Archive for March, 2012


Here is a journal entry from 29 November, 2009: I have been holding a question: How can I discern my shadow?  How can I discern both the potential darkness (evil) and the potential light (good) that resides in my shadow-land?  For me there are currently five ways I employ that enable me to have the opportunity to bring the potential darkness and the potential light into my consciousness.  Once I become aware I then have a choice as to whether and as to how I might engage what I have now discerned.  I offer these ways as possibilities for you, dear reader; they are not the only ways, however.  So here’s my list in the order of my least resistance:

1. Discerning what I project onto others and/or the world.

2. Discerning my slips of the tongue and slips of behavior

3. Discerning how I respond to and how I use humor, especially sarcastic humor

4. Discerning and exploring my fantasies, daydreams and dreams

5. Intentionally soliciting feedback from those who know me well – and discerning / paying attention to / becoming aware of / being open to feedback I receive from others who encounter me along the way.

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EVIL. . .

Today, I found this long passage in one of my journals.

It appears as if the subject of evil frightens us; it is a dangerous subject in many ways and on many levels.  The first danger is that we see only the darkness cast by other people – individuals, communities, and nations.  Engaging the topic requires courage.  For Aristotle, courage was the most important virtue for without it he believed that we cannot practice any other virtue.  The second danger is that I/we fail to think about the evils that I/we are engaged in.  One effect of ignoring evils all around and in us is a way of being engaged in them.  It is not enough for us to look at the evil within.  At times we must take up arms against external evils.  Philip Hallie who fought in the French resistance against the Germans in WWII admired the pacifist people of a French village that defied Hitler to save Jews during the war; he resented them as well:  They didn’t stop Hitler.  They did nothing to stop Hitler.  A thousand villages would not have stopped Hitler.  It took decent murders like me to do it.  Murderers who had compunctions, but murderers nonetheless.  The cruelty that I perpetrated willingly was the only way to stop the cruel march that I and others like me were facing.  

 Sir Laurens van der Post noted that: Today what life demands of us most urgently is to find a means of overcoming evil without becoming another form of evil in its place. . .one culture after another is still running amok and men are still murdering one another in the belief that it is not they but their neighbors who are evil.

 A third danger is overlooking the price of repaying evil with evil.  Philip Hallie writes of his guilt over the killing of young German soldiers; he does not want to forget: If I did not keep aware of the conflict in my mind about being a decent killer, then I would be more immoral than I am . . . Because I deserve that agony; I want to believe in the preciousness of life and be a killer too.  And because I feel this way, I have to pay a price morally. 

 Not forgetting what others have done carries its own danger as well.  An evil you cannot forget or forgive lives on in your heart, and continues to affect you and those around you in countless ways.  The more one thinks about particular evils done to one, the greater the risk that one will do evil and the less able it will be to see that this is itself evil.

A fourth danger is that we come to imitate it.  Paradoxically, we find evil to be attractive, if not seductive.  Gregory Curtis captured this when he wrote: We must search for the good, while evil finds us out.  In Eden, Eve did not go looking for the serpent; rather, it came to her.  Evil accepts us.  It does not require us to improve.  No matter how great our faults, evil will embrace us.  Evil validates our weaknesses and our secret appetites.  It tells us we’re all right.  Evil does not ask us to feel guilty.  You are what you are, evil says.  In fact, if you want to, you can get worse. 

 You and I cannot escape the battle between good and evil; we will always be part of it.

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MUST I. . .?

In his first letter to a young poet Rainer Maria Rilke writes: I know of no other advice than this: Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth.  At its source you will find the answer to the question, whether you must write.  . . .I wanted only to advise you to progress quietly and seriously in your evolvement.  You could greatly interfere with that process if you look outward and expect to obtain answers from the outside – answers which only your innermost feeling in your quietest hour can perhaps give you. [Letters to a Young Poet, pp12-13]

A few years ago I wrote a response to the question, What is the Must that calls me?

[an incomplete reply]

A simple question I hold:

Must I search?

It seems that

A fox Must hunt;

An eagle Must soar;

A searcher Must seek.

Must is housed in the

Who of each.


What resides in my Who?

My mind houses Should

and Ought;

My heart houses Perhaps

and Maybe;

My soul houses Hope

and Possibility.

There is no space in this home for



Will I choose to

make a room for Must;

to create a mind-space

or a heart-space or a

soul-space for Must?


Am I willing to intentionally invite

and warmly welcome Must into

my home?


Am I willing to accept

Obligation —

the clothes that cover Must?


Am I willing to sit quietly and

listen for the voice of Must

asking me to welcome her

and him into my home?


Am I fearful that Must is

lurking about outside and

that Should, Ought, Perhaps,

Maybe, Hope and Possibility

are busy guarding the door

with the bar of Distraction?    –Richard W Smith, 20 December

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My friend, George, gifted me with several things yesterday.  One of his gifts was a one page piece that captured the ‘top five regrets of the dying.’  Since we are all dying, in a literal sense, I began to think about What Really Matters?  Abiding Friendship, Love, Compassion, the Laughter of children of a certain age, Crying [especially the crying that comes with deep pain], Gardens in full bloom, the Wilderness, Deep Currents, Rolling Hills, Mountains, Forgiveness, Healing, Potential, certain types of Rain, the same with Snow,  Curiosity, certain Un-Like People, my daughter, Rebecca, my son,  Nathan, Opportunity, my second family in Singapore, the first Lagers [Lagers ‘A’], my Doubts [their name is Legion], the times I have Faith and Hope, Mystery, Deep Thinkers, Questions that move, stretch, challenge, and engage me, Integrity, Books that nurture and stimulate, Golf, Searching Conversations, Awareness, Intentionality, Dust, Honey Bees, my First Family [all the way back to. . .When I reflect upon all that has had to occur for me to be sitting here this day I am whelmed-over; of all of the billions of souls that did not survive my lineage has, so far – WOW and YIKES], my Middle Name  [part of my lineage back to 1066], my Search . . . to be continued, perhaps – perhaps not.

Dear Reader, what really matters to you?

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We know violence.  Violence is manifested physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.  Violence is done to and is done by.  Violence is direct and indirect.  Violence is intended and un-.  Violence is overt and covert.  Violence is subtle and not.  Violence is in nature.  Violence is in us.  Nature’s violence is neutral; it is part of.  Our violence is purpose-full; unlike nature we seek to injure, damage and destroy.  Our violence can be unintentional; the harm we do is an unintended consequence.  Sometimes we are caught in a ‘harm-harm’ dilemma; we must choose ‘between’ and in doing so we know we will be causing harm – violence will be done.  Are humans inherently violent?  Is there any culture that disconfirms this?  Have we, in our culture, accepted violence as a ‘given’ if not the ‘norm’?  What is violence anyway?

Here is a working definition: Violence = force used to injure, damage, deplete, or destroy.  And here is a working definition of Deplete = to make less by gradually using up, starving, or emptying.

Consider that one of the greatest types of violence is the violence we do to ourselves – self-violence.  Consider that we choose self-violence each time we choose to deplete the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions [our P.I.E.S.] that make up who we are as fully human beings.  Consider that ‘Self-Violence Matters, Really!’

What are your favorite ways of doing violence to yourself?  If you ‘know better’ why do you choose to deplete one or more of these dimensions of yourself?

The antidote to depletion is nurturance.  What are your favorite ways of nurturing each of these dimensions of yourself – your P.I.E.S.?  Which one of these dimensions needs sustenance at this time in your life?


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