the antidote to fear and worry about “What will I do?”  When you have a plan, and are ready, it makes the fear a lot less impacting, even when something does happen.
  3. You owe it to yourself, to your family, and to your community.  Yeah, I know. That sounds like a bad line out of an old 50’s anti-communist video, but it’s true. Your life is precious. You are the only “You” there will ever be. You owe it to yourself to be as ready as you can be so that you don’t foolishly and needlessly waste or lose your life because you weren’t ready. The lives of your family (presuming you have one – in my case, my wife and children) are also precious, and they deserve to be protected and to know that we are as ready as we can be, so that they can avoid fear and worry of the unknown. Make them part of your plan. Give them that security. Your community needs people who will be ready and that they can look to in times of trouble. There will, invariably, be those who were unwilling or, in some cases, unable to prepare. (It does happen. Not every person who is unprepared had a choice – think of the very young, the elderly, or the infirm) They will need emergency services, food and shelter. By being prepared, you not only limit the drain on the resources being allocated, but you may be able to help through your own knowledge of first aid, or how to cook when off the grid, or the like.

 

I’ll close with this. I have seen this quote in various forms and it hits home – “The day before every major disaster was a normal day; just like today.” 

What will YOU do, now that you know?

Next up, resources and basic ideas to get us going on being prepared!

God bless you today, my friends!

 

Today’s “Be Prepared!” tip – A Bug Out bag is your friend!

Ever heard of a Bug Out Bag? I hadn’t, until recently. If you are (or were) like me, you wouldn’t have known what one was, or what it was used for. In its simplest form, “A bug out bag is a portable kit that normally contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours when evacuating from a disaster; however some kits are designed to last longer periods of time than just 72 hours.”  

You may be thinking, “You’d need food and water? A radio? Flashlight? How am I supposed to know how to get all of that/where to get it/what to get?” Well, don’t feel overwhelmed. In the next few posts, I intend to share some of the info I’ve found, myself, as well as point the way to some products that I have found, bought, and used, personally, to give you a jumping off point. Yes, that’s a hook! Keep checking back! 😀

The following image was sent to me by a company that specializes in food storage/food storage for the home, and it (as well as other helpful information) can be found here:

BOB_Infographic(different background)_Tim's_Edit

NOTE: I would add one thing to the list that they do not appear to have here – medications. My wife and I keep our essential medications (I am epileptic, she is diabetic) in a case together. In the event of a disaster or evacuation, it could be grabbed as quickly as the Bag and taken with us. 

Why is this important? For two main reasons, which I have encountered time and time again in my own research and my own preparedness planning (some of which I have detailed or mentioned in other blog postings):

1.Disasters of some sort can happen at any time, in any location, to anyone. Any one of the disasters listed above may require you to act swiftly and decisively. ANY preparation is better than NONE

2. In an disaster, the local/state/government agencies that we so often think of as “the ones who will help us” will be overwhelmed, in all likelihood, immediately following the event. Your safety, your survival, and your ability to cope with that span of time; be it hours, days or weeks, depends on YOU. 

Remember – in the final analysis, YOU are ultimately responsible for your own preparedness, and the preparedness of your loved ones and family.

What will you do? I know what I’ve done, and AM doing. How about you?

God bless today, my friends!

 

 

In honor of Superman (the real one, I guess you’d say)

**The image used can be seen at full size, here. Unfortunately I had to resize it to fit on the blog post.- The Doctor 

I was doing some reading and I saw this today. It really made me think. Written by Grant Morrison who, I presume, is a recent author/writer of some of the newer Superman comics, it puts some ideas forth that I had not thought of, but can definitely agree with and identify with. I believe that there is some definite encouragement here in the form of this sentiment – underneath, we’re ALL ‘Superman’ if we want to be and choose to be. He’s the pinnacle of what it means to CHOOSE to do good with the abilities you have, whatever they may be, instead of taking the easier way and looking out only for yourself or using the circumstances of your life as a reason to cause pain to others. 

I draw this contrast because there seems to be almost a mania with the character of Batman these days, but as I have expressed before, Batman may ultimately do “good” in some form, but he himself is as dark and in many ways as twisted as the criminals he fights. (I keep going back to The Real Ghostbusters – “When Good adopts the ways of Evil, it becomes Evil.”) That, to me, is the inherent difference between Superman and the current incarnations of The Batman, and why I prefer one over the other. Batman is the opposite; he’s what happens when you let the circumstances of your life decide who you are, now and forever, and make you dark and angry instead of trying to rise above them. No matter what spin is put on it, Batman is, in his current incarnations, a sick man who never let go of his parents’ death and lives on the pain it caused him.

I don’t see that as a particularly encouraging role model. Do you?

All that aside, I hope you find the quote, below, as encouraging as I did, and it lifts your spirits today.

God bless you today, my friends!

“In the end, I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character, but as a story of Everyman. We’re all Superman in our own adventures. We have our own Fortresses of Solitude we retreat to, with our own special collections of valued stuff, our own super–pets, our own “Bottle Cities” that we feel guilty for neglecting. We have our own peers and rivals and bizarre emotional or moral tangles to deal with.

I felt I’d really grasped the concept when I saw him as Everyman, or rather as the dreamself of Everyman. That “S” is the radiant emblem of divinity we reveal when we rip off our stuffy shirts, our social masks, our neuroses, our constructed selves, and become who we truly are. Batman is obviously much cooler, but that’s because he’s a very energetic and adolescent fantasy character: a handsome billionaire playboy in black leather with a butler at this beck and call, better cars and gadgetry than James Bond, a horde of fetish femme fatales baying around his heels and no boss. That guy’s Superman day and night.

Superman grew up baling hay on a farm. He goes to work, for a boss, in an office. He pines after a hard–working gal. Only when he tears off his shirt does that heroic, ideal inner self come to life. That’s actually a much more adult fantasy than the one Batman’s peddling but it also makes Superman a little harder to sell. He’s much more of a working class superhero.

American writers often say they find it difficult to write Superman. They say he’s too powerful; you can’t give him problems. But Superman is a metaphor. For me, Superman has the same problems we do, but on a Paul Bunyan scale. If Superman walks the dog, he walks it around the asteroid belt because it can fly in space. When Superman’s relatives visit, they come from the 31st century and bring some hellish monster conqueror from the future. But it’s still a story about your relatives visiting.”

Builders or wreckers?

This post will by no means be a Scripture lesson, although the idea for it came as I was reading a passage from John in my Bible this morning. For those not familiar with the story, a lame man was healed by Christ after being afflicted for some 80+ years. (If you want the entire story, you can find it in John 5:1-15) What struck me as I read it was that immediately – right after Jesus told the man “Get up, take up your bed and walk” and he did so, the next part of the verse says “And that day was the Sabbath.” Guess what? The Jewish leaders of the time immediately came to the man and said, in colloquial terms,  “Hey – this is the Sabbath – it’s against the rules for you to be carrying your bed.” The story then continues to say that they began to actively persecute Christ because He was doing those things on the Sabbath. When I read that, I laughed right out loud, and shook my head somewhat ruefully at how little we, as a people, have changed in the 2000 years since Christ walked the Earth. I mean, if you believe the story is true (which, obviously, I do) instead of being happy that the man had been healed, they immediately began berating him for breaking the rules and finding fault in what had been done. They were experts at turning lemonade into lemons, you might say. They were wreckers, instead of builders. (Nice plug for the title, eh? 😀 )

“Ok,” you may be saying, “So what?” So this. Have you read the comment sections of any news articles lately? Perused the comments of things posted on social media? It doesn’t matter what the story is; how positive or uplifting, or how tragic and heartbreaking, there invariably are those who come along and feel that it is their God-given duty to point out something negative or something judgmental about the situation. They come thundering like gangbusters, making lemons out of lemonade and finding the dark cloud in every silver lining. By way of examples: snow slides off a roof and buries three children, one of whom dies. In among the expressions of grief and sorrow are those going on about how the parents should have kept the roof clean, or THIS is why you DON’T have metal roofs. A person posts about how they are going through a tough time for X or Y reason, and someone comes along with condemnation about their lifestyle, or even worse, some trite “Christian” statement about their need for God or lack of faith, or something similar.

We’re experts at judging others, and pointing out their faults and failings – and also experts at ignoring our own, a great many times. We tear down much more easily and quickly than we build up.

Want some encouragement? IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. None of us HAVE to do that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means advocating the “lack of tough love” lifestyle put forth by so many, also known as the “I can’t say anything because…” Sometimes, there are situations in which we are called upon to take a stand, draw a boundary, or even ‘tell a harsh truth, wanting ten more times to tell a loving lie,’ to paraphrase a quote by Robert Brault. Compassion is not enabling. However, I firmly believe that those times are much fewer than what we may think. The encouragement I spoke of, above, comes in realizing that we can be builders instead of wreckers. We can uplift people instead of tearing them down. We can help instead of hurt, and when all else fails, we can choose to keep our bloody mouths shut instead of criticizing. (OUCH!! The author took a hit on that one. No pedestals here!)

I close with this poem, taken from the book God’s Minutes, and written by Carmelo Benvenga. May it come to your mind as it has to mine, and remind us all that we have a choice every minute of every day; the choice to be a Builder or a Wrecker.

God bless, today, my friends.

I watched them tearing a building down, a gang of men in a busy town. With a “Ho, heave ho!” and a lusty yell, they swung a beam and a sidewall fell.  I asked a foreman, “Are these men skilled, and they kind you would hire if you were to build?” He laughed and said, “Why no, indeed, just common laborers are all I need. They can easily wreck in a day or two what builders have taken years to do.”

So I said to myself as I went on my way, ‘What part in the game of life do I play? Am I a Builder, who builds with care, thoughtfully measuring with rule and square? Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan, patiently doing the best I can? Or am I a Wrecker, who walks the town – content with the labor of tearing down?’