How to Practice the Golden Rule

When I asked my friends the other day, what they thought the golden rule was they looked at me bewildered. I do not believe I was speaking another language, so yes I was surprised to discover they really had no clue what I was talking about.

The golden rule states:

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31 NIV).

Where I grew up though, it was more like, do it to others before they do it to you. A rough neighborhood and kids being kids, we did not have any sense of what was right and wrong.

All joking aside, another translation is: do to others as you would have them do to yourself.

But what if you hate yourself? What then? Does this mean you ought to hate others as you hate yourself?

The golden rule is not talking about that. It is not saying, first take care of your self-esteem then look after everyone else. Because it would be easy to duck responsibility, to sit in a dark hole somewhere and wallow in misery while life passes us by. On the contrary, the golden rule promotes active participation in the lives of others, and a byproduct of that participation is happiness.

A lack of self-esteem comes from guilt. Guilt causes depression, which then leads to thoughts of doing unimaginable things to the self. The fallen angel of light knows this and wants God’s children to live useless lives contemplating on the sins they have committed.

However, we do not need to worry about any of that. God has sacrificed his son Jesus so that we do not have to pay for our own sins (John 3:16). Now when we commit sin, we experience short-term guilt, which leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:8-10). And that is an awesome thing. No longer is worthiness an issue. Nothing we can do can earn us salvation. God has given it to us freely through his grace (Eph. 1:7).

Knowing this, practicing the golden rule then becomes part of our nature.

It would be easy for us to share of our blanket with someone who is cold. We would not have a problem rationing half of our dinner with someone who is hungry. And we would be happy to provide a portion of our drink to someone who thirsts.

The homeless would have homes. The sick would be well. And the poor would have a share to give. For as we see others in their time of need, we would see ourselves.

Small acts of kindness change people. If everyone practiced the golden rule, the world would be a changed place.

Zombie Virus

Visiting the hospital the other day made me wish I’d fallen victim to a real life zombie virus. As I roamed the corridors, a man sporting a seemingly healthy complexion passed my wife and me around the corner. Negotiating the maze of hallways, we saw the man pass us by again. This was no accident, I thought. As we slipped into the nurses’ station, he had passed by once more behind us. It’s with some apprehension I thought he was following us. Yet, that wasn’t the case. He simply was tracing the same route minute-by-minute, regardless if we were there or not. He was a true walker.

Are we safe?
Are we safe?

This strange episode left me with the idea that we’re searching everywhere for the zombie virus to appear but instead, perhaps, we already have it flourishing in our society. We just don’t know about it.

In this edition of Monday Mayhem, I want to explore two common diseases and one psychological condition that correlate to symptoms matching those of zombie physiological behavioral patterns. This may get gory, so be forewarned.

The Common Cold—Also known as nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, and acute coryza, the common cold has over 200 strains at its disposal to which it can render us helpless in no time. Between ten days and three weeks, the virus can wreak havoc with our immune system, causing fatigue, loss of appetite, headache and muscle ache. Fever tends to happen with infants and young children. The common cold falls under the coronaviruses umbrella of bugs, the same family of viruses responsible for SARS. Similar to many of the zombie viruses written about in fiction, the common cold’s ferocity of transmission makes it a good candidate for an apocalyptic mutation, less the bite, of course.

Coronavirus (Photo credit: CDC)
Coronavirus (Photo credit: CDC)

Flesh-Eating Disease—Going by the medical name necrotizing fasciitis, the disease consumes tissues and layers of skin transforming everything in its wake into a rotten mass. During the course of its growth, the epidermis takes on a dark appearance. If left untreated, the infection can spread rapidly throughout the body, which would then lead to death. Not a trivial matter, much like a zombie virus, this disease shows the effects of death on a living being. I’m not about to post photos of what the disease looks like in full bloom, consuming a human body. The only difference with a zombie virus is the victim’s ability to retain cognitive reasoning.

Catatonia—Although not a disease in itself but a syndrome, catatonia presents an interesting set of symptoms that one may speculate comes directly from a zombie book. Patients of the condition exhibit peculiar motor movements such as stiff posturing, posses and grimacing. They also demonstrate purposeless actions when entrenched in a state of catatonic excitement, making it one of the most dangerous mental states in psychiatry. Brought about by other mental illnesses (e.g. depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia), catatonia bears striking similarities to those infected by a zombie virus, where the victims roam about without direction, expressing no visible sign of sentience.

The common cold, flesh-eating disease and catatonia are a few of the diseases/conditions I thought of right off the top of my head when comparing zombie virus symptoms with real life aliments. I’m sure you can think of more, considering I’ve only scratched the surface. Who knows, perhaps one day I may revisit this topic citing controversial psychological studies as the basis for an in-depth study of my own. Until then, we can indulge in some fun speculation as to the nature of the zombie virus.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Where do you think the zombie virus will come from?

Moments

There are days when you just don’t want to get out of bed. On the other hand, there are days you want the world to stop so you can look around and enjoy the beauty. You’ll study a flower and ask yourself, what made this come from the ground? Its pedals worship the sun in harmony with the grass standing at attention. You listen to that single note in a symphony orchestra, hanging there, waiting for the piano to make the melody with its ghostlike phrasing. The moon listens to its phases. The ocean’s waves sit quietly not wanting to destroy the flowers.

Rainbow Rose [Photo Credit: In compliance with Wikipedia Common Licensing]
Rainbow Rose [Photo Credit: In compliance with Wikipedia Common Licensing]
This is an abstract Freedom Friday post. What is the truth?

The heart of a man stops, ending his journey. The cry from a hospital bed declares new life. The baby snuggles in its mother’s arms. A boat capsizes over rough waters. A whale journeys to the coast of North America, landing on the beach only for others to find it later, dead. The skies are clear. A cloud appears. It transforms into a flower, blooming and exploding in the sky as if it were fireworks on The Fourth of July.

The ice crawls on the roof, thickening as it goes. His sweat from working in the field pours from his forehead on to the beans he’s collecting into the basket. The rain doesn’t stop. Not for Big Ben. Not for the tubes. The wind hasn’t stopped carrying the sand from the desert to the towns. Bagdad will be lonely tonight, but the rose hasn’t lost its pedals.

A heartbeat pounds in the music at the bar. Eyes meet. The evening ends in fireworks. A child visits her grandmother expecting her in bed. Instead, she’s tending the garden pruning the roses. The child smiles. The bottle of wine falls to the floor. Shards of glass cover the carpet. You awaken from the noise wanting to go back to bed. The garbage truck churns its innards, having announced its arrival.

The whistle from the train doesn’t let up. The honk from the taxicabs on Fifth will get you to where you want to go. An airplane burns too much fuel to where it wants to go leaving a trail of debris in the wake of its crash. A truck filled with snow capsizes, burying a pedestrian in his car. Ghosts can’t have the answer. Not yet anyway. The daisies know, but they’re not telling.

Bouquets of flowers [Photo Credit: In compliance with Wikipedia Common Licensing]
Bouquets of flowers [Photo Credit: In compliance with Wikipedia Common Licensing]
The lonely silence on a frozen lake gives way to the loon calling its mate. The sparks flying from the fire tell the story of the woman who loved her husband very much before she took her life. The mantel sits bare except for the one rose resting in the center, dew forming on the inside as tears would from a broken heart.

Sometimes, what we think is not what we know as truth.

One rainy evening, a young woman named Rose traveled the tubes with her friends in London to a pub searching for fun on the dance floor. When her eyes met Mark’s, there were fireworks that night. The next morning, Mark explained he had to return to the United States. He was on leave from the military and needed to get back to Iraq where he would help villagers farm in the countryside. They were in desperate need of food since the desert winds would consume the fertile soil making it waste in its wake.

Months later while Rose flicked on the tele, she caught the American news channel broadcasting the names of the soldiers killed in action. She collapsed on the bed when she read Mark’s name scrolling by. The plane he flew crashed and burned after a leak in the line spewed fuel into the wind. Hours later, she ended up at the hospital delivering their baby girl.

It was a clear day when Mark’s burial took place in the United States. Rose had decided just after giving birth that she’d live close to him for the rest of her life so she can respect his memory with a bouquet of flowers she’d deliver to his grave every day.

As the years flew by, and her daughter, Daphne, grew, Rose one day awoke to the sound of New York—a garbage truck processing its pickup, the whistle from the train passing by hauling passengers for their morning commute, the honk of the taxicabs cruising on Fifth. Rose had things to do that cold, winter morning.

On her way to driving Daphne to her former mother-in-law’s, the radio reported news of a man who had died buried alive by a freak dump truck accident. Also reported, a boat capsized in the waters off the coast of California, in spite of the calm waters due to the moon’s phase. The last news item was that of a whale that had travelled from its breeding grounds to a west coast beach and died of exposure.

Soon after kissing Daphne and seeing her off to visit her grandmother, Rose heads for the weekend cabin rental by the lake. When she arrives late in the evening, she notices the ice that had formed on the roof and the silence across the lake interrupted only by the loon calling its mate.

About Midnight, Rose lifted her head from her lap after having cried for hours. Next to her, the bottle of wine she had brought for the weekend was empty. Next to it, a flat wooden box lay untouched. The fire’s flames curled upward into the chimney as she sat staring. She closed her eyes, a few moments later she reached for the box. Inside it rested a gun—Mark’s service revolver bestowed upon her during his memorial.

The symphony music Rose had playing in the background could not drown the sound of the gunshot from outside the cabin. The bouquet of flowers meant for Mark that day sat inside her car on the driver’s seat.

Sometimes, what we think is not what we know as truth.

The bullet meant for Rose grazed her temple landing in the cabin’s ceiling. Reports later suggested she died of a heart attack. But everyone who knew her knew she didn’t die of a heart attack. If anything they knew as truth, they knew she died of a broken heart. And that may very well be the truth.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Moments are everywhere, can you see them?

Blue

The color blue is everywhere in my life. It’s in my jeans. It’s on my desktop. It’s even in my dreams. But I’ll tell ya, it’s not my favorite color. Not by a long shot.

The color blue
The color blue

This is my Freedom Friday post about the color blue.

As I was saying, blue is everywhere in my life. I search for it when I’m online, when I’m walking to the Main Street coffee shop, and when I’m browsing at the mall. Blue is everywhere.

I really can’t help it. When Avatar came out, I basked in the glory of blue. The movie had segments filmed in nothing but blue. The floating things made me feel warm and fuzzy all over for the things that bring me happiness.

Blue excites me while I drive my family home from visiting my parents late at night. A building stands tall and erect that resembles the final act of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. I always say to the kids, as we pass by it on the highway, “Look, it’s the Star Wars building!” They gawk, ponder and wow as we continue on our merry way. The glow of the roof’s cerulean lighting is enough to keep me entertained for the rest of the journey.

The color blue, too
The color blue, too

My desktop has nothing but blue. I search for blue wallpapers. I search for blue themes. I search for blue mouse pointers. When I find them, they quickly hit my computer without a question. I don’t know what it is about the color blue. It brings out the best of my creativity. It replenishes my soul. It gives me the feeling of nostalgia that I can’t get anywhere else.

Then there’s the feeling of blue. You know, feeling blue? I don’t feel it that often. I know it’s there. I know people feel it. I know it affects people in different ways. I just don’t feel it often. I don’t wish I could feel it either in order to relate to some folks. I suppose something unpleasant would have to happen for the feeling to come. For now, I’m thankful I can only go with what others have told me. Feeling blue is awful.

You know what? It’s never too late to see another color. Like I said, blue is not my favorite color. If you know me well enough you’ll probably figure out what my favorite color is. The fact of the matter is how can we enjoy our favorite color and enjoy the color blue without feeling we’ve betrayed our soul?

[Author’s note: I wrote this post more as a compositional challenge to prove that anyone can write about anything and still have fun doing it. Although I wrote about the color blue, I had the surprising revelation that certain shades of blue unlocked memories I’d forgotten I had. In other words, I even surprised myself.]

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you have a color that dominates your world? If so, where do you see it?

Sleep

Sleep is the single most important activity anyone can do in their lifetime to increase productivity. Take it from me, a former insomniac who a couple of years ago averaged two hours sleep a night. You want to get more done? Sleep more.

Sleeping Angel
Sleeping Angel

Sounds counterproductive, counterintuitive and counter everything, doesn’t it? But when have my Freedom Friday posts been anything but?

I read somewhere, I won’t mention where, “an expert”, I’m assuming a time management expert, had condoned the practice of shortening a person’s sleep cycle by half-an-hour a day to gain 3.5 hours of productivity a week.

I laughed.

You know what, folks. Try it. After two weeks, tell me how much productivity you’ve gained. I guarantee after a few days you will feel the effects of exhaustion set in. Oh, it’ll seem like you’re getting a lot done. Whatever you may have had on that To-Do list seems to have disappeared.

Look closer.

Does the quality meet previous high standards? Do your accomplishments look like an idiomatic whitewashed wall? How’s the attitude? And since we’re on the subject, how’s your health?

You see, when “experts” prescribe cutting sleep in order to accomplish more, they’re actually prescribing cutting your life by a matter of years. Think of it this way. Let’s say you have a regular 7-hour sleep cycle. You decide to cut it down to 6.5 hours. Well, that’s 3.5 hours of extra time a week, which translates to 182 hours of extra productivity a year. If we look at it in terms of days, that’s 7.5 days. Yeah, a week and a bit of working harder. Over the course of 52 years, you will burn well over a full year of sleep for that extra half-hour of diligence.

What’s the reality?

Constant Puyo- Eingeschlafen, 1897
Constant Puyo- Eingeschlafen, 1897

I had mentioned about my insomnia. Two hours sleep every night is not an exaggeration. You can read about it in my Insomnia post. Missing so much sleep did something to me. The days blended in with one another. Noises and voices sounded louder. I began seeing things. I became paranoid. You get that way when you trick the body into believing that extra half-hour a day awake will make you more productive. Because you can’t stop at half-an-hour a day. You want to push it to an hour, an hour-and-a-half, two hours. Eventually, your body’s Circadian Rhythm crumbles. Mine finally surrendered last year, forcing me to reevaluate everything I was doing.

Nowadays, I wake up at 5 every morning after a solid 7 hours sleep. I know what you’re thinking: “That means you go to bed at 10 every night, Jack.” Yep. Well, 9:30, to be exact. By the time I settle in, it’s 10. And I know what your other question is: “Where do you find the time to do everything?” Here’s my answer: It’s not about the time given, but about the time spent. One hour of solid creativity is better than five hours of stop-and-start spurts. Time is finite in a 24-hour day. You cannot extract 25 hours from a 24-hour day. But you can optimize 24 hours by maximizing energy levels and creativity.

The thing these experts don’t talk about is the fact that sleep restores a person. Think of it as a nightly vacation. What does a vacation do? It restores a person’s perspective on life. You can get a lot more done. In fact, studies suggest sleep improves memory, contributes to a longer lifespan, controls inflammation, increases creativity, boosts athletic performance, encourages academic excellence, amplifies attention span, aids in maintaining a healthy body weight, decreases stress, assists in avoiding accidents, and helps with evading depression.

What’s my point?

Don’t listen to experts who think they know everything. Remember: An ex-spurt is nothing more than former drip under pressure.

Sleep. Enjoy your sleep. Your body will reward you with productivity you wish you had had when you cut back on the precious commodity.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you ever heard of cutting back on sleep to get more done? Have you ever heard of the benefits of sleep?