Determining Fact from Fiction
A beautiful warm day in May, 1985. It was the day after my graduation ceremony and I was on my way up to a little town I had never heard of called Lakeside, Ohio. It nestled right along Lake Erie and attracted lots of tourists in the summer months. My best friend, MaryAnn had got me a job as a waitress with her at a little restaurant, The Patio. Funny thing. When I was little I actually wanted to grow up and be a waitress. So here I was, freshly graduated, 18 years old, and embarking on an adventure with my best friend for the summer at a little resort town. We were going to be roommates together for the whole summer. I was so excited to be living on my own, with a dear friend that I had known for years and had come to love and respect deeply.
Waitressing...those were the days
Summer days in Ohio near that large body of water were so hot and very humid. Even an early morning walk at 6:30 a.m. would still leave you feeling hot and sticky. During these months, the air conditioning was our saving grace since we were renting an attic room in an old home. Though the electricity was included in our rent, our landlady was quite manipulative in controlling how much we used the air conditioning. She would simply flip a switch and not allow us to turn it on at all sometimes. Thus we appropriately called her the AC Nazi. Most nights we slept in comfortable exhaustion as we ran around all day serving tables and then crashed into our beds at night in the midst of the cool lake air. But on our days off, it was nearly unbearable to stay in our rooms during the daylight hours. In fact, it was so miserable; we’d try to avoid staying in our rooms as much as possible even if it meant working an extra shift at the restaurant. After about 1 month of work my dear friend had developed a serious bronchial infection. MaryAnn was actually quite sickly while we went to high school together and had had some “close calls” with her health. I was particularly concerned because we both had been working some very long hours at the restaurant for almost the entire month we were there. This infection seemed to have zapped the color right out of her. She told me that the only relief she got as she rested was when the air conditioning was on. Otherwise she looked pitiful and helpless lying in her bed, sweating like she had just run a marathon. We were told that she had to really rest and take her medications until she got over it. She didn’t want to go home; after all, how would that look to have to go home your first summer as an independent woman? So, I worked to cover her shifts in addition to mine at the restaurant while she got better. Some days I would have enough time to walk home in-between shifts and check on her. But frankly, there was nothing I could do but get her some more water and maybe bring her some toast and soup from the restaurant. We explained to the landlady that MaryAnn was sick and would need to run the AC in the room while she was recovering. The landlady assured us that she would permit it. But when MaryAnn would attempt to run the air conditioner, the AC Nazi would trip the breaker whenever she felt it had been on long enough. Between seeing my friend miserable and knowing that we were paying for access to the AC, I was a bit angry. To make matters worse, MaryAnn was one of the mildest mannered people I knew. Yes this made this particular matter much worse. She would be as sweet as pie to the landlady whenever the landlady checked in on her. She never once uttered anything about her great discomfort. She never spoke a harsh word to anyone. I never heard her complain about her parents, other kids at school, or her brothers who would pick on her as brothers are want to do. But she seemed to be at her wits end when it came to dealing with this landlady and the air conditioning issue. I think it was the only time I ever heard her speak ill of someone—but she only shared her feelings with me. She even avoided calling home so that her parents wouldn’t know that she was ill. Needless to say, it would anger me a great deal when I would come home to check on her and see her so miserable, trying to rest in that high heat and humidity. I kept encouraging her—even begging her—to say something to the landlady. MaryAnn assured me that she would, but then nothing would get said. One day I had come home in-between shifts to check on her. As I climbed the narrow old stairs up to our room I could hear MaryAnn hacking her lungs out. It sounded so awful. I found her in tears and miserable. She told me that she hadn’t been permitted to have the AC on at all that day. The landlady had left to go into town earlier and had left strict instructions with her nephew that the AC was not to be allowed on. I was furious—and probably really worried too (that always seems to be the real fuel behind my anger). Just then the landlady walked into our room without even so much as a knock. I looked at MaryAnn expecting her to say something, but she didn’t. She just looked at me as if she was helpless to stand up for herself. So, I found myself emphatically communicating with the landlady about how I insisted that she allow the air conditioning to be turned on without any obstruction until MaryAnn regained her health. Well, this old lady was clearly not used to someone speaking to her this way. And frankly, I was raised to be very respectful of adults. I’m not the swearing kind usually. And I didn’t holler. But as the daughter of an attorney I was very specific in my demands for what I believed were my rights under our rental agreement. When I was through, the landlady was aghast that I would say such things to her. She immediately informed me that under the confines of our rental agreement she had the right to evict me immediately. Which she did. MaryAnn was welcome to stay, but the AC Nazi did not want a “horrible person like me living under her roof.” I looked at MaryAnn in disbelief. She was absolutely silent and averted my gaze. In my mind I was confident that MaryAnn wouldn’t stand for this kind of treatment and move out with me—after all, I was getting evicted because I had stuck up for her. But she didn’t. She only said one thing that night as I packed my things that night and left—“I was fine without the AC.” I’ll never forget the day that I had to face the music and admit that my best friend wasn’t truly my best friend. I tried to deny it. I tried to understand. But instead, I just hurt inside, and felt very much alone and betrayed. I knew nobody else up in this little resort. I was able to find another room for the summer, but it cost 4 times as much as I was paying for the room I shared with MaryAnn. I didn’t know how I was going to make it financially. I didn’t have any other friends there except for MaryAnn. I wouldn’t even have known that this little resort of a town existed if it hadn’t been for her. Yup. I felt some kind of alone, that’s for sure. In a couple of weeks, MaryAnn returned to work and never said a word to me. In fact, I don’t recall her saying anything to me since then.
It hurt so badly to discover that she would betray my love, my trust, my belief in her goodness, and so much else. My mind whirled through our history of love and friendship together as I looked at every memorable conversation we had in a new light. Feeling alone, far from home, and stressed with my new reality, I was pretty emotional. “When did she ‘go bad’? What did I do to deserve this? What more could I have done to avoid this? How could I have been so naïve and gullible?” I’m sure that most of us can relate on some level or another to this instance of betrayal mixed with disbelief and pain. It may be delivered at the hands of a friend, a trusted medical advisor, our attorney who’s supposed to protect us from horrific financial exposures, our parents or guardians who are supposed to protect us from abuse, our teachers who are supposed to teach us truths, or our community leaders who we trust to make decisions in our best interests. Yet everywhere we turn we are disappointed in these areas of trust. At such a time we may find ourselves resolving that we will never trust again, never be hurt again, and never open ourselves to such vulnerabilities again. We’ll never do something good for someone else and we’ll never trust someone else with any part of our lives again. Some may decide that they want to completely “get off of the grid” and not be a part of society whatsoever. There’s only one problem with this resolve though. It’s simply not how we’re made up. It goes against everything good inside of us. If we build up a wall so that love, trust and friendship don’t get in, then we can’t let any of those needs get out either. No one is really happy being a Scrooge, right? We are social, community beings. Our hard-drives mysteriously push even the most committed hermit to reach out to someone for interaction and relationships—even if it’s a soccer ball. (Just ask my husband who swore he’d never get married again) But those interdependent relationships will always be accompanied by disappointment at some level so long as imperfect men and women are given any position of trust in our lives. When it comes to creating an environment of independence, aka preparedness, how can we remain true to our good natures without constantly exposing ourselves to potentially deadly mistakes of misplaced trust? How can we interact and still be protected and peaceful? Is there a way to have both without compromising the good inside of us or our emotional and spiritual strength? Yes. There is. First strategy: The best foundation for a healthy interdependence is an acceptance that it isn’t perfect. I tell myself that the number one rule about friendship is that I will get hurt. But I have to decide if I’m willing to love them in spite of that. The same goes for the other things that we rely on—the everyday things: i.e. our government, our banking system, the weather man, our education system, etc. All of these aspects that we rely on so heavily and yet unconsciously, in many cases, are imperfect. The biggest danger we can put ourselves in is to deny that such is the case. Did the Great Depression last longer than it needed to as a result of the desires of the rich and powerful? Yes, yes, it did. Is our public education system a contrived maneuver for tax collection? Yup. Sorry. It is. Can we trust the Federal Reserve to act in our own best interested morally and ethically? Nope. Sorry. You can’t expect men/women who are surrounded by unlimited amounts of cash and unchecked power to be virtuous any more than you can expect a room full of men not to look at a naked woman (if only for a second). But you will be far better off to deal with these systems, ideas, and people in general if you do so with the understanding that it is susceptible to flaws—even catastrophic ones. If you understand that, then you eliminate the power that any of these things have to break you down and catch you by surprise. Even terrorists know that their true power lies not in the wielding of the knife or the gun or the bomb. It lies in the fear of the unknown. I assure you that those who helped take down the terrorists on plane on 9/11 (knowing it still meant death to them) vs. those who let it be thrust upon them, went out of this world with much greater peace and joy. So instead of making the world around you an unknown set of disappointments and breaches of trust, simply presume that flaws exist and you will find yourself much better prepared mentally and otherwise. This doesn’t require a pessimistic view on life and the world around you. It simply requires a healthy, matter of fact acceptance that things around us aren’t perfect. In a final attempt at making my point clearer, allow me to share this. I have a sister-in-law who is the mother of 6 boys, ranging in ages from 5 to 13. They are indeed a handful. But she accepts that as a part of who they are and doesn’t freak out when dead animals are brought into the house. This doesn’t make her a pessimist. This doesn’t require her to surrender any sort of order, decorum, or obedience in her home. But it sure does help her sanity. Trying to change these growing boys into pictures of perfection would be just about as easy as my trying to get the jeepnies in the Philippines to forsake all of their counterintuitive behaviors. Second Strategy: Do your homework. If the issue is important enough for you to argue, then it should be important enough for you to research. Before I began using Shirley J, I went and interviewed the owners of the company. Before I began shooting primarily with a Glock I shot countless other handguns. Before I settled on particular brands of freeze-dried foods, I tested and used over 15 different kinds and even went to work temporarily with two of the companies as a consultant. I’m not talking about a PhD level of homework here. But I am talking about making informed decisions. I don’t mind it if someone disagrees with me, even on issues that I consider to be vital to morality and ethics. But I do take exception if they make such decisions without any more than a bar room discussion drowned in liquor as their classroom. We have far too much freedom for us to settle for ignorance. Who to vote for, where to live, where to shop, how to take care of our children, how to get our dogs to stop barking, etc. etc. Our classroom learning simply can’t stop at the borders of brick and mortar. So long as we have decisions to make, we must take responsibility for backing up our opinions about those decisions. This isn’t about winning a debate. This is about the peace of mind that comes when you have thoroughly studied a topic and can take comfort in the foundation of your actions even in the midst of scorn or ridicule. We are responsible in forming the courage of our convictions. Such courage comes only when our convictions have a clearly defined backbone.
May I also suggest when doing this homework that you apply the first strategy to your homework. We simply cannot afford to sanction one person or entity as the source of all truth—with one exception which I’ll discuss in a moment. The USDA, FDA, CIA, FBI, and all of those initial entities will not be right in everything. The only power they have is the power we give to them; literally and with our minds accepting their information. They are not the almighty wizard. They are comprised of flawed human beings—most of which I like to believe are trying to do the right thing. But perfectly executed actions based on faulty information never result in the perfect ending. So research, yes, but with the first strategy in mind. Computers for example are a great tool. But only as great as the information they are fed. Last Strategy: Debunk the debunkers. Somebody has to do it. We’ve given far too much credit and faith in Snopes, Wikipedia, CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times. As much as I may enjoy a dose of Glenn Beck here and there, I simply cannot afford to buy into everything that he says. He’s simply not a perfectly informed man. So, if your favorite news source can’t be relied upon to debunk the debunkers, then who can? How can we know the truth from the well-crafted lies without having a PhD ourselves in international finance, political science, medicine, world history, security, and social studies? It’s got to feel a bit overwhelming to those of us who are trying to find peace and security. The good news—no, the great news is that there is a reliable source to assuage our minds from the stress of all of the uncertainties.
The Spirit bears witness of the truth of all things. According to the scriptures, we have all been given the gift of the Light of Christ. (John 1:9) So ultimately, when you’re in doubt on something, listen to the inside. Does it feel right? Does it sound true? Does it bring peace to your mind? Pray about it. Listen. Pray about it some more if need be. If there is fear, trepidation, doubt, then it’s not right. If there is joy, peace, a clear mind, then it is right. This is yet another reason why I teach that Spiritual Preparedness is the most important part of preparedness. Sometimes it may be the only way you can sift through the truth and the lies until you’ve had the time to do more research or even get access to the truth. In fact, you may find out the truth of something long before science or government entities join you. But at least you won’t have wasted time wallowing in falsehoods in the meantime, right? In closing, I also want to assure you that there is nothing too trivial. If you’re deliberating over which solar oven is the best, do your homework and then listen. Listen for the Spirit to affirm your answer. The Lord doesn’t take our peace and security as a trivial matter. (James 1:5) A wise man once told me “Information is the source of inspiration in many cases.” I have to agree with him on this as I’ve experienced it many times. Isn’t it great that we don’t have to stop trusting people just to be safe and secure? The reality and existence of evil should not be able to hold our hope and belief in our fellowmen hostage. I refuse to give that up and I hope you do too. I’m convinced that we can have both hope and security and thus be peacefully prepared. In light of the length of this article, I’ll be giving you all a break on Wednesday. Tune in on Thursday for some more great information on Diatomaceous Earth! Debunking Part I
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