A Reference Point

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Phil. 4:8).

Most Scientists have the propensity to explain all phenomena of life through biological processes. They want to make matter the cause of human activities. Observing the human person, they want to explain his activities such as nourishing, metabolizing, formation, dispositions, motions, and organization etc. in term of what they see. They look at him as a machine, or a mere biological entity. They forget that he is a continuous and integral whole that cannot be explained in term of his parts. They ignore the fact that everything has an underlying principle, or a cause that allows it to be what it is, and capable of performing its activities. According to Leon Kass in his book entitled The Hungry Soul, the human person cannot be explained through his biological activities, which are constantly changing. Form, something that remains stable in the midst of flux, is the best way to explain the activities of the human person.Cravings-FrontCover-DigitalFinal-Vsn2-300x300

Kass makes form the heart of human activities. The form can be understood as the order that maintains unity in the midst of diversity, “giving it an integrity that the components by themselves do not have”. Form is like a reference point, a constant, or something unchangeable. He thus emphasizes the supremacy of form over materiality “though form and material are interdependent in definition and in fact”. It is not visible, but “’invisible looks’ is announced in the language of visibility”. Our look is a manifestation of our form. So, we can perform our activities because we possess a form. In fact, the form represents the foundation for everything that a person does. Action follows upon being as Aquinas says. The action that a person performs is a reflection of how he is structured. I will compare Kass’ primacy of form with Aquinas’ view on the primacy of form, and show that what we are, and do is a result of the way we are formed.

For both Kass and Aquinas, the form determines what a thing is. As Kass sees it, the form is the organizing principle allowing something to continue through a lifetime. For instance, although metabolism means the continuous exchange of stuff between inside and out and no molecule in the organism, although it seems to remain the same and persist over time, although it seems to be maintained of the self, by the self, and for the self, metabolism of itself cannot persist. Its persistence is contingent upon the form. Metabolism undergoes change over time; it needs the form to sustain it when some of its components are changing.

aaaWithout the form, in Kass’ view, the metabolism would disintegrate during change. The form of a given organism is a certain organization-in-action. So, organism is only the effect of the real cause that allows a thing to perform its activities. The true organizing cause is the form. Aquinas follows the same path. The intellect is the form of the human body. For that whereby primarily anything acts is a form of the thing to which the act is to be attributed. What allows the soul to know is primarily knowledge. So, knowledge is a form of the soul. We primarily perform vital activities through the soul. The soul is the primary principle of our nourishment, sensation, and local movement, and likewise of our understanding. Therefore this principle by which we primarily understand is the form of the body (ST I, Q. 76, 1). What is true for the relationship of soul and body is also true for the relationship of form and metabolism.

anatomyanimalMoreover, our human uprightness, which is due to our form, allows us to relate to our world. As Aquinas asserts it, it is fitting that man possesses an upright stature (ST I, Q 91, reply 3). Further in this same reply, he says that due to his erect stature, man’s superior part (the head) allows him to turn toward the superior part of the world (heaven), and his inferior part turns toward the inferior part of the world. Our uprightness, in the word of Kass, is reflected in every detail of our deep structure. The way we are shaped and formed allows us to experience the world in a manner different from all animals. Even though they and we are experiencing similar objects, we respond to these objects exponentially different. As Strauss asserts through Kass, “upright posture pre-establishes a definite attitude toward the world”. As Aquinas would have it, our structure permits us to better accomplish our proper end (ST I, Q 91, 3).

Though that is the case, our uprightness does not happen without steep effort, but that effort is rewarding because it removes us from the ground, distances us from things while at the same time allows us to overcome distance, and provides a certain mastery over nature. One of the greatest benefits of our upright standing is that it allows us to become ‘detached beholder’, or ‘disinterested interest’.

aweFor instance, a deer looks a person in order to detect whether or not he is a potential danger. We, on the other hand, look so as to see to behold and discover something new. Being a detached beholder gives us the capacity to search for the true, the good, and the beautiful through our seeing, imagining, understanding, pointing etc. Looking disinterestedly opens us to see things the way they really are without seeking closeness, nor remoteness, nor unification, nor separation. We must keep in mind that we are capable of performing these activities on a consistent basis only due to our inwardness— the form.

Our hands and arms are two of the most obvious manifestation of our inwardness. The form gives us the freedom to use our arm and hand in space and time. Though animals do seem to have hand and arm, unlike them, ours can be used on a variety of ways. our hand and arm allow us to have a ‘gnostic’ encounter with the world. When the hands and arms are cooperated with the eyes and ears, we can swing our arms to and fro, sideways, upward and downward etc. so as to relate to the different parts of our body. The capacity to perform these activities gives us the freedom to provide for ourselves through crafting. The fact that we have hands and arms opens us to “unspecified possibility”. That means that there is nothing we could not do with our hands—be it fighting or defending. Moreover, our hands and arms allow us to express our affection and create new forms of communications. In encountering someone we express our joy to him with a handshake, a hug, or simply with a wave. When we see something that catches our attention, we point to it; we behold it or show it to someone. As Aquinas says, we look for beauty and of itself. Through our hand and arm, we express both friendship and philosophy according to Kass. Again, it is due to our uprightness that we are able to access, or perform these activities. What we do with our hand and arm is a reflection of what is going inside of; it is an expression of our inwardness.

rsWhat is obvious from all this is that the human person is a mystery being that cannot be reduced to mere material entity. The human person is a masterpiece that science can never completely decipher. This lesson is simple, but profound. We are not to change our biological makeup as we see fit because we are much more than a biological being. We transcend what science will ever be able to discover about us; so, even if science opens the door to endless possibilities by allowing us to change how we were born, we must not do so because it stands in steep contradiction with our underlying principle. That’s a choice that demands us to be grounded in something other than biology. It is a reminder that man is a middle between nothingness and greatness, so he must labor if he is to be great. He is nothingness due to his biological makeup for today he flourishes and tomorrow he withers and fades like the lily, and greatness because when he grows old and decay, our body and soul are not annihilated but glorified. We are nothing since biologically speaking we are like animals, but we are great because what regulates our biology transcends biology.

constantTherefore, our decisions must not be based on our emotional needs primarily or on what the body is demanding of us. They must be grounded in something incommensurable— something constant. That’s the moment of choice. For each one of us, there will be a time when we will have to decide for or against the Good, for or against the Truth, and ultimately for or against greatness. So the question is: will you choose mediocrity or greatness? Choose wisely.

SHHH!!! QUIET!!!!

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent (Prov. 17:28).

Silence is inspiring. We are bombarded with noise. We are so busy dealing with the noise, we barely find time to take care even of the necessities of life. It is a fact that we cannot escape the most burning and deepest questions of life such as who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? What must I do to be happy? What is the meaning of my life? Who creates me? Did he create me for a purpose? What is that purpose? It is in silence that the answers to these questions emerge. Unless we become students at the school of silence, life’s frustrations are just unbearable. Silence is fundamental to our perennial happiness. We do harm to ourselves if we never step out of the noise to experience silence. Unless we purposefully choose holy solitude, we are courting loneliness. Cultivate the virtue of silence.blooming-flowers-648-2

Nature teaches us that it is in silence that life grows. It is in the silent night that trees, flowers, plants flourish; it is in silence that the most powerful forces– the stars, the moon and the sun— of the universe conduct their businesses. It is very telling that it is not in a palace or in the city that the King of kings was born, but in the silence of the night. We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. She points us to God .

We procure noise even when we are jogging in the countryside—totally unnecessary. We create noise in the car, in the market, in the street, and in our room. We almost cannot escape it, unless we want to. Being in the noise steals all opportunity to enjoy the sweetness of life. If we are not busy with television, it is the Internet, Facebook et al, the IPhone, and people. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all this? I do.

peacefulAllow me to propose silence as an alternative. it is in silence that we find clarity and a sense of meaning. It is in silence that life’s secret is revealed to us. It is in silence that we understand what God is telling us. It is in silence that our restless hearts find peace and leisure. Silence is the key to live life with passion and purpose. Silence is how you build yourself up to face the inevitable misfortunes of life. Silence is how you find what you need to do with your life, or the next step to take, or how to act and react to life’s curve balls. How can you deal with them without silence? Silence is golden. Do you realize when you are lost driving, you usually need to turn off the radio and ask everyone to be silence in order to find the right direction again? Do you ever wonder why? It is because it is in the classroom of silence the life’s puzzles are solved.

SONY DSCGrace yourself 15 minutes of silence everyday, and you will soon drink at the fountain of her delight. It is the most generous gift you can give to yourself. Disconnect— from electronic devices and people— to simply be quiet with you, yourself; I mean your self. It may be frightening at first, but it is needed if you are to find the right direction in/of life. It is going to be tough at first, but stay with it. Struggle with it. You can do this! All kinds of ideas are going to come rushing in your mind, dismiss them.

Finally, if you understand that man is not himself until he rests in God, then what is the best manner to rest in the transcendent God other than through silence? Silence lifts before the throne of God the deepest expression that cannot be expressed in words.

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That’s probably what St. Paul understood when he exclaimed: “we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Rom. 8:26). That’s probably what incited St. Thomas Aquinas to see his masterpiece– the Summa Theologiae— as straw. That gives substance to The Psalmist’s cry: “Silence itself is your praise, O God” (Ps. 64). Moreover, the Greco-Romans, Judeo-Christian, and the Eastern tradition are in consonant that we are made for a life of contemplation. How is this possible other than in peaceful silence? Silence is necessary to reach happiness. Aristotle says in Nicomacheans ethics book X that happiness grows out of contemplation, and …wise man practices contemplation. Silence is the great teacher. The more one delves into her oceanic depth the more we can drink to our heart’s content. So if we are to learn the truth, silence is the road to travel. Embrace silence my dear!

WORK or LEISURE

In the beginning was work; work was with God; all things were made through it, and nothing was made without it. Work played a major role in creation. God worked for seven days, and before he took a break, he commissioned man to work to subdue the earth (Gen. 2:15). So in working, we are carrying out the very command of God. We are doing what God himself had done. When we work, we are being godlike because we are operating through the same mean that God had used to carry out his plan. So it is right and just that we work. Whereas the Greeks in the epic of Gilgamesh’s stories of creation depict creation as the result of conflicts between the gods, the book of Genesis describes creation as the plan of God achieved by means of work. Work then is not the result of our fallen nature; it is part of our intrinsic nature. We were made to work. Work precedes the fall, but the fall makes its fruit harder to get.trades

God not only worked, he also found delights in his work. He found his work beautiful and good (Gen. 1:31). He sees himself in his work. In the garden of paradise, work was seen as blessedness. It is a human need as much as prayer, food, beauty, and friendship are. God does not delight in laziness. When we survey the whole Bible, one pattern is unmistakable– He usually calls people who are hard at work. He called none of Jesse’s sons, but the busy David. Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep when he was sent to lead the people out of Egypt. Amos was a shepherd.

Work is foundational to our makeup. Most retired people wish they could still be working if their health permitted. Those who are constantly working rarely get sick. People who work are happier and healthier. In struggling to discover our identity, once we start working, we ipso facto discover our gifts and abilities. It seems in God’s mind that we must not only work in order to make money, we must work to live life fully. Part of life is to work. That is manifested in the frustrations we experience when we are out of work, and the pleasure we enjoy when we success at it.NYSECROWD

All work is a calling from God. Work done with care deserves to be paid well. A person who bears in mind that his work is a calling and performs it in that spirit should not struggle to make ends meet. Unfortunately, we are too familiar with good citizens who perform their work with their very soul, and yet struggle economically. This is something that must be tackled with the greatest conviction.

WRITERWork also dignifies us. The dignity of work does not lie in the kind of work one performs; it resides in how much of ourselves we put in the work. A work well done is a service done to God and our neighbor. Approached from that perspective, work becomes a way to serve and exalt someone beyond ourselves. Work performed from that spirit will allow us to be more successful in the long run due to the quality of our work. So while keeping our eyes on the Transcendent, our personal needs are fulfilled. Work well done is a service done to ourselves and society. When each police officer, judge, and lawmaker puts their hearts and souls in their work, everyone is safer. When mayors, senators, representatives, presidents put their petty interest aside, the common good benefits.

However, our life must never be reduced to what we achieved through work (emphasis added). No matter how successful we are at our work, even if the work that we do is our vocation, it can never bring fulfillment and meaning to our lives. We were made to aim for greatness; nothing other than greatness satisfies us. There is a reason why God orders rest on the seventh day (Ex. 20:8). Josef Pieper calls rest leisure in his book entitled Leisure: the Basis of Culture. That deserves more attention. He argues that work should be pursued so that we may be at leisure. “We work in order to be at leisure”. What he means by leisure is interesting indeed. It is certainly not eating and drinking, going to the beach, or watching TV. It is not simply enjoying the company of good friend, reading a good book, or writing a blog post though it does not exclude those. Leisure is a condition of the soul. It is the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion in the really real. He sees leisure as the attitude of someone who opens and lets himself go as if sleeping. Leisure is not idleness; it is the condition of considering thing in a celebrating spirit. That means peace, intensity of life, and contemplation at once.

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It only takes place and possible when man is in harmony with himself, the world, and its meaning. It is like the stillness in the conversation of lovers. Leisure as Pieper sees it is not a way to regain bodily strength and mental refreshment for further work though it does bring such benefits. The purpose of leisure is to keep us human. Deprived of leisure, work becomes a bare, hopeless effort resembling the labor of Sisyphus chained to his labor without rest and inner satisfaction.

Leisure gives us the power to step beyond the working world and win contact with the superhuman. It elevates us to a realm higher than work can. Leisure is the locus where the spiritual and bodily being that we are meet each other. It is the embrace of heaven and earth in us. It allows us to move beyond this cacophonous world of work and see that man cannot live as a mere functionary, but as a divine being.

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Celebration or festival is at the heart of leisure. All celebrations derive their source from experiencing and living out in harmony with the world. No one or nothing can be in harmony with or experience the world without being in harmony with God, the Creator of the world. Therefore, all celebrations, however remote that may be, give praise to God, claims Pieper. True worship occurs only within a religious framework. A simplified version of Pieper’s point is this: when man withdraws himself from his labor, he becomes harmonized with God. In so doing, he discovers that he is not simply a being made for work, but someone made above all to love, know, and worship God. That’s how we keep the being that we are from being a complete functionary consumed in the total world of work. Leisure is the rescuing of man from being considered an object of usefulness. Because man has dignity, he can never be evaluated according to his performance. Leisure enables him to live as he was meant to live from the beginning.

Unless leisure, we are slaves. For Ecclesiastes, if there were nothing beyond this life, the toil of man under the sun would be pointless. For some of the Greeks, work is demeaning. It is a barrier to the highest kind of life—the contemplative life. “We would reach the level of the gods if we can withdraw from the active life to consecrate ourselves solely to the contemplative”. For Aristotle, “only those who are incapable of the higher life should work”. Those views hold true only if man reduces himself to a pure worker. However, when work is seen as being coworkers of God, she work is viewed for what it is, man is capable to reach greatness and give glory to God.

THE VIEW

Everyone operates from a worldview, knowingly or unknowingly. Unless our life story is told according to a framework, it does not appeal to anyone. Alasdair McIntyre argues in his book After Virtue that in order to “understand conversations you overhear, you have to put them into a framework” (ch. 15) to make sense of them. Just as it is important to travel back and enter the ancient world if we are to make sense of what they did i.e. we must espouse their worldview to grasp why they did what they did, so too in order to understand why someone acts the way he acts today, we must understand how he views life in general. Tell me your worldview, and I will tell you everything about you.

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Our worldview determines what we stand for. It is our worldview that allows us to commit to a cause; it allows us to judge something as right or wrong. It stimulates the lawyer to fight for justice (at least it should be that), politicians to run for office, a person to give up a luxurious life to be completely committed to God as priests, or nuns. It was a worldview that motivates Georges Washington to fight to free the new land from the yoke of the British. It was from a worldview that the founding fathers wrote the constitution. It spurred Abraham Lincoln to reiterate at the Gettysburg address the fundamental truth that “all men are created equal”. A worldview was the leitmotif behind the civil right movement of the ‘60s. What’s a worldview? It is a comprehensive system that provides an answer to the big questions of life. It is system in which we come to visualize life.

A worldview is everything. If we get it right, we get everything else right. If wrong, we choose the recipe for unforeseen disasters. It is from a worldview that our ethical, political, epistemological, religious, social, and economical views emerge. It determines what kind of law we establish, and the kind of society we envision. It is a worldview that gives us the abortion law, the Affordable Care Act, and the unending debates in congress between Democrats and Republicans. It determines what we become— A society based on truths and morals, or a society where everyone acts based on desires. It is from a worldview that we determine the paths we take in life.

Blaise-Pascal

There are many competing worldviews. It’s always been that way. They all arise from the noticing something wrong with the world, and the effort of trying to fix it. They come from a search for improvement. For Plato, if we order our life according to reason, we will form the most stable society where each man gets involved only in what leads to excellence (the republic book IV, V). For Kant, “if we act only according to that maxim whereby we can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”, then everything will find its equilibrium (Critique of Pure Reason). For Freud, if we can solve the inner conflict between desires and conscience, then the world would be a better place. For the people of today, well do they have a common view? For them, nothing is absolute. I determine my own truth.

platoWhat none of these worldviews takes into account is the fundamental truth that the world was perfect until we came into it. So the problem lies in us. We were made to be in relationship with our creator. Life will always be off balance, and no solution will be found until we accept that without God in our life, we cannot espouse a proper worldview. We cannot forge a sound worldview because we are by nature corrupt. We need help, divine help. To fix the problem, we must fix our broken selves.

The worldview that saves, the one where God expresses his worldview is found in the Bible. Only the gospel among the competing worldviews really captures man’s nature. Blaise Pascal puts it best: “man is a nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either”. Only the Bible is honest about man’s condition: a redeemed sinner, but not yet saved. Only the Bible is explicit through and through about man’s ultimate end and what he needs to do to reach it. Unlike any other worldview, only the Biblical worldview does not demonize some parts of creation while idolize another. The Greeks worship discipline of the soul while denigrating the body. The Enlightenment thinkers rejected all rationality to adhere to scientific proofs. The modern thinkers reject all for their own feelings. Only the Bible gives a workable solution— man’s cooperation with God, conversion and grace.

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When we start to operate from the Biblical worldview, everything changes. When the gospel is the overarching principle guiding businesspeople, accumulating power and wealth is not the ultimate reason they do business. Business becomes a way to forge a decent life for one’s family and to build a better community. All profits from a life shaped by a worldview drawn from the gospel. In journalism, reporting no longer takes sides. Stories do not caricature a victor and a villain. Objectivism runs through the heart of the reports. All petty agendas are set aside because the gospel worldview allows one to be open-minded and even-handed in writing and reporting. Under the gospel worldview, higher education is not training for work; it is about forming men to grow in self-discipline, virtue, and excellence. It prepares men to live flourishing lives.incarnation

Society would change for the best if the gospel were the lens through which we see our daily activities. From a Biblical worldview, everyone becomes coworkers working in the vineyard of God. Espousing a biblical worldview through and through is no easy matter. Many will disown you at first; if you will have to be ready to have new friends because your old friends will not be on par with you. Many will find you bizarre, but excellence requires sacrifice. To reach greatness, great decision is expected. Don’t be afraid!

The Human Struggle to Self-discovery

In the grand scheme of things, there must be three pictures of each one of us before God: what God wants us to be, what we think we are, and what we actually are. I believe this life is about striving to synchronize these three pictures. Life is a battle trying to unite these three pictures. In each one of us is a disproportion and want of conformity; there is an imbalance created by the fall that causes man to be perpetually fighting. As Donald Burt put it: “our pilgrim journey is a tale of twisting and turning down the road to heaven. We don’t make our way through life like a straight arrow. We are more like tops… lurching from side to side, sometimes falling off as we lose momentum and need to be picked up”. We labor in pain as we await the fulfillment of our hope and the glorious coming of our savior as St. Paul describes it. It is like being trapped in the prison of the body where the soul is constantly striving to escape, in the word of Plato. St. Augustine put it so beautifully: “I longed for the chance to devote myself wholly to you, but I was held back… bound by the bonds of my own iron will. My two wills are in conflict and they rob my soul of all concentration (Confessions VIII, 5:10).

sonsonAs we journey through this desert and vale of tears, we move from one trouble to another. First, we must acquire the energy and wisdom to discover what we must do to reach eternal life, which is more than just following the law as the rich young man in the gospel of Matthew. This endeavor may take forever, and some got stuck in this painful endeavor for a good trunk of their life, and others spend their whole life trying. After this, we must act on the discovery. When we actually set our mind on doing it, we realize how much we are incapable of doing it. This begins the battle between the spirit and the flesh. No matter where we are in life, this is never overcome to the point of utter annihilation.

Our third challenge may arise from discouragement. Many of a time, we feel like Sisyphus condemned to do the same boring thing again and again. Life can become a nuisance where we feel like there is nothing new under the sun. That too must be overcome for we find our energy and hope in the future life. We know this life is not all there is. We are like souls in purgatory; we suffer, but we know there is hope. Purgatory_Plan We know our efforts will bear fruit and pay off. So we fight. When we acquire the discipline to keep going and fighting with enthusiasm and perdurance, and then there is worry. We worry about our children, our neighbors, our physical needs, our community, the governments… There is always something.

That’s the reality that both of us have to face in this life. It is the consequence of Adam and Eve trying to be god. That’s sin. That’s what happens to you and I when we think we can do it on our own, or when we give God the back seat. Be honest with yourself. Know who you are so you can understand how much you need God. When we pretend to make ourselves someone greater or lesser than who we are, we cannot accurately describe who we are. As a result, we lost the sight of where we are going. When we don’t go where we are going, we are remote from God for from him we come and to him we are returning. When we are remote from God, we become afraid of even God.350px-Michelangelo,_Giudizio_Universale_02

Honestly get to know yourself. That’s the most efficient remedy against this restlessness. “Know Thyself” was the motto inscribed in the doorpost at the oracle of Delphi in the Athens of Plato. To reveal man to man is the very reason God became incarnate. The search to want to know himself gives us St. Augustine and his masterpieces like the Confessions, the Trinitate, the City of God to name just a few, and he is a saint. Is there anything greater?

Start the journey to self-discovery. He is with you. Savor this delightful quote from the master: “What am I to myself without you, if not a guide to my own self-destruction? Or what am I, when all goes well for me, if not someone who sucks your milk, or savors you as food that does not get corrupted? And what is man, any man, as long as he is man?” (Confessions IV, 1:1).

Did You Smile Today?

A smile is worth a million dollars. Laughter is worth 10 millions. A genuine smile can make someone’s day; it opens up new world, new windows of opportunity, and as Victor Hugo said: “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”. A smile is something powerful even when it is not seen. You have seen children laughing, before such a wonder, who can remain unmoved? Mark Twain was right when he said that nothing can stand against the assault of laughter.boy child

Dale Carnegie reports that companies in the sixties prefer to hire a smiley secretary with less competence than a skillful one who rarely smiles. True smile is captivating; it makes you stop for a moment to think what life is all about. We can be so busy moving from one thing to another, we never take a moment to smile. So as you go about your business today, stop in front of the mirror and smile. You look so much better when you smile. Before you start the meeting today, ask the employees or you boss to smile for 10 seconds. They might think that you just being bizarre at first, but it will completely change the atmosphere in the room. Smile as you are answering your phone today, smile with the clerk at the store today, smile; it will change how you communicate. Try it and let me know. It works.

You have every reason to laugh, but you prefer to focus on the wrong end of the spectrum. If people who are caught up in the war going on right can smile, if those people exposed to that disease can smile, if that little girl who never have a chance to walk can smile, so can you. It is not bad; you may not want to smile, you may feel that you have no reason to smile or laugh, you may think the joke is not really funny, but why should you not smile, just smile. Force yourself to smile. Act as if you were already happy, and you will slowly become happier. Action seems to follow feeling. Smile changes your thinking. Burst out laughing when you find the time. Create the occasion. Start humming a song out loud in the car, at lunch, while walking, while taking a tower. If you sound awesome, laugh at yourself. It will completely change you. That will change the way you react to people and things. Do you want to look like a terrible grouch, grumpy old person who never sees a good day, or do you want to be a happy, rich, friendly guy who is happy and make others happy? Your choice! You want to be happy, who doesn’t? Know that it does not depend on outward conditions; it depends on your inner disposition.

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughingDo you wonder why you don’t too many friends? Well, how often do you smile when you’re greeting people? Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Have you ever traveled abroad? Everyone laughs the same way; without seeing someone’s face, you cannot differ between an Asian, an American, an African, a European, or a Latino. They all sound the same. Smile makes us one; it connect us; a mile allows people to see themselves in you. Don’t be afraid to smile. You can be greeting people with a curled lip. Smile. Have an easy smile. Start smiling very often and people around you will catch up; it is very contagious. Be generous with yourself. Smile. Laugh. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature’s best antidote for trouble.

NB: don’t go around laughing at people’s misery, or unfortunate occurrences. They will kill you. Give them a helping hand instead. All the examples given here are created by you; they come from within. Plato, Aristotle, the Bible are very critical of laughter directed at putting someone down. We all hate being humiliated. However, they urged a laughter that rejoices in the good that comes to other people. So it is the philosophy behind laughter they hated, not laughter itself. “When the Lord delivers Zion from bondage… our mouth was filled with laughter, and on our lips there were songs…. The Lord has done great things for them’(Psalm 126:1-2).

JUST A MOMENT OF DOUBT!!!

As long we are journeying in this vale of tears, we will continually experience unfortunate occurrences. That’s life. As frank Sinatra sings it:” You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May”, but is this a reason to end it? The reality is as long as we are living in this life, there will be hours, days, months, and even years of difficult moment. There will be the inevitable day when all the confidence and faith in life, ourselves, God seem to vanish; there will be moments where we feel like we are carrying the whole world on our shoulders where there is no one to help us and the sky looks tempered without a drop of rain. There will be time when our past mistakes just lash out on us, and our conscience and regrets seem to take us hostage. We feel like we just don’t measure up; we feel like total failures, lonely, and alone. There can be times when you enter into that deep silence inside and ipso facto feel guilty— guilty of trying but unsuccessfully, guilty of giving your best, but to no avail. Then you might start questioning everything, the future, meaning and purpose, life, love, kindness, and existence itself. Know that it’s just a day of doubt. It will not last forever. 171629_20140206_200908_you_have

The unnatural death of a member of the community is a concern for everyone. That kind of attitude is a reminder that we are one family who deeply want the well being of each other. The suicidal death of Robin Williams lately has struck us all. He touched so many lives unspeakably through his talents, humor, and passion. His death broke his families and friends’ lives beyond imagining. They must have so many unanswered questions. His fans are heartbroken. He played in so many unforgettable, legendary, and inspiring movies that shaped our thoughts and attitudes.

Rightly have the media paid great tribute to his legacy and talents. Justly did they give him a lot of airtime. But I cannot help but notice how cavalier the media spoke about his death. They speak about it as if he were ill and died of natural cause. Not once did they focus on the wrongness of his action, or how someone should never commit suicide. The media’s role is to inform and form—inform about what happens and form our intellect about the right course of action. Suicide causes more death than car accidents in the world. So it is a pretty serious issue. Just like the death of Williams saddened us all, many suicidal deaths would affect us all. So it is our duty to prevent it from happening. Not once did I hear the commentators on TV mentioned how wrong it is to commit suicide. It must be known that suicide is always wrong regardless of the circumstances and must never be presented as an option. Therefore, it must be denounced as such when committed.

Every society before ours has emphasized the immorality and wrongness of suicide. Every society before ours made sure that people don’t think of suicide as normal. All thinkers who think for the sake of the common good understand it is unreasonable to take one’s life. Anyone who acknowledges the existence of a higher power or the power of a person to change the undesired fate knows suicide must not be talked about as if it’s normal or natural. Why does our current society want to think otherwise?

Even Albert Camus who saw the world as absurd and life meaningless rejects the idea of suicide. He argues that suicide is the rejection of freedom. Suicide is cowardice and laziness; it is fleeing from facing the challenges of life. Instead of fleeing the absurd meaninglessness of life, we should embrace life passionately and fight to change the course of life.tumblr_ma4d8jV7eL1rrfi3v

Those in favor of suicide see it as a question of individual right. It’s a road that can be taken when all the other alternatives have been tried. They believe that no being should be made to suffer unnecessarily, and suicide provides an escape from suffering. In this view, Schopenhauer compared ending one’s life, when subject to great suffering, to waking up from sleep when experiencing a terrible nightmare.

Those in favor of suicide completely misunderstood what it means to be free, or to exercise one’s individual right. Being free or exercising one’s right must not break the natural law. Just as we are truly free when we are driving according to the law of driving, this life is ours as long as it lingers on. Freedom is not free. It must be in accordance with the rule of life that maintains that every life is precious. We did not give life to ourselves, so we have no right to end it. We must protect, safeguard, and value it; it is not ours to take away. you are a dignified being who deserves to let people to care for you. Live up to your dignity.Pro Life Group Back to Basics graphic

If you’re going through tough times and pondering suicidal thoughts, don’t give up; don’t get discouraged. Know that those days are just moments of doubts. Better times lie ahead. It is not the end. There is help out there. Call people. Pray; God never abandons us. Look for help; look to people who care about you. They want your happiness. You make them happy. Don’t break their hearts by taking the suicidal road.

Suffering can be unbearable, but it is not meaningless. Your suffering has a purpose. It is your duty to understand the why of it. Ending it destroys any possibility of finding meaning.  Know that suffering does not have the last word. Suffering, even deep depression, can be advantageous.

25467af6e3ec56e2f2480819bbcc77adMaybe it’s life’s way to force us to find its meaning for it is inevitable that someone goes through life without finding its meaning. Perhaps, it is life’s manner of awakening us for the decisive hour, as Nietzsche said. Perhaps it is life’s way of allowing us to discover what we would never otherwise discover. The truth is these horrible, atrocious, unspeakable, indescribable sufferings cannot be pure nonsense and meaningless. They happen for a reason and that reason must be for our benefits. So we must not give in. Those who endure to the end will be rewarded beyond their wildest expectations. So it’s worth the fight!