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What are your standards? I mean, in life. Where do you draw the line when it comes to your “standards.” Do you have any? Have you ever thought about it? What if I say “what are your beliefs?” Different ring there. Maybe you’re picturing atoms and quarks. Maybe your thinking of eons of mythology you can’t really define but, hey, it symbolizes some basic, you know, fundamentals. Some pretty good dos and don’ts. Ok, what if I ask you where your conscience reigns? Or of what it reigns? Is it something that commands your sense of right and wrong? Is it a widdle voice that says you shouldn’t put that hand in cookie jar… (or drink one more shot of tequila?) Does it talk to you? Do you talk back? Do you think you have a conscience? You can probably point to a few people who you think don’t. But what if I use words like “faith” and “values”? Oh, now you’re thinking religion, aren’t you. Now you may really be stepping on one or the other side of the dividing line when I use those freaky words.  Because currently “faith” has become synonymous with religious beliefs and “values” with some kind of whacked out fundamentalism that must be squashed. Or perhaps those words are friendly to you. Faith, to you, is simply believing what you cannot see. And your values are simply what you’ll live with and what you won’t. In the mid ’10s, (I cannot believe we say that now), I worked with the same obligatory shrink that many find themselves seeking in their thirty-something rites of passage. It was just about the same time I began writing my musical, Hushabye. Not surprising, as much of the therapy was recovery from the shrinkage of my brain from years of early childhood secrets and shame. You know, all the stuff that make great stories when put to music! But much of the therapy was to do with figuring out what in the Sam Hill I believed about myself, my world, my future… and finding out that many of my current choices were not in alignment with what was slowly dawning on me… my personal values. Hell, I didn’t even know I had them or that the false values had me. I didn’t even have the vocabulary to use the word! But as we went along I realized… “Yes, this is ok with me. But this is not.” Seems simple now. But ask anyone on the precipice of bad decision making. For instance…oh, let’s take for example an actress going up into a hotel room alone with a producer who, she believes, could change her life. If she’ll just agree to a few activities first. Without a conscious knowing of your own personal values in place these seeming-simple decisions… not so simple. The decisions begin to happen to you. What are your VALUES? What do you BELIEVE (about yourself, the world, the universe, God?) Where is your CONSCIENCE? What are your STANDARDS for living? You must search, dig, discover and decide. So you will not be victimized in this world that is everyday wandered with perpetrators who have, decidedly, zero of the above. Do not be afraid of these words. Do not allow a pop culture to tell you that they mean nothing. They mean everything. Just ask the victims of violence of any shape or size. Where were the standards, the integrity in values, belief, conscience and faith when the bullying, attacking, forcing, shaming, sneering, gossiping, or mere assumptions were taking place? Nowhere. Non existent. Not part of the consciousness. That’s a predator. What do the Boy Scouts say? Be prepared. Start with what’s ok and what’s not. DO NOT BEND. Know your own mind and heart. Be willing to fight for it. Be willing to walk away. Be willing to stand up. Be willing to say “that’s not okay.” Be willing to have someone spew trash about you. Start digging and deciding and drawing your lines now before you are in a vulnerable decision making moment. Those are not the moments to contemplate right and wrong, ifs and buts. At that moment, those moments are long gone. But should you find yourself one day somewhere on the tightrope of integrity, hopefully, at that point, if you have decided that FAITH is not a bad word taught to you by some anti-religious fear-based talking head you’ll know that as you use your one head and two feet to walk away from what could be a life or death situation that that FAITH is what you’re BELIEVING in: …that something much better, that you can’t see, is waiting for you in the opposite direction. And you’re leaving that trash behind you in the dust kicked up by your boots.

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