Choosing How to Live

Last week I wrote about faith and a number of people asked me to elaborate. Real faith, and not religious dogma, liberates us from fear and opens us up to actions that will improve the world. Writing about a quality I need to encourage in myself is one way I can focus on what I can do in response to the challenges the world presents. Last week I was starting to feel discouraged about the direction this country is taking.

The world can overwhelm us unless we can use the opportunities that problems represent to improve those qualities we have and do what we can to change what is wrong in the world. It’s too easy to give in to hopelessness and fear (just turn on cable news 24/7). The economy, wars, climate change… let alone the personal struggles we face every day… life can be hard and it can be a challenge. I choose to look at life as a challenge.

So many times in the past people have remarked to me about how I seem to be able to handle very stressful situations so easily. Well, it’s not easy, and I do feel anxious or unsure at times. I am only human. When facing death threats (as I did when representing Jack Kevorkian and the right of self-determination) or representing the victims of police brutality, running for Governor or even facing prosecution (persecution) by the Government – I am human and I do have times when I feel anxious or hopeless. In fact, I have those moments in every trial. I choose to not focus on the situation – or give in to the whining and hand-wringing. I choose to look inward and challenge myself to overcome any feelings or challenge the world presents to me. If I feel fear it is because I need to have more faith and act like it.

We all have more influence over our lives than we think – the world doesn’t defeat us, we do. Not me, not in any trial, not in this lifetime.

5 Responses to Choosing How to Live

  1. Frank Cusumano says:

    Isiah 50:5-9a
    5 Lord Yahweh has opened my ear and I have not resisted, I have not turned away.
    6 I have offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; I have not turned my face away from insult and spitting.
    7 Lord Yahweh comes to my help, this is why insult has not touched me, this is why I have set my face like flint and know that I shall not be put to shame.
    8 He who grants me saving justice is near! Who will bring a case against me? Let us appear in court together! Who has a case against me? Let him approach me!
    9 Look, Lord Yahweh is coming to my help! Who dares condemn me? Look at them, all falling apart like moth-eaten clothes!
    (even if you don’t post this due to its ecclesiastical nature, I thought I would share it with you)

  2. Frank Cusumano says:

    The sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech in New York City on February 27, 1860, is fast approaching. At the end of the speech the audience was electrified.

    “If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.

    Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.”

    This is the true language of “change.” It is not a slogan to fool a certain number of voters, but rested on bedrock beliefs and principles.

  3. Patricia Jankowski says:

    Well said, Mr. Cusumano.

    Regardless of its religious denomination or background, a core truth has a power all its own which it carries to all people, regardless of their beliefs.

    As I have learned both from studying various religions and the Course in Miracles, it is quite possible for one who is an atheist to have much more faith and vision than one who follows a religion.

    It’s all about truth, which is available to us all, regardless of our religious connections or lack thereof.

  4. Patricia Jankowski says:

    “I choose to look inward and challenge myself to overcome any feelings or challenge the world presents to me. If I feel fear it is because I need to have more faith and act like it.

    We all have more influence over our lives than we think – the world doesn’t defeat us, we do. Not me, not in any trial, not in this lifetime.”

    Above, of course, are the words of Geoffrey Fieger.

    “Each day, each hour and minute, even every second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed, because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion. And there is no overlap between them, because they are opposites which cannot be reconciled and cannot both be true. You are guilty or guiltless, bound or free, happy or unhappy.”

    And those words are from the section of the Text, The Decision for Guiltlessness, from “A Course in Miracles”. It is saying basically the same thing that Mr. Fieger is saying; not that we are never wrong, but that when we are acting upon divine guidance, or the Holy Spirit, we are free, and we act from truth. As Mr. Fieger so eloquently pointed out, some introspection is often necessary to meet this challenge, this choice to act in a way that is in tune with God.

  5. InYourFaceNewYorker says:

    What exactly is meant by “real faith” vs. “religious dogma?” In the end, aren’t both the belief in something without evidence? Good post (and good for you sticking by Jack Kevorkian all these years!), but is it really about faith, or is it about courage and thinking rationally in the face of stress and, sometimes, Human Stupidity?


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