Friday, December 26, 2014

Loneliness or Being alone

There is often a thought I have anywhere around the holidays, and that is of people that are alone.  Our society is one in which we value the individual: individual rights and the person more than the collective society.  Although most of our roots stem from European lineage here in America, we are considered an individualistic society.  Allow me to explain.  Anthropologists (generally) classify society in two groups:

  1. Collectivist

  2. Individualistic

A collective society is one in which the group is more important than the individual.  We see this in Asian cultures where Family and clan affiliation are all so important.  This is also seen in Latin and Northern European countries as well.

This is one reason why there is such a political and ideological gap in some arguments in our country.  Collectivist ideas are introduced into an individualistic society.  Hence the problems with government programs and over taxation, healthcare, welfare etc.  (hint ... hint)

Individualistic societies, like ours value individual freedom and work as the supreme.  This is mostly who we are as a people, but herein lies a conundrum:

The individuals path, work and choices are above all else and sometimes, with all the "getting" in life, if there is no one to give it to or share it with it becomes empty.  The emptiness I speak of is the worth of a person to his or her society.  Man kind is a social creature and not meant to be alone, but to share his/her experiences with another.  Sometimes it more important to be part of something greater than you are in just being self. 

This is one reason why people are desperate to be part of a group or club.  And as we can see from society, if people cannot get wholesome attention and friendship, then infamy and evil associations will work for them as well.  Being alone can be good, provided you know who you are; but loneliness is unbearable. 

I notice than in a healthy Dojo there are people who love the art and want to be part of something greater than them.  The program is important and gives you a sense of being something greater than you are on your own.
conversely, isn't that one of the great things about the Church?  We are individuals, but we are the Family of God, and greater as the Body of Christ that what we would be as an individual.

Sometimes we may be alone, but neither is really in loneliness.

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2015

We are creatures of habit.  That is the way that God made us.  With this thought in mind, have we ever considered how much of tradition is just a habit that we have?

This time of year we are faced with much that is in the way of "Tradition" and have seemed to loose sight of it in 21st century America.  The spirit of Christmas is not Santa Claus, gift giving or partying it up, although our modern Christmas has many roots in this.

Any student of the Bible can surmise that Jesus was not born on December 25th because St Luke tells us that "Sheppherds were in the field watching their flocks by night"  he was probably born in Spring or Fall.  Many hundreds of years ago, it was thought to be a good idea that the Feast of Christmas should be celebrated around the Winter solstice. 

Why this date?

Because on the shortest day of the year, the greatest light that humankind has ever known came into the world!

Before this time, many activities happened in pagan cultures to denote the shortening of winter days, and although many people still miss the meaning, let us not forget this!

As an interesting parallel, I find that in the Martial Arts, many styles focus on "traditions" that are more cultural than factual or useful.  bowing to a picture of a dead master becomes an act of worship or mindless habit rather than respect and gratitude for what that master did for his art.

In Christianity, we tip our hat to the baby Jesus and either keep him in a barn (His birth story) or leave him in on the cross (his sacrifice and death).

How often do we let him reign in our hearts?

Have a Merry Christmas!

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate