Category Archives: musings (random daily thoughts)

“Go find your wife!”

 

 

To put this post in context I should begin by saying that I have had a bad day. All sorts of things big and small have been going wrong.

I have been highly stressed and then when I was about to go out, my wife and I had a pointless argument over something trivial that spoiled my afternoon.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

My wife does most of her grocery shopping at Costco. Costco is a huge store selling grocery and other products at reduced prices; it operates on a membership-only basis.

My wife and I went shopping together in the early evening, beginning with Costco. The store is usually crowded, especially on days before holidays.

I decided to wait outside while my wife was shopping. Big Costco-like stores tire me.

After a half an hour or so, I got bored and restless. I’ll go inside and see if I can find my wife, I thought. Better wandering the aisles and gawking at shoppers than sitting still.

There was a burly guy at the entrance. He was talking with a coworker and didn’t seem to notice me. But then he said something indistinct indicating that he was inquiring whether I was a Costco member. I knew it was a members-only store, and on the rare occasions when I am there with my wife she shows her card at the door.

I might have just kept going (pretending I hadn’t heard). Sometimes that works. But I thought to myself, honesty is probably the best policy. It usually is.

“I’m looking for my wife. She’s shopping,” I said. Then I added, “I don’t have a Costco card.”

“You’re looking for your wife?” he replied with a big smile. He seemed amused, acted as if that tickled him.

“Welcome, brother!” he said. “Go find your wife!”

This little incident and interaction made my day and magically helped offset or reduce the tension I had been feeling. The Costco “gatekeeper” displayed humanity and a lack of officiousness.

The moral of the story. The smallest acts of human empathy and kindness can do more good than one would think and can have an incremental effect in terms of their larger benefits.

 
— Roger W. Smith

   December 23, 2019

“Winterreise” on a December afternoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I attended a concert at Carnegie Hall this afternoon of Schubert’s Winterreise (D. 911) performed by Joyce Didonato (mezzo soprano) and Yannick Nézet-Séguin (piano).

 

Nézet-Séguin, who is Canadian, is not only a pianist. He is the music director of the Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal.

Regarding Ms. Didonato’s performance, which was outstanding, The New York Times noted in an article published last week that Winterreise is ” a work not usually sung by a female voice, but one that profits from it.”

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

The song cycle was, as I have already noted, performed brilliantly. It goes without saying that the piano is equal to the voice in this musical setting. Winterreise (Winter’s Journey, 1828) is a setting by Schubert of 24 poems by the poet Wilhelm Müller.

 

“A power duo of Joyce DiDonato (one the world’s greatest singers) and Yannick Nézet-Séguin (a thrilling conductor-pianist) perform one of music’s greatest song cycles: Schubert’s harrowing and compellingly tragic Winterreise. The two dozen songs in this cycle chart a journey through an icy winter landscape, telling tales of alienation and loneliness. Schubert’s gift for what Liszt described as ‘dramatizing lyrical inspirations to the highest degree’ comes to life in this riveting performance.” (Carnegie Hall website)

 

Indeed, emotion — particularized human emotion — comes through so strongly in Schubert’s lieder. It is the music of a composer and also a poet in his medium (music).

Schubert, I realized and felt, knew and understood humanity. Human longings and sorrows.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

Music energizes and jostles the mind.

 

About two thirds into the concert, something in the music or lyrics of Winterreise took me elsewhere in time. Perhaps it was the thoughts in the lyrics of the inevitability of death:

 

Weiser stehen auf den Strassen,

weisen auf die Städte zu,

und ich wand’re sonder Maßen

ohne Ruh’ und suche Ruh’.

Einen Weiser seh’ ich stehen

unverrückt vor meinem Blick;

eine Straße muß ich gehen,

die noch keiner ging zurück.

 

Signposts stand on the roads,

point towards towns.

Yet I wander on and on,

unresting, in search of rest.

One signpost I see stand there,

steadfast before my gaze.

One road I must travel

by which no-one ever came back.

 

— “Der Wegweiser” (The Signpost)

 

 

I was transported in my mind (my thoughts wandering) back to my home and family sixty-five years ago. My father and mother. My siblings. A bittersweet sadness came over me. Comprised of happy, glad memories. The joy my parents took in their children. The appreciation they had and showed for them. Realizing that my parents are no longer living, were deceased long ago.  I remember them so keenly. They were so alive then and aren’t now. Realizing that I will cease to exist and become only a memory.

 

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

Schubert makes the particular, the lived and keenly experienced moment, take on Blakean eternity:

 

Nun merk’ ich erst, wie müd’ ich bin,

da ich zur Ruh’ mich lege:

das Wandern hielt mich munter hin

auf unwirtbarem Wege.

Die Füße frugen nicht nach Rast,

es war zu kalt zum Stehen;

der Rücken fühlte keine Last,

der Sturm half fort mich wehen.

In eines Köhlers engem Haus

hab’ Obdach ich gefunden;

doch meine Glieder ruh’n nicht aus:

So brennen ihre Wunden.

Auch du, mein Herz, in Kampf und Sturm

so wild und so verwegen,

fühlst in der Still’ erst deinen Wurm

mit heißem Stich sich regen!

 

I only notice now how tired I am,

as I lie down to rest.

Walking kept my spirits up

along an inhospitable road.

My feet did not ask for rest–

it was too cold to stand still;

my back felt no burden,

the storm helped to blow me along.

In a charcoal-burner’s tiny hut

I have found shelter.

But my limbs will not take their ease,

their wounds are burning so.

You too, my heart, in struggle and storm

so wild and so untamed,

now in the stillness feel the serpent within

rear up with its searing sting.

 

— “Rast” (Rest)

 

 

To “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour” (William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”).

 

 

— Roger W. Smith
 
   December 15, 2019

gratuitous cruelty

 

 

‘after false drug test he was in solitary confinement for 120 days’

 

 

‘Man Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Brutal Farm Killings’

 

 

El Chapo – Washington Post 2-14-2019

 

 

‘Where El Chapo Could End Up’ – NY Times 2-15-2019

 

 

 

“In a memorandum on April 16, 2003, [Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld approved 24 of the recommended [interrogation] techniques [for at the American-run detention site at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba]. … An action memorandum presented to [Rumsfeld] on Nov. 27, 2002, recommends that he approve a number of interrogation techniques for use at Guantánamo, including one described as ‘the use of stress positions (like standing), for a maximum of four hours.’

“Mr. Rumsfeld, who labors in his Pentagon office at a stand-up desk, added this handwritten postscript: ‘I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?’ ”

— “Files Show Rumsfeld Rejected Some Efforts to Toughen Prison Rules,” by Douglas Jehl, The New York Times, June 23, 2004
*****************************************************

 

 

As I was walking downtown in the City on Thursday morning last week. enjoying the quiet, early morning streets — it seems that there is always something interesting or beautiful to see — I had a feeling of elation. The sun emerged from behind clouds at approximately 9 a.m.

I was thinking what a wonderful thing (which I assume as a given) freedom (personal, one’s own) is. And how awful is must be to be deprived of it.

My mind was wandering. I thought of an article I had read in the Times that morning: “After False Drug Test, He Was in Solitary Confinement for 120 Days.”

One hundred twenty days, four months, in solitary confinement. For testing positive for drugs while incarcerated. (The test results proved to be wrong. The inmate was not using drugs. The drug-testing equipment used was defective and failed to produce accurate results.)

The stupidity and cruelty of how the prisoners in the article (others suffered similar injustices and pain as the result of the same flawed drug tests) were treated seemed so unjustified, and just plain that.

Then I thought of the so-called supermax (a term meaning highest security prison): the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado (also known as the ADX), where recently convicted drug kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera (El Chapo) is imprisoned.

 

 

*****************************************************
“This place [the ADX] is not designed for humanity,” Robert Hood, a former warden, told The New York Times. (“Where El Chapo Could End Up: A Prison ‘Not Designed for Humanity’ ”).

Inmates spend 23 hours a day inside cells the size of a bathroom with little human contact and only one window three feet high and four inches wide. Every part of the prison’s 500 cells is made of poured concrete. Each cell has a bed, a concrete slab covered with a thin foam mattress, and a “combo toilet, sink and drinking water unit.” Some cells have a single slit in the door that shows a sliver of the hallway.

In an essay published on the internet, an inmate at the ADX wrote that even when prisoners are let outside their cells, the surroundings are severe. “No mountain, bush, tree or blade of grass is visible from the yard, just the sky,” he wrote. “The cages have just enough room to do aerobic exercises. Other than the opportunity to breathe fresh air and feel the sunshine on your skin, the outside cages are just cells that are open to the sky.”

Meals, mail and medicine are all delivered. “Everything the inmate needs comes and goes through the door slot,” the inmate wrote, adding that “the basic setup is for long-term solitary confinement.”

“The purpose,” the intimate wrote, “is to gradually tear a person down mentally and physically, through environmental and physical deprivation.”

“The segregation is intense; it’s a punitive environment as harsh as any place on Earth,” Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor, told the Washington Post (“El Chapo escaped two prisons in Mexico — but no one’s ever busted out of the American ‘ADX’ ,” February 14, 2019).

 

*****************************************************

 

 

I was also thinking about Albert Schweitzer.

In my adolescence, I read Albert Schweitzer’s Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography (originally published as Aus Meinem Leben und Denken). The book made a profound impression on me. I was greatly impressed by the principle of Reverence for Life adumbrated by Schweitzer:

“[T]he man who has become a thinking being feels a compulsion to give to every will to live the same reverence for life that he gives to his own. He experiences that other life in his own. He accepts as good preserving life, promoting life, developing all life that is capable of development to its highest possible value. He considers as evil destroying life, injuring life, repressing life that is capable of development. [italics added] This is the absolute, fundamental principle of ethics, and it is a fundamental postulate of thought. …

The ethic of Reverence for Life is the ethic of love widened into universality. It is the ethic of Jesus, now recognized as a logical consequence of thought.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

Applying this to the case of notorious criminals such as El Chapo,* it seems to me true in principle that:

El Chapo must be locked up. He was the violent and feared leader of a criminal enterprise who had escaped from prison in the past and who would seem to be beyond redemption, should that be a matter of consideration. Along with accomplices, he habitually carried out murders, often brutal, of rivals, witnesses, and underlings who ran afoul of him.

But he should be allowed to see and embrace his wife and daughters as visitors. To be confined in something less than a virtual torture chamber. Because all prisoners are persons: human beings.

I feel that the operating principle should be: Do the minimum human harm possible. Regardless of how evil an individual is considered to be.

Gratuitous cruelty gives pleasure to those who inflict it.

I like to think (it is consistent with Jesus’s teachings) that somewhere in the afterlife there will be an accounting, a reckoning, for each individual, of one’s benevolent actions and one’s evil actions with respect to harm done to others in whatever capacity, whether it was a crime or actions supposedly not evil, but nonetheless equally so, done in an official capacity. Human suffering should be minimized.

Donald Rumsfeld’s comments encapsulate all of this. All of the above reflections of mine.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

Addendum:

 

As I observed in a previous post

 

is it possible (or desirable) to hold two divergent opinions at the same time?

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2018/01/25/is-it-possible-or-desirable-to-hold-two-divergent-opinions-at-the-same-time-2/

 

sometimes, if not often, one can assert, or stake out, a position only to find oneself thinking otherwise almost, as it were, in the same moment.

I also read an article in last week’s New York Times about a young man convicted of murder in Pennsylvania:

The bodies of four victims were found on the farm [in Bucks Country, Pennsylvania] after an extensive search. They had been partially burned in a roaster made out of an oil drum, and had been buried in a 12-foot-deep hole. (“Man Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Brutal Farm Killings,” The New York Times)

The man was convicted of first degree murder for the killings this week. He seems not to have shown remorse. His cousin pleaded guilty to the murders last year. “Your Honor, I want the four families to know I am so sorry,” the cousin said at his sentencing. “I hope that they find some peace in knowing that I’m just genuinely — I can’t even come to terms with what occurred. I’m sorry.”

As Leo Tolstoy observed, one’s horror at the depravity of heinous crimes seems to vary inversely with the length of time passed since the crime was committed:

A sinking man who clutches at another and drowns him; or a hungry mother exhausted by feeding her baby, who steals some food; or a man trained to discipline who on duty at the word of command kills a defenseless man–seem less guilty, that is, less free and more subject to the law of necessity, to one who knows the circumstances in which these people were placed, and more free to one who does not know that the man was himself drowning, that the mother was hungry, that the soldier was in the ranks, and so on. Similarly a man who committed a murder twenty years ago and has since lived peaceably and harmlessly in society seems less guilty and his action more due to the law of inevitability, to someone who considers his action after twenty years have elapsed than to one who examined it the day after it was committed. [italics added]

— Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace; First Epilogue

Well, in this case, the brutality of the murder and depravity of the killer seemed such to me that no punishment seemed too harsh. Prosecutors initially had sought the death penalty, but the district attorney changed his mind after meeting with the families of the victims.

Philosophers have been trying to come to terms with questions pertaining to what is just since Plato. The following is a passage from a book I am currently reading:

The natural law denotes the eternal and archetypal rule of right action flowing from the will and wisdom of God and guiding men possessed with free will through their ability to reason. Whereas revelation represents a direct communication of divine decrees to a privileged portion of the human race, the natural law proclaims itself with varying degrees of clarity to all rational beings, even to those deprived of biblical truths. Most of mankind came to acknowledge and obey this providential source of all earthly law and order, not through pure ratiocination, but through the historical attempt to discover empirically the conditions of life needed for optimum happiness: “…

Throughout the series the natural law comes close to being associated with a crucial principle of human necessity behind social progress. Such a principle ultimately reflects an elemental drive within human nature for self-preservation and social interaction, both of which generate mankind’s historical pursuit of happiness and preference for a civilized habitat to satisfy that drive. This principle of human necessity provides a norm for measuring the value of actions according to their strict “utility” in fulfilling the contradictory selfish and social impulses of humanity for the protection and fellowship of a civilized community. … But at the heart of all civil development lies an unremitting trial-and-error effort to meet man’s basic physical and psychological needs within the limitations of his earthly environment. If human nature craves social fellowship and protection, it also requires the restraints of a strong sovereign power to curb its egotistical appetites and enforce order and cooperation in a world left inherently unstable by original sin. …

 

— Thomas M. Curley, “Editor’s Introduction,” A Course of Lectures on the English Law: Delivered at the University of Oxford, 1767-1773, by Sir Robert Chambers, Second Vinerian Professor of English Law; And Composed in Association with Samuel Johnson, Volume I, Edited by Thomas M. Curley (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1986), pp. 40-41 (summarizing the contents of Chambers ‘s lectures at Oxford. which were influenced by,  and influenced, the views of Samuel Johnson)
The book has been worth reading for reasons other than those that primarily drew me to it, and I see that while I find the law disagreeable and punishments often cruel and odious, the former is necessary.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   November 26, 2019

 

 

* Did Schweitzer intend for his thoughts to be applied to criminals and depraved human beings? I am sure that was not what he was thinking of. After all, serial killers don’t have “reverence for life.” Nevertheless, what I feel is that if one (in Schweitzer’s words) gives “to every will to live the same reverence for life that he gives to his own,” one by implication — or extension of Schweitzer’s principle — must not deny the humanity of others, without exception.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

SOURCES:

 

 

“El Chapo escaped two prisons in Mexico — but no one’s ever busted out of the American ‘ADX’ ,” by Deanna Paul, The Washington Post, February 14, 2019

 

“Where El Chapo Could End Up: A Prison ‘Not Designed for Humanity’,” by Alan Feuer and Alan Blinder, The New York Times, February 15, 2019

 

“Man Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Brutal Farm Killings.” By Sandra E. Garcia, The New York Times, November 18, 2019

 

“After False Drug Test, He Was in Solitary Confinement for 120 Days: Hundreds of New York State prisoners were locked in cells, denied release or removed from programs when tests erroneously showed they had used narcotics, according to a lawsuit.” by Jan Ransom, The New York Times, November 20, 2019

“What have you done for others?”

 

 

“You probably know that I am [doing volunteer work]. _______ has done numerous, exceedingly generous activities to help the disadvantaged. Can you name one thing you have ACTIVELY done to help the needy? …What have your contributions to society been? … What have YOU done for others?”

 

 

— email to me from a relative, July 2018

 

 
*****************************************************

 

 

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. ….

 

— Matthew 5-6 (The Sermon on the Mount)

 

 

*********************

 

 

He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.

— William Blake, Jerusalem

 

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

The full Blake passage reads:

 

Labour well the Minute Particulars: attend to the Little Ones;
And those who are in misery cannot remain so long,
If we do but our duty: labour well the teeming Earth.…
He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.
General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer;
For Art and Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars,
And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power:
The Infinite alone resides in Definite and Determinate Identity.

 

T. S. Eliot (who, unaccountably, found fault with this passage) wrote that “Blake was endowed with a capacity for considerable understanding of human nature.” (T. S. Eliot, “Blake”; in The Sacred Wood: Essays On Poetry And Criticism). So true. And, in my opinion, Blake never said anything more true than He who would do good to another must do it in minute particulars. These words are seared into my consciousness, and they greatly influenced my thinking.

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

I do not have a preference for organized charities (or charity). Though I do not, and one should not, find fault with them a priori, or with those who volunteer or donate. They may be supported for reasons, partly, of self-interest, or to make someone look good, say, in their public profile or on a resume or college application. Note that I said they “may be.”

I prefer to do good in minute particulars. In little ways. I am always trying to. In my immediate environment. Where I live. Among friends and friends of friends or relatives. And, mostly, for people whom I encounter anonymously in the City.

There is no point in my giving particulars — it would not be true to the spirit of what is said above.

And, by the way, I fully agree with what Blake wrote – the thrust of the entire passage quoted above — developing his idea of particular versus general good more fully: “General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer; … / And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power: / The Infinite alone resides in Definite and Determinate Identity.”

Much of what is done by social engineers and reformers – supposedly for amelioration of conditions of the oppressed – actually is done with the most mean spirited intentions one can conceive of, and actually does harm to individuals, as I have shown in many of my posts.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   November 2019

thoughts about the ocean

 

 

When asked what she would miss about the voyage, Greta [Thunberg] said–much as some harried adults feel about a long trip–the best part was “to just sit, literally sit, staring at the ocean for hours not doing anything.”

“To be in this wilderness, the ocean, and to see the beauty of it,” she added. “That I’m going to miss. Peace and quiet.” She paused for a moment.

 

— “Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist, Arrives in N.Y. With a Message for Trump; The Swedish 16-year-old sailed across the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit next month,” by Anne Barnard, The New York Times, August 28, 2019

 

 

*****************************************************

It was a clear steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman’s look, and the robust and man-like sea heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson’s chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glided the snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds; these were the gentle thoughts of the feminine air; but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rushed mighty leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these were the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine sea. …

Aloft, like a royal czar and king, the sun seemed giving this gentle air to this bold and rolling sea; even as bride to groom. And at the girdling line of the horizon, a soft and tremulous motion–most seen here at the equator–denoted the fond, throbbing trust, the loving alarms, with which the poor bride gave her bosom away.

… Like noiseless nautilus shells, their light prows sped through the sea; but only slowly they neared the foe. As they neared him, the ocean grew still more smooth; seemed drawing a carpet over its waves; seemed a noon-meadow, so serenely it spread. …

 

— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, Chapter 132. “The Symphony”

 

 

*****************************************************
Brad,

 

BEATS AIR TRAVEL

I love her words and thoughts about the sea.

Her yacht docked in Manhattan right below Wall Street. I go there often to walk and enjoy the proximity to the water.

 

Roger
— email to my friend Brad Coady, August 28, 2019

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2019

on autumn (compared to spring) … thoughts of a sage and would be bard

 

 

Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open yë,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages):
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
(And palmers for to seken straunge strondes)
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;

And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.

 

– Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

 

 

Let Autumn spread his treasures to the sun.
Luxuriant and unbounded …
From heaven’s high cope the fierce effulgence shook
Of parting Summer, a serener blue,
With golden light enliven’d, wide invests
The happy world. Attemper’d suns arise,
Sweet-beam’d, and shedding oft thro’ lucid clouds
A pleasing calm; while broad, and brown, below
Extensive harvests hang the heavy head. …

– James Thomson, The Seasons
*****************************************************

 

 

A beautiful fall morning in New York City.

A string of beautiful days ahead.

Autumn has the best weather of the year, without question.

Spring is more exciting — a tonic to the senses. It is aptly named. The slowly increasing warmth. (But it begins with blustery days.) The gladness of warmth and sunshine. The sun inexorably becoming less pale.

The sense of renewal. Snowmelt. Wet sod. (Your shoes getting soaked.) Mud. Buds appearing on trees. A sudden bursting out in mid-April and May of leaves, flowers.

But autumn has its own unmatchable beauty. The delicious feeling of cool, but not frigid, air. The nights cool, made for sleeping. The clear, sunny days. Dry air. The sun still warm and gladdening.

 

 

– Roger W. Smith

  September 27, 2019

loving one’s neighbor

 

 

 

The following article appeared in today’s New York Times:

 

“Loving Our Undocumented Neighbors: When ICE officials arrived, residents of a Nashville neighborhood formed a human chain to protect an undocumented man and his 12-year-old son.”

By Margaret Renkl

Contributing Opinion Writer

The New York Times

August 5 2019

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

My thoughts.

God bless them. The Nashville neighbors.

They are true Christians.

Christ didn’t care about rules. The Pharisees were always trying to trap him, trip him up with their questions.

I am not an ostensibly devout or observant Christian. But I am grateful that I was raised by my Protestant — which is to say, Christian — parents and had Christian principles instilled in me. That I was taught them as a child and adolescent in church and Sunday school.

I have written about this before.

I read the Gospels or watch a film such as The Gospel According to Matthew and am moved by the narrative. All of it. Including the nativity, the miracles, the resurrection. Do I believe it all literally (the virgin birth, for example)? No.

This news story makes me realize something. What I really believe in, what makes me a Christian, is what Christ taught and His life. I believe, fully, in what he taught us about how to live, including our actions towards others. Mercy. Forgiveness. Charity. Do unto others. … “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

These wonderful people do. Their individual faiths were not recorded or mentioned. I am a Christian within, I realize, but externals don’t matter to me. These people acted in what I would call a Christian spirit. My religion does not have a monopoly on goodness. Their humanity and decency are what moves me. And, on a personal level — in terms of my belief system — that means Christian principles taught and exemplified by our Lord. Wonderfully exemplified by them, faith aside.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   August 5, 2019