30 December 2016

Here we go again!

Every year about this time I choose a theme for a New Year's resolution that I can put a one word label on and just concentrate on that one thing for a whole year until it becomes an ingrained habit. I am pleased to report that this system has worked for me very well. Here is a partial list from years past:

2011 "Ideate" ("to form an idea of", "think of", "imagine", "conceive of","envision", "visualize")

2012 "Update" ("improve", "correct", "renew", "revise", "upgrade", "amend", "overhaul", "modernize", "contemporize")

2013 "Motivate" ("prompt", "drive", "move", "inspire", "stimulate", "influence", "activate", "impel", "push", "propel"

2014 "Ataraxia" ("Tranquility", a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety)

2015 "Contemplate" (Know Thyself, "examine", "inspect", "observe", "survey", "study", "scrutinize")

2016 "Intentionality" ("Intentionality" is the connection between our conscious mind and the object we are thinking about. It is the quality of our thoughts and beliefs that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs. In other words a clear and conscious focus.)

My theme for 2017 is "Altruism", the belief in or practice of selfless concern for the well being of others. It is the charitable and humble giving of oneself to other people in many different ways. Jesus Christ humbling Himself to die on the Cross of Salvation is the ultimate role model.

It is God's will that people who only indulge in selfish pleasure can never truly be happy. There are two reasons:
1.) If you have what you want you no longer have the "want" and as desire fades with the familiarity of possession so does contentment.
2.) A selfish desire not only leads to the satisfaction of the person with the desire but also the dissatisfaction of others.

Egoism is negative, unfulfilling, and ultimately hopeless. We need to find a way to change ourselves into altruists.

When we correct ourselves by discarding egoism and adopting altruism, everything else will be corrected, i.e., ecology, war, famine, and society at large.

We always compare ourselves to others and when we see that they have more than we do, the will to receive increases our desire and we want to be above them. That is why we take pleasure in the deficiencies of others and downgrade or berate them behind their backs.

"Rich" and "Poor" is nothing more than an idle comparison. The "poverty line" is defined as "a level of personal or family income below which a person is classified as poor by local or national standards." If everyone around me is "poor" but we have enough to eat and a place to sleep we really don't suffer from being poor until we see how the wealthy live and then we really begin to suffer from being poor. It also can work both ways as in the saying that goes: "I felt poor because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

Beyond our basic needs for life we only feel a lack of something through our five senses when we sense that others have more than we do. As a result we are filled with envy and so the more that they have, the more that we want too until between us we devour the whole world.

At some point, some of us, the lucky ones, discover that it is the nature of God and "goodness" to give and not to receive and that the desire to give returns to us a pleasure that never ends, and thus our egoism is finally satisfied through altruism.

Why do we not see the face of God? Why is He concealed? Because if He revealed Himself there would be no altruism. People would desire Him like they desire a new house or a new car or a ticket to see a rock star in concert. Who wouldn't? He is concealed because in order for there to be free will, people must choose to seek Him out...or not. Those who value most the material world and the fulfillment of their material desires have no desire to seek Him. However, those who understand that it is better to give than to receive will choose goodness (altruism) and God over egoism and self interest every time. Think of "Doctors Without Borders", Pope Francis, Mother Theresa, and others like them. They know the secret. I want to know the secret too! Don't you?


08 December 2016

Hanukkah and Christmas Together in 2016

For all of my friends out there who may happen to be Jewish I wish you a Happy and Blessed Hanukkah season and to all of my friends who aren't Jewish here are some things that you should know about Hanukkah:

Hanukkah occurs on 25th day of Kislev, the Jewish month which is based upon the lunar calendar and begins on a different date every year. The Feast of Hanukkah (or Chanukkah), sometimes called the "Feast of Lights", lasts for eight days. This year Hanukkah coincides exactly with the Christmas holidays. It starts at sundown, Saturday, December 24th, and ends at sundown on Sunday, January 1 2017. It celebrates the victory of a group of Jews called the Maccabees, over a much larger force of Greeks led by King Antiochus over 2000 years ago. The word Hanukkah means dedication. The holiday marks how a small amount of oil lasted eight days during the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by the Greeks. The Jewish people celebrate the holiday by lighting candles in a Hanukkah "menorah" for each of eight nights and eating foods fried in oil. Traditional Hanukkah foods include latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts). Kids often play a game involving a dreidel (a spinning top) and chocolate gelt (money). The menorah used for Hanukkah is called a Chanukiah and is supposed to represent the menorah that stood in the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago. The Chanukiah has nine branches, with eight candles and a helper candle used to light the other candles. The more traditional menorah has seven branches.

In Mexico Hanukkah is written "Januca,". The Jewish Hanukkah customs are very similar to those of Jews elsewhere except that the food may be a little different. Instead of latkes and sufganiot which are common among the Ashkenazic Jews of Russia and Eastern Europe the Sephardic Jews of Mexico tend to favor things like "buñuelos" which are fried fritters drenched in sugar syrup and also balls of corn dough with marmalade inside. Like their Jewish counterparts around the world they play the game of "dreidel" which they call "toma todo" and they call the dreidel top a "pirinola". To make their holiday really special and authentically Mexican the add a Mexican "piñata" in the shape of the dreidel top to the festivities.

There have been Jews in Mexico dating back to as early as 1521, when Hernan Cortes conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Jews who had temporarily "Christianized" in order to avoid the Spanish Inquisition. Many other Jews also eventually fled Spain and settled in Mexico in order to escape the Inquisition. Some of these Spanish or "Sephardic" Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism and were called "Converso" Jews, while other maintained their Jewish religious practices in secret to avoid being persecuted and they are known as "Crypto" Jews.

Few Jews migrated to Mexico after the conquest was complete and Spanish Inquisition became firmly entrenched and rigidly enforced in what was then called New Spain. Then, in the late 1800s, a number of German Jews settled in Mexico as a result of invitations from Maximilian I of Mexico, followed by a huge wave of Ashkenazic Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. A second large wave of immigration occurred as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, leading many Sephardic Jews from Turkey, Morocco, and parts of France to flee. Finally, a wave of immigrants fled the increasing Nazi persecutions in Europe during World War II.

Today, there are about 50,000 Jews living freely in Mexico and openly practicing their ancient religion. I hope they all enjoy their Hanukkah festival. Happy Hanukkah to everyone!!!


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.