A blog about our shared experience…

Posts tagged “Pressure

Community and Trust

A number of previous posts written here were on the subject of community and human nature. It seems pertinent to draw some of those concepts to some current affairs such as the Trayvon Martin killing and the murder of James Craig Anderson amongst many others. Many would attribute tragedies such as these to a rising race or class war, but I feel that there are larger principles at play that we may benefit from considering before we blame these actions of individuals on an overly-superficial analysis of what’s going on.

As some of the discussion in previous posts on race explores, it’s very easy to point the finger at familiar terms such as “race” or “class” when I feel that “trust” among us as individuals and a community is the element has to be considered. Many of us have been led to believe that people outside our blood family are not to be trusted, and that people will likely take advantage of us at every opportunity given the opportunity.

Obviously I generalize, but I believe that most will agree that some degree of suspicion is common in our experience and training about survival in today’s world:

Don’t trust the cops.
Don’t trust the people.
Don’t trust people wealthier than you.
Don’t trust people poorer than you.
Don’t trust people of other religions.
Don’t trust business people.
Don’t trust customers.
Don’t trust women.
Don’t trust men.

Messages like these were often unspoken rules that I assimilated to, and doubt that others are immune to these subtle but ever-present messages we send each other through how we behave and talk to each other and the messages we consume in our media.

The thing is, I’ve had so many places in my life that informed me through experience that people are very much worthy of trust…in fact, we don’t get what we need in life as far as diversity of human interaction and experience without it. Further, people want to trust and be trusted. When you watch a movie, who do you generally gravitate towards and root for? Is it the self-serving bully who takes advantage of those weaker than them or the noble champion who grows through their hard-work and challenges to move higher and higher in their understanding?

So pulling back to the recent news events that I mentioned above(and I welcome others brought forth as examples of a point, please share a link), who are the people who are part of the story? Are they stories of “saints” and “monsters” who are essentially “black or white” characters with no gray area to them or are they individuals with challenging environments that they navigate and make mistakes(sometimes gravely serious) from their vantage point? Can we easily put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, say, in the case of someone like George Zimmerman? What is his story? What was he taught about at home about who and what he can trust? What pain shaped him into the character that committed this act? …it’s possible that his past has a good deal of sadness and pain to it. Do you know any young folks like Deryl Dedmon, John Aaron Rice and Dylan Butler? Is there something you can do now to assist in them making different decisions as they grow?

I’m not trying to excuse inexcusable actions, mind…I’m just trying to look beyond the emotional response to an act that is easy to engage, and think about we can go about the business of preventing the sadness that come from acts like these by healing ourselves and those around us.

We. Need. To. Trust.


A Year in Review…

So, here we are…A year after this space was carved out for you, I and anyone else who dared to explore the world of the unknown…

Where “What you don’t know that you don’t know” reigns firmly and lovingly. I’ll say for my part that this year has been gorgeous in so many ways, and has also provided serious signs of room for growth. Gorgeous because there was a start, and gorgeous because there really have been some good conversations that at least I was able to have with some of you who I might not have otherwise. I got to hear some views that were different from my own. I got to interview some really fun folks on camera and prepare for more opportunities to engage in similar dialogue with others…Challenging because at the end of the day there are very few things that we can presume to say with too much confidence that we “know”…and not everyone is ready to accept that…

I hope this year brings more. I hope to get to know some folks who visit better as we interact in this strangely intimate yet distant and cold space…

So I ask this of you…what would you want to hear more about? What themes and subjects would you like to see more of here? Anything that we should go deeper into?

I am looking to this New Year dawning to bring forth beautiful fruit, and I pray to keep my sights on my intention and purpose. I thank you for joining me on that path…

Much love…


Family-ship

Originally posted at Nineteen Months:

“If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable…”

It is entirely natural that we human creatures feel the urge, need and desire to connect to each other. From our earliest moments as a species, that feeling had been a necessary part of survival. We have had those other humans that we were born into, and then those that we grew and developed around…all essential to our learning about our special experience in this universe. We have moved through stages of feeling tied to the safeguarding and protection of the family unit, to the tribe, to the state, to the nation and most recently to the level of the world. Many of us may still have doubts and concerns about that last part, because we are still maturing into that stage, and all of us have not been entirely good at playing nice in this global sandbox…all too often it looks like the children’s game “King of the Hill”, but I have no doubts that we’ll get there…

“…This is likewise true of a city. If those who dwell within it manifest a spirit of accord and fellowship it will progress steadily and human conditions become brighter whereas through enmity and strife it will be degraded and its inhabitants scattered. In the same way the people of a nation develop and advance toward civilization and enlightenment through love and accord, and are disintegrated by war and strife…”

Like so many of us who have been thrust into “adulthood”, not really knowing for sure what that means and requires of us, being at the level of …read the rest of this article


A Little More on Race

Greetings all,
I’m normally reluctant to approach a loaded topic that easily becomes divisive, but I do want to open this space up to explore on it…

I will say up front that no conversation on race(among MANY other topics) is complete, and would be poorly served to be concluded with shallow and superficial treatments on what the deeper roots and causes are of the funny part of our collective experience that we call race.

Here’s a small bit from a conversation I had with a friend, where he asked me a pointed question about my experience with race:

Below are a couple of video posts from Jay Smooth which speak very well to some of the nuances around race that we should reflect on: (more…)


Individualism

Post originally published at Nineteen Months

e·go (g, gn. pl. e·go)
1. The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves
2. In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality
3 a. An exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit
b. Appropriate pride in oneself; self-esteem
[New Latin, from Latin, I; see eg in Indo-European roots. Sense 2, translation of German Ich, a special use of ich, I, as a psychoanalytic term.]

The individual units that make up society, each one of us, play a concrete role in how our social reality is shaped. If we buy organic, even the Wal-Marts of the world take notice and change or add to what they stock up on. If we respond to large banks’ taking advantage of people through exorbitant charges by moving your business to local banks and credit unions, the Bank of Americas of the world will trip over themselves to change some long-standing policies. In so many areas of social reality, each individual’s decision makes a difference, and the differences that I’ve thus far described are only economic. Companies like Google have designed a different kind of workplace environment from many companies of their size to improve the creative atmosphere for those doing the innovating, rather than stuffing their employees into bland cell-like cubicles. All this demonstrated to me the power of the individual to shape reality.

The other side of this reality for the individual, though, is what I’ve heard described as “unfettered individualism”, which I understand to be closely related to ideas like “survival of the fittest” and “may the best man win”…a mindset that sees “my driveway”, “my yard”, “my job”, “my space” and the like. In short, ways that we’ve managed to teach ourselves and each other in this country to think of ourselves as …Read the entire post here


Governance: Unity and Interdependence

An organization whose work I highly respect identified three sets of principles that can assist in a search to rethink governance, one of which is “unity and interdependence”.

I’ve seen trends in my lifetime that have made it clear that we are naturally and inevitably moving toward higher and higher levels of global interdependence: the FAA and international flight travel; the rise of the European Union; and even electronic product availability deeply affected by the earthquake (and its resulting fallout) in Japan all show a global trend that brings to my mind the “human body analogy” that I mention often.

Each of the arrangements mentioned describes an agreement that transcends national boundaries and international rivalries and conflict. Some of it is motivated by economic factors; others seem to be the result of an understanding that the individual units (more…)


Governance

I’ve gone into detail in previous posts about individuals and communities, but have yet to devote much attention to the third participant in society: the institutions. What qualifies as an institution generates a vast and weighty list, including local, national and international organizations; media organizations; governments and their agencies; and the institution of marriage. This spectrum of institutions shares many identifying features, but the one I wish to reflect on is structure.

All institutions have a structure in order to effectively administer to its objectives. What shape that structure takes has everything to do with the approach taken in building it. Many structures are chosen from among the existing models, based on the desired outcomes of that institution.
What I feel must be considered, though, is whether the models currently in existence can effectively administer to the needs of a changing age that requires flexibility and adaptation to meet the exigencies of our time. For instance, in the discourse on politics, there is frequently being voiced a need to think beyond the two-party (Republican vs. Democrat) system, and rethink how we might find a less divisive method of electing officials to serve our country in an official capacity.

This clip from a show called “Crossfire”, which tended to deal with the varied positions in US political matters in an adversarial way, clearly demonstrates to me the power of this rising voice in the discourse to rethink this combative approach to political structures in place:

An analogy that I will refer to frequently is that of the human body. This quote is one of many that Bahá’u’lláh refers to in making clear the interconnectedness (more…)


Assumption to Reassess: Are We the Sum of Our Materials?

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet…”
— Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

It appears to me that there are models of human nature that have been implemented into policies that we live under that appear to bring us to less-than-favorable results. One of these is the materialistic model of human nature that tells us that consumption and pursuit of sensual pleasure is the path to human happiness. Many reading may feel the compulsion to deny a buy-in to that model, but it remains a powerful standard by which many of us measure our own progress, whether it be physical beauty, fashion, status, sexual fulfillment or the many other things that we process in the dark recesses of our minds.

This excerpt from a book called “One Common Faith” comes to mind:

“Consumer culture, today’s inheritor by default of materialism’s gospel of human betterment, is unembarrassed by the ephemeral nature of the goals that inspire it. For the small minority of people who can afford them, the benefits it offers are immediate, and the rationale unapologetic. Emboldened by the breakdown of traditional morality, the advance of the new creed is essentially no more than the triumph of animal impulse, as instinctive and blind as appetite, released at long last from the restraints of supernatural sanctions. Its most obvious casualty has been language. Tendencies once universally (more…)