WHAT’S THIS BLOG ABOUT?

That’s a reasonable question.  Actually, I’ll be using this space often–every day except Sunday–for two purposes:

1) I hope to provide thoughts, quotes, ideas, and observations about the world around us, calling attention to little and big injustices and what we can do about them or highlighting something I found inspirational, funny, or curious.  Some of my posts will be very serious, some will be a sideways glance at something that grabbed my interest.  Some will be on topics that you have suggested (keep those suggestions coming!).  Maybe a random thought will glide through the space between my ears and I’ll pass that on here.

2) Occasionally I’ll tell you when and where I’ll be giving a talk or book-signing, or I’ll pass on comments people have made to me about their experiences with putting ideas from  my books into practice.

Two features will be recurring every week One is Thoughtful Thursday, when I’ll pass on a quote I found particularly thought-provoking.  Sometimes I’ll add  a very sort comment; other times I’ll let the quote speak for itself. It will often be accompanied by an illustrative picture or graphic.  The other is a weekly (on Saturdays) Earth-Friendly Tip, presenting a simple yet effective step we can take to help protect the Earth and all life on it, including humans. Each suggestion will be a small action for an individual or family to take, and many will also save you money.

I hope to establish some dialog with you via my Blog.  Maybe you disagree with one of my blog posts or with something you read on the “Critical Reviews” or “Readers’ Comments” page.  Or your group tried my Study Guide for Small Things Count! and you want to tell me how it went.  Let me know.  Or tell me about something funny, disastrous, inspiring, or frustrating that happened when you tried one of my suggestions.  Make a “small things” suggestion of your own.  Or simply start a discussion on something you would like to talk about.  Whatever the topic, let’s meet on the Blog page and talk.

Clear Those Shelters!

Today our county is having a great annual event–Clear the Shelters.  50+ animal shelters participate.  Today they offer free or low-cost animal adoptions.  Last year the event resulted in 4,000 fewer animals languishing in shelters and their new families gaining a ray of waggly sunshine.

There are so many abandoned pets in American animal shelters.  If your county doesn’t have such an event, ask for one. It’s a win-win situation.

Statue Weigh-In

I feel compelled to weigh in on the issue of removing Southern Civil War statues.  I’m on the bring-’em-down side.  It isn’t a Northerner thing, or an anti-Southern-history thing. It’s the significance of many of the statues themselves.

A good number of them weren’t erected to commemorate the bravery of the Southern soldier or the grand leadership of a Confederate general.  Nor were they erected to celebrate all  that’s good in the Southern soul.

Instead, they went up during the Jim Crow era and as a reaction against the Civil Rights Movement.  They were meant to be reminders that some sections of our nation were  still not prepared to consider Blacks as equals–and to promote the superiority of Whites and defeat the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.

That’s why I want the statues taken down or moved to private places or at least places where they aren’t given prominence and reverence. I’m deeply saddened by these reminders that bigotry still exists in my country.

Wisdom from the Chinese

A familiar old Chinese man gives us today’s Thursday Thought quote.  As always, he gets us down to basics.

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we  must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” —  Confucius

Sippin’, Sunnin’, and Ponderin’

Recipe for a nice summer day: sunshine, a comfy lawn chair, a cool drink, and a good book.  Combine relaxation with something worthwhile–read up on a social-justice issue.  The library is filled with great novels with social-justice themes and biographies of fascinating people like Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa. Explore a major issue you’ve been struggling with, like elder care, hunger, ethics in business, poverty, war, abortion, violence.  Ponder our responsibilities as part of the human family.

I have a  long list of titles to get you started.  Most  have annotations to give you an idea of what they’re about.  Email me at SmThingsCount@gmail.com and I’ll gladly send it to you.

Think about it: while you’re laid back sippin’ and sunnin’, you can learn how to simplify your life and make a better world at the same time.

Why a White Elephant?

After Christmas, it’s thought of as great fun to have a “White Elephant Party,” where you exchange gifts you received but have no earthly use for–except to take up space and gather dust.  In case you’ve wondered, here’s the origin of the term “White Elephant” – something useless that nobody wants and is a burden to  own.

Actually, in Thailand, white elephants were once thought of as sacred.  At the same time, the Siamese king would foist one onto someone who fell out of his favor in order to punish him. That is, someone who made the king mad would find himself burdened with a white elephant, which was very expensive to care for and maintain, often driving the new owner into poverty. The “gift,” then looked like generosity on the king’s part but was really a sneaky way to get even.

Enough Said

 

Don’t Toss those Crayons!

OK.  So you have a box of broken, stubby crayons.  Some magically were transported by little hands from restaurants to corners of bedrooms.  They’re cluttering up your home.  It’s tempting to add to the 500,000 pounds of crayons ending up in the landfill each year.  Before you do that, though, know these two things:

First, those  crayons will melt down to a slimy sludge but never break down in the landfill.  Their wax is not biodegradable.

Second, there’s an organization that takes unwanted crayons and makes new ones, which they give to hospitals for use with children in arts programs.

Learn more about The Crayon Initiative and what they do.  Then recycle those crayons–it’s a win for you, for sick children, and for the Earth.

Guilt-free chocolate?

Guilt-free chocolate?  The pounds may stay, but not regrets about how that yummy stuff got to us.  The same with coffee, tea, rice, sugar, juice, honey, wine, flowers, crafts–all sorts of things that often reach our homes through the mistreatment of  people in other countries.  Many, often young children, work under harsh conditions to  support their families.  But it’s the only work available.  The FAIR-TRADE MOVEMENT aims to change this, to provide employment, fair wages, decent conditions, and money that goes back into their communities for health and education.  This is not “free trade,” which is political, among nations, but “fair trade,” valuing the well-being of people.  Participate by buying products on-line (Google “Fair Trade”) or at Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Cost Plus, Peet’s, Starbucks, and elsewhere.  Watch for the “Fair Trade” symbol on packages.  Ask the manager.  Make your interest known.  Then, maybe just one more nibble wouldn’t hurt….

Why TWO Ears?

I always wondered why we have those things attached to our bodies.  Today’s Thursday Thought explains it well.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  — Epictetus

Big Killer on the Highway

It’s an epidemic throughout the country.  There has been an increase in deadly incidents from 70 in 2006 to 422 in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The disease is known as “Road Rage.”

Look at one state–Texas.  Highway road-rage crashes leading  to death have risen 502.9% (yes–the number 502.9 % is correct) in the last ten years.

Add in another factor–guns.  According to the Gun Violence Archive, incidents on U.S. highways involving guns have increased from 248 in 2014 to 627 in 2016.  View more figures on the Archive’s site.

Oddly enough, this is a disease with a cure.  But the cure depends on each of us individually.  Before getting behind the wheel we must inoculate ourselves–with patience, forgiveness, and the knowledge that our families want us to come home to them alive.