Enlightened Conflict

legacies, never being seen & pondering 2000 posts

June 24th, 2017

blog writing

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just-shower-thoughts:

 

    One of my greatest fears is that someone has written my favorite song, but they’re not famous enough for me to hear it.

 

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“As I make a final right-hand turn onto our street, my GPS informs me that I’ve ‘reached my destination.’

 

‘My destination,’ I laugh aloud to myself.

 

My GPS doesn’t know squat.”

 

Colleen Hoover

 

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“I’m so scared of dying without ever being really seen. Can you understand? “

David Foster Wallace

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“I did something and it was never seen.”

 

Someone’s grave stone

 

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Ok.

 

 

This is written as I ponder my legacy, legacies in general, and my 2000th post.

 

writing-typing-legacy-blog-thoughts7 years 7 months 4 days.

91 months 4 days.

396 weeks 1 day.

2773 days.

2000 posts.

About 5 posts a week for over 7 years.

2,000,000+ words <a conservative estimate>.

 

My words and thoughts over the 2000 posts have remained consistent … on November 18th 2009 I wrote my first Enlightened Conflict post and 6 days later I offered my second post and wrote this:

 

… it is in my DNA to be “constantly preoccupied with possibilities of new combinations.” Now. That can make me a pain in the ass to work with. One time a mentor, and a manager I loved working for, once said to me, “sometimes you are a pain in the ass, but I am glad you are my pain in the ass.”

 

And if you visit my LinkedIn site you will see a past client says:

......... Me .............

……… Me ………….

 

If you don’t want to be “nudged” into new ideas and creative solutions – don’t ever call Bruce McTague. If, however, you want to look at things through a different telescope and find 3-dimensional ideas you’ve never considered, call Bruce now. Not tomorrow. He’ll make you uncomfortable, but I firmly believe that if the idea doesn’t make you uneasy, it’s not a big idea. Easy to work with, but always stretching your mind, Bruce is a true business Partner. You’ll grow working with Bruce.

 

2000 posts later and I am still a contrarian, still snarky, still writing about the possibility of new combinations and still a pain in the ass.

 

But with almost everything I write I try and offer pain in the ass type thinking … not fluff. On November 30th 2009 I wrote this: communicating meaningful information so people can make meaningful choices.

 

I am still not a nudger and I am absolutely unflinchingly focused on communicating meaningful information, thoughts & ideas so people can make meaningful choices and think meaningful thoughts.

 

Well.

 

All that said.

 

At 2000 you have a tendency to sit back and wonder what happens if I actually

did something in my Life and nobody notices it when I am gone?

 

And before you think this topic is bullshit or “that’s not something I worry/think about” take a second and think about this.

Why do so many people buy symbolic bricks with names on it on a wall somewhere?

Why do we put stars in the ground with people’s names on it?

Why do we have gravestones and epitaphs?

 

We do these things because we want people to remember at least something about us. It doesn’t have to be big … but … well … something for god’s sake.

 

All of that leads me to legacies.

 

Everyone leaves something behind … some footprint.

 

With me … my largest footprint <at the moment> would be everything I have written.

Which makes me slightly wonder what happens with my 2000+ pieces on Enlightened Conflict … does somebody stumble across them and publish some or do they fade way into the nothingness of ‘something done but never seen’?

 

Will someone own my words & thoughts when I am gone?

 

I wrote recently that I own my words and thoughts … therefore … in some way I assume they must have some value <at least to me> … maybe just pennies but of some value.build legacy create something mctague 2000

 

It would be nice to think some of these thoughts get passed around from person to person like pennies — everyone has some, they are often overlooked until needed to complete a transaction and are annoying when you realize you left some in a pocket when you do the laundry.

 

But most importantly I see these pennies being used to create a transaction. In my mind … in this case the transaction is thinking … and maybe a purchase against what I see as the true corruption of our age … ignorance.

 

 

 

Montaigne:

The corruption of the age is made up by the particular contribution of every individual man; some contribute treachery, others injustice, irreligion, tyranny, avarice, cruelty, according to their power; the weaker sort contribute folly, vanity, and idleness; of these I am one. It seems as if it were the season for vain things, when the hurtful oppress us; in a time when doing ill is common, to do but what signifies nothing is a kind of commendation.

 

 

 

I admit that I believe these types of pennies are becoming more and more valuable.

 

I believe that because I worry that time is currently painting a portrait of disappearing thought in which all who see this portrait are corrupted by what they can no longer see … and walk away thinking ignorance is beautiful.

 

Yeah.

 

That corruption breeds a sense of everything changing … but in an invisible way. We only see the change in a low level slightly nagging unease & unhappiness. In a way our moral & character health deteriorates despite our relentless pursuit of feeling better through pills, supplements & absurd self improvement plans.

Mentally our focus shifts toward what is visible and away from the invisible <that which creates the unease> and we fixate on what we think we know rather than unlearning what we know.

 

We stop engaging with thought … and even engaging with the thoughtful people <the intellectuals — real & faux> because it is … well … easier.

 

The sad truth is that we are largely doing all of this corruption to ourselves. We do so because conflict is necessary to make the invisible visible … but conflict, and making the invisible visible, is hard & sometimes hurtful.

 

invisible grain of sandWhat does this have to do with a legacy?

I could argue that if your thinking is invisible in some way … possibly a big way … you run the risk of becoming so invisible that when you leave there remains no footprint to mark your steps in Life.

 

I imagine leaving Life as an invisible person has little appeal to anyone. Not that you desire to be the most visible person in the world just that you would prefer knowing that when you were gone who you were just became completely invisible.

 

Please note that I am not tying visible to any success but rather thinking <although I imagine it could be tied to ‘doing something that may truly matter’>.

 

And, while I am talking about the legacy I personally want to leave behind, I would imagine this thought bleeds into almost everyone’s Life. Yeah, in this case, I don’t think I am different than most people.

 

We all would prefer to not be corrupted by ignorance and we would prefer to want to ‘do something’ and, preferably, something dynamic beyond our own purposes.

 

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“[My ultimate goal is] to leave this world a better person, and for me to not be the only one who knows it.”

 

Gavin DeGraw

 

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Ah.

But the idea of being dynamic beyond your own purposes is fraught with peril.

 

It means … well … dreaming big. Okay. It means thinking big <and, yes, I do believe far too often we aim too small and too low>.

 

As for me and my thinking big?

 

I want to attack ignorance as if it is the enemy and, looking back, the majority i will talk about anythingof my 2000 posts have relentlessly unflinchingly, never nudging, attacked ignorance. I have done so using the idea of Enlightened Conflict as a North Star.

 

I believe conflict of thoughts is healthy and believe vocalizing the conflict is necessary for progress. I believe Conflict is natural and will always exist – between countries, religious beliefs, ideologies, the haves and the have nots, etc.

 

And I believe with my writing I have a unique opportunity to insure conflict of thinking can be managed to some extent by encouraging positive conflict or enabling conflict with rules.

 

I debate with people … I write about thinking … I defend our youth … I rant about the old way of thinking … and, lately, I have found a muse in Donald J Trump <in fact … my 2001st post is a Trump business lesson>.

Trump has offered me the opportunity to have a living breathing example of almost everything I detest in business leadership, business acumen and how a business shouldn’t be run.

 

I do not detest him as a person <I don’t know him> I just detest how he conducts himself as a leader and a business person. He has reminded me that passion can inspire thinking and writing and reminds me that business sometimes needs to stop nudging and be more demanding of what is right & good.

 

Regardless.

 

think imagine legacy young learn unlearnIn the end … all I want is some enlightened thinking and new ways of looking at things and often, as a contrarian, I will use someone or something as a foil to make a comparative.

 

This style and way of thinking has proven to be a good timeless way of approaching things because should you view a post in my first 100 you would find it is still relevant and will still contain thoughts you may find scattered in my last 100 posts.

 

Anyway.

 

One last thought on legacies — compromising.

 

I still worry about compromising.

 

I know I have some fear that compromising has left far too many people numb to life … or maybe just numb to their dreams. Or maybe more specifically numb to ‘doing something that matters’ and, certainly, numb to thinking and new thoughts.

 

I still worry about me compromising. And maybe I fear that numbness if I end up compromising.

 

I kind of think this is a legitimate fear.

 

I, as everyone else, certainly want to be happy. Live. And love. And be loved. Read. Travel. See things. Meet people. Meet more people. And learn. And unlearn. And learn some more. Nowhere in there do I see compromise … I only see doing shit. And, in my eyes, nor do I see any ‘nudging’ but rather unflinching doing.

 

Yes. Doing something unflinchingly.

 

Because doing something unflinchingly that can leave the world a better place?

 

Whew.

legacy learn imagine hope mctague

I gotta tell ya … if you even have a glimmer of hope of getting to do something big … something really big … something that matters in a big way … something that someone would recognize someday  as a legacy idea … well … I don’t know. It kind of seems like you have to go for it – uncomprisningly and unflinchingly.

 

I have to think that if am going to lose, I want to know I lost doing something and not losing because I compromised in some way.

 

That said.

 

I don’t want to be known for writing 2000 posts, or however many I end up writing, I would like to have a legacy suggesting I did something that mattered <and someone could point to what that something was>.

 

In the end.

 

2000 posts and counting.

I very rarely have duplicated a thought, I have never run out of new quotes to share and I have never had “writer’s block” or not had something to write and, yet, I have consistently pounded on stupid & senseless business acumen and the misguided tripe people are fed with regard to Life.

That sounds big … and, yet, small at the same time. I have to imagine whether someone has written as much as I or not … most people will find that they have done something that sounds big but may look small in the harsh light of reality.

The only way I know to build a meaningful legacy <making what may appear small big> is to do what I do … not nudge and be absolutely unflinchingly focused on communicating meaningful information, thoughts & ideas so people can make meaningful choices and think meaningful thoughts.

 

And, yet, sure … I still do wonder what will happen to everything I have written because … well … at the moment they are my legacy. I imagine I am not alone in thinking that “I did something and it was never seen” on my headstone isn’t really what anyone wants.

For now all I can do is insure that I do something meaningful in a ‘non-nudging way’ and hope it gets noticed.

2000 legacy posts write

 

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About the author:

Bruce McTague is probably considered a sometimes irascible pragmatic contrarian. At the same time he is most likely considered a naïve believer in the inherent good in people and believer in the value of Hope as an engine for real progress.

He has been called cynical and optimistic.

And because of all of that he believes Life, just as people, are a complex bundle of contradictions therefore simplicity is often that refuge of fools.

He believes there is no problem or conflict that cannot be solved if people are willing to face harsh truths and make the hard decisions. He also believes that the world would be a much better place if everyone would spend just a little more time unlearning what they have learned, think a little bit more and that we would all benefit if we became better at articulating our thoughts.    

Lastly, in the end, he believes that everyone everywhere deserves to have hope.

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“I don’t want to be remembered.

 Memories age and you might remember words I whispered in your car but you’ll forget how my voice made your name sound safe. You will faintly remember that there was once warmth in my touch but the skin on your chest where my hands made a home is cold now.

 

Time will steal all the sharp edges that made it seem real. Years will rob you blind and you’ll simply be living with my blurry ghost.

 

That’s worse than being forgotten, so confuse me with another girl in a coffee shop and change my name in future stories. Walk down memory lane and unlock the exit.

Ignore the ghost that packs up the memories and leaves and do me one last favor; shut the door behind me. “

 

write-from-the-start

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the importance of fairy tales

April 13th, 2017

 book fairy

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“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

 

Neil Gaiman

 

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So.

 

Turn on TV these days and you can see a variety of fairy tales being mangled by special effects, simmering adult romance and almost every form of bastardization of the moralistic aspects of fairy tales imaginable.

 

What a shame.

 

This may sound a little silly, particularly with some of the wacky things happening in the world today, but I think people <adults in particular> need fairy tales more than ever … the original ones and not the bastardized Hollywood versions. I think now, maybe more than in a long time, we need to be reminded we can actually beat dragons.

 

 

No.

I don’t want people to live some fairy tale Life.

 

Yes.

I do want people to believe in the underlying messages of fairy tales themselves.

 

intelligence fairy talesThe truth is that, metaphorically, fairy tales tend to depict the most difficult, complex challenges we face.

 

Even better?

 

99% of us know these fairy tales.

 

Yeah.

The truth is that almost every adult knows these fairy tales … which should creates a common understanding of what we need most… that we have an inner strength and a belief if we do our best and what is right we can overcome the worst monsters imaginable.

 

Sigh.

 

But this only works if we adults actually believe a fairy tale offers something useful to us in our adult Life.

 

Here is a truth.

Fairy tales, when at their best, simplify the most complex dilemmas <which seem to keep many of us awake at night as adults> into a less complex, mostly resolved environment, in which danger is met … and while the moment carries a burden of huge significance to the main character … reaches a resolution.

 

I could argue that it is adults who most to need fairy tales and we could actually use them to start believing in some important shit we need to believe in order to deal with reality.

 

Some analysis somewhere online suggested that the power of a fairy tale to an adult is that the fairy tale has its roots in a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping” combined with specific harsh challenges and specific ways out or through the challenge.

fate master of

I could argue that fairy tales showcase that the fate of our destiny resides within our own heads, hearts & hard work … not anyone else nor even at the hands of any monster standing in our way.

 

I could argue that fairy tales remind us that the world is unpredictably hostile to us and often quite destructive to our desires, if not to our survival, and, yet, it is also unpredictably full of resources if we are smart enough to look around enough … and hard enough.

 

I could argue we need more people to believe in fairy tales and certainly a mixture of “honest harshness” and “wishful hoping”. It doesn’t mean they are nuts or out of touch with reality … I mean, what the hell, people need to find hope & answers however they can.

 

Some people will find hope in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone have any say in where a person may look for that hope?

 

Some people will find answers in a fairy tale and, frankly, why should anyone care where a person may look for answers to Life?

 

Look.

 

All people want to be happy.  Different people just get there in different ways.

All people want to figure out roadblocks to our happiness. Different people just get there in different ways.

 

Who’s to say the ones who read fairy tales aren’t the smart ones these days.

 

All my own thoughts aside.

 

Let me share Psychology Today’s point of view <so you can see what an expert may suggest>:

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Yet it seems very important to me, perhaps even more important today, that these ancient stories should be repeated again and again. The violence within them is always contained within a fate and beginningssatisfying structure with a reversal, and the requisite happy ending.

Here good and evil are so conveniently and completely separate. There are no grey areas in the fairy tale. The appearance of the villain allows the child to freely project his own violent feelings onto these separate and satisfyingly wicked beings. Unable to express anger or hatred directly toward those adults on whom the child depends, he/she can displace this natural aggression and give free reign to it personified by the villain: the step-mother, the wicked wolf or the witch.

 

At the same time, having split good and evil so completely and satisfyingly the child can identify with the good hero or heroine.

He/she can beat his way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue sleeping beauty or magically acquire the carriage, grand dress and glass slippers to enchant the prince. The child can identify with the small, the weak or the downtrodden (little Cinderella, sweeping the hearth, for example) who, in a gratifying reversal, is able to overcome the odds and triumph, marrying the prince.

These tales thus permit both the expression of natural violence and at the same time preserve that essential part of life without which the child cannot prosper: hope.

 

Psychology Today

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And maybe that is where a fairy tale is most powerful for an adult who deigns to reads a fairy tale … there are no grey areas in the fairy tale.

 

Maybe someone who reads fairy tales somehow feels safer and more capable to face the unpredictable world because it clears the mind from the ambiguities, which many seem man-made, and permits us to see the truth — most challenges can be beaten.

 

Maybe fairy tales help someone beat their way valiantly through the thick forest to rescue their dream or magically acquire what they need to enchant Destiny <and their fate>.

 

I can honestly say that I hope the rest of the world doesn’t try to beat the fairy tale reading out of the people willing to reread them and talk about them … because it would be a shame.

 

Look.

 

It’s a hard time for anyone who believes in fairy tales these days. And it doesn’t help that reality suggests some fairy tale crap of its own.

 

Oddly enough … we seem to think endlessly of an end goal or an outcome as success in Life <which is a fairy tale> … and a dream or fairy tale as some unrealistic ‘thing’ consisting of rainbows, unicorns and unrealistic endings <yet the tale itself offers us a lesson for reality>.

 

Uhm.

 

I have news for everyone … the real fairy tale is a belief that everything in our lives would instantly be perfect if only we could have ABC … or do XYZ.attitude dream think

 

And reality may actually be more like the fairy tale story where unpredictable challenges are beaten by finding unpredictable resources within ourselves without any moral ambiguity.

 

How backwards is that?

 

Anyway.

 

We should all read more fairy tales.

They will remind us that we can do more than we believe and overcome more than we sometimes believe … and that fairy tale endings aren’t fantastical and not indicative of reality but rather just happy.

 

Not fantastical because, partially, you are reminded  you can resolve the unpredictable challenge and get past it.

 

Not fantastical because, partially, they remind us we can beat dragons.

 

Sure does seem like we could partially find both of those learnings quite useful these days. But. That’s me.

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“The unicorn is a lonely, solitary creature that symbolizes hope.”

 

Ally McBeal

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How do you solve a problem when one half absolutely hates the other half?

February 10th, 2017

Polar Opposites conflict

 

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I want people to think about our politics here in America, because I’m telling you guys that I don’t know of a single nation in this history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in the country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.

This is the most important country in the world, and people in this body cannot function if people are offending one another.

Marco Rubio

 

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Well.

 

Polarization can create some pretty foul conduct.

 

Polarization can bring out the worst in people.

 

Polarization can create stillness within turmoil when movement within teamwork is needed <and desired>.

And.

 

Polarization within leadership is a virus that infects everyone in the organization … not just in leadership.

marco rubio speech on respectful conflict

I was reminded of this as I watched a completely underreported and under the radar speech Marco Rubio gave on the senate floor after <I believe> Elizabeth Warren had been asked to stop speaking.

Warren gained all the headlines where Rubio actually had the words we should have all been listening to. It is maybe 8 minutes long and worth every second.

 

 

Please note that I believe this message is more important than just one directed toward the Senate … it is a message which all Americans should take note of.

We are fortunate to have the privilege of freedom of speech & thought and we should embrace that freedom as one to permit healthy discussion, debate and disagreements … all of which should enable healthy, positive decisions.

 

Freedom is a tricky thing. In the United States of America we have the unique opportunity to “criticize a president without retribution.” <as past President Obama said to a group of military people at MacDill Air Force base>.

 

But our freedoms are being challenge by Trump and his attitudes & behaviors in ways we haven’t really seen in a very very long time.

 

The Trump Affect ripples way beyond simple executive orders and specific friends unfluencers ripples2actions that will have an impact on the people of the country. The more dangerous ripple effect is one of attitudes & behaviors.

Within this dangerous Trump affect ripple,  the freedom to freely criticize is a little less secure … and the way we criticize, debate & discuss in the Trump era appears to be one of not listening, not respecting and not believing that there could possibly be a way to do something differently than the way “I believe.”

 

Trump and his merry little band of morally corrupt liars suggest that there is no middle ground for “ladies & gentlemen to disagree with ladies & gentlemen” <note: this is a rip off of the Ritz Carlton motto>.

 

The Trump Affect has trickled down into his direct organization … the congress.

 

And within that ripple Republicans either embrace the bully opportunity or simply privately watch in horror as leadership decorum and leadership example <which, by the way, IS important as impressionable children and adult seeking cues on how to be leaders watch closely>.

And within that ripple Democrats screech & gnash their teeth in impotent frustration over not only having no power to shift the tides of change but also because, in their heart of hearts, they know this is not the way business should be conducted.

 

Balance has disappeared.

compromise balancing actWhile people can bitch & moan that decorum, in the past, has only encouraged stagnancy & lack of action they should not confuse with what business is conducted and how business is conducted.

Just as I am more accepting of my high school football coach if we have a losing season but the players play with respect & dignity and go to class and show signs of growing up with a healthy personal responsibility … I am less accepting of the coach who permits poor behavior & lack of respectful competition even if they win more.

You can have all the good in this case. But balance has been lost.

 

In fact.

 

We should face the fact that balance deserted us the day Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy.

 

And that is why Rubio’s speech is so important. Without actually saying it he suggests that we shouldn’t let Trump drag us down into some dysfunctional squabbling amorphous blob of indignant jerks.

 

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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

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Rick Warren

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I like conflict and I think conflict is healthy.

creative spark light bulb

It is a basic Life truth that conflict is the positive friction that often creates innovations and new thinking and new ideas.

But, as with most things in life, there are degrees of conflict.

 

The kind of conflict we need now, more than ever, is the productive type.

 

We need to better embrace the valuable contradictions in life.

Things like:

 

Smart and funny.

Silent but says a lot.

Liberal conservative.

Cynical optimist.

 

Oh.

 

And enlightened and conflict of course.

 

We need to better embrace the fact that contradictions are powerful.

They create a chemistry ending in positive friction <when done right> and the fire for innovative thinking and thoughts.

 

In general I believe contradiction not only make life & people interesting but they also forge the kind of decisions that become the iron construct for a solid culture, civilization and country.

 

We need to embrace that conflict is part of life and not treat it as only a negative thing.

 

void embrace the unknownHumans are neither passive nor stagnant. We move. We do. We think.

 

Combine that fact with individuals are unique <although they may group together> and inevitably there is some conflict. It can simply be healthy competition or it can be staggeringly evil intended activity <i.e. there will be conflict because your point of view and thoughts shouldn’t exist and I am going to extinguish them>.

 

We need to embrace the fact that conflict can be “managed”.

Maybe call it competitive camaraderie. I call it enlightened conflict. I believe if people know more about stuff <I don’t really believe it needs a technical term> then conflict will be conducted with knowledge.

 

I would suggest that ignorance, and being close minded, guides conflict toward evil interactions … while knowledge guides conflict to responsible interactions.

 

Lastly.

 

We need to embrace that enlightened conflict is really some version of pluralism.

A pluralism in that it encourages, and embraces, freedom to learn and freedom to think different thoughts.

 

In the end I imagine what I really care about are people’s actions. They can remain mute as far as I am concerned as long as their actions respect others opinions and others lives and meets global responsibilities.

 

Look.

 

enlightened conflict ideasIt is silly to think that conflict doesn’t exist as part of our natural behavior <I apologize to all the “why can’t we all get along” groups>.

 

It is silly to think that friction between beliefs and causes is not the spark for something better.

 

It is silly to think conflict and friction is not good.

Good conflict leads to positive friction and ideation and evolution of ideas.

 

But it needs to be conducted with respect. Respectful disagreements & debate lead to two things:

 

  • Positive friction.

 

  • Enlightened conflict.

 

 

The first is based on curiosity plus friction equals better ideas and thinking.

The second is lack of ignorance plus conflict equals respectful competition.

 

We here in the United States have an incredible privilege … a freedom to say what we want and disagree and criticize whomever we want. We shouldn’t abuse that privilege by not understanding that it creates good conflict which enlightened conflict thinkenables ‘gooder’ ideas.

 

Marco Rubio did something in his speech which I endorse wholeheartedly … he tried to make an impact on his own little corner of the world … encouraging positive friction for enlightened conflict.

 

 

Marco Rubio had a stellar enlightened conflict moment … and more people should see it and listen.

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“Enlighten the people, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson

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finding a better version of capitalism

May 28th, 2016

 capitalism conspiracy elite

 

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“The combination of technology and capitalism has given us a world that really feels out of control.”

 

Jonathon Franzen

 

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 “Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.”

 

—–

Martin Luther King 1967

 

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Why am I writing my umpteenth article on capitalism?

 

capitalism kills loveI saw a number from some USA research the other day … something like 50% of people under the age of 30 do not believe in capitalism.

 

Ok.

 

Capitalism is good.

 

Capitalism is not bad.

 

Just wanted to get that out of the way.

 

But that does not mean there isn’t always a tension between good and bad in the soul of capitalism. It is an incredible wealth-creating & life bettering mechanism and, yet, left to its own devices can run off the tracks <morally and financially>.

 

Capitalism needs guard rails. Or some smart guy called it “embedded countervailing power.” It needs guard rails because humans will be humans.

 

When business is good, human beings become greedy.

When business is bad, human beings become fearful.

 

And I would like to remind everyone that culture is created by … uhm … human beings.

I say that not to be a smart ass but to suggest there is a real culture war in America, maybe the world, and it is occurring in the business world.

 

I purposefully use ‘culture’ because it has to do with some ethics or moral fortitude, some personal responsibility and some pragmatic hope for the future.

In fact … if we fix how capitalism works <systemic & infrastructure aspects> the net result is addressing income inequality, wage stagnation and overall economic prosperity as well as some individual “self-stuff” <kind of all the big societal issues we tend to discuss>.

 

Anyway.

 

A moment on the role of government.

trust the government society young

It is both a fallacy to believe Government is not the problem nor believe they are the solution.

We have a mixed economy < I stole that term from Foreign Policy magazine>.

 

Capitalism is not a governance system which is about maximizing corporate profit at the expense of the citizenry. Effective government curbs greed obejectives & regulates capitalism so that it does the good things it is supposed to do <innovate & bring prosperity to many> and it doesn’t do the bad things <be driven solely by greed>.

 

Let’s be clear.

 

America is not based on an unfettered capitalism nor has it ever been <nor was it ever meant to be by the founding fathers>.

 

It is a managed capitalism system <always has been … I say that to head off any of the ‘government is too involved’ today talking heads>.

 

Government attempts … sometimes better than other times … to put reins on humans within a capitalistic society.  Let’s say it’s something like giving enough range for wild horses to run free … but not to trample the gardens and lawns of the surrounding areas.

 

This ‘fettered’ managed capitalism idea is not perfect. It ebbs and flows and morphs into different shapes as time passes.

But it IS an effective economic and political system.

 

I would suggest that while polarizing … capitalism is balanced … when balanced.

But a better version of capitalism really is not dependent upon governance and laws <and putting banks out of business> but rather personal decisions, choices & responsibility.  Yes. I just suggested <again> that people, not the system, will define the better version of capitalism.

 

Adam Smith suggested the three pillars of a society are: prudence, looking after oneself as best as one is able; justice, keeping the law of the land; and reflection people imperefcetbeneficence, caring for others and society where there is need.

 

Clearly our main issue is not how to survive on true scarcity <that is not a perceived scarcity or a “less than” scarcity> but rather how to live well with plenty.

 

To date we have chased double digit growth and higher GDP all the while seeking higher material happiness <sometimes confused with higher standard of living>.

 

We have become societally insatiable.

 

In other words … we cannot have enough.

 

This funny Maslow chart reflects that as additional personal needs are fulfilled it induces new needs <which we, as humans, constantly improve ourselves in order to further attain these ‘self actualization’ activities>.  Think about this from a non-funny sustenance perspective in growing from poverty to non poverty <but the dimension perspective will always reside in the human mind>.

money puzzle-maslow

 

Yes. Capitalism has certainly vastly improved our lives and our means to live.

 

But it has also fed this insatiability.

 

Some guy named Sandel wrote in “what money can’t buy … the moral limits of markets:”

 

  • the more things money can buy the more the lack of it hurts.

 

  • buying and selling can change the way a good is perceived (he used “giving children money as incentive to read a book may make reading a chore rather than a simple pleasure”).

 

This all leads to an overall attitude that endless <and double digit> growth is essential to maintain and improve our quality of life. While I will not go into the detailed debate … that is simply not true <this is a standard efficiency versus effectiveness argument>.

 

Now. All that said.

 

The issue is really about the attitudes & attributes we are attaching to capitalism.

 

As I share some thoughts to try and address the young’s lack of belief in capitalism I will lead with two things:

 

  • Communism promises to make everyone equally rich and instead makes everyone equally poor.

 

  • Youth thinks it invents the world. Maturity respects the world it finds.

 

Suffice it to say that Capitalism is becoming some evil entity in the minds of many young people. In addition, aspects of other ideologies <communism being one> are being used relatively flippantly as ‘better than’ what is occurring within capitalism.

I actually believe it is a lack of understanding … but it is also quite possible there is a deeper lack of faith with capitalism.

 

If you step back you can see why the young <and the shallow thinkers> feel this way.

 

  • Real unemployment is nearly in double digits. Most Americans think the economy will recover next year, but only 2% think it will make a complete recovery.

 

  • On average, according to Gallup, Americans believe that 50 cents of every dollar the federal government spends is wasted. Democrats, who are supposed to believe in big government, guess that 41 cents of every federal dollar is wasted. Republicans think it is 54 cents, and independents put the number at 55 cents in the dollar.

 

  • A poll found that most Americans would rather their government did less. Some 57% said it was doing too many things that were better left to individuals and businesses. Only 38% thought it should do more.

 

And many people have genuine complaints. Many working-class men have lost their jobs. Those who are still employed have seen their wages stagnate. And overall they don’t trust government not to make it worse.

 

This is a sad state of affairs <for government who CAN make shit happen> because regulations can positively address stagnation & inequality without intervening in entrepreneurial decisions or in the price/profit mechanism.

 

The harsh black & white truth no one wants to say is that regulation is what makes free markets … well … free <free markets cannot sustain themselves>.

 

Anyway.

moral crossraodsI have been thinking about capitalism for a while nudging my mind toward discussing morals and character <society & culture>.

 

I found it interesting to think about Schumpeter when addressing the youth capitalism challenge.

 

  • what Joseph Schumpeter called ‘the cultural contradictions’ of Capitalism

 

One of the cultural contradictions <I believe he outlined 5> was … Rationality.

In that Capitalism encourages rationality in behavior. And that culture creates, and demands, a natural conflict by insisting on some ‘irrational’ behavior.

 

Rationality comes to life as the “maximization” of particular interests of individuals and groups.

This same rationalization then bleeds into both personal lives <family & home> and ultimately becomes embodied in some form or fashion into cultural forms.

 

Children become quasi economic assets <or their rearing incorporates rational ‘maximization’ theory embedded in capitalism>.

 

At its extreme … maximization bleeds into soulless wealth and extreme consumption thereby substituting saving and societal salvation.

 

Oddly, but fairly, he suggests consumption wins against accumulation. This leads to a certain diminishing of the desirability of incomes above a certain level.

 

At the same time, however, when the breaks of certain values associated with ethical or religious tradition fail <called the sophrosyne: Greek philosophical term meaning healthy-mindedness and from there self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance. Roman poet Juvenal later interpreted sophrosyne as “mens sana in corpore sano” – “a healthy mind in a healthy body”> individuals and groups come into natural conflict with capitalism. The basic human instinct is one of core values <in some degree within everyone> and therefore the natural contradiction forces some balance within capitalism.

 

This means that the irrational components of behavior are critical for capitalism to emerge and withstand rational arguments … especially when based on long term considerations.

 

But.

That said.

 

===

 

“This is the genius and the Achilles’ heel of American culture. We … have a strong belief in self-determination and agency, even when our expectations fly in the face of reality,”

 

Katherine Newman, who studies social mobility

 

====

 

Capitalism in America is not functioning efficiently for a variety of reasons … but that doesn’t make it bad.confuxed

 

The issue of Confused capitalism … or being confused by capitalism.

 

No matter how altruistic and non-materialistic you may be … the issue is simple … as we sit perched on a stool at the bar of society where we can scan the room and see the danger of those who have nothing or little … as well as those who have the most <and lots of most>.

 

If the majority of us begin to look like we are either nearing the dangerously ‘nothing people’ or, contrarily, appear to be too distant from those who ‘have the most’ <no matter what your exact status is> we get nervous … if not angry.

 

Materialism, culturally, is therefore naturally cyclical in that it will always seek to balance itself. For we always ‘want’ … but most of us want it to be within the realm of ‘hopeful that we can get more’ … without appearing too greedy. Hence that is fairness.

Give me a chance for something more than I have … and give me more and I won’t be too greedy.

 

While everyone can debate the role of money with regard to people’s happiness … it is true that economic health does make people happier <more secure, more comfortable, more sustenance>.

This actually means that free-market capitalism is not devoted to integrity and a reliance on trust but rather economic growth.

 

And this suggests the people need to be regulated.

 

Why do we balk at regulation?

 

The US has always been a wide-open, free-wheeling country, with a high tolerance for big winners and big losers as the price of equal opportunity in a dynamic society. If the US brand of capitalism has rougher edges than that of other democracies most people inherently believe it is worth the trade-off for growth and mobility.

Buut while we like the free wheeling we also recognize that we are going through some type of crisis. It just becomes a discussion on what type of crisis.

 

Some think it is a crisis of capitalism. <I don’t>

 

Others think the crisis is moral. <I do>

 

====

 

“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”

 

 

Bertrand Russell

====

 

First there is attitude. What is maybe a disregard for societal fairness versus what could be construed as individual ‘winning’ or ‘what I deserve.’

 

A lot has been written about the effects of globalization during the past generation. Much less has been said about the change in social norms that globalization enabled. Many people, particularly people in power positions, took the vast transformation of the economy as an excuse to rewrite the rules that used to govern their behavior.

 

I say that because while there will always be isolated small groups of lawbreakers in high places what truly destroys morale is a systemic corner-cutting, rule-bending, self interest behavior type of construct.

 

I have thought about how and why this happens.

 

It starts early.

As young children we start off with a healthy core of greatness, but before long it gets covered in layers of doubt, fear and guilt. Often this is caused by people we trust most like parents, teachers and managers who put us down in subtle and less subtle ways. It’s as though people were flicking bits of mud at us until our core of greatness is totally covered. Even worse, we flick mud at ourselves by accepting smaller versions of ourselves through negative self-talk and poor thinking; and we become a tiny fraction of the potential that once existed.

 

Once potential is curbed we seek to find success in other ways … sometimes circumventing “what is right” to make small excusable steps in our behavior to attain ‘small personal successes.”

 

repair faults consumerism

Second is our propensity to consume <and its self perpetuation>.

Our propensity to consume without thought for the planet, the poor or even the person next door is a sign that greed and fear are the motives of the moment.

 

Freedom certainly creates problems (inequalities most notably), but it also solves them.

But the central aspect of freedom advanced by these thinkers was the market, or what Adam Smith had described as the propensity to truck, barter and exchange. In this area, freedom allowed dispersed individuals—disposing of their own resources and choosing for themselves what they want to buy—to generate a level of prosperity that has had no precedent in human history. And the pricing system that emerges from the market—that is, from the push and pull of supply and demand—provides the indispensable knowledge needed to guide the economy.

 

So. All that said.

 

I would tell young people that Capitalism is not the issue.

It is the people within the system <and young people can fix that by entering the system>. The system can work just fine … it is simply being abused at the moment.

 

Capitalism needs to be managed to be more oriented to the long term and socially more responsible.

 

Interestingly … Richard Branson has formed an initiative to do just this … but I found it interesting that initially he sought to have a board of Business Elders … but  there were too few candidates from the business world of sufficiently unimpeachable character to staff it <insert ‘oh my’ here>.

 

Anyway <to conclude part 1>.

 

Since World War II in particular, America has been on a consumption surge/binge. While wages have certainly stagnated family disposable income has grown, life standards have improved, health has improved and overall quality of life has improved <and showed a continuous growth>. Unfortunately, at the same time, while families busily lived their lives they also had access to the finest inventory of toys capitalism could provide. Each generation was doing better than the one before, life was good and standard of living acquired a layer of ‘non essentials’ as part of how the people lived a successful & happy life.

At the same time.

Televisions starting bringing news, influential people talking and capitalism toys into the family living room. Television allowed busy families the opportunity to be exposed to complex issues through professionally crafted sound bites and talking points. People were now becoming more informed from a larger perspective, not just local perspective, and we ushered in the inevitable “keeping up with the Joneses” aspect.

What we face is the natural rising tide of ‘better than before’ facing the ebb and flow of time. The waters being drawn backwards is not appreciated by those standing in a spot washing their feet in the surf. Is it greed for most people? No. it is simply a desire for the status quo – “better is a right not a privilege.” Therein lies the social & cultural task at hand.

 

Anyway <to conclude part 2>.

 

Doing something.Accountability where you stand

 

Me?

 

I write and post on my blog. And speak about it wherever and whenever I can <especially to young people>.

 

It is easy to talk about it because it seems like if we take a moment and reflect on the problems in the world today we might easily come to the conclusion that it is mainly due to deterioration of our morality compass.

It seems like everywhere we see people filled with greed and intent on self-gratification.

It seems like people are always willing to compromise on values/morality to make personal gains.

 

If we start talking about values and create some sort of awakening in the minds of people.

 

Will everyone do it? of course not.

But someone has to go first.

 

Someone has to become the catalyst for change.

 

Why not the youth? We should encourage them to enter the system and build what they desire from the inside out rather than simply breaking the system as unfixable.

intervention when you are the world’s most powerful military

April 16th, 2016

 intervention proof of life 2

 

 

“They were stolen from their beds in a school dormitory — hundreds of teenage girls kidnapped by gunmen.

A few dozen escaped to tell of the night that Boko Haram militants brought terror to a Nigerian girls’ school.

From the rest, silence. No sign of where they had been taken or what could have happened to them for almost two years, even as the world screamed #BringBackOurGirls.”

Until now.

CNN has obtained a video of some of the “Chibok Girls” sent to negotiators by their captors as a “proof of life.”

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CNN

 

—————————

 

 

Well.

 

Sometimes as an American you see something and you wonder “if I have the world’s most effective military why am I not using it?”

 

intervention proof of life 3To me … Nigeria’s Boko Haram kidnapped young girls made me think this.

 

I watched the Nigerian mothers watching the video released from Boko Haram … and my heart broke.

 

 

 

I have little interest in using military to intervene in civil wars <like Syria>.

 

I have  little interest in using military to ‘institute democracy.’

 

I have a lot of interest in selectively using the best of the best military to let them o what they do best and resolve solvable humanitarian situations.

 

 

But this Nigerian issue is solvable.

And it is solvable by using the best military in the world.

 

I mean, c’mon, isn’t that what we, as in America, are supposed to do as a world leader? Solve solvable problems for the greater humanitiarian good?

 

Does anyone seriously doubt that should the US Marines, the Army Rangers or any special forces group be tasked with “get those girls” that they wouldn’t?

 

Does anyone seriously believe that Nigeria, or for that matter, any country in the world would be chastising USA for putting US military on foreign soil?army special forces intervention

 

Does anyone seriously believe some well-intended hashtag initiative is going to compel some resolution?

 

In some cases in some situations the person who CAN do the right thing needs to stand up … walk across the street … and actually DO the right thing.

 

Some people, in fact, a lot of people are gonna bitch at me … we are not the world police … it is not our problem … we should support Nigeria but not put our soldiers in harm’s way.

 

They will be wrong in this case.

 

If not us, then who?

 

If it were our children, would we just stand by?

 

If I were to ask a military person to risk their life would I prefer it to be to save a child or put some new government in place <which I cannot promise will last>?

 

I challenge anyone in America, shit, around the world … watch the video … watch the mothers … if you could do something … I believe you would.

us special ops intervention

And we, as in the USA, can.

 

Look.

 

I am not a betting man but here is a bet I would take.

 

I bet … any special forces military person asked to take on this assignment who would call home asking for permission from their mother & father to accept this assignment would only hear one thing from their parents … “go get them.”

 

Enlightened Conflict