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Thanks for stopping by the bear cave and checking it out. Being serious all the time is un-bear-able, so we have added a great comic strip at the bottom of page for your enjoyment. Please feel free to leave your thoughts,or shoot us an e-mail with the link to the right. We'd love to hear from all the creatures in the forest.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reality Check

Here is an intresting issue.


"An increasing number of children are being diagnosed as bipolar. A study published in September 2007 held a shocking statistic: In the nine years between 1994 and 2004, the number of people under the age of 20 diagnosed with bipolar disorder leapt from 20,000 to 800,000—a 40-fold increase.


The numbers prompt both alarm and controversy. Are instances really increasing that rapidly, or are psychiatrists being overly aggressive with the diagnosis? Do we even know if symptoms seen in children indicate the same mental illness those symptoms represent in adults?" (http://health.msn.com/general/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100170345&GT1=10412)



So, we have a ton (800,00) of kids under the age of 20 being diagnosed with a mental illness that makes a person go from extreme happy to extreme depression, often.

THOUGHTS?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Character Quotations

"Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable."

Eleanor Roosevelt

"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built." Character - Education

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Illumination of Character

Every once in awhile the stormy skies of life's journey opens wide and allows history to shine on an individual so brightly that it exposes their recipe of character, causing it to stand out. One of these periods of time was the 1940's. Names like Churchill, Eisenhower, Hitler, Patton, and Montgomery bring to mind the differences in character foundations and how history illuminated those foundations.

In more recent times we see names like Bush, Clinton, Hussein, Blair, and Franks being recorded in history's pages but the level of character appears to be very different. If we were to use an individual's words and actions as a measure of their character we may start to form an opinion that history has been forced to record individuals with weaker character foundations. Or, we may want to spend some time investigating the cause of this apparent depreciation of character in today's society. We may want to look at some very important developments in society that have had a great impact on the reduction of personal character development. When leaders can watch an armed conflict in real time from the safety and comfort of their home, what happens to their struggle with the risk involved in such a conflict? I do not want to shine such a bright light on armed conflict. I would rather only illuminate it for a moment as a measure of what I think is happening on a bigger scale in the shadows of life.

How has technological advances affected our personal character development, interpersonal social development, and our overall coping skills? What adverse impacts are we going to reap from things like; X-box 360, PS2, texting, GPS, Internet social spaces and the like. Yes, I am forced to admit that many of these things have a very positive side. But have we asked ourselves about the long term downside of these things? The comments and reactions of my own children have brought these issue to light for me. True, television had a similar effect on my generation. But, today, I am forming the belief that technology is destroying our want to explore our environment. The level of awareness of who lives next to us, whats lays beyond the field behind our house, or the importance of failing, losing, or falling down and getting back up and dusting ourselves off is becoming no more than pushing the start button and playing another round.

How many of life's character building struggles are we going to rid society of? The easier we make life, the weaker we are becoming as a society. Take a warrior from the past. He would feel the toils of battle. The blood, sweat, tears, and the need to dig deep into his own foundations to bring to bear what was needed to overcome adversity. The warriors of the future will do an eight hour shift in front of a computer screen controlling automated machines thousands of miles away. After their shift they will head down to the bar get a drink or two, watch a movie, get a good night's sleep and report back in the morning for another eight hour shift. Am I the only one that sees the huge difference, or the negative impact of such advancements on the individuals character development? The already shifting values and principles of today's youth should be a huge red flag. We are inadvertently desensitizing our children to the very issues and struggles that create strong interpersonal character. What kind of character will history be forced to illuminate in the future?

Thoughts?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Carol Hagan



Every once in awhile I come across an artist that catches my eye. Carol paints many different things, but I love her bears. There is now a link to her web site in my artist section on the lower right side. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I have.



Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gandhi.

"The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within."-

Same Romance, New Seduction

As I walked around a place called "The Village" this morning I saw an ad in a sporting goods store window. I have no idea what the ad was for. But the tag line was in big letters and read "Same romance, new seduction." As I walked around enjoying the fresh mountain air, I started to think about those words in the window. Usually we associate romance with that butterfly fluttering feeling we experience while we interact within a special relationship. Romance is an investment of time and energy that often yields a deep emotional return. We often confuse romance with Love, acceptance, and the feeling of completeness. Romance is simply the pursuit of such things. I started to mentally wrestle with this process of romance. I asked myself questions like, “how do I romance?”, “what do I romance?”, and “have I been effective in my romantic efforts?”

So what can we put in place of those words, the "same romance." What is it in life that we romance? I thought of a ton of stuff. But everything I thought of brought me back to that foundational feeling of newness, being alive, feeling accepted and valued. Whether it is relationships, a new “toy” or adventure seeking, it comes back to experiencing an emotion that comes from deep inside and makes me feel like I can meet some internal need if I pursue this or that.

As an example, I will use the item that has been recently seducing me: a new mountain bike. Now mind you, I have three mountain bikes hanging in my garage. But these new ones are so seductive. Light weight, faster gearing, better suspension, and they look so cool. What will I do to get one of these babies into my garage? Why do I feel like I need another bike? I can reason that the new bike will get me back out on the mountain and is safer for me to ride. Same romance of riding in the mountains with a new seduction of looking cool and that I can only be accepted by other bikers if I look as cool as them.

Now let us take this back into the realm of relationships. What is it that drives us to pursue inter-relational romances and create new ways to seduce such experiences from life? What is it, exactly, that we are pursing with such endeavors? What is it that seems to fade with familiarity that we think we can replace with a newer version of the same thing? Is the appeal of romance embraced by our drive to acquire?

Thoughts?

Monday, September 24, 2007

William Shakespeare

"We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i' th' sun, And bleat the one at th' other. What we changed Was innocence for innocence; we knew not The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dreamed That any did."

The Death of innocence, the Birth of Character, and the foundation of choice.

Can you think back and recall when the feeling of innocence died? Can you recall that moment when you realized that this journey we call life was for real and it deals horrendously shocking moments to us? Some may call it the process of maturation, and some would call it just plain growing up. But what if one of these moments occur before we have a solid and sound belief system established? What if we endure such a moment before we were able to develop things like coping skills, communication skills, and reasoning skills? How would such a moment affect our beliefs and ultimately our future choices?

Moments that would seem to undue our innocence also seem to hold within their tight grip an opportunity to spawn seeds of character. However, I think that we need to have strong authority figures around us to help contain and direct the myriad of new beliefs that are generated from these horrendous moments. Imagine the young minds of our childhood holding a mixture of unchallenged beliefs we unconsciously absorbed from those around us. Picture these young minds, metaphorically, as raw iron ore straight from the ground. The ore will need to go through a transforming process in order to eliminate impurities and bond the iron. This process is best conducted by skilled craftsmen who know just how much heat to apply and when to separate the elements. I am likening this to those moments in life that shock the innocence out of us and the needed understanding of those around us.

Once the iron is created it is poured into shapes to be used. I am using this process to illustrate the formation of character. I am sure this is an over simplification of character development, but I am just trying to simply make an analogy. How my character is formed depends on how I perceive the feedback from those around me during the events in my life, coupled with my genetic traits. This mixture will become the foundation of my choices. Bonding these factors into character will not be pleasant I am sure. Maybe it would do more damage to try and develop deep character in the early stages of life. Maybe it is better that the younger generations are only in the beginning stages of character development. But then again, if we are making serious life choices at an early age, maybe there needs to be a process to productively take youth through the fires of character development without creating adults with weak character.

Thoughts?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Robert Browning

"No, when the fight begins within himself, A man's worth something."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Life's struggle and the revelation of character

I heard an interesting comment the other day. It went something like this, "character is not made, it is revealed". May be we all have a seed of character buried deep inside of us. May be this seed is just waiting for some significant event to bring it to life. This line of thought brought me to the Sequoia Redwood tree and it's seeds. The Redwood trees are known for their huge size. However most people do not realize that the Redwood seed is one of the smallest of seeds. This small seed must go through a fire in order for it to start growing. I wonder if character is like a Redwood tree? The more you endure the struggles of life the more your character blooms.

If this is even remotely close to how we develop our character, than one could draw some possible correlations to the apparent absence of true character in some young generations. We spoil our children these days. Our kids do not have the opportunities to grow their seeds of character like the opportunities our parents had. I think there is a polarization occurring between events that cause character growth and events that destroy character. I do believe that we need to experience life's struggles, but that experience should not be so extreme that it destroys us. Like a fire burning in the forest. If it is hot enough to stimulate the seed of the Redwood then a new life is formed. But if the fire is to hot it will consume the seeds and no new life is to be realized.

Pampering children does not help them grow and condemning them only destroys their growth. A computer screen generated conflict will not produce the type of interpersonal struggle needed to germinate one seed of true deep character. Exposing children to enough struggle to start that growth without destroying them should be of goal for today's youth. The question is what should that exposure look and feel like? Many people act like any struggle is a bad thing for today's youth.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Robert C. Savage

"You can measure a man by the opposition it takes to discourage him."

Weaving the threads of life into the cloth of Character

There is no easy way to grasp the complexities of character. We seemed to know the absence of character, but we struggle to identify the origin and developmental process of character. We generally recognize that this elusive subject has something to do with subjective concepts like: principles, values, morals, and traits. We often over look the process that is needed to bind these concepts together to form character. This process seems to be founded in action, conflict, experience, and ultimately some form of reflection. Character is not formed by accident, nor within a conflict free environment.

True character can not be conveniently shed in the moment in order to blend into the masses or avoid confrontation. when one explores this process of binding the threads of character, one may come to a conclusion that personal courage or fortitude may be a part of the binding agent that holds these threads in place. Like a loom, the tighter a thread is pulled, the stronger the cloth becomes. Can we weave a fabric of character without this process?

In order to weave our character cloth we must first gather the needed thread. Then we must place these threads into action. Testing the strength of our cloth as we go through life. We are constantly adjusting the tension on life's loom to try and get that perfect look and feel that we want. Where do we learn how to weave such a cloth? Where do we find the needed tension in today's society to create strong character? The American family has failed to produce the needed resilience of the thread. the American education system has failed to hold true to the standards needed to produce diverse threads. The Judeo-Christian church has failed to provide opposing tension to the consistently compromising world view. Children are no longer safe to playfully explore their budding character unsupervised in our communities.

We protect our families by removing ourselves from the social process that used to help develop our character. Society accepts no responsibility for any morals, values, and principles. General society has succeeded in removing all but the weakest opportunities to develop one's character. We learn without living. We live without solid connections to our convictions. Our convictions seemed to be based on monetary value and abandoned to the highest bidder. So where do we find this loom that is still producing a quality cloth of character?

Thoughts?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Martin Luther King Jr, The Purpose of Education

"The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals…We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate…"


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_character

The death of character.

Where has all the character gone in today's' masses full of individuality? There was a time when one's character had value. It would seem that the only measure that matters today is reputation, and we all know that we can manipulate reputation with a facade. However, character is built over one's entire life. It is nearly impossible to fake. Does anyone even care about character? Or are we happy as long as no one messes with our koolaid?

Who, what and where come to mind when thinking about the pursuit and development of one's character? Who is teaching or modeling such a destructive behavior? What good was it anyway? And where are we supposed to learn character, the internet? Group think is in and your character is not welcome. Why can't you just do what your told? Who do you think you are to oppose the group think?

Words that once were used to define character, like fortitude, perseverance, steadfastness, courage, integrity, are now dismissed from history and only revisited in dictionaries as a side note to a past era of men and women. Today, character is defined by your IM buddy, your "My Space" web page, or how you can truncate an entire sentence into a row of meaningless letters, "myob","brb". The future is about cloning character-less persons who can conform to a group's way of thinking. After all, character is just too independent and causes too much trouble for the rule makers. If you have spent anytime developing your character be warned, you wasted your time, unless you are looking for a fight. Look around you, anyone who dares to display any form of character are considered misfits, malcontents, rebellious, and delinquent. You can succeed today with no character whatsoever. Yep, character has been killed, and no one is looking for a suspect.

Thoughts?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I hate you, dont leave me.

Recently I've been reading a book called 'I Hate You, Don't Leave Me'. It portrays the lives of people who suffer from Borderline Personality. It talks of these people having a shaky sense of identity, violent outbursts, intense depression, and an irrational fear of abandonement amongst things. Well, much to my dismay, I could relate. But, in a sense, there was relief. I now could understand why I had these feelings, and I now had the power to change them. To be honest, the behaviors are not full blown, thankfully, but I believe they were learned generationally, and then augmented by my father's illness and death when I was a child. Trust me, it's been no easy road, and my ability to have and nurture close relationships still suffer. I can still feel so alone, in a roomful of friends and family...wanting to reach out, fearing vulnerability; not knowing how to reach out, the feelings are there, but the fear of rejection and abandonement quenches them; or worse, perhaps, in the fact that I reach out, connect, then pull back.

The thought of sharing this was a difficult choice for me, obviously for the vulnerablity of it. I share this only because the truth does set you free. We all have our pasts/past experiences that have formed us and affected us, and I believe it helps others to know that they're not alone in the struggle. Some good days, some bad....we all know that. I give my thanks to God, my husband, children and a few close friends/family who are only a phone call or a blog post away...who have extended their kindness, love and loyalty of friendship to me!
Blessings to you all!!!

For those who have similiar situations or experiences, I welcome your discussion. Let us share in tomorrow's sun rise!!

Warriors 'N' Whiskey, What a wonderful world.

An Irish orator, philosopher, & politician once made a comment that has echoed through recent history. He said "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke(1729 - 1797) I think this is a great statement. In my twisted reasoning I would have to come to the conclusion then, that in order to triumph over evil good men need to do something. However this twisted reasoning brings me to this question, why do good men choose to do nothing in the face of evil?

I would love to ask Edmund a few questions. Questions like, what does he think good people fear most, the triumph of evil or their personal destruction? Is it wrong for a good person to be scared of evil? Does he think that the majority of good people are too weak in character to endure a encounter with evil?

In the "fight" against evil, there seems to me to be two distinct factions of good people. Those who are from the faith based sector and those from the warrior class sector. Both sectors have strong points and weak points as they stand up to evil. One is more passive and one more aggressive. One confronts the perception of evil and one deals with evil straight forward. The warrior class tends to weed out the weak pretty quickly since there is no room for such weakness in a head to head encounter with evil.

I have had the privilege of being associated with some of the world's finest "warrior classes". It did not take me long to make some observations about the cost of standing up to evil, as Mr. Burke would have us all do if we claim the title of a good person. There seems to be a strong correlation between standing up against evil and surviving with "getting one's drink on". I am not talking about those who safely stay away from dark places and pray that some one will face the evil outside. I am talking about those who will walk outside and stand face to face with this evil. These individuals continue to risk life, peace, and the perception that this is a wonderful world in order for others to sit and do nothing, accept judge them for how they stood against this evil.

I have a good friend, who I have painfully watched over the years. He is, in my mind, a good person. He has stood against evil on countless occasions. He comes from a faith based family in the mid-west. He served his country within the most elite units, as well as, a career as a peace keeper. He is on his third marriage, he is counting his sober days, and I would still want him by my side when it comes to an encounter with evil. I have another friend that I love to death, however, I would be scared to have with me in an encounter with evil. He is strong founded in a faith based organization. He would choose to pray about what he should do in the face of evil. As for myself, I started out going to college to be a pastor. I ended up as a Marine, I have 17 years with a Law enforcement based job. I have been offered pastoral postions which I have turned down. I have several friends who are Pastors, several friends who are warriors, and several friends that are peace keepers. I myself am no saint. When I tell you there is a huge cost in Edmunds calling for good men to take a stand, I am speaking from my own torn path.

Please, correct me if you feel I am out of line, but honestly, when it is time to strike, it is time to strike. I can only imagine God saying, what on earth are you doing asking me what to do, get busy my son. I realize that there is a time to pray and seek whatever it is that God gives us in this matter. But there is also a time to stand and face this evil, even if we do it as we piss ourselves with fear. Do we not believe that our God will make the most out of our feeble attempt to stand his ground? Why do good people choose to stay idle inside, and allow evil to triumph?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In search of life's hidden path.

Recently I read three articles from very different sources. One article, in the locale news paper, covered the transforming event/s of the former lead guitarist, Brian Welch, from the band Korn. There is a quote from him that states "I had a spiritual encounter that took me higher than any drug I've ever done. It was real-100 percent without a doubt I know I had an encounter with God. I quit Korn within a couple of weeks and I was delivered from drugs and alcohol." (Daily News / Monday, September 3, 2007/ News -pg 3) The article was an interesting read by itself. However, I was exposed to this account after reading two other pieces of work.

The second article is from a Blog called Aventurefaith. This is evidently a part of a larger piece of work published in a magazine called Relevant. The author talks about his search for the true God. I happen to know this author, Mike, personally, and know that he has been on the path of Christianity for a long time. However, it would appear that this path has not been exciting enough, nor does it seem that the author is convinced about the whole church scene as he searches for the meaning of it all. In the end he seems to arrive back at his starting point, a feeling of God's love.
The third piece of literature that I read this week comes from a book my wife purchased for me. I am still puzzled why she bought me a book called, " The great Philosophers", (Stangroom, Garvey- Metro books, 2007) Anyway, on page 18, the authors discuss Aristotle's search for the meaning of Virtue. Aristotle states, "Virtue consists in choosing the mean between two extremes, that is, in feeling and acting rightly given all the peculiar circumstances of a situation."

As I reflect on the three pieces of literature, I am amazed by the convergence of the two paths.
Two men, with what I would call two opposing sides of the extreme scale, coming to a similar point, or mean. Both men have been searching for life's true path, just in different forests. They would have both, most likely shied away, if not rejected, each other in their quest for God's love.
I wonder how many of us are on our own quest for God's love? How many of us are searching for that hidden path that leads us to the good life? How many of us even know what that good life looks like? I have seen many people living a good life bored to death. Why do we always want what we do not have, no matter how good we have it? The irony is that Aristotle in his argument, touches on the fact that fellowship and friendship are key. He states " Genuine virtue requires not only fellowship with equals, but sometimes self-sacrifice of varying sorts. Without friends, such action is not possible, and therefore a fully virtuous life is not possible. Friends afford the opportunity for goodness and happiness." (Stangroom, Garvey, pg 19)
Maybe God is closest to us when we finally learn to forget ourselves. Maybe our path becomes hidden because of our blinding ego. Maybe our understanding that giving away is the only real way to get what we seek. What do you think?

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