I Don’t Recognize It…

Like many, my life changed significantly on November 8, 2016.  Also like many, I went to bed that night with a sinking feeling in my stomach – the aftereffect of an election result I never saw coming.  That feeling had little to do with my political sensibilities, and much more to do with my human side.

I accepted long ago, and well appreciate, that roughly one-half of the people reading this hold beliefs in matters of economics, militarism, religion, and education that are contrary to mine.  That there is such a balance of opposing opinions in this land, and that it ebbs and flows the way it has for a couple hundred years, is testament to the integrity of the Greek foundation of our society.

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Still, on November 9, I woke feeling a little dazed, a bit sad and somewhat of a state of shock.  Through the next couple of days, I began asking questions of myself, and answering them honestly – and being honest with myself has ever been my strong suit.  With each question I asked myself, and with each subsequent answer, I could feel my values taking deeper root, and solidifying in a way they had not previously flexed.

The two primary questions I asked myself were these…

  • What is truly important to me today…?
  • What was important to me yesterday, that is no longer important today…?

It is truly illuminating, what can be learned from answering those questions.

I asked myself, and continue to ask myself other questions derivative of the two questions above, but those two are the heart of the thing.

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The answers to the first question were few – less than 10, and I wrote them down so I can look at them each morning as I drink coffee and build my day.  I have been resolute in constructing each day since November 9, around the answers to that question.

The answers to the second question were more numerous, and I’m still writing them down, as that list of answers still grows.  Identifying what was important yesterday, but no longer is, is easy.  Eliminating those behaviors from my day-to-day actions, well, that’s an ongoing challenge, but one I am also committed to.

As I watch the behaviors of the man we elected, and who is now the 45th President of The United States Of America, I have a steady reminder of how I wish not to conduct myself, how I wish not to be seen, and how I wish not to be heard.  I expected that from day 1.  Politics, positions, and platforms notwithstanding, it’s my opinion that a man representing 300-million people should conduct himself with a little more decorum – a little more professionally, as most of his predecessors have.

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What I didn’t expect, and what most reading this might find offensive or even insulting, is that so many of the behaviors from people on both sides of this election, have affected me more than I would have imagined just 6 months ago.  That is, the behaviors of my teammates, as well as the opposition are eating away at my good moods just as much as the behaviors of the man on Pennsylvania Avenue.  I have never been so disappointed in so many people all at once.

Before one suggests that I’m looking to live in a world of rainbows and unicorns when it comes to the murky waters of politics, I am not.  I’m in favor of argument, disagreement, satire, lampooning and even insults when the time is right, when it is deserved and when it is tactfully done.  However, I don’t recognize what I’ve seen unfolding in recent months – it’s as though somebody spiked the national water cooler, and we’ve left our sober brains back at our cubicles.

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I’ve found at least one bright spot in all of this is, thought it is small relative to the entirety of the problem, but it is a bright spot none the less.  I have never worked so hard, nor been so committed to improving my behaviors when it comes to discussion.  In that sense, I’ve never been less ashamed to be myself or to be 100% honest while discussing politics, and I have become a committed listener!   For a Jewish kid raised on demerit slips, with a lifetime social anxiety disorder, that’s saying something.

We may not all agree on military, economic or education policy, but we should be able to discuss it.  I hope at some point we’ll agree on how we should conduct ourselves as a people when we disagree, though I see few signs among my social contemporaries that this will happen anytime soon.  I look to my daughter’s generation though – I hear her speak, I see how she interacts with her friends, and I see hope for more intelligent discussion down the road.  Still, I hope folks my own age and older can settle down just a smidge – speak a little more intelligently, and listen a little more attentively.

I think of that old locker room adage, you know, grab ‘em by the decorum…  Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this by Ride.  Enjoy….

Believe you me…

“Show me a man who has the same values, and beliefs at 50 that he had at 25, and I’ll show you a man who has wasted 25 years of his life.” Muhammad Ali

As Beliefs Grow Up…

Beliefs are the first children we ever have. Like real children, beliefs begin arriving long before we are prepared for, or qualified to have them. As they grow, they end up raising us in sense, as children raise their parents. Hopefully this allows us to evolve with them in an expanding, and symbiotic relationship. As time passes we become increasingly intimate with, and committed to our beliefs.

For many, their beliefs will be the only children they ever have. Who doesn’t want to show off their children…? For others, their beliefs will be children so well-crafted they’ll rarely be exposed. Beliefs define us, express us, and explain us. They are malleable, often in flux, and very sensitive to the fingerprints of others.

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Beliefs; the first children we ever have…

Like our real children, we can be guilty at times of not executing the most proper custodial care in the raising of our beliefs. Our beliefs grow as properly as we nurture them, and direct them to. And also like children, our beliefs can be at odds with each other – despite that they are our own. We’re all familiar with feuding siblings. In that context I’ll suggest we’re just familiar with feuding beliefs living in our heads.

Like protecting our children from harm, we seek to protect our beliefs from harm in hopes that they will grow, and serve the world well. As a culture, it increasingly seems that protecting our own beliefs more resembles projecting them. We shoot our beliefs like arrows at others before they can get to ours with theirs.

Essentially, on the playground of life, we’re pitting the children of our minds against one-another rather than encouraging them to play nicely.

No Means No…

In the tired, and unsolvable debate over god, God, or no God, something should be considered; to continually attempt to change somebody’s beliefs once they have said, No Thank You, is an not only an attempted rape of that person’s most precious asset, it is an attempted murder of their mind’s children.

A good friend attempted to witness Christ to me several weeks ago. He did so softly, and congenially, but was persistent in his approach. I know this was an act of love on his behalf, and an attempt to make a positive impact on my life. I respect that. I’m certain, however, that he never considered he was attempting to make many of my children – my own beliefs disappear by pitting his to hurt mine. Perhaps when he reads this, he’ll view things differently.

I do not begrudge him for the attempt. I remain hurt though, and feel somewhat violated that when I said “no”, as I explained the comfort I have with my own beliefs, that he didn’t take no for an answer, and wouldn’t let it go. At that point, it was an emotional rape attempt.

I have been witnessed to many times prior. Several ended in the destruction of friendships, and business relationships. Not only would they not take no for answer, they attacked my beliefs, and did so in very disparaging ways.

Now that may be taken as anti-Christian statement, but I assure you it is not. It is a statement in favor of respecting the children I have raised in my mind – my beliefs. I know many atheists who are just as guilty, and just as evangelical in their approach to converting believers, and both sides should learn to end the conversation at the first, No Thank You.

The Playground Of Life…

Most parents spend a great deal of effort teaching their children to play well with others. Maybe it’s time we place just as much effort into teaching our own beliefs to play well with others. At the workplace, online, at social gatherings, and sporting events there are no recess monitors. We are self-policed – or not. I believe we can do a better job than we currently are.

Discussing beliefs around the campfire with friends...

Discussing beliefs around the campfire with friends…

We’ve all thought to ourselves, I should be more… I’ll suggest those thoughts most always arise from an internal fear we may have or develop. We don’t get angry with ourselves for questioning our own beliefs. However, when we are approached with, you should be more… we immediately take offense. There’s a disparity there that doesn’t work.

Too many people are having their beliefs attacked by the bullies of fear too often in these times. The term discourse is falling out of vogue again, as bipartisanship has. When somebody attacks our beliefs, or attempts to change them, maybe we shouldn’t get angry with them, and fight back by shooting our beliefs. Perhaps we should simply pity them, and offer them a hug, and seek the common points first. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP  button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this little gem from Australia’s Pat Capocci.  Enjoy…

Conversations And Connections…

Here is a mid-week tease for my upcoming column, Part II of my ongoing series on life as a fitness trainer.  This week’s column, Conversations Over Crunches, should be up by Saturday, January 29th.  Please check back then.  In the mean time, below is an excerpt:

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 As an exercise in creative dialogue, I have a question I sometimes put to friends or acquaintances as a means of generating intelligent discourse.  I most often use this question at the dinner table, or as an icebreaker at parties.  However, it generates the best results in dialogue, as something to expand on while running or hiking with others.  The question is this;

“Would you rather lose your vision, or lose your ability to speak and to hear?”

With few exceptions, the answer to this question confirms that most would rather lose their voice and hearing than their vision.  For all the times I have asked the question, I can only recall one person who would rather have their voice and hearing spared than their sight.  I will never understand this.

Though I do find my sight to be useful, I can’t imagine not having another audible conversation.  It is speaking with and hearing others that better connects me to them, and reminds me I’m not emotionally alone in the world.  To miss the inflection or the emotion in the voice of another, or to not be able to offer mine, lost only to sign language or some kind of an electronic medium, I would feel detached from the soul of others.

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Please check back this Saturday for, Conversations Over Crunches.  Oh, and there is this by Big Country; Winter Sky.  Enjoy…