Has Our Soul Been Taken?

The true identity theft is not financial. It’s not in cyberspace. It’s spiritual. It’s been taken.”

Stephen Covey

Portrait of Stephen Covey.
Stephen Covey

Born in 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Stephen Covey was an American educator and taught at Brigham Young University. He fathered a large family and died in 2012. As an author, his greatest achievement was his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which is cited as the most influential book in business education in the 20th Century.

There has been much written and discussed about our materialistic society. As a group, we collectively pursue the relentless acquisition of goods which has resulted in a spectacularly prodigious amount of personal debt. I do not wish to enter into a discussion or debate about how this materialism came to be. But this reality is the backdrop for Stephen Covey’s words cited above.

Covey speaks of the current issue of identity theft. Our personal identity is sacred to all of us. The theft of our name and official government identifiers, like social insurance numbers, is a vexing problem that the existence of cyberspace has made more dangerous than ever before. Victims of identity theft face financial ruin and, perhaps, criminal and civil consequences in the courts.

And yet, Covey boldly states that true identity theft is not about financial loss or about cyberspace criminals. No, he claims that we are the victims of the theft of our spiritual identity. He also claims that our spiritual identity has been taken – not lost. Really?

For most of my life, the spiritual realm and religion were one and the same. Certainly, there is a relationship between the two, but they are not synonymous, not the same. The human spirit is not necessarily about religion in general or about a specific religion. I believe that everyone possesses a soul, the spiritual core of our being. We cannot see it, hear it, or feel it. But it is powerful.

Many people turn to religion to satisfy their spiritual needs. And for some, religion has become a badge of social respectability that one has earned by attending church regularly – saying all the right prayers and singing the right hymns. For them, it goes no farther. Others work hard to live the tenets of their chosen faith in their daily lives. But religion is not for everyone because the rules and regulations of formal religions can be restrictive.

Our common spirituality transcends religious practices and communities. The human spirit is about the values and personal truths we hold dear. These realities are not our birthright as humans, but they must be cultivated through great personal effort. It means setting aside alone time to meditate or think deeply about the things we truly value. To question ideas that originate within ourselves and from others. What do we truly value? Things? Yes, sadly, things.

I believe that Covey is telling us that our craving for material possessions which has been institutionalized into mass shopping sprees on days designated by the corporations that profit from them, has driven us not only into deep personal debt but also into a soulless existence. Our education system prepares us for jobs. Jobs are our means to earn a living. Those jobs give birth to an overwhelming need to be promoted into higher-paying jobs so that we may acquire more things.

We are not being educated to live our lives well. We are not encouraged to seek out and meditate on the wisdom of those who went before us. In fact, we are not encouraged to meditate at all! Where are we now? We are facing ecological disaster and extinction. Are we waking up to the fact that our rampant materialism has stolen our souls? No, it doesn’t look like it. Listen carefully to the messages of politicians running an election campaign. Look at the commercials on television. What does our behaviour reveal about our values?

I agree with Stephen Covey but I’m not prepared to write off the human race just yet. It is clear we need to nurture our spiritual identity. How we do that is a matter of choice. But we need to take back our spirituality.

Only in America

Jill Dennison has written a back-to-school post that chills my blood. Even in my country, Canada, gun violence is on the rise. Thanks, Jill for this eloquent wake-up call.

Filosofa's Word

It’s September, and you know what that means!  Shorter days, cooler temperatures, the leaves on the trees starting to turn from green to vibrant gold, purple and red.  Pumpkins and apples, the smell of woodsmoke in the air, and … oh yes, those big yellow buses once again rumbling down the street – back to school! school-bus.pngYou won’t see a back-to-school ad like this in France, Germany, or the UK.  You won’t even see an ad like this in Syria or Afghanistan.  Only in America would you would ever see an advertisement like this one.

That was a Public Service Announcement by the Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-violence nonprofit founded by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.  Raw, jaw-dropping, disturbing?  Yeah, it was meant to be.  Only in America.  What a claim to fame, eh?

This morning, I watched the neighborhood kids walking down the…

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I Believe in…

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

E. E. Cummings

An American poet, Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1894 and died in 1962. He was a prolific writer who wrote almost 3,000 poems, two novels, four plays, and many essays. As a poet, he was best known for his non-conformist approach and this gives me some insight into this quote.

“Once we believe in ourselves…” These opening words literally stopped me in my tracks. Do most of us believe in ourselves? Do I believe in myself? What does this mean? To be honest, in this respect, I am a work in progress. Sometimes I feel a strong sense of uncertainty or doubt. So I look outside of myself for assurance. When I step back and analyse this lack of self-confidence, I see it as silly and child-like. It is based on fear and leads to no good.

Confidence means that I accept or I own who I am – with all of my virtues, talents, strengths, along with my vices and weaknesses. If I accept myself as I am, then I can love myself. This allows me to move forward boldly, according to my beliefs and my decisions. As well, I am enabled to reach out, unencumbered, to embrace others.

“…we can risk, curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight…” If I am tangled up in foreboding and fear, how can I risk anything? Fear is the great annihilator of risk, of taking a chance. If I am to navigate my own life well, I need to ask about things, events, and people who impact my life and my society. Expressing wonder about the beauty of life is risking ridicule from others who might not share my view. Expressing spontaneous delight can be met with disapproval. In each instance, we risk disapproval from others – even those we love.

“…or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” The revelation of our human spirit is substantial exposure! Nothing speaks more eloquently to others than our behaviour – how we live our lives. People easily recognize the self-confident person because too few of us believe in ourselves. Sometimes, I wonder if our crowded urban lifestyle contributes to this phenomenon. Are people in rural areas less fearful about what others think of them?

It is my view that I am responsible for what I believe and how I live my life. This is what I can control. I can be a non-conformist if that’s how I can best express my true self without harming others or breaking the law. We live in a society that prizes conformity, so behaving otherwise is a risky business. Hence, I believe in me – a work in progress.

Good People Doing Good Things — Big & Little

My friend, Jill Dennison, has provided us with several wonderful stories of ordinary people doing loving things for others. Please read on and allow Jill to lift your spirit with evidence that humanity is not beyond redemption.

Filosofa's Word

Guess what I found?  I found good people!


Generosity times 100 …

Alec Sprague lives in Jacksonville, Florida.  A few days ago, he went to his local Costco store to buy a generator, and I imagine his jaw dropped when he saw a man buying not one, not two, but 100 generators!  At $450 each, that is no small feat!  About $45,000 by my reckoning … one could buy a brand new car for that and still have money left over!

Now, I don’t think Alec got the man’s name, but he did speak to him and found that the man was buying not only 100 generators, but also a large stash of food to send to the Bahamas for those who, in the wake of Hurricane Dorian last week, are left without electricity or supplies, many without homes.  Add to that $45,000 tab another $4,285.70 for a variety of…

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#RRBC’s Spotlight Author for September – @JohnJFioravanti #RWISA

This is Day 5 of my “Spotlight” Author tour sponsored by Rave Reviews Book Club. I’m grateful to Jan Sikes, a friend and RRBC colleague, for generously hosting this blog.

Writing and Music

Hello, and welcome to the next stop on the RRBC Spotlight Author Blog Tour for the amazing author, John Fioravanti!

It is an honor to introduce you to John and his work!

The REFLECTIONS Blog Tour

I’m grateful to my host of this fifth post of the REFLECTIONS TOUR, and to Nonnie Jules
and the #RRBC Team who arranged it all!

Reflection 26 – Love Yourself – You’re Worth It!

“You can search throughout the
entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection
than yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as
much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”

~ Buddha

Buddhism is based upon the teachings of Gautama Buddha who
taught in eastern India over twenty-five centuries ago. His philosophy
sought a middle way between unbridled sensuality and a-self discipline that denied
any sensual…

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Welcome, #RRBC’s “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR for September @JohnJFioravanti! #RWISA

Yesterday, I began my week-long “Spotlight” Author blog tour to share my latest book “Reflections”. I’d like to thank President and Author, Nonnie Jules, who also penned the introduction to this book and Rave Reviews Book Club for shining this spotlight on me and my work this month. Nonnie is hosting this first blog post.

Watch Nonnie Write!

Hello, all!  I’m here today to welcome back Author, John J. Fioravanti, RRBC’s “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR for the month of September.

John was one of the first members of RRBC to hold this illustrious seat and today begins the first day of his SA tour.  I am so honored to host him and introduce his latest piece of work, “REFLECTIONS:  Inspirational Quotes & Interpretations.”

Reflections by John F

Take it away, John!

I’m grateful to Nonnie for opening up my tour today and also for arranging this special month in my honor!  I am a LifeTime Member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and although I took a sabbatical from the club a couple of years ago, I have returned and reprised my role as MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR.  I’ve dropped by Nonnie’s blog to share a bit about my book, REFLECTIONS.  

Why did I write a book like this?

The first thing that…

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Welcome to the “BOUND’ED BY CHAINS” Blog Tour! @FRStepnowski @4WillsPub #RRBC

Please help me give Author, Forrest Stepnowski, a warm welcome here at Words To Captivate. Forrest is a fellow member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB  which I featured in a recent blog: A GREAT LITERARY COMMUNITY: #RRBC #RWISA. Forrest is on a blog tour with his book “BOUND’ED BY CHAINS” which is one of the ways that #T

Head shot of Author, Forrest Stepnowski

About the Book:

BOUND; The Lost Romanticism and Eroticism of Gay Men. Allow yourself to give in to your deepest fantasies, desires, and sensual dreams, BOUND is a collection of poetic works exploring the world of eroticism, romanticism, and fantasies of gay men of all ages. Walk through the mind inspired by fantasies, the hopes for romance, the desire to be swept off ones’ feet, and the longing to be touched through this anthology filled with lost romance and passionate memories. Escape into a world that allows you to be one with your desires, feel the heightened sensations and passion through random rendezvous and engagements.

 

Poetry Excerpt from Bound: The Lost Romanticism and Eroticism of Gay Men:

In the beginning…

I stare in the mirror for hours

looking at my aging face, my graying hair

Alone, lost in a world where I no longer fit in, nor am I desired

I live in the memory of what was once a handsome face

A beautiful body, a real sexual being

It started when I was the age of seventeen

The not quite so legal but young, dumb, and full…

You get the picture

I lived through endless sexual encounters

A sensual but conservative body, but unhinged in the sheets

Amidst the blue-green skies under a palm tree I lay

A soldier sat next to me and attempted to graze my leg

Confused and aroused

The life of a teen entrapped in a confused state of being

An innocent being, trapped in an adult world of unexplored seduction

I stare in the mirror for hours

looking at my aging face, my graying hair

Reduced to only the memories of my conquests and seductions

The temple of manhood with an internally trapped siren singing songs that lure the hungry and feed the thirsty

But now a relic trapped into the history of older gay men who remain silent in their insecurities

 

About the Author:

Forrest Robert Stepnowski is an advocate, a writer, a social worker, and a performance artist in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing poetic works and prose for most of his life. He realized how important is to share his work with others who have dealt with similar pathways of self-hate, self-deprecation, and self-loathing in the hopes they find they are not alone, as well as help them realize they are not deviants, nor are they against “human nature.” They are part of a collective of misfit toys on an island where being different is beautiful. We all have a voice, and the world should hear it. Forrest is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.

 

Social Media Links:

Website/Blog: https://www.forresttakesajourney.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/forrestrobertstepnowski

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frstepnowski

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/forreststepnowski

"BOUND" Book Cover 

Amazon Purchase Links:

Paperback

https://www.amazon.com/BOUND-Lost-Romanticism-Eroticism-Gay/dp/1096882558/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

E-Book

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S1MLFGD/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Thanks for supporting this author and his work!