If I ignore the plight of two hundred girls,

Leaving them in the jungle with no hope,

How can I look myself in the eye tonight?

If I see thousands of children starving,

Caught in the throes of war and plight,

How can I sleep tonight?

Their eyes accuse me, each and all,

While I eat until I’m sated,

Extra pounds gained but really hated.

My clothes have shrunk and are very tight,

How can I sleep tonight?

Political refugees, sexual refugees,

Economic refugees, and more,

Let’s squash their hopes and close the door.

Let’s build tall fences to stop those fleeing,

Who cares what terror they are seeing?

But how can I sleep tonight?

Nuclear bombs are at the ready,

Controlled by rulers who are sane and steady,

Powered by testosterone and ready to fight

But who are the ones who will do what’s right?

And how can I sleep tonight?

If I ignore the wounds and endless pain,

Shrugging off man’s inhumanity again,

Will the world survive to see morning’s light?

And how can I sleep tonight?

by Dan Roberson 9/28/2015

Love Is the Beginning, And the End        (Part 0ne)

“Teacher, what is love? Is it a mutual understanding between two lovers? Is it a foolish idea that attempts to explain the crazy things people do when they are smitten with lust? Or is it a physical act?”

The teacher hesitated for a few seconds. He was well aware that the student was trying to lure him into a debate that might be dangerous.  More students entered and slipped quietly into seats. The classroom was packed and students waited for his answer.

He raised his hand and began, “There is no simple answer so I will leave my books and explain love the best way I can.  If you are offended by anything I say, please accept my apology in advance and remember I love you.

Some of what I tell you will be in religious terms.  The rest will be my thoughts and theories based mostly on my life experiences and observations.  Are you ready to listen to my version of love?  There is no reason to take notes.  You will not be tested on my version.

In the beginning there was nothing.   There were no plants, animals, or life. God decided something was missing so Adam was created to interact and worship God. Adam wasn’t hunting or fishing yet and his interactions with God weren’t complex so he didn’t need anything more than simple wiring.  A few wires and an off/on switch and he was good to go.

Adam got bored easily. He needed something to do so he was given the task of naming all the animals.  After a few hours he decided the job was overwhelming.  There were so many animals and they were constantly moving.  He lost count and forgot names several times. He wanted help and complained to God. “I’m just one man. How do you expect me to do this job right? I need a scribe, a herdsman, a gardener, and several other helpers. It’s just too much for me.”

God grew tired of Adam’s complaints and caused him to fall into a deep sleep. While Adam slept God took one of Adam’s ribs and began assembling a newer sleeker version of Adam, a version that was far more complex. There were many more wires, many more hormones, and an updated hormone, estrogen, that enabled this human to care deeply. This human was designed to multitask, communicate more efficiently, endure extreme hardships, assist Adam and take care of him. All was good.

Adam was not pleased at first. He had requested several workers but only received one. “Are you sure about this?” he asked. “This helper is smaller and looks delicate. When I filled out the request forms did I forget to fill in some blanks?”

God smiled. “Adam, you’ll be surprised. I even put in some extra features that you will enjoy. When you get bored this helper will also entertain you.”

Adam still hesitated. “If I don’t like this, this, person….can I call this person woman until we get this worked out?”

God smiled and said it was all good and Adam was content for a while.  Then one day he approached God and said, “Lord, there are still too many things to do. Do you have any more of these helpers?  If one is good, then two or three more will make things even better.”

God smiled because a plan was already in effect. A small helper would be conceived and borne inside an adult’s body for nine months before the helper was ready to face the world.

Adam was pleased at first.  Then he asked, “How long will it take until this helper gets big enough to do his share of work?”

Eve was not pleased. She thought Adam had been slacking since the first day she met him.  Now he was trying to get more helpers.  She took care of him.  Wasn’t she doing a good job?  Adam was asking far too much.  He was being too greedy.  She raised her hand and asked her question. “Lord, It’s about time Adam started doing his share.  He’s big and strong.  Don’t you think he could do more and quit complaining?  He needs to grow up and quit being so helpless.”

She turned to Adam and said, “Honey, I’ll help you as much as I can.”

“Lord, would you explain how this is going to work? How long will Adam have to carry this child before the child is born? Won’t this be too hard on him?”

God smiled. “Eve, you will be the one carrying the child inside your body. Eve, you’ve already been approved for the premium love package. Once that’s updated you’ll have more love to care for any children.”

A hand waved in the back of the class. A young man stood up and said, “Yo, teacher!  That’s very entertaining but what’s this have to do with real love?” Several students applauded and the young man bowed in several directions before he sat down.

The teacher said quickly, “That’s not a good question. That’s an excellent question. Let me tell you what happens next.”

“Eve was given the extra wiring and hormones she needed to love more. When the baby was born she loved him immediately with a fierce protecting love.”

A different student raised a hand. “What about Adam? Didn’t he love the baby, too?”

“Not at first. The baby drew Eve’s attention away from Adam and took most of her time. Adam was jealous for the first time of his life. He pouted and hung out with the smelly sheep, the wooly mammoth, and stayed in the dog house.  Finally he gave up and returned to Eve.”

“Eve, I don’t understand why you prefer the baby over me. You’re my helper, not his.”

While Adam pointed out the reasons why Eve should like him more, Eve waited patiently, cognizant of the fact she liked them both for different reasons. The baby was helpless and needed her.  Adam was helpless only when he got lazy.   He could take care of himself for a little while.

“Teacher, If Adam and Eve both loved each other, wouldn’t their love be the same?”

“Over a period of time that “like” continued to expand. Strong “like” turned into love. As their emotions developed, Adam’s love was limited. His love was connected to only two wires. Eve’s love was more powerful because she had many wires and hormones.  Her love grew stronger and more intense. She gave most of her love to her man. She still had enough to love herself, her children, her extended family, and the friends in her social groups.”

“But teacher,” another student called out. “Adam and Eve were fictional. What about men and women in today’s world? Don’t they share the same household duties?”

The teacher glanced around the room. “In a perfect world that could happen but we don’t live in a perfect world. Do we? When a married couple both work, chores should be evenly distributed.  Instead, they come home and the man says, “It’s been a hard day and I need to get off my feet.” He sits down and turns on the tv.  The woman also worked but she starts making dinner.  Why? Because it’s something she’s programmed to do.  She loves her man and takes care of his needs.”

“That doesn’t sound right,” someone shouted.

The teacher said, “What if the man gets sick?  Who takes care of him?”

A voice from the front row said, “The woman.”

The teacher asked, “If the woman gets sick, who takes care of her?”

The voice from the front row said quietly, “The woman.”

The teacher continued, “If there are children who are sick, who cares for them?”

From the front row, “The woman.”

The teacher asked, “What about extended family or in-laws or neighbors?”

The voice answered. “The woman takes care of them.  But what does this prove?”

The teacher answered, “I think her capacity to love and care for everyone is greater because she has more emotions, or feelings, and she tends to notice the life force which connects us to all living things. If women didn’t have a deep regard for life of all kinds, men would soon destroy the world.

Others have noticed this phenomena.  There’s a book which explains the theory that men are from Mars, the war planet, and women are from Venus, the love planet.”

“But teacher, civilization occurred because of men who conquered and combined small kingdoms. Aren’t the beginnings of each civilization tied to the efforts of ambitious men?”

The teacher replied, “While men rested between wars, women compared and collected ideas from the conquered peoples and taught these new ideas to their friends and families. In my opinion they were picking up the pieces after a war and making things more beautiful and useful. The men shouted and boasted while the women quietly improved their lives. From these quiet times of collecting and disseminating ideas came the humble beginnings of schools and libraries.”

The teacher continued, “In the American west the men came to make their fortunes, some looking for gold and others tried different means. In cattle country men would work long hours, come into a make-shift town looking for trouble. They were tired and hungry, wanting entertainment, and lonely as well as angry. Often they would fight and someone would get killed.  Justice was swift and deadly, by a hangman’s noose or posse. When women began arriving in their bonnets and petticoats men had to come up with new rules to protect their women. That was the beginning of civilization and when babies were born the rules tightened even more. Gradually men became more content with their roles as peaceful men.”

“But teacher, you haven’t really explained this powerful emotion called love. Is love worthwhile, or should couples be selected in some logical way?”

“In much of the world marriages were non-existent because they weren’t necessary.  If a man thought a woman looked good he simply kidnapped her or selected her out of his captives. Or he could trade or barter for her. Her value was in producing strong healthy children. From the pool of royal males an heir to the throne was selected.  Love was rarely part of the process.”

In other parts of the world arranged marriages were thought to be more civilized.  If wealth was distributed to both the man and woman, it seemed prudent to keep the wealth within certain family parameters. Partners in marriage were selected and a marriage arranged years in advance, sometimes before one of the partners was even born.  By controlling the marriage those in charge could consider many aspects but love was not the top priority.”

“When love entered into the equation the rules were different than those we have now. Marriage was for producing heirs. Love was for enjoying being with someone.  Knights would carry a lover’s scarf into battle to win her favor.  Love was lust fulfilled.  Love was a temporary commitment of the heart.”

“Teacher, isn’t love the same today? Don’t we vow our love forever?”

“Society has changed.  Love has become disposable.  We really don’t want to commit our hearts to one lover.  Often it’s, ‘I’ll love you until I see someone I love even more.’ Or it’s, ‘As long as you make me feel good, I’ll love you.’

The teacher continued, “If you marry your best friend, don’t you expect that friendship to last? If you truly accept and love your lover, don’t you expect your love to last?  If love can’t be destroyed, where does it go? Is it driven away because it’s too much work?”

“But teacher,” protested a student several rows back, “maybe love fails because the man has chosen the wrong woman as his partner.”

The teacher sighed and peered up into the growing crowd. It was lunchtime and more students had arrived and were waiting for the teacher to continue his explanations of real love. The teacher asked for a glass of water and a student said, “I’ll be right back.” He returned in a few minutes carrying a cold bottle of water and set it on the podium. “Thanks,” the teacher said before taking a few sips.

“Let me respond to the statement made before my break.  In the first place, I think the woman is more equipped to make selections.  Consider this situation.  A man and a woman are each going out to buy a pair of shoes.  The man goes first because he has things he wants to do around the house. There are twenty stores nearby that sell shoes so he enters the first store he comes to, checks to see if the store offers his kind of shoe in the right size and style. He looks at the shoes. If they match what he’s looking for, he buys the shoes and goes home, happy that he has completed his task. He’s done and he can relax.

The woman has been finishing some last minute chores, freshened up so she can be seen in public, and now she’s ready to go.  She enters the first store, looks around to see if there are any sales in progress, any clearance items, or anything she’s previously overlooked.  If all is in order she proceeds to the shoe department.  She looks through the women’s section and considers the styles, prices, colors, and all the details.  She tries on several shoes of various styles and sizes and wonders why shoes are so much smaller than they used to be.  The saleswoman who assists her never complains because she knows women like to try on and compare many shoes and may return to buy several pairs.

The woman doesn’t buy at this time because she wants to compare the shoes in the other stores.  Before she exits she looks at the men’s shoes, children’s shoes, and even shoes for the baby. All this information is catalogued and stored on a list somewhere in her brain, just in case she needs that information later. She proceeds to the second store and repeats the process, this time comparing prices and quality of all the shoes. The search continues until she has been in all twenty stores. She goes home because she’s not ready to buy yet.

Some women save coupons, sale ads, discounts and find ways to make a purchase at the least expensive price. The important thing is that she makes lists, compares, and selects exactly what she wants.”

“Teacher, you sidetracked us. My statement was about men making the wrong choices of partners.”

“No, I was building the foundation for my rebuttal of your statement.  Instead of men making the choices, I believe it’s the women who choose their marriage partner.”

“That’s ridiculous, teacher! Men make strong decisive decisions and always choose the one they want.”

The students were leaning forward in their seats. They had him. There was no way he could prove women chose their mates.

“Students, you make it sound so easy, but here’s what I think really happens.  A man loves with his eyes. He sees something he wants and he goes and gets it. At this point I agree with you. When he sees a beautiful woman he claims her for his future bride.  But he takes his time because he wants to keep playing the field. He still watches his chosen woman but he’s relaxed.

In the meantime a different woman is making a list.  Remember from the shopping lesson that women make lists. Now she checks her list and each man she’s interested in is compared with what she wants.  Is he a good lover? A good provider? ( because he has a job), will he be a good father?, is he stingy or generous? Her list may be very long or very short, depending on her status at the time. If she decides she wants the man who chose the other woman, she will win.  Women love from the heart and use the list as their fact sheet. A man loves with his eyes and his one condition, that a woman is beautiful, cannot stand the test of time. The woman who loves this man, becomes a fisherman.  She baits her hook and waits, offering invitations to dinner, to parties, to dances. If he takes the bait she offers, he is hers. He continues playing in the stream unaware she is gradually reeling him in.  When she has turned his head he can no longer see the woman he originally chose.  His shallow love, based on loving with his eyes, is focused on the fisherwoman. He forgets his first choice. The fisherwoman wins. If she’s wise she will tell him she’s glad he chose her, but in her heart she knows the truth.”

“Teacher, how did you learn so much?  Your thoughts are not in the books.”

“I’ve loved and lost many times, but always to love again.  When I tried to protect my heart from getting hurt I made several discoveries.  I found that I could block out love and keep my heart safe.  But in doing that, my heart was shriveling up and turning to stone.  It was better to become vulnerable and risk being hurt rather than not love at all.  In essence, trying to love less only made me love more.”

“Teacher, what does a woman mean when she says, “I love you but I don’t “love” you?”

“She’s telling you she likes you as a friend but you don’t excite her.  Love is mutual understanding and commitment.  It means giving and getting.  Love doesn’t always come easy.  Both of you are constantly changing and growing and becoming different people.  If you are alert and keep communicating, the gap between you may not become too great. Problems can be solved.  Sometimes you just have to stretch until you decide you still want to be together.  Love exists and continues when both people are willing to put in the work.

You have to have the mindset that you’re building a house of love.  If honesty, trust, and commitment are the foundation, love can continue building upward. As you work together and strive to keep trust and commitment, there may still be times when love gets stale.

Temptations are all around us. When something sounds too good to be true, it should be viewed as false until it’s proven to be true. It is easy to be blinded by temptations that offer easy solutions.  If you let neglect, loneliness, or ignorance enter your house of love, love gets shoved aside.  Keeping love fresh and alive even during stressful times is always the challenge.  At the beginning of your marriage make a commitment to love each other with all your heart, and then work constantly to keep your love fresh and pure.”

End of Part One

by Dan Roberson

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