Enlightened Conflict

everyday sort of magic

August 26th, 2014

magic make

 

 

——–

“I do believe in an every day sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”

=

Charles de Lint

——–

 

 

Well.

 

 

 

I guess in some way I must be an impractical non-pragmatic dreamer type <despite anything I may have said about myself I the past> because I loved this quote as soon as I saw it.

 

 

 

I do believe in an everyday sort of magic.

 

 

I do believe that despite the everyday Life grind we encounter a little magic in our lives … every day.

 

 

 

I do believe more of us should see this … or maybe take a moment and recognize this.

 

 

 

I do believe we ignore the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity too easily <and too often>.

 

 

I do believe we need to embrace hope just a little bit more often <on more days>.

 

 

moment insightI do believe magic can be found in stars and rainbows <which we should take a moment and enjoy more often>.

 

 

But.

 

 

 

In the end … I tend to believe we should seek some magic, more often, in simple seemingly meaningless moments and silent random encounters with people.

 

 

I do believe that no matter how alone, or lonely, you may feel there is always someone somewhere who, while may not be thinking about you at that moment, is willing and wants to think about you <and isn’t all that matters?>.

 

 

Does this make me some sort of dreamer?

 

 

Heck.

 

moment beautiful

I don’t know.

 

 

All I know is that I am someone who believes in everyday sort of magic.

 

read the world

August 23rd, 2014

reading is traveling words

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

=

Augustine of Hippo

——

 

 

Ok.

 

 

If you are a reader … this is going to be fabulous. Oh. And most of it was generated by a couple of tween/teen <young adult> people who love to read.

 

 

 

So often we have our favorite authors and many of those ‘favorite’ are driven by either where you live or by popular media.

 

 

I hesitate to call it a ‘reading rut’ but if you are not careful … you will see that over time your bookshelves with start having a slightly homogenous feel to it.

 

 

book touch lightly

I say that because that means we often miss out on some fabulous reading out of the mainstream.

 

 

That is why I believe this is fabulous.

 

 

I came across this “list of books from around the world’ on the tumblr site ‘about books and dreams’ which connected me to two different lists I wanted to share.

 

 

 

Suffice it to say … there are a shitload of books listed here and you could spend a lifetime finding & reading all of them.

 

 

 

But … well … what a lifetime, huh?

 

 

books to read

Anyway.

 

 

 

=

 

 

 

-         The original list …Read The World – The Peirene 100 Essential Classics From Around The Globe.

 

 

A truly challenging, eclectic and inspiring list compiled entirely by Peirene Press readers:

 

 —

http://www.listchallenges.com/read-the-world-the-peirene-100-essential

=

 

 

 

And then I saw a commenter … a young adult … kind of ‘diss’ the list in that snarky young way that young people can pull off <and I loved it>:

 

 

The thought was actually creating a list which is a reflection … a true reflection … of the world population.

 

 

 

What a fabulous idea <and lots of work>.

 

 

 

I do not know who ‘eastiseverywhere’ is … but job well done.

 

 

——————

 

 

 

eastiseverywhere:

 

 

I recently got ticked off over a “Read the World” list that was still really centred on Western books.

 

 

 

Then I started thinking: what if there were a reading list of 100 books that reflected the actual demographics of the world population of 7.152 billion people right now?

 

 

Here are:

 

19 books from China;

world broekn down 100 people

17 from India;

 

4 from the US;

 

3 from Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan;

 

 

2 from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Japan and Mexico, and 1 each from the Philippines, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Turkey, DRC, Thailand, France, UK, Italy, Burma, South Africa, South Korea, Colombia, Spain, Ukraine, Tanzania, Kenya, Argentina, Algeria, Poland, Sudan, Uganda, Canada, Iraq, Morocco, Peru, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nepal, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, Ghana, Mozambique, Australia and Taiwan.

 

 

50 books are by men.

 

49 are by women.

 

1 is a work of divine revelation.

 

 

 

 

 

Authors (roughly) reflect the ethnic makeup of their nations – e.g. the South African author is Black, not white; the Malaysian author is Malay, not Chinese; one of the PRC authors is non-Han Chinese; one of the American authors is non-white.Bucharest, romania: A woman walks between books displayed on the pavement d

 

 

I’ve tried to represent a range of historical periods and the most acclaimed writers in each section.

 

 

Writers presented are those widely available in English – this is why Ding Ling, Zhang Yueran and Akka Mahadevi weren’t featured: because it’s really hard to find their work in English.

 

 

Also, a writer is only of a nationality if s/he’s got/had citizenship of the area at some point – i.e. Jhumpa Lahiri is American, not Indian.

 

 

Sure, I know this list is problematic – smaller countries, like those of the Caribbean and Oceania, are kind of wiped out. But I’m open to change this. So send in your suggestions for changes if you’ve got them!

 

 

And remember: if you’re gonna read the world, you might as well do it RIGHT.

 

 

————–

 

 

Here is the Full list of Books:

<note 1 from Bruce: of course I would edit the list to match up with my likes & dislikes … for example … for Spain I would include Arturo Perez Revarte … for Russia … well … I could include several others … but you get it … you can edit and add & subtract … but the point is you get exposed to books from around the world>.

=

<note 2 from Bruce: this list also becomes more difficult if you maintain representation of the world … for example … France with its extensive list of great literature is limited to one book because of its relative size in the midst of the larger world>

=

<note 3 from Bruce: please forgive me for any formatting issues or readability issues … this post was frickin’ difficult to build and format … I would have tortured someone at wordpress if I could ever find someone to wring their proverbial neck … >

—-

 

read fast sorcerer

On with the list ……

 

 

 

CHINA

The Analects of Confucius

The Tao Te Ching of Lao Zi

The Art of War by Sun Zi

The Poems of Li Qingzhao

The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng En

Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Shi Naian

Selected Stories of Lu Xun

Rickshaw Boy by Lao She

The Dyer’s Daughter by Xiao Hong

Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang

Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian

The Republic of Wine by Mo Yan

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa

Red Azalea by Anchee Min

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi

Daughter of the River by Hong Ying

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

The Good Women of China by Xinran

 

INDIA

 

The Ramayana of Valmiki

The Mahabharata by Vyasa

The Dhammapada of Buddha

The Kural of Tiruvalluvar

The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT by Chetan Bhagat

A River Sutra by Gita Mehta

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi

Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai

Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Spouse: The Truth About Marriage by Shobhaa De

Moving On by Shashi Deshpande

 

USA

The Poems of Emily Dickinson

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Beloved by Toni Morrison

INDONESIA

Letters from A Javanese Princess by Raden Adjeng Kartini

This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Saman by Ayu Utami

BRAZIL

Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis

Dona Flor and her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado

The Hours of the Star by Clarice Lispector

PAKISTAN

Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

NIGERIA

Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamande Ngozi Adichie

BANGLADESH

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam

RUSSIA

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

reading 3

The Poems of Anna Akhmatova

JAPAN

reading 2

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

MEXICO

reading 1

The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

PHILIPPINES

Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

VIETNAM

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip

reading is traveling child

ETHIOPIA

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste

EGYPT

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

GERMANY

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

IRAN

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

TURKEY

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja

 

THAILAND

Letters from Thailand by Botan

FRANCE

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

UK

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

ITALY

The Aeneid by Virgil

BURMA

Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

SOUTH AFRICA

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

SOUTH KOREA

Please Look After Mother by Kyung Sook Shin

COLOMBIA

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

SPAIN

The Life of St Teresa of Avila by Herself

UKRAINE

The White Guard by Mikail Bulgakhov

TANZANIA

Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah

KENYA

Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa’Thiongo

ARGENTINA

The Topless Tower by Silvina Ocampo

ALGERIA

Fantasia: An Algerian Calvacade by Assia Djebar

POLAND

The Poems of Wislawa Szymborska

SUDAN

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

UGANDA

Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol by Okot p’Bitek

CANADA

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

IRAQ

The Poems of Rabia Basri

MOROCCO

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami

PERU

The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa

UZBEKISTAN

The Dancer from Khiva by Bibish

MALAYSIA

Kampung Boy by Lat

SAUDI ARABIA

The Quran

VENEZUELA

Doña Inés vs. Oblivion by Ana Teresa Torres

NEPAL

The End of the World by Sushma Joshi

AFGHANISTAN

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

YEMEN

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

NORTH KOREA

Eyes of the Tailless Animals by Soon Ok Lee

GHANA

Changes by Ama Ata Adoo

MOZAMBIQUE

Neighbours: A Story of a Murder by Lília Momplé

AUSTRALIA

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

TAIWAN

Notes of a Desolate Man by Chu Ti’en-Wen

——-

 

 

And to be fair to the about books and dreams tumblr author … she added her own list:

 

 

-          I’ll start adding some titles here (trying to stick to novels) and you can send me yours in a message.

 

 

 

Japan:

The Sea of Fertility series by Yukio Mishima, Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto.

México:

books and time

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, Battles in the Desert by José Emilio Pacheco, Les Exilés de la Mémoire (Los Rojos de Ultramar) by Jordi Soler, The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz, Confabulario by Juan José Arreola, Popol Vuh, The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela, The Nine Guardians (Balún Canán) by Rosario Castellanos, Tear This Heart Out by Ángeles Mastretta.

Germany:

Perfume by Patrick Süskind, Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (born in Poland).

France:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (born in Morocco).

Italy:

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (born in Cuba).

Colombia:

Delirium by Laura Restrepo, Recipes for Sad Women by Héctor Abad Faciolince.

Spain:

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Tell Me Who I Am by Julia Navarro, See How Much I Love You by Luis Leante, Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones.

Argentina:

The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar, The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato.

Canada:

Dear Life by Alice Munro, In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré (born in Scotland), Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen.

Peru:

Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo.

Czech Republic:

Slowness by Milan Kundera, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Israel:

The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret.

Nigeria:

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The African Trilogy by Chinua Achebe.

 

 
Palestine:

Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh

 

 

Portugal:

Blindness by José Saramago, The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa.

 

 
Uruguay:

Memory of Fire series by Eduardo Galeano, The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories by Horacio Quiroga, The Truce by Mario Benedetti.

——-

 

And then because the blog owner is Brazilian … she asks … can I add more Brazilian literature?

 

 

- Agua Viva, Near to the Wild Heart, and The Passion of G. H by Clarice Lispector

- The Posthumos Memoir of Bras Cubas by Machado de Assis

reading and where you will go

- Winning the Game and High Art by Rubem Fonseca

- They Were Many Horses by Luiz Ruffato

- Blood-drenched Beard by Daniel Galera

——-

 

Well.

 

 

If you can’t find something new to read off of this list … well … you are hopeless.

right versus left … and truth

August 20th, 2014

thinking diagonally

——–

“The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world.”

=

Andrew WK

——

 

Well.
I liked this editorial I am going to share today.

 

 

Sometimes we seem to get so caught up in labels … conservative, liberal, progressive, right wing, left wing, etc … that we lose sight of what really matters.
Labels <heuristics in the broadest frame of reference> are tricky things.

 

 

We like them because it allows us to slot people and things and ideas.

 

 

We hate them because if we pay enough attention … they often lead us astray.

 

 

The difficulty for us is often we are so busy trying to get shit done and save our brains from thinking about senseless stuff we use these labels to take mental shortcuts.

 

 

Ah.

 

 

But then … every once in a while something gets a little personal.

 

And then the labels create a shortcut that ends in a dead end.

 

And we don’t like that because short cuts aren’t supposed to do that.

 

And we get frustrated.

 

And this is where this editorial really makes an excellent point.

 

 

Just think about it.

 

Far too often we have labels that create unhealthy thinking & thought dead ends.

 

——

 

Rocker Andrew W.K. writes a weekly advice column for The Village Voice.

In this week’s “Ask Andrew W.K.,” he answers a question from “Son of A Right-Winger,” and in the process gives us all great advice, regardless of our political views.

 

The tough question

Hi Andrew,

I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore.

He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total (expletive) intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics.

I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all.

How do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

behavior predict question

=

 

The perfect answer

Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again.

Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man.

There isn’t one.

You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world.

The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love.

We must not let this happen.

———

Well.

 

 

There is your thought for the day …character stood up best
‘The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world.’

 

 

Despite the conclusion you may draw … you are no better than someone else.

 

Think about … well … “I’ve been wrong before.” Maybe we should consider that thought more often.

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

Just because we may think differently than someone else does not make us any better than them.

 

the majority minority paradox

August 18th, 2014

thinking alone with dog

———

“Everybody feels safe belonging not to the excluded minority but to the excluding majority.

You think, Oh, I’m glad that’s not me.

It’s basically the same in all periods in all societies.

If you belong to the majority, you can avoid thinking about lots of troubling things.”

=

Haruki Murakami

——–

Whew.

 

 

The minority majority paradox.

 

 

I actually began thinking about this when someone used the infamous “I guess that shows the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” <when discussing criminals and sexual deviancy>.

 

 

 

And then … while I abhor politics and avoid the whole political crap spewed day in and day out through media … it is difficult to avoid the sliver who spew an embarrassingly vocal minority opinion <at the top of their lungs>.

 

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

Both discussions got me going a little.

 

 

 

It made me think about what society <and many people> perceives … and what is reality … because of the minority majority paradox.

 

 

It affects what we think about criminals.

 

 

 

Climate change.

Smoking.

Drinking alcohol.

Unmarried mothers.

 

 

And many others <although I will share the information on the ones I listed>.
But I will begin with the response to the ‘apple not falling far from tree’ when I stated that most people who are abused as a child never hurt a fly.

 

 

Yet.

 

Of all the people who hurt flies, almost of them have had their wings broken themselves.

 

 

That is a microcosm of the majority minority paradox.

 

minority majority happy

Yup.

 

 

A truth:

 

“… abusive people are more likely to have come from an abusive environment … but the majority of people from an abusive environment are not abusive.”

 

Same with criminal behavior and sexual deviancy.

“Children who grew up in an environment in which criminal behavior or sexual deviancy … are more likely to exhibit that behavior than those who didn’t.”

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

But those children do NOT represent the majority of criminals or sexual deviants.

 

 

Yeah.

 

It is the kind of head scratcher type information that can make your head hurt of you think about it too much.

But that is the way the minority majority paradox works.

 

Where things truly go awry is in how the information and perspective <and perceptions> gets managed.

 

 

And, as with most information, you can use it for good or for evil … and you can use information to steer people in a direction <for good or for bad> and it can be used to create perceptions and attitudes which make people say stupid shit on occasion <but hopefully not actually DO stupid shit>.

 

 

Regardless.

thinker thumbtack

 

The paradox, oddly enough, often make people think … well … small.

 

 

Oh.

 

 

Another paradox example.

 

 

How about climate change?

 

A survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals has found 97.1% <now I believe it is over 98%> agreed that climate change is caused <in some degree or another> by human activity.

 

At minimum they agree humans contribute to climate change.

 

 

Suffice it to say the survey findings reflect a near unanimity. And you would tend to believe this provides a powerful rebuttal to climate contrarians <often called “deniers”> who continue to insist the science of climate change remains unsettled <or they simply focus on ‘not all people agree’ as their argument>.

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

The survey considered the work of some 29,000 scientists published in 11,994 academic papers and only 0.7% or 83 of those articles disputed the scientific consensus that human activity contributes to climate change.

 

 

minority climate change

“Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary.”

John Cook of the University of Queensland.

 

 

Yet.

 

 

Public opinion continues to lag behind the science.

 

 

Though a majority of Americans accept the climate is changing, just 42% believed human activity was the main driver, in a poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre last October.

 

“There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception.”

 

 

It is true, as the skeptics like to point out, that long-term climate modeling remains an inexact science.

 

 

And some environmentalists hurt their cause by leaping to blame every extreme weather event on global warming.

 

 

 

But climate scientists are 95% to 100% sure that human activity — emission of greenhouse gases — is a significant cause of dramatic warming. And that warming is already raising sea levels, acidifying oceans, melting glaciers and intensifying heat waves, downpours, droughts and wildfires.

 

 

So why are the opinion numbers so wacky?

 

 

A vocal minority.

 

A harshly loud vocal minority.
All of which makes one consider the actions of a minority with regard to influencing the majority.
And oddly media plays a pretty significant role in this minority – majority paradox.

 

say out loud oops

Sticking with climate change <mostly because that was the last thing I talked about>.

 

 

=

  • - A 2011 study of opinion columns appearing in The Australian found that climate change contrarians outnumbered four-to-one those authors calling for firm action to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

=

  • - In the US, the Union of Concerned Scientists has looked at climate change coverage in the Wall Street Journal and on Fox News over a six-month period. In the case of Fox, UCS classified 37 out of 40 segments as “misleading” on climate change science.   In almost a year of Wall Street Journal articles, just nine out of 48 articles were deemed to accurately reflect the state of the science.

=

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All these articles play a significant role in amplifying the minority’s machine of messaging to a broad segment of the public.
The loud minority.

 

 

They are shouting.

 

And sound louder than what they really are.

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

It amazes me how often a minority attitude/behavior is actually, in reality, a majority.

 

The easiest to point out is women.

 

Yeah.

 

Minorities may actually be a numerical majority … like women in American society.

 

 

Go figure.

 

 

How can you be a minority but be the majority?

 

 

It amazes me how often a majority acts like a minority and, probably more importantly, how we confuse the minority majority relationships in our perceptions … and inevitably how we manage them behavior wise.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

What’s happening?

 

 

Or maybe … why is this happening?

 

Let’s think about what’s happening in society and culture and why.

 

 

Well.

 

 

While the minority majority paradox has always occurred … the roots of today’s venomous version can be found in changes which began occurring in maybe 1990.

 

Peter Drucker outlined the changes.

—-

The new reality of pluralism in society is related to the creation and development of single purposed organisations, which are concentrated on one social task while being completely apolitical such as business, education, health, youth and so forth.

(Drucker)

—–

And these groups have no oversight <not suggesting they should> therefore they can say whatever they want to say:

 

 

These groups feature movements of highly organized minorities whose objective is to obtain through power what could not be achieved through other means.

Pluralism both in society and in polity is to be perceived as a challenge to political processes and political leadership as well as to all the represented groups and individuals of our society.

The challenges of the new pluralist institutions require particular attention in terms of: their social responsibility; their community responsibility; political responsibility; individuals’ rights and responsibility; and the newly perceived role and functions of government.

 

 

This all means that the small and single-cause concerned groups are becoming increasingly dominating in politics and society … and therefore opinions & perceptions <… and not truth>.

 

 

 

How the heck do they achieve such power?

 

 

Oddly … the power actually resides in their small numbers. Because they are small they are aligned and focused.

 

 

As a minority their strength is derived from their single task or purpose, which are usually related to prevent or to stop rather than to be organized to do something.

 

 

Politically these minority groups are increasingly dominating the mass movements of modern politics <and society> though they count only 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the electorate <Drucker, 1989>.

 

 

In contrast, the majority tends to be not well organized, is inert and not committed to a particular purpose and or a unified objective.

 

 

That said.

 

 

It can change … because when the majority actually kind of gets grumpy … they can get organized and actually do something.

 

 

Ah.

 

 

 

And the most obvious example of a majority squeezing a minority is smoking.
Smokers are, and always have been, a minority.

 

 

Yup.

 

 

There have always been more <significantly more> nonsmokers then smokers.
Yet smokers seemed to rule the world.

 

 

Not so much anymore.

 

 

Oh.

 

Sticking with smoking.

 

Another minority- majority paradox.

 

Interestingly … despite what everyone may want to make you think … the majority of smokers do not die from a tobacco related issue.

 

 

Whoa.

 

Did I just type that?

 

 

You betcha.

 

The majority of smokers <not a shitload more than 50% but above 50%> live a relatively normal health life.

bullshit no way

 

This is one of those infamous “those who smoke are more likely to die from” versus “those who die are not more likely to have done so because of a smoking issue.”

 

 

 

Try this on for size … fewer than 10% of smokers get lung cancer and even fewer will get any cancer.

 

 

No shit.

 

 

But smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths. The risk of developing lung cancer is about 23 times higher in smokers compared to non-smokers and smoking is associated with increased risk of at least 15 types of cancer.

 

 

Yup.

 

This is the infamous minority majority paradox at its best.

 

 

The minority will actually get cancer but of those that actually do get cancer the majority have smoked.

 

 

 

 

So.

 

 

Smoking may not give you cancer but it increases your odds <exponentially>.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

Because I do wish smokers would quit … here is a simple fact … about half of all smokers will die from smoking, and of these about half will die before or around age 50 <50-year study of physicians in England completed in 2001 – initiated in 1951>.

 

 

And the life expectancy for a smoker in the United States is about 64, which is 14 years shorter than the national average (which includes smokers), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

 

It’s all about how the information is used.
As Christopher Wanjek says “In the game of risk, you’re more likely to have a condom break than to get cancer from smoking.”

 

rabbit smoking

 

He also says …

 

“Smoking doesn’t kill everyone.

About 50 percent of smokers do reach old age, albeit with diminished taste buds, diminished endurance, diminished eyesight, yellow teeth and bad breath.

Going by these numbers it becomes clear that few pastimes, habits or addictions are deadlier than smoking.

Only Russian roulette and scorpion juggling come to mind.”

 

 

 

Ok.

 

 

How about alcohol.

 

 

Despite what perception is … maybe over 50% of Americans do not drink with any frequency at all.

 

 

Ok.

 

Maybe make that almost 70% of Americans.

 

 

Yup.

 

Perception: “Alcohol is an integral part of American life.

It is a normal accompaniment to most social events. Most Americans enjoy drinking on a regular basis.”

 

 

Well.

 

There are certainly some widely held perceptions about alcohol—created in part by alcohol advertising and popular culture.

 

 

But these perceptions are not entirely true.

 

These perceptions—and misperceptions—affect our attitudes toward alcohol and our policies regarding the sale to and consumption of alcohol by youth as well as adults.

 

 

You want some truth?

——

Reality: A large majority of Americans either do not drink or drink infrequently.

——-

 

For a large majority … alcohol is an unimportant consumer product. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse about 51 percent of adults 21 years of age and older report that they did not consume any alcohol in the past month and an additional 25 percent report drinking once a week or less.

 

==

 

The following picture of adult drinking emerges from these data:

 

  • - Most American adults either abstain or drink very little.

 

 

  • - A relatively small percentage of drinkers drink most of the alcohol <it is something like 6% of the population drinks 50% of the alcohol or something crazy like that>

 

 

  • - This small percentage often consumes several drinks at a time, increasing the risk of serious health and safety problems.

=

 

Ok.

 

 

Another one?

 

How about unmarried mothers?

 

 

The data presented here dispel many inaccurate perceptions about unmarried mothers. The classic image of an unmarried mother is that she is a teen, a member of a racial or ethnic minority group, a first-time mother of a child born outside of marriage, and that she is not in a relationship with the father of her child.

 

 

<note: the following data is dated … but … more updated information actually makes an even stronger case … so conclusions are even more pronounced in today’s world>

Oops.

 

The data show that the reality today is often quite different.

=

Teens account for a diminishing share of all births outside of marriage. In 1970, 50 percent of all nonmarital births occurred to females under age twenty.

By 1999, less than one-third of all nonmarital births (29 percent) were to teens. The proportion of all nonmarital births to women in their early twenties (aged 20-24 years) increased from 32 percent in 1970 to 36 percent
in 1999.

The largest percentage point increase during this time period was found among women aged 25 and older. In 1970, less than one-fifth (18 percent) of all nonmarital births were to women aged 25 and older.

By 1999, women aged 25 and older accounted for more than one-third (34 percent) of all nonmarital births. Only about half of nonmarital births are first births.

The public perception is that nonmarital births are first births.

Recent Vital Statistics estimates show that only 50 percent of all nonmarital births in 1998 were mothers’ first births.

====

 tell truth frustrating

 

 

 

Look.

 

I could share dozens of examples. Our perceptions are skewed day after day by a vocal minority.

 

The truth is difficult to discern … let alone learn.

 

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

 

The minority majority paradox is here to stay.

 

Media will feed it.

 

 

And well organized minority groups will feed it.

 

 

But … you cannot assume any type of actions by a minority will influence others let alone the majority.

 

When the minority’s behavior is not consistent, its impact on the majority is minimal.

 

 

Therefore it is the consistent behavioral style of minorities that insures the impact.

 

 

And, luckily for the minority we live within a democracy.

 

Majority rule is not the only expression of “supreme power” in a democracy.

 

 

If it were, as Tocqueville noted, the majority would too easily tyrannize the minority.

 

 

A democracy guarantees the expression of the popular will through majority rule … yet also guarantees that the majority will not abuse use its power to violate the basic and inalienable rights of the minority.

 

 

The minority must have the right to seek to become the majority and possess all the rights necessary to compete fairly.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

 

Here is the good news <from my perspective>.

 

 

 

While the minority is typically painfully opinionated <or ignorant> and vocal … and the indifferent a morass of stagnancy … they actually do counterbalance.

 

 

Some research from a Princeton professor <Couzin>.

 

“The classic view is that uninformed or uncommitted individuals may allow extreme views to proliferate. We found that might not be the case.”

 

He and his co-authors found that even a small population of indifferent individuals act as a counterbalance to the minority — whose passion even can cause informed individuals in the majority to waver — and restore majority rule.

minority truth spoken

 

—-

“We show that when the uninformed participate, the group can come to a majority decision even in the face of a powerful minority.

They prevent deadlock and fragmentation because the strength of an opinion no longer matters — it comes down to numbers.

You can imagine this being a good or bad thing.

Either way, a certain number of uninformed individuals keep that minority from dictating or complicating the behavior of the group.”

Couzin

—–

I like what I just shared because it gives me hope that even with a significant unengaged population … we can still maintain some sanity from that vocal minority.

 

 

 

Yes.

 

I understand we need the minority.

 

 

We have been fortunate in that we have always had them.

 

The difficulty always is, has been, and will be … discerning the wackjob minority from the inspired minority.

 

 

We seek the happy few of insightful righteousness.

 

 

The ones who speak to our moral soul.

 

 

While these few have always been there they have often suffered at the hands of the powerful.

 

But they are never silenced and they never become extinct despite the best efforts of the powerful.

 

 

Because they are the voice of the public conscience.

 

 

Think … Thomas Paine, Henry Thoreau, Upton Sinclair, Emerson … I would add in Peter Drucker in the late 90’s <I struggle to name one in today’s world>.

 

They spoke truth and shared ideas and offered philosophical thoughts that anyone could grasp.

 

 

I imagine I could call the fearless Enlighteners.

 

 

They seek to enlighten within the credo of act fearless … the world is full of cowards eager to believe.”idea and fear

 

 

<I have no clue who said this but I loved it and wrote it down>

 

 

They stand up as heroes of truth and moral responsibility.

 

 

Please note they did not stand up for tactics or specific things to do or not do … but rather decision making thought guiders.
In others words … these fearless enlighteners prompted thinking … not prompted answers.

 

 

They did this … “if you are not willing to think about this on your own … let me tell you what you need to think about <please note: not “here is what you should think”>”.
Oh.

 

 

I aspire to be a fearless enlightener.

 

I imagine I could aspire for worse things.

 

corralling chaos (a management lesson)

August 17th, 2014

chaos control leadership

—–

“True freedom is where an individual’s thoughts and actions are in alignment with that which is true, correct, and of honor – no matter the personal price.”

=

Bryant H. McGill

——-

 

So.

 

 

I recently wrote about my college job, fake security guy with a company called Contemporary Security Company <CSC>, and it made me think about another good business lesson I learned.
I call it corralling chaos.

 

 

chaos team alignment

Maybe it is more simply managing people.

 

 

Whoa.

 

Comparing chaos to managing people?

 

 

Yup.

 

 

Look.

 

 

Unless you want to hire a bunch of clones or do some mind meld trick upon hiring someone … you are going to inevitably have a wide variety of specific skilled people, a mosaic of personalities and characters … and … well … humans being human within your purview.

 

 

I learned this very quickly as a youngster at CSC.

 

 

And, by the way, I didn’t learn this because I was some brilliant leader or insightful organizational behavior person at the age of 18 … I learned it out of simple survival.

 

 

Once I became a supervisor I definitely had a ‘Bruce team.’ A small group of guys who I always selected <or they selected me> to be surrounded by to manage and utilize.

 

 

In hindsight I was a little different than some of the other supervisors.
I liked using the same guys even though the assignment was different.

 

I liked tweaking each guy’s ‘comfort zone’ to show them how to adapt.

 

 

I think I subconsciously recognized that it probably helped me out under a variety of assignments in that these guys … and these guys were wired differently … wouldn’t take a cookie cutter approach to how they handled things.

 

 

Not only did they see that things could be done differently <than maybe what their first instinct was> but also they became comfortable with some things out of their comfort zone.

 

 

The best example I have is two guys who were with me whenever possible.

 

 

They were book end personalities.

 

CSC 4

 

Lamont.

 

 

African American. Sharp & smart. Took life seriously. Scowled a lot. Maybe 6’ 1” and 280 pounds of hair triggered whirlwind of aggression.
You only walked up to Lamont from behind very carefully.

 

 

I vividly remember walking up behind him and tapping him on the shoulder … and he spun around with a semi graceful martial arts form <… c’mon … how graceful can a 280 pound guy be> … crouched and coiled to part my head from my shoulders.

I also vividly remember his eyes were laser-like and seemingly completely clear of anything but ‘destroy.’ Without relaxing … he said ‘little buddy … you shouldn’t sneak up on me like that’ … and then he uncoiled.

 

 

 

Dave.

 

White suburban kid. Maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer. 6’ 2” and chiseled 220 pounds or so. Played defensive end at Orange Coast junior college.

Easy going … smiled a lot. The first time I met him on the job I saw him wade into a drunken brawl of maybe 6 guys and singlehandedly blow it up with maybe only one punch thrown by him <which admittedly put that guy out of commission>.

 

These two guys became the bookends that held most of my teams together.

 

 

Lamont was like an assassin.

 

Dave was like a bull.

 

 

Lamont I restrained.

 

Dave I released.

 

 

Both could intimidate in their own way … but their instinct was always to act with power of action … and not words.

 

 

My bosses struggled to understand why I always wanted them … no matter the assignment.
Lamont was often seen as uncontrollable <therefore they hesitated to want to put him in more ‘delicate diplomatic’ situations>.

 

Dave was often seen as ‘not too smart’ <therefore they hesitated to want to put him in situations where he may have to think on his feet>.

 

 

Beyond the fact I saw how these guys could be used effectively … I probably more recognized that situations my bosses ‘foresaw’ within an assignment more often became unforeseen actions & consequences.

 

 

chaos and safety

Security at some event with zillions of people wandering around <many drinking> all with an attitude that ‘hey … I paid to be here … so I can do pretty much whatever I want’ is inevitably one of much randomness.

 

Interestingly … that describes the business world fairly well <without the drinking>.

 

Managing people isn’t really about plans & planning … or even having a plan … it is more often about how to deal with what happens when the plan breaks apart.

 

 

Look.
Plans and planning … and all the things under those headings <business plans, contingency plans, succession plans> … are all good things … uhm … until they aren’t.

 

 

All the plans that once bring order, continuity, and control often become rigid obstacles to progress and adaptation.

 

 

Lamont, Dave … shit … whatever personality I was supervising … I found that most people are trying to do what they believe is in the best interest of the organization.

 

 

I also found the trouble was often they may not have the same point of view on what that is.

 

 

And, yes, that leads to some version of chaos.

chaos corral outcome and understanding

 

You can have two people conducting themselves with the best of intentions and trying to do the right thing.

 

Both options are valid.

 

 

Uh oh.

 

 

But the conclusions they reach end up in direct conflict with each other.  This creates confusion <with each other as well as those around them seeking cues on what to do>.

 

 

A lot of the supervisors around me did two things.

 

 

 

One.

 

Bitched & moaned about ‘the guys they managed’ and said ‘they just don’t get it.’

 

 

Two.

 

Picked guys for their team that they could ‘control.’

 

 

Me?

 

 

I guess I decided to take responsibility for getting out of the chaos.

 

 

I assumed from day one that it was me responsible for allowing chaos.

 

 

 

 

I also assumed I couldn’t control anyone … certainly not someone like Lamont or a number of other highly wired individuals I liked to have on my team … but I did assume I could point them in the right direction <with regard to attitudes & actions>.
I picked guys for my teams who could get shit done. And get shit done within some principled behavior guidelines.

 

chaos control game

I kind of assumed my role was to ‘be still amidst the chaos and active in repose’ <Indira Ghandi>.

 

 

Be a compass as it were.

 

 

 

 

Look.

 

 

I certainly didn’t understand all the real thinking behind good management and leadership at that age.

 

 

 

What I do know now for sure – good leaders provide a compass.

 

 

A good leader helps others think through implications that can impact the broader team’s goals and objectives.

 

 

Once people have orienting values and principles, their ability to think and operate independently accelerates.

 

 

 

Good leaders hold people, themselves included, accountable to a set of values and principles.

 

And leading is often measured by how you deal with the times which inevitably occur when the leader needs to confront a difficult decision that puts principles to the test.

 

 

Corralling chaos is all about getting comfortable with being slightly uncomfortable.

 

 

My guys recognized that always sticking to the plan without fail provided a false sense of security.

 

 

They knew from experience that there needed to be some flexibility with “how” the “what” is implemented.

 

 

 

They embraced the purposeful discomfort and I rewarded the purposeful discomfort.

 

 

I left room for serendipity.

 

 

I left room for what is called “interaction with an unintended outcome” <Scott Doorley, Stanford>.

 

 

Some smart guy, Atul Gawande, states there will always be people who excel and thrive in complex and chaotic environments.

 

 

People who “have a better capacity to prepare for the possibility, to limit the damage, and to sometimes even retrieve success from failure.”

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

 

I agree with that and I don’t agree with that.

 

 

 

I agree that some people are better than others at the ability to quickly assess situations and take decisive action based on their experience and instinct.

 

 

 

I don’t agree that anyone and everyone can become better and hone this ability. In fact … part being a good leader is trying to figure out how to maximize this ability within employees <because it enhances autonomy which increases organizational efficiency>.

women leadership

 

I have no clue if I am particularly strong with the ‘capacity to prepare for unintended consequences.’

 

 

 

What I do have a clue on is that no matter how strong I may be … I can’t prepare for everything and can’t solve everything and I can’t be everywhere at all times.

 

 

I liked having a variety of skilled people available … no matter how difficult they were to manage.

 

 

 

Why?

 

 

It increased the likelihood the team could handle any ‘unintended consequences’ as they arose.

 

CSC taught me a shitload.

 

 

It taught me very quickly that when supervisors complained that people are working against each other, that they are not aligned, that they don’t seem to ‘get it’ … that they are full of shit.

 

It taught me first & foremost that a supervisor needs to look in the mirror.

 

 

Anyway.

 

 

Is chaos a bad word to use when discussing people management?
Aw.

 

Probably.

 

inspire leadership

But here is what I do know.

 

 

I would rather corral chaos than ‘light a fire under someone’s ass.’

 

 

Is that a management style?

 

Sure.

 

 

I imagine so.

 

 

I imagine it is actually a management or leadership choice.
And when I look in the mirror with regard to management style I am okay with what I see.

 

And I thank my CSC job for helping me be okay with it.

 

—-

CSC becks

If interested, after you read this post, you can visit his past CSC ‘learnings’ posts:

<learning to say no>

http://brucemctague.com/big-fred

=

<practicing actually means more relaxed>

http://brucemctague.com/the-wall

=

<action has its time>

http://brucemctague.com/there-is-a-time-to-talk-and-a-time-to-act-part-1

=

<gaining perspective>

http://brucemctague.com/what-you-do-not-see-at-a-concert

 

 

the day began the building of the cold wall

August 13th, 2014

berlin wall border

 

—-

“Sometimes our walls exist just to see who has the strength to knock
them down.”

=

Darnell Lamont Walker

 

So.

 

 

Today I have a historical note.

 

 

Because today marks the day the Berlin Wall was established.

 

 

In the early hours of Sunday August 13th in 1961 there was a sudden swoop upon the demarcation lines of the border between east and west Berlin by Russian and East German <DDR> troops and tanks with barbed wire and mesh <ironically bought from the British>.

 

 

This was the true harbinger of the cold war.

 

berlin wall watchtower no mans land

The blocks and bricks and steel traps and watch towers.

 

 

 

 

 

14 foot height.

 

96 miles long around West Berlin.

 

302 watchtowers <always posted by 2 men from different parts of the country – so they could check on each other – the guards at the wall had permission to shoot at any time>.

 

 

The East Germans called it “the anti fascist barrier to protect the DDR” and in their propaganda the barrier was promoted as a victory.

 

 

But in those early hours there was no wall <yet>.

 

 

Apparently the first people to know anything was wrong were the cab drivers of Berlin as they were unusually being stopped and searched when they crossed the boundaries between the allied zones and the Soviet zone.

 

 

This was something that on every other night would be routine.

 

 

But for one last night in the early morning hours the East let people back to the West … and most of these were the bar crowd who found themselves stuck in the East and parted from families.

 

That is the night the cold war truly began.

Berlin Wall 1

 

Over the next four nights, as barbed wire and temporary mesh & concrete fences fell across what were once busy streets … there was little East Berliners <some separated from family & friends in the West> and the Americans <of which it was mainly their zone initially affected> could do but watch or, in rare cases, make a last bid for freedom.

 

 

The building of the Berlin Wall <which began not with concrete but rather steel barbed wire> … ‘stacheldraht’ in German … stretched across roads, parks, through buildings, even crossing rivers.

 

 

The wall included electrified fences, fortifications, and guard posts.
The Soviet named ‘anti-fascist protection rampart’ would not look like the Wall we typically remember until the concrete version was put up in 1965 <updated in 1975>.

 

 

The Berlin Wall was just the most famous portion of what was called ‘the iron curtain.’

 

 

The DDR build this wall in the eastern part of Berlin and later this was a part of what Churchill called an Iron curtain from the Baltic to the Adriatic.

 

berlin wall constructie
Anyway.

 

 

Today, August 13th, in the morning that the Berlin Wall came into existence after the East German government closed the border between east and west sectors of Berlin with barbed wire to discourage emigration to the West.

 

The barbed wire was replaced by a 12 foot-high concrete wall eventually extending 103 miles (166 km) around the perimeter of West Berlin.

 

 

It was the symbol of the Cold War … in real life … and in fiction.

 

 

I admit that one of my favorite reading genres is espionage fiction.

 

 

John Gardner’s Herbie Kruger series.

 

Bill Granger Devereux series.

 

Le Carre Smiley series.

 

 

Others I can’t remember as I write this …

 

And if you read these books you would recognize that much of socialist East Germany was not exactly an idyllic situation.

 

Checkpoint Charlie 1965

Checkpoint Charlie 1965

 

 

 

 
In spy fiction and in spy movies the Wall has provided one of the greatest of dramatic backdrops especially with Checkpoint Charlie which was the one designated cross over point between East & West Germany <in the American zone>.

 

 

In reality … Checkpoint Charlie was the scene of a number of real escapes from Communist East to capitalist West Berlin.

 

 

In one of the most dramatic and tragic incidents, an 18-year-old East German man was shot by Communist border guards and left to bleed to death in no man’s land.

 

 

berlin checkpoint stand off
It was also the spot where Soviet and American tanks faced each other, engines running and aimed at each other, for six days in 1961 only weeks after the building of the Berlin Wall.

 

 

<historical note: this was overshadowed by the Cuban missile crisis … and yet … one could argue this event brought us closer to war with the Soviet Union than anything else>

 

 

Through espionage fiction the Wall has been crossed in any number of imaginative ways … tunneling, crossed by foot, smashed through, crossed by improvised plane or balloon, driven through as hidden passengers … and been the source of swaps of numerous captured agents.

 

 

Visually and in the written word the Wall represented danger, secrecy, ‘the other side’ < ‘druben’> … a symbolic metaphor for the meeting of the US <and The West> and the Soviet Union and the impasse of the Cold War.

 

 

 

Last note.

 

 

A pensive thought.

 

While this was historical … and hopefully interesting … I cannot help but think about what would take place if this happened today.
How would we respond?

 

 

Would there be the shouts of a ‘weak America’ if our tanks stood down as they did at the end of the 6 days in 1961?

 

 

Would there be shouts of ‘failed foreign policy’ as the iron curtain fell from the Baltic to the Balkans?

 

 

Watching media in today’s world the outrage of the pontificators seem to suggest obvious solutions.

 

 

 ——-

“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”

=

Evelyn Waugh

——

 

 

The outrage suggests lack of immediate response is the sign of lack of direction.

 

 

The outrage suggests no action is weak.

 

 

 

I am not smart enough to know if action or inaction is the right, and best, course of action.

 

 

 

I take solace in the fact that the greatest diplomatic and foreign affairs minds can only truly be that smart in hindsight.

 

 

 

I take solace in the fact that in 1961 there was a wall that seemed impenetrable … and 50 years later … there was no wall.Mauerbau 1961 / Sebastianstra§e

 

 

We can only wish foreign policy could always be so simply summarized.

 

 

 

Because I am not sure if the true foreign policy lesson is found in the summary … or in reviewing the second guessing and gnashing of teeth of those “who know, and knew, better” what to do … within those 50 years.

 

 

when the right thing to do is impossible

August 12th, 2014

rangers and the truth

——

“There are tiresome people who say that if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, you should stop and figure out the right thing to do.

But there are times in this harum-scarum world when figuring out the right thing to do is quite simple, but doing the right thing is simply impossible, and then you must do something else.”

=

Lemony Snicket

——

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

When I saw this I had to sit back and think.

 

 

Why?

 

First & foremost I am an unequivocal do the right thing person.
And the thought of not doing the right thing galls me … makes me shiver to the core.

i dont care moments

 

Sure.

 

 

From a realistic point of view that doesn’t mean I always do the right thing … just that first & foremost I begin with decision making from a ‘what the right thing to do’ place.

 

 

And before anyone throws out the infamous ‘how can you know the right thing to do?’ or even the ‘in a harum scarum world it is sometimes difficult to discern what the right thing to do’ is.

 

 

99% of the time.

 

 

Yeah.

 

Ok.

 

 

Maybe 98.863718% of the time … figuring out the right thing to do is quite simple.

 

 

Uhm.

 

But, yes, sometimes … doing the right thing is simply impossible.

 

 

That is where I pause.

 

 

I pause because Lemony Snicket … a silly fictional character … nailed something that has subconsciously haunted me throughout life and my professional career.

 

 

And I imagine it has haunted a large group of well intentioned, relatively bright, ‘do the right thing’ people.

 

Because in the end … Life, and the business world, will not stand by and say ‘that’s okay … your intentions are impeccable … we know you not only want to do the right thing … you actually know the right thing to do” … it actually says … “okay … you must do something else.”do what you must TR

 

<in other words … “you gotta do something.”>

 
Ouch.

 

Truth hurts.

 

 

This also becomes exponentially more painful to me because I am also one of those people who unequivocally has a willingness to accept responsibility for the consequences of my choices. The good ones <happily> … and the unfortunate bad ones <unhappily>.

 

 

Damn.

 

 

This also means I have to assume responsibility for actually purposefully NOT doing the right thing.

 

 

Whew.

 

 

I have a few very close friends who will read what I just wrote and understand how painful that was for me to write.

 
But you know what?

 

 

I think that’s part of what growing up businesswise is about … understanding that doing the right thing is impossible … sometimes.

 
And that ‘doing something’ is better than ‘doing nothing’ <almost always>.

 

That doesn’t mean you throw the ‘right thing’ compass away.

 

In fact … it may even harden you to ‘do the right thing’ even more so in the future.

 
I think the realization that doing the right thing was impossible sometimes didn’t weaken me in this regard … it actually strengthened my resolve to do the right thing whenever possible.

 

stars and secrets

 

It strengthened my understanding of where the North Star of ‘the right thing’ resided even on the cloudiest of nights.

 

 

 

I say that because this is one of those infamous slippery slopes in business.

 

 

I imagine some people who actually recognize the right thing to do <and oddly enough … that is actually a skill … not something that everyone is born with> … and find it impossible to do … could very very easily acquire some cynicism which eats away at the hope which resides within the desire of ‘doing the right thing.’

 

 

Little by little those people lose hope in being able to actually do ‘doing the right thing’ and begin simply ‘doing what is easiest to do’ <although none will ever suggest it was an easy task … and fairly … I imagine it wasn’t easy>.

 

 

Luckily … I am not one of those people.

 

 

I do recognize that doing the right thing is impossible … sometimes.

 

 

I do recognize that seeing the right thing to do is possible … always.
And seeing the right thing to do is half the battle.

 

impossible possible

And I also imagine … in my own pea like brain … that when we are discussing ‘doing the right thing’ … if there was ever a time that ‘the impossible is possible’ … this would be the time.

 

 

Or at least that’s the way my own pea like brain thinks about it.

 

the day I cried about thinking

August 11th, 2014

thinker cap

 

 

——–

“The proper method for hastening the decay of error, is not, by brute force, or by regulation which is one of the classes of force, to endeavor to reduce men to intellectual uniformity; but on the contrary, by teaching every man to think for himself.”

=

William Godwin

 

——–

 

 

So.

 

Thinking for yourself.

 

 

A topic … if you dare to discuss with an old person … that suggests because of the internet, and games and a whole host of other issues … the young cannot think for themselves.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

I have one word for them.

 

Bullshit.

 

bullshit and more

And I have some research on this <which certainly disproves this perception or belief> to support my succinct ‘bullshit’.

 

 

Unfortunately … I have some incredibly bad news for everyone <young & old>.

 

<insert a deep “sigh” here>

 

 

The research points out the majority of us do not like to think for themselves … at all.

 

 

I almost cried when I read this research.
I was absolutely depressed afterwards.

 

Me?

 

I don’t think thinking is a pain.

 

 

But apparently 2/3rds of people hate thinking.

 

They hate it so much they think it is painful.

thinking hurts

 

How painful?

 

<pretty frickin’ painful>

————-

“What is striking is that simply being alone with their thoughts was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”

=

the research scientists

————

Yup.

 

I almost cried.
How can something so valuable to me … <and seems like it should be of at least some value to the majority of people> … would be so abhorrent that they would select an electric shock rather than think?

 

 

I don’t have an answer to that my friends.

 

 

But I wish I did.

 

 ————

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of recent psychology experiments proving the human aversion to thinking is when tasked with sitting in a chair and doing nothing but thinking, two-thirds of men and a quarter of women chose to give themselves electric shocks to pass the time.

————-

 

 

Yup.

 

The researchers, with the objective to check whether people might actually prefer something bad to nothing at all, gave participants the option of administering a mild electric shock … instead of thinking.

 

 

While it is painful for me to make this point … I want to be clear on the choice made versus thinking in this test.

 

 

 

They had been asked earlier to rate how unpleasant the shocks were, alongside other options, such as looking at pictures of cockroaches or hearing the sound of a knife rubbing against a bottle.

 

 

 

All the students picked for the test said they would pay to avoid mild electric shocks after receiving a demonstration.

 

 

 

Oops.

thinking mind meld

 

In the test … 12 of 18 men gave themselves up to four electric shocks, as did six of 24 women.

 

 

I cried now.

 

 

Please.

 

 

Thinking has to be the least expensive, with the easiest access, activity anyone can ever find.

 

It is so easily accessible I imagine it is easy to reach a conclusion that if people found it truly stimulating … lost in thought … I guess you could assume then they would surely do it more often.

 

 

But the fact is that most people will do anything to avoid sitting down and having a dialogue with their internal voices.

 

 

In fact … it seems the majority of people find unstructured, uninterrupted thinking as a horrible experience.

 

 

Why?

 

My guess is that there is no guarantee where all that thinking might go.

 

 

 

In today’s world that sounds purposeless.

 

Or a waste of <valuable> time.

 

 

Or simply valueless.

 

Or maybe simply to dependent on random for outcome.

 

 

I guess the good news is <said sarcastically> that this information could  suggest mental illness is limited <in quantity of people> because much of what we call mental illness … is simply a loss of control over thought.

 

 

In other words … we can’t stop ourselves thinking what we don’t want to think … or we put so much energy into not thinking certain things … that all thoughts just get bent out of shape.

 

 

In any case … we find ourselves suffering unable to escape from the horror inside our heads.

 

 

While that sounds like something most of us are quite familiar with <in lesser degrees than true mental illness> … by avoiding any type of thinking … something like 2/3rds of people avoid any horror in their head..

 

 

That said.

 

 

People have always been fairly industrious with finding ways to not think … by doing things.

Doing helps us not have to go thru the pain of thinking.

 

In the past we made shit <woodworking, building stuff with our hands, etc,>, we sewed, we farmed, we hunted … oh … and we had lots of sex <and had more kids to take care of>.

 

 

In the research … that ‘doing’ came to life in an electric shock.

 

 

But why should thinking be such a pain?

 

The old fashioned psychoanalytic answer <which has flaws but is a shitload smarter than the trite mindless ‘blame it on cellphones/technology’> is that culturally we have become more dependent on what, I hesitate to call, an aggressive greedy drive.

 

 

I believe I would rather suggest it is a self-actualization <problem solving> aspect – in the form of a tangible foreseen outcome.

 

thinking psychology the-7-sins-venn-diagram

Let’s call it maybe self interest in terms of ‘proof of behavior.’

 

 

And thinking means something disorderly.
Something intangible <or maybe no guarantee of something tangible> therefore less likelihood to conclude in ‘specific proof of behavior.’

 

——–

“We take flight mentally when we rise above our habitual ways of thinking about things and experience new insights.

This is what it means to open our minds.

Emotionally, we take flight when the strength of our passion exceeds the strength of our blockages; the floodgates open and we are free to feel fully.

Spiritually we take flight when we locate that part of ourselves that is beyond the constraint of linear time and the world of form.

It is in this place that we experience the essential boundlessness that defines the experience of flight.

Taking flight is always about freeing ourselves from form, if only temporarily.

When we literally fly, in a plane or on a hang glider, we free ourselves from the strength of gravity’s pull.

over thinking mess

As we open our minds and our hearts, we free ourselves from habitual patterns of thought and emotional blockages.

As we remember our true nature, we free ourselves from identification with the temporary state of our physical forms. The more we stretch our wings, the clearer it becomes that taking flight is a state of grace that simply reminds us of who we really are.”

=

Daily Om

——-

 

Thinking is about taking flight <mentally>.

 

And ‘proof’ often goes counter to flying … it is more relatable to ‘keeping your feet on the ground.’

 

 

And I wrote that to get back to the infamous ‘kids don’t think enough’ and ‘youth is too whimsical and not practical enough’ and ‘technology is making people mentally lazy.’

 

 

Lets be clear.

 

This is a cultural, metal mindset, issue and not a cultural trend issue.

 

 

The findings that the researchers <at Virginia and Harvard University> report is NOT a reflection of cultural trends weaving their way through society unnoticed and affecting the mental development of young people at a particular stage in their lives <despite what us older folk want to say>.

 

 

Suffice it to say that in more than 11 separate studies, the researchers showed that people hated being left to think, regardless of their age, education, income or the amount they used smartphones or social media.

 

Uhm.

 

thinking brain technical difficulty

Let me repeat that … “people hated being left to think, regardless of their age, education, income or the amount they used smartphones or social media.”

 

 

This is not a young person issue.

 

 

In addition … the lead researcher said the findings were not necessarily a reflection of the pace of modern life or increased use of mobile devices and social media.

 

 

In fact … those things might be popular because of our constant urge to ‘do something’ rather than nothing.

 

<whew … chew on that thought for a second or two>
Why do I get stunned when I find people really do not want to think?
Most people take shit at face value.

 

Most people don’t really think even when they do think <they accept opinion easily>.

 

 

And then they blame those who make you think <purposefully>.

 

 

Huh?thinking and crying

 

 

I don’t want everyone to be an intellectual.

 

But … boy oh boy … I find it depressing that over 2/3rds of people don’t want to think.

 

 

I am going to go away now and cry.

Enlightened Conflict