Of Common Sense

A Pilgrim's Musings and Ramblings As He Journeys in Life

Les connaissances obtenues à partir des livres ne peuvent jamais l'emporter sur les leçons apprises en utilisant un peu de bon sens pour résoudre certains des dilemmes de la vie.

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To know what the truth is and to deny it for the sake of pleasing the masses, or for fear of being rejected, or being considered an outcast, is like denying food to one who is hungry, or a drink of water to one who is thirsty, even though you are able to give a morsel of bread to kill their hunger, or a cool drink of water to quench their thirst. ~ Keith Lionel Brown

Hello, and welcome to my new blog Of Common Sense. My full name is Keith Lionel Brown, and I am the founder and administrator of this blog. I also write under my pen name, Ethen Liam Xander.

I am 58 years old. I am a 30-year honorable retired United States Navy Veteran having been officially discharged from the United States Armed Services on 1 September 2010. I work as a contributor to the More Good Foundation based in Orem, Utah, where I am the Lead Writer and Manager for a growing website called Mormon Music.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a convert to the Church, having been baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland, while serving on active duty with the United States Navy in Keflavik, Iceland. I love reading and studying the scriptures and have thus far in my young life read the Bible 9 times in its entirety, the Book of Mormon 9 times in its entirety, and the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price 13 times each in their entirety. I also enjoy writing speeches, writing articles on different topics, teaching, and public speaking. This blog incorporates some of the life lessons that I have learned on my pilgrim journey thus far. I have also included a section which includes many of my personal quotes that I have shared on social media. The section is called Leçons de vie.

It is my sincere prayer that some of what I post here will be a blessing to those who visit. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at keithlbrown@gmail.com or hhs101758@gmail.com. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Linkedin.

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Just because something is written in a book, it does not constitute that the written text is a reliable source of indisputable truth, nor does it substantiate the validity of anything that has been transcribed.

Tout simplement parce que quelque chose est écrit dans un livre, il ne constitue pas que le texte écrit est une source fiable de vérité indiscutable, ni ne justifie la validité de tout ce qui a été transcrit.

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Qui est Ethen Liam Xander?

Qui est Ethen Liam Xander?

So, the question begs an answer as to why I chose the name Ethen Liam Xander as my pen name. I chose the name because I believe that it fits my overall personality. The name "Ethen" is of Hebrew origin, and is an alternative spelling of Ethan. The name means Firm/Strong. The name "Liam" is of Irish origin, and is a shortened form of William. The name means Strong-willed Warrior. The name "Xander" is of Greek Origin and means Defender of the People. So, if you put it all together - Ethen Liam Xander is a strong-willed warrior who is a defender of the people, and stands firm for truth and right.

Several people have asked from time-to-time if they can share some of my personal writings and/or personal quotes that I share for everyone to read. The answer is a resounding YES! I do not own a copyright to anything that I write. I have but one request, and that is that you give proper credit where credit is due. That is to say, you did not write it, so please don't try to take credit for it. Please be so kind to mention that the article(s) or quote(s) were written by or shared by Keith Lionel Brown, or you can use my pen name - Ethen Liam Xander. As a budding writer, I greatly appreciate that.

Also, I hope that when I post an article that I have written that you will take the time to actually read it. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments as I use those as a guide to gauge what people like reading and what they don't like reading. If you don't like something that I have said or written, please don't be concerned with "offending my sensitivities." Be honest. But please don't just say that you don't like something that I wrote and go away without expounding upon or explaining your thoughts regarding what I have written. Please give me some honest and open feedback. I am not perfect, nor am I a know-it-all. I only ask that you keep the tone of your comments CIVIL and above all, PROFANITY FREE.

One of my personal goals is to grow my presence in the social media world in a positive way through my writing. This is not a hobby for me by any means. This is a huge part of my life mission, and my humble efforts to be a "missionary" to the world. Your comments are a tremendous help in making that goal a reality as I use them to help me improve my writing.  

Écrits et réflexions

Being a father means more than seeing a new life come into the world, and then going happily on your way to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. The major part of being a father is BEING THERE. A father needs to be there to do his part in raising his children, and to help guide the footsteps of those children on the path that they should go.

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The alarm for general quarters is sounded on many occasions in the world today. The missiles that are being fired at us are not the conventional type, but they are the fiery darts of the adversary. As a crew member aboard ship must always stand a vigilant watch and be on the alert for any possible danger, we too must “be sober, be vigilant; because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

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This post was written in response to comments that were made regarding thoughts I posted some time ago as a summary of a fireside that I conducted a few years ago under the direction of my Stake Presidency on the 1978 Revelation of the Priesthood.

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I have been accused on several occasions of not acting like, talking like, or thinking like a “typical” Black person. Sad, but true, even some of my family members have questioned whether I am really Black. Well, when I was born I was Black, and when I looked in the mirror this morning I saw that I am still Black. So I guess. . . . I am Black.

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This is a tribute that I wrote to my mother, the late Frances Mae Harmon Brown. She passed away on 12 June 1997 at the young age of 59 after losing her battle to breast cancer.

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Through the years we have been blessed as a family to be able to come together and enjoy some good times. As family members are no longer able to join us because of death or illness, our hearts and minds are filled with wonderful memories of each of them that we will forever cherish. And many of those precious memories were made while sitting at the family table.

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How wonderful and marvelous are the daylight hours of our lives. When everything seems to be running along smoothly, we tend to be the most happy and content with our lives. Even the small bumps in the road along the way seem insignificant. But, what of the night?

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Have we ever noticed that each day that the Lord awakens us from our slumbers; we arise to a new day which is called — today? What happened to the tomorrow of which we spoke yesterday? Why is it that at the start of a new day, we are never greeted with, “Good morning and welcome to tomorrow”?

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I am sometimes a little amazed that some people seem to think that because we profess to be a Christian – a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ – that automatically equates to never getting upset, never murmuring, never complaining, never getting angry, never getting frustrated, never having to face heartaches and disappointments, and perhaps, some even think that Christians never shed any tears or have any sleepless nights.

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When we know that we are standing on the side of TRUTH, we need to be resolute in our stand and not have to always be apologetic to the ne’er-do-well of the world who bask in incessantly causing strive and derision over even minuscule matters.

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From time to time I pause to reflect upon the events that have taken place as this pilgrim continues on his journey through life. As I have traversed the hills and the byways there have indeed been many wonderful mountain top experiences, but there have also been some down in the valley experiences as well.

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I humbly believe that there are many good-hearted people who are equating love for their brothers and sisters to mean acceptance of lifestyle or behaviour. I can love my brothers and sisters (as I am commanded to do), but that does not necessarily mean that I accept their actions and behaviours.

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Leçons de vie

Leçons de vie

In the early morning of our lives, our school is our home, the students in the classroom are our siblings, and our teachers are our parents. In the afternoon of our lives, our school is a building outside the home, the students in the classroom become our friends and confidants, and our teachers are those who have themselves studied and prepared to impart knowledge to us that we will use as we continue on our journey through life. In the evening of our lives, we continue learning in the school of life with the world being our classroom, and life itself being our teacher. Each new day of life is an opportunity for us to learn some new and interesting things. The wise man gleans as much as he can from his life experiences and with his new found knowledge and wisdom is able to chart and navigate his course in life. With all of his learning, he also learns that some obstacles in life can be overcome by using a little common sense.

It is far better to surround ourselves with a few trustworthy friends that are willing to ride out the storms of life with us and help us steer our ship through sometimes turbulent waves, than to be surrounded by a myriad of friends, many of whom when at the first sign of tumultuous waves crashing over the bow of the ship will want to abandon ship, leaving us all alone to fend the storm and to steer the ship to safety.

Let us not be so hasty to be so critical and to race to pronounce judgement upon another person because of the wrongs that they have committed. We do not have to condone the behavior, but we are taught that we are to love the person, regardless of his transgression. We hate the sin, but we love the sinner. Let us remember this important council: But for the grace of God, so go I. None of us are perfect. Therefore, where do we think that we have the God-given right to sit as judge and jury upon another? Let us spend some time cross-examining ourselves, and then we may just find that we don’t have as much time to put others on the witness stand.

The beauty of absolute truth is that it forever stands on its own merits as being truth regardless if one person believes it, a thousand people believe it or no one believes it. Absolute truth does not need our sustaining vote to be declared as truth, and we cannot void its validity by simply disbelieving it.

If standing up for what is right means having to stand alone than I will choose to stand alone. I would prefer to be found with my feet planted on the firm ground of truth, than to find myself sinking in the quicksand of compromise and uncertainty. He who attempts to win the favor of man in all that he does has already lost his race, but he who stands firm on the rock of truth shall be declared the victor in the end.

Isn’t it simply amazing that often the ones who claim that they have nothing to say concerning a matter are usually the ones that seem to have the most to say even if what they say has absolutely nothing to do with what has already been said?

When we take another for granted, we are in essence saying to that person that they don’t matter – they are of little or no significance – they mean absolutely nothing to us. The message that we convey to that person is that he or she is merely someone that we use as our proverbial door mat to wipe our feet on or step stool to get to the heights that we desire to reach. Those whom we take for granted are reduced to becoming things that we use, and not people that we should love. More times than not, as long as the person that we take for granted continuously fulfills our wants and our desires, they are found within our good graces. However, the moment that he or she decides that they are no longer going to allow others to use them, the tables turn 360 degrees, and often fault is found with, and blame is placed upon that person, when in reality the fault and the blame was ours all along.

Why do we overly concern ourselves with the “dust” in the corners of the houses of others when our own houses are in dire need of cleaning from top to bottom? Let us clean our own houses first and then we will be better suited to help others clean theirs.

There are times when ears that know how to listen are more appreciated than a voice that knows how to speak. We should not always want to be the one who dominates a conversation, but rather, we should learn to listen carefully and intently at what others have to say, and then, when we do vocalize our thoughts and opinions, we will be able to do so more objectively, and above all, more intelligently.

We can no more determine the contents of a book based on its title alone, than we can determine the character of a person based on the color of their skin. Sometimes the title of a book can lead a person to think that the book is about one subject matter, but upon perusal of its pages, the reader discovers that the content discusses something entirely different. In the same way, we cannot judge a person based solely on comments that may have been made about his race, nationality, or culture – comments or remarks that can sometimes be unfair, unjust, and unwarranted – but rather we must take the time to “read” the person – to get to know the content of his character. Just as the actual contents of a book tell what the book is about, so does the character of a man tell what type of a person he truly is.

There is not one person living upon the earth who has lived a perfect, spotless life. All of us, if we are sincerely honest, first of all with ourselves, will have to admit that there are some things that we have done, said, or may have been involved in that we feel regret, remorse, and perhaps even some sorrow for. Unfortunately, none of us own a time machine. We cannot reach back into time and change the events that took place on a particular day that we wish we could do over. Life doesn't work that way. The time has passed, those events have already occurred, and are now written on the annals of time. The best that any of us can do is to continue to press forward, learn from our life lessons of the past, improve upon the mistakes that we made, and vow never to travel down particular roads again. We cannot, and must not, allow our past to dictate how we live our lives here at this present moment, or to destroy our hopes and aspirations for the future. When we focus our attention on things of the past, we rob ourselves of the joys and blessings that can be ours in the here and now, and we literally shut the door to the future, of those things that are yet to come.

If we say that we truly love someone, we will love them for who they are, here and now, and not base our love or our measure of love for that individual on their past. If we say that we truly love someone, we will be willing to help them move forward from those unpleasant things of their past, by not drawing attention to, or constantly bringing to the forefront, those unpleasant things.
True love does not care to pitch its tents in the lands of the past. True love chooses to focus on the present. These are the precious moments that truly matter. True love says, "I know that you have made mistakes in your life, but so have I, so have we all. We are not perfect beings, we are all striving to become perfect." True loves holds a funeral service and buries the past, bears its grief for a moment of time, and then moves forward with life.

It is far better to live according to your own standards; to be directed by your own moral compass; and to maintain a good name, than to seek popularity from a crowd whose mores are in total opposition of your own, and whose influence will only tarnish your good name and reputation, and eventually drag you deep into the bottomless mire along with them.
It is far better to be considered an outcast for doing what is right than to be found hanging in the balance and being unduly characterized as an outcast because of the injudicious decisions that you have chosen to make.

I am forever amazed at the number of people that I come in contact with that seem to be pressed to be the most popular person amongst a group of people, or to have a myriad of friends. The question that I want to ask them, in all honesty, is, "Why is that so important?"
At almost 59 years of age, if I have learned nothing else, one very valuable life lesson that I have learned is that not everyone who claims to be a friend is indeed a friend. There are a lot of leeches in the world who will do their level best to suck the life blood out of you in order to champion their causes or to fulfil their selfish agenda, and when you have been drained dry, they barely even remember your name.
There are others who only associate with a person because that person may know someone of social status and importance, and so they ride along on that person's coat tail in hopes that they can boost their own pathetic egos by proclaiming that they too are associates of the same people as the person they have latched onto as their "friend."
To journey through this life thinking that everyone that crosses your path will like you, let alone befriend you, is pure and utter foolishness. Not everyone who claims to be a "friend" even knows the meaning of being a friend. I have found that hindsight is indeed 20/20, and as I grow older, my immediate circle of "true" friends begins to grow smaller, not larger, and I am OK with that.
It is far better to be in the secure company of a few "true" friends than caught in the quagmire with a myriad of so-called "friends."

There are times when ears that know how to listen are more appreciated than a voice that knows how to speak. We should not always want to be the one who dominates a conversation, but rather, we should learn to listen carefully and intently at what others have to say, and then, when we do vocalize our thoughts and opinions, we will be able to do so more objectively, and above all, more intelligently.

A fool is a person who thinks that he knows everything, and even when he is emphatically proven wrong, he continues to convince himself that he is right and the rest of the world is wrong. He believes that his follies are his stronghold, but when that stronghold becomes infiltrated, he finds himself vulnerable and soon discovers that his own foolishness is his weakest defense.

As I grow older I am slowly learning that it is not worth fussing and arguing with people. All it does is cause you to get frustrated and upset and 99.9% of the time the person you are fussing and arguing with doesn't care. It is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. You get filthy, but the pig loves it.

The Proper Use of the English Language
The English language is beautiful to listen to when used properly. If we speak intelligently we will find that people will look up to us, and treat us with dignity and respect, and as a person who possesses some intelligence.
If our speech is riddled with slang, “street talk,” and profanity, people will have a tendency to look down upon us, and oftentimes will place us in classes or categories in which we don’t rightfully belong.
Therefore, our speech can gain us favor, or it can betray us and cause us to become an outcast in society.
If we know how to speak the English language then we should strive to do so, and do so properly. Attempting to be “cool” or a part of an “in crowd” by speaking in a tongue that can only be interpreted by our immediate sphere of influence, may prove to be in life, extremely detrimental to our being accepted in many circles.

Instead of incessantly pointing fingers and trying to place the blame on others for our misfortune or maltreatment, perhaps we should take a good long look in the mirror at the person who stares back at us, and come to the realization that the root cause of our problems is not necessarily that the world is against us, but oftentimes the core of our problems can be found within ourselves. Sometimes, whether we wish to admit it or not, we become our own worst nemesis.

In my humble opinion, a "half-truth" is nothing more than a ravenous wolf, better known as a whole lie, disguised in sheep clothing. If the "half-truth" is not crafted carefully, the wolf will soon be exposed for who he truly is, and his unsuspecting victim will be devoured.

We are all special, unique people masterfully created by the Divine Creator. Although we may have some of the same character traits, none of us are exactly alike. Each of us has a purpose for being here at this particular time, and thus we each have our individual missions to fulfill. As the human body consists of many parts that function in their own right, and as a part of the whole body, our individual talents and abilities combined with those of others are what makes up the body of people known as the human race. No one person is better or superior to another, but we are all different, and it is the sum of those differences that make us such an interesting, special, and unique race of people - the human race.

Every day is a new opportunity to be just a little better person than we were the day before. We cannot step into a time machine and teleport ourselves back to yesterday, but we can bring to the present the lessons learned from yesterday to improve upon our lives today and to use as stepping-stones to help lead us to brighter tomorrows. We should remember the past for its valuable life lessons taught, but we cannot afford to dwell there. Yesterday has gone, and tomorrow may never be ours, and so we must seize the day, for these are the moments that truly matter.

We are all ignorant of some things, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, for there are none who are knowledgeable of all things. The problem arises when a man so chooses not to rise above his ignorance but rather chooses to continually wallow in its mud pits. To obtain knowledge is a wonderful, powerful thing, but knowledge is rendered useless and powerless unless a man is willing to take hold of it to enlighten himself, and thus escape the obscurity of ignorance.

Hatred is the tumultuous tormentor of the soul entwined with misgivings, prejudice, misunderstandings, and ignorance. If but a measure of mercy would be meted to the man who lives his life as a prisoner enchained within the walls of its cold dark dungeon. Oh, that the light of love may somehow shine through, to bring a ray of hope to this otherwise forlorn soul.

I believe that knowing what the truth is and denying it for the sake of pleasing the masses, or for fear of being rejected or being considered an outcast, is like denying food to one who is hungry, or a drink of water to one who is thirsty, even though you are able to give a morsel of bread to satisfy their hunger, or a cool drink of water to quench their thirst.

We May Be Only One Voice. . . .
We may only be one voice, but yet that one lone voice can be used to penetrate a deafness of silence and make a tremendous impact on the world. There is a time to remain silent, but there also comes an hour when that silence must be broken.
It is not the time to remain silent when a great revolution is taking place around us, but perhaps it is best to remain silent if our voice is the main cause of a revolution without vindication.
We should raise our voices, not merely to be heard above the masses, or to add to the rumblings already created by the masses, but rather our voice should be raised as a clarion trumpet that sounds attention to salient matters.
We may only be one voice, but if that voice is raised to bring about change in the world, to give hope to the hopeless, and encouragement to the discouraged, then that one lone voice finds itself no longer in solitude, but rather it becomes music to the ears of hungry and thirsty souls in search of sound reasoning.

Friday Morning – 21 July 2017 – Tree Stump Discussion
There are times in all of our lives when we may feel down and distressed, dishearten and discouraged, hopeless and defeated, ostracized and otherwise rejected – when the storm clouds of adversity are their blackest and the storm winds are their fiercest. For anyone who is reading this, and has never experienced any of these things, I say to you, JUST KEEP LIVING.
When times such as these arise in the life of someone we know or associate with, it is not the time to put on our “super hero” costumes and rush in as if we have all the answers and are there to “save the day”. Neither is it the time to try to impress that person who is “going through” a difficult situation as to how holy and how righteous we think we are. I believe that one of the last things that a person who is seriously hurting needs to hear is one more “sermon” from anyone.
Oftentimes we have the best heartfelt intentions of saying things that we believe will bring comfort, relief, and peace to a person, but sometimes our timing is just a little less than impeccable. Sometimes the words that we say, or the feelings that we try to convey in certain situations can prove to be more detrimental than helpful. I humbly believe that sometimes the best thing that we can say in some situations is to say nothing at all. There are indeed times when an ocean of words is less, and silence proves to be more.
There are times when we need to realize that people who are hurting do not necessarily need someone to speak a myriad of words to them – they don’t need to hear our voice – what they do need is someone who has a heart full of compassion, and ears that are capable of listening to their voice - their cries. And in our listening, we need to have understanding and discernment. We dare not try to offer advice or counsel in helping to bring about resolution to a situation when the knowledge that we have of the situation does not even fill a thimble.
When someone we know is having a difficult time, we need to learn to take the focus off of self and focus on the one who needs us – who needs anyone that is willing – to just be a friend. After all, this life is not all about us, but it is all about helping others – helping our brothers and sisters on their journey.