08May

The Truth

Why is it so hard to convince people that the truth is rare and certainly doesn’t exist in their heads?  So many people believe that they know “the truth”.  Not so.

It is “a truth” that some police officers are violent with innocent people.  It is not “the truth” that policemen are arbitrarily violent with innocents.

It is also true that if a person repeatedly shows violence, that person is violent.  Nothing that we think can change that.

As humans, we want our own truth to be “the” truth.  No, specificity is the only real truth.  Generalizations do no justice to anyone or even to our own selves.

Isn’t that why freedom is so important in this world?  Not just here in America, but everywhere.  We don’t want to be generalized, we want our own individual chance to demonstrate our choices.  And yet there are those who will close their mind to the possibility of goodness in others.  It is not okay to be this, it is not okay to do this.

13Feb

A Day

A Day

03Jan

Some Truth for the New Year

Accept yearning in your life, you do NOT have to fulfill every desire.

Everything WILL change, you can’t stop it.

Will this matter in two years?  Study it, look at it, decide it: if it will not matter in two years, save your energy.  Don’t give energy to the unnecessary.

Don’t imagine that anyone is better than you, they are not.  Much of life is luck, you nor they control circumstance.  Some people will have better circumstances, some people will have terrible circumstances.  This is true.

Memories are nice, but they are not now.

Remember that big companies have proven that they do not want to “save you money” and remember that advertising is highly successful because it “makes you think…”  Consequently, beware, if you “buy into” the concepts that Coca Cola is about love and McDonalds is about home and hearth, then you have been fooled and you will buy products that do harm to your body.  The same is true for the “new” big companies including the “Whole Foods Grocery” stores.  It is up to you to take responsibility for researching reality.

Other people’s thoughts and actions are not within your purview, you cannot control other people.  Accept this idea and make decisions from this knowledge.

Doing hurtful things to others is NEVER okay or correct.  Those who do harm must be restrained.

13Dec

Christmas Gifting

We all have our own sentimental thoughts, feelings and beliefs about Christmas gifting and I want to set the record straight about my own philosophy. You can bet that any philosophy I have is related to my own life philosophy about everything.
I remember meeting people that only gave gift cards for Christmas. They would hand out cards to all the members of their own family, uncaring as to whether the gift card was right for that person. I thought that this practice was abhorrent. One should at least care what KIND of gift card was appropriate and even more caring would be a thoughtful gift that actually reflected the care that you have for that person.
We all get nervous about getting the “right” gift for a loved one, but, rather than reacting cowardly and purchasing a gift card, dig deeper and think deeply about the person that you are buying for. Even a silly gift is excellent if it reflects the recipient’s taste instead of your own.
There is the crux of the matter, if you are giving, it must be about the other person that you are giving to, the giving cannot be about you. Otherwise it is not giving.

19Jul

Elitism is the Murderer of Humanity

Anytime a society allows members to believe that some members are more important than others we invite our own demise.
Our society, particularly here in America, believes that money cures all evil. Now if you speak with an American 1:1, that is not the tale that an American will tell…
But I come to you with the mundane, not the grand gesture of philosophy that would allow you to hide behind yourself. When we read about people who commit spectacular crimes, we pretend that their wrongness does not exist in ‘regular’ life. We hide behind the glamour of the news report saying to ourself, “that evil exists over there”.
It does not, evil exists in every body and the most common evil is elitism. Elitism is the conversation of your own ‘rightness’ over another’s ‘wrongness’. We tell everyone how our own point of view is the correct one and, indeed give a convincing and innocent argument of suffering. It is this innocence that perpetuates the evil of elitism. We use this belief in our own superiority to allow others to suffer…
“He deserves to be fired, he is a know it all!” “She deserves a dressing down, look how pretty she is!” And so the punishment goes until we find a way to justify what happens to others, as long as it does not happen to us in a personal way.
We must examine this need within us to be more important than each other. We must find a way to see all with equal importance. If we do this, we will change the world.

31May

Sunbeams will always dance on the water, whether someone is watching or not.

19Jan

No Rhyme, Nor Reason…

No Rhyme, Nor Reason…

I spoke with an anguished mother this morning, who told me “this isn’t fair, we are good people.”  She was recounting a story about how her landlord had collected rent from her family illegally, as the house she is living in was foreclosed on.  She has to move from her home today, with her disabled son and husband.  She has never missed a single rent payment.

I thought about all of the conversations I have with people about positivity.  Being personally positive sets up an expectation for positive results.  Sometimes, things just don’t work out that way.  It brings to mind a book that came out in the eighties titled “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”.  At the time, I thought the author did a good job of explaining some of the vagaries in life.  As with anything difficult, the point was to cope for the moment, to get through the moment so that one could go on.

I am an analyzer and I want a formula.  To get back to positive thinking, I want positive thinking to be meaningful and to control what happens in my life.  It does not.  Positive thinking won’t stop a hurricane, it won’t keep me healthy and it won’t guarantee that I get to keep and use all of the money that I have worked hard for, for all of my life.

I attach meaning to the work I have done in my life.  I want my past work to pay my way through my future.  I think this is a reasonable social contract and I have done all of the things that the prescribed formula advised me to do: I got an education, I got a steady job, and I worked and worked and worked.  I put money in the bank; I put money in the 401K.

All of our “choose-in” choices, by life design, are also “choose-out” choices.  Money in the bank can’t be spent on a child’s new braces (until you take it out of the bank) and time spent at work, cannot be spent at leisure.  I understand this concept completely.  I have had to choose between emergent needs on many occasions in my life.

What I missed, what I did not comprehend, is that at some point, all of those choices do work out to something in your life.  What I mean by this is that, if you are a person who has no competing interests in your life and that makes you able to put your money in the bank, then at some point you will probably have money in the bank.  The price you pay is “no competing interests”.  In other words, you have nothing to spend money on, no family, no partner and no children.

The reality of our material construct called life: is that, we have what we most focus on.  If we focus on our children, it is likely that our children will be around for our entire life.  As we have taught them to be concerned and to have compassion by giving those gifts to them, so they will also demonstrate those same gifts to us as we grow older.

Again, every “choose-in” has a corresponding “choose-out”.  In other words, we pay a price for all that we decide is important to us, because we are also relegating other things to unimportance.  When we choose to have children, we are also choosing a very large financial investment.

The unpredictability of life circumstance is that, no matter what choices we make, good, bad or indifferent, life can and does, intermittently, destroy it all.  That’s the problem.  That is the issue which terrorizes my analytical brain.  It is as if life mockingly laughs at my need to draw lines and to keep accurate spreadsheets.  Yes, yes, Mrs. Smith, we see that you are organized, but now you have been fired from your job and all of last week’s planning is for naught.  Or yes, Mr. Smith, we see that you have saved money and paid for your house, but now your daughter is sick and you must take out mortgages to pay for medical care to keep her alive.

We know that justice is a social construct.  We work hard to make justice real in our society.  We work very hard to mitigate the whim of life by purchasing insurance and being safe.  It matters that we take these precautions, yet it does not guarantee that life won’t happen.  Bad things do happen to good people.

As to choosing in and choosing out; I always did the best that I possibly could in every moment.  There are lots of things that I did not choose, good and bad.  As to positivity, it is what brings me through the changes and unpredictability of life, and then forces me to take the next step.

04Aug

Cruel Behavior, How do we Stop it? First, Stop Denying…

As a young woman, I was very serious and very smart. Humanity mystified me, but I believed that everyone was basically good hearted and if not, at least trying their best to be good. In the way of human beings, I had not one clue. I had no understanding of the culture of drugs, alcohol and sex. I went to work, I went to school, I took care of my children. I briefly drank some and once was even drunk and driving. That only happened one time because it scared me silly.

Now that I am older and my kids are adults, I am much more capable of seeing people around me and understanding behavior. Ridiculously, all of my life I believed that cruelty was an aberration and that all stories had a somewhat positive ending. Why? Because people really do try to do the right thing… how ignorant I feel now.

It has been a compelling journey.

So I had experience with people being nasty and mean. I saw angry people treat others badly, but I had always categorized them as the disenfranchised, people less fortunate than others, who had been mistreated by civil brutality. What I did not have experience with and understanding of was cruelty, anger and hatred for its own sake, expressed out of meanness rather than misfortune. This kind of meanness comes from selfishness and greed and has nothing to do with lashing back at others, but rather was a means to a specific and self-centered end.

Even then, when I experienced it, I believed it to be an anomaly. I had no idea that yes, in fact, half of human beings are capable of being cruel for their own selfish sakes. Many have documented that our minds are capable of great story telling (i.e. rationalization and justification) and I know this to be correct. Stories abound that explain every bit of human behavior.

I want to believe that now that we know these things, for example that our ‘brains can justify anything’, that we would also take a chance at openness and listening so that we could be sure that our justifications were not in the service of harming ‘someone else’. In other words, how do we put a check on cruel behavior? Indeed, how do we?

18Jul

Life is Hard

People behave badly, sometimes very badly.  Move on.  Don’t let it hold you back.

22Jun

The Conversation About Free Will

Do we live in a universe of pre-destiny or self determination?  Do you know something because it is already true, or do you know it because you are determined to make it true?

Do you affect life or does life affect you?

It’s a complex combination that cannot be denied.  We want to think that our willpower can control the universe and we know that it cannot.  Failing that, we try to force thinking positive to overcome our situation.  When that does not work either, we find ourselves in our real place.  Our real place is the present.  We can work very hard and have enormous wealth, or we can do nothing special and have enormous wealth.  We can work at nothing and lose everything; we can work hard at everything and achieve nothing.  All of these things can happen.  We cannot say that we are in control.  We can increase our comfort and even our pleasure, but we cannot say how others will treat us, or how destiny will define us.

Victor Frankl made the observation (and in fact, had the experience) that in spite of a terrible and traumatic life situation, one can be true to self and hang onto one’s own free will of experience.  He met every day in the nazi prison with self determination to continue to be a good person.  Because he felt a purpose in living, he was able to survive unthinkable hardships.  Often, he was surrounded by other prisoners who cared for and supported each other; they did this by denying their captors the right to make them hurtful or hateful.  Their captors were capable of horrifying atrocities, but the majority of the prisoners avoided the hatred that would make them cruel to each other, they chose nurturing and caring for each other over the hate.

We want there to be an equation to life, yet, there is no such equation.  There is no reason for how life works out.  There is no equity and obviously no objective justice.  What can humans do?  As Eckhardt Tolle suggests, we must gain agreement with ourselves for acceptance of this moment.  There are bad situations and negative / hurtful humans around us, we cannot deny these facts.  We must have what we have, which is not always what we wish to have, or have worked to have.