Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A View From The Edge Of Town

     I’m sitting at the edge of town, or rather, I am sitting where the edge of town used to be. A block away from the locally owned coffee shop where I now sit lies the world of tomorrow, a dystopian vision of faceless corporations and computerized interactions.
     Just beyond—I would see it if the shades were opened—is the world of Walmart,as well as a collection of chain stores that have glommed on to the area that surrounds the interstate exit of this and every other moderate-sized town. It contains the same shops that you can find in every small city everywhere: Starbucks, Applebees, Buffalo Wild Wings, Perkins, etc. It sits upon land that used to be family farms while buildings sit vacant in the downtown area.
     The lights are a little brighter on the new end of town, everything a little newer. But crossing that line I can feel it, a palpable anxiety. I was just there, I had stopped at the Starbucks in order to relax for a moment before finishing up the necessary Christmas shopping. But somehow relaxation does not seem to occur in this area. The stores are all crowded and I find myself becoming impatient. The roads are busy and I find myself disliking my fellow man as they drive by in their vehicles, not having to care for others because they are insulated from them.
     I swear to God we are missing out on things by converting our society over to a mass-consumption culture, a streamlined process of getting as much for your money as you can. There is more than just the exchange of money for goods that leads to human happiness. I don’t have to explain it to know it’s real, I feel it. I feel it and if I could only quiet the urge inside me to keep moving forward, to consume more and more, I’m sure I could find intellectual reasons as well. Something is missing, something important. The accumulation of goods is the basest form of pleasure we can experience. It is something that, once the necessities have been acquired, should be set aside so that we can experience the deeper joys of life. But it’s being force-fed to us the way food is shoved down a goose’s throat to fatten its liver. We have lost the capacity to slow down and reflect, and so we are unable to get free of the machine that drives us onward.
     I sit here alone in this independently owned coffee shop thinking about what I don’t want us to become and realize that we’ve already become it. My hope lies in the belief that once we realize what we’ve created we will reject the choice we made. We will observe what we have created in all its shallowness, wastefulness, and inanity and seek a different path. We will shrink somewhat from what we have been mislabeling progress and embrace some of what humanity has held sacred for untold centuries. We will appreciate once more the things that truly bring sweetness and joy to our lives rather than driving in our oversized vehicles to acquire as many products as possible. It’s not a radical idea, it is merely stepping back from a precipice we have found ourselves at. It is the correction of a behavior that has not gotten us where we want to be. It may take some effort at first to train ourselves to make different decisions, but that is what grown-ups do when facing life’s moments of decision.

     This is not some kind of regression, nor some vain dream of a better world that lies somewhere in an imagined past. It’s simply an admission that we have screwed up. It’s realizing we have to take a step back in order to move towards the world we want to live in. Of course the machinery that is in place will try to talk us out of stepping away from the reality it seeks to weave for us. But arguments and propaganda can only go so far in persuading us to pursue a lifestyle we know deep down is killing us spiritually, is killing the world literally. The machine is quite large, its influence quite strong. But it is not reality, will never be reality. In the end humanity will triumph over the machine it has built to move us forward. In the end we will abandon a vehicle which we can no longer steer but seeks to steer our course for us. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

War Or Peace

You cannot make war on war, you can only make peace on war. You cannot profess to fight for peace, only work for it. War and peace are alternative paths we can take, different kinds of behavior. They are opposite paths. It is a choice we must make, war or peace.

Once you commit to peace you must leave behind the weapons of war, the mindsets that permit you to see the other as the enemy. You must beat the swords into plows and start tilling the earth, plant seeds rather than attempt to burn the crops of your neighbor.

To believe in peace you must help your neighbor rather than withholding your help for fear of him using your vulnerability to harm you.

Make no mistake, when you choose war you have chosen war. You do not choose war in order to achieve peace. When you choose war you have abandoned peace. When you choose war you abandon the very ideas that make peace possible.

When you choose war you choose “me” over “us”. You choose fear over hope.

Even when war leads to victory it plants the seeds of future wars. No vanquished nation or people ever forgets their defeat. The wounds of war never heal. They fester, for years, decades, centuries, until the time for vengeance arrives. And that vengeance is but another justification for their enemy in times to come.

Peace is the planting of seeds for the future, an optimism. War is a succumbing to the immediate fear. A commitment to peace requires faith while war is a surrendering to the fear that is the basest instinct of our animal nature. It is the fallback, the final position when all else has failed, just as an ill-adjusted adult falls back to infantile patterns of behavior when confronted with a situation he cannot control. As one of Isaac Asimov fictional characters was fond of saying, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

The thing is, it may work for some…for a while. And from that, others deduce that it is a valuable tool or perhaps a necessary one, an ever-present threat to be held against others in order to entice them to the bargaining table. But show me the nation that has risen by war that has not fallen in the same manner. What works for the individual does not work for a nation. What works for the life-span of a human will devour a country in the span of several human lifetimes. And beyond that, what works for the individual is toxic for the whole. Humanity has endured through war not because it is an inevitability but because its scope has so far been limited. But larger and more destructive tools of mass-destruction have been filtering into more and more hands. With the greater proliferation of such weapons will come the increased desire to use war as a means of protection against such weapons. At some point the desire for individuals and nations to protect themselves will mean the end of us all.

There is no peace that war provides. Even those who believe in war have no ultimate answer as to how we can forever forestall nuclear war. They provide no vision of a nuclear-free future, no security. They offer only immediate actions to stave off whatever the most pressing problems might be. But the road they propose we take has only one endpoint. War leads to war, not peace. Choose now the path you wish to take.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Gratitude

     
The problem with fear is that it keeps you from appreciating how miraculous life is and how blessed you are. The time spent fearing and distrusting your fellow man is time not spent appreciating how they make your life not only better but possible. When you break things down into “us” and “them” then you fail to feel the gratitude you should for what they do for you.
     And make no mistake, gratitude is a wonderful feeling, as well as being an essential element for spiritual health. You cannot feel happy without feeling gratitude, one flows naturally from the other. And if you are incapable of gratitude, you will never know happiness.
     Some people are do-it-yourselfers, and I respect and admire that. I wish I was the kind who could build my own garage, re-wire my house, or grow my own food. But even the most self-sufficient of us requires the fruits of other people’s labor. Even those living out in the wilderness have with them possessions that were made by others, perhaps on the other side of the world.
     From time to time I might find myself lying in bed and aware of all of the work that has gone into the building of the house my wife and I am fortunate enough to call our own. I assure you that such an awareness brings a greater sense of gratitude than were my home a palace. Not only have people I never met put together the walls from timber and drywall, someone has cut down the trees so that other people at a mill might fashion the wood into proper building material. People have installed plumbing and electrical items whose component parts come from all corners of the world. Somebody mined the copper, somebody shipped it, while others transformed it into the wires that lay hidden within the walls and bring to me the miracle of electricity that is possible because of the people working at the power plant, using coal that was mined in Kentucky coal mines and shipped to us up Lake Michigan. And let us not forget those who repair the wires that bring the electricity to our houses, those who create the appliances it powers, etc.
     You see, we are incredibly interdependent. And we are all part of an immensely complex system. Even those who do not seem to contribute are still a part of it. And before we judge those we believe are not contributing sufficiently to the greater good, perhaps we should first ask ourselves if we are adequately rewarding those who do so much for us? Are we providing those who give us life-sustaining food an adequate piece of a pie that is large enough to provide for all? Is their work not as vital as any, and if so should they not be compensated accordingly? Not only those who own the land and the equipment but those who work long hours in the field. There are many working long hours in developing nations to provide the clothes and electronics we feel is our rightful payment for the work we do, and yet those individuals are not driving around in new cars. Often, they do not even have adequate shoes to walk where they need to get.
     But instead of appreciation for those who provide so much for us, we often fear and judge those whom we believe may be taking from us. When I think of all those who have worked to build the house I have, the books I read and music I listen to, gratitude takes the place of fear. Fear is a self-indulgence we cannot afford. And by fear I include hatred, for hatred is just a reaction of the fearful to those they fear.

     We are all in this together whether we like it or not. We are all going to survive because we have found a way to live together or we will perish because we have not. Demagogues try and turn one against the other, always for the benefit of a few who profit from all. It is our job not only to do the work that brings us our daily bread and the bounty we sometimes fail to appreciate, but to ensure that others who do their job are taken care of as well. That is what gratitude is all about, and it is not a burden but a source of joy. Life would not be so sweet nor rich without it.


Monday, December 21, 2015

A Big Change Has Begun

     We are all frightened daily by news we hear regarding the state of the world, frightened by glimpses of problems seemingly too big to be solved. Panic does nothing to help, it merely gives us the impulse to run away. Sometimes it gives us that initial jolt of adrenaline, but our inability to conceive of a path of action eventually causes us to turn away.
     It is the fight or flea impulse--with which we are all familiar—on a societal level. We mostly choose flight, we avoid doing anything, and so choose to live in a bubble and pretend that we are safe in it. Turning inward is society’s equivalent of flight. And when some demagogue comes around and plays upon our fears, then society turns to the fight impulse. Whatever grand delusions we have about ourselves being individuals, creatures on par with lions, we are herd creatures that succumb to the common mind when we are troubled. We gather around, afraid to wander too far from the herd. Humans don’t do this physically but intellectually. When we become frightened, we constrict our thoughts so that theirs do not stray too far from the herd mentality. It is how we are designed as a species and an area of study too little researched as of yet, at least by those who would seek to do good with the results. I suspect advertisers and special interest groups could give us insights into such behavior, though they use such knowledge for personal gain.
     Many adult human beings have experienced the urge to fight or flee, at least on a personal level. To truly mature into a well-functioning adult means you are able to overcome to a good degree those baser impulses of fight or flee. You learn wisdom, real wisdom, understanding that such basic reflexes can often lead you astray. You have learned that to accomplish the goals you wish to accomplish you must set aside your fears and work with a fixed determination towards those goals, putting aside your fear and anger. Those fears never go away but you learn to identify them for what they are and keep them in check when you start to notice them influencing your behavior in a negative way.
     Perhaps society too is in the process of maturing, of learning how to gain control over such a herd mentality of fear and anger that so often leads us into war and financial disaster. It certainly doesn’t feel like that now, it seems the world is in utter chaos, and the best thing we can do is either to confront things with violence or else flee from attempting to deal with the situation at all. Here is an alternate viewpoint, one which I think appeals more to the adult in us, mature creatures living in an increasingly mature society, despite whatever fears and doubts we may harbor.
     Our era already has a good idea of the problems it has to face, it is merely taking its time to gather its courage. It is taking its time, too, to make sure it deals with the pressing problems of its day not merely with courage but with wisdom. Courage alone is how people of a century ago faced their problems and it created world wars. We today know we cannot confront our obstacles in such a manner. As frightening and destructive as the technology was then, our advances will make such an approach the end of human civilization.
     So we wait and we debate. We wait although emotion and passion pulses strongly within our veins. We wait as Hamlet once waited in order to ensure that balance is once again restored.
     We tread cautiously because we have seen the danger of courage unbound by humility. That does not make us weak, it makes us wise.
     That might seem like an unrealistically optimistic view of the situation as it now stands. All dramatic turnarounds begin in such a manner. That is how it is done. Humanity must put the skids on and come to a decision about where our lives are heading and then make adult decisions about how we want to spend our lives from here on out. It happens with individuals everyday. A drug addict decides to quit or seek treatment, an overweight person decides to get his eating under control, a worker decides upon a career path that will lead him to a degree of success. People turn their lives around all the time. So will society once it admits to the situation it now finds itself.
     It will begin with individuals, deciding a change has to take place. These individuals will encounter like-minded others and be encouraged and assisted by them. And once it has hit a critical mass, that herd mentality that has been resisting the change that must come will suddenly become its greatest asset.
     It will come. It has to come. We are ready because we must be ready. We wish to be more, we all do. We want a society that is equitable, a society that nurtures the best aspects of human beings. We have great things inside us and we all want a chance to let them grow. It’s time now, we are adults who are ready to live our lives. We are a race that has seen too much mindless bloodshed and indifference to our fellow man.

     It has begun. Minds all over the world are locked into a commitment to a better world. This is not like the adolescent well-meaning but immature rumblings of the 1960s. This is the maturation of the human species that does not want to be an addict or a screw up any longer. This is not believing, it is doing. It has begun.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Message From Climate Change Deniers To Their Descendants




     It seems that the internet will be around for a while, perhaps forever. Very few of us have stopped to consider how much data we will be leaving behind for our descendents. We will be known to our descendants in a way no other generation has. A hundred years from now it is quite likely that our great grandchildren will be able to search back through the limitless data and get to know us through our comments, pictures, videos, etc. that we have posted on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Actually, it’s quite likely it will go far beyond the things you have posted with your name on it and include the crabby rants you posted on YouTube and elsewhere because you hid behind your anonymity. I have to think technology a hundred years from now will make everything you do online now easily accessible to them.
     I know, the idea that your great grandchildren will know how you spent your on-line life is pretty disturbing. But there’s a positive side to it too. A hundred years from now, your offspring will know about the valiant struggles you made on their behalf, will see your prescience and wisdom in every Facebook comment and Tweet you ever made. They will see the brave stance you took against the prevailing wisdom and how you sacrificed yourself for what you thought was right.
     So I’m offering you this opportunity to share for posterity your stance you are now taking on climate change. Consider this a time capsule, if you will, destined for your progeny a hundred years hence.
     I’m asking all of you who have taken a firm stance against the idea that climate change is in any way man-made to post a message to the future. Let them know that when the overwhelming majority of the scientific community warned of the direness of man-made global warming that you stood against the onslaught of propaganda from such self-serving, short-term-interested philistines. Let your descendents know that the word they live in is the result of the wisdom and courage that you and others like you once possessed.
     Don’t be modest. I’m sure that the future world would love to know about the trials and tribulations of their ancestors, will be proud of the sacrifices you were willing to make so that they could live in a better world. Let them know about the tireless research you did to counteract the so-called facts Twenty-First Century science was throwing in your faces. Spell out for them the obstacles you had to overcome in order to drive your SUVs and live in oversized homes, how you had to battle to resist the invasion of windmills and solar panels that the government was trying to jamb down our throats.

     So please, leave a comment. Leave your full name so your descendents will know who you are. Leave the name of your children if you have any, where you come from and any unique facts about yourself, just to make sure your descendants know they have found the right person. And then let them know you opposed any actions against climate change. I’m sure they will be proud to know they came from such brave, forward-thinking stock.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Support Peace, Or At Least Share In The Cost Of War


     War is the failure to achieve peace. Preserving peace is the job of the politician, war is their failure. The warrior is needed when the politician has failed. The politician’s job is not to send men to war but to prevent the need for their sacrifices. No politician should be lauded for sending men to war, rather he should have to pay the price as much as anyone else. But they never do, at least not if the war is won.
     I support soldiers, but not by supporting war, anymore than I would be supporting fire fighters by supporting arson. Arsonists should be sent to jail.
     I support those in the medical field as well, but shouldn’t we do everything we can to avoid injury and illness? If we want to help doctors and nurses, if we want to improve the overall health of society, shouldn’t we be stressing prevention above all else? If a car crash happens and medical personnel race to the scene to aide those who are wounded, are we to be accused of not supporting them if we were to call for rerouting traffic away from the site of the crash in order to avoid further damage?
     It is the soldiers and their families who alone pay the price for war. It used to be that when the country went to war the homefront was expected to make sacrifices. In Word War One people were encouraged to grow victory gardens. During World War Two there were rubber drives, paper drives and scrap drives. Women did without silk stockings so that silk could be used in the production of parachutes for the troops. Food was rationed, gas was rationed, everybody knew it was their duty to do their part.

     I remember our President’s speech after the events of September 11, 2001. The one thing that sticks in my mind was his call for us to go about our daily business, “to go shopping”. Consuming and behaving like shoppers, that now seems to be who we are as Americans. Maybe it seems normal now but I guarantee you it would have seemed plain wrong to my father or my grandfather, both soldiers in the two great wars.

     I remember also in the days after the war in Iraq began, the sudden appearance of bumper stickers on SUVs that proudly proclaimed We Support Our Troops. No, you don’t, you support war. Not the same thing. You support war for oil. You support converting the blood of our soldiers, not to mention the blood of others in nations you will never visit, into fuel for your oversized vehicle. You might not want to hear it, so you’ll probably try to shout the idea out of your head and become outraged until I silence myself. But it’s true. We didn’t go to Iraq to help the Iraqis, we didn’t go there to make the region a safer place, and we sure didn’t go to war for the sake of the troops, who had to leave their lives and families behind.


     So I’m going to say it, even if it makes me unpopular, even if I have to pay a price for it. Because I think if our country is sending its troops into battle we should all have to pay a price for it. We can’t continue to go putting the price of war on our credit card, increasing the national debt because we don't want to really know the costs of war. Support the troops. Demand that your politicians do their job by finding better solutions than war. Support peace. And if such concepts are too foreign to you, at least do your part in the war effort. Because once you start to be inconvenienced by war, maybe it won't look like such a convenient option.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Walmart And The End Of The Mom And Pop Store

     The story’s a familiar one, isn’t it, a shopkeeper is paid a visit by a group of thugs who suggest that they are there to provide protection for the store owner…for a small monthly fee. It’s a polite way of saying that if you don’t pay them a hefty percentage of your profits they’re going to destroy your business and you will be without a livelihood. A crime organization puts the squeeze on all the businesses in town and soon the innocent little town of free people becomes a place of fear and intimidation. The criminal organization is like some blood-sucking leech that gets fat while the healthy and hardworking hosts are sucked dry until they are barely living.
     I thought of this the other day while sitting in the car at a strip mall while waiting for my wife. Around me was a group of stores, the same stores you’re likely to see at a strip mall near you. There was a tax preparation business, a hair stylist, a nutrition store, a sandwich shop, and a nail spa. And every single one of them was a chain store. Every single one of them was identical to the one in the strip mall closest to you.
     It didn’t used to be that way. I’m old enough to remember independent businesses in my home town, which by the way was the epitome of suburbia, not Mayberry. We had a pharmacy, a hair salon, a tax preparer, a book store, a record store, garden shop, an optician, an electronics dealer and a grocery. Today we call that Walmart.
     The thing is, every one of those independent business men are now working for Walmart at whatever price Walmart decides to pay them. And if it’s not Walmart, it’s some other chain. All those small business owners used to play a special role in the town, used to know that they contributed to their community in a meaningful way. Now they are interchangeable cogs in the corporate machine. Where once they met their neighbors and chatted while doing their job, now they seem like lifeless drones as the plod through their working day. Visit a Walmart pharmacy sometime if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
     An independent pharmacist, butcher, or shop owner used to know his customers and was able to accommodate them. Now they have to work by the rules the corporate entity sets out for them. My grandfather was a butcher and I remember hearing stories about how he’d slip a little extra to people he knew were having trouble making ends meet. You can’t do that sort of thing these days.

     Like I said, my grandfather was a butcher. He had his own store. He managed to raise thirteen children doing that sort of work. Today the average wage for a butcher is $12.40 an hour. Try feeding a family of fifteen on that. Oh, I know, they’ve simplified the process so that a butcher no longer needs to be as knowledgeable as he was fifty years ago, his skill set is no longer worth as much. But how is that progress when it only hurts the person doing the work? Who is profiting? It’s not the butcher, the baker, the barber or clerk. Society is no longer based on what is best for the individual or the community but what is most profitable for the corporations. And it’s only getting worse. The theory is we all end up benefitting, but try telling that to the butcher with mouths to feed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Random Thoughts Part 16

The greatest artistic talent of our day is busy constructing packaging rather than art.

Brave men need people looking after them, people to say enough, no more. This holds true for boxers as well as soldiers. Don't send people to get hurt when they have nothing to gain from it. Don't let others profit from the bravery of others.

Morality is really no different on a societal scale than for individuals. I do what I feel to be moral and right because I truly believe it will benefit me and in some small way the world. It's not so much about making rules for others to follow so much as setting an example that others will want to follow.

Hate doesn’t need a reason, just an excuse.

All countries memorialize the dates when they were wronged, but never do they recall the wrongs they have done. Looked at from the inside, each nation is blameless.

We can judge without understanding, but if we are able to truly understand, we will not be able to judge.

We can disagree on 95% of the problems facing the world, but if we are able to work together on the 5% we agree on, we can make the world a better place.

Weak arguments hide behind strong emotions.

Many seek the path of judgment rather than the path of understanding. But how do you judge what you do not understand? And understanding, how can one then judge?

We all have a role to play and it is nobody’s role to despair. It would be a poorly written play if there was, a group of characters sitting around awaiting an inevitable end. Nor is it your role to fault your fellow performers, to tell them their actions are wrong. Play your role as it is written in your heart and let the written words come to life.

Arrogance passes as intelligence to the ignorant.

The problem with a philosophy or a belief is that you soon start changing the facts to fit it.

Wisdom that does not lead to contentment is not wisdom. It is better to be a happy fool than a miserable wise man.

Our society needs more grandmothers and less facelifts, more grandfathers and less ED pills.

A philosophy becomes a religion the moment you replace questioning with belief, when you forget that is but one way among many to see the world.

Difficult questions, even if never fully answered, are still more useful than simple answers.

Walls are Illusions, illusions are walls. There are no borders that are not artificial, no “over there”, no place called “away” where we can throw something. We cannot wall ourselves off, at least not for long. There is no hiding place. We cannot lock something away without it festering in the darkness. There is no there and them, there is only here and us.

The more you have the less you have need of your fellow man and the more you begin to fear them.

The more you see differences, the more you see the need for walls, bars, and guns.
Our society currently respects profit more than work, which means that it gives a higher regard to those who take rather than give.

Christian, Jew, Liberal, or Conservative. If you are a halfway thoughtful person you will inevitably end up being embarrassed by whatever group you identify with.

Assuredly science is superior to religion in understanding the physical universe. But maybe, just maybe, religion is better at seeing our position in relation to that universe.

You were born to solve the problems you confront, not complain that nobody is doing anything about them. If you see and feel a problem so acutely, who better than yourself to solve it?

Dinosaurs had brains the size of marbles but even they weren’t dumb enough to cause their own extinction.

It is dangerous to ignore facts, just as it is dangerous to become too enamored with them.

The job of keeping you informed and enlightened will never pay as well as the job of keeping you misinformed and frightened.


Perhaps the one unanswerable question in life is why so many of us choose to live in a fantasy world of our own creation that offers us nothing but pain.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Miracle Of Loaves And Fishes, Another Perspective

     When I was a younger and more impressionable person, I chanced upon a documentary that dealt with the Dead Sea Scrolls. One line of thinking that someone expressed was that the Gospels were intended to be secular rather than miraculous. One example given was the story of the loaves and fishes. Rather than giving a supernatural explanation to the story, the hypothesis went that rather than miraculously transforming a few loaves and fishes into enough to feed thousands, Jesus rather was able to reach the faith of those in attendance, so that those who had enough and more were willing to share with those who did not. In other words, as the scant rations the Apostles began with were passed around, more was added to it.
     The idea frightened me at the time, needing as I did a literal interpretation of The Bible, needing to know some father-figure sky god kept an eye out for me, for all of us. But it stuck with me, perhaps because it shook me.
     Looking back on it now, I see the beauty of the story when told in this way. After all, what a small thing it is to produce food from nowhere. Mankind has been doing that since civilization began, planting seeds into the ground and reaping the harvest. They have cast their nets blindly into the sea and brought from it fish. Through the centuries, man’s capacity to produce food has grown to miracle-like levels, so that now we pay farmers to not grow food. Walk into your local grocery store and witness the amazing ability of modern man to bring foods from all over the world to your part local supermarket. I was in the grocery store yesterday and the different kinds of apples they had was astounding. The variety of foods on display would have blown the minds of the mightiest emperor a millennia ago.
     But for all our ability to produce food in abundance, we have yet to learn how to share it for all to have enough.
     I remember visiting my grandmother when I was a child. Hers was the sweetest smile I have ever seen. There was an utter lack of selfishness about her, and it inspired me to do anything she would have asked me. Day or night, people would drop in on her, and there was seldom a moment without visitors. My fondest memories are being at her house.
     And the people who came to visit were always welcomed, always offered whatever it is they required. And in return people were always dropping by to offer something in return, a box of candy, vegetables fresh-picked from the garden or fish from the river.
     That to me, looking back at it now, was a miracle. It felt miraculous as a child but I really never reflected too much on it: children tend to accept the miraculous without feeling the need to ask questions about it.

     I’m not a Biblical scholar, and even if I was I would not like to thrust my opinions on such sublime matters as these. But I do see the beauty of interpreting the miracle of the loaves and fishes in such a manner. Ah, to reach the hearts of those who have and teach them to share is in itself a miracle. And it is a story more in need of telling than the idea that we should leave it in the hands of God to make the world a better place. After all, we will never have enough for all if we do not learn to trust in sharing.