Nephesh7

Ideas and observations that reveal there is soul to life.

What we were meant for

Perhaps you have heard of the Christmas truce of 1914.

German troops stationed in Belgium began decorating their trenches on Christmas Eve, then began singing carols. British forces across No Man’s Land heard the songs and answered with their own carols.

A truce began.
Fighting stopped.
Gifts were exchanged.
Fallen troops were buried.
Joint services were even held.

During World War I.
One of the worst wars in the history of humanity.

Opposing forces set down their arms long enough to remember that perhaps there is something greater that connects us as humans. And maybe that something is strong enough to overcome the differences between us.

How is this relevant?

Can you think of instances where opposing forces are attacking each other constantly? Without regard to the other’s humanity?

American politics.
Religious groups.
Even inside our own families.

Those troops on Christmas Eve in 1914 remembered what we as humans are meant for and it’s not dissension with those who are different from us.

They found that peace isn’t just an ideal.
It’s possible.

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Social Poverty

America may be one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite our great mass of products and money, we are still pining for something not available in stores.

We crave connection.

And our current state of solitude is paralyzing.

Our solitude isn’t related to how many people surround us, but to our connection and involvement with them. Social media provides a platform to become more involved with other people but it isn’t a replacement for them.

Your soul needs to be with other people. Texts and tweets are just too far removed from personal contact. Skype gets closer but as long as we are physical beings, we will need physical contact with others.

Twitter and Facebook have their place. They are wonderful at facilitating get togethers with other people.

Connect with like minded people. They are out there.

Your soul needs to know it isn’t the only one out there that feels the way it does.

We Have The Cure

Cancer has been cured.

Homelessness banished.

Poverty gone.

World hunger eradicated.

We have the solution. That’s not the problem.

We lack the will. Humans have the ability and capacity to do away with nearly all of the issues that plague our world. 1.5 billion dollars were spent from the middle and lower classes of America on one lottery jackpot.

The answer to the world’s problems is there; what is lacking is the will to act upon it. No new technology or advertising campaign is really going to change people’s mind. True effective change needs to take place within each person, which will emanate out and then truly help with the rest of the world. When people see people who are close to them living out a life of selflessness, that is going to change their minds.

We have the cure, it’s love and self-giving. God exemplified this. My life is woefully void of it at times. But with effort, we can change. Then, the world can change.

Progress

We don’t need progress as it is, progress of tech and entertainment don’t address the soul. It doesn’t deal with the pain and suffering of our past, nor does it confront the hurts of today. Effective progress would walk back to those struggling at the back of the caravan to help them.

That’s what God is doing, dealing with the past to effectively change the future. Love and grace should be the future picture of our progress. However, our current idea of progress has the developed world heading to an entertainment utopia that simply doesn’t exist.

As humans, we can slow down. The future will come when it comes. We don’t need to race with our technology. Slow down and take care of your past. Your soul will be much more clear and unhindered.

And may you know that the way things were is not the way they have to be. That’s progress.

Why The World Isn’t Enough

There’s a pervading problem on this earth we live on and we are just now figuring it out as a human race. The world and all of its vast resources and provisions for us, is simply not enough. It can never be. We are going to great lengths to squeeze all we can out of what nature provides. In fact, there is already speculation that we may need to outsource our resource acquisition.

The err in our ways is that we think this way at all. That if we just use eco-friendly brands that claim no golden-rumped lion tamarins were harmed in the making of this product, the world will continue to provide for our appetites. That the earth needs to change or at the very least, not get any worse.

It doesn’t.

We do.

Rather than think what we can change about the world to fit our lifestyle, what if we considered what we can change about our lifestyle to fit the world?

Please do not misread. I believe that responsible consumerism and moderate living are ideals that are to be held in the highest regard. But until we adopt the mindset that we as consuming humans may have to cut back or change our lifestyle, the world will not be able to keep up.

Professor Elie Wiesel

The line wrapped around the block. A big street block. Over one thousand people waiting in the cold blustery night. I’ve never seen it so packed for anything, much less one person.

But then, this person underwent one of the most heinous events in human history.

This person is Elie Wiesel. And the event which is wrapped in the tapestries of his life is the Holocaust. An event to which he calls himself a witness.

He visited the Walton Arts Center here in Fayetteville last night (March 7, 2012). I was privileged enough to get to hear him speak. Being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I took some notes, hoping to share with you some of the wisdom of this man. A few topics stood out in my mind, so I will present those, a quote and a few thoughts of my own.

Knowledge
Some of the worst murders were committed by people with a PhD [paraphrase]
Examining knowledge, it would seem like a double-edged sword. Knowledge is essential to pass on to future generations. As a human race, we need knowledge to learn from our mistakes and move forward. But can too much knowledge be a bad thing? In the years leading to the second World War, Germany had a wealth of knowledge. But Mr. Wiesel claims it was often the people with the most power, who committed some of the worst acts who also held doctorates.

Indifference & Hatred
“The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference”
“Hatred is as dangerous to the hater as the hated”
One of the points that resounded within me was his thoughts on the poison of indifference. This was what allowed such atrocities to take place and what allows them still today. I would certainly agree. Escapism can become a safe cave for the soul, where it can become reclusive and forget the cares of the rest of the world and become indifferent to them. Equally poisonous is hatred. As he so finely put it, hatred destroys the one who clenches it and the one on the other end.

Questions
 “I favor questions always. Answers change. Questions don’t”
Mr. Wiesel gave some fascinating insight on seeking answers versus pursuing questions. There is a relative nature to answers. They depend on who is giving them and how they feel about the question. But the question (which contains a “quest” as Mr. Wiesel points out) remains. For example, history is riddled with the same question “Why are we here?”.

Forgiveness & Peace
“Forgiveness is God’s, but human forgiveness is individual” [paraphrase]
One could imagine that if there was one person who had every right to be bitter and resentful toward humanity, it would be Elie Wiesel. But he isn’t. Quite the opposite. He is a man of great peace and wisdom. He spoke of forgiveness of humanity being in the hands of God. However, we as people can forgive other individuals.

I can only pray that I will have a tiny breadth of the understanding of forgiveness and peace that this man has. His wisdom was inspiring and moving. I hope that my recollections and thoughts can bring some peace to your soul.

Nephesh

Nephesh means “soul” in Hebrew. In an age of scientific reason, the spiritual usually is left in the aisle on Sunday afternoon. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Evidence of our soul is everywhere, we just don’t notice it.

In fact, nearly everything we do has spiritual undertones to it. Some are just louder than others. As a photographer, I’ve been trained to look for things, subtle nuances. I do not claim to be anything other than an observer of what I perceive as deep meaning in everyday things.

With these writings, I hope to illuminate the existence of the soul and provide some ways to take care of it.

May it speak to your soul.