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What We Value Most As a Society

Saturday morning Adam Scull from EatSleepWrite interviewed me for his weekly podcast show. Adam interviewed me for about 30 minutes and we had a great discussion about my upcoming memoir. I admit I was very nervous, but the whole question and answer session made me feel much better about giving interviews. It wasn’t an in-person interview either. We used Skype since he is located in Florida and it worked out well. Adam will be posting my interview as a podcast on his EatSleepWrite website as well as on iTunes in mid-September. Adam has been interviewing aspiring writers and posting their podcasts since April, and he is a very patient and kind host. Please visit his website at EatSleepWrite or check out a podcast on iTunes podcasts listed under EatSleepWrite with Adam Scull.

I continue to chant at the Buddhist center early in the mornings. This morning a young man spoke about his experience over the past weekend at a Buddhist retreat in Florida. He spent four days at the Florida Nature & Culture Center near Fort Lauderdale and returned both encouraged and inspired by his visit. He told us about another young man he met who came from Chicago. The young man described how Chicago’s murder rate in 2012 was very, very high. As Buddhists, he and his fellow SGI members decided to take action both within the organization and within their communities. The local SGI Buddhist centers held more chanting sessions so more people had the opportunity to chant together. SGI members also became more involved in their communities. Ultimately, by working and fighting together, in 2013 the city of Chicago has reduced its murder rate from 2012 levels.

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I found this incredibly encouraging because I think our society is desensitized to violence, particularly in poorer communities. It seems as if we don’t place much value on human life anymore. More value is placed on material goods like cars, TVs, cell phones and drugs. One of my new favorite quotes is from a book I am currently reading titled “The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss. The main character was a member of a clan of traveling performers resembling gypsies, and he describes a story told by one of the older clan members. The story revolves around a beggar looking for a warm fire and a hot meal. He stumbles upon the traveling clan and is warmly welcomed. When the beggar states that he has nothing to offer in return for their kindness, one woman tells him kindly: “What we value most is something that everyone has – a story.” This is incredibly beautiful but it also shows how backwards we’ve become as a society. We’ve come to place value on the things that matter least in life, and strip our most valuable treasures of meaning.

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