For Mimi, Scott, Joel, Poc, Steve, Oddleif and Keith, Buddy B. Jim B. DCB and of course Eugene, Mighty and Quiche. Each one of you not only perform, work and make miracles happen, but are miracles too. True friendship is never forgotten and never dims. And to those who understand the equal value of all human life as a guide to life, not just as a nice piece of rhetoric.
Everyone at Christmas talks about "miracles" and we all know the cliche "miracles happen to those who work for them." I think it is safe to say, though I often act fearful, behave fearfully, have much hopelessness, sadness, and panic, true friends remind me that these states of being "frightened" or "hopeless" belie my true self. Often in life the "worst" happens. It is no less true that Bilbo Baggins does throw The Ring into the Molten Lava, that Scrooge joins the world after seeing the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future and there really is "Somewhere over the Rainbow...where dreams really do come true."Friends are like Samwise Gamgee...when you can't get yourself to the top of the mountain to throw The Ring into Mordor they carry you the last few steps, and help to make the miracle happen. They fight off Gollum or the Wicked Witch of the West or the Children of Ignorance and Fear (Christmas Present-Dickins) Miracles are true. Working to create them is good. Therein lies my vision: Our notion of "miracle" can often appear like hope rewarded and yet we manage to miss a profound point and we fail to see "there is a problem with miracles, as well. At the moment of the miracle, God/Friend (I insert friend into this quote) suspends the laws of nature and the limited consciousness of the human mind, but because this influence is imposed from without, when the miracle ends, the presence of the Divine/Friendship (again cb here inserting friendship) is soon forgotten. Nature-human nature included-returns to its course, and a person must once again struggle with his own unrefined character."(Eliezer Shore: The Milk of Miracles)
"We all long for miracles for the sudden inspiration that will fix our lives and the world. We are like the child of that poor man in the Talmud, nursing on the milk of a miracle: When will we grow up? For no miracle can replace the work we must do ourselves. Only the most dedicated and mature effort will bring both ourselves and the world to perfection. God says, "Let us make man" (Genesis 1:26) the work depends upon both of us." "The Midrash says that "the world cannot exist without miracles." For they provide us with inspiration , and remind us that the Kingdom we are trying to build is ultimately not our own. However true growth is never a gift from above, but the result of a long and arduous process. In the end, we can achieve the transcendence that we desire, but only by overcoming the most difficult obstacles (no wonder it took Bilbo and Frodo 4 Books!). The greatest miracle of all is that a person can change." ."(Eliezer Shore: The Milk of Miracles)
"Free will is not always an advantage for creation, though it does make life and love meaningful. It also gives us a role in creation, since there is still work to be done." "Creation and miracles are about work and process, not the perfect product. The product is the result of the process." (Bernie Siegel: A Way of Healing)
An every day effort, large or small, culminating in a wonderful manifestation that gives us miracle daily. Below is an article I have taken excerpts from published in The New York Times on December 17, 2006. PLEASE UNDERSTAND, I'VE MOVED PARTS OF THIS ARTICLE AROUND, REMOVED MUCH OF IT AND ARRANGED IT SO THAT I COULD GET THE "GIST" OF IT ON MY BLOG IN A SIZE THAT PERHAPS MAY CAUSE PAUSE BUT MAY HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF BEING READ. THIS ARTICLE IS ALSO IS NOT REPRESENTED COMPLETELY. The article continues to run us through some exercises on the value of a human being and what it would cost the rich of the U.S. not even of the world, to stop hunger. How much people would have to donate at a minumum. How much they would continue to make after the donation, who should donate etc. If you like I can supply you with the the article its entirety. Nevertheless, my emphasis here is to show the value of humanity, for as I stress in my post "Throwing Stones", it is our ability to be indifferent and complacent that kills us...and stops miracles from occuring and cause us to forget the miracles that have happened. It is why I want to press on that the miraculous is daily so that we may never become too complacent, too indifferent, so that we will always "feel" the miracle and make miracles happen. Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp professor of bioethics at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He is the author of many books, including most recently “The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter.” Perhaps some philanthropists are motivated by their sense of duty. Apart from the equal value of all human life, the other “simple value” that lies at the core of the work of the Gates Foundation, according to its Web site, is “To whom much has been given, much is expected.” That suggests the view that those who have great wealth have a duty to use it for a larger purpose than their own interests. But while such questions of motive may be relevant to our assessment of Gates’s or Buffett’s character, they pale into insignificance when we consider the effect of what Gates and Buffett are doing. The parents whose children could die from rotavirus care more about getting the help that will save their children’s lives than about the motivations of those who make that possible.Interestingly, neither Gates nor Buffett seems motivated by the possibility of being rewarded in heaven for his good deeds on earth. Gates told a Time interviewer, “There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning” than going to church. Put them together with Andrew Carnegie, famous for his freethinking, and three of the four greatest American philanthropists have been atheists or agnostics. (The exception is John D. Rockefeller.) In a country in which 96 percent of the population say they believe in a supreme being, that’s a striking fact. It means that in one sense, Gates and Buffett are probably less self-interested in their charity than someone like Mother Teresa, who as a pious Roman Catholic believed in reward and punishment in the afterlife. Is there a line of moral adequacy that falls between the 5 percent that Allen has given away and the roughly 35 percent that Gates has donated? Few people have set a personal example that would allow them to tell Gates that he has not given enough, but one who could is Zell Kravinsky. A few years ago, when he was in his mid-40s, Kravinsky gave almost all of his $45 million real estate fortune to health-related charities, retaining only his modest family home in Jenkintown, near Philadelphia, and enough to meet his family’s ordinary expenses. After learning that thousands of people with failing kidneys die each year while waiting for a transplant, he contacted a Philadelphia hospital and donated one of his kidneys to a complete stranger. After reading about Kravinsky in The New Yorker, I invited him to speak to my classes at Princeton. He comes across as anguished by the failure of others to see the simple logic that lies behind his altruism. Kravinsky has a mathematical mind — a talent that obviously helped him in deciding what investments would prove profitable — and he says that the chances of dying as a result of donating a kidney are about 1 in 4,000. For him this implies that to withhold a kidney from someone who would otherwise die means valuing one’s own life at 4,000 times that of a stranger, a ratio Kravinsky considers “obscene.” What marks Kravinsky from the rest of us is that he takes the equal value of all human life as a guide to life, not just as a nice piece of rhetoric. He acknowledges that some people think he is crazy, and even his wife says she believes that he goes too far. One of her arguments against the kidney donation was that one of their children may one day need a kidney, and Zell could be the only compatible donor. Kravinsky’s love for his children is, as far as I can tell, as strong as that of any normal parent. Such attachments are part of our nature, no doubt the product of our evolution as mammals who give birth to children, who for an unusually long time require our assistance in order to survive. But that does not, in Kravinsky’s view, justify our placing a value on the lives of our children that is thousands of times greater than the value we place on the lives of the children of strangers. Asked if he would allow his child to die if it would enable a thousand children to live, Kravinsky said yes. Indeed, he has said he would permit his child to die even if this enabled only two other children to live. Nevertheless, to appease his wife, he recently went back into real estate, made some money and bought the family a larger home. But he still remains committed to giving away as much as possible, subject only to keeping his domestic life reasonably tranquil." For more than 30 years, I’ve been reading, writing and teaching about the ethical issue posed by the juxtaposition, on our planet, of great abundance and life-threatening poverty. Yet it was not until, in preparing this article, I calculated how much America’s Top 10 percent of income earners actually make that I fully understood how easy it would be for the world’s rich to eliminate, or virtually eliminate, global poverty. (It has actually become much easier over the last 30 years, as the rich have grown significantly richer.) I found the result astonishing. I double-checked the figures and asked a research assistant to check them as well. But they were right. Measured against our capacity, the Millennium Development Goals are indecently, shockingly modest. If we fail to achieve them — as on present indications we well might — we have no excuses. The target we should be setting for ourselves is not halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, and without enough to eat, but ensuring that no one, or virtually no one, needs to live in such degrading conditions. That is a worthy goal, and it is well within our reach. Peter Singer ***************************** til next time folks: this is the big message the equal value of all human life as a guide to life, not just as a nice piece of rhetoric.