On a Forced Possession

People buy things on credit all the time. Credit cards are the natural way of buying now and paying later. This plastic money is actually a less-formal version of a loan. Then again, instant plastic money can also lead to an inability to pay the bill – especially with mounting interest – and then the credit card becomes what it always has been – a formal loan.

People also make big purchases with bank loans. Cars and houses are the biggest purchases, but not the only. An unfortunate aspect of most new motor vehicles is that they automatically decrease in value over time. That brand new car is worth less as soon as one drives off the dealer lot for the first time soon after signing the papers.

Many banks and credit cards departments of companies have their own collections department dedicated to getting the money owed to them. Other companies hire a collection services company to do the same. I can’t imagine the difficulty of having a job like that – but people do – and like all work positions, some people are very good at it.

This story is about a forced possession – a repossession. Seemingly a sad tale, but not this one because this story is about goodness – about kindness … a story worth the 2+ minutes to watch.

On a Bit of Kindness

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Although kindness comes in many forms, I wonder about human beings. Are we naturally selfish? Are we naturally positive or negative? How much of our behavior is innate as opposed to learned?

As a person who enjoys staying informed by watching the news, I realize most news stories typically focus on something negative. After all, when the station does a short positive story near the end of the telecast, it seems out-of-place.

On the other hand, I’m a firm believer that the majority of the world is good – which means I’m confident that the majority of people in people in international hotbeds are good. Yes, I believe the majority of people in Iran, China, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, Russia, and all countries are good. After all, smiles and kindness are accepted with gratitude even with barriers in place as language, culture, and government..

Maybe all this is a reason that those simple positive news stories get my attention – and sometimes bringing a tear to my eye as the story touch my heart and reinforced my belief in kindness across the role. It’s been a long time since I focused a post on goodness, so it’s about time I get my act together! 🙂

I saw this not long ago on the Today show, so I’m glad the story is still available. NBC’s Hoda Kotb dressed up as a metermaid – an officer with a duty of issuing parking violations. Click here to watch the video, and enjoy!

On Humanity

RLHumanity

“Burger” on trumpet with his band, TBC, at a second line on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans

The majority of the world is good – I’ve written those words on past posts here because I believe it. Even when the news constantly reminds us about all the evil, I continue to believe the majority of the world is good.

Humanity is a term that refers to all of us. All … not all with a but or except … simply all. Regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, location or any other qualifier or disqualifier, humanity includes the characteristics human beings have in common.

Acceptance
The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. (Brian Tracy, author)

RLAcceptance

Men in support of the Lady Buckjumpers second line in Central City, New Orleans

Compassion
Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love. (Stevie Wonder, musician)

RLCompassion

Sammy Eubanks comforts his wife Corrie after he was notified that his band did not win the blues competition in Memphis, TN

Cooperation
The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life. (Gary Zukav, author)

RLCooperation

Members of The Stooges brass band rehearse prior to a second line in Central City, New Orleans

Goodness
Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people. (Dennis Prager, journalist)

RLGoodness

Three generations of Mardi Gras Indian queens on the most important of all nights — St. Joesph’s Night — in Central City, New Orleans

Humility
Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot. (Thomas Moore, poet)

A discussing of who to trust on the street, which is basically nobody. La salle Street, Central City, New Orleans

Mr. Otis gives me a little advice about life on the street in Central City, New Orleans

Integrity
Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. (Oprah Winfrey, entertainer)

RLIntegrity

Coming out in Treme – the neighborhood, not the HBO series

Kindness
A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. (William Arthur Ward, writer)

One Giant Smile.

Sometimes we celebrate. The world’s biggest smile at Uncle Lionel’s Jazz Funeral in Treme, New Orleans

Love
Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. (Ann Landers, journalist)

RLLove

Two second line walkers greet each other in Central, New Orleans

Patience
Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. (Joyce Meyer, author)

RLPatience

Taking pictures requires a little patience at Mardi Gras, Uptown, New Orleans

Respect
I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being. (Jackie Robinson, athlete)

Respect is what we owe; love, what we give. (Philip James Bailey, poet)

RLRespect

Mardi Gras Indians greet the elders during Downtown Super Sunday, 7th Ward, New Orleans

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Ray Laskowitz is a photographer in New Orleans. I can’t recall how we found each other, but I find his photos capture many aspects of humanity. Fittingly, he describes his blog as “about pictures and their backstories.” My experience told me he is the perfect artist for this collaborative endeavor. I gathered the text, then he supplied the images.

I encourage everyone to visit Ray’s blog for his stories and his website to see his photos, where images are available for purchase. I’ve invite Ray to respond to comments when he can, so feel free to ask him questions.

All photos are copyrighted by Ray Laskowitz @ Laskowitz Pictures

On the aFa U.N.

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I have written the following words on these pages on more than one occasion – The majority of the world is good.

I believe it. Even though the daily news across the world challenges that thought, I still believe it.

Think of all the conflicts across the globe centering on race, gender, religion, and ethnicity … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Think of the areas with armed conflicts at the moment: Syria, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Iraq, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mexico, Ukraine, Central African Republic, Yemen, Myanmar, Burundi, and more … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Think of the current challenges between groups as Sunnis and Shiites, Christians and non-Christians, Catholics and Protestants, Whites and Blacks, Males and Females, Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, the rich and the poor, and more … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

Many, if not all, of the conflicts above center on power, greed, selfishness and getting people to conform to the ideals of others … yet, I still believe that the majority of the world is good.

My belief in humanity because of the interactions that I’ve encountered. I think of my dance friends from Vietnam, Lebanon, China, Guatemala, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States. They ground my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of my English Second Language (ESL) students that I help from China, Mexico, Guatemala, Syria, Senegal, Italy, Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, France, Poland, Kuwait, Germany, Japan, Mauritania, Russia, and the United States. They strengthen my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of the many bloggers who have participated on these pages from Canada, UK, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Argentina, Malaysia, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Italy, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Finland, Norway, France, Lithuania, Ecuador, Pakistan, Ireland, United States, and others. They help fortify my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

I think of the many nice people I’ve encountered in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, Russia, Portugal, Canada, Croatia, various Caribbean islands, and across the United States. They reinforce my hope in humanity and that the majority of the world is good.

It’s all these people demonstrate the goodness of humanity … and it’s these people who would make a wonderful United Nations.

On Good and Goodness – 2014

Good – an adjective, noun, or adverb – and this is the season of goodness.

Good is a word that transcends the globe in many languages and customs. Through a smile, music, a dance, and many other ways, good touches all and has a way to communicate across language barriers. Do you remember Matt?

Good – a desire or approval … as in living in peace with each other

Good – as in pleasing and welcoming

Good – kind, kindhearted, good-hearted, thoughtful, generous, charitable, magnanimous, gracious

Good – as in showing kindness and respect

Good – something produced for use by others

Good – as in appropriate, fitting, and adherence

Good – meaning valid, valued, treasured

Good – a quality emphasizing the best, finest, and nicest – or considerable, sizable, substantial, appreciable, and significant

Good – displaying or possessing a virtuous moral value – thus virtuous, righteous, upright, upstanding, moral, ethical, high-minded, and principled

Good – respectful, well-behaved, obedient, dutiful, polite, courteous, moral, righteous, and with integrity, virtue, and goodness

Good – referring to the positive qualities of a group of people

We need to reach that happy stage of our development when differences and diversity are not seen as sources of division and distrust, but of strength and inspiration. (Josefa Iloilo)

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. (Dalai Lama)

Goodness is the only investment that never fails. (Henry David Thoreau)

Dream that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion. (Desmond Tutu)

I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others. (Muhammad Ali)

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it. (Pablo Casals)

I keep up enough with news to know that the world is not lacking bad news. Whether wars, human strife, harm, or killings, many of events are based on culture, religion, politics, race,and quest of power for imposing one set of values while stifling others. Nonetheless, my belief in humanity remains steady.

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

Even with all the bad news, I remain convinced that the majority of the world is good. After all, these are people who go about their daily life, and communicate across languages with smiles, dance, music, kindness, and acceptance … and yes, the bloggers at WordPress that I encounter also serve as ambassadors of humanity’s goodness – thus supporting my belief.

Yes, it’s the Christmas season, which is an important occasion for we Christians .. and festive time emphasizing good. However, goodness is a quality continually exhibited many Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, and many other religions throughout the world … so to me, Santa Claus is a figure of good that transcends all cultures – thus not bound to Christianity.

In the spirit of Santa’s goodness, thank you for all the joys you regularly deliver to me. Yes, you are good. Happy Holidays to everyone … and to my Christian friends, a blessed Christmas to you!

But, one question … Which of the musical and visual gifts in this post did you enjoy?

Flashbacks: On Good Stories, Good People

All of us recognize that news is full of bad news. However, many good stories and good people exist. Enjoy, visit as many as you want, and I hope you comment on the post you visited.

On a Word

Word is a sensible string of letters

Word is a single, distinct unit in a language

Word is a combination of sounds acting as a representation

Word can phrase, formulate, verbalize, and couch

Word is a signal, a pass to entry, or a personal declaration

Word can be guidance, news, a signal, or authoritative

Word is news, a rumor, a tale, propaganda, a story, or a promise

Word can long or short, monosyllabic or polysyllabic

Word expresses, but sometimes there is no word

Word is used with others words to communicate or be a private conversation

Words can be few or in so many

Words can be a speech, text, meanings, mottos, proverbs, stories, poems, lyrics, an oath, discussion, or a decree

Word has synonyms as lexeme, chitchat, idiom, utterance, concept, expression, and locution

We can put in a good word, describe in a word or in so many words

The right words can deliver an important message

Actions can substitute for a word