Enlightened Conflict

the ports have names for the sea

April 28th, 2017






“And the ports have names for the sea.”



William Auden





I could quite easily argue that the most fundamental thing necessary to be successful in Life and in business is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s walk in my shoes see my view morality shoes.

In other words … the ability to see what they see, think what they think and understand why they do what they do.

If you have that ability … or maybe it’s a skill … it fosters understanding, ability to compromise, enables at least the possibility to shift thinking and … well … it actually encourages you to rethink some things and maybe unlearn some learnings.


I do sometimes look at what is happening in the world and how we seem to have stopped listening and I think of Auden’s line from a poem he wrote about Iceland. I think about it and sometimes believe we are all out at sea floating amongst tides, waves and storms <rarely calm> looking at the ports with names. And, yet, we can never envision that the ports may look out at us and not only view us differently … but also the seas upon which we float.


By maintaining our personal view we do not listen, therefore we do not debate <we only lecture> and we certainly never compromise or find some common ground. Instead we all bob around the vast ocean just trying to keep our own head above water and yell at each other for stupidly bobbing around in the water the wrong way <or not the way we are>.

No wonder the ports have a different name for the seas then we do. We call them Black, Caspian, Mediterranean, Baltic, Caribbean , etc.. Ports most likely look out and … well …”a place upon which fools who do not listen to each other float” is what I guess they would name it.


I word it that way because … well … it seems like sometimes we forget that we are all trying to figure out a way of keeping our heads above water.



I imagine the reasons why we forget all the commonalities and why we ignore what each other truly has to say is not simple, nor just one thing, but rather a thousand reasons scattered around like quarters on the floor just waiting for someone to ick up. I would bet I have sloppily discussed many of these reasons on enlightened conflict.


But I can truly only think of one thing that trumps all the thousand reason to not do what we should be doing – moral imperative.

That may sound high too falutin’ for somethings as simple as ‘listening to each other and discussing’ but truly it is a moral imperative that we try and solve this.


We are better as people if we hear an Ann Coulter and Bernie Sanders debating, in a civil fashion, what they believe and why.


We are better as people if we hear a Wilbur Ross and Robert Reich debating , in a civil fashion, what they believe and why.


We are better as people when the most liberal of institutions open their ears and eyes to the most conservative of believers and listen … really listen … and discuss and say do not conversationsdebate … and realize that most often our differences reside in tactics, possibly in some strategies, but rarely in objectives.

We are even better when common everyday schmucks, like you and I, sit down and listen and discuss and debate <kind of like Heineken just suggested in a fabulous video message they produced>.


I believe this can happen if we embrace the moral imperative as people.


But there is that ‘moral’ word I keep tossing into this mix.


What a divisive word for a word which should be a unitor.


Beyond the entire civil discourse and listening and finding common ground discussion it seems to me that a shitload of us are actually embracing what I believe is called ‘moral condescension.’ It’s not that we are just condescending with each other about views, opinions and beliefs … but all of that crap is grounded on an underlying sense of moral condescension <’not only do you have the wrong belief & attitude but you do that because you are not a morally strong as I am’>.


Not only is condescension of any type irritating but moral condescension ratchets up irritating to … well … an incredibly irritating level.


For the most part most people don’t really have to deal with it because most of us either keep our moral ‘high horse’ in our pocket or share it with friends and acquaintances of like mind.

And most other people know our views and just avoid us if they disagree.

What that means is <a> there is a significant lack of any discourse and <b> when there is we fairly quickly move into our ‘moral condescension mode’ which … well … irritates the other person/people.


I do ponder why we hate moral condescension so much. I mean condescension in general is irritating but with morals and morality it just has a tendency to more condescending moralitybring forth a little anger.


I would offer to everyone that maybe it suggests we should feel some guilt for some indulgence in the vagaries of life. It suggests that maybe we feel too much … well … about ‘muchness’ without truly examining the barebones of shit without all the muchness attached.


The truth is that, for the most part, if you strip away the condescension it only suggests some examination of what we focus on and what we do not focus on … who we possibly deprive something of in what we may truly subconsciously be indulging upon as something ‘we earned’  <this idea, to me, is at the nucleus of the condescension>.



You do not earn indulgence.

You earn money & respect <as well as some other nice and not so nice characteristics I imagine>.


I say that because regardless of whether you are the moral condescension giver or the moral condescension receiver you should be stepping back and stripping away the indulgence aspects <simplistically … I earned that huge SUV and deserve it … even though some people cannot even afford taking a bus> and try viewing all moral decisions and people’s views in the most stripped down version.


I say that because naked we kind of all have the same problems and issues in a harsh world — it is just a matter of degree in most cases.


I say that because we kind of have a moral obligation to the fellowship of all humankind and ‘fairness’ <whoever you would like to define that> for all.




I fully understand as we bob around in the sea of survival <and self beliefs> we cannot have moral obligations to everyone around the world. It kind of seems to make more sense to understand we actually only truly have moral obligations against the people we come up against. T

he ones who metaphorically enter into our moral space.


This suggests a concept of proximity or that proximity matter in morality.



Well, yes and no.


First … the closest proximity is yourself – you can control your own actions and what you think, do and say.


Second proximity then would be the ones closest to us – physically or mentally.

horton hears a who speak out morality

Third proximity would actually be ‘the world.’ And what I mean by that is you have a choice to be vocal with regard to what you see as right or wrong. It’s kind of like the moral version of the butterfly affect. If enough voices are raised even Horton will hear the Whos in Whovile.


I say that because distance diminishes the affect your own moral obligation can have a real impact.


But maybe what that proximity idea I just shared with you means is that we have some moral obligation to intersect, with ideas, and listen and discuss with those who our space interconnects with.


Here is what I know for sure.


We do not listen to each other enough these days. And we certainly do not discuss things with an eye toward commonalities anymore. Our differences seem incontrovertible and our civility has diminished to such a point we don’t even attempt to engage in discussion because of such certainty of lack of civility we do not even believe it is worth the attempt.


That is a shame. And in Bruce terms … “it is bad.’ The lack of any attempt is, at Find your voice listen speak moralityits worst, ignoring a moral imperative for the greater good.


We would all do better if we recognized that ‘the ports have names for the seas’ … and they may be different names than the ones we have given the seas.



Historical note about the line I opened this piece up with … and a thought that sometimes mistakes can lead to a different way of looking at things and thinking about things … and … well … in the end — doing something different than you planed.


W.H. Auden describes somewhere how he had written a line, in a poem about Iceland.


and the poets have names for the sea


and the printer set it up in galley as …


and the ports have names for the sea.


Auden left it liking the line better. A happy accident.



the good in all of your bad

September 30th, 2016



I saw the good in all of your bad


: le-noirceur





“Our brains are awesome at overlearning from negative experiences.

The brain continuously scans for bad news. As soon as it finds the bad news, it overly focuses on it.”




Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist




eccentric personI imagine we all know a ‘bad good person’ … uhm … or is it a ‘good bad person’?


Yikes. I’m not sure.


What I do know is we all know at least one of them.




We may actually be the one.


Why do I say that?


Even those of us who look at ourselves as generally ‘good people’ recognize it ain’t all good.


That said … I just go ahead and assume most people build a personal house grounded and with a solid framework of ‘good.’ We look at the house we built and see things that should be fixed and maybe touched up a little bit but in general it is where we lay our heads at night to sleep with a clear conscience and pure intentions.color door spreading


Unfortunately …  I would like to note that ‘bad’ has significantly more doorways than ‘good’ in anyone’s house.


In fact … I could suggest that good has only one door <albeit it a big impressive looking door> – doing the right thing <moral compass>.






The bad within us <as well as anyone by the way> had multiple doors.


And it actually begins before you even leave the house … most people believe they are more moral than they actually are.




That is sure getting off on the wrong foot, ain’t it? sigh-thought-bubble






From that point ‘bad’ seeks to engage us, often in some very subtle ways, to create some moral disengagement from ‘good’ <which then ultimately helps us justify our bad behavior>.


Bad rears its ugly head most often as we scan the horizon for things we want <which we typically cloak in “need”> shifting our focus to some desired outcome … which inevitably forces us to begin rationalizing the means to attain our ‘wants.’


What does bad do?

The higher the desire for the outcome the more likely we start rationalizing “ends justify the means.” Some psychologist called this the “deactivation of moral standards” which is not like a light switch but rather like a slippery slope of smaller ‘bads’ inevitably leading to just … well … bad.



Tied to that previous ‘bad’ is the fact we all battle against, in a slightly absurd way, something called ‘advantageous comparisons.’ This is where we compare our own ‘bad’ against worse bad.


“Yea, I stole post it notes from the office but they pay me shit.”




“They started it so they deserved it.”


But maybe the easiest way to permit bad to slip in and suffocate good is what is called ‘diffusion of responsibility.’ In other words … if they are doing it <or did it> that permits me to do it <“everybody is doing it”>.


What do all these things have in common?


A shirking of personal responsibility.


In all cases bad is solely justified by some comparison or ‘deserved outcome.’


And maybe that is why we can see the good in someone’s bad.


And maybe that is why we hate bad so much at exactly the same time.


We disdain the obvious lack of personal responsibility associated with the ‘bad’ and, yet, know we do it ourselves.




Does that explain why so many of us hate somethings about ourselves?


But I think we all have the ability to see the good ins someone’s bad because we know in our heart of hearts not only is good better & stronger than the bad … but that people can change.


Science suggests we can rewire the ‘bad’ in our brains.


It is actually called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity.”

<a fancy term to say the change by managing experience memory>


Everyone can learn to change by managing experience memory … in other words … change the information that flows through the brain. That actually begins by assuming personal responsibility and applying it as a filter as experiences are absorbed by the brain. Instead of using the “justify” filter apply the “personal responsibility” filter.




I think we all know that you just can’t summarily throw people out of your life simply because they were flawed and had some ‘bad.’


I think we all know it is a bit more complicated than that.


I think we all know we have made some decisions at some point about some people where we decided that an imperfect relationship with a flawed person was actually in our best interest and not a reflection of compromise.




I think we all know we are imperfect, have some bad as well our good, and we don’t summarily throw ourselves away as useless and unusable.


I think we all know while 100% ‘good’ is an admirable goal we are human. And many of us actually realize the complex mix of bad and good makes us … well … good people to have around.


Maybe because Shimon Peres just passed away I was reminded of something he once said:


“For peace, one must remember: As a bird cannot fly with one wing, as a man cannot applaud with one hand, so a country inside outside you hughcannot make peace just with one side, with itself.

For peace, we need the two of us.”


For peace of self, one needs both of us … the good and the bad.



Here is about the only thing I know.


Bad cannot win in the end as long as there is some good somewhere. And that includes within people.

Enlightened Conflict