Enlightened Conflict

spiritual young adults

January 23rd, 2015

 

===

Despite the staggering statistics on our non-belief, I am continually awed and humbled by millennials’ faith.

religion subtle

-

———-

-

I love being a millennial.

We are creative, daring, playful and intelligent.

We are making the most of a deeply troubled world and finding new ways to express ourselves and spread love at every turn.

Antonia Blumberg

===

 

 

 

Ok.

 

 

 

 

This post is mostly to share this millennial “letter to faith leaders” which is awesome <see full letter below … after my rant/ramblings> which I came across awhile back.

 

 

 

But, first, some rant and rambling thoughts on religion and millennials.

 

 

 

First.

 

 

The label ‘millennials’ and what it seems to mean to religious leaders.

 

 

I am tired of seeing all these religion presentations addressing “how to engage the millennials.”

 

It’s crazy.

 

 

The issue is not about being relevant to young people … it is about addressing relevant issues.

 

 

Quit worrying about ‘millennials’ and worry about issues.

 

 

religion belief

 

Second.

 

 

Ah.

 

About ‘being relevant to young people.’

 

Yikes.

 

I am tired of seeing all these religion presentations on ‘how to engage young people.’

 

 

Things like ‘go to them.’

 

Coffee shop meetings.

=

Happy hour gatherings.

 

 

Shit.

 

Any social gatherings.

 

 

Look <part 1>.

 

 

I am not opposed to social interaction but it seems to me that engaging with religion has some tie to the, or a, church.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

A place of worship.

 

 

I am not suggesting you cannot have faith without a physical place of worship but I will suggest that HAVING a place of worship is an underpinning to faith.

 

 

 

Look <part 2>.

 

 

I don’t want to get into some debate on churches and idolatry and religious politics … I am simply suggesting having some coffee talk is not engaging someone in religious spirit.

 

It simply ignores the bigger issue.

 

 

 

 

Third.

 

 

Dear Religion, please, stop with the apologies.

 

no excuses-no-apologies-no-regrets

In fact.

 

Just say ‘no’ to apologies.

 

 

I am tired of seeing religious presentations, and discussion, issuing apologies.

 

 

Does religion have its flaws?

 

 

Sure <what doesn’t>.

 

 

At its core … religion is faith.

 

 

Can the faith be used incorrectly or abused?

 

Sure.

 

 

But I have a choice … apologize for my flaws or celebrate my attributes.

 

 

Stop apologizing. Stop defending. Stop compromising.

 

 

Start celebrating. Start promising. Start reminding people of the relationship between faith & hope.

 

 

 

Ok.

 

 

Done with my rant like thoughts.

 

 

Let me share a wonderful letter to faith leaders from a young lady named Antonia Blumberg.

 

 

Fabulous piece of writing and thinking.

 

 

 

===

A Millennial’s Open Letter to Faith Leaders:

-

Antonia Blumberg

thinking ideas

==

Over the weekend I attended an interfaith conference on climate change and the role of religious communities in caring for the Earth. Some of my idols were there — leaders, teachers and activists who live the tenets of faith-based action that inspire me to do the work that I do.

I felt honored to walk among them.

But as the weekend progressed and speakers took to the podium one by one, I began to feel a creeping sense of unease.

Where were all the young people?

Where were the millennials?

I waited hour after hour expecting a representative of my generation (defined by Pew as 18-33 year olds) would approach the stage. But the moment never came. I left at the end of it feeling grateful for the genuine interfaith fervor I had witnessed but sad for the missed opportunity to engage millennials on a topic they feel passionate about.

You may have heard: Millennials are leaving religion.

Roughly one-third of us are unaffiliated with any religion — the highest percentage of any generation, at any point, recorded by the Pew Research Center.

We’re leaving for different reasons, probably in large part our fatigue with outdated social mores. But I imagine it also has something to do with our marginalization in many religious organizations.

Rachel Held Evans, a prominent Christian blogger who is 33 and says she identifies as a millennial, has written about this dilemma. In her own faith, evangelical Christianity, Held Evans says young people are leaving the church because they find it to be “too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

She goes further to say that “style updates” aren’t going to fix the problem. We don’t want church rock bands and fair-trade coffee — because such offerings only makes us feel pandered to and not really valued for our contributions.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance,” Held Evans writes.

What is more, we want a voice in our faith communities.

Held Evans offers the simple suggestion that religious leaders actually sit down with millennials and ask them what they are looking for and what they would like to offer.

I could not agree more.

Despite the staggering statistics on our non-belief, I am continually awed and humbled by millennials’ faith. Throughout my work with religious communities in college, my interfaith activism, my own explorations of faith and now my work as a religion writer I have had the pleasure of knowing dozens of spiritual young adults. They come from all religious and spiritual traditions, from all over the world, from diverse races and ethnicities.

pew religion survey all

We are not passive receptacles of ancient wisdom but active practitioners of faith in a world that seems to grow less certain and more hostile by the minute.

We are optimistic, freedom-loving and largely liberal.

We forge new networks of social connection and, although many of us avoid traditional religion, nearly 80 percent of us believe in miracles.

Including millennials in a conversation about faith-based climate activism — and any other spiritual and social topic for that matter — is not only logical but necessary. We make up a quarter of the U.S. population at 77 million strong, and we have come of age in post-9/11 world where religious literacy is more crucial than ever.

Not only that, but we are a generation raised on green education, recycling programs and environmental awareness. We are deeply committed to caring for the Earth — as demonstrated by the more-than-50,000 students who turned out for the People’s Climate March on Sunday.

Despite our best intentions, millennials are routinely written off by older generations as superficial, lazy and entitled. We often get blasted for our lack of civic fervor (especially when people forget that the youth vote was instrumental in electing the current president.) But these stereotypes miss the crucial ways in which we are engaged — including our faith.

I love being a millennial. We are creative, daring, playful and intelligent. We are making the most of a deeply troubled world and finding new ways to express ourselves and spread love at every turn.

If any religious leader or conference organizer would like to invite us to the table to discuss matters of faith, ecology, politics and social justice, we would be happy to join. It would no doubt be a fruitful discussion.

===========

<originally found in Huffington Post:

=

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/antonia-blumberg/millennial-letter-faith-leaders_b_5868294.html?utm_hp_ref=religion >

 

 

hopeful street art

Lastly.

 

 

Just a note from me.

 

 

For the vast majority of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, Islam is a religion of peace.

 

 

 

For the vast majority of 13.9 million Jews around the world, Judaism is seen as a religion of peace.

 

 

 

For the vast majority of 2 billion Christians around the world, Christianity is a religion of peace.

 

religions together

 

Yet people of each of those religions have committed atrocities in the names of their respective religious texts.

 

 

 

What is happening in the mid-East and beyond is more tribalism than religion, as it has pitted those of the same religion against each other.

 

 

 

Violence has been vocally condemned by leaders and followers of all the major religions.

 

 

 

Difference in faith will always create friction … but friction does not always translate into violence.

 

We should never confuse friction & violence.

life, chess and choices

January 17th, 2015

choice sometimes one

 

“Man’s exile is ignorance; his home is knowledge.”

 

=

Honorious of Autun

==

-

“This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn.

We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous …

 indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.”

=

Richard Dawkins

—-

 

 

Sigh.

 

Let’s talk about Life … choices, ignorance, knowledge … and that some things happen because Life is an indifferent purposeless, neither good nor evil, player in your Life. And let’s be clear … it is a game and Life not only plays an active role but it is clearly an opponent.

 

 

Which leads me to Life as a chess game.

 

 

Or.

 

Maybe better said … the voyage of the soul is often like a game of chess in which you …

 

 

 

Move … counter move.

 

Rarely move in a straight line.
You dictate some moves.

 

You react to some moves.

 

 

Throughout we gain knowledge forward, backward, diagonally and even by moving chess life choices potter 1sideways.

 

I note that thought because so often people discuss ‘moving forward.’

chess life potter 2

 

“Keep going” <with an implication that is always ‘ahead’>.

 

 

And yet Life, like chess, is about facing the entire board and obstacles & opportunities which lie all around you … not just in front of you.

 

 

Well.

 

 

In chess … “ahead” come in a variety of directions and moves.

 

 

Regardless.

 

The chess metaphor suggests Life is lived by unlocking different paths in which you make counter moves and moves against Life.

 

 

 

The metaphor also suggests our fate is inevitably made of the sum total of all choices already made <which means fate is neither fickle nor some amorphous concept but … uh oh … rather derived by our choices>.

 

I thought about this thought after reading the following words in a book:

 

——-

“In exile men are captured and enslaved while in their homeland they can be free men and beneath their own roofs may reign supreme.

Yet in what does human freedom consist?

The voyage of the soul is like a game of chess.

The object of the game is to entrap the opponent’s king by limiting progressively the opponent’s freedom to move his pieces about the board.

At the beginning of the game each player enjoyed an infinite number of choices.

But with each freely chosen move each player decreased by one an option of his own and perhaps as many as several options for his opponent.

There is a rapid diminishing of free choice for both sides so that as the end of the game nears the players realize their fates has been made by the sum total of those choices already made.

So it is for all men.

key to lifeOnly by foreseeing the ultimate consequence of all decisions and by foretelling the decisions of Life <your opponent in this case> can a man choose wisely and freely.

Yet freedom adheres only to the individual act itself and not to one’s life as a whole.

That being said … this suggests that each person is a lawgiver unto himself, his own magistrate and … ultimately … his own executioner.

 

——–

 

 

 

 

Whew.

 

 

So.

This means we are lawyer, magistrate … and executioner … of our own Life?

 

 

<insert “yikes” here>

 

 

Also.

And while the chess pieces are black & white … how about the thought that Life is neither black nor white?

 

 

Maybe it is simply indifferent to anything but the move or counter move you make.

 

And if ignorance is exile … and knowledge is your home … your home is simply the square your piece currently resides on.

At the moment.

 

 

Only to move on again and again.

 

 

Uhm.

 

 

That is some deep shit.

 

 

Here is what I like.

 

Life is neither preordained nor is it assured that Life is a better chess player than you <albeit it has significantly more practice>.

 

Life is about moves and counter moves.

 

And all the moves occur with multiple pieces on the board.

 

And you can move in any direction … even pausing on occasion.

 

 

I say that last thought because I believe we far too often see ourselves moving in some line … straight, diagonal, jagged or smooth.

 

Maybe instead we are a number of pieces each of which are being moved against Life.

 

 

 

You can purposefully sacrifice one piece to attain your objective.

chess life tumble

 

 

You can lose a piece <even one you really didn’t want to lose> through a wrong move.

 

 

You can win a piece because Life wasn’t paying as close attention as it should.

 

 

But what I like most is that choices become more finite over time. I like that dose of reality. A dose in a world where so many positive psychology gurus espouse ‘ infinite choices‘ and ‘you can do whatever you want’ trite crap.

 

 

This is a fairly simple concept <with a shit load of complex repercussions>.

 

Life is a game of chess. As time goes by you win pieces and lose pieces and progress across and around the board.

 

But you will inevitably have less pieces and a diminishing number of free choices.

 

Yikes.

 

 

 

That sounds a little … well … forbidding? Maybe a little ‘tough lovish’?

 

Shit.

 

 

That’s Life.

 

 

It takes some hard choices … and some smart choices … to play the game of Life.

 

 

Here is what I do know for sure about every move you make:

 

—–

“Nothing that we do, is done in vain.

I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see triumph.”

=

Charles Dickens

——

 

 

Life is the voyage of the soul.

 

 

Each move and counter move you make is one you choose seeking for a triumph … of the soul.

 

corners of mixed up soul

 

We may lose sight of that on occasion but as the once infinite choices become diminished and they become more clearly finite … you could be the village idiot … but you will recognize that the remaining choices become more and more about the soul.

 

 

 

Finiteness … or an inevitable ‘end’ … has an amazing tendency to provide some clarity on what is important.

 

 

I think the earlier you recognize this the better you play the Life game of choices.

no starting over

December 28th, 2014

try start line start over

—-

“If I have gained anything … it is the knowledge there is no starting over – only living with the mistakes you’ve made.”

=

Jodi Picoult

“It is so hard to leave — until you leave.

And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

=

John Green

 

Ok.

 

To begin New Year’s week I begin sharing thoughts about Life, hope, the past year, next year … and beginnings, ends & what is in between.

 

Regardless.

 

I imagine this is not only about starting over … but also about ends.

 

Or conclusions.

 

Or when enough is enough.

 

 

And where you go when you have reached ‘enough is enough’ <some people suggest that point should be called ‘starting over’>.

 

 

Starting over is not only big business but it may actually be part of our DNA.

Yup.

 

I think part of America’s DNA  is a belief anyone can reinvent themselves. We write books about it, give seminars on it, share trite inspirational ramblings on it … and invest gobs of energy on it.

 

 

Well.

 
Look.

 

I don’t believe in starting over. That implies you can leave some stuff behind … wipe the slate clean as they say <whoever ‘they’ is>.

 

legacy life leave behind

 

But you never really leave shit behind.

 

What do I mean?

 

I think Life is like a puzzle.
You are given some pieces and you pick up some pieces as you progress. And it is just part of Life that sometimes all the pieces just don’t fit.

But here’s the deal … once you pick up a piece it has your fingerprints on it.

 

And even if you try to discard what you see as a useless piece … you cannot. The pieces are sticky.

 

And in reading that you may think I am suggesting being more careful about what puzzle pieces you accumulate.

I am not.

 

 

Picking up puzzle pieces is just part of living Life.

 

Suffice it to say you are never really finished putting a puzzle together. You are always looking at new pieces and picking up new pieces.

On occasion it may feel like you have almost put your puzzle together … only to find some pieces that don’t fit <and they may have even actually fit in the past – insert yikes here>. And sometimes you can actually want a piece to fit but it won’t fit into the space you’ve designated for it.

 

 

But beyond the actual pieces … and going back to the whole ‘reinvention’ or starting over idea … you can’t really discard the puzzle and start over.

 

Pieces?

 

Sure.

 

The puzzle?

 

Nope.

 

Sure.

 

 

We may want to.

 
We may look at the puzzle we have put together, or let’s say … tried to put together, or maybe it is just a big nasty pile of pieces staring at us in the face … and say “shit, where did I go wrong?”

 

 

 

Well.

starting over new beginning
This is one of the few times you have permission to sit, maybe cry a little … and certainly think about how your life may have gone awry.

 

 

I don’t mean that you should wallow in pity that things look like they didn’t go your way.

 

I’m just saying that it’s okay to sit and be unhappy that you sucked at putting the fucking puzzle together well.

 

 

It’s okay to be upset.

 

WTF.

 

No one can be happy all the time.

 

And maybe it is good to get upset and let all the frustrated, disappointed, sad feelings out … because when you’re done maybe you get angry. And when you get angry … you decide to do something about it.

 

 

Doing something is good … because here is the thing about a Life puzzle.

 

There is always another piece … choice, option and way out <forward> around you waiting to be picked up.

 

And when I say I think starting over is bullshit … I am not suggesting that you give up nor am I suggesting that “life is out of my control” or that it is too big to do anything about it.

 

starting over sucks

 

Because I hate it when people say things are “out of their control.”

 

 

That’s bullshit.

 

And it is simply an excuse to not go after what they want.

 

 

But going after what you want … or doing something about the crappy puzzle you have put together to date … is not starting over.

 

This is about moving forward, accepting what you have done up to that point, sifting through all of it and gathering up the good <because there is no way in hell you have made 100% bad decisions and have 100% ‘wrong’ puzzle pieces in your puzzle> and starting to build a new version of the puzzle you have already started.

 

 

Inevitably this is about making some choices.

 

Making some new decisions <that are good for you>.

 

 

 

Now.

 

What sucks about making decisions that are good for you is that not everyone is going to be happy with the decisions nor the results. Nor is much of the world going to be paying attention … because they will be making their own decisions and doing their own thing.

 

But taking control of where you go from here is assuming some responsibility <maybe not complete control but certainly responsibility> of your life.

 

 

Starting over doesn’t mean picking up and moving, maybe it’s an attitude change. A change of heart. A new outlook on life. And a new outlook on your puzzle.

 

 

Shit.

this whole starting over thing drives me a little nuts.

 

I don’t like the thought of thinking of everything as a do-over.

 

 

Sure. You always get another chance … that is what Life is all about. But you don’t get to ‘do over’ something … just do something else.

 

 

I think it is better, and healthier, to accept the fact you can’t wipe the slate clean.

 

 

All you can really do is to stop and understand why you are the way that you are and how you got to where you are.

 

Oh.
I said ‘stop,’ and not ‘take a step back.

 

Purposefully I may add.

 

 

Why?

 

 

Well.

 
Most times we are seeking to understand what we have done … and at the same time try and put something behind you.

 

 

That said.

 

It seems silly to step back … but instead … just stop.

 

Pause. Assess. Evaluate.

 

Look around.

 

And don’t stop fighting the battle at hand <or juggling the puzzle pieces you have available to you>.

 

 

Shove the shit that is actually behind you <no sense stepping back and reliving it> or to the side or, even better, into some storage bin <and, once again, I purposefully do not suggest ‘burning or destroying’ … it is what it is … you cannot destroy your past>.

 

You are storing away anything that is adding weight to your load and impedes your progress.

 

But.

 

All the while you are fighting the battle at hand.

 

This suggests you also have to quit over thinking everything and anything.

I say that because any winning, even in Life, is part thinking and part instinctual.

 

It’s a balance.

 

Happiness is almost exactly the same.

 

start over magic beginnings

Maybe because happiness is partially about … well … winning.

Winning in Life.

 

And I don’t mean tangible shit <money, stuff, trophies, cars, etc.> but rather satisfaction in oneself.

 

“Happiness is simple.

Everything we do to find it is complicated. “

=

Karen Maezen Miller

 

And you actually have to give yourself the opportunity for satisfaction.

 

Huh?

 

Yup.

 

 

If you sit and think through every possible scenario, dissect every decision into meaningless scraps <ultimately making the decision you need to make completely unrecognizable> … it doesn’t make anything better.

 

It just makes everything worse.

 

 

And all the dissection and overthinking does is … well … uncover worry & anxiety & general angst.

 

To be clear.

 

start somewhere

Yes.

 

You still need to make decisions based on logic and practicality.

 

 

No.

 

Not all decisions need to be analyzed so hard.

 

In fact.

 

That is probably the main reason all this ‘starting over’ stuff is bullshit.

 

 

Decisions in life, and in general, are iterative.

 

And that insight alone kills the concept of starting over.

 

 

It just means you are going. Maybe not forward … but going.

 

 

You really cannot go back.

 

You really can only accept and move forward.

 

You never really start over … you may simply be stopping to fight the battle at hand.

 

“As I reflect back on the lion’s share of my life, it feels I have been fighting a battle I couldn’t win.

It always seemed my opponent was one step ahead of me.

Only when I surrendered, and started my life all over, did I discover that my opponent was me. “

=

williamchapmanwritings

 

With all due respect to williamchapmanwritings … you never really surrender in Life.

 

 

You actually “reflect on the move.”

 

How do I know that?

 

Because if we didn’t we would constantly be run over. And most of us don’t have tread marks … just dents from where we get bumped by Life.

 

 

However.

 

Our opponent in the battle in Life is really … well … me.

 

Us.
Me, myself & I.

 

 

The whole trite concept of ‘starting over’ is 99% of the time all about self.

start over reinvent self

 

What does that mean?

 
There is no starting over … just adapting.

 

 

And it also means.

 

 

Life is exactly what you make it out to be.

 

You.

No one else.

christmas … is there a house of hope for me and you

December 25th, 2014

christmas merry potter girl 2

christmas merry potter goirl

——-

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.

Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? “

=

Bob Hope

-

——————–

“Gotta take the time to search the mind.”

=

Traci Spencer

-

————-

-

Children laugh

Children cry

They’re the future of our time

Will they hold us to blame

For all the things we’ve turned away

I don’t like what I see now

I don’t like where we’re going

I don’t like it, no

You and I, we’re getting older now

You and I, who will show them

If we don’t show them how

I want to know is it true

Is there a house of hope for me and you

I want to know is it true

Is there a house of hope for me and you.

=

House of Hope

Song by Toni Childs

——————————-

 

Ok.

 

 

I admit.

 

 

I am most likely using Christmas as an excuse to highlight two songs I have wanted to write about for a very long time. Two older songs with great messages … messages about vision & hope.

 

hope thread strong

As I just wrote in my previous post ‘Christmas big and small’ … the gift we end up finding the most value in is … well … hope.

 

 

It is a fairly simple idea.

 

 

The idea we all need hope.

 

 

I tend to believe all of us understand a hopeless existence just isn’t worth living.

 

 

I think all of us humans <schmucks too> instinctively know this … so we spend at least some portions of our lives searching for hope.

 

However, sometimes we settle for something a little short of hope.

 

What do I mean?

 

Well.

With a legitimate desire to feel good about where we’re headed … we tend to mistake positive thinking for genuine hope.

 

 

And this year not only did it seem to be more difficult to think positively but hope seems to be challenged by a world that may appear to be in flux to many people.

 

 

Now.

 

 

Even if it is not in flux <certainly it isn’t to the extent media makes it out to be> … we do perceive it to be so … and our natural reflex is to … well … cocoon our hope.

 

What I mean by that is we begin to worry a little more on “I” than “we.”

 

We focus hope a little more on self rather than selfless.

 

 

Now.

 

This doesn’t mean we have suddenly become selfish or that we do not care about others … this is more simply ‘survival mode.’ In that I can’t care as much about others until I know that I have been cared for enough that I feel I am in an okay position & place.

 

 

I say that because Hope’s biggest challenge in 2015 is going to be from a larger world view. With everyone hunkering down avoiding the ‘crazy world’ … the world may be put on strict Hope diet.

 

That’s okay.

 

We will figure it out.

 

 

But for today … maybe just Christmas … ponder a world view of Hope.

 

Take the time to search the mind … Is there a house of hope for me and you?

 

Because I believe that if you take a moment and touch it and feel it and sense it when the future occasion should arise when you are in a position to care that world view Hope will touch the spark that resides within and … well … the world Hope will light on fire.

 

 

Music is always a great reminder of things that matter.

 

 

And finding music to share hopeful messages is like putting a gift to music.

 

 

I could share Christmas music & songs like I have in past years …

< http://brucemctague.com/christmas-songs >

but instead I am going to share hopeful songs.

 

 

 

These are two older songs that are nice to listen to and nice t learn the words to.

 

 

Here is my Christmas music gift for 2014:

——–

Song: House of Hope

Toni Childs

 

bonus

House of Hope Live <she sounds exactly like she does in the recorded version>:

 

 

 

———-
The second song is by Traci Spencer and called This House.

 

 

The video is horribly early 90’s video making at its worst but the message is so good you should ignore the video and listen to the words.

 

——

Song: This House

Traci Spencer

 

——————–

 

Well.
There you go.

 

 

Gotta take the time to search the mind … Is there a house of hope for me and you ?

 

 

Search your mind.ourselves minds

 

 

There is always a house of hope for you & I.

 

 

Sometimes … and some days you just have to look a little harder to see it.

===

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

christmas gets smaller and bigger … and santa denial

December 24th, 2014

christmas loading sandglass

—–

“I think as you grow older your Christmas list gets smaller and the things you really want for the holidays can’t be bought.”

=

(via hefuckin)

-

—–

 

 
Whew.

 

 

It’s scary how true this quote is.

 

 

Christmas sometimes seems simpler when thinking about the past.

But it most likely wasn’t. It is just when young your list was long … of things you wanted … and the list was … well … a clear cut black & white list.

 

 

 

Today?

 

 

Beyond the fact an ‘adult list’ is shorter … it sometimes seems like Christmas has descended into a trashy, crass, excessive, shallow <or hollow>, lighted plastic capitalistic driven spectacle.

 

 

christmas spinning treeFrom a broader perspective Christmas has become a ‘retail event’ from which people assess the economy <not happiness>.

 

 

Yet.

 

From a purely economic perspective Christmas spending is an inefficient way to drive growth.

 

In 1993 an economist named Joel Waldfogel described what he called the “deadweight loss of Christmas” which is the concept of the fact that everybody pays too much for what nobody wants.

 

 

Anyway.

 

But when you get past all that crap … you see lots of the things you really want for the holidays which can’t be bought.

 

 

The raw, non corporate branded, humane, caring and kind things.

 

 

Let’s call them ‘the little big things.’

 

 

I reflect on this thought knowing that gifts have never mattered to me … even when I was really young.

 

 

But that doesn’t mean I ‘got’ Christmas.

 

 

I imagine, at my best, it was just an event where you were able to develop thoughtful lists which expressed something beyond simply ‘giving a gift.’ This elevated me above Scrooge status … but never really elevated me to an ‘understanding what Christmas was really all about’ status.

 

 

Today?

 

Well.

 

 

As usual.

 

I am a work in progress.

 

 

But I do see my list shrinking and I seem to get closer to one thing.

 

 

One idea.

 

 

Hope.

christmas tree snoppy

 

 

I think many people may treat the event & time as a gift giving occasion or a time to gather or even a time to reflect … but I am beginning to think Christmas offers a glimmer of ‘what could be’ more than anything else. Sometimes it may simply be a small glimmer but it is …well … a glimmer.

 

 

A small piece of hope for the future.

 

A small spotlight on when hope appeared in the past year or so.

 

 

I tend to think as we get older our lists get smaller because we get closer to the one thing that really matters. This also means that the closer you get to that one thing the less important all the other things become.

 

 

Oh.

 

I also began to realize that if I am only to give one gift to the people I know it is to insure they see Hope even if it is for but one minute.

 

 

This is not to suggest I believe I can make anyone actually believe in Hope.

 

You cannot.

 

 

However … I do believe you can show that Hope is there … possible … and attainable <in some form or fashion>.

 

christmas eve cartoon
It can be found in taking one minute to show a young employee that the best version of whatever they can be is attainable.

 

 

It can be found in taking one minute to tell a good friend that the dark<er> bridge they are walking on does have an end <and there is good solid ground with some grass & trees on it to stand on>.

 

 

It can be found in taking one minute to hand that homeless person you have seen for the last 11 months standing there at the corner a $10 bill instead of a $1 bill <and say ‘I hope it gets better’ … uhm … when do you think is the last time they have heard a stranger say they have hope for them??>.
None of those things have really cost me a thing, and I have given one little gift that I doubt was on their list of ‘what I want this Christmas.’

 

 

Just think about it.
Ok.

 

 

Beyond Hope and believing and speaking of big … and small.
The big man.

 

Santa Claus himself.

 

It’s a small thing … but believing in Santa Claus is important. It creates a smallish type hope that good resides and visits everyone.

 

==

-    “Yes, Virginia” is the most famous argument for Santa Claus and my 1st Enlightened Conflict Christmas post in 2009:

-

http://brucemctague.com/merry-christmas-to-everyone    -

==

==

 

And, yet, there continue to be millions who not only doubt Santa Claus … they deny his existence.

They are called Santa deniers <and it is called Santa Denial>.

 

Silly people.

 

 

I say that because a writer recently took on Santa denial quite well. And this is a great reminder why we should believe in Santa Claus:

 

 

=

xmas parties hat

Addressing Santa Denial:

=

Santa-denial has surfaced again, this time on Australian television show The Project, in the guise of its guest Kitty Flanagan.

It’s just the latest in a long line of controversies caused when Santa deniers are allowed to promote their views.

Why are these people tolerated in today’s modern media?

Science has long shown that Santa Claus is real, and those who claim otherwise are invariably in the pocket of the big toy companies, who don’t want people thinking they can get free playthings and so will pay for their products.

But the evidence is beyond any reasonable doubt, and the arguments of the Santa deniers have been repeatedly debunked.

But, just to refresh your memory, here are some of the more typical ones and why they’re wrong:

christmas city street

===

If Santa has a workshop at the north pole, why has nobody ever seen it?

 

Santa’s workshop is located in a very snowy region that very few people can access, so it’s unlikely that many people would get to see it.

It would theoretically be possible to view it from above, via an aircraft or satellite in a polar orbit, but what would Santa’s workshop look like from this perspective?

A snow-covered building on a background of ice and snow?

That’s basically just blank whiteness. And infrared scans can be tricky with snow.

 

 

It’s a fallacy to assume that something isn’t there because you haven’t seen it.

 

You can’t see oxygen either, but try denying that it exists and see how far you get.

christmas ice

=

How can a human survive prolonged periods in sub-zero conditions?

 

 

Santa has several features and properties clearly adapted for cold weather survival. His large girth and dense beard and hair are obviously meant for insulation, in the manner of polar bears.

Of course, enduring below-freezing temperatures for months on end requires a lot of calories for a warm-blooded mammal, hence Santa needs to get through millions of mince pies and glasses of milk in one evening; he’s building up resources for another frosty year.

 

christmas parked shopping

=

How is it possible for a sleigh with millions of toys in it, pulled by reindeer, to fly?

 

 

Admittedly, the whole “flying reindeer” thing does seem very far-fetched, and this is a fair accusation. Investigations suggest that the flying reindeer image is a distortion of the truth, in that reindeer are native to the Arctic so Santa may well keep reindeer on his premises and perhaps they did pull his sleigh originally.

But there is substantial evidence now to suggest that Santa powers his sled with the energy obtained from a precisely controlled quantum singularity.

 

Basically, Santa has access to a small black hole, which he uses to perform his duties.

 

It’s likely that a miniature black hole struck Earth at some point in the past (don’t worry, this wouldn’t have been as disastrous as many think). Some argue that it came down in the arctic regions, hence its discoverer (Santa Claus) built his workshop on top of it. A black hole singularity can provide a lot of power, so this is the most likely explanation for the energy consumption of a busy workshop.

 

Once a year, Santa fits the singularity to his vehicle and uses it to travel the world. Black holes have exotic properties that allow them to distort space and gravity, so traveling with millions of toys in a confined space won’t be as impractical as it would be under normal spacetime rules.

christmas party trio

=

It’s impossible to visit every child on Earth in a single night!

You’d think so, but remember the singularity mentioned above? They distort time too. The time period might feel like months for Santa in his own personal gravity well, but it’s mere minutes to anyone observing from the outside.
How can Santa keep track of every child being naughty or nice?

 

As uncomfortable to realize as it may be, Santa’s approach hasn’t always been the most rational. It is traditional for every child to send Santa a gift list they have written themselves, so in the old days Santa was able to use the questionable science of handwriting analysis to determine who had less-than-pleasant personality traits (along with some educated guesswork based on the list itself; a child who asks for live scorpions or chainsaws is likely to have suspect motivations).

 

However, with the arrival of the internet and surveillance culture, it’s relatively easy to keep track of everyone. Especially if you’re a powerful industrialist like Santa.

 

christmas Whole-lot-of-redneck-02

=

Why does Santa deliver toys and items with the branding of corporations?

Outsourcing!

 

Duh.

 

Plus, most children these days ask for specific items made by corporations, who jealously protect their copyrights by legal means. So either Santa sources the toy from the original makers, or the child goes without.

Is that what you want, Santa deniers? Children waking up empty-handed on Christmas morning?

Despicable!

 

gifts santas

===

Why are there so many Santas in shops and grottos?

Those aren’t all Santa.
They’re men in costumes.
How gullible are you?

christmas reindeer gif

 

 

 ===

<note: If you still deny there is someone called Santa Claus … well … you have no soul>

-

<source: a delightful writer named Dean Burnett >

————

=

-

And, everyone, please have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

ebola, business and quest for perfection

November 17th, 2014

 —ebola breaking news

“Health scares are classics of the politics of fear.

After a while they lose all force, except to distort medical priorities. Hundreds died of hospital-caught infections while ministers panicked over bird flu.

But what are we to do?

As with fear of terrorism, crime, poverty or common illness, we have to rely on authority to advise and warn us. When authority has a vested interest in alarmism, anarchy reigns.

We are at the mercy of the lobbyist, the spin doctor and the headline writer.”

“My God!

The degree of incompetence on the part of the US Government and it’s subsidiaries such as the CDC is beyond the limits of imagination!”

 =

Commenter USAToday

 “What are we going to do about this? … nothing … we should do nothing.”

=

Bruce McTague in a business meeting

 

 

So.

 

This is about business and how businesses manage, or mismanage, exceptions.

This is about business and how authority is utilized <well & poorly>.

This is about competence, incompetence, doing and doing nothing.

 

ebola perspective

And this will also be about Ebola and how the USA acted upon it’s first Ebola case.

Now. I wrote this maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago and then filed it in my draft folder. I admit. I hesitated using Ebola to make a business point. But as time has passed and the hysteria in the USA has proven hollow I decided the point I made while writing it originally has only become truer.

 

Could I have used a less controversial metaphor? Sure. But  imagine part of my point isn’t just about business but also about people in general.

 

Regardless.

 

Let me begin with what I believe is a business truth and the Ebola lesson.

 

Businesses face failure of the system or process all the time. Sometimes small, sometimes large … but all the time. Most failures stay under the radar and are relatively harmless. They are simply the cost of doing business … as humans.

However.

Every once in awhile one of these failures comes to the attention of a manager within the system and then THEY bring it to everyone’s attention. And therein lies the bigger business truth … discerning the type of error – exception or systematic.

 

That said. With regard to exceptions … business people fall into one of two categories:

Those who see the exception as systemic <a reflection of an ongoing issue>

 

=

Those who see the exception as … well … an exception

 —

 

Why am I discussing exceptions in business?

 

Well.

 

The recent “Ebola crisis” in the United States made me think about it.

 

Huh.

There has been ONE Ebola death in the USA.

ONE

 

And how many people have died from Ebola contracted in Britain or USA?

 

That would be none.

 

And how many people who have had Ebola in the USA or Britain have been cured and still alive.

That would be all or 100%.

 

Uhm.

 

That could be construed as an exception <or an exceptional circumstance>.

 

In fact.

 

You are more likely to be struck by lightning this year <one in 960,000>, killed by a dog <one in 11 million> or win the lottery than you are to die from Ebola.

 

ebola usa“Our biggest fears are terrorism, Ebola and viruses, but we’re more likely to slip in the bathtub or eat too many french fries than die of the things most of us fear.”

=

David Borgenicht, co-author/Worst-Case Scenario

To be clear.

 

Ebola is terrible.

 

I am not saying Ebola is not a problem, nor that the outbreak is not serious.

And there is nothing irrational about taking precautions for preventing the spread of Ebola to the US, or any other country for that matter.

 

But three cases do not a national crisis make.

 

We need to please try to approach this issue <not a crisis> with science-based fact.

 

Hyperbole does nothing for you or anyone else.

 

People should remember that the family members of Thomas Duncan did not come down with Ebola. They lived with this sick man with no complex protective gear for several days before he was admitted to the hospital.

None got sick.

 

I would also like to note that while ‘the system’ was relentlessly referred to as ‘inept’  … one person entered the US without prior knowledge <one> … and all others who entered were noted <and did not infect anyone else> … and all others who COULD have entered the USA … did not.

 

Uhm.

Certainly seems like the systems & processes worked.

 

 

Anyway.

 

The US response to the fear of Ebola made me think about business.

 

Because the response is frighteningly similar to what happens in business.

 

One error or mistake leads to a general ‘crisis’ modality and an outcry for change or simply ‘do something.’

 

 

I am talking about what people may call ‘proportionate response … or what Simon Jenkins called “… a lost control of the language of proportion with the result an outbreak of crying-wolf syndrome.”

 

I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in a business meeting watching people wring their hands and speculate on ‘why did this happen?” <that is the business version of ‘misinformation’ … the ‘made up’ version of why things happened the way they did>.

 

But.

Once the misinformation is stripped away, the remaining question is, and always will be, how big is the problem?

 

And therein lies the exception management flaw in todays business world.

 

We seek some absurd level of perfection and in doing so we shut down in dealing with an exception with the incredibly stupid intent to break <or revisit> a wel designed, well wotking system to eliminate a … well … exception.

 

We look for trouble where there truly is none.

We find issues everywhere … even when it is simply a perception … or worse … a speculative ‘what if’ issue.

 

We end up applying the wrong remedy <or sometimes an unnecessary remedy>.ebola perfect worry

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

 

=

Groucho Marx

 

All the while:

 

 

–          Time is being invested by valuable people <and valueless people who are typically driving the insanity>

 

–          The system is shut down <or under such scrutiny that thos within the system are being less than efficient>

 

–          Experts <those who actually know theire shit> are being ignored – because if one thing happened than of course other thngs could happen and the ‘expert’ is doubted as such

 

 

Look.

 

To submit to fear rather than the advice of all the experts is negligence of the highest order.

Yet.

 

It happens in business all … the … time.

 

The fear of “what happens if this happens again ??!!??”

 

The weak management people feel a sense of ‘lack of control’ <I wanted to type impotence but that freaks men out so much that they are spurred into even more insane behavir> and with that sense of no control they rage that something must be done.

 

And the weak overcome the strong in their rage.

 

How the fuck does that happens so often?

 

Well.

 

Pretty much any big decision has to be taken by the person at the top. And there are, frankly, only so many hours in the day and only so much room in a leader’s head.

 

And managing increasing irrationality is difficult.

 

Extremely difficult.

Especially when real knowledge is overcome by misplaced anxieties.

 

Add in that almost every organization has multiple issues happening at the same time … not all of ‘crisis’ type but certainly some level of ‘geez … we need to deal with this.’

 

 

Add it all together and there is simply not enough capacity to deal with all issues at once.

 

If you do try … well … we end up making mistakes in the handling of each of them … and, of course, that means they all get worse.

 

Uh oh.ebola what is going to happen

Then anxiety <or fear> feeds them all.

 

The business loses any sense of proportion.

The business loses any sense of pragmatism.

The business loses its frickin’ mind.

 

That said.

 

Let me get back to ‘proportional response’ in business by going back to Ebola.

 

We read a lot of this in media:

 

“The story of the U.S. Ebola outbreak is already a litany of failure.

To call it a tale of astounding incompetence would be overly generous.”

 

 

Yikes.

 

I could place this comment into almost any business meeting taking out Ebola and putting in whatever ‘mistake’ or ‘failure of the system’ you would like.

 

And just as in business we could point out that 10’s of thousands … if not 100’s of thousands of tasks have been completed successfully … and that the ‘process’ has filtered out multiple errors and winnowed ‘imperfections’ down to a manageable ‘exception’ type scenario … well … we would still find that the ‘proportional response’ gets driven by the exception.

 

It is an unfortunate almost inevitable business truth.  A bad thing … even just one bad thing … creates a crisis scenario.

 

And therein lies the biggest challenge.ebola please everyone

 

Inevitable criticism based on some perception of perfectionism.

 

It is an unfortunate truth that people expect certain things … and often these ‘certain things’ are unrealistic.

 

Maybe think about this from a medical health perspective.

 

In the medical world if you know what type of event has occurred … you can estimate how many patients … and it’s pretty easy to calculate what to expect.

 

In a hospital emergency room it isn’t the total number of patients that concerns them, but rather the number that will die if not treated in minutes or a few hours.

The rest they have no problem letting wait.

 

This suggests that a major incident like an earthquake or terrorist attack is very predictable.

All you really need to know is the type of event and the numbers and the scope and you almost immediately have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

 

On the other hand.

Think about something like a real bad flu.

 

It is an unpredictable event and there is no way you can prepare for it.

 

Therefore … the objective is to protect the hospital from it.

 

In business that is about building a proactive system or process.

 

However … if the unpredictable event happens I don’t go about rebuilding the entire system or process … why? … because building systems for unpredictable events is stupid.

Ok.

Maybe not stupid … but it is clearly a time suck hole.

 

 

Look.

I am all for striving for perfection with an eye toward the implementation of an idea.

 

But as with so many aspects of life, the key is striking a balance between opposing forces, each with its own set of pros and cons.

 

Too little perfectionism leads to a rapid but undesirable endpoint.

 

Too much perfectionism leads to analysis paralysis and no endpoint at all.

 

To be clear.

 

idea shitThings happen in business.

 

All.

The.

Time.

 

 

Not everything is a crisis.

 

And even a crisis has a familiar pattern.

 

You’re knocked off balance.

You learn.

You adapt.

 

But rarely, even after a crisis, do you completely rethink the system & process you have in place.

Why?

 

First.

You have most typically invested a lot of smart thinking and smart people building what you are doing … and 99.9% of the time it works just fine.

 

 

Second.

Most crises are unpredictable and occur .01% of the time.

Uhm.

They are exceptions.

 

Exceptions have an exceptional ability to find whatever crappiness resides within any management person.

 

Crappy management uses perfection as an excuse to be crappy managers.

 

Crappy managers use exceptions to try and build value in their crappy manager status.

 

Look.choice consequence

I have been a manager … and I certainly have had my crappy leadership moments.

We all make good decisions and bad decisions.

 

Part of being a good manager is … well … simply accepting the consequences of our decisions.

 

And I don’t begrudge a good sense for a quest for perfection. The attempt and ‘envisioning some form of perfection’ can be a valuable exercise.

 

But I do think perfection is far too often used to mismanage exceptions.

 

Bottom line.

 

Sometimes you should do nothing.

 

=============================

EBOLA

ebola getting facts

So in the interest of some basic health promotion, here are the facts.

-

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/13/how-avoid-catching-ebola

 -

• Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with body fluids.

 

• An individual is only contagious when symptomatic and unwell, not during the incubation period.

 

• The virus itself is weak, surviving for only a short time outside the body, and can be eradicated with simple measures like soap, bleach, heat and sunlight.

 

We are living in frightening times, all of us.

Knowledge is power, so let’s arm ourselves appropriately. Hysteria and paranoia will only be counter-productive in achieving the one thing that we all want: to end this epidemic.

-

Benjamin Black, MD at Médecins Sans Frontières on his way back to Sierra Leone

Enlightened Conflict