Time’s Up!

by Patty Smith on June 29, 2014

My mom picked me up at 3:30 AM that Friday. She asked me to drive her to the hospital in Sacramento where she was to have a heart procedure that needed an overnight hospital stay. Her check in was at 5:00 AM, which is why we left Grass Valley (about 55 miles away from Sacramento) at 3:30. I figured the drive would only take one hour, but I wanted to give us time for fog, truly a dangerous road condition in Northern California.

I got on Highway 49 and eased her small Toyota SUV up to 55 mph. Highway 49 is a country road that is slowly being modernized. One hundred years ago it was a cow track. It has a lot of hills, curves and pavement of varying widths. Visibility at best is a mile. We were the only ones on the road, which I thought strange. We chatted about the week and how unhappy I was with my commission-only job. I was putting in a lot of work for no results.

Ten minutes into the drive, I saw a pair of oncoming headlights. At last, another sign of life. I thought the car was going fast because the distance between us was closing faster than I thought it should. At about a quarter mile distance between us, I realized that the vehicle was in my lane and headed right for us. He was moving fast, straight and deliberate , just like I was. I quickly swerved to the right, praying that there was enough shoulder to avoid a collision. I didn’t want to hit the noise barrier between the highway and the neighborhood on the other side of the wall. I was convinced that now we would only be sideswiped and only I would be injured/killed and not my mom.

The car sped by in a flash. I noticed in my rear view mirror that he never hit his brakes. My mom saw the car. It was a large SUV in a darkish color. I knew that if we had collided that at least both my mother and I would have been killed. The modern vehicle safety systems do not offer much protection in a crash with massive impact.

I did not call the highway patrol because the contents of my purse were now scattered all over the interior of our car and we couldn’t find my cell phone. My mom was shaken and I was seriously rattled. We continued on our way and did not see another vehicle until we got to Auburn. As we talked about the incident, we quickly discarded the idea that the other driver was drunk. There was no hesitancy, overcompensation, or other signs of impaired driving. I thought that if the other driver was trying to commit suicide by car, I did not want to be the instrument of his death under any circumstances. I hoped that no other car was in his way as he sped up the highway in the wrong lane.

After Mom was prepped for her procedure, I went to the cafeteria to have coffee and breakfast. I realized that God had given me notice to stop wasting my time on this earth. We were not put on this earth to be unhappy. We are given choices about how we want to live and this was notice that I was not living that way.

I want to be part of a group that values me. I want to work towards goals that meet my needs and values. I want to be acknowledged and rewarded for my creativity. I now realized that tomorrow is guaranteed to none of us. If I am unhappy with my circumstances, I need to change them. I thought about my goals. My writing and the things I have to say are very important to me. I am developing my voice and I want to use that voice to make the world a better place.

The next Monday, I walked into work and quit my job. My boss really understood. I am being selective about my choices and a lot more focused on what I want out of life. I thank God for telling me that my time could have been up!

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This is a guest blog by Patricia Harris Smith, author of the upcoming biography of General Max Thurman.  Read more about Patty and the book on her website www.maxthurmanbio.com.

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The Power of Truth

by Penni L Smith on June 29, 2013

Few things are more powerful than truth. Yet those who seem most passionate about Truth often treat it as a weakling that must be protected and pushed. Their very actions serve to cripple Truth, making it harder for Truth to prevail.

Is There Truth?

Some people believe there is no absolute Truth, that everything is relative, subjective. They say things like, “Well, that may be true for you, but it’s not for me.” Indeed, there are personal conditions for which that statement is actually right, but they err in thinking there are no universal truths. They are confusing absolute Truth with our finite beliefs and opinions.Truth by Webster

What is Truth?

Truth is reality, fact. The challenge is that we have limited knowledge about many things, and often cannot know Truth fully. So we believe something is true; we have an opinion about a subject. That in no way diminishes actual Truth.

Truth applies to everything, but some things are more easy to verify. Sometimes when we think of truth, we think of things that can be proven by science or observation. The truth of gravity can be tested by anyone. The truth that the earth is round can be denied, but only by those who disregard overwhelming evidence.

The truth of something observed is harder to know. Consider disparate witness accounts of a crime, for example. Even if we were there, our recollections can be unreliable. Nonetheless, there is truth about what happened, though we cannot fully know it.

And that’s the key. There are many things we cannot know, but they are still true. Consider the many beliefs people have about whether there is a god, or gods, or no god at all, and what that god (or gods) is like. There is an absolute truth there, but we will not know it until after death (unless the atheists are right, in which case we’ll never know). That we cannot prove it now makes it no less true.

So we have beliefs and opinions, and we put faith in our understanding of their truth. This applies to spiritual issues, political issues, medical issues, policy issues–almost everything. We put our faith in truth we cannot fully know. That leaves us with a dilemma. We can either admit our limits, or hide them behind a facade of bravado. This is where truth is harmed and weakened.

Truth Needs No Defense

Absolute truth needs no defense. It will eventually be known. Truth is therefore incredibly strong, and will overcome doubt, distortions, and denial.

Yet people treat truth as weak, unable to endure contrary ideas. Thus individuals and governments ban books or other media so people won’t have to consider alternatives. Some governments prohibit proselytizing lest people learn other thoughts about God. Folks refuse to listen to those with opposing viewpoints.

Clearly, they don’t realize that when they do this, they are showing that the truth they want to defend isn’t strong enough to survive on its own. If people hear something else, they might go that way instead. Treating truth as weak weakens it.

No, truth is strong. Even if a society abandons a particular truth, there will always be those who keep believing it. Truth does not die. Champion it, but don’t defend it.

Truth Needs No Force

Of course, people should share–even promote–their ideas of truth. If their opinions really are true, they should be able to persuade others by presenting evidence and credible arguments.

What they shouldn’t have to do is push, force, legislate, or otherwise require others to agree with them. Truth does not need to force its way in. If something really is true, people who are genuinely open-minded will come around through compelling evidence and arguments. This is true whether we are talking about God or gun control, aliens or abortion, health care delivery or what makes a healthy diet.

That doesn’t mean that everyone will reach a universal conclusion, because, as we established, much truth cannot be fully known. Even if we agree on a problem, we may not agree on a solution, and the effectiveness of any solution can depend on so many factors. But in time, truth will be revealed.

Truth Will Prevail

It’s a logical impossibility to have an opinion you think is false. You believe you are right, that you have the truth, whether you are talking about what the best type of music is–an individual preference without an absolute truth–what we should do about a societal problem, or what God is like. But accept that while you believe what you do, and that there may be loads of evidence that you are right, you probably cannot be 100% sure. Accept that you do not know truth fully.

But trust your view of truth. Know the limits of your view, but recognize that if you do have the truth, it doesn’t need you to defend it. No amount of attack can kill it.

Promote the truth and persuade others, but do not force your view on them. Truth is insidious, and it can find its way in without people having to fight for it.

Finally, if you desire truth, pursue it. Be open minded and listen to–really consider–other ideas. If you already have truth in that particular area, you will be even more convinced, and if you don’t, you will be acquiring it.

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Incredible Creative Opportunities

May 11, 2013

This is a wonderful time to be creative. In mid-April, bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright David Mamet announced that he will self-publish his next book. He’s not completely going it alone; this is a service his literary agency is now offering. And he’s not the only big-name writer to go this route. Still, [...]

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Two Meanings of Marriage

March 28, 2013

The news coverage this week has centered on the arguments before the Supreme Court in two cases concerning gay marriage. I understand the concerns on both sides, and the seemingly intractable division between them. Yet the matter could so easily be cleared up if we recognized that there are really two types of marriage, and [...]

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Through the Looking Glass, Part 2

February 23, 2013

Last week, we explored how taking just a few seconds to really look at the image before we snap a photo will improve the end results. We can avoid distracting or interfering backgrounds, for one thing. We can also compose a more pleasing and effective shot. Remember, the camera sees and records everything. Your eye [...]

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What Makes the Second Amendment Sacred?

February 22, 2013

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, was added to make sure that the government being created would not abuse its powers, and that basic human rights would be honored in this new nation. In the 220 years since the Constitution was adopted, the courts have been sorting out how [...]

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Through the Looking Glass, Part 1

February 16, 2013

We’ve all heard the expression, “I only have eyes for you,” meaning that the speaker is blind to everything but the object of his affection (even if that isn’t what the expression actually says, grammatically). Cameras are absolutely not that way. They are truly non-discriminatory, recording everything presented to them, and exactly how those things [...]

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Are You Creative?

February 9, 2013

Many people underestimate their creativity. Some deny it completely: “Oh, I’m not creative.” Others will dismiss or diminish it: “Oh, I just do _____. It’s nothing.” We rate what we do, and find it lacking. Creativity, however, is a universal trait, part of what makes us human. We often have a narrow definition of what [...]

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Healthcare for Peace

January 31, 2013

In the region where I live, a locally-owned grocery chain recently endured the first strike in their 75 year history. The workers had made concessions on pay and other work conditions, but they would not take the changes proposed for their healthcare plan. I live only 50 miles from the state capitol, and several counties [...]

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A New Plan

January 25, 2013

Blogging is not as easy as it looks. Sharing one’s thoughts, one’s knowledge: it seems like a perfect fit for me. My passion in life is to make things better, and if I can do that through instruction and sharing, that would be a joy. But I’m finding it to be quite a challenge–and I [...]

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