Tag Archives: Rights vs. responsibilities

Why are our organizations failing?


The Veteran’s Administration.



Social Security.





And that’s just here in the United States. If we look around the world, the list becomes too long to enumerate.

At first glance, one would ask if the organization itself is inherently bad. I suppose arguments could be made both for and against. Perhaps laws need to be passed to help improve the situation.

Oh wait, wouldn’t that require a governmental, law-making system that worked?

And that just proves the point.

Was there a time when these entities did function appropriately? Continue reading Why are our organizations failing?

“It is time to defend not so much human rights as human obligations” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 

My constitutional rights.

We hear it often when people are demonstrating. They are angry that their rights have been abused or trampled on.

supreme-court   And they should be.

People who don’t fight for their rights tend to lose them.

But I did a little research to see just what those rights were. I found that there is a pretty extensive list of our constitutional rights.

But not all the rights that we hear people shouting “That’s my right!” were listed.  We’ve made some pretty liberal jumps in assuming what we actually do and do not have as a constitutional right.

On the same document of constitutional rights, I found it interesting that there was also a list of duties. These rights we keep shouting about don’t come alone; they are accompanied by responsibilities. Continue reading “It is time to defend not so much human rights as human obligations” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 

Can we suffer without causing suffering in others?

Close your eyes and imagine with me for a moment:  A person is in a quiet, dark hospital room. The pain is pretty overwhelming and the doctors are not confident that the misery can be ended. There is no one there to hold a hand, or softly stroke a forehead.

hospital bed

This is some pretty intense suffering.

I don’t know which suffering would be worse, the physical pain or the loneliness?

I don’t think any of us would like to be in that position.

If you are, I’m deeply sorry.

Let’s go back to the hospital in our minds: Two people are in a dark, but not really quiet room.

One, in the bed, is pretty miserable and can only find things to complain about. The pillow is too flat, the pain medication isn’t doing enough, the room is too hot, the nurse isn’t careful enough.

The other, just sits in the chair and tries to focus on the TV because time has proven that nothing he/she tries to do will be good enough. After all these years, there is no energy left to express sincere concern or compassion.

Both have, in their own ways, given up.

Which of the two situations would be harder do you think? Suffering on your own, or suffering surrounded by apathy? Continue reading Can we suffer without causing suffering in others?

Liberation through legislation?

Depending on the day, I can be known to enjoy some of the news channels. It isn’t too hard for me to get pulled into the story. Pretty soon as I putter around the house I am talking out loud, presenting my side of the argument and anticipating possible responses.

Some days, however, I have to just turn off the news and escape all the rhetoric and fighting. When I get to where I can almost anticipate before the person answers just what sound bites will come out, having had their party affiliation posted across the bottom of the screen, I know it is time to step back.

Often, they don’t even answer the question they have been asked, opting instead to just jump right into the prepared statement that defends their position and demeans the opposing side.

I guess it makes good content for the networks and the advertisers must love it. If it didn’t make money, we can be sure it wouldn’t continue to happen.

If it makes for good content and the advertisers love it, then that must mean that we are eating it up and supporting it.

I wonder why? Continue reading Liberation through legislation?

Do we want the consequences of what we want?

It seems that we’ve morphed into a society that makes quick, knee-jerk reactions to situations. Probably a direct result of the instant technology supply and demand.

The cloud and airwaves and twittersphere are loaded with immediate reactions to whatever is going on. Kind of like when we used to see those tests given to people where they are told to just say the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear a word or see a picture.

Trouble is, I’m not sure my first reaction is my true reaction. My mind works a little more methodically and it takes me a few tries to get around the whole picture. Try to interpret the ramifications of different directions. Understand what B may follow A.

But once our initial, quick, knee-jerk reaction is out there, it’s out there – forever.

And no one will ever let you forget it. Or retract it. Or change it.

Even on those rare instances when someone simply comes forward and says “Man, that was a stupid thing to say, I’m not sure where it came from, but as I’ve had time to think about it, that is not what I feel or believe at all”, we attack and attack and attack (if it is a slow news cycle) and charge forward demanding changes. Punishments. Consequences.

We have become pretty good at choosing and forcing the consequences for other’s actions.

We have also become pretty good at wanting to choose the consequences for our own actions.

With all of our time-saving devices and a standard of living unimagined for the majority of the history of the world (I recently heard that if you have a garage, you are in the upper 2% on the planet – not to mention the cars that fill those garages and overflow to the driveway), we live as if we have no time at all.

We are running faster and faster and faster.

Work just a little longer today than yesterday. Give up your weekend to get the project done. Miss your children’s recital to make the deadline.

There is just not enough time.

Not enough time to get things done.

Not enough time to get enough rest.

Not enough time to take care of ourselves.

Not enough time to think.

Not enough time to think?

Wow. Now that’s a problem.

What happens when we take time to think?

We may actually see out farther than the next 20 seconds that it took to type 140 characters and hit send.
We may actually stop and ask “Do I really think that?”

Here’s a good one: We may actually stop and see how our action may impact others.

Over the course of a lifetime, people generally reap what they sow. What they put out there for the most part comes back to them. Call it scripture, call it Karma. But people who are kind generally are surrounded by kindness. People who are nasty to be around, in the end, find themselves alone with all the other nasty people.

Do we want the consequences of what we want?

The truth is that we cannot choose our consequences. We can choose our choices, our actions, our words.
But we can’t choose the consequences that follow.

No matter how badly we may want to.

Choosing to engage in sexual intimacy on a date certainly has the possible consequence of a pregnancy.

Choosing to practice dishonesty at work runs the chance of being caught and fired, and in some cases criminal proceedings.

Choosing to spew hate-filled, angry words at nameless, faceless groups of people will change not only the recipient but also the deliverer.

Damage done is damage done.

We can’t go back and wave our magic wand and change things after the fact. No matter how badly we want to.

After the fact, the time for choosing is over. It is time for facing, accepting, and working through what we have chosen.

Because the time to choose was before we turned the lights off, not after we turned them back on.

So, maybe we slow down just a little. We get a little more rest so our thought processes are clear. We take an extra 10 minutes in the morning to just be quiet, and breathe, and think.

I know when I invite Someone else into my thought process that things are clearer. I see more potential consequences before they happen. I have time to try to find a better way.

A way that will have the consequences that I really do want.

Gratefully, the day usually goes differently than it might have gone. I am constantly amazed that I don’t get what I deserve, but that things always turn out better than they would have, had I done things my initial, knee-jerk responding way.

Thank heaven for that moment to stop and think – and see.

I really do want the consequences of the things I want.