Shame As An Effective Motivator

This last week protesters against Justice Kavanaugh came up against Senator Manchin (D. WV) in a head on confrontation. 


He was being interviewed by the media. 


But the protesters drowned him out with chants of “Shame” and “Shame on you!”


Similar to the series Game Of Thrones, where the evil Queen Cersis must “Take the walk of shame” for sleeping with and having a child with her own brother. 


She must walk through the city with all the people yelling “Shame” at her, spitting on her, throwing rotten vegetables at her, etc. 


There is no place to hide. 


Her hair has been shorn off. 


Her clothes have been stripped from her. 


Without her clothes and pretense, she is naked, but she is also naked because her soul is bearing her sin before everybody.


This week life imitated art and the protesters stood in judgment over Senator Manchin’s decision to vote yes for and support Kavanaugh.


He was surrounded by shame. 


It was not meant to be politic, respectful, or open any sort of dialogue, but simply to tear the Senator down and humiliate him for his decision. 


I could imagine how he must feel being surrounded by all these people telling him he was a disgrace and that should be completely ashamed of himself. 


There seemed no one left to strand up for him, defend him, and let him save face. 


I am not saying his decision was right or wrong, just that when seemingly everybody passes judgment on you as evil and a disgrace, there is no where to hide or anyone to defend himself in this mob lynching. 


I imagine that this feeling of shame is sort of what happens when we die and we must face everyone we dealt favorably and unfavorably with.  


For those who we wronged, the chant of shame echoes through G-d’s heavenly court. 


There is no place to hide as we must now pay the piper for each and every thing we did or didn’t do.  


Our deeds are no longer hidden, but exposed for everyone to see. 


We cannot pretend to be good when we were not.


The veil and pretense of righteousness disintegrates.


We are exposed for who we really are. 


Our true selves and our sins are there in full sight and for which we must bear out our ultimate shame. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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Tongue-Tied Silence

Sometimes in life, people are left tongue-tied. 


Too shocked, shamed, confused, or abused to speak or perhaps to even know what to say anymore. 


Maybe in the face of some horrible things that happen in life, there really are no words.


Instead, the vacant or crazed look in the eyes says it all.


People go through a lot–some of it is inhumane.


Sometimes, only tears can even begin to express what they are feeling. 


I think one thing that is important to do, even when we’re not sure what to say, is to acknowledge that it is okay. 


Silence is often golden. 


Listen more, watch more, feel more, learn more, reflect more. 


Ask more questions. 


Usually, I’m told to ask at least 5 times (i’d say at least 3) to decompose to what is really going on underneath the superficial covers. 

“Tell me more.”
“What else?”
“Can you elaborate?”


Sometimes, people have difficulty getting in touch with their true feelings or accurately diagnosing what’s bothering them.  


It’s more than okay to be thoughtful, be deliberative. 


Words are often cheap, but they shouldn’t be. 


Our words should be truthful, meaningful, insightful, even righteous. 


Take all the time you need, your words are worth it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Meaning of Silence

Silence.jpeg

Is silence a good thing or a bad thing–what does it really mean?


On the plus or neutral side:


Silence can mean modesty and humility–you withhold speaking out of turn or having a big mouth; you recognize that you don’t know everything and what you do know is not intended to put down or shame others. 


Silence can means secrets and privacy–you don’t say everything; you treat information properly based on need to know and propriety of sharing. 


Silence can mean good situational judgement–that you know prudently when to let others have their say, or when your opinion isn’t really welcome, or when it’s best to just stay below the radar. 


Silence can mean you simply don’t know–and it’s something you need to listen and learn more about rather than speak; it’s why we’re told that we have two ears and one mouth.


Silence can mean that maybe you don’t care about something–why get fired up or “waste your breath” on it when it’s just not your thing.


When can it be a negative:


There was a sign in the local school window that silence means (wrongful) acceptance; that is also something I learned in in the Talmud in yeshiva; if you see something wrong and don’t say or do something, you are (partially) responsible.


Silence can mean fear–perhaps you don’t accept something, but you’re afraid to speak truth or morality to power; you sit silently cowering, when you should stand up tall and speak out. 


Silence may also mean shame–you’ve done something wrong or don’t want others to know something that could make you look bad or put you in jeopardy. 


Silence can mean you are hiding something–it can be that you don’t trust or aren’t trustful; silence at a time when you need to answer or respond can result in suspicion about why you are “holding back,” instead of being forthcoming and truthful.


When to talk and when to remain silent? 


Certainly, “you have the right to remain silent.”


We need to use words with care and intent–to always seek to help and not to hurt. 


Words are so potent–the mouth is perhaps the strongest part of the human body, just like the pen is mightier than the sword. 


That’s why I pray that G-d put the “right words” in my mouth–to be constructive, positive, effective and impactful–to do good as much as possible with words and with silence. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Emperor Has No Clothes

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What happens when the emperor has no clothes?


That’s when we get fake news and alternative facts. 


These days we don’t know what to believe anymore because institutions and media have lost so much credibility with bias, prejudice, and trying to influence based on overtly selfish motives. 


The gloves have come off in the fight for supreme earthly might. 


Apparently, a lot of other clothes have come off too.


Now the influencers stand naked before us and we must judge for ourselves the truth of the matter. 


It funny-sad that in their utter nakedness, they bear no shame. 


They scream, and hissy fit, protest, rage, demean, threaten and commit violence.


Ear lobes are dangling as are the other parts and still there is no listening, negotiating, or compromise. 


Advancement is limited to obstruction, and progress is dead like a heap of dung.


The nation suffers the marks in the flesh of bitter fighting, while our competitive advantages are eroded. 


United we used to stand, and divided for a decade we are falling. 


We can dive into the pile of clothes and swim among them, but still we are sinking naked and stinking the lot like selfish bastards, indeed. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Can You Do No Right?

Criticism.jpeg

Do you ever feel like you can do no right?


That whatever you do or choose, you are opening yourself up to criticism by others or more importantly from yourself.


That’s because in life every moment is a choice and each selection of what you do with your time and efforts means by definition that you are not doing something else important then.


– Take the mother or father who chooses to spend time raising their children, but then are not focused as much on their career.


– Take the student who is working really hard on getting those good grades and SAT scores, but then are not doing as much or well with extracurricular activities like sports or socializing. 


– Take the spiritual or religious person or clergy who chooses to focuses their life studying and performing holy speech and deeds but not so much other earthly and material matters. 


– Take the athlete who works out and eats right focusing on toning and honing their body and physical skills but doesn’t spend as much time and effort on intellectual interests or more standard career pursuits. 


– Take the extrovert who focuses on building and maintaining relationships and networks–family, friends, community, colleagues, others–but are not putting the same time and attention to enhancing their other knowledge, skills, and abilities. 


So you say, but why can’t we just do everything we’re supposed to do, and simply balance?


Well, that is what we all try to do in our own way, but still each time and every moment you are doing one thing, you are not at that moment doing something else or being somewhere else. 


So that causes tension, perhaps a tug-of-war within ourselves, stress, and even guilt. 


The impact is that we often run from one thing to another or we get distracted in what we are doing–“Honey can you answer the phone?”


Some classic examples are when we race home from the office to pick the kids up from school or while playing with sweet little Johny or Suzie, the phone rings and and we have to pick up that call from the boss at work. 


As they say, you can’t be–physically or mentally–in two places at the same time!


Hence, now the movement for mindfulness, being in the moment and focused.


But as the demands in life forever ask more of us–even amidst ever greater technology and automation to assist us–somehow we can never do enough because of course, the bar gets raised for ourselves and the competition gets tougher from those who make choices to focus on specific areas that we are not as much. 


So say that you are splitting your time between work and family, but someone else is single or doesn’t have kids and they are full in with work, staying late, going in weekends, getting those extra credentials, and just putting in every extra effort there…well, how do you think you will stack up?


Yes, some of us recognize the importance of work-life balance and even focusing incrementally across the many important areas of our life: physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.


Never-the-less every moment, in a time- and space-bound world, we are forced to choose this or that. 


There is no one right answer for everyone!


And every choice in every moment is the opportunity for you to criticize yourself or for others to criticize you that you weren’t paying attention, focused, doing your best, etc.


But who cares–it’s our life to live and we can live it as we want?


True, however as inevitably important things or relationships break down or fail, have mistakes or errors, or aren’t going as we would ultimately want or dream they should–we ask ourselves, could we have done things differently or somehow managed our time, efforts, and focus better.


(Source Photo: Online Advertisement provided by Dannielle Blumenthal)

Shut Up In Shul

Menorah

So today, I went to synagogue for Shabbat. 


I sat by one of my friends and in between some prayers was catching up with him from the week. 


Okay, I know that I shouldn’t be talking (so much) in shule, but it is an important way for me to connect with other Jewish people and community. 


Then all of a sudden, another person says to me without any warning, “Shut up!”


At first, I thought it was a joke, then he says it again with a serious face, and I was so embarrassed. 


And only partially for me, but maybe even more for him.


What type of person uses that type of language to someone and in synagogue. 


He didn’t say, can you keep it down or let’s focus on our prayers or something human and kind. 


Instead, he talked to me like an animal and I couldn’t believe it and tonight is Tisha B’Av, when Hashem twice destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (in part it is said because of hatred of Jew against Jew). 


It reminded me of how I saw some horrible videos on Facebook this week of Chasidim from Neturei Karta and Satmar protesting against Israel and their fellow Jewish people…what a complete sickness to wish evil and destruction against your own brothers and sisters, rather than helping them to build and grow a beautiful state in service to G-d and a light unto nations. 


In synagogue today, while I was silent before this person’s horrible words of rebuke, my friend said to him, “This is how you talk?  You say shut up [and in shul]!”


I appreciated that he said something, and the other guy actually apologized then.


I hope Hashem can forgive me for talking in shule and the people who treat each other badly. 


I am sad at how twisted religion has gotten to some, and know this is not the way it is supposed to be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Weighing The Evidence

Scale

Here is an interesting idea.

In front of the inner doors to this supermarket in Florida…

There is a huge scale for weighing yourself.

Before you shop for the mac and cheese, hero sandwiches, pizza slices, cookies, cakes, ice cream, and chips, why not have a look at the scale!

Then decide what you want to buy in the supermarket today.

Maybe you’ll spend a little more time and money in the fruit and vegetable isle.

Or getting some healthy and diet snacks.

The scale only goes up to 300 pounds.

So if that that doesn’t scare you straight…

Maybe the fact that everyone can see your weight when you get on, will. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)