Enlightened Conflict

the false comparison trap

May 30th, 2017

compare-iridescent-person-colorful-special

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“As with events, so it is with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water.”

 

—–

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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“The sphinx must solve her own riddle.

If the whole of history is in one man, it is all explained from individual experience.”

 

——

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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“Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things.”

 

—-

Bruce McTague

 

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So.

 

life explained tat awkward moment birth deathWe LOVE using the past to try and explain shit. Past people, past events, past words and past … well … everything.

When we are faced with something new, or someone new, we immediately start sifting through the scrap heap of the past to start creating some semblance of a jig saw puzzle to explain what we are facing.

 

There are a number of problems with doing this.

 

The biggest is that scraps are scraps. Oh. And the scraps used to reside in a completely different context <which is impossible to recreate>.

 

And, yet, we continue to try.

The problem is that in doing so we elect to not judge the present on the merits of the present. We decline to judge a person as they are, the circumstances as they are and the decisions on the merits of what it is. We do this with everyone and everything … how money is spent, decisions we need to make, new people we have met and even leaders. We do it all partially well intended <we want to make sure we make a fair assessment of hat we are seeing & hearing> and partially because simply examining something and stating “this is good” or “this is bad” <or acceptable or unacceptable> seems … well … flimsy.

 

Comparisons tend to make things look more solid.  And, yet, we tend to absolutely suck at creating the proper comparisons.

 

And, that happens for a variety of reasons – also some well-intended and some not so well intended.

 

I will start with the well intended.

 

As Emerson once wrote: “our being is descending into us from know not whence.” And we struggle with that truth. It makes us uncomfortable … uhm … no … REALLY uncomfortable.

If we don’t know where things descend from then we begin to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find comparisons to do so. this all comes at the expense of judging what is, the beings and such, on the merits of what exists. And this is where the shit hits the fan. We either dip into our own memories or a slew of people start telling us what memories to take a look at <the latter is part of the not so well intended>.

 

Well.

 

Here is an unfortunate fact … our memories, which is how we tend to judge and create mental comparisons, are constructive and reconstructive

 

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“Many people believe that memory works like a recording device.

pico memory key thumb drive

…….. our memory chip ……..

You just record the information, then you call it up and play it back when you want to answer questions or identify images. But decades of work in psychology has shown that this just isn’t true.

Our memories are constructive.

They’re reconstructive.

Memory works a little bit more like a Wikipedia page: You can go in there and change it, but so can other people. “

 

Elizabeth Loftus

 

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“You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we’re ready to see it.”

 

——

(via 1112pm)

 

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We desperately want to define things through comparison and continuously ask the universe for signs to show us what we want.

 

We desperately do so because in the absence of some comparison we would then have to judge what is on the merits of what exists — the good, the bad and the indifferent .

 

That doesn’t mean a shitload of people around you aren’t gonna try and affect how you will build your comparisons and encourage you to compare in some fairly creative <sometimes absurd> ways.

 

What do I mean?

 

I go back to the psychologist Ebbinghaus who studied memory construction <his published essay Über das Gedächtness in 1885> where he realized that memory and recall of continuous passages of prose or verse would be affected differentially by people’s experiences and prior knowledge.

Memory is a snare, pure and simple; it alters, it subtly rearranges the past to fit the present.

 

Mario Vargas Llosa

 

 

What that actually means is that the memory you tap into to create the my-worst-enemy-is-my-memory-projectcomparisons you seek are slightly mangled by yourself <in how you remember it> and can be manipulated by devious not so well intended people around you.

 

The Constructive and reconstructive nature of memory:

 

  • Memories are distributed; not unitary

 

  • “remembering” involves retrieving and reassembling

 

  • memories can be revised over time

 

  • Reconstruction is filling in “missing details” on the basis of logic, assumptions, what “must have been the case”

 

  • More common reasons for forgetting: Lack appropriate retrieval cue = something you attach to a memory, can use to recover it>

 

  • Reliable retrieval cues are key to access <and multiple retrieval cues are best>

 

  • Existence of older memories blocks access to newer ones

 

Ah.

If only we could pull out our brain and use only our own eyes.

But, not surprisingly, this is the exact same issue new ideas, “white space” theories, fresh thinking, true <not made up> disruptive people & things face.

 

All tat said. I will point out that something doesn’t have to be truly new to face false comparison challenges … it can simply be a new person in an existing role or a common problem or question just in a different time.

 

Suffice it to say anything new, or any change, is being asked to be defined by the past. And there will never be a lack of people stepping up and suggesting they can define something through a variety of comparisons <many of which you spend more time trying to fend off than is worth the time>.

explain with rational mind

This is a mistake. This is a fundamental error we make. It assumes what is can somehow be extrapolated by something by what was <the past>. In reality, as I have noted numerous times, I cannot exactly extrapolate the past because I cannot exactly replicate the past … which means <in harsh terms> there is nothing there and nothing from nothing is … uhm … nothing.

Yeah.

Most comparisons end up meaning nothing <although they look like something>.

Yeah.

This means most comparisons we create are just plain and simple false comparisons.

 

Without trying to be flippant with regard to what I believe is a fairly standard operating procedure for people … we need to stop. Stop false comparisons.

It is a trap.

And a dangerous trap.

 

Comparisons normalize that which should not be normalized … just as comparisons can de-normalize that which should be normalized.

False comparisons wielded by the devious can construct almost any “normal” you could desire <even if it is hollow & not really normal>.

 

Anyway.

 

In today’s world there does seem like there is a lot of crazy shit happening. And in our desire to veer away from the “crazy shit” feeling we seek some comparisons to normalize the situation <thereby calming the ‘crazy shit feeling>.

 

Just a couple of notes of warning on that.

 

<a> Finding comparisons, if done well, you can actually be convinced there really isn’t crazy shit happening even though there is truly some crazy shit easter crazy kidshappening.

 

As a corollary to <a>,

 

<b> if there is truly some crazy shit happening there will be no shortage of people ponying up false comparisons trying to convince you that there is no crazy shit happening <and some of them will be quite effective>.

 

The only reason I point out the warning is that there really is some crazy shit happening and we need to stop finding comparisons to make today, and some people, look a little less crazy than it really is.

 

There you go.

 

I will end where I began … “Comparisons are a shit way of evaluating things <and people>.”

We should invest the energy judging what is, people, ideas and things, based on their present merits not some false comparisons from the past.

 

that we contain our own future

March 26th, 2017

 look-to-the-future-principles-telescope-view-past-older

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“Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward.”

 

—-

Abraham Verghese

 

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“It’s the one thing we never quite get over: that we contain our own future.”

 

 

Barbara Kingsolver

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So.

 

Thinking about what legacy you want to leave behind can make you start thinking a little bit about what you may want to stubbornly stand for and demand of Life … and what you may decide to compromise with Life to insure you have something … some progress to show at the end.

 

A significant part of this grand bargain we negotiate with Life is how we decide to compromise with those around us and those who affect the arc of our lives.

 

Ah.

 

That word “compromise.”

 

Therein lies maybe one of the most difficult topics of the current generation.

 

The topic is that the concept of compromise … meeting someone half way … is now a nebulous concept.

death of compromise

Why?

 

Because I am not sure I know where the hell half way is.

 

And I tend to believe a shitload of people are standing with me, on one side or the other, not really sure where the hell half way is.

 

And if you cannot even see the middle ground how the hell can you figure out how to make a stand on it?

 

Now.

 

This gets compounded by a massive online communal world in which we all live side by side where even the marginalized people <real or perceived> who now have a place to gather into likeminded groups, share as much a space as mainstream views.

For good, or for bad, online any group of people can organize & mobilize & challenge the status quo … or pick & choose which status quo fits their view.

 

The internet amplifies discourses critical of … well … any status quo you can think of.  And, as anyone could expect, all the critical discourse triggers a corresponding equal backlash from those who fear an uprooting of their beliefs the nature of compromise miserable<and the self identities that are inevitably attached to these beliefs>.

 

It just becomes one huge mosh pit of criticism and cocooning of likeminded people.

 

People … all who are angry.

 

Within all of this situation & anger … it seems like no one is civil to one another. And maybe worse is the fact there is this ‘digging in’ aspect where we refuse to see any merit in other people’s opinions.

 

Sadly, I can only conclude that we have lost the ability to converse, discuss, debate and have a dialogue with one another.

 

It seems obvious <at least to me> but if we could figure out how to come together and compromise, that we could go a long way toward not only creating a better version of society in general … but it may give me, and all of us, at least a fighting chance with regard to where we make our own personal stand … and where we compromise … and how we attain the future that we contain.

 

As long as people cling to unbending attitudes & beliefs, the divides between us will not deepen … but will remain an unbridgeable divide.

 

I tend to believe most of us want better that that.

I tend to believe most of us would be willing to work to make this a better and more civil world to live in.

 

And if you do not embrace this thinking?

 

I would remind everyone that America is representative of a great compromise. The U.S. Constitution is possibly the greatest Compromise ever negotiated <it created a nation>.

 

 

But as a first step to bettering this entire situation we need to figure out how to better define Compromise.

 

compromise not an act weaknessFar too many loudmouthed people have ripped the meaning out of the word,  twisted the value of the word making it seem valueless, and ultimately created an environment in which  we demonize the entire process of trying to reach compromise.

Compromise no longer means understanding your differences and working together toward a common goal but now it seems to represent weakness, losing and not being strong enough to get what you want.

 

This unwillingness to work together has wrought havoc to society where the unwavering stance seems to be “don’t compromise, stick to your guns, don’t give in to the other side”.

 

Sigh.

 

Look.

 

I find it hard to believe that the majority of America is really that selfish and that stubborn.

 

Sure. I know the people most passionate about any issue tend to be the ones less willing to compromise on them.

And, yeah, I would guess most of us are fairly passionate about ourselves – what we decide to stand for … as well as what we will decide to sacrifice within compromise to attain some progress.

 

But within this wacky world where no one seems to want to compromise anything on anything … well … shit … some of us are trying to think a little bit about what you may want to stubbornly stand for and demand of Life … and what you may decide to compromise with Life to insure you have something … some progress to show at the end.

 

It seems like the situation we are in has arisen because we have permitted the stubborn voices of the radical marginalized <real and perceived> to drown out the pragmatic voices of realistic positive compromise.

 

If we want society to start working again we need to embrace compromise — and let it retain the positive definition which has served it well through time.

 

To end this I will go back to the beginning.

 

The “I” aspect.

 

I tend to believe all of us, with the intent of finding the best version of ourselves from which our ultimate legacy will be defined, will seek to find the balance of being stubborn and demand that Life bend to us and our principles and compromise where we make a grand bargain with Life in order to continue progressing.

 

Uhm.

 

If we believe this … then why wouldn’t we want this in Life and in business and in politics and in … well … everything.

 

There was a book that discussed this. In The Spirit of Compromise <Amy Gutsman and Dennis Thomson> they note that Americans support general compromise as an idea and like the idea of ‘other people’ working together to get stuff done <statistics support this in a variety of studies & polls>.

 

Oh shit.

 

However.

 

The authors then note that support for compromise breaks down when it addresses specific issues <Americans are much less likely to support a compromise life good want you theycompromise on a specific issue>. As with most things in Life we enthusiastically embrace the conceptual behavior and balk at the actual behavior.

 

Compromise is complex … and simple.

 

What I do know is that we contain our own future and building that future demands that we will have to make some compromises.  That is simple.

Making the specific choices is complex.

And while I am mostly interested in my own future and making my own compromise choices … I tend to believe we would all find the better version of ourself contained within … if the society as a whole were more willing to refind the value in compromise.

 

pushing thru it

September 15th, 2016

pushing-thru-it-exercise

 

 

“It just wasn’t a big deal to me.

 

This was an ailment that many people just power through and that’s what I thought I would do as well. I didn’t want to stop, I didn’t want to quit campaigning, I certainly didn’t want to miss the 9/11 memorial.

 

It didn’t work out so well.

 

So I got the antibiotics up and going, got the rest that I needed, and we’re going on from there.”

 

Hillary Clinton and her pneumonia

 

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I admit.

 

push-through-bad-daysI am slightly baffled by the huge kerfuffle over Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia.

 

Isn’t what she did … well … basically what you & I and every working person in the world does? We push thru whatever is ailing us until what ails us forces us to stop <or it goes away magically which is what most of us hope for>.

 

Now.

 

Clinton, or how any of us act, <disregarding doctor advice & pushing thru it> must be maddening to doctors.

 

In fact … the numbers I found suggest doctors must live a life of constant frustration.

 

Patient noncompliance is an epidemic, estimated to affect 20% to 30% of short-term therapies, 50% to 60% of long-term medication and 70% to 80% of advice about lifestyle changes. Over 50% of the 3.8 billion prescriptions written annually in the United States are taken incorrectly or not at all.

 

 

I imagine with all the online “doctors” it seems like we have all become given the massive accessibility to medical information online – much of it complex, sometimes contradictory <due to medical nuances> and often downright wrong – many people believe they can diagnose and treat all on our own.

flowers-pushing-through-the-process

And given the absurd online medical conspiracy blathering over Clinton’s health I tend to believe 90% of people somehow believe they are qualified medical professionals due to their online research <despite much of it looks a lot like ‘quackery’>.

 

And while research shows that “pushing thru” or ignoring real advice has serious repercussions – Consumer Reports showed that noncompliance with advice or treatment recommendations is the top complaint that primary care physicians have about patients and most believe it affects their ability to provide optimal care, and one in three says it does so a lot – the reality is that this is just what we people do.

 

Hillary Clinton included.

 

Frankly, we shouldn’t be surprised she didn’t tell anyone nor should we be surprised she failed to follow her doctor’s advice … because we all have done it.

And we all certainly have done it when under the pressure of some deadline we knew we were working against <a big meeting, a project deadline, a promise to a client, an election>.

 

So … that said … the whole kerfuffle baffles me.

 

It makes me scratch my head.

 

Do I believe there is some sexism riddled through this entire absurd dialogue?

Yeah. Maybe a thread.

 

Clinton has always been dogged by ‘ambitious professional versus homemaker’ questions combined with a subtle push back that a woman cannot do this particular man’s job <whatever that job may be>.

And I could argue almost every professional woman is nodding their head in agreement with what I just said as they think about their own situation.

 

But I actually believe it hits at the core of America’s gestalt.

america just do it

Our “just do it” attitude.

 

Our “we are not quitters” attitude.

 

Why do you think Americans take less vacation days and work sick more than any country? An aspect of our behavior is our attitude that we are expected to not succumb to ‘what everyday people do’ and push thru to some aspect of exceptional.

 

Is pushing thru sickness exceptional?

Well. Maybe not.

But it seems like the basic bar for who and what we are culturally.

 

And the bar gets raised even higher for workaholics and people who like what they do.

 

Anyway.

 

She’s had pneumonia, she campaigned and had a security meeting and … well … a bunch of shit before she actually went to the doctor <similar to what we all do> … she kept going despite doctor advice until it floored her <similar to what we all do> and then gets up less than a week later and starts going back to work <similar to what we all do>.

 

I could suggest that this is the sort of determination which sounds fairly presidential to me but instead I will point out that this is what 90% of Americans do when they get sick.

 

And, actually, it sounds like every mother I know … except most mothers don’t get a whole 4 days off when they’re sick.push-thru-can-will-do

 

Most women I know amaze me with their stamina and their general “no quit” attitude when getting shit done.

 

It seems to me that Hillary Clinton just represented what women do day in and day out pretty well. She wasn’t just representative of what we may desire in a presidential candidate but also representative of almost every working mother out there as well as maybe 90% of all the ‘anyones’, male or female, who goes to work every day.

.

not being owned

April 17th, 2016

world of my own

 

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“I am the sea and nobody owns me.”

 

 

Pippi Longstocking

 

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i would fight myself if i could

(letthechipsfallwheretheymay)

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So.

 

Not being owned sounds like a simple thing.

 

Yet.

 

Over and over <and over> again we permit something … or someones … to own void swallows self strength own you lifea part of you.

It can be direct or it can be indirect.

It can be consciously or subconsciously.

 

 

To be clear.

 

This is not a society thing <albeit society is a nasty twit on occasion> … this is a self thing.

 

And this is not a corruption thing <albeit money is a nasty twit on occasion> … this is a self thing.

 

So what do I mean by a self thing?

 

One of the very very few things you can actually control in life is “self ownership.”

 

Owning who you are as a person. Owning your integrity. Owning your character, dignity and moral compass. And, I imagine, owning your behavior & attitudes.

 

 

Now.

 

This ownership isn’t easy. It isn’t because … well … what you own a shitload of people and things are constantly seeking ways to steal it.

 

And owning a good security system will not do shit for you.

You need to learn self-defense.

 

And by self defense I actually mean defending against your self <and not someone or something else>.

 

You have to choose to fight yourself.

 

Fight against some nasty instincts <which more often than not head you in the wrong direction>.

Fight against temptation <of which the world has an endless array it constantly parades in front of you>.

Fight against some internal mind games <think doubt, fear, acceptance, etc.>.

 

 

Regardless.

 

Many of us flippantly state “I am my own person and nothing owns me” and, yet, under the glaring spotlight of truth & reality we will find that more of us is owned by someone or something than we would like.

 

Many of us shrug our shoulders when faced with this harsh truth and say “those are not the important things” or “that’s just Life.”

created my own world

Well.

 

It is not ‘just Life’ and they are not just ‘little unimportant things.’

 

More of us should stop, take a moment, and think about whether we want to react to external ownership efforts or proactively “fight myself” over the right to own myself.

 

Each of us is the sea and no one owns a sea.

 

Do not be owned.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict