Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Knowledge is power

If you had to pick one aspect of your life that has taken precedence over the past 5 years, what would it be?

This is the thought that has been plaguing me lately.  I decided it would be best if I could pin it down to one word: Knowledge. 

What exactly is knowledge, anyway?  To me, it has been the last 5 years and my future.  It is a living, breathing, word.  It is what inspires me. 

Here is what I've learned from knowledge:

Knowledge can be learned through experience.

Of course knowledge is learned through experience. Duh.  But, I find it very important to recognize lessons that I've learned, no matter how ridiculous or obvious they may seem.  Yes, knowledge is taught, but an experience has to be learned; it wouldn't be an experience if it wasn't.  I've recognized that I learn best through experience. 

Even though it is important for me to learn through experience, it is equally important for me to prepare myself with "taught knowledge".  "Taught knowledge" is what allows me to exercise my "experienced knowledge" and strive for fulfillment. 

Knowledge does not constitute wisdom.

Some of the brightest people I know are, gently spoken, not very wise. Personally, I consider myself to be wise, however I don't believe wisdom is fully learned, as knowledge often is.  I do believe that one must inherently posses certain qualities that enable one to access their wisdom, such as empathy, patience, and the ability to forecast thoughts, among other things. However, I further believe that those "certain" qualities that allow one to be wise can be learned, through knowledge.  I suppose, much like most things in life, one must have the desire to seek wisdom and strive for constant achievement.  Overall, I don't think wisdom is fully obtained; I think it is a state of constant reflection and mistakes, which is why I consider myself to be wise. 

Knowledge does not save you... all the time.

I was telling my boyfriend the other day that I make a lot of mistakes, but I rarely make the same one twice.  Eventually, I'm bound to go through all of them, right???  Regardless, knowledge allows me to recognize the incongruities within myself, but doesn't protect me from initially making mistakes.  I'm okay with that balance, as long as I can continue to recognize my faults, which is why knowledge is so important to me. 

Knowledge is something I constantly seek.  It allows me to heal from the past while seeking a brighter future.  Knowledge is the key component of my life continuum.  What is the key to yours?

Garrett Paul

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Clergy Corner: Call It What It Is...Suicide

I know I haven't posted in a while (damn grad school!), but here is an article I came across in class.  Interesting viewpoint from a Catholic priest!

Clergy Corner: Call It What It Is...Suicide

P_feature_rubeyBy Father Charles Rubey
Because a person completes suicide is no reason to think less of that person or to conclude that there must be something wrong with a family who loses a loved one to suicide. I am of the opinion that survivors should speak very candidly about the death of a loved one. There should not be any hiding the fact of the cause of death. Call it what it is--a suicide. If people think less of the person, that is their problem. Certainly, survivors want to protect their dearly departed loved ones and that loved one's good name. I understand that fact very clearly. But I also have strong feelings about educating society about the issues surrounding mental illness and suicide. The longer people have these misconceptions about suicide and mental illness, the longer all of us struggle trying to get out a clear message about issues surrounding mental illness and the toll that such illness can take on those who suffer such pain.
People in general can say that someone who died from cancer really wanted to live but the cancer got the best of them. They can erroneously say that someone who completes suicide wanted to die. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who complete suicide want to live as much as anyone else, but living becomes too painful. They do not want to die; they just can't bear to live in the incredible pain that their illness is causing them. It is very important for people to hear that message to clear up one misconception surrounding suicide. People can think that suicide is a copout on life, but nothing is further from the truth. People who complete suicide are not copping out on life. They can't bear the pain anymore. They have reached the end of their tolerance. They have fought long enough and hard enough and the time has come for them to end the pain.
There is nothing shameful about someone who completes suicide. They have fought a valiant battle, and they have lost to their illness. There is no need to be embarrassed that a loved one died from suicide. This loved one is deserving of every accolade that is reserved for people who die from other causes. Survivors often wish that their loved one had died from some other form of death. I have often asked survivors why they had this wish, and they respond that it is much easier to explain a death from cancer or a car accident, but when it comes to suicide, it is a little more difficult. The reason that it is difficult is that suicide is a different type of death. It results from an illness, and that illness is mental illness.
As with any other part of the grieving journey, it takes time and practice to develop a comfort level with dispelling some of the myths and erroneous ideas that the public has surrounding suicide and mental illness. There will be some discomfort in the beginning, but as the survivor shares information about the death of a loved one, it becomes a little easier each time. At the beginning, it is very painful because it is always painful to acknowledge the death of a loved one from suicide. There is a very therapeutic result from telling your story over and over again. As survivors tell their stories, two things happen. They develop a comfort level about how their loved one died, and their loved one becomes a part of the life of the survivor. They continue to live as their story is told and retold.
Father Charles Rubey is the founder of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. His words were originally published in the Obelisk Newsletter in September of 2009.