The Important Things in Life
Do you have your priorities straight?
One of the advantages of traveling the world is being able to experience so many diverse cultures; there are so many different ways of thinking, points of view, and life priorities. Sociologists tell us the biggest distinction aligns around whether a people are based on the Judeo-Christian value system or something else. Europe, Australia, North and South America all hail from this bedrock system of values whereas most Asian and Middle Eastern cultures do not. The value of an individual life, for example, is a good example of Judeo-Christian culture. Generally speaking, western cultures place a higher value on life than eastern (Asian) cultures. Regardless of the form of government, prosperity of the country, status of the individual, or even which religion a group professes, any random person in Caracas, Venezuela is likely to (at least subconsciously) place a higher value on life than a random person from Singapore. This isn’t being judgmental or insulting; it is simply the collective observations of professionals who study such things.
One human characteristic I have become fascinated with, however, seems to defy this east-west categorization… It is how ‘clear’ people are about the priorities in their life.
Inevitably, the more advanced a culture is, the less clear the populous seems to be about its priorities. In my experience, the South American farmer who takes two-hour lunches every day or the Southeast Asian equatorial island inhabitants who spend as much time as possible on the beach know exactly what they want in life, what their goals are, and who and what they value far better than your average city dweller with a fast-paced white-collar position (or, even a good old fashion blue-collar job). Whether you live in Beijing, Kansas City, Rio de Janeiro, or Madrid chances are good you live a fast-paced hectic life. Some would argue because your world is more modern you have more options and therefore it is only natural you might be a little less certain about what you want… I tend to think it’s because we just don’t slow down enough to put any real thought into what we truly value. Regardless of the reason, many of us in America today find ourselves making important decisions on the spur-of-the-moment… and without that well-thought-out foundation of values and principles, it becomes very easy to make catastrophic mistakes.
This has been a tough week for me. It would be an understatement to say my entire family and I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. It is said you never really value something until you (at least) come close to losing it. This is, of course, not the way it should be. When disaster strikes, reality has a way of knocking you on your butt - of making you painfully aware of just how much you really do value something (or, someone). We don’t try to take people or things for granted; it just always seems to happen to one extent or another. Maybe it’s survivor’s guilt, or maybe we achieve a clarity that exposes our human flaws…
God and family are at the top of my priority list. I’ve known this about myself for a long time now (even though I’m far from perfect in incorporating it into my daily life). Good people can debate about what the next few items on the list should be but, for me, ‘country’ is one of them.
I’m not going to spend time here in this post discussing why my country is one of the things I value most in life – I think a lot of people probably feel the same way. But unfortunately, I think a lot of us take our country for granted – to one extent or another. We get busy living our lives and, just like we sometimes fail to spend as much time as we’d like with our loved ones, we fail to pay attention to the things necessary to maintain that country we love so much. We probably don’t think much about it (we’re busy, right?) but, if we did, we’d rationalize that, “I do my part! I vote! I make my opinions known on social media! Besides, I’m just one person; there’s not a whole lot just one person can do…”
When we lose a loved one, we don’t console ourselves by thinking we did the minimum necessary to maintain the relationship – we more often think about our failures to do everything we could to add to the relationship. It’s doing the minimum vs. doing everything we can. We could learn a lot from my pacific island friends – they have the clarity of truly knowing what their priorities in life are and it turns out not losing sight of those priorities is key to leading a satisfying life.
I don’t want to be a person who only realizes how valuable my country was after it’s gone. I don’t want to be a person who just does the bare minimum to support her and I don’t want to be a person who makes spur-of-the-moment voting decisions. I want to be the person who knows no matter how much I do it will never be enough; I want to be the person who finds a way to say and stand for the right things no matter what others might think of me. I want to be the person who speaks truth to power – be it at a school board meeting, a state assembly, or the Republican National Convention. I want to be the person who pushes myself to contribute more, influence more, and never compromise with evil. I want to be the person who at the end of my life leaves no doubt in the eyes of God what my priorities were…
I believe our elections in 2020 were compromised. I believe we cannot have completely free and fair elections until we get rid of the machines, clean up our voter rolls, require voter ID and signature matching, and eliminate massive mail-in voting, drop boxes, and ballot harvesting. I believe the way to achieve these things is to fight for every reform possible before each election and then have massive turnouts in our still imperfect elections to overwhelm the fraud. These are the things I believe in. These are the things I will be known for.
STUPID JOKE of the WEEK
Q: Where do you find a cow with no legs?
A: Right where you left it.
In the mood for something a little exotic? This is a great recipe that is actually very easy. The hardest part is probably sourcing the alligator. If it’s not available locally, you can have it shipped right to your front door. Full Disclosure: StressFreeBill makes no money on your purchase (damn it)!
RECIPE: GUMBO-STYLE GATOR AND GREENS
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 70 minutes
QTY ¼ cup
QTY 1/4 cup
QTY 1 cup
Chopped green pepper
QTY 1/2 cup
QTY 1/4 cup
Collard greens, coarsely chopped
QTY 2 cups
QTY 1/2 tsp.
Basic seafood, fish or chicken stock
QTY 4 cups
WF Dorot Garlic cubes
Add To Basket
WF Blackened Seasoning
QTY 1 Tbsp.
Add To Basket
WF Smoked Pecan Rub
QTY ½ Tbsp.
WF Spicy Argentine Sausage, sliced ½” thick
WF Alligator Tenderloins, cubed 1” thick
QTY 1 lb.
WF Extra Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
WF Coarse Sea Salt, to taste
WFF Black Peppercorns, to taste
Cooked white rice for garnish
QTY 2 cups
Green onions, sliced for garnish
In a large braising pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
Stir in flour and cook to form a paste or roux. Continuously stir until it turns to a light brown color being careful not to burn.
Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add bell pepper, celery, and garlic and continue to cook in the roux until vegetables are tender.
Using a whisk, stir in the stock and the seasonings. Add sliced sausage and alligator cubes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour or until alligator is tender. Add shrimp, salt, and pepper to taste and gently simmer for 7-10 minutes or until shrimp are cooked.
Serve in bowls with a spoonful of cooked rice and garnish with green onions.
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