failures in exaggeration

“It is always the novice who exaggerates.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

snow

I saw this chart on another blog the other day and thought it absolutely hilarious…
because as a Southerner,
there’s really not much to exaggerate over where snow and ice are concerned…
Pandemonium does indeed ensue.

Just as we witnessed over the past week leading up to last night’s spitting of ice.

I actually laughed out loud when reading this chart…

I can laugh like that…at us here in the South,
because it is true,
we do get all worked up and in a dither when the “S” word is mentioned.
As our meteorologists fan the flames of sheer panic, destruction and doom.

Yet I’ve noticed that we, as a society,
have gotten quite comfortable with the whole notion of exaggeration.
I think some call that hyperbole…
while other’s simply call it lying.

Yet no matter what we call it, we’ve gotten good at it…
Stretching the truth here and there.
Tweaking reality just a smidge.
And flat out altering the facts…

I think we are currently calling such “fake news”

Others call that padding, inflating and misrepresentation…
as in “oh, you misunderstood, I didn’t really mean that….”

Politicians and pundits do it…think exit polls
Corporations do it…think quarterly numbers.
School Systems do it…think standardized test scores.

Books are cooked,
Records are falsified
And lying has been elevated to a fine art of finesse.

As we’ve all now learned that if you don’t like the truth…
that you can simply…
alter it,
change it,
or merely rewrite it…

And yet in situations that really really matter, such as things like National Security,
we’ve run in the opposite direction.

Take the young man in Anchorage Alaska who was recently discharged from his
service as a military reservist.
He walks into his local FBI office telling them that ISIS is forcing him to
watch propaganda videos as he mumbles on crazily about such.

My first red flag, if I was one of those agents,
would have been that his service record showed that he’d seen
service time in Iraq.
I would have then dug deeper into his service record.
I would have contacted his former commanding officer.
I would have wondered about PTSD.
I would have wondered about radicalization
after hearing him use the key acronym “ISIS”…

He was supposedly in some sort of therapy.
Perhaps I would have contacted his therapist.

Yet, he manages to buy a plane ticket to Florida.
Check his firearm and ammo as baggage.
Makes his way through security without any sort of question
as he’s obviously not on any sort of watch list,
despite rambling to the local FBI about ISIS,
all in order to board a flight south.

But I suppose its never odd for someone form Anchorage, in the dead of winter,
to want to fly to Florida.

Once his plane lands, he disembarks the plane, heads to baggage, grabs his bags,
heads to the men’s room in order to unpack his firearm and ammo, loads the gun
then proceeds to walk back out to the baggage-claim carrousels while he
randomly starts shooting.

Once he empties his clip,
he tosses his gun down and drops face down to the ground, spread eagle
as 5 folks are now dead and countless others are bleeding and wounded.

Yet we don’t want to target anyone,
profile anyone,
watch anyone,
or raise concern over anyone as not to
offend,
insult
or overreact…
lest we be sued or deemed insensitive.

As the ACLU,
the Southern Poverty Law Center,
liberal Washington, etc
would begin chanting racism, xenophobia, ignorance, rednecks….
you name it.

So now let’s try telling any of this to the victims and their family’s…
once again.

Rather now, everyone, the President included, will begin the same mantra that
we have heard over and over and over….
that this is just another incident where the gun is at fault.

This is the fault of having guns available….

Yet should it comes as any surprise that this young former serviceman had a gun, legally?

Maybe the FBI in Anchorage should have maybe considered a former service member,
despite no longer having a service weapon,
most likely owned a personal firearm as most current, as well as former, service members do.
As service members with a firearm is merely synonymous.

Nor should it be a surprise that anyone living in Alaska has a firearm…
most Alaskans do.
So maybe, just maybe the FBI should have wondered about all of this
when this young man showed up at their office babbling nonsense….

But then that would make too much sense.

And once again we’d appear to be profiling
or targeting
or assuming
or dare we say,
being cautious and sensible…

Keep falsehood and lies far from me
Proverbs 30:8

Costly Justification

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

RSCN2711
(flowering quince / Julie Cook / 2016)

‘It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—“you were bought with a price”(1 Cor 6:20) and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship Vol 4 pp 45

We have honed our craft both you and I….
As we have become that which we justify…

For within each justification lies…
the crime,
the hating,
the sentence,
the lying,
the hurting,
the bombing,
the cheating,
the policy,
the stealing,
the taking,
the death,
and even the murder…

Echoed are the causal observations…
“Twas a crime of passion”
“It was a justifiable homicide”
“It was taken in order that they could eat”
“It was hidden for their own good…”
“It was stolen in order to pay…”

There are…
The interestingly tragic assisted suicides…
The abortions due to untimely pregnancies…
The surreal justifiable shootings…
The acceptable culture of death…
The wars to end all wars…
The nuclear deterrents….

Every human act can be justified into being correct…

It was…
the right decision…
a necessary evil…
the only option…

How quickly it rolls off the tongue, as it slips easily from consciousness.
There is no remorse, no guilt, no real sorrow…
because it was something that had to be…

The justification of and for every action and reaction of mankind…

And yet how does one justify the free offering of ones only child…
In order that others may live…

One word….

Grace….

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—-not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Balancing Act

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”
― Rumi

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
― Thomas à Kempis

DSCN4235
(a poor mallard duck who was trying to nap as I took his picture / San Antonio, Texas along the River Walk / Julie Cook / 2014)

Life is our tightrope and we spend a lifetime furiously trying to balance our footing.
Too much lean to the left, or too much lean to the right equates to certain disaster.

Oddly ours is a society of excess.
Excess does not equate to balance.
If you should want for anything, you are encouraged to go for it. . . and if you should want more, then by all means, go for it again, and again, and again—until you get your fill.

Nope, not much balance in excess.

Any child can explain balance.
Eat too much candy, the consequences are not pleasant.
Therefore there must be a balance.
Some candy is good, too much candy is bad.

Yet it seems to be such a difficult process for most adults to wrap their heads around such a concept.

We are constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Meaning we pull from certain areas of our lives in order to increase other areas. Shaving off time, resources, energies on one side, pouring it over to the other side, all in the name of efficiency and performance.

We rationalize the need for or lack of sleep by consuming massive amounts of heart jolting caffeine, reassuring ourselves that we’ll make up for our sleeplessness by rationalizing that we’re one of those folks who can get by with just 4 hours, or that we’ll sleep in on the weekends. Yet our weekends are so jam packed and our eyes so blood shot and our bodies so sluggish that sadly the sleep never comes.

We chronically lie to ourselves about our time—time spent with our children and family. We justify our absence by claiming it’s all in the name of love. We spend copious amounts of time away from the very individuals who need us most then scramble like mad trying to make up for it with overindulgences.

We bargain with our health as we constantly rationalize. . . “It’s okay if I binge on this or that. . .I’ll work it off at the gym tomorrow, I’ll drink lots of water and take some aspirin, I only do this on the weekends, I’ll have just one more, it’s not like I have to have it, You only live once, I’m only young once. . .”

There is no balance in rationalizing, lying and bartering.

Rather balance is the equity in our lives and it is the key to living harmoniously. And without balance and harmony, our lives become a dangerous journey on the tightrope.

Without balance there are repercussions and consequences.
Sadly we continue to believe we can simply put a band-aid on it all, pop another pill, down another energy drink, have another drink, tell our kids another tale, tell ourselves another lie. . .that it will all work out because eventually down the road, when we’re finally older or retired or thinner, or healthier, or more grounded, or more finically sound. . .then, finally then, our lives will even out.

Funny thing about that thought process, those evened out days never seem to come.
Things happen.
Life happens.
Our best laid plans get steamrolled, sidetracked and smashed.

The moral to this rambling tale you ask. . .
Simply put, balance—
And that means balance now! Not later, not down the road, but now!
Quit lying, bargaining, haggling with and to others, but more importantly, quit lying to yourself.

Balance
Harmony
Equity

The Balance of
Time
Work
Rest
Play
Prayer
Joy
Fellowship
Peace

May you find your balance— sooner than later.
Remember, later is never a guarantee.