Archive for May, 2018

May 22, 2018


by Rod Smith

Grief is a complex matter. Expressing it ought to be encouraged. Stopping it up, denying its presence or refusing to expression it can be downright dangerous. Lodged within, it is poison to the soul. The power and reward of denying it or ignoring its necessity ought never be underestimated.

If grief is in you, rather get it out. If it seems impossible find someone who is trained to assist.

Grief unexpressed can shift personalities and be a welcome-mat for toxins to enter whole families and set whole communities off in directions they would rather not go.

Ignored grief poisons and steers.

Un-cried tears turn to anger and anger transforms into walls of the heart and walls of the heart are vividly signposted with “Keep Out” and “Danger: No entry” posted on all sides.

Please, don’t tell the man or woman who has suffered loss to “get over it” or to “move on” or to “man up.” Grief-suppressing exhortations that are most unhelpful.

That miscarriage, that betrayal in marriage, that loss of a child, that sudden illness that took a beloved spouse, may take years to seep into the psyche of the man or woman who has faced it, let alone make sense of it, or even ever be able to “move on” from it.

May 20, 2018

Things you want and don’t want in your family or group

by Rod Smith

Things you don’t want, and, what you do want in your family, church, business, school, or not-for-profit organization:

  • You do not want peacekeeping. Peacekeeping is the often-nervous dance to avoid conflict. It seeks to protect everyone’s feelings and wants everyone to look as if they get along (even when they don’t). It accommodates weaknesses to the extreme all in the name of care. You do want peacemaking. It creates an environment where necessary conflict is welcomed and, when handled well, the outcome is an enduring and authentic peace.

  • You don’t want scripted opinions and conversations which satisfy some imagined or hoped-for image. You do want freedom to think and to express opinions that may be contrary to the party line.

  • You don’t want uniformity and sameness so lock-step ways seep into thinking, speaking, and acting (and then lead ultimately to resentment and cut-offs). You do want unity around established goals with the accompanying freedom to challenge and modify the goals as needed.

  • You don’t want a “yes-sir” or “yes-mam” culture where the parent or the boss is always right and always affirmed and seldom challenged. You do want a respectful, free environment where a necessary “no-sir” and “no-mam” are considered sometimes necessary and healthy and are respected and encouraged.

May 17, 2018

Voice – part 2

by Rod Smith

Compromise yourself, your talents and skills for no one. Be silenced or made “smaller” or rendered without a voice for no one. It is never worth it. There is no cause, no relationship, worthy of your silence.

There is no person of any rank, no spouse, boss, or spiritual leader deserving of your downplaying or silencing who you are. Only those with dark motives will seek for you to be less, minimized, diminished, or silenced.

Walk away from such small-mindedness, even if it is costly to do so.

Loving, good people will celebrate your strength, encourage your freedom, and admire your talent. Stick with such people. Stay with those who enlarge your world, not restrict, shrink, or contain it. Live fully, love fully, and speak fully.

I am weary of men and women, irrespective of who they are, who hold others captive, especially in the name of love. I am weary of spiritual “leaders” who are afraid of gifted people; of bosses who silence talented people lest their own inadequacies be revealed.

If you live above, and beyond, the damaging jealousies that surround you, you will stimulate the dreams of everyone in your circle of influence, and make your dreams come true before your very eyes – and the world will hear your voice.

May 16, 2018

Finding your voice (1 of 2)

by Rod Smith

Every person has a voice designed for full expression. Some have allowed their voice to be stolen or silenced and might find it necessary to take time to find or re-establish the voice they have chosen to deny or ignore. Thankfully, suppressing a voice seldom kills it. It can usually be found even after years of denial.

Any person who refuses to hear what you have to say or who tries to silence you doesn’t love you even if he or she proclaims otherwise. It is never a loving act, except in extremely unusual circumstances to stop another expressing who he or she is. Likewise, it is not a loving act to withhold your contribution to the world by maintaining your silence.

You were not created to be silent. You were not created to silence others. The world will benefit for hearing who you are and what you have to say. Part of having a voice, and using it, involves the process of discovering how best to package and express your voice so others can hear what you have to say.

One should not confuse talking with having a voice. Many talk and talk and talk and yet have never found their voice.

May 16, 2018

Yesterday’s column in hard copy

by Rod Smith

May 15, 2018


by Rod Smith

What do teachers seek in learners (students)? 

Young men and women who display:

  • Academic integrity which is expressed to the minutest detail in presented work.
  • The ability to tell the truth, express kindness, and display empathy towards adults and peers alike.
  • Curiosity and the willingness to engage in hard work that goes beyond minimal requirements.
  • Respectful playfulness, and the willingness to engage in the unique and blessed exchange between teacher and learner.
  • Willingness, courage, and the wisdom to self-advocate without alienating others in the process.

What does a student (learner) seek in a teacher?

Men and women who display:

  • A love of their subject, a passion for the school, and steadfast commitment to their learners.
  • Kindness and firmness toward students that is free of sentimentality.
  • An understanding of how the world works and a willingness to share that understanding with learners when it’s appropriate.
  • Empathy and compassion for those who are less motivated or who have academic challenges.
  • Instruction and conversations that are free of sarcasm and ridicule.
May 14, 2018

What do you want?

by Rod Smith

Have you ever spent time really assessing what you want? I believe What do you want? is the holiest questions we each must answer.

I hear people saying they want to be happy and useful do something meaningful with their lives and travel and teach English in an Asian country or pack fish in Alaska or write a best selling novel or, and, or…….. and on it goes.

It is the rare to find people who plan the detail and implement what they need to do to enjoy the life they say they want.

They live as if being who they really want to be and doing what they really want to do will happen by accident.

It won’t.

In relation to what you want:

  • It’s not too late. It might be too late for some things but you probably can find a parallel dream or activity that snuggles in with the one you feel you may have missed.
  • You can only legitimately want for yourself. Wanting for others make make you feel good but it is a waste of wanting and energy. Others, even your children, have want for themselves. Many parents will tell you they want their children to be happy. Your child’s happiness is his or her load but he or she is more likely to be happy if you are.
  • To want and to want deeply is not selfish. There’s no freer and happier person than the one who is doing what he or she really wants and none is as selfish as he or she who is not.
May 13, 2018

I met a superhero

by Rod Smith

On Friday of this past week I met a superhero: Eva Kor. Mrs. Kor is a holocaust survivor and former victim of Josef Mengele and his infamous and ghoulish medical tests. Now in her eighties, Eva eloquently told a spellbound audience about her imprisonment at Auschwitz with her twin sister. They were 10. She told of her many encounters with Mengele, of their eventual liberation, and her subsequent life of recovery, forgiveness, and unfathomable determination.

Here are a few almost direct quotations. When your heart is simultaneously grieving and rejoicing as mine was, it’s difficult to take perfect notes:

  • Never give up on yourself or your dreams.
  • Ask yourself everyday what you can do to make the world a better place.
  • Do whatever is possible to get rid of all prejudice in your life.
  • Discover for yourself that you have the power to forgive.
  • Refuse to be a good victim. Rather forgive. Forgiveness is the best revenge. If I could forgive Mengele I knew I could forgive everyone.
  • Forgiveness is the best revenge: it works and it has no side effects.
  • Forgiveness is about you and it has nothing to do with the perpetrators.
  • People who forgive are at peace with the world.
May 12, 2018


by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Wednesday

I am thoroughly convinced that there are always good reasons to have hope.

No matter how dire or conflicted the circumstance, no matter how bleak the prognosis, while there is life, and even beyond it, there remain reasons to be hopeful.

I’ve seen hope in action.

I’ve seen painful family scenarios, the most estranged of siblings, the most obstinate of personalities, turn, and find previously unimagined degrees of humility, and move in healthier directions.

But, evil abounds. It tries to rob us of hope.

Of course men and women are capable of inflicting much hurt and destruction, but I believe that the good in this world by far outweighs the evil.

There is goodness, kindness, and benevolence latent in every man, woman, and child, and I believe it far exceeds any impulse toward hate and destruction.

And while I am well aware that this idea will be considered absurd in some circles, and heresy in others, I’d suggest that when a lonely woman reaches again for alcohol, or the deprived man engages in illicit behavior, or an adult or teenager self-destructs, these behaviors are desperate acts of prayer, desperate attempts at sanity, desperate attempts to relieve pain and even restore hope.

May 10, 2018

Readers respond about their parents

by Rod Smith

“I read your article to the lady who moved to be close to her mom and it struck a chord about taking on a role that is not yours to take on.

“In 1967 I was 12-years-old and my mom died of cancer. For the next three years I was a complete emotional crutch for my Dad. He battled to cope and I had to go everywhere with him. Every week we went to put flowers on the grave. I struggled to make friends and spent school holidays completely on my own all day. So, I actually completely missed the teenage fun years and the social interaction with my peers. When I was 16 he remarried but actually got angry because I preferred going to parties with friends and girls than helping him rebuild a car.”

Tony – Durban

“Thank you so much for your response to the letter about the mother. The relationship I have with mother is not healthy, she want to be a priority in my life over my children. Your response made it clear for me to understand what is happening and how to handle it by understanding my position and align my priorities in the right order. Thank you again, your column help a lot of people like me who need spiritual help in silence.”

Anon by request