Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrman

Equality, Technology and Spirituality

Google Adwords expert Perry Marshall shares some fascinating thoughts on Christmas relating equality, technology and spirituality. Excerpts below.

Link: Merry Christmas and the Dance of Equality, Technology and Spirituality.

The United States Declaration of Independence makes a world-shattering declaration that transformed the modern world:

"We hold these things to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

In his book "Democracy in America" (1835) Alexis de Tocqueville carefully traces this statement and its idea of equality backward through history and lands at Galatians 3:28, the words of St. Paul:

"In Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. All are equal in Christ Jesus."

Before Paul said this, no one had ever made such a bold and sweeping statement. No one. Not the Babylonians, not the Egyptians, not the Greeks, not the Chinese. The concept of equality came first from Paul.


This idea got planted in western civilization and began to grow and develop, little by little dismantling slave trade, sowing the seeds for democracy and spurring technological and political progress.

If you live in a democracy and you're thankful for the ability to vote, if you're thankful that people generally consider you and themselves to be just as good as anybody else, then thank Paul. And his Rabbi, Jesus.

Because – despite what the Declaration says – equality really is NOT self evident. At least it wasn't to any of the ancient world prior to 2000 years ago. On the surface, we're all different. Some are stronger. Some are smarter. Some have more money. Some are politically connected. Some are more savvy.

But when Paul said this, he was declaring that there is an underlying *spiritual* reality, that yours and my true identity doesn't come from accomplishments or money or power but from our Heavenly Father. That once we know that true identity we're no longer slaves to money and power and accomplishments and the 'natural' order of things.

If you read the history of science over the last 500 years, the only reason science succeeded in the West – after getting started but failing in Greece, Rome, China and in the Arab world – is that Christian theology understood God to have created the universe to operate according to fixed discoverable laws.  Theology made that prediction, then people had a philosophical basis for having a scientific method.

In his fascinating book "The Victory of Reason" historian Rodney Stark further explains that the forward march of technology began after the fall of the Roman Empire and has marched steadily forward ever since. Equality implied that slavery was wrong, so people had to develop technology in order to free their slaves and still get the work done. So… part of the inspiration for inventions like water wheels was a belief in dignity and freedom and the rights of the individual.

Technology is supposed to empower people, not enslave them. Because, as Paul said, in Christ, all are equal.

In 1445, Johannes Gutenberg invented the world's first movable type printing press.  He didn't know it, but he was unleashing a revolution that continues to this day.  Even the mighty Internet in the 21st century is just an extension of Gutenberg's original, revolutionary machine.

The first book he printed was the Bible.  And that led to controversy, too, because Luther translated it into German, the people's language, instead of Latin, the lingo of the religious elite.

Suddenly, ordinary folks could not only afford a copy, but they could read it for themselves instead of getting some guy's slanted interpretation.  Soon the cat was out of the bag–there were copies scattered all over Europe.

When people started to read it, they were alarmed at what  they saw, because between the covers of this book was an amazing story that had seemingly little to do with the politics and shell games they saw in some corners of organized religion.

Luther wrote a list of 95 accusations against the church — priests taking bribes and granting 'indulgences', an institution setting itself up as a 'middleman' between man and God.

He argued that God didn't need a middleman, or a distributor, or an agent, or a bureaucracy.  People could go direct to the source.

This little 'schism' in Worms Germany unleashed a firestorm of protest and permanently changed the way people approached education.  No longer was a big, faceless institution responsible for your spiritual progress — YOU were.  Now that you had the knowledge in your hands, you were accountable before God to do something about it.

Send a Christmas Card to Recovering American Soldiers

The American Red Cross is sponsoring a national "Holiday Mail for Heroes" campaign to receive and distribute holiday cards to service members and veterans both in the US and aboard.

Here's the address*:

Holiday Mail for Heroes

PO Box 5456

Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

 

* All cards must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Cards sent after this date will be returned to sender.

Jefferson’s Mind

Learn from the best and brightest….

Link: Jefferson’s Unstoppable Mind and Yours.

Neuroscience discoveries about unstoppable minds:

1. They see into the future while targeting the moment.
2. They spark curiosity yet cultivate steady alertness.
3. They capitalize on differences yet build on similarities.
4. They grow dendrites and beat the pathology of aging brains.
5. They run from cynics’ cortisol and embrace creativity’s serotonin.

Better Tomorrows

The greatest thing about tomorrow is, I will be better than I am today. And that’s how I look at my life. I will be better as a golfer, I will be better as a person, I will be better as a father, I will be a better husband, I will be better as a friend. That’s the beauty of tomorrow. There is no such thing as a setback. The lessons I learn today I will apply tomorrow, and I will be better.

Tiger Woods

Link: ESPN – The year of living dangerously – Golf

Tiger wins golf tournaments with an arsenal of strengths, but behind it all is the power of his mind.

Selfishness, Greed, Self Restraint, and Empathy

Here’s a quote that may help us understand why many of us are driven to excess, especially when fear is involved.

Selfish behaviors are reward driven and innate, wired deeply into the survival mechanisms of the primitive brain, and when consistently reinforced, they will run away to greed, with its associated craving for money, food, or power. On the other hand, the self restraint and the empathy for others that are so important in fostering physical and mental health are learned behaviors – largely functions of the new human cortex and thus culturally dependent. These social behaviors are fragile and learned by imitations much as we learn language.

Dr. Peter Whybrow – "American Mania"

via The Oil Drum | I am Human, I’m American, and I’m an Addict….

Let’s stop waiting, whining, worrying, and wishing

Some inspiring words from Seth Godin.

Link: Seth’s Blog: Only two years left

While Detroit’s car companies have been whining about gas prices and bad publicity for SUVs (SUVs are among their most profitable products), Honda has been busy building cars that look like SUVs but get twice the gas mileage. The Honda Pilot was so popular, it had a waiting list.

While Africa’s economic plight gets a fair amount of worry, a little startup called Kickstart is actually doing something about it.

While you’ve been wishing for the inspiration to start something great, thousands of entrepreneurs have used the prevailing sense of uncertainty to start truly remarkable companies.

The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity — we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing.

So stop thinking about how crazy the times are, and start thinking about what the crazy times demand. There has never been a worse time for business as usual. Business as usual is sure to fail, sure to disappoint, sure to numb our dreams. That’s why there has never been a better time for the new. Your competitors are too afraid to spend money on new productivity tools. Your bankers have no idea where they can safely invest. Your potential employees are desperately looking for something exciting, something they feel passionate about, something they can genuinely engage in and engage with.

You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment — just one second — to decide.

Catch 22: Heat churns in a vicious cycle

Coal burning power plants and vehicles emit particles that increase the greenhouse effect. Air conditioners need more power to cool homes and businesses as the atmospheric heat increases. Power plants burn more coal and emit more particles. The greenhouse effect increases…. solar home

Every summer I ask why we don’t have solar cells on our roofs, producing power for air conditioning and reflecting the sunlight that heats our homes. I am told that solar cells don’t look good on a house (perceptions will change). The local power company doesn’t allow connections to its grid (why not?). The return-on-investment of solar cells isn’t viable (maybe next year). Politicians don’t get wined and dined by solar lobbyists (true). And so nothing changes.

Our electric bill will be $400 for August. A few more years and it will be $1000 or $1500. We’ll be admiring the homes with solar cells when that day arrives.

Below are some excerpts from the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper about the heat.

Link: POURING IT ON: Heat churns in a vicious cycle | ajc.com.

The hotter and stickier it gets, the more we stay inside. The more we’re inside, the more electricity we use blasting the A/C. The more power we consume —- added to the traffic pollution —- the more soot- and smog-forming chemicals we add to the air. And that makes for still lousier air quality and even more reason to stay indoors. We’re fouling our own nest, in effect, and it’s a vicious cycle.

WHAT’S CAUSING THE BAD AIR?

Weather: Hot temperatures, stagnant air, no rain and little wind has created dome-like atmospheric conditions that keep pollution from leaving.

Traffic: Cars and trucks are the main cause of smog and probably the biggest contributor to soot pollution.

Power plants: Coal-fired power plants are major contributors to particle pollution, or soot. To a lesser degree they also contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog.

Everything else: With the air going nowhere, even backyard barbecues, lawn mowers and weed whackers are adding to pollution saturation.

17,546: Monday’s megawatt peak in Georgia
17,160: Last year’s peak (Aug. 4, 2006)
15,924: Highest daily peak in July

WHAT’S A MEGAWATT?

A megawatt measures capacity to produce electricity in an instant of time. Megawatt hours refer to the amount of megawatts used in an hour’s time.

One megawatt is enough to power 250 homes or a Publix or Kroger.
Forty megawatts would power one SuperWal-Mart or 10,000 homes.
Four hundred megawatts is enough to power 10 Super Wal-Marts or 100,000 homes.

11-year old Starts Recycling Business

An 11-year old green entrepreneur — some good news from Virginia.

Link: Galax Gazette – Galax, VA

HILLSVILLE – One of Carroll County’s youngest entrepreneurs, an 11-year-old recycler, received recognition from local government officials Tuesday.

Typically, businesses owners recognized by the Carroll Board of Supervisors have more longevity than 11-year-old T.J. Stroupe, who collects old cell phones and printer cartridges from about 73 businesses and government offices in the Twin Counties for recycling.

T.J.’s mother, Tina, gave him a recycling startup kit for his 11th birthday, which fulfilled his dream of owning his own business, a dream he’s had since he was age 7.

Stroupe has said he would use the money he makes from recycling the e-scrap on his home schooling education and saving up for an acre of land that he and his mother could live on.

Instead of throwing away cell phone and ink cartridges, so they end up in the landfill, Stroupe has convinced more than 70 businesses to turn over their old items to him.

“It’s kinda tellin’ other people, ‘Hey, don’t just throw them away – you can give them to me,’” he said recently. “Every year people throw millions and millions of these things away.”

Cell phone batteries leak in the landfill making them “dangerous to the earth,” Stroupe said.

The recycling business has at least encouraged people to think about what they throw away.

A web site for his company has been posted at http://tjsrecycling.com.

via Journey Reflection