Compassion Instead Of Anger

Compassion and Anger

So I was speaking to someone recently about how angry they were with some stressful things and people in their life. 


I listened carefully and tried to empathize–also in full transparency, it got to be a lot and I at some point was begging them to stop!


At one point, I just said, instead of being angry maybe try to be compassionate. 


And I could see in other person’s reaction that they thought perhaps that I had hit on something a little eye-opening here. 


We can get angry about all the stresses and injustices that we perceive in our lives. 


People blame us, attack us, don’t appreciate us, talk down to us, disrespect us, even bully us or try to hurt us.


Also life throws some pretty stinging to earth-shattering circumstances upon us.


And maybe we have every right to feel angry.


But usually the anger, unless we need the adrenaline-rush in fighting for our survival and for our core beliefs and values, doesn’t help us achieve what we really want. 


What we want most of the time is to resolve things!


But getting angry and lashing out often only makes things worse. 


We act rashly, we overreact, we say and do things we may regret afterwards, and the consequences of our reaction can be severe to us afterwards in terms of alienating and harming others, escalating the situation and making it worse, creating hurt and destruction in our own wake, and even losing jobs or getting yourself in trouble and sent to the pokey.


If instead of getting angry and flinging arrows, we look at things from eyes of compassion, we can listen to others more carefully, understand the situation better, and try to rectify bad relationships or cope with stressful life events by employing emotional intelligence and a soft hand/skills. 


This is not to say that we should excuse really bad behavior or truly unforgivable misdeeds, but rather that we should look at things in a larger context, the role we play, and as part of our our life challenges to make things better and overcome.


Anger and the associated response is appropriate when the little devil is doing their misdeeds (lashing out severely and/or repeatedly with harm and intent), but compassion can help to see everything else for what it is or isn’t and gives us an opportunity to react with a level head, a stable hand, and humanity as a first resort. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Driving Away With It

Driving Away With It

This last week was another week for gross social injustice.

As it has now been widely reported, a wealthy drunken teen stole 2 cases of beer and then plowed into a stranded motorist and 3 bystanders who were trying to help–and killed them all.

The teen was 3x over the alcohol limit!

What an irony: 3 people stop to help a stranger in need and they are killed by someone who cares nothing for human life.

And the flagrant injustice of it all is that the kid was let off on 5 years probation and will attend a $450,000 a year private school rather than going to prison.

On the news this week, they interviewed the husband and father of 2 of the dead, killed by this teen. He is broken.

The defense teen argued “Affluenza” — like a disease, the kid should be let off the hook because…he is unbelievably wealthy and therefore was not given proper parental supervision–in effect, he is a victim of having too much–too many things, too much opportunity, but too little parenting as well.

I guess I never realized that justice meant if you had too much you could murder 4 people and walk!

While others that have too little–education, jobs, money, 2-parent families, and so on–must take the rap and go away for their crimes.

Too much–you can buy your way free.

Too little–you get sent up the river without a paddle.

Wouldn’t you think it should be the other way around–if you have more, then more is expected of you. While if you have less, your challenges are greater and so we take into account extenuating circumstances?

But no, money talks, and the guilty walks.

It is a shame on our society–and what we inappropriately call a justice system.

Whether the money buys you a top-rated defense attorney, paying off some officials or jurors, or provide alternatives to the the same punishment and rehabilitation that others must face, there is no denying that money influences the outcome.

Sort of reminds me of the infamous O.J. trial–another travesty of justice. How many more?

Funny, how art imitates life and life imitates art–in Season 2 of Homeland, the son of the V.P. drinks and drives and also kills someone and gets off with nothing but a slap on the wrist.

You see it’s not whether you’re black or white or yellow or whatever, it’s plain hard !!power!! and $$cash$$.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody’s Property

12 Years A Slave, But Not Anybody's Property

I saw the movie “12 Years A Slave.”

I have seen other movies on slavery, such as Amistad and Glory, but none were as potent and realistic as this was.

I came out with my head full of feelings of pain and injustice, as if I had just lived through those 12 years as a slave myself.

I literally felt sick to my stomach and the room felt as if it was spinning and I could hardly breathe.

My wife said to me, “You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel bad.”

And I responded to her, “I feel bad that they (the slave owners and traders) weren’t human.”

I cannot tell the story of Solomon Northup or of the horrors of slavery any better than the movie in fact did.

But what I can convey is my shear disgust for how anybody could enslave and mistreat others the way the Black people and others throughout history were.

As a Jewish person, my own people have a history of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and this took on a whole new meaning.

As great actors as Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner were, The movie, The Ten Commandments, did not show the depths of Hell of slavery as much as the breadth of Heaven of redemption.

And while the Pyramids of Egypt were built not with massively powered Caterpillar earth movers and construction equipment, but with the flesh and blood of my people under the whip of servitude 3,500 years ago, similarly the Capitol of the United States and The White House were built with Black people in chains and hung by the noose.

In the movie today, the plantation owners said they could do what they wanted to the slaves and without fear of retribution or sin, because the slaves were their property.

What is unbelievable is that anyone can believe that anybody can be the property of anyone other than G-d, the Master of the Universe, him/herself.

The slave trader in the movie, tearing apart a family and selling the mother and her children separately, when questioned on his ability to commit such atrocity, says matter-of-factly,”my sentimentality extends the length of a coin.”

For a buck, what will a person not do?

In history, we have seen individuals and whole societies cheat, steal, rape, enslave, torture, murder, and commit every treachery and treason…for a buck or even just because they could.

What is the lesson for all of us?

People can do great good in this world, but unfettered by faith, conscience, reason, or fear of justice, they can do great, great evil–and for that we can never let our guard down.

Exposing Rape

Exposing Rape

On the Metro in Washington, D.C. there is a sign that warns people about sexual harassment.

In the crowded rush hour trains, people can take advantage and try something.

But the advertisement reminds people that if they do the wrong thing, they are the ones who will be exposed–and punished.

This is in contrast to a story today in the Wall Street Journal about a gang rape of a 16 year-old girl in Kenya.

She was attacked in June–while walking home from her grandfather’s funeral!

Six men ambushed her, took turns raping her, and then threw her unconscious body in a toilet pit–as if to say that she was just a thing for their sexual satisfaction and nothing but a proverbial piece of sh*t herself (excuse the directness here).

But to make matters worse, the horrific act was not punished, but mocked.

The rapists were “told to pay for some pain medicine for the girl and mow the grass at the police station”–I am feeling sick again!

I write this blog for this victim and for women everywhere to try to do my little part to expose the continued injustices against them–from inequality and unsafe conditions in the workplace to sexual harassment and rape in society.

Perhaps, if we all expose the injustices, we can finally make it unacceptable and rub it out of existence evermore.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Outrage At Bogus Judge Baugh

Outrage At Bogus Judge Baugh

Injustice, Injustice does Montana Judge Todd Baugh pursue.

G-d, hope you are listening…

BBC reported about this bogus Judge Baugh who called a 14-year old girl that was raped by her 49-year old teacher, “as much in control of the situation” as the man who assaulted her.

The poor girl later committed suicide, which her mother probably rightfully attributed to the distress from the rape and aftermath.

And what does the judge do to mete out justice? He sentences the rapist to 15-years in prison AND suspends the sentence for all but 31 days with 1 day time already served.

The victim was raped and is dead and the rapist gets not 30-years, but 30 days!

While the judge who is under pressure to resign has all of a sudden expressed his deep remorse, it is almost unbelievable that this is someone charged with seeing that justice is served.

Shock, disbelief, outrage…what can you say about such a justice.

While there is certainly a time and place for empathy, compassion, and mercy–would anyone in their right mind, see this as one of those cases?

For all who believe that this world is not the end, but just the journey, I’d venture to guess that the 14-year old girl is not done either with her rapist or the judge who mocked her suffering and death.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Coworker to Killer

Going_postal

People are people, but there are some who walk a fine and dangerous line.

Some are stable, rational people–those, that we hope we can depend on.

Others are prime time wack jobs–they are not “safe” and everyone knows to beware of them.

Finally, there are those who are like firecrackers, one step away from explosion–and these can pose a nasty surprise.

These last two perhaps invoke the fear of someone in the workplace “going postal”–a reference to the 1986 killing by a postal worker of 14 people and then himself.

In light of the workplace shooting this week in front the Empire State Building, Newsweek (3 September 2012) asks “How to Spot a Workplace Crazy?”

Their default answer–see the Department of Homeland Security’s Active Shooter Booklet, which includes a list of 16 “indicators of potential violence by an employee” (page 10) from addiction to depression, over reactions to mood swings, unprovoked rage to paranoia, and more.

Perhaps, their more genuine answer is that anybody can be the next workplace shooter–and that it is hard to really tell what demons lay in wait inside a person’s head or heart or what can set them off.

They reference  the book, Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion, which states: “it can be anybody who’s getting completely screwed in the workplace–so that’s most workers in this country.”

When people feel a “perceived injustice” or they are “grievance collectors”–harboring hurt and anger at their mistreatment day-in and -out, they may be one step away from dangerous.

As leaders and managers, we cannot control for everything that people feel or for all their personal struggles and life’s circumstances, but we can do our best to treat others fairly, with compassion, to listen to them, and try to accomodate genuine needs.

I was reminded of this again, recently, when I went with my daughter to a car dealership.  At one point in negotiating for a new automobile, I asked a question about the current odometer reading.

The Manager yells over to a worker and tells him harshly to get on it and quickly.  It wasn’t what he said per se, but how he said it–ordering his subordinate around like a thing, not like a person.

My daughter turns to me and she is clearly uncomfortable with what she saw.  I asked her about it.  And she whispers to me, “Did you see how they treated the worker? It’s not right.”

I couldn’t agree with her more. And when the man came back with the information–we thanked him so much for helping us and told him what a good job he was doing getting everything ready–the paperwork and the vehicle.

Is he going to “go postal” today, tomorrow, or never…I don’t know–he seemed nice enough, but if people get pushed too far and their mental state is frayed, anything is possible, and we shouldn’t tempt fate–more importantly, we should treat everyone with respect and dignity.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Charlie Essers)

Poisons Anonymous

Tikun_olam

One of the Buddhist teachings is that there are 3 poisons in this world: greed, anger, and ignorance.

But that by turning these poisons around into generosity, compassion, and wisdom,we can create life-healing.

While this is sort of simplistic, it does point to a number of important things:

1) We can have an impact on our destiny. We can choose our direction and work towards something that is good or we can fall harmfully into some bad and destructive ways.

2) Everything has an antidote. While we may not know the antidote at the time, generally everything has its corollary or opposite and we can find healing by moving towards that.

3) The answers in life are not so far away. How much of a stretch is it to turned a clenched fist into an open hand or to quench ignorance with learning–these things are doable.

If we look at people and events at face value, it is easy as times to get angry and feel hatred at the corruption and injustices out there–but I believe, the key is to channel those feeling into something positive–into change and Tikkun Olam–“fixing the world”.

By channeling our feelings into constructive actions, then we are changing not just ourselves, but can have a broader influence–one deed at a time.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)