Selfish vs. Selfless

Being selfless isn’t easy. In fact, most people don’t manage it to save their lives. And for good reason. Biologically speaking, humans are built to be selfish; not because we’re assholes but because it’s a survival mechanism. Don’t get me wrong, humans ARE assholes as well! But I digress…

Selfishness is a survival mechanism, because if our ancestors weren’t selfish with their food and gathering of basic needs, they wouldn’t have survived to evolve into what we are today. But considering the fact that we are a society of self-aware people who understand the difference between right and wrong, shouldn’t selflessness become the priority?

The average person with any modicum of common sense would assume so, but it’s still surprising how easy it is for people to remain selfish in the face of situations where they could and should be thinking of others instead. Allow me to provide an example…

Let’s say you walk into your Christmas staff party. You feel light-headed and check your blood glucose level to see that you’re running low. You walk over to the buffet table and notice that there’s only one piece of sugared food left. As you reach for it, someone else grabs for it and picks it up. You explain that you need it to raise your blood sugar. The other person shrugs and takes a bite. You ask if they have Diabetes, to which they reply that they do not. You explain that you need it to raise your blood sugar as you ARE Diabetic. The other person says something akin to it being your problem, not theirs and walks away while munching on the sugared food you needed.

So, who’s right? Does what that person did make sense? Sure, it’s easy to figure that it isn’t the second person’s problem and that since it’s a first come, first serve buffet, they’re totally entitled to that piece of food. But let’s consider that word for a moment: entitled. If it comes at the cost of someone else’s well-being, are we ever truly “entitled” to something? The second person really had no need of that piece of food, they simply wanted it. Even faced with someone else’s genuine need, they selfishly choose to keep it for themselves.

And no, this specific scenario didn’t happen to me (although something similar may have taken place to someone close to me recently). I’m merely using this example to illustrate a point.

In a modern world where we understand the difference between right and wrong and are able to realize when someone genuinely has a need for something, there’s nothing wrong with being selfless enough to step aside and let the other person have the moment. After all, there’s enough suffering in the world. We, as people, should recognize that it’s our responsibility to lessen that suffering. ☯

Respect Should Be Remembered, Despite Your Beliefs…

Over the years, there has been a slow decline in some of the verbal freedoms that we’ve always taken for granted. The best example would be the fact that when I was growing up, saying “Merry Christmas” was the expected greeting you gave people during the holiday season. But in recent times, it’s become almost anathema to some people, bordering on the rude, to wish someone a Merry Christmas.

For the most part, this decline in the use of a time-honoured holiday greeting has been attributed to a difference in background and religious beliefs. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has told me, “I’m not Christian and so I consider it offensive for you to offer me greetings based on a religion I don’t practice…”

I’m paraphrasing, of course. But my question to these people has always been simple and straightforward: why? This trend has reached most branches of society, going as far as retail and business locations forbidding their staff from giving a specific greeting in favour of a generic and dry greeting of “Happy Holidays”.

That’s all well and good, but doesn’t restricting someone from using a greeting based on their own beliefs violate the same freedom the ones complaining about it are trying to maintain? Seems a tad on the hypocritical side…

I was baptized into the Catholic faith when I was a child. I was raised in an environment where my family celebrated Christmas and the birth of Christ (although most scholars have indicated this didn’t ACTUALLY happen on December 25th, but that’s for a different post). But given the changes in my life and faith since then, I consider it a sign of respect for someone to use the greeting associated with their faith.

For example, if someone from the Jewish faith were to say, “Happy Hannukah” I would respond with, “Thank you so much. And Merry Christmas.” In Canada, we have the significant freedom to exercise the faith of our choice; a choice not everyone in the world gets to enjoy. So why butt head’s against each other to try and “have it our way?”

There is room enough in this world for everyone’s faith. One of the beautiful things about faith is that it doesn’t take up any physical room. So why take up room exercising it or restricting others? Let’s take a moment this holiday season to see the beauty in everyone’ faith and appreciate the fact that time has been taken to wish us well. After all, the holidays should be about family, celebration and freedom. Merry Christmas! ☯

Wide World Of Holidays…

December is almost always recognized for the celebration of Christmas. This is due in part to the fact that the Western world was populated and is heavily composed of people who follow a Christian faith, although those numbers are steadily being matched by varying faiths, even here in Canada. What many people don’t realize is exactly how many important holidays are celebrated in December.

For example, even Buddhism has a day in early December in which we observe Bodhi Day, which is historically believed to be the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment.

One of the most popularly known holidays is Hanukkah, which is a holiday of the Jewish faith. This holiday is also called the Festival of Lights and incorporates 8 days of gift-giving. However, this holiday doesn’t always fall in December and can be observed sometime in late November and as late as January.

There are a number of holidays in December that are also not necessarily attributed to any religious faith, such as Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, Human Rights Day and the Winter Solstice.

One of the most interesting non-religious holidays is Kwanzaa. This is a week-long celebration held by people of African descent, to honour the African heritage and is usually celebrated by way of a feast and gift giving.

December is a busy month, on top of last-minute shopping and travelling to see family! Take the time to enjoy all celebrations. Even someone who isn’t of a particular religious background will be invited to celebrate in most circles. And the opportunity to learn and better know your fellow man and woman is best taken when the opportunity knocks! ☯

The Last Of The Generation…

I received some sad news this morning. My Grandmother passed away at 6 am local New Brunswick time. If you recall reading a blog I posted less than a month ago, this would be the grandmother who fed her whole family by putting potatoes, carrots and beef cubes into a huge pot and boiling it all until it became mush. Such is the Acadian way…

My Grandmother with my brother and I (I’m the infant) in 1978

Dorina Poirier (Robichaud) was born as a U.S. citizen in the state of Maine. She moved to Canada with her family and settled in Northern New Brunswick sometime in the early decades of the 1900’s. She eventually met my Grandfather, who ironically was intended to marry my Grandmother’s sister, Doris.

My Grandparents got married shortly before my Grandfather shipped out to serve with the military in Europe during World War II. Upon his return, like most military families, they grew a rather significantly large family. They had seven children, the second oldest was my mother.

As a child, I had a very turbulent love/hate relationship with my Grandmother. As was the way of the times, she had been a harsh taskmistress on her children during their youth, some of which carried over onto her grandchildren years later.

I was also left in my Grandmother’s care a great deal as a child while my Mother looked after my brother’s medical care in Montreal. Although I’m certain this was greatly appreciated and was very cost-saving to my parents at the time, as a child I couldn’t help but feel some resentment at being left with this woman who was not my mother. Ah, kids…

My Grandmother and I in the late 80’s (no comments on my suspenders, please!)

My Grandmother’s family has spread like wildfire, considering that she happens to be a Great-Great-Grandmother with four generations of children below her, and counting.

My Grandfather also sadly passed away in 2013 at the age of 98. My Grandmother has missed him ever since and has been waiting to take that final journey to join him. She was my last remaining grandparent.

My Grandparents and I at my High School Graduation in 1996

The irony is that besides the rigours of age, my Grandmother had nothing medically wrong with her. She lived a full life, built a huge family and left her mark on the world. She was 95. She goes now to join those who loved her, to await those she loves. She will be missed. ☯

All Shiny And Pretty…

All clean and pretty…

I received this statue of Buddha as a gift, more than twenty years ago. It’s a solid piece of brass, and as such, tends to tarnish and turn black over the course of a long period of time.

The last time I polished this statue was over ten years ago. It had started to turn black and I bought a small bottle of a product called Brasso. I followed the instructions to the letter, pouring a small amount of the product on a clean cloth and buffing the statue until the tarnish got cleaned off. Unfortunately, the statue has enough detail that a cloth couldn’t get into all the nooks and crannies. It left enough tarnish to bother me.

Ten years later, the statue tarnished enough that it was almost black. I wish I had taken a before photo… I contemplated how I would clean it, this time around. I went to a local store and found some Brasso, but it was almost ten dollars for a tiny bottle. I don’t use the stuff often enough to make it worth that price.

I found a homemade solution online that simply involved one part vinegar and one part water. Scrub the statue with a toothbrush or clean cloth then rinse under warm water and buff.

Back in its place

I filled a glass measuring cup with the mixture of vinegar and water and submerged the statue for about an hour. As I was doing other chores around the kitchen, I would occasionally check on the statue and noticed the tarnish progressively disappearing. A quick wipe down and a buff, and the statue is almost cleaner than the day I got it two decades ago. ☯

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Most of us go through our daily lives just trying to get through the day so that our heads can hit the pillow. I’ve rather preferred to make it to the rising sun, as it means I’ve lived through the night and can rise to fight another day, but that’s just me. So, what do we rise everyday for? What is it that keeps us from just pulling the covers over our heads and staying in bed? The answer is simple: you need to have a goal.

Goals are important. Even for those who don’t think about it, having a goal can be a driving force behind what keeps you going. You’ll notice I keep saying “goal”, as in a singular goal. One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to accomplish multiple goals at the same time. Now don’t misinterpret this as not being able to multitask; the two are very, VERY different.

There’s an old proverb that says, “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” This is a simple way of saying that dividing your focus on more than one goal at a time likely means you won’t accomplish any of them. It’s important to place your gaze on one goal at a time. And this goal can be simple. There’s nothing saying you need to become a millionaire. If that’s your goal, then by all means, pursue it. Hopefully you will have fixed a singular goal to accomplish it. Nothing is saying that you have to have grand goals, such as finding a cure for a chronic illness. But if such is your goal, it’s definitely one worthy of a life’s work.

Now, if you were to try becoming a millionaire AND find a cure for, oh, let’s say Diabetes… at the same time? Chances are that you’ll fall short somewhere. Focus and effort are required for any definitive goal, and no matter how simple or complicated that goal may be, the requirements are ultimately the same.

So, tackle one thing at a time. Accomplishing one goal can lead into developing the next, and so on… This guarantees that you can wake every morning with a fresh perspective and the ability to focus on your goal. ☯