A Penny for Your Thoughts

There is an old saying, “A penny for your thoughts,” which was usually uttered to somebody who was in deep contemplation.  It might be “a hundred dollars for your thoughts” today.  Typically, our thoughts are kept to ourselves since they are not meant for public scrutiny.  Some thoughts may be so mysterious, provocative, and controversial that we would not reveal these thoughts for anything less than a million dollars.

I never had significant control over my thoughts.  I can remember when I wanted to beat others up.  I can remember when I wanted to have sex with beautiful women that I saw.  I can remember when my thoughts were outrageous, but fortunately I never acted on many of my thoughts.  I felt that I was better than others who lost control and committed murders, rapes, assaults, burglaries, and other deranged acts.  However, I really was not better than anybody else, because I had given in to deranged thoughts.

In the Beatitudes found in Chapter 5 of Matthew, Jesus emphasized that we must have clean thoughts.  I always believed that if I believed in God and did not, in fact, commit adultery or other bad acts, I was a good person, who would be eligible for God’s kingdom.  But Jesus said that lusting for a woman is committing adultery in your heart.  This goes beyond being saved by believing in Jesus as the sacrificial lamb for our sins.  This goes beyond being saved by doing good deeds during our lives.  It reaches into a completely new zone where only a small percentage will tread.  Jesus instructed us in Matthew 7:14 that only a few of us will find this narrow path to Heaven.  Only those few with clean thoughts will pass through the gate.

I would guess that all of us have allowed our emotions to invade our thoughts.  We all have been angry at some point during our lives.  I know that I have been, especially when I have to scream “representative” a hundred times in order to talk to a person on the phone.  But Jesus said that anger could place us in jeopardy of not reaching the kingdom.  Jesus appears to be telling us that our thoughts will be our primary activity after we die.  Our thoughts may be the pathway to everything that happens to us from our death through eternity.

So, let’s stop and think about what Jesus may have been trying to say.  We know that when we die, we will either be thinking or not thinking.  Jesus appears to be saying that all of us will continue thinking whether we believe in God or not.  Those of us who are thinking bad thoughts will be judged accordingly.  Probably there will be just a few of us who will be thinking good thoughts, and these will have a better chance to pass through Heaven’s gates.

It actually makes sense if you think about it.  If you are still thinking at death, your thoughts will be what take you in whichever path you follow.  If your thoughts are clean, then you will take the high road; but if your thinking is faulty, then you will be on the low road.  And the scary thing is that your good thoughts could turn into bad thoughts at any time during the process.  By linking and unifying with God, you will have the best chance to stay on the right path.

Free Willy

In 1993, “Free Willy” erupted on the movie scene.  It was a story about a young boy who befriended a killer whale, who was going to be killed by the aquarium owners.  The boy risked everything in order to set the whale free.

Free will is something that we all have.  We sometimes take it for granted.  Many times, we misuse our free will.  Sometimes, we even forget we have free will and we just march along behind the crowd without giving any thought to our reasoning behind the choices we make.  So, it is time that we risked everything and freed our will.

It is only when we recognize and fully appreciate our choices in life that we are truly free.  The majority of people get stuck in a rut of everyday work and everyday home life.  They become robotic in their movements and thinking, if you want to call it thinking.  A better phrase is “mind numbing.”

In the big cities, most people just follow the crowd into the subway going to work, walking along the busy sidewalks, pouring into crowded elevators, and sitting down at an office chair in a cubicle with harsh lights overhead.  In smaller cities, most people grab a cup of coffee, drive the same streets to work, park the car in the same spot, and greet the same people the same way in what may be termed a “Groundhog Day.”  Do any of these people appreciate their choices in life?

Even when the light bulb comes on and we make conscious decisions, what is good and what is bad?  Ethical enlightenment shines brightly on free will, but we still will make decisions that may be considered as bad by society or by laws or by family and friends, or even by us.  If you are simply following guidance from others, including parents, peers, or society, you are not making personal choices.

Although this statement may be controversial, I believe that we must commit sins and sink to a depressed state as part of the process of attaining freedom.  Certainly, being trapped in a lifestyle of evil and regret or even being trapped in society’s drudgery and daily grind is like being a slave to sin.  Freedom is a personal decision to stop making bad choices.  In order to do this, we must think outside the box without even touching the box.  Your thinking must belong to you and you alone.  Your decisions must belong to you and you alone.

Since I have never met anybody who hasn’t sinned, everybody has made poor decisions.  The first step is to admit that you have a problem.  Leave your excuses in the box that you are not touching any more.  Now that you are outside the box, face your frailties and weaknesses with a stern self-discipline that will not give in to temptations.  It is the awareness of sin and the appreciation of your control and power to make good choices that leads to exercised free will.  It is when you free your will.

We make decisions based on many things:  peer pressure, society, laws, family, how we were raised, our experiences, our personal desires and needs, and our personal moral fabric.  Many professionals argue that we make decisions based on genetics, while others maintain that we make our choices based on our experiences.  Nature vs. nurture.  As a practical matter, it doesn’t matter.  It is probably a little of both, but the bottom line is not nature or nurture.  The bottom line is you choosing what you want to do and then doing it.

Now, the tougher question is:  What is good and what is bad?  And who makes this call?  Well, I believe the answer is that you do.  Your peers, family, and society can go to hell.  It is your call based on what you think is right and wrong.  Now, it may be true that some people are so mentally disturbed that they truly don’t know the difference between right and wrong, but you do know the difference.  So, you should be held accountable for your selections.

What do I mean held accountable?  Do I mean by police and society?  Well, in some cases that is true, but I am talking primarily about how you think about yourself and your decisions when you look in the mirror at the end of the day.  And not all people will react the same way.  Some criminals have hardened their hearts to making bad choices.  But, they too will be held accountable some day.  But held accountable by whom?

Well, society and its laws may provide consequences if they are ever caught.  But I am talking about significant punishment after death.  How do I know there will be consequences?  Well, I don’t, but I do know that there must be a reason why we are the only animal on the planet with free will.  It would be absurd if we were provided free will and there were no consequences.

We have little control over the objective world, but we can make good decisions in the subjective world.  The journey to understand our inner self is very important because that may be all we take with us if we are still thinking after death.  Your free will may be put to the ultimate test in the afterlife.

For example, what would you do if you were offered a pain-free afterlife if you participated in torturing other souls?  You might even justify this based on your belief that the other souls committed worse sins than you did.  But if your conscience allowed you to do that, you might find yourself in Hell.  In order to travel through the afterworld, you will have to unify your self-discipline and thinking with the Creator.

Even if you die and that is the end (in other words, you are not thinking), making good choices will improve your life and the lives of others in the world.  It is a good thing no matter what, so there is no downside to making good decisions.

How Evil Are We?

How evil is homo sapiens sapiens?  If you have to ask that question, then the answer probably will not lead to a happy ending.  Of all the animal species, our species is most likely to make poor decisions based on lust, avarice, envy, anger, and other assorted motivational factors that we cannot seem to control.

Clearly, there are animal predators that attack and kill other animals for food or, in some cases, for sexual conquest; but man is a special predator who kills for revenge or for money or for hate.  As far as I know, no other animal reaches into the depths of evil like our species.  Other animals typically are busy with survival.

But man is a unique species who will even kill for no good reason at all.  Some people will kill just because they can.  They have absolutely no self control.  And there are many young adults who commit murders to prove themselves worthy of being gang members.  They also have no self control.  And there are others who kill because they are on drugs and out of control.  Again, there is no self control.

So, another question pops up on the screen:  how evil can we be?  Society generally has been able to impose punishments on renegade members who would not conform to laws that protect civilizations, but this is becoming problematic as we do not have sufficient police and prisons to accommodate the exponentially increasing numbers of society who have no self control.  Pride in being a good citizen has been eroded by drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex.  Pride in having a good job and being a model citizen has been eroded by a poor economy, poor education, poor parenting, and, of course, drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex.

In Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” the author reminded us to beware ignorance and want, but ignorance more than anything else.  All great civilizations should beware ignorance because that is what will destroy civilizations.  And, of course, poor economy, poor education, and poor parenting, along with drugs, alcohol, and sex have taken the entire world population down the path of ignorance.

Democracy and freedom will sink in a sea of ignorance.  Totalitarianism will replace governments throughout the world with an evil that cannot be imagined by most.  As bad as Hitler and Stalin were, they never reached world domination.  The next totalitarian government probably will control the world.

So, how evil can we be?  Well, we are going to find out.  And it will not be a pretty picture.