The Most Important Word Is AND

coexist-jpeg

So as divisiveness continues to plague us. the option for acceptance, love, and coexistence is falling out of the favor and by the wayside. 

Division and conflict has been accentuated by the ugliness of the most recent election and representative political divide, economic and gender inequality, inner city violence, racial and religious tensions, worldwide terrorism, and global conflict from Syria to the South China Sea. 

This has even infiltrated the functioning of our government, social institutions, and free media big time, where vetting, negotiation and compromise, critical thinking, and fair, balanced, and investigative journalism have been largely jettisoned. 

There is no place anymore to go hide from bias, bigotry, and hate. 

But as the wise proverb goes things truly are not just black and white, but there are loads of grey everywhere

Many people are not good or evil, left or right, blessed or cursed.

Instead, most people are a mixture of this AND that. 

How much of the complex mix of different elements is what makes up the integrity and life of the individual, group, and organization we are dealing with.

But what’s important is that you really can’t just stereotype people, ideas, or actions as simply good or bad because in reality, they aren’t.  

Each person and position has elements of good and bad in them…nothing and nobody in life is perfect. 

You take the good and the bad in everything from relationships to policy decisions. 

So it is certainly possible and even probable to be conflicted and confused about what we see and hear–and not only because of the bias and prejudice in how it is presented or portrayed, but rather because things are not just simple, one or the other propositions, but rather a combination of things we approve of and disapprove of. 

Our brains can have lots of trouble dealing with this complexity, because we are wired in terms of survival of the fittest, and that often means choosing a action based on split-second categorizing of people and things as friend or foe. 

As the mere shadow of the person or idea is upon us, we are asked to respond–do we run or fight it or do we lovingly embrace it as it overtakes us. 

Choose wrong and you can be badly hurt or even dead. 

But we are forced to make these quick and bold choices without always having the luxury of time, the patience, or wherewithal to stop and recognize that things and people are a combination of things we like and agree with and others that we dislike and vehemently oppose. 

If we could just keep in mind that most things are not just good or bad, right or wrong, but good AND bad, right AND wrong, then we can make more astute and fine-tuned designations of what we think something really is and isn’t and how to handle it, live with it, and faithfully coexist with it. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Advertisements

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)

What’s With The Best Buds?

Best Buds

I never quite understood the best buds t-shirt wave.


This is especially the case when the person is alone and there is no best bud anywhere to be found. 


We are all social animals, and perhaps, we all wish to have a best bud in our lives–someone to “buddy around with” and who knows and understands us, and unconditionally accepts us. 


Best buds seems to almost be able to read each others minds and finish each others sentences…and they laugh hysterically together about these mindless things for which apparently only they get it. 


When best buds are together, it’s like they are almost in a bubble of their own world, and everyone else is on the outside, if they even exist to the buds at all. 


That’s because bests buds are it–they have history, they share things in common, they think alike, and they work in tandem.


It’s like getting two for the price of one: they are Batman and Robbin, Tonto and The Lone Ranger, Cheech and Chong, Laverne and Shirley, Simon and Garfunkel, and so many other couplings that stick together like peanut butter and jelly. 


If you have a best bud then you already know you don’t need to give them a t-shirt to spell it out–the chemistry already says it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Can You Love A Robot

Lollypop
Pew Research reports that by 2025, “Robotic sex partners will be commonplace.”



While I certainly understand loving (new helpful) technology, actually making love to a machine is taking things a little too far.



Even with great advances in artificial intelligence (AI), a robot can be nothing more than an artificial partner…a humanoid is not a human!



Despite portrayals in the movie Her (2013) of a nerdy writer who falls in love with his life-like operating system, the reality of human and machine love is more a desperate call for companionship and understanding than a real connection of equals–physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. 



While a computer may be programmed to say the things you want to hear, to laugh at your jokes, and even to succumb to your advances, love cannot be programmed or even artificially learned. 



The complex dynamics between two real people locked-in the emotional roller coaster of life with its ups and downs, pulling together and pushing apart, of shared experiences, challenges, and conflicts, can only be met head on with a best friend, soulmate, diametric opposite, and at the same time congruent equal. 



Only another human being can love you and be your love.



A machine, however beautiful designed, charming, and learning of you, can be just a poor surrogate for the sad person screaming out for connection in a large lonely world. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Let It Be

Let It Be

I remember as a kid, when I was around 10 years old, we moved, and I had to change schools, and there was an adjustment period.

My father used to tell me a joke in the morning before school about these two grandmothers kibbitzing.

And one tells the other about how her grandson hates going to school.

She goes on to say, “The students hate him, the teachers hate, it’s just horrible.”

The other grandmother replies, “Well then, why doesn’t he just tell the principal?”

The first grandmother answers, “He is the principal!”

So this was a lesson to me about how no one has it so perfect in life–whether you’re the kid, teacher, or even the principal, everyone has their challenges (and they may actually not look all that differently in the larger context of things).

Basically, in life we must work to make things better where we can, but also have to accept the things we cannot change (and thank G-d, people are pretty adaptable, expecially given some time).

While, we can try to divine the future by asking “What’s going to be?”

Generally speaking, we can’t fully know the answers in life before we even have the questions.

We’ve got to take it as it come, where we can–do our best to make a tangible, positive difference in the world–and with the rest, “let it be.”

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I, U, Y Talk Like That

I, U, Y Talk Like That

Already young children in pre-school learn that “Words have meaning, and words can hurt.”

All through life, we refine our communication skills learning what works and what doesn’t.

Here are three letter-words with which to beware:

– “I” (Use sparingly) – I is usually people’s favorite word; they love to talk about themselves. I this. I that. I like. I hate. The problem is that “I” can also be selfish, egotistical, and narcissistic. Without tempering talking about I all the time, you run the very large risk of overdoing it. All the I can easily end up boring other people to near death or simply make them want to run the other way to get some needed healthy attention for themselves.

– “U” (Use carefully) – U is most often used to criticize. U should do this. U did something wrong. U are a blankety-blank. While it’s also caring, loving, and empathetic to talk about U (i.e. taking a genuine interest in the other person), talking about U can easily go astray and lead to disapproval, denunciation, and censure. We should and need to talk about U, but more from the perspective of understanding U and how can I help U.

– “Y” (Use almost never) – Y is used to ask questions, but usually ends up being used judgmentally. Y did you do that? Sometimes we question honestly and with positive intentions to understand, but very often we end up using the response to evaluate their actions, and pronounce judgement on them. From all the interrogative questions (who, what, where, when, Y, and how), Y should be used the absolute least, if ever.

I, U, Y – are letter-words that can imply selfishness, criticism, and judgement.

While, they can’t exactly be banned from the alphabet or dictionary, they are dangerous words that can get you misunderstood, alienate others, and hurt people in the process, and therefore use them, but with extreme caution, please. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to id-iom)

Listening and Blessings

Listening and Blessings

Two reflections from this week:

1. Listen to understand:
I heard a colleague talk about the importance of listening. There wasn’t really anything new about that, except he went on to say, “Listen to understand, not to refute or resolve.” The more, I thought about this, the more brilliant I realized this was. How often do we either not really listen to the other person? And when we do listen at all, aren’t we most of the time jumping to either refute what they are saying or resolve their issue? The key though is to listen to understand. Ask questions. Get clarifications. Only once you really listen to the other person and understand what they are saying, can you begin to address the thoughts and feeling they are expressing to you.

2. G-d Blessed You:
Usually when I see people asking for help/money on the streets, they have signs–handwritten, often on cardboard or the like–that says something about their plight. Perhaps, they are homeless, lost their job, ill or disabled, have kids to support…and they are asking for your help and mercy. At the end of the sign or if you give them some change or a few dollars, they say thanks, but also “G-d bless you” in the future tense. And this is really nice to get a blessing in return for some basic charity and kindness. However, there is one poor person begging in downtown D.C., and he says it differently. His sign asks for help and says, “G-d blessed you” in the past-present tense. First, I thought maybe this was just a grammatical mistake, but then I realized what he was saying. G-d blessed you, so please give back to others. This wasn’t a thank you wish to the other person, but rather a reason that you should give to begin with. Recognize how fortunate you are (and maybe you don’t even necessarily deserve it), but G-d blessed you, so have mercy and give to others.

Hope these reflections mean something to you the way they do to me, and have a good weekend everyone!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)