Life/Work Balance

Governments and corporations are not going to solve the work/life balance we need in our life. So says Nigel Marsh in his How to make work-life balance work in his May 2010 TEDx Talk. In a short ten minutes he gives us four ways to make the balance. While I like his suggestions, his two-minute story of an evening with his youngest child at the end of his talk, convinced me of the urgency of such an endeavor.

For me, poet, novelist and environmentalist, Wendell Berry, gives a much clearer picture of what I need to do:

…According to him, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life. (Wikipedia)

Not easy achievements in a 21st Century American city, but maybe, just maybe some of Berry’s ideas deserve our attention. Today a program such as The one-acre farm might just be the answer.

Why all this talk of environment, life/work balance on our Partners’ blog? The Old English word for healthy is holy. As Partners we strive for holiness. This necessarily involves all the above issues and probably some more. St. Benedict who talked about a life of prayer, study and work and St. Paul of the Cross who focused his life on keeping alive the memory of Jesus’ passion weren’t faced with the issues we are today. I believe if they were around today, these are the issues they would be preaching to us about.

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

Finding A Learning Community

In the early 1990’s with much trepidation, I moved into the city at the urging of a very good friend, Fr. Rian Clancy, C.P. A word about Clancy as he was known by his friends: Clancy was a truly inveterate learner, constantly going to movies, reading books and meeting new people. Then, I accepted him as just another Passionists—all my Passionist friends are great learners.

When I left the Passionists’ Novitiate in 1963, I went on to DePaul University in Chicago and joined another community of learners. I’ll never forget sitting in philosophy class discussing whether there was such a thing as a bladeless knife without a handle, or if a tree fell in the forest and no one was around to hear it, would it make a noise. Again, I took this learning community for granted.

I won’t bore you with all the other great learning communities I’ve found myself involved with over the years, but nine years ago I retired and all of a sudden, I find myself without a primary learning community, which when I retired was the Chicago Board of Education and the faculty and support group at Montefiore as well as the doctoral cohort I was part of at Northern Illinois University. On top of that, my good friend Clancy died and other Passionists like Fr. Joe and Fr. Alan, and now my great Friend Fr. Sebastian have all moved on. What am I to do?

John Green in his November 2012 TED talk: “The nerd’s guide to learning everything online” has given me new hope of finding a new learning community. Interestingly enough he touts it as where young people today are finding their learning community. Well, I wonder why I can’t do that as well, and maybe talk some of my good friends and family into joining me there, discovering all the great information online as well as contributing our share to the mix.

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

You Can Give Voice to the Voiceless

I’m sure people who know me get tired of hearing about the latest technology I’ve discovered and my attempts to incorporate that technology into what I am or we are doing. I often get the feeling they would like to tell me, “Let’s just do things the way we have in the past.” Actually, I hear this all the time.

This TED Talk by Rupal Patel demonstrates just why I embrace new technologies and work tirelessly to incorporate them into our shared lives. As a special education teacher, I was constantly challenged to find ways to help my students learn. Once in awhile I was successful, but never so successful as Northeastern University Science Professor, Rupal Patel. Great job Rupal! Keep up the good work.

Which Comes First: Thought or Writing Implement?

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

Friedrich Nietzsche, an influential German philosopher of the 19th century, once wrote: “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts”.   He wrote this about 150 years ago, when typewriters were coming into vogue.   What would he say of our “writing equipment” today?  Our mastery of electronic modes of communication is mind-boggling, and is advancing by leaps and bounds on a yearly basis.

We may pay little attention to this, as if it didn’t matter that much, or, if it did, it’s all for the better.  And yet, if we can turn the clock back to the latter half of the 19th century, when Nietzsche wrote the above, that is, to the time of the Civil War in this country, we have memories of the letter-writing achievements of the men in the blue and the gray as they sat in their trenches on the eve of a major battle, one of the score of such that resulted in the greatest number of fatalities in any war involving Americans.  And these letters, penned or penciled in the trenches of both sides, amid the cold, the dampness, the penury of food, drink, and sleep, and coupled with the certainty that their ranks would be notably diminished over the next few hours.  These letters were written to mothers, wives, sweethearts, daughters and sons, and they were kept and treasured over the years as things of beauty, for such they were.  American TV reconstructed some of these often final messages of love and affection in a memorable series a number of years ago, and as we listen to them now, we wonder how men of 8th grade education, and less, could pen such sentiments of beauty under such forbidding circumstances.  “Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts”.

Our writing equipment, since then, has notably changed.  In matters of correspondence, we no longer need stationery, stamps, pen or pencil.   We can write faster now than then, and in greater volume.  Correspondence has changed from one-on-one to mass production, via facebook or twitter.  Whereas formerly most of us did not have a “public” audience, but expressed ourselves to a limited number of persons, now our thoughts and modes of expression can be shared with many others.  What effect does this have on us?  Do we cease to be a private person, and become a public one?  Must we secure an ID and a password to preserve some measure of privacy.  Does this affect our thoughts, as Nietzsche suggested?  And, in doing so, is it a constraint on us, or an expansion?  Are we forced into silence on certain issues lest we “get in trouble”?  Must we be extra cautious and not express  ourselves in certain ways, lest we suffer consequences?  Is our capacity for doing good expanded, or is writing in a certain way now dangerous?   In short, is great writing now a thing of the past, or has it now become the prerogative of us all?  “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts”.

Crisis Leads to Life

Abha Dawesar may not look like a Passionist, but she sure does think and preach like one. In this TED talk she tells of her experience with hurricane Sandy. Half of New York City was in a blackout, and that’s where she found herself, living in a high rise with no electricity. Talk about a crisis. No elevators, no water, no light, no Internet. OMG—no Internet? How did she survive? Listen and then if you feel so moved, share your thoughts by clicking on “Comment” below.

A Conundrum

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

Thanks to the I-phone or smart phone one can have instant access to various religious practices, such as the mass, the celebration of which can, in this way, be found quickly and easily. One can “tune-in” to mass (or, for that matter, to various devotions such as a novena, the rosary, the stations of the cross, a sermon, a religious discussion, etc.) for instance, practically anywhere/anytime. How are we to regard this? Does the ease with which we can do this amount to a terrific new asset or advantage now made available to us, anywhere, any time? Are we to regard it as yet another way of drawing closer to God? Does this put us at an incomparable advantage over previous generations that were deprived of such instantaneous contact with things religious, even with God? Think of small religious groupings of people centuries ago who had to wait for weeks or months for an itinerant priest/preacher to make the rounds to one’s village so that a religious service could be provided? Shouldn’t serious consideration be given to the availability of such electronic devices to “count as” a suitable way of fulfilling one’s religious duties, like going to church on Sunday? Or maybe even going to confession? Why could not this serve as a substitution for personal presence at a religious service, perhaps while biking in the park? Or, should we simply regard this as an “add on”, but not “in place of”, the real thing? Or, does it “all depend”? Might God possibly hold us accountable for not taking advantage of this new advantage?