When People Can’t Admit They’re Wrong

So he’s a story from the pool today…


I’m doing my laps minding my own business.


And this guy gets to the pool, sits down, and immediately pulls out his cellphone.


Then he proceeds to literally yell into his phone for probably a good half an hour. 


I’m doing my laps and I can hear this guy yelling:


– At his end of the pool 


– ALL the way at the opposite end of the pool


– With earplugs


– AND even underwater


And he goes on and on and on. 


Doesn’t stop for even a breath of air. 


Now, in all the years swimming, I’ve never had to approach someone about their behavior like this.


BUT this was too much as my head was pounding from his incessant yelling.


I waited until he finished his call. 


And it happened to coincide with me finishing my laps. 


I come out of the pool and grabbed my stuff. 


I have to pass him on the way out. 


And I’m still debating with myself whether this schlemiel is even worth it. 


My head is still throbbing from his yelling.


I stop in front of his chair. 


Now he’s pulled out a book and is trying to read. 


I say:

Excuse me.

He knows he did something wrong, and he barely looks up, trying to ignore me. 


I say again:

Excuse me. Did you intend for everyone at the pool to hear your ENTIRE conversation?


He starts murmuring something, and then says throwing it back on me:

What’s the problem?


So I say:

You were speaking so loud, I could hear you all the way on the opposite end of the pool.  I could even hear you under the water. 


He’s agitating now and he says:

Well, I was speaking to someone 85-years old who doesn’t hear well.  You get it?


So I say respectfully:

I am sorry that he doesn’t hear well, but does everyone else here around the pool also need to hear the conversation? 


Then he says:

So what–I don’t care if everyone hears.


I try one more time.

Do you see all these other people trying to read, rest, swim–do you at all care?


He still can’t get himself to come around, and instead doubles down and says, 

Well. I’ll do whatever I want!

Now, I’ve had enough, and I say:

So basically you don’t give a shit for ANY of your neighbors, do you?


Finally, he must of been embarrassed enough at his terrible behavior, and he backs down and says:

Next time he calls me, I’ll take the conversation inside!


At which point, he goes back to his book, and I complete my exit. 


It took all that just to get him to say he’ll handle it differently next time and basically be respectful of his neighbors and not a selfish pig!


It’s amazing–some people really just can’t own up to when they are being a jerk.


But I was glad this guy finally came around–maybe there is still hope. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nimbyism By All

So I learned a new word this week:


Nimby, which stands for:


Not 

I

M

Back

Yard


It refers to people who object to and don’t want something unpleasant or dangerous in their neighborhood. 


Prisons

Homeless Shelters

Garbage Dumps

Radioactive Waste Sites

Oil and Gas Pipelines

Noisy Railroads

Polluting Factories

Adult Entertainment

etc. 


Yes, society as a whole apparently wants or needs these things, but the individuals just want to see it someplace (anyplace) else. 


People want the benefits, but don’t want the costs and risks associated with these things near them. 


The problem is when everyone feels this way then you are left either choosing somewhere despite the nimbyism protests or you have to locate them in remote places that are not always functional, fair or efficient for society. 


Perhaps this is where incentives or compensation comes in for people to get in order to “put up” with the placement of things in their backyard that they rather not have there. 


Is that what it means that nimbyism aside, “everyone has their price”?


(Source Photo: here with attribution to creative2/usa)

How Do I Choose?

So I thought this was an interesting topic for the sermon on Shabbat by Ben Shemony. 


It was about how we are confronted in life with whether to follow our impulses or our values. 


I think there is a lot to this topic…


Some may see it as the little good angel standing over one shoulder and another bad angel standing over the other trying to convince us what to do when it’s decision time.  


Others may be perpetually torn between temptations or pleasures of materialism and the flesh versus of pursuing what you know to be spiritually good and right in this world. 


Either way, as human beings, we are a complex make-up of both body and soul.


Do we give in to temptation and do what feels good–more money, more food, more clothes and jewelry, more houses, cars, and yachts, more vacations, more carnal pleasures from the proverbial “wine, women, and song” or do we pursue the path of spirituality, serving our maker, caring and giving and doing good for others and the world?  


It sounds simple, but our impulses tell us one thing and our values tell us another. 


Are we being selfish or selfless?


Perhaps, too much of anything is bad for us–even too much giving and selflessness–we need to care for ourselves too–we are mortal, we have needs, we have to nourish ourselves, and we need to live. 


But you can’t be a glutton or a slave to your impulses–you can’t take and not give, your can’t indulge until you make yourself sick, or take at the expense of and harm to others.


Like all things in life, there is a need for balance.


Certainly our spirit should guide our animal. 


If and when our animal is dictating to our spirit then we are in real trouble. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Good People And Bad

So what is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn?


There are really good and holy people out there, but there are also truly bad and evil ones. 


It’s not such a difficult concept, except if you just don’t think that way. 


I think some of us just want to believe that at the heart of it all, people are fundamentally good–or at the very least they struggle in order to fight off the evil impulse.


They are created by G-d.


They have parents and families.


They have challenges and disappointments. 


They have a good soul. 


Or do they?


Perhaps like everything in life–G-d created everything and it’s opposite.


– There is life and death.


– There is light and dark. 


– There is cold and hot.


– There is land and water. 


– There is male and female. 

– There is pleasure and pain.


– There is work and rest. 


– There is holy and profane.


Everything has it’s counterpart.


– In this respect then, there are good people and there are bad.


Not that there aren’t people who are both–they do some good things and some bad.


Just like with everything, you can have greys or mixtures–some of this AND some of that. 


But still, G-d created everything and its opposite.


– Again, there is heaven and hell. 


And yes, there are some people that are perhaps truly good and others that are very bad.


The really good ones–they are holy, they give, they love, they inspire. 


The really bad ones–they are vicious devil wolves. 


That doesn’t mean anyone is completely perfect or imperfect, but as with everything, there are people as there are inanimate objects that function at the extremes. 


Most of us don’t live in the extreme, yet we do see those that we know are examples of each:


We recognize the best and these are people with a heart of gold and a soul that shines light, love, and gives to others.


Similarly, the worst ones are with a heart that is selfish and greedy and a soul that is dark, hateful. and violent.


We don’t like to think of the extremes.


They either are too perfect or too frighteningly evil, but yet they do exist and we know it just as we know life and death, light and dark, cold and hot, land and water, male and female, pleasure and pain, work and rest, holy and profane, and even the destinations of heaven and hell. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Killer Organizational Sharks

Cohesion.jpeg

There are sharks out there. 


And it’s not just in the oceans. 


There are plenty in your organizations. 


They make for lots of dysfunction and conflict. 


The organizational sharks see themselves as the bigger and more important fish in the sea. 


They look for weakness in others—they smell blood and when they do, they usually follow it to the kill!


These sharks are the types of people that attack their colleagues when they should be assisting them. 


Not only do they lack respect for others, but instead see them as the enemy and eat them as prey, when instead, they need to be chewing up the outside competition.


It’s an attitude of us versus them misplaced within the organization, rather than external-facing. 


These organizational sharks could be in leadership positions, in which case, their attitudes filter down infecting the rest of their staffs. 


Instead of unity, cohesion, and working together to get the mission and job down, the sharks are selfishly worrying about and working to build their own power base. 


It’s a dysfunctional culture that allows these sharks to exist and swarm in their organizational waters. 


Sharks for some reason fail to see that their boats are hitched to everyone else in the organization, and that all the organizational boats rise together or fill with polluted water and sink to the bottom.


As leaders, we need to focus and agree on supporting each other to achieve the success of all. 


Even sharks should learn to be nice and play together with all the other fish in the organizational sea. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sharing The Loaf

Love.jpeg

So I am continuing to learn so much about who is good and who is not so good. 


Some people are literally so amazing–giving and caring of others–if they literally have just a single loaf of bread, they will share that willingly with others.


– Their perspective in grounded in a faith that whatever they have, they see it as a gift from G-d and it is only given to them as an opportunity to do good with it. 


Then there are others that no matter how much they seem have–and it could be millions of $$$–yet they still can’t stand to see others with even half a mouthful of bread.


– In their narcissistic view, what’s theirs is exceedingly and deservingly theirs, and what’s yours, they believe should also be theirs!


Yet sometimes we misjudge people out of fear or just not knowing enough about them.


We don’t know which category they fall into. 


Will they give you the shirt off their back or would they rip the shirt off you blind?


These are some of the challenges we face when confronting others in this scary world of souls being perfected and those that are still all too sullied. 


But the righteous will inherit the earth and more importantly, the Heavens…because the truth becomes known and is always absolutely clear to The One Above–and the evil ones, they will wither and die. 


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Money Makes The World Go Round

almight-money-worship

I remember from years ago hearing this song called, “Money makes the world go around.”


It’s an unfortunate song. 


“The clinking clanking clunking sound.”


Then this week, I saw this sign in someone’s office. 


It was hung under a framed dollar bill, and said:


“VERY IMPORTANT MONEY FIRST”


It doesn’t say G-d first, or family, or integrity, or compassion, or anything meaningful and good. 


No, instead just money. 


What is wrong with people?


Yes, we all need money to live.


Life isn’t free. 


There are bills to pay and money to be saved for a rainy day.


But, “money first”???


“Very important!”


There is definitely something wrong with some people’s values.


They think:


To hell with doing the right thing if you can make lots of money.


To hell with being honest in business if you can make more money.


To hell with earning a decent day’s pay for an honest day’s work.


No, to some misguided people, it’s simply money first. 


And money also means power.


More, more, more…at almost any cost that is. 


Sell your souls to the devil for a buck fifty.


Is the temporary satisfaction that money can buy you really worth it.


No, money is not first, and never should be. 


Money is a means to an end, but never an end in itself.


Money is not the root of all evil, but perhaps underlying greed is. 


Take that awful sign down and the dollar bill in the shiny frame at the very top of the wall too! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)