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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Watch The Ego - Theirs And Yours!

Hello Peeps!  It's about that time again.

In this week's Bible portion, our heroes keep messing up again.

Joseph was, you guessed it, a favorite son.  The son that Israel/Jacob conceived with Rachel, his intended bride, blessed by Israel over the other 11, rockin' the multicolored toga.  So what does he do with his most-favored status?

He flaunts it, probably unintentionally, in his family's face.  He dreams about his brothers' sheaves bowing down to his, and then about the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing before him . . . and then foolishly tells everyone!  So bad that his brothers dump him in a pit and lie to Israel, telling him that he was killed by a wild animal.  Say it ain't so, Joe.

So then he gets sold to a high-ranking Egyptian, and his wife decides to "flirt with the pool boy."  Of course, when it becomes his word against hers, her word counts, and he gets thrown in jail.

So, as luck would have it, his cell mates turn out to be Pharaoh's wine distiller and baker, both of whom have their own dreams.  So Joseph, having a knack for all this, interprets them to mean that the distiller will be restored to his former station, but that the baker will be executed.  And wouldn't you know, Captain Paumanok really does get his job back, while Poppin' Fresh gets popped.

(most people gloss over the innuendo in Judah's house in Chapter 38.  I don't blame them)

What makes people, such as Joseph, better than anyone else?  Could be a lot of things.  When people start talking about how super cool and snazzy jazzy they are, it's very easy to interpret this positive statement as something negative.  What, your (sweat) doesn't stink?  Think you're so much better than us?  What a narcissist!

Did he really mean it?  Maybe, maybe not.  Those two dreams made it pretty obvious that he expected his 11 brothers to acknowledge him as superior.  We don't know about the other brothers talking down to him before all these dreams happened, so maybe he wasn't trying to prove himself to them.  Maybe he naively thought that since his father treated him like he was special, that he wasn't causing trouble by acting special.  Maybe his father, who was also far from perfect, could have 'splained him that acting like you're better than the rest of your brothers wouldn't endear him to them.

Lately, I've been tweeting about the alphaganda.  This story ties in with that concept.  Trash-talking about your wonderful strengths and everyone else's weaknesses, telling other people that they are less than you, and expecting everyone to become your sychophant, follower, and hanger-on, even with no ill intent, is a gross miscalculation.  Yes, we do see people who become famous with this attitude, and yes, there are tons of yes-men and boot-lickers to keep reinforcing this misperception.  But apparently the lesson Joseph needed to desperately learn was that flagrantly announcing your perceived superiority to everyone else, and expecting them all to acknowledge it, does not engender respect, or love, or anything close.

Even if the sports statistics, profit/loss margin, and percentage of gorgeous young honeys available prove that you really are superior in some way, that doesn't mean that rubbing it in someone else's face makes it even better.  If you really are that super-awesome, then your accomplishments should speak for themselves, and the adoring public should be able to perceive them standing alone.  Unless you are employed by Vince McMahon to spew these types of statements into a microphone before your match starts, you never tell someone that you're the top and that they're less than you.

And for those on the other side of the fence who feel miffed by this display of cockiness, you've got your own work to do.  Just because someone else may or may not be better at something than you are, why let that crap get under your skin?  Chances are, you didn't even care about whatever he was better at until you heard him thumping his chest about it.  And if he really is better than you at it, why not just let him have his stupid little prize?  Why should you feel inadequate or jealous just because he's running his mouth?  Yeah, it may sound like annoying mom-and-dad stuff to hear, but chances are you have strengths that homeboy doesn't even come close to matching!  Screw what that blowhard, loud mouth, BS artist is saying.  He's got no clue!

And if he does it too many times, then maybe  . . . maybe maybe maybe, just maybe . . . it's OK to call him out on it.  What's the worst he could do, talk about himself even more?  The other 11 dudes got so fed up with Joseph that they dumped him in a hole.  You don't need to go to that extreme, but if he crosses the last boundary, there's nothing wrong with having the fortitude to say, "Enough already!"  Just because he speaks the loudest and sounds the most annoying, that doesn't mean he gets to make the rules.  He doesn't decide what's cool and what's not -- it's your life, so you do!!!!

Ummmm, Dave?  I think you just combined the Bible post with your regular inspirational message.  If you're not careful, they'll think this is only a religious-based blog.

Thanks for the heads up -- but on the bright side, I got the message out with one post instead of two!  Ain't that a pip!

That's what I have, Thanksgiving is coming up.  That is to say, Thanksgiving, and not Five Weeks Till Xmas So Start Buying Crap!

Enjoy . . . .

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Congrats! (+playlist)

Realistic Frustration

Hey All.

Just another little note on anger.  Yes, I've discussed how it can never be used from a position of weakness.  But what if you're still feeling it anyway?

Is it there?  Yes.  Is there sometimes an honest reason to feel it?  No doubt.  Does that mean you suppress it, bury it down deep, and leave it unaddressed?  No.  No no no no no no NO!!!!!!!!!!

(1) Find a way to say what's bugging you, but don't say it like it's owning you.  There's nothing wrong with expressing that you're not cool with something that has just happened, or is currently happening, provided you don't flip out like Jim Harbaugh coaching the 49'ers.

(he gets a free pass because he knows what he's doing.  And he himself was coached by Mike Ditka, so he was trained to be that way)

But since you are experiencing every day frustrations, the kind that are not on national TV, you can have a calm and rational reaction, even if you are angry or frustrated at the time.

OK, great.  Now you've said it.  Now it's out of your system.  It's been established.  No repetition required.  NOW YOU CAN STOP EXPRESSING IT AS QUICKLY AS YOU'VE STARTED!

(2) Transfer the energy from expression to effort.  After you've finished saying why you're angry, it's time to use that anger for something other than just being angry.  You can:

  (A).  Laugh at the situation.  Humor is the best medicine, trust me, I know.  You already know why it sucks, now make the fact that it sucks funny.  BEST WAY THERE IS to deal with it!  For example, if you're waiting on a line that doesn't budge, start whistling Finale from "William Tell Overture."  And if you're on line right behind someone who takes too long, and asks too many questions, start whistling the "Jeopardy" theme.  And if a train is delayed or you're stuck in traffic, tell everyone within earshot, "I feel a lot of love around me right now."

  (B).  Defeat or diffuse the situation.  If someone behind you in a public place is talking really loudly and discussing a lot of personal information, thank them for sharing, and suggest discussing it somewhere else so others may hear.  If you're nice to someone, and they're rude to you, being mockingly sweet and ingratiating!  If someone corrects you, thank them for their advanced knowledge and recognize them as authorities on the subject.  If the aforementioned delays are slowing things down, either find another method of transportation once you're able, or leave the line.

(C).  Once it's over, let it be over.  DO NOT rehash it.  DO NOT air dirty laundry.  DO NOT "zap" people with "remember when yooooooou did thiiiiiiis!"  Your purpose in life is not to shoot down or judge others, your purpose is self-actualize.  Have the discipline to disarm yourself once your weapons are no longer needed.

And now that that's done, you can go back to enjoying the plethora of things about life that are good, that are satisfying, that are pleasant, and are often taken for granted.  You'd be surprised how many of those there are, but because someone hard-wired us with this stupid fight-or-flight instinct that is no longer needed, the things that anger us still grasp our attention more than those that elevate us.

As we saw in the Bible portion, Jacob's sons broke a long-standing trend.  Why don't we?  Instead of doing things that end up on YouTube, how about we be firm and honest, but mature?


Stoppping the Trend

Hey All, about that time again!

In this week's Bible portion, Jacob actually wrestles an angel, and suffers only a hip injury, but reconciles with his long-lost brother, and then stops making deals with overly-shrewd foreign tribes.

Yup, that's right.  He actually wrestles with an angel, and his name is formally changed from Jacob to Israel, in recognition of the fact that he can throw it down with both human and divine beings and live to tell the tale.  Not bad for the younger brother who stole what belonged to his older brother.  

But even more striking than an encounter with someone even more feared than an MMA fighter, was his encounter with an old nemesis.  He all but apologized to Esau, and presented him with a huge amount of livestock to gain his favor.  Esau was more than willing to turn it down, and let bygones be bygones, but Israel insisted that he accept the gift, which he did.

But then when Israel is setting up camp in Schechem, a Canaanite town, the son of a king rapes his daughter.  He and his father BS about it, claiming that he wants to marry her.  Knowing full well what happened, Israel and his 12 sons explain that the Schechemites would all need to be circumcised in order for the wedding to happen.  So after they do, they slaughter them all and rescue their sister.  Israel was not happy with this, thinking he's now got a bad reputation, but his sons tell him that they did it for their sister's honor.

Looks like a major shift, huh?  The trend is now broken!  Now that Jacob came face to face with a divine being, he's changed his tune.  Instead of continuing the deception of the past, he successfully reconciled with his duped brother.  And his sons?  They not only supported each other, but they came in like heroes to rescue their sister and to execute justice against those who raped her and refused to take responsibility for it.  This is the first time in Genesis we see an example of chivalry!  And yeah, they did BS the Schechemites so they wouldn't expect consequences, but if that wasn't justified, I don't know what is!  Although I didn't touch upon it so much in the prior summaries, Abraham and Jacob had prior dealings with shady characters of foreign nations.  But this time the 12 sons of Israel showed them that the dealing was done!

My take is as follows:  Just because someone who came before you "always did it this way," that doesn't mean you're stuck with doing likewise.  If it's not working, and there's a way to do it differently, by all means do it!  Instead of deceiving people and keeping your ill-gotten gains, reconcile with them and offer to make restitution.  Instead of treating women like possessions to bargain over, stand up for them and punish those who dishonor them!

"The system" is not always right just because it's "the system."  Granted, you may not be in the best position to make changes yourself, but you can at least make your case for why it can and should change.  Don't just march in lockstep if it's not right to do so.  Where would we all be if Israel & Sons hadn't made this shift, and started to demonstrate a little bit of decency?  Finally some responsibility and some honor -- borrow some for yourselves, k?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Karma? Or a Learning Curve?

Hi All -- now the weekly Bible portion.

After Jacob hightailed it out of there to escape Esau, on his way to Haran, he reached a place where he had a vision of (take it easy, Zeppelin fans), a stairway to heaven, and angels ascending and descending it.  It was revealed to him that this place would be the land of his numerous descendants, so he names it Bethel, meaning "house of G-D."  So G-D's gonna watch out for him, and protect him from everything that might set him back on his journey, right?

Guess again.

Jacob pulled a fast one in order to receive his blind father's blessing.  Once he gets to Haran, and meets up with Laban, one of the least moral people in this realm, he gets his just desserts.  He checks out Laban's younger daughter, Rachel, and thinks she's a cutie.  He offers to work for Laban for seven years if he can marry Rachel, and Laban agrees.  So seven years pass, and guess how great the wedding was?  A fun time was had by all, except that he married the wrong bride.  Instead of Rachel, he ended up marrying her older sister, Leah.

When he confronted him on this, Laban explains, "We don't marry off the younger before the older," a veiled diss at him getting something his older brother should have received.  But to smooth it over, he says that he'll be able to marry Rachel next week.  So that results in exponentially multiplying the same issues that Abraham had with Hagar and Sarah.   Once again, we have a smallll issue of jealousy because somebody in the family is able to bear children, and someone can't.  To add insult to injury, after one bears all the children she's able to, not one, but two, maids are recruited to join the party to beget even more kiddies.  Finally, Rachel births the youngest child, and the one most likely to be around in the sequel.

Notice how these consequences aren't so clearly visited on everyone else who does something wrong?  How neat would it be if every swindle or screw job resulted in the swindler getting swindled?  How poetic would that justice be?

But real life doesn't work like that.  We have free will, and we have judgment handled by a higher authority that is not bound by our own individual senses of right and wrong.  Sometimes the boneheads and dirtbags get away with it.  Sometimes those who have authority over these bandejos get lazy or cowardly, and don't execute the judgment that should be executed.  Sometimes they get sneaky about it, and develop a skill to hide their misdeeds.

And the times when they do receive consequences?  It could be a message.  At the time these events occurred, the Ten Commandments and all subsequent prohibitions against immorality had not yet been Handed Down.  So the family tree that we followed was venturing through the twists and turns of life without a map, be it from Google or otherwise.  Apparently, our friends needed to learn, the hard way, that deception is not such a neat way to solve problems, and that having children with more than one spouse makes life much more complicated that it needs to be.  But before such truisms, that many of us consider common sense, were codified From Above, there had to be a few test cases so the future generations G-D assured to this family would learn from their mistakes.  Whether we have or haven't is our own responsibility, but these textbook examples of how to mess up a family's life are available for the faithful and the curious to learn from.  Anytime you choose . . . .

Oh, by the way, there's a friend of mine from years ago I've recently re-united with on Facebook who has been on a major daytime talk show to discuss the polyamorous lifestyle.  Back in the days before people started defining marriage between two people, this was a much more common occurrence than it is now, but there still are those who are actually able to juggle a committed romantic relationship between three or more people.  Whatever his situation is, I wish him well, as long as he and those closest to him or happy.  I'm sure he's responsible enough to not fall into the same traps that Abraham and Jacob did.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Who Is It?

Hey All.

Just a quick question:  who's out there in Redmond, Washington and Ottawa, Ontario, that likes this blog so much?  I know some people prefer to lurk, but Feedjit shows you viewing the material.  What's up?  Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Going Incognito

You knew I was gonna go there.  You knew I was not going to stay silent on this issue!

When it gets to the point that even the atmosphere in an NFL locker room is crossing the line, something has got to give.  I commend the Miami Dolphins for taking the proper action against someone whose actions went beyond harmless horseplay.

People think that a "real" man can't be abused, or bullied, or manipulated just because.  Just because of what?  He could just kick someone's ass?  Because he should be able to "just take it?"  The very thought of this is sexist in and of itself.  You don't know what's going on inside that guy's head.

We don't live in a comic book, the jungle, or the old west, and most of us aren't in high school anymore, so don't tell me that kicking ass is the only way to solve problems.  Yes, I agree that there really are people who deserve to get smacked as hard as possible, due to the aforementioned inability to behave like adults.  But they're the animals, not us, so let's not try to play dirty like them as long as we can help it.

People love saying that if someone is being bullied, then it's the victim's fault.  I put very little stock in that.  More likely, the perpetrator has issues that were never dealt with, or better yet, maybe they had parents who just got too lazy to discipline them, and couldn't explain that there's a way you behave and there's a way you don't.  No, I think that bullying escalates less because someone "asks for it," and more because early childhood behavior was not properly guided.  Hence one of my many catch-phrases, Teach These Damn Kids How To Behave.  It's for damn sure you can't teach them anything of the sort once they reach adulthood, or turn pro!  This is why we have anti-bullying laws, because society does not owe them a free lifetime pass of "just ignoring them."

I was already working on this before, but now that this story broke, here it is:

The Animal attains goals through aggression and dominance, and fear and intimidation.

The Man does so through intelligence, within the bounds of basic ethics.

The Animal follows a herd and engages in groupthink.

The Man thinks for himself and chooses whether or not to follow the herd.

The Animal bullies, plunders, and usurps.

The Man treats others with respect.

The Animal thinks nothing of causing harm.

The Man chooses his battles wisely.

The Animal does not understand right or wrong.

The Man does.

Now that this unfortunate news has coincided with the new, and more accurate, title I've given this blog, you're gonna see a little more of this.  The notion that you have to do something just because you're a man, and someone thinks every man should do it, is no less sexist than saying that a woman's place is in the home, barefoot and pregnant.

So, gentlemen, which would you rather be.  A Man, or an Animal?  If you're not sure, then let the above suggestions guide you towards "manning up!"


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rival Nations, Rival Siblings

Hey All - time to check the Book.

Once again, brothers are turned against each other.  One is granted paternal approval and endorsement, and the other is sent in another direction.

This time, there is no issue of a mother being jealous of the hired help.  Instead, G-D tells the mother that the twins she carries are destined to be rival nations, and that the younger one will be more powerful.  

So, in reliance on this Most Direct Revelation, she has Jacob deceive Isaac, taking advantage of his blindness, by pretending to be Esau so he can receive his father's blessing before he dies.  And even before that, Jacob talks Esau into selling his birthright, divesting him of nearly all if the privileges afforded him by primogeniture.  

Throughout their lives, these two have been against each other.  Their own father was able to make deals with the Philistines, but he couldn't broker a deal between his own sons.  Who can splain me that?

Most families are able to avoid this because most parents don't allow it to happen.  But what about the siblings themselves?  Why did Jacob make that deal?  And why couldn't he stand up and tell Rebecca, "I don't think this is right?"  

The message that I get from this is that you make your own enemies.  When you do someone else wrong, no matter how many people try to convince you it's right, then the resulting animosity is your fault.  If you just know, deep down, that it's wrong, don't do it.  No magic, no academics.  Just common sense.  If you're actually eager to start a battle, then go full throttle.  If not, don't be surprised at others' reactions.

Good luck marathoners.