Enlightened Conflict

struggle for the soul of e pluribus unim

September 25th, 2017

 

be-better-exponentially

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“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written.

And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes.

I personally resent it bitterly.”

 

Isaac Asimov

 

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“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

 

Samuel Johnson

 

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“When tyranny comes to the United States, she will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a bible.”

——

Gore Vidal

 

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Well.

 

Trump is exhausting. I think not only to me but to America. Day after day, week after week, he seems to attack … well … e pluribus unim <out of many, one>.

Trump seems to thrive on dividing and the conflict that arises from dividing.

 

some men just want to watch the world burn leaders managers business told you so

 

I admit.

 

On occasion I sit back and think of Alfred in Batman … some people just want to see the world burn.

 

Anyway.

 

Donald J Trump went to war against professional black athletes this weekend under the guise of patriotism <albeit his attack is blended with that instinctual subconscious racism which Trump seems to invariably inculcate almost everything he does with>.

 

They fought back.

kneeling patriots NFL

 

That said.

 

I just had to explain to someone this weekend that I don’t hate Trump – in fact I don’t believe he is worthy of any emotional energy on my part – but that I hate his inability to lead, to unite and to … well … offer a north star with regard to some fairly important discussions that any country should have and must have … and will have.

 

one person flawed perfect save

I hate that his take on America is not e pluribus unim <out of many, one> but rather unim pluribus e <I made that up> … or … out of one, many.

 

He has done some absurdly horrible leadership things since he has taken office but this weekend, in which he unequivocally used patriotism to suggest that black athletes peacefully protesting what they believe is a social injustice were not only unpatriotic … but should be fired for not showing patriotism, is just … well … horrible. Horribly unpatriotic in fact.

 

Uhm.

 

That last thing said. Like it or not … patriotism is not a prerequisite for citizenship. In fact … I would suggest that on any given day a fairly significant swath of the USA population is relatively disappointed in the America. That doesn’t make them any less patriotic, nor does it make them disrespect America, it is like having a quarrel with a loved one … I still love you but at the moment I am not the happiest person in the world with you.

 

Regardless.

 

It is absurd to make this a patriot versus non-patriot issue <but that is what Trump is doing>.

 

Frankly … it is absurd that some people suggest this is a ‘political’ issue … this is a social issue.

 

And Trump is our head absurdity – he is our scoundrel.

 

untrustworthy scoundrelScoundrels, when challenged, will often use false patriotism in order to shut up their opponents.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism to suggest a black athletes who earns more money for their skills than a hard working white American is a lesser ‘American’.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism, tweeted or yelled, to attempt to affect the economic realities of an industry or specific individual’s income.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism to flirt with some casual racism.

 

Scoundrels will use false patriotism to … well … actually attack what could be construed ‘patriotic freedoms’ <items actually listed in the Constitution>.

 

I don’t find it hard to believe Trump is a scoundrel … and, yet, I continue to be shocked by the numerous things that Trump does to violate the norms of not only the Presidential office but the norms of American freedoms as well as the norms of … well … business.

 

He represents 330 million people and the economic wellbeing of all businesses <which benefit all people> and, yet, he seems to have no problem calling out individuals and individual companies as ‘unpatriotic’ <because they balk at his self defined “america first”>.

 

It’s hard to think of a group President Trump hasn’t offended or attacked as a candidate or in office:

 

Women.

Establishment Republicans.

Democrats.

 

.......... Trump attacking ... well ... everyone ........

………. Trump attacking … well … everyone ……..

Journalists <“sick people … thieves and crooks”>.

TV hosts.

Pollsters.

 

NFL players.

NBA players.

Gold Star parents.

 

POWs <McCain>.

The “Hamilton” cast.

Jews <several times … and, yet, “Israel” is good>.

 

Catholics <Pope Francis criticisms “disgraceful”>.

Muslims.

 

Immigrants.

African Americans.

Latinos.

<never white people … even if they carry Nazi flags and say “Jews will not replace us”>.

 

LGBTQ community.

New Hampshire residents <“a drug-infested den”>.

Mexico.

Belgium.

Germany.

London.

Paris.

<add in another dozen countries>.

 

NATO.

The UN.

 

A variety of individual companies.

A union leader <or two>.

 

Steph Curry.

Snoop Dogg.

 

 

Whew.trump divide america tweet shout nonsense

 

I think the only ones left are nuns, white/straight/Christian men, Putin and Ivanka.

 

I could argue that Trump is offering us the most insidious unpatriotic thought of all … “anyone who does not agree with my self defined version of America First is not patriotic — a true American.”

 

Whew. That’s … well … insidious.

 

But … you know what? All of this means that Trump is demanding we fight not only for the soul of the nation but also make a decision with regard to “e pluibus unim.”

 

Fight?

Out of many, one slips off the tongue easily. We like it … maybe even love it. And it becomes easy to say “well, the flag embodies this.”

It is easy because it is tangible and simplistic.

 

Here is the unfortunate truth we must all face; even our scoundrel of a president, America is an idea. This does not diminish the importance of the flag as emblematic of America as a whole because … well … the flag IS actually emblematic of the whole. By that I mean the military does not have the sole ownership of the flag <and I have the utmost respect for the military with multiple friends in the military> but rather all, the many/pluribus unim, use the flag as representative of ALL the ideas that make up America. Many have died for those ideas … some military and some not.

 

America is an idea lived out by ALL the people.

 

America is an idea lived out by people who embrace the soul of the idea of which America is founded upon.

 

I wrote once a while back that “with our new President I recognize we are now one-just-principle-strength-life-livein a struggle for the soul of America – a struggle for our moral core.” And while I still believe that he has brought an entirely different dimension into this struggle … a struggle over patriotism.

One would think this is a relatively easy discussion but Donnie Two Scoops, in his intellectually hollow way, simplistically has decided that patriotism is defined by “not kneeling” or “not burning the flag” … in other words … ”flag above all”.

 

Look.

 

I would not kneel during the national anthem but I am not black nor have I faced the social injustice that African Americans face day after day. But I would certainly show support, and respect the choice, of anyone who believed they should.

That is patriotic and that is America. Freedom to show protest and freedom to show support in the way I choose.

 

Ah.

Maybe the bigger question is would I kneel if I was so disappointed in America so much that I needed to make a stand? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm … I imagine I would.

I don’t know what the issue is but I could envision it.

 

But this whole NFL/sports/black athlete versus Trump issue is simply one more data point showcasing the ongoing struggle for the soul of our nation AND what ‘e pluribus unim’ really & truly means.

 

I am personally determined to take up this struggle in any way I can … and anywhere. That, to me, is the patriotic thing to do.

 

plan badly oops cornered

……. my little corner of the world ……….

And I will do whatever I can in my little corner of the world. I will fight back by showcasing individual norms which I believe should help guide societal norms & patriotic norms and ‘e pluribus unim’ norms… better than what I believe our current President offers.

 

We need some people to stand up and hold our moral compass up high so that we can rediscover the soul of America and set forth toward the North Star.

 

We need to stand up and recognize how easy it is to overlook false patriotism <because patriotism seems to be something we can all agree on>.

 

Sigh.

 

Day after day this scoundrel sitting in the Oval office does things that remind us that we are now not only in a struggle for the soul of America and a struggle for our moral core … but he is challenging “e pluribus unim.”

 

Let us be clear on one thing.

 

One incredibly important thing.

 

Our President does not appear to have a soul of integrity & dignity only a core of ‘win at all and any costs’ nor does he appear to believe America has a soul other than a platitude of ‘patriotism’ <which he seems to think is made up of solely of military, law & order and power> nor does he appear to be centered on any moral imperative beyond ‘winning’ <and looking impressive & strong>.

 

To be clear. That is false patriotism based on some incredibly hollow thinking.

 

Regardless.

 

This, simplistically, a false narrative of false patriotism offered to us by a false leader.

 

I believe there is a time to stand with strength, there is a time to be competitive, there are winners and losers and not everyone should get a trophy and that being nice isn’t an imperative with regard to how you play the game or be competitive.

I believe in America, respect for the flag and that patriotism is a powerful energy underlying ‘e pluribus unim.’

 

I can almost 99% guarantee the American Symbolic Chief, or our President, only cares about how you look while you play the game <the ‘trappings as it were> and wraps himself in an American flag without understanding what the flag stands for.

 

Everyone should remember in this struggle that Trump is hollow and in his lack of leadership ‘e pluribus unim’ runs the risk of being driven by platitudes an superficial ‘branding’ exercises rather than true understanding of what makes ‘one out of many.’

And everyone should be thinking that Trump should be the last fucking person to be defining patriotism for us.

 

Sigh.

 

If anyone doubts the patriotism of someone who kneels during the national anthem, I will end with this thought.

 

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“I got a daughter, she’s going to have to live in this world. I’m going to do whatever I got to do to make sure she can look at her dad and be like, ‘Hey, you did something, you tried to make a change.’”

 

—————

Miami Dolphins player Michael Thomas

 

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I cannot figure out how that is not patriotic.

 

 

dreams and dream incubators

June 26th, 2017

Family of four on grass with hands up and dream

 

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“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it.

I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

 

——-

Diane Ackerman

 

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“Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything.

Those buildings. These lights. This whole city.

 

Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did.

I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.”

 

—–

James and the Giant Peach

 

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Ok.

 

Today I am actually going to talk about dreaming and business.

 

if only dreams wishes

 

Suffice it to say … someone needs to be talking about dreaming because dreamers have been having a tough time of it for a while. Shit. I could argue dreams themselves have had a tough go of it.

 

Pragmatism is the ‘watch word of the day’.

 

Reach for the stars? No way.  You need to think “attainable.”

 

In addition … the outside world seems to get crazier and crazier and more chaotic which encourages the majority of us to just hunker down and get shit done.  It encourages us to not only NOT think about dreaming but even worse …“why dream? I just need to figure out a way of surviving.”

 

All that said.

 

I have two thoughts today.

 

The first is the increasing importance of businesses to an individual’s dreams, and dreaming, and the second is just about dreaming itself.

 

Ok.

The first.

 

I believe the business world is going to start playing an incredibly important role with regard to the future of dreaming.

 

In fact.

 

I believe the successful business organization of the future will be a ‘dream incubator’ rather than the current, more pop culture popular, ‘purpose drive’ organization.

And I say that as a ‘purpose driven organization’ believer.

 

Let me explain.dream wall sitting alone thinking

 

The outside world, as I have noted earlier, doesn’t really seem conducive to dreams and dreaming.

 

The inside world, your job and business Life, is becoming more and more focused on the daily grind and meeting the needs of the grind. In general we are getting squeezed but dreaming, in particular, is getting suffocated.

 

This means there is little space in-between the outside world and inside world for dreams and dreaming.

 

This is where I believe business steps in and maybe sharpens its elbows and creates some space for individual people to remember having dreams can be good and dreaming can actually be a good thing.

 

Businesses can step in and remind people that there is big value in pragmatism and personal responsibility in doing a good job AS WELL AS there may be an equal value in placing a dream or two within the pragmatic ‘do what you need to do’ Life … it kind of adds some rich & royal hues to what could be a duller palette.

 

Now.

Let me address the practical aspect of business and how the idea of ‘dream incubator’ can fit … because a shitload of shortsighted business people are going to suggest they have no desire to have their employees “dreaming” … they want them focused on doing their jobs.

 

Purpose was offered as a glue to hold together, and align, functional behavior <departments & responsibilities> of an organization while providing a deeper value to instill in attitudes & behavior. It certainly offered a version of a North Star from an ethical & moral standpoint but its true objective was to take the place of ‘vision’ in a pragmatic business world seemingly devoid of anything but functional outcome driven behavior.

 

Good intent. Good objective.

 

My belief of ‘dream incubator’ is less functional driven but rather attitudinally driven.

 

My belief is that in a world in which dreaming is not being encouraged a business which encourages you to pursue your dreams WITHIN the business itself will be rewarded <attitudinally, functionally & profitability>.

 

purpose versus dreams organization business 2

 

My belief is that employees, in general, are not driven by their departmental function <which is actually more the ‘keep your head down and do what you need to do’ daily grind> but rather by their dreams — $, ideas, innovations and … well … let me call the last one “perfection.”

 

<please note: this is a simplified version of a more complex organizational idea which I have shared elsewhere, in other words, I know there are more layers to this concept>

 

 

Let me start with ‘perfection.’

 

Some people dream of operational excellence. They get frustrated with politics and missteps and the normal inefficient behavior of a normal organization. These are the ones who offer up the zany process changes which, as a manager, you look at, screw up your face and think “Jesus Christ, what a mosh pit this would be to implement.” And, yet, these are the same zany changes which the organization most likely NEEDS to do to step up from where it is currently running.

 

 

 

$

 

It would be naïve to ignore the fact some employees are financially motivated and that their dreams are tied to more material aspects. They want money and things and your objective should be to inspire them to dream for more and be the organization which can enable their dreams to come true <within the construct of whatever is construed as ‘fair play’ within that organization>.

 

Ideas.

 

ideas dream make fly people think believe imagine educateSome people dream of thinking … and thinking up ideas. Imagine a business which encourages the epe who like t come up with ideas actually helps their ideas come to Life … even if they do not directly apply to the business itself.

 

Huh?

 

Here is a secret a lot of good business people know. While we love to talk about focus and ‘staying in our lane’ and the danger of less-than-strategic expansion, the truth is that a business can accommodate a shitload of different lanes if they are actually good lanes <and good ideas>.

I know when I managed groups while I needed people to focus on what they needed to do … I always encouraged them think about new ideas and talk to me about their ideas – even if it didn’t have shit to do with what we actually did to earn our living. Why did I do that? I could offer a dozen reasons but suffice it to say that it offers them a valuable sounding board for whether they have a viable idea or not <which they liked & appreciated> and I would get the brain working on non-related shit <which invariably gets you thinking about your related shit differently — and I liked that & appreciated it>.

Plus. People like thinking about their dreams even if they can’t actually do them.

 

Innovations.

 

I don’t need to say anything about this. This is obvious. The best innovations are usually a reflection of smart dreaming.

 

Ok.

The second.

 

I believe we need to remind ourselves on occasion that it is okay to dream … and dream big.

 

dream window of opportunity imagine

And that relentlessly pursuing a dream can be inspiring … not discouraging.

 

Now.

 

Being a big dreamer doesn’t mean that you walk around with your head in the clouds. It means that you have a purpose … a big purpose that makes your life bigger and fulfills some promise within you.

Of course … as usual … the key is to find a balance. Think ground and clouds.

Maybe think about it as being pragmatic with no guardrails. A contradiction? Sure. But big dreams are a contradiction. As a practical relatively pragmatic human race we would never have them … unless some of them defied the odds and actually came true.

 

Yeah.

Some really do happen.

 

Anyway.

 

I like the thought of business accepting the role as a business incubator and actually re-energizing the human spirit toward dreams and dreaming.

I like the thought of a business being a ‘dream incubator’ is fulfilling a role life & society seem to be abdicating.

 

Look.

 

extraordinary robbedI have always been a huge proponent that business should accept a larger role in driving societal norms & mores and, in this case, I actually believe that in doing so the business acumen & success is rewarded.

 

Whew.

 

Can you imagine how many resumes a business would get if it said “we want you to make your lives extraordinary, help you make your dreams come true, because if you do … we believe our company will be extraordinary.”

 

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Dead Poets Society:

“Make your lives extraordinary.”

 

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nights bigger than imagining

June 2nd, 2017

stars and night sky

—————

 

“And the nights, bigger than imagining: black and gusty and enormous, disordered and wild with stars.”

 

—–

Donna Tartt

 

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“This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.”

 

T.S. Eliot

 

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Well.

 

stars and planets at nightDespite the fact most nights remain the same amount of hours, minutes and seconds day to day a sleepless night can often look bigger than imagined. I have found that sleepless nights are less about restless minds and more about capacity in a squeezed space.

 

Huh?

 

Let me tackle squeezed first.

 

In general the world is a pretty vast place and our lives can seem fairly inconsequential. The good news about this is that within all that vastness there is a lot of room to let some of the more horrible or horribly mundane crap just slip by.

 

The bad news occurs when all of a sudden Life, and the world, shrinks and you feel squeezed. And this can happen a lot easier than one may think.

 

Ponder what I am going to say as “the big squeeze.”

 

Everyday everyone faces some naturally occurring ‘shrinking’ aspects which in and of themselves can’t shrink your Life enough to matter. Let’s just say this is the daily grind of work, chores and family & Life commitments. Some things go well and some things don’t.sometimes the smallest things

And then, of course, there will be a day or two where the things that “don’t” significantly outnumber the things that “do.” because this is day to day shit I view this as getting squeezed from the sides. They kind of suffocate you a little.

But set that aside for a moment.

 

And then there will be some days where you have that ad hoc shit you have to plan to get done … the faucet is dripping, the car engine light is on, someone hit the mailbox, crap like that. 95% of the time this kind of shit never goes as planned. It takes too long or it doesn’t get done right the first time or … well … suffice it to say … the easy stuff never gets done as easily as you would want.

And then, of course, there will be a day or two where the things that never get done as easily as you want actually end up just not going right. This is stupid little shit … but maybe think about it as maybe getting squeezed from underneath – an unexpected aggravating shift on the ground below you.

But set that aside for a moment.

 

And then there will be some days where you turn on the TV or maybe scan the internet news breaks and … well … some shit has hit the fan. Your country has made some monumental decision that seems to shift its place in the world.

Some nutjob terrorist has committed some heinous act to innocent people.

Some “thing” happens that feel like a shift in the bedrock of ‘what is.’ It may not directly affect you but you sense that it is a monumental thing which will most likely affect you <even though you aren’t sure how yet>. This is big shit … this just makes you feel a little like the weight of the world has gotten a little heavier and the world as you have known it has become a little murkier. You are getting squeezed from above.

But set that aside for a moment.

 

life big squeeze

 

Now.

 

I will now get to capacity.

 

Let’s assume on one day all there of things happen … you get squeezed all on one day. Oddly, this becomes a test of your capacity <which implies largeness>. And, yes, maybe it is about largeness. As in how large you can remain as you get squeezed.

 

Some nights it isn’t easy to not get suffocated.

Other nights you find your capacity and push back a little.

Most nights you find just enough largeness to not get … well … too little.

 

But the nights in which all three aspects I outlined squeezed you I would suggest … well … the word ‘forlorn’ comes to mind.

 

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“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.”

 

J.R.R. Tolkien

 

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I use forlorn because I associate it with capacity as I am discussing it today.

Forlorn has a sense of shrinking to it in that the good in Life seems to shrink forlorn bird in a cage squeezeand that which is bad seems to grow and you are left with that wretched forlorn feeling which dogs you throughout a sleepless night. Forlorn seems like it is more appropriate than lonely or lonesome in that it specifically embraces a senses of wretchedness and desertion or abandonment … in my mind … ‘despairing of the arrival of a friend … in this case … a friend called Hope.”

 

To me … all of what I just shared with regard to squeezing and capacity captures the essence of the worst of the worst sleepless nights.

And, if I were a betting man, I would bet we have all had a few of these.

 

Ok.

Here is what I know.

 

Most of us get through these nights. Despite the vast emptiness of a night, more vast than we imagined it should be, we cast about among the chaos of the stars and find some light.

I like to think of it as we clamber through the clouds and exist.

 

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“I will clamber through the clouds and exist.”

 

—-

John Keats

 

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And the outcome of most of these nights, in addition to being tired, is out of the gauntlet of forlornness we seem to come out with a degree of hope. point where too tired despair night get to work

 

Hope for a better day <at minimum> and maybe Hope for something better <at maximum>.

 

In other words, out of the bigness which seems to squeeze us if but for a moment we rummage through a sleepless night … one black and gusty and enormous, disordered and wild with stars … and come out a little less black, a little more calm, a little more ordered and a little more focused on some star.

 

 

Enlightened Conflict