Finding Virtue

Finding Virtue

Every now and then, I hear someone muse, “I think God hates me.”

Odds are good, their spoken comment is a verbal manifestation of the thought all humans have, at times.

Usually, those times are when everything seems to be going bass-ackwards.

If you’re like me, we look for someone to hold accountable for our troubles. As frustration grows and temperament sours, I spot the rascal responsible for everything wrong in my life. As I prepare for a new day, there he is, in my bathroom mirror, scowling right back at me.

What a pathetic sight. I laugh at him and he laughs at me. Then, I’m reminded, “The world is what I make of it. If it doesn’t fit, make alterations.”

Often, we know the right things to do. In other words, we know What to do and, even, How to do it. Problem is we lose sight of Why it’s so important to be doing the right things.

Many times, we discover our favorites by experiencing the distasteful. Without the dark of night, the light of day is impossible to appreciate. Same thing holds true for the touchy-feely intangibles of emotions like love and hate. To recognize love is to understand hate.

There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests:

  • haughty eyes,
  • a lying tongue,
  • hands that kill the innocent,
  • a heart that plots evil,
  • feet that race to do wrong,
  • a false witness who pours out lies,
  • a person who sows discord in a family.

As I consider the list and think about the results produced by these seven causes of hate, I’m enlightened, empowered, and encouraged to focus on doing the exact opposite.

  • kind eyes,
  • a truthful tongue,
  • hands that heal the innocent,
  • a heart that plans righteousness,
  • feet that patiently choose to always do right,
  • a conscientious messenger who defends the truth,
  • a person who plants seeds of harmony and unity in families.

Oh, and that miserable funk in which I had been a participant of earlier, simply, disappears. The fog of resignation and despair lifts to reveal the sunshine of fascination and curiosity.

At the moment I choose to focus on the attributes of love, the sources of hate lose their power. If I have been the practitioner of the distasteful, I can change. If I have been the recipient of the destructive conduct of another, changing them is not an option.

What I can do is to choose my response.

As for me, I choose love.

www.kimfoard.com

Gentle Strength

Keep Calm and Carry OnDo you want to be heard?

~ Speak softly.

Do you want to be strong?

~ Offer gentleness.

Do you want to influence?

~ Be authentic.

Imagine a mountain stream of flowing, rushing, bubbling, fresh water. In that stream is a large boulder.

Observe it and these three truths become obvious: It is silent; It is solid; and, It deftly parts the water.

The same is true of the human condition: Whoever is most certain wins.

Competitive greatness is not an evil premise. If everyone improves through the effort of each individual to grow into a better person, there is a cumulative mutual benefit. There will be pain to achieve gain.

With pain comes the opportunity for offense. When hurt, how do we react? Do our emotions run wild, resulting in a primitive reaction of: Freeze, Flight, or Fight? Or, do we use that first moment, when we’re frozen in disbelief, to purposefully choose our response?


Can we speak softly to simply state our beliefs?

Can we wrap gentleness around a definitive position?

Can we be authentic and true to the passion at our core?

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

~ Rudyard Kipling

There is a caveat to softly, gently, and authentically communicating our beliefs to others. It produces mutual benefit, only, with streams of living waters. An inlet and an outlet are required for living water. What about those individuals who are more analogous to a swamp?

The answer is inherent in a riddle:

Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or you will become as foolish as they are.

Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or they will become wise in their own estimation.

What?! Yes:

Don’t follow their illogical rabbit trails through the briars.

Do state positions of belief: softly, gently, and authentically.

What is the quickest way to discover if someone is a fool? If the individual listens, they are wise. If they are quick to interrupt and be disrespectful of any position contrary to their own, they are a fool.

Regardless of the condition of others, we can only change ourselves into better individuals. Hard is easy; Easy is hard. It is so very easy to be shrill, brash, and wishy-washy. It is so very hard to communicate with our Butler voice, in our Servant apron, and from our True heart, while grounded in gentle strength.

Keep Calm and Carry On

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Offer & Acceptance

Offer & Acceptance

A friend remarked, “Ninety-plus percent of intimate personal relationships are based on nothing more than business transactions.”

At the time, I found her comment distasteful. Since then, I have taken off the rose-colored glasses and actually seen how couples behave in their relationships. Increasingly, I have noticed more of the quid pro quo inherent within what many fantasize to be a loving relationship.

As I listen closely to their words, the intent of their heart is expressed, “Yes, he is the leader of our family, because I say so.”

What?!

Recently, I have been able to weave the last few years of observation into a theorem, which proves my friend wrong in prognosis. The vast majority of personal relationships aren’t based on business principles. In fact, they don’t, even, rise to that level of common courtesies.

For those desirous of building dynamic relationships, consider this:

Give our Best
Pause to Rest

Guaranteed, this article is multifaceted. It will thoroughly thrill and consciously chill, you, with a wonderful blend of logic and emotion.

From the annals of history comes an accepted parable of wisdom, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”

The simple answer is: No.

By default, then, for two people to walk together, or do anything together, they must be in agreement.

The de minimis requirement for a valid business contract is agreement.

Contract law is based on the principle expressed in the Latin phrase pacta sunt servanda, which is usually translated “agreements to be kept” but more literally means “pacts must be kept”.

As a means of economic ordering, contract relies on the notion of consensual exchange and has been extensively discussed in broader economic, sociological, and anthropological terms. In American English, the term extends beyond the legal meaning to encompass a broader category of agreements.

Common Law jurisdictions recognize a high degree of freedom to contract, with the parties largely at liberty to set their own terms. In other words: Freedom of will to choose what is right for the individual. There is, only, one person who knows what that is: the individual.

The elements of a contract are mutual assent and consideration.

Mutual Assent

Mutual assent is typically reached through offer and acceptance; in other words, when an offer is met with an acceptance that is unqualified and does not change any of the terms. The result is a concurrence of wills or ad idem (meeting of the minds).

Consideration

Consideration is something of value given by a promissor to a promisee in exchange for something of value given by a promisee to a promissor. Typically, the thing of value is an act, or a forbearance to act when one is privileged to do so. The purpose of consideration is to ensure that there is a present bargain, that the promises of the parties are reciprocally induced.

In most systems of law, parties have freedom to choose whether or not they wish to enter into a contract, absent superseding duties. In American law, one early case exemplifying this proposition is Hurley v. Eddingfield (1901), in which the Supreme Court of Indiana ruled in favor of a physician who voluntarily decided not to help a patient whom the physician had treated on past occasions, despite the lack of other available medical assistance and the patient’s subsequent death.

Such a simple concept: Freedom to Choose.

We think nothing of claiming the right for ourselves. Do we graciously extend the same right to others? Or, do we make an offer and accept it for them? Laughable?!

Consider the last time you did something nice for another person and they rejected it. What was your reaction? Offended? Thinking, “How dare they?!” Here is the issue: Your definition of nice may not be the same as theirs.

The root of dysfunction in any relationship is the bad belief that we know what is best for another person. It is Our Bad to believe another person could, should, would (all of the ‘ould words denote an aura of judgment) accept what we are offering. That belief is bad, not the individual who says, “No, thanks.”

Give our Best
Pause to Rest

Let’s take a look at the ABC’s of building dynamic relationships.

Attitude

The foundation for success is an attitude of service to others.

Offer to fulfill a need, satisfy a desire, or fix a problem and a relationship is possible. This initial effort to give value begins the circular motion for acceptance to be received.

The sphere of benefit and influence will grow relative to the effectiveness of our communication. Crystal clear transmissions, static free receptions and a dedicated channel of feedback produce a synergy of unlimited potential.

Knowledge, wisdom and understanding are required as a prerequisite to valuable exchanges. We learn, grow and dream by focusing on Facts of the Past, Choices in the Present, and Vision for the Future.

Purpose in life is discovered by acknowledging a power greater than ourselves; delivery of value is possible by being a conduit for timeless and priceless gifts.

The greatest gift is a chosen, purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others!

Boundaries

The walls of success are plumb and square because of a clear definition of ourselves and an understanding of others.

Until we clearly define and communicate what we want for the present and future, it is futile and even dangerous to pursue long-term relationships. Our individual commitment to a course of action is necessary before others can offer to help.

Definitive expectations allow another individual to make a judgment for themselves if they are able and willing to be a complement. We each have the right to say no to anyone, anytime, anyplace and for any reason.

Respect is only possible with clearly defined boundaries. The sovereignty of a country is defined by its border. As individuals, we are citizens of one.

Self-respect is everything that goes on within our boundaries. Respect for others happens at the border and according to mutually acceptable customs.

Profitable interactions occur through doors of opportunity that swing on the hinges of “No, thanks.” and “Yes, please!”

Commitment

The crowning glory of success is the courage to always do the right thing.

Until one is committed
There is hesitancy, the chance to draw back,
Always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
There is one elementary truth,
The ignorance of which kills countless ideas
And splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
Then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
That would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision
Raising in one’s favor all manner
Of unforeseen incidents and meetings
And material assistance,
Which no person could have dreamt
Would have come their way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

In the great state of Montana, we have an expression and tradition: “Good fences make for good neighbors.”

Those fences mark the boundary edges of ownership. They are the fine lines of distinction between what is mine and what is yours.

Now, consider the title of this article: Offer & Acceptance.

That little “&” sign is the difference between a healthy, vibrant, dynamic relationship and one that is dysfunctional. It is representative of a Montana fence and the fine lines we walk in life.

On the one side is my right to Offer; on the other is your right to Accept, or not. Depending on what I’m offering, your answer will be, either: “No, thanks.” Or, “Yes, please!”

One, or the other. Moment by moment; step by step; offer by acceptance: we choose to walk together, or not. One is not better than the other. What is important, though, is that we have an honest relationship.

Two mature individuals deciding what is best for ourselves, communicating that boldly and clearly, while mutually giving our best, and the freedom to choose, to our partner.

Give our Best
Pause to Rest

www.kimfoard.com

Two Things

Two Things

In the course of a journey of fifty-five years and serving the public for thirty of them, a simple discovery has been made.

While the hand of Fate is a constant presence in our life, a variable within our control is the power to believe and choose whether we do, or don’t; will, or won’t.

Much more important than the empire built is discovering that the fun is in the doing.

For the last two years, we have all experienced a New Normal. From financial to societal, things are much different, now. On the other hand is the premise: There is nothing new under the sun; things now are about like they have always been. While the only constant in life is change; human nature changes little.

A prayer, thousands of years ago, is as timely, now, as it was then:

And then he prayed, “God, I’m asking for two things before I die; don’t refuse me—
Banish lies from my lips and liars from my presence.
Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little.

If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’
If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God.”

Just imagine a world without lies and liars. Every hurt, betrayal, and wrong in the universe originates from us lying to ourselves, or others; and, others lying to themselves, or us.

Then, after the lies are told, the day’s thoughts and actions, typically, revolve around the fears of scarcity, or abundance. What if there is not enough? What if the excess is stolen?

There are no luggage racks on hearses. We take nothing with us when we go. What we leave behind is important. Let’s, all, pause for a moment and look at our ripple in the pond, our wake in the lake, of life.

While impossible to ever go back and have a new beginning, we can choose, at any moment, to write a new ending to our story.

These two things are true and fulfilling:

All we do begins with a thought.
The fun is in the doing.

By focusing on these two things, the answer to the prayer above is guaranteed:

Truth will set us free.
Doing trumps the worries about too little, or too much!

www.kimfoard.com

Freedom

Liberty and Freedom At The Core

From the song written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, Me and Bobby McGee, comes the line, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

The powerful, rhyming, complement in verse is what I offer for consideration, “We all have the free will to choose.”

In the darkest depths of war and in the slavery of a Nazi concentration camp, Viktor Frankl discovered true freedom.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory….

More from the Wikipedia article:

He (Frankl) often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of men to exist: decent and unprincipled ones. These were to be found in all classes, ethnicities, and groups. Following this line of thinking, he once recommended that the Statue of Liberty on the East coast of the United States be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West coast.

Quoting from the Statute of Responsibility Foundation:

The Statue of Liberty has served as a symbol of liberty, both in America and throughout the world. Its counterpart, the Statue of Responsibility, will likewise serve as a symbol – a visible representation and call to responsibility – both in America and abroad. These two principles – liberty and responsibility – when linked together, will help engender and secure freedom for the present generation, and for generations yet unborn, wherever a thirst for freedom exists. Only by balancing Liberty with Responsibility can Freedom be sustained.

In other words, our freedom to choose is not a license to harm others. Our choices must be within the parameters of what is: Right, Just and Fair.

Loss of Freedom

Granted, the concepts inherent within the words Right, Just and Fair are intangibles; hard to understand and measure. So, the temptation is strong to take the easy path of materialism. The accumulation of Stuff becomes a way of life. It is visible to all, very tangible, measurable, flaunt-able, and laughable. Because: We do not own things; Things own us. As a result, true freedom is lost.

A wise, farmer, friend brought to my attention the fact that Mother Nature hates a vacuum. In his words, “You either plant seeds to produce a crop of value, or weeds will grow.”

So it is with our life. We either nurture the character required to produce liberty and responsibility, or a society of selfishness emerges.

The secret to happiness and freedom is found in: A belief that we are wonderful chunks of conduit for the goodness from above to flow through us for the benefit of others.

Our value is not in who we are; it is in what we allow to flow at the core. We have the freedom to choose the object of our service. That choice will determine every thought and action.

Love Is ...

Some will gain the whole world and lose their soul. Others will embrace suffering and sacrifice in their journey to finding the true self.

The first group will be concerned about “keeping up with the Joneses” and “what others think about them”.

The second group has nothing to lose and everything to gain. They understand: The salvation of man is through love and in love.

As the song Me and Bobby McGee concludes, we hear the rest of the chorus: “Nothing ain’t worth nothing but it’s free.”

www.kimfoard.com

Forwards, or Backwards?

Sunlight Basin

The inanimate objects of Things can be placed in a spot to never move; the animated creatures of human Beings are always doing, and moving towards, something.  We move towards Stuff, or we move towards Principles.  More than the destination, life is all about the journey! 

If I offer for you to take a trip with me by exclaiming, “Let’s go!”, a legitimate response might be to ask, “Where?!” 

Why, then, do so many stumble through life unaware that their discomfort in the journey is related to choice of destination?  In fact, some actually believe they can “sit on the fence” and “play both ends against the middle” by refusing to choose a direction.  Mother Nature hates a vacuum; Fate will make choices for them.

Silly them; not choosing is a choice!  By analogy, think of a “fork in the road”.  Our choices are Left, or Right.  Those who refuse to choose find themselves wedged-up, and high-centered, on the Fork in the middle, and as a result, unable to move! 

So, again, the question is: “Which way: Forwards, or Backwards? 

To be fair, there is a caveat to this “trick” question.  The best answer includes another component, which truly is a Gift

As human beings, we tend to measure life in the way it is experienced: chronologically.  We all have a Past, Present and Future.  So, we tend to “Think” in that order; One, Two and Three. 

You’ve probably seen the bumper-sticker: “Accountants Do It By The Numbers.”  Well, this one does It by the Numbers, and the Letters, too!  The result is this Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer, who wants you to consider that “One, Two, Three” may have a more precise order.  In fact, “Two, One, Three” is what you and I are encouraged to practice. 

I am among those who start their morning with:

Give us today the food we need.

Forgive us our mistakes, as we forgive others.

Lead us in the direction best for us and deliver us from harm.

We tend to like our ruts, rotes, and routines; they are very safe and comfortable. 

Recently, I was jolted from mine, into the uncomfortable awareness that there is more to those three sentences than what I was mumbling! 

Present: Our focus is to be on, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive.”  Rather than consume ourselves with the insatiable desires of what we want, our awareness is to be on what we, and others, need

Past: We all make them and they are a burden to our growth, unless we forgive and forget our foibles, and, those of others.  Mistakes are simply disguised opportunities to learn important lessons. 

Future: It waits for us with bated breath.  We have the choice to approach it with resignation and despair, or fascination and curiosity.  Since it is of what dreams are made, let’s tackle it! 

A favorite quote: “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no person. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” 

As with so many of life’s riddles, the answer is multi-faceted: We are to focus on the opportunities of today; learn the lessons from the past; and, boldly face the future! 

www.kimfoard.com