It seems there are many versions of the truth out there. How can we separate fact from fiction?

Growing up in the ancient of days like I did, you know with only one TV on in the house at a time and everyone watching the same thing (and having 5 channels to choose from!), we were used to voting on what we watched.

Of course, parent’s votes always carried much more punch than did the kid’s votes.

This resulted in enduring through documentaries and science discoveries and news programs from time to time. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would actually CHOOSE these programs. Not when The Dukes of Hazard was on the other channel.

Recently, though, we had a pretty good laugh in our home when the kids came in and asked what I was watching. Before realizing it I told them it was “this really interesting documentary about Salt Lake City in the 1940s.”

Their looks took me back immediately to my childhood and I knew exactly how they were feeling.

We all laughed as we realized that I had become old. Well, I guess they have known it for some time. Maybe the laughter was about the fact that I was now up to speed with the rest of them.

What changed?

Did they learn how to make documentaries or news programs more interesting in the last 30 years? Maybe.

But then wouldn’t my kids find them interesting too?

I think the change wasn’t in the programs so much as it was in me.

While grabbing something to eat, I will actually turn to the news channels first to see what is going on in the world. I’m interested now. I care about what decisions are being made, what changes are coming, what problems people are dealing with.

During times of breaking news I will switch to different news channels during commercials so that I don’t miss any information.

Have you ever tried that?

What is so interesting to me is often how different the coverage and spin is on the exact same news stories.

What one station will blare as breaking news the other station will not even be covering it. Or the blame lies squarely on one party, only to be shifted to the opposite party on a neighboring station.

Aren’t they reporting on the same story?

Maybe you’ve seen the commercial that has been on for years now about insurance. The person is quoting misinformation as if it is fact. When asked where she got her information, she replies “The Internet. Everyone knows that you can’t put anything that isn’t true on the Internet.”

There may have been a day when we thought that. Not so much anymore.

There are people who purposefully put much out there that is, at best misleading, and at worst direct lies.

Depending on which station or newspaper you use really depends on what “truth” you are made aware of. It seems easier to find sources that support our perceptions and validate our opinions than it is to find a source that will simply and forthrightly tell the truth.

So, what do we do?

I feel that now more than ever before in the history of the world we have the responsibility to be educated and informed. There are many who depend on the masses being too busy and too tired to pay very close attention to what is going on. That leaves them free to quietly make changes in one area while others are focused on different things.

For example, Vladamir Putin was probably quite relieved to find the intense focus on the problems in Ukraine to shift immediately over to the missing Malaysian airplane.

Just because the news reports have shifted, doesn’t necessarily mean the problems have stopped.

How do we sift through it all and get down to the truth, the real truth?

I’m sure it sounds naïve and old fashioned, but that’s okay (remember my kids helped me understand that I am now officially “old”), but I only know of One source of pure truth.

While there isn’t a Heavenly news channel that we can just flip on as we have time and partially listen to as we are doing other things, there is a source that we can tune in to and know for ourselves.

I’ve discovered that there is genuine interest and help when I study things out and quietly take some time to talk it over with Someone I completely trust, Someone who knows, Someone who sees.

I’m sure I’ll make mistakes in my understanding and interpretations and get things wrong at times.

But I will also get it right sometimes.

Then I will understand, and I will see.

Don’t we all have the responsibility to open our eyes and see what is going on? Once we understand the truth of things, then we are prepared to act.

“Evil thrives when good men do nothing.”

I think evil has been thriving long enough.

 

We can actually know for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. It takes a lot of work and consistency. When we let our guards down we can get swept up with the tide pretty quickly. But maybe it being so hard to do is part of what makes it so important.

When each of us steps up and does our small but unique part, it is enough.

Together, we all see the truth, the real truth.

There are causes to fight for, but what is the best ammunition?

Each year life seems to go a little faster, and faster, and faster. It’s a workout just to try to keep up with all that is going on around us.

 

Amid all the busyness and rush that we call life, things are also changing. Some things are changing gradually and almost imperceptibly; other changes come fast, quickly becoming permanent before we really have realized what hit us.

Of course, some of the changes are great and make life better for many. But there are also some changes that either creep in or zoom in that cause us concern about the direction things are going.

We really should do something about that, shouldn’t we?

But our day tomorrow is jam packed and even right now we are late and have to get going. We’ll come back to it later.

I wonder if we aren’t at the point that we don’t really have many “laters” to put things off to.

Each of us has things that we believe strongly in, things that we really want to either continue being a part of our lives or things that we want to become part of our lives.

Do we want them enough to fight for them?

I think if we don’t begin to fight for them, we will open our eyes one day and they will be gone.

But isn’t realizing that we need to fight only part of the problem? We need to figure out “how” to fight.

We’ve witnessed people across the country who, in the name of goodness and religion, have done some pretty hurtful things as they “fight” for what they feel is right.

Protesting funerals.

Bombing abortion clinics.

Attacking and tearing down the opposite side through interviews and publications.

When we fight this way, does anyone really win anything?

Would the better question be: What did I lose of myself through these actions?

We’ve been moved deeply by the scenes in Les Miserables of the barricade. The nobility of standing and fighting together. The righteous goals of making things better. The certainty that the other side is completely wrong.

But I think battles have changed over the years. Instead of one side being right and the other side wrong, we find that there are mistakes made on both sides and often each side has valid points to their argument.

There is truth and right. There is deceit and wrong. Unfortunately, people tend to mix the two in their actions and aims.

Maybe a place to start would be to define the fight:

Why am I willing to fight for this?

Who am I fighting?

Why are they in opposition to my view?

What would be an acceptable solution?

One thing about the barricade, it blocked our view of the other side. We couldn’t see faces or people or individuals. It was just “them”, and “they” are wrong.

But the barricades of the battles in our lifetime are mostly self-made and quickly fortified with only part of the truth. In most cases we don’t have all the necessary information. We make assumptions on the gaps and fill it in with what makes us look stronger.

So maybe in our arsenal we need truth. That places the responsibility squarely on our shoulders of what our sources of truth are. What and who are we choosing to trust?

I’ve thought about fights and wars and battles through time. The vast majority end with one victor and one clear loser. The “bad” guys have been squashed and trampled on and run out. They deserve it for being the “bad” guys.

How did the “bad” guys feel about this? Did it change their behavior? Did they somehow see the light and quickly change their mindset to now match that of their conquerors?

Very, very rarely.

Usually fighting this way only firms up the beliefs of the conquered and the fire smolders within them until another opportunity arises to attack.

And the fight goes on.

The truth is that for someone to make a change in his/her viewpoint, they are given the chance to see things for themselves and make their own decision about it. When it is their choice and decision, then true change will follow.

How does that happen?

It starts when I tear down the barricade and actually look my opponent in the face. I take the time to learn about their troubles and things that are important to them. Suddenly they are people like me, just with a different vision.

How do we treat them to help them stop and listen to our position?

I think you get the drift of where this is headed. Kind of an oxymoron that the best ammunition in a battle where you want the other side to see the truth as you see it, is kindness, respect, and even love.

The only ammunition that has lasting impact is truth delivered through love.

 

Truth delivered through love.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

Apathy vs. Anger. Why is feeling so hard?

I remember a trip to California several years ago with my family. We hadn’t been together in a while and wanted to make a memorable experience for all.

We took some time and went to Disneyland and the California theme park. Ann and I saw the roller coaster and thought it looked like fun. It was quite an experience: the anticipation of waiting while in long lines; watching people disembark the ride and seeing the looks on their faces; getting locked in our seats and feeling the car begin to move.

SWOOSH! It felt like G-force power as we were pinned against the seat back. We rocketed up and over and then back down again, side to side, high rises and dramatic drops.

We loved it! We made sure to ride it several more times that day. It was clearly my favorite ride of the whole park.

I’ve thought a lot about that as our life has taken its own roller coaster ride. Lots of ups and downs.

The understanding that there is “opposition in all things” is very precious to me. As the pendulum swings, it makes the good really, really incredible.

Of course, when the pendulum swings back the other way, it can get pretty rough.

Many of you have shared that you too have experience with mental illness, whether it is through a close family member or through intimate, personal understanding.

It’s quite a roller coaster ride, isn’t it?

The “ups” are pretty wonderful. I love feeling clear and focused and alive and able to do anything I put my mind to. Confident. Excited. Strong.

For me the problem is how to make it through the “lows”, because sometimes they get pretty low.

It’s strange how the littlest thing somehow sets off a raging bull inside my head. I am instantly angry.

No, I am instantly ANGRY!!!

Angry at everything, and yet really at nothing.

I work to just keep my mouth shut and stay away from others. I may not be able to stop the bull from charging inside, but I can stop it before it erupts from my mouth or my hands.

Being angry, though, is exhausting. It takes a lot of work to be furious. So I find that after a few days, I lapse into an apathetic truce.

Because when feeling hurts so much, it is much easier to just not feel at all.

Whoa. Did I really just say that?

Yes, I guess I did.

On what I call “survival” days, days when it is my job to make sure I am still alive when it is time for bed, I have found it easier to just get through and not really care about anything around me. I just kind of exist.

But that’s a pretty dangerous place to retreat into.

Long ago I learned that the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.

Love is feeling intensely the will to make things better for either ourselves or others around us, to improve and grow and become.

The opposite of that would be to not feel at all. To feel nothing. To do nothing. To just exist.

Yikes, been there, done that.

So, how to swing that pendulum back the other way to the positive and building emotions that do so much good? How can I choose what I really FEEL?

Every human being has certain needs, certain things that must be included in this experience we call life.

Food. Water. Exercise. Knowledge.

But perhaps most important would be the need to be needed.

Each of us must know that there are other human beings on this planet who rely on us to fulfill some part of their day, no matter how small or insignificant.

We’ve all experienced that deep discouragement and almost hopelessness, only to find that the kind word and smile of someone brought us to tears – and let us FEEL.

So, on those days when something in my head pushes the angry button, or the confused button, or the can’t-stop-crying button, or the fear button, or the self-destruct button, instead of retreating into myself and not feeling at all – perhaps it is the time to look outward and find someone else who may just need a kind smile.

Sure, my smile may look more like a leer on those days, but at least it helps me start to see what is going on around me. Others are struggling. Others are discouraged. Others are fighting their demons as well.

And you know what is really great?

When the person you smile at, smiles back.

Now we are both on our way to feeling again.

And that’s a good place to be.

Should a religious organization be a democracy?

With work already beginning at the grassroots level for the elections this November, we each have the responsibility to step up and be informed on what is happening in the primaries. We need to understand the direction and abilities of the candidates and cast informed votes.

This is where we have the most opportunity, and again responsibility, to make the changes in our government that we feel need to be made. Of course, there will always be changes that need to be made as government is made by men and women and run by men and women. Mistakes will happen, personal greed and hunger for power will get in the way, and radical segments will seek to take away the freedoms of others.

After all, it is a democracy where everyone gets to cast their vote and express their opinion. Generally, then, it is the consensus of the masses which forms the direction of the country.

I am struck with my jaw dropping at times, though, that people think it is the same process that should happen in a religious organization.

I suppose that if we see our religious organization as one made by men and women and run by men and women, then it would be logical to think that church policies and direction should also be democratic.

Of course, I can’t imagine caring that much about my religion if I felt that it was just another group of opinions and passionate feelings. If the group had conflicting policies with my personal belief system, I would simply leave. No one is forcing me to attend or be a part of it. I can certainly hunt around for a church that seemed to fit my personality better. If one couldn’t be found, then I could always start my own.

After all, I apparently believe that religion is no more than a social gathering of people who have similar thoughts.

If this were the case, then why would I spend time and energy “protesting and making demands” of existing religious organizations? One who does obviously doesn’t agree with all that this particular church professes as doctrine.

Why would I want to change it when there are so many people who do agree with it?

I guess a better question is what has suddenly made me superior, smarter, and better equipped to decide for all?

If we really think about it, it would remind us of a battle long ago where one stood and said he would decide for everyone what was best. Gratefully, Another stood and said that He would do the will of His Father.

I’ve always loved plan B.

When we take a sincere moment to think about it, isn’t that the example for each of us?

Is our religion and our faith based in man/woman-made precepts?

Or, do we deeply and fervently believe that our religion and faith is of God? That everyone has a place and a responsibility and we are acting under divine guidance and not just by general vote or consensus?

If we do, then wouldn’t it be incredibly pretentious and brazen of us to be “protesting and making demands” of something we believe is being guided and run by God?

We know of one who did exactly that. We know what happened to him.

If we are following his example and plan, and declaring that we know what is best, then I don’t think it is that far of a jump to realize just who we are following.

I don’t want to be under his power.

Do you?

The day will come when we witness the Second and Majestic Coming and the government will at last be under the direction of Heaven. Gone will be the stalemates and power mongering and arguments about what is the right thing to do. It will be better than we can even imagine.

Until then, we have the responsibility to stand up and try to promote what we feel is in the best interest of the country. We will vote and campaign and debate and compromise.

That is as it should be.

But I am so grateful that I don’t have to attack my religious beliefs with the same dogged determination to make sure it is being run correctly.

I know it is being run correctly.

I get to focus my energies then on learning and understanding and serving and loving. I get to be with people I trust and change the things about myself that block my happiness.

And I am so deeply grateful for it.

After all, no one is forcing me to stay.

I am free to choose.

Compromise: When did it become a dirty word?

I’ve been watching closely the happenings in our nation’s capital over the past few years. I’m struck with the reporting of how people on each side have decided that compromise is a dirty word. The only acceptable solution is the solution that their party has; anything less would be a catastrophe.

The extremes in each party feel that to give in and try to meet in the middle on issues is like putting manure in your mouth, chewing and swallowing.

But they seem to relish the idea of having the other side going through the experience.

The liberals seem to think that the right-wing conservatives are bible-thumping, religious fanatics that make self-righteous judgments on everything. The far right looks at the far left as nothing less than lunatic, free-loving hippies who just want money to fall from the skies to pay for anything we may need.

I would bet that if someone searched, they could find members of both groups who actually fit these descriptions, validating the other side to be right in their characterizations.

That may only just prove that it isn’t hard to find idiots in all walks of life.

But here we are in the United States of America. The home of the brave and the land of the free. Bring us your tired, your poor…

You know how it goes. Everyone is welcome. We love diversity.

But if you are on the left, just don’t bring us your right-wing conservatives.

If you are on the right, just don’t bring us your left-wing liberals.

There isn’t room here for them.

We can’t seem to wrap our heads around the fact that this country belongs just as much to one side of the aisle as it does to the other. No one is going to ever be able to have every law and every court decision support their ideologies. It is physically and literally impossible.

So is the solution to stop working with each other?

According to many news stories, that was exactly the solution put forward by an extreme. Don’t compromise. Block anything “they” bring up and put forward. We must hold out for it to be “our” way, because “our” way is the “right” way.

Sounds a little like the Israelis and the Palestinians. With the world looking on, the question is asked over and over “Why can’t they just learn to live together in peace?”

Time to look in the mirror. Are we heading for a similar fate? Are we getting so angry that we forget the virtues of love, compassion, and compromise?

Compromise is not a dirty word. When it comes to making laws and finding solutions, we live in a democracy where it is a consensus of the masses and we find the middle ground. Each extreme will NEVER get what they really want by that definition. It would seem ridiculous for laws to be enacted that are only supported by 20% of the population.

Right?

The more we can get to know each other and learn to work together, identifying what the real problem is, and for heaven’s sake leaving the need to gain power through the process out, but simply trying to find the “best” solution, the more we will move forward and get out of this stall we seem to be in.

And there are people out there, on both sides, who are doing just that. They are bravely meeting and talking and working with others at the risk and threat of the extremes to primary them out of a job or ostracize them from any future committees.

Here is the oxymoron: These are people who aren’t willing to compromise in the areas that it matters. They are not willing to compromise their character and commitment to serve the American people.

Because they are not willing to compromise on who they are, deep inside, as an individual, they have the freedom to find compromises that bring the best solutions for the public at large.

I’ve been watching. They are there.

At first, I thought I’d name some of these hard working, uncompromising people making compromises. I have found them in both parties.

But then I thought, no, I won’t name them.

Why don’t you look for them yourself and find people who fit that description?

Chances are our lists won’t match each other’s. You will find the good in people that I may miss.

Because isn’t that our job in a republic? Pay enough attention to what is going on that we know who the people are who share our ideals, our direction, our solutions?

Rather than arguing with each other about who is doing a great job and who should be fired, why don’t we look to support those we find to be uncompromising in their character, in their dedication, in their ability to step back and see the big picture that this country is, in fact, all of ours.

Let’s be uncompromising in our efforts to find ways to live together, with tolerance and respect, and understanding that when we work together, all focused in the same direction, we will more often than not, find the “right” way.