Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Boring and Exciting--Building Character

As the wise King Solomon once said, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."  (Prov. 27:17 KJV)  The proverb has once again proven true in my own life since my last post, "Boring and Exciting--Synonyms?"  Another friend came to me and added a unique perspective to broaden the entire discussion.

Not only can the supposedly boring tasks of life sometimes serve as doors to the most awesome opportunities imaginable, but the mundane struggles of life also can provide the greatest possibility for personal growth.  One may illustrate the connection between the boring and the exciting by looking at the novelist's art of characterization.  To quote my friend (also unnamed): "How do you make an interesting character? Sometimes, by avoiding the things that seem obvious or 'cool.' How do you make a character seem strong? Sometimes, by giving him weaknesses. How do you make a relationship grow? Sometimes, by giving it challenges."  Weaknesses and everyday challenges often make life seem dull and unexciting; but if we approach these trials with the proper perspective, they can become the catalysts to change us--to move us from boredom to excitement.

You know those weaknesses that bog you down and make you wonder if your life will ever count toward any great purpose?  They are merely stepping stones to achieving your ultimate goal.  Each time you choose to meet a small challenge or to overcome a single bad habit, your character will grow.  You will be a stronger person for having faced difficulty and having moved beyond it.  That is where excitement comes into the picture!  As you grow your faith in God and make a daily commitment to be the person He would have you to be, you will see more clearly the purpose that He has ordained for you.  Along the way, you will face the challenges that help you to form strong relationships with the individuals God would have you to know--friendships that will lead you closer to Him and to Heaven.  Remember--"[A]ll things" (even the boring ones) "work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28)

Accept the challenge and choose to build the godly character that God has purposed for you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prayer for Serenity through the Change

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Purpose of History

"We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past error, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience."--George Washington

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On Genius

The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind.--Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 50.

. . . though that advantage may sometimes be found in learning from their mistakes (as was the case with Frankenstein).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Moral Decline in History

"History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline."--General Douglas McArthur

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Boring and Exciting--Synonyms?

While talking to a friend recently (who will remain unnamed), I was just thinking about what makes people exciting.  It's not being able to change the world.  It's not being President of the United States or running some high-powered attorney firm.  It's doing the small things right that lead to the big things.  The things that really change a nation aren't always the things that stand out.  They're little things--like being dedicated to God, and to family, and to hard work.

The little things that are a part of good character and good relationships are also the building blocks of a strong church, a strong nation, and a better world.  Sometimes things that look boring on the surface are actually the most exciting in the long room.  It is possible to being both boring and exciting, so I am working to compile a list of some personal characteristics that are more advantageous than we might first think.  Please add your own ideas.

#1: Being willing to work hard until finishing a job rather than being sidetracked by the next shiny plan that comes along is valuable because it makes success achievable.

#2: Taking the responsibility of learning and growing for oneself rather than just expecting maturity to fall in one's lap is important because it speeds progress toward any charted goal.

#3: Learning how to really sacrifice for others that are close by rather than giving only when it is convenient and fun or only when it makes us look better to those outside our little circle enables us to make a difference locally as well as in countries around the world.

#4: Listening attentively is a skill much prized because it creates an environment suitable for growth.

#5: Being willing to sincerely apologize and quickly change when wrong removes many obstacles from the path to progress.

Don't worry if you feel boring or too normal because you do not have the noticeable talent of some others in your acquaintance.  Take responsibility.  Work hard.  Make small changes.  Some of the things that are not so glitzy at first--the things that take a lot of hard work rather than a little bit of talent--are the really important things that make the future look bright.  Maybe boring and exciting are synonyms after all.

See.  Boring things can be exciting!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Learning from History

"Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?"--Voltaire

Let each of us resolve to be "[one] so wise."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cultivating More than Gardens

“[L]et us cultivate our garden.” (Candide, 87)

Quietism is exhibited perfectly by the final decision of Candide and his band of disillusioned acquaintances to settle on a small plot of ground and stay out of trouble.  The whole idea of quietism is basically an acceptance of what seems inevitable.  It motivated by pragmatism or political apathy or even rational ignorance; but, whatever the cause, it is frightfully common in most political societies.  Quietism is more complicated than mere fearfulness and disillusionment.  Sometimes political powerlessness can make it reasonable for individuals in less representative governments to avoid involvement with government affairs.  Even in the free United States, it can be more difficult to learn about the political workings than it is worth, a situation resulting in rational ignorance.

Quietism can have monstrous results in society.  It quietly saps the strength from any resistance to political or religious evil.  Or perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that the causes of quietism sap the society of its strength.  Lacking freedom and ability to participate in government are a great hindrance to the fight against earthly evil, but an even greater tragedy is that people often choose to neglect the freedom that is open to them by ignoring the knowledge it requires.

The only way to fight evil in this world is to know the good and to do the good, especially when evil is at hand.  We cannot allow difficulty, disappointment, or lack of knowledge to hold us back from the good.  Evil can only be conquered if we relentlessly pursue knowledge of the good and change ourselves and society to conform with that highest knowledge.

[Originally written to fulfill discussion board requirements for Dr. Filiatreau's Western Literature II online summer class through Patrick Henry College.]

Monday, May 7, 2012

Importance of Traditional Education

"[A] society can be progressive only if it conserves its traditions."--Walter Lippman, The Public Philosophy, p. 136.