February, 2013


25
Feb 13

Simply Divine

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Hi there, welcome back.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I am a sucker for anything creative.

I love it when I am stopped in my tracks by something completely unexpected because someone had a stroke of creative genius.

As you will see I have sprinkled a few pictures that I think are wonderfully creative and a few quotes thrown in for good measure.

How good is that?  Good pictures and a few good quotes.

Yes, I agree, this is a strange picture but I would have never thought of it.

The amazing miracle of creativity is that stirs that invisible something deep within.

I personally believe that we are moved by the creative because it reflects our Creator.  Don’t worry I’m not going to get all religious on you.  But there is something to be said about the Divine DNA we all possess.

Yep… whether you believe it or not, we all carry the marks of our Creator.

Don’t get all weirded out because you’re concerned I’m going to get preachy or syrupy religious.  I never have and I never will.  It’s not my place to get you to believe in a loving God.  I couldn’t if I wanted to.

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I think creativity is spiritual. I absolutely believe that.

F. Murray Abraham

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I just share interesting truths that make us think, cause us to ask questions, and just open our minds to consider new notions about life.

Creativity – what an amazing gift!

This gift allows us to step beyond the confines of the existing to the freedom of what’s never been.

Pretty cool sculpture huh?

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Creativity has more to do with the elimination of the inessential than with inventing something new.

-Helmut Jahn

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Creativity has as much with what you remove as what you add.  It causes us to see beyond where we are or what is known.

When we step beyond the confines of our current thinking there comes an irrepressible freedom.  It is a feeling of freedom because we dared to believe or explore the possibilities beyond the known.

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Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

- Erich Fromm

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Think about how good you feel when you come up with a creative solution to a dogging problem or create something out of your imagination.

Yes… creativity is divine… beautifully divine.

See you Thursday.


19
Feb 13

A quiet life that lives loud

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Howdy.  Good to see you again.

I am pleased to announce that my fascination with South Africa and its societal and cultural challenges have waned.  So there will be no more blog entries about my recent trip below the equator.

You will be happy to know that I am back to my normal self (whatever that is).  Well, maybe I took a leap in logic to assume you will be happy to have me back to normal.

In reality my normalcy could be troubling to you.  Just so you know, people whispering and giggling under their breath has never deterred me in the past.

I will keep on pecking away at my blog in hopes that I will somehow and someway say something meaningful, funny, thought provoking or challenging to those of you who choose to hang out with me periodically.

Frankly, I am not sure which is more intriguing or troubling – myself (Jerry Rushing) actually writing a blog or that you (whomever you are) are actually reading it.

But enough of my ramblings about my quirky sense of normalcy… let’s talk about real people.

Those of you who are regular readers know that people fascinate me.  I absolutely love the variety of people in the world.

Although I think I am a pretty nice person and remarkably handsome and cool, I would hate for the world to be full of people like me.  And yes, you are correct in assuming that a bunch of Jerry Rushings running around would make the world a much better and pleasant place to be… but not nearly as interesting.

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Side Note: Yes, just in case some of you were wondering, the last couple of sentences are totally tongue in cheek.  Those of you who are regulars know that I never take myself that seriously.

My weirdness must be the withdrawal effects of South African water.

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For whatever reason I am really drawn to salt-of-the-earth type people.  These are people who are comfortable with who they are and have no pretense of trying to impress others.  They just  simply live their lives… simply.

I ran across a video of a fellow who simply loves his family and country and quietly lives a life that impacts others without any intention of doing so.

YouTube Preview Image

Humm… in a world celebrates image and are enamored by flowery words, it’s refreshing to see the power of a simple life well lived.

I am not discounting the importance of more visible talents, not at all.  It’s just that I want to celebrate the quieter invisible qualities that make life so rich and full.

Eric would probably never win a personality contest nor would he put himself in a situation that requires an electrifying persona.

But what he lacks in words his life makes up for in action.

Eric’s life forces me to ask myself some questions and I encourage you to ask yourself.

What strikes me about Eric’s story?

Is there anything I need to learn or embrace from his quiet strength?

These are questions worth asking.  I encourage you to poke at these insights over the next couple of days.

Ciao.


11
Feb 13

Don’t Fence Me In

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Yep… me again, and yes one more entry about South Africa (SA).

But before you grimace and start moving your cursor to the exit icon, stick with me.  I think you will find the topic quite interesting.

The pictures above are examples of the typical fence you see here in the US.

For the most part fences here serve as decorative accent and provide visible separation between property lines.  They are meant to keep little kids or pets from darting out of the yard into the streets.

Usually the fences in the US aren’t designed to keep people out.  Yes, we do have security fences around some businesses such as the one below but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

In all honesty fences like this are designed to be more of a deterrent than actual security.  A person can easily cut through the chains.  And yes, there are a few affluent areas where subdivisions use security fences and gated entry.

All of this talk about fences brings me to the second thing that screamed at me while I was in SA.

There are massive, keep you out, don’t come near, make you bleed, don’t even try, you’ll be sorry fences everywhere.  I mean everywhere.

Virtually every home, business, and church were surrounded by amazing security fences.  I am not talking about fences in just the nice part of town.  Even in the poorer areas, each little home had a fence and gate of their own designed to keep people out.

Here are a few pictures to give you a sense of the typical fence.

The only place you did not see these types of fences were in the “informal settlements” where the poorest of the poor lived.

Yes, SA has had very violent times in their history.  And yes, poverty is rampant thus making theft a major problem.  I understand all of this.

Here is the point that struck me.

I know the “Why” but I don’t know the effect on the people.

I have really wondered what the psychological affect is on the people where all they know is massive security fences designed to keep one safe by keeping people out.  You live your life behind a security wall.

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Fear is the highest fence.
- Dudley Nichols

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It is obviously fear based.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not judging them.  I would probably do the same thing if I lived there.

The point I am making is that there has to be an emotional toll living in a world behind a security wall.

What does it do to a person living with the norm of walled security?  Maybe nothing.

All I know is that when I returned home to fenceless neighborhoods and openness between houses I rejoiced in the feeling of freedom not needing to live behind a barbed wire topped wall.

The contrast between the two worlds was striking.

Like most of the entries I post, I don’t have a convenient answer to all the weird life questions I surface.

Maybe you have some insights that will shed light on the psychological or social impact of a world of barbed wire walls.

Well, enough of South Africa.  See you Thursday.

Ciao.



8
Feb 13

More than a SMILE

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If you read my last blog you know that I recently visited South Africa on a church mission trip and talked about the difference between the poor in Soweto and the American poor.

I was taken back by the amazing smiles on the people in the poorest of areas.  Beautiful wide-mouthed, teeth showing smiles.

I am in no way naïve to believe they were happy with their situation.  The surroundings are deplorable.

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Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.
- Dale Carnegie
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But the smiles, not just the children, were infectious.  Their was an endearing quality about the people that made me want to engage and get involved.

The type of engagement I am talking about was not the kind of “do gooder” involvement where you try to lift someone from the depths of their plight because you feel sorry for them.  NO!

I was saddened because of their living arrangements but their countenance did not demand sympathy.  Their smiles just made the desire for engagement easy.

It was as if they were a neighbor who could use a helping hand in assistance.

It has only been eighteen years since the fall of apartheid and full democracy in place.  One would think that a couple of busloads of white people winding their way through the narrow streets would be viewed with distain or considerable resistance or suspicion.

We felt no distain and little or no resistance or suspicion.  They smiled as we passed and freely waved as we responded in kind.

Somehow the American poor seem different.

I am sorry if this sounds judgmental, I don’t mean to be, but I don’t see the smiles or welcoming wave from the inner-city poor in the United States like I did in South Africa (SA).

So here’s my puzzlement.  Why?  Why such a difference?

The SA poor live in much worse conditions, have significantly less governmental support, with fewer opportunities.  To top it off health issues like HIV are rampant.

The majority of our mission trip was to clean up and repair an elementary school in a very poor area of Soweto.  The principle said that about 40% of the children were HIV positive.

Take a look at this video I took of the kindergarteners walking to their toilet break.

school children 3

Although the school appeared pretty nice is wasn’t… especially by U.S. standards.

I think there is something to be said for uniforms and order.  The teachers maintained a fairly high level of order while still allowing kids to be kids.

Once again, don’t misinterpret what I am saying.  Just because the people smile and engage more doesn’t mean that people are satisfied with their lot in life.

Crime in SA is rampant.  People are scrambling for survival.  The poor there do not have nearly the amount of basic governmental or NGO (non-government organization) support for food and shelter that we have here.

But for some reason they seem to stand taller, look you in the eye more, smile and engage more readily.

I do believe there is a difference between being happy vs. satisfied.

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Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
- Abraham Lincoln

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I would really like to know your theory or reason for the difference between the poor in US and SA.  It was fascinating to experience.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


4
Feb 13

The BIG Surprise

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Hi there… welcome back.

If you read the last blog entry you know that I just returned from a church mission trip to South Africa.  I mentioned that there were several things that stirred me, confused me, and challenged me.

Before I go any further I have to do some damage control.

I may be a lot of things, but one thing I don’t tend to be is a critical person.  It’s pretty easy for me to find the best in people or the situation.

But what I talk about today may seem very critical; critical of a particular segment of our society.  When I tell you the group I am referring to you will most likely think that I am an insensitive arrogant pig.

Maybe… I don’t think so, but I’m open to that reality.

I don’t mean for my comments to be critical.  These are just observations that I am still trying to sort through to gain a deeper understanding or broader insight into some disconnects present in our world.

The group that came to front of my mind during my visit to South Africa and whom I am puzzled about is the American poor.

Yikes!  As soon as I identified the group I could immediately sense the polarization of readers.

Some of you immediately bristled up and began making judgments about middle-class insensitivity to the poor and the inability to breakthrough societal barriers that limit their opportunities.

Others of you spontaneously perked up and started to salivate over the possibility of someone confronting those that seem to be too lazy to do things for themselves and thrive on exploiting the entitlement system.

Both sides share a kernel of truth and both are grossly erroneous and narrow in their thinking.

When I went to South Africa I saw poor… lots of poor… really, really poor.  And I saw wealthy, very wealthy.

The poor in South Africa are much poorer than in the US.  And the proportion of the population in poverty is significantly greater than here.

There are literally millions (seriously millions) of people living in makeshift shantytowns made of discarded tin sheets, board and canvas.

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Side Note: In South Africa the shantytowns are referred to as “informal settlements”.  Some how this seems much too sterile for the reality.

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There were piles of rubbish on virtually on every corner waiting the Friday evening burning.  On Friday evening we saw scattered fires throughout the neighborhood emptying the corner for the accumulation of the coming weeks trash.

Although it was very trashy, one could quickly sense a level of order and organization to the seeming chaos.  Masses of people were moving around seemingly with some level of purpose in their movement.  Survival.

The conditions in South Africa are so massive it seems hopeless.

I can safely say that the poor there have significantly more obstacles to overcome than their American counterpart.

Please believe me when I say that I am not trying to minimize the difficulties nor the tragedy of the American poor… not at all.  The poverty we do experience here is totally unacceptable in my opinion.  But still not nearly as bad as South Africa (or any third world country for that matter).

What I am doing is laying the foundation for the real issue that prompted this blog.  And believe it or not, the disconnect for me was not the severity or extent of poverty as compared to the US.

It was the smiles on people’s faces that I saw there compared to the faces of poverty I see here.

I will share more about this on Thursday.

Ciao.