Living Well

April 30, 2010

The Challenge of Moral Courage

I was so struck by the quotation I lost concentration during the meeting at hand.  My attention was arrested by an elegantly refined calligraphy quotation of Dante Alighieri seated in a beautiful frame.  The quotation pierced me in a way not many quotations have in some time.  While many quotes focus my mind on a topic, this bold statement by Dante forced a deeply personal inquiry, “Have I been or am I now morally neutral on issues in this world that truly matter?”  The quote simply stated, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

The question that ran across my mind is a frightening introspection among a host of possible beliefs about oneself.  We may believe we are honest, just, respectful, and kind when it comes to others.  These are traits we can exhibit at any moment and in various ways.  I can show kindness by taking a plate of cookies to my neighbor or I can be honest by not cheating on my income taxes.  These acts may cost me time, energy, a bit of inconvenience or money in demonstrating personal character ingredients I believe about myself.

But moral courage is at the highest level of our willingness to demonstrate our character.  Moral courage asks us to pay a price with our reputation, friendships, or even our lives.  A striking aspect of moral courage is that it calls us to be other centered.  While some of the “others” might be friends or family members, it is quite likely they would be strangers, people who are normally just faces in the crowd.  It may also be that these strangers live in another time zone of the globe, whose skin and culture are very different from our own.  It was moral courage displayed when fire fighters, police, emergency personal and ordinary co-workers and selfless airplane passengers gave their lives to save others that fateful 9/11 morning.

So what might be ideals calling for our moral courage?  When we look around our globe, it is easy to find any number of stages for demonstrating moral courage.  The environment, unjust labor markets, war, human rights violations, abortion, racism and genocide are just a few that come to mind, but there are many others that we could name.  In considering these moral and ethical issues, the haunting question remains, “Would I be willing to pay a personal price for the well-being of strangers or future generations by confronting and overcoming these issues?”  It may be one of the most deeply personal and spiritual questions we will ever answer during our existence.

This is not new landscape to navigate.  Across the horizon of moral courage are signposts bearing people’s names that have paid a personal price for standing boldly against the flaming arrows of the issues they confronted.  Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln are just a few individuals most recognized for wagering their lives in moral courage.  There are, however, countless others with moral courage, nameless and unheralded by historians, who have sacrificed their lives to become voices for reason and justice.  We may not know them, but we are eternally in their debt for attacking the severest issues that face humankind.  In recent years, filmmaker Steven Spielberg has shaped our concept of moral courage by delivering dramas of unknown heroes; simple women and men who gave their lives for causes set before them.

In reality, we are being summoned to moral courage whether we acknowledge it or not.  It may be our voices of reason are needed for stamping out human rights violations in some remote region of the globe or maybe our courage is needed in “downtown anywhere” where racism and hatred are choking sanity.  We are in reality indelibly connected to each other, no matter what corner of this planet we occupy.  By looking away, we grant permission for oppressions to continue and loud voices to prevail.  Our answers to these human cries must be our willingness to carve our names on the signposts peppered across the landscape along with those that have responded with their sacrifices, even if it was their own life.

It is a choice to live isolated or to “make our business that of humankind.”  I am not naïve in believing this is a decision made lightly or that our actions will stamp out the moral perplexities of our world.  But these decisions and personal choices to act with moral courage may carry eternal significance like no other.

So ask yourself, “Would I be willing to put my reputation, possessions or life ‘one the line’ so that injustices may be made right?  Why or why not?  Would I be willing to join a picket line or demonstration that would require my taking a public stand on some moral issue?  Would I be willing to boycott products or services that perpetuate human rights violations?  Do I value my personal safety and well being above that of others?  Why do I make this stance?

Moral courage.  It may be the highest test of living well.  Blessings, grace and peace for every day of your life.

David Neidert

April 21, 2010

A Proper Perspective breeds Humility

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 8:56 pm
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Say humility and your mind might fashion an image rather quickly.  It might conjure someone with a mousy appearance who is frail in weight, socially awkward, and a stifled voice on matters that would require any confrontation.  It might be an image of the “ah shucks-bashful” kind of person who is embarrassed to receive accolades given to them.  If that type of image splashes across your cranium, it would be wrong.

Humility is a mid place between self-abasement and self-exaltation.  Humility lies between these opposites where personal self-perspective knows one’s own worth in relation to other human beings.  It is, as the Apostle Paul writes, “knowing not to think of oneself more highly than you should…to think with sober judgment.”  We might, however, better perceive this appropriate mid place if we more fully understood the extremes.  It is as Dag Hammarskjold wrote, “Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exultation.”

Being self-abased is one extreme.  We are self abased when we disgrace ourselves through conduct or dishonor our own character.  We are abased when we discredit or in the ultimate sense degrade ourselves.

While there might be those that would see humility residing here, they would be mistaken.  Humility does not rest with self degrading behavior, no matter how we attempt to make that definition fit.  In the Greek understanding, humility never has to do with this negative connotation, but always with something good about a human being.

Likewise, humility is not self exaltation.  At this end, self exaltation is haughty pride and self promotion that may take us close to delusions of grandeur.  This extreme is the residence of arrogant pride, where English novelist, Emily Bronte writes, “people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”  

Humility is that exacting mixture of self esteem and self worth.  In sober self esteem, we have a healthy opinion of ourselves, a confidence that does not tend toward either self abasement or arrogance.  Likewise, in healthy self worth, we see ourselves of value in relationship to others, a confidence that permits us to see our worth as equal to others, not as inferior or superior to those we encounter.

In living humbly, we know we are not the center of the universe, but also know we are not “scum;” we understand our proper place within our relationships and world.  Rudyard Kipling seizes the essence of humility when he encourages, “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue or walk with kings…and not lose the common touch…If all people count with you, but not too much…” then you have found that mid place where self esteem and self worth give confidence.

So ask yourself, are you living at the extremes of self abasement or self exultation?  If you are, what emotional satisfaction do you receive from living at these extremes?  Do you view humility as weak or as understanding your place in the universe and among others which allow you to relate confidently to the world?

Humility helps us establish a fair belief about who we are.  Grace and peace to you as you discover where you reside on the continuum.

David Neidert

April 8, 2010

Keeping Promises

How good is your word?  When you say, “I promise I will do this or that” does the person receiving your words walk away in confidence that what you offered will be done?  Could that individual go about their usual business without giving even another thought to the conversation they had with you because they know the promise you made will be fulfilled?

It is easy to make promises, because we view them today as a description of intention, with an unspoken caveat that depending on the circumstances, our pledge may or may not be fulfilled.  Promises, however, are pledges of assurance that we will or will not act as we have stated.

Promises are a gift that we give people about our actions and intensions in the future.  Critical to this whole issue is that when we give a promise, we also give the receiver every reason to expect that the intent of our promise will be carried out.  Our stating we promise to do something is thus a guarantee.

It is easy to make promises, but much harder to keep them.  Promises we make to others is about our character, about who we really are; a description of our reliability and dependability in a given circumstance.  As Aeschylus, the ancient Greek dramatist observed, “It is not the oath that makes us believe the person, but the person the oath.”  It is not then our words, but our actions.  It should be remembered that a single promise unfulfilled does not discredit us as an unreliable person.  But if we are prone to not keeping our promises, people will over time stop believing in us and may even withdraw from us because we are not reliable or dependable when it counts.

We not only make promises to others, but we also make promises to ourselves.  David Allen, guru of time management, believes we create internal stress, self doubt, lower self esteem, and a sense of incompleteness when we break promises we have made to ourselves.  He calls this string of broken promises and the induced stress that comes with it “The Gnawing Sense of Anxiety.”  And the promises don’t have to be big ones.  They just have to be made and consistently broken.  Take the example, “I will lose 25 pounds of body weight in the coming six months.”  Now, to do this a man needs to eat only about 2,100 calories a day over six months instead of eating 3,000 or more daily and increasing one’s physical activity.  But it is easy to break the promise and commitment.  It simply goes like this.

You eat well for three or four days and then you “slip up.”  So, you chastise yourself and promise not to do it again.  This works for another 24 hours, but then that late night bowl of ice cream looks too good, you just don’t have any willpower, and there go 600 calories.  The result: agony about the eating of the ice cream and another pledge.  You know the cycle.  If you have ever tried losing weight you know the drill.  And so it goes.  Over time then, you stop making the promise because “I am just worthless and cannot control myself.” Again, many have been there and know the kind of self talk, self ridicule, and self loathing that creeps in.

So how to succeed?  It goes back to my last blog posting; if you make a promise, are you willing to be disciplined enough to fight through it or find those who will help you in the instance so that you might persevere and gain your goals.  Are you, as Muhammad Ali observed, willing to suffer a little now for a life of success and happiness?  Are you willing to expend the needed energy to keep the promises you make?  It isn’t easy, by any means, but it can be done when we are willing to put in the time, effort, and keeping the promises we make to others and ourselves.

 Blessings, grace and peace in this most difficult, but beautiful discipline of keeping one’s promises.

David Neidert

April 2, 2010

Personal Discipline Can Bring Success

The Macedonian phalanx subdued the ancient Near East by 323 BC under the command of the youthful general, Alexander the Great.  The phalanx was no military or technological marvel, but was in reality a crude war machine compared to the chariots, calvray, and Special Forces of other ancient cultures.

The phalanxes, comprised of heavy infantry or foot soldiers, were armed with no more than a helmet, breastplate, shin guards, shield, a small sword, and an eight foot long pike with bronze tip.  Yet when these soldiers marched in formation and coordinated effort, they conquered the largest land forces of ancient warfare, the Persians, with decisiveness through strategy.  As a side note, I would encourage you to read about Alexander the Great and his victory at Gaugamela in a history book.  That battle portrays an ingenious strategy and confidence rarely witnessed in the ancient world.

What made this rudimentary, foot soldier driven phalanx unstoppable by the great military forces of the ancient world displayed in Persia?  Arthur Ferrell, author of the book Origins of War (1985) writes that this type of fight and formation places a “heavy premium on training, discipline and courage.”  Ferrell notes that ancient fighting is brutal and requires soldiers to supplant the instinct toward self preservation and the fear that goes with it, “even if it is only for a little while” during a battle.  That fear to quit was only overcome by the “rigid discipline” and training of the Greek soldiers, sometimes severe compared to our thought of training today.

Discipline is a necessary personal quality for living well and developing personally.  The Greek word for discipline is sophoronismos, literally meaning, “to save the mind, admonishing or calling to soundness of mind or self control.”  This soundness and self control for our mental, moral and physical powers comes through instruction and exercise.  Without these two ingredients, we will fall in the face of mounting opposition.

Muhammad Ali is considered without much debate the greatest boxer that participated in the sport.  Ali trained hard in his early years realizing that the pain of the present must be overcome for the champion’s life.  A disciplined body and mind permitted him to subdue his opponents with decisiveness, even predicting the round the challenger would be eliminated.  It is as Ali said, “I hated every minute of the training, but I said, don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”  That discipline catapulted him to declare often and rightly, “I am the Greatest.”

We may not have enemies as fierce as those of the Greeks nor opponents as physically challenging as Ali’s, but we do have challenges regularly throughout our lives that require a disciplined personality to overcome their advances. If we are to face life’s challenges with resolve, then we must follow the advice of Ali and the practice of the ancient Greeks.  We must put in the time and effort now to develop self control and discipline that can guide us in the tough moments that life routinely provides.  We can live well by living disciplined lives; that practicing discipline will allow us to stand even for a little while longer when the moments of opposition come.  Blesssings to you as you live with discipline that may lead to actions and attitudes of peace and grace.

David Neidert

March 29, 2010

The Power of Mercy

Power is bestowed in a plethora of ways, including many symbols.  In ancient Rome, the encompassing symbol of power for the king was called the imperium.  This conferred ‘oath’ gave emperors and senators the right of power over wealth, military control, and issues regarding justice.  Under this mantel of power, kings, emperors, and counsels could grant life or death, freedom or slavery, fortune or famine to individuals and society.  Unfortunately for the Roman Empire and its later history, the imperium mantel made numerous men singularly self-serving to the detriment and destruction of those they led.

William Shakespeare wrote in “Measure for Measure” (1604), “No ceremony that to great one’s long, Not the king’s crown, not the deputed sword, The marshal’s truncheon, not the judge’s robe, Become them with one half so good as grace as mercy does.”  Great ones, glimpsed Shakespeare, long not for external mantels or symbols of power, but for a power that changes both the giver and receiver both internally and externally.  Mercy is a becoming quality that is powerful and captivating.  No outward symbol, no matter how elegantly embroidered or crafted, comes close to matching the transforming power of mercy.

Power resides in mercy.  The giver of mercy, by its own definition, must have some form of power over another.  Whether the giver has been offended by deed or word or injured physically by the one seeking mercy, the holder of mercy has a decision to make regarding healing or harming, restoring or rejecting, because they have the power over the seeker.

Mercy is our willingness—a deliberate personal choice—to forebear an injury from another and not treat the offender as severely as is rightly deserved.  It is a kindness or favor beyond what can rightly be claimed by a person who may have harmed or injured in either word or deed.

Being merciful does not always mean that consequences of the offender are ignored.  Sometimes those decisions are outside the mercy holder’s sphere of power or ability to alter.  Yet mercy is a willingness to choose not to treat a person “as severely as deserved” even if the consequences cannot be changed.  A merciful act could override consequences deserved in favor of restitution or wholeness of the receiver.  To make another person whole by merciful acts may be the greatest empowerment which a person can receive.  Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th Century, is a powerful testimony to what mercy and grace can do to alter life.

The Bard also noted “the quality of mercy is twice blessed.  It blesses him that gives and him that takes.”  We are never obligated to display mercy.  It is ultimately a free will offering of ourselves because we desire to bring prosperity, wholeness, and redemption instead of retribution and retaliation.  Mercy is a gracious matter that re-forms the human spirit, both in the giver and the receiver.  It may be one of the most blessed acts of being human. 

What about you?  Have you ever received a free gift of mercy from another, even though you deserved punishment?  How did it feel?  How did you feel restored, not only in your heart but with the other person?  Giving that same experience of restoration to another is freedom—both for those who give and those who receive.

Blessings for you today as you use your personal power in whatever situation you find yourself for mercy and restoration and redemption.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

March 27, 2010

Kindness can change everything

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 10:48 am
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Connoisseurs of fine wine tell me there is a significant difference between an expensive aged wine and a lesser, bottom of the shelf grade vino.  The difference is a fine wine is smooth, fragrant, and robust, while its distant cousin is at times bitter and never very full bodied.

Kindness is like a fine aged wine.  It is mellow and helping, not sharp or bitter.  The Greeks thought of kindness like wine, in that as wine was purified, it became flavorful and mature.  And just like wine becomes robust through the aging process, so we become kind by being kind to others.  Philosopher Eric Hoeffer said it this way, “It is futile to judge a kind deed by its motives.  Kindness can become its own motive.  We are made kind by being kind.”

Kindness can be expressed in our tone of voice, facial expressions, and overall actions as we encounter and interact with others.  Being kind is a choice we make, no matter the exchange.  As I said, it can come even in the tone of our voice. 

A while back, I received a telephone call from a person conducting a survey.  I receive many of these calls in the course of my work assignment, so I have a fair understanding of how long they take and the flow of a good interview.  But during this particular survey, I knew it was not going well after just a few minutes.  I could tell the person conducting the survey was older, as she labored through every question.  She often repeated the questions, asking me to restate my answers two or three times.  Internally I was becoming annoyed, with my mind often wandering toward work stacked on my desk.  But I had agreed to the survey, so I answered the question asked of me respectfully as the survey taker painfully proceeded through twenty-five minutes of questions.

It was the end of the interview that startled me.  It was the final encounter with the survey taker, who was on the other end of a twisted pair of copper cable in a telephone conversation, that made me aware our words and tone of voice matter.  In a slowly delivered statement, this older sounding woman said, “Sir, thank you for being so nice to me.  This is my first interview on the telephone.  Your kind response has given me confidence to keep doing this job.”  Needless to say, I was humbled and somewhat ashamed that I had not been undividedly attentive to her every word.

Sir Humphrey Davy summaries the real essence of kindness when he writes, “Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things in which smiles and kindness and small obligations given habitually are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.”  It is the smile in our voices, over a telephone line to a person we will never see or meet, that can demonstrate our kindness.

Wine was an important ancient commodity.  The presence of wine at festivals and social gatherings was a sign of bounty and blessing.  Kindness, too, is a blessing and a sign of the bountiful goodness that is resident in our character.

Blessings to you today as you give kindness to someone you encounter.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

March 16, 2010

Do your words cut like a knife?

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 8:54 am
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The adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me” is a lie.  There is a commercial I see occasionally on television.  It never ceases to capture my attention and make my heart race.  The commercial shows only a mouth speaking phrases like, “You’re stupid;” “You’ll never amount to anything;” “I don’t know why I bother with you;” “I wish you were never born….”  Words, careless words do in fact injure and wound people just as sticks and stones do break bones.  The problem is you cannot see the broken “bones” of the spirit caused by this constant battering.  Cher’s pop song, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” blasts a melody that should remind us of our speech when she sings, “Words are like weapons, they wound some times.”  So while the bruises from sticks and stones may heal over a few weeks, careless and harsh words can cause a person to bleed internally for a lifetime.

The way we speak reveals a good deal about us personally.  While we may not talk or comment in the ways seen on the commercial I described, we may do just as much damage if we share in gossip, rumors, or regularly engage in conversations that continue stereotypes of gender, race or ethnicity.  The tone of one’s voice, clothed in sarcasm or mocking is like a weapon….it carries a barb that deeply pierces another person’s soul.

Jesus challenged a crowd that gathered near him by observing, “Out of the same mouth come both blessings and curses.  It should not be so.”  The Proverbs writer also instructs “reckless words pierce like a sword.”  The careless word is like an uncontrolled missile.  Its power is devastating, inflicting pain and suffering on everyone near its point of impact.

Jesus also said, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”  What if you were on trial for your life solely on the basis of what you said to or about others?  How would you survive a trial for your life if it was based on your words alone, spoken to those around you or who are in relationship to you?  If we were on trial for our lives by what we said, I believe we would surely think before we open our mouths in hurt, gossip, rumor, or other ways that inflict pain on others. 

Today challenge yourself to think about how you normally respond to those closest to you, like colleagues, neighbors, friends, and loved family members.  Do you support them, encourage them, and give a healing word or are their encounters with you full of venom, sarcasm, and deflecting the weapons of hurtful words?

Blessings for you today…”May the words of your mouth be pleasing….” Grace and peace.

David Neidert

March 10, 2010

Living with Conquering Patience

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 11:27 am
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Conquering patience.  That is the description of the ancient Romans as empire builders.  Never conceding defeat, even in defeat, the ancient Romans patiently waited for their opportunity to become masters of their world.  By the year 140, this watchful and enduring patience grew an empire encompassing 1.7 million square miles, while spanning Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Patience is a virtue, particularly in a world that wants everything instantly. Today, waiting 30 seconds for the microwave to cook a meal seems an eternity.  Similarly, our impatience causes us to amass instant credit to own everything now or consume bottles of diet pills for looking good now.  We want all of it now instead of developing a conquering patience that will actually provide better results in the long run.  We want instant credit, yet do not consider that at 23% interest it will take us 30 years to pay off debts.  We want to look good instantly, yet do not consider all the medical facts that overwhelmingly show that exercise and diet every day changes us for a lifetime.  Patience now takes a good deal of energy, commitment, focus and delayed gratification in order to reap the best dividends in the future.  And not only the best future but a future that is freer.  The German proverb sums it up well, “Patience is a bitter plant, but it has sweet fruit.”

Patience is a persisting spirit, one geared toward achieving long term goals or dreams.  The patient person knows they will reap lasting rewards and successes from their efforts if they can stay focused through the disappointments or impatience of current situations or circumstances.  Patience and delaying gratification now allows us to taste ‘sweet fruit’ in the future.  Patience additionally breeds personal growth and wisdom as we work through the trials that come our way.  Our conquering patience also produces hope.  This hope is grounded in our belief that we will overcome the present trials or setbacks to achieve enduring benefits.

As I write this, I have been enduring over two months of recovery from a badly broken leg and surgery.  I also have a way to go. But patience has been an important part of my recovery.  Patience in the use of a walker.  Patience in doing the exercises given by my doctor. Patience in watching the progression of the healing.  I know that it will take time; this is a moment that requires my conquering patience. 

Patience is often associated with the acquisition of goals, but it is also essential for our personal relationships.  A nuance of the concept of patience is related to forbearance.  Forbearance means to express “restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.”  Are we willing to forbear with others, even when we may be at odds with them either because of disagreement or their behaviors toward us?

Conquering patience.  The Romans changed history and the world with this powerful concept.  What might this do in our own lives if we were willing to forbear and be patient in our circumstances; eating a bitter plant now for the sweet fruit that lasts a lifetime?  What rewards might we reap in the future if we were willing to be patient now, putting in the hard work needed for lasting benefits, health and welfare?

Blessings as you live well this day; grace and peace as you live patiently in a world focused on instant success and gratification.

David Neidert

March 3, 2010

How Brave are You?

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 9:13 am
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During a recent time of recovery from a surgery, I had hours to watch many news casts.  In addition, I am a news hound reading and listening to what is happening in the world.  I am regularly reminded of a war raging inside every person.  From criminals to politicians to corporate CEOs to those involved in all kinds of civic projects, I am reminded of the internal battle over our personal, often selfish, desires.

Aristotle wrote, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.”  The Apostle Paul captures the ultimate essence of this in the book of Romans when he wrote, “I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  This internal collision, where self discipline and the ache for living out our personal desires intersect, is common to us all no matter our heritage, background or culture.  This intimate battlefield is a battlefield we all have to engage during our lives.

Aristotle pointed to one fact that we must never ignore; we are separated from the animal kingdom by reason and our ability for mastering our desires.  This mastery is not a simple war to wage. Yet if won, it moves us closer to being other focused and living effectively in the day to day.  If we are not able to master ourselves, the desires and pleasures we seek will control us, living little room for valuing people or situations as nothing more than a means to our personal end.  We are more like animals if we follow our instincts only. 

I am not saying we can win all these internal battles by shear willpower.  There are many battles that take trained professionals and advocates to help us make progress and find victory.  We need them to confront us and help us work through sometimes what we cannot overcome alone.

Yet, for many, Aristotle names people brave that seek self-control.  He may be right that those courageous enough to strive against personal desires and self gratification as our highest good are the most valiant warriors.  The consequence of not facing ourselves and controlling emotions and desires in our life can exact a heavy toll on us as well as others.  When our unchecked actions seek to fulfill our desires over the welfare of others, we are apt to leave carnage not only now, but possibly for generations to come.

So we might wonder, “What might be the consequences in my life (and for others) if I am not willing to have some self control?” “What good or bad might be the result of my living without self control?”  “What good, rewards, or benefits might come if I could have victory over selfish ambitions or desires?”  Not easy questions to undertake, yet the reward for having acknowledged and fought them may bring well being and living well now and in the future.

Blessings to you for this day and in this engagement.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

March 2, 2010

Storing Goodness

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 7:56 pm
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We easily recognize most fruit trees.  Apple, orange, and pear trees are quickly categorized by the fruit hanging from their branches.  Whether we live in the United States, Europe or the Far East, we can spot an apple tree when it is laden with fruit. I have traveled into the rural areas of India and can tell when I see an orange tree because I am familiar with the fruit; I recognize its outward sign that this tree is an orange bearing tree and not an apple tree.

Human beings are no different.  We can identify a person in our minds and hearts by what they do.  And if we categorize a person as good, the beauty of their behavior is the trademark—the outward sign–of how we know them.  American writer, Harry Allen Overstreet said it like this, “Goodness is a special kind of truth and beauty.  It is truth and beauty in human behavior.”

Goodness is not just behavior, but a chosen life attitude.  In goodness, we work at benefiting others and our communities.  We benefit others when we promote, minister to, assist, and serve people out of deepest character and values.  Goodness does not focus on control, opposition, or obstructing another person’s path, but seeks to act in ways that will promote their welfare and prosperity.

Jesus observed, “The good person brings good things out of the good stored in them.” As Jesus said, good comes from stored good.  Stored good is an attitude, based on continuously repeated action that can be drawn out in any circumstance.  Goodness stored in our souls is accumulated over time just as small deposits placed in a bank account can produce great wealth in time.  We are then able to display goodness when we tap these reservoirs pooled at the core of our beings.  Storing goodness is like saving money—it is a choice to act regularly in ways that will benefit in the future.  

Goodness is identifiable, just like fruit, no matter where you travel.  Goodness coupled with respect could be the core of diplomacy and world citizenship if we just practiced and behaved in ways that identified this fruit purposely stored in us.  But if we haven’t been storing it, goodness will not be available when needed.  I’ve traveled enough around the globe to see goodness shared between people of different cultures; it is a language of dignity that fosters fellowship and relationship as human beings.

Blessings to you as you consciously choose to store good in your life.  May you find in it grace and peace and relationship.

David Neidert

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