Last Weekend My Site Got Hacked

Last weekend, my website, dbonifacio.com, was hacked, and it was a good thing.

Strangely, I felt very at peace with it.

I was upset with the breach in security, but for some reason I felt no emotional attachment to the hundreds of posts and drafts that were potentially lost. Unlike the first time my blog crashed, when I lost over 500 articles, I did not feel as crushed. I thought about why I responded differently this time, now that things are restored thanks to the handiwork of EP’s Justin and Paola. Here’s what I realized: My life’s work is my life itself, not simply what I’ve produced. Subconsciously, I’ve moved from evaluating my life based on what I’ve achieved and amassed to evaluating my life based on who I am becoming. The hacker could take my life’s writing, but he (or she) could never take the character I’ve cultivated and the person I’ve become. My character, who I become, is under my control.

This reminded me of a line that I repeat with the Bridge team over and over again: You cannot control anyone but yourself. You control the world by controlling yourself. It’s a concept I am determined, thought admittedly struggling, to apply to myself, this reality that I cannot control anyone or anything, and that I can only control myself. I make things happen through the level of influence I’m able to impress on others and on my environment.

I am most effective, most in control, when I am, in whatever circumstance, becoming more and more the David that is aligned with my principles. I am, to take from Socrates, being true to the self that I should be, the self I have decided upon examination of my life and the weighing of my values. The beauty of this is that, while it is affected by external factors, it is not dependent on these external factors. How I choose to be shaped by the event and by the experience is within my control.

This in turn led me to think about the moments when I hate myself most, when I feel least in control, or least effective. I am most disgusted with myself when I am not acting according to the values I have embraced. It’s when I find myself becoming more materialistic. It’s when I find myself sinking in pettiness. It’s when I allow myself to get dragged into drama with no objective. It’s when I allow myself to be offended by small minds, or, conversely, don’t allow myself to be challenged by greater minds. It’s when I am not allowing situations to humble me, teach me, improve, strengthen me, and grow me, because of some external pressure or inner pride. I hate myself most when my choices don’t reflect a proper weighing of values but a surrendering to the worse sides of me, which include giving in to both temptations and pressure – even the pressure of seemingly innocent but unprincipled or ignorant people.

My life’s work is my life itself, as seen by the character I am able to cultivate, and that character is under my control. What a freeing thing to realize. And the more I strengthen this, the more I develop my character the more I deepen my soul, the more I grow a value that cannot be taken away from me, a value I am now free to offer the right lover, God.

Last weekend, my site got hacked. And it was a good thing. It was a clear sign to change my blog and move further away from the pop-wisdom that does not show nor cares to measure the actual impact of the teaching. From the “do what you love” posts that are so popular but cannot deny that more supposedly educated people are lost today without purpose, to the financial advisories that have not statistically been able to show greater wealth generation and less inequality despite their best sellers, to the feel-good family experts and their cure-alls that can’t stop the march of broken homes and destruction of meaning in gender and authority, I realized that many of my posts are like theirs, liked but not lived, shared but not imparted. And when the world gets “worse”, when tragedy visits us, our common response is “See? Told you, you should have listened to me” instead of being self-examining and seeing where our methods, or even our messages, have been ineffective.

I don’t write to inspire. I’m not interested in follows, likes, and shares. If my life’s work is the character of my life itself, then to love others, to want them to have amazing lives is to sincerely want them to cultivate wonderful character as well. That’s what I want my writing to help achieve, and it’s the most I can hope for, because the real cultivating, the real impressive hard work, doesn’t happen on this page, but in every person’s inner victories. I don’t just want to say “God loves you” but to also say “You must love God”, and to also say, “you can’t force love but fall in love”, and to also say “you fall for beauty”, and to also say “you fall for that which you make beautiful so be careful what seeds you plant”.

I guess I’m writing for a narrow audience, an audience that won’t be impressed but will be challenged, who won’t simply lap up but ponder, seek God, and pray, who don’t see security and comfort as ultimate ends nor basis for wise decision making. I’m writing for an audience who doesn’t believe in special people: great people who have superhuman capabilities and must be worshiped and lesser people who have disadvantages and must be coddled. I’m writing for a people who believe in being compassionate without believing that people are entitled to compassion. Those are different. I’m writing for people who’ll go on their own journeys to their own who knows where, as I’ve written about in my fictional chapters. I’m writing for people that realize that God gave them a mind to use, not to surrender to the easiest idea to chew on.

In my own private writing, I find that I am more and more convicted, not so much that I do not follow tradition, but that I do not cut-off more superstition. Do I love God? I ask myself, or Do I love convenience and comfort? Do I love what is righteous more than what is expected? What do my prayers reflect?

Last weekend, my site got hacked, and it was a good thing. It affirmed that I am not my writing, but me, and it refocused my efforts on that small number of people who want more than the prescribed lifestyle sweet spot, but on achieving a character that truly glorifies God and uses their God-given freedom to enjoy Him forever.

These Infinite Other Ways

You prove me wrong over and over
I’m sure I’m to go a certain way
Then You open up another…

Then one after another…
So many paths to choose from
I find myself confused with wonder

Which of the infinite ways?
Which is right for me?
Which of these lead to Your place?

Your place, Your place
Where Your beauty is present
Beyond time and space

Which of the paths I face
Of these infinite winding veins
Lead to Your place?

You say, “Choose.”
I say, “Just give me one.
I’m afraid to lose.”

You repeat, “Choose.
A loss greater than mistakes
Is to allow your freedom to lose.”

“But what if I’m wrong?
You know how prone I am to pride.
What if I choose the siren’s song?

And miss Your place…
Your City I’ve long desired
Lost for the rest of my days”

You are silent and still
Though I feel you are there
Or am I imagining my own will?

The sound of the wind and rustling
I listen, but they are all I hear
I hear no audible leading

So I choose a way
Of the infiite paths
I choose a road to stay

Am I wrong? Am I right?
I can only study and hope
And live by faith not by sight

I dream to find You present in Your place
Until then I must content
With my heart’s picture of Your face
#db

5 Signs of a Mature Person

We walked together by the dock
We shared the hues of the dying sun
What a perfect way to spend the time
Our hearts and minds were one
But the currents take us away now
Blown further with every new feeling
Let each believe as they will, we said
And now we share no meaning
How are we to share the sunset?
How are we to agree again?
When the sun is what each feels it is
We lost the meaning we had then
#db

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
– 1 Corinthians 13:11

I remember what my younger brother, Joshua, once commented about people always using the excuse, “I was born this way.” He said, “If you stayed the way you were born, you’d still be a naked baby pooping on himself.” And he’s right. To use being born a certain way is unintelligent and forgets that we can all develop ourselves from wherever we are towards becoming better versions of ourselves. While who we are starts with our natural conditions, what we do with what we start out with is more important. What is this process of improvement called?

Maturity. Maturity is the process of ripening. What does it mean to be ripe? It means to be ready. I always encounter the question, “How do I know I’m ready?” And the answer is, there’s no real set standard to determine readiness. The best we can do is to constantly be in a ripening process, that we may be ready in all circumstances.

But what does maturity really look like in practice. It has to be more than age. I know many people much older than me that drive me nuts over their lack of ability to navigate life’s most basic things. It has to be more than knowledge for information is abundant and only a google away. It has to be more than good speaking or convincing opinion, for there are many people who fit this but are basically useless at executing life’s requirements.

I want to define maturity for what it is, and not lump it with today’s favorite virtue: Nice. As regular readers of my post will notice, while I have nothing against being nice (I think being decent to everyone goes without saying), thinking that “nice” or “agreeable” are virtues forgets that many times the most important virtues we need to uphold won’t be “nice” to others. It’s actually easier to go with unthinking crowd and be seen as nice than it is to make a stand and be embraced. So don’t mistake being liked for being nice as being mature.

Five signs of a mature person:
1. Conscientious net contributor
2. Wise objective reasoner
3. Systematic resourceful learner
4. Effective 360° communicator
5. Disciplined self-improver

Let me breakdown each.

1. Conscientious net contributor
This has to do with developing a level of independence that allows you to participate in more interdependent relationships because you’re giving more than you’re taking. A mature person is aware of his role in society, aware of his responsibilities, and is deliberate with his contributions, being a good steward of his resources, and making sure he gives more than he takes. Opposite of this are laziness, entitlement, and idleness.

2. Wise objective reasoner 
This has to do with how one processes the experiences of life and responds to things. The ability to intelligently process information, stimuli, events, feelings, and urges, is what separates mature people and immature people, not age. The ability to reason objectively is a foundation of being “reasonable”. Sadly, many were never taught this. The most unreasonable people I know are not evil but ignorant. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but no one is entitled to their own facts. Facts are the common ground dialogue can be built on, without which there can be no agreement, unless we think it’s wise to build agreement on the non-factual, which is not wise at all.

3. Systematic resourceful learner
Information is all around us. A mature person doesn’t just store information indiscriminately. He is actually very discriminating, looking not just for resonance but for foundations. Being systematic means you’re deliberate and methodical about your learning. Being resourceful means you’re able to learn from any situation, good and bad, easy and difficult. Being systematic and resourceful learner means you’re deliberately learning from all circumstances, processing everything with purpose, objectivity, and convictions.

4. Effective 360° communicator
The ability to communicate effectively with a whole range of people is essential in life. A mature person is able to successfully communicate to a wide range of people, relying on influence, credibility building, and objective reason to send a message across, not emotional manipulation. When a spoiled brat wants something from another, he cries and pouts until he gets his way. When a mature person wants something, he looks for win-win scenarios to incentivize others to achieve together. A mature person cultivates the ability to talk to older AND younger, richer AND poorer, less successful AND more successful, non-spiritual AND spiritual. He is able to communicate with a wide range of people because even if his audience changes his values and his integrity doesn’t.

5. Disciplined self-improver
Continuous improvement is essential. I find it very sad when people get offended when others are very determined to better every day. It’s as if the constant improvement of another makes them feel insecure about themselves. Constantly want to be better, especially if your goal is to better for others, is a noble goal. But getting better is not some random accident. No one ever became a master painter, master pianist, or master anything simply by being random. One must order his steps. Even the Psalmist, David, prayed “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) He understood that wisdom isn’t random or accidental. It is developed.

You may have noticed that in all aspects, a level of deliberateness of purposefulness is needed. That is after all what a mature or “ripe” person is: someone fit for their purpose. Someone fit to be the husband or wife their family needs. Someone fit to be the worker their company needs. Someone fit to be the friend that many need. Someone fit to respond to life’s many challenges.

Not someone who is merely trying to be liked.

Notice, that it is possible to be any and all of these attributes without being liked or “nice”.

In a world that thinks the best virtue is “nice”, I have taken it upon myself to bring definition back to our thinking. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “he (or she) is nice” in response to a totally unrelated question. I’ll ask, “Is he effective?” I’ll get, “He’s nice.” I’ll ask, “Can she be relied on?” I’ll get, “She’s nice.” I’ll ask, “Do you trust him?” I’ll get, “He’s nice.” You can even ask, “Does he love God?” and the answer will be “Yeah. He’s nice.” This is obviously a problem, for “nice” means nothing more than “agreeable with us”. We have conveniently, made our own definitions of everything, defining everything by how agreeable it is to us. Does anyone else think this is stupid? That we can make up our definitions for things based on how we feel about them? Does anyone else think this is selfish? That it doesn’t matter what something actually means, because we feel differently about it. Does anyone else think this is dangerous? That we are destroying any potential for intelligent agreement because we lack common definitions and common meanings.

Instead of seeking “nice” in others or being seen as “nice”, be reliable, be trustworthy, be compassionate, be dependable, be intelligent, be a servant, be kind, be reasonable, be responsible. Be mature.

At the very least, if the price of maturity is not something you want to pay, don’t burden those who are already paying them. You need people like them, people who’ll do the heavy lifting, you yourself were too weak to do.