If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

“If you can’t say anything nice about someone, say nothing at all.”

That’s a tough mother-ism to live by in today’s world.

monkeynospeak6I do think that silence is a blessing seldom appreciated. In fact, I could say nothing about many things and many people, and I would be the better for it.

But…. also in today’s world, saying nothing allows the more vocal hordes to flood the airwaves with venom and lies.

Democracies aren’t maintained by the silence of its members. It takes willing voices and willing voters to make serious changes in our world.

The next couple months will be a nasty time for impassioned outcries and claims, true or non.  I have my own opinions on much of what is occurring politically and in our government, as well as having my own thoughts on how best to change the current problems.

However, none of my opinions matter other than on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 when we the people have the opportunity to express our beliefs on voting ballots across the nation. THAT is the day for expressing opinion. THAT is the day when what you think really matters.

So you can be as vocal as you wish—or as allowed by laws until that time—but the only time what you think really matters is on November 6th, 2018.

Vote!  It can be the single most important thing you can do for yourself, for your loved ones, and for the world in which we live.

VOTE  Tuesday, November 6th, 2018!votemontage

And if you are really impassioned with your candidates, then get involved in those campaigns and help others understand why those folks most appeal to you.

Those are things that you can do.

When it comes to the President of our country, I honestly can’t think of anything nice to say about him—NOTHING—NADA.   So I will actively promote positive changes for the people that I can easily speak well of.

Recognize that this is your chance to make a difference around you—get involved in positive change and work toward a better future for ALL of us—not just for the richest 1 percent, of which I will also say nothing good about, so they shall remain unmentioned.

Stand up—speak out—and organize your friends to make positive changes in our world. These are things that you CAN do.

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So just DO IT!

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The Quest for What We Lack: Part Two—Family Reunions

reunion-cartoon.jpgTis the season for family reunions and family gatherings in general, involving picnics and potlucks and people you seldom see all gathered together playing nice (sort of) for a few hours.

It’s a time to clamp your jaw shut and hold your clever comebacks at the rude, intrusive, in-your-face questions—a time to curb your overwhelming desire to tell off the perpetually-mouthy aunt or the ever-drunken uncle (or role-play vice-versa)—a time to not snap at the obnoxious kids in your face all vying for attention and exuding their excessive “look at me-ness”—a time for staring with slack-jawed disbelief at all those people gathered together in this park to whom you are supposedly related and your saying aloud to yourself, “Uh-uh….NOPE…..that’s not in my genes—NO way—NO how!”minioncircus.jpg

But you know that they really are.

And these are the better thoughts you’re having at that yearly, quality “family-gathering time.”

The worse thoughts throbbing at your temples during the group get-togethers are the “family secret” thoughts that make you watch Uncle Sonny or Uncle Dicky as closely as possible, especially when little ones are near him—watch for the tell-tale enticement tricks he may have once used on you or your siblings—the “Come over here, little Suzy. Come and sit on Uncle Sonny’s lap.”  Or the little tickle games, he used to play. Or the little grabs he made when others weren’t watching and you were too unclebadtouch.jpgshocked or scared to say “Don’t do that!”—the little secrets he told you to keep just between you and him—and “Oh, here’s a shiny, silver dollar just for you if you don’t say anything to your mommy about us.”

Oh yes.  I know about Uncle Sonny and Uncle Dicky, both personally and in the late-night tales from female-adolescent slumber parties—I’ve heard the warnings not to be alone with such-and-such—to ignore such-and-such’s enticements or “games”—to watch at the next gathering for how Uncle Dicky avoids certain older adolescent family members that he once used to excessively dote on.  Yes, Uncle Dicky is a family secret—except he’s not really a secret. Nor should his behavior ever be one.

Yes, these folks, no matter how questionable some might be, are all a part of our genetic pool. Perhaps some families have a few more perversion-inclined members than others, but all families have at least one or two of them, just as all families have members who are openly addicted to drugs, alcohol, and porn.  These aren’t things that you should ignore and pretend aren’t affecting others, because they definitely do affect them—especially the vulnerable, young ones.

I’ll honestly admit that I’ve always hated family mazine not coming.jpggatherings—both with my own family and my long-time friend’s family.  The ones I’ve personally participated in, especially from childhood, were cringe-worthy for me and felt downright alien. Not only did I NOT feel like a part of that group—I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be considered a part of them.  So I have a hard time relating to the positive experience of family reunions that others crow about.

After seeing a few sets of my friends’ family-reunion photos on Facebook, I was thinking intensely about this family-gathering hostility that I still harbor; and the question arose in my mind wondering what about this family-reunion experience appeals to the folks who DO like to attend them?

I know old folks like to gather all the little chicks around and say “See what I did with my oldfolkreunionlife?!!!  Here they are—right here! You all came from ME! Aren’t I proud? Look what I did. I made ALL of YOU!”

I get that part. I’ve heard older folks say that very thing as justification for why we were all torturing ourselves playing nice for parents and grandparents during that required togetherness time.

And many folks feel that family reunions carry on traditions and ancestral heritage—long sheets of genealogical trees are spread out on picnic tables while gnarled fingers trace lineage from some distant relation in some far away land—an ancient relative who once traveled the greatest adventure of his and her life by coming to America to create this new life here for all of us—even for Uncle Sonny and Uncle Dicky, bless their pathetic, perverted hearts.

Once in awhile, the old folks exclaim with glee queentree.jpgpointing at the far-right tree branch, this part of the family tree produced some genuinely PERFECT fruits—real peaches who made the perfect peach marmalade or jam and produced the PERFECT offspring themselves who did likewise, etc..   “Look what this branch over here produced—all these great people—they are all relatives of ours! Look how successful or prominent they were/are.”

Implied, of course, is that that branch’s success meant that the entire tree trunk must have value. And likewise, so do we—even if we can’t see it materially at this time, but we know that one of our future direct ancestors might prove us worthy of having existed at this less-than-ideal time of us personally. It gives us hope for our future redemption.

I guess our weakness as human beings is that we long for connection to others—long for belonging to the greater tribe—long for some verification of our existential validity. Genealogical tracings seem to give some folks great comfort.  I can acknowledge this fact, but I’m also not maxinespeakstruthone of those folks.

“We carry their bloodline,” we say if they are positive role models for us; and if they aren’t we say, “Must have been some overnight fling with a fly-by-nighter that slipped into our lineage. They aren’t really OUR kin.  We sure don’t claim them.”  (Ever think that on someone else’s lineage tree, they don’t claim you either?)

So while I do understand that some folks really get into family reunions, to me it is another one of those quests to determine what it is that we lack in ourselves that we try to find in others and in their familial relationships to us.  What hollowness within us do we keep trying to fill in our search for definable connection to our heritage and bloodline?

disfunctionfamily56.pngAnd when we occasionally run across our own version of an Uncle Sonny or an Uncle Dicky, do we likewise just shake our heads and say “Nope!  Not in MY family tree!”

Or do we risk alienation from the family to do something about it, and make the family secrets stop?

I shouldn’t even have to ask that question.

The OPEN Mind

Limitation is so unnecessary.

open.jpgWhen we focus so tightly on a single issue or a single viewpoint, we limit ourselves and our outcomes.

You don’t need to do just “one thing” in your life when you can do many things. You needn’t “specialize” in a certain subject or a course of study unless you feel that “one thing” is the single guiding force of your life. Specialists in nature are often a rare, isolated species, and are the ones most prone to extinction because they limit their food sources.

While there are advantages to a tight mental focus, there are disadvantages to limiting your frame of reference so severely that you exclude other possibilities. When you zero in so tightly on a concept or even an ideology, you restrict any other explanation from penetrating your mind set.einstein quote.png

I don’t mean to be the judgmental finger-pointer here but in today’s world, being able to keep your mind OPEN to a problem’s solutions is an attribute, not a detriment.

Not only are we, the residents of this world we all share, still ignorant to the answers to all the world’s problems; we aren’t even aware of the best questions to ask pertaining to those problems.

That might sound critical of what is presently occurring in the world’s greatest problem spots, but world problem-solving depends on increasing your base knowledge of the issues, not restricting it; and single-point perspectives with limited options only create the same scenarios we’re trying to dig ourselves out from now.

Case in point: If you ever have the opportunity to go through Mediation Training please mediationtake it. Mediation is where a mediator helps two or more parties define their key problem issues; then she helps them to successfully resolve their problems in a mutually beneficial manner.  That training will help you realize how difficult it is to help two very different viewpoints find and accept common ground to build a better future outcome based on mutually beneficial goals.toddlers.jpg

It’s a lot like getting toddlers to share a slurpy even if they have two straws.

What you usually encounter in Mediation is that combatants are often like the two primary political parties mid-election year mayhem: There is the standard stalemate caused by “my way or the highway” thinking or the “you are so WRONG how could you ever be that stupid” viewpoint expressed by one or both participants in the mediation.

Emotion rules the disagreements, not rational thinking.

common groundBut the mediator’s goal is to find common ground between the two deadlocked camps, which means that if you are the mediator you have to dig deeper into each combatant’s wants/don’t wants to find out what the REAL issues are behind their immovable stances.

You’d be surprised what deeper wounds and hidden agendas are revealed in this process.

Sometimes the disagreement has nothing to do with the subject in question. The acrimony between the two camps is often pure, raw woundedness raging on whatever ground it can find to take its stand.  Those are tough situations to resolve amicably. A good mediator (not the same thing as a negotiator) earns every dollar s/he makes.

And the single most difficult task at hand for any mediator is to encourage the participants to come to the table with an OPEN mind—a mind willing to consider an option not previously proposed.

An OPEN mind recognizes that the “highway” is meant for two-way travel, and being “wrong” is often just a shift in perspective to being considered “not so wrong.”backyard.jpg

Common ground is the single unifier most sought by a good mediator. Once that is established then a mutually beneficial outcome can be defined for both parties. And once the emotional aspects of the arguments have dissipated, the warring parties are more willing to consider rational solutions to the dilemma.

But the key component to any problem resolution is that all participants must somehow achieve and maintain an OPEN mind state that is willing to simply consider ALL possibilities.kids.jpg

As dedicated as we are to our own viewpoints, stubbornness and intractability are less productive outside the nursery-school playground.

“The World According to Garp”

While watching the early morning news shows, that old book/movie title came to mind: The World According to Garp.

garp.jpgThe book was by John Irving, and the movie starred Robin Williams back in 1982.

When I search the dank archives of my memory, I can still recall snippets of the movie because it was a somewhat dark-themed effort at breeding reality with twisted humor, or as Wikipedia describes it:

“The story contains a great deal of (in the words of Garp’s fictional teacher) ‘lunacy and sorrow’, and the sometimes ridiculous chains of events the characters experience still resonate with painful truth.”

Why the news reminded me of the title is probably because of hearing the many laughable versions of world affairs offered by political candidates who think they want to be in charge of them all. Now THAT consideration is an Irving-esk dark comedy in concept-expansion stage—being both ridiculous and painful to watch.

For most of us, LIFE is an experience that we all share and yet recognize that each of us has our individual perspective skewed perspective.jpgon what LIFE in general means, on how it works, and why we believe that we personally matter to any of the events around us.

For our society in the broadest sense, reality itself is a consensual agreement governed by majority rule, and the majority that does rule determines the acceptance of behaviors, mores, and attitudes for the rest of us.

If we share that “consensus agreement,” it’s great—life is good. But if not, ….well I guess it depends on the majority who is ruling the rest of our hands in circle.jpgbehaviors, mores, and attitudes as to their punishment for being someone thinking or being different than they are.

This is often called the tolerance factor of a society. How expandable or rigid are the acceptability guidelines within that society?

Have you ever thought about this? What about you? How broad- or narrow-minded are your views on major issues that define our society in general?

Marcus Aurelius.jpgMutual agreement on much of anything is pretty hard to come by these days in congress or in coffee shops around the nation. But overall, opinions are plentiful.

That I believe is what we are presently hearing: huge volumes of vociferous opinions on what candidates believe people likely want to hear.

To me, what is most important is to watch and listen to the manner in which these opinions are expressed, and to note how they veer into tailored variation depending on the intended audience. If the message changes from day to day or event to event, what does that say about the speaker?

And if the message is one full of intolerance and hateful rhetoric, what does that also say about the audience listening to it?

Like the fictional character Garp, we all have our own take on the world around us—we see it as WE see it—we judge what we see by how it affects us and those we care most about.

garp plane.jpgAnd like that twisted tale of skewed perspective determining his future life tragedies, we lean toward the perspective that best matches our own.

Hopefully this revised movie version plays out better for all of us than Irving’s did.

Social Animals

Dalai-LamaFacebook post today (5.25.15) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

“We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive. Friends are made on the basis of trust, which only grows if you are kind to people. Exploiting, cheating and bullying others will win you no friends. Kindness and compassion gives rise to self confidence, which in turn empowers you to be honest, truthful and transparent. This self-confidence brings peace of mind, which also favors good health.”

Synchronicity is one of those things that we once referred to as “coincidences” until deciding that there really were no coincidences—that everything in our lives is intentional rather than accidental.

Personally, I viewed seeing this Facebook posting from the Dalai Lama right after I had just written a follow-up to Jean-Jacque’s comment about my previous posting, as a synchronous affirmation that indeed, what I should focus on in writing was perhaps more along the lines of helping to define what “community” means, and how to help others to become caring and compassionate community members who support each other along life’s journey.

HTH III covPerhaps this also applies to re-introducing the third book in my HONORING THE HERMIT series, called: HONORING THE HERMIT III: Building a NEW World (2005), where I actually DID once define it and elaborated on what options might help to create a better living environment for everyone.

I once had the ebook available free on my website at www.lightfoundations.com, but when the original site died last August, I never replaced the pages where it was shown in PDF form. Maybe I can just post sections from it occasionally to make my point on how you actually do go about building that NEW (and better) WORLD.

OR….. maybe I simply start another blog just about that subject: BUILDING A NEW WORLD which defines successful social and cultural customs and practices, and others can participate in defining it and discussing working examples of supportive practices. That might be better for posting because Lord knows I’d have a hard time making that subject (or anything else) my sole focus on this blog. 🙂

So I think that’s what I’ll do. When I have it up and running I’ll mention it again here and direct readers there for that blog.  (Okay, here’s the new site address:  https://hth3buildinganewworld.wordpress.com/ )

Basically what Jean-Jacques and I were discussing earlier was how so many small communities everywhere have lost that societal glue that once held them closely knit—providing all community members the safety and security of knowing that your neighbors “had your back” no matter what disastrous thing occurred, and likewise, you had theirs.Building-Community

We both feel it is essential to reestablish that cohesive framework of solid community-building where members are encouraged to create caring and compassionate societies, because as the Dalai Lama so aptly describes above: “We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive….”

So, let’s build one on-line first and see how that goes.