Friday, December 2, 2016

I Can't


“I can’t” is perhaps the most damaging of expressions.  It sums up an attitude of defeat, it gives voice to inner demons that sit inside us, who pardon our best effort.  These words shackle our soul and vocalize our fears.  For too many they are words used far too often.
Throughout my life I’ve seen when someone begins with “I can’t” they have already said “I won’t succeed so why try?”  Overcoming that attitude is what separates those who give up, and those who press on despite the struggle. 
As parents, teachers, or mentors the greatest give we can give is to tell ourselves and our young charges “we can,” but at the end of the day only the individual can determine if they can or can’t. 
May this day be filled with “I can.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It’s All About the Narrative

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On Monday, November 28, 2016, there was a terror event on the campus of Ohio State University.  It involved an OSU student, a young Somali immigrant, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, attacking others with his car, and then a knife.  This attack was similar to what we’ve seen in Palestinian attacks in Israel. He was engaged and killed by an OSU police officer, Alan Horujko, who reported “shots fired” as he called for assistance.  This led the OSU emergency response team to declare an active shooter event and broadcast it via social media to all the students.  Its Twitter message read, “Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.

It took about an hour from the first notification for the OSU administration to determine the only shooter was the police officer, and the student body should be notified of the all clear, but the twitter responses make a rather telling commentary on the thinking of the average student, others who followed the feed, as well as those who will use any such event to push their political narrative.

On the one hand, there were a significant number of individuals who could not fathom why the OSU team would advocate “fight” as one of the responses.  If someone has a gun how could you possibly fight them?  The concept of actively participating in their own defense appeared to be completely alien to them.
For the record, the advice advocating fight comes only if there are no other options.  You are trapped and about to be shot.  In this instance the advice is to be as violent as possible to disrupt the shooter and either disarm them or escape.

Then there were those who used the events of the day to talk about the need for everyone to have a gun and how OSU should not be a gun free zone.  @Tradecraft Ltd offered this great opinion, “Apparently colleges would prefer their innocent students to just be good little victims.

Finally, there were politicians and others from California, Virginia, and elsewhere around the world, who weighed in about how too many people have guns and that this never would have happened if we had better gun control laws.

Senator Tim Kaine, D-VA (Clinton VP candidate), found it necessary to weigh in before he had the facts (I assume) with “Deeply saddened by the senseless act of gun violence at Ohio State this morning. Praying for the injured and the entire Buckeye community

I am not a twitter user, and looking at the dialogues on this medium I am convinced my choice was a good one, for civility and respect don’t seem to be its forte. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

On the Art of Listening


If you watch the broadcast news or sports you will see neither the reporters nor the subjects listen to each other.  They are so eager to ask their questions, make their statements, or give their answers it becomes more of a dance than a conversation.  Perhaps this is why we are becoming so polarized.  We’ve been trained to speak, not to listen.
The world around us moves at sometimes frightening speed.  There is so much going on, we’ve set so many goals and tasks for ourselves the hours of the day do not seem sufficient to accomplish all we have to do.
The eastern philosophies and religions teach their followers to slow down and block the out the world for a time and to relax their minds and listen to themselves to find peace.  We can all benefit from this thought.  Isn’t this quiet, reflective, approach what prayer is?
My intent today is to listen to the world around me.  Not to judge, not to change, not to inform, but to absorb and reflect on what was, what is, and what can be.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

On the Eve of History


We have Thanksgiving behind us, the insanity of Christmas shopping before us, and the fate of the nation hangs in the peaceful transfer of power.  This December should be a memorable one.  Now, if only the Canadians would change their names to Visigoths and Huns the perspective would be complete.
For the record, I don’t seriously think the nation will collapse before January 20th or even in the next four years, but each challenge to the historical assumptions of peaceful transition calls into question the strength of the Republic of the future.  You’ve got to admire the spunk of the Green Party, for finding a fundraising opportunity in the disdain of the left for President (elect) Trump.  I think it is also telling of the DNC and their candidate.
As Democrats work through their stages of grief, it seems apparent fresh ideas are not coming from within but, as we see with this challenge to the election results, from others outside the party.  Kind of like Senator Sanders, an independent, as the only real challenger to the DNC’s preordained choice.
As an aside, for almost all of my adult life the educational industry has told us college for everyone was the key to a successful future.  We are now coming to realize how horribly wrong that idea is, but they have a very strong lobby so it probably won’t change anytime soon.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Experience, We Don’t Need No Stink’n Experience*


* Apologies to B. Traven and John Huston

It used to be, and perhaps still is, a given for any good and successful organization to have a mix of older people and youth.  The youth bring enthusiasm and energy, while the older members temper their energy with wisdom and experience.  The experienced would mentor (often informally) the young to help them understand the tasks before them and the ways those tasks were best handled.  They would pass along things that could never be found in the instructions, training, or classes the young might have had.

Now it seems even as the wisdom of the old is celebrated, it is pushed aside by the desire for instant change, even when instant change is not necessary.  We can look at almost any endeavor where the good-looking youth is pushed forward to be the boss, almost always at the cost of experience.

I read an article the other day on how journalists coming into the trade were previously not valued until they had 10 to 20 years of experience.  In the old model, college was not a prerequisite for journalism.  Now we expect college to replace those years of experience and we push the young graduates into the limelight as soon as they impress someone.  The alternative is to take someone who has influence in politics and thrust them into the spokesperson role for the network, again without a great deal of experience in the trade. 

I wonder, in either case, how much judgement they bring into the role?

Perhaps, if the current journalists were into self-inspection this would be a concern they would address, but I suspect self-inspection is not a strength of today's journalists.
Although not directly related, I recommend this post by Scott Adams, A Lesson in Cognitive Dissonance.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Seven Stages of Political Grief (2016 version)


1.     Shock – That instant when you realize your candidate failed to do what [choose your gender-neutral pronoun] and the media had assured you was a “done deal.”

2.    Disbelief – how could this happen? The whole world is irrevocably altered and your life, the lives of your friends, and the lives of all the people at the corner deli (kosher and organic) will never be the same.

3.    Rage – Releasing a primordial scream to let the world know how outraged you are over this injustice to humanity.  (In modern society this may take the form of incessant posts on social media of all the sins, real or supposed, of the winner and why [choose your gender and race specific pronoun] will fail)  

4.    Challenge – show how the election was unfair and did not represent the true will of the average citizen.  This may include plotting how to overturn the results.

5.     Protest (AKA Riot) – Gather together to destroy property of all those who may not agree with your political views, letting the world know you stand united in your belief in the American Dream, as long as it agrees with you; and just maybe pick up a new flat screen TV in the process.

6.    Nitpick – question every decision, every choice, every statement made by the winner, and publish those statements on every social media outlet possible.

7.     Acceptance – just kidding there are only six stages.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Curiouser and Curiouser

“The Red Queen shook her head. "You may call it 'nonsense' if you like," she said, "but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Seems like only a month ago the Democratic Party, its propaganda arm ABCNNBCBS, and all 60,000,000 of its voters were up in arms about candidate Trump’s assertion the election was rigged and he would not promise to accept the election results on their face.  If I recall candidate Clinton correctly she made a big deal over this reluctance, going so far as to claim it would undermine the whole Republic.

So here we are two weeks after the election and I read how her advisors are suggesting she challenge the results in three states that would swing the balance of the election to her, and if that doesn’t work how Democratic Party electors are preparing not to follow the mandates of their states popular vote and instead “vote their conscience.

So remind me again, which party believes in the legitimacy of the electoral process?
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