The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Observations on The Seven Deadly Sins (The Seven Capital Vices)

Since it has always been a topic that interested me, I have decided to give myself a little project.  So, over the next few weeks I will be posting articles based on “The Seven Deadly Sins”.  This will not be meant to be anything of importance about then or their effect on us.  It will be a fun exploration into their meanings, not just to society, but pop-culture and our modern life.

I would like to look into their history, from their origins as the Capital Vices that were used for Christian self-examination, to the more contemporary use as more of a set of catch-phrases and points to criticize people on.

This is not going to be a project that I am going to take too seriously, as I would like to add some humor to it, combining the meanings with person experiences that I have had that might blend well with them as we go.

It is my HOPE that anyone reading this will see something they like and chime in with an observation or thought, or maybe tell a story or two that might help with point.

So join me over the next few weeks as we explore:

Pride

Envy

Sloth

Avarice

Anger

Lust

Gluttony

 

What the hell do I know?

You know… I write a lot about friendships, keeping up relationships and things like that, here. However, the older I get, the more I learn about myself, and the more I realize who the hell I am, exactly, I realized something.

Who the heck am I to be talking about this crap? I mean, I don’t go out, I don’t socialize, I have no really CLOSE friends anymore. The people I do know that I consider my “closest” friends, while important to me, are not people that think to call me for a chat or invite me to functions. There are even a couple of them that when they DO invite me it’s because they need something in return.

I am not really bitter about the the topic. It just strikes me as ironic that me, a person that really has no one that he can call a close friend, seems to think that it is OK to tell others what they need to do to keep and maintain friends. It’s sort of like the mechanic that preaches to his customers to get their cars serviced on a regular basis, yet his own car is falling apart from neglect.

It’s funny, really. I talk to my son about this stuff, and about how important it is to keep and maintain his friendships and relationships and he will ask me about my friends and I really have no response for him. I guess when I know he can understand the humor in it better, I will just tell him that it is a beautifully ironic case of “Do as I say, not as I do!”

Anyway… thought I would share that little pearl of wisdom. You all have a great day.

Another New year – 2020 Edition

As always, the new year bring about thoughts of the past, plans for the future, dreams of what we hope to accomplish and worries of things that might, or might not, happen.

This last decade was incredible and terrible. We had our first, and only, child. I lost many friends and gained very few to replace the empty places vactated by those departing. I had sickness that set me back, physically, quite a bit, suffered an incredible betrayal at the hands of someone I thought was a friend, and we lost my father-in-law in the closing months of the decade.

With past New Years celebrations, I, like so many before me and so many will continue to do, had fallen into the habit of creating a “New Years Resolution”. Those rambling self congratulatory promises that many of us make, to make us feel better about ourselves for a short period of time, and then make us feel bad when, typically about two months into the new year, we fall back into our old habits and forget those “resolutions”.

This year I have decided to actually MAKE the resolution a habit again, but not for anything new. I have decided to make a promise to keep doing something that I have already been doing, but to transition it into a lifestyle, going forward.

That resolution is called, simply… SCREW IT.

Many people that know me, know that I try very hard to help others. I have given so much of my time and energy to people that I do and do not know, to try and help them or help them help themselves. I do this never asking for anything in return and many times if someone DOES try to pay me back, I turn it down. I do that because I do not help people for my own benefit. Since I do not believe in a “Heaven”, I am not expecting brownie points for my good deeds to get some special table or audience with G-d or any other deity (yes, some may point out some implied hypocrasy in that I spelled G-d that way… it is out of respect and habit.) I do not think that, even if there IS a heaven, that it works that way anyhow.

But back to my point.

I have become tired of offering suggestions, helping out, putting my time out there only to not see the person, or persons, I am trying to help actually use, try to use, or appreciate the effort. I am also tired of not seeing some response from people that I try to help. No… I am not asking for praise or a pat on the back. I am asking for people to show respect for the efforts by improving themselves. Or by taking the advice or suggestions and working with them to try to make things better for themselves or those around them.

For example… if you come to me and ask me for advice to set up a page on LinkedIn for your job search and I help you, and I am talking about REALLY helping you, not just point out a couple things and let you go. But sit with you and walk you through everything and then, after all that, you tell me that you had your little brother do it for you… then yeah… I am going to be pissed.

If you ask me for help in getting a job, and I go out on a limb, find you a position and get you in the door and call in favors, and then you say, “Sorry, It’s not what I was looking for.” Then, again… pissed.

These are only two of a couple books of examples I have. And starting this year, it all changes. Altruism has it’s limits and this year, going forward, I have a limited supply.

I will still help. But the moment I see it is not going to be used by the person I am helping, or that the effort is going to be wasted, on my part, I am stepping back and saying…

Screw it.

Do I sound like I am being a little too harsh? Maybe. But we all know what I am talking about. If you are over 25 and have a good heart, you know exactly what I am talking about. Chances are that by 25, if you are one of those that feels good about giving of yourself, that you have had at least one time when someone asked for help, you spent your time with them, and then they went and did it their own way anyhow and, as seems to happen in the cases I recall, they fell on their face.

Yeah… that is what I am talking about, and I am done.

Yes… I know it is harsh. But I have my reasons. Mostly it is that I look at my life and see the investments I made in so many others at the expense of my own happiness and time. And while that is fine for family and the people close to me, it is not so much when I do this for people whose closeness is defined on what I can do for them and do not hear from them otherwise.

That’s all today.

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade.

Life without FaceBook… Part Two

On November first of last year (2019), I once again quit Facebook. I did this because I have some personal issues happening at home as well as to facilitate my efforts in school and take away one more of the many distractions that are in my life at the moment.

I did this once before, back in early 2016, but was drawn back in when the South High Reunion committee was looking for me and had some of their people hunt me down and get me back on Facebook for the sake of making sure I was going to be a part of the reunion. So I logged back in and stayed in.

One of the main reasons I chose to do this once again, is because of what Facebook has become. When I started using it, many years ago, it was more or less a place for people to socialize. This was my main interest and the reason Facebook drew me in. I wanted to have a place to talk to people I knew, look for people that shared the same interest as did I and maybe someplace to discover new friends (more on that in another post.)

Without going into a play by play history of what I think that Facebook has become, I will simply fast-forward to now and what I see it as being these days. And that is a cesspool of political fecal-matter and a place for people to put all their dirty laundry out on display.

I mean… I get it. People need someplace to hang out and talk about things. People need people to share with. But at one time, in the past, in a time before social media, that was done by people getting together over coffee or a beer and talking. Nowadays, using platforms like Facebook is similar to going into a crowded room and yelling out your issues, waiting for people to seem like they give a damn.

Some people do, but more often than not, I am sure there are many that see your clickbait, “Oh well” post and think, “Alright, do I bite and ask what is wrong, or just leave it alone, someone else will do it and we will never hear the end of it.”

For the most part, I am one of those that does not care. Anymore, I get annoyed with FB in that people do not communicate as much as they go there to yell, or spout their particular line of social or political fecal-matter.

So… The only part of FB that I use these days is the Messenger, and I am possibly going to be quitting that soon. That is a post for another day, though. Suffice it to say that I am taking the attitude that if people don’t make an effort to occasionally reach out to me and if I am the only one keeping any and all convos going, then maybe the friendship I thought was there, is only on one side and it’s time to let it go.

What they’ve taken from our kids…

Remember when we were kids and we were allowed to had our moments of ignorance? When we could play games and were none the wiser to if they were or were not, in some way, proper or politically correct or not?

I remember playing tag, dodgeball, “cowboys and indians”, and running around the neighborhood with toy guns and throwing rocks or “dirt clods” at my friends. I remember climbing fences, walls, poles, etc and getting hurt, and never had to worry about anything other than my parents telling me I was acting like a fool and brushing me off, then sending me back out to do it all over again.

Today, I cannot allow my son to do many of these things. So many of them are not proper or considered violent. The school he goes to has banned games like tag or dodgeball. They have even put restrictions on gathering in groups. While I understand that fighting is not permitted, it was the same when I was growing up, it appears that defending yourself is also not permitted.

What, exactly, are our schools and our society trying to create in our children? Just because kids like to play rough and break some of the rules, does not mean that they will grow up to be bad children. In some cases it can be the opposite.

Let’s take, for example, the act of kids roughhousing around. That is something I did as a kid, it’s not really fighting, but can be an aggressive form of play that, yes, can lead to a few bumps and bruises. In her 2018 article on PsychCentral, Therese Borchard addresses this and more, going on to say that the act of roughhousing can help to make kids smarter, more likable and can help build a sense of ethics and morality (Borchard,2018). And I have a personal experience with that as well. When we would roughhouse as kids, there was always a line we did not cross, a purpose. If someone got hurt, then we stopped, granted, that is not ALWAYS the case, but more often than not, it was. You also learn more about your weakness’ and how to interact with others. It was healthy and we always had fun.

Dodegeball is another one that my son will never have the joy of playing in school. When I was young, we played dodgeball at recess and I can not recall anyone ever being truly injured in the game. Yeah, I remember taking a ball to the face once or twice, and yes, it was not fun. But you pick up and you get back playing again. It sort of taught you the lesson that sometimes things will knock you down, but you have to get back up and get back in the game. Move on. This is not to say that there were not those that went too far, I am sure there are. But we cannot and should not let that be the rule, more… make sure we remember that it is the exception.

One last thing, a problem I am going through now with my son’s relationship with my wife (his mother) and his grandmother, is that too often, these days, we coddle our children too much. While I understand it is all in what we percieve as the best interest of our children, it is not healthy to try to protect then from everything, or they end up not learning. Tim Elmore wrote a wonderful piece on this, where he said, ” When we give kids the freedom to fight and fail and find their way through the pain of life, we are not hurting them. We are helping them build the strength they need to fly. ” (Elmore, 2015). And he is exactly right.

We need to experience both success and failure, you really cannot have one without the other. We need to feel the pain of loss to really know the joy of what we earn or acheive. We need to have those moments of complete humility to remember that we are not, nor will be ever be, perfect.

Thank you for reading.

Works Cited

Borchard, T. (2018, Oct 8). 6 Benefits of Roughhousing for Kids. Retrieved from PsychCentral: https://psychcentral.com/lib/6-benefits-of-roughhousing-for-kids/

Elmore, T. (2015, Dec 16). ARE YOU PROTECTING YOUR KIDS FROM REALITY OR PREPARING THEM FOR LIFE? Retrieved from focusonthefamily.com: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/are-you-protecting-your-kids-from-reality-or-preparing-them-for-life/

Photo Credit: SRWright

Clifford Lee Ayers – The loss of a great man.

On 24 November, 2019, we lost Clifford Lee Ayers. He went to meet his maker, joined the Choir Invisible, or Shuffled off this mortal coil, as many of us Pythonites might say. I say all that in humor, because I fully believe that he would be laughing with me about it.

Cliff, or Pop as I always called him, was not anyone special or fantastic in a global sense. He did not win any major awards, there will never be a statue or plaque erected in his honor. His passing was quiet, peaceful, without event.

But let me tell you about my experience with the man…

In the late 1980s, when I started dating the woman that would become my wife, I remember the first time I met Pop. He was not easy on me. He was kind, but he was critical of me, as any good father should be. He took apart my dreams and thoughts for the future and was quick to make me second guess everything, many times making me feel foolish for some of the dreams I had.

Sometimes he would have me help him around the yard or, a fond memory now, but not so much back then, he would drive me out to the almond orchards with him and have me help cut down dead trees to take home for use as firewood. Only catch was that while he would use a chainsaw, he would have me use a manual saw.

As the years went on, and he saw that in spite of his tests and trials I was in for the long haul, he started going easier on me. We started doing things together and, through the years, I grew closer to him that I had ever been with my own father.

Clifford, Pop, became an important part of my life, someone I could talk to when I needed to have a ‘Guy Talk’ with someone and eventually he even started talking to me as someone he could confide in.

I learned a lot from Pop, he was an inspirational part of my life, I loved him as much as, possibly more than, I loved my own, biological, father.

He will be sorely missed and I can say with honesty that my life is better for his presence in it.

Godspeed Dad… I love you and miss you.

Silence is golden…

Except with regards to a blog.

I have been very quiet lately, mostly due to the fact that in March of 2017 I returned to school and then in February of this year I changed jobs, leaving the company I had been with for the last 16 years to start working with a local school district.

Lots happening in the life and family of The Samurai these days, but I will make every effort to start posting on a regular basis again.

 

Why do I no longer discuss politics

Someone once asked me why I no longer talk about politics on my site.

Really?

Talking about politics, anymore, is like people talking about their children, and face it, if you have kids you know what I mean and you are probably guilty of what I am talking about.

People always like to talk about their children.  It does not matter how good they are, bad they are, what they have accomplished, or not.  If they are a social deviant at nine or a rhodes scholar at five.  People will always talk about their children and they usually, most of the time, do so with the highest of praise.

Same is so with people and their personal choice of politicians.  They will espouse the wonders of Bernie, or the integrity and beauty of Hillary, or the sinserity and diplomacy of Trump or the fun wit and wisdom of Biden.  They will, seemingly, have their own stories of their personal favorite politician and they respective Quixotic aspirations of the perfect world for the rest of us.

And you know what?  It’s all BS.

I have politicians I like.  I have people I vote for.  But I am not talking about them, I am very reserved when it comes to that.  Voting is like wiping your ass.  Everyone has to or should do it, and as often as is needed, but don’t go sharing the process with others and don’t talk about how yours is better than everyone else’s.

Political talk almost always leads to arguments or dislike.  It almost always adds a level of foulness to a conversation that is hard to get over or through.

So yeah… I don’t do politics here.

Get over it.

Everyone is NOT a winner

 

For some time, especially during the earlier part of this decade (201x), there was a lot of pressure put on schools and children’s sports groups to have an “Everyone is a winner” policy.

A good example of this is a flag football group that my son belonged to.  While they did not come right out and SAY that everyone was a winner, each week they would give an award to one of the players for outstanding sportsmanship.

It did not really dawn on me that this is what was happening at first, and to be honest, I was more lost in the fun of watching my son play than actually paying attention to the awards part.  But when I did see it, it was a bit of a shock to me and I felt a little disheartened.

It was about four weeks into the “season” when they were doing one of their little ceremonies that they picked out this one little boy as this week’s outstanding player.  I did not know the name, but when the little boy came forward, I realized that this is the little boy that would never play.  All he did was cry and throw tantrums.  I remembered that there was one time that the coaches were trying to get him to play, so they HANDED him the ball and told the other kids to stay back and let him run.   But all he did was sit on the ground with the ball and cry.

Even my son, who was five at the time came to me afterward and asked, “Why did he get an award, he never played.”

This is where I decided to make sure that I teach Gideon that this is not right.

I work hard to make sure that he understands that there are always going to be winners and loser.  But that losing does not mean that you you ARE a loser.  It means that you made mistakes and to try a little harder next time, or to try something else next time.

Until this flag football team that my son was on, I had thought that people had moved away from that whole “Everyone is a winner, just for trying.” mentality.  Granted, trying is the main point and if you do not try, you do not even have a chance to succeed.  So in that respect, credit should be given for taking the chance, for getting out there and for making the effort.

But no… You are NOT a winner just because you MADE the effort, and I was lucky in that my son could see this even at his young age.  He could tell that if you lost, you lost.  There are no rewards for failure and there is no victory lap for the losers.

He also understands that congratulations should go to the winning teams.  When we have been places where we play against someone, and they win.  He is the first one to go over and shake hands with them and congratulate them.  If he is the winner, he is happy, and will jump around, but will always take time to complement the other player.

If it is so easy for my son, a six-year-old now, to understand this and to live that life, then why is it that the adults that run these programs and for the parents that participate in them to figure it out?

I have taught Gideon from the start that he will win some in life and will lose.  I have told him that he will probably lose more than he will win and that is fine.  That is it not about the loss itself, but about the way you handle the loss and how you express it to others.

Being a good loser and understanding that you lost means you try harder next time, is every bit as important, maybe more so, than winning and knowing that you did it all right.   Right now Gideon seems to understand that, he will say things like, “Poppy, I know what I did wrong, I will get it right next time.”

I hope that he keeps that up.  Keeps that mentality and drive, and does not let teachers or other parents take that away from him.

Thanks for reading.

Respect and BEING Respectful

I recently became part of a debate on Facebook, with a friend of mine, over a video that was posted.  Well, not really a DEBATE, but a discussion.

The issue came up over this video that was posted on Twitter:

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/7/1696774/-Young-girl-flips-off-Infowars-interviewer-instantly-becomes-a-Twitter-favorite

I would like to point out that I have no fondness or dislike for Info Wars, personally I am pretty apathetic about them and the people they have working for them.  So this is not in defense of them in any way.   Personally all these pop-up “News” providers can disappear and I would be perfectly happy.

The issue came up when a friend of mine on FB posted this and praised the girl for he stand.  My issue was not even with her “stand”, if you could even call it that.  It was with the way she presented it.

When the “Reporter” approached her and made a snarky comment, she responded with vulgarity and flipped him off.  When asked who taught her to talk like that, she stated that it was her mother.

I am all for people’s First Amendment rights to free speech, but I was also brought up with the understanding that if you have to resort to profanity, then you have lost your argument.  You are now trying to defend your point with ignorance and not intelligence.  I sort of see this as another form of Godwin’s Law, but without the man in the mustache.

If you are able to stand toe to toe with someone and have an intelligent discussion/argument without the need to call names and cuss, then I have every respect for you and will appreciate your effort, even if I think it is wrong.  But if you have to resort to name calling or profanity, then my first thought it that you do not know enough about what you are defending to state your point with any intellect and may not even know what you are talking about or defending in the first place.

But the root of this issue for me is respect.   The argument was made to me that this “Reporter” show her no respect so she was not obligated to show him any and it was also said that respect is earned, not given.  I would argue the opposite on two points.  First, yes… respect is earned, but there are different types of respect at play here.   Should she respect him as a reporter?  Maybe not, that is not my place to say.  But should she BE respectful?  Yes, by all means.  We should all be respectful to people, especially those we do not know.

Granted, in some cultures here in our United States, profanity is something common, even used as a greeting (for anyone that has been to Brooklyn.) But if someone comes to you and challenges your ideals or beliefs, then the proper response would be to discuss, use your knowledge on the topic as a weapon against the person questioning or challenging you.

I wonder if this girl had stopped what she was doing and politely asked, “Can you explain what you mean?”   I get the feeling that it would have disarmed the “Reporter” and caused him to actually carry out a dialogue with the gal and that would have allowed him, and her, to better understand each others stance and point.

And I think that is what a lot of what is going on right now.  People like this learning from their parents or peers that they do not need to be respectful of others.  We need to get that back.  Remember, these are the people that will be running, or ruining, the country one day.  Do we really want someone in office that thinks the first proper response to a challenge is to fly off the handle and show the bird?

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