The Most Important Thing

In the intro to “Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth” Buckminster Fuller’s granddaughter recalls a car ride that he asked her “What is the most important thing we can be thinking about right now?”

Here is the list of things that I thought of off the top of my head that are I am trying to determine if they are important. I think most of them are but how to decide “the most important”? I’ve probably started writing about half of these but often I find there is something else I thought was more important to write about at that time or I reached a point where I wasn’t sure what I thought about it.

How to help Syrian Refugees?
Can I “adopt” a refugee?
How to stop abortions?
How to stop senseless violence?
How to stop people from shooting each other in Waterloo, IA (where I live)?
How to effectively guide the charity I just became vice president of?
How what is my 5 year plan?
What are my life goals?
Will I ever get married?
Do I want to get married?
Why do I want to get married?
Can I more effectively “fix the world” if I’m single?
How much should I save in my 401k and how much should I invest in people?
Should I buy an electric car?
Should I sell all my “toys” and donate that money to some charity?
Should I buy a house?
What book do I want to write?
Why do I want to write a book?
Why do I spend so much time writing this blog stuff?
What is my purpose in life?
How do I be a better older brother?
Do I want to start my own company?
What would that company even do?
How do I help those less fortunate than myself?
How do I start a company that I enjoy working at, helps the world and makes money (self sustains).
What am I really passionate about?
Should I go back to college for more school or should I just learn by doing in life?
Is there a God?
If there is why is everyone telling me about their own different god’s and acting like some of them are the same god when it’s pretty obvious to me they are different?
How do I politely ask people about beliefs of theirs that I think are ridiculous?
Is it ok to be selfish sometimes?
Is it better to try to be a politician to change the world or do it outside politics?
Is it selfish to have your own kids?
Why are most Christians so obsessed with the bible but they don’t seem to remember that Paul said it is better to be single like he was?
Why do Jews have so many laws but try so hard to get around them?
Why do so many Christians leaders (pastors etc) preach “following the Bible” but forget that Paul had a full time job outside of preaching about Jesus?
How do I love more and judge less?
Should I listen when people are negative or tell them to just change their attitude and that will change their circumstances?
Instead of converting people to Christianity in places where that belief could get them killed why don’t Christians work to change the laws of that country or work to get people out of that country?
How do you motivate people to improve their situation?
What is the situation in other countries for labor? I hear about factories in China, Afghanistan, where people are paid very little and there are still effectively “company stores”. Are those true? If so how do we stop those practices?
How does my purchase of cheap stuff from other countries affect the above?
How do we expose people to the “very poor” and get them motivated to help those people?
Would religions be more effective helping people if they were less worried about pushing their doctrine on others?
What makes me happy?
What makes others happy?
What does it mean to be happy?
Is there an afterlife?
How do we store energy so we can use renewable but not consistent power sources like wind and solar?
When will the Chinese people become sick of restrictive laws like the 1 child policy and the conditions of the factories I mentioned above and have a large revolution?
How do we stop child sex trafficking, both in the USA and in the rest of the world?
Is it selfish to lift weights and eat a lot of protein and generally “be huge” while some people starve? I am not trying to be critical of people who lift weights. I am just generally interested in why we don’t help others more. This is also asked above in the 401K vs Charity question. I think about “Is this action selfish” a lot.
Why is promiscuous sexuality so stigmatized as a sin in Christian churches while obesity (gluttony) is not?
“You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one! – Nix (Tomorrowland – movie)

What do you think is the most important thing you could be thinking about today?

Religion, Love And Relationships

What seemed to happen is that I became…
Less interested in religion and more interested in life
Less interested in doctrine and more interested in truth
Less interested in piety and more interested in love
Less interested in heaven and more interested in peace
Less interested in hell and more interested in suffering
Less interested in church  and more interested in people

  • Jim Palmer

I’ve been experiencing growing discontent with “religion” in a general sense lately. A lot of this has come from engaging those of various religions. While I do get a lot of enjoyment from understanding other’s beliefs I also find a lot of judgement.

I don’t like it.

I don’t like when people imply that I might be going to hell for not believing exactly what they believe, regardless of the actual number of people they would be condemning by making those accusations. Usually it’s a LOT since there are so many different denominations.  No wonder people are sick of Christians. I was raised Christian (of the Catholic variety) and really didn’t know much else until late in my college career. Now the more Christians I talk to the more I find that they all think each other are completely wrong. Why would someone listen to any Christian when they’d have to pick from 30,000 different interpretations of the same story?

When I dug for an answer to the question “What do you have to do to go to heaven?” I received various responses, generally centered around “Believe in Jesus. Actions are useless.”

When I asked if you had to be baptized I got various answers ranging from yes to no. Same with receive the Eucharist/communion or going to reconciliation/confession. Prayer didn’t show up as a requirement to often either.

I also found that a lot of the above things weren’t bringing a ton of enjoyment to my life.

I was told by at least 3 followers of their respective (different) religions to “try it and see if it works for you”. If that’s the best you got I’m not buying! “If it works” is a very subjective measuring stick for anything. Kim Jung Un would say that his ruling of North Korea is working for him but few people would say it’s the right thing to do. I say few because there are some people that have argued with me that he’s doing a good thing, or at least that it’s not bad!

I looked around and found that what I was really missing was love. I didn’t truly love others. I knew others. I liked some people, but I didn’t really love them. I didn’t act like I loved them and I certainly didn’t think I loved them. I remembered the following quote that I read one time.

“When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” C.S. Lewis

Maybe “trying it” would work for this? It has! Now I’m not saying that I perfectly love everyone I meet, or even do it particularly well. What I am able to do is ask myself everyday why I didn’t love the people I encountered that day.

It is sort of difficult today to walk around loving others. Especially if you are a single guy. Depending on who you are talking to it can be seen as unwanted advances or perceived as an advance when it’s not meant to be. For people who the age gap is big enough, it can come off as you are trying to get something from them or take advantage in some other was.

What I’ve found is it’s difficult to love people if you don’t know them. To know people takes time, time most of us don’t think we have. I often ask myself how I am showing love to the people I already know. Often I find that I’m lacking in that area. If I don’t love people I already know how can I love people I don’t know? Seems like that’d be pretty difficult.

On getting to know people, that is another place where I see religion being misused. People will meet someone and assume they know them if they practice the same religion. They will feel safer around that person. I understand why. As I said above, we all think we don’t have any time to “waste” getting to know someone we aren’t sure about, if they do some of the same things we do certainly they are more like us than those who don’t go to the same church every week. This often leads to people only having a very small group of likeminded friends. This is a dangerous practice as pointed out in “Reasonable Atheism” by Scott F. Aikin & Robert. B Talisse

“Groups of like-minded people who discuss their common views tend to unwittingly radicalize – they cause each other to adopt more extreme beliefs.” P36

If that doesn’t describe many religions and denominations I don’t know what does. Here the thought of a radical belief doesn’t necessarily have to be that everyone else is the devil, but it often does manifest in “Everyone else is wrong and only we have the Truth.”

At one time, I would ask others what they believed so I could tell them the truth of what I believed. I am slowly working to break that habit. These days, if I ask what you believe it’s not because I want to convert you to what I believe. I legitimately just want to know what you believe and why. I can see why people would be suspicious though as many people  are still in the same mindset I was and ask only to share their own judgemental beliefs. Once you do share your beliefs with me I will ask some pointed questions that might offend you a little, depending on how thick your skin is. I will do that only to get you thinking though, not to be actually offensive. It is to really get to know you and perhaps to help you know yourself.

With that background laid, I ask you the following questions.

Have you really been living like Jesus (If you are a Christian and are telling others how they need to be living like Jesus.) To get thinking about this more I highly recommend the book “Being Jesus In Nashville” By Jim Palmer (quoted at the beginning of this article).As usual, if anyone actually reads this and wants me to buy the the book just let me know and I will!

For those non-Christians (who likely don’t care about being like Jesus), I just ask you to recognize your group of friends. Are you unintentionally (or intentionally!) self-radicalizing? If so what? Is it a reasonable position? How can you find someone who holds differing views from you? What can you learn from them?

For everyone I ask, how are you maintaining the relationships you have? Are you truly sharing love? Who are you neglecting?

If we all took some time to think about these types of questions more I think the world would be a better place.

Elevate Your Thinking

“Jaime, we have half an hour now during this drive. What’s the most important thing we can be thinking about?”- Buckminster Fuller

The opening quote for this post was posed by Buckminster Fuller to his granddaughter, obviously during a car ride. I lifted it off of page 1 of “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” by Buckminster Fuller (actually it’s part of the foreward by his granddaughter), which I will buy and send to your house if you tell me you’ll read it! (email me at What a powerful question! How would you answer a question like that? Have you ever even been asked something like that?

I have been on a quest for truth since well before this blog was started but I feel the quest has been ever quickening as I try to write more and more opinionated pieces for this blog explaining the world as I know it to others. Trying to explain things is quite the humbling act as it really is true the more you learn, the more you learn how little you really know.

That is not to say that learning is a fruitless act, far from it!
Some of the mysteries I have been bumping into though get to sounding downright mystical. This has been a real challenge for my analytical mind.

What is Love?
What is Truth?
Why do some people turn into murders while some are artists and engineers? Why are some people both!
Is there a God? If so, is he the God that is preached by any of the hundreds of branches of each religion or have they all missed the mark in some aspects?
How do I most effectively move the world forward in a positive direction?
How do I even determine if my actions are actually positive or negative!?!?!
Why do I think negatively of X type of person. You can substitute just about anything for X. Tall, short, gay, straight, bros, hipsters, foreigners, other Americans, Republicans, Democrats. You name it, I’ve judged them.

One thing that has been wonderful for me has been visiting other churches or religious events. I have been visiting a different church each month sometime during the 2nd week of the month for almost a year now with a group from my church. At the start I had to ask “What is our goal here?” Were we on a mission to save souls from their wrong thinking? I feel this is often the attitude taken by, at least, many denominations of Christians towards other Christians, and certainly other religions. Or were we just trying to learn about others? See how the worship and try to BE with them. Luckily we had the presence of mind to choose the latter.

I have purposely tried to seek as varied services as possible. To date I have visited, Lutherans, Missionary Baptists, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Sunni Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, Greek Orthodox Christians, Church of Christ – Scientists, Universal Unitarians and I’m sure some I have forgotten. I have only been met with welcome at every service I attended. People were happy to talk to me and those with me. They invited us in, ate with us and shared their stories and beliefs. Our group tried to be very respectful of each group we visited and they showed us each the same respect and, even better, hospitality, back. The responses I have gotten have really elevated my faith in humanity.

Incredibly when I have shared my visitation stories with friends and family often the first question I am asked is “Were you scared?” Now perhaps they are just joking and I am very oblivious but I believe that every joke has at a minimum a small amount of truth behind it. I have been a bit nervous walking into places I know no one but every time I have done it it becomes easier. I think what the people asking me those questions are really doing is voicing their own fears. Fears of the unknown, which we all have. My solution to the unknown is simply to make it known!

I believe that one solution to much of the violence and fear in the world these days is to simply expand our our circles of influence, or put in a gentler way, expand our neighborhood. Buckminster Fuller coined the term “Earthian” to help unify us. If we could brush away our differences and recognize that we are all in this together, expanding our circle of neighbors, I think we’d all become a lot more comfortable.

As you start a new day ask yourself a few questions.

How can I expand my neighborhood today?

What’s the most important thing I can be thinking about?