Saturday, March 6, 2010

day by day

So here I sit, two months into being officially unemployed from full time work. For the record, I have enjoyed these last two months as I have had a little more time each day with my kids, especially on Fridays where I now volunteer at a church that they go to for their choice Friday program. For those of you unaware of "Choice Friday", it is something that local businesses and organizations have done for kids because our district went down to 4 day school weeks because of cutbacks.

A short run down on what the last two months have been like, looks like this; started collecting unemployment benefits for the first time in my life, continued my part time job for parks & rec, found a few other part time opportunities that have been rewarding (like crawling around under a 40 year old house with 6 inches to spare) and of course chasing nearly any and every job that moves. I continue my job search and have a few good prospects that I consider hopeful.

All in all, the past two months have been decent, but my thinking cap has been on the entire time and I find myself diving deeper into given subjects like never before. Such voracity for learning has always been a trait but this seems different. I find that once I discover a given topic of interest, it is not enough to read just one page and call it good, I have to pour over a 100 pages to feel quenched.

Take for instance my fascination lately with the Middle East. I am trying to narrow down my interest to Israel for a few reasons, but primarily given the constant state of unrest that takes place over there and seems to be acceptable to most of the world. I fear that the unrest in that region has been going on for so long that most people take it for granted and are completely desensitized to any of the ongoing conflicts there.

One such issue is over the ownership of a region known as Golan Heights. This is a section of land whose sovereignty is hotly contested. Currently the land is controlled by Israel but Syria wants control as soon as possible. Syria is in a world of hurt regarding lack of water in certain parts of that country and the leaders there see Golan Heights as a gateway to access the Sea of Galilee for water to their hardest hit regions in the east. Needless to say, I like to read about these things and with that comes some sense of learning about a different culture than mine, a different part of the world filled with people that I will probably never meet.

Another item of interest recently was a report I read detailing how a study was done regarding young Egyptian men. The study included some 15,000 men and women, all between the ages of 18 and 29, who were asked if young men had a right to beat their wives if the wife was caught talking to another man. 80% of men and 67% of women thought it was OK to beat the wife for talking to another man, while another 8% thought it was OK to beat the wife if she burned food. I find these articles interesting and once I find something like this I have to get to its very source and read more. For the sake of understanding, how can we come to terms with anyone group of people if we have no understanding of their values?

Here in America, I find that most people lack a basic understanding of what any one person goes through in another country. We here of the major stories by way of the TV news and the Internet, but what do we truly know of any one person in any other country, specifically as it relates to culture and a broader understanding of person hood?

I have written about peace (and to some degree, war) for the better part of the past 10 years and my grasp has always been on the atrocities I deem that stem from greed and the desire for absolute power. I have always said that we need to reach out to others in any place they may be and seek relationship with them, for our lives are meant to serve no greater purpose than to be in fellowship with others. My faith has been at the forefront of this belief for almost as long but more than anything else I see a need for diplomacy on a level that no one wants to talk about, and that is the one on one experience.

Being without a job for the past two months has allowed me to think a little more clearly, but something more profound is coming out of this and that is the understanding that I wish I were more connected than I think I am now. Connectivity is essential in this day and age but the question of who we are connected to is more apt. As I read more about places like the Middle East and its inhabitants I am compelled to somehow meet them. I have researched web sites that would allow me to converse with individuals over there on a regular basis but something changes in a relationship when it is not face to face.

Each one of us has something unique to share with the world. I can only hope and pray that I can share something of worth before my time is up. But there is a choice of whether or not to share. We all have choices regarding our involvement and whether or not we will seek relationships that are outside of typical comfort zones. As open as I am to talk about anything I am also susceptible to closing down relationships based on certain content. It has been difficult to walk away from a few relationships over this past year but if there is one thing I will not be a part of, it is hatred. Our lives were never intended to shelter so much vehement hate towards another human being and yet we allow ourselves to fall victim too often.

I will continue to dig deeply into subjects and places that fascinate me but more importantly I hope to somehow connect with some of the people that I read about, the ordinary citizens like you and me, and seek a relation that goes beyond stereotypes and misgivings. There are real men and women out there across the globe that go through the same things as you and I but there are also so many more that never raise a voice. And some voices are silenced.

Please do not be silent as you move forward, but also understand that people just want to talk, to be heard and to share their life. As I go day by day into the future I pray for encounters that will grant me the chance to share and allow others to share, to connect and to grow.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him.

Peace to you all.


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