Quote: Character

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln

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Speak from Experience

Photo by franzkohlerI’ve been thinking quite a bit about this lately because I seem to have hit a pocket of time where most of what I read is telling me to do something. And that would be fine, except that most of the people telling me what to do haven’t a bit of experience in the field they are giving advice.

They say that those that can’t do teach, but I’ve never believed that. The most successful teachers I know are the ones who can relate their subjects to real life. Look at the rocks in earth science. Apply the math. Work with real statistics. Explain the process in detail. Relate the history to what is going on in the world now. Link the book to individual experience.

It doesn’t matter whether or not the person is an official teacher: those that have the real-world applications are always going to be more successful in teaching because they can teach from a practical point.

And then there is the flip side. So much untested and unwarranted advice out there. Productivity bloggers telling us how to manage working hours in an office when they are self-employed. Mothers telling us how to manage busy schedules and household chores who stay at home while their kids are in school. Authors telling us how to write best-sellers when they haven’t even been published.

The funny thing is that with this last case at least, people who buy books on writing best-sellers expect to see the credentials of those writing the books. And if you don’t have the chops, the book doesn’t get bought. Why are people so willing to take advice without understanding if the person knows the subject?

I am very lucky that I work in a practical field. When people in IT are writing blog articles, they show their code, and they know it works. If it doesn’t, they will be castigated. (Doesn’t happen very often, I might add.)

It seems to me that the world would be much better off, and the information out there of better quality, if those who were teaching were qualified to teach.


Photo by franzkohler

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Self-Examination

Photo by jonkeeltyOne of the things that amazes me is that people will latch onto excuses for why others are acting as they are, and it has no bearing on reality.

I have heard this several times recently. I have overheard, or had said to me “you just don’t like me because I’m…” fill in the blank here: gay, straight, white, black, female, male, younger than you, older than you, a Republican, a Democrat…you get the idea.

Let me tell you a story.

When I was teaching, I had a student who was a nice kid. He asked intelligent questions, and often ate lunch in my room. He was out of school for several months with an injury, and when he came back he was in my repeater class. During the intervening months he had decided to come out as gay. This is a difficult thing, and he struggled. But he had also turned into a mouthy, obnoxious, whiny kid. He was failing my class because he refused to do the work, even in class. He argued with everyone, including me. And at one point, he looked me in the eye and said, “you just don’t like me because I’m gay.” And I walked to the other side of the room and bit my lip to stop from saying, “no, I don’t like you because you’re an asshole.”

So someone said to me the other day, “you just won’t listen to me because I’m a republican.” Nope, I won’t listen to him because he starts every conversation with me telling me how I’m wrong.

It’s fairly simple, and has nothing to do with gender, skin color, sexual orientation, political party or anything else. Those who believe that no one likes them or is willing to listen to them need to ask if maybe there is a common denominator: their own behavior is turning people away.


Photo by jonkeelty

Warning Labels on Books

Photo by Silly DeityBack in the 1980’s, there was a movement to put warning labels on music so that parents could tell if the the content was objectionable. There was a big outcry at the time, and I know some of my friends bought music just because it had the label. Ivnever really minded because the music I listened to fell into the “safe” category.

Today I found myself wishing for the same sort of label: one that would be applied to books and that would warn me of god talk.

I recently bought a book aimed at helping me find more time. But instead of helping, I find myself being lectured that not doing regular self-care is driving a wedge in my intimacy with god.

I am not looking for more guilt in a chapter ironically about ditching guilt. And I’m certainly not looking for guidance on establishing a relationship with a deity I don’t care to be in contact with — one who is ready to punish me at every turn.

Yes, I get that the author is a woman of strong faith. But surely one can find more time in one’s schedule without involving a vengeful and jealous deity?

I run into this quite a bit in my blogging reading. Many of the women-authored blogs I stumble across are jam-packed with references to their god, their faith and their practice. This is great – and I respect their rights to believe as they wish, and put their faith into practice. Although I don’t see why one would have to incorporate prayer into making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Maybe in case the peanut butter had gone bad?

Yes, I want recipes for school lunches or bullet journal ideas or organizational tips. Apparently I then have to be dosed with unrelated spiritual practices as well. Yes, I understand the concept of integrating spiritual practice with daily life. I do it myself. The difference is that I don’t dish it out to everyone else in my writing.

I really wish that books would come with a warning label that would allow me to steer clear of god-jamming when dealing with a subject that is not spiritual. It would set the context, and I wouldn’t be so annoyed at having to work through the god talk to get to the message underneath.

And as far as the business book on finding more time…I skimmed the rest of the book. Apparently her god has buckets of time up there and we just need to ask for it on our knees.

Silly me, I thought time wasn’t a commodity that could be bought and sold.


Photo by Silly Deity

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Stranger Letters

Photo by jasleen_kaur

Last Saturday we received two interesting pieces of mail. Both were addressed to us by name, and both were from strangers.

The first was a letter urging us to study the bible and attend the writer’s church. It quoted Bible verses, the benefits of study, and of course, the benefits of joining the church – which happens to be a local megachurch.

The second was a hand-written postcard from the local delegate’s mother, urging us to vote for her son in the upcoming election.

One of these sent me off into peals of laughter. Can you guess which one?

In any case, the correspondence had no effect on me. I’ll keep going to my own church, and vote for the person I think will do the best job (who is not the one with the over-involved mother, BTW.)

And I’ll keep shaking my head in wonder at the things people will do…


Photo by jasleen_kaur