29 April 2018

Today I was pondering on the words of a song

The words were penned by Anon, a most creative person that has done much wondrous work.  This creation came from time spent in Boston around 1805.  The words struck accord with me.

Know This, That Every Soul Is Free

Know this, that ev'ry soul is free
To choose his life and what he'll be;
For this eternal truth is giv'n:
That God will force no man to heav'n.

He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heav'n or hell.

May we no more our pow'rs abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.

This needs no comment from me but it does deserve a re-read, a slow read, a fast read, a poetic read and a blessed read.  I guess it deserves many reads.  Let the comments not come from me.  Let the comments be your own.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.

14 January 2018

A Sense of Community

A group of us older gentlemen were discussing various things today when the topic turned to a change in the world which has resulted in a downturn in the sense of community of late.  It seems that many didn't feel the connectedness they once did and missed past times when there were people who related with each other better and looked out for each other.  There were tales of remembrances from youth when they had felt more of a part of the whole.

As the discussion ended and no solutions were presented or explanations given, I was left to ponder on the subject and came to my own insights and conclusions on the topic at hand, but had no one left to share my discoveries with but you my dear reader.

As one that has often found himself an outsider and disconnected for the rest of the world I know how important it is to be included and have that sense of community, and how hard it can be to find sometimes.  The very definition of loneliness is one that stands alone or apart from his community.

So what then can be our definition of community? Above all it seems to be those things we have in common that bind us together.  It can be a shared interest in one thing or a common interest in a group of many things.  It can be items that we have selected from by personnel choices and decisions.  And it can also be found in items that we have had no input in whatsoever.

Through the years I of have seen groups come together naturally and seemingly without effort and I have seen other groups that look like a perfect fit on paper but never quite gel.  I have seen groups of individuals that are so different that they would never be able to relate with each other under normal daily circumstances but somehow manage to come together to create a unity for a common cause that they all felt deeply about.

People can come together from simple little things like a love of cars, or quilting, or football.  They can also come together for groupings defined by location and geography as in this side of the track, river, valley or man made groupings as belonging to this city, county, state, nation.

The funny thing is that depending on what level you place your focus is how inclusive or exclusive your grouping seems to be.  Liking the 2002 red convertible Corvette with automatic transmission and 12 cd changer in the trunk is pretty specific.  The next level may include all 2002 Corvettes, then all C5 Corvettes, then all Corvettes, then all convertibles, then all American made convertibles, then all American made sports cars, then all sports cars, then all cars, then all cars and pick ups, then all planes, trains, and automobiles no matter where they are made or year or ability.

In a political climate that does everything it can to divide us and challenge us to define who we really are, I think it would be much more beneficial to look to those things that we have in common with each other.  After all, at a high enough level, aren't we all God's creation located on the same sphere in the middle of a universe that is greater than we know.  That gives us all something in common and that should make it easier to build and strengthen those bonds that build a sense of community and to follow the commandment to Love One Another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Which brought me to another thought about what makes for a good sense of community.  In each one there is a special person or several such persons that one might term a bonding agent or a catalyst.  They are the ones that extend themselves into the group and ignite the chemical bonding that takes place, adding that special something that makes the word synergy more than just a cliche.  They are the ones that extend the hand of introduction to a stranger, the one that welcomes others into the conversation, the one that cheers on the accomplishments of another, the one that plans the party, the one that takes a good idea and runs with it.  They are the people of action.  A community will thrive by the presence of these people.

Are you one of these people?  Do you have what it takes to overcome your fears and overcome the fears of others to create the actions necessary to generate a sense of community for yourself and those around you?  If you can recognize the need for connectedness in yourself then you can recognize the need in those around you.  Even if you can't picture yourself as the chief catalyst of your group, you can find one who is a catalyst and throw your full support behind them.  That way you can be the catalyst for your catalyst.  And when two or more catalyst get together, well, then you really have something.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.

27 November 2017

Yes I went out....

... and it wasn't too bad.  I got a late start so I missed most of the early door crashers.  In fact I started at Costco which didn't open until 9:00 am.  I was 10 minutes early and there was a line.  I was hoping it was the line to get a Costco Polish dog as I had skipped breakfast but by the time I got over to the snack bar they had already run out and I would have to come back later.

I was able to get the Fitbit for my wife that she wanted and it wasn't too hard to get as most all the stores had it for about the same price.  Spoiler anti-alert, she is already using it.

As I was a late starter most of the crowds were thinned out by the time I got to the other stores so it wasn't too hard to meander around looking to find any overlooked bargains.  I came away with a couple of $9 shirts from JCPennys and a bundle of socks from Walmart and not much else.  Actually, the only other thing to bring home was food for the chickens and a couple of bags of Dove dark chocolates.

I wonder if I have become desensitized to the whole materialism that this season has become.  I don't have the desire to have just for the sake of having, and I don't really need anything.  Sure I like toys almost as much as the next person but logic is in the driving seat and I talk myself out of a lot of things before they become an issue.  I guess I can always go to the store and play the demo games on the X-box for 10 minutes to get my feel if I really need a dose or just sit at home and spend time on the Playstation 2 with games I haven't played in awhile.  I'm good.

And just because there was a metal barrier on the sidewalk in front of the Best Buy to keep the crowds in order, it wasn't needed by the time I got there and from the looks of all the boxes still in the aisles, there was a lot of leftover 'bargains' that shoppers didn't need either.

What I found interesting is that the on-line shopping is becoming more of a thing and it doesn't have to wait for Cyber Monday.  The brick and mortars all have internet stores and most of the specials are there as well.  If you go for that special bargain on-line, chances are you will find it without the hassle of braving the cold, the crowds, the fights, the parking, the...well you get the idea.  But I think there may be a new marketing ploy in play.

There were some items listed on line as being out of stock, which means you couldn't get it on-line for the specials price at that time.  I wonder if this is intentional as a way to get your desire for the special to move you to action and actually visit the physical store in order to pick up the item in person.  That way you are in the store and likely to be tempted to obtain other items as you are there anyway and how could you pass up such tempting bargains as they have waiting in front of you.  I don't know if that is the plan or not but I would not be the least bit surprised if it was done on purpose.

So I went back to Costco for my dog and sat and watched and thought.  I am thinking that this actually might be the last traditional Black Friday sales event year and that next year will be much more on-line driven.  And that the attempt to conjure up time-limited 'this day, weekend, week' only scarcity mind set is over.  In a virtual world, anything is possible and everything is open, 24/7. 

With any luck we can go back to having a Christmas season that doesn't have to start three weeks before Halloween.  With even more luck we can go back to when it was more about the presence than the presents.

This is Ed Nef with a view from the Farrwest.