How can we become better people?

How can we improve ourselves and become better people? I want to share with you a conversation that I overheard.

I have no idea what came before or what came after, but this was the part that I heard: the woman said, “Let him live on campus, George.” The man: “No!” The woman: “Why not?” The man answered, “Because I said no; and what would he think of me if I backed down?”

That fragment of dialogue has stayed with me. It has stayed with me for two reasons. One, because this is the season of the year when we are taking an account of our behavior; and the other reason, because we have all said similar words like that of the man. Haven’t we? Don’t we all take positions and then feel too embarrassed to back down?

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Our Memory Fails Us

We often find ourselves divided – wife, husband, partner, sibling, child, parent, friend. Things happen. We both experience them.

You see them your way – colored by experiences in your past, or by resentment, or impatience.

I see them my way – colored by fear and pride – by the fact that I am myself and I am not you.

So, our memories of what happened were different from the start.  And then, before we knew it, memories hardened into myths and myths into dogma.  We stared across the chasm, but we didn’t see each other.

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The Gift of Religion

The gift of religion is an understanding of what it means to be a human being – what we can do, what we can hope for, how we can live with purpose, and what is expected of us.  It is a celebration of human freedom, human possibility and human responsibility.

It is a way to live a heroic life, to construct a life devoted to values that are eternal, values of ultimate significance.

The reward of your life is walking the world with a profound faith that you matter, your life matters, your dreams matter.

The Constancies of Our Lives

One of the great constancies of our lives is the possibility for appreciation. But how often do we take time to express it? Ask any family who has lost a loved one, and they will tell you about so many missed opportunities.

With our loved ones, our sense of appreciation teaches us to treasure them constantly. With our health, it teaches us to take care of ourselves and not to neglect ourselves. With our children, it teaches us to cherish them at every age; and with our parents, it teaches us to honor them for who they are, and what they have done, and what they have made of us.

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A Carrot, An Egg, Or Coffee?

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high flame. Soon the pots came to a boil.

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Rabbi Sally - The People's Rabbi