Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Survive to 60, Reasonably Intact

First of all, set aside a bright, roomy section of your mind, and fill it with all your best memories.  Visit it often. Keep it immaculate and it will serve you well. Share it with your Deity, whatever you perceive him to be.
 Sharpen your awareness of the natural wonders that surround us, and encourage their appreciation by others. Be cognizant of life’s cycles, appreciating each new season in turn, while realizing fully that, despite our best efforts, time is resolute, and with time, each season will pass. Embrace each new season with hope and optimism, while retaining all that’s best of seasons past. As a young man I tended to envision time as a vast, unlimited resource; time it seemed was an inexhaustible sea.  Now in the autumn of my life, each hour is increasingly precious, and I thirst for each minute as it drips away from an alarmingly finite pool.
   Do not be drawn into meaningless, futile, debilitating debates with loud, obnoxious people. Just consider the source and when possible avoid their venting. Their noise is a noxious vapor, and repulsed silence is often the appropriate response. I have good news.  Your loudmouth neighbor, your loudmouth in-law, and the loudmouth in your Sunday school class, all have one thing in common; they don’t know squat!  They’re just noisy!  Relax and ignore them, and don’t encourage their clamor.  Be mindful of your example to others; it’s your most effective testimony.  Value truth and consider the cost of deceit.
   Many people have given their lives in order to secure the freedoms you enjoy today.  Honor their sacrifice.  Honor our veterans and all those who choose a life of service. Honor individuality, revere tolerance, and exhort all those who lift up the cause of freedom. Confront ignorance, and be diligent in the advancement of knowledge.  Ignorance and intolerance are almost inseparable, and despite what some will tell you, neither one is a virtue.       
   Cherish and reverently exercise your right to vote and keep this Country free! Clearly, America’s collective conscience, as reflected by our chosen leaders, requires constant scrutiny and surveillance.  Even in a democracy of, by, and for the people, justice and equality are only as perfect as the conscience of that people.  Even America’s grand and glorious democracy reflects not only our goodness, but our greed.  Greed and corruption have reached epidemic levels in our society today. Certain individuals have amassed great wealth, and they abuse that wealth to cause discontent and manipulate elections. They do not do this for the good of our Nation, but to satisfy their own insatiable greed. Do not believe everything you’re told by the far fringes of our media. Media will say what the media is paid to say, all too often, regardless of the truth. More often than not, the wealthy own the media. There’s nothing wrong with affluence and wealth, but money buys power and too much power corrupts. Everyone knows what the bible says about money.
   Pay attention, stand up and be counted. Freedom is not a privilege to be taken lightly.  Freedom is a right and a responsibility, a perishable torch to be diligently tended and faithfully passed along.  Freedom burns within our hearts, ignited by the founding fathers, and it falls to us to keep that flame alive. America’s most trusted and time-honored institutions are only as righteous as the hearts of our citizens, our most godly leaders only as just as the collective conscience of their constituents, and the most telling measure of a nation’s heart is the empathy of its people.
   Positive outcomes are never achieved through negative actions. Respond to others, as you’d have them respond to you. Freedom is every heart’s desire and every just government’s goal, but it’s a mighty illusive concept when you’re at war. Freedom is nearly impossible when you don’t have peace. Freedom requires commitment, commitment requires perseverance, and perseverance requires the will to act.  When freedom and justice are threatened, honorable men respond.  But surely war is the last resort of those who know its grief.  Surely for reasonable people there’s a better way.
    Be open to affection but wary of unwholesome pleasures. And do not be deceived. Deceit is ephemeral; lies and indiscretions will eventually come to light. Every action has a consequence.  When considering any action, before proceeding, think the scenario through to its logical conclusion.  You can never undo a thoughtless deed, and carelessly sewn seeds produce a ponderous harvest!
   Anything that you are unable to do in good conscience and moderation, do not do!  Eat nutritiously and judiciously, consistently burning more calories than you consume, until you’ve achieved your ideal weight, and you will be healthier, more industrious, more prosperous, more popular, profoundly gratified, and gut wrenchingly contented.  It’s what all the ages have striven for.
   As we face an uncertain future together, let us do so with faith, optimism, attention to stewardship, and goodwill toward our fellow man. God grant us stamina to persevere, determination to prevail, and the wisdom to roll up our sleeves and work together.    
   In all things, promote liberty for all, and justice tempered with mercy.  In this Country, everyone has the right to life, liberty and their pursuit of happiness. Celebrate ethnicity; take pride in your own heritage, but value the traditions of others.  Our country’s greatest strength is diversity; honor diversity and keep America strong. While I am generally conservative in my own actions, I am passionately liberal in defense of the choices of others. Personal choices, that’s what freedom is. Remember always that you are as good as any and better than none. Be just, merciful, humble, and be happy.

Shannon T. Casebeer

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