Random Thoughts 9-06-2021


The pandemic has had many side effects when dealing with society, it has caused much distrust in science, governments and amplified the social problems we were already facing in the world. Watching people argue over mask wearing, vaccinations, political policies and social values is very disappointing during a time we should come together to face the challenges before us as a world.

To me it is quite confusing why anyone would find temporary mask mandates as a infringement on ones personal rights when the fact is wearing a mask is more of a service to your fellow human beings since it keeps the wearer from spreading a very serious illness. We all seem to have little issue on the rules set by the health department to wear a shirt or a pair of shoes in a restaurant or grocery store but make a big fuss over wearing a mask during a pandemic. If wearing a mask was only for the wearers protection not the other people around them i may understand the argument better.

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Far as Vaccines, all vaccines have a small risk to them, always have through out time. But the benefit of being vaccinated usually outweighs the risk, and far as vaccinations i do support a persons right not to be vaccinated even though it increases the amount of others who may become infected and the will increase the length we will be in a pandemic.

With the Delta variant causing a faster spread and the new Mu variation possibly being Vaccine resistant we are in for a long and possibly bad winter. Since it took the world too long to get enough people vaccinated it gave time for the virus to mutate to the point it could possibly circumvent the current vaccinations available. Regardless of what side you are on when it comes to Mask wearing and Vaccinations you will probably know someone this year that gets covid-19. I have recently had a friend and their family come down with the virus, 1 adult and 2 children. I hope they will fair well against the infection and get well soon.

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Life is short, and nowadays shorter than it should be for some people, we should be kind to one another, acceptant of each others views and opinions when it comes to what we are facing. We can disagree, but we should also be able to remain civil and continue to be friends with another. I have lost a few friends due to having different views politically and about pandemic related issues. Shame to lose friends over a difference of views or opinions, but they chose to end the friendships not I.

I know i will probably get some backlash over this post, some negative comments from those with opposing views and the usual trolls on the internet. But one can not always write neutral and bland posts. I hope that I haven’t offended anyone in any way it is just my personal observations and my opinions on what I am seeing and experiencing during this pandemic.

I wish all of you a safe and blessed year, Be good to one another.

Raymond Barbier

An ancient Greek approach to risk and the lessons it can offer the modern world


A vase from ancient Greek civilization depicts Apollo consulting the oracle of Delphi. G. Dagli Orti/DeAgostini Collection via Getty Images

Joshua P. Nudell, Westminster College

Most of us take big and small risks in our lives every day. But COVID-19 has made us more aware of how we think about taking risks.

Since the start of the pandemic, people have been forced to weigh their options about how much risk is worth taking for ordinary activities – should they, for example, go to the grocery store or even turn up for a long-scheduled doctor’s visit?

As a scholar of ancient Greek history, I am interested in what the classics can teach us about risk-taking as a way to make sense of our current situation.

Greek mythology features godlike heroes, but Greek history was filled with men and women who were exposed to great risks without the comforts of modern life.

The iron generation

One of the earliest written works in Greek is “Works and Days,” a poem by a farmer named Hesiod in the eighth century B.C. In it, Hesiod addresses his lazy brother, Perses.

The most famous section of “Works and Days” describes a cycle of generations. First, Hesiod says, Zeus created a golden generation who “lived like the gods, having hearts free from sorrow, far from work and misery.”

Then came a silver generation, arrogant and proud.

Third was a bronze generation, violent and self-destructive.

Fourth was the age of heroes who went to their graves at Troy.

Finally, Hesiod says, Zeus made an iron generation marked by a balance of pain and joy.

While the earliest generations lived life free of worries, according to Hesiod, life in the current iron generation is shaped by risk, which leads to pain and sorrow.

Throughout the poem, Hesiod develops an idea of risk and its management that was common in ancient Greece: People can and should take steps to prepare for risk, but it is ultimately inescapable.

As Hesiod says, “summer won’t last forever, build granaries,” but for people of the current generation, “there is neither a stop to toil and sorrow by day, nor to death by night.”

In other words, people face the consequences of risk – including suffering – because that is the will of Zeus.

Omens and divination

If the outcome of risk was determined by the gods, then one critical part of preparing to face uncertainty was to try to find out the will of Zeus. For this, the Greeks relied on oracles and omens.

While the rich might pay to petition the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, most people turned to simpler techniques to seek guidance from the gods, such as throwing dice made of animal knuckle bones.

Dice made of bone
Marry, or stay single? Ancient Greeks, at times, let the dice decide. PHAS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A second technique involved inscribing a question on a lead tablet, to which the god would provide an answer such as “yes” or “no.” These tablets record a wide range of concerns from ordinary Greeks. In one, a man named Lysias asks the god whether he should invest in shipping. In another, a man named Epilytos asks whether he should continue in his current career and whether he ought to wed a woman who shows up, or wait. Nothing is known about either man except that they turned to the gods when confronted with uncertainty.

Omens were also used to inform almost every decision, whether public or private. Men called “chresmologoi,” oracle collectors who interpreted the signs from the gods, had enormous influence in Athens. When the Spartans invaded in 431 B.C., the historian Thucydides says, they were everywhere reciting oracular responses. When plague struck Athens, he notes that the Athenians called to mind just such a prophecy.

Chresmologoi played so much of a role in bolstering public confidence that the wealthy Athenian politician Alcibiades privately contracted them as spin doctors in order to persuade people to overlook the risks of an expedition to Sicily in 415 B.C.

Mitigating risks

For the Greeks, putting faith in the gods alone did not fully protect them from risk. As Hesiod explained, risk mitigation required attending to both the gods and human actions.

Generals, for example, made sacrifices to gods like Artemis or Ares in advance of battle, and the best commanders knew how to interpret every omen as a positive sign. At the same time, though, generals also paid attention to strategy and tactics in order to give their armies every advantage.

Neither was every omen heeded. Before the Athenian expedition to Sicily in 415 B.C., statues sacred to Hermes, the god of travel, were found with their faces scratched out.

The Athenians interpreted this as a bad omen, which may have been what the perpetrators intended. The expedition sailed anyway, but it ended in a crushing defeat. Few of the people who left ever returned to Athens.

The evidence was clear to the Athenians: The desecration of the statues had put everyone in the expedition at risk. The only solution was to punish the wrongdoers. Fifteen years later, the orator Andocides had to defend himself in court against accusations that he had been involved.

This history explains that individuals might escape divine punishment, but ignoring omens and failing to take precautions were often communal rather than individual problems. Andocides was acquitted, but his trial shows that when someone’s actions put everyone at risk, it was a community’s responsibility to hold them accountable.

Oracles and knuckle bones are not in vogue today, but the ancient Greeks show us the very real dangers of risky behavior, and why it is important that risk not be left to a simple toss of the dice.

Joshua P. Nudell, Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, Westminster College

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Envy: Destroyer of self worth


We all at one point or another fell prey to Envy, counting the blessings of our neighbor instead of counting our own. Be it at work, at home or in our social circle there is always someone who has more or better than we do.

To be honest, I think Envy can not be totally removed from human nature, but it can be put in check as soon as it comes out to play. I think it’s instinctive to see what someone else has that brings them the appearance of happiness and to want it for ourselves, that is not so much the issue as when we think we should take it from them to obtain it instead of working to achieve and obtain it on our own.

In the Workplace

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Being I’ve been around for over a 1/2 century, I have experienced Envy in the workplace from both ends of its pointy stick. I suffered from it a few times in my earlier years of life. Watching some people just seem to get all the breaks and promotions, get higher wages than me or get to goof off all day while I worked.

At least that was how I perceived it when i experienced it, and I spent too much time worrying over those other people instead of doing my job better. Now that I’ve matured, I have learned to focus on what I am doing and not worry what others are doing.

unless I am in a supervisor position, and even then I only pay attenuation to what i am required to in that role. I guess part of it is that i have learned to be happy with what I have been blessed with now, instead of worrying about what other people are blessed with.

The Social Circle

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Ok, This is one place I Suffered Envy the most I think, especially in my teenage years. Being I was just an average run of the mill guy, no athletic skills and a unfortunate low self esteem, I was one of those barely noticed or remembered guys from your high school days.

Envy filled my veins when it came to the cool kids, the ladies men and the geniuses around me. Always wanting what was theirs instead of seeing i had plenty i was not aware of or using at that time.

Hind sight is 20/20 as they say, so much i missed out on due to my poor self image and lack of confidence. Only if we could go back and do it again with what we know now eh? lol.

The Family Unit

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Another Weak spot for me when I was young, I had a older brother, so i was the younger brother. I always felt like I was less than him since he had 3 years on me. I envied his popularity, his luck with the ladies and his independent spirit. He could be a bit of a smarty pants and a bully at times too (the 2 things I didn’t want to emulate).

Of course as i hit my later teens I didn’t envy him as much as I disliked his attitude towards me, but that’s siblings for you. Mind you now I look back and think how stupid I was for wanting to be more like him instead of being more like me 🙂


Conclusion:

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Through years of both experiencing and observing Envy in its many flavors it comes in, I have watched it ruin peoples lives when they let it take root for too long. Watched people lose careers, their friends and even.

Best to count your own blessings than to worry about the blessings of others. Focus on making your own life better than desiring the life of someone else. The grass may look greener in your neighbors yard, but sometimes if you look closely it is mainly crabgrass.

Envy and its sister jealousy are both destroyers of happiness and are detrimental to your emotional and mental well being.

Be Good to one another, and be thankful for what you have been blessed with

Raymond Barbier

Pandemic: Rough Road Traveled


Pre Pandemic Possibility

Like a few i have talked with in the past year, I suspect that I may had had the Corona Virus in late dec 2019 / early Jan 2020. I suffered a Flu like ailment that peaked with the main symptom of Covid, Shortness of breath. I couldnt walk 4 feet without being out of breath.

I was fortunate though, this symptom started to subside with about 4 days but it seemed like it took me many months to feel close to back to normal. To this day I am unsure if I had Covid-19 or a severe Pneumonia like infection, though I had others around me in my family whom also suffered the same problems in the same date range.

Pandemic Panic

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During the early months of the pandemic I did not seem to feel much emotional / mental anxiety or panic. But as the months passed I did start getting overwhelmed by both the News media hyping it up and the politicization of the pandemic itself.

I found myself glued to one news channel or another like most people, looking for some hope of it coming to an end and some unity in the congress to get things rolling towards getting the pandemic and its many problems it caused in our economy and society.

Between the Battle over mask wearing, lock downs on public gatherings and the unfortunate problems of our society being amplified during the pandemic, I was finding very hard to find any peace or tranquility within my own mind.

Fear of infection, loss of hope and the political madness that was gripping our nation both in the public and in the government itself was getting to the point I was losing most of my ability to think rationally.

Eventually I chose to turn off the TV, stop watching the news for a while. That gave me time to refocus and think about things rationally and logically. That choice of ending the binge watching of the news lead to me returning to my normal self mentally and emotionally.

This pandemic panic was short lived mind you, not even a month in time but i do believe it could have and probably would have lasted longer if I continued being glued to the tv watching news channels.

Pandemic Magnifying Glass

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The pandemic has brought to light and caused a magnification of many social injustices along with amplifying the polarization of a already dysfunctional government.

Civil Rights, Civil Justice and equality has been in need of being addressed not only in the United States, but in most if not all of the world. A person should never be judged by religion, color, nationality , Financial status, sexual preference or even their political party.

Democracy or in our case a Democratic Republic is not a failed experiment like some world government leaders has stated, It is a on going ever changing and growing thing. Change is always hard and usualy is feared by most people, reason why there is always polarization and opposition when change comes.

Right now our congress is playing the partisan games, both sides doing what they need to to gain votes more so than to do what it right. The congress seems dysfunctional and only interested in fighting one another.

One side wants to spend and put the nation in debt, though spending is needed to fix the the nation up with such things as infrastructure. The other side don’t want to spend anything hardly at all and will do anything to stop the former side from succeeding.

Conclusion:

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Times of trouble always brings out the best and worst in people and governments. This pandemic is no exception to that rule. Being Glued to News is not a good way to deal with the problems at hand and usualy leads to some kind of emotional problems if not brain washing lol. In the end it is what you do during this time that will make the most impact

How you treat others, Resect their opinions and position on topics at hand and if you are a helper or a watcher will determine how we get through this pandemic and troubling times.

Respect, Compassion and doing your part in being a helper in society and not just a bystander who watches will make a positive and large impact on our world and society.

Stay Safe, Be good and kind to others.

Raymond Barbier

Random Thoughts 6/02/2021


What we see in the news, online and sometimes in print is nothing more than opinions , truths shrouded with distortions to keep people sidetracked, entertained and in some cases divided. Feeding fear, radicalization of ideals and politicization of what normally would not be political. What once was the Watchdogs of the Government now serve one political agenda or another. This is especially true when it comes to Cable news networks and so called Internet news media as well. The traditional local channel news is not quite as political and agenda motivated as the rest. News now is a money maker, a way to sway the people to believe or follow a political direction as well as a way to keep people divided and unable to think for themselves.

In small doses I don’t think watching any news channel is bad, but if you stay focused watching it all day you get hooked on the hype and underlying messages being pushed. During the early months of the pandemic I found myself glued to one of the Cable network News channels, It only caused me to be full of fear and heavily swayed my view on politics during that time, I chose to walk away from watching any news for a period and once i took my break and went back to watching the same new network i could see how it was politically motivated and divisionary. I also watched the news networks with opposing views and see they were doing the same thing. We need Factual news , not opinion based and politically motivated / biased commentaries. News with integrity and proven sources with little to no opinion attached.

In this trying times we are living in, we need more unity and less separation and polarization of the people, including the government. Time to put aside our differences, pull together and do what is right for the people in general and the nation in whole. Time to turn off the tv, get out and help our brothers and sisters in this world as well. In the end does not matter if one is conservative or liberal, poor or rich. We all are humans, we all are important. Every cog and sprocket of the machine of life is needed to make it work.

The Past, The now and regret.


Thinking about the past is one way of coming to terms with where you are now and how the choices you made and also the choices you tried to avoid to make helped you get where you are today. Besides the random unfortunate circumstances we sometimes encounter, it is pretty much our choices in life that put us in the place we are today.
Holding on to regret, sadness, anger or any negitive emotion from past choices only hinders one from making better choices in the present. So feel those emotions, own them and learn to forgive yourself and others so you can move forward. Every morning you awake is a clean slate if you let it be and a new chance to make your life better and also another chance to be appositive influence on the world you live in.
For me the hardest thing to do is forgive myself of my poor choices and mistakes I had made in the past. I learned that by hanging on to such negitive thoughts and emotions I only created a negitive self image and a somewhat defeatist mentality. So now I just try to own my mistakes, face I made them and accept what is done is in the past. I also have to remind myself that I am not perfect and that I should never expect myself to be such. I Remeber the mistake, learn from it and try to forgive myself since I am just human.
Though we can not undo what we have done wrong in the past, we can how ever try to make up for those mistakes in many ways. You can try being of service to those in need and by being compassionate and caring to all. If you are able to you should also make amends to those you have done wrong in what ever way that is possible. In the end you will have to forgive yourself and also forgive others in order to free yourself up to live your life to the fullest.

We all are brothers and sisters in this world


Division, The separation of the community only serves those who seek its ruin. To have anger or fear between people only divides the community and does more harm than good. When we fall into the trap of hating others because of their color or hating them due to their choice of religion and lifestyle we only cause division and damage the community we live in.
Change begins in ourselves, we have to change how we act and react to the world around us. To fight hate with hate only creates more hate to deal with. And on the other end of it, if we do nothing Hate will continue to grow as well. Seems hate is a hard thing to stop once it starts infesting people, it becomes like a runaway train. Shame Love or compassion doesn’t spread and intensify like that. When I look at the person next to me I see another human being first and then I see the differences between us. But I don’t see the differences between us as an obstacle, I see it as what makes the other person unique. Life would be very boring if everyone believed the same, looked the same and acted just alike. It has been humanity’s rainbow of differences that kept us alive and gave us all that we have today.
Maybe one-day humanity will grow out of this desire to hold on to prejudices which serve no one in the end. Possibly one day we can forgive and leave the past in the past for the sake of the future and those that will live in it. And one day we will see there is no greater or lesser race, there is only the human race, a multi-colored, multicultural community. I Know I am just dreamer, but just like John Lennon stated I don’t think I am the only one.
We all are brothers and sisters in this world, we only live once so let us be the best person we can be and love one another. Find happiness for ourselves and share it with all those around us. Leave yesterday behind, live in the present and dream and hope for the future.
May Peace, love, and happiness fill your days and Compassion be the guide of your heart and mind.
Ray Barbier

Random Thoughts 7/29/2019


The world is heading down a dark and uncertain road, seems hate and fear is growing. There is so much misinformation and false news on the internet pushing the agenda of hate and division. Between the circus we call politics and the loss of integrity we are seeing in many places in business and also governments it leaves many people feeling like there is little to no hope.

You can not rely on the government or big business to do what is needed to make a better world, they can not change the world without having the power we the people give to them. Change is all in our hands, it is our choice if we love, fear , hate, understand and where the future of humanity will head.  The fate of our society is in our hand, our society can only be fixed by us.

No life is lesser or greater than another, all life is precious and each person is important. We need to stop labeling each other, we can not judge a group by the few that may have some problems. We all need to be accountable for our actions, think before we say or act. Don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t be proud of or that would be considered hurtful.

Mostly I believe people are angry that life is not always fair, most of the time life can be very unfair and cruel. Being hateful or fearful will not make life any better and surely won’t help you or anyone else in the end.  Speak out against hate and fear, put out love and understanding and seek the most peaceful and kindest way of resolving the situation before you.

I think every one of us at one point in our life has been on the wrong end of some sort of hate, be it that we were being bullied, discriminated against for one reason or another. We need to remember how it felt on the receiving end of such, so we can remind ourselves to not treat others in such a manner.

I know compassion, love and kindness are not quite popular in society, so many times those that are kind and compassionate are looked upon as weak. I think it takes someone very strong and determined to love and show compassion in a world where fear and hate seem to be the norm.

Whatever path you choose in your life is up to you and I hope you choose one of peace and love.

 

Blessings to all

Ray Barbier

Random Thoughts Jan 27th 2019


Time is something as humans we have a very limited amount of, no guarantee we have any set length of time to enjoy and be a part of this wonderous thing called life. In my lifetime I have noticed how I have tended to focus on myself, my views of the world and paid less attention to those in my life that either had heavy influence on me and my life or those that had some impact on my journey through it. Of course as I aged I learned that it is not only about me, I am not the center of the universe nor am I going to be the center of attention most of the time.

Many of the things I may had found to be important, prominent in my way of thinking and being through the years either were dropped or evolved along the way. Over thinking every situation was one of my faults in my character, it usually lead to either seeing the doom filled or negative possibilities of what may lay ahead or it kept me from taking chances in life that could had led me down a more prosperous path. In time I had come to the conclusion that over thinking most things in life was more of a pitfall than a blessing.

Sometimes my tendency to over think things may had saved me from some bad things in my life, so I now try to listen to my thoughts but weigh out the possibilities I may be looking too hard at the negatives and not hard enough at the positive possibilities. Plus I also realize many times I am completely wrong in some of my thoughts and assumptions. Thinking is a good thing, as long as you have all the facts and your wise enough to has out the details with others such as friends and family so you can get alternate takes and views on the subject. To only go on that which you feel and think usually leads to many problems down the line because no one man or woman has all the answers and information to be able to do such.

We as humans are geared to be social, we do out best work as a group and achieve the most through co-operation. When we lose our sense of community, Family and the spirit of co-operation, we lose what makes humanity the unique and most creative species on this small blue planet we call earth. When we allow The I to become more important than the well-being and progress of the community and human race is when we set ourselves up as a species only to fail and possible even invite our extinction.

Friendship, Family, Community and co-operation are the most important and valuable things we have as humans Throw them away and we throw away the bright future we can achieve. We Humans are the caretakers of this world and all the species that live here including our own. Once we get beyond The I, me and myself syndrome we have so much potential as individuals and unlimited possibilities as a species if we learn to co-operate and work together for the benefit for all things great and small.

Random Thoughts Nov 12th 2018


When you become Self-centered, self-absorbed and focused only on yourself, you only close out all the love and happiness that sharing and caring for others can bring. Humans are inherently social creatures and when the focus is on the family, community and the well-being of all living creatures we shine brightly as a species. Humans have the capacity to both destroy or nurture the world around them.

Too many people allow greed, self-gratification, and lust to be their high priority and leave little time or thought about the well-being of others. Possessions can and will eventually be lost, Lust is short-lived and self=gratification is usually a temporary fix for the feelings of loss and loneliness.  They serve only the self, and in the end are far more destructive than helpful.

Helping others is a way of helping the whole of humanity and even yourself, what helps the community usually comes around to help the individual. Even in times where no benefit can be found in helping others, you at least get a sense of happiness from seeing the other person doing well. Compassion, Love, and understanding are not signs of weakness, they are signs of an inner strength.

Which way and how you live your life is your choice alone, how you are thought of and remembered when your time is up on this blue planet will be the result of such. To me, I don’t see how all the money, possessions and temporary pleasures will serve me in the end. If there is an afterlife, all the money and possessions will be useless in the afterlife and those whom you helped will be there remembering your kindness.

In the end, I know we all will have some greed, self-centeredness, and lusts. The priority we give them is the thing we must focus on. We all are in this life together, we all ride on the same blue marble through space and time. So we Should be there for one another and make the ride the most enjoyable and happy one we can.