Letting Go; Not Giving Up

4

November 26, 2018, Prescott-

This day is to honour  ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Who guided the Baha’i Faith, from the Ascension of Baha’u’llah, on May 29, 1892 to His own  passing, on November 28, 1921. It is called the Day of the Covenant, as ‘Abdu’l-Baha symbolized the agreement between Baha’u’llah and His followers.  He explained much of His Father’s Revelation to us.

‘Abdu’l-Baha suffered, physically, for much of His life on Earth.  He came to North America and Europe, from 1911-13, visiting many major cities, and maintained a schedule that would have been daunting for someone half His age.

He made this journey when He was between the ages of 67-69. As I will turn 68, in a few days, I have to admire His fortitude.  The example set was a strong one, and was derived from both detachment and commitment, in equal balance.

An example came when He was in San Francisco, and it was requested by some Baha’is in Los Angeles, that He visit their city. Bear in mind that this was in 1912, and there were costs involved that seemed insurmountable.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha did not impinge on anyone, in meeting His expenses.  He at first told the Los Angeles friends that He would not be able to make the journey, though it caused Him great sorrow.  A short time afterward, though, money was found. ‘Abdu’l-Baha and His entourage made the train trip south to Los Angeles and spent a day or so there, specifically visiting the grave of the first American to declare his faith in Baha’u’llah.  That man’s name was Thornton Chase.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha showed that, by letting go, a person gives the Divine, the Universe, room to muster its energy and bring things to fruition.

I have been in many situations, including this year, where it has been prudent to let go of plans and expectations, and to move with the flow of energy.  These situations have, in the long run, not hampered my well-being and have actually helped to purify my life.  There will be others, I’m certain, as this year winds down and subsequent years unfold.  I can rely on the example set by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in pondering my reaction to the changes that are in store.

Monster, Part II

11

January 16, 2018, Prescott-  Dolores O’Riordan had a powerful voice, calling out those who exacerbated tension and bloodshed, in her Irish homeland and appealing to those who take the feelings of loved ones lightly, to think deeply about their choices in life.

I’m thinking of her,now, in the wake of an untimely passing and on the heels of some very harsh judgments, flying in all manner of directions.  Dolores both made rash judgments and received quite a few, over a 25-year public career.  She made amends for the former and absorbed the latter, as many of us do, in similar straits.  I find her music compelling, regardless.

The ego leads us into horrible choices, even among those who have dedicated their lives to the welfare of humanity.  I have made plenty of my own, and I know of many others who have, as well.  In each case, there are people who could come forward and point fingers.  We’ve seen quite a bit of that, lately, and in most cases, the accused could probably stand to make amends, if they have not already been made.

The ego leads us, also, to set conditions on our love for others.  Christ says:

Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends.

If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven.”  (CEV)

Baha’u’llah says

“Now is the time to cheer and refresh the down-cast through the invigorating breeze of love and fellowship, and the living waters of friendliness and charity.”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 7) , and, through His eldest son and interpreter, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, He admonishes us:

“The greatest gift of man is universal love – that magnet which renders existence eternal. It attracts realities and diffuses life with infinite joy. If this love penetrate the heart of man, all the forces of the universe will be realized in him, for it is a divine power which transports him to a divine station and he will make no progress until he is illumined thereby. Strive to increase the love-power of reality, to make your hearts greater centers of attraction and to create new ideals and relationships. First of all, be ready to sacrifice your lives for one another, to prefer the general well-being to your personal well-being. Create relationships that nothing can shake; form an assembly that nothing can break up; have a mind that never ceases acquiring riches that nothing can destroy. If love did not exist, what of reality would remain? It is the fire of the love of God which renders man superior to the animal. Strengthen this superior force through which is attained all the progress in the world.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 111-112)

Satan, the personification of the  dark aspects of the ego, is clever, as the human mind is clever.  It can get a person to do and say the most heinous of things, even in the name of the Lord.  It can make a person fear those who mean no harm, and embrace those ready to apply a dagger to the back.  It can lull a soul into complacency, whilst raising the hackles of another, leading to lost spiritual growth, in each of them.  It leads to disease, contention and strife.  Yet, this is not some one of the supernatural dark forces, being summoned, (though these do exist).  It is the power of a person’s own ego, or of the collective ego, manifest in a community.  The time is now, to work at channeling our egos towards love, and away from self-aggrandizement.

I have said enough, for now, and will have more to say about love, in an upcoming post.

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LVI: Return to Down East, Part 1- Green Acre

7

July 16, 2017, Eliot, ME-

I had anticipated visiting relatives, outside the immediate family, today.  I just was not sure which ones.  Last night, I got a message from a long-lost cousin, saying that he couldn’t meet with me this time around, but would I please consider visiting his mother, my paternal aunt, on her birthday.

It’s been 28 years, since I last set foot in the State of Maine.  My last visit there didn’t go very smoothly, and I have been embarrassed to return to the last place I stayed.  This time, though, I was determined to make it a good day.

I started out at Green Acre Baha’i School, located  in Eliot, just over the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, NH.  The property, once owned by a spiritualist, was deeded to the Baha’i Faith by Sarah Farmer, after ‘Abdu’l-Baha visited the property, in 1912, and told Ms. Farmer that he foresaw a great center of learning rising there.

It is, at present, a vibrant place of spiritual education, and Green Acre has forged strong ties with the surrounding communities.  I spent about two hours there, before heading up to York.  A high point is always visiting the room where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed, during his visit.

Here are some scenes of Green Acre:

The first building that greets the visitor is a large classroom center.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The administration building and registrar’s office is located diagonally across the street.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The administrator’s residence is next to the registrar’s office.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Overlooking it all is the majestic Sarah Farmer Inn.  Students in the various programs, which are generally a week or two in length, stay in this Victorian establishment.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

One may walk down to the banks of the Piscataqua River, across which is Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s only seaport

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Great Lawn offers a sweeping view of the campus.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Back in the Sarah Farmer Inn, I recalled having sat and meditated in the parlour, on a previous visit.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Upstairs, one may pray and meditate in the room where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed.  After  I had done so, with three other people praying in the room, it was most prudent to take this photo, from outside the room itself.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Upon leaving the Sarah Farmer Inn, I was informed that there was a picnic and barbecue outside, which I promptly joined.  A pleasant meal of chicken and several vegetarian dishes, and a chance meeting with friends from Arizona made for a fine ending to this short visit.

I had gathered both nutritional and spiritual sustenance, which would carry me safely onward, eventually back to Arizona.  This day, however, would bring further joys into view: Stonewall Kitchen, where my aunt works; Old York; York Harbor and the Mason Preserve, and a nice little gathering, in auntie’s honour.  Stay tuned.

 

Rubicon

5

August 14, 2016, Prescott- I remarked to some collaborators-in-faith, this morning, that I have scrapped plans for most travel outside North America, until at least 2021. (South Korea, where my son is to be stationed, next year, being an exception.)  There were crickets in the room, so our discourse went on to things of more common interest.

Later today, I attended a gathering that was sponsored by Team Rubicon, the disaster recovery organization that is mostly made up of military veterans.  The very allusion to making a decisive and irreversible choice defines this group, whose impact is as great, if not greater than that of the Red Cross.  These are the people who remain behind, once the news cycle is over and the long-term work begins.  They choose to walk the celestial path, with practical feet. (‘Abdu’l-Baha admonished us Baha’is to do just that, in several speeches, when he visited North America, in 1912.)

I have plenty to do around here, during the academic year, and with regard to both my Faith and the needs of the larger community.  At 65 years, 8 months, it’s important to consider at least the seeds of legacy.  I’m in fine health, and I do want to continue with a full, contributive life.  Five years of gainful employment remain.  I will insist on actively taking part in the well-being of the Prescott area, both inside and outside my worksite.  Summers will still find me visiting friends and family, in various parts of this continent, starting with a second journey northwestward, next June. Christmas and New Year’s will still be marked by the presence of loved ones and good friends, both here and on the East Coast.  June, 2021 will still be the beginning of an extended journey to many parts of the globe, the only caveats being the needs of my son, any family he might have by then, and our larger family.

I will remain working to educate people on the Oneness of Mankind, on the need for an inquiring mind, and on the healing properties of Certified, Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, and the imperative of wellness.  My Rubicon was crossed, years ago, when Penny pointed me towards the mountain with a shimmering star above it.

 

Love, By The Numbers

8

April 18, 2016, Prescott-

My youngest niece turns twenty-five today.  This, alone, makes it a good day, and I hope her nearest and dearest ones honour her in the best manner possible.  Twenty-five is not the marker of a “crisis” (as in “quarter-life crisis”), but is the affirmation of a good running start to full adulthood.

I think of all those I love, in various senses of the word. It has sometimes been a matter of bloodline; other times, it is from sheer association and observation, as with my students and counselees, many of my colleagues and most of my fellows-in-faith.  Then, there is Love 101, the seeing of “a stranger as a loving friend”, as ‘Abdu’l-Baha admonished us to see others.

By age 30, having long since let go of adolescent irritability, I had given up the concept of enmity, at least insofar as it pertained to a flesh-and-blood human being.  Some behaviours, I will always find inimical, but that is a topic for other venues.  People’s hearts can always change, and while we can, and should, be wary of those who have harmed us, or our loved ones, in the past, it is not ours to deny them the right to a change of heart.

At 65, I can hold no grudge, yet, nonetheless, expect those who have hurt others, to make serious amends.  With no apologies to Erich Segal, love DOES mean having to say you’re sorry.  Following that apology, though, love does exact some changes in behaviour, both great and small.  Yes, I hold myself to that same standard, whether forgiven by those I may have hurt, or not.

Love, one step at a time, is the secret to growth.

Highway 16

12

January 1, 2016, Prescott-  Yes, I know it’s still 2015, here in the American West.  It’s New Year’s Day in Rouen, France, one of my ancestral homes.  It’s also 2016 in: Silesia, Poland; Bremen, Germany; and Tours, France- three of my other ancestral homes.  In 5 1/2 hours, the New Year will come to Old Town, Maine, where my Native American relatives still live.  I am starting to beat a dead horse.

I will use the road motif for this year’s posts, much as the Road took me to age 65.  Highways indicate assertiveness, clear vision and moving out with a purpose.  So I intend 2016 to be.

I came back to Home Base, yesterday, to find I have a financial issue to settle, and will tend to it next week.  In the meantime, bills and rent will get paid and I was, thankfully, able to fulfill a promise I made, last week, to help a sick friend.  My nest egg isn’t growing right now, but neither is anyone else’s, in Wall Street’s mad rush to sell anything that’s not nailed down.  My nest egg IS nailed , though, so the bears can just go back into hibernation.

Meanwhile, I am not hibernating.  The next three days will see me on one trail or another, as we enjoy crisp, clear weather.  The schools will be back in session next week, and I will be ready for whoever needs my services.  The certification process will take a bit longer- ADE doesn’t save transcripts, so those need to be re-sent, and my long-ago teaching internship host will need to verify that I did complete “practice teaching”- in Fall, 1975.  So, I see that process being successfully completed by the end of January.

My essential oils have benefited me, health-wise, and I will be at three conferences, this year, that focus on their promulgation.  This month, and June will find me in Boulder and September features an International Convention in Salt Lake City.

Travel in the summer will depend on how well I do, work-wise, this winter and spring.  A week or so in Reno/Tahoe, at the end of May, is a given.  Anything beyond that, though, remains to be seen.  In any case, the focus will be on time with friends, not on “Here’s Gary at yet another fabulous site!”  I never want the latter to be how all this is viewed.

Reading is still huge for me, and with the Kindle, an excellent library system and three nearby book shops, I will never run short of material. I am currently engrossed in “The Witches:  Salem, 1692”, Dick Van Dyke’s “Keep Moving”, “Terra in Cognita”, by a fellow Baha’i:  William Barnes, “Extreme Ownership”, and “The Dinosaur Heresies”.  My tack is to read at least ten pages of a book, then go to one of the others, and so on.

This year marks the Centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s initial offerings of “Tablets of the Divine Plan”.  I will have much more to say about this remarkable set of documents, during the course of the year.  Suffice it so say that, without the guidance I have received as a Baha’i, the person some in my family remember from long ago, and still think they see, would still be stumbling around- and I would not be blogging, to say the least.

This year also marks the Centenary of the National Park Service.  I will visit several National Park holdings in Arizona, and around the Southwest, in the course of this year.  Most certainly, my boots will meet some trails of the Grand Canyon, and Canyon de Chelly, for the first time in 18 years.

Most importantly, though, is WHO I am going to be in these next twelve months.  That will never be defined by anyone but yours truly.  To say otherwise would be to invite chaos.  Some, not far from here, want me to move nearer to them.  That is not happening.  Others would rather I stay as far away from them as possible.  So be it.  Any given decision could be resolved in at least seventy different ways.  The factors, for me, are these:  Service to those in need, especially children and youth; my own family’s well-being; my ability to fend for myself (I am not presently, nor will I be, a burden on anyone else); and, lastly, the overall circumstances of the world-at-large.

Happy 2016, one and all!

 

The Road to 65, Mile 363: Thankfulness and Grace

8

November 26, 2015, San Diego-  Every so often, the American Thanksgiving conflates with other occasions of import.  In 2013, for example, Thanksgiving and my 63rd birthday occurred on the same day. 😀

On other years, such as this one, we Baha’is observe the Day of the Covenant, along with Thanksgiving.  The former is a celebration of the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, eldest son of Baha’u’llah, and His immediate successor as Head of the Baha’i Faith.  It is so named because ‘Abdu’l-Baha stressed loyalty and obedience to the written Will and Testament of His Father, a document entitled Kitab-i-Ahd, or Book of the Covenant, over loyalty and obedience to a given human being.  This aspect of our Faith has proven its worth, time and again.

Mirza Abbas Effendi-e- Nuri was born on May 23, 1844.  As he was coming into the world, His Father’s Herald, al-Bab, was proclaiming His own Message to humanity:  It was coming time for all mankind to unite, and He was to prepare the human race for One Who would show the way that this could be done.  Abbas Effendi was given the title, ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Servant of Light), when He was nine years old, and was the first to recognize His Father’s station, as the Messenger of God for this day and age.

‘Abdu’l-Baha forbade celebrations of His birthday on May 23, but reluctantly agreed to observances that celebrated His life, while focusing on the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, the promulgation of which was ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s prmary focus, during His twenty-nine years as Head of the Baha’i Faith.  Thus, each November 26 has been dedicated to that purpose.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for having been guided to this spiritual path, and to the perfect example set by ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  His are larger shoes than any of us can hope to fill, but it is worth the effort, for the sake of developing and strengthening our virtues.  They guided me to my marriage, to the birth and raising of our son, in whose company I celebrated another marvelous Day of Thanks and to the various friends and places of joy which I have been fortunate to meet and see, over the past thirty-four years.

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 259: Grateful

0

August 14, 2015, Prescott- Today is slower than slow, and that’s okay, as it gives me a chance to focus on people in my life, for whom I’m grateful.  In another post, I will focus on places that give me the same feeling.  This post was inspired by a similar one, done a few weeks ago by one of the people mentioned here:  My next-eldest brother.  It, in turn, was originated by one Alex Lucado,in an inspirational book he wrote, entitled “Before Amen”.  Suffice it to say, we can never feel, or express, enough gratitude for what those close to us have done, said, or been, in our lives.

This is an A to Z format:

A– Aram, my son, whose very existence has defined the greater part of my adulthood, and whose achievements make me proud, every single day.  “Art Wolfen”, my fellow writer and free spirit, whose stories put me in touch with so many other dimensions. Al Sinquah, who taught me so much of Native American culture and etiquette.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha, for being the Perfect Exemplar of all to which one ought strive.

B- My late brother, Brian, who first taught me compassion.  Bob Duncomb, one of my many consciences and a Keeper of the Flame, always walking his talk. Barbara Boivin, my sister-in-law, for being the rock of the family.  Most of all, Baha’u’llah, my Lord and Guide to all that is good.

C– Cheryl, my sister and first friend, for being there, and for never giving up on anything that matters.  Chris Boivin, my eldest nephew, who cemented my love of children, before I had a child of my own.  Curtis Salt, my youngest nephew, one of the most creative people I’ve ever known.  Then, there are about five Christ(i)ys- Every one a friend and inspiration.

D- I know many Davids, but  my brother rises above the rest .  Few have taken it upon themselves to tell me what I needed to hear, when I least wanted to listen, and time has borne him out.  No one I know has worked harder.  His rock, Deb, has been at his right-hand side through all of it.

E– Emily Atticus, another of my steadfast friends and consciences, who will also tell me what I need to hear, and pull my fingers away from my ears.  My late uncle, John “Ellie” Reilly, always good with a story, and moral support.

F– My father, Fred, who never gave up on me, though he had a devil of a time understanding what made me tick.  He’s still guiding me from the other side of the curtain.

G– Glenn, my youngest living brother, and ten shades of amazing.  If I accomplish a tenth of what he has achieved, I will consider myself fortunate.

H– Helen Hamilton, my surrogate mother, never letting an untucked shirt go unnoticed.  “Happy Oasis”, my primary teacher in all that is natural and sustainable.  Most of all, my late aunt, Hazel Reilly, the best surrogate mother one could ever have.

I-  Irene Mullins, without whom the American Legion Post would be a far emptier place.

J– Here is where I run the table:  John E. Glaze, Johnny Light, my nephew, Jeff Boivin, Jerry Bathke, Janet Waters, Jenn Winters,Jack Ray- I could write a tome on how much each has given to my life and sense of well-being.

K– My niece, Kim, one of the most loving souls in this plane of existence.  Kyrsten Sinema, keeping fighting the good fight and marching to your own drummer.

L– Mom’s the word.  The most meaningful, and hardest-earned, words of approval I ever hear come from my mother, Lila.   She has been about love and devotion, for over six decades.  When the time comes to give back to her, I am ready.

M– Another gold mine of inspiring people:  My nieces, Marcy and Melanie, tirelessly raising solid families; my friend and collaborator, Melissa Monahan; Mark Bradley, another conscience;  my spiritual guide, Marcia Brehmer; my soul sister, Michele Smith; my nephew, Matt Boivin, building the good life, almost from scratch.

N- My late father-in-law, Norm Fellman, by far the most influential man in my adult life, and a national hero for the ages.  My nephew, Nick Boivin, a master of wise choices and solid goals.

O- The O’Neil family, who had our backs, when we were kids.

P– There is only one, my late wife, and best friend ever, Penny.  Every morning and night, hers is the first and last face I see.  Her thoughts constantly guide me, even through an occasional bout of darkness.

Q– The late John Quinlan, the first person ever to get me to make sense of mathematics.

R– My youngest niece, Rebecca, following us into teaching and making a difference in another rising generation.

S–  Sheryl Colstock, a true angel; Steve Salt, my brother-in-law and quiet well-wisher; Sara Davis, my niece, who matters far more than she may think.

T- Tom Belmonte, my best friend in high school and early adulthood.  Terry McWade, another inspiration and personal hero.

U– Uncle George Boivin, still thriving, at close to 90 years of age, and so creative in a wide range of artisanship.

V- Van Gilmer, one of the most talented singers and choirmasters I’ve ever known.

W- My late Uncle Walter Boivin, who gave me the courage to stand up for myself. Wes Hardin, always ready with a tale of the Texas Panhandle.

X– Anyone not mentioned here, who has had an impact on my life.  You are in my mind and heart- never ignored.

Z- Zakiah Sayeed, physican, artiste and author.  She is a model of what I might achieve, when I grow up.

The Road to 65, Mile 224: Light of the World

6

July 10, 2015, Prescott- Today, we Baha’is observed the 165th anniversary of the Martyrdom of al-Bab.  On July 10, 1850, the Persian government, at the behest of powerful clerics, conducted the execution of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, given the title al-Bab “The Gate”, in Arabic.

Briefly, He was Forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Founder of our Faith.  Al-Bab challenged the orthodoxy of Islam, noting how far it had strayed from the Teachings of Muhammad.  He called for the purification of the human heart, as an essential prerequisite to the dawning of an Age, in which the human race would become unified, and would enjoy the Kingdom of God on Earth, as promised by Jesus the Christ.

This won Him the allegiance of thousands of Persians and Arabs, and the admiring notice of many Europeans.  It also won Him the enmity of those whose vested interests were threatened by such a call to change.

The execution did not proceed without a hitch.  Al-Bab warned his captors that He would not depart this life until He had completed certain matters, with his secretary.  They took Him out to the killing plaza, anyway, and He was joined by a young man, who insisted he be allowed to die, alongside al-Bab.  The firing squad commander, who was Christian, pleaded with al-Bab that he not be forced to complete the execution.

Al-Bab responded, “Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.”  Thus did it transpire, that the volleys were fired, and when the smoke had cleared, al-Bab and his devotee were found, not dead on the ground, but alive, and with al-Bab in a room with His secretary, completing His business!

Once this was finished, al-Bab and the young follower submitted to again being escorted to the execution zone.  This time, a Muslim commander ordered his regiment to carry out the volley.  The bodies of the al-Bab and His devotee were fused together, with only their heads untouched by the bullets.

With the complicity of the prison yard’s guards, some other followers of al-Bab spirited the remains out of the area.  These were carried, from place to place, in secrecy, for 59 years, until ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, placed them in a vault, in a crypt on the slopes of Mount Carmel, near Haifa, in what is now Israel, in 1909.  The remains so rest, today, in the magnificent structure, known as the Shrine of Al-Bab, or “The Bab”, as He is called, in English.

I view this series of events as further evidence of the re-appearance of Divine Light in the world, just as it appeared at the time of Christ, before that, in the times of Moses, Krishna and Buddha, and after that, in the days when Muhmmad walked the Earth.  That mankind chose half-measures, in embracing the Teachings of these Sacred Beings, does not take away from the efficacy of those Truths.  God is nothing if not patient, though.  He certainly has been so with me, and is no less so with the human race as whole.

The Road to 65, Mile 54: Who Serves Whom?

6

January 21, 2015, Prescott-  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith, as many of you know.  The Baha’i concept of service is one of humility and reverence for the human spirit.  It was modeled by the eldest son of our Faith’s Founder, Baha’u’llah.  This eldest son is known to posterity by His title, ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  The title is Arabic, and translates as “Servant of the Light”, in English.  Although ‘Abdu’l-Baha was, and is, revered by all Baha’is, in His lifetime, He walked a humble path of service to others.  For example, He organized and saw the establishment of a series of storehouses in the Galilee, during and immediately after World War I.  He visited North America and Europe, during the period, 1911-13, and would often prepare meals for His visitors, in the course of His travels.

I will have more to say about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in later posts.  The above anecdotes, though, form the backdrop for my own view of what public service is.  The person working with the public is in a position of trust.  The teacher is responsible for the education, welfare and safety of all students with whom she comes in contact, during the day.  The bus driver, both school and public transit, is responsible for the safe transport of paying and subsidized riders, for the duration of their travel in his vehicle, as well as safe ingress and egress.  The health care worker, be he or she a physician, nurse, pharmacist or medical technician, is responsible for the well-being of any patient in a care situation, within his or her purview.

Most such public servants know these responsibilities, and take them to heart.  So, too, there are a large number of people serving in the social welfare field who do their jobs with the best interests of their clients in mind.  There are, unfortunately, a disconcerting number who view the people coming to their offices as wards, as people to be pushed around, browbeaten and treated in an undignified manner- because they are down on their luck.

It’s time to take the “Kick Me” signs off.  I received word today, from a credible source, that one of the local offices purporting to help veterans is engaging in browbeating and intimidating the homeless, and refusing service to those who stand up for themselves in a respectful manner.  It is past time for the veterans of our Armed Forces to be treated as full human beings, and not just in the VA Hospitals, where  slow, but considerable, progress is being made in that regard.  Anyone who hangs out their shingle as a Veterans’ Resource Center has no business refusing service to someone for not going along with psychological gamesmanship, or not wanting to indulge a caseworker’s quirky behaviour, or for just being homeless.

I mention all this because I am tired. I am sick to death of the patronizing, bullying, gamesmanship and dereliction of duty that I have witnessed from various government officials, both elected and appointed, at the Federal, state and municipal levels, over the past eight years.  From the hired thugs who threatened to beat a man for stopping to eat an apple, on a sidewalk in Washington, in 2007, to a mayor and  several councilmen of a small city, who personalized a conflict with a constituent, over the past year or so, there is an increasing air of arrogance, and “Feed my ego” seems the name of the game.

I serve in a few capacities.  I am not the greatest Chaplain the American Legion has ever seen, and at least one member of the Auxiliary can’t wait to see me go, but I approach my fellow members in a spirit of service.   I take  any posting as a Substitute Teacher seriously, and am well-regarded by students and colleagues, precisely because their well-being and quality experiences trump any desire I might have to be revered or obeyed. I take any work I do with the Red Cross seriously, or any recommendations I make to people, regarding use of Essential Oils, because there are lives and healthful situations at stake.  Because of the way I was raised, ego gratification is not an option.

It ought not be an option for anyone in public service.