In these times of turmoil . . . well, maybe not TURMOIL. In this election year when people are all shouting at one another over a Grand Canyon of differences . . . well, maybe not a canyon. But I am tired of hearing bitter rants over the radio and lots of mean comments made on both sides. I would like to hear some GOOD news and some happy stuff to look forward to. Wouldn't you?
I believe we are endowed by our Creator with not only "certain inalienable rights," but also four gifts. Gifts we often don't appreciate.
The first is THINKING FOR OURSELVES, including the components of Questioning Authority and Figuring Out a Better Way, and even Doubt, which prompts us to ask questions.
The second, Reason, which allows us to determine the answers to those questions. Or at least come up with some good educated guesses. And allows for spirited debate.
Then there's Free Will, which requires us to make choices and pick the Right Action to the best of our abilities. We are never forced to choose Right Action. But we always have the option to do so and to keep our "hands clean." As the song says, "there's still time to change the road you're on." (Yeah, but "Stairway to Heaven" is telling you to change to that OTHER path, isn't it, not the one I'm talking about? Oh, hush. The fact that there's a stairway to Heaven and a *highway* to Hell says something about anticipated traffic.)
And the hands-down favorite is . . . Love! I'm not talking strictly romantic love, of course. I mean Agape, Phileo, and Storge as well as Eros. C. S. Lewis wrote a great little book exploring the four words that the ancient Greeks had to describe what we lump together as "love." Basically, phileo is brotherly love (fondness, friendship, affection that goes deep), storge is familial affection (family ties and cousin-type loyalty), agape is unconditional love (such as from a parent or the Creator), and of course eros is romantic love and the love "of the body."
In all its forms, love tempers our choices and softens our harsh reasoning-based actions.
Then there are the four pillars of decision-making.
Those four pillars are Justice, the quality of being impartial or fair; Tolerance, sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own; Compassion, a brotherly-loving and sympathetic awareness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it; and Humility, which can be as simple as the ability to accept the fact that you might be wrong (this is not a lack of belief in yourself as much as a willingness to listen to others' points of view or logic.)
If you use these pillars as guidelines for living, you will never find yourself without a moral compass or lost in the morass of popular peer pressure culture. This will serve you well as you navigate your own personal path.
OK, let's have a recipe to lighten up all this HEAVY stuff!
This recipe is adapted from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. You can be just a little virtuous or very, very health-conscious with this one, depending upon your choices. Use whole eggs, or just egg whites. Some sugar or far less at all--and they are quite edible without the sugar. Nonfat, but spray the cookie sheet with Pam (or line it with parchment paper or aluminum foil), or they'll stick.
I always freeze the bananas ahead of time, then let them thaw. They look pretty nasty in the bowl--black and slimy. But snip off the end and squeeze, and out comes the fruit in a form that mixes in nicely without mashing. Very quick and efficient for lazy people like me.
Makes a huge batch: 10 dozen of the rounded-teaspoonful size cookies, or fewer if you're in a hurry and use a bigger spoon.
3/4 cup brown sugar, or perhaps less (to taste)
2 whole eggs or 3 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cloves
2 cups raisins (optional--I use fewer, if I use them at all)
6 cups quick-cooking oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, egg, bananas, and vanilla (whomp together just until smooth). Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonsful onto greased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes. Remove immediately from baking sheet when done. Don't burn your fingers!