Sunday, August 26, 2012

Have faith

      Many of these blog pieces have been trips down "memory lane." This one will not be.
      This one will be about my world today, how I view some things. It might offend some, but that's the way it is.
       I like going back to memory lane, but I've never wanted to be considered a person who lives in the past. It's been nearly 50 years since a high school/college classmate told me that's what I did. Obviously, I never forgot.
       We learn from the past, we live in the present, we look to the future. How's that for personal philosophy? Think that guy would approve?
Gratitude: Grandson Kaden taking a nap.
        So, at the risk of too much information, here goes ...
        Every day includes time for gratitude. This year, for the first time, I'm putting it on paper -- my Page-A-Day Notepad Calendar that includes a Sudoku puzzle, a to-do list space and a space for notes (in this case, the gratitude). Bea has kept a gratitude journal for a dozen years; this is my first.
        There is all sorts of gratitude -- starting with blackeyed peas on Jan. 1, personal anniversaries, birthdays, sports events and personalities, the weather.
         On Wednesday, it was "abundant harvest," as I looked around the fresh vegetables and fruits in a grocery store and thought about the thousands of grocery stores in this country with the same displays. How blessed we are to live in this world at this time.
       Which brings me to faith.
       I have faith. I have faith in myself, in Beatrice, in my kids and kids-in-law, in my close friends over many years, in some -- but not all -- of my co-workers. I have faith, and Bea plays a big role in convincing me of this, that things will turn out the way they're supposed to. I believe our creator, our God, is watching over all of us, is a part of all of us, that the things people can't control -- weather, natural disasters, freak accidents -- are God's will..
        I have gotten much better at not worrying about things I can't control.
       And here is something I can't control: How you feel about religion. Here is something I can control: How much I pay attention to your views about religion.
        Honestly, I'm not very religious. I was born Jewish, grew up Jewish, will remain Jewish. But I am not a practicing Jew. This is something I chose many years ago. I'm still very partial to the Jewish faith, and to Israel -- although I don't always agree with its aggressive policies, but I understand why it has them.
         Because of what my parents endured in concentration camps and because much of my family perished there, I probably should be more faithful. My sister and her family are; so are many who were in the synagogue and temple in Shreveport. And that's fine with me.
          I'm not into the rituals of any organized religion, which -- as my wife points out -- is a contradiction considering how I like many of the rituals in the sports world. I am, in fact, at times pretty sacrilegious, and not proud of it.
          I have no problem with anyone practicing their religion. I have a problem with people insisting on telling me what they believe, and what I should believe. Particularly if it blends into their political views.
         Which brings me around to Facebook. I have enjoyed reconnecting with many old friends -- from high school, college, newspapers, athletics -- through Facebook. I like seeing where they are and what they're doing, seeing pictures of themselves and their families, and their updates.
         I do not like seeing many of their political or social views. There, I've said it.
         Sure, I have opinions on politics, on abortion, on immigration laws, on same-sex marriage, on bullying, on the financial crisis, on sexual abuse, on child abuse, on the death penalty ... on whatever. You will not see my views posted on Facebook.
         I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I can no more change anyone's mind than they can change mine. If it's a sports opinion, that's another matter; it's not that serious. But anything other than sports, I leave it alone. Don't want to discuss my views publicly, or argue about them.
          I will simply summarize by saying much of what I believe is contrary to that of the great majority of my Facebook friends. If that displeases you, OK.
          Frankly, I am tired of anti-Obama posts, and I am tired of anti-Romney posts, and I am tired of seeing posts that base their views on their religious beliefs. Very tired of negativity, of snarky remarks, what some consider cute or clever photos, graphics and cartoons, and in general, the lack of civility.
          So, I "unsubscribed" from many people's updates on the Facebook News Feed ... at least for a while.
          I grew really tired of seeing LSU fans (and others) criticize Les Miles and Jordan Jefferson late last season. I grew really tired of seeing one team's fans being critical of their first-place baseball team -- one of the best teams in the majors -- and its players. Have faith in them, people.
        I have my own first-place team (a sliding team for the past month). Don't want to sound like a hypocrite; in past years, I publicly was very critical of my team and players. But I vowed I was not going to do that this year. And I haven't.
        (I might have to make an exception for the Dallas Cowboys, especially their owner/general manager. I'm not enamored with the quarterback; talented as he is, he's mistake-prone. But I'm going to do my best to refrain.)
        So away with negativity. These days I am a lot happier when I look at Facebook.
        Seriously, one of the most courageous Facebook posts I've seen recently was by old family friend Roy May in the wake of the Chick-Fil-A gay marriage controversy defending his daughter and her partner and calling them among "the most caring and loving people" he knows. He added that, "If you don't like this, you can delete me from your Facebook and your life."
          No matter how you feel about the subject, it took guts for him to say that.
          I'm not inviting people to delete me. I can't control that. I am saying that I'll be back to open News Feed on Nov. 7, the day after the Presidential election.
          Gratitude: I am grateful for this life, for the people who have been it it, for the gifts and the chances I've received. I've tried to keep it simple and to remain positive, and sometimes that requires being selective in my options.
          With that, I'll return to memory lane.