Just like I did in 2015, I’m listing five things I know for sure:
- We Are A Nation of Systems. Two decades ago I sat in a courtroom listening as a judge admonished a gun-toting mayor, charged with dereliction of duty, saying, “We are a nation of laws, not men.” The oft-repeated Americanism, though, does not go far enough. We are not a nation of laws — we are a nation of systems. Political systems, religious systems, educational systems, legal systems and judicial systems, to name a few. They often have competing goals, leading to a perpetual gridlock that hampers the quality of life for its citizens. And, as I learned firsthand in 2016 — after my teenage daughter reported being the victim of a crime — when a system fails, getting answers is cumbersome because protecting the system becomes the priority.
- Evangelicals Lost Credibility In 2016. According to Jesus, only a handful of things are required to get into heaven (Matthew 25: 35-36), yet the Orange One’s ascent to power was, in large part, because of evangelicals voting for a man who does not embrace those beliefs. In American history, the evangelicals only ‘got it right’ for about 40 years when they accepted Jesus’ core message and embarked on the Social Gospel movement. In time, fear and ignorance crept back in, leading to the current revival in anti-intellectualism. If evangelicals want to regain their credibility, though, they could start by letting the Bible make them more liberal.
- A Good Dog Is Therapeutic. Dogs add something to life. Maybe because they sleep 12-16 hours a day. Maybe because they have the brain capacity of a toddler (an age when hero worship is common). Regardless of the reason, a good dog can make the worst of days a little better. They are excellent companions for long walks in the woods. They expect little, but deliver a lot of joy, smiles, happiness and loyalty. They can teach you how to live in the Now.
- Perception Is Reality. Dogs are also walking ‘Oprah moments.’ My dog is a mixed-breed female, but nearly everyone she meets calls her a him. Although this was solved with a pink collar, her pedigree identity can’t be fixed that easily. I’ve been told she ‘looks like a’ Catahoula, Boxer, Whippet and Pit Bull even though her paperwork lists her as a Border Collie/Lab mix. All this ‘knowing’ has taught me a lot about people and dogs. People are extremely inept at visually determining a dog’s breed and their overreliance on personal experience (i.e. I owned a Boxer) determines the breed they ‘see.’ The lesson applies to many things in life. What a person perceives as truth — is true — regardless of its basis in fact.
- Life Is As Easy — Or Difficult — As You Make It. Alan Watts compares our existence to a river and notes that when a river reaches a bank it does not beat against it or try to plow through. Instead it bends and finds an easier way. Some efforts just don’t pay off. Accept it and move on. Life is easier when you do.