Enlightened Conflict

awaiting the end of the world (as we know it)

August 4th, 2015


crap uh oh

“I don’t pay attention to the

world Ending.

It has ended for me

many Times

and began again in the morning.”


Nayyirah Waheed


Once to every man and nation

Comes the moment to decide

In the strife of truth with falsehood

For the good or evil side.


James R. Lowell , 1845

<poem protesting America’s war with Mexico>


Is the world heading for another Global War?

As I read through the headlines on Yahoo News and other Media Outlets, it seems that there is a lot of anger, posturing, threats, paranoia, fear and distrust being expressed here in the US and elsewhere in the World.

The Iran deal, North Korea threats, Turkey and the Kurdish separatism, ISIS, Syrian revolution, radical groups in Western Africa, failed states in Somalia, Israel/ Palestinian continual war, Russian aggression and the European response.

Is this our reality, or just the manufacture of NEWS that the media creates to fill a 24/7 cycle? Are these all isolated situations or are they an early stage of a 20th century cycle that must repeat itself?

TED Discussion Topic








I admit.



oh no not youI am ready for the world to end … okay … not really … maybe only to stop reading about the imminent conclusion of Life as we know it today as predicted by numerous “experts.”



It seems a little crazy … but … we sometimes seem to always live on the edge of the end of the world. I thought of this again as I finished my Iran nuclear agreement post yesterday <and scanned the morning headlines around the world online>.



There is no lack of predictors of doom online, on television or on radio talk shows today.



But you know what?


Being good at predicting doom, and the end, seems like an uneasy contradiction … if you are actually accurate and good at your prediction skills … well … who will be around to actually give you credit for being right?





Who would actually want to give you credit?



In addition … more often than not the predictions are wrong <albeit the predictors are cannily good at <a> finding the random thread that actually did come to fruition or, <b> find the next phase of doom.



Here is the craziest aspect.


Doom prediction is not a generational thing.


Every decade, shit, every year has a new doom or Armageddon ‘thing.’



There is moral crisis <pick the 1740’s, 1880’s, 1910’s, 1970’s and now>.


2014 merry crisis

There is economic crisis <pick the anytime in the 1500’s, the 1780’s, the 1890’s & 1920’s, the 1980’s and now>.



There is unsustainable overpopulation crisis <beginning of the industrial age until now – every year>.



There is terrorism crisis <every decade in recorded history>.



There is political crisis <war of the roses time, 1780’s, 1920’s, 1960’s, 1990’s and now>






And religion all by itself has a long history of ‘end days’ predictions <242 dates list – the full list is below the header: http://www.bible.ca/pre-date-setters.htm >




I cannot remember the first time I heard that the world was going to end because of an existing crisis other than maybe the imminent nuclear attack from the evil empire of the Soviet Union.






Nostradamus and the Mayans as well as the Christians had the corner on the end of the world predictions until people came along trying to create a variety of manmade end of the world scenarios.



It has been my fortune that I have ignored the noise enough that no matter my age I haven’t stopped doing what I was supposed to do awaiting the end <I did my homework, I showed up for work, I didn’t quit exercising <thinking that being flabby isn’t the way I would want to go out anyway> and I still fulfilled the painful commitments which could have easily been shirked under the guise of “who will know I didn’t do it.”

thinking trying to



Maybe it is because at a relatively young age I understood that most end of the world conspiracy theories begin with some crackpot wearing an aluminum foil hat sitting in their mother’s basement teasing out “what if” scenarios from actually was.


Maybe I had parents who ignored the bullshit and the foil hat people <who they believed were kooks>.



So are there any real threats?



Most of the conventional ways you’ve heard of the world ending are pretty much speculative bullshit.



Even the original apocalypse, nuclear weapons, falls far short of what was promised/predicted.



There are simply not enough nuclear weapons to destroy every major city on Earth therefore the entire world as we know it.atomic bomb blast


Even in the 1980s, when the global arsenal reached its height, estimates were that 400-500 million might die in a first strike and perhaps double this number in total from famines, plagues, and radiation.


I will not bore you with real numbers but that means the vast majority of humanity would survive.




The same numbers apply to any other Armageddon like event you want to worry about.






Having recently worked with a bunch of highly qualified E physicians … I can factually state that we have them all the time.
Before you get all worked up over “what if pandemic scenarios” I will point out that not once in four billion years has a disease mutated to the point where it could wipe out every living creature on Earth.






We only get a major asteroid hit <one that can destroy all major life forms> about every ten million years. Ok. Maybe we are due. But. We are probably at a point where we could spot it and do something about it before it crashed into someone’s living room.





Solar Flare.




But lets say it knocks out every electrical device on the planet … at worst we would struggle with regaining our non-electrical footing and most likely set back the economy, the way we live and standard of living several decades.



Uncomfortable? For sure.


Extinction? Not so much.



aliens attack




Despite some of those TV shows speculating alien involvement with building the pyramid and such … the Earth has been circling the Sun for at least four billion years with no visitors to date. While there is a chance … it kind of seems like a Dumb and Dumber chance <one in a million>.







TV movie <see The Day the Earth Stood Still>.







We <people in general> seem to confuse a variety of common everyday occurrences with Armageddon and “the end.”







Let me share 3 reasons.



– Change <in general>



hold on let go changeChange sucks and most people balk at changing. As soon as some major innovation that creates a big sweeping change in the way things are done <farming instead of hunting & gathering, printing press, industrial revolution, TV, computers, internet> it is like a tectonic shift within civilization.

Everything gets affected.


People freak.


Some people freak enough to predict the end of the world as we know it.

Many others wonder of they are right.



– Different from us <generations>



Each generation sweeps into the world shoving aside that which was <and how it was done> and puts their own imprint on the world. Each generation doing what is currently being done gives ground grudgingly. And each grudging step, which includes giving something up, seems like a step towards the end of the world as we know it.


Some of the ‘I want to hold on to the way it was’ freak out enough to predict the end of the world.

There are enough ‘others’ within their age cohort who wonder if they are right <and comment on it>.



< I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of The 4th turning by Strauss & Howe which outlines the historical turnings of generations and how our freaking out is cyclical in theme>



– Different from us <culturally or ideologically>



This has nothing to do with generations or periods in time … this is simply a constant undercurrent of which current affairs can make the undercurrent bubble to the top.
What we don’t know, or understand, freaks us out.


When we see others who do, and act, significantly different from “us” <our country cohort> we freak. We freak because we believe we are living Life right <by the way … so do they>.



This is a constant and the freaking typically settles in at a ‘slightly uncomfortable feeling’ but nothing that makes us actually feel uncomfortable enough to say or do anything.


Most of us.



There will always be a few who will place the ‘different & differences’ up on a pedestal and start screaming “it will destroy us.” depending on what else is happening in the world at that time others may shift from ‘slightly uncomfortable feeling’ to “maybe we should freak.’







We confuse what time, in general, does to reshape the world and us:



New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,

They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;




Life naturally destroys what was, what is … and creates what will be.



This restless nature of life, which is constantly destroying, can create a sense that EVERYTHING will be destroyed.



Don’t panic.

panic degrees



The chances that everything will be destroyed falls into the Dumb and Dumber chances <one in a million>.





I will admit <using Orson Scott Card’s words>:



we do appear to live in a time when people like me, who do not wish to choose the extreme ridiculous, inconsistent, unrelated ideology, are being forced to choose – and to take one whole absurd package or the other.

We live in a time when moderates are treated worse than extremists, being punished as if they were more fanatical than the actual fanatics.

We live in a time when lies are preferred to the truth and truths are called lies, when opponents are assumed to have the worst conceivable motives and treated accordingly, and when we reach immediately for coercion without bothering to find out what those who disagree with us are actually saying.

In short we are creating for ourselves a new dark age – the darkness of blinders we voluntarily wear, and which, if we do not take them off and see each other human beings with legitimate , virtuous concerns, will lead us to tragedies whose cost we will bear for generations.

Orson Scott Card




Orson’s words resonate … and the sense you may get from what he describes is “Armageddon is upon us” but it isn’t.



It is simply the uncomfortable chafing of culture & civilization trying to find its way. I would also like to remind everyone of something I read somewhere in a book … “all these quarrels had been minor bumps and potholes along the road of a lifetime of respect and trust. When you stop and think about it, what good is a friend who agrees with you all the time?”



Uncomfortable but what good is a world where everyone agrees with you all the time?







Here is what I know.



Don’t panic



I would guess that if you could visit 2115 you would see a world pretty close to the way it is today.






Computers, technology and nanotechnology will most likely have evolved to some absurd heights but there will still be suburban barbeques, Amish communities, farm communities and a shitload of regular people doing their own thing.



So relax, maybe have a drink or go for a run and accept the likelihood that despite all the blowhards on TV and books about the ‘decline of’ or ‘the end of’ there will still be a relatively normal world for our ancestors to inhabit in a hundred years.

young unemployed and with skills

February 7th, 2013


youth unemployment experience but 25“The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealized past.”- Robertson Davies



This is a follow up to my youth unemployment post. Why did I feel compelled to do a part 2?


I received a question from my friend Jen:

–              <comment> Would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the educational system and STEM roots of this problem.  I’ve been reading a lot lately on the problem of too many graduates not trained for the jobs that are out there.  Also in some cultures (like China), there seems to be a cultural bias against vocational-type work vs. white collar.  Wonder if everyone’s expectations are a little skewed these days?



Someone also sent me a McKinsey study suggesting that employers <businesses> believe young people are less qualified <less skilled> than they have been in the past … and therefore less effective … leading to an increased hesitancy to hire <and find a qualified candidate>.

Here is the research summary:

There is a profound disconnect between the perceptions variously held by employers, education-providers and the young themselves.

In the Mckinsey survey, nearly 70% of employers blamed inadequate training for the shortfall in skilled workers, yet 70% of education providers believe they suitably prepare graduates for the jobs market. Similarly, employers complain that less than half of the young whom they hire have adequate problem-solving skills, yet nearly two-thirds of the young believe that they do have such skills. The situation is such that nearly 60% of young people around the world say they would pay more for an education that would improve the likelihood of securing an attractive job; and 70% of employers say they would pay more for the right talent, if only they could find it.


And then Wall Street Journal had an article on “higher learning, meet lower job prospects” in which the author suggests we evaluate education because “the majority shares a point of view that education is not preparing young for the actual <available> work world.”


First. This “talent gap” <or skills gap> idea.


“The skills gap must be bridged if the world is to avoid dire consequences.” – Dominic Barton, managing director of McKinsey & Company


Let me be clear on this topic to Mr. Barton, McKinsey and every old person bitching about this.

I call bullshit.

On the research and on businesses.


There is no talent gap.


Let me explain.


Young people <new hires> have always been useless <to old employees>. In older people’s eyes education has never trained them properly and the young are always overconfident and overestimate their abilities.

And the young hires?young and qualified

Old employees are always out of touch, stuck in the old ways and slow things down.


This is consistent.


Here is a truth.

We sucked when we were young & first hired.

Ok. Not completely. If we got hired for the right job <we didn’t lie too badly and hirer actually had their hiring shit together> we didn’t totally suck. But we most certainly were overwhelmed and simply trying to get our feet under us in week one.


Education, unless it is a professional training school, will never prepare us completely for the working world. Not only is it not its role but it is next to impossible to replicate what you are faced with in your first job.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

And you know what?  While we older folk may bitch & moan … we don’t really want someone completely prepared and molded for that job. We would have to “unlearn them” <at its worst … ‘break them’> so we could learn ‘em in our way of doing things.


What does this mean?

In the end I think this is old people being old people and young people being young people.

Young people are no worse at thinking or doing the job they are hired to do now than they were years ago … and old people are maybe a little bit better at holding on to the past <because technology has thrown a new variable into the skills equation>.

Young people entering the workforce are skilled. Just not as skilled on the things that an old person is comfortable with. And, in fact, they have more skills than old people in some things that the older people are uncomfortable with.

As consistent with business history … experienced managers are always uncomfortable with the new.

A new employee.

A new idea.

A new technology.


There is no talent gap.

<note: and this is where I make a note about how misusing research to make a point is aggravating … the McKinsey people know better … they used a ‘one point in time’ piece of information with no context from how the information may or may not have changed over time … shame on them>


As Jen pointed out … “an expectation gap.”


Yes. I believe that expectation gap has always existed … however, for several reasons; this expectation gap is wider than in years prior.

We would have to go way back in time to find as wide an expectation gap … probably the industrial revolution  when the young left agriculture homes <and their parents> or maybe when automobiles became pervasive.

Regardless. The current expectation gap.

There are some things happening which drive older people crazy … which also make younger people think they know more than they actually do … and is all manageable if you accept the new work truth.

Let me break it down for the older folk into 2 thoughts.


Information Acceleration:

It used to be management shared information <suggesting older management had control>.

Uh oh.

The acceleration of the communication is dramatically increased with new technology. The dynamics and complexity is expressed thru Twitter or Facebook or even simple texting … and encompass the entire office <and business world> and informs others of happenings before some supposed ‘information controller’ does.

This demonstrates the enormous power of digitalization. Networking is a communication catalyst which not only accelerates time it takes control from the older experienced people.


Impetus to Work:


If there has ever been a more important and intangible business issue I am not sure I could find it.

Important young employees ask themselves: “Why am I doing this?” … and even “do I want to do this?” all under the overarching stance of “I do not live to work, but rather, I work to live.”

The funny thing?

Even unimportant young people ask themselves all this crap.

This is so foreign to most older folk, this type of thinking in one so young <it is okay behavior of you have attained success already in their minds … and only then> that two things happen:

  1. They misdiagnose attitude. Old people hear “I am lazy” when young people say “I do not live to work.” Bad bad bad. Read my lips <and read their lips>. When they say “I work to live” they mean it … and just that. This is a massive part of the expectation gap.
  2. They mismanage by trying to create desired behavior/attitude. What I mean is that when the gap is perceived to be so huge old people do not even try <or they go thru the motions to try and ‘connect’>. They will offer some platitudes … they will have a Facebook page … and then will manage as if the young people are ‘living to work.’ Uh oh. What happens? They get frustrated because youngsters do not react <and easy place to stand back and go ‘geez, they were not schooled properly’> and youngsters get even more frustrated because old people are even more out of touch than they ever imagined.


All these thoughts really narrow into one very fine sharp point which constantly gouges into the youth … lack of respect. The gap will never close without respect.



Let me break it down into one thought for young people.



We <when we are young> always feel like we are entitled to some things when entering work because we feel like we have studied, gone to school, done some extracurricular jobs to prepare … and in general expect old people to know we know our shit.


Young people are confusing entitlement versus respect. All young people want when getting hired is respect. And I believe in today’s business world, and today’s economy, older people in management are begrudging <even more so than in the past> of giving respect mostly because more young people are entering into businesses with not only a different attitude but a different knowledge set.

The young need to knock the entitlement chip off their shoulders and focus on earning respect.

In addition.

As Jen noted <as well as a variety of other sources> capitalism & the overall increase in individual wealth has also created a different, odd, sense of entitlement <or expectations> tied to self esteem <and how we perceive others view us>.

White collar versus blue collar. “thinking” jobs versus “doing” jobs. Making money <producing & making stuff> versus making money from money.


It was my generation that developed wacky titles so that people felt better about what they did in their jobs. We even have had ‘Chief Karma Officers.’

In my eyes … this is a societal issue … not a youth issue. And, frankly, it is my generation that created this expectation mess.

While what I am going to say is simplistic I fully understand that this issue is complex.

I truly believe if you read on to where I state ‘managing the knowledge gap’ that if we do so there will be an organizational societal respect ingrained in organizations. Therefore as an outcome expectations will be less relevant because employees, young & old, will feel respected by their peers and achieve satisfaction in other ways.

But. That is just crazy me talking.


All that said.

Today’s business world with regard to the young unemployed being hired and the older existing management <who is hiring> isn’t about a talent gap, or even an expectation gap … it is a knowledge gap.

And I believe it is a different knowledge gap than what we have faced in the past.


Here is the gap.


Competition for knowledge.

Knowledge is the most important asset in order to remain competitive in the business world. Knowledge referring to that which ‘dwells in people’ … and not in books or libraries or the classroom.

And in today’s business world we will actually be hiring new first time employees who have knowledge the older folk do not have. So, yes, the current young unemployed … despite being unemployed … have knowledge that does not currently reside within the existing organizations.

Now. They don’t know everything they need to know … they just happen to own some knowledge that the older folk don’t have.

What does this translate to?

Competition for knowledge … and recognize it goes both up and down an organization.

These knowledge people, who are highly relevant for the company, must be identified and tied into the organizational global mind.

Young Spic Qualified-front-largeCreating a society of knowledge alters the organization. And certainly doing so alters the ecological framework of the organization <hierarchy and attitudes>.


I purposefully called it ‘competition’ mostly to make an organizational behavior point.

The newly hired young are competitive just because that is what young people are when hired. And it used to be that in this competition the young could only get knowledge by either experiencing it or sucking it out of an older experienced person. Well. Technology has changed that dynamic. Knowledge will come whenever a young person wants it at his or her fingertips. Now. It may not be the best, or right, knowledge but it is knowledge and it is in the moment.


Older experienced people do not want to compete with young newly hired. They believe they are not only above doing so but also believe they deserve respect. Well. that only really matters if you are not ‘working to live.’ The young are playing by different rules.


I told Jen a variety of things:


you know I am an education guy and i do believe there are some things that need to be fixed as well as I believe too many kids are going to college and getting degrees just because that is what they are supposed to do … but … youth unemployment is not an education issue . They are just as qualified as you and i were coming out of school … they just aren’t being given a chance to work. And when they do they have been unemployed for a while. The core issues remain the poor global economy overall and businesses. i cannot fix the global economy  but business organizations are at the true core. as slaves to the financial statement and the financial community  businesses have become leaner &amp; leaner and less forgiving of mistakes and lack of maximized productivity. That is why middle & some senior management have been squeezed over the past decade or so as they are consistently being asked to ‘play down’ in an organization to ‘flatten’ the organization. so young people are getting screwed on the employment front in several ways by businesses. attitudinally and financially. It is cheaper for an organization to slam an overqualified higher paid older person in a lower slot because they justify it under the ‘less risk/less mistake/less supervision time’ theory. I also believe technology has thrown upper/older management a curveball. every new generation has a gap between them and the older generation but new constantly evolving technology has increased the gap significantly and increased pressure on the younger generation to ‘explain their expertise’ and if you can remember to when you were a young whippersnapper and you are honest with yourself … we, when young, our strength is never clarity of justification/rationale. Therefore you have a very qualified knowledgeable group of young people who not only struggle to explain what comes naturally to them but there is an older management group who just wants it to be the way it was. That last thought combined with an economy which makes businesses hesitant to hire anyway is killing the young qualified out there.


In the end I believe there is not a talent gap.

And there will always be an expectation gap. The expectation gap is almost unsolvable but can be worked through if you seek to manage the knowledge gap.

Enlightened Conflict