Snippet of Emerson

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In 1844 Ralph Waldo Emerson published his 2nd collection of Essays.  If you’re familiar with Emerson’s poetry but haven’t read his Essay’s, I highly recommend it. Years ago my wife and I were searching through some old books at a flea market and I uncovered a 1890’s edition of Emerson’s 1st and 2nd collection of essays.  I’ve read them all but the essay on Character I’ve read several times. Since these were written during the 19th Century, the words “man” and “men” are used and women are left out. However, his words apply to individuals of both sexes of course. So, please keep that in mind. The following passages are my litmus test. This is what I strive for every moment of my life.  Shouldn’t we all?


“The reason why we feel one man’s presence, and do not feel another’s, is as simple as gravity. Truth is the summit of being: justice is the application of it to affairs. All individual natures stand in a scale, according to the purity of this element in them. The will of the pure runs down from them into other natures, as water runs down from a higher into a lower vessel. This natural force is no more to be withstood, than any other natural force. We can drive a stone upward for a moment into the air, but it is yet true that all stones will forever fall; and whatever instances can be quoted of unpunished theft, or of a lie which somebody credited, justice must prevail, and it is the privilege of truth to make itself believed. Character is this moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature…A healthy soul stands united with the Just and the True, as the magnet arranges itself with the pole, so that he stands to all beholders like a transparent object betwixt them and the sun, and whoso journeys towards the sun, journeys towards that person. He is thus the medium of the highest influence to all who are not on the same level. Thus, men of character are the conscience of the society to which they belong.

The natural measure of this power is the resistance of circumstances. Impure men consider life as it is reflected in opinions, events, and persons. They cannot see the action, until it is done. Yet its moral element pre-existed in the actor, and its quality as right or wrong, it was easy to predict. Everything in nature is bipolar, or has a positive and negative pole. There is a male and a female, a spirit and a fact, a north and a south. Spirit is the positive, the event is the negative. Will is the north, action the south pole. Character may be ranked as having its natural place in the north. It shares the magnetic currents of the system. The feeble souls are drawn to the south or negative pole. They look at the profit or hurt of the action. They never behold a principle until it is lodged in a person. They do not wish to be lovely, but to be loved. The class of character like to hear of their faults: the other class do not like to hear of faults; they worship events; secure to them a fact, a connexion, a certain chain of circumstances, and they will ask no more…”


If you’ve read this excerpt do yourself a favor and read it again. For a long time I’ve attempted to put into to words what I look for when I’m considering which public servant to cast my vote for in elections.  I seek individuals with character. And this short section spells it out beautifully. I will continue to use this as a checklist for who to vote for and as a check on my own person. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Be the change…

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Boy, it’s incredibly difficult sometimes isn’t it? It’s a beautiful day, you’re sipping your first cup of coffee ready to take on the world and like a pop-up thunderstorm, something you read, hear or see pops your positive balloon, deflating your rosy outlook in a flash. If you’re like me, this whatever it is, evades your psyche, crowds out good things and gets you thinking about anything BUT good things. I get offended, I become incredulous, exasperated and lost in a sea of Qi killing thoughts and am left feeling helpless.  And I admit, it’s usually about politics.

No matter what side you land on, many of you experience the same thing. We hold on to our beliefs whatever they may be and we defend them relentlessly. Any high school or college debaters know this drill. We do our best to present our side, tear down the other and hopefully convince people our argument is correct.  But, here’s what I’m seeing now; no one is really listening.  And if I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world that’s where I must begin.

I’ve decided to narrow it down to the things that are most important to me.  First and foremost I value Love. I’m speaking about loving everyone regardless if they’re like me or not. It’s so difficult to do sometimes but I’m really going to make an effort. Honesty is also incredibly important to me.  I’m not just speaking about being honest with others but also with myself. Spiritually I find Compassion to be one of the most rewarding traits in myself and others. Taking someone else’s issues, concerns and problems and showing them you care about them is incredibly powerful. Sometimes, “I understand”, goes a long way. Character, the mental and moral qualities of an individual, is my litmus test for myself and others.  It’s judgmental I admit, but to me Strength of Character matters. Many times in my life I’ve said or done things that don’t sync with the character I strive for. But, I’m making a concerted effort to exhibit a more loving, honest and loving character. And finally, Knowledge is of enormous value to me. Whether through experience or educating ourselves, being knowledgeable on a subject should be the first step before responding to any topic.  I often catch myself responding emotionally to something I read, hear or see and realize later, I have no knowledge of that subject. I realize that many of my knee-jerk reactions are not based in fact, but rather deep held beliefs I’ve developed in my 50+ years on this planet. It’s not that those beliefs are right or wrong, it’s simply that by expressing my beliefs I alienate those who don’t believe like I do.

I have been so blessed in my life. I’ve been given the opportunity to travel, meet wonderful people from all walks of life from different parts of the world and it most certainly has given me a different perspective. It has taught me to question my deep held beliefs, and be more accepting of others. And I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back to that mindset.

The truth is, I don’t even like politics. But, I find myself drawn to it now because a lot of what is happening goes against my deep held beliefs. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, questioning what is going on right now, but I must realize that what I feel and think isn’t what others feel and think. I don’t understand why certain individuals act and feel the way they do but I really do try to put myself in their shoes.  I’m not writing this to make a point, or to try to change anyone’s views, but to write this down to hold myself accountable.  I’m going to love more, be honest with myself and others, show compassion, strengthen my character, and educate myself so I can respond accordingly when things happen that make my brain go haywire. And I will be accepting of others who don’t share my deep held beliefs.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s the most spiritual thing anyone of us can do.