The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

I happened across a video from Dove this morning called “Choose Beautiful”. It’s a simple concept 2 doors, one average and one beautiful and you can choose what to walk through. While this is a commentary on women’s perception of themselves and the message society and media send on what is beautiful and an important message it’s not what moved me. I’m also not really qualified to comment on the experience of women having never been one. This did cause me to have a deeper thought experience.

I am honestly and deeply affected by the concept that we have an amazing choice every day. Individually and as a group. It’s a choice of who we are and what we want to be. We can choose to be the best of what we are or we can lament in pain and suffering. I spent some time looking for a quote I once heard on this, unsuccessfully though. It goes something like this,

Humanity is capable of such great acts of beauty, kindness and love. And at the same time of destruction, indifference and hate. It can be Angels or it can be Demons, the choice lies with each of us.

I’ve recently (in the last 2 years) reconnected with my Catholic faith. What brought me back were 2 central things. One a Pontiff who espouses and lives the ideals I found best in my time as a student in a Jesuit school, the Jesuit ideal of “A man for others”. He preaches and lives what we are all called to do. Live with love and compassion for all we are given and for all those around us. To love them for the imperfection they are, but struggling to be better. He’s a living example of Christ’s love for us and his teachings of our relationship with God and one another.

Second I am fulfilled and driven to live the message Jesus carried as a central tenant of our faith, Matthew 22:36-40:

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

This isn’t easy. We are often frustrated by ourselves, our perception of how others see us, our view on the outcome of situations or the motives of those we interact with. But you’ll notice all those things begin with us. Our choice, our view. Love and the forgiveness that come with it allow us to rise above petty selfishness. I want to be better, so I must strive everyday to choose love. To let go of my hate, to pray for my enemies, to forgive those who hurt me. I must act and not wait for others to act.

This post is already filled with quotes, and I admit I love quotes. They help me remember, so please indulge me for just one more.

The Golden Rule is of no use to you whatsoever unless you realize that it’s your move! – Dr. Frank Crane

I’ve long believed in love and it’s power to make us better individually and as a species. That choice starts with each of us. We have 2 doors everyday, one says Love, it does’t really matter what the other one says. Which door will you choose?

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Heroes, not the super kind, are often posted about. More often than not it’s about military service, police, fire, EMS and the like. It occurs to me we’re  setting up an expectation of service that overlooks a great number of deserving people.

Service and heroism does not and should not require the carrying of a weapon or the risk of ones well being, or even a uniform for recognition. Plenty of heroes wear everyday clothes. We often show them disdain for one reason or another but civil service is still service it’s an unsung part of our societies fabric. As are the clergy who often minister to the vulnerable and lost. They are heroes.

And even less recognized are all the people who give their time and energy to feed the hungry, cloth the homeless, comfort the sick and speak for those with no voice.if you give of any of your time to help others, you are a hero.

My own heroes are the men who showed up week in week out to give me a sports and scout program. Who sacrificed weekends in the wilderness with burnt food and grey weather so we could have role models. And the moms who took groups of cub scouts and taught them how to be men of character and compassion.

I’m not saying to stop thanking and caring for the “popular” heroes. But maybe you can thank the Peace Corps volunteer who goes out to show Americas’ compassion, the lady at the DMV and civil servants in our courts who make our system of laws work day in and day out. The mom who gives her time at the soup kitchen and the dad who coaches a sport or scout unit. The minister who visits the sick not just for their faith but all who need a moment of compassionate listening. Anyone who cares for others and seeks no recognition and no reward other than the good feeling of honest service.

To all of you, thank you. Your service has not gone unnoticed nor unappreciated.

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Your Turn Challenge: Day 5: What advice would you give for getting unstuck?

In the immortal words of the Nike corporation, “Just do it!”

I had a good friend tell me once, if you don’t know where to start, just pick a place and start. It has on many occasions turned out to be great advice. This is especially true when I just have a bunch of tasks that need to get done an the critically and time demands of the overall list are just equal. So picking a place to start is just another task that does not need to be added to the list. Just pick something, sometimes the easiest one and get moving. The inertia of movement will keep you going, and as you nock stuff off your list the little kicks of Dopamine will keep you moving to continue to get stuff of your list.

On the other hand if you have tasks that have priorities or deadlines you’re gonna need a list. You don’t have to start with the top of the list, find something near the top that you dread the least and just start doing it! You will get a pick-me-up, you will get addicted to getting things done and the next thing you know you’re unstuck.

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Your Turn Challenge: Day 4: (Day Late) Pleasant Secrets

Nanakorobi yaoki
Literally: Fall seven times and stand up eight
Meaning: When life knocks you down, stand back up / Keep trying.

So I failed twice, but I’m getting back up and to me that is what matters. Writing something everyday is more scary that I thought it might be. I’m getting better but I still need to make it a priority for myself. So I’m standing back up.

Teach us something that you do well.

As the title implies I have some little somethings I don’t share often but that I think I am pretty good at.

I’ve been told, that I’m a good cook. I love to make all kinds of food, the process of the kitchen, the smells and the creativity are something that give me fulfillment.  I also love the challenge of what we call “experimental food nights”. This entails me going to the kitchen with no particular recipe in mind, just seeing what we have on hand and creating a meal. More often than not in my adult life I’ve been successful, there were a few teen age experiments that did not work out so well. It’s a real treat to see what I can make and draw from experience and parts of recipes I know well. My friends seem to love it and tell me I should open a restaurant (not sure I’d go that far). I do get a great joy from a good meal and the enjoyment others get from the food I make.

It’s also a great way to get to know people, we move so fast we often skip having a good meal and a conversation. It’s made all the more interesting if you can make a dish and have that as an icebreaker. At the least you should go out and have coffee with a coworker and make a human connection.


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Your Turn Challenge: Day 3: Something to be improved

Tell us about something that you think should be improved.

The only person you should be better than is the person you were yesterday

There are lots of things that can be improved, things, processes, governments. The list is likely endless and just as endless is the opinion on how to improve them and right after that is the list of alternatives that others advocate for how to improve it. At the end of it all though the only lasting improvement is to be introspective about what you can improve in yourself. The only thing you can actually have the power to change is you, and you have to want to do it. You are the ultimate consumer of you. Achieving your goals starts with you being honest about who you want to be, not for anyone else just for you.

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Your Turn Challenge: Day 2: What’s Important

Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future, that he does not enjoy the present moment. As a result, he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never truly lived —The Dalai Lama

Tell us about something that’s important to you.

Ultimately the most important thing to me is being happy. That comes from lots of things.

Participating in work that is meaningful and has impact to others; in my case in computer security. I love computers, I love knowing how they work, I love tinkering with them and making them do things. I hate when they make it harder for people to be what they want to be and do what they want to do because others take advantage of things we as builders can prevent. The internet has a huge potential to connect us, empower our creativity, and make things better. But only if we can trust it and know things we’re not ready to share won’t be taken from us.

Contributing back to my community by being an active member. Three organizations had a huge impact on my as a youth. The Boy Scouts, instilled in me to “help other people at all times” not just when it’s convenient for me. The Jesuits gave me faith that my gifts and status were things to be used to lift others up and not to look down on anyone, to be “A man for others”. And the Order of the Arrow showed me that service was the way “He who serves his brothers is of all his brothers best”. So I am active in my church where my children see me living what I say is important through service, not just on Sunday. I’m active in the Boy Scouts to give back to where I learned it, to give the next group the same foundation. And I offer my time to charities in my community to reach out a hand to help others up and not hold them down.

I just want to have a good life, with as little worry as possible surrounded by my loved ones and loving them back.

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Your Turn Challenge Day 1: Failed already

So I failed at this already as I completely forgot Day 1. This is what I get for starting something like this on a holiday I spend away from technology as much as I can. So I am going to make it up and post 2 times today

Why are you doing the Your Turn Challenge?

Short answer: It will be good for me.

Long answer(s):

I have lots of ideas, but I don’t seem to complete many of them.I’m hoping that by writing something everyday that I can make a habit of at least sharing my ideas.

I have a fear that what I have to say isn’t good enough, so by practicing here my craft of communication will get better.

I want to be known for shipping, what this challenge is about.

This whole thing sounds like fun, and if I can get past the first 2 points I think it honestly will be and I’ll be better for it.


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