Gambling Porn

October 22nd, 2014 by Stan No comments »

Sometimes I listen to sports radio on the way to the fitness club. One morning, a woman’s sultry voice swirled out of the radio so seductively that I had to do a double take. What? Sex on the radio? After listening closely, though, I discovered she was talking about gambling at a particular casino. In an obvious attempt to arouse the listeners, she spoke about the thrill of gambling, about how ‘your’ fate depends on the roll of the dice, or the deal of a card, how at any second everything will change (it’s implied that your life will be better) because of the outcome. When she’s done, and I thought I heard he light her cigarette, a male voice says quickly, “Gambling problem? Call…”

I thought about that for a minute. Call? Really? I mean who’s going to call? I imagine the only caller will be someone who doesn’t have the means to get to a casino and relieve themselves or someone else who just lost their paycheck at the roulette table and realized they ruined their life for the foreseeable future. When someone gets aroused, it’s already too late. What would we think of such ads if they were really sexual and meant to bring customers to a strip club? “Masturbation problem? Call…” After arousal, it’s too late.

Years ago, I worked with sex offenders. Such people experience daydream like thoughts that progress from self-arousal to action. We called those thoughts deviant chains. Therapy consisted of discovering the components of those chains and teaching the person how to break them before they got aroused or at least before they acted. That gambling commercial was good example of what a deviant chain is.

That kind of therapy works for addictions too. While I’m certainly not saying that gamblers are sex offenders, gambling is an addiction. And I don’t believe that all gamblers are addicts. I believe that our fates are ultimately the result of our own decisions no matter how or by who we are seduced. People can’t change or improve themselves unless they chose to. Period.

However, here’s my point. Is it right to tempt addicts? To intentionally do something that may very well ruin someone else? I’m not saying get rid of the casinos or alcohol or drugs or cigarettes, though that’s not a bad idea. What I’m saying that we shouldn’t tempt others to destroy themselves.

And this seems common sense to me. If the ad has “Such and such problem? Call…” in it because of the nature of the product, in my opinion it’s not fit for broadcast.

Time Again To Talk About Time

October 11th, 2014 by Stan No comments »

Time and sin are related. Honest.

A brother at church related the following story; (I’m paraphrasing and embellishing a little—thank you Bro. Sam). He said there was a testimony night at his old church. You know, where members of the body get up and give their personal testimonies. And at their church, he emphasized, they could be long and interesting. One night a man gets up there at the microphone and goes through this list at least 50 items long; drunken driving, drugs, cussing being the most prominent sins on it. “Yet,” the man concluded. “God still forgave me. Praise God!” And when he was done, this sister stands up and says, “Yep, through all that but that ain’t nothing!” and she went down a list even bigger that the man before her.” And then another stood up and said, “You are all saints compared to me!” His list was even longer. So the night went on with each list getting longer and longer. It seems that these people took it as a matter of pride to have the worst sin record in the church.

But here’s the thing. God doesn’t care about how much one goes through or how much one sins. God only cares that you go through enough of it to get saved. no matter how many packs of cigarettes you smoked a day, no matter how many different kinds of drugs you did, no matter how many times you went to jail. It doesn’t matter.

I believe that’s because God lives in a forever place. I learned about forever places in school, only there it was called infinity, science’s word for eternity. Infinity is represented by the symbol ∞. Whenever we tried to put that symbol in a mathematics equation the result was always unintelligible. It just didn’t make sense. That’s because infinity doesn’t have a beginning or an end and everything we experience in the world does. And, you cannot compare something with a beginning and end to something that’s forever. No matter how big something is, next to forever it’s nothing. Infinity is not a number; it’s a state of being. It’s a state in which all quantity is zero. In forever, nothing is bigger or hotter or colder or faster or slower than anything else.

In the forever place, the number of times we sin doesn’t matter either. Neither does the number of times we are forgiven. No person, man nor woman is better than any other; none are worse or better off because they sinned more. We are all the same.

We shouldn’t be ashamed of our sins. Nor should we hide them; they are useful when we try to help others going through tough times, as a way to demonstrate God’s love and forgiveness. But then again, we shouldn’t wear out sins like badges of courage. That’s just another sin.

Keeping The Dust On Just A Little Longer

September 12th, 2014 by Stan 2 comments »

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. — Mat 10:14 KJV

Sometimes I think we shake the dust off a little too soon.

Someone said to me that people who commit violent crimes deserved their punishment. Of course, I agreed. She went on, “Hey, it was their choice,” she said. “If they lived their life right and under the principles of Christianity, they wouldn’t be in prison in the first place. After all Jesus never saved anyone against their will.” Also true to the point that it’s impossible to argue against. But I believe strong efforts should be made to reach them. In Acts 13:50-51 Paul and Barnabas tried so hard that they were persecuted before they shook the dust off of their feet.

I realize that the problem of violence in our country is not easy to solve. It has deep roots in poverty and injustice making it seem overwhelming. The matter of free will also makes it hard. There are people who do not want help and now matter what anyone does will remain a danger to the public. But, I believe that most people who commit violent crimes (or any crime for that matter) do not see any other choice. But there are ways to help.

Their true choices are hidden by their circumstances, hopelessness, and ignorance to the extent that they really believe that committing the crime is the best and only path they have to success. That is a sad situation for them, for their victims, for our cities and for our country. Some would say that regardless of their situation, they still understand right from wrong and choose wrong anyway.

But what if the right way seems impossible? Would a young man decide to join a gang if he felt he had another viable way to succeed, to get a job, find love and happiness? What would happen if he walked into a place of business and applied for a job with his tattoos, baggy pants, street lingo and lack of people skills? He’s probably not getting it. Those things are assets when looking to join a gang.

So how do we help? Tattoos can’t be fixed easily, but most can be hidden. Appearance through dress and grooming can be improved. People and coping skills can be taught as well as job skills. Employers can be educated that hiring these men and women can be just as profitable as hiring anyone. We can pray and lobby for easier access to education for the inner city kids. We can write to our political leaders to support programs designed to help in this area.

While it’s one of our highest calls to reach out to those in prison, it’s just as important to reach out to those at risk of going. While we can’t help people who don’t want to be helped, we can’t be too eager to kick the dust off our feet. We need to try first. And then try again. And again. Until we are run out of town like Paul and Barnabas.

Favorite Things, Part 2

June 30th, 2014 by Stan No comments »

Here’s one of my favorite things from when I worked in Khartoum, Sudan. Even if I didn’t have to listen to heartbreaking stories of torture, murder and rape, living in Sudan would still have been like swimming up stream in a river of stressful situations. Sharia, Islamic law, made normal social interactions dangerous. For example, talking to a woman, not a member of my immediate family, could result in arrest or worse. Then there were the threat letters from the local Islamic groups that promised death to us if we didn’t leave Sudan. The environment contributed to the stress too. Khartoum is located in the desert making the heat a nuisance. I sweat constantly, even in my sleep. I remember a power failure one night. I awoke just as the ceiling fan ground to a stop—it actually did make a grinding sound when it turned. Within seconds I felt my pores open and water pour out from me as if a giant laundress were wringing me out.

There was some minimal relief from everyday discomforts. On weekends I frequented the American club where I swam in a pool, ate facsimiles of American food and listened to the complaints of other expatriates—not exactly a holiday. Some Americans referred to that establishment as an oasis but it truly was a mirage.

After a month in Khartoum the stress felt overwhelming and just when I thought I couldn’t bear anymore I was ordered to go to Port Sudan, a city on the Red Sea, to interview refugees there. Traveling in the third world in the 1980s was problematic, to put it gently, but I did have one glimmer of hope. When I first got the job, knowing I would be close to the Red Sea, I packed a diving mask and snorkel, just in case.

The first weekend there, my friend and fellow worker Brad, went snorkeling. About fifteen or so miles south of the city the taxi we hired pulled off the road and stopped. Sudan wasn’t exactly a tourist trap back then so I don’t believe they had that many public beaches. If they did, this certainly wasn’t one of them. We were the only living creatures there. Facing the sea all I could see was the blue flatness of the water. There were a few cargo ships out there, though, seeming motionless on the vast, dark, horizon. Behind me stretched a flat, tan expanse of sand and convection waves. With all that flatness out there, all that nothingness, just water, heat and dust, life seemed so rare and precious. I began to wonder if this trip was worth it.

We waded out to a reef about 100 yards off shore to a place where the water changed color from bright aqua to midnight blue. There we stood on a coral wall. I secured my mask and dipped my face in. The scene took my breath away. The contrast couldn’t have been more perfect. Out of the water, nothing but dust and heat. In the water, octopi, tropical fish, brilliant coral, perfect white sand; every color of the rainbow swam, swirled and darted in a celebratory dance in the honor of the wonders of creation. It was beautiful.

We spent hours out there, behaving like puppies seeing snow for the first time.

I think back on that experience for a reason. It’s a reminder to me that when I’m drowning in stress, changing my perspective, just dipping my head in the water, changed my feelings and thoughts in a profound way. My soul once repressed and attacked now soared with wonder and glory.

Thank you, God. I’ll never forget that day. It is still today one of my favorite things. When I think of it, my stress level drops to zero.

Hostility: Anger on Steroids

June 2nd, 2014 by Stan No comments »

The following is from the SFB Encyclopedia of Nonsense:

Hostile comes from the root word hos, a Greek/Urdu/pidgin word that means to spray water down with a long tube-like thingy. And, tile comes from ancient Persian/Yiddish meaning a hard floor, specifically one not made of dirt or dung. Put together the resulting word, hostile, means ‘to hose down the floor’. The word was first used among the personal guard of Alexander The Great around 36 BC. Legend has it that one of Alexander’s favorite concubines had a pet dog she refused to house train. The dog especially liked to dirty the marble floors of the palaces of vanquished rulers where Alexander stayed to regroup for his next conquests. The guard members, who considered themselves elite, resented cleaning up after the canine and invented the word. Their hatred and ill became so intense that it led to many unsuccessful assassination attempts. In their last try to kill the diminutive defecator, they poisoned its drinking water. That attempt, however, backfired. After a night of heavy drinking, Alexander awoke desperate for a drink of water. Seeing the bowl of water there on the floor he must have thought it was a gift from one of his many gods, he downed the concoction and died at the age of 32.

That story truly is nonsense but it does have two worthwhile morals.
1. Hostility causes collateral damage.
2. Never drink from a dog’s dish

I didn’t research the root of the word hostility but I do know some things about it. Hostility is a feeling of ill will and malice towards a person or group of people. Sometimes the trigger is a specific person like President Obama. Or, it can be general such as women, men, bikers, liberals, conservatives or street mimes.

Hostility isn’t just anger, it’s anger on steroids. Literally. When anger is triggered, hormones and steroids raise heart rates and blood pressures. Muscles tense. Organs are compressed. This heightened state of agitation, the anger response, is natural but it will only last for about two minutes, about the length of time it takes for the hormones steroids to catabolize. When a person is hostile, however, their angry thoughts churn, renewing the anger response every 2 minutes, creating a cycle of hostile thought. Depending on the level of hostility, the cycle can last for hours or in the case of Alexander’s guards, years. Experiencing these long anger responses causes serious collateral damage.

There are three types of collateral damage. First, long exposure to the stress hormones and steroids damage the body and over time leads to conditions like high blood pressure heart disease.

Second, the physical nature of hostility is hard to keep secret. Think Wicked Witch of the West. When a boss notices, it can lead to unemployment. When the police notice, it can lead to being arrested. When a spouse notices marriage problems may follow.

Lastly, there are spiritual consequences. The Bible says, ‘be angry, and sin not’ (Eph 4:26). God acknowledges that anger is a natural emotion, however the sin is in the expression of it. Jesus said that one of the two greatest commandments is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Wishing them ill certainly contradicts that.

A way to deal with hostility is to bless instead. Paul wrote that you should bless those that persecute you and not curse them (Rom 12:14). It sounds difficult, but it can be done with practice. Whenever someone makes you angry, stop for a minute and say, “Bless you,” instead of “_____ you!” Keep practicing it and it will become a habit. Remember that God loves everyone, even the hostile people. After a while, the blessing will be first thing that comes to mind when anger is triggered. The blessing will break the anger cycle and eliminate the collateral damage. But, still, don’t drink from a dog’s dish.

A Few Of My Not So Favorite Things

May 17th, 2014 by Stan No comments »

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Not so favorite things Nos. 1, 2 and 3: Torture, murder and rape.

Some time ago, I worked in Sudan documenting persecution histories of Ethiopian refugees applying for asylum to the United States. Most workdays would find me behind a desk in Khartoum, opposite a refugee and a translator, listening to stories of torture, murder and rape while I chain smoked Egyptian cigarettes to keep from shaking. (Don’t worry, I quit smoking 20 years ago—now I pray when I’m upset; works much better and doesn’t have the nasty health and beauty consequences.)

Their stories contained events and details that I once thought only happened during the Dark Ages. While no one reported the use of iron maidens or the rack, people were burned, beaten and violated in other horrible ways. They fled from burning villages, escaped from captivity or left just ahead of death squads. They endured long, dangerous journeys, many on foot, avoiding patrols and human traffickers. At the boarder with Sudan they considered themselves lucky of they were only raped. In the case of rape, gender didn’t matter.

Listening to their stories day after day I spent a lot of energy trying to stay objective as my job required.

One day I interviewed a young woman whose parents were killed. Her father was hung upside down and his bare feet were beaten with a red-hot iron. Her mother was spared torture. She was shot. The young woman managed to escape and survive the one-hundred mile journey only to be gang raped at the border by Sudanese border guards. Life in Khartoum wasn’t much better for her. She had been raped and beaten twice in the year since she arrived. The child she held on her lap was a product of one of those incidents. She wanted to get to the US where her brother and his wife would take care of her. She seemed so sincere that I failed to hold back my tears.

While we talked I noticed my boss standing near by and listening. Suddenly he approached us, slammed his fist on the desk and screamed, “Liar!” Then he went into a tirade about how the baby wasn’t even hers and she ought to burn in hell.

Not so favorite thing No. 4: Judging others.

Shocked and confused, I smoked a whole pack of cigarettes before I completed the interview. When I was finally done I confronted my boss. He did apologize but he went on and told me that he had just discovered that many refugees hired consultants to help them improve their story and it’s presentation. “They’re cheats and liars” he said.

I believed him at first. Maybe because it was less horrific to believe the refugees were lying rather than in people could so easily torture, murder and rape. And Maybe I felt betrayed. It took a lot of energy to do my job and I felt like was making a significant sacrifice. Believing I was being lied to made that sacrifice feel worthless. So I felt angry too. I lost my ability to stay objective as I began to think that all the people I interviewed were liars. One things humans hate is to feel bad for somebody that doesn’t deserve it.

Over the next few months, though, I befriended some other caseworkers and refugees. What I learned from them and their friends changed my whole outlook.

First of all, some refugees did hire consultants, much like a job applicant here in the US would hire a resume writer. And of course, some refugees were liars. Some weren’t persecuted or mistreated. Some even held good jobs in Khartoum as accountants or as other skilled professionals. But they were the minority.

Here’s what I learned: The majority of the refugees were Christians. They lived in Sudan, a country under strict Islamic law, lived in poverty, endured beatings and humiliations and had no rights or legal status. The majority of the refugees made the dangerous journey from Ethiopia because if they didn’t they’d be dead.

So why did I condemn them? Doesn’t matter because I shouldn’t have.

In the book of John 8:1-11, a group of Pharisees brings a woman to Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery. There was no doubt about her guilt and the Law proscribed stoning her to death. But, they asked Jesus what he would do? Adultery is a serious thing. Even today, a person who commits is judged. But Jesus didn’t judge her. Nor did he curse her nor condemn her.

The point is that we never know why people are the way they are or do the things they do. In that Bible story we aren’t told why the woman committed adultery. Was she just plain evil? Or did she somehow think she had no other choice? Did she willingly do it or was she raped? We don’t know. And we don’t know because it doesn’t matter.

We shouldn’t judge the poor, the sick, divorcees, alcoholics or anyone, including the torturers, murderers and rapists.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

April 19th, 2014 by Stan 1 comment »

It is tempting to break out in song here like, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, these are a few…,” but I’ll spare you. Not that my voice is bad, it is by the way, but because those things aren’t anywhere near the top of my list. If they are at the top of yours, please don’t be offended, they truly are special, but other things inspire me. Some of you, knowing that I am a man, might think it’s football, or racing or hunting or whatever men are into. Those things are on the list too but still not at the top.

Here is one right near the top: I used to live in New England near the Atlantic Ocean. Most people like the beach and most of those people like it best during the summer. While I agree that the beach in summer is nice, I prefer it in the winter, or better yet in the spring. Or even better yet, in the spring when it’s cold and rainy. And I especially like it when its cold and rainy and I’m feeling down. Think I’m nuts? Maybe I am, but not for that reason. Read the rest of this post and then decide.

One time I went for a walk on one of those grey, cold and wet mornings when my mood matched the weather. The details of my thoughts don’t matter because for me negative thinking yields the same bad results. I got there early and for a long time I walked alone, cold and wet and wallowing in self-pity. At some point, though I stopped and watched and listened to the gulls argue while they feasted on the food that seemed hidden everywhere especially for them. How lucky they were to find what they needed so easily. And for me it seemed so difficult. I actually got jealous and prayed. I don’t remember everything I asked for but vengeance, money or wanting to be somebody or something else were probably among them. I received no response, I think, because of my excessive self-focus and instead He gave me the “Be still and know I am God” treatment.

Later I climbed up on some rocks and immersed myself in wonder at the vastness of the ocean. All of my senses filled with it; endless grey expanse, moaning wind, ache inducing chill, the taste of salt, the smell of its intrinsic life and the stinging spray of the waves pounding the rocks. I tried, but it was impossible to keep all the negative thoughts going in my head in the presence of such majesty. It was during this sensory feast that God finally broke his silence, “This is my Creation,” He said. “It groans with incomprehensible beauty and suffering, and you are a precious part of it. ‘How much more are ye better than the fowls?’” (Luke 12:24)

My self-pity and depression disappeared. Works every time.

Swim, Bike, Run, Pray

December 15th, 2013 by Stan No comments »

I pray while I work out for several good reasons.

First is the fact that I could meet God at any moment. I’m at that age now where sudden heart stoppage is a major threat. For a moment, let’s say it’s you. Imagine swimming along when it happens. One second you’re breaking your personal record for the 1500 meter freestyle and the next you’re standing in the cloud amid worshiping angels face to face with Jesus. And then He asks you what you were thinking about. What would you say? I’m not confessing anything particular here but there is at least a slight chance that any person’s thoughts at any particular moment aren’t exactly holy. Right. So, would you lie? Here’s a tip; God already knows the answer so lying to the most powerful, all knowing entity in the universe is futile if not self-destructive. So, praying while I swim guarantees I can be proud of my thoughts if and when that impromptu, in person meeting with God happens.

Second, God provides encouragement. There is no pain quite like the pain experienced during a long bike ride. I’m referring to rides that take an hour or so and cover 20-30 miles. For most of the ride the pain is manageable, as long as the road is smooth and flat. But then I get to a hill. A long, steep one that seems better suited to a winter Olympic event than a traffic route. With each revolution of the pedals and the pain increases, my legs burn and feel heavy like I’m towing a Buick (one of those old ones that weigh more than a tank). My thoughts turn against me. “I can’t go on,” I think. “I’ll never make it. This is impossible.” But I ignore the thoughts. “Ok, God,” I pray. “Help, me out here, please?” Always faithful, God says, “With me all things are possible. Just keep going.” It’s enough to get me to the and after a quarter mile of level road my leg pain is tolerable again.

Third, God is the best coach in the universe. If I’m not careful, I get hurt easily while running, usually in my calves. Running, though, is my favorite sport and I’m a competitive to the point that I don’t want to stop no matter what I start to feel. So, I pray, “Lord, let me know how frail I am.” And he says, “Apply some wisdom, here! That tightness you feel in your calf is going to get worse. Slow down.” And He shows me an image of my calf muscle snapping like a rubber band. The torn end flips up and hits me in the back of the head and ends up being playful rebuke, “Knucklehead.” So I walk for a while until the tightness goes away and I’m able to run another day.

Best of all, exercising is conducive to praying in the spirit. The grunts and cries let out during sweaty exertions are really groanings that cannot be uttered.

Ugly Duckling II, Part 2

November 9th, 2013 by Stan No comments »

At the end of my version of the parable (The Ugly Duckling II—The Other Story), the duckling learned that he was not a beautiful swan but in reality a duck and, according to the duck world, an ugly one at that. The news was devastating like all such truths are. But like many devastating truths it is also the best thing that ever happened to him. So how could that be? First of all, I truly believe in this basic truth; every single person that God put on this earth is beautiful. Each is fearfully and wonderfully made, endowed with special gifts selected to help them work effectively for God, according to his plan. Ugly is not God’s word. It’s a word used by the world to describe people that are different.

Here’s another basic truth; everyone has something ugly about him. I believe that most of us have several uglies. Some uglies are obvious. For example, the ugly duckling was unattractive to the world. Some people have physical or mental disabilities that make them appear different from others. There are speech impediments, blindness or injuries, other things that make the person who has them stand out. Some uglies are less obvious and can often be hidden. Some of these are cognitive: poor reading and math skills or more dangerous ones; self-destructive behaviors that may only come out at night like depression, drinking or drugs are a few.

The obvious ones are easier to deal with because they cannot be hidden. It’s every teenager’s nightmare that some deformity, like a zit, might perch on their face and screech, “Look at me, I’m not pretty!” In order to be successful the ugly must be dealt with positively. If not, sin lies at the door. On the other hand the less obvious or hidden ones are much harder to deal with. We want these uglies to stay hidden and that spawns fear in their discovery. “Oh, what will my true love think when he finds out I cannot have children?” “If Rebecca ever learned I was in jail, she’d dump me!” And fear spawns sin.

God lets us live in the world with uglies so that we learn to be humble. It enables us to understand in a close personal way what it is like to suffer. He wants us to use that understanding to develop compassion so we do His work as our own. All uglies can be used to develop compassion for others. Love and compassion are blind to worldly beauty and see the suffering underneath.

It’s best to know the truth about our uglies because the truth shall make you free. Free from fear of being discovered, slavery from the burden of lying, free from sin.

Verses for study:
John 9:2-3
1 Cor 2:3
2 Cor 4:17-18, 12:9
Heb 4:15, 5:3
Rom 8:28
Gen 4:7

Ugly Duckling II—The Other Story, Part I

July 29th, 2013 by Stan No comments »

This story is rated ‘R’ for “Really?” Rated as such, no one under the age of 40 should read it. And then only with someone older and wiser present. Some readers will no doubt be offended by graphic descriptions of ruffled, muddy feathers and crude, off-color quacking and for that I apologize in advance. But, please understand that life in a rural pond is rough and I’m trying to be as truthful as possible.

Well, hold on to something, here it goes:

Once upon a time in a rural pond there lived an ugly duckling. Ugly, of course, is a relative term. The old proverb that says one duck’s insect is another duck’s poison holds true. But, in this case, even ducks from the pond on the other side of the forest, the ones that quacked with that funny accent and were considered to be among the ugliest birds in the world thought he was ugly.

Of course, life in a rural pond is tough for the aquatically. Adult ducks gossiped about him at duck parties, shaking their heads as they did, referring to him as a ‘foul fowl’. Some did feel sorry for his unfortunate unsightliness and at times even expressed kindness but still warned their daughters to stay away from him. As might be expected his peers, the other ducklings were the cruelest. The ugly duckling’s mottled feathers and asymmetrical beak were simply too hard to resist making fun of.

For the ugly duckling everyday life in the pond became unbearable. So to avoid the pain he spent most of his time alone in a small mud puddle, hidden by some mangrove trees. He spent hours in that sanctuary feeling sorry for himself, fantasizing about revenge and cursing God for making him so ugly.

One day, overcome by self-pity, he cried and sobbed so hard he didn’t notice he had a visitor, his very first one. “Don’t cry,” the snake said.

The kindness of the snake’s voice soothed him. He wiped his pinkish-brown-grey eyes with a muddy feather and stared at the coiled reptile.

“You don’t know it yet, but you’re special.”

“No I’m not.”

“Sure you are. I’ll bet you’re really not a duck. I’ll bet you’re something else. Something grand.”

“Go on.”

The snake explained that, some time ago, some baby swans had disappeared. At first believed to be victims of predation, one was discovered living with a family of skunks on the other side of the forest. “And you think you have problems!” said the snake chuckling. Since then, the swans have been conducting an organized search for their lost ones. “Maybe you are one?”

The snake’s story made sense. It provided an explanation for the persecution he experienced because, as everyone knows, ducks hated swans, out of jealously of their majestic size and beauty. As he wallowed in his mud puddle, his mind wallowed in pride considering the possibilities. For the first time he could remember he felt good about himself. He looked up to thank his new friend but the snake was gone.

The next time he want out into the pond, he swam with his chest thrust out and his head held high. The other ducklings noticed and didn’t like it and when the cruel remarks started, he shouted, “Ha! I’m not an ugly duckling! I’m a swan. I’m more beautiful than you! One day when I’m big and beautiful, I’ll get revenge on all of you!”

His tormentors laughed and laughed. And when their bellies ached from all laughing, they laughed some more. Their response hurt more than if they had beat him up and for the first time he became so angry that he attacked them. He lost but pride in his new identity drove him to fight hard. From that day on, hardly a day went by without fighting. While he didn’t win many battles there were none he’d back down from. Old ducks, big ducks, monster ducks, Anaheim Ducks, he didn’t care. He’d fight anybody. He was a mighty swan.

After a while, the fighting took its toll. The pain in his body transformed into pain in his head. He started doubting his new identity and depression drove him back to his mud puddle. There he medicated his pain by dreaming of life as a swan and how some day he would get his revenge as a great and beautiful bird that few of those puny ducklings could stand up to.

That’s when the snake came back again and told him that the swans were coming to the pond the next day. This was his chance. Finally, he would have redemption.

So in the morning when he awoke he left his refuge and swam to the pond. Sure enough, the snake was right. Talking with the duck elders were a conclave of swans. With his destiny at stake, he swam right up to them. The leader of the swans noticed the ugly duckling right away and turned to meet him. The majestic old bird looked him over examining him thoroughly. Finally the swan said, “Wow. You are the ugliest duck I have ever seen.”

And that was the best thing that ever happened to him. Find out why I think so in the next post.

%d bloggers like this: