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Things I’ve Learned or Found Over the Years

1. An honest man will never expect you to take his word on anything.

2. Fame and fortune should be the result, not the goal.

3. No great civilization ever survived its own success.

4. A politician will tell you what you want to hear; a leader will tell you what you need to know.

5. Fear of death is not the same as love of life.

6. Show me a man who never makes a mistake, and I’ll show you a man who never does anything at all. (And, the bigger the goal, the bigger the mistakes made while reaching for it)

7. You can’t live life by living a lie. (If you’re not living truthfully, you’re avoiding your own life)

8. Is this patriotism or tribalism?

9. Every successful con man in the world is the nicest guy you ever met.

10. Those who are TRULY smart know they really aren’t.

11. The less a man knows, the easier it is for him to think he knows everything.

12. Leaders are at the head of the parade, showing us the way. Politicians are at the back of the parade, prodding us along with guns.

13. Rich people don’t need to borrow money to buy their big houses and fancy cars.

14. “The purpose of freedom is to create it for others.” – Bernard Malamud

15. There is nothing so absurd as a smug ignoramus.

16. “The trouble with the rat race is, even if you win, you’re still a rat.”- Lily Tomlin

17. “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” — H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

18. We hurt each other often enough accidentally. For this reason, even in response to such pain, we should never purposely hurt anyone.

19. The world is run by a bunch of self-important idiots.

20. Anything that involves people is going to be screwed up.

21. Once you truly know your self, you know every living thing in the entire world.

22. Refrain from forming an opinion until the whole story is known. And where the issue at hand is none of your business, refrain from having an opinion at all.

23. People live lives of “quiet desperation” because they live lives of perpetual compromise.

24. Your “natural reaction” is the one you indulge without thinking.

25. The first indication that something may not be as it seems is the fact that most people think that it is.

26. We depart from the divinity as soon as we start taking another’s word for how things work.

27. A life lived by someone else’s standards isn’t a life at all.

28. “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” Jim Carrey

29. Do not become attached to your possessions or your friends. Become attached with your life. That’s what the flowers do (and the pigs, too).

30. If you can’t observe humanity and laugh, you’re one of those being laughed at.

31. People who think they know something really annoy those of us who know we don’t. (And how do I know that we don’t know anything?)

32. Your obligation to serve is commensurate with the magnitude of your nature-given gifts. (The first shall become last)

33. The divinity demands only that we speak the truth as we know it. It does not insist that we attempt to make anyone listen.

34. It’s better to “flame out” than to “chicken out.” - Lucy Lawless

35. “Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.” – I don’t know who wrote this.

36. We are never so strong as when we’re confessing our weaknesses.

37. Sometimes I wonder if “becoming mature” really means “no longer having the energy to be outraged.”

38. People do not change; they unmask themselves – “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert (we think), contributed by Amy Harrington, Biloxi

39. If you were half as smart as you think you are, you’d know that you’re NOT half as smart as you think you are.

40. “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” – Oscar Wilde, contributed by Amy Harrington, Biloxi

41. “Get rich quick! Count your blessings!” – from “The Parts Place”, Wiggins, MS. – Daniel Ballman, owner

42. Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, Chardonnay in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming ” WOO HOO! What a Ride! ” (Author unknown to me)

43. If you have mouse traps set about your house, be sure to at least remove the bait before going on a two-week vacation.

 

Flowers

FLOWERS

By Wayne L. Parker

Drought-stricken flower

Once joyful and bright

Faded head hanging

Ashamed of its plight

Desperate roots stretching

Down into the dirt

Seeking salvation from

The life-giving earth

Empty, dead stare

A homeless man’s face,

Reflection of hopelessness,

Of shame, of disgrace

Nobody loves him,

Nor cares for his needs.

Withering, shriveling

His dying heart bleeds.

The rain, it arrives!

In torrents it pours!

In just a few hours

Sweet life is restored

Face glowing brightly

Eyes beaming and gay

An affectionate hand is

Extended his way

Flower’s head rises

Turns its face to the sun

Petals, leaves swell

A new life has begun

Heart swells with hope

Eyes well with tears

Despair drains away

Haze of hopelessness clears

Human Sexuality is Very Complex

In his August 13 letter in a local Baton Rouge newspaper “Ordinance not fair to everyone,” Mr. Gene Mills claimed that “…sexual attraction, sexual conduct and transgender behavior…” are not “…inborn, involuntary, immutable and morally neutral characteristics…” as are a person’s race, gender and national origin. He appears to believe that being homosexual, bisexual or transgender is a personal choice, since he believes that the behavior of such people is voluntary.

In their book “The Gender of Sexuality,” Virginia Rutter and Pepper Schwartz state “The most widely held conclusion among sex researchers from a variety of disciplines is that homosexuality (and heterosexuality) are related to numerous causes and are biological, genetic, and contextual…” and that they “…vary from individual to individual…”

They go on to state that the “causes for homosexuality in men are different in general from those for homosexuality in women.”

In “A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality,J.-N. Zhou, M.A. Hofman, L.J. Gooren and D.F. Swaab state “Our study…supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones.”

Janet Shibley Hyde and John D. Delamater, in their college textbook “Understanding Human Sexuality,” explain that biological, neurological, psychological, and sociological factors, as well as the varying degrees of interaction between each, are at least some of the factors that determine human gender and sexuality.

These researchers, as well as others, show that, as with the study of quantum physics, rather than answering questions about human sexuality, each new piece of information that is discovered actually creates more questions, revealing an increasingly complex picture.

I believe that people who take the time to actually learn about the subject of human sexuality will see that people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are every bit as naturally human as Mr. Mills.

Although, having suffered the condemnation of the likes of Mr. Mills and his organization, and suffered the unjustifiable ostracism of society, most are a bit kinder, more compassionate and more understanding toward others.

A Christian Land

A CHRISTIAN LAND

By Wayne L. Parker

A weak, homeless woman

Pushing a cart

No life in her eyes,

No hope in her heart.

Invisible, ignored,

Or scorned and shunned,

A lost, lonely soul,

In a Christian land.

The bitter, broken war vet

Peering out from his shack

Cursing his countrymen

For the knife in his back.

Praised and exalted

Yet denied and ignored

Just discarded refuse

In a Christian land.

The proud war-maker

Upon achieving his goal

The heart-rending wail

Of his enemy’s soul.

Vain pride in his eyes

Bloody sword in his hand

Decorated hero

Of a Christian land.

The lonely, frightened inmate

Meeting his fate

Strapped to the death table

Of societal hate.

Peers out through the window

At the eager crowd

Proud, vengeful citizens

Of a Christian land.

The rich corporate mogul

Eyes filled with lust

Goes for the jugular

For boom or for bust.

Feels not the humanity

Crushed by his clenched hand

The vainglorious ideal

Of a Christian land.

Jesus of Nazareth

With divine godliness

Calls all to love all

As the children he blessed.

Distorted, perverted,

Denied or disdained

The forgotten teacher

Of a Christian land.

A Buddha Kinda Thing, I Guess

 

Lumps and bumps prove we are alive;
they’re not who we are

 

For most of the past 30 years I’ve worked in power generation plants. I still have, and use, the same hard hat I was issued at the start of my first civilian job 23 years ago.

 

The hat no longer has the shiny, fresh glow it had upon its issue to me, having lost that surface to time and grime.

 

There are also many scrapes, gouges, nicks, and various-colored paint scuffs indicating that over all that time the hat has done its job.

 

If the hat could talk, I’m sure it wouldn’t utter a single complaint about the injuries it has sustained while protecting its owner’s ponkin’ haid. After all, was this not precisely the purpose for which it was created?

 

As we have come through life, have we not each sustained numerous injuries, both at the hands of others as well as our own?

 

To be sure, some of us have suffered more severe injuries than others, but it seems to me that that is simply due to fate — what happens to one could just as easily have happened to someone else.

 

Understanding this, what sense does it make for any of us to complain about our life’s injuries, or point to them as excuses for not being better than we are? Are we not being irresponsible toward those around us when we allow ourselves to be diverted from our paths by injuries that happen to everyone else as well? Do we not each have a responsibility to be the very best we can be?

 

“Whatever the world may say or do, my part is to keep myself good; just as a gold piece, or an emerald, or a purple robe insists perpetually, ‘Whatever the world may say or do, my part is to remain an emerald and keep my color true.’” — Marcus Aurelius

 

What a parent might say to a son returning from war.

What A Parent Might Say
By Wayne L. Parker


Welcome home, son. We’re glad to have you back safe and sound. Well, physically sound, at least, since it appears that you suffer greatly from some emotional issue – something about which you cannot speak and I, having never been in combat, cannot imagine.

If these heavy, seemingly unbearable feelings are caused by some thing or things you’ve done during the war, please listen to what I have to say…

Your decision to join the military was not yours alone. We all participated in it. By “we” I mean not just your family, but your friends, community and, really, the entire nation, which over the course of your life instilled in you a sense of patriotism and willingness to sacrifice for your country and our freedom. These are all good things.

Where we made our first mistake, I believe, is in our belief that, at 18 years of age, you were a man. I do not mean to belittle you. But think about it – in order for a person to be president of this country, he must first have attained the age of 35 years. This is because it is believed that until someone has lived and learned for at least that long, they cannot have a firm enough understanding of themselves, the world around them, and how to conduct themselves in it to be trusted with such great responsibility.

35 years old. And you were 18 when you joined the Army. While you were by no means a child, you still had a long way to go to become a complete man.

Had we not opted for your enlistment in the service, you would have grown up in a peaceful environment, among friends with whom you would have explored and learned about life in a way in which it was safe to experiment and make mistakes, learning and growing all the while.

You would have had as role models your parents, friends’ parents, teachers, sports coaches, employers, local businesspeople, and others who, as you would have been doing, grew up in safe, healthy, nurturing environments, and so became good people.

You would have grown to be a good man.

But instead, we decided that the best thing would be for you to join the military. Unfortunately, there, the only environment and role models you had were all geared toward one goal – not to make you a man, but to make you a soldier.

These people, and I mean them no dishonor or disrespect, did not have your best interests at heart when they offered themselves to you as leaders and mentors. Their loyalty was to the military and government, and they had thousands of years’ worth of knowledge about wars and human nature to bring to bear in training you to be what they needed you to be – a person who would trust and respect his chain of command, love and protect his fellow soldiers and, most importantly, unquestioningly obey orders.

You did well. You became one of the best soldiers ever. And then you and your unit were sent to war.

I suspect that this is where things went really wrong. Perhaps you found yourself faced, not with an opposing army, but with everyday people trying to go about their business. And then, with one thing leading to another, killing started, and you quickly found yourself being shot at or bombed by people and so naturally you shot and bombed back.

I suspect that when you first engaged in these actions, you briefly questioned the morality of what you were doing. But when bullets and bombs are flying at you and all around you, philosophical intellectualizing is probably not a very high priority.
Perhaps at some point in your deployment you wanted to voice your concerns to your command, but you noticed that when other members of your unit tried to do that they were met with scorn and derision from your superiors and, not wanting to be looked upon as a “sissy” and suffer ridicule and ostracism, things that can be dangerous not just to your safety but to that of the unit, you decided to keep your feelings to yourself and endure the moral dilemma for the duration.

You decided to “tough it out,” as a “good soldier” would. Being isolated in that environment, surrounded by your buddies and commanders who were likewise “toughing it out” made the situation just about bearable.

But now you’re home, and that supportive environment, however perverse and negative it may have been, is gone, and you’re faced with your feelings and the people who love you but can’t appreciate what you’re feeling.

Son, if any of what I’ve been saying rings true, please understand that, just as the entire nation was involved in your decision to go to war, we are all equally responsible for whatever you did while you were there. We can’t deny that you were the individual who committed the acts, but at the same time we must acknowledge that we, with our ignorance and well-meaning but misguided intentions, created the situation in which you found yourself doing the things you did.

You may be thinking to yourself that there were times when you actually enjoyed doing what you now look upon with horror and regret. I suspect this is entirely possible and understandable. Although only you can truly know what combat situations are like, I suspect that what happens there might be characterized as unimaginably random, bizarre, violent insanity. I doubt there are words that can adequately describe it, but I think it is sufficient to understand that a person’s mind is likely to engage in all kinds of distortions and intellectual acrobatics in its attempts to find context, meaning, and thus an appropriate reaction to such things. The human mind being as complex as it is, any ideas and actions are possible, and every one of them, considering the circumstances, is, to me, understandable and thus forgivable.

I suppose that is the point I’ve been driving at with this monologue. I want you to understand that what happened to you and the actions you committed while in the craziness of war were perfectly understandable and thus forgivable to any fair minded, compassionate person. And I will repeat that we all had a hand in putting you into those situations.

I wish to assure you that I myself forgive you, for whatever you may have done, and I hope that you will forgive me for the part I’ve played in this tragedy.
But above all, you MUST forgive your SELF, for WHATEVER wrong you think you committed.

Forgiving yourself is the first step toward growing past what has happened. I’m sure you’ve resolved yourself to never again do the things for which you feel so badly now, so take comfort in the fact that you are now a different, more enlightened person. Of course, no longer being in a combat situation enables you to exercise much more control over your actions as well.

Although what has been done cannot be undone, the lessons learned by those who have survived the experience and can get through their emotions can now be put to use for positive ends, such as educating both parents and children that war is NOT about “glory, patriotism, and honor” but can be more accurately described as “gore, insanity, and horror” and so should not be entered into lightly, without first understanding the ramifications for both the soldiers who fight wars and the people in whose country the wars are fought.

Try to view life in the broader sense – every one of us is capable of committing both good and bad acts. What distinguishes the degree to which each of us commits one or the other is determined by our personal chemistry, upbringing, personal experiences, the circumstances in which we find ourselves at any given moment, and an infinite number of other factors that can’t even be perceived.

I think it’s safe to say that a person of even the best upbringing, healthiest body, and strongest moral character would have had a difficult time surviving what you’ve been through without doing some bad things or experiencing permanent changes to his humanity. Most of us were just lucky enough to have avoided what happened to you.

Getting through your issues is important both to you and to the rest of the world. Your experiences and the lessons you learned from them can broaden everyone’s understanding of what war really is, and help prevent such future tragedies.

But first, you must heal. As you do so, understand that I am there for you all the way, just as, for good or bad, I’ve been with you from the very beginning.

I love you.

asks:
WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO VISIT ON YOUR PLANET?

The inner depths of my own mind.