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Saturday, April 20, 2019

20 Years After

Good Afternoon All - A Sweet Passover to my Jews, and an early Happy Easter to all Christians.

Despite the celebratory times of the holidays, it is also a somber anniversary.  20 years ago, two misguided and disturbed teenagers killed a large number of their high school classmates, and then did the same to themselves.  At the time, it was the largest and most tragic school shooting in history.

Unfortunately, little has been learned since that horrible event.  A generation later:

(1)  The issue of Second Amendment vs. Gun Control remains at odds.  And even more, and even worse school shootings have still occurred.

(2)  The issue of bullying was inserted into the spotlight like never before.  Every state in the union adopted anti-bullying programs.  Schools are mandated to crack down on bullying behavior just as they do on racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.  Despite this, bullying still exists, and those victimized by it are sometimes driven to suicide.

(3)  With the expansion of the online communications available in the 1990's to what we now call social media, the opportunity for hate and disrespect has evolved exponentially.

Social scientists and psychologists sometimes state that this it is human nature, due to the fight-or-flight response we have inherited from our pre-historic forbears, to be adversarial, to strive for dominance, and to gravitate towards conflict.  They also sometimes compare this with behavior patterns of other species of the animal kingdom to justify their conclusions.

However, unlike our forbears and other species, human beings still also have the capacity to be kind, unflappable, and resilient in the face of adversity.  To be respectful to others regardless of differences, to shrug off the baggage of grudges and resentment when the voyage has ended, and to seek common threads despite our differences.

Moreover, they also have the capacity to understand what is within their control and what is beyond it.  The very existence of others of whom we are less than fond, and their successes they achieve despite that, is not within our control.  Their presence in our homes, families, and immediate circles, however, most certainly is within our purview.

So what can we learn, before it becomes 50 years since this tragedy, that we have not already learned?

(1)  We can accept that the rest of the world is not kind, respectful, understanding, warm, or even nice.  And we can still be that way regardless, because we understand what's right and wrong on a level that they often don't.

(2)  We can refuse to remain resentful or vengeful against those who have spoken ill about us or sought to make themselves look better than us.  There's a Boss Lady known as OMLK who will call upon them to account for their misdeeds.  While that's on Her docket, we can simply decide that we're no longer hurt or angry at them, and refuse to be continuously victimized.

(3)  We can set boundaries against those in our circle who honestly expect to continue behavior that is disrespectful towards us with no consequences.  And we can instead welcome people into our lives who are more interested in sharing and understanding than in insulting and judging. 

Emotional Maturity.  Point of Evaporation.  Removal and Replacement.

If these are practiced more, most of the issues we have in this life will be rendered moot.

Let's honor the memory of the victims of that tragedy and make this a world where this is less likely to happen.

I EXIST.  I MATTER.  I BELONG.  I DESERVE.

RESPECT ALL.  BEFRIEND FEW.  LOVE ONE.  HATE NONE.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Hate in Christchurch, New Zealand

Good Evening All - Hope you all had a Happy St. Patty's Day Weekend!

The world has witnessed another tragic and violent episode, this time all the way down in New Zealand.  An alleged terrorist and murderer, seemingly taking his cue from the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania, took it upon himself to murder everyone present for Friday worship services at two mosques.  After leaving a trail of carnage, prompted in no small part by hatred for Muslims, he was apprehended.

We have heard several predictable responses to this tragedy.  I'll respond to all of them.

(1)  It's the guns!  No guns!  Nobody needs a gun!  It's the mosque worshippers fault, they should have had guns!  Not the answer, either way.  If that gun were in the hands of responsible folks, and not this murderer, he might have found another means of violence to use.  And since this happened in another country, there is no Second Amendment issue.  Let New Zealand address its own gun laws within its own authority.

(2)  So what?  They had it coming!  Look what they do!  Look how evil they are!  They deserved it!  Wrong again.  These were human beings.  They assembled to worship their god on their weekly holy day as they saw fit.  That's not a reason to kill them.  And unless they're about to do you, or that killer, imminent harm, or if you have real grounds for a pre-emptive strike, there is no excuse for that kind of violence.

(3)  But what about these ones?  But what about those ones?  Why don't they get the same media coverage?  What about them?  Nobody says the mainstream media is perfect, but the most unusual events are the ones that trigger the most coverage.  Let's not have competitions over who is a more deserving victim - that's where we really get into trouble.

THE STOIC ANSWER:

(A)  We have people in this world who become consumed by hate.  And we have weapons.  And they unfortunately have ways of being brought together.   The governments of countries where this happens can pass laws against the illegal use of these weapons, but they cannot outlaw people's thoughts and opinions, or their abilities to circumvent those laws, as horrible as they may be. 

(B)  We cannot stop fully-grown adults from hating other races or other religions, and the laws themselves cannot prevent them from taking up arms against the objects of their hate. 

(C)  Also, demonizing these people, as evil as they may be, does not make them turn into Ebenezer Scrooge and completely change their ways.  It also doesn't make us look like heroes and champions - it makes us just as filled with the hatred that they have.

(D)  We can, however, decide that we won't hate members of other races or religions.  That doesn't mean wearing pins and T-shirts and joining candle-light vigils, and then forgetting about it all when things calm down.  It also doesn't mean we'll expose, defame, and sling mud at people who have different opinions than we do in the name of "stamping out hate."  It only means we won't hate, period.

(E)  We can instead read, research, and learn about the ways of others.  By way of illustration, when I was in seventh grade, I read books about the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, notwithstanding the fact that I was American and Jewish, because I wanted to understand them instead of merely demonizing them.  Let's try the same thing for all perceived adversaries.

(F)  As stated in (B), we can't re-program fully-grown adults who've been taught the wrong thing and have acted on them.  We can, however, raise and teach our children to Respect All, and not to Hate Them (whomever Them might be).

And of course, last but not least, instead of seeking revenge or retribution, we can seek this invocation:

There's A Lady Named Karma.  She's Not Attracted To Bad Boys And She's Not Friends With Mean Girls.  Leave Vengeance To Her - She's Got Better Tools At Her Disposal.

With the assistance of the New Zealander justice system, the murderer will be prosecuted for his crimes, and will live with the deaths of his victims for the rest of his life.  Do not target politicians and ideologues as the proxy for the punishment you think you're entitled to dish out to that murderer - you're not entitled to dish out anything (including eggs).  Instead, look within to ensure that you yourself never take up arms out of hate, and that you teach any children you have to not do likewise. 

Ooof - that was a heavy one - see what happens when you don't down that Guinness for St. Patty's?  I'll salute the Irish, but I'll stand with New Zealand - they didn't deserve this.

I EXIST.  I MATTER.  I BELONG.  I DESERVE.

RESPECT ALL.  BEFRIEND FEW.  LOVE ONE.  HATE NONE.

EMOTIONAL MATURITY.

Please DM me with any lengthy or debate-ready comments.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Emotional Maturity IS The Best A Man Can Get!

Good Morning All, and welcome to the middle portion of Martin Luther King weekend.

There has been some controversy regarding a 90-second commercial produced by Gillette.  It questions whether some of society's ills, which have often been perpetrated by men, truly are "the best a man can get," which plays off the company's earlier slogan from the 1990's.

The commercial shows what would be solutions to the problem:  fathers stopping fights between their young children and teaching them that bullying is not the right way to treat people; men calling out their friends and associates to not act inappropriately around women, and basically reminding us that being a man does not mean the same thing it did in prehistoric times.

The vast overwhelming majority of men already know that rape is wrong, that women should not be spoken to disrespectfully, and (maybe the overwhelming majority doesn't want to admit this) bullying is also unacceptable, and any father who wants to earn respect has an obligation to teach his children not to behave that way.

This commercial has given yours truly cause for reflection.

(1)  It's been a very long time since I used the term "alphole."  I have made a conscious effort not to demonize "tough guys," macho types, or high-conflict individuals because everyone deserves respect, particularly those who are different from me.  The fact that I personally don't like the way a person carries himself or herself doesn't invalidate them as human beings.  I certainly can't take back the multiple times I've taken them to task - they're out there forever - but I can certainly chart my own evolution.

(2)  However, there are still people who hurt others.  And they often receive no consequences to speak of because they somehow always have a throng of enablers, followers, hangers-on, and fraaaaaaands who reinforce what they do.  This ad brought back a reminder of that reality.

(3)  If more men raised their children first to not bully those weaker than them, it would be a simple logical extension and expansion of this rule to treat women with more respect, those of other races and nationalities with more respect, and the entire balance of humanity with more respect as well.  That would be an absolute good.

(4)  Saying this does not demonize all men.  We already know that most men are not predators and narcissists - despite the shocking percentage of them that actually are - therefore there is no need to be offended by this advertisement.  Rather, this is an admonition and a wake-up call that the rest of humanity no longer wants to tolerate unwarranted aggression, plain and simple.

(5)  And yes, of course, though we are not likely to see any commercials addressing this, there are women who are just as predatory, just as evil, just as vicious, and just as wrong as the worst men could be.  This commercial might not bring it up, but this page certainly does not let them off the hook from the same exact behavior.  We do not accept this behavior from men or women, and we don't permit either of them to use their gender for means of exoneration.

There is toxic masculinity, and there is no denying its existence.  And there are women who are just as toxic as any male can be.

Let's put aside our need to condemn what this commercial says, and make an effort to understand why it's being said.  And when we're finished doing that, let's raise the next generation with a better understanding of right and wrong.  Once the desire to bully is eliminated, the need to "teach kids to fight" will disappear, and we just might have a more peaceful and less divisive world to live in.

I EXIST.                                                                                                                     RESPECT ALL.
I MATTER.                                                                                                             BEFRIEND FEW.
I BELONG.                                                                                                                       LOVE ONE.
I DESERVE.                                                                                                                   HATE NONE.

                                                      MOTHER PROTECT US.
                                                     FATHER EMBOLDEN US.

                                                     EMOTIONAL MATURITY

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Impossible?

Hey All - Hope you're having an easy Sunday afternoon.  Now that we're almost done with Thanksgiving weekend, it feels like we're just about ready to return to work.

But first, let me address a challenge that I'm about to undertake - a quest for an answer to a problem that some say cannot be resolved.

"WE WILL NEVER GET RID OF BULLYING.  TEACH YOUR KIDS TO FIGHT AND STOP RAISING A GENERATION OF VICTIMS"  I respectfully disagree.

Every time I see that meme, I cringe.  The idea that the bullying is a permanent part of human behavior, and that every kid should be taught how to fight - which is exactly what the bullies have been doing - is completely unacceptable to me.  As a species, we have evolved from our old hunter-gatherer roles and completed at least one metamorphosis in how we govern ourselves and the world around us.  Or as I like to say, we don't live in the Stone Age, the Middle Ages, or the Old West anymore.  Accordingly, with very few exceptions, we live in a civilized society with laws.  The notion of "might makes right" is outdated and unacceptable.  Accordingly, I firmly believe that the act of bullying, in and of itself, can be contained, controlled, and hopefully eliminated entirely.

There are those who think that stopping bullying is completely and entirely the responsibility of the ones being bullied.  They're right, but they're also wrong.

They're Right:

(1)  We have the power to disable our triggers and willfully control our emotions.  This is how we can stop becoming offended, triggered, or reactionary to what they do or say.
(2)  When we demonstrate that we are unflappable in the face of slings and taunts, the bully often finds another more receptive - and recessive - target.
(3)  When we release ourselves from grudges, resentment, and outdated behavior patterns, we advance to the Point of Evaporation and achieve Emotional Maturity.

THAT'S NOT THE END OF THE STORY, HOWEVER.

We can teach members of other races to not be triggered or offended by racism.  But that doesn't make racism okay.
We can teach women to ignore catcalls, harassment, and ungentlemanly behavior.  But that doesn't make such conduct legitimate.
We can perform every form of personal responsibility needed to prevent theft, burglary, or assault.  NONE OF THAT DE-CRIMINALIZES THOSE OFFENSES.

They're Wrong:

(1)  Bullying behavior does not magically become legitimate because people don't get angry about it and become de-triggered.
(2)  The fact that it continues to remain unacceptable is not weakness on the part of the rest of society - it is a mark of strength to reject behavior that should not exist past middle school, if at all.
(3)  If bullying victims have to step up their game, shore up their weaknesses, and work on themselves to avoid being hurt, then bullies have a contingent responsibility to control, restrain, and outgrow their unnecessary aggression. 

This is a Two-Way Street.  Apparently our opponents would rather make it a one-way street, and then argue that any expectation that bullies have a shared responsibility with their victims to eliminate the conduct is "not real" or "pie in the sky" or "garbage."

There is a plethora of programs that teach kids how to repel bullying without even an ounce of violence.  There is no reason why there should not be just as many programs that teach those who do bully to take the same exact responsibility for their behavior as well.

Cynicism and criticism will not be seen as roadblocks to this challenge, but rather stepping stones.  Those opponents insist that we not demonize bullies (or as I sometimes call them, alpholes)?  Great.  Let's use the "good in all people" that they supposedly have to outweigh the evil within them that won't let them stop treating others like trash.

I EXIST.                                                            RESPECT ALL.
I MATTER.                                                       BEFRIEND FEW.
I BELONG.                                                       LOVE ONE.
I DESERVE.                                                     HATE NONE.

MOTHER PROTECT US.                              FATHER EMBOLDEN US.

EMOTIONAL MATURITY.


Monday, November 19, 2018

The Head of The Table

Howdy All.  Got a reallllly short week ahead, and everyone's favorite American holiday follows!

People often joke about how Thanksgiving is one of those events where family gets together - and family often includes people you don't voluntarily associate with, but because it's family, most of us still do.

I've spent years promoting the concept of #bootem.  If people aren't good to you, or for you, family or not, it's perfectly OK to dismiss and release them from your realm.  However, many of us have relatives that do not accept the concept of #bootem, see nothing wrong with breaking bread with those who are less than bread-worthy, and honestly believe that whatever those others are doing is American as apple pie, and think we should believe likewise.

Accordingly, our boots might be deactivated for the next few days.

What To Do?

(1)  Respect All.  You may be giving them a low score, and rightfully so, but they're not chopped liver.  As alluded to above, there are always those who are more than willing to give them high scores, no matter how intolerable we find them.  Accordingly, the contempt and dislike we might feel for them is not welcome at that gathering, justified or not.

(2)  Shields Up.  Do not show annoyance, haughtiness, frustration, fear, or anger.  They'll smell it the way sharks can pick up on a nosebleed from miles away.  Stay straight-laced, unflappable, and just a little detached.  The desire for them to start trouble with you will already be reduced.

If they try to break through your veneer of coolness and calmness, keep it reinforced.  If they ask you questions that sound legitimate, keep your guard up - answer them like you're being questioned by opposing counsel at a deposition; keep your answers short, without extemporaneous statements, and with allowing them room to attack anything.  They'll get bored and stop.

If they're asking questions designed to provoke you, don't even answer them.  Get distracted, change them subject, even interrupt them (like they do - it'll scramble them), without making it look deliberate or otherwise leave the conversation.  Just DON'T get angry while doing it - we can't let them push our buttons.

(3)  Don't Get Too Comfortable If Unwarranted.

Some of us are hard-wired for the same pattern:  When asked a question, we get so excited that we're asked a question, so passionate about the stories we have to tell and the wins we've scored, and so happy that we can be part of the family, that we can't fathom the idea that some might be a lot less interested.  To point where they will interrupt you before you can get about five or six words out, steer the conversation away from you, and take it in a direction that had nothing to do with what you were trying to introduce.

Yes, that really is rude beyond belief.  Yes, it does make it even less welcoming than it already is.  And no, there's nothing we can do to change their patterns.

But we can still take note of our surroundings.  For those who just can't expand their attention spans long enough for us to hit that period at the end of the sentence, see above about deposition questions.  Honestly, the best way to deal with those who do this is to let them make the conversation a monologue, especially if they are older members of the family.  Maybe even nod in agreement, it'll make them feel like their job is done.  Their need to have their voice heard might be even greater than ours.

Also, consider whether or not we should really be getting so excited at this particular time and place.  Maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't.  We're not being interviewed on 60 Minutes about the latest developments at our job, we're not on our own YouTube channel sharing videos of our vacation, and we're not giving a press conference from the White House.  Our need to have our voice heard should be modified, and if need be lessened, in this venue.

That's doesn't mean we're nobody.  That doesn't make us worthless, and it doesn't mean that nobody cares what we have to say.  It just means that it's a group of people, a collective, and a tribe where sometimes others have the floor before we do.  And sometimes instead of us, period.  And if we aren't able to back out of attending these functions, we're simply going to have to accept that these are the roles we're expected to play for the limited time that we're there.  To put it a little more straightforward, it's not about us.

But once it's over, it will be again.  Let's give our time and attention to other people's lives, remain unflappable in the face of toxicity, and check our egos to the couch along with our coats to just get through it with a smile on our face once we finish.

RESPECT ALL.  BEFRIEND FEW.  LOVE ONE.  HATE NONE.

I EXIST.  I MATTER.  I BELONG.  I DESERVE.  BUT THEY DON'T KNOW THAT YET, AND IT'S NOT THE TIME OR PLACE TO CONVINCE THEM.

I AM EMOTIONALLY MATURE.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Indifferent Detachment

Hey All - about to start a week's vacation, but not before sharing my newest thoughts with you all!

There's a new meme going around social media.  It asks the question, "Have You Ever Just Lost All Respect For Someone?  You Don't Hate Them, But You Have No Desire To Speak With Them?"

If you've lived, and conversed with people, the answer would have to be yes.  Even our more outgoing cousins, who are fraaaaaands with everyone, have seen this happen.

It's not really something to celebrate or advertise, because it's still stating that you have a low opinion of someone else.  And whether you like someone or you don't like someone, they must still be respected as another human being.  However, if it is necessary to remove someone from your life, it shouldn't really be shunned either.

Let's say you're a boss.  You want people who help run the business and make it even more successful than it already is.  But what if there are people doing the opposite?  People who show no respect for what's needed and don't care about their jobs?  If they do it badly enough, you need to let them go.

The phrase, "it's not personal, it's just business, often comes to mind."  You don't hate them as people, perhaps, but you can't have them working for you anymore.

The same approach is needed to those you choose to have in your social circles.  If they're not "doing their jobs" as Friends and Neighbors (family included), you need to let them go too.  Not the teeth-gnashing, finger pointing, high-conflict approach, of course - we're not animals - just letting them go from their position, simply and professionally.  Their services are no longer needed.

It doesn't have to be a Hollywood movie scene, either.  We're not characters, we're real people.

Once it's over, you don't keep re-hashing what they did do and what they didn't do that led to this firing.  That problem has already been resolved.  You wish them well on their way, and keep going on the path you've chosen without them.

And once they've reached that point, odds are better than likely that Our Mother has seen what they've done.  It's not our job to seek retribution, no matter how justified it might seem, it's Hers.  Trust in Her to attribute just the right consequences to their actions - Her job, period.

More than that, life is simply too short to think about those we don't love any more than necessary.  And it gets even shorter when we mimic their snark, their arrogance, and their b*tchiness.  So let's not, and trade those thoughts for those who do love us.

But youuuu-uuu're living in an echo chamber!  But youuuu-uuuuu're not getting reality without people "just being honest" with you!

That may very well be your truth.  Let's keep it that way.  We don't do high conflict in here.  Find somewhere else where that's welcome.

I EXIST.  I MATTER.  I BELONG.  I DESERVE.

MOTHER PROTECT US, FATHER EMBOLDEN US.

EMOTIONAL MATURITY.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Repeat Performance for Father's Day

Good Evening All.  I don't usually post reruns, but I think what I posted last year for Fathers' Day says it all:

I know that I appreciate my dad immensely.  He'd be pretty humble about it, but much of what I post in the blog is an outgrowth of the life lessons he taught me.

But even more than my appreciation of him, is my appreciation of Him:  G-D the Father.

Now this isn't based on any religion in particular.  It's just an understanding that there is a supernatural being who has a completely rational expectation of us to recognize and fulfill our personal responsibilities.  Our Mother Lady Karma is the One who handles things we can't control, executes judgment against those who wrong us, and pardons us for our errors.  G-D the Father, however, has a very different role to play.

What He does is remind us of what we CAN control, and that we'd better handle it to the best of our abilities.  His message is, "I'm not going to do your job for you."  Should we get started and keep moving, He is very likely to provide assistance, and quite possibly rewards, along the way.  But if we don't work for it, He won't provide it.

Our Father G-D doesn't want us to give up trying after only a few attempts.  He wants us to get our hands dirty and fail again and again until there has to be some sort of success, great or small.  He wants us to rise above critics and nay-sayers, disable our triggers when they are not needed, and to be as disciplined as possible in our thoughts and actions.

He knows that we'll make mistakes.  Honestly, He expects them to happen.  And He also expects us to keep our emotional reactions to a minimum because they'll only get in the way.  Our Mother can kiss our skinned egos to make them better.  But Our Father wants us to heal them ourselves, because we can!

That doesn't mean He's mean or unforgiving.  If He were, He'd be convincing us all to jump off bridges and end it all.  Instead, He wants us to live, and live right.  He wants us to understand that every new day is another chance to get it right, and not to eternally punish ourselves for when we get it wrong.  He wants us to own The Four Pillars, and own them hard!



So, Friends & Neighbors, today I hope you told your fathers how much you appreciate them.  And every day going forward, I suggest we show appreciation to Our Father G-D by making ourselves even better.

DISCLAIMER:  The above message is not an endorsement or a rejection of any organized religion in existence.

RESPECT ALL

BEFRIEND FEW

LOVE ONE

HATE NONE.

I EXIST.

I MATTER.

I BELONG. 

I DESERVE.

EMOTIONAL MATURITY