The Word

“The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”
Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon is one of those figures in history that everyone likes to make fun of. From naming your puddle Napoleon because of the psychological complex named after him, to just thinking he was an overall goof ball. Napoleon was a prominent figure during the French revolution as well as a very good war strategist.

The quote above is one that troubles me. The older I get, the truer it sounds.

I grew up believing that everyone was good, or at least had some good inside them. Life has taught me that a greater percentage of people are going to try to take advantage of every situation than those that try to pay it forward.

Before you try to tell me different, think of all the so called friends you have had to call to keep in contact with. Or the people that have done things for you, only to later expect something or a lot more in return. Then count those that have only appeared to want to know you while you help them with something that you are good at or its your profession.

Thankfully I have been able to meet a lot of people that have become true friends, but it still does not make it easier when you find out that some people you trusted were not truly there to be friends.

I try to keep my word every time I give it. In many situations I would have been better off not giving it rather than not keeping it. Last week while in Chicago I wanted to see a lot of my friends, but I ended up not being able to make any concrete plans with many of them… again the fear of giving my word and not keeping it.

It is not just me though, the older I get the harder it is to get confirmation from people on plans. Eric, Travis and I have been trying to get together for the last 5 years. I saw Travis this year, and I saw Eric about 4 ago… They saw each other last year(I was supposed to be there too, but work got in the way of that), but we have not been together as a group since college.

I wonder why it is that as adults, where we should be more secure of what we can and cannot do it becomes harder to give our word out. I miss the days of telling my friends, I will be there and not having anything to stop me from being able to keep my word.

Stand

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Activism and politics are complicated to discuss. I have always been too lazy to actually get too political beyond just your regular argument with a friend or coworker. I have never participated in anyone’s campaign and my time in student council did not change the school.

It is important to have views and ideals, but also dangerous to not be open minded. While we see vegetarians wearing leather and pro choice Christians (me being one of them) it seems like it is hard to take a stand. Surely a nun took a stance for her convictions, but do I really stand for anything?

I remember the sermon of the church that was cleared by two gunman coming in and telling everyone to get out unless you were ready to die for Jesus; only to be later revealed as church leaders trying to see who believe like them or not. Is that really something to be proud of? Would God be proud of I died a martyr?

I have heard plenty of people talk about that story or the one of the girl during the Columbine shootings (even though neither have ever been confirmed as factual) talk of them as true believers… then why is it that we look at terrorist and wonder how can people believe so blindly? Were the people entering the church to scare the congregation simply terrorists in the name of Christianity?

I understand terrorism because I know how it makes me feel and how much I despise it. However I can never explain it completely. I rationalize some actions by extremist because I know how an uneducated and hungry mind can easily corrupted by the thought of acceptance. Should we be concerned that some of our youth is not being taught to question authority?

I was very concerned the first time I heard a Pastor give me political advice. One of the things I learned in Colombia when I first learned about civics was the separation of Church and state… why is it that so many “church” people are trying to get into political offices? Does that concern you even a little bit? Do you feel safer if the person running your town is a member of your own congregation or denomination?

Last time I checked democracy was about standing up for the people and more and more I feel that politicians stand up for only their people. There is a air of backing up what label you have been giving by this society rather than the good of everyone. Be very careful when people tell you that you will be included in the majority that they are fighting for because you never know what little detail might put you on the other side of that fence. Someone fighting for most of the middle class is fighting for a smaller group of people than what it was 20 years ago.

When it comes to politics it is hard to take a stand, but then again that quote keeps resonating inside my head… “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Talent

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.”
-Pablo Picasso

Talent is not something that everyone understands. Talent used to be a unit of measurement and it refers now to a gift or unique characteristic that a person has. In a society so in love with individuality, why is it that so many people don`t feel special or like they have talent. Why is it that a lot of people that are special in one way or another strive so hard to just be normal?

Many superheroes sometimes see their abilities as a burden. They hide behind masks, a secret identity, a custom. Is is to bad to have a superpower? If anyone had an extraordinary ability would we really just put them in a lab go be studied? Was Michael Jordan ever taken by scientist against is will to see how he could “fly.”

I believe that we are all special. I believe every human being has something to show us. I also believe that all of us are capable of greatness. I think it is a personal decision once we know we have a talent to develop it into something useful. Then again, I am getting into the topic of responsibility and we all know that today`s world think of it as something obsolete.

Knowledge is something that can be acquired, but talent is something we are born with. Make sure your talents are something that make you happy and make you feel special and not something that you put away and forget about.

Happy Job

“The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasure.”
Fran├žoise Bertaut de Motteville

Happiness is one of the strongest themes in my blog along with respect. The pursuit of happiness is one of the main goals of my life, however learning what that really means has taken me down many roads that are just not the best. I have said this many times, but I don’t think it can be said enough… Happiness comes from within, you can only make yourself happy, no one else can.

This quote by Fran├žoise is a very wise one and I was reminded of the idea while watching Clerks II. You have to love what you do at your job or you will be wasting a big chunk of your life. Why does it sound so irrelevant in our day and age? Partly because I know that there are so many people in our society that work solely as a means to an end… that end many times being just their next meal.

It makes me really wonder if humanity has advanced at all during the 21st century. Sure we now have iPods and TiVo, but how many people are really following their true passions or using their capabilities rather than chasing the money train? How much more productive as a society would we be if the emphasis was in talent and aptitude rather than how much you can earn.

While I am very thankful about the education I received, I believe our system is flawed. Instead of finding what a kid can do well, we try to fit everyone into the same square peg. We kill potential by standardizing classes to the point that you are teaching only to the average of the class’ speed. Sure there are accelerated classes for “bright” kids, but what about those with artistic talents, not just the ones that are good at reading or math.

Fast forward to the time when you have to actually join the work force. I have seen it again and again, people getting into a field because it seems to be the most lucrative but it has nothing to do with what they are passionate about. Is our society just doomed to become stagnant when it comes to innovation and new ideas? Is our future going to allow just some to reach their potential instead of the potential in all of us?

Thinking back, one of the jobs where I had the must fun was in fast food. I actually looked forward to going and flipping burgers all day. I worked with people from school and the environment was one of hard work, fun and just pride on what we did. While it is still early, my current job seems to be one that will feel the same way. I still look forward to coming to work every morning and I hope that feeling continues.

The Importance of Love

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
– Mother Teresa

At mass today the priest mentioned the quote above from Mother Theresa. The sermon was pretty funny, the priest had a hard time remembering all the characters from The Lion King and also kept on confusing the titles of the movies he wanted to talk about. He called Simba, Samba and Simbalaya… who knows maybe he wanted to dance the Samba or was hungry for some Jambalaya. He also said could not remember the name of the Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings. His message was simple, Jesus gave his life for us and all of the movies mentioned above have either sacrifice or resurrection as a theme. The ultimate sacrifice being to give your life to save someone else’s. How many people are you willing to do that for?

Mother Teresa was asked by someone how can they help end hunger and she recited the quote above. Love it is such an important aspect of our lives, yet it is sometime overlooked. I don’t think wealth is measured by how much you have but how many people love you. I am blessed to have a family that loves me and friends that in my heart are part of my family.

I think we all need to remember what love really means and make an effort to show it in everything that we do. From the moment we wake up we should radiate a message of love. Let’s cure the world’s hunger for love, smile at someone today and see what effect it has.