Posts Tagged With: peace

What is Water?

What does it mean to “learn how to think”?  Is it just a cliché?  Or is there really something to it?

I remember my first day in my introduction to cultural anthropology class when my professor – one of two people I’ve come to consider as a mentor – told us that the purpose of higher education should not be to learn, but instead to unlearn everything we know…and then relearn it.  In essence, he felt that education at the university level should teach us to think critically, or analytically.  Since then, I’ve never had a single class that so drastically changed the way I see the world, and indeed, the way I think about things.

That professor recently shared an article that drives home a powerful point, a point which I’m sure the professor made clear in his class, but which I had since lost sight of.  It is namely that, we cannot only think critically about the “outside” world:  about how governments and other powerful institutions work; about how culture is formed, or what it all symbolizes; about how meanings are made; about the relationship between power, knowledge, and those meanings; about why humans do the things they do.  No, that is not enough.  As the following article makes clear, we must also learn how to think about the things that go on INSIDE our heads.  As David Wallace (the “author” of the article, which is actually the transcript of a commencement speech he gave) puts it, “ ‘learning to think’ really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.

Take seriously Wallace’s words; think about them .  They are not a manifesto, meant to dictate how we “should” live our lives.  They are more of an invitation…though, if he is to be taken seriously, his words are nothing short of an invitation to freedom.  That is, freedom from your own mind.  As he puts it, and I do agree with him, we are all naturally and almost unalterably self-centered.  After all, there is no experience that we have had, or will ever have, in which we are not the center of the universe; everything that we see, read, feel, hear, learn about, has to be processed and filtered, and understood inside our skulls, thus making our mind the center of (our) universe.  So, this self-centeredness is our “default setting.”

The point of “learning how to think,” then, is not only to question this default setting, but also to be able to exercise a certain amount of control over it…In essence, to take ourselves out of the center of all existence.  As Wallace puts it, it is no coincidence that we often refer to well-educated and sympathetic people as well adjusted.   They have learned to break out of the trance that is induced by the incessant monologue that goes on inside our heads, day-in and day-out.

How does all of this theoretical gobbldy-gook  translate into real-life application?  Because, that is after all, what’s most important.  To help the graduates he’s speaking to better grasp what he’s talking about, Wallace paints a very familiar scene:  You’ve just gotten off work, after a very long day, and you have to go to the grocery store to buy food for supper.  As soon as you enter, you realize that haggard old woman in front of you, pushing her cart so slowly, is in your way; and the kid chasing the bouncy-ball he just bought is getting on your nerves…You get the picture.  It seems as if those de-humanized globs of aggravation and sheer stupidity are simply there to make your day miserable.

Let me give another example from my own experience:  you’re heading to class – and you’re not even late; you make sure you leave with enough time – and then you get to campus and it seems that all 30,000 students have come to campus – in individual cars – at the same time and have taken up every single parking space – and the rest are circling around like freakin’ vultures waiting on a spot to open up.  They’re all frantically waiting to take your spot, to make you late.  Because, what do they have to do?  They’re just probably going to some stupid management class.  They’re not a TA who has to go impart wisdom about the history of world civilizations.  And then, because they didn’t recognize that the center of the universe itself needed a parking spot, they have put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

Wallace says that this type of thinking is our default setting.  And in modern mass society, where there is so much inevitable interaction between all of us, this aggravation with other people is amplified by sheer number of interactions.  And so, we are doomed to be constantly aggravated and depressed unless we learn how to control what we think, and de-center our selves.  We cannot actually control what goes on in the outside world – but we can control how we think about it, how we interpret what happens.  Perhaps that cashier who didn’t tell you “thank you” kindly enough was too busy worrying about who was picking up her child from school.  Perhaps that kid who got to the parking spot first was on her way to taking one of the most important exams of her academic life.  As Wallace points out, these ‘rosier’ situations aren’t very likely – but they are indeed possible.  But if we choose to think of it in that way – if we control our thoughts to interpret it in that way – we have taken (even if momentarily) ourselves from the center of all being, recognized the humanity in another, and at the same time, saved ourselves a load of frustration and stress.

That is the freedom that Wallace is talking about.  The freedom to choose how you think about the world; to free yourself from the hum-drum of daily life.  The cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant, but a horrible master” then takes on a whole new dimension.

It is sad that I must add that Wallace’s commencement address is not being circulated around the internet because he just gave the speech.  No, unfortunately, he just died at the age of 46; apparently by suicide.  Perhaps he found it too difficult to master his own mind and reach a level of freedom and peace.  I will quit rambling now and let you read Wallace’s wonderful, direct, and powerful words:

(click picture above for link to original webpage)

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

If at this moment, you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude — but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense.

A huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. Here’s one example of the utter wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness, because it’s so socially repulsive, but it’s pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. It is our default-setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: There is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real — you get the idea. But please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called “virtues.” This is not a matter of virtue — it’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default-setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

People who can adjust their natural default-setting this way are often described as being “well adjusted,” which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphal academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default-setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about college education, at least in my own case, is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract arguments inside my head instead of simply paying attention to what’s going on right in front of me. Paying attention to what’s going on inside me. As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head. Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal-arts cliché about “teaching you how to think” is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: “Learning how to think” really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.” This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. And I submit that this is what the real, no-bull- value of your liberal-arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default-setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.

That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. So let’s get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what “day in, day out” really means. There happen to be whole large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I’m talking about.

By way of example, let’s say it’s an average day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging job, and you work hard for nine or ten hours, and at the end of the day you’re tired, and you’re stressed out, and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for a couple of hours and then hit the rack early because you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there’s no food at home — you haven’t had time to shop this week, because of your challenging job — and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It’s the end of the workday, and the traffic’s very bad, so getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it’s the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping, and the store’s hideously, fluorescently lit, and infused with soul-killing Muzak or corporate pop, and it’s pretty much the last place you want to be, but you can’t just get in and quickly out: You have to wander all over the huge, overlit store’s crowded aisles to find the stuff you want, and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts, and of course there are also the glacially slow old people and the spacey people and the ADHD kids who all block the aisle and you have to grit your teeth and try to be polite as you ask them to let you by, and eventually, finally, you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren’t enough checkout lanes open even though it’s the end-of-the-day-rush, so the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating, but you can’t take your fury out on the frantic lady working the register.

Anyway, you finally get to the checkout line’s front, and pay for your food, and wait to get your check or card authenticated by a machine, and then get told to “Have a nice day” in a voice that is the absolute voice of death, and then you have to take your creepy flimsy plastic bags of groceries in your cart through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and try to load the bags in your car in such a way that everything doesn’t fall out of the bags and roll around in the trunk on the way home, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive rush-hour traffic, etcetera, etcetera.

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default-setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it’s going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply unfair this is: I’ve worked really hard all day and I’m starved and tired and I can’t even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid g-d- people.

Or, of course, if I’m in a more socially conscious form of my default-setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic jam being angry and disgusted at all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV’s and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks burning their wasteful, selfish, forty-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers, who are usually talking on cell phones as they cut people off in order to get just twenty stupid feet ahead in a traffic jam, and I can think about how our children’s children will despise us for wasting all the future’s fuel and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and disgusting we all are, and how it all just sucks, and so on and so forth…

Look, if I choose to think this way, fine, lots of us do — except that thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic it doesn’t have to be a choice. Thinking this way is my natural default-setting. It’s the automatic, unconscious way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I’m operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world’s priorities. The thing is that there are obviously different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stuck and idling in my way: It’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past and now find driving so traumatic that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive; or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to rush to the hospital, and he’s in a way bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am — it is actually I who am in his way. Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have much harder, more tedious or painful lives than I do, overall.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you’re “supposed to” think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it, because it’s hard, it takes will and mental effort, and if you’re like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat-out won’t want to. But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line — maybe she’s not usually like this; maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who’s dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept. who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible — it just depends on what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important — if you want to operate on your default-setting — then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren’t pointless and annoying. But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship…

Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.

Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness — awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is water, this is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.

Categories: Ideas & Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Prince of What?

About 45 minutes from my house lies a town even smaller than mine.  And actually not much sets Plains, Georgia apart from all of the neighboring small towns except one thing:  it’s home to the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter.

I hate to admit that, even after I became engrossed in History about six years ago, I had never visited Plains to see President Carter’s boyhood farm, his high school, or his current home.  My family and I had been talking about it for a while and we finally went to visit some friends there this weekend.  That’s when we found out the Carters were in town for the weekend.  In fact, he was going to be teaching Sunday school at his hometown church just outside of downtown Plains.  Cue the adrenaline and excitement!

So, we all woke up early this morning, and I have to admit that I had a moment where I had to stop and think, “What do you wear when you go to see a US President?”  We arrived at Maranatha Baptist Church ( www.mbcplains.org) early, went through the Secret Service security, and finally got our seats:  second row.  As someone told us what we could and could not do when President Carter arrived, I wondered to myself:  What would Mr. Jimmy, the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, and the president who founded both the Departments of Energy and Education, teach about?  I couldn’t picture him being a fire-and-brimstone type.  Would it be more of a biblical history lesson?  Defining morals?

The door opened and two secret service agents walked in, escorting the 86 year-old (though not so feeble as one might think) “Jimmuh” Carter.  He walked directly to the middle, explained away his cane (he just had knee surgery) and then asked where we were all from.  A good 20-25 states were represented, and there were also guests from Poland, Spain, Mexico, South Korea, Bosnia, the Netherlands, and France.  And then he started his Sunday school lesson.

The words he used were eloquent and his Southern accent dignified and sweet.  He opened by addressing a topic that I myself have both wondered and written about: the vast difference between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible (my particular interest is the difference between the god of the Old Testament, God, and the god of the New Testament, Jesus). He began by asking if it were possible to find missionaries in the Old Testament when it seemed that the Old Testament seemed to focus overwhelmingly on anger and violence, the destruction of entire towns, the assassination of women and children after war, and other such gruesome scenes.  He went on to admit that most Christians preferred the New Testament over the Old, mainly because the Old Testament focused on minutia, tiny and unimportant details of daily life.  “It lays out how many times we should wash our hands before eating, how many steps we’re allowed to take on the Sabbath, things that just aren’t important,” Mr. Carter told us.  “It paints a picture of God up there diligently taking account of every single thing that we do all day long.”  I half expected him to add, “And that’s not a very pleasant God, is it?”

But instead, he went on to tell us that Jesus came on the scene in the New Testament and changed everything.  He provided a new understanding, one which holds that God is love.  Actually, I’m sure that you can find the God of love periodically throughout the Old Testament, but it wasn’t until Jesus came along did the everlasting love and forgiveness aspects take the foreground.

And then, Jimmy asked a peculiar question:  Who are the chosen people?  Someone answered, the Israelites, and a woman behind me yelled out, Christians.  Jimmy nodded his head and repeated the answers slowly like any good teacher does (so you don’t feel foolish), and then said, “I don’t think so.  But let’s take a look in the Bible and see…”

That actually brings up another topic – namely that the Bible can be interpreted in many different ways.  And how a man interprets the Bible says a lot about him.  (But I’ll leave that alone for now…)

Mr. Jimmy read about a prayer that King Solomon offered up to God, and from that he came to the conclusion that “everybody on this earth belongs to the chosen people if they live their lives by Christ’s principles.  But now I guess we’ve got to define Christ’s principles, don’t we?”

And this is where I got a little nervous.  Was he going to go with the same old routine that I had heard before, the “No one is saved or good enough unless they say a particular prayer and go to a church”?  Or was he going to choose a more humanitarian path?  The answer came in the form of a question:

“Jesus.  He was the Prince of what?”  There was a mumbled answer from the congregation, but “peace” could be discerned.  “Exactly right:  Peace.  He was the prince of peace,” said teacher Jimmy, flashing a wide and genuine smile.  I breathed a sigh of relief and looked forward to hearing more from the old man with twinkling eyes up front.

“Can you imagine a world,” he asked “in which everyone followed Christ’s central message – that is, loving your neighbors and your enemies as yourself…treat others how you want to be treated.”  If I’m not mistaken, this was what Jesus called the second greatest commandment, only behind loving the lord with all your heart.

    Mr. Jimmy (he just didn’t seem like “President Carter” sitting there in front of us, talking so sincerely about love and peace) went on to spur us to imagine a world in which even governments followed Christ’s principle of peace.  And then he paused for a moment and said, “I don’t want to offend my own country – and I served in the Navy for 11 years – but it seems that the American government is all too willing, maybe even eager to use its military might to solve problems.  I’ve seen lately too often that our leaders use our military force instead of negotiation or diplomacy or other peaceful means to get things done.  Just go somewhere else in the world and ask someone if America is a peaceful country.  They’ll just laugh at you.”

Mr. Jimmy’s message (I guess I could compromise and call him Mr. Carter) reminded me of a night in class back in college.  The professor was – is – one of my favorite people in the whole world, and most certainly is one of the most brilliant and wisest human beings I have yet to run across (several of us still believe that his mind is so powerful he can turn troublesome students into a quarter to help buy himself a Diet Coke).  He is a professor of philosophy and during a “Philosophy of Christianity” course I was surprised to find out that he was also a minister.  When someone asked, “You’re a Christian?!” the professor explained, “Yes, a lot of people don’t consider me a Christian because I don’t believe the Bible literally.  I don’t think Jesus actually rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion.  But, I do consider myself a Christian in that I have dedicated my life to the message of Christ:  recognizing the humanity in everyone, showing love and compassion, even to those I don’t feel deserve it.”

I had never thought of it that way before, but I loved that definition of “being Christian.”  In fact, it was one I could get behind.  That definition of “Christian” wasn’t exclusive; it didn’t exclude other peoples – people who were loving and compassionate people – just because they didn’t pray a certain way.

It actually makes me think of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi:  I dont reject your Christ, I love your Christ.  Its just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.  

I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that Mr. Jimmy would agree when I say that we in this “Christian nation” better start acting like true Christians and following the message of Compassion and Peace.

*****

    I thought about finishing up there, but I do have a few other things I would like to make available.  First, I’ll add that after the church service (where the Carters sat a few pews back, just sitting among the other church members), both Mr. President and Mrs. Rosalynn stuck around for about half an hour to take pictures with anyone who wanted to.  So, our family – affectionately known as Mama’ernem, which will have to be explained in a later post! – got our picture taken with the Carters before we headed for Sunday dinner.

Now I’m going to do a little PR for Plains.  Because of the horrible economic times, the small town of Plains is suffering the fate of many other small towns around America – it’s slowly shrinking, and it may look a little bleak at first.  However, for anyone interested in politics, history, or Smalltown, USA, a day trip to Plains is well worth it!

Main Street has a number of antique shops to browse through, and you can even stay at the gorgeous historic inn (www.plainsinn.net).

Just call “Miss Jan” at (229) 824-4517, or email her at pinn@sowega.net for information.  Besides being a wonderful host, Jan has been friends with the Carters for her whole life, so she’s got plenty of stories to tell that you won’t hear on TV!

The US Department of the Interior has taken over Jimmy Carter’s boyhood farm and has turned it into a national park.  You can visit Jimmy’s bedroom, see the backyard that he played in, and sit in his front porch swing.  Check out www.nps.gov/jica for more information on the farm.

There is also only one place to eat in Plains, and that’s Mom’s Kitchen.  I’ve eaten there twice in the last two days and let me tell you, the food is awesome, fresh and homemade.  You won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for genuine Southern cooking.  However, if you’re one of those types that count their calories, you better skimp on your meals for about a week in advance, because as any good Southerner will tell you, we’ll eat most anything deep-fried.  Another advantage to Mom’s Kitchen:  the Carter’s have been known to drop in for supper when they’re in town.

So, if you live in the area, take the time to go explore Plains.  Even if you’re not from here and are just making a tour of the South, Plains is an excellent spot to stop for the night.  It’s humbling to see the house where Jimmy grew up without electricity, knowing that he went on to spend four years in the White House, help make peace between Israel and Egypt, and then later win a Nobel Peace Prize for affecting the entire world in a positive manner through his efforts at the Carter Center.

And if you’d like a chance to meet President Carter, he teaches Sunday school most of the time when he is home. You can check out his Sunday School schedule HERE.  Take the time to go hear his message; I’m sure it’ll be an inspiring one.

Don’t know where Plains, Georgia (31780) is?  MapQuest it; or if GoogleMaps is more of your thing, use it.  You can also visit the town’s website at www.plainsgeorgia.com.  Or if talking to a person suits you best, then give Jan a call (number above) – she’ll be able to tell you anything and everything about Plains.

*****

    I think I will end with a quote from another wise man, Albert Einstein:

“Peace cannot be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding.

Categories: History, Politics/Current Events, Religion, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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