Enlightened Conflict

resilience, personal responsibility & progressively not getting stuck

March 10th, 2016

resilience tattoo




“Our humanity is not an attribute that we have received once and forever with our conception.

It is a potentiality that we have to discover within us and progressively develop or destroy through our confrontation with the different experiences of suffering that will meet us through our life.”


Xavier Le Pichon





“You’ll have to help yourself.”



Lemony Snicket






This is about us.


People. Individuals.




Let’s call it “the power of I.”

where are you moving better




And the fact we either grow or diminish what we have in terms of “I”.






That begs the question … what is the power each of us have?



I would suggest that your power is actually a reflection of your character <and its resilience>. Character actually begets all the shit we truly care about … resiliency, personal responsibility, integrity, morality, In addition … it is character that dictates whether, and how, you either progressively develop or diminish.


And therein lies the true power of I.



Yet, we face an inherent ongoing challenge to this power.



Character is not solid … it can get chipped.

What I mean by that is once you start taking shortcuts, the ones that appear to make the Life travel a little easier, a little cheat here … a little lie there… maybe a little taking advantage of the system … all of which chips a little of your integrity & character away.

That may not seem so bad … but character is a non-renewable resource.



In addition.


Each time you take a shortcut, no matter how small, and get away with it … it becomes even easier to decide to do it another time – that’s the slippery slope of character erosion.



Just think about what I just wrote for a minute.


You can be crappy at reading, writing and arithmetic … or pretty much anything that people bitch about all the time … but you can’t get along being crappy at Life itself.


And you certainly cannot get along with a crappy character.


You have to fight the good fight in Life, try and avoid the short cuts, and maintain your character and have faith, and courage, to keep character from eroding in the face of Life. Surprisingly … this is an ongoing fight day in and day out week after week.



Now. That said.


Character is a tricky thing to self assess. Interestingly … we all think we know ourselves well, but, psychological studies show otherwise.main thing dedicate


In fact, <unfortunately> most of us are somewhat deluded about ourselves.



And in that delusion we tend to be slightly misguided with regard to what we should do and how to do it <because the basic premise of who we are is flawed>.



This is really really important for us to think about because research has clearly linked social mobility to social and emotional skills. Emotional skills ranging from empathy and the ability to make and maintain relationships, mental toughness, delayed gratification and self-control all contribute to social mobility <and Life success>.


These research findings all point to the same conclusion — that character counts.


Now. Research also points out that character is developed not necessarily instilled <experienced versus taught>.



Research shows that people who overcome adversity and realize their full potential tend to exhibit many of the same traits.


Traits that can be thought of as a belief in one’s ability to achieve, an understanding of the relationship between effort and reward, the patience to pursue long-term goals, the perseverance to stick with the task at hand, and the ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.


These various traits all fall under the broad heading of “character and resilience.”





That said.


If character is about experience then I get to bitch a little about personal accountability or personal responsibility.



Or … in other words … responsibility for your own actions.



Today it seems like a shitload of people suggest their actions, faults, any excessive unacceptable behavior, or any … well … generally heinous or unacceptable behavior … are a reflection of outside influences, society driven/motivated, challenging home growing up, poverty, ethnicity, or any experience that we can identify as ‘generated pain’ which inevitably impacted us irresponsibility made easyin childhood. Let’s title all of that under one big fat heading of “excuse.”



It is almost like no one, okay, far too many, wants to accept responsibility for their problems.



All I can think is that some people … this is what they learned. Which makes me ask … :who the hell taught them this?”





On the other hand … I know for sure that some of us learn that when you screw up it is on ‘you’ and no one else. This ‘learning’ teaches us that basically you can be frequently wrong, frequently stupid, frequently imperfect … but if you have been taught to be accountable … to admit it … you may get some shit from people but you will also be known as someone who is accountable for their own actions.


You assume responsibility for all the good and bad that you do.



This can be harrowing at times and incredibly rewarding at other times.






“If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”




Anna Quindlen





And this leads me to destiny, fate … and resilience.






I believe we make our own destinies.

A destiny may await us but we need to go & do things, to make choices, in order to actually get to our destiny.


Every day we are presented with choices.


Some we don’t even recognize. Some we don’t even see <until they are past>.

Some we see and make a choice. Our destiny is a reflection of these choices … made and not made.


Making your destiny is hard. Because we see, and don’t see, choices and make, and don’t make, choices.



“Of course it’s hard! If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Hard is what makes it great.”

<For the Love of the Game>



This is a Life truth. Shit. It is true about everything we do <even making the perfect cup of coffee in the morning>.



And that is where resilience comes into play.



fail persist succeed resilienceBecause you will always have disappointments. You will always have dreams that don’t come true. You will always have bad shit happening. And you will always make some bad choices.


And in all of what I just wrote we have a habit of getting stuck.



You get stuck knowing what you already know.


You get stuck on what happened in the past.


You get stuck thinking about shit that you cannot do anything about.


You get stuck on disappointments, dreams that don’t come true and bad choices.



We just get … well … stuck.



Resilience is all about being able to overcome all the simple tragedies you face in life. Not the big dramatic shit just the everyday shit.







George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”





As far as I’m concerned, Shaw was a punk.

‘Cause you know what? Tragedies happen.

What are you gonna do? Give up? Quit?

No. I realize now that when your heart breaks, you gotta fight like hell to make sure you’re still alive. ‘Cause you are, and that pain you feel, that’s life.

The confusion and fear, that’s there to remind you that somewhere out there is something better. And that ‘something’ is worth fighting for.





Resilience really isn’t about hope or dreams or vision for what you want & desire and doing what you need to do to stay on that path.


Resilience is more about recognizing Life is hard and the practicality that if you want to make some progress and develop … you gotta fight like hell to not get stuck.



Simplistically you take personal responsibility for not getting stuck.growing up life challenge resilience


And you now what? You have to.


Because Life makes it really really easy to get stuck. You can get stuck on so many things it is scary if you think about it.


But you can really only get stuck if you let it happen.



Progress is, more often than not, in your hands. Which means your destiny is in your hands. That, my friends, is the power of I … the power driven by the engine of Character. Character is your destiny.


a wrong turn

February 6th, 2016

field of sun flowers===


“A wrong turn lead me to a field of flowers and suddenly I’m second guessing every wrong turn in my life.”



Source: a thousand words tumblr








I have never analyzed nor have I seen any research with regard to how much time we use to plan out the ‘right moves’ to make in our careers and lives. I planned what happenedimagine, if a study were done, between consciously planning and the ‘in the moment analysis’ planning … those two ‘life plannings’ would represent some inordinately absurd amount of our time.



When I saw this thought on athousandwords I began thinking about how often most of us attach ‘bad’ to wrong turns and how less often we attach ‘good’ to wrong turns.



Simplistically we attach wrong to bad.



Wrong turn = Bad choice/decision





Sometimes that is true.



But I think I could argue that a wrong turn simply puts you in some place you hadn’t planned on <and you assume the plan was a good plan because … well … you had planned it>. Therefore the unplanned place is a bad place because it … well … was an unplanned place <some circular logic which seems kind of doomed to conclude bad even if it may actually be good>.



Setting aside the whole planning thing … turns are part of life.

leading one way

Life is not one huge straight boulevard you place your car on and start driving.


Life is more often like seemingly random patchwork of inner city streets with dead ends, one ways and no left hand turns which seemingly are only placed at only the intersections which you had planned to make a left hand turn.
Whether you plan the shit out of your life or not we all make a shitload of turns in Life.


Some are planned.


Some are unplanned.


Some you have the time to invest a lot of time thinking about.


Some you cannot invest a lot of time thinking about.


Some end up in a good place.


Some end up in a bad place.



I imagine my only point is that sometimes, maybe more often than you think, a wrong turn puts you in a different better more interesting place. A wrong turn exposes you to something you maybe never imagined you would ever see, ever face or ever think about. And that is the ultimate value of a wrong turn.



It exposes you to something beyond the plan you ever envisioned.


I don’t propose building a Life around a disproportionate amount of purposeful wrong turning. field dirt road sunset


That kind of seems a little chaotic and absolutely suggests a shitload of wasted time & energy.





Maybe we think about Life more as a shitload of turns … just a blanket ‘shitload’ … instead of categorizing them simply as right turns & wrong turns.

Turns are turns and more often than not they don’t lead you some place you can never leave they simply lead you to some place.

what hath america wrought

October 22nd, 2015

ideas urinal

Aici lo tems s’en , va res l’Eternitat.”

<here, in this place, time moves away toward eternity>


“This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper. “

T.S Eliot

<“The Hollow Men”>


“Has it been in your experience that one’s affairs are always in order and that all life’s conundrums will eventually be made clear?”

David Stone







what hath god wrought


It is always interesting to read a historical book <What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe> and look at what is happening in today’s world.



Historical note on the title of the book.



The first telegraph message, sent by inventor Samuel F.B. Morse on May 24, 1844, over an experimental line from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, was “What hath God wrought?”



At over 900 pages and pretty academic in its detail and narrative … this book is not for the faint of heart <but very interesting if you can wade through it>. The book is heavy on political history and the role politics & government played, and didn’t play, in the transformation of American society.



Simplistically you see that government has always been functionally dysfunctional constantly lurching through the decisions a country needs to make as it struggles with private versus public, growth and the well-being of its citizens <all within a Constitutional construct>.



In addition … in looking at that one particularly period of history we see everything was magnified, or amplified, by developments in communications <mails, newspaper, books, and telegraph> and mobility/transportation <trains, steamboats, canals, and roads>.





Isn’t that what technology & the internet is doing today?




And that magnification created the same issues we seem to discuss today:

traffic hurry disconnectd going


–      In 1846 Philip Hone wondered if the rapid pace of change threatened cherished values …

“everything goes fast nowadays, even the winds have begun to improve upon the speed with they have hitherto maintained; everything goes ahead but good manners and sound principles.”




They discussed the delicate balance of empowerment and responsibility within the citizenship … the power of government to enable individualism all the while encouraging the citizenship to use their liberty & freedoms to seek improvement.




–      John Quincy Adams stated …

“Liberty is power and the citizens have a responsibility to use their freedom.
The spirit of improvement is abroad upon the earth. Let not foreign nations with less liberty exceed us in ‘pubic improvement’ … to do so would ‘cast away the bounties of providence’ and doom what should become the world’s most powerful nation ‘to perpetual inferiority.’

Even in religious environments ‘responsible capitalism’ was discussed:




–      As the author points out … even in 1826 preachers were teaching …

“work hard, be thrifty, save your money, don’t go into debt, be honest in business dealings, don’t screw down the wages of those who work for you to the lowest possible level, if you manage a surplus be faithful stewards of your bounty and generous to causes.“





All the foundation things of capitalism done the right way and economic growth without sacrificing values to a better society.




The book does a nice job reminding everyone of the challenges any government faces.



–      Tocqueville expresses concern with the future of a democratic government.sheep

“… it rarely forces one to act but it constantly opposes itself to one’s action; it does not destroy it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize , it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes and finally reduces the nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”




Mostly, as I read about a country’s transformation, I was reminded that change is never easy and in the midst of progress you do right things and wrong things and there are consequences for all <and you inevitably have an opportunity to ‘wrong the rights & right the wrongs’>.



It reminded me that we all adapt.



Countries also. Just look at capitalism.



America developed a prosperous example for capitalism and ultimately exported the example. Other countries then adapted the idea creating a customized capitalism to accommodate their needs, wants and desires <which, by the way, may not match America’s>.






America exported capitalism …. not values or rights <or democracy>.


Economics is what inevitably changed behavior because as country leaders desired people to be more productive <so they could be more competitive globally> they inevitably had to give them more rights, liberties and avenues to do so.



This means that the expansion of rights was driven by economics … and only curbed by that particular country’s government ideology <or the country’s overall culture>.



I mention that because we Americans tend to look outwards with a sense of righteousness … and the outside world states unequivocally … I do not want to be exactly like you.

being yourself cahnging



I struggle to understand why we in America don’t get this.


Our book stores and amazon are strewn with self-help books shouting “being yourself … don’t be someone else!”“learn from the best but be nobody but yourself.’



In other words … learn the shared learning and implement as an individual.






Are countries really any different? Why wouldn’t we expect another country to want to maintain its own character and way of doing things?



In addition.



The book reminded me how grumpy I get with people who continuously claim <loudly> that America is declining <i.e., going into the shithole>.



I never really thought of us as a country of whiners, pessimists and blamers <finger pointers>.



Context and perspective … the book once again reminded me of this from a historical perspective.



The book reminded me that in the 19th century there was a relatively balanced global power <hmmmmmmmmmmm … kind of like where we may be heading today?>. Oh, and yes, there was a ‘global economy’ at that time.



And the 21st century began with an extraordinary imbalance in world power.



The United States was the only country able to project military force globally, it represented more than a quarter of the world economy and had the world’s leading “soft-power resources” in its universities and entertainment industry.



America didn’t purposefully build the imbalance … the imbalance was opportunistic and reflective of contextual situations.



What that means is that no one truly knows much about social engineering and how to “build nations.”


The transformation of America in the 1800’s certainly reminded me of that.


At times it appears like America reached its strength position despite itself.



Therefore … if we cannot be sure how to ‘build a nation’ or have some formula to improve the world hubris is dangerous. It certainly seems like what is required is a careful understanding of the context of change.






Here is what I know <and believe>.



Anyone, and any country, will be successful if it finds its pride cloaked in humility <not hubris>.



I cannot remember where I found this quote but it seems to highlight what Americans should avoid at all costs <domestically as well as internationally>:



“Sweep in as if emissaries of light bringing salvation to the natives living in a dark forest. You think you are heroes because people ask for your help and advice. You think that worth works for you will automatically work for everyone else. Your teeth are whiter and your clothes are better and suddenly that permits you to be the ultimate arbiters of public morality.

You assume America, and capitalism, is the ultimate model and you end up judging everything simply by how close it comes to your own ideal. You begin to think you have carte blanche to remake whatever you want to remake in your own image.”


Speaking of humility.



We, everyone in a country leadership role, lurch back and forth between what is right and what is wrong all the while every step taken on a path with a sign that says “what is best for the country & people this way.’


And each step nowadays seems to be burdened by this word ‘compromise.’



Compromise implies ‘giving up something that is right or the best.’



It seems like it would be better to recognize that there is no one right way and no one right answer in heading down this path … all head down the path … it is just an argument over what shoes I want to wear that particular day.



maybe we have no ideaAnd that is … well … it all seems just fucking insane.



It seems like maybe those spewing forth the idea that the other’s ideas are stupid and the path to greatness is ‘this way’ …and it is the only way … could drink from the cup of humility and accept that our past has certainly taught us that there is no one way nor right way.



Our past is strewn with greatness intermingled with some dark aspects.



Greatness doesn’t reside in our actions or accomplishments … it resides in one’s belief in hope & the future. Greatness resides in the ability to keep an eye on the horizon and the ability to put one foot in front of the other, sometimes not knowing where your foot will exactly land, on this path of ‘better.’




Ralph Waldo Emerson … “America is a country of the future. It is a country of beginnings, of projects, of vast designs and expectations.”





Daniel Walker Howe writes on page 853 … “Americans live by hope for the future but their conflicting hopes for their country and their own lives provoke dissension.
Americans are constantly proposing new ideas and then wrangling over them.”



America is, and always has been, a country of the future.



America will, and always has, wrangled over ideas and hopes.



We always have and always will.



The moment we accept that, and embrace that, we accept dissension and accept that sometimes we will get it right … and sometimes we will get it wrong … because … well … while maybe being a great nation we are inevitably a great big group of people trying to do the best they can without having any specific formula for what to do.



The news of the decline & demise of America is tiring. Or maybe better said “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” <Mark Twain>.but yes ideas matters debate hugh






That’s why I hack my way through 900 page history books … to gain and maintain some perspective.




Sometimes I learn something.


But mostly it gives me some perspective on what is happening today.
One last random thought.




I am not a speechwriter nor am I politician <most likely not qualified for either> … but … it slightly puzzles me that we don’t hear more Ralph Waldo Emerson or Adams or … well … many of the great American philosophical thinkers of the mid 1800’s quoted or used to make a point.



They had the ability to capture the American spirit, the American desire to ‘do things’, the American power of individualism and the American belief that government supports to ‘better.’



But, hey, that’s me.

And if they did … well … then I couldn’t use all their great words and I wouldn’t have a blog.

Enlightened Conflict