Less is More

I believe in the “Too big to survive” theory of economics. While various articles about “Too big to fail” come up when I searched that on Google, I think the phrase originated with Colin Wright a young entrepreneur, writer, speaker, world traveler and cofounder of Asymmetrical Press. (Warning: “This link is not authorized by Yahoo”) I like it because it contrasts well with the more familiar, “Too big to fail” theory.

What do I mean by “Too big to survive”? I believe this is what Lent is all about. As Passionists we are encouraged to take a period of time each year, Lent, to determine what is really important to us and our families and communities. One way to do this, is by paring down, getting rid of the excess, and focusing on what really matters, by getting smaller, just the opposite of what seems to be the wisdom of our day: “More, more, more”.

In what I believe is an ingenious contemporary six minute articulation of what St. Francis (1181 – 1226), St. Paul of the Cross (1694 – 1775) and many more saints preached, contemporary designer and writer, Graham Hill in his March 2011 TED Talk Less stuff, more happiness, suggests that we ask ourselves “Could I do a little life editing?” He gives three great suggestions for living more fulfilled, happy lives:

  • Edit ruthlessly
  • Think small
  • Make Multifunctional

I think maybe I’ll try making these my mantra for this Lent.

Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

Developing a Healthy Media Diet

I used to turn on the news when I got out of the shower in the morning and consume it with breakfast. I don’t do that anymore. Instead, after showering, I spend some time in quiet meditation thanking my creator, for the gift of a new day and and asking for guidance on how to be of service to our mother earth and those I will meet this day. That usually takes about a half hour. Then I sit down for breakfast. Sometimes I meditate before my shower giving me more time to peacefully glide into a new day.

After breakfast I head to my computer and that’s when the confusion starts. What should I do first—read Facebook, check my email, go to Twitter or do some writing? As of today, I don’t have a healthy routine or a comfortable answer to that question, and hence this post. I’m hoping your will share your experience.

Jihil Jolly in an August 20, 2014 article How to establish a media diet suggests we ask ourselves three things when consuming news:

  1. Why am I consuming this news?
  2. What is the most effective way for me to consume news?
  3. Do I want to act on this news?

These questions along with Lara Setrakian January 2017 TED Talk above: We have to resist the temptation to use fear for ratings suggests media has some responsibilities here. Lara presents three simple steps that the media need to do:

  1. Learn from people on the ground
  2. A hypocratic oath for reporters to “Do no harm:
  3. Embrace complexity

She also suggests that, realizing media’s obsession with ratings, we can play our little part in making them responsive by first, identifying those who present facts, follow them, rewarding them with the ratings they seek. At the same time, we can stop listening to fear mongers denying them the ratings they so desperately need to continue in business.

Maybe you’ve already answered these questions for yourself. If you have any suggestions of good news sources, or of answers to Ms. Jolly’s questions above, please share by commenting below.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Facing the Enemy

Once in awhile someone’s story really connects me to my life like no other. I am a fighter by nature and that is good as long as I recognize the enemy, me. I must admit that most of the time, I make the mistake and think you, whether you are a religious or political leader or just my next-door neighbor are the enemy. Less often, I recognize the enemy, me and go about making the necessary changes to subdue the foe. I could tell you of a few experiences in my life that illustrate that, but none would begin to compare to Suzanne Barakat’s story as she tells it in her TEDWomen October 2016 talk: Islamophobia killed my brother. Let’s end the hate.

This sentiment, that I am the enemy, is in direct conflict with what I’ve seen in this past presidential campaign season where the candidates spent all their time telling us about the enemy, their opponent. I don’t think we came up with any winner, but actually a bunch of losers. I put myself in that bunch. It’s time to face the enemy, ourselves and thank you Ms. Barakat for showing us how.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

Making Peace

Zack Beauchamp in hisYouTube video, Three big reasons war is going away, admits that there are many reasons but then gives us just three as to why we are living in the most peaceful time in history*:

  1. The Democratic Peace
  2. Nuclear Deterrence
  3. Sovereignty

I suspect Mr. Beauchamp is onto something here, but I think there is another, and I would add, much more significant reason. I think we are living in the most peaceful time in history of the world because of people like Mahatma Gandhi, (1869 – 1948), Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) and Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) who taught us how to respond to violence, marginalization and oppression with love and service. Also, people like Ethel Percy Andrus, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day and a whole host of others who may not have had the experience of marginalization or oppression, chose a life of love and service as well. Thanks to people like these and oh yes, Jesus (c 0 – 33). They taught us not only by their words, but more especially by their actions, how to make peace.

P.S. Happy Feast Day to all my Passionists friends around the world and all those celebrating the joyful memorial of the Passion of Jesus tomorrow, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

*Mr. Beauchamp is not the only one who thinks this. The Human Security Report “…an independent research centre affiliated with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, Canada.” gives a similar assessment.

Statement on Racial Violence in the U.S.

Just sharing some well thought out ideas about the role each of us plays in today’s violence and things we can do to stop it. I especially liked: “We need to reflect on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. – “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

PAX CHRISTI USA

We at PCUSA join with all whose hearts and consciences are pierced with outrage from the deaths of yet two more African-American men killed by excessive police force in Louisiana and Minnesota.  And as the spiral of violence deepened last Thursday night in Texas with the killing and wounding of police officers at a peaceful rally aimed to elevate the call for justice it is time for prayer and national soul-searching.

In our vision statement, we at Pax Christi USA declare that “we are a Catholic peace and justice movement that seeks to model the Peace of Christ in our witness to the mandate of the nonviolence of the Cross.”  Our vision is “a more peaceful, just and sustainable world through the efforts of our members and in collaboration with other groups.”  The violent events of this past week are a challenge to our identity and to our…

View original post 527 more words

Can We Feed 7-plus Billion and Be Green?

This past week I spent three days with an old high school chum–actually a lot of old high school chums–but this post is about one in particular. We were both attending a Passionist Assembly focusing on Laudato Si coordinated by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim. the directors for the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. Mary Evelyn and John were students of one of my favorite Passionists, Fr. Thomas Berry. They actually met in one of his classes at Fordham University, got married and now spend their lives sharing the New Story, The Dream of the Earth. It’s a fascinating story filled with lots of hope and an actual plan of action for the earth into the future.

In the discussion that followed one of Mary Evelyn and John’s presentations, my high school chum challenged: “This earth stuff is all well and good, but how does that answer the question of how we feed the 7 plus billion people who get up hungry every morning?” (talk about being practical!) I don’t think Bill, the questioner ever got a satisfactory answer.

Andrew Youn does claim to have a part of the answer in his amazingly understandable and enlightening February 2016 Ted Talk “3 Reasons why we can win the fight against poverty. He answers a question I’ve been mulling over for quite sometime now, what will be the jobs in the future. He says they will be four:

  • Health worker
  • Teacher
  • Farmer-trainer
  • Sales agent

He also talks about using levers, a trick taught to us by Archimedes of ancient Greece. He mentions three levers:

  • Making farmers more productive
  • Pulling farmers out of poverty
  • One-acre farms

That last one really fascinates me, almost to the point I think I’d like to try it. Anyone interested?

Dan O'Donnell
Dan O’Donnell

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believe transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Sparring with Truth?

Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
Sebastian McDonald, C.P.

Truth-telling is an activity highly regarded in human interchange. It bonds people together when they can trust that everyone in possession of the truth is conscientious in conveying it to others. Parents try to inculcate a respect for it in their children. It is not always easy to tell the truth even though the truth is a highly-regarded value, for sometimes such value, while working to the advantage of some, also causes some disadvantage to others. So hiding or covering the truth is a temptation for one who may fear him or herself being harmed by the truth.

So attempts have always been made to shade or diminish the truth, but in a way that, should they be discovered, they don’t necessarily fall into the category of a bald or outright lie. These are defense mechanisms against the severely damaging charge that one is a liar. There are few accusations that are more damaging to our reputation than the charge that one is a liar. It besmirches nearly every transaction in which one engages.   But truthfulness is a universal value that plays out in every activity in which one commits oneself. Haven’t we heard that “…the truth will set you free?” (Jer. 8.32) And to be less than free in living one’s life makes life miserable because one must take precautions to remember one’s deviations from the truth.

th-7The issue of such approximations to the truth may describe many of our transactions in which “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is expected from us by those dealing with us.   In courts of law, where the truth of the matter is central to the case, the truthfulness of remarks is of such significance that an extra step is taken to guarantee that the truth is being told. So litigants are asked to take an oath by placing their hand on the bible and stating they are telling the truth, “so help me God.” This increases the seriousness of an obligation to tell the truth.

Amid this concern lies the temptation, if not to lie, but to reshape the truth for our own benefit. It can be traced to our fear of suffering injury if the full disclosure of truth is required in my testimony. Or it may owe to our disagreement with the wording used in the legal formulas placed before me, which I regard as wrong and misinformed. Or it may elicit an answer from me that is cleverly concocted. So, to protect my interests I may shade or modify the full intent of the statement placed before me.

Sometimes an exaggeration on my part may be used to shave the full impact of the statement to which I am being asked to accept as true and accurate. An exaggeration is often not a complete reversal of the truth of something, but it may be a modification of the truth to the point where others may be led to wonder whether it’s the full truth. Or it is possible at times to shade the truth without completely denying it, as in admitting you threw peanuts in the river, without clarifying that Peanuts is the name of someone (whom, one knows, can’t swim), or in the case of a hearing- impaired parent questioning a young person told to return home by 10:00 pm, what time of the night it is, upon hearing his or her return, who responds that it is plenty after 10:00, hoping it would be understood as twenty after 10:00. Or the case of the NBC newscaster, Brian Williams, who guilded his account of participating in a military operation in Iraq without clarifying that this was not an immediate involvement, but somewhat remote. All of these examples, while true, to an extent, need various degrees of clarification to satisfy the requirement of telling the truth. There was an element of exaggeration in each of them likely leading listeners to think they were hearing the truth while, as a matter of fact, they were hearing distorted versions of the truth.

So the question becomes: were each of these a substantial violation of the truth? If truth-telling is an important way of bonding with and trusting others, do these examples undercut and injure ways of relating to others? Is it a violation of the truth to boast about one’s background or education or experiences or connections? If others know I tend to magnify my accomplishments, and make provision for that in dealing with me, so that deception is usually not the outcome of an arrangement we make with one another, is that nonetheless the equivalent of a lie? If I am placed under oath to tell the truth in a court of law, and am cleverly maneuvered by manipulating officials, am I lying to evade their misleading techniques by telling part of the truth but not all of the truth?

Telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth: is this a hard and fast rule of life and conduct in all life’s situations, or is it appropriate to shape responses to situations that are appropriate to that situation, leaving to the experience and skill of others the task of appropriating the truth they seek from the remarks I provide? During His trial and interrogation before Pilate, Jesus is asked: “Are you the king of the Jews?” To this Jesus responded: “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” (Jn. 18.33-34) And a bit later Pilate repeats: “Then you are a king?”, to which Jesus responded: “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (Jn 37-38). Is Jesus here sparring with Pilate about the truth? Are there occasions for us to do so?