Thursday, November 23, 2017

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” – John Gardner

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
22 November
Life is a stickler for form. It doesn’t take kindly to the head-in-the-sand approach of the person with a throbbing toothache who refuses to go to the dentist because the needle is going to hurt.

“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” – Harriet Tubman

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst:
November 23
One man, looking decades back on his slave days as a youth of 9, recalled his first awareness of the existence of the thing called the Emancipation Proclamation: 'As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night.... Some man who seemed to be a stranger [a United States officer, I presume] made a little speech and then read a rather long paper—the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.'
- Booker T. Washington

'I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.'
- Martin Luther King Jr.

“It’s not m business to try and make God think like me… but to try, in prayer and penitence, to think like God.” – Aiden Wilson Tozer

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

“Self pity lies to you about who you are and steals from you who you can become.” - Anonymous

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
21 November
Here’s another sure-fire path back to prison, and it’s as innocent as they come. You're on parole; you’ve got a job and a place to live [translation: you’re WAY ahead of the game!]. You just got off work and you're walking home in the pouring rain. You're really tired after 8 hours of grueling work. It’s particularly grueling because, frankly, you're not used to work since all you do in prison is stand around all day watching your fingernails grow. But then, you hardly ever had the habit to begin with. Anyway, your car either doesn't work or does’t exist, so you're walking to your apartment through the pouring rain. It’s a 17-block hike, and you can feel the water squish as you wiggle your toes in your soggy runners. You're as miserable as a wet cat when a car slows down next to you and you hear, "Hey Bill, how long you been out? You wanna ride?" It’s your best friend, or at least the one you’ve known since you were both in diapers. Incidentally, he’s also the one who’s responsible for you going to prison in the first place. But you’re not thinking of what a palpitating disaster he is, not with all that rain. "Couple weeks,” you say, “and sure - it's wet out here."  So you get in - and four blocks later a cop pulls you over for a broken tail light and during the course of that little encounter he finds a gun in the trunk. You just violated one of the conditions of your parole, so back you go. The way you read that experience to yourself is all about self-pity: The System nailed you for taking a ride on a rainy day from a friend. What DOESN'T occur to you is that you're running with the wrong "friends."  In many ways you started out right, and with the best of intentions. But although you got a job and had a place to live and were ‘going straight,’ you were only tinkering around the edges. What you need to do is get rid of those loser friends. After all, they're the reason you got into trouble in the first place. If truth be told, they're like a rattlesnake that likes to get warm inside your sleeping bag. You're dimly aware that that's a bad idea so you decide you'll rectify the situation by changing the color of your sleeping bag!

“Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy.” – Nicholas Sparks

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst:
November 22
Has mathematics ever been more grim? In the first 30 days of the 1864 campaign between the principal army of the North, the Army of the Potomac, under the command of Ulysses S. Grant and the principal army of the South, the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of Robert E. Lee, the North lost 50% more than did the enemy, and yet there was sense in the awful arithmetic propounded by the President. 'If the same battle were to be fought over again, every day, through a week of days, with the same relative results,’ observed the President a few months earlier, ‘the army under Lee would be wiped out to its last man, the Army of the Potomac would still be a mighty host, the war would be over, the Confederacy gone. No general yet found can face the arithmetic, but the end of the war will be at hand when he shall be discovered.'

‘Do the best you can, leaving others to talk of you as they will.'
- Anonymous

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

“The greatest cruelty is our casual blindness to the despair of others.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst:
November 21
'I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.’
- Abraham Lincoln

'Sometimes I wonder if we shall ever grow up in our politics and say definite things which mean something, or whether we shall always go on using generalities to which everyone can subscribe, and which mean very little.'
- Eleanor Roosevelt