Psalm 38

“I walk about in gloom all day long.” (38:7)

Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore is a poster child, as it were, for depression. He is sometimes portrayed, in the spirit of the Li’l Abner character Joe Btfsplk, going about with a rain cloud over his head. Normal dips of unhappiness can be banished by adopting a smile or a good attitude and perhaps by devoting yourself to service of others. The rain cloud of clinical depression, however, can’t be chased away simply by pretending it isn’t there. There is no shame in seeking help in dispersing clouds of gloom that linger, week after week, and that interfere with your ability to engage in normal living activities.

Psalm 37

“The humble shall inherit the earth.” (37:11)

In the short run, the kind of assertiveness that edges towards arrogance gets results, but one can get the same results from being confidently humble. An example: An arrogant person will push his way to the front of a group of people to get what he wants before someone else who has been waiting longer. A confidently humble person will recognize those who have been waiting and let them go first and insert himself into the queue in the proper order. The arrogant person cultivates resentment and fear; the humble person cultivates love and respect.

Psalm 36

Psalm 36

“He does not reject evil.” (36:5)

It is not enough to passively avoid evil. If your friends are doing bad things and you close your eyes, you become a party to it. Shetika k’hoda’ah dama’i, silence is the equivalent of consent. Edmund Burke said, “As the great parliamentarian Political philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people*] to do nothing.” If you hear a racist/sexist/homophobic joke, the only acceptable response is to reprove the teller. You don’t need to shout. You need only to clearly and calmly state your objection.

*actual quotation, “men”

Psalm 35

“Let them be as chaff in the wind.” (35:5)

A person who has no strong ideas, beliefs, opinions, or goals avoids a great deal of conflict. It can be wonderfully stress-free just to be agreeable to whatever. If the breezes of public opinion change, you change. No intense thought needed, no great conflict generated. However, remember the rule of the kite! In order for the kite to stay aloft, it needs to resist the wind. In order for you to reach your full human potential, you need to set a goal and embrace a set of core beliefs that will guide your life. During the difficult moments, your core beliefs will lift keep you rising and moving forward.

Psalm 34

“… to cut off their memory from the earth. (34:17)

When I get to the end of my life, I’d like to have made a difference. I know it’s not reasonable to think that 50 years after my death that I will be remembered as anything other than a name, and after another 50 years, probably not even that, so my goal is more modest. I’d like to be remembered for something for a generation or two. Having children is one way to guarantee that your memory will not be immediately cut off. Having the means to leave a financial legacy such as a named endowment fund or family foundation is another way. If it is within your power, how to you want to be remembered?