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A Healthy Ego

First of all, let me apologize for the relative paucity of posts – this is the first one in about two months. I have had some health issues, but they are being resolved, and I anticipate a full recovery in not too long. I intend to use this time for revamping my diet and other routines so that I can avoid a decrepit last few decades of human life before I move on to the next stage, so it’s not entirely a bad thing. Sadly, it’s also another opportunity to see, first hand, how ridiculous our public health system is, but happily, I do not have to rely on my GP but see a first rate practitioner of orthomolecular medicine who costs extra but really knows his stuff.

If you follow my blog, you know how I feel about the human ego. I do not subscribe to the New Age (and other spiritual traditions) fondness for the egoless state. It’s unhealthy and impossible to achieve.

The ego is a wily beast: try to push it down and pretend you’ve gotten rid of it, and it simply finds tricky ways to reassert itself. I have actually heard people brag about how humble they are!

Of course, the opposite approach, allowing the ego to dominate your life, is just as harmful, and will probably make you – pardon me – a real asshole.

The best thing is to realize that the ego has its rightful place as a locus of consciousness, free will, and so, and to allow it do its job. Even the decision to try to be more humble is a choice and thus a function of ego, after all.

The trick, I think, is realize that there are other components to your psyche and to give them their due also. The names we give them may differ, but we need to give our “higher” nature some scope, as well as our “lower”. Do something selfless and reward yourself with a nice glass of whatever (for instance). I use that example lightheartedly, but also for the grain of truth it contains.

For me, there is one activity that guarantees a balanced, and yes, more humble psyche: being a minister of communion at my church.

It is something that I have chosen to do, so my ego must have bought into it on some level, and my “higher” self certainly feels good about it. I love that my only function, my entire reason for being there is to serve others, but it is not a denial of self so much as it is a choice to engage my self in that fashion. I love seeing the faces of people, people I might never talk to, coming up, all different types (teens, seniors, children, alcoholics, athletes, tradesmen . . .) all wanting to be in closer communion with God, and knowing that my whole reason (indeed my only reason) for being there is to help facilitate it.

Service is beautiful and liberating, and it serves as a powerful counterweight to the potential abuses of the ego. Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be the servant of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Imagine, God, having a sure sense of who He is (ego) came to earth to serve, not through a denial of His own ego, but by choosing, through that ego (or sense of self), to dedicate Himself to something that He considered to be even greater.

Surely, a role model worth trusting.

Rob Ford was, in most ways, an ordinary guy. He was “everyman” in the old Medieval morality plays.

The general populace recognized that, which is exactly why he was both loved and hated.

A lot of people are ordinary. The average IQ is 100, which means that half the population has an IQ lower than 100. Similarly, half the population makes less than $50K/year. And yes, guys, half of women have less than average sized breasts. (For modesty’s sake, I will not tell the ladies something that might be equally of concern to some of them).

In other words (and without going into stupefying detail), most of us are ordinary (or less) in most respects.

Rob Ford was fat, but lots of people are fat. Lots of people work in factories or hold other, less than stellar employment, and Rob Ford, who ran a family business, knew them as a caring employer.

Rob Ford, to use a cliche, never lost the common touch. He was at home with ordinary people because he was himself an ordinary person, in most regards, and many of them loved him for it. They were the major component of the phenomenon which the media dubbed “Ford Nation”. He catered to them with his life’s blood, and they loved him for that, too. No surprise there.

But not everybody loved him, especially the elite: people who are horrified of being ordinary (and secretly fear that they are). They reviled him and, secretly, the population he represented. They are profoundly uncomfortable with those who have been called “the great unwashed”. And they especially hated Rob Ford because he dared to become Mayor.

Accordingly, they treated him very, very badly. In another setting, it would be recognized as harassment, abuse, cruelty. It was shameless and gleeful.

It brought out his demons. He cracked – no pun intended. He fell. And they celebrated, publicly or privately.

The left, who pride themselves on their sensitivity, tormented him, both politicians and our left-leaning media.

The who spectacle was sickening.

Finally, he got himself together, but he was stricken by cancer, and eventually succumbed.

Cancer, like all diseases, thrives in a body where the immune system is weak, and the mind/body relationship that underlies our physical existence being what it is, an abused individual, both from the outside (and eventually from his own attempts at escape via substance abuse), will succumb to any of a variety of diseases, including cancer.

In a very real sense, I believe that the angry left and the self-loathing elite killed Rob Ford.

And to me, he is a martyr.

God bless you, Rob, and may your rest in peace.

All You Need Is Love

This afternoon, as I was washing the floors, everything became blindingly obvious to me – it’s funny how things become clear when we do housework. They say that Buddha achieved enlightenment sitting under a bodhi tree, but maybe that just sounds better than doing the dishes. For me, the greatest realizations seem to come when I am doing repetitive tasks: painting, gardening, housework . . .

This afternoon, I came to understand the meaning of life, its real purpose, the reason I am here. I think I always did, but, as St. Paul put it, “through a glass darkly”, as if reflected in a low quality mirror (as was the case back in those days of polished metal).

And that meaning, that purpose, that reason is simply this: love.

Love.

That’s it.

And I know that’s true because when it passes the sniff test, which, for me, is this: how will I feel about this when I am taking my last breath? Will I feel this way when I am dying?

Oh, I like and do other things besides love and being loved, and I think that I would get pretty bored without them. I love writing words and music – but maybe that’s just another kind of love. I like my house: it’s small and modest, but it’s enough for me, and I like being here. I could continue with a whole list of things I like, but I’m not sure that any of them will matter to me when I leave them behind, except maybe a few songs I’m glad I wrote.

I was never fortunate enough to be able to raise children of my own, but I was lucky enough to be allowed to help someone else with theirs in recent years, and it changed my life. I have two beautiful god-daughters, nine and three, and they mean more to me than I can say. The closest I ever came to it, once, was saying to their mother, “I may not have children, but I DO have grandchildren.”

I am especially close to Abbie, the older sister, maybe because I got to know her first, and have known her longer, and she’s coming here tonight for me to babysit. We’ll watch “Supergirl” (her favourite show), play some board games, do a little music (I’m teaching her piano), and talk.

She’s a great kid, and I love her, and I make sure that I tell her those things often because I know how important it is for a person to hear that. She hears it from her parents, but I figure hearing it from her honorary grandfather, too, can’t hurt.

I don’t ever remember hearing that from my own parents, so I’m glad that she hears it from hers, and I know that that lack in my own childhood had its effect on me, one that Abbie will never have to deal with.

I guess you learn something by seeing how important it is when it’s there and also when it’s not, or at least its expression is absent. I know that my parents loved me, but it would have been nice to hear it, too.

And I suppose part of my life’s purpose is supply that expression when I can.

It’s not an original thought. Brene Brown said it rather well: “We’re hard-wired for connection; it’s the reason we’re here.” The Beatles, “All you need is love,” is as true as the message of all the world religions.

And when everything else is gone, as one day it will be, that will be the only thing that matters.

Amazing!

It’s amazing what you can do when you have no choice.

(Yeah, that’s it.)

Thanks for the Socks!

This morning, I got a pretty clear indication that I am old; in fact, I would go so far as to say that it was an unequivocal sign that I have crossed the boundary from middle age to old – albeit just.

And what would that be?

I got a kick out of trying on some new socks that I got as a Christmas present.

Usually, when people asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I didn’t know what to ask for; in fact, I didn’t even know what I wanted to receive except that I wanted to be surprised, so I said, “Surprise me.” No-one looked particularly satisfied with my very honest answer, but there’s no accounting for taste, as they say. I mean, what did they want me to do? Lie to them?

I guess that was the last vestige of my youth – the wish to be surprised – having its last hurrah because this year, I had a whole different answer:

Socks.

I just love them; indeed, I adore them with an almost – dare I say it? – childlike delight, so maybe old age really is one’s proverbial second childhood.

Merry Christmas everyone.

(And thanks for the socks!)

Where is my Country?

All this talk about Islam lately, including Trump’s call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration got me thinking, not just about those issues, important as they are, but multiculturalism in general, along with the reason that I will never accept it.

Deep down, I want to belong somewhere, not just in the places I choose to go, like the friends I keep, my church, and so on, but in a larger sense – my country, in other words.

I used to have a country: it was called the Dominion of Canada, mostly British and French in origin against the backdrop of Western values in general, which had a profound effect on our culture. And culture, by the way, consists of more than exotic foods and colourful folk dances; it is the whole constellation of behaviours and believes of a people. We used to have a more or less unified culture, albeit with a few subcultures and countercultures, but it was solidly there, whether you chose to embrace it or push against it.

I liked that, and I miss it.

I cannot, and will not accept anything less. My country has a history, traditions, and yes, a culture, and I choose to embrace it: it is a Western nation, and that is part of what has made us great.

The alternative, multiculturalism, pretends that all cultures are equal with none predominating but all equally valued.

I reject that premise utterly.

No country can be successfully build on such an idea.

I want mine back – now.

We Are at War with Islam

Can anyone doubt it anymore? We (the West) are at War with Islam in the same way that we were at war with Germany, Japan or Russia (war of the cold variety in that case).

I’m getting sick of people saying things like, “Not all Muslims are bad,” or, “The terrorists are a minority.” Both those statements are true, of course, but not every German was bad, nor every Japanese or Russian. War is waged by the minority, but war is war, and we’re in the middle of one right now and it’s getting worse, especially because we do not adequately recognize what we’re in the middle of.

The ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) controls an area larger than the UK, and is sending adherents or sympathizers to places like . . . Paris. And Islamist terrorists have stuck far and wide, preying on innocent men, women and children, not as collateral damage (such as the US is so often accused of) but as intentional targets. Can you imagine the reaction if the US started targeting civilian targets with an aim to creating maximum terror amid it’s enemies in the Mideast? (Yes, I think that makes “us” better than “them”. Why wouldn’t it?)

And ISIL is but an extreme instance – think beheadings, burning people alive and throwing homosexuals off tall buildings – of a worldwide phenomenon in Islam, which is an extremely intolerant religion/culture. Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia (one of the West’s few allies in the Levant) treat women horribly – they aren’t even allowed to drive. Sharia law – think beheadings, the lash, and amputations – is widespread in Islamic countries. Hatred of Israel is ubiquitous – there is a store named “Hitler 2” in the Palestinian zone of Israel where face masks and knives are sold with terrorist mannequins out from. It’s wildly popular.

What about here in Canada? What about moderate Muslims? I think of the middle school in Toronto that allows Muslim prayers Friday afternoons in its auditorium. The boys sit up front, the girls behind them, and menstruating girls at the very back. Can you imagine a more disgusting way to treat a girl? A more accurate term would be “shaming a girl”, if you ask me. That’s mainstream, “moderate” Islam at work.

We in the West believe in the equality of men and women. Why aren’t the feminists raging about this?

So no, not every Muslim is “bad”, and there is no excuse for so-called “hate crimes” – can’t we just call them crimes? – but but we cannot sweep our differences under the rug and pretend they don’t exist.

To do so is dangerous on so many levels.

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