The Things That Divide Us: Part I

There are things in this life that divide us and destroy us. In this entry I want to talk about something I’m all too familiar with, as I am sure many of you are as well. Lies.

As a child and growing up, I was always told the Bible verse that states the truth will set you free. I was punished as a child for lying and told that if I had only been honest, the punishment would have been much lighter. Sure, there would still be a punishment, but maybe there would be a little redemption due to my honesty.

I learned as an adult what my parents were trying to teach me about. The small lies about stealing a cookie or getting out of bed to play with toys when I should have been sleeping, are on a much grander scale as an adult. The lies as an adult carry much harsher penalties and there’s always so much more at stake.

I recall in a previous relationship I had, the amount of lies I was told. Each lie, as you know, compounded into another lie until eventually it snowballed out of control and there were so many lies just to bury the one simple lie in the beginning. There were so many lies that it became hard, even to the author, to determine where the truth ended and the lies began. For such people as this, their life ends up becoming one big lie. They lose the truth of themselves because they’ve had to fake things for so long.

Lies don’t just hurt the person telling them. Lies hurt the person on the receiving end as well. Lies sometimes have a ripple effect and can hurt people as the snowball rolls downhill out of control.

I know all this probably sounds simple, but if it is, why have you and I been hurt so much over a three letter word? If lying didn’t cost so much, why is the devil himself called, “the father of lies?” If lies didn’t sting so bad or have such hefty consequences, why are there broken families all over the world, because of something that started as a lie? If lying was the just thing to do, why are we punished as children for doing just that?

Lies destroy and lies divide. If you’re caught in that web and you’re struggling to get free, just start by telling the truth. It may mean you have to swallow your pride a bit, and others might be angry or hurt. But please stop the cycle before someone is destroyed.

This Time of Year

There is something about this time of year. Here in the Northeast and in many other parts of America, the green grass is or has already turned a shade of brown, while the hills and forests were set ablaze with the awesome spectacular of autumn. Snow has made its appearance but has not yet blanketed the earth, while the nights have turned bitterly cold. Shorts, for most people, have been neatly folded in a drawer, while jackets and gloves have been hung by the door. We’ve searched for the ice scraper and once again are thankful for the remote starters in our vehicles. Yes, it’s that time of year.

While nature continues its course and life gives way unto death, something else tends to happen this time of year that seems to renew life and hope. While the outdoors becomes frigidly cold and the ground becomes harder, it seems this time of year always softens the hearts of mankind and we become a bit more sensitive to those around us. Things we may have been blind to for most of the other months throughout the year, seem to become painstakingly obvious to us in our daily travels. We notice the homeless individual standing on a corner, shivering and praying for warmth tonight. Many Americans in a couple of weeks will demonstrate this emotion they feel by going to homeless shelters and food pantries nearby to serve Thanksgiving meals. We remember those who are close to us and the family members who will be missing from the table on Thanksgiving Day. We remember the person fighting an illness or disease, knowing this holiday season may very likely be their last. We are reminded of the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, serving abroad and away from family and the comforts of home. It is without a doubt that our hearts become more sensitive to the needs of others around us during this time of year.

I don’t have an explanation for why this happens. Maybe it’s because while many of us take time to reflect on our blessings in life, we become more in tune with those who may not be as fortunate. Social media will be flooded in the next month with ways and opportunities to give to people and our communities, as well as others around the world. Men and women around the world will hear the ringing of a bell next to a red bucket at store entrances. Our hearts will become softer and some will be broken for others.

I end this with a question. No, maybe more of a challenge. This holiday season, what will you do in the service of a stranger? Will you stop for the homeless person, shivering and alone, on the street corner or in the park? Will you drop an extra dollar into the red bucket? Will you make that phone call to a family member that is long overdue? Will you reach out to the friend, who for the first time in many years, will spend this holiday season alone? Take advantage of this time of year, listen to what your heart is telling you to do, and move on it. For whatever reason this time of year inspires so many to go beyond themselves and reach out to others, be thankful for it and use it to impact someone else.


I always enjoy hearing from others who read my posts and gain something from it. Please feel free to leave a comment, share, subscribe, follow me on this journey. Thank you for taking the time to read these simple words.

Stephen Willette, CEO and Founder, Patriot Images New York, Inc. http://www.patriotimages.org

What is Your Life’s Motto?

I have been thinking about this recently and asking myself this exact same question. Truthfully, everything I have written about up to this point, is straight from me and my thoughts. Continuing on with that trend, I must say that I spend a significant amount of time reflecting on life and the people in my life. How can I be a better husband, a better father, a son who makes his parents proud, a better friend, a better photographer, and an all around better person? These are all things I brainstorm quite often!

What is my life’s motto? What will be written, visibly or invisibly, on my tombstone? When I was in the military, we were always told to leave our current duty station “better than we found it.” It always sounded so cliche when I heard it, but it really has taken on a lot more meaning to me personally; more than it did the dozens of times I heard it in the past.

My goal in life is simple. Leave this earth better than I found it. Leave my small community better than I found it. Leave my friends and family better. Every single day, strive to end the day better than I started it. Is it that simple?

I stumble a lot. It happens. I mess up, fall into a ravine of self pity, and eventually climb and pull myself out. Of course it isn’t simple, but it’s not unattainable. I pick small things, like writing a blog or making a podcast, that somehow might impact someone else. I give a photo away that means a lot to me but more to others. I send a message to someone that might feel abandoned. We have all been there. I choose to respond with kindness to those who may not deserve it in that moment. We have all been there as well.

Bottom line, I make a conscious decision daily, despite my own shortcomings and failures, to make today better than yesterday. To be a better version of me than I was yesterday. To make those moments of reflection moments I can smile about and not moments I’m ashamed and afraid to confront.

I just try and be better and hold myself accountable to that.