What Makes Life Matter?

I am sure by now all of you, like me, are weary of hearing Black Lives Matter, and all the rhetoric associated with the phrase. It isn’t really being used as an introduction to a productive and honest conversation, or even as a true call to arms to change injustice. I am not, and I will emphasize that for commenters, am not wanting to discuss the worthiness of the cause and all the associated protests, and violence. We can leave that for other posts.

Because this has been at the forefront of our minds the last months, no matter which side of the issue you take, I have been giving a lot of thought to what makes life matter. You can throw out a phrase the media seizes or glorifies without really having any true understanding of it. That is inconsequential to the truth, and only the mentally lazy or immature accept it at face value.

For this thing we sum up as life, a big word indeed, what does give it meaning? What really matters? I’m sure since the beginning of human ability to discuss and record ideas no consensus has ever been found, but, at least in Western society as I know it, until recently, it appears to me that people, families, cultures, governments, philosophers, historians, educators and theologians shared some ideas.

What are they? Unique to each person, we can never speak authoritatively for all, and I do not seek to do that here. I would just, with your assistance, examine some of the more common motivations that I became familiar with through my childhood, born in the late fifties, and adult years, and feedback from friends, family, and ideas from my reading and studies.

It seems to me that every generation bore the burden of living up to unspoken standards, perhaps innocently as a toddler, and maybe even unwillingly as the child grew and became a teenager, in certain instances. No individual came away unswayed by those parental and societal expectations, not even the great and small rebels who defined their rebellion against those very expectations, be they bath and bedtime, curfew, length of hair or hemline, or denial of civil rights or religious freedom.

From earliest human history, people had to work to provide their safety, sustenance, and hope for another tomorrow. Only relatively recently in our existence have we had the luxury of leisure and reflection.

I know that life for my grandparents was all about work, survival, and that included surviving the Great Depression and all that entailed. Gardening especially, farming in Kansas during Dust Bowl years for my dad’s family. Re-using, repairing, making do, sacrificing for the whole family, and especially for the sick, the young, the old.

Throughout our American history, immigrants arrived on our shores with their own expectations and goals and desires. They brought into our melting pot cultural richness and beliefs that added to who and what we are, added by their work, sacrifice, hunger for success and life for the generations they gave birth to. But they also, upon arrival and integration into American life and society accepted the expectations of previous generations of Americans and determined to live up to those expectations, those standards, and stand alongside their American brethren to contribute not only daily bread to their hungry children, but to the building and protection and success of this great country that they gave everything for.

Immigrants did not leave their homes and families behind, almost everyone of them knowing they would never see father, mother, brothers and sisters again, to come to America and stand idle, to wait in a bread line, to huddle in hovels and listen to the powerful tell them how to live and what to think.  They came with dreams yes, but equal measures of determination, grit, work ethic, and hope. They came to build, and build they damn well did.

When I was a child our parents, and every teacher I ever had, painted pictures in our daily lives, in our minds, by words and deeds, of those who came before and built. In kindergarten we learned the story of the Pilgrims and Indians and the struggle to establish a home in the wilderness. Later in school we celebrated Thanksgiving through plays and the fictional words of Patricia Mullins “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”

In very early years we knew how America was settled, we knew of the building of the Colonies, the great Revolutionary War, the establishing of the United States of America under our Constitution. Later we learned more, the fleshing out of the great statesman and their long days writing that Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and every single one of us had a picture of George Washington leading his troops across the Delaware River, but also leading his fledgling country as it began a legendary march into history and world power.

Subsequently we learned about American expansion across the Continent, we learned about the Louisiana Purchase, we learned about the rise of industrialism, slavery, the abolitionist movement, the compromises and Congressional battles prior to the firing on Fort Sumter. Here in the South most of us learned about Reconstruction from old family members and friends. We learned about the World Wars, especially WWII.

Because we knew about the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, we learned that people survive great pandemics and economic crashes. We knew about victory gardens, war shortages, rationing, and such obscure things as women painting a line down their legs to simulate stockings because they had none. Every family had an aunt or mother who learned to weld or rivet during the war.

We learned about heroes and heroines. We learned about heritage and pride. We learned patriotism. I was taught the states and their capitals by an old black man who worked for my father, along with a lot of other special things, both academic and practical, and I remember the dignity, confidence and pride this friend of mine had when he taught me, though he was impoverished and caught in alcoholism. This was a time when he was denied basic rights and privileges that I, unknowingly at that time, had merely by virtue of my birth.

I learned that he expected me to come to him after test day and report my good grades, measuring not only the knowledge he imparted to me, but my valuing of that teaching and time invested, and I learned that his expectations were very high. All this he did voluntarily, imparting knowledge he had gained to me just because that is what people did, across race, culture, societal and economic status.

Let’s narrow this in some, and individualize it. When I graduated high school, I went into the world expecting that there was some thing I had to contribute, some actions and work and effort that I should put forth, primarily for my own success, but also because I wanted, like every other graduate in my class, to make my mark, to measure up. But we all had an unspoken idea that we owed the world we lived in our best.

I graduated in 1976. We were caught up in a year long celebration of 200 years of American history, excellence, and potential. In that time, not only for us young adults, but also for the country, there was an air of pride and patriotism, and absolute belief that we had greatness ahead. As valedictorian, I still remember the closing line I wrote for my speech.

“We now have the key to our future. We must find the lock it opens.” At this point, I am told, my future father in law gave me applause. You better believe that ranks in my list of things that matter. He was one tough man, not given to praise.

Later when I married, we each had a firm idea of what we wanted and what we had to offer, as well as what it would take to make life happen for us. First and foremost, perhaps even more than love, that idea for both of us involved work. My husband knew absolutely what hard work was already, and he immediately and everlastingly (still going like the Energizer Bunny!) set out to make a future for us. I wanted more than anything to build a wonderful home for us, to learn to cook, especially his favorite biscuits and gravy, and to help work and provide security for the coming children.

We wanted to be able to provide our own home for our family, give them security, teach them about life, work, home, family, and yes, all those things I listed above, the richness of our American heritage and experience. We wanted to prepare them for an indifferent and often hostile world, to give them confidence, strength, determination, hope in the face of trials, and belief, both in themselves, and in our family.

If there was anything we took for granted back then, it was perhaps the freedom we had to practice our Christian faith, to have a church building, a parish family, priests and nuns and parish schools, and all the richness and splendor and fruits of living in a land where you can worship God and try to pass on your faith to your children, all without persecution or punishment. In those busy days, we gave little thought to not only the American history we knew insuring our right to worship, but the poor workers who make our beautiful old church building possible, the priest who is now a candidate for sainthood because he gave his life in a Yellow Fever epidemic, staying in town to care for the sick and dying.

We wanted to build a good life for each other, we wanted a great future for our family, our sons. We didn’t just have an idea in our heads for how life should be, not for ourselves, and not for our sons. We wanted to teach them all they needed to know to make the best of their lives, to be able to go out into the world and make a good life for themselves, yes, but more still. We wanted to teach them about adversity, strength, endurance, getting up when life knocks you down. We wanted to teach them to do things for themselves, and that they could do hard things.

We wanted to teach them the value of hard work, and my husband especially was determined that no son of his would be anything less than the hardest, toughest, longest enduring man standing when the chips fell. We wanted them to see the value of their contributions, to our family, and to our common experience as Americans.

Our sons knew what it was to work from a very young age, and just as my husband and his siblings had done, they contributed to our family’s well being. As teens they helped pay their school tuition, they always paid for their own gas and insurance, and even sometimes bought their own clothes, especially if they wanted nicer things than mom was willing to spring for. Yes, shout out to you, number two son.

They learned the cost of failure, of lack of effort, and of mistakes. They learned that actions have consequences, and they learned that their parents would not bail them out of troubles, large and small. They learned to make recompense when their actions cost others. Looking at you, number one son and the spray painting of the barn episode.

They learned that mindless destruction and irresponsibility had repercussions, number three son and the screwdriver episode, and that privileges were not to be taken for granted.

As a proud, very proud, mother and grandmother now, I can say they learned all those things well and taught us others. They are finer men than we dreamed of, and life will never mow them down. They are wonderful husbands, fathers, and each in his own wonderful and unique way adds value to our world. They are patriots all. They have brought very special and resolute women into our family, and we have eight wonderful grandchildren who represent the hope and the future of our family.

To help me gather thoughts for this post, and because I value their opinions most, we had a conversation this week about what makes life matter.

Every one of them ranked family at the top of the list. One daughter in law is in school, and that ranks high on the list of things that matter. Another daughter in law, established in her field, still seeks further personal purpose and feels the quest continues, a sentiment that I share, although she sure words it better. A sense of humor, so necessary in our family, which is perhaps why my daughter in law named it.

My youngest son just finished school a year ago, all while working and raising three kids. He wants a better life for his wife and family, but he also wants the things he does to make his family, especially his wife and kids, proud of him, as well as us, his parents. And by us, he mostly means dad, because that’s a healthy desire in a young man, just as my husband was satisfied that he was able to please his father and make him proud.

My middle son separates his motivations into professional and personal. Professionally he is driven to succeed not only for personal satisfaction ( I can say from experience he was driven from birth toward excellence) but also for the sake of building a team and doing his best for them and his company. Personally, he wants his kids to see and experience the limitless possibilities life offers, and to understand that sacrifices must be made to win those things. He wants them to be confident in the security and love of their family, as do all of the sons and daughters in law. He wants them to be aware that their lives and potential are tied to the sacrifices of generations of family before them.

My oldest son experienced personal loss this year in a big way, a huge and heartbreaking struggle this year has been for him, again, personally and professionally. As far as bad things happening, big and small, 2020 has been a year of hits for him. Through it all he has not only kept on going, he has made his kids a priority, kept a sense of humor, hope, faith, and made time to come home and help take care of me in my time of recuperation, and make things easier for his dad by doing whatever he can around the house.

I had a bad ankle injury a few months ago, and it is a long journey toward being able to walk again. Every single one of my sons and daughters in law have been there for me in ways large and small, from one son who had to make himself the contact during and after surgery, all of them who took me to and from doctor and hospital, cooked and cleaned and shopped and mowed grass. Perhaps most important, they just came when I needed company and encouragement most. Extended family brought meals and visited. Family matters.

And because this is what the post is most about, passing on what matters, I’ll brag on the grandchildren, from the oldest ones who even stayed with me a day or two to help when I was almost immobile, to the little ones who give me hugs and solemnly promised not to bump my leg, all of them have been there for me when it matters.

My husband has worked a full time job, been nurse, caretaker, coach (he’s brutal – no room for safe places in his thinking) and been the most uncomplaining companion in the world, when it was not easy to be any of those things, and when I was depressed and hurting and a big PITA. He epitomizes the for better or worse clause, and he is just absolutely as faithful and true and motivated in the worst as he is the better.

All these things matter. For us, they are the tip of the iceberg of love, family, tradition, hope, faith. They are the spoken representation of what can never truly be spoken. Together we stand, and we will not fall, and we will succeed in giving the eight kids entrusted to us to care for the best chances we possibly can to grow into adults who find their meaning and build their lives.

I submit to you that life must have deep and powerful, sacrificial meaning. One phrase can’t give life meaning. Signs can’t make life matter. Before it comes to showdowns with police, especially if they end in gunfire, life matters or it does not. From the time of conception, if this world is to matter, then life matters, and parents, family, society owe that child protection and care.

I will say what I said when Mike Brown died, and I saw his body on the street. I cried, I cried for a loss of what should have been as well as what was. He, through his own actions, lost the future chances to make his life about something that mattered.

When one young man or woman loses their life, we have all lost. But when a large, formidably, scary percentage of our youth are not given meaning and hope, values, responsibilities, family, and expectations, yes, expectations from parents and society, we all lose.

Until society understands the phrases Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, and all their other words designed to inflame, are incomplete without an ending, we have work to do. I think that our thinking should go further.

Life Matters Because…

A few notes in conclusion here. Most of you know me from family and religious posts. I have mostly kept my faith out of this. It is too huge a part of life to tag on here, and possibly deserves another post. You may of course address that in comments, but in order to stay on track with the ideas here, I did not include the most important thing in my life, but not out of neglect or failure to appreciate it.

This post is intended to encourage personal reflection (I could insert various scoffing adjectives from my sons here, as they reluctantly shared xxx feelings, as they so eloquently put it). I do not intend it to be a referendum on the various shootings, protests, and political arguments about them.

Be respectful, please.

Addition to original post.

In their review of this post, my sons placed emphasis on the value of humility. I’m sorry I forgot to include that, it’s very important to them. Indeed, it was a three way tie as to who is most humble.

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258 Responses to What Makes Life Matter?

  1. ReglarMerican says:

    Not mere semantics – we need to think about colonists, pioneers in contrast to immigrants. And – old-school immigrants in contrast to what we see today.
    The pioneers, colonists moved within the realm of the King of Great Britain. So they were not “immigrants” as the term is so loosely used now. The big majority were British subjects on both sides of the Atlantic, and lived in the same culture, the same legal system, same language, churches.
    For example, Alexander Hamilton moved from one British domain to another British domain, so he was not an immigrant, he was under the Union Jack the entire time. Just as a person moving from Miami, Florida to Fairbanks, Alaska is not an immigrant – they simply moved a long distance under the same flag.
    Instead of immigrating to another nation, in 1776 they created a new nation where they lived.
    Big difference in those two activities.
    Up to about 1880, what became The United States of America was populated almost entirely by descendants of the founding generation. The children of the big families here in America in 1790 also had big families, they multiplied fast, every 20 years. Their population boom filled the new territories that became new states.
    Not much immigration from 1812 to about 1870. (And almost none from 1920 to 1965, but that’s another story) When the British attacked again in 1812, we decided to cut off immigration for a time. To instead “grow our own”.
    And grow our own we did. Domestic born. The continental states and territories were formed by 1880 and filled mostly by descendants of families already here in the young United States of 1790. Home-grown growth actually built the USA.
    Most discussions forget to take that into account.

    After about 1880, old-school immigration, the kind that that we can admire, began in earnest. Old-school immigrants were good additions. Sure, there were some “bad apples” such as the anarchists circa 1910-1920 (some things never change!) but most came to become American.

    Liked by 6 people

    • KBR says:

      Thank you.

      I am among the many whose forbears were not immigrants, but were pioneers during the colonial times, landing and pioneering and farming in Massachusetts, Delaware, New Amsterdam/New York, Maryland in 1600’s and their children moving by 1745 to be pioneers in unsettled areas of NC: (like the area now called Raleigh (NC State Capital) before the invention of Raleigh when that area was Johnston County.) As it became crowded, they moved further into new wilderness NC when Charlotte was only a little settlement, to help found Anson, Union, Stanley as they gained land grants from service in the Revolutionary War.

      There has not been a US war in which my NC relatives have not fought.

      Many cousins, great uncles and aunts by the late 1700’s to throughout 1800’s pioneered their way all across the USA. Moved to SC (practically next door) Georgia, Alabama, Texas. Some moved to Tennessee when Tennessee was still part of colonial NC, that is when NC stretched to the Mississippi River. Their children and children’s children moved onward, northward, southward, westward.

      My particular branch stayed in NC. Sometimes the family members get letters or email contacts looking for genealogical information, And Family Bible information, because they want to trace their roots: their roots are here but going back to Britain.

      These days it has become popular to say “we are all immigrants,” but like you, I beg to differ. My ancestors trace their ancestors to colonists.

      These days the word “pioneer” is rarely used for settlers before the Louisiana Purchase, and the immediate image is flat lands and deserts of the midwest and Conestoga wagons on the great plains. People forget that there were pioneers before there were Conestogas: those particular wagons, being too heavy to cross much of the softer grounded plains are simply iconic today. Most pioneers used a regular farm wagon with a makeshift cover.

      But the first “pioneers” were those that settled the forested lands of the original colonies, cleared lands, built houses and stores for trading, and thus gave birth to towns.

      They also gave literal birth to most of the later pioneers that crossed and settled the mountain regions, and then settled those further,flatter expanses.

      Some of my relations later crossed the Rockies too, for gold, and some settled all the way to the Pacific.

      These people, these colonial people, not just my own, both founded AND built the USA before many immigrants from other nations came here to help or sometimes to hinder the USA.

      Liked by 6 people

    • James oz says:

      You do know when you say almost entirely your wrong, German, French and Dutch to name a few, yes the majority were people with the worst teeth in Europe but not in the numbers you claim, 65% at most more likely it’s 55 to 60

      Like

      • ReglarMerican says:

        Do we speak German, French, or Dutch?
        The French and Dutch (and the Spaniards) were allies in the War of Independence. The Hessian mercenaries often enough switched to our side. But the American improvements on the British beginnings is the main show. By far.
        George Washington had false teeth, so what? He won.

        Like

      • Kirsty I says:

        Right. I’m Scottish. Glasgow.
        If there’s going to be any teeth jokes here,
        we have lived for the right that is ours down the centuries to comment on intelligence and its relation to teeth.
        The only things teeth prove is that you don’t have to have many to be brilliant,
        nor do you need any to invent the modern world.
        Alba gu brath

        Like

    • Margaret says:

      My husband’s German ancestors arrived in 1842 and a lot of Immigrant Germans and Irish fought in the Civil War.

      Like

  2. amjean says:

    Simply faith and family.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Tellthetruth2016 says:

      Thank you Menagerie for that beautiful post..
      I remember growing up in a small town of south Florida where we had 1 small gas station and little grocery store combined where we would go to buy banana popsicles..,.I can still hear the screen door slammimg of that little store… in the summer, we would ride bikes and play with our friends all day and not be home till after dark, fall asleep in front of the TV with nothing but the screen door shut and the windows opened .. Good times

      Liked by 9 people

    • Lawrence L says:

      “Faith, family, and friends” are part of every meal blessing and gathering in our household. While it’s true that the best of friends become family, we include all whose hands are joined to form the circle in our kitchen, dining room, back patio, or restaurant table. It may be repetitive and sometimes feel corny, but there is a deep truth to it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. gldn2th says:

    Thank you for an excellent post. What used to be a common sense norm, has now become a wonderful role model too often ignored.
    You are appreciated.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. DD says:

    Thank you for your post. Your final comment about humility resonated with me. As an aging scientist, I have come to accept that the more I know, the less I really know.

    Two things follow. The first is to accept that all of the things we think we know ultimately distill down to beliefs. Even if its as fundamental as a belief in the physical world. The second is to realize that those who claim to know are just fools.

    Faith truly anchors all. Including the prospect of a life of gratitude, meaning and purpose. Shana tova.

    Liked by 9 people

  5. calbear84 says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about personal responsibility and the concept of a civil society lately, for obvious reasons. Thanks Menagerie for sharing your reflections on the subject.
    For myself, it wasn’t always easy to choose the right thing over the pleasurable / easy thing, but the rewards of living as God intends for me to live are immeasurable. Selfishness leads to ruin, and you can count on that!

    Liked by 9 people

  6. Magabear says:

    As the late Bible teacher Norm Geisler said, what comes to mind when you think of God will have the most important impact on your life. If that relationship is where it should be, everything else will follow along accordingly. At least that’s been my experience.

    People can be very fickle, many times in life it really is just you and God. Best to have that relationship on good terms.

    Liked by 11 people

  7. Tiffthis says:

    Love this post💯. I was born in 1981, my mom a Cuban exile, my dad a miami boy who’s parents survived the Great Depression. My parents made sure all of us kids contributed, every day. Even if we didn’t feel good. My dad always told me: the purpose of life is to enjoy life. My mother always said : you can do whatever you want in life, just don’t hurt anyone. I tell my kids these things today.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. VandalizeDuhMastuhsAlgorithms says:

    Matthew 5:1-12
    1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. – 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    Of these 9 Blessed… statements; only two are in the present tense. The first and the last.

    All others are future promises, so it’s good that God always keeps His promises.

    Promises Made, Promises Always Kept.

    Liked by 8 people

  9. marckot77 says:

    In one of my daily readings it talked about when a little prince was born a fairy came with gifts at his christening. And what 3 best gifts a child could be born with. Suggested were the following 3 gifts, 1)a good constitution because health is the greatest of all human blessings. 2)A good disposition makes a big differance in oiling the wheels of everyday life. 3)Plain sense or horsesense is more important than possession .of any kind of mere ability or even great talents. If you feel. If you are lacking in any of these Jesus Christ teaches that no good thing for which you pray is withheld. Prayer can be the answer

    Liked by 4 people

    • TMonroe says:

      The importance of praying and asking according to God’s will:

      James 4:3 — “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, that you may spend it in your pleasures.“

      1 John 5:14 — “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we might ask anything according to His will, He hears us.“

      Some prayers aren’t answered the way people want — even when offered sincerely from true believers, as in the case of Paul’s prayer concerning the “thorn in my flesh” (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7):

      2 Cor. 5:8-9 — “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.”

      God is trustworthy to give us the grace we need, and calls us to ask Him for it:

      Luke 18:1 — “And He was speaking to them a parable about the way it behooves them always to pray and not to lose heart” (Parable of the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8)

      Eph. 6:18 — “Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints.”

      James 4:8a — “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

      Hebrews 4:14-16 — “Therefore having a great high priest having passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, we should hold firmly to our confession. For we do not have a high priest not being able to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one having been tempted in all things by the same way, without sin. Therefore we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need.”

      Liked by 3 people

  10. delmarvajim says:

    Menagerie,
    Thank you for a very thought provoking post.
    By the way, how is Conner doing?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Menagerie says:

      Conner started kindergarten this year. He “quits” school every day. 😀

      He and his older brother are both autistic, Conner more severely. He has some real challenges ahead, but he is fully recovered from his heart surgery. He is full of energy and is a real little stinker, but he lights up our life and makes us laugh a lot.

      Thank you very much for remembering him.

      Liked by 5 people

  11. riverelf says:

    Faith & Family can sound glib but the depth is implied and posts like Menagerie’s help to remind me and others just how very deep it goes and how everything good springs from that obscured source. So Leftism in all its bleakness and blindness must spring from something unimaginably evil.

    (If nothing else can get me out of bed in the morning, Duty’s always right there. And coffee.)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. TonyEuropa says:

    What _really_ matters on this Earth?

    Kids, family and health.

    You said it, answered your own question. The character of your kids is what we will leave behind. I’m proud of my kids, I believe you are too.

    My daughter said “they’ve stolen a year from us”. We paid for her Lasik as a B-day present.

    My son got a girlfriend, a good one. We’ll meet her soon. They stole our 4th of July vacation.

    My mom is doing OK. We’ll be there for her b-day. We couldn’t see her on the 4th either.

    Sister, cousins, all, we couldn’t see them on the 4th either. Luckily all doing well.

    My wife’s family big annual BBQ got cancelled too.

    Family Life Matters. (FLM)

    It seems that all of our grandparents went through a big war. Mine and my wife’s were IN a war. All hardworking. We are immigrants all, the best of the best when you think about it. And, BTW, it’s a lot harder to leave the Old Country when you don’t have to, when you “Got It Made”… and yet, you leave. Hard to believe, it’s hard to leave a city, a house of 30 years… imagine leaving a province of 200++ years (and counting). On her first return to her island home, my wife said she “felt it”. I understand. I did too. Roots are long but this is our home now -because as my cousin said, “they are Americans now”.

    Let me add something rather important too: according to my grandmother, in a war, Chocolate Mattered. 😉

    You’re a year older than me. Take care of that ankle. Your health matters.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. namberak says:

    God makes life matter for all of us, each in our own way. For my part, that my bride and I live two miles from our two sons and daughters-in-law and our triplet grandchildren, that is the meaning in my life and I could ask for no more. “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be and if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. . . . Going back is the quickest way on.” – C.S. Lewis

    Liked by 5 people

    • hightidegirl says:

      Beautifully said. Always always listen to CS Lewis. I believe he may well have been a prophet! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kirsty I says:

        All great apologists are modern day prophets.
        Maybe not prophets in the historical sense, but certainly in their understanding of human behaviour as dictated by God.
        Who else could see a sulking, puling toddler and point to the fact that we are watching the knowledge that God wrote morality on every heart?

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Rock Knutne says:

    Menagerie~~
    Great post. Kudos.

    Fellow Treepers~~
    Many great posts as well. Thanks for sharing.

    My two cents.
    I’ve read every post and what jumps out at me is this. The great majority of posters mention the family they were brought up in.
    I have a very similar upbringing. Born in the 50’s. (5th of six siblings)
    Raised in the 60’s. (Ethnic neighborhood in Chicago)
    Educated and married in the 70’s. (3 children and 4 grandkids of my own)

    My youngest just married this weekend. The reception in my suburban backyard. He married a beautiful black woman that was born in one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago. Fortunately, her father escaped the thug culture at an early age and had the wherewithal to get out of Chicago and get into a western suburb of Chicago. Unfortunately, her parents split and she was raised mostly by her mother, an aunt and Grandma.

    And that’s my point.

    Most everyone here has reflected on their upbringing. Many causing the troubles we see around us would not reflect so lovingly on theirs. Some because of split families. Some because of absenteeism and selfishness from their parents.

    Parenting, or lack thereof, is and has been a major problem since the 70’s and the coming of age of the 60’s era.
    Feminism, hippie culture, radical leftism on college campuses and LBJ’s Great Society giveaways and removing God from our institutions all contributed to the destruction of family in the poor communities.
    Purposefully so.

    Until that dynamic changes, we’ll be in this continuous struggle. Hopefully the pendulum is swinging back due to the election of President Trump. His election was a gift from God. His re-election is mandatory.

    I think God has his hand on this but He wants us to do our part!
    M🇺🇸A🇺🇸G🇺🇸A

    FWIW: A substantial number of guests on the bride’s side are fed up with what’s going on. Masks were optional and only one person wore one (a very elderly Grandma). The bride is a staunch President Trump supporter and thinks All Lives Matter. One person wore a BLM mask at the wedding ceremony but not at my house.
    A great time was had by all.

    Liked by 8 people

    • dayallaxeded says:

      A wonderful comment and report of a wonderful, blessed, loving family event! I wish I could toast the latest branch of your family and shower them with rice and blessings! May God bless and keep you all and especially guard and guide the newlyweds!

      Like

  15. MaryfromMarin says:

    A completely excellent and beautiful post, Menagerie. Major kudos and heartfelt thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Patience says:

    All of life’s experiences; all of the people who are part of one’s life (family, friends, aquaintances, brief encounters, co-workers, employers, teachers, etc…), the achievments and the failures, the joys and the heartbreaks/dissapointments….. everything that matters in one’s life ultiimately hinges on one’s intention.

    While personal perceptions and judgements (and of & about others) are impacted and often formed by personal experiences, they are non-the-less guided by one’s own intention.

    Intention and living by The Golden Rule (conscience and respect) are ultimately what is most important to living.

    As always, thanks for sharing –and for giving cause for ‘our’ thoughts, Menagerie.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Weylan McAnally says:

      Intention implies forethought and a measure of self-knowledge concerning personal motivations. A very large portion of the populace are nearly devoid of both. They exist in a constant state of Freud’s ID where their intuition drags them from experience to experience with no course charted. Often these folks live in a constant state of agitation where ‘drama’ is expected and unconsciously welcomed as a comforting friend. They cannot delay gratification in any meaningful way and, as such, are constantly entangled in money ‘drama’ which they complain about but never solve.

      This is the state of the majority of our citizenry. Once we recognize this, all of their subsequent actions come begin to make sense.

      Personal responsibility is the hallmark of adulthood and the path to a meaningful life. They see personal responsibility as a burden to be avoided. Often these folks see avoidance of personal responsibility as a virtue instead of a character flaw. Thus they embrace victimhood and the cultural affirmation it provides. They seek to remain perpetual children where life is not ‘fair’ and everyone gets a trophy. We all know these folks. They are all aligned with a single US political party.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Feisty Hayseed says:

        Your reply reminded me of the following comment I discovered I don’t know where – “Antifa and the left in general seem to thrive on some desire not to grow up and become adults. They are locked in angry adolescence, and in many cases childhood. For example: 48 and still skateboarding!?”

        I have been intrigued and captivated by the behavior of Antifa and the BLM “Peaceful protestors” and have struggled mightily to figure out “Who are these people? Where did they come from? How did they get this way / end up like this?”

        Your reply and the comment above go a long way to answering my question, “Who are these people?” In short, “Arrested Development” or “Perpetual Adolescence” or Brainwashed into believing that the goal of life is to be the Most Victimized AKA: Winning the Victimhood Olympics.

        Like

  17. mimbler says:

    For some reason, I am able to “like” posts, but not the blog articles themselves. So this post is a giant “like” for this thoughtful, heartfelt article,

    Liked by 1 person

  18. karen says:

    As an American loving patriot, I lived with the thought process you very beautifully put out here today. May God shine down on all of us and help us see.

    Every Life Matters.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. sunnydaze says:

    There’s coverage of the D.C. Prayer March on TBN TV today. And on CBN internet.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. bertdilbert says:

    Liked by 2 people

  21. OffCourseNation says:

    Just in the last few months I have already heard the word ‘Black” more than enough to last me at least 1,000 lifetimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. puca58 says:

    For me, it’s faith, family & friends. I choose to have faith in God, for who else could have created the magnificent beauty, bounty & sheer awe of the nature that surrounds us. Without faith, there is no hope; and without hope, there is no light, only darkness. Humans are not solitary creatures (though I do dearly cherish my alone time), we are pack animals. Hopefully, we all have families, supplemented by a few true friends, who we can rely on when life smacks you in the face or knocks you down. And in the best moments, will share your joy & thus, make it better. They always help renew my faith. Few of us will ever become famous, or infamous; but if we strive to make our world better & leave a mark through our careers, our simple deeds, our acts of charity, our progeny–we will. And if it’s just to bring a smile to someone’s face when they think or hear of me, then I will have served my purpose.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Reaganite says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Menagerie.
    Your thoughts and all the commenters are so inspirational.
    Truly, humility, generosity, Faith, and Love
    ARE Life.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. The Boss says:

    Your essay is a great expansion on our Declaration of Independence, especially:

    …We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…

    Thanks very much Menagerie.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Coast says:

    What matters? God’s Will is what matters….and it is His will that we come to salvation through His Son Jesus Christ….that by His sacrifice we have eternal life. That is what matters.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Whitehouse Clown says:

    What makes life matter?

    This list is a work in progress.

    My family, my wife and son.
    Belief that there is something good beyond the here and now.
    A quarter century serving in the ranks of the US Army with my buddies, past and present.
    Being a Southern born American.
    Taking the road less traveled.
    Homemade biscuits, Southern grits, scrambled eggs, country ham and redeye gravy.
    Living on my own land.
    Time spent roaming the woods with my son.
    My dog.
    Walking in a fresh plowed field.

    Liked by 4 people

  27. Tom Hammond says:

    Very well said. I am also a graduate of 76. All lifer matters, but we must strive and work at it and raise our children to do likewise. Thank you for your article.

    Like

  28. cjzak says:

    Beautifully written Menagerie. You have a strong foundation on what life is all about and where you reside in it. It’s wonderful to hear about how you and your husband passed this all onto your sons and they are doing the same for their children. It is truly the hope of the future to raise resilient, hard working, moral, loving, humble, happy human beings.

    My prayer is that there are many, many more people out there just like you and yours. It’s the only way we will be able to go on and have any kind of cohesive, sane and most importantly-happy- world to live in. Thank you for your story.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Eileen McRae says:

    Too many things in life matter. For me they all can be summed up by “Faith, Hope, Charity, and God” If you fashion your life by these, “All will be well in thy soul.”

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Christopher Chantrill says:

    This is a beautiful piece. Thank you!

    To understand our liberal friends I divide the world into Creatives, Responsibles, and Subordinates.

    People like us are Responsibles, and all that the word means.

    But our liberal friends see themselves as called to a Creative life, “making a difference.” Mere responsibility is not enough for them. Unfortunately they often forget that, before you make the world better, you better make sure that you are not going to make it worse.

    Or, as for Peter Parker, with great power comes great responsibility.

    Like

  31. This was beautifully written. Thank you, Menagerie. I presume that I am going to be the oddball in the CTH community. I grew up in SoCal in the 1960’s to 1981 in a small city of around 45,000 population. It was wonderful and safe and so very American.
    That is the good news. I would like to say that “family matters” but there are many of us who have little to no family. Of 8 cousins (including my 4 siblings and me) only 1 of us had children. So the meaning of life for the 7 of us is very different from most people. So what matters and is important in life is very different than the norm. I tell everyone that not everyone else gets Mike and Carol Brady as their parents.
    So the answer must be more on a God/Jesus level for some of us. I believe in God’s Plan and excitedly await the return of Jesus for the Lord’s Day.
    I also believe that being kind, considerate, grateful, an animal lover, a hard worker, and a good citizen who loves this Nation that God gave us are paramount.

    There is so much more to think about.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. SnapperCheeks says:

    As I sat reading probably the most eloquently written and moving post from someone I don’t actually know…and while watching hard working young men (yes M E N) remove and/or cut down huge trees ALLLLLLL OVER my yard thanks to Hurricane Sally here on Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast…I was reminded of the goodness of mankind and family. Family values, hopes and love. We’re really not so different where good hearts prevail. Thank you for this gift today Menagerie…God bless you!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. USA Citizen says:

    Joe Biden advertisements on TV are FAKE NEWS, just like you hear from the Democrat reporters on MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, ETC. All they do is LIE and LIE!!! If this crooked Politician (Joe Biden) wins in November, everything he promised you, will never happen. That is the way Democrats get votes, by lying continuously . Unfortunately people that only listen to FAKE NEWS never learn the truth about President Trump and all the great things he’s done for our country, and you the people. If the Democrat Socialist/Communist Party wins, everything Joe Biden promised you will be GONE!!! All the Democrats want is POWER, so they can stay in Power FOREVER!!! This Election is the most important Election ever!!! Either we will be a free country under President Donald J. Trump, or a Socialist/Communist country under Joe Biden. Vote for President Donald J. Trump November 3, 2020 and keep our country free, safe and working.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeans2nd says:

      Citizen, your words are eloquent, but do not belong here in this post.
      Menagerie specifically asked for nothing political. Please respect our loving Menagerie.
      Put those thoughts in the Presidential Politics thread.
      Thank you so much.
      All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. herebouts says:

    What makes life matter to me is knowing that Almighty God loves me and sent His son Jesus as my Savior.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. rld rld says:

    I think of the 2 sets of footprints in the sand, and they became one. I have not the faintest idea about what Our Lord saw in me that HE would keep me alive through all my boastful pride, my vanities, my lies, and my wanton selfish living. But here I am. If He now requires my life, I understand that through ALL things, it is HIS will that gets done, and by HIS grace what needs be done, WILL be done. I only know His love is beyond my comprehension. I finally understand—
    It’s NOT all about me.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. usn1315 says:

    Your words were drops of love sprinkled with Common Sense that so softly touched
    my hard heart. Friends forever dear. Grow well soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. TreeClimber says:

    A beautiful post, Menagerie. I always love your offerings, both wise and poignant.

    Aside from the obvious “walk with God,” I would have to say my top answer would have to be my boys. With both of them mobile – and climbing – and with the will to make as much mischief as they can, they drive me absolutely around the bend some days… most days, even. (I’m sitting here being entertained by my husband and our one-year-old having a battle of wills. So far it’s a draw.) But the million little things that make it all so worthwhile… the smiles, the giggles, the tickles, the cuddles, playing on the playground, watching TV together, watching them sleep. For every day that I can’t wait for bedtime, I have a moment captured on my phone’s camera roll to remember for ever.

    The second answer would be, the connections we make with strangers. Whether it’s a couple of ladies stopping in the store to adore the one-year-old, a lady asking for help to rent a room for her father, a chat over the cash register, stopping to give someone a ride when they’re walking on the side of the road, someone covering your bill in the grocery store when you come up short, someone paying for your gas or your meal in a restaurant. Those brief touches, soon gone and forgotten, but still a connection. Those have meaning, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. ajshu says:

    One of the BIG lies, you oft here repeated is: We are a Nation of immigrants. That is an outrageous lie.

    This country and every American country was created, carved, sweated and bled for my settlers and colonists. Brave souls who carved a new world out of nothingness. The untold hardships they endured laid the foundation of all the bounty we share in today.

    The Leftists have created two generations of ingrate, malcontents who have no appreciation of anything that proceeded them. Out of utter, staggering ignorance they think their Marxist prison that they want to impose on us all is a better way. To that I say, No, thank you.

    If you cannot appreciate the miracle that is the United States of America then you are free to leave. The sooner, the better. We don’t want your dystopian vision, your hatred, your mental enslavement, your brainwashing of our youth.

    We will fight you at every turn to pass on the torch to those who will carry the light of liberty forward.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. Heart of the home says:

    Menagerie, you are rock solid.

    Your post made me think of a writing by John Cardinal Henry Newman, a convert to Catholicism. Our pastor likes to hand this out in his Bible study and CCD classes. In this writing, “Some Definite Service,” Newman reflects on why God created him, and how this impacts his life.

    http://appleseeds.org/Newman_My-Mission.htm

    Being of Polish decent, I also reflect on the struggles of the Poles through centuries and centuries. Poland is the crossroads between East and West. It was converted to Catholicism in 966. A history professor taught me that it was the Catholic university system that also connected Poland with the West, as scholars would travel to teach and exchange ideas. Faith has been integrated into the life of Poles which is how they have overcome the most brutal regimes.

    We must respond to the challenges of our time in any way we can, in the way that water will always seep through cracks and crevices and cut a path to a stream, and then a river. No prayer goes unanswered. No kindness goes unnoticed. No suffering offered up for the love of Christ Jesus is futile.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. old deplorable owl says:

    Menagerie, beautiful and thought-provoking essay! Thank you!!!
    However, fair play dictates I warn you – If I don’t find out about the screwdriver episode, I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN!!!!!
    God bless, and take care of that ankle.

    Like

  41. lgstarr says:

    I recently turned 75. I have no children and no relatives except for my husband (who, thankfully, is 5 1/2 years younger than me). Sometime in the last decade (which included leaving my home state of California–no need to explain that these days–and moving to a hot desert) I realized that nothing in life mattered as much as RELATIONSHIPS…and that includes our own individual relationship with God, as well as our relationships with friends and family and animals and nature.

    Then, after that, I finally realized that nothing matters (or even exists!) except for LOVE. Anything that is NOT love is hate…or indifference…which cannot stand alone and will not ever stand in Heaven.

    Amen.

    Thank you, Menagerie, for being there for all of us, now!!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Patriot1783 says:

    I read Menagerie’s thoughtful post early this morning before I traveled to a meeting. About 1/2 way into my trip via major roadways, the lanes were changing due to interchange meet and I noticed a “beater” van trying to navigate from an incoming ramp to the main thruway obviously having trouble and running out of lane. The idiot in car in front of me refused to let the van in, I could see the van driver throw his hands up and throw his fist out the window in frustration. The rude guy held his speed and kept going, without a care for his fellow man.
    I was next in line so slowed a bit, blinked my lights and waved van into lane..he quickly moved in just as he was running out of the road breakdown lane and over the other lanes to get to his next turn going west. As we passed I slowed down just long enough to look back at him as he was looking over toward me. I gave a big smile, wave & thumbs up to the middle aged and tired looking blue collar man with painter cap, he paused, smiled and waved back.
    I hope my action negated the other’s drivers bad behavior to cheer Mr Painter up enough to realize not all people he meets today are rude and uncaring.
    As SD has famously said…”live your best life” it is addicting❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Smokey Jo says:

    Beautifully written, Menagerie. I’m the daughter of a German immigrant of the WWII era. Mom remembered seeing Hitler in parades, and her older brother was a member of the Hitler Youth. She immigrated to the US in the 50’s and was the most patriotic American I’ve ever known.

    Mom passed away four years ago. Can’t even fathom what she would think about what’s going on here right now. I’ll fight the good fight in her memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Auwtsnae says:

    Does Life matter?

    I guess that would depend on whether, or not, it has a purpose.

    If Life is nothing more than an accident resulting from a series of random events, then it has no meaning or true purpose and no real goal to progress forward towards.

    If Life has no purpose, upon what should we base any standard of ethics or morality?

    When people have become convinced that life is meaningless and has no measurable direction or purpose, it should come as no surprise that they hold it in such low regard.

    According to the philosopher John Paul Sartre, the only question that he couldn’t answer was why he didn’t commit suicide.

    Purpose, however, requires intent.

    Purpose demands a Creator.

    “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭111:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    Like

  45. Pokey says:

    I come from what used to be and still is a great family and I pray to an incomprehensible God, that more families will be great like ours. I would have to say that I always hoped to be as committed to my job as a father as I thought my father was, but I don’t think I have done as well in that area. I have exceeded him professionally, but that was never my most important job, and I knew it. My sons, thank God, have both more than measured up. But you are right, it is all about family.

    If families do better, we all do better and life will get even better. I don’t think Communism will ever make life mean anything beyond learning to go along to get along. I think that is what the woke culture is all about, because most people don’t have much when it comes to strong families. Thanks for being so concerned about the future that you could talk about the greatness of being part of a good family that makes life matter. I agree completely that families matter the most. After that, all lives can matter.

    Like

  46. Retired IG says:

    Thank you Menagerie. I am stunned silent in gratitude for your writing.So beautiful. So many memories of my parents and grandparents. They are all in this house, on this land, and in my soul. all of the time. I am learning to make peace with them and do the things they taught me to do.
    Your writing has been a great reminder to continue to honor them and their spirits.

    Like

  47. wlbeattie says:

    Dear Menagerie,
    I always delight in reading your posts.
    This one brings back memories of my mum in the 1950’s (in Australia). She was a widow with us, 2 x children. But we never went without a meal or clean clothing. Although she had a full time job and brought piece-work home each evening.
    Our neighbors would make sure we went to school in the morning and made it safely home in the afternoons!
    She passed away 6 x years ago but as a family, we always remained close!
    My grown children are now similarly close.
    Also, we grew up in a poor area with lot’s of WW2 European immigrants, mostly Italian, Greek & Yugoslavs. My best mate was a Ukrainian/Pole.
    I learnt to play chess from them along with lots of new food types.
    Great times.
    Thank you for waking my memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. US says:

    Thanks to Menagerie the better half of US and I spent a couple of hours counting our blessings today. We are bit older than you but the same values guided our happy lives. God, Family and Country. We have never had it better than now under the protection of President Trump of God.

    Liked by 2 people

  49. John says:

    Spending your life in pursuit of Quality.

    Like

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