Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Value of perspective

One reason why the problems of the moment can seem completely overwhelming is because you're so close to them. It is always helpful to put things in perspective. Your immediate frame of reference is based on the last few hours or days. Yet when you step back and put things in perspective, that time accounts for only a small fraction of your life.

Certainly the present moment is of vital importance, for it's the one in which you're living. Yet even as you live in the current moment, your life has an immense reservoir of value, knowledge, and experience.

When the challenges seem insurmountable, consider all the massive challenges you've already overcome. Compared with the totality of who you are and who you can be, most difficulties will pale by comparison.

It's easy to allow the problems of the moment to dominate your thinking, for they can certainly be compelling. To move successfully through the challenges, to think more clearly and act more effectively, take a step back from them.

Give yourself some perspective. And you'll see your way positively through.

-- Ralph Marston

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Inspirational Speech given at Stanford in 2005. video

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Psychology: Story of the blind men and the elephant

Consider the old story of the blind men and the elephant. A long time ago three very wise but blind men were out on a journey when they came across a sleeping elephant. Because they could not see the elephant, they did not know what was blocking their way so they set about to discover what they could about the obstacle. As it happened, each man put his hands on a different section of the elephant, exclaiming it in great detail and what they could about the obstacle. As it happened, each man put his hands on a different section of the elephant, examining it in great detail and with much thought. The first man, having felt the elephant's trunk, described a creature that was long, wormlike, and quite flexible. "No, no! You must be mistaken," said the second man who was seated on the back of the elephant,"This creature is wide, very round, and does not move very much." The man who was holding one of the elephant's tusks added his description of a small, hard, pointed creature. Each of these men was correct in his description of what he felt, but, in order to understand the elephant fully, they needed to combine their accumulated knowledge.

* The study of human behavior is similar. Many different approaches are necessary to understand the complex richness of human behavior.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Making dreams come true

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours... If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
-Henry David Thoreau

Monday, July 4, 2011

America -- The preservation of George Washington

I am proud to be an American! At this time of year when we celebrate the founding of America, one can't help but notice God's hand its creation. I have read numerous stories about how the founding of America seemed like an impossible task, but as the bible states, "With God, all things are possible." That certainly rings true in this case. I wanted to post one of my favorite stories about George Washington, who is known to many as one of the founding fathers and first president of the United States of America.



George Washington was only a 23 year old colonel at the time of the ill fated war, along the banks of the Monongahela river, near Fort Duquesne (pronounced Dew-Cane), which is now Pittsburgh, Pa.

War had broke out between the French & Indians vs England, over the territorial right of way in America. American colonies were forced to come together for the first time, and join with England to fight a common foe, France, and the Indians who had joined with them.

Between 1688-1763, England and France had been at war with each other in several different places in Europe. Then in 1754, war erupted here, for territorial control of America. This really was the genesis of the Colonies coming together, to become one nation.

George Washington's role in this affair really began in October 31, 1753, when he was commissioned as ambassador by Governor Robert Dinwiddie (of Virginia), to carry a diplomatic objection to General St. Pierre stationed at Fort le Boeuf on the shore of Lake Erie. This was a final precursor to war over the territorial claim of the Ohio Valley between England and France.

This was a treacherous journey of more than 500 miles, over rough terrain dense forests, and through flooded river valleys. He had to take an interpreter with him, and a small party. There was no guaruntee that they would receive a warm welcome. Can you imagine a 21 year old right now in our time, representing us as ambassador to say; Iran?! But God was grooming George Washington to become the great leader that he was!

The French did not back down on their claim to the Ohio Valley, so in 1754 George Washington began to help raise troops in Virginia. He was made lieutenant colonel, and given a command. On May 1st, 1754, Washington set out to retake the area of Fort Duquesne. He had come upon it on his emissarial journey, and made note of it's excelent postition the year before. But in the interim, the French had begun to build Fort Duquesne.

Washington was informed by two Indian scouts, of a small scouting party approaching them. Out of necessity he built a small stockade (60 miles from Ft. Duquesne), and aptly named it Fort Necessity. He then attacked the party determined to make the first strike. A French leader named Jumonville, and ten of his men were killed, and 21 were made prisoners.

After some time went by with scarce reinforcements (Washington had barely 400 troops), Washington decided to advance on Ft. Duquesne. On July 3, Washington was approached by General De Villiers and 1,200 of his men. He fell back to Fort Necessity, and was deluged by musket balls from the French & Indians stationed amongst the trees, and rocks. The French and Indians remained in a full circle around Fort Necessity pelting them with musket balls for 9 hours!

The American's bravely resisted them, and only 30 of Washington's men were killed. At length, Gen. De Villiers offered up terms of surrender to the American's. Washington accepted the honorable terms, and he and his army were allowed to leave with all their equiptment, and provisions. Later, Washingon was given public thanks by the House of Burgesses for a valliant stand against overwhelming odds!

Enter General Edward Braddock, one of England's most experienced officers. He had heard of the prowess of George Washington, and asked him to become one of his aids allowing Washington to retain his previous rank. Washington's Mother feared for her son's life, and tried to persuade him to stay home. Washington replied:

"The God [Jesus Christ] to whom you commended me madam, when I set out upon a more perlious errand, defended me from harm, and I trust He will do so now. Do not you?"
The stage was now set. Washington had done everything he could to inform Gen. Braddock of the "Guerilla" style tactics of the French & Indians. But Braddock was insulted to be advised by an inferior officer, so he didn't heed Washington's prudent warning. Indians on America's side tried to enlist their services as well, and Braddock dismissed them as savages with little or no merit!


On the morning of July 9th, 1755, Braddock and 1000 of his men, along with Washington and some of his Virgina regulars, crossed the southern shore of the Monongahela. Colonel Thomas Gage had a forward detachment of 350 soldiers, 250 workers and axemen, cutting a path. They were about 10 miles from Ft. Duquesne around 1:00 pm, Gage and the forward detachment had just crossed a ravine when scouts, and flanking parties came running back towards them, waving them off. Just then, they were hit with a fusillade of musket balls. It immediately became choas. The British could not see their enemy, because they were hidden behind rocks, hills, and trees. The rain of bullets kept coming in on them dropping them like flies. Gage's men fired back at the direction of the smoke plumes from their enemies rifles, but hit nothing but the rocks, hills, and trees, merely splintering bark.

Gage's men and the horses continued to drop, some of the wounded horses began to panic and bolt, carring wagons full of their weapons and ammo, trampling men on the ground as they galloped off. The workers and axemen also began to flee in panic.
For the Indians who were crack marksmen, this was like shooting fish in a barel! Eventually what was left of Gage's forward detachment began to retreat. Gen. Braddock hearing the gunfire, left 400 troops along with most of the Virginia regulars with Sir Peter Halkett, and most of the baggage. Braddock and his remaining troops, Washington and a 100 or so Virgina militia hastened towards the battle. The retreating men collided with the advancing men, setting them to more confusion. All the while, the French and Indians continued to rain down musket balls upon them with deadly accuracy, and force.

It became an instant slaughter as Braddock instructed his men to form colums (which made them easy to hit because of thier red coats, and being in plain sight) like they were accustomed to doing in Europe. Musket balls rained down on them at will, cutting them down like a lawn mower cuts grass and anything else that gets in it's way, with an instantaneous efficiency!

The 100 or so Virginiamen quickly adopted the Indian style of warfare, and dropped behind trees and shot only when an enemy target was visible. Gen. Braddock was furious at this, and barked orders for them to get out from behind the trees. He saw this as cowardice according to his rules of engagement.
He was undaunted in his task, bravely going to and fro amidst the shower of musket balls, trying to rally his troops. During this time he had five horses shot out from under him. But in spite of his bravery and reckless courage, he could not stem the tide.

At the same time, God's hand can be seen protecting George Washington while he was busy going back and forth across the battle field completely exposed, carrying out General Braddock's orders. One soldier observing Washington, stated:

"I expected every moment to see him fall. Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him."
Indians testified later, that they had singled him out, but their bullets had no effect on him. They were convinced that an Invisible Power was protecting him.


Washington had two horses shot out from under him, and four bullet holes in his coat. Yet he himself was untouched by bullet, bayonet, tomahawk, or arrow. Scores of vicims had fallen beside him, yet he went unharmed. He had been protected by God's hand! Every other mounted officer, had been slain!

Eventually Braddock was mortally wounded in the side, and fell. When this occured all the british troops fled in confusion. Washington gathered up what was left of the Virginiamen, barely 30 of them, the injured General, and proceeded to cover the retreating British, He left all the baggage, weapons, provisions, cattle, and horses behind for the enemy to plunder. General Braddock died three days later.

It was the most lopsided battle in American history. 714 British soldiers had been killed, 37 wounded. 26 officers out of 86 were killed, and 37 wounded. Only 30 men, and 3 officers were killed, of the French and Indians!

Upon Washington's return to Fort Cumberland (120 miles from the battle scene), he wrote a letter to his mother to alay any fears she would have, as news of the rout had preceded them. On the same day (July 18, 1755) he also wrote to his brother, John A. Washington:

"As I have heard since my arrival at this place [Fort Cumberland], a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you that I have not as yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!"

But wait, it gets even better. 15 years later, an old respected Indian Chief sought out council with Washington, when he heard that he was in the area. Through an interpreter he explained that he had set out on a long journey to meet Washington personally, and to speak to him about the battle 15 years earlier. He said:

"I am a cheif and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief [Washington]. I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe--he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do--himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss--'twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington], and guides his destinies--he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle."

For the full article:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

People Pleasing

The Parable of the Old Man, The Boy, and The Donkey

There was an old man, a boy and a donkey. They were going to town and the boy was riding the donkey, with the old man walking alongside.

As they rambled along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade. One of the women called out, ''Shame on you, a great lump of a boy, riding while your old father is walking."

The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.

Later they ambled by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river. One cried out in protest, "How could you make your little boy walk in the hot sun while you ride!"

The two travellers decided that maybe they both should walk.

Next they met some young men out for a stroll.

"How stupid you are to walk when you have a perfectly good donkey to ride!" one yelled derisively.
So both father and son clambered onto the donkey, deciding they both should ride.

They were soon settled and underway again. They next encountered some children who were on their way home from school.

One girl shouted, "How mean to put such a load on a poor little animal."

The old man and the boy saw no alternative. Maybe the critics were right. They now struggled to carry the donkey.

As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the confused animal and he fell to his death in the river.

And the moral, of course, is that if you try to please everyone you will never know what to do, it will be hard to get anywhere, you will please no-one, not even yourself, and you will probably lose everything.