“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
— Lin Yutang
I’m planning to participate, on February 20, in the posting of an essay that day on the subject of compassion. I’m still working my way through that, and haven’t settled yet on exactly what I’ll write, but I’ve begun to give it a great deal of thought. Which I need to do, since even by my off the cuff approach, time is already running short.
To help me stay motivated, I’ve been going through my assorted quote collections, and decided that sharing some would not only motivate me, but might also encourage others to join in.
In that vein, I’ve decided to shake things up beginning this week, and running through the month of February, by using my random posting Thursday to focus on quotes about, or related (in some way) to, compassion. Sometimes on their own – as with today’s – or sometimes with commentary.
For more information on the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, please check out Rowena’s post Blogger’s Unite for a Better World: 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion at beyondtheflow.
“The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself. The more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The way of Heaven does one good, but never does one harm. The way of the sage is to act, but not compete”
— Lao Tzu
In honor of the blizzard that has overtaken the Northeastern US, truer words were never spoken:
“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
— Carl Reiner
I know that some of you love snow – but I don’t, and yet I’ve lived my life in the Northeast, an area not generally known for warm winters (yet). There is something spectacular about a blizzard, though, in the same way that I find hurricanes fascinating. But I’d prefer to be fascinated by weather phenomenon from a distance.
The photo above is looking out through the sliding glass doors this past Saturday morning, after that snowfall had mostly stopped.
I’m scheduling this to post just in case I have any storm-related issues. Right now (late Monday afternoon), it’s just snowing normally (part of a different weather system), so no big deal. The fun should start tonight.
Hopefully by Wednesday life will be completely back to normal.
To start out on a somewhat solemn note, this past Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s peculiar decision in the Citizen’s United v Federal Election Commission case. Apparently, corporations are people, and are, therefore, protected from things that might infringe on their free speech. You might already have figured out that this is something I feel very strongly about. Oddly, it is possibly the only thing that the American Civil Liberties Union and I disagree on (although I do understand and appreciate their view).
For those of you outside of the US, and those within that don’t already know this, in the Citizens United v FEC case, the Supreme Court ruled that the political expenditures by corporations and unions are protected as free speech under the First Amendment. The problem I have with the decision is that I do not believe corporations, or unions, are entitled to free speech protections because I see them as artificial constructs that are not entitled to the protection of First Amendment (or any other Amendment). John Paul Steven’s dissent, states this much better than I ever could, so I’ve included this excerpt from the beginning of the dissenting opinion (full text at this link):
“The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court’s disposition of this case.
In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.”
What I would really like to see in a new constitutional amendment is not one that would specifically limit the First Amendment to block corporations – I would much rather see an amendment that clarifies the definition of a person to exclude corporations, unions, and other special interests groups – so that a person is a clearly defined naturally born individual (sorry my non-pro-choice friends, yes, birth should be specified – or should pregnant women have extra votes, too?). Legal entities should be clearly defined as not persons. That would also help some of the gibberish in many of our more modern laws that seem to find it necessary to specify natural and non-natural persons. Um, if you are a non-natural person, you aren’t a person. It really should be that simple. This would also help to limit PACs, which thrive on individual, rather than corporate, donations, and which have weak disclosure requirements. Along with this, Congress needs enact legislation that changes the entire political spending landscape, so that elections are funded from a common election funding pool – and spending parity needs to be ensured, and limited in amount. This is also largely the view of the ACLU. So then – better public financing of elections, and better disclosure of campaign contributors. Should be simple and logical, right?
The problem is that electioneering in the United States has becomes so outrageously expensive, that no one can get elected if they a) don’t have money and connections at the start, and b) don’t have donation sources for campaign spending. It’s especially nice when those ads get paid for by various PACs, and other legal entities separate from your own campaign, so that you are not personally accountable for the spending, or for the donations used to cover the costs. The system we have now is already badly broken. Congress may eventually choose to pursue a path toward some constitutional amendment regarding the Citizen’s United decision, but they are unlikely to ever close the door on their own campaign contributions. And any move made to restrict just the First Amendment, instead of addressing the larger question of personhood, and without addressing full-blown campaign finance reform is possibly more dangerous than maintaining the status quo.
For a fairly easy to read summary of how the decision has impacted politics in the US, this Washington Post blog post by Chris Cilliza is a good start.
To continue with legal oddities, on January 15, a federal jury awarded a retired miner $150,000 for religious discrimination by his previous employer. The suit was brought by the US Equal Opportunities Employment Commission on behalf of the plaintiff, who was forced to retire earlier than planned because he refused to use the biometric hand scanner that his employer introduced to track employee attendance, and they did not provide an alternative. The plaintiff is an Evangelical Christian, who believe that the scanners will imprint him with the “Mark of the Beast”. The EEOC’s contention was that the plaintiff’s refusal was rooted in sincerely held religious beliefs, and that there were easy to implement reasonable accommodations that the employer could have made.
Ok, I’m not a fan of biometric attendance tracking – way too big brother-like for me. And I do support the notion of reasonable accommodation for all protected employment classes, including religion. The problem I am having in digesting this is that I find it disturbing when ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ trump scientific fact in court. Even my very religious friends are stumped by this one, mostly since hand scanners don’t appear to be widely viewed as instruments of Satan. So where does the line get drawn under the EEO Act? Is it because the scanners were not integral to his ability to perform his job, but merely a means to monitor employees? In which case, they would have little excuse not to accommodate his request as long as he was able to perform his duties? Would the line have been drawn elsewhere if the scanners were instead some sort of new tool that were necessary to perform his job? I don’t know for sure, but I assume that’s the case.
It does disturb me, in the same way that the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision concerned me, because it seems that we are taking a step backwards if religious beliefs (which can apparently be held by corporations) which run counter to scientific or medical fact, are deemed to be LEGALLY sacrosanct. We are in an age of Willful Ignorance. If I believe it, it must be true, and the courts will have to agree with me. Even if I’m a corporation.
I decided to work like crazy to do my award posts yesterday, so that I would have time for a ‘real’ rambling post today – pretty much the first one since mid-December.
The awards are great, and motivating, but they do take a great deal of energy. And I really need to start following new blogs – I love the ones I follow, but I suspect they may be tired of getting multiple awards from me back-to-back. 🙂
And so – on to life, the universe, and everything…
Somehow, yesterday, we succeeded in submitting my husband’s Social Security application (apparently there is more to life than my blog and my job) – so another step has been taken in our slow transition to retirement.
“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
— Lao Tzu
Those very wise words, which are always appropriate as we journey through life, seem to resonate a bit more for me as we continue to work out the long-range logistics of actually retiring.
The broad stroke plan involves cleaning out years of accumulated stuff, getting the house ready to sell, and then selling the house. There’s some stuff going on in the middle, and what happens after we sell the house depends on a few other things. Eventually we’ll move. Most likely out-of-state. Probably to the southwest. Maybe I’ll fully retire then, maybe not – it depends on timing. And where we move to partially depends on whether or not I expect to be working when we get there. My crystal ball hasn’t worked properly in years, so, although we know where we want to ultimately live, the exact details around when are murky.
First we need to focus on getting ourselves adjusted to the idea that one of us will soon be ‘retired’ – and all that entails – and, simultaneously, we need to keep going with our mission to downsize. Once the clutter and stored stuff is gone, it will be much easier to see what work we have/want to do in order to get the house ready to sell.
But first the STUFF – the DVDs are easy – the kids are selling them, and whatever doesn’t sell, will be donated. Books? We donated a large number already, but we have an astonishing number, and they have to be parsed out slowly. Some fiction was easy to let go, some will not go until the final pass. Textbooks? It’s been a very long time & I really should just recycle those – but… A very large collection of books on religion and philosophy? Those will almost certainly be with us until the final purge – if they don’t find a way to come with us. Cookbooks? Can’t part with those yet, either, but in truth what isn’t in my head can be looked up online. Easily 2 or 3 thousand books, most with some sort of meaning – not so easily purged. If not for technology, I would have considered opening a book exchange when I retired (and yes, I have both Nook & Kindle, so I also support the technology – in addition to my local bookstores). Old junk (& that may be kind) that belonged to my mother – she passed away over eleven years ago, but the basement is musty and aggravates my allergies. There is actually a box on the top shelf of our bedroom closet that moved with us from our old house 22 years ago – never opened, never unpacked. Terrifying. Should probably just toss it unopened – but kind of curious, too.
Doing all of this should take a couple of years. And will hopefully provide more topics to blog about.
Wow – this has been an amazing week (it may just start going to my head now…).
First, a mere week after my first two award nominations, Perse at Far Beyond The Stars nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, which I finally accepted in my previous post. Then, a couple of days later, A Momma’s View kindly nominated my for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. I’m not sure what the origins of the award are, but it just sounds so impressive. So thank you very much for the nomination, and as always, thank you for your own awesome blog(s).
This post, as you can see from the image & title, is my acceptance of the Sisterhood award…
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site. Above
2. Put the Award logo on your blog. Above
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you. Below
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer. Below
5. Nominate seven blogs. Below
My questions to answer:
1. If you could travel to the future, only to one specific time, when or what would it be and why?
I would like to travel maybe 100 years into the future to see how my direct descendants live their lives – so much has changed in the last 100 years, when my grandparents were teenagers/young adults – so many scientific advances, technology, medicine – that I’m more than a little curious how it will look in another 100 when my own great-grandchildren are the same age.
2. Who do you consider the most influential person in the world?
Impossible to answer – different people are influential in different spheres for differing reasons. Personally, I admire Stephen Hawking more than most people, but certainly his sphere of influence is limited. The Pope has a great deal of influence, even among non-Catholics, but I also sometimes fear that celebrities have become more influential than thinkers or diplomats in our current culture.
3. Do you speak more languages than your mother tongue? If yes, how many and which one(s)?
I took 4 years of Spanish, and 3 of Latin in High School, but I would be lying if I said I spoke a language other than English (although I can read a bit)
4. What would top your bucket list right now?
There are so many places that I want to go & things that I’d still like to try. Right now, taking a supercar (not entirely picky) for a lap on a race track while I’m still fit enough is probably at the top of my list.
5. If you could be an animal for a day, which one would it be and why?
a snow owl – they’re beautiful birds, very capable of taking care of themselves, can fly, and have excellent eyesight. And owls are my totems.
6. Who is your favorite Character in a book, TV Show or Movie and why?
George Smiley. I love John LeCarre, and in George Smiley he painted a picture of a brilliant, flawed, hero – who really wasn’t all that nice a guy. The character stayed with me through the decades in a way that few other characters have.
7. What advice would you have loved to have been given when you were young?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s something I continually try to reinforce in my own children.
8. Are you happy?
9. What is the question people as on a regular base which annoys you the most and why does it annoy you so much?
I couldn’t think of one. Generally, though, ‘favorite’ or ‘least favorite’ questions always seems to stump me (& I hate being stumped) – but in all cases, the answer is usually ‘it depends’.
10. Which quote you feel could have been written for you or your life?
There are many, but this one is probably most appropriate:
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
— William Arthur Ward
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a pragmatist – and a firm believer in adaptation. Probably explains why Tai Chi was the only martial art/moving meditation that I bothered to learn.
10 Questions for my nominees to answer:
- Who is your favorite fictional character, and why?
- Why did you decide to begin blogging?
- If you could go back anywhere on your own timeline to give yourself some advice – would you?
- If you could go out for a cup of coffee with any one person – living or dead – who would you choose & why?
- Is there any one particular place that you would like to travel to if time and money were unlimited?
- Do you prefer mountains or oceans?
- Is there any activity that you’ve never tried that you would like to be able to do?
- What person or event influence you the most?
- Would yourself from 20 years ago recognize you now?
- Do you enjoy crossword puzzles?
Some of you were nominated by me earlier today for the Versatile Blogger Award (partly because my ‘following’ list is still relatively short & that award wanted 15 nominees). You are, of course, under no obligation to accept or acknowledge the nomination(s). I also know that many of you have been nominated for multiple awards recently, and that a few of you don’t accept awards. I hope that by sharing these awards new readers find you.