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Life’s Lunacies

Thought I’d share with you all three all-too-real follies I’ve witnessed lately displaying the length we humans will go to impress one another:

– The sedentary administrator who gives her Fit Bit to her son working on the floor of a large warehouse, so she can impress her coworkers with her 25,000 steps a day, after he returns it to her.

– The young brokerage firm trader who brings his family finances to work and labors on them after hours in his office so he can appear to be always staying and working late.

– The CPA who photoshopped her face over that of a skier who was plunging down Winter Park’s toughest black diamond slope.  She then hung this action shot casually in her office – ironically, beneath her framed diploma.

Ah, vanity.

– Bart

Guatamala Visit to CETNA School

                                        

Hope happiness and song rise from the students of the CETNA School, Parramos Guatemala. Lorraine and I joined our Nassau Presbyterian Church mission team to visit the school to which we’ve been contributing – where students and faculty exuberantly welcomed us with a parade of home made flags and dances.   While outside these walls lies a reality of harsh relentless labor and subsistence economics, within springs an oasis of joy and aspiration.  We painted the building & repaired with the parents; worked and played with the students, while our three doctors set up a clinic.  The takeaway: delight in each day and happiness of spirit do not require a land of plenty.

Antigua Guatemala.  Mauela planted, grew, and picked the cotton, spun it into theads, grew and harvested the herbal dyes, colored each of the bright strands you see, then on her backstrap loom she weaves a magnificent and highly artistic cloth.  Imagine the pride. Her products are sold at the local women’s cooperative which we visited on our Nassau Church mission trip to the CETNA school with whom we partner.  Are our own lives to

Lorraine’s camera takes a bead on a shy parrot in the forest surrounding the Fuego Volcano, while Bart runs off to swim in the nearby lake.

 

My Pride is Showing

Americans are not a resigned people.  We have never gone sheepishly into that dark pit of oppression – be it monarchy, corptocracy, or any other thug.  Those brave individuals who took that dangerous step of cutting ties with the empire of England, were, I believe, very much like the best of us today.

On July 4th, as they set pen to Thomas Jefferson’s masterful declaration of Independence, each one was painfully aware of his signature’s significance.  Yes, they were proclaiming their beliefs in their compatriots in this land – and the people of all lands.  Yet they also realized the personal sacrifice involved.  This paper proclaimed their willingness to immerse themselves in an undeniable declaration of war.  Their families, their lands, their holdings would all come under attack, and life as they knew it would never be the same.  And they signed it boldly all the same.  And the war did come.   It was a war that marked this people’s – this new nation’s – zero tolerance of oppression.  It demonstrated to a weary world their instant willingness to gather and kick back against those who would trample their freedoms for the benefit of English merchant princes.

This day, as in every age, oppressors rise up among us.  There seems to be never any shortage of conniving people who place personal enrichment over the common good.  And once more, my fellows in this America take aim at the oppressors and fight the injustices as they see them arise.  So on this July 4, 2018, I am grateful to be an American, grateful for the freedoms that were won for me by our nation’s founders, and ever after.

But much more, I cannot but help feel a powerful surge of pride to be part of those Americans of today who, as we speak, are continuing to set their pens to Mr. Jefferson’s Declaration.  No, not all Americans join this fight.  Even during the American Revolution, nearly two thirds of colonials remained loyal to the British monarch.

Yet by the millions Americans continue to set their muscle, time and resources in the fight to sustain a just society.  Their methods and causes are numerous.  You can find them everywhere.  Our zero tolerance for oppressors continues.  And that, my compatriots, makes my heart soar with hope on this Independence Day. 

– Bart Jackson

 

 

Fugal Leadership

Maestro Nicholas McGegan is short in stature, unprepossessing of character, and was able to draw the absolute best out of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra last night when they played Handel’s Water Music, Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony.  Does it help that he is 32-year director of San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and has been awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for music services?  Not really.

At some point earlier in the week, guest conductor Nicholas had to stand up before a group of total strangers, each an expert in playing these pieces.  With a mere eight rehearsal hours, he had to weld them into a unit that would perform this music his way. And from the moment he raised his hands at the podium, his mastery methods became evident.  Nicholas McGeghan completely enjoyed this music and these musicians.  It was obvious to everyone in the hall that there was no other place on this planet Maestro McGeghan wanted to be.   His gestures were unconventional.  He used no baton. But his sheer joy contagiously radiated throughout the hall.  Of course the NJSO musicians followed suit.   Nicholas’ enthusiasm was irresistible….Leadership lesson #1, I noted.

After the performance I chatted briefly with a couple of the musicians concerning their guest conductor.  Both agreed that this Cambridge and Oxford educated professor held an exceptional gift for articulating exactly what he wanted, in a way that they all understood.  I have been able to experience this Leadership lesson #2 at work under the direction of Mr. Noel Werner, music director of the Nassau Presbyterian church choir.  Noel employs a humorous verbal precision to steer our vocality away from “the Carol Channing flat aya” and “the sonorous Kentucky hills RRR,” onto the exact tones he requires.  The more precisely and comprehensibly you can articulate what you want, the more likely you are to get it.

Ten cents of my own money says that lessons #1 and #2 just might apply to the leadership of my own ventures.

Wishing you Every Success,

– Bart Jackson

This Glorious Easter Morn

I have risen with the sun and lifted my arms high in appreciative salute to Helios as he pushes through the clouds and over the trees.  Soon my bride and I will head off for Nassau Presbyterian Church, don our choir robes and I, with more gusto than talent, will bellow forth my favorite hymns, with such treasured lyrics as: “…bid the grim demonic chorus Christ is risen, Get you gone….”  Oh yeah.  Today the good guys are winning.

Sweet Spring has drawn our weary heads out of the winter of our discontent and her first teasing perfumes resurrect new hopes in all of us.  ‘Tis the season that has prodded poets’ pens throughout the ages.  (You will not be subjected to my Persephone’s Return poem conjured for my bride this morning.) But allow me, if you will, to pass on to you one fervent seasonal wish:  May you resurrect Hope within your own life.

There are indeed more people who want to help you than hurt you.  Our own culture bulges with public servants and private donors and good-hearted souls who are contributing to their planet and fellows.

Why not find and celebrate them?  Whether you join them or not remains, of course, your choice.  Yet, may you be aware of all the good that the fellows of your species are doing.  As always, there is great money and great sources of power to be had by stirring up our fears.  Those who lay out an array of threats are legion.  But in the end, despair is simply an inaccurate vision.  Hope has the majority on its side.

So as the season comes into full flower, may we all bid the grim, demonic chorus Hope is risen, get you gone.

Oh, and to my atheistic buddies who will doubtless greet me on this particular Easter with, “Christ is risen – April Fools!” I get the joke.

Wishing you every success,

 Bart Jackson

 

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