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Arlington National Cemetery..June 2011 …..item 1..Afghan war’s deadly toll on US forces hasn’t eased (July 02, 2011 ) …..item 2..Utah News-The Salt Lake Tribune (July 13, 2011) …

Arlington National Cemetery..June 2011 …..item 1..Afghan war’s deadly toll on US forces hasn’t eased (July 02, 2011 ) …..item 2..Utah News-The Salt Lake Tribune (July 13, 2011) …
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FILE – In this June 15, 2011 file photo, Amy Balduf, of Richmond, Tenn., is comforted by a Marine at the graveside of her husband, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin Balduf, who was killed serving in Afghanistan, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Despite U.S. claims of success on the battlefield, American troops have been dying in the first half of this year at the same pace as in 2010, according to a tally by The Associated Press. The numbers indicate the war’s deadly toll on American forces has not eased as the Obama administration moves to shift the burden onto its Afghan allies. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) less

Associated Press…….5 hrs ago
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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Despite U.S. reports of progress on the battlefield, American troops were killed in the first half of this year at the same pace as in 2010 — an indication that the war’s toll on U.S. forces has not eased as the Obama administration moves to shift the burden to the Afghans.
While the overall international death toll dropped by 14 percent in the first half of the year, the number of Americans who died remained virtually unchanged, 197 this year compared with 195 in the first six months of last year, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

…..item 1)….Yahoo! News….World….Afghan war’s deadly toll on US forces hasn’t eased

By DEB RIECHMANN – Associated Press | AP – Sat, Jul 2, 2011

news.yahoo.com/afghan-wars-deadly-toll-us-forces-hasnt-ea…

Americans have been involved in some of the fiercest fighting as the U.S. administration sent more than 30,000 extra troops in a bid to pacify areas in the Taliban’s southern heartland and other dangerous areas. U.S. military officials have predicted more tough fighting through the summer as the Taliban try to regain territory they have lost.

President Barack Obama has begun to reverse the surge of American forces, ordering a reduction of 10,000 by the end of the year and another 23,000 by September 2012. But the U.S. military has not announced which troops are being sent home, or whether they will be withdrawn from any of the most violent areas in the south and east.

Rear Adm. Vic Beck, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Kabul, said he couldn’t comment specifically on the U.S. death count, but noted that the casualties were unchanged despite the surge in forces. He attributed the overall decline in the international toll to coalition progress on the battlefield, including the discovery of a rising number of militant weapons caches. He also said Afghan security forces are increasingly taking the lead, although recent violence has raised concerns about their readiness to secure their own country.

Beck said insurgents were shifting their focus to attacking civilians, pointing to last week’s attack against the Inter-Continental, a luxury hotel in Kabul, that left 20 people dead, including the nine assailants.

"The enemy is taking the fight more to innocent Afghan civilians because we’re taking it to them pretty hard on the battlefield," he said.

According to the AP tally, 271 international troops, including the Americans, were killed in the first half of the year — down 14 percent from the 316 killed in the first six months of last year.

With the American deaths virtually unchanged, the decline reflects a drop off in deaths of troops from other contributing nations. In the first half of the year, 74 of these troops — from countries like Britain, France and Australia — died compared with 121 in the first six months of last year.

In the most recent deaths, NATO said two coalition service members were killed in roadside bombings — one Saturday in the west who was identified as an Italian, and another Friday in the south whose nationality was not available.

By contrast, a recent U.N. report found that May was the deadliest month for civilians since it began keeping track in 2007, and it said insurgents were to blame for 82 percent of the 368 deaths recorded.

The U.N. does not usually release monthly civilian casualty figures but said it was compelled to do so in May because of the high number.

The Taliban have denied targeting civilians and insist coalition claims that insurgents have suffered heavy losses at the hands of foreign troops are false.

Monthly death tolls of foreign forces have varied so far this year, but they fell dramatically in June.

Overall, 65 international troops, including Americans, died last month. That’s down 37 percent from the 103 who died in June 2010 — the deadliest month on record for foreign forces. More than 25 died last month in Helmand province in the south where fierce fighting continues in some hot spots, the AP tally showed.

"In the areas that we believe were pretty secure, there has been very little violence," U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John Toolan Jr., the commander in Helmand province, said at a recent Pentagon briefing. He said he’s still concerned about northern districts like Gereshk and Sangin.

He said his forces are working with their Afghan partners to try to keep hold of security gains made in recent months.

"I’m pretty sure, pretty confident we’ll be able to do that, but it won’t be without a fight," Toolan said. "But it will not be as big a fight, in my estimation, as it has been in the past."

Underscoring the dangers, a roadside bomb ripped through a van carrying a family Saturday in southern Afghanistan, killing all 13 on board — the deadliest incident in a string of attacks since Friday that killed 18 civilians, according to Afghan officials.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks, saying in a statement that "bombings that kill innocent civilians are the work of people who don’t want the nation to have a life without sadness."
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…..item 2)……Utah NEWS…TheSalt Lake Tribune…Parents of fallen Logan Marine were torn by his choice to enlist

BY KRISTEN MOULTON
The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 13 2011 05:14PM
Updated Jul 14, 2011 10:32AM

www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52184950-78/marine-son-mendez-…

Logan • The father of the 22-year-old Logan Marine killed in Afghanistan on Sunday has just one question during these dark days.

"How many soldiers have to be shot in the back before they stop the war?" asked a somber Norberto Mendez on Wednesday as he and his wife, Maria Mendez Hernandez, tried to come to grips with their eldest son’s death. They spoke through an interpreter.

"I don’t want any other mother to suffer," said the Marine’s mom.

Lance Cpl. Norberto Mendez Hernandez, an infantryman in a battalion fighting to keep the Taliban out of the Sangin region of Helmand province, was shot in the back of his head while on foot patrol, the Department of Defense told the family.

He leaves behind his wife, Lorena, 2-year-old son Anthony and 8-month-old daughter Audrey at Camp Pendleton, Calif., as well as his parents and four younger siblings, Thomas, Itzel, Abraham and Aileen, in Logan.

The 2007 graduate of Logan High School and former production worker at Gossner Foods fulfilled a lifelong dream when he enlisted in the Marines in April 2010. He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division based at Camp Pendleton.

His parents, both immigrants from Mexico, are now wondering what more they could have done to discourage their son from joining the military — from going to war.

"Every since he was a little boy, this is what he wanted," his mother said Wednesday as she reminisced, frequently breaking into sobs.

She told her son the uniform and Marine gear would weigh him down, make him shorter.

"I would tell him there are other ways to help your country," his mother said through the interpreter, her son’s friend, Carlos Rosales.

At one point, his father even threatened to join the military if his son did. So Mendez Hernandez put his dad in a headlock to prove he wasn’t fit enough.

In the end, the younger man prevailed by insisting he felt called to action by God and the Bible. He shared his favorite passages with his family, those with messages about bravery, justice and trust in God.

"He would say, ‘I’m not happy with just my family being happy. There are kids suffering in other countries, and I want to help,’ "his mother said. "He had a lot of faith in God."

He didn’t believe he would die, although they had discussed that possibility, she said.

And while they disagreed with his choice, his parents were proud.

His father said he awoke Sunday from a dream that his son had died. The family learned the news later that day while celebrating Thomas’ 17th birthday at Lagoon. Marines were waiting for them back home in Logan.

***** NEXT PAGE……

On Wednesday, Thomas was thinking about lessons his big brother taught him: about government and the military and its role; about how to never abuse the self-defense maneuvers the older brother taught him on the living-room floor.

"He used to take me out to run with him because he said I was lazy," Thomas said.

His mother remembered some of her eldest son’s tricks, such as the time he translated for his third-grade teacher, who came to their home to say he wasn’t doing his homework.

"He told me, ‘Hey, I’m doing great in school.’ "

His mother could read the teacher’s expression, however, and got a new translator.

When they visited Mexico, he would go to the grocery store for laundry soap and return with chocolate.

As a teenager, he put so many holes in his bedroom walls while wrestling with friends that his mother threw up her hands.

The Marine’s funeral will be held in California, where his wife and children now live and where there is extended family. No date had been set for the funeral as of Wednesday.

Before he died, his Logan family intended to move to Arizona or California to be closer to him.

"For sure they’re moving now," Rosales said.

They want to be close to his grave — and the young family he left behind.
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National Geographic Magazine (1948) … My 16-year-old daughter wants to get her driver’s license! ….item 2.. Help! My family makes me explode with anger. — Please give me some advice! (February 10, 2012 / 17 Shevat 5772) …

National Geographic Magazine (1948) … My 16-year-old daughter wants to get her driver’s license! ….item 2.. Help! My family makes me explode with anger. — Please give me some advice! (February 10, 2012 / 17 Shevat 5772) …
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I think we cripple our kids when we hold them back from the reasonable experiences of their peers due to our anxiety. Each step of our children’s independence is difficult for us. It means they are growing up – and away from us. Almost nothing marks that more dramatically than getting a driver’s license and the “freedom” it provides. We have to give them appropriate guidelines (it’s not you we don’t trust, it’s the other guy) and rules, lessons and cautions – and lots of practice. And then we have to let go and recognize that just like everything else, this too is in the Almighty’s hands.

…..item 1)……aish.com….Teenage Driver…Help! My 16-year-old daughter wants to get her driver’s license! Am I being too overprotective?

October 3, 2011 / 5 Tishrei 5772

by Emuna Braverman

www.aish.com/ci/de/Dear_Emuna_Teenage_Driver.html

Dear Emuna,

My daughter just turned 16 and she really wants to get her driver’s license. She is constantly whining about it and complains that we are overprotective. She says that “all the other parents let.” Should be just give in? Is she right?

– Parents of Teenagers

Dear POT,

I think there are at least two separate issues here. One is the oft-repeated expression, “All the other parents let.” If I had a dollar for every time an adolescent said that…It is almost never true and is almost always a tool for manipulation. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be flexible. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to reasonable arguments. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evaluate the seriousness of the situation (I have changed my mind and given in to many a sleepover request when it turns out that the other parents do in fact “let”.)

The specific issue at stake is driving. I’ve always been in favor of raising the driving age until I heard some recent study results. Apparently in states where the legal driving age is now 18 instead of 16, there are few accidents among 16-year-olds – for obvious reasons. But guess what has increased? That’s right, the number of accidents in the 18-year-old category. There is no question that driving is risky – and traumatic for the parents. But it is a risk the world accepts. It is part of growing up. It is part of creating adults from children.

I think we cripple our kids when we hold them back from the reasonable experiences of their peers due to our anxiety. Each step of our children’s independence is difficult for us. It means they are growing up – and away from us. Almost nothing marks that more dramatically than getting a driver’s license and the “freedom” it provides. We have to give them appropriate guidelines (it’s not you we don’t trust, it’s the other guy) and rules, lessons and cautions – and lots of practice. And then we have to let go and recognize that just like everything else, this too is in the Almighty’s hands.

– Emuna
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Dear Emuna,

My husband and I have a very good marriage. We can talk about anything and we enjoy each other’s company. Our parenting styles are even in sync. There is only one issue that can sometimes be a source of conflict. My husband is outgoing and gregarious. He loves a big party and a “happening” scene. I am more introverted. I don’t enjoy the noise and commotion of a big gathering. And I especially don’t enjoy the social expectations. I like conversations with a small group of friends. Sometimes I feel like I am holding him back from having fun and that there’s something wrong with me. Doesn’t everyone love a good party?

– Loner

Dear Party Animal – Not,

Only one issue? You are one lucky lady. The Almighty made all different types of people with different character traits. Some are extroverted and some are introverted. Neither quality is morally superior to the other. They are just different aspects of who we are. And we can not be who we aren’t. You and your husband were probably attracted to each other because you each wanted a little of what you lacked, a little of what your partner has. So enjoy it. If your husband had wanted a party girl, he would have married one.

You can each engage in separate activities on occasion where the desires of your natures clash. And, like all other areas of marriage, you may also be required to compromise. You may have to accompany him to some large social gatherings. He may stay home with you and a small group of friends, or maybe just you! You can both learn and grow from each other and from your separate and different experiences. The key is not to judge each other – or yourself. Like I said, neither quality is superior (although sometimes society places more value on the extrovert). This is the way the Almighty made you – and He doesn’t make mistakes.

– Emuna
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Dear Emuna,

We are constantly opening our home to guests. And both my husband and I love it. I don’t mind the effort because I enjoy the experience. Sometimes our guests are friends and sometimes they are strangers. I don’t expect them to help me cook or set the table of even bring a gift (although I happen to think it’s good character and says something about their mother if they don’t). But there is one thing that bothers me.

My husband always clears the table (with my children’s help) and sometimes the guests just sit there while he does. He doesn’t complain but it really bothers me. Any tips on dealing with this?

– (Mostly) Happy Hostess

Dear Hostess,

If your husband’s example doesn’t spur them to get up and clear, it’s hard to imagine anything will, other than perhaps a direct request. It requires a particular obtuseness and self-centeredness to sit idly by, not lifting a finger, as your host clears the table. That is an ingrained bad character trait that you are most likely not going to change. If you want to continue to have guests, you need to make peace with it. I do confess that if the guests are outright rude, this may be their first – and only – invitation. I personally do expect participation in the conversation when people come for a meal (otherwise I feel like a waitress for “party of two at the end of the table”) but maybe some of them are actually more introverted like the writer in question #2 and I am judging unfavorably! You need to be solely a giver – with no expectations of anything in return. It’s the only way to do any type of kindness. And I guess it is just possible that if they watch often enough, you will slowly make an impact – perhaps on their choice of mate anyway.

– Emuna
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…..item 2)… aish.com … HOME CURRENT ISSUES Q&A FOR TEENS …

Q&A for Teens: Bach & the Shouting Match
Help! My family makes me explode with anger.
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img code photo … Bach & the Shouting Match .. Q&A for Teens

media.aish.com/images/QATeenBachShouting230x150-E.jpg

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February 10, 2012 / 17 Shevat 5772
by Lauren Roth

www.aish.com/ci/teen/QA_for_Teens_Bach__the_Shouting_Matc…

Dear Lauren,

I’m tired of my family. They’re always fighting and shouting at each other, especially at me. They’re always criticizing me, yelling at me for any stupid thing and making a big deal out of nothing, until they get the best of me and I shout at them in return, no matter how hard I try not to. What bothers me most is that when they finally make me explode, they always tell me: "Why do you yell at your family?" and they make me feel really bad. They’re the ones that make me explode. They don’t get that I try really hard to keep calm, but with their shouts, insults, and attitude it’s almost impossible. Please give me some advice!

What’s your favorite piece of classical music? (No, “Oops!…I Did It Again” does not qualify as classical music—and neither does “Born in the USA” or even “Sweet Child O’Mine!”) The classical pieces I love best are the Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach. If you’ve never heard them, do yourself a favor and listen to them (especially No. 5). They’re absolutely divine! (And I bet many of you agree.)

Would you believe they were rejected by the Governor of Brandenburg? Bach composed the pieces and sent them to said governor, querying whether he would like to hire Bach to create music for him on an ongoing basis. In a “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” move, Bach never heard back from the governor. Good thing he kept a copy of the Brandenburg Concertos! The full score was left, unused, in the governor’s library until his death in 1734, when it was sold for what today would be !

My point is this: many great things aren’t recognized, ever, for their greatness. And many great things are only recognized much, much later. Your family might unfairly criticize you. They might yell at you when yelling isn’t called for. Your job is to do the right thing, no matter whether you receive approval from those around you or not.

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So your family criticizes, yells, and hurls insults. I’m sorry for you that you have to deal with the unpleasantness of antagonism. I feel for you because of the pain that must cause you. However, their bad behavior and your reaction to their behavior should be two different entities. I know how hard it is to stand strong in the face of disapproval, but, like Bach, your job in your family circle (your job as a person in this world) is to try your own personal hardest to do what you believe is right, no matter what those around you are doing, and no matter whether you receive accolades from them or emotional rotten tomatoes.

When I talk with children of any age (from age 10 to age 70) who are not getting the approval and positive attention from their parents and other family members that they crave, I try to empower them with the following idea: YOU are the one talking to me, ergo YOU are the one noticing the incorrectness of your family’s behavior, and YOU are the one seeking a better way. Therefore, YOU can absolutely be the one to turn the family dynamic around.

It doesn’t matter that you’re the child and the instigators are the parents; anyone can change the negative cycle of criticism and fighting to a peaceful cycle of giving, sharing, and caring. All it takes is one strong person to have enough self-awareness to pull himself or herself out of the mélange of antagonism, keep his or her head above water, stay calm, and say, respectfully and lovingly, “This is really hurting my feelings. Let’s all be kinder to one another. Can we please talk, instead of yelling?”

It only takes one strong, courageous person with a vision of serenity and peace to change a family dynamic.

The first time you say that, expect the others to yell some expletives, make fun of you, tell you you’re the most unkind of all of them, tell you your “better than thou” attitude is really annoying, or all of the above. But if you consistently stay calm and loving and respectful and refuse to be pulled into the swirling angry maelstrom of emotions, your calming presence can eventually bring the tension levels down and can quiet the inflammatory responses.

It only takes one strong, courageous person with a vision of serenity and peace to change a family dynamic. I’ve seen it happen many times.

I have a good idea: get a copy of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. When you feel stressed out and frazzled and horribly angry at your family, go to a calm place and listen to that music. Take many deep breaths. Get yourself centered and calm. Then focus on your goal. Your goal is to do the right thing, no matter what anyone around you is pushing you towards. Think about the fact that this uplifting music was totally rejected, and what an incorrect assessment of the music that was. Realize that your family can make mistakes. They can yell and insult and criticize, but it doesn’t have to push your buttons because you can choose to be better than that. Get yourself calm so you can have a calm discussion with them instead of a shouting match.

I have a favorite quote from Victor Frankl, the founder of a branch of psychology called Logotherapy, and a concentration camp survivor: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” In that space between stimulus and response lies our humanity. In that space between stimulus and response lies our personal spiritual journey that God put us here on Earth for.

You can be the one in your family to change the tune.
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Too Late For Tears (1949) …..item 1.. 7 Steps to Trusting Again — Review for red flags (January 26, 2012 / 2 Shevat 5772) …

Too Late For Tears (1949) …..item 1.. 7 Steps to Trusting Again — Review for red flags (January 26, 2012 / 2 Shevat 5772) …
how to act more confident
Image by marsmet544
Most of us become more guarded after experiencing a breach of trust by someone who was important to us. We need to learn how to trust again, so that we can open up to another person, give and receive, and develop the emotional bond we long for. The best time to work on this is before we start dating again.

……..***** All images are copyrighted by their respective authors ……
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…..item 1)…. aish.com … HOME … DATING … DATING … WISDOM … 7 Steps to Trusting Again

How to bounce back after breaking up.
by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

www.aish.com/d/w/7_Steps_to_Trusting_Again.html

Your relationship is over, but the pain of the break-up still feels fresh. You hoped this one would work out.
You put so much of yourself into it, making this your biggest priority and opening up in ways you never did with anyone else. But now you feel alone, abandoned, betrayed. Your sense of trust is shattered.

"Next time, I won’t let myself be so open," you tell yourself. "I can’t risk being hurt like that again. I’ll wait until I really know him before relating on a deeper level, before I allow myself to have feelings."

So you date someone new, putting up a wall. You hold back on revealing your thoughts, feelings and dreams. Over time, your date’s patience turns to frustration, because you don’t show any sign of wanting to connect on any type of deeper level. Then, once the courtship is over, you tell yourself, "I knew it! I can’t trust anyone."

Most of us become more guarded after experiencing a breach of trust by someone who was important to us. We need to learn how to trust again, so that we can open up to another person, give and receive, and develop the emotional bond we long for. The best time to work on this is before we start dating again.

Here are seven steps to help you trust again:

(1) Mourn the break-up. Acknowledge your feelings – toward the person who let you down, and toward yourself. Permit yourself to feel hurt, sad, betrayed, angry, depressed. You may experience periods of "bargaining" – thinking that if only you’d done something differently, the break-up wouldn’t have occurred, or telling God that you’re willing to do X, Y and Z in order to get the other person back. Your most intense grief may ebb within a week or two after the relationship has ended, but you may still be mourning the loss for months.

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(2) Decide to move forward. The process will be difficult, because you may still experience feelings of sadness, hurt and loss. Work on yourself to gradually outgrow these feelings. After the most intense feelings of grief subside, you can think about what was wrong with the relationship and what kind of issues the two of you had that kept it from working out. This helps you understand that in spite of having cared for the other person, in the long run the relationship wouldn’t have turned out right for you. This realization will, in time, enable you to accept what happened and look toward the future. It’s better to wait until you’re reach this point in the healing process before you begin to date again. If you’re still angry or bitter, your dating partner will pick up on these feelings – even though you think you’re hiding them. This is a big turn-off.

(3) Look for people who are trustworthy. You may trust a doctor or an accountant, or a parent or sibling who cares about you. You trust that the mail will be delivered in the morning, and that the subway conductor will stop at the next station. Focus on these to tell yourself that trust still exists. When choosing friends to spend time with, be selective. Check out how s/he acts toward the people s/he comes into contact with each day. Does s/he treat co-workers, service-people, and mere acquaintances with sensitivity and respect? Does s/he try to avoid gossip, speak well of others, and honor other people’s confidences? By exposing yourself to trustworthy people, you can build a reasonable expectation that the person you marry will be trustworthy.

Related Article: The Break Up

(4) Review for red flags. Look back at the broken relationship and try to find clues you may have missed, or purposely ignored. Are there indications that the relationship wasn’t as wonderful as you thought, or that s/he wasn’t as invested in the relationship as you? Can you see signs that your dating partner wasn’t a trustworthy person? Perhaps s/he didn’t treat others well, disregarded promises, or invalidated your feelings.

(5) Take it slow. Give yourself time to feel more confident. Ease into a new relationship. Yes, you are going to be more guarded than in the past, but try to slowly open up to someone and see what happens. You may benefit from the guidance of a dating mentor to help you gauge when and how much to open up, because it may be difficult for you to decide what feelings, thoughts, experiences or confidences are appropriate to share at different stages of a courtship. Your mentor can also help you look beyond your reluctance to trust, and evaluate how well your dating partner is responding to your revelations.

(6) Be prepared for disappointment. In her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Dr. Susan Jeffers says that what holds us back is our fear that we won’t be able to handle the consequences if something doesn’t work out the way we expect. If you’re afraid that you won’t be able to handle another break-up, or an act of betrayal, then you will hold back from investing in a promising relationship. However, if you believe that you can deal with future disappointments, it will be easier to take “dating risks” to find the right person. Along the way there may be disappointment, but just as you have the resilience to heal from your previous disappointment, you will find the strength to do whatever it takes to find the right one.

(7) Live a full life. You may not feel like doing much of anything immediately after your break-up, but after the first few days it’s important to force yourself to follow a daily routine and activities that normally give you pleasure. This can include going to the gym, getting together with friends, using your concert subscription, and spending regular hours at work. You may not feel like dressing well, styling your hair, or wearing make-up, but it is important to take care of these aspects of your appearance because doing so has a positive effect on your mood. Over time, it will feel more natural to be doing all of this, and slowly, you’ll feel more like yourself and more optimistic about meeting someone new.

Others have done bounced back, and you can, too. Take care of your health – both physical and spiritual, surround yourself with supportive people, and most of all, give yourself time to heal and move confidently forward into your new future.
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PHILCO magazine ad 1948 — Famous for Quality the World Over ….item 1..How to Reverse the West’s Decline — Social cohesion is what Ibn Khaldun called asabiyah (Sept 18, 2011 / 19 Elul 5771) …

PHILCO magazine ad 1948 — Famous for Quality the World Over ….item 1..How to Reverse the West’s Decline — Social cohesion is what Ibn Khaldun called asabiyah (Sept 18, 2011 / 19 Elul 5771) …
how to be more social
Image by marsmet542
People live in towns and get used to luxuries. The rich grow indolent, the poor resentful. There is a loss of asabiyah, a keyword for Khaldun. Nowadays we would probably translate it as "social cohesion".

People no longer think in terms of the common good. They are no longer willing to make sacrifices for one another. Essentially they lose the will to defend themselves. They then become easy prey for the desert dwellers, the people used to fighting to stay alive.
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…..item 1)….website….aish.com…How to Reverse the West’s Decline…The greatest civilizations eventually fall due to their own internal decay.

Sept 18, 2011 / 19 Elul 5771
by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

www.aish.com/ci/sept11/How_to_Reverse_the_Wests_Decline.html

It is not clear that the West has successfully met the challenge of 9/11. Worse: it is not clear that the West yet fully understands what the challenge is.

To understand 2001 we have to go back to 1989, the year of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was an historic moment that few had expected. What did it mean? It was then that two stories were born, with one of which we are familiar, the other of which we seem hardly to know or understand at all.

The first narrative was that the West had won. Communism had imploded. In the end, it failed to deliver the goods. People wanted freedom. They sought affluence. The Soviet Union had delivered neither. Politically it was repressive. Economically it was inefficient. For freedom you need liberal democracy. For affluence you need the market economy. 1989 marked the victory of both. From here on democratic capitalism would spread slowly but surely across the world. To adapt Francis Fukuyama’s phrase of the time, it was the beginning of the end of history.

—– Related Articles: Remembering 9/11

The other narrative was quite different but has the advantage of so far being proved correct. Unlike Fukuyama’s, it was based not on Hegel but on the 14th-century Islamic thinker Ibn Khaldun. We don’t know much about Ibn Khaldun in the West but we should. He was one of the truly great thinkers of the Middle Ages. He has every claim to be called the world’s first sociologist. Not for another 300 years would the West produce a figure of comparable originality: Giambattista Vico. Both produced compelling accounts of the rise and fall of civilizations. Both knew what most people most of the time forget: that the greatest civilizations eventually fall. The reason they do so is not necessarily the rise of a stronger power. It is their own internal decay.

Most accounts of al-Qaeda focus on the intellectual influence of the 20th-century thinker and critic of the West, Sayyid Qutb. That influence was real. But the deeper story the leaders of al-Qaeda told in 1989, without which 9/11 is unintelligible, had less to do with Qutb and hatred of the West and its freedoms; and much more to do with the key precipitating event of the fall of Communism: the withdrawal, in 1989, of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.

People no longer think in terms of the common good. They are no longer willing to make sacrifices for one another.

It was that event that set in motion the rapid collapse of one of the world’s two superpowers. It was achieved not by the United States and its military might, but by a small group of religiously inspired fighters, the mujahideen and their helpers. Ibn Khaldun’s theory was that every urban civilization becomes vulnerable when it grows decadent from within. People live in towns and get used to luxuries. The rich grow indolent, the poor resentful. There is a loss of asabiyah, a keyword for Khaldun. Nowadays we would probably translate it as "social cohesion". People no longer think in terms of the common good. They are no longer willing to make sacrifices for one another. Essentially they lose the will to defend themselves. They then become easy prey for the desert dwellers, the people used to fighting to stay alive.

That, so it seemed to those who read history that way, is what happened in Afghanistan. It was never possible for a small group to defeat a superpower by conventional means. But it could go on endlessly inflicting casualty after casualty until eventually the superpower — more like a lumbering elephant than a wounded lion — withdrew. The desert dwellers are hungrier, tougher and more ruthless than the city dwellers who long more than anything for a quiet life.

That was the calculation. The odd thing is, it worked. And those who had fought the Soviet Union looked on in wonder at the effect of their victory. For not only did the Russians withdraw. Within an extraordinarily short time their whole empire collapsed. Ibn Khaldun was right. The society had grown rotten from within. It had lost its asabiyah, its cohesion. It had lost the will to fight.

If that is what a small group of highly motivated religious fighters could do to one superpower, why not the other, America and the West? America could not be defeated on its own ground. But what if it could be tempted, provoked, into occupying the very same ground that had seen the humiliating withdrawal of the Soviet army, namely Afghanistan itself? To do so would require a truly massive provocation, one so shocking that it would make the Americans forget what everyone knew, that Afghanistan is a death trap that ultimately defeats all invading armies. That is when 9/11 was born.

—– Related Article: 9/11: Launching the War of Ideas

The theory was that the Americans and the Russians might be unalike in every other respect, but this they shared: that they were advanced urban civilizations in which the social bond, asabiyah, had grown weak. They were no longer lean and hungry. They were overweight and lacked the capacity for sustained sacrifice. If America could be provoked into occupying Afghanistan, it could be defeated exactly as the Soviets had been, not by any decisive battle but by sustained asymmetric warfare. The proof was that American troops had withdrawn from Lebanon in 1984 and Somalia in 1994 under just such circumstances. They had no more staying power than the Russians. Like the Russians, within a decade they would be looking for an exit strategy. 9/11 was the attempt to lure the United States into Afghanistan, and it worked.

The aim of al-Qaeda never was the collapse of the West. It was the withdrawal of American troops from Saudi Arabia, together with larger aspirations for the revival of the Caliphate and the reemergence of the Umma as a world power. But the collapse of the West was foreseen. It was not an aim but a consequence, and it followed from Ibn Khaldun’s theory of the decline and fall of civilizations.
Has it happened? Not yet. But ten years on, the United States has been humiliated into renegotiating its trillions of dollars of debt. Western economies, almost all of them, are ailing. The European Union is under strain, its future in doubt. There have been riots and looting on the streets of London and Manchester, just as there have been in recent years in France, Greece and Spain. The global economy looks far less stable than it did before the collapse of 2008. In Europe, following a series of scandals, bankers, politicians, journalists and even the police have been tried and found wanting. Those who read the runes of the future are turning their eyes eastward to India, China, and the fast-growing economies of south-east Asia. The West no longer looks invincible. As a narrative, the "end of history" has proved less predictive than the "decline of civilizations". So far, Hegel 0, Ibn Khaldun 1.

—– The real challenge is the underlying moral health of Western liberal democracies, their collective responsibility, and to the ideals that brought them into being.

The real challenge of 9/11 is not what it seemed at the time: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb and radical Islam. These were real and present threats, to be sure, but they were symptoms, not cause. The challenge was the underlying moral health of Western liberal democracies, their asabiyah, their sense of identity and collective responsibility, their commitment to one another and to the ideals that brought them into being. The counter-narrative of 1989 and the fall of Soviet Communism saw it not as a victory for the West but as part of a law of history that says: all great civilizations eventually decline, and the West will be the next to go.

That view is not limited to enemies of the West. It was most recently stated by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson in his Civilization: The West and the Rest. It was most powerfully formulated by Alasdair MacIntyre in his masterwork, After Virtue. My favourite version of it comes from Bertrand Russell in the introduction to his History of Western Philosophy, speaking about the tendency of the most creative civilizations to self-destruct:

What had happened in the great age of Greece happened again in Renaissance Italy. Traditional moral restraints disappeared, because they were seen to be associated with superstition; the liberation from fetters made individuals energetic and creative, producing a rare florescence of genius; but the anarchy and treachery which inevitably resulted from the decay of morals made Italians collectively impotent, and they fell, like the Greeks, under the domination of nations less civilised than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion.

Social cohesion is what Ibn Khaldun called asabiyah. And Russell’s description of Renaissance Italy fits precisely the postmodern, late capitalist West, with its urge to spend and its failure to save, its moral relativism and hyper-individualism, its political culture of rights without responsibilities, its aggressive secularism and resentment of any morality of self-restraint, and its failure to inculcate the habits of instinctual deferral that Sigmund Freud saw as the very basis of civilization. Sayyid Qutb hated the West. Ibn Khaldun would have pitied the West. The pity is more serious than the hate.

There is a simple choice before us. Will we continue to act in ignorance of this other narrative? If so, we will replicate the fate of Greece in the second pre-Christian century as described by Polybius ("the people of Hellas had entered on the false path of ostentation, avarice and laziness"), and that of Rome two centuries later, when Livy wrote about "how, with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first subsided, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to our present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure." If we carry on as we are going, the West will decline and fall.

There is, to my mind, only one sane alternative. That is to do what England and America did in the 1820s. Those two societies, deeply secularized after the rationalist 18th century, scarred and fractured by the problems of industrialization, calmly set about remoralising themselves, thereby renewing themselves.

The three decades, 1820-1850, saw an unprecedented proliferation of groups dedicated to social, political and educational reform-building schools, YMCAs, orphanages, starting temperance groups, charities, friendly societies, campaigning for the abolition of slavery, corporal punishment and inhumane working conditions, and working for the extension of voting rights. Alexis de Tocqueville was astonished by what he saw in America and the same process was happening at the same time in Britain.

People did not leave it to government or the market. They did it themselves in communities, congregations, groups of every shape and size. They understood the connection between morality and morale. They knew that only a society held together by a strong moral bond, by asabiyah, has any chance of succeeding in the long run. That collective effort of remoralization eventually made Britain the greatest world power in the 19th century and America in the 20th.

—– None of us should be in any doubt as to the seriousness of what is at stake.

It is a peculiarity of the Abrahamic monotheisms that they see, at the heart of society, the idea of covenant. Covenantal politics are politics with a purpose, driven by high ideals, among them the sanctity of life, the dignity of the individual, the rule of justice and compassion, and concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. G.K. Chesterton called America a "nation with the soul of a church". Britain used to be like that too. In the 1950s there was no television at certain hours on Sunday so as not to deter churchgoing. Sundays helped keep families together, families helped keep communities together, and communities helped keep society together. I, a Jew growing up in a Christian nation, did not feel threatened by this. I felt supported by it — much more than I do now in an ostensibly more tolerant but actually far more abrasive, rude and aggressive society.

What is unique about covenant is its seemingly endless possibility of renewal. It happened in the Bible in the days of Joshua, Josiah and Ezra. It happened in America between 1820 and 1850 in the Second Great Awakening. It happened in Britain at the same time through the great Victorian social reformers and philanthropists. Covenant defeats the law of entropy that says that all systems lose energy over time. It creates renewable energy. It has the power to arrest, even reverse, the decline and fall of nations.

None of us should be in any doubt as to the seriousness of what is at stake. Europe today is pursuing the chimera of societies without a shared moral code, nations without a collective identity, cultures without a respect for tradition, groups without a concern for the common good, and politics without the slightest sense of history. Ibn Khaldun, were he alive, would tell them precisely where that leads.

The question is not radical Islam but, does the West believe in itself any more? Is it capable of renewing itself as it did two centuries ago? Or will it crumble as did the Soviet Union from internal decay. "We have met the enemy," said the cartoon character Pogo, "and he is us." That is the challenge of 9/11. It’s about time we came together to meet it.

This article originally appeared in Standpoint Magazine. standpointmag.co.uk/
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