Doctors In Houston

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With the crisis of Hurricane Harvey and the rains still battering Houston…


It was so amazing to read this morning about the doctors who are going all out to help people in need there.


Doctors staying in the hospital for days to cover their patients stuck there and requiring care and treatment.


And others that are wading through the waters at there own risk to get there to treat the sick.


One doctor mentioned was Adi Diab M.D. who trekked 3 miles through a foot of water to get Anderson Cancer Center “to attend to a patient undergoing an experimental cancer treatment.”


He did this so as not to interfere with the patients scheduled treatment for the re-engineering of immune cells to fight a tumor.


I’ll tell you, there really are some truly amazing people out there–whether doctors and nurses, firefighters and emergency responders, law enforcement and military personnel.


They run into danger and disaster zones when everyone else is running out. 


Is it professionalism, dedication, duty, or an angelic calling to help people and the nation in need.


This is our nation at its best–united!!!–and helping our neighbors, saving lives, and putting others before self.


“Houston there is a problem”, and as unbelievably horrible and unfortunate as it is, perhaps it is also a critical reminder of what’s really important and a healing to our great nation.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Happy Father’s Day

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So it’s Shabbat and that’s one of the wonderful times to look at old photos in the albums and boxes. 


Yes, this was before digital photography!


I came across this art that my daughters had given to my father and mother when they were still alive–I think it was plastered on their refrigerator for a while. 


This photo seemed to bridge the past, present, and future for me. 


My parents are gone now to Hashem–already 2 and 3 years–and I still can’t believe it. 


At the annual Mother’s Day and Father’s Day–it’s just another time of year to remember how much I miss them all year long. 


For me now, it is also a chance to be grateful for my lovely children that G-d has so gracefully blessed me and Dossy with. 


Smiles, hugs and kisses, love and caring for one another–this is what life is all about.


Father’s Day to me is not about the gratefulness of my children to me, but rather of me to Hashem and them to be blessed to be a dad and have the chance to give back to such lovely children–to the next generation that greatly supersedes me and mine!


So I’m crunched in the middle in time between wonderful parents and beautiful children and as my dad would joke, it skipped a generation (hopefully, not really). 😉 


(Source Photo: My Girls)

Mine and Yours

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In synagogue today, we read from Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of Our Fathers”).


And I talked with my friends at lunch about one passage from this timeless wisdom.


There are 4 types of people:


1) “Average Joe”

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours in yours. 


Someone described this as “his and her–separate–accounts.”


2) Stupid

What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours in mine. 


Ah, this is just someone whose plain old confused.


3) Wicked

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.  


One guy described his ex-wife this way.


4) Righteous 


What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is yours.  


We all agreed this is the meaning of life–to be kind and giving to others.


What type of person are you? And what type of person do you want to be?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wonderful Thank You

This is one of the most beautiful thank you songs that I have ever heard.


This was played for a departing leader with beautiful photos of all the good and caring work that they did over many years.


The passion, commitment, and tenacity were evident through out, and even though I hadn’t known this person for long, it brought tears to my ears.


What certain people can accomplish with their lives–helping others, making a better world. 


What we can accomplish through kindness, caring, selflessness, generosity, and tenderness. 


It’s the definition of inspirational–that we can live a life where the “thank you” is really and totally besides the whole point. 


Live life and live it well! 😉

Make People And Time Count

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So there was an article in Slate about how kids think these days.


And it’s a reflection of the adults, of course. 


When 10,000 middle and high school students from 33 schools across the country were asked, what’s more important–80% chose high achievement or happiness as their top priority vs just 20% who picked caring for others.


The kids who chose their happiness and achievement over helping others tended to score low on empathy and were at greater risk of being “cruel, disrespectful, and dishonest.”

Bottom line is that these are our values that we impart when we recognize and reward our children for things like good grades and extra-curriculars, but not for helping or caring about others. 


Pretty much, I think parents worry that their kids should be able to support and care for themselves, because that’s what’s considered our primary responsibility as parents–to make sure the next generation survives and can go on physically and materially once we are gone. 


In a way, it’s Darwinism and survival of the species and of the fittest. 


The problem is survival of our physical manifestation is not equivalent to the thriving of the spiritual being inside all of us. 


It’s not enough to live, but we have to live a good and descent life.


Our bodies wither and die, but our souls learn, grow, and go on to the afterlife. 


Yesterday, I had this freakish accident, going through the turnstiles on the Metro in Washington, DC.


The person before me went right through the gates as they opened, but when I put my pass down and went through, the gates had a glitz and closed suddenly right on my legs (and my artificial hips) and I went tumbling forward hard to the floor. 


Amazingly, two wonderful bystanders (not the Metro employees who didn’t even flinch or care) came rushing over to me, and literally lifted me up by the arms and handed me my wallet and glasses which had fallen to the side. 


One of the people that helped was especially nice to me, and he asked me how I was and really seemed to care that I was alright–imagine that a complete stranger in the Metro! 


The two people who stopped to help could’ve literally hopped right over me to rush for the train at the end of the day like everyone else, but they didn’t.


To them, caring was more important than their own time. 


Maybe I got the 20% yesterday, but it made me realize AGAIN how terrific some people are and they truly make time count–by making people count–like unfortunately many others may never ever bother to. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Homeless and Hungry

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I took this photo in Washington, DC.


Two statues of back-to-back homeless people in the grit on the sidewalk.


They sit as everyone rushes on past them–many stone faced as well as too many stone hearted.


In this case, someone put the newspaper Street Sense on the lap of the statue. 


As many in DC, the homeless are trying to get back on their feet in this case by writing articles for and selling this newspaper about homelessness, poverty, and social issues. 


Impressive that they sell about 16,000 of the biweekly 16-page paper and that the homeless vendors make about $45 per day doing this. 


Like this picture of the homeless on the street, bracing back against each other and sort of huddled up among the masses of the fortunate around them, I imagine that they must really feel like these statues–odd, uncomfortable, lost, scared, and painted over by society that marks them as dirty, dangerous, and unwanted.


But these homeless and hungry are G-d’s children, no less than any of us!


I applaud Street Sense and other advocates and activists that see, hear, and feel beyond themselves and help the needy and downtrodden. 


Helping these people in desperate need is truly G-d’s work, and like recently sainted, Mother Teresa, is an act of unbelievable kindness and mercy that we can all learn from and should emulate. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Beach Wheelchair

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This was really nice to see.

Someone invented a beach wheelchair.

Thoughtful for people with disabilities.

Not sure how well it actually would work to try and push this over the sand dunes.

But I credit people for trying to help other people.

Too often, we only think of ourselves.

It’s inconvenient to think of those with less or with problems and in need.

But when we come out of or own heads, we can uplift ourselves as well as others to the beach or wherever else they want to go. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Need Some Money

Monopoly

Big banner advertising Money!


A Monopoly sweepstakes by McDonalds to draw customers. 


Sort of ironic a low-cost fast food provider “giving” money away.


But who doesn’t need money? 


I remember the song as a child, “Money makes the world go round…”


Always distasteful at the focus in the world on money, instead of on being good decent people with a bigger picture on issues, suffering, and tikkun olam. 


Really, it’s the tug of war between people’s personal selfishness and the ability to exhibit selfless giving to others. 


Does a person need a certain amount of financial stability and security to be a better giver?


I guess that makes sense–if you have more and don’t feel financially burdened and threatened at every turn in life, you can be more charitable with your own giving–not feeling pinched and vulnerable. 


Still, I think it’s important to remember that money can certainly be at “the root of all evil” when it becomes the end rather than the means to a life of purpose, understanding, and compassion that goes way beyond our own little desires and selves. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Not About The Regrets

Drowning

So a teacher recently gave her students a scenario with the following moral dilemma:


An important and talented surgeon who has saved many lives in the past and will surely save many more in the future runs across an old man who has slipped and fallen under the cracking ice into a lake after trying unsuccessfully to save his puppy from drowning.  


The old man is trapped and will freeze to death in short order.


Should the surgeon walk across the breaking ice and risk his own life to try and save the old man?


The vast majority of students’ responded…that the surgeon should try and save the old man.


When asked why they thought that, most said because otherwise he would feel guilty afterwards. 


Thinking about that it seems like a funny reason to do something dangerous, heroic, and maybe utterly stupid…so as not to feel guilty. 


I guess that I would’ve thought people who would advocate for trying to save the old man would say something like


– Every life is valuable!

– Saving one person is like saving the world.

– Helping people even at our own risk or peril is what we do for our fellow human beings.

– We would want others to help us if we were in trouble, so we should do that for them. 


While we can’t judge someone else for how they react in situations of genuine moral conflict, we can teach the younger generation that doing something good for others is about more than just not feeling bad or guilty afterwards (for being lazy, selfish, or making the wrong call in the situation).


Making moral judgements is about choosing in every situation to try your best to do what’s right, help people, be a good influence, take responsibility, and generally act selflessly, but not recklessly. 


Regret stinks (and can be truly painful), but missing opportunities to live a good, meaningful life is much worse. 😉


(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)

Helping Kids To Stand On Their Own

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So my wife and I have a longstanding disagreement on the best way of teaching children. 


Her perspective:


TEACH TO CARE – Get the kids to do them for themselves, learn to be independent, by doing they learn to stand on their own two feet, don’t baby them, by teaching them to do for themselves you are caring for the kids, if you jump every time they ask then there is no reason for them to try themselves.


His perspective:


CARE TO TEACH – Do for the kids when they are young, by showing them how then they start to learn how to do it for themselves later in life, children need to be shown love and caring so they can learn to one day care for themselves as well as for others, by loving and giving selflessly to children they learn that they are valuable human beings and grow to a healthy maturity. 


The reality:


CARE AND TEACH – We need to show care and love to children, but also need to teach them to do for themselves. We can’t smother children nor can we send them out into the world unprepared. Care for them at an early age, show them how, and then give them opportunities to do it for themselves and become full adults. 


Like with most things in marriage, and relationships in general, the bringing together of two heads and hearts is better than just one alone. We balance each other, complement each other, and synergize each other–one is alone and deficient, two is together and with G-d making three, it is a whole. 


And always tell your wife she was right. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)