Stuff vs Experiences

“Fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.”

This week’s quote of the week was found on Joshua Becker’s website Becoming Minimalist. A lot what he has to say resonates with me. I strive towards minimalism in my own way. I do it because of a desire to be deliberate in my life and focus on the things that matter to me. Those “things” really aren’t things at all. They are the people around me and the quality of the life I live. This mindset is about 180 degrees from a lot of the people I see here in South Florida. That’s okay. I don’t judge them negatively for being broke and driving a Mercedes. I’m indifferent to whether or not they judge me for having enough and driving a VW.

Last weekend my daughter and I walked to the local coffee shop and had a nice visit, a couple of fancy overpriced drinks, and then walked back.  I don’t remember what it cost.  Way more than what the coffee was worth for certain.  But the experience?  Priceless.  My daughter spent a lot of time talking about the places we have travelled in the past and where she would like to visit in the future.

We can afford to take those trips much further afield than the coffee shop with our children because the Mercedes isn’t in the garage.  I say garage, not driveway, because our cars actually fit in the garage.  It’s not full of stuff like most of the garages that surround us.  So what’s it going to be?

Man’s Search for Meaning.

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” – Viktor Frankl

This is my quote of the week.

It originates from Viktor Frankl who is the author of Man’s Search For Meaning. The book details the author’s experience in a Nazi concentration camp. A short read, it is nothing short of profound. The author discovers that everything can be taken away from a man. Food, clothing, shelter, even his life. What can not be taken, however, is the choice of how a man responds to a situation. That is not to say that we should deny ourselves the recognition of a situation as it exists. Frankl recognized how bad life was in the concentration camp. He also recognized that he could choose how he responded to the camp. That attitude, if you will, is what allowed him to survive.

Frankl, through an experience that we would never wish on another human being was able to recognize a very important fact.  How we respond to a situation is more important than the situation itself.  He also recognized that we have the power to choose our response to a situation regardless of the circumstances surrounding it.  Between stimulus and response is the power to choose.

It’s also the basis the for a lot of the get rich quick self help books out there. Skip the junk and check out the real thing. You’ll be glad you did.

Man’s Search for Meaning PDF

The Stoic Marcus Aurelius

As you may have already gathered I’m a big fan of Stoicism.  One of the main stoics, Marcus Aurelius had a fantastic outlook on life.  We are fortunate that he shared that outlook in Mediations even though he never intended it for mass consumption.  Here’s a little something to think about this week.

“If it is not right do not do it; If it is not true do not say it”

Marcus Aurelius

The message I want to send on Valentines Day

Valentines Day is an interesting day. Originally the day was, of course, named after St. Valentine who is believed to have been imprisoned, tortured, and martyred some time around 14 February 273. So, of course, this directly relates to our need to go out and buy overpriced chocolate, cut flowers flown in on a jumbo jet from South America, and $7 Hallmark cards destined for an enormous pile of trash we refer to as a “landfill.” Perfectly logical…

Instead, I’ve been holding on to a quote from Og Mandino that does a much better job of summing up the message I’d prefer to convey to my children. It’s a message that I believe is better for them and for the world we live in.  Here’s the quote of the week:

“Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were an hour old I would die for you. To my child, this is the miracle of life… you are the miracle.” – Og Mandino

Make your bed.

Admiral William McRaven gave a fantastic graduation speech to the University of Texas in 2014. During the speech he talks about making your bed. It’s inspirational on many levels.  After seeing the speech on YouTube my wife and I began making our bed every morning.  It does have a positive effect.  We decided that it would for our children too and I showed them the speech about two weeks ago.  We asked them to begin making their beds as well.  It hasn’t been perfect but, so far, it’s working out well.  We don’t require perfection from them in the task just an honest effort.  The quote of the week is from Admiral McRaven:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day.  It will give you a small sense of pride and encourage you to do another task and another and another.  By the end of the day that one task completed will turn into many tasks completed.  Making your bed will also reinforce that little things in life matter”

Teaching Your Children Greatness

Young_Thomas_Edison

Sometime around the middle of last November I began thinking about how my children are effected by the continual external influence they get from media, advertising, and people who do not have their best interests in mind.  Children are always learning and sometimes they need a helping hand in the right direction.  I realized that although my wife and I attempt to lead by example it would be helpful if we could do more.

Enter the quote of the week.  After years of reading I had some favorite quotes that I had gathered from books, the interweb, and other sources.  They sat dusty, hidden, and unloved in the bowels of my Mac.  What my wife and I have been doing is printing out a quote each week and posting it on the refrigerator.  Each Sunday we make up a new one.  We try to choose a guiding principle or something relevant to a current event in the external world or within our family.  I ask one of the kids to read it and then each day during the week we spend just a couple minutes focusing on it and how it applied during the day.

As an example here’s the quote hanging on my refrigerator as I type:

“The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary.” – Thomas Edison

I already have next weeks quote formatted and ready to go for next Sunday.  The kids are getting into it and get a kick out of seeing the new nugget of wisdom each Sunday.

Do you have any favorite quotes?  Lets hear them!

 

The Truth About Black Lives Matter

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The truth is that Black lives do matter. So do White, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, and African lives. All lives matter.

Civil disobedience has been used by the likes of Ghandi, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to advance equality for those suffering unfair treatment. The difference with these fighters for human rights, however, is that although they broke the law they were not violent.

BLM is based on a violent fallacy. BLM originated out of the shooting of Micheal Brown in Furguson, MO. The media promoted the idea that Michael Brown was a gentle giant who had his hands up and was asking not to be shot by Darin Wilson. When the facts of the case came out it was revealed that he had an extensive juvenile criminal record, had committed a robbery that night, and was attempting to beat and disarm a policeman who had not yet exited his vehicle.  Black Lives Matter (BLM) was born out of an event where a police officer defended himself against a thug.

BLM continues to be a violent group more concerned about making a political statement than advancing the lives of suffering black people.  We see BLM protesters destroying private property.  We see BLM attacking people who are not black.  It’s very difficult to associate a group with a struggle for equality between the races when you see them kicking in a window and carrying a TV out.  Apparently the theft of a television advances equality between the races.

BLM is racist.  For the last 50 or so years in the United States racism has predominately referred to white racism.  It has focused only the struggle between white and black people.  It has completely ignored any historical accounts of any other forms of racism that have occurred across the globe.  Because of this laser focus on only white racism there is a simple test that can be conducted to determine if a black group is racist; replace black with white.

Our family was sitting in the St. Louis airport about six months ago waiting to depart.  My daughter saw a wall display in the snack store where about fifty copies of Ebony magazine were on the wall.  She asked me what it was.  I said it was a magazine that focused primarily on black issues and primarily featured black people in the magazine.  I told her that ebony was a dark color between brown and black.  I told her it was racist.  She asked me to elaborate.  I then asked her what she would think if there was a magazine called Ivory, which is a color approaching white, that primarily focused on caucasian people to the exclusion of other races.  She’s only in 8th grade but she’s a very smart girl.  She immediately understood.  Now, imagine if you will WLM.  White Lives Matter.  Immediately racist images of the KKK appear and they should because it’s racist.

BLM fails in its message.  Because BLM engages in violence any message they may be trying to get across fails.  The focus becomes the use of violence by BLM.  After that, most intelligent people don’t care what they have to say.  Terrorist groups use violence to get their message across.  Smart civil rights groups change the world with nonviolent civil disobedience.

BLM also fails in it message because it’s a racist group that doesn’t really care about black violence against other black people.  If BLM took five minutes to look into crime where blacks are victims they would realize that the vast majority of it is committed by black people.  There are many social reasons for this but the fact still remains that we have a problem in the USA with blacks killing blacks but BLM doesn’t care about that.

I would love to live in a country where crime rates across the races are equal.  I’d love to live where my friends of different races suffer the same statistical rate of violent crimes as my race does.  If BLM wants to advance the position of blacks in the USA, and it’s not apparent they do,  they need to step down off the police cars, put on a coat and tie, and learn how to engage in effective civil disobedience instead of domestic terrorism.

The Broken Window Fallacy

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If I were king for a day the one book that would be mandatory reading for the 535 people I despise most would be Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.  Sadly, I’m a libertarian.  I don’t force people to do things unless I’m defending myself.  Not even congress.

Hazlitt’s book, written in 1946, reads like it was written yesterday.  I have explained portions of the book to liberals and they have told me it’s just another right wing author trying to attack President Obama.  I usually get a confused blank stare when I explain that the book was published more than a decade before his birth.

Economics is One Lesson is an easy read based on an essay written by Frederic Bastiat in 1850 called “Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas” or for people who share my ability with French  “What is Seen and What is Not Seen.”

The basic fallacy goes roughly like this:

A bakery shop owner has one of his windows broken out and now has to get it repaired.  It costs him $100.  People are standing around watching the repair and one person comments about how it’s actually good for the economy.  The person replacing the glass now has a job.  They will earn money.  The people who manufactured the window will earn money.  The people who distributed the window will earn money.  They will spend some of the money they earn.  The entire economy will be enriched by the broken window.  That’s what is seen and it’s all true.  But, what is not seen is never considered.  What is not seen is that the baker was planning on using that $100 to buy each of his children a pair of shoes.  The shoe manufacture would have earned money and on and on.  Now, instead, he has to replace the window and the old shoes will have to last a while longer.  So, what exists now and is seen is a window.  What is not seen is that had the window not been broken out in the first place a window and two pairs of shoes would have existed instead.

Economics is about the real goods and services that are available to us.  In the case of the broken window less is now available.  Hazlitt then goes on to cover many other parts of basic economics in terms any high school student can understand.  As libertarians we don’t force others to do things.  But, if you only read one book during your lifetime on economics I beg you to consider this one.

Economics in One Lesson Kindle E-Book

Free PDF copy of Economics in One Lesson