Friday, March 24, 2017

Freedom

Freedom is a hummingbird,
Fleeting, fast and fragile with
Bright wings that sing in rhythmic dreams
The perfect jewel of joyful faith,
Seeking out the beautiful, the
Flowing flowers of the field,
To drink the nectar of her bloom and
All her gifts disseminate.
 
Freedom is a golden eagle
Sailing on a wafting zephyr,
Unencumbered by the straining
Baleful bonds of gravity.
Confident that none may rise to
Purloin his emancipation.
Soaring over mountains high
He sets his own alternatives.
 
Freedom is a mountaintop
Rising where no roads may tread,
Wearing robes of purest white while
Bleeding rivers rife with hope.
Tendrils flush with provender
Reaching meadows near and far
To nurture countless leas of flowers
And feed sweet freedoms hummingbird.
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

For Family

“Were you in the war, Grandpa?” Tommy queried.
“Yes, I was, son,” he said. “Why do you ask?”
“Mommy says war is bad, she says it’s evil.”
“Yes, son, it is. It’s a horrible task.”
 
“Does that mean you’re bad, Grandpa? Why did you go?”
“It’s hard to explain,” he said, “But let me try”
Hard to defend why the young and the innocent
Rush to a cause where so many might die.
 
“Nobody wants war,” he says with a sigh, “but
Sometimes you just have no choice.
When enemies threaten the ones you love
Someone must stand to give them a voice.
We have to protect. We need to defend
Against those who would take our freedom away.
You’re young and it’s a mystery right now,
But you’ll grow and you’ll understand someday.”
 
He paused for a moment, then softly he spoke.
“I’ll tell you one thing for sure that is true.
You want to know why I fought in the war?
I did it for family.
I did it for you.”

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Friday, March 10, 2017

A Grateful Nation

A grateful nation welcomes home her heroes
When the fight is done,
Reaching deep to heal the wounds of war
So they might carry on.
 
A grateful nation mourns the loss of
Those who paid the final price,
Comforts those they left behind
In honor of their sacrifice.
 
A grateful nation knows that freedom
Must be bought by blood and sweat.
Forging on with confidence,
No second guessing, no regrets.
 
A grateful nation prays, although the gift
Is oft misunderstood.
A psalm of praise to one on high
Whose grace provides all that is good.
 
A grateful nation will not falter,
Will not waiver on its course,
Seeks to lift the people’s spirit,
Moving on with no remorse.
 
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Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Basic Soldier

Not for glory, fame or fortune,
Not for gratitude or praise
The basic soldier serves in silence
With a watchful steely gaze.
 
Not a slave to needless causes,
Just a cog on grinding gear that
Keeps the locomotive charging forward
Without doubt or fear.
 
Some may speak of God and country,
Friends and family, hearth and home,
But when the bombs of battle rage
The soldier never stands alone.
 
Brothers bold and sisters stoic,
Banded by a single bond,
Sing the same brave song of freedom
Marching, marching ever on.
 
Hail and greet the basic soldier.
Millions now, millions then,
Millions when their cause is noble.
Shall we see their like again?
 
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Monday, March 06, 2017

Open the Cages

Open the cages and
Let loose the lions.
Set free the spirit that

Nature bequeaths to
Rule vast domain and
Roar into the fury,
To know the sweet victory
Freedom affirms.
 
Dangerous prospect in
Waking the beast whose
Heart knows no fear,
Whose angst knows no peace.
An unsated hunger that
Drives ever forward
Giving no quarter,
Accepting no terms.
 
Open the cages of life
If you dare.
Challenge all foes,
Let the full world beware.
 
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Saturday, March 04, 2017

To Weather the Storm

Caught in the maelstrom of twisted confusion,
Fickle chameleon dancing to dirges of
Lonely lost causes, so long forgotten,
Misbegotten paltry plans.
 
Tightly attuned to the vast range of changes
All muddled and muddied by dark empty urges,
Hiding in corners, alone and ashamed,
Unable to think, unwilling to stand.
 
Too long the victim.
          Yes, far too long to
Writhe in these shadows while Satan cajoles and
Controls every nuance, first to last,
As quivering fools suffer under his hand.
 
Now is the time and here is the station where
Heroes stand tall and courage unfolds
Like an unfurling flag defying the wind to
Inspire the spirit, boasting command.
 
Shielding the precious, the cherished from harm,
Finding safe harbor to weather the storm.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Old Veteran

Reposed in silence, back to the wall
Reflecting on those glory days
He can’t forget, won’t forget til end of time,
Searching reason without rhyme.
 
Shoulders not so broad as then,
Stooped forward in a awkward sway
Except for when Old Glory passes
In review as Souza plays.
 
Grizzled chin and wrinkled brow belay
The swagger known in youth when
Worlds were open, energy unbound and
Fear an unknown truth.
 
Answering the call to service he
Never stopped to question fears
Even though he knew his choice would
Bring his mother lakes of tears.
 
Raspy voice, much slower now reflects
The glory known to few
Of battles fought, brothers lost,
Fears recalled as darkness grew.
 
Let any who might need to know rush
To seek his sage advice.
There is wisdom from experience,
The offspring of self-sacrifice.
 
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Monday, February 20, 2017

The Flag Retirement


Crisp Autumn frost biting noses and toes as
A reverent assemblage awaits the occasion.
No anger or protest, no mock revolution,
Just love and respect for the symbol at hand.
 
Young men in uniform move briskly with purpose
To tender the flame’s resolute preparation.
They gather their linens, all tattered and worn,
The emblem of liberty throughout the land.
 
In staid ceremony, a crisp call to order,
A calm benediction of gentle persuasion.
“The line forms right here
To bring forth your banners”
To place on the pyre through the dirge of the band.
 
I stand at attention, hat in hand.
My eyes are aghast with the realization
The flame purifies, sanctifies, canonizes
In ways nary a soul will misunderstand.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

She Stands in the Harbor

A gift.
A magnanimous, thoughtful gift
From her sister nation across the sea.
Born from the love of freedom
And faith in the kindness of humanity.
She stands in the harbor overlooking
The portal of hope. Her torch held high
To hail the ships, to light the path in
Silence, never asking why.
 
Behind her the never-ending sprawl of
A steaming behemoth rides the horizon.
The mountains and trenches of concrete and steel
Scream a challenge of vast expanses beyond.
But she never waivers in her daunting task.
Her silent resolve makes a solemn decree.
She beckons the weary to enter her shores and
Accept the bold challenge of sweet liberty.
 
She cannot deny them,
Will never forsake them,
Shall always enfold them in welcoming arms.
And all who believe in the bright torch of freedom
Forever defend her and keep her from harm.




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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Founding Fathers

There were no blueprints in those early days;
Just ragged tomes and scrolls from eons past
With cryptic jargon and philosophies
Of overstated misbegotten text.

The pieces are all there in scattered scrawl
Laid out before the gathering to weigh.
The gallant and outspoken breathing fire
As they beat their chests and cry for liberty.

Consensus fails to fill the room with glee
And harmony is but a poltergeist
Who manifests in vague chimeric veils
To dance and shift and gel to solid type.

And in the end their grand epiphany  
Befits the will of all who would be free.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Valhalla Awaits


The Ancients conceived and believed in the dream of
A golden land where the vanquished abide,
Those hero-inhabited hallowed halls,
          The splendor of Valhalla.
And the warrior weathers the
Flames of distress without fear or regret
For he knows in the end
His reward will surpass any
Wounds he may bear
As honor becomes his most trusted friend.

With valor and verve, he soars his spirit
To unnerving heights on rarefied air.
No task too consuming,
No quest out of question,
He fights the brave fight to
Defend what is fair.

He must not fail.
He will not fail.
This valiant sentinel of war.
And when his sword and shield shall rest
He strolls Valhalla forevermore.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Where were you? 9/11/2001


Faced with a typical Tuesday morning,
No drama on the workday schedule.
Arriving early in a caffeine stupor and
Ready to tread in tempestuous seas.

The news arrives slowly, trickling in:
A plane, a building, small tragedy brewing.
No thought of terror or hell-bent insanity.
That kind of thing doesn’t happen here.

And then it does –
          A second catastrophe
Man-made in vengeance –
          No logic, no mercy.
And now a third and yet a fourth.
How many furies fly? How many innocents
Yet to perish ‘ere the nightmare resolves?
How many unanswered questions arise?
We watch, we wait, we pray for fair outcome,
But dread obscures hope in a sickening mist.

And then the sky comes tumbling down,
First one then the other in fury and fire.
And the world stops turning as the toll keeps rising.
We stand in stunned silence, shivering, numb.

Our resolve ferments as the dust starts to settle.
We seek understanding but grasp only air.
Today we will grieve seeking out bitter comfort.
Tomorrow the serpent –
          A duty to pay.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Free to Choose

There was a time - eons ago - when
Choices were much simpler.
A left, a right,
A yes or no,
On or off, up or down,
A smile, a frown, a blank response,
A pill to ease a restless night.
 
We were young with foolish hearts,
No thought of how the world ensues.
Little to win,
          Less to lose,
But we were free,
          Free to choose.
 
Now the weight of worlds roll by and
Here stand I dazed and confused.
The when and what,
The where and why,
My whole life passing in review.
 
But duty calls and I must go.
No petty purpose can excuse.
I will fight and
I will serve
So others may be free to choose.
 
 
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Visions of Liberty

Dare I wake tempestuous dreams of
Stormy skies and trembling walls to
Stumble through the midnight mire,
The wanton waste named Yesterday.
 
Who can chase this clamoring cacophony of
Warning bells?
Who will quell this quivering, this shivering
Of servitude?
 
Once, in youth, a vision stirred
Beneath the willows sheltering arms
Where every heart is filled with hope,
A prophesy of pristine realms.
 
But fate is cruel and Caesar’s rule
Requires a tribute to be paid,
Hard decisions to be made before
The ogre overwhelms.
 
The muddled masses must arise
In fervor and intensity
To keep the dream, the quest alive.
The vision of sweet liberty.


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Monday, October 31, 2016

Patriot Dreams

Standing on the precipice of
            Willful measure,
                    Far removed from
Rambling reality
He holds his breath… and waits
                  In watchful vigilance.
Prepared to give,
            To live…
                        To die
If die he must to keep them safe.
He never stops to question why.
The why was answered long before
His watchful eyes reflected on       
The distant haze of far horizons.
 
Lessons from the bowels of Hell have
Been his teacher,
Taught him well,
Filled his nights with restless dreams of
Secrets he can never tell.
Failure? Unacceptable.
A traitor’s wage is paid in blood.
The patriot will never sleep
Til others stand where he has stood.
 
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Scandal

How did I let it come to this?
This path
            This scandal
                        This shame.
What was I thinking?
          Why wasn’t I thinking?
Should have known better.
Now I suffer the flame.
I could deny.
            I could lie
                   (or confess)
Heavens no!
            Such a blow.
Would my ego survive?
I could dive in a hole til
The tempest has passed.
So confused,
            Unamused,
                        Putting choices to rest.
If the real truth should surface
          (It eventually will)
My good name,
            My good favor,
My Good God! Gone for good.
So, I wait for my fate and
Accept my comeuppance.
My bad choice.
           Bad behavior.
Do it over?
          Wish I could.


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Monday, August 15, 2016

Real or Fake


Reality can be overrated.
 
Raindrops dance on windowsills
Like tiny elves, “Say, are you real?”
Firefly fairies blinking twilights’
Silent message reveal the
Secrets of the universe.
Logic whimsies in reverse to
Shift from precious to perverse
Looking for a soul to steal.
 
Quiet rainbows cast their net from
Red to green to violet
            Filling mind’s eye to distraction.
            No room left for sad regret.
Are you real or should I quake to
Feel the magic that you make?
Will you be there when I wake to
Ease my mind lest I forget?
 
Peaceful dreams to fill my night
All forgotten with the light.
Phantom promises you make.
Are you real?
Are you fake?

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Grace and Disgrace

The distant darkness of deceit
Casts bold its shadow long and lean
Across the melancholy sea
Crying out to be set free.
 
But freedom cannot find her echo
Muted by defined disgrace.
Whimpering she seeks her solace
Cloaked by veils of blackened lace.
 
Shame becomes her sole companion,
Loneliness a bosom friend.
Solitude her only comfort as she
Contemplates the end.
 
Was it worth the pain and sorrow
Playing out your vain disguise?
Now the unmasked interloper
Paying dearly for her lies.
 
Lies are but the Devil’s scalpel
Slashing scars on Beauty’s face, and
She could spend a thousand lifetimes
Trying to get back to grace.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Truth in Advertising; and Other Fantasies


Do you believe everything you see and read in advertising? No, wait. Let me restate that. Do you believe “anything” you see or read in advertising? If you answered yes to either question, it may be time for a reality check.

There is very little in the fantasy world of advertising that holds any resemblance to actual fact, let alone truth. Indeed, it is the manipulation of facts to the advantage of the advertiser that results in the actual sale of their products or services.

Let’s face it. The sole purpose of advertising is to sell you something that you may or may not need in order to make a profit for the seller. Even if the product or service is labeled “non-profit” or “Free offer” rest assured that someone, somewhere is out to gain some of what you have to their own advantage.

So, does that make the advertising game evil and/or despicable? Of course not. That is, unless they intentionally set out to deceive and swindle their customers, in which case they are lower than low. This is why the old adage “Caveat Emptor” (Let the buyer beware) is older than the dead language that spawned it.

Anyone should be allowed a reasonable profit margin for the things they sell. The question becomes, “Who determines what is reasonable?”  The answer? Quite simply, you do. By you I mean the buyer; hopefully, an informed and cautious consumer.

It should be obvious that there are a lot of advertisers out there who are ready to pounce upon an unsuspecting and uninformed public. If this was not the case there would be no need for so many regulatory commissions and agencies or consumer protection advocates all trying to defend the public against being ripped off.

Smoke and mirrors, deception, illusion, bait and switch, half-truths, near-truths, appealing to the senses, sexual titillation and innuendo, subliminal messages and, yes, even children and puppies are all available for use by advertisers to manipulate a waiting public and convince them to buy, buy, buy. It is such an onslaught that we can be overwhelmed at times.

Often advertisements make no sense at all. They are not meant to. The product for sale may not even be mentioned until the last possible moment, almost as an afterthought. Why? They simple want to make sure to grab your attention. They want to make their product memorable through association. The more outrageous the ad, the more likely you are to remember it. Eventually, through repetition, you will begin to make the association until the time comes to purchase their product. Doesn’t matter if theirs is the best choice. It will be the one you remember. Results? Product sold.

We have all seen these television commercials. People acting outrageously, idiotically, even moronic all in the name of having a good time so that you will associate their product with the fun and excitement, hoping that, if you feel good through association, you will remember them when the time comes to open your wallet. Personally, I have a real aversion to buying a product advocated and endorsed by idiots. But that’s just me. Apparently, I am in the minority as the ads persist.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves? I have complied a list of a few tips that may be helpful.

1.      Be skeptical. Any offer that sounds too good to be true probably is not true, at least not completely.

2.      Be practical. Ask yourself, “Is this something I really need?” in the overall scheme of things would your money be better spent on something else? Consider alternatives.

3.      Compare. There are always alternatives. Compare prices matched with value. Can you get the same thing somewhere else for less?

4.      Read reviews. For most products you can find reviews by others who have rated it. These reviews may be mixed, but should give you a better picture of the flaws and advantages of making the purchase.

5.      Delay. Don’t make impulse purchases. Mull it over for a day, a week, a lifetime.

You may be able to come up with additional tips on your own. Nevertheless, if you consider these five, you will be well on your way to making more informed decisions and protecting yourself against the fantasy of truth in advertising.

 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Truth in Politics; and Other Oxymorons


First of all, let’s make clear the definition of the word oxymoron, as there may be a precious few who may be unfamiliar with the term. Oxymorons are two or more terms used in combination that seem to contradict one another. My wife’s favorite examples are “Jumbo shrimp” and, much to my chagrin, “Military Intelligence.” I was M.I. in the Army.

Now that we have a clear definition of the term, it should be self-evident as to why we might refer to “truth in politics” as an oxymoron. After all, the very nature of the political arena lends itself to deceit and distrust while presenting the pristine smile of morality and reliability.

This is not to say that all politics is negative or that all politicians are habitual liars. No doubt there are many honorable men and women in the political arena whose aim and ambition is to serve the constituency that put them in office in the first place. But even that altruistic motive can put them in direct conflict with opposing forces who are all fighting for their own slice of a finite pie.

Conflict, of course, is central in the political arena. As the old saying goes, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” Alliances are formed, deals struck and compromises made that, in the real world, would not have been imagined. The worst part is that so much information is withheld from the general population about these backroom deals (all in the name of protecting the public) that we tend to disbelieve almost anything that comes out of any politician’s mouth. How does that old joke go?
Question: How do you know when a politician id lying?
Answer: His lips are moving.

It is a rather cruel joke, but what are we to believe?   

There are so many excuses for it. For example:

·         Disclosure could compromise the deal.

·         The public is not ready for it.

·         It might affect the coming election.

·         The general population wouldn’t understand. It’s for their own good.

Oh, and my personal favorite:

·         It’s a matter of National security.

There are all kind of reasons that information is manipulated or the truth stretched or abandoned altogether, but politicians seem to be the masters of the art. You might say the same is true about lawyers, since so many politicians practice (or practiced) law at one time or another.

Question: What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
Answer: A good start.

But lawyers lie for different reasons, and, generally speaking, they are representing one client at a time. Their goal is to win at all cost. Also, lawyers generally (but not always) believe in the innocence of the client they are representing or the guilt of the accused they are prosecuting. This kind of honesty can relate to all of us.

If you honestly believe that what you say is true based on the facts s you know them, regardless of what others believe, then you are not lying. Naturally, things may change. New facts may be revealed, errors in logic uncovered that may cause you to change your position. This happens all the time in politics, often to the detriment of the politician.

Once a politician takes a stand on a position, it becomes a matter of public record. But political climates, much like the weather, are constantly changing. New evidence comes to light, or a politician may have to change a position on one issue to gain favor on another seemingly more important one. It’s called, “You scratch my back….”

Naturally, down the road this has the potential to come back and bite him in the butt. He may be viewed as a waffler, indecisive, unreliable, even, God forbid, a liar. But changing your position in light of new evidence or changing circumstances does not necessarily constitute prevarication. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that opposition forces will forestall use of such perceived inconsistencies against you. After all, perception is everything in politics.

So, why would anyone with a modicum of common sense want to enter the whirlwind circus known as the political arena? Politics, where every move, every decision is scrutinized, analyzed, criticized, debated and recorded. For the money? Perhaps wealth can come at some point for the truly successful politician. But entry level compensation is modest at best and many lower-level “Public Servants” are forced to “Keep their day jobs” to survive economically.

But there are other perks that come with a career in politics. Power, influence, notoriety and a host of other ego-stroking motivations come into play. But it is the potential for power that is the most dangerously addictive and most likely to result in lies and deceit. It is also the most difficult to keep in check.

Power can be more intoxicating and dangerous than the most addictive of drugs. It feeds on itself, forever demanding more and more until the individual disappears altogether and all that is left is the mechanism of ever-increasing influence.

There are extreme examples in history of course, the most infamous being Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime. To most of the free-thinking world he was a monster, the very definition of evil and human corruption. So, how did he get millions upon millions to follow him with unmitigated abandon in a quest for world domination?

Hitler raised his people up through a series of promises of a better life in a time of extreme hardship. He gave them hope and instilled a feeling of superiority that caused them to blindly follow him. But Hitler wore many faces, and once he had seized power he used any and all methods to not only keep it but to expand upon it.

Of course, Hitler is perhaps the most notable and notorious example of political abuse of power. There are many others, but no need to launch into an extended diatribe here. The truth is we are all involved in politics, albeit in a lesser scale, in our daily lives.

Life is a never-ending series of negotiations: Parents with children, neighbors with neighbors, community groups, the PTA, social clubs, even social media to some extent. Actually, anywhere people interact can be seen as a political arena, and it will usually be the case that one or more individuals will be seeking personal advantage and willing to use less than ethical means to achieve it.
Does this make politics inherently evil? No. but it does point out the need for vigilance. There is nothing wrong with trust. Trust is an admirable trait. But it should never be blind trust. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Trust your own gut feelings but search for facts. Know your friends as well as your advisories, and always be aware of the frailties of human nature.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Compassionate Lie


            Have you ever told someone they look nice, even though you know they don’t, just to spare their feelings? Did you ever console someone who is going through a dark time in their life by assuring them that ‘everything will be alright’ even though you know that disaster is imminent? Have you apologized for something that isn’t your fault just to keep peace? If any of these scenarios applies to you, you are intimately familiar with the compassionate lie.

            There are many who believe that a lie is a lie is a lie and it is never justified, that truth and total honesty are paramount and should be forthcoming in any and all situations. They believe that blunt truth, no matter how hard it stings is the only path to follow. But at what cost?

            We are, in the final analysis, social beings with feelings and aspirations that need, at least occasionally, to be stroked and encouraged. That’s not to say that all praise arises out of false pretenses. Quite the contrary. Genuine praise for effort and accomplishments can encourage us to even greater heights, challenging us to achieve even more. But when that praise becomes obviously patronizing or contrite it can have the opposite effect. So, we should choose when and to what extent to apply the compassionate lie.

            We have been lied to, lied for and lied about almost from day one. Parents lie to their children, children lie to each other, about each other, etc. And why?

            A parent may believe the child isn’t quite old enough or mature enough to know or handle the truth about certain things, but they are gullible enough to be fooled into believing some made up contrivance as long as it sounds reasonable. After all, children believe in nursery rhymes and fairy tales, so what’s the harm, right? They’ll under when they get older that it is for their own good.

            But what if they don’t understand when they get older? What if they are resentful? Will they be forgiving or will they continue the pattern with their own children? And it this really a bad thing?

            Bending or stretching reality to those who are ill-prepared to receive it is simply another form of the compassionate lie. Whether that lack of preparation is due to immaturity, misinformation or naivety is unimportant as long as the intent is to spare the recipient from harm. The intent is not to deceive, but to protect, to delay the truth until such a time that it might be better understood.

            As adults the compassionate lie becomes a bit more complex. Take, for instance, that famous courtroom scene from the book/play/movie where the prosecutor keeps badgering the witness to breakdown and tell the truth only to be told in no uncertain terms, “You can’t handle the truth!” Was the witness hiding the truth to cover up a scandal and avoid prosecution or to protect an unwitting public from a truth that could cause chaos and wide-spread panic? Was his a despicable falsehood or was it a compassionate lie? You be the judge.

            Sometimes, in our very darkest hours we cling to any little bit of hope we can imagine. Perhaps we even lie to ourselves, deny the reality of our situation, and accept unrealistic solutions longing for a better outcome. Surprisingly, more often than not, things have a way of working themselves out; perhaps not always the way we want, but not as disastrous as we expect. Did we deceive ourselves into accepting false hope or was it that hope, as elusive as it might seem, that kept us going, saw us through. That compassionate lie told only to ourselves became our savior.

            So, is the compassionate lie really so bad? Is it really a lie at all, or is it merely a device meant not to deceive, but merely to delay disclosure, spare hurt or instill hope? Perhaps it is simply a matter of time and place and circumstance. You be the judge… and use it wisely.

 

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