Life is Both Natural and Spiritual
BEYOND IF I SEE IT, I’LL BELIEVE IT
For the last nine issues, my Best Practices have reflected excerpts from a book Eric Wright and I have been working on called Dogs Don’t Bark at Parked Cars, which will be released later this year. The book outlines ten qualities of leadership that we have seen in successful business people over our lifetime and especially in the last ten years as we have done business with and interviewed literally hundreds of CEO’s, entrepreneurs and community leaders. This next quality we saw may surprise you – that life is both natural and spiritual.
We know, as well as anyone, the kinds of irrational and callous behavior that has and is being done in the name of “religion.” However, in that discussion we have to remember in the last century we witnessed two socio-political philosophies, Communism and Nazism, which sought to replace religious faith with materialistic/secularism, and the result was one of the most oppressive and nightmarish periods in human history. In Germany, over 7 million people were slaughtered in the Holocaust. As alarming as that number is, it is a third of the number of people killed in the Soviet Union, a total which is less than half the number who lost their lives in China. In some places in Southeast
Asia, the slaughter continues in an effort to build a “God Free” utopia.
It is amazing how we hear over and over about repression of the “Dark Ages,” and rightfully so. Even the term, however, was a rather condescending label Renaissance intellectuals gave to the era that preceded them. It is like the fathers of the French Revolution calling their era “The Age of Enlightenment.”
One 19th century political historian wrote, “If rationalism wishes to govern the world without regard to the spiritual needs of the human soul, the French Revolution is there to teach us the consequences of such a blunder.”
MAYBE YOU’LL SEE IT WHEN YOU BELIEVE
Often spirituality or a confidence that there is more to life than this life, is dismissed as wishful thinking. But we have found that our spiritual sense or longing is much like a dog’s sense of smell. Though we have this same sense as our K-9 friends, dogs exceed our power by orders of magnitude that scientists say is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute. “Let’s suppose they’re just 10,000 times better,” says James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University. “If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well.”
Over and over again scientists are documenting our sense of connectedness, and that values like forgiveness, kindness and love aren’t just nice emotions – they affect even the efficiency of our immune system. These are things our spiritual heritage has taught us or we believe intuitively, but now the evidence is mounting for its validity, much like a dog’s incredible ability to see what isn’t there with its nose. Peter Tyson posted in NOVA scienceNOW, “Dogs can detect some odors in parts per trillion.” What does that mean in terms we might understand? Well, in her book Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher at Barnard College, writes that while we might notice if our coffee has had a teaspoon of sugar added to it, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools’ worth. Another dog scientist likened their ability to catching a whiff of one rotten apple in two million barrels. Dogs have sniffed drugs hidden in plastic containers, immersed in tanks of gas!
YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING
It reminds me of a story Eric tells of vacationing with his wife Susan and their three sons at his parent’s home in Cocoa Beach. He borrowed his father’s car for the beach day and as the sun was going down and they were packing up, he realized he couldn’t find the keys to the car or house. They meticulously scoured the towels, umbrellas, and beach toys, then started raking the sand with their hands to try and find the keys. No luck. They had been there for hours, in and out of the water- the keys could be anywhere.
Eric was sinking into despair, but his wife Susan said, “God knows where those keys are, let’s ask Him to help us find them.” “Oh please,” Eric thought, but reluctantly went along as his sons looked on with excited anticipation and Susan made her simple request. They continued looking as the sun began to fade, along with all hope, then Susan turned east and began walking out into the surf. Eric was outwardly shaking his head and inwardly contemplating the fact she was wasting valuable time. Fifteen minutes later, up to her waist in water, she let out an excited yelp, then dove down, and in seconds came up, waving her arms with the keys in her hands.
Maybe the keys we are looking for can be found the same way…♦