Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Weight of Society

I am always trying to be aware of the beliefs that our society and culture teach us.  Most often we don't notice them until our resulting beliefs and actions rub up against a different one.  Then we see that something is different and wonder why.  If we follow it up and talk to the person we may learn to see ourselves a little different and sometimes we learn to believe something different if we recognize we were clinging to some false beliefs. 

It seems that is the case with body weight and what is an ideal body size and/or type. 

I've had a male co-worker recently talking to me about his desire to lose weight.  He is a tall fellow and remembers some of his younger days when he was athletic and won awards and championships with his sports participation.  He wants to get his body back to where he was so he can have more physical successes instead of memories.  I told him the memories were good enough for me! 

I read a blog that points out that our societal beliefs are incorrect in many instances regarding body size (click here to go to the article).  Of course who knows who to believe nowadays?  It seems you can find some authoritive opinion saying anything from both or every side of an issue and the truth gets murkier and murkier. 

What I see, is that when we develop these cultural beliefs that we often marginalize groups of our society.  In this case we marginalize big folks.  We teach them that they can't do what they want or reach their potential or their value is diminished.  People in positions to do so may withhold job opportunities, or friendship, or support for folks who are not within the normal weight range.  Even more tragic is those withhold love and kindness because someone doesn't fit our idea of a good body weight.  To give a quick example with body weight--how is it that we have such a large range of acceptable weights for men and such a small range for women.  Women outside of the range get demeaned and diminished.  Men outside of the range are often ignored. 

I have another friend who told me recently that his wife was hoping he would gain weight.  He said it was one of the few things they disagreed on.  He liked his weight and felt good. 

Our society wants our men big and imposing and our women petite and trivial.  Those that don't fit the societal mold run up against road blocks to try and force them into the mold or make them sorry they don't.  Of course many folks who don't fit the mold are strengthened mentally and over achieve because of the opposition while others wilt and retreat, seemingly from the pressure. 

I like what the gospel teaches--just love them.  Judging or inforcing some societal standard is not the way.  Worry about ourselves.  If we want to be a certain way and can attain it then do it, but don't try to make others like you through intimidation and coercion.  If you want to encourage others to find the way you like, prefer or think is healthy then only use persuasion with love unfeigned, the only acceptable method that respects their ability to choose and our ability to accept and care about them regardless. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Loving with eyes wide open

An early American proverb says "Before marriage keep your eyes wide open and after marriage keep your eyes half shut." 

Keep Your Eyes Open

The eyes wide open part I totally understand.  Certainly you want to be aware and notice everything you can before taking the important step of committing to this person forever.  So look and listen and ask questions and make judgments and determine priorities.  This is an important time to get all the info you can.  See them in many situations: with their family (especially how they treat their parents) and with children ( to see how they handle children and if they are comfortable).  Don't protect them during those times when situations come up and things begin to unravel.  Notice how they handle it.  Are they quick to blame, forgive easily or do they enjoy the situation and just go with it? 

Its the eye half-shut thing that I don't understand.  You know it is hard to keep your eyes half shut.  And I'm not convinced you should.  Oh, I see the wisdom in being half judgmental or to keep looking for their potential, but I think you should keep your eyes wide open still gathering information and seeing what you can learn to better understand this person you have now married.  After all you are putting a lot of hope for the future into them and all the information you can get will be helpful in understanding where they are and how to get there with them. 

It seems if you leave your eyes half-open for very long with a mental prohibition to open them wide then you will likely end up with them closed!  Now how can you create a great marriage with your eyes closed?  Unless of course you are blind and your other senses are enhanced? 

I've been impressed with my daughter who is engaged.  By all appearances she is fully in love with her fiance.  But she seems to be keeping her eyes wide-open.  She has asked tough questions and had honest talks with him.  She has paid attention to how he is handling things and his relationship with his parents--especially his Mom.  It is true that she has eased up on him a little since he has passed the initial tests and so all is moving well toward a well yoked marriage. 

Now as to what she will do with her eyes after marriage I can't say.  But I'll have fun watching with my eyes wide-open! 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Guest Blog: Every Voice Needed

This past Sunday, I watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's weekly broadcast, "Music and the Spoken Word."  I've always had a powerful connection to music. I sing it, play it, hum it, listen to it, and occasionally even write it.  Music inspires me, comforts me, and evokes strong memories for me.  But my ears were not the conduit for the message I was to receive this day.

The television cameras focused frequently on those singers in the middle of the 350-member choir, especially at the seam where women and men stood shoulder to shoulder, the animated figure of their conductor superimposed over the junction of blue gowns and black suits.  But on one sweep of the cameras, I noticed several choir members on the outermost edge of the upper row.  As I considered their relative distance from the limelight--so to speak--it struck me that these choir members on the selvage of the chorale are just as vital to the group as those placed front and center.  Their contributions are no less important, meaningful, or substantial, just because they are not always as visible. 

This experience brought to my mind a poem by Carol Lynn Pearson titled "The Cast".  I typed a copy of it onto a 3 x 5 index card close to 40 years ago, using my mother's old manual typewriter.  (Most of the people who may read this have probably never even used an electric typewriter, much less its predecessor!)  I still carry that card with me in my scriptures.  Here's the poem:

"I lost the starring part in Our Town to Linda, a girl not half as good as me, who kept her eyes down for the whole tryout, and even stuttered.

"When the cast was posted and the high school drama coach saw me reading it through my tears, he put an arm around me and said, 'Now look--things are not always as they appear.  This is not Broadway.  It's an educational institution.  We're here for two reasons: to put on a show and, more important, to help people grow.  Someday you'll see.'

"So Linda played Emily, and she didn't even stutter.  And I was third woman at the wedding, watching and wondering how he knew what she could really do if she had the chance.

"Since then I have guessed that God, being a whole lot smarter than my high school drama coach, might be offstage sometimes with an arm around a questioning cast: 'Now don't try to outguess me.  Sometimes the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  And I've got my own reasons.  I need some strong ones to star and some strong ones to stand back.  And I'm going to put out front some you might not choose.  But you'll see what they can really do when they have the chance.  Mortality is an educational institution.  We've got to put on the show and too, we've got to help people grow.'

"As I walk through the scenes, watch the costumes move, and listen to the lines of the powerful, the weak, the rich, the poor; I look at the leads with less awe than most, and at the spear-carriers with more.'"

So the next time you're doubting your contribution, your role, your impact or your value, I hope you'll think of those singers in the last seats of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Your voice too is needed; keep on singing! 

Susan Boyle

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kissing the scriptures

I have a co-worker who is Islamic.  We have enjoyed talking together about religion among other things.  He is from the far East and here in our country he is a leader in his religion.  He had met other LDS folks before and was somewhat aware of some of our beliefs.  In talking with him we realized that there are a lot of beliefs and practices that we have in common. 

In the beliefs area we believe in God and have several prophets that are the same.  Basically the old testiment prophets Moses, Abraham and others, along with Christ are major prophets in his religion. 

In the practices area he highly values his family and they are taught that family comes first.  They also highly value education and believe it is incumbant on them to get as much education as possilble.  In addition they believe it is important for the growth and happiness of the family to marry in their own religion.  We have discussed these things together and enjoyed finding common ground in our lives. 

One day he ask me if we had scripture that was unique to us.  I informed him that we believe and study the Bible, as well as the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants.  He asked if it would be appropriate for him to get a copy and read it or was it only for members.  I informed him that it was great for others to read it and said I would get him a copy.  As I thought about it I decided to give him the scritpures I used as a young youth before my mission.  They were a leather bound quad.  I wanted to be sure to give him a Pearl of Great Price in addition to the others because of the parts about Moses and Abraham.  So I gave him my old scriptures.

It was a unique experience for me to give him that book.  He very seriously received them with both hands and then brought them to his lips and kissed them and thanked me for them.  He assured me that he would read them. 

I was touched by the way he received the scriptures and thought how we in our religion often treat them poorly or take them for granted.  We tend to give scriptures to our children in hopes that they will read and study them early in life and as a result they sometimes get tossed around, pushed under the couch or bed, the trunk of the car and sometimes forgotten.  It did not appear that he would treat them that way. 

He has since informed me that he is reading the parts I pointed out about Moses and Abraham and has even quoted from them in his religious instruction to his congregants.  It is a pleasure to see how he has accepted the scriptures and I wonder if we shouldn't treat scriptures with more care and appreciation as the word of God. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Three Weeks of Disaster

It has been over three weeks since the earthquake that started this disastrous period in Japan.  And it appears that it won't be over for some time.  It is likely that eventually it will grow weak in our memories except for those that are living it and worried about their loved ones. Isn't that the American way to move on to the next big news bite?

Starting with an earthquake on March 11 followed by a tsunami and then an extended nuclear reactor catastrophe life hasn't been so precarious and precious for the Japanese since WWII.  This time our country is not inflicting war damage but is providing help and succor for our friends.

My thoughts have turned to two Japanese students that we had in our home a few years ago for Christmas.  My nephew and his family are in Japan as well and their family dreams of a home and job teeter on the edge with all the destruction and concern with the damaged nuclear reactors.

It seems that all we work for can so quickly be lost, devalued or put into its proper perspective very quickly.  It seems nothing clarifies our priorities like a disaster.

The Japanese have been such a great example of calm and patience with their lot.  They have been kind to each other and working together for good.  As Americans we have that capability as well but we also have the violent and harmful selfishness that leads to chaos and anarchy when we have a disaster.  Peacekeepers even become warmongers and gangs become even more violent as looting and selfish destruction accompanies what nature throws our way as we learned with Katrina in New Orleans.   Our human potential for good is so high and can be countered with our capacity for ill. 

I remember back to 1982 when I was returning home from my mission in Thailand.  Me and my fellow missionary returnees were on our way home to the U.S.A.  After nearly two years in Thailand living in their culture and being missionaries it was almost incomprehensible to return to our homeland of wealth and privilege.  After being asked the question, "Is America a real place?" at least a hundred times while serving as a missionary it seemed somehow unfair to come home to so much.  We connected with our flight in Japan for my only experience in that country.  With the current troubles there it has made the short stop somehow become more memorable.  As if giving me a connection to the country and its people. 

Residents walk through urban area devastated by tsunami in Natori, Miyagi, northern Japan Saturday, March 12, 2011, after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday.

Let not our hearts forget them even though we feel safe and protected here in our homeland.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Music #1: Deep Peace by Libera

The Song:  Deep Peace expresses probably everyone's desire for peace.  The song to me indicates that peace can be found in anything but ultimately the peace comes from Christ.  

The Group:  Libera is a boy band in that all the singers are boys.  The music is in the classical and some might say church style.  It is heavenly and described as if a group of angels were singing.  Over the years boys have had to graduate out of the singing as their voices have changed.

This song is indicative of their music:

Gaelic Blessing (Deep Peace) Lyrics

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you
Deep peace of Christ to you

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Manly Man Training #7: Parenting: Everything depends on it

Many of us are parents, plan on being a parent or hope to be a parent.  Many men make the assumption that they will be a father some day and then don't put much more thought into it than that.  We don't take the time to realize what a great opportunity or responsibility it is to have a child and to raise them in righteousness.  Those who have children currently will be thinking about now that the man who is yet to be a father doesn't realize how hard it is.  Then those fathers that are closer to my age might think that those men and fathers who are younger don't realize how 'worth it' it is.  Maybe those older than me would note how fleeting or fast those years go with the children in the home.  All of those ideas may be true.  But at every stage, the responsibility is still high to be an active and influential father.  Being a father is critical and requires our best efforts at every stage. 

When I say our best efforts I refer to the best we can do at the time.  If the best we can do is to make a mistake then we will also have to do some taking responsibility and correcting.  Correcting of ourselves for sure but correcting the misperceptions our children garnered from our error.  [As an example one common misperception is that it is okay for fathers to be angry.]

President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”
He continued: “I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting." (Each a Better Person,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 100.)

"How", you might ask, "does everything in life count on it"?  Let me tell you how. Your eternity and quite possibly the eternity of your children may count on it not to mention your wife.  Your enjoyment and appreciation of life will depend on it.  You may try to hide it by any number of ways, but when you have a moment to youself, your diligence in your family will be how you determine your own value.  Your children's enjoyment and love of life including the people they choose to be around and even be attracted to will be greatly influenced by you.  And maybe most telling, their thoughts about Heavenly Father and their perceptions of their relationship with Him will be colored by their relationship with you. 

That's how.  So do your best and when you are at a loss follow your wife's lead.  Which of course infers you need to make a great choice not just of wife but a wife who is well prepared to be a great mother.  You did you say?  Well you have a great start.  But even so, remember, your part is critical!  Don't let other things of less or no value interfere with this critical responsibility. 

You can do it!
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