Thursday, April 19, 2018

From The Blurb Blog: The Lesson of Persistence

Persistence Pays

Gandhi was the peacemaker.  He was the true Father of modern-day India and revered as the inspiration for the methods employed by Martin Luther King in the sixties Civil Rights Movement. He embodied the era of the modern peace movement and was an inspirational and beloved figure worldwide. His thoughtful meditations on the nature and actual process of bringing about change in a peaceful manner are still the gold standard for all peace activists.

Gandhi’s statement proves true today. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. I think the greatest lesson here is the lesson of Persistence. And the dogged determination encapsulated within the warning of a political fight. You must have a thick enough skin to weather the storm in any profession if you want to succeed.

You may fail, you will not always win every fight, and you should be prepared for tough and at times, unjust criticism. But if you have a belief in yourself and what you are doing, if you feel that it’s the right message that could change lives, as Gandhi did, none of that matters. You will succeed in the end, because in the end, you know you have the right message. As Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Earth Day and the Local Foods movement in Florida

There’s been a push for heatlhy eating trends in recent years, including more vegetarian and vegan fare. We’ve learned about “The Slow Food Movement” which is defined as eating food that is prepared at home, cooked in the oven, and prepared mindfully. This as opposed to “Fast Foods” which are eaten on the run and we are all guilty of indulging in fast foods from time to time.

The Local foods we eat are usually found when we go to Farmers Markets, or if we happen to pass by a small food stand where someone is selling their wares by the road. We should all be aware of the types of food that are grown locally and regionally. Some local foods found in this area (the Tampa Bay area)  include strawberries, tomatoes, oranges and other citrus fruits.

We also need to be more aware of organic farming, and what types of pesticides are used in fields where are foods are grown. When we know more about the process of what goes into the making of the food we eat, we can become more mindful when eating and making choices about the types of foods we consume on a daily basis.

We all have favorite foods. Some of my favorite foods growing up included lots of beef and hamburgers. Now that I know how much land it takes to raise beef, the differences between grass-fed and other beef, and the health consequences of eating too much red meat, I have made different choices about the foods I eat on a weekly basis… The foods that we can eat which are grown locally are much better choices as a rule for our weekly meal planning. However, I do confess that occasionally, I still like to indulge in hamburgers for a special treat!

Here’s a handy list compiled of foods that are locally grown in Florida. The list is from a complete list of all states and growing seasons for produce found at this link: Seasonal Food Guide in Florida.

In Florida, these are some of the native vegetables and fruits we may look for at Farmers Markets and in stores:

·            Asparagus: February March & early April
·         Bananas:  Grown all year in Florida
·         Blueberries: April & May
·         Bok Choy: January, February, March, April, May, November & December
·         Cabbage: January, February, March, April, May & December
·         Cantaloupe: Available April, May & June
·         Carrots: April & May
·         Celery: January, February, March, April & December
·         Chili Peppers: Available all months in Florida except July
·         Chives: Available all year in Florida
·         Citrus Fruits: Available all year in Florida except July & August
·         Clementines: January thru April then November & December
·         Collard Greens: January thru May then November & December
·         Corn: January thru June then October thru December
·         Grapefruit: January thru May then September thru December
·         Green Beans: January thru May then November & December
·         Green Onions: Grown All Year in Florida!
·         Kale: Grown January thru May then November & December
·         Lemongrass is grown all year in Florida
·         Lemons are available all year except the months of July & August
·         Lettuce: Available January thru April and in December
·         Melons: Available January thru May then November & December
·         Mint: Can be grown year round in Florida
·         Mushrooms: Can be grown year round in Florida
·         Onions: Can be grown year round in Florida
·         Oranges: Grown all months except July & August in Florida
·         Oregano: Can be grown year round in Florida
·         Parsley: Can be grown year round in Florida
·         Peaches: Grown April, May & June
·         Peas: Grown January thru May and in October
·         Peppers: Grown January thru May then October thru December
·         Potatoes: Grown January thru May then October thru December
·         Parsley: Grown January thru May then November & December
·         Radishes: Grown January thru May then November & December
·         Rosemary: Can be grown year round in Florida
·         Snow Peas: May be grown January thru May
·         Spinach: Grown March & April in Florida
·         Strawberries: Grown January thru April then November & December
·         Summer Squash: Grown every month excerpt July & August in Florida
·         Tomatoes: Grown all year except months July thru September
·         Zuccchini: Grown all year except summer months of July & August

The Shape of Water and the Value of Humanity

What does it mean to be Human?

The Oscar winning film, The Shape of Water is.a quirky kind of fairy tale that.talks about what it means to be human. The theme of the film deals with the nature of love and compassion for others. This film is really a fantasy, directed by Guillermo del Toro, someone who has directed other fantastic tales, such as  Pan’s Labyrinth. In one of the key scenes, the mute janitor, played by Sally Hawkins, passionately signs to her good friend that the creature being tormented is worthy of love and compassion. And then she goes on to question herself.  If there is no compassion left for the creature that is alive in the laboratory tank, then what does that make her? Is she less worthy of help?

There are many instances in fantasy and science-fiction where the characters must come to a breaking point where they question their own humanity. The original film, adaptation of Bladerunner dealt primarily with the nature of what it means to be human. It was the same theme found in Philip K Dick’s short story, from which Bladerunner was adapted, which was titled: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” The central question, the one that gets to the heart of the dilemma, is right there in the title. In Dick’s story, all animals have been wiped off the face of the planet, and only a select few humans could afford “Electric Sheep.” So the question becomes one of the intrinsic value that makes us human, and therefore worthy of acquiring electric sheep.

Although the 1984 film didn’t use the particular plot device of sheep, the idea was an open question throughout the film: What does it mean to be human? Harrison Ford’s character, Deckard, begins with the rather callous question when talking about the race of robotic humanoids: How does it not know what it is? And we see the irony in this when he eventually falls in love with a humanoid.

This question of the nature of humanity is asked in many different ways throughout literature, and again in famous films. In Casablanca, Bogart plays the world-weary and cynical Rick, who still believes enough in the power of love to sacrifice his happiness for the sake of others. One of his famous quote is “….It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” So again, with this, Rick questions the value of our lives in the grand scheme of things.

 This same premise is seen in a classic episode of TV’s The Twilight Zone, many years ago. A man from Earth is banished to another planet, with no human contact. His only companion is, a robotic woman. When he is eventually released, he faces the dilemma of leaving and abandoning the only thing that gave him comfort and solace through the many years of his exile.  And the question becomes: What is the value that we, as humans, place upon our souls that sets us apart? We are constantly faced with the questions in literature, and in science fiction as well as in our own lives: What does it mean to be human?

What does it matter if we inherit the entire world, yet lose our soul?…In the Bible, we hear in Matthew 16:26 the famous question: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” And so the theme continues throughout literature. As Christians, we know the answer lies in our acknowledgement that we are all flawed human beings, and sinners, and Christ was the one who sacrificed all and forgave our sins. HIS Humanity gives us the guiding light to clear the path in this crazy world. 

In the end, it's the question that is answered for us in our care for others, and is echoed so often in Christ's teachings. To love others as we do our own family, as much as we do for ourselves, we should do for others. This is the simple and clear message found in Christ's teachings, and the answer to the often-asked question: "What does it mean to be human?"