Archives for November 2014

25Nov

I Just Don’t Get It

What is with the unblemished need to make one’s self right, by making someone else wrong?  I have seen these phenomena, countless times.  No doubt, at some point in my life, I was guilty of it.  But like acne and baby fat, I always thought it was something that you grow out of.  Not so much.  It occurs daily in so many subtle and not so subtle ways.

Why do people think that they will appear superior only if and when another is shown to be inferior?  Over and over again I see nice people attacking another, in meetings, in boardrooms, in family conversations and anywhere else that two or more are gathered.  The underlying conversation seems to be, “if I outwit you, I am then, indeed, superior.  From this feeling of greatness, I get a prize.”

As I observe these conversations, I am always struck with the question “What is the prize?”  How does it help you to have put someone down?  How does it help you to have pointed out the flaw in the personhood of another?  How can you feel stronger by that?  What do you gain?

These random moments of meanness, which are so often accompanied by a smile and a nod are quite disconcerting.  It is no wonder that people, in general, have difficulty trusting each other.  We attack each other for no apparent reason; we launch this attack in public and then herald our superiority over others.  I won’t forget standing in a busy airport rushing to a connecting flight and stopping for food, my long time business partner and friend, announced loudly that I was foolish not to carry cash and then angrily threw her cash on the table, as if my personal habit was a philosophical shortcoming that made her re-evaluate our friendship.  No such thing happened, what eventually happened is that I re-evaluated our long-time friendship and she is no longer my friend.  I did not rid myself of this friendship because of that incident.  What happened is that I gradually recognized that my friend often expressed her superiority by touting my perceived inferiority.  What a disappointment and a heartbreaker.

12Nov

A Perspective That Bothered Me…

I read an article the other day, in a magazine that I normally admire, titled “Love Lessons from Second  Wives”.  Yes, I’m a second wife and always have been.  Point one against the author of this story who was never a second wife and cheerfully admits “frankly have been too lazy to get beyond threats” when discussing the possibility of divorce…

She writes that her remarried friends help her to remember that there is value in keeping a marriage fresh and keeping ourselves fresh by dressing to “look good.”  She states that “Venerable relationships often falter on the question of compromise.  Second marriages, not so much.”  She states this as a fact (and here is where I am disappointed) as if lack of compromise is the reason for divorces.  She even cites a friend who admits that her marriage “imploded over birdbrained tiffs.”

I do not recognize any of this and I am one of those who survived a divorce.  I do not like the article, because fundamentally, one should not make claims (even if secondary) about such a world breaking experience like divorce, unless you have lived it.  It is like a man describing childbirth – it’s not done.  When this author takes the position that compromise is critical to successful marriage, I can’t argue, after all, she is still married, but when she makes the supposition that lack of compromise is a cause for divorce, she steps out of bounds.  Who can discuss the soul-shattering experience of a spouse who dismisses you?  Who can tell of the spirit-crushing experience of a spouse’s sexual betrayal?  Who can enumerate the daily pains of living with addiction and alcoholism?  Those who have climbed those mountains and crawled through those valleys of tears, they can speak of these things, no other.

No one ever starts out a marriage wanting a divorce, no one.  And learning to compromise comes with age, which is why second marriages often successfully compromise – the couple has learned through experience that life is better with agreement.  Anyone over the age of 40 will tell you that compromise wins in the long run.  You don’t have to be divorced to understand this.

I’m not sure why I was annoyed with this author’s treatment of divorce and second marriages.  I just know that life is a lesson that cannot be explained by an onlooker.  You have to experience the depth to understand the breadth.

06Nov

AARP

It occurs to me that today’s grandparents are nothing like they were 50 years ago.  I realized this when I was looking at an email my 60+ staff member was sending to the Director of our bureau.  She was chewing him out, letting him know that the action taken by the department was annoying to her and other staff members.  It did not cross her mind that she should offer silence about the inconvenience.  She simply believed that she should tell all and that she should tell all to the person who could do something about it.

I’ve also noticed that quite a few of my men 60+ friends are riding Harley Davidson motorcycles with the full leather regalia.  They don’t want to wear helmets, they are rebellious in their hearts and they have a need to communicate that rebelliousness to the world.

These grandparents are very happy to be.  They love their children and their grandchildren.  They are irreverent.  They flirt with their physicians, they talk with anyone.  There is very little that is intimidating to them.  I think that this is a good thing.  I think the world needs those who would question authority, status quo and all things institutional.  They are, as was the promise of the sixties, the new definition of our culture, lasting into the future…

03Nov

Elitism: the Antithesis of Egalitarianism

If, indeed, our purpose is to find ways to live together productively and peacefully then I am sure that my job is to write.  I am positive that I have the right way to attain a productive and peaceful coexistence with anyone and everyone.  I am also sure that I can articulate it.

We must realize that hierarchical social systems are the antithesis of egalitarian living.  Some argue that hierarchical social systems are necessary because of the number of humans on the planet.  I do not agree with this argument.  I also do not believe that leaders should be static.  Situational leadership demands that either the leader changes to fit the situation or the leadership must change to fit the situation.

Our various hierarchical societies are a punishing way to construct humanity’s social system.  The current construct demands that those on the top of hierarchies be greedy, anti-social or both.  This is not to say that each and all wealthy and/or powerful humans are greedy, it is to say that the structure of hierarchy breeds greed.  Often, in order to get to the top of the hierarchy, one must engage in behavior that is antithetical to humanity.  Pushing to the “top” is sometimes a terrible game of cruelty that leaves many victimized and demoralized.

The American culture which began so full of hope for equality for all humans, came to idolize wealth instead of humanitarian ideals and thus lost the initial impetus for effective social change for equality and an egalitarian way of life for humans of the Earth.

This is unfortunate, as it is a delay that has cost us many years and many lives.  The American culture encourages elitism and champions those who fight to the “top” of our various social systems and cultures.  We have therefore bred a group of leaders who proudly look only to their own good, who overtly attempt control of different social systems and who hoard money in any way possible in order to further their own ends.  This group of leaders feels that it is their right, by virtue of the fact that they sit on top of the elite social structure, to have more and better just for them and no one else.  As the governor’s campaign says “Power for the few, but not for you.”

How do we change this?  How do we make it better, different, important, once again, as a human ideal?  First we must acknowledge that equality is a value that we wish to place above other qualities.  We must also acknowledge that on the slippery slope of making money, we forgot that human beings and their lives are more important than any amount of money.  As others have said “You cannot have a war, if no one comes.”  If we want our sons and daughters to live into old age, we will not send them into battlefields where American millionaires find more and more ways to keep money that they have not earned.  If we were sincere about this, we would reverse the legislation of the Reagans and Bushes and make it illegal (immoral, of course) to make money from a war – no matter the cause of the war.

To restate:

1.  Our purpose with each other is to find ways to peacefully and productively coexist.

2.  Our culture does not encourage coexistence.

3.  Hierarchical cultures encourage elitism and discourage egalitarianism.

4.  Our hierarchical cultures are punishing for humans.

5.  Leadership in America idolizes wealth over all things, including human beings.

6.  America must come back to valuing human life above all things.

7. If it was illegal to profit from war, there would be no war.