Freedom From Fear

3 Jul

Of all the beautiful words engraved in granite throughout the heart of Washington, DC, none fit our current Fourth of July better than the Four Freedoms highlighted in the memorial to Franklin Roosevelt. At the time the president shared these freedoms with the nation in January 1941, Europe was at war and the president wanted the people to understand the stakes.

Today, those words hold true and the world still seems to be on the verge of war, but a war of ideas and ideals sometimes with violent results.

The Four Freedoms engraved on the memorial are:

  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of Worship
  • Freedom from Want
  • Freedom from Fear

On this Fourth of July, let’s look at the veracity of those Freedoms.

Freedom of Speech has more outlets than the radio and newspaper days of Roosevelt, with everyone having a voice on social media. The problem is that half-truths and outright lies proliferate. So today this Freedom requires us the listeners and readers to ask continuously “Is it true? How do I know it’s true?” It takes courage to face the reality of what we want to be true and what is actually true.

Freedom of Worship means more than the happy coexistence of Protestant, Catholic or Jew of Roosevelt’s time. Now it includes Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other worldwide faithful. But then as now, the government cannot interfere with or favor any of them. We’re left to live with each other in peace without worries of imposition of Sharia law or Old Testament eye-for-an-eye. We’re a nation of laws, not a theocracy.

Freedom from Want was easy to understand in the waning days of the Great Depression when Roosevelt spoke. Today, the soup lines are gone but many go hungry and many face a hunger of spirit. In our country with excesses of stuff, those without the basics are often invisible. Since Roosevelt’s speech 75 years ago, the government has tried a war on poverty and various iterations of welfare – with mixed results. This freedom requires continued and constant work by government and all of us. If Want ever leads to desperation, then with nothing to lose, those left out choose violence.

Freedom from Fear was painted by Norman Rockwell three years after Roosevelt’s speech as parents tucking their child into bed while the father holds a newspaper with terrifying war news. Today, Fear is a political commodity used to buy votes by scaring voters into fearing the Other – immigrant, racial or sexual minority. These political fear mongers point to the violent acts by disturbed and extremist individuals in Charleston, Orlando and Paris and say, “See, we told you the Other will kill you.”

Choose, instead, not to Fear. To the political fear mongers, say I will not Fear the Other. I will see them as my fellow human beings with a common ancestor sharing a small blue planet in an infinite universe. I choose not to Fear by going where I please, and if the remote possibility occurs and I’m shot or blown to bits by extremists, then I still win. I lived without Fear.

Happy Fourth of July.

Singles: Go Where Everyone Knows Your Name

21 May

Cheers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Twenty years ago this week, Sam turned off the lights at “Cheers,” ending that sitcom’s 10-year run. The best thing about it was the opening song… You go where everyone knows your name, and they’re always glad you came…

We all should have a Cheers in our life. A neighborhood bar would be great. And if you’ve got one, congratulations.

In my neighborhood, coffee shops are the hangouts. The regulars arrive and their skinny lattes immediately are ready because the barista saw them coming before they entered the door. Everyone sits around looking into their laptops in quiet companionship. Every now and then conversation will break out.

I’ve always had to work in an office during the coffee shops’ most caffeinated time of the morning. And in the evenings I prefer wine. So I’ve had to search for my personal Cheers. I’ve made connections at

  • the local wellness center, particular zumba classes
  • church; they act like they like me and they like to eat

The point is to find someplace where the feeling is mutual. I’m crazy about the flea market and I get a kick out of antique malls. But they don’t care if I come or not. We all need a place to go where they like you and you like them. You’re missed if you stay away too long. Us singles especially need a Cheers place.

Where do you go where everyone knows your name?

Living Alone and Loneliness — Not the Same Thing!

12 May

Last week the local newspaper had a front page story about how living alone leads to shorter life spans. The article led with the story of two individuals, both in their 80s. One walked his dog several times a day and lived alone in a small apartment. His daughter visited almost every day. But his wife had died the year before and he was obviously still grieving. Of course, he felt lonely.

The other example was a woman in declining health who had outlived most of her friends and family. She had become immobile after an active life. She said she was ready to join her friends who had gone on.

You see the problem here, of course. The reporter had confused living alone with loneliness. Though the studies on which the article was based made it clear that loneliness led to a shorter life, too many people like this reporter jumped to the conclusion that living alone equaled loneliness.

Feeling lonely is as common as breathing among the human race. The problem leading to a shorter life span comes with unrelenting loneliness. Living alone can be freedom at its best if its a choice. If it’s forced upon an individual, however, it makes loneliness worse.

In the next few days, I’d like to explore how to solve the problem of loneliness — until it happens again, of course.  Topics include:

  • Taking control by making choices
  • You got to go to where everyone knows your name
  • Making a real connection

And finally, if you’re feeling lonely, check the calendar. If you’re still feeling lonely in a couple of weeks, you’re probably depressed and need the help of a mental health professional. Get help!

But if you experience occasional bouts of loneliness like most of the human race, check back here. We will find some answers.

10 Observations from the Love Experiment

5 May

For seven days last week I experimented with saying “I love you” mentally to everyone I met. Here are my observations:

  1. It’s easier to love everyone when everyone you meet is worth loving. Wasn’t challenged with truly nasty people.
  2. It’s easier to love everyone when old nemesis stay in the past where they belong.
  3. To love everyone requires the love sender to be wide awake, truly alive and aware.
  4. It’s easier to mentally love strangers or mere acquaintances. Family and friends come with complicated feelings where love is just part of the stew.
  5. Sending loving thoughts can be exhausting.
  6. Sometimes being nice is enough.
  7. Sending out loving thoughts seems to boomerang. There were times when I was receiving warmth and acceptance before I had sent my loving thoughts.
  8. Loving thoughts lead to loving actions. Love leads to caring, even if it’s only a compliment sincerely given.
  9. Loving everyone leads to mellowness and lower blood pressure.
  10. Loving everyone all the time may not be possible because many of us live too much in the future, thinking about our to-do lists. But being nice is doable, even to nasty people, most of the time.

The Love Experiment: Day Seven/Just Being Nice

2 May

I realized today would be an office day with people I already know. So, my goal would be to make it a little nicer for each one of them. The idea would be to make each person smile and to recognize their sincere efforts. If I couldn’t find an effort worth recognizing, I would fall back on the smile exchange.

It worked.

The folks at the office are working on a multimillion dollar project with an almost impossible deadline. Stress is as common as coffee. But to their credit, most keep cool most of the time — which makes being nice easy.

I started out admiring the receptionist’s jewelry, but she beat me to it and admired my shoes. High-fived one guy for no particular reason — and he started it. My partner expressed gratitude for work I’d done before I could thank him for his.

It was one pleasantry after another all day. And we made progress on our project. Then, when traffic came to a standstill on the way home, I was mellow. Think I’ll try to make a habit of nice.


STRESS LESS (Photo credit: BetterWorks)

The Love Experiment: Day Six/Pooped

1 May

It’s Wednesday, when we meet all day, with acronyms flying, hidden and overt agendas, hard seats, protein bar lunch. Too pooped for love. Sorry. Maybe tomorrow.

The Love Experiment: Day Five/Too Far?

30 Apr

I took the love experiment online today, when I tried to send love to all those who emailed me. I knew I went too far when I replied to a car dealer who had sent me many, many emails. Instead of ignoring her (yes, it was a she and a very young she, according to her photo), I decided to reply. It would be the loving thing to do, right? She was young and insistent. So I asked her nicely not to ever contact me again.

So, I didn’t ignore her or delete her. I acknowledged her humanity with a request to leave me alone.

In the online world, that counts as a loving gesture. I think.