Election Day

Today is Election Day in the US. We have been through several months or even years of hotly divisive rhetoric from both sides. To hear them talk, a victory for the other side will be the undoing of America, of families and freedom, of everything that is good. Yet, we were able to go to work and/or school without fear of riots or burnings. We are led to believe that we will lose rights and our future social security (It seems both sides make these same charges), yet we are not experiencing runs on our banks or people refusing to go to work.

Our elections can bring change, but Americans are able to go through these in peace. We have seen the blood lost and deaths this year in the Arab Springs uprisings that effected many countries. Our elections seem to defuse some of the pressures that our society experience, it is a time when we are able to speak and vote our minds.

The fathers of ourcountry made our government to move like a glacier. Sometimes it is so slow it seems Washington isn’t doing anything. There are no sudden changes or hairpin turns. This is often a source of frustration when we feel that we must change something. Yet it also prevents us from going through many knee jerk changes of opinion that would be a waste of energy and resources and may lead to even more vulnerabilities.

Whichever president gets into office, they will still have to work with a divided Congress and still have to make unpopular decisions with uncertain results. Yet we will see America experience a prosperous time again because the underlying premise of America, freedom and equality, works. That is what we stand for, republican, democrat, libertarian, green; tomorrow we will all be Americans.

Room to Grow

I had the great privilege of leading a workshop at the Pelham Road library this past week. Two of the ladies had recently moved to the area; one from India and one from Germany. It was nice to hear what they liked about Greenville and how welcomed they felt. One of the discussions we had was about how less crowded Greenville is compared to where they are from. The lady from Germany first mentioned it, just to be trumped by Miss India.

This led me to do some research. I went to worldatlas.com. Of course I went to the internet, but not Wikipedia. Wikipedia is good to get information but not facts that you would want to quote. (Disclaimer: Do not hold me to this next week.) Two of the countries listed had population densities of over 1000 people per square mile, but they are very small in land mass. With 873.4 people per square mile, Japan was 17th. India was 18th with 851.0. The United Kingdom was 32nd and Germany was 33rd with 598. China was 53 with 352.5, two and a half times that of the US. The United States was 142nd with 79.55. Canada, our neighbor to the north, has 9 people per square mile. Talking about elbow room.

Comparing European nations with US is not really fair. So I looked at the state’s population density according to worldatlas.com. New Jersey was the most populous with 1170.64 per square mile. Rhode Island was second but who cares. I mean, it’s Rhode Island. Florida was eighth with 340. Our neighboring states, North Carolina was 15th with 189 and Georgia was 18th with 167. Major cities can really affect the numbers when you look to all the land in the mountains of both states. South Carolina was the 20th most populous state with 149.

When you look at the counties in South Carolina, Greenville was the most populous county according to the 2010 census. With 571, Greenville ranks just below Germany if we were comparing her to an European country. Richland is second at 508, Charleston is third at 381, and Spartanburg is fifth at 351. Anderson at 260.6, comes in eighth in the state.

This reminded me of something I read in a golf magazine.(Yes, you can learn things in all sort of places). I believe it was an article by David Feherty, who has a lot of wit with a good dose of insight, who wrote about traveling from Augusta to Texas. He said looking out of the plane; there were vast areas where you could see beautiful undeveloped land that is unheard of in England. That, unlike in England, land will not be a limiting factor to our growth for a long time.

This makes for a very interesting conversation, especially as we and our neighboring states begin to lay claim to the limited resources at our disposal.

One of the benefits to having a more populous area is that we are able to get more varied goods. Each of these ladies mentioned the difficulty of getting spices and food from their home countries in many areas of where they live unless there is a population of expats big enough to have the supplies. They mentioned that Greenville was surprising that for its size, it has a better variety than they had expected.

I have two closing thoughts. First, we all moved here from somewhere. Many, if not most of us, within the last four generations. Even the Indians took land from other tribes. Second, the world is becoming smaller and more mobile. It is better to embrace that than try to fight it. Who knows, at some point that new person could have been your grandmother.

 

 

Success #1: Reaching out to others / Making a difference

One recurring theme I would like to address is the topic of success. What is success to you? This is such an individual topic that can change as we go through the different phases of our lives. The stereotypical signs of success in the stages of life often follow the trail of: independence, reputation, circle of peers/friends, power/prestige, money, comfort, family stability, love.

Success is not wrong. But it can become a problem when we let someone else define what our success should be. We see this is families where a parent wants “what’s best for my child” but can’t see what is actually important to the child. No matter how caring and well-meaning the person may be, only you can define your success.

We often call this a calling, an interior urging for something that seems, or Is, outside of us leading us to…the thing that, to us, is right.

Success is not a destination. Rarely do we get THERE. My picture of a man attaining success is from the movie, Chisum (my favorite movie of all time), where John Wayne, the Duke (which was originally an airedale) rides his horse to the top of the hill and looks over his land. His land. (By the way, why did he always ride the bigger horse?)

Success is a journey. Often a journey that consumes, or is, our life. Rarely is it a straight freeway. Usually it is bumpy, But it is always calling us to come over the hill, or around the next bend.

I want to take you to a story of a family finding success but in a new way. This is my younger brother to whom I have brought much grief, and from whom I have gotten many laughs.

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