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June 21st, 2013

Let me start off by saying that I have broken many of these from time to time. We are not perfect and my life is a case study for that.

Now for item number one: visibility. More specifically: why do pedestrians throw their own personal safety to the wind? Washington state law requires bicyclists to have reflectors/lights that are visible from 500 feet in the front and 600 feet from the rear after dark (RCW 46.61.780). Makes sense, from both a safety and physics standpoint. The logic from physics is simple: one of the consequences of the Doppler effect and the differences between the speed of light and speed of sound is that a driver will see you long before they can hear you, if they even can hear you. When you jaywalk (illegal: see RCW 46.61.240) across a 5 lane road (for those that are familiar: 256th, just west of the 102nd in Kent) after sunset, with a BLACK hoodie on, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? You may have well just signed your own death certificate, putting the cause of death as “stupidly jaywalking across a busy road after dark with a black hoodie.” I don’t expect you to go out and get a headlamp just to walk down the street, just a cheap safety vest (Home Depot has numerous vests for under $10). I had a bus driver tell me that the only reason she saw me was because I was wearing one. Use common sense (usually makes sense, but seemingly uncommon in practice) and get yourself a cheap safety vest. I have one for walking to and from school in Vancouver (2 miles round trip, very little street lighting and a hill with no sidewalks or lighting) and have had drivers thank me. And use the damn sidewalks when they’re available for crying out loud.

The next item on my agenda is not mentioned in the RCW, but should be. There is a reason why car insurance companies give you a discount on your premiums if your car has daytime lights included. The lights are on, regardless of whether or not you need your headlights. Again, this comes back to visibility, the Doppler effect, and the difference between the speed of light and speed of sound. I will see you before I hear you any day. If it’s cloudy outside, or raining (which covers 365 days a year for western Washington), or just twilight (sun isn’t below the horizon, but might as well be), turn your headlights on. I can’t see you if you don’t. And even if I do, I can’t accurately judge your speed in order to make a safe turn. I’m forced to wait, sometimes missing my best gap for the turn for next 5 minutes. And if you have a headlight that’s out: FIX IT (ticket: $42 per light, minimum, ILRJ 6.2, plus $17 [RCW 46.63.110]).

Guess what? That little arm on the left side of the steering column that turns these strange lights on if you move it up or down is there for a reason: it’s a $59 (first time) fine if you don’t use. Those strange lights are your turn signals. The law requires you to use them:

(1)                           No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.

(2)                           A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.

(3)                           No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided herein to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal.

(RCW 46.61.305, italics mine)

Please use them. I have lost track of the number of accidents and near-accidents that could have been avoided had the driver turning used their turn signals properly. I actually am more comfortable with a driver who is speeding and driving somewhat aggressively that uses his turn signals than one driving defensively that doesn’t use their turn signals. I actually know what the aggressive driver is going to do, unlike the second driver. And check both ways before turning or merging. I’ve nearly been hit dozens of times because of a failure to check.

Finally, there is the issue of speed. I’m not talking about the people going 5-10 mph over the speed limit. I’m focusing mostly on those of you who think that the speed limit is actually 5-15 mph less than it actually is (i.e. going anywhere from 20-30 mph in a 35 mph zone with no traffic). If you are not in the right lane, or pulled over to let others pass, you are breaking the law (RCW 46.61.427 and 46.61.428). This is why I love the speed limit signs in Miami, FL. They do not say “Speed Limit,” rather they say “Minimum Speed.” What most people don’t know is that municipalities in Washington (city and county) are allowed to set minimum speed limits, not just maximum speed limits. Those who go more than 10 mph over the speed limit are just as dangerous/annoying in my opinion. Speed limits are there for a reason. Follow them.

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February 28th, 2013

Fulfillment

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Life, it’s supposed to be fulfilling, but for many people it isn’t. I know too many people who can’t seem to find fulfillment in life, no matter where they look. The problem is not them. The problem is our culture. Dire Straits called upon us to “do the walk of life.” How many of us actually do? Or do we do “the sprint of life?” I think most people do the latter. Is it any wonder, then, that they can’t find fulfillment? They go from one high to the next. Whether the high is psychoactive, intellectual, physical, emotional, or spiritual is irrelevant. The point is that we can’t find enough time to do what we need to do, or want to do for that matter, because we are too busy chasing down the next high. If people slowed down the pace of their lives and chose to do the “walk of life,” they might actually find lasting fulfillment, not just temporary fulfillment that wears off when the next issue of People or National Enquirer (or any tabloid for that matter) comes off the press. We refuse to live our lives to the fullest. Why? Because we feel that it’s too much work to do so. It’s hard. It takes effort and commitment (“those words are archaic” is what I’m hearing now, wait, that should be “those words are too old-fashioned”). We have lost ourselves to culture, and we could care less.

This scares me. The reason is because I want my future wife to be someone who is genuine. Someone who could care less about who is cheating on whom in Hollywood. Someone who reads literature that has depth to it and enjoys it. I know too few people who fit that ideal. And that is not even getting into the quality of character and morals that I look for. Life is short, but shouldn’t we pursue a genuine life? It doesn’t matter if you live 5 years or 105 years, if you didn’t live your life in a genuine manner, it was wasted. You can’t live a genuine life if you let the media do your political thinking for you. You definitely can’t live a genuine life if you let society determine your morals and ethics for you, because you can expect them to change every month. Objective morals do exist. There may be no such thing as absolute morals, but no self-respecting philosopher will make a case for their existence. They simply are not there. “Thou shall not kill” is not an absolute moral. There are times when it is necessary to kill, those times may be few and far in between, but they are there. Had the Valkyrie plot succeeded in killing Hitler, those men who stood up to the Nazi regime would have been celebrated for ending one of the most abhorrent chapters of history.

How many people know what the Trolley Problem is? If you don’t, I’m not going to explain it; you need to look it up yourself. Do the ends justify the means? Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. It all depends. Here is where objective morals can be useful, but absolute morals fall flat. In our decidophobic culture, we brush this dilemma off, but we need to answer the question, should you or should you not take action? And because society tells us to be ergophobic when it comes to our intellectual lives, we don’t want to examine the implications for our worldview.

January 26th, 2013

Hope

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Hope. What is it? Do you know, without looking in a dictionary? Can you even define it coherently? We tell everyone to keep their hopes up, yet what do we mean by that? Really, can you actually define hope? We say the word without thinking about what it really means, and that’s probably just as dangerous as using the word “love” without considering what we mean when we use the word. Is it an aspiration, a dream that we have? Or is it something more? I don’t know, but what I do know that hope is something that most of us who have a diagnosed psychological condition don’t have a whole lot of. Looking up “hope” in the dictionary doesn’t help. There are 7 different definitions on dictionary.com, and none really seem to capture what people mean by it. Maybe it’s just because I tend to be a realist that I don’t understand what hope is. People get concerned when I say that I sometimes can’t discuss hope without looking it up in the dictionary, but do those people really know what it means? Looking at the definitions, it seems to me that most people misuse the word. The list of synonyms doesn’t clarify anything: “anticipation, expectation, contemplate, achievement, confidence, aspiration, assumption.” How is that supposed to help me understand this enigmatic word? I may understand a lot of abstract concepts, but this one escapes me completely.


I wish I knew what hope is. It might make life easier.

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December 15th, 2012

Loyalty

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Loyalty. Does our society even fully understand what that word means, let alone put it into practice? We call people our “friends” that we knew in passing from that one class, which we can’t even remember the name, we took together way back when. But is the loyalty that comes with true friendship present there? Or are they really just acquaintances? Chances are that 90% of your “friends” on Facebook you haven’t seen or really talked to in over 5 years (and most of those you still don’t talk to very much). Some of them you may not even remember how you know them. Is that really friendship?

In our hyperconnected society we take our connections, including friendships, for granted (6 degrees of Kevin Bacon anyone?). You see, loyalty isn’t something you can take for granted. Loyalty, and its close cousin fidelity, takes dedication, something our culture is loath to embrace. Dedication requires both time (something that is seemingly always in short supply) and effort. Effort requires investment, both the aforementioned time and an emotional investment.

“Wait, I need to make an emotional investment!? You mean I actually have to share my life story with them? What if I get burned?” The answers to those questions are: yes, emotional investment (a.k.a. vulnerability) is required; not all of your life story (and definitely not at the very beginning!); and I’ve been burned more times than I can count. Yet I still put myself out there. It comes with the territory. Not every friendship will succeed (take it from an Aspie, success is NOT guaranteed). I still try to be genuine, even though that can make the rejections and insults all the more painful. Yet it also makes everything seem more real and the joyous moments all the better, because you aren’t trying to view the world through the façade you present to others. It’s also less exhausting than having to expend energy on trying to develop and maintain a false you. If you don’t make yourself vulnerable to others, then they can’t get to know and love/like you for whom you really are. And you sure as hell can’t get to know them, because one façade will cause another façade to be presented. Only by being genuine can others feel comfortable letting down their guard around you.

Back to the question of loyalty, the only loyalty I see in today’s society is to one’s alma mater and the local sports teams. And even the latter is tenuous at best, and frequently neglected if the team is losing all the time (exception: fútbol). Rarely is there strong family loyalty (50% divorce rate anyone [commonly used figure, actual number may be worse]?) today. Loyalty to employers is all but dead. You rarely see anyone in my generation stay with one employer for more than 5 years by choice anymore. They usually jump from job to job and never really settle into a career. And they worry about stable employment? That doesn’t make sense to me. If you want job security, find a job you like and stay there. Don’t start looking for a new job two years after you start. That will only decrease your value to your employer if you ask for a letter of recommendation after only a few years on the job. I’m not talking about high-schoolers here. I’m referring to college graduates who have a degree. Find a job in your field of study and stay there. Don’t jump around, it only increases your stress levels.

November 1st, 2012

Shallowness

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Shallowness. It’s what defines this generation. Our music, our taste in literature, and even the movies we choose to see. Queensrÿche put it perfectly in their song “Retail Therapy,”

           Sell it to me. Sell it to me. I’m so down today.

           Need some retail therapy. I’ve got cash in hand to buy happiness.

Yet, only about 20 years ago, they were singing a different tune. Their lyrics have always been focused on making their listeners think, so they aren’t too worried if fans don’t like a particular song for its lyrics. The song was the last track on the triple-platinum album Empire. Titled “Anybody Listening,” the song focuses on the personal effects of being famous, but the theme is applicable to anyone, regardless of social status.

                       Is there anybody listening?

                       Is there anybody that sees what’s going on?

                       Read between the lines,

                       criticize the words they’re selling.

                       Think for yourself and feel the walls

                       become sand beneath your feet.

Note the contrast. In 1990 they were asking if people were actually paying attention. Fast forward to 2011 and they are blowing cash on trying to buy happiness. This shallowness is addressed directly in the Bible. For example, in Sirach 40:20, it says, “Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of friends is better than either.” Of course, our culture is headed down a self-destructive path. Sirach 37:17-18 says, “The mind is the root of all conduct; it sprouts four branches, good and evil, life and death; and it is the tongue that continually rules them.” I haven’t even touched on the New Testament yet (short list of verses dealing with this: Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 2:15-17, 1 Corinthians 13:1-4). A good example of shallowness in our modern society is the cause of the recent recession: the consumerism culture that convinced people to spend beyond their means, thereby spending themselves into debt and defaulting on credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc. They could have chosen to spend within their means, but the shallowness of our culture meant that they didn’t want to think about how much they were spending. It was just, “I want, therefore I need.”

Another good example is politics. We argue over the budget, earmarks, our various military engagements around the world (we haven’t issued a formal declaration of war since December 8th, 1941), and taxes. We do everything to avoid discussion about the more serious issues at stake, such as abortion (a purely scientific question: “when does life begin according to science?” and evaluating the philosophical implications), domestic minor sex trafficking (both prostitution and pornography, covered under the term “commercial sexual exploitation of children”), and our humanitarian obligations that come with our wealth (Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.”). People gripe about the top 1% of the income bracket in the United States. Here’s some perspective: even those below the poverty line in the United States are in the top 1% of income bracket worldwide. When I think of the 99%, I think about those in China, North Korea, and Africa (not the politicians, obviously).

I hate modern music. There is very little modern music (pop, country, even most rock and roll) that has any lyrical quality. I judge any band lyrics by the standard of quality set by the greats of 80s rock, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Stryper, Queensrÿche, Kansas, The Cars, Foreigner, Van Halen, AC/DC, and even those whose views I’m not particularly in agreement with, such as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath/Ozzie Osbourne. They set a high standard, one that is rarely reached in today’s music culture. Hard rock/heavy metal is the genre that gets closest to meeting that level of quality. And even they pale in comparison to the great crooners, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Harry Chapin, and others.

We have lost our cultural heritage and the richness it contained. Who will stand up and resist? Who is willing to stick out like a sore thumb because you are genuine and actually know what respect and chivalry mean? And who will put those values into practice? Men, will join me and become a Defender? I can’t end this epidemic of shallowness by myself, but together we can. John Fitzgerald Kennedy put it best:

“To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do; for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.”

October 8th, 2012

Year 5

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It’s been 5 years since Sue Paisley passed away on this day in 2007. Time really does fly. For those that know the reference, Sue has been my “Lucy.” This year, I realize that I’ve forgotten to thank some people for their support all these years. Yes, there are the squirrel answers, church, classmates, teachers, etc. That’s not who I’m thinking of though. That first HYC after Sue passed away; the attendees practically pampered those of us from St. James in Kent. I want to thank some individuals. I remember when I first cracked, the first time I shed tears after we got the call. It was October 9th and I was in Spanish. We were doing a devotion and the teacher mentioned that a classmate’s dad had been diagnosed with brain cancer that past January and had been given 6 months to live. Well those 6 months turned into 6 weeks. That was when it hit me that she was gone for good. I broke. I could barely speak I was crying so hard. So the first person I would like to thank is Alice, who relayed what I was trying to say to the teacher so that she could pray for me. I need to thank Jen as well, who, in the very next class I had, was so supportive in that moment. She has continued to be a huge inspiration for me and one my closest friends since that day. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. By the end of the school week, every one of the juniors (I was junior at the time) and all of the teachers at RCHS knew about the tragedy that had occurred in my life. The outpouring of support from my classmates was incredible and did not go unnoticed.

I can’t thank the HYCers enough for what they did for us. I will always be grateful for their encouragement and support. A few of them bear special mention here. Kira and Sophie, you do not know how much you did for me. Jen, Madeline, and the rest of that gang, you really pulled me through. As Dante says in his Paradiso:

            For as our intellect draws near its goal

            it opens to such depths of understanding

            as memory cannot plumb within the soul.

                        Paradiso, Canto I

 

Essentially what Dante is saying is: “Human language is inadequate to describe Paradise (heaven).” Likewise, human language is inadequate to fully convey my personal thanks to these people. Her death was the first of what would turn into five funerals in three short years. And those friends who stuck with me through that time have my most sincere thanks. I probably would be six feet under if it wasn’t for you guys.
            It's been 5 years, but the question remains the same, "why did it have to be Sue, especially since she was so young?"

August 1st, 2012

Mission Trip 2012

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So last week (July 22 - 28) I went with my church to Montego Bay, Jamaica for a mission trip. Though we went there last year, it was just our group that year. This year we had another large group and 2 independent groups. The large group was a confirmation class from Wisconsin, most of who were on their first mission trip. The other two groups were a dating couple and a mom and daughter group. So it wasn't just our church this year. Fortunately, I brought a hammock this year so I could actually sleep.

The trip was fun right off the bat. While waiting for our flight out of Atlanta for Montego Bay, the dating couple saw our shirts (the official Next Step Ministries shirts) and wondered if we were going to the same place. Turns out we were. Later, the mom and daughter group got delayed by something like 5 hours in Ft. Lauderdale for some reason. The humidity was a lot easier to adjust to this year (the heat was not really a factor; it had been hot in Seattle for the two weeks prior). What was really fun was that we had the same bus driver as last year! He actually remembered all of us.

So even though we wanted to work on the rehab site, the foundation still hadn't been poured by the time we got there, so we ended up working at the same site we worked last year. No mortar and cinderblock this year, just lots of concrete and flashing (yes, that is the formal term for what we were doing, and it doesn't involve shirts). It was also seemingly cooler than last year. The temps and humidity was the same, but the breeze was really nice. And Dunn's River Falls gave the same leg damage (knees, not shins this time) and wonderful back massage.

I have to admit, it was much harder leaving this year. I made several very good friends this year and had a lot of very intimate conversations over the course of the week. I will never forget them. The memories they gave me are priceless and I can’t wait to see them again, whenever that will be.

March 25th, 2012

      "Who has put wisdom in the inward parts,
        or given understanding to the mind?"
                                          God, as quoted in Job 38:36
      "Sell it to me. Sell it to me. I'm so down today.
        Need some Retail Therapy. I've got cash to burn.
        Wish there was something else for me."
                                        Queensryche
      "What have we become? A self-indulgent people.
        What have we become? Tell me where are the righteous ones.
        What have we become? In a world degenerating."
                                      dc Talk

    What have we become? We live in a materialistic, consumerism-based culture. And at the same time, we as Christians are called to stay away from this mindset (Romans 12:2, James 1:27). We have become like those in Matthew 13:14-15:
You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart
and turn and I would heal them.
This verse is (partially) quoting Isaiah 6:9-10. A notable difference between the two is this: Matthew uses καρδία (heart), while Isaiah says "mind." Our faith is supposed to be an intellectual faith. Look at St. Paul. He never appealed to emotions/feelings. He always appealed to evidence, logic, and reason (from Acts: [not enough space for his epistles] 17:2, 17-18; 18:4; 19:8-9; 22:1[άπολογίας][short list here]), even quoting approvingly two secular philosophers (Posidonisis and Aratus, Acts 17:28). A big turn-off for many spiritual seekers looking into Christianity is that they can't seem to find anyone who can respond to them on the same level intellectually. They don't want to hear "Because I believe he did." or "The Bible says he did." when they ask "How do you know that Jesus died on the cross for your sins?"

      Actually, that example response failed not just intellectually, but in its reply to the [at least] three separate issues raised. 1. Did Jesus really die on the cross? 2. Did he die for the forgiveness of sins (and its corollary: Did he have the credentials to do so?)? 3. How can you know that he died for your sins in particular? There are literally entire books written that deal with just one of those issues and only that issue. The response the seeker is looking for is a concise, well-reasoned response with evidence and recommended reading if requested.

    The first step to replying on the same level as the inquirer intellectually is to know where to find quality information relevant to the question(s) raised. That means knowing two or more Christian intellectuals (yes, they really do exist!). Some examples to start reading: William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, C.S. Lewis (especially Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters), and Lee Strobel. Want to go old-school? Some of the most respected names in all of Western philosophy are St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Much of modern ethical and moral philosophy can be traced back to Augustine, Aquinas, and Plato. Not old enough? Paul's letter to the Romans is one extended argument for Christianity, with some important conclusions/implications at its end.

    The second step cannot take place until step one is completed. The second step is deceptively simple: read them! I'm not talking abridged, Reader's Digest, or Sparknote editions. I'm talking about getting a copy of the original (or a translation if necessary), a highlighter, dictionary, pen and notebook. (Told you it was deceptively simple.) Don't just read it to add to your list of books that you've read. Read it to understand it. Try and write a concise summary/outline of each chapter, including thesis, major points, and subpoints. When you've finished the book, see if you can reconstruct the outline of the entire book (not just each chapter, but the whole thing) from just your notes. Couldn't do it? Reread it and take better notes. This goes for any nonfiction, non-story book. Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig qualifies for this type of reading (Screwtape Letters works, but is the exception to the story condition). The Stranger Beside Me (good book, by the way) by Ann Rule doesn't make the grade. Self-help books also don't qualify. They commit the fallacy of appeal to emotion, when they should appeal to sound logic and reason.

    Another problem with self-help books is just that. They're self-help books. They focus on the emotional wants of the self, not the intellectual needs of the mind that are required for lasting change. J.P. Moreland states that:
                          According to Paul [in Romans 12:2], the key to change is the
                       formation of a new perspective, the development of fresh insights
                       about our lives and the world around us, the gathering of the
                       knowledge and skill required to know what to do and how to do it.
                                                    Love Your God With All Your Mind, p. 66
Anyone who has successfully kicked a bad habit will say "Amen!" to that. And those both successful and unsuccessful alike will testify to the difficulty and level of effort required. Self-help books utilize rhetoric, not reason, to a sickening degree. Many also highlight catchphrases that are supposed to remind you of the "right" thing to do. I can tell you right now what most self-help books say is the "right" thing to do: if it feels right/beneficial, it probably is. They couldn't be much farther from the truth. The right thing to do (in my opinion) is to not feel your way through life's situations, but to think your way through. Thinking your way through requires identifying your options, the prerequisites of said options, and the hypothetical (and realistic!) consequences of each option. Easier said than done. Which brings me to the third (and most certainly not final, space forbids me from going further) step.

    The third step is something many self-help books actually get right: set yourself a routine. Set yourself a goal of reading at least one philosophical or apologetic work of literature a month, plus or minus one or two weeks. I don't expect anyone save philosophy majors to finish Plato's Republic in a month. At the same time, J.P. Moreland's book Love Your God With All Your Mind shouldn't take the average reader more than three weeks. If you really set your mind to it (not your heart!), you will be amazed at what you can learn in such a short time!
We need to change, and
feelings are fluid, so change
the mind.
                          "A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh,
                          but passion [feelings] makes the bones rot."
                                                          Proverbs 14:30

February 19th, 2012

A letter from the Outside.

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To those who actually care about the rejected,

“All people want is someone to listen.” Hugh Elliott

Thank you. You understand, unlike the majority of society, that we too are humans, albeit different in more ways than most. You actually see the person inside, the individual longing to be loved and accepted. You refuse to let our actions and words that most see as uncouth and insensitive overshadow our intentions and motives. We all just want to be accepted and you have accepted us. Albert Camus once said that “[w]e only know of one duty, and that is to love.” You have demonstrated that more fully than anyone realizes.

You cannot fathom the impact your concern has had on us. Camus also said, “[n]obody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” You don’t want us to be “normal,” at least what the popular culture says is normal. You want us to be ourselves. You accept and love us for who we are, not what we are. The labels are irrelevant to you. You take the time and energy to work with us, to help us grow. You know that your relationships with us will be unconventional. You have ignored others when they try to convince you that we are a threat to your other relationships simply because you understand our need for close relationships. At the same time as you are doing this, society screams that we are nothing more than a menace and a threat to others. You do not conform to a society that sees the status quo as holy, and those who threaten it as evil. You have saved lives without trying to.

You have given us a second chance at life. Please don’t pull it away.

Signed,

The rejected, neglected, and shunned.

October 7th, 2011

Requiescat in pace

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“A friend is a second self.”
            Aristotle
 
    Four years. It's been a long, tumultuous four years since Sue died. Her death caused me to do a complete and thorough examine of everything I believed and valued. It ended up strengthening my faith, not destroying it.

    One area I reexamined during this time was relationships. What am I looking for in friendships? What type of person do I want to associate with? Proverbs says that, “a friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.” (17:17, NRSV) I found that to be especially true. Those who have supported and encouraged me the most these past few years have been my close friends, those whom I can share anything and everything with. Again Proverbs has insight here: “some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin.” (18:24, NRSV)
 
    Another aspect of relationships I found to be critical for my relationships is honesty and vulnerability. Proverbs provides hundreds of insights into this, but a few stick out for me. “One who gives an honest answer gives a kiss on the lips.” (24:26, NRSV) “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (27:5,6 NRSV) There is an analog outside of the Bible as well:
 
            One and the same tongue had first wounded me
            so that the blood came rushing to my cheeks, and
            then supplied the remedy.
                        Inferno, Canto XXXI, lines 1-3
 
This passage refers to Achilles' Lance, metaphorically used to describe the love of a woman: just as her look can destroy love, so her kiss can make one whole. Obviously, this is primarily about romantic love (ερος), but it can also apply to true friendships. A true friend will call you on double standards, mistakes, etc. but will also stand by you in your struggles. Aristotle once said that “Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods.” Another good quote on true friends: “A true friend is someone who thinks you are a good egg, even though he knows you are slightly cracked.”
 
Sue was more than a family friend. She was family.
 
Requiescat in pace Sue Paisley.

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