The Seven Blunders of the World

On March 20, 1925, an Anglican priest named Frederick Lewis Donaldson preached a sermon centering around what he called the “7 Deadly Social Evils.”  Through the help of what he called a “fair friend,” Mohandas Gandhi had the opportunity to reprint the list in his weekly newspaper.  A few weeks before the Mahatma’s assassination, he gave a handwritten copy of the list to his grandson, Arun Gandhi.  It was Arun Gandhi that brought the list to the world, publishing it after his grandfather’s death under the heading “Seven Blunders of the World.”

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Niksen: The art of doing your best work by doing nothing at all

Doing something is not always the right choice.  Sometimes it is better to do nothing.  Nothing at all.  It’s a concept the Dutch call niksen.  It encourages people to deliberately take time every day — especially the busiest days — to sit motionless, gaze out a window at nothing in particular, whatever it takes to disengage your mind and body.

American workers, always with the go-go-go mentality, tend to view this approach with disdain.  It’s lazy.  It’s wasteful.  The only proper way to work is full throttle, full time.  On a related note, American workers suffer greatly from depression, stress, high blood pressure, and divorce.  A connection, perhaps?

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1 + 1 = 2, therefore you are an idiot

Facts are stubborn things, said John Adams.  But being stubborn does not always win you an argument.  We have all been in “discussions” in which we were correct and the simpleton on the other side of the table was not.  We laid out the facts as plainly as anyone could.  And they remained unconvinced.

Maybe they found comfort in character assassination, or muddied the waters with irrelevant information.  Maybe they just threw up their hands and left the room.  Maybe they even took a swing at you.  What they didn’t do, though, is change their mind.  Facts had nothing to do with their position, either before or after the discussion.

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Holiday coping mechanisms (some better than others)

Is the holiday season getting you down?  I mean, even more “down” than normal?  Do you instinctively head for the firearms section in your local Walmart when you hear yet another Christmas carol slaughtered by some boy band or country crooner?  Be of good cheer, citizen — there are a variety of remedies on the market.

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Back

Some of you are old enough to remember when a fried chicken dinner required not only a frying pan but also either kitchen shears or a big knife.  That’s right, back in our day chickens were purchased in grocery stores, not drive-thru windows.  And they looked pretty much like actual chickens, just without feathers, heads and feet.

When my mom served us fried chicken, she insisted on taking the back.  That’s a piece of chicken the Colonel doesn’t serve, of course.  But it’s there, right there with breasts, thighs and drumsticks.  I always thought she was “taking one for the team,” as mothers often do — leaving the choice pieces for the rest of us.  Now I’m starting to wonder if Mom was playing us.

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Get to work

For me, the toughest thing about cutting grass — by far — is putting on my shoes.  It seems illogical, but it’s true.  I will come up with any and every conceivable reason to not get out there and do what needs to be done.  Too hot.  Too wet.  Too tired.  Too busy.  Too many interesting videos on YouTube.

Once I get my shoes on, though, I’ll go.  And once I go, I’ll finish. 

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A few words about "change"

A Facebook “preachers” group that I somehow became attached to (you social media types know how easily that can happen) brought a preacher in Tuscumbia, Alabama, named Jesse Winn to my attention. After e-mailing Bro. Winn and exchanging a few thoughts and pleasantries, I decided (with his permission) to include his name and a link to the article in question. You can find the article here. I encourage you to read his article with the same prayer, spirit and consideration I ask when you read mine. The gist of his article was this (his emphasis):

I believe that, generally speaking, as a movement, we (the churches of Christ) need to be less afraid of change when necessary and more willing to question things.

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Free life advice from a cheapskate

My propensity for frugality is not a secret.  So when I saw an article online about the biggest cheapskates ever, I had to read it.  You know me.  Always looking for ideas.

Paying for a muffin out of the tip jar.  OK, that’s not cheap; that’s thievery.  I oppose that. Driving all over town to find gas two cents cheaper?  That’s penny wise and pound foolish.  But washing out jars to use as drinking glasses?  Saving soy sauce packets?  What’s wrong with that?

An interesting side note: Lots of the cheapskates mentioned in the article were rich.  Their friends seemed to think that was an indication of a character flaw, and perhaps it was.  On the other hand, is it possible that their cheapskate ways had something to do with them having a lot of money in the bank?  Seems at least possible.

Plenty of people are willing to envy the success of others while thinking themselves morally superior to them for avoiding the measures that made the others successful.  That’s perverse.  The reason people underachieve is that they refuse to make sacrifices in the short term.  They want to have their cake and eat it too — and lose weight in the process!

If you don’t want to stoop over to pick up a penny, that’s perfectly justifiable.  You don’t owe me an explanation.  But don’t resent me for picking it up and then ask me to borrow a penny an hour later. 

I say all that to say this: my life, all in all, is pretty fantastic.  Much of that is because I have been spared some of the indignities and pain that plague the lives of others, including other Christians.  And yes, some of that “just turned out that way” — attribute that as you like, whether to God’s blessings, my parents’ influence, or simply being in the right place at the right time.  But it’s not all just the luck of the draw, the roll of the dice, the whim of fate.  Much if not most of my fortunate circumstances are a result of deliberate choices I made along the way. 

In short, I worked hard to get this lucky.  I found a good wife because I worked at it.  I reared godly children because I worked at it.  I made and maintained friendships because I worked at it.  I grew my faith because I worked at it.  Not all of my circumstances were of my choosing.  But plenty of them were.

This is not meant to brag.  This is meant to inspire.  You are not a prisoner of fate.  Perhaps you cannot control your destiny, but you can certainly direct it.  If you want to marry well, you first set your eyes on your values system.  Seek a Proverbs 31:10-31 kind of woman — or be that kind of woman yourself.  Seek a man who thinks “provide for his own” (1 Timothy 5:8) means more than making a lot of money — or be that kind of man yourself.  If you want godly children, be a godly person.  If you are blessed with children, show them what it is to live under God’s authority.  Show them with the “rod of discipline” if necessary (Proverbs 22:15).  If you want closer relationships, make them!  Go the extra mile in doing so (Matthew 5:41).  Each of us is under obligation to love his neighbor; no one is issued a “sit on your couch and wait” exemption as far as I can tell.

The hidden glory of this plan, God’s plan, is that it succeeds even when it “fails.”  In a worst-case scenario, you are left as a better Christian, more grounded in your faith, more prepared for heaven, but not in the precise circumstances you would have chosen.  Could it be better?  Obviously.  Will it get better?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  In any case, your situation, whatever it may be, is  not only one you can learn to live with, but also one you can learn to rejoice in (Philippians 4:4) and find contentment in (Philippians 4:11). 

God has given you that power in Jesus.  Don’t squander it by sitting by idly, hoping to get struck by the lightning of good fortune.  

If at first discipline doesn't succeed, ... Try, Try Again!

Discipline fails oftentimes because the disciplinarians quit too early.  Junior is grounded because of bad grades, then he goes and sulks in his room, determined to do even worse the next test just to spite Mom and Dad.  Junior makes out on both fronts; he does do worse, and Mom and Dad get so frustrated that they quit grounding him because it “doesn’t work.”

It’s not supposed to work.  Not like that, anyway.

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Read the signs!

Social media has given a voice to people who take great pleasure in being obnoxious.  Space fails to provide a comprehensive proof of this concept; for our purposes here, I will limit my frame of reference to those who take pictures of themselves doing precisely what a sign is instructing people not to do.  Walking on the grass, swimming, smoking, the situational prohibitions run the gamut.  And the existence of the sign more or less implies that the behavior is not necessarily unlawful; people are simply asked to choose a different time and/or place.

Nope.  “Look at me!  I’m a rebel!  I break rules!  No one can tell me what to do!”  As the saying goes, it’s all fun until someone gets eaten by an alligator.

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Firing

What is with college football fans, media and administrations with regard to the firing of coaches?  It happened again recently, as Florida residents know.  Yet another coach let go before his contract expires — before Halloween, even.  You’d think no one had ever lost to their biggest rival by more than five touchdowns before.

I will confess to a bit of bias in the other direction.  It’s easy for me to wince a bit when a disgruntled population grows fed up with the status quo and lashes out at the one behind the microphone.  Been there, done that. 

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