Thursday, January 30, 2014

Body, Mind, Spirit, and Soul

In my introduction I mentioned I have the task of tending to my “tribe's” body, mind, spirit and soul. I thought a good place to start my posting would be to explain what I mean by those four words, and give you a better understanding of the areas I'll be writing about.


This one is pretty easy to understand- I need to be able to take care of the bodily needs of the family and friends that will be closest to me in an emergency. My fellow authors will be covering the body's needs of food, water, and shelter in their articles. I may chime in once in a while, but I'll leave the bulk of it to them.


I define the Mind as that part of a person that they use to think. This is one of the things that I see that sets human beings apart from animals, although some people choose to ignore their humanity and see themselves as (and act like) just another species of animal. Circumstances can also sometimes strip the thinking part of a person away, leaving instinct as the driving force in their actions.

As long as someone can think, they can be taught. Teaching others has been a big part of my life, and I don't mean sitting is a government school with a captive audience. As a trainer for the Army and Reserves, a decade as a Cubmaster, and almost two decades as a trainer at my former corporate job, I've learned a few tricks on how to impart knowledge. I've also come to the conclusion that some people have a harder time than others learning new things. That doesn't mean you can give up on them, you just need to find a way in which they can learn. Learning is a journey, not a goal. If I ever stop learning new things it'll be time to plant my ass, because I'll be dead. Being able to teach is a skill that not everyone has. It can be learned, but like everything else, some are going to be better at it than others.


The mental well-being of the people around you has a huge impact on your own mental health. If you work with a group of pissed-off, angry, fearful, or sullen people long enough, it will start to have an impact on your own attitude and thought processes. If despair or a sense of futility gets a toe-hold in a group, in takes a lot to get rid of. It also takes a strong and determined mind to be able to resist the temptation to behave like everyone around you. Strength generally comes from exercise, so it can be counterproductive to always avoid the negative emotions. The non-confrontational attitude that is pushed so hard in today's corporate and educational systems is leading to a lot of pent-up anger and frustration that people are not being taught how to handle. I've yet to find a group of (adult) people who are constantly upbeat, happy, and carefree (at least once the drugs wear off). Such a group may exist, but I haven't met anyone yet who lives a perfect life. Keeping a group's spirit “up” is the way I use the word here; spirituality is covered below.


This is the other part of what I see separates being human from being an animal. There is a part of each of us that exists with our physical bodies, but will continue to exist when the physical body dies. This is where emotions come from. This is what makes us individuals. This is the hardest part for me to tend to in another person. I don't have all of the answers, most of the time I don't even know the question until someone brings it up. I do have a firm grasp of my own beliefs and a boat-load of resources, so I can look up what others have thought/written about the problems of life that can trouble a soul and try to work out a solution. Notice I used the word “try” - I am under no delusion that I am the final arbiter in theological discussions. I don't preach.

There are many different belief systems in the world and I have had close contact with most of them. I am a libertarian Christian - your beliefs are yours and I will help you explore them as long as you don't start forcing your beliefs on others. Right and wrong do exist, as do good and evil. Some things are good for the soul, others are not. Drawing the lines between the choices is often one of the main causes of conflict in this world. The differences of religious beliefs have been the cause of wars large and small for most of our history. The wars get worse and the atrocities more hideous once someone usurps the power to decide who has a soul (is human) and who doesn't.

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