Homeward-Bound

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“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.”
-Rumi

This road keeps getting stranger and stranger. This path has gone through the pits of hell and the heights of heaven, thrown me into too many incredible people, broken me, mended me, stripped me of everything, given me everything, tossed me and turned me in all its own unimaginable ways, and it has made me.

Truth is, nothing has gone quite according to plan. I am not entirely the person I expected myself to become.

Somehow this path has twisted and turned so many times, and life has given me so many unnecessary, but essential, stops. It’s made me who I am, and I am somehow happy with that.

My only one certain truth, is that I am still walking this road, and wherever it takes me, I hope I’m heading home.

There is this energy greater than hope; something inside me knows I’m heading home.

We all carry this truth inside us.

Somehow we all carry this memory of home. Something inside you reminds me of the home I’d left so long ago, maybe eighteen years ago, and maybe many years before. (Funny that we try to measure these things with our own blurred concept of time.)

Something inside us is walking towards the same destination; clear your road that I may find you there, and perhaps, with any luck, we can walk together.

Happiness: The Serotonin Shot Anecdote

An old man sits on the front porch of an old, weary house. As the people pass by, he tries to subdue his loneliness with memories of his past, reading newspapers and rereading old news again and again.

All of a sudden, and every so often, a noise or movement shakes this state of delusion, and he sees himself, old and wrinkled, desolate and waiting for a calm destruction. The memories come back as he wonders how truly, the happiness has gone from his life.

A relation perhaps visits the man every week or so, to check on his health, or rather put bluntly, the persistence of his now lowly existence. The man speaks of loneliness, of impending death, and of now bitter-sweet memories, going on and on, up and down the timeline of life, finishing in exhaustion, pleading and gesturing helplessly for an escape.

With the persistence of a man who has lost all, and has not more to hope for than a grain of happiness, his few distant relations decide to fulfill his pleadings.

Thus on a bleak autumn night, when the winds blew heavier, and the rain fell thicker than it would most days of October, the old man, fallen asleep by a windowpane, is rushed awake, yet calmly, by his distant relative.

He’d come with the cure; in his right hand clasping, measured precisely, a shot of Serotonin, the happiness hormone.

Without restraint and expecting approval, the younger, middle-aged, man rolls the elder’s sleeve, feels around his frail forearm for a vein, sets the needle in, firmly, the old man holding his breath, a tear going down his pale face. Pressing down, the shot is injected, and suddenly, no magically, the tear dried and the breath exhaled, his eyes fix for a moment, his pupils dilate, and in an abrupt twitch, the old man bursts into a loud laughter.

His happiness was restored.

“What have I become, my sweetest friend? Everyone I know, goes away in the end.” -Johnny Cash

Photo credit: PhotoAtelier / Foter / CC BY

On Caring, a Little Too Much

I don’t know when it started, and I’m sure as the heavens I could never exactly pin-point it, but at some point in this short intense life of mine, I started caring, a little too much.

Here’s how it goes: it’s both universal and person-specific, both internally and externally displayed, though more internally devastating (but I can think of times where it really was physically devastating as well), and both fulfilling and depressing with res

ults ranging from “saving a fellow man” to simply scaring people off.(I bear-hug, a lot, for that matter, haha)

Universally, I’m a great believer in the power of good men (hence this blog’s name; if you’ve yet to notice that). I’m also a great believer in what I like to call social responsibility, wherein a person is inherently entitled to help and be kind to other people. That’s good I guess, it’s not that bad; makes me sound naïve to a bunch of moral indifferents but I never minded them.

I never minded anyone too much really. But there are people I do mind, and these are the ones I make the too-often-fatal mistake of individually caring for and loving.

See there’s a fine line here, a fine line between caring for people because that’s just what you do, and caring for people because somewhere inside, you’ve made an either intentional or unintentional link between your two souls, and tied a rope a little too tight around something that’s supposed to be sturdy enough to hold the bonding and breaking of a myriad lives’ courses in an endless cycle of love-and-leave or an undetermined and emotionally detached cycle of live-and-serve.

The problem is when you stumble upon a person, and you give in to the temptation of love. For a man of service, that indeed, is a tragedy, both dear and dire.

Perhaps it is that they expect a man of service to love without attachment, to offer of himself without holding to another. Perhaps it is that true care and love can only be expressed in their most raw sense, attachment.

But then, what is such a man to do when the love of one precludes the active service of another?

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No-Names Hall

Let not the wild of bad men rise,
Out through the mouths of good men wise,
And not the feats of good men stay,
Mere compensation for worse yet day.

If t’will not come on good man’s day,
To say a word and nations call,
There’ll come a time where good lands may,
Honor such in no-names hall.

A hall so wide and stretching long,
‘Tis no man’s hall and all men’s place,
All good men’s hall and bad men’s fall,
And suffers not the bad man’s chase.

And in the hall the incense burns,
To honor those who’ve come and gone,
Left a life in spec or seed,
And come unto the holy one.

The holy one, he looks on all,
The greatest name in no-names hall.

The holy one, whose angels call,
The greatest name in no-names hall.

on the 14th of December, 2013

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Because They’ll Never Befriend Their Therapist

I’ve had a lot of those “friends”, you know the kind: they text you in the middle of the night, saying they have a problem. They spend hours on end talking to you about their problems, and for once in your life, you feel you have a purpose: to be there for people. You console them with your comforting words, you tell them it’ll all be alright, and you even do them the hugest favor: you believe it.

Then, only after you’ve spent an entire night talking to them, you do something utterly fatal, stupid, ugly. It’s a rookie mistake, but you keep falling for it, and it just kills you every time, like a stab in the back. If you still haven’t guessed, the mistake is: you assume that you’re now friends, or that, in the least, you share some kind of bond, some kind of psychological, maybe even spiritual tie.

Later, you pass them by in the hallway, at work, or maybe even cross them in the supermarket. You come to them with this indescribable joy of a soul that’s finally found a friend. You start off with a “Hi!”, “Hello!”, or, even worse, “Hey buddy!”. You expect that to be returned with a shower of conversation, some small talk, or, and when you’re expecting the least: one of those classic big ‘ole genuine friend-to-friend smiles.

But no, much to your shock, the result is a hygienic, almost forced “Hey”, or even worse, a nod, just a nod from the person you thought had suddenly turned into your best friend! No conversation, no small talk, not even one of those reassuring smiles, just their back to look at as they walk straight past you like they just crossed another office janitor.

After such tremendous disappointment, you’re often left with yourself wondering, “did I say something wrong?”, “were they just having a bad day?”, “do they suddenly hate me?!”, or even “was that conversation on the phone really that crappy!?”.

Speaking from personal experience, it gets worse. Next time they have a problem, they’ll call you again, you’ll give them the same kind of profound support; they know you’ll quickly forgive them for being so cynical with you last time, after all, you’re too good a person not to. You fall back into the same bear trap, because the next day, they’re even colder with you. And after a few weeks, when they’ve had no problems so urgent that they should call their personal therapist (that’s you) about, that cold shoulder, it just keeps getting colder and colder.

Occasionally, you try to reconnect, and all you get is a “Not now, I’m busy!”, said in tones ranging from calm to unforgivably abrupt.

I guess I’ve been on this roller-coaster so many times I can almost manage to answer this kind of routine confusion. The truth is, as cliché as it sounds: “It’s not you, it’s them.”

You see, what you hadn’t thought about was the possibility that to them, when their lives are going perfect, you’re not so much a life-saver as you are in fact simply nothing more or less than a box of insecurities. You’re not that awesome friend who saved them from their insecurities, no, you are their insecurities.

In some cases, the reason is indignation. They think you know too much (I thought that sounded sci-fi too). They feel like they’ve opened up to a complete stranger, and it almost stings them to see you pass by and have to feel like you can see right through them. So I guess they either feel so insecure around you that they have no way out but to reject you or ignore you, or they might just be attempting to set the record straight that they’re, after all, *not an insecure mess.

Back to that, you’re a constant reminder of their problems, sorry to say this but in most cases, you’re technically comfort food: those seven pints of ice cream sure look good to them when they’re depressed, but not when they’re just going about their daily routine. The next day, when they’re feeling better, they’ll cross that ice cream corner in the supermarket thinking “Ha! I don’t have to buy this soft, cool and fattening ice cream anymore! No Thanks! I feel better!”

So congrats! Now you know how seven pints of ice cream feel! One day you’re digging into them from dawn till the late midnight hours, the other you’re dismissing them as too calorie-saturated to consume.

However, it must be stated that a truly genuine personality does not refrain from helping others for the mere cause of being unappreciated. On the contrary, I believe a stubborn willingness to help those who do not value our help is part of what distinguishes good souls from the multitude. As a matter of fact, a few lines commonly perpetuated among Catholics say:

“Oh Father grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console.”
-from the Prayer of Saint Francis

And I believe they speak to good people of all faiths.

(Photo credit: Bert Kaufmann / Foter / CC BY)

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Hope my readers have enjoyed this article!

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The Silence of Good Men: A Lesson from Napoleon

“The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.”
-Napoleon

Strange that we may read words so wise uttered from the mouth of a character so questionable.

Nevertheless, Napoleon’s reprehensible addiction to power aside, the man reveals in so little words an otherwise unorthodox case. He does not bemoan the evil of evil men so much as he reprimands, in one of those rare moments in socio-philosophical history, the silence of good men.

Napoleon thus effectively blames the entire sufferings of our world, from war to poverty, from oppression to crime, not on evil, but on good’s unwillingness to lift a finger, utter a word, nor to declare an outright rebellion against the evil of society.

What can thus be derived from Napoleon’s argument is the observation that evil is an ever-present and static anti-force, and that good, if not directed as a dynamic force, cannot be of any use in eradicating evil.

If evil were darkness, and good, light, this would mean that light must make an effort, trespass obstacles, play the offensive, and rise to the beacon, rather than turn its face to the corner of a dark room. Thus, in a nutshell, the world is dark because of the obstruction of light.

The quote we discuss today reflects, more than anything, the moral background of the intellectuals of the French Revolution, the romanticized version of which describes an oppressed land of good old farmers and penniless city folks breaking the silence they held for so many years to overthrow a monarchy that had been the source of their suffering all throughout. (and then effectively installing a series of experimental governments leading them back to _wait for it: Monarchy. I guess they never learn.) Any and all positive social reform shares the same story of a silenced group of positive men who decide that the silence must be broken.

It was however not Napoleon alone who believed in the destructive power of the actions we do not do, in fact, a similar statement was also made by Voltaire:

“Every man is guilty of the good he did not do.”
-Voltaire

It is difficult to tell when these philosophies reached public appeal, but it is likely that they were popularized during the Revolution, to encourage as many men, through moral conviction, to fight the ancien regime. This doctrine therefore culminated in holding every man responsible to defend, fight, and defend again, to ensure the restoration and preservation of the French Revolution’s three divine infamous maxims “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”

Today, Napoleon, Voltaire, and I, all come to you, and blame you.

What for? For every child that died today in Africa, for every prisoner of war, for every government policy that goes against the good of the people, for every penny taken from those who need it most, for every little girl that was raped in this day, because throughout your entire day, you knew, on a deeper level, that all of this evil was happening in the world, and you, you kept your silence.

For all that misery, you did not care much, because if you truly had, there were world hunger donation centers for those dying children that you did not donate to, an awareness campaign against war that you did not participate in, an activist group against government corruption that you did not join, a soup kitchen for the needy that you did not volunteer in, and a cautionary presentation on child rape that you did not share with neighboring families.

And in blaming you, we blame ourselves, for none of us either, has managed to solve all the problems of the world in a single day. The goal however, is to take away part of that blame each day.

Today, more than any other day, there is nothing that happens in the world that we cannot even slightly affect by simply exercising our freedom of expression, economic freedom, or social freedom.

Having reached the point of discussion where freedoms are cited, it is important to note that the amount of freedom a state allows its people is in direct relation to the people’s ability to affect the world. Thus, we turn Napoleon’s now exhausted statement on the other side.

What does Napoleon’s statement mean for the State? For one thing, a state that deprives its people of the most basic rights of expression is one that silences the voices of the good men Napoleon mentions. Therefore, it sets a limit to how much evil can be spoken against, and thus we can infer that the restriction of freedoms is in itself destructive of this proposed purpose of good men: to speak and act against injustice.

Picture this: a child is about to get run over by a car, fortunately, a woman sees him and runs across her front yard to get him out of the way, however, she is faced with her fence, and by the time she gets around it, the child has already been hit, to the misfortune of an entire family. The restriction of freedom is in fact, that fence, that barrier that stops a person from saving another.

However, to get back to our main point, let’s reassert that in a free and democratic society, men are entitled to act against injustice to the best of their abilities, and that failure to act against injustice is a moral felony in itself.

As a final thesis, the weight of the world falls on the competent shoulders of good men, and when the world falls short, we can’t blame it; we can only blame those who were sent to safeguard it.

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“Light must make an effort, trespass obstacles, play the offensive, and rise to the beacon, rather than turn its face to the corner of a dark room.”

“The world is dark because of the obstruction of light.”

“Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”

“…because throughout your entire day, you knew, on a deeper level, that all of this evil was happening in the world, and you, you kept your silence.”

“The goal however, is to take away part of that blame each day.”

“The amount of freedom a state allows its people is in direct relation to the people’s ability to affect the world.”

“The restriction of freedom is in fact, that fence, that barrier that stops a person from saving another.”

“Failure to act against injustice is a moral felony in itself.”

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Hope my dear readers have enjoyed this article!

Feel free to share, post, reblog, tweet, reply, like, comment, or even start a side-talk with me on the matter!

Always a pleasure hearing from you! Take care and À Bientôt!

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