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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Shades of Grey

Despite everything that I've done - educator, banker, engineering technician, insurance, published writer - I only have one college degree.

I picked up some engineering classes.  I've managed to get my insurance license as well as a few other certifications here and there.  I tell people sometimes that I have a Masters because honestly I feel like I do.  I am something like 12 credit hours shy of a degree in Biology as well. 

My degree in education taught me two things and two things only.  The first was how to research.  If I don't know something I'll find out about in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on hard the subject at hand is.  The second goes hand in hand with that research.  It taught me how to think.  How to question?  How to debate.

It's served me well over time.

So when I hear a story about the lack of education among a certain religious group, in this case the Jehovah Witness group.  I want to scream at my radio.

Not only do they pressure their youth not to go to college, but also to drop out of high school.  It seems to me that any faith that can't handle the pressure of being questioned is no faith at all.

One of their leaders, Tony Morris, actually comes out and clearly states that even associating with those of another faith can make you question your own.  "If we are in continued association with those who do not believe the same, it can erode our thinking and convictions… It is one thing to work on a job with others, and quite another matter to immerse oneself in an institution of “learning.”

Umm....Okay.

The problem of course is that we don't live in a vacuum.  You can't stay static.  The world simply will not allow it.  Especially today were we live in 60 second news cycles, are replacing our eyes with our phones and are being exposed to things like Hinduism, Islam and people of different colors, faiths, and cultural backgrounds on a more day to day basis.

The old days of the perfect 1950's family are long gone.     Frankly we have to stop yearning for them.

Back to the topic at hand.  Jehovah's Witness believers have the lowest education out of all believers.  No surprise when you consider that quote above.

As such they are often the lowest paid workers in the United States.  Now in their defense I do understand that they believe that the Judgment day could be as early as next Tuesday.  Why prepare for the future when you have no future.  Seems rather dark and disturbing to me.

I started thinking about education in general and the Western Religions.  Islam had a fantastic history of encouraging education and the sciences in general.  Frankly don't let the morons of ISIS or other groups fool you.  They still encourage education and science.

When your speaking to your Indonesian doctor or your engineer from  Bangladesh, chances are that he or she is a Muslim.  Indeed, according to a 2010 study, something like 23% of the world practices Islam to some extent.

I'll do the math for the Jehovah's Witness's in the group.  That is nearly 1 in every 4 people on earth.

Judaism has a long history of supporting education.  So does Catholicism.  In fact, the Catholic definition of a miracle is something that science can not explain.

All these faiths have grown and changed over time.  Sometimes because of history, sometimes because of changes in the society, sometimes because you just can't explain something without reexamine something core to your belief.

I suppose that is what scares more fundamentalist sects (like the morons in ISIS or the Witnesses).  Because if you are able to question God, then you have to look within your self and find your own failings.  You have to face up to the fact that maybe God did create the Homosexual.  Maybe God, in fact, is planning something other than your narrow world view.

It's a shade of Grey.   It's in that grey area that really cool stuff happens.  It's called growth, it's called learning.  I'll take a shade of grey over something black or white any day of the week.

I know that education can't solve all questions.  Your faith though has to be tested now and again, if it's not then it's not a true faith.  It's just a lie you tell yourself.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

For Rowen - the door to door poet

I'm not sure what it is that attracts me to this story.  I heard about on BBC news hour, then one quick little Google search later I found him.  Rowen the door to door poet.

I wish I could put my finger and what I find so interesting about this story.  Poetry, you see, is not really my thing.  If I read something, anything at all anymore it's generally non-fiction.  I used to be an avid reader, but with the demands of my new job (more on that in a bit) and life in general...it gets harder and harder to find time to read!

Maybe that's why I am so enamored with the idea of a "door to door" poet.  We all have stories to tell, we all have art within us.  Maybe, just maybe I've not been feeding the creative side in me enough.

Since the first of February I've been dedicating myself to my new business.  It's not that easy to start one up, considering that I was going to make a go of it in a tough field.   Insurance is not easy.  No one really thinks about it till they need it...and by that time it's often to late.

To make matters even more interesting is the field that I decided to concentrate on.  Final Expense.   Death of course is going to happen to us all...even Rowen the Door to Door poet.  However this means that I'm generally working with older people and that are on limited budgets and whose health is not the best.

Insurance for them is going to be pricey, they may not qualify and you have to knock on a lot of doors.  It's also about stories.

I like to tell the story of the old man that I wrote a policy for years ago.  He discovered he had stage for cancer and only had a few months to live.  He calls me on the phone and says "Rob, can you help me here."
In my story he ends up using a rider to take his family - his kids and grand kids - on a all expenses paid trip to Disney world.

"He called it is parting gift." I tell my potential clients.

Only that story is not true.  Does it matter?   Should it?

Stories matter.

 Of course all this is going on at the same time my old job is picking up.  Sue has done a great job in running our small newspaper distribution service.  We picked up a local paper called the Laker and are serving the local Dade City/Zephyrhills area with it.   Total distribution of 9000 papers.  Our yearly income from that job alone doubles what we made last year total.   We don't handle the home distribution side, but the business side which means we don't distribute all 9000 papers, but it's still a large number and a  big win for us.

It eats into our time as a couple.  It is part of our story.

When I was laying in bed this morning thinking about the story of the poet, about how a high school friend of mine has just published her first novel, how I would have to run about today trying to deliver a different paper...what I was going to write about.  What I was going to say.

I get it now...it's the story that interests me.   It's the story that matters.  Isn't that why I used to blog about my motorcycle?  Isn't that what I'm doing right this moment?  Telling a story?  Working things out in my head?

You know what...I'm glad I do this.  Even if no one may ever read it or comment.  Sometimes you just need to say "I'm here, and this is my story."

Make your story wonderful.