Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Mamaw Was Right

A few weeks ago I wrote about Choices. The pursuit of Freedom and Happiness versus accepting Responsibility and fulfilling your Commitments. This isn’t something that just popped into my head. It’s always there, for all of us, whether we want to face it or not.

I closed that blog entry with a quote from Jordan Peterson: “If you fulfill your obligations everyday you don't need to worry about the future.” If you haven’t read or listened to Jordan Peterson, I recommend him highly. His book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, is one of the best of its kind I’ve ever read. It certainly makes my short-list of books I’ll read more than once. Another one on that list is David Brooks’ “The Road To Character”. You should read that one too.

Here are just a few quotes from these two books:

“Humility is the awareness that there’s a lot you don’t know and that a lot of what you think you know is distorted or wrong.”- David Brooks

“The better ambitions have to do with the development of character and ability, rather than status and power. Status you can lose. You carry character with you wherever you go, and it allows you to prevail against adversity.” – Jordan Peterson

“Recovering from suffering is not like recovering from a disease. Many people don’t come out healed; they come out different.”- David Brooks

“In a crisis, the inevitable suffering that life entails can rapidly make a mockery of the idea that happiness is the proper pursuit of the individual.” – Jordan Peterson

“Sin is not some demonic thing. It’s just our perverse tendency to fuck things up, to favor the short term over the long term, the lower over the higher. Sin, when it is committed over and over again, hardens into loyalty to a lower love.”- David Brooks

“But the story of the golden calf also reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions—and there’s nothing freeing about that.” – Jordan Peterson

“Change your behavior and eventually you rewire your brain.”- David Brooks

“What you aim at determines what you see.” - Jordan Peterson

And interestingly enough, both Brooks and Peterson include this quote in their books: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.”- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I have been thinking a lot about what Brooks and Peterson have to say in these books and why I am so inclined to agree with them. And I keep coming back to Mamaw, my maternal grandmother. Mamaw had a rough life. One of 11 children growing up on a hard-scrabble farm southwest of Fort Worth. And then a farmer's wife until the day she died. She worked from dawn to dusk and beyond everyday of her life. She focused on her family. She took care of everybody. Raised her kids and then just about raised her grandkids. She had a good husband, my Papaw. He was as good as they come. But she was the rock. Tough as nails and knew that this life was no picnic.

She also knew that prayers often go unanswered, or you don’t get the answer you want. She also knew that cursing God and shaking your fist at Him would only make things worse, not for Him but for you. She had faith in the future, not in this life, but in the next. And she believed that it was her job to make a positive difference in the here and now because the here and now needs all the help it can get.

Jordan Peterson talks a lot about the suffering that comes with living life in these bodies on this planet. He also says that the purpose of life is finding the largest burden you can bear and bearing it. Take up your cross, that sort of thing. It’s a hard message, but it’s the truth. Mamaw was right.

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