LIFE…THE GRAND COMPETITION

The heart of every family.

The heart of every family.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about how much my life has changed since I was a child.  I was born in 1949, in a rural part of the north country where, for the most part, our lives were our own to live as we chose.  There was not much to worry about with the exception of the nosy neighbor or maybe the town gossip, but if you behaved yourself, you were free of the worry of their commentary.. Rural folks often talked about everything and everyone as a matter of course because life was slower paced and there was not so much going on.  Chattering about each other was a form of entertainment and it was rarely harmful. Once in a while, the occasional “out of the ordinary  behavior” would be the exciting topic of discussion in many a kitchen over a hot cup of coffee. Despite the occasional drama, it was a great existence to live in small town America where most people were of similar circumstances. We had similar lifestyles economically, socially, environmentally, spiritually and historically.  It was a comfortable existence which allowed us to enjoy one another at face value with no real comparisons. Most everything in our lives was so similar that a competitive environment just wasn’t a part of the equation.  We were content in our lives for the most part because we didn’t covet our neighbors lives or possessions.

These days, with technology bringing everything to our fingertips, to our attention, and into our view, the world is markedly different from the world in which I was a child.   By way of computer we have applications like text, email, Facebook, linked in, my space, YouTube, Zillow, Pinterest, along with countless others which gives us access to an endless supply of pictures and stories about other peoples lives, showing us their education, their homes, their careers, their families, their friends, their everything.  It would be a rare place in the United States, even in the most remote of places, where the “outside world” is not showing up and making itself known.  The truth is, sometimes ignorance IS bliss, my friend.

In modern times, technology and internet connection makes it difficult for the poor to be content with their lives because they are now aware of what they do not have.  This applies to the middle class as well.  Previous to technology, there were rural pockets of communities where people lived in a happy, blissful ignorance of how much less they had compared to some others.  With a click, everyone can see other people living in palatial homes, in exotic environments, with every material good in their possession.  Not only do we see their material possessions, we also are privy to their personal lives in an edited fashion.  We never see the downsides of their lives.  We see the happy times with their children and grandchildren and it is displayed as 100% perfect 100% of the time. We see photo shopped faces and bodies of people, leading us to believe that perfection in the human form is attainable at the same time that common sense dictates the knowledge that it is not.  Genetically, throughout all of time, Gods people have come in all heights, all weights, all sizes, many colors, and many different nationalities. But now, marketing and media would have us believe there is ONE way to look…one way to be.  Media would have us believe that if we don’t have a certain look, we are not desirable.  People are so afraid of showing their age, they are getting injected, laser-ed, cut and stretched.  Implants are put in, fat is being sucked out, and transplants are occurring.  The desire for a perfect external is interfering with growing our spiritual internal  and dangerously interfering  with our quest for the Eternal.

Our bonds with one another are not as strong as they once were because we are too busy comparing our lives to others which causes feelings of envy or superiority.  So often “they” are richer, more educated, more traveled and much more happy.  “They” have successful children, gorgeous grandchildren and are loved and adored by all their friends and their family.  At least this is what “they” would have us believe.  The truth is so much of what we see is carefully edited in such a fashion as to show their perfect side, their seamless side, their superior status in life.  It is NOT real!

As I am writing this, I can hear Willie Nelson singing about the “Family Bible”…..

There’s a family Bible on the table, each page is torn and hard to read
But the family Bible on the table, will ever be my key to memories.

At the end of day when work was over, and when the evening meal was done
Dad would read to us from the family Bible, and we’d count our many blessings one by one

I can see us sittin’ round the table, when from the family Bible dad would read,
I can hear my mother softly singing, “rock of ages rock of ages cleft for me”

Now this old world of ours is full of trouble this old world would also better be
If we’d find more Bibles on the tables and mothers singing rock of ages cleft for me

I can see us sittin’ round the table…Rock of ages rock of ages cleft for me.

At the end of day when work was over, and when the evening meal was done,

Dad would read to us from the Family Bible, and we would count our many blessings one by one.

Now this old world of ours is full of trouble this old world would also better be
If we’d find more Bibles on the tables and mothers singing rock of ages cleft for me
I can see us sittin’ round the table…
Rock of ages rock of ages cleft for me

Oh!  The idea of sitting around the table reading the family bible… The idea of counting our blessings rather than counting our wants…… The idea of having an ordinary meal together…..  The idea of Mom and Dad being the much respected and loved Matriarch and Patriarch of the family…..It all makes me so nostalgic and wistful.  So many of the changes in our society causes me give out a good long sigh as I think of what prosperity has done for so many in our country.  In many cases, the family foundation is upside down.  Instead of trying to please the elders, many are busy trying to please the children which creates an upside down society.  I wonder if people remember  the verse, “Honor thy Father and Mother” written in the Bible.  Some of us still have this. some of us don’t.  Everything feels so backwards to me and I just wanted to say so.

God bless our Country.  This wonderful land of many blessings and many opportunities.  Perhaps we should sit around the table with the family bible, or the Bible, and express our gratitude for what we have rather than our disappointment in what we do not have.  Let us read the bible and find our instructions on how to lead a good life.  It may just be the cure for what ails our society.

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