Cynicism is an Intellectual Cop Out…There is a Better Way

Cynicism is an intellectual copout, a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.

Cynicism is an intellectual cop out,a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction
and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.    Jeffrey R. Holland

There is a lot of cynicism being thrown around in our country right now. I believe in the quote by Jeffrey R. Holland. That is why I used it for today’s meme.

I understand concern. I understand differences of opinion. I understand a desire for leaders to see the world as we see it. I also understand that the solution to every problem, concern or care in this world is God.

I wish that I could share the memories of my near death experience with the world. In it, everyone would be blessed to see that God is real and His love is perfect and ever enduring. Everyone would see His infinite and complete perfection and understand that the key to all happiness, joy and true success is to make God an integral part of all we do and align our choices and actions with His unchanging truth.

The world is imperfect and we are imperfect but the greater the effort of mankind, as a whole, to choose light in this world, the more we will receive peace, safety, and joy. As Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “When God works through us, No One and Nothing can stand against us.”

I hope you enjoy today’s story which was shared by Hugh Downs!:

Hugh Downs on Overcoming Cynicism

One morning on our Today show we reported on a group of teenagers whose demonstrations had shocked their community. In the faces of the young people pictured on the screen I saw a total rebellion against authority.

“That could have been me 25 years ago,” I said to myself.

It started me thinking back to the age of 14 when the change within me occurred. Up until then I had accepted without question the patterns my parents had set. Then slowly I began to see things through a haze of contempt and rebellion.

Perhaps it was partly because I stood first in my class and took great pride in my pseudo-intellect and glib tongue. Success, I concluded, was all that mattered.

As captain of my own ship, I decided that I needed help from no one. Sensitivity to need and concern for others were, to me, signs of weakness or guilt. I had a theory for everything.

Since a great percentage of those in my home town of Lima, Ohio, were church-going people, I divided them into two neat groups: the ones who used church once a week as a cleansing ritual, and the others who attended church with the thought, “I want to be on the winning side in case there is something to all this.”

So I argued that all churches should be abolished because they stood in the way of faith. I theorized that a man can worship God as he sees fit—where and when he chooses. And if he doesn’t choose to, that is his privilege too. (I didn’t choose to, by the way.)

My name for this theory was “Reverse Piety.” It sounded very smart to me.

But as a working philosophy of life it was to prove more and more unsatisfactory. Actually I should have known better.

My father was a Methodist, my mother a Baptist, but in a spirit of early ecumenicity they became Episcopalians when they were married. Time after time they showed their concern for others.

For a while, my father and a partner ran an auto accessory store. When they went into the red, the partner declared himself bankrupt. My father and mother decided that there was a moral as well as a material obligation involved. He took a job and over the years paid back every penny he owed.

I resented it since it meant there was no money for me to continue college. I had to quit after the first year. My bitterness increased when I applied for 26 jobs in a row and didn’t get one.

Then one day I stopped at the radio station in Lima with the halfhearted hope that there might be some kind of job open. They gave me an audition—and to my surprise I was hired as an announcer. The pay was $7.50 a week.

There was hardly any direction to go but up. I was married and a father when one of those experiences occurred which, in retrospect, you can call a turning point.

The radio station where I worked had to cut costs. My job was in danger. Thinking that my boss was looking for a good excuse to let me go, I built up a real dislike of him.

Then one day he called me into his office. To my surprise his manner was kindly. He was concerned about me. And he worked out a plan for me to stay on the job.

Something happened inside me at that point to chip away at the crust of cynicism I had built up around myself. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, then said impulsively, “You do this for me when all the time I have been hating you because I didn’t think you wanted me here?”

My boss said calmly, “Why don’t you try to get outside of yourself, Hugh? If you do, you’ll tap a source of spiritual and physical energy that will make you feel inexhaustible.”

I chewed that thought long and hard. The words were certainly not new, but now they had meaning.

For a time I had been examining other faiths, from Judaism to Buddhism and Islam. Each has much to offer. Inevitably I came back to a reexamination of Christianity.

While pondering questions of faith and systems of philosophy, I was moving from radio to television, from Ohio to Chicago and then to New York. The years passed. I worked with Kukla, Fran and Ollie, with Sid Caesar, Jack Paar and the Today show.

As success came I followed the pursuits I liked: astronomy, boating, flying, celestial navigation, music. They can satisfy body and mind, but they leave the spirit unfulfilled. Yet, answers to my quest for faith were coming and piece by piece, like putting together a mosaic, the picture was taking form.

An actor contributed to it. I don’t even know his name. But he was in a very successful play and he was asked how he could possibly remain fresh after giving the same performance, day after day, 700 times.

“The audience hasn’t seen the play 700 times,” he said. “It’s a new play for them every night. If I thought only of myself I’d be stale by the 10th performance. But every night I think of the audience instead of myself and they renew and refresh me.”

Last year I sailed across the Pacific in a small boat. It was immensely satisfying to navigate that distance, even though I had a fall during the voyage that injured my spine. Back home, doctors said it required surgery.

I was taken to the hospital in a wheelchair. The operation was a success and I walked out without any help. Yet the experience added something to me.

First, the ordeal was neither fearsome nor intolerable though from the outside it seemed so. Second, there was always someone along the corridors whose troubles and pain were worse than your own. Cheering them was not depressing or morbid, but just the opposite. You got outside yourself.

At one time I served on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee of the New York State Mental Health Association. That committee was scheduled to make one of their regular visits to patients.

I would have ducked going, if I could. I couldn’t. In our car pool the driver of our auto was a rabbi whose sense of compassion interested me.

At the hospital we walked through the clean, neat rooms. Two very disturbed boys caught our attention. One was 13, the second, perhaps two years older. The older one said very little. The younger one said nothing at all.

As the rabbi talked with them I asked a nurse, “What hope is there for these boys?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Very little,” she said.

As we were leaving, I looked over my shoulder and saw the younger boy sitting on an oak bench, all alone, staring into nothingness, the picture of endless despair.

“That boy,” I said to the rabbi, “looks very much like my own son. I can’t help it, but I’m glad—” I was starting to express thankfulness for the fact that my son was normal.

“I know how you feel,” he interrupted. “That boy is my son.”

It was days before I got over the shock of that experience.

The picture of the rabbi not only ministering to his own son, and to all the afflicted in that institution, but also moving to save me embarrassment is still vivid before my eyes. For in his agony he had learned to lose himself in his concern for others.

This was what my parents were trying to tell me as they scrimped and sacrificed to pay off a debt that was moral, not legal. It was what my boss at the radio station was saying to me when I was 22; and it was what the actor meant when he talked about playing one role 700 times.

Different people were getting the message to me, but it took a long time before I really heard and embraced as the heart of my faith the words Christ uttered to His disciples: He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/emotional-and-mental-health/guideposts-classics-hugh-downs-on/page/0/2?nopaging=1

 

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The Difference between Effort and Sincere Effort

is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little.

Have you noticed in your life that, at times, a certain life lesson seems to be a reoccurring theme? That often happens to me and my current reoccurring theme seems to be sincere effort.

The Lord seems intent on helping me see the vast difference that occurs between the sign posts called effort and sincere effort!

There are three examples that come immediately to my mind. One has to do with  teaching, one has to do with scripture study and the other has to do with exercise.

Example One

I teach a class of 8 year old children every Sunday. As of the first of January, I received a new class. As I taught the first few Sundays of January, I found myself missing my old class. I had nothing against my new class, I just wanted my old class back. I got down on my knees and prayed about the situation. I asked to love my new class just like I loved my old class.

Then, as I prepared the lesson for my class, I spent extra time thinking about each member of my new class and their family situations and the things they seemed to like. Keeping a prayer in my heart, I picked a video to share with them that logic told me was too geared to adults to be to their liking. Despite the logic, my heart told me it needed to be the one that I used with my lesson. Short story even shorter, my lesson with my new class was amazing. They loved the video and we shared a wonderful lesson together and I walked away from the experience feeling in love with my new class. I went to some extra effort and I was the blessed recipient.

Example Two

I am a fan of my elliptical machine. I have utilized it for several years now. The first couple of years, I rationalized that because I was generally quite active, 20 minutes a day was enough exercise. I thought that the claims that 20 minutes of exercise a day was a good amount of time to exercise. I have frequently read a book while I exercised or watched some sort of video presentation. A few months ago, I started watching movies while I exercised. One movie proved to be so entertaining that I stretched my exercise time from 20 to 30 minutes. In the short span of 3 or 4 days, I could feel a significant benefit from my 10 minute increase in exercise time. Thank goodness for that movie! From that time forward, I have set aside 30 minutes for my morning exercise and I feel so much better because of it!

Example Three

Back when I was suffering from severe depression, I needed all the strength I could muster to help me through those dark and dismal days. I had read my scriptures for years prior to my depression but it had mostly been an effort in which I spent just enough time reading my scriptures to justify my conscience in checking them off of “my should do” list. Life eventually became so difficult for me that I had to find a way to bring more light into my life. Scriptures became a part of that light. Instead of reading just a few verses – I would sometimes read for a few hours. A miracle occurred as I made a real and lasting place for scriptures in my life. Instead of being just a 5 minute effort I participated in to justify my conscience, they became one of my best friends and a secure and enduring source of strength. I was reading the same books and the same words but with a sincere approach. It made all the difference in the world and I truly believe the strength I received, as a result, saved my life.

If you are trying to work through difficult times, look at your life. Are you giving effort or sincere effort to those areas of your life that you are struggling with? Perhaps a few minor adjustments in your efforts can provide you with just the help you need!

Today’s story testifies to me of the importance of being sincere (and honest) in our lives. I hope you enjoy!:

The Zamindar’s Servant

A village zamindar (a landowner and village tax collector) and his wife had a number of goats. A servant, a young boy, looked after them. The zamindar liked the boy very much, but his wife was suspicious of him. Fortunately the lad did not know this. The wife was very clever. Outwardly she was kind, polite and affectionate to him, but inwardly she was hostile and mistrustful.

One day a friend came to the zamindar’s home and saw that he was very sad. The friend asked, “Why are you sad?”

The zamindar answered, “My wife and I are not getting along because of this servant. We each have a different opinion of him.”

The friend said, “Don’t worry. I can solve the problem and tell you whether he is good or bad.”

One day while the servant was watching the goats in a field, the master’s friend came up to him and said, “This particular goat is so beautiful. Will you sell it to me for five rupees?”

The boy answered, “No, I am sorry. I cannot sell it.”

The friend asked again, “Will you sell it to me for 10 rupees?”

The boy said, “No, I am sorry.”

“Twenty rupees?” the friend asked.

The servant said, “If you want to buy the goat, go to my master and give him the 20 rupees. If my master says he will sell it, then I will give it to you.

The friend said, “Who wants to go to your master? His house is quite far. Let me give You 30 rupees. I am sure that your master does not give you enough salary. Keep the 30 rupees and tell your master that the goat was stolen. Your master has so many goats. He won’t even know it is gone.”

“Oh no,” the boy said, “I can’t do that. He would know. And even if he didn’t notice, I know how many goats he has, so I would know that one was missing.”

The friend said, ‘Just take 30 rupees and give me the goat. Then go and give your master the money and tell him you have sold it.”

The boy said, “No, I am sorry. I can’t sell it without my master’s permission.”

“If I give you 100 rupees, will you give me the goat?” the friend said. “Then you can keep all the money.”

“I am not a thief,” the servant said. “I could never keep the money.”

The friend said, “You could give him 70 rupees and keep 30 for yourself. Or you could just tell him the goat was stolen and keep all the money for yourself.”

“I could never do that,” the young man said.

But the man persisted, and the servant finally conceded, “If you really want to give me 100 rupees for one goat, then I will accept the money and give it to my master.”

The zamindar’s friend was very curious to see what the servant would do with the money. He thought, “Either he will give his master a little less or tell him the goat was stolen. No matter what he does, I will be able to tell his master the true story.”

The servant went to his master and gave him the hundred rupees. He said, “Master, forgive me. Without your permission I sold a goat for a hundred rupees. I knew that the goat was only worth five rupees, but this man insisted

on giving me a hundred for it. I thought that you would be very happy to get 100 rupees for a goat that is worth only five. Now you can buy many more goats.”

The wife said to the servant, “I wish to speak to my husband privately for a minute. Would you please go away from here now?”

Then the wife said to her husband, “I don’t trust him. I tell you, he sold it at an even higher price and is giving us only part of it.” She did not know that it was the zamindar’s friend who had bought the goat.

Just then the zamindar’s friend arrived at his house and asked, “What is happening?”

The zamindar said, “Our servant tells us he sold a goat for a hundred rupees. I don’t suspect him of wrongdoing, but my wife, as usual, does. She feels that he has sold the goat for a still higher price and kept some money for himself. “

The friend said, “You will never find anybody in your lifetime as honest and sincere as this servant. It was I who bought the goat for a hundred rupees. I tried to persuade him to keep the money for himself. I was testing him. But each and every time he proved his honesty. I have examined him thoroughly. He is sincerity incarnate.”

The zamindar said to his wife, “I told you so!”

The wife said, “It is always good to test people in this way. From now on, I will trust this boy as my own son.”

from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy

Shared from the following website: http://www.writespirit.net/stories-tales/stories-by-sri-chinmoy/tales-of-sincerity/the-zamindars-servant/

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As We Observe Evil and Opposition

Female climber struggles up the edge of a challenging cliff.

Opposition and trials are a part of life. They are also a part of growth. There is no question that, at times,  great suffering comes as a result of the choices of others. However, we should be quick to note that great blessings also come because of the choices of others.

We would all do well to remember that each of us is a contributor to the world we live in. None of us has an anonymous effect on the world. It is our choice whether our contribution will be positive or negative at any given moment. Choices are a blessing and we are given great power in the blessing of choice.

I am often inspired by stories that share the power of positive choice – especially under adverse conditions. I believe that positive choices combined with faith and prayer constitute the ingredients for receiving some of God’s greatest blessings!

It is in that spirit that I want to share a story from the blog of Seth Adam Smith at:  https://sethadamsmith.com which was shared on March 27, 2014:

I’ve been feeling really discouraged lately—like, really discouraged. While struggling to move forward, I was quietly reminded of this true story. It is—quite frankly—one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever heard.

It was the summer of 1941, and the Nazis were rapidly tearing through Russia, destroying everything in their path. Adolph Hitler had pompously declared that by August 9, 1942, Nazis would celebrate the taking of Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg).

On September 8, 1941, the Nazis surrounded the city of Leningrad, forming a blockade.

The city’s almost 3 million civilians (including about 400,000 children) refused to surrender and endured rapidly increasing hardships in the encircled city. Food and fuel stocks were limited to a mere 1-2 month supply, public transport was not operational and by the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942 in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the city’s food rations reached an all time low of only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per person per day. In just two months, January and February of 1942, 200,000 people died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. Despite these tragic losses and the inhuman conditions the city’s war industries still continued to work and the city did not surrender. [Source: Saint-Petersburg.com]

By the end of the siege, the number of deaths in Leningrad outnumbered those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined.

Under these conditions, in the midst of what would become an 872-day siege, the Symphony of Leningrad planned a “counter-offense.” They resolved to perform the newly-completed Seventh Symphony of Dmitry Shostakovich, a native of Leningrad, and broadcast it on loudspeakers throughout the city, towards enemy lines.

The score—both long and complex—called for a 90 piece orchestra, and only half of the members of the symphony at Leningrad had survived the horrors of the siege.

Despite extra rations, many members of the symphony would faint from exhaustion during rehearsals. They all had strength enough to play through the whole piece only once—three days before their big performance.

Their performance was set for August 9, 1942. It was no coincidence that August 9th was also the date set by Hitler to celebrate the capture of Leningrad.

The Philharmonic Hall was packed – people came in their finest clothes; city leaders and generals took their places. The musicians, despite the warm August temperature, wore coats and mittens – when the body is starving, it is continually cold. Outside, throughout the city, people gathered to listen at loudspeakers. Hours earlier, Leonid Govorov, Leningrad’s military commander since April 1942, ordered a barrage of artillery onto the German lines to ensure their silence for long enough time for the work to be performed without interruption. Loudspeakers, on full volume, pointed in the direction of the Germans – the city wanted the enemy to hear.

‘This performance,’ announced Eliasberg in a pre-recorded introduction, ‘is witness to our spirit, our courage and readiness to fight. Listen, Comrades!’ And the city listened, as did the Germans nearby. They listened as the city of Leningrad reasserted its moral self.

At the end – silence. Then came the applause, a thunderous applause that lasted over an hour. People cheered and cried. They knew they had witnessed a momentous occasion. It was, as Eliasberg described later, the moment ‘we triumphed over the soulless Nazi war machine.’…

…Years after the war, Eliasberg met some Germans who had been sitting encamped in their trenches outside the city. On hearing the music, they told the conductor, they had burst into tears, ‘Who are we bombing?’ they asked themselves, ‘We will never be able to take Leningrad because the people here are selfless.’ [Source: History in a Minute]

When I get really discouraged, I often think about this symphony of Leningrad. They were starving, dying, and surrounded by forces that wanted to destroy them. And yet, in the face of such evil, they found within themselves the strength to play music. And their music was a force that turned the tide of the war.

So, if you’re feeling discouraged and defeated—don’t quit. Play on, hope on, and move forward. Just like the symphony at Leningrad, the music you play—even in the midst of incredible darkness—can and will turn the tide of your own battles.

May great blessing be yours! Have a wonderful weekend!

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Be the Change You Want to See in the World…

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Do you ever want to see change in the world we live in? Do you want people to be nicer? Do you want your relationships to be stronger and more rewarding? Would you like this world to be a little bit of heaven on earth? I believe that, at times, we all want the world to be better.

Yet, if we look long enough, there are wonderful things about this world and there are wonderful people! This world is full of goodness, inspiration and miracles! We attract those things that we value and cherish!

Yet, evil does exist and will so long as we chose to be participants. If we want the world to be a safe place to be – we must do our part to make it safe. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if everyone in the world chose to be honest, then we would know that we could trust everyone. There was such a time that existed in previous Asian cultures. In that culture, a man’s (woman’s) word was his word. Even on the battle field, if an enemy declared that he would surrender and never come to battle again, they could be trusted to take their arms, go home and never be a threat again.

That kind of world can exist. It is all a matter of choice. Remember that God will always maintain our ability to choose – even if our choices are negligent and/or immoral.

When we choose to be a person who is honest and trustworthy, we choose to bring the world one step closer to paradise. When we choose to allow those who are untrustworthy to suffer the consequences of their actions, we take a giant leap towards the ideal of making the world a heaven on earth.

I believe the world has become apathetic towards violence, dishonesty, and morality. As a result, we live in a world that is more violent, less secure, and where greater unhappiness thrives.

If we want a utopia, we must do our part rather than claim we are an exception from the rules.

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We Are All Visitors from Heaven…

We are all visitorsWe are all visitors from heaven.  The fact that most of us don’t remember our existence there is a testament to three things:

  • The importance of our time on earth
  • The importance of developing faith
  • God’s love and mercy

In order to really learn, grow, and develop faith, our experience on earth had to be free of our memories of our existence with God. Developing faith in ourselves and in God would have been impossible if we were allowed to retain those memories. If we were allowed to remember our Eternal Father – we would know him and no faith would be required. I saw, during my return to heaven, that developing faith was the primary underlying reason for our need to have a mortal experience. Though our time in mortality is short in contrast to our eternal existence, what we do here and what we learn here is enormously important. I was shown in heaven that learning to love, serve, and develop our gifts was vital to the overall success of our lives here on earth. We can all identify with how we miss loved ones when we must be absent from them for extended periods of time. Though we don’t remember those we have left behind to come to this life, we have left loved ones behind in heaven. It is a blessing that our loving Father in Heaven protects our memories of our previous existence so that homesickness and missing our loved ones does not get in the way of our growth experiences here. When we understand that life is a faith developing and personal growth experience, it helps to give us a truer perspective of the bigger picture!

 

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