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Journal Entries - Wisdom & Perspectives

Excerpts from Personal Journals of Philip G. Roets, 1979-2002

May 19, 1985.
High school graduation. All our lives we are graduating or “stepping up and out.” In fact one of the achievements that took the most coaxing, practice, bumps and setbacks was the first and only real graduating - learning to walk. Pictures were taken and neighbors told of the first step.

Today’s is another huge step from classroom education to live education. The days of true-false and multiple choice are changed for the pass-fail of daily living whether in college or service, home or apartment, farm or office. Grades are no longer sent home but are carved into the personality that will be formed from now to the end of time.

November 21, 1985.
I think there is one major danger of being a shaker and a mover in any organization. Those in charge quickly take your work for granted. They don’t have to bother their heads about you. There is hardly, if ever, a complaint from students or parents. So every once in a while, this being overlooked or worse, being trod on, hurts deeply. Then I think it’s time to rile the waters and kick a few asses so they know you are a vital person.

I went through this type of life in my seminary training and all of my life as a priest. At every stage I had one man I could spout off to when I needed - Joe F. John Z. Doc. L and Bill L. I frequently listened to their spouts in turn. A whale is a good analogy. The whale blows and gets rid of its used air and takes in a new supply. However, that is its most vulnerable moment.

December 25, 1985.
There is no danger of too much introspection as long as the questions are geared to reality.

July 26-27, 1986. during visit to Boston, Massachusetts.
Mayflower II and the (Plymouth) Rock made a deep impression on me. I can really appreciate that trip over to a new land in 1620. Most of those people were not mariners in any sense of the word and two months in the confines of that ship, with shortage of fresh water and sameness of diet, would scare even the heartiest. They certainly couldn’t move around much and they surely didn’t get any shore leave until they came to the Rock.

I think it is time for all of us to think deeply about our roots in order to assess where we want to go. The plant never produced fruit with roots alone but the plant does not produce fruit without roots either.

August 2, 1986.
I have always liked adventure stories as long as they were realistic. I like the stories in which the just and good people win or succeed even if there is a lot of struggle. I know that in daily life the “good” people don’t always win. But their struggles and obstacles to overcome always show a trail to victory over the craggy paths of partial loss. There are no failure but losses that make the success more valuable.

September 20, 1986.
I don’t like to dredge up some parts of the past. They were extremely painful. They are battened down. I see no good coming of recall. I often indulge in nostalgia rather than history.

October 1, 1986.
You asked if everything would turn out rightly and my answer is an unequivocal and optimistic “yes.” We have to face new issues constantly but we have a pattern of the successful in the unusual. The place changes, the work changes, the people change, you and I change. This is life. It’s up to us to make the changes into improvements. This is the challenge of change.

The best is yet to come even though it seems hard to prove at times.

October 3, 1986.
Everything will come to a good end with a few setback in between. That’s life and we’ve lived through it often

November 9, 1986.
Last week, we were getting ready to go to the conference and this week we are savoring it’s completion and accomplishment. I am always amazed at the speed with which events take place. At first mention, they are months in the future. Suddenly the day is here. Shortly, all is written in the annals of history.

December 1, 1986.
(describing a family situation where Phil, as priest, was asked to assist)

I thought a lot about the son, last night. He is still fully attached to his Mom’s apron strings. He stops by to see her during the day. The mom bitches about her daughters and he gets mad. Then the Mom gripes to the daughters about the son. Meanwhile, all of them get angry with each other and feel sorry for the Mom. There is no solution to the problem. I tried helping the family twice before we were married. All I did was add another dimension to the fight. So, I pulled out of the picture and let them scrap for their own bones. It is the way they choose to live.

January 5, 1987.
I enjoyed the study of the Arctic and the animals on television last night. As we watched the musk-ox and the caribou in their “rutting battles,” I thought of our current world leaders. I think we should institute some season like this for all the rulers and military leaders. They have to get on one field, televised, and for one week, they must run full tilt and butt heads for an hour each morning and evenings. It would be much cheaper, safer and would do away with wars quickly.

January 31, 1987.
Today’s Herald (newspaper) is great. We have been hearing all fall & winter so far, that the soil in Iowa is top-full of moisture. We don’t need more until some is used up. So the snow has cooperated and we have received only 1/4 normal fall over the whole state. Some places the percentage is much less. So the soil has a chance to process some of the moisture. - I’ve been waiting for the “yah-but.” Today, in the article, it comes. One of the leading Iowan climatologists is wondering about a summer drought. There is no evidence anywhere, and we could withstand it, but he’s worried about it. That is negativism that borrows manufactured possibilities that have not reached probability stage, and already worries about them. That is a dog who bites off his tail and then worries about his a-hole being a target for mosquitoes.

March 4, 1987. (birthday of his wife - her 50th)
Your first half century has hurtled along but your second will travel at the speed of the laser. The laser technology will offer unimaginable improvements. The people it deals with will be the same fragile compounds of nerves, senses, brains, dreams, ambitions, hurts and dislikes as they have always been. Productive people will be the bridges between technical progress and fragile people. Their productive years will last longer and produce more.

May 9, 1987.
You are not a part of the current in-fighting. ... Let them live as they like. When our paths cross, make do and don’t bite unless they put a foot in your mouth.

July 4, 1987.
When you run ahead of the pack, the territory is often empty but the pack is nipping at your hells. We’ll run together - toward our ideals as they unfold.

July 25, 1987.
I finished two of the books on Lincoln. I am coming up with a lot of former impressions and a few new ideas. The first thought is that not all the human skunks live in our times.

August 31, 1987.
What does the future hold? It holds the fruits of what we did and do. The logistics of cause and effect and the structure can be built. The building won’t rise by itself nor will it suddenly rise from nothing. A solemn but reassuring thought: others can influence our destiny but we still control the main stream.

September 14, 1987.
I am still firmly convinced there is only way to teach morality and that is on a one-to-one, day-by-day basics of the home. I think the reasons given for moral principles have to be visible and tangible. Little kids are taught to act according to a certain set of principles because that’s what the parents want. As they grow older and take command of their own lives, these principles remain the same but the reason for following them becomes loyalty to one-self.

These moral principles can be traced to a religion if the people want but that is just an outer coating which is not necessary. Formal religion has a social function in society but it can easily become a burden.

December 11, 1987.
It is certainly is not fair but your Mom has learned to cope with pain and suffering of life long ago. People have tried to develop philosophies and religions to explain the incongruities, inconsistencies and unfairness of life. Everyone has come up short in some or many circumstances.

Many have tried the Happy Hunting Ground, Nirvana, Heaven Pit-in-the-Sky for the future. Others have given the theory of sin and punishment. Others feel it is lack of faith. None of the systems every answer the basic question: Why does the person who tried hard who gives wholeheartedly, get bowled over and kicked and the self-centered, egotistic bastard come out on top. Violence is not the answer. Yet law & order doesn’t cope. Meekness and turning the other cheek just means more bruises and a silly grin.

October 19, 1996.
As a minister, you need a bit of sympathy and a lot of empathy. You have to be able to appreciate what the person is suffering, to help with the appropriate suggestions, and then go on to the next person.

November 23, 1996. (Phil's birthday)
I believe in a God who said his judgment is based solely on how much we help each other. That’s it!

Additional entries will be added as Phil's personal journals are reviewed.

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