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The Power of A Life

Nelson Mandela on Day After ReleaseToday the world lost a leader. A man who stood up and suffered for his beliefs. At 95, Nelson Mandela breathed his last breath, and left a legacy the displays the power that a single life can have.

He was definitely a hard man to figure out. Was he non-violent or militant? He has been called Marxist, Socialist, Nationalist, Hero, Prisoner, Politician, Activist and President. Many words, many offices for a very unique man.

When political tensions rise and mix with economic conditions and racial injustice, one person can become a tipping point that brings about change and a shift in consciousness and morality. Mandela is a powerful example of this as apartheid collapsed in South Africa, racism was dealt a lethal blow as he became the President of South Africa having been voted in by a fully represented, multiracial electorate.

“What can I do, I am only one person?” “The problem is too big, I can’t do anything about it.” Thoughts like these are spoken daily, and most of us have articulated them ourselves.

The problem with deciding to make a difference, to invest our life for something bigger than ourselves, is that it is costly. When you finally take the faith step to do something that is selfless and beyond your current experience of spiritual growth or level of spiritual consciousness, there is always a cost.

Jesus warned that anyone who would follow Him needed to count the cost (Luke 14:25-33). As we grow through deepening stages of spirituality, it is a birthing process each time, and the birthing process is generally surrounded with fear.

Fear of the unknown…
Fear found in the swirling questions of “what if?…
Fear of who you will become…
Fear of ________…

I often dream what the world would look like if an ever-increasing number of people crossed the line from apathy to activist.

I wonder how many lives, countries and populations would experience love, hope, and provision.

We love the movies where the hero crosses the line, rises up and risks for the greater good, but we rarely wonder why when it comes to a personal sacrifice of our own we stay as far away from the line as possible.

I wonder why we expect so much of others, but so little from ourselves. I wonder why we spend so much time monitoring our energy expenditures and deciding not to get involved, or help or serve. I wonder what it would take to heal the world of narcissism and create a culture of compassion.

To be a planet-changer is honorable, important and risky. “Prison, pain, loss of friends, loss of income, misinformation, slander and hatred could be experienced, but so could transformation, healing, love, compassion, joy, forgiveness, purpose, passion and an abundant life.

With the passing of Mandela I wonder who will be the next person who will cross the line in a way that changes the world…

It could be you.

Reformers and Fences

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In many ways, it would seem that we are a world of reformers now. Thanks in large part to the power of social media, everybody has a platform to say whatever they like regardless of how accurate, intelligent or worthy their thoughts may be. Some people like to troll and cause conflict while others simply like to demolish the ideas and people that they disagree with.

One of the problems with this platform in our current context is that most people who are posting status update after status update, using their agenda as a polemic, seem to have forgotten the basic laws of logic and reason. What has taken their place, you ask? Emotions, opinions, and half thought through arguments.

In order to be a true reformer one must understand the scope of the thing that they wish to reform before they destroy it. Many go about reform the way history tells us Cortés burnt his ships in the harbor. While there was no going back for Cortés, sometimes we burn the ships before we have reasoned through such actions.

Today we are in the midst of cultural reform. Facebook has proven to be the new “speakers corner” as people pontificate, throw in a meme or two that agrees with their viewpoint, erroneously thinking that the picture and soundbite alone should end all other disagreement.

People are unfriended when they disagree, or perhaps more to the point, when they become belligerent concerning their topic.

The problem with the new reformers is that too often they have not thought through fully the reasons that something existed before. They have not entered into the “whys” of the thing they wish to eliminate or change. Some areas of reform seem easy such as ending human trafficking or eliminating global poverty. Some areas of current reform seem less clear to the populace such as gun rights and same-sex marriage. While boats are being burned, and status updates are flying, the conversations that are needed are being ignored in lieu of trying to determine who is right…who is wrong.

When emotions rule the day, we don’t ask the deeper questions, we simply want everyone to agree with our position. These are not easy issues, and before we tear down the things that have been in place for a while, we need to understand why they existed in the first place. Maybe they do need to be changed, maybe they don’t. Until we can clearly understand why something has existed, we don’t have the clarity yet to remove it.

G.K Chesterton spoke profoundly to this:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.

Dialog is needed today on so many issues from global economics to civil rights. It would be my hope that we could engage the issues with honest reflection, being compassionate about the other person, even if we disagree on some issue.

But before we keep tearing down fences, lets make sure we know why the fence was put there in the first place.

Elementary My Dear Watson.

I will admit it…I have been a huge Sherlock Holmes fan all of my reading life. I have the anthologies, every story scribed, and even the modern authors who tried to find the voice of Holmes and write new cases for him to solve.

There is a new show that premiered this week called “Elementary” starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu which is a modern day adaption of Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous characters. I haven’t seen it yet, but I hope too, and more so, I hope it doesn’t destroy the incredible characters invented in the genius of Doyle.

As I saw a commercial for the new series, my mind went to some famous Sherlockian quotes, so I am sure you can probably deduce by now, that this wee=ks Sunday Night Quotes are coming from Sherlock Holmes! I know, that was elementary…

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“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” ~Sherlock Holmes –A Scandal in Bohemia

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” ~Sherlock Holmes – A Case of Identity

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”  ~Sherlock Holmes –The Sign of Four

“You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”  ~Sherlock Holmes

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear

“I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”  ~Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

“Now is the dramatic moment of fate, Watson, when you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill.”  ~ Sherlock Holmes

“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.”  ~Arthur Conan Doyle, The Five Orange Pips

“Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else.”  ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red Headed League

“When one tries to rise above Nature one is liable to fall below it. The highest type of man may revert to the animal if he leaves the straight road of destiny.”  ~Sherlock Holmes

“A sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony, and there are no red-headed clients to vex us with their conundrums.”  ~Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

“Dr. Watson’s summary list of Sherlock Holmes’s strengths and weaknesses:

“1. Knowledge of Literature: Nil.
2. Knowledge of Philosophy: Nil.
3. Knowledge of Astronomy: Nil.
4. Knowledge of Politics: Feeble.
5. Knowledge of Botany: Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
5. Knowledge of Geology: Practical but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
7. Knowledge of Chemistry: Profound.
8. Knowledge of Anatomy: Accurate but unsystematic.
9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature: Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.”
~Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

“The best way of successfully acting a part is to be it.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure Of The Dying Detective

“Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.” Sherlock Holmes

“I have been beaten four times – three times by men and once by a woman.”  ~Sherlock Holmes to John Openshaw: The Five Orange Pips

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”  ~Sherlock Holmes  –A Case of Identity

Global Day of Prayer for BURMA

Sunday March 11th 2012 is the Global Day of Prayer for Burma. While there has been some positive recent developments, there continues to be great oppression, killing and displacement of the peoples of Burma by its militaristic government. Please download the this years update and pray with me on Sunday March 11th!

click here to download the magazine  DOP 2012 Booklet

Thanks!

Monty