Wednesday’s Word: Destruction


In my efforts to start back on a blogging schedule and search the vast corners of the earth for more words that move me, I am going to start a Wednesday Word.

I will post a word, quote, phrase or who knows what else that moves me, inspires me, enrages me or more. I may comment on it. Or perhaps I will not. Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic too.

So here goes, the Wednesday Word is: Destruction

Recently, I started a military leadership class. It involves a great deal of reading, and then, some more reading. There are lessons on leadership, tactics, strategic thinking and history. Surprisingly, the history lessons seem to be interesting me the most.

I find this odd as I have never really been a history buff. However, as I age, I have come to discover it is not as boring as I had once believed.

I think it started with some historical fiction books by Phillipa Gregory that I read a couple of years ago. I read an entire series on a few kings and queens of England. Of course, I realize the stories are fiction but they intrigued me enough to start seeing what main events were reported to be true that the author had based her stories around. It became quite fascinating…and scandalous.

Time progressed, and I started watching some documentaries and historical fiction television shows. I started looking up even more events. As I found out more, I started to wonder if it was just human nature to destroy things, including themselves.

Then, I started this military class, and according to historical records, humans seem pretty hellbent on destroying others and things. Dating back to the B.C. era, people of all races, religions and cultures have sought power, righteousness or money. To get it, history has shown they will stop nothing. One of my history books stated that one group of people were  extremely “successful” in terms of military tactics. Well, that is if you consider mass murders of entire cities as success.

”’the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox and sheep and ass with the edge of the sword.”   — The Cambridge History of Warfare pg 16 as it states the familiar Biblical account of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho.

Think about our history. Brothers have tried to kill their own family members for the crown. The Germans tried to obliterate the Jews. Bosnia suffered ethnic cleansing, as other countries did as well. It goes on and on.

Generation after generation, somewhere in the world there has been, and continues to be, a batch of evil doers set on destruction for reasons of greed, religion or power.

On the other hand, when we are not trying to kill others, us humans are pretty good at destroying ourselves. Our tools of destruction may be less noticeable than genocide or war, but they obtain results on a smaller scale nonetheless.

Individually, we destroy ourselves through poor eating and exercising habits; smoking, drinking or injecting a multitude of drugs, alcohol or chemicals known to be bad for us. We stress ourselves out to the point of immobility and inaction. We doubt ourselves so much we create a self fulfilling prophecy of unmet goals.

As I learn more, I am shocked that all this destruction. To my knowledge, there doesn’t appear to be any race, religion, culture or ethnic group who has not had some historical event with evil, destruction or war. (To those who are indeed perfect since the dawning of time, I apologize. ) It seems to have effected us all at one point, and continues to plague the world even today.

Today’s world is full of anger, bigotry, sexism, racism, judgement…We are divided on politics. We argue about the use of bathrooms. We try to ban people from serving their countries based on their personal life. We are more upset when people take a knee during the anthem than we are when we are told outright national-level lies. We refuse to acknowledge scientific facts, trends and similarities to history. We are emboldened to push our personal agendas on each other in this me-first era.

Frankly, it is all mental exhausting. I don’t pretend know the answers. I only know the questions and attempt to see all the viewpoints. In most things, I can understand and empathize the various points of view. So I don’t have a dang clue on how to solve the world’s problems. Heck, I can’t even solve my  own I-need-to-lose-15-pounds problem.

But hey, according to history, after we all destroy each other and ourselves, there will be another several generations behind us to relive all the same or similar issues (with some minor adjustments for the change in times). Well, there should be anyway providing we don’t create any population- or world-ending kind of problems…we just might be doomed this time.

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My random thoughts on history and how we seem to repeat it, but with even more flair.

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A journey to another level


The past few months, I have been on a spiritual journey. Not the picturesque kind where you trek through some tropical jungle or pristine mountain, alone with nature and finding God. No, mine has not been nearly that glamorous. My spiritual journey has been a lot more realistic and intermingled with work, endless chores, daily responsibilities and the mundane beauty of life. Of course, I didn’t set out to have a journey, but I am having one nonetheless.

The thing with unintended journeys, is that you don’t know you’re on one until it starts. Then, once you notice it, you cannot be sure when it will stop – not that it really needs to. This spiritual awakening seems to be centered around three seemingly inconsequential events: a two-week military class, a movie and a family visit.

First, I didn’t expect enlightenment from a mandatory two-week military class. Quite the contrary actually. I expected a painful experience that included charts and tactical maneuver plans, which I can honestly say I am lagging behind on in terms of familiarity due to my job field. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of grilling the students on tactical decisions and military knowledge, they forced us to expand our perceptions. We discussed critical thinking, personalities and strategy.

In each of the sections, we broke things down. Why do we think something? Where did that belief come from? Did we consider another view point? Did we consider third- or fourth-order effects? We discussed thinking traps and fallacies, biases and preferences. We explored how different personality types work and how to work with each style. We argued national strategy in thoughtful and respectful way. At times, it was a painful experience for some of us. We had to listen to view points we didn’t like or agree with. But we had to listen. We had to think. We had to consider these statements and beliefs and dig deep. Not just think, oh, I don’t agree with you. It was more. It was WHY don’t I agree with you? Then, came the hard part — we had to dissect our whys and give them logical reasons to support them.

In general, I don’t think most of us do this very well, especially in the very divided Nation that we seem to have lately. We all want to be right. We all want to feel heard. Yet, a good majority of people don’t really LISTEN (myself included). We don’t stop to hear all the sides, weigh the facts and situations, and put ourselves into that perception. No, we immediately jump to decisions and conclusions and judgements. We tend to assume we would have done something better, something different or something obvious. Yet, we were not in that situation with all those factors weighing on us. And, we didn’t HAVE to make a decision.

There are no quick fixes or easy answers in life. People are difficult. Life is messy. And situations are never the same. Then factor in alternative facts, propaganda and emotion just to complicate things even more.

Just because you think you might do something in one situation, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to solve a problem. Just because you are offended by something, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s logical.

I was thinking all of these things, pouring over my life, world events and all the whys. I was trying to see the world differently. Then, I watched a movie (The Shack) that put these thoughts into more perspective.

In the movie, a father takes a spiritual journey after the loss of his child. There were several thought-provoking moments of the movie that I really recommend watching. However, one of the more prominent moments for me was when the father is asked to decide which of his two remaining children will go to Heaven and which will go to Hell. Naturally, he struggles with this choice and eventually offers himself instead. Remind you of a Biblical story any?

Surrounding this part of the story is judgement and love. There is a line where the Holy Spirit tells the grieving father that man was not designed to judge others, yet we do it every day. We judge people by their clothes, jobs, talents, culture, religion, race, hair color, political party and so on. Every day we make judgements on people we have never met, never spoken to, never considered. We measure them against ourselves like we are some perfect role model that does no wrong. We expect them to look like us, be like us and respond like us. Yet, we never consider what it is like to be them, walk in their shoes, or deal with situations from their view point. But naturally, we must be right and they must be wrong.

When I combined these thoughts on judgement with the thoughts swirling in my head from class, it stopped me. It made the world even more complex and overwhelming to me. How can we ever hope for world peace when the human race is too busy judging each other? How can we solve real issues when we don’t typically use critical thinking skills? How do we improve things in our world/Nation/state/county/neighborhood/home when we don’t want to change or consider others or include others’ thoughts? I didn’t know, and it felt overwhelming.

Then, I went home for a visit. While home, there was a good bit of tension. Without telling the situation (since it is not my story to tell), I will just say that my family circle had a series of events to deal with: a tragedy, a mistake and a decision.

While dealing with a devastating tragedy, a family member made a mistake and now that person and others around them were forced to deal with it. The path they chose was not typical, and it upset some people. So much that it created division. People chose sides, built camps and stopped talking. Anger and resentment and hurt were working hard into the hearts of loved ones.

I had my thoughts on the situation of course. Would I have put up with this? Would I have done something different? Immediately, I thought yes. There is no way I would have done XYZ! But then I stopped. I stopped judging, and started loving. I started to think of what it must be like to be in that series of events. I thought about the third- and fourth-order effects behind the possible decisions. I thought about what my anger may have been if I were in the place of those family members. I thought about what my anger was in my current place. I considered WHY I felt the way I did…and then I expressed those thoughts to my loved ones.

It was a difficult talk. I was filled with my own emotion and they were filled with theirs. I explained my view points and concerns and they explained theirs. I heard their emotion. I felt a taste of their pain. I could see the difficult choices they had before them. Would I have chosen differently? Frankly, I don’t know. Everyone is different, so maybe. But really, who am I to judge how someone lives their life? Who am I to rate how they responded to the situations?

I may not have to agree with the choices made, but it doesn’t really matter. What was important for me to realize was that my only part in this mess was to decide on one thing – did I still love my family members or not? Of course I did. So, if I loved them and stopped judging them, all I needed to do was support them.

That didn’t mean I held a parade praising the things I didn’t like. It didn’t mean I embraced the factors I was concerned about. But my opinion on their life was irrelevant. All I needed to do was help them, love them and offer an ear. I didn’t need to write them off and out of my life just because they were dealing with some unorthodox situation. I didn’t need to stop talking to them because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t need to be mean to them because I would have chosen some holier-than-thou option. I just needed to love them.

I suppose the moral of the story is that my journey has brought me to a conclusion. We may not be able to solve the world’s problems, nor can we always solve the ones near home. However, if we start with our own hearts and homes, we can make a difference. We can start a ripple of love. We can stop judging and start loving. We can stop assuming we are better, faster and stronger than everyone else and use critical thinking skills to work on issues. We can move past our biases and preferences to really think about a situation before we speak on it. We can do some homework and research and gather real facts before we spout of hate and judgement on a topic or person or situation. We can stop grouping individuals as all the same.

I know that is all easier said than done, and the world will probably just continue on its angry divided judgmental path. However, I do have the choice to be different. I have the choice to not be a part of the negative. I have the choice to make a difference in my part of the world, and I choose to be fair and loving. I choose to dig deep and think things out, weighing the options. I choose to not judge. I choose to try to be a better person and hopefully, that will make a difference. And, if we all do the same, that ripple could spread. And maybe, just maybe, together we can make a bigger difference.

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May God grant you with wisdom and patience as you move through life. Just don’t forget to love in the struggle. ~ Nato