Explorations of New and Old Ideas

I Hope…

Melanie:

I think this is the way spiritual exploration must proceed if we are to survive as thinking creatures.

Originally posted on Doug Does Life:

old fence

View original

Inspiring new work from Shelby Stephenson: The Hunger of Freedom.

Chapter 50 from Country*.

There is a part of me that finds bullying so reprehensible in any form that I have trouble not wishing bad things would happen to some of its perpetrators. A report out of Utah about school children being publicly humiliated by the cafeteria workers and school administrators because they didn’t have money in their accounts to pay for their meals is one such incident. [i]

The people, and I use that term guardedly, who did this to these children had lists of the affected children. These children could have been taken aside and told what was happening and given their milk-and-fruit-because-you-have-no-money in a separate classroom rather than having their meals yanked away in front of their friends and thrown in the trash. Their parents, many of whom did not receive any notification in the one day time between the school’s alleged sending of a notification and the date the food was discarded publicly, could have received a quick call that morning to confirm what was to be done to their children.

Essentially, the only fact that I can corroborate is that the children may or may not have had money in their accounts. At least one parent complained to the administrator and it was discovered that, as she stated, her child’s account was paid up. Whether the other children’s parents were able to pay, had forgotten to pay, or were just careless about the status of their children’s accounts is unclear to me. I did a good bit of research and could not find verification of anything.

For me, that is not the essential question.

No child, regardless of their parent’s income or attentiveness, should be publicly humiliated. This sort of bullying by school personnel is the kind that leads children to hate school. It is a highly effective way to set children on the path to school avoidance and eventual ‘dropping out.’

For me the most appalling aspect is that the children seem to have seen it for what it was. I did find multiple reports of children sharing their own lunches with the victims of the involved school personnel. Those cafeteria workers, as well as the administrators who did not publicly call them out for their uncivilized and just plain mean behavior, need the strongest reprimands placed in their permanent personnel files. It is difficult for me to be satisfied with such a simple and inadequate punishment, but I am loathe to put anyone out of work in the current economy.

An article in the Carolina Public Press about employment in North Carolina included some very interesting statistics.

While our GOP-led government, with control of both houses of the Legislature and the Governor’s office, would like us to believe that unemployment declined in 2013, the first year of their complete control of our state’s economy, the facts prove that is not the case.

In addition to a net reduction in job creation from 2012 (89,000 new positions) to 2013 (64,000)[i], the number of unemployed persons did not significantly fall. North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell due to the large number of people who gave up and left the labor market entirely.

Those of us who have been in the labor market in the last several years are familiar with one significant factor in the unemployment rate: the number of older workers displaced by the economic collapse. An article on Business Insider examines a chart from Reuters, indicating clearly that the inclusion of older workers who have given up on finding work would raise the unemployment rate in the United States from 6.7 percent to 10.8%. (Let us not agree to pretend it was a ‘Great Recession;’ it was for many, if not most, of us a devastating collapse of our financial world.)[ii]

The GOP-overwhelmed North Carolina legislature has instituted many policies that will further harm the state’s people. Among them are the more obvious focus of the new Department of Commerce chairwoman, Sharon Decker, on bringing in more large corporations by granting them the rights not to pay taxes, not to abide by local regulations, and other ‘incentives.’

Governor McCrory and his North Carolina GOP bosses receive their orders from big business through the contributions made to the GOP during the 2012 election. Whether it is wise to trust big business is certainly not an issue that is settled. Many of us have watched these companies’ wanton destruction of the United States economy with distrust at best and outrage at worst.[iii]

Moreover, the North Carolina Legislature chose to cut benefits to the unemployed, particularly the long-term unemployed, as well as turning down Medicaid expansions that would have helped those unable to afford ‘Big Pharma’s’ extraordinary gluttony for more money. With so many large drug firms in the state, there is little doubt who issued those marching orders to the North Carolina GOP.

Only time will tell how deep the damage done truly is.


[i]  http://www.carolinapublicpress.org/17542/state-unemployment-rate-hits-low-but-recovery-still-elusive

“John Quinterno, an economist with Triangle-based South by North Strategies, has been tracking the labor force issues as the state’s economy recovers. An analysis released Tuesday notes that the 64,000 jobs created in 2013 was a reduction from 2012’s 89,000 new jobs.”

“While the unemployment rate did fall sharply over the course of 2013, the number of employed persons barely changed, meaning that unemployment fell due to people leaving the labor market altogether rather than finding work,” he said. “None of the 2013 data suggests that North Carolina’s labor market has turned a corner and has moved onto a more robust, more sustainable trajectory.”

[ii] http://www.businessinsider.com/unemployment-labor-force-participation-2014-1

“Take a look at this Reuters chart via Twitter user/trader Reinman_MT. When you combine the unemployment rate with the 30 year average labor force participation rate, it shows a vastly worse employment situation (10.8% unemployment!). It’s not age-adjusted, so we can’t tell how much has to do with demographics versus the economy. It’s still a sobering chart for anyone getting too jazzed about the recovery.”

“And though Gov. Pat McCrory talked about economic development in his campaigns, his experience in that area is not deep. Decker and Lindenmuth might have lots of private business experience, but there is a world of difference in the executive suite and the public service arena, most notably the fact that public officials in North Carolina report to the people, not to boards of directors.

McCrory’s breathless enthusiasm for running government like a business is something he picked up as mayor of Charlotte, where the business community didn’t hesitate to offer him marching orders. Government needs to be efficient, to be sure, but it isn’t a business. Its main function is delivering services, not turning a profit.”

Originally posted on Words From There.:

I have learned that the Lord is willing to guide all men into obedience.  But I did not learn that at first.  Perhaps those who taught me didn’t know.  Perhaps I didn’t phrase the question correctly.  I don’t know.

But when He speaks to us, it is unmistakable.   What He says is pointedly Right and to the moment.  He guides actively, anyone who wills to listen and do.

The reason I bring this up is that many (most) rely on the Bible as their guide.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Certainly we should know what the Bible says, from cover to cover.  But to get stuck in that and think that reading is the sum of what God has to say is foolish.  Look what the Lord said:

39 “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that…

View original 231 more words

My prayers for 2014 are simple, but I am almost certain they will go unanswered.

It isn’t that I believe God won’t grant them, though. I hope that my prayers follow His wishes for the future. It is we humans who won’t let them happen, who will not work together to make them happen, who brush off the difficult as impossible. Worse, there are many who do not share these tenets I learned through study and much personal reflection.

candleFirst, when I go to sleep at night, I would like to know that every person on Earth has shelter and food and is healthy. I want to know that no one is hungry, or frightened, or sick because they cannot afford those basics of life. Moreover, it is not the right of any individual or group of individuals to determine whether anyone else deserves to exist. If that person exists, we must acknowledge their humanity and its attendant fundamental rights to shelter, food, and medical care. Cost should not figure into the equation.

Second, I want every person on Earth to have meaning and purpose in their life. Whether it comes through the work they do to provide for life’s necessities or through avocations that nurture their souls, I want all people to know that they matter. Their ideas, their actions, and their existence matter. No one is unimportant. Worth is not based on how much or in what way one contributes to society. Many are incapable physically or mentally of ‘giving back.’ Yet those who cannot contribute in tangible ways actually do by their existence; they remind us that all life is sacred and that our needs are truly simple. We live, with grace, because we want everyone to live, want it badly enough to work to make it happen, and that makes us all better people.

Third, my heart longs for the day when fear doesn’t drive us to actions and thoughts that we seemingly cannot control. I want all people to feel safe in their own bodies. I want them to be judged on what Martin Luther King called ‘the content of their character.’ Lengthy lists of whom we cannot discriminate against should disappear. We should not discriminate against anyone. Rather, I would welcome the day when we no longer accept any mistreatment or shunning of someone based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, intellectual capacity or attainment, religion or lack thereof, political views, wealth or poverty, health or sickness, or any of the myriad other characteristics by which our arrogance leads us to judge people.

Fourth, we must work together. The unwillingness to accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses has brought stagnation to humanity. If we cast aside our fears, we can learn to accept our differences. If we stand together hand-in-hand for solidarity and, when life is dangerous, back-to-back for safety, we will do more than survive. We will move forward to a future we truly want to leave to our children. Without cooperation, we will not survive.

Finally, conflict must not become war. Disagreements must be solved with words, not weapons. This lesson appears in most religions, yet we still ignore it. We teach it to our children: “Use your words, not your fists!” Still we adults ignore it. Whether we create groups of people or use existing agencies such as the United Nations, it is time to ‘give peace a chance.’

Burning Candles in Menorah

All-or-nothing thinking is a common problem in logic and rhetorical debate. It refers to thinking that sees no middle ground in an argument or person, only bipolar or extreme positions.

An example is the concept of good versus evil. Few people or situations are entirely evil or entirely good. Most are somewhere in the middle, a blend of multiple personality traits and life experiences that results in sometimes contradictory actions and beliefs in the individual.

Other examples might be seeing life as “hopeless” or “perfect,” but not including awareness that life has elements of both perceptions. This black-or-white thinking tends to use words that are opposite in meaning and excludes descriptives that represent the many shades of grey. These extreme viewpoints make compromise, perseverance, and tranquility difficult. They promulgate an extreme approach to living that can make, to use another expression, mountains out of mole hills.

When we only permit ourselves to see limited alternatives, we deny ourselves the many choices and possible solutions of more rational thought.

In logic, the creation of a false dichotomy (also called false dilemma, either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, fallacy of the excluded middle) is limiting to discussion. Its opposite is argument to moderation.

Sometimes the characterization of an issue as “either-or” is intentional. It distracts an opponent in an argument from seeing that other options exist. This is seen in many sound bites in media and political phrasings. For instance:

  • “If you aren’t for us, you’re against us.”
  • “Either you’re progressive or you’re conservative.”
  • “If you don’t go to church, you aren’t spiritual.”
  • “You always do that. You never listen to me.”

Publishing in Context, a publishing consultancy operated by Martin Wilcox and yours truly, is proud to announce our new collaboration with Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, a publication of the American Psychological Association. Martin will provide developmental publication assistance to prospective authors. CPJ is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, and is international in scope.

Martin will be working with Robert Kaiser, the incoming editor of CPJ and President of Kaiser Leadership Solutions. Rob has extensive experience in both practical and research areas of organizational psychology. His own publishing experience is impressive.

More on Martin:

http://www.martinwilcox.net/

More on Rob:

http://www.apadivisions.org/division-13/news-events/kaiser.aspx?__utma=12968039.1337687016.1358174898.1386379102.1388008591.13&__utmb=12968039.8.10.1388008591&__utmc=12968039&__utmx=-&__utmz=12968039.1388008591.13.2.utmcsr=bing|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=consulting%20psychology%20journal&__utmv=-&__utmk=123148299

CPJ has a call for submissions out now. The submissions process is clearly outlined on their website, including the process of working with a developmental editor.

http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/cpb/index.aspx

Believing in things we cannot see is one of the first things humans learn as infants.Parents and their babies delight in the process, usually some version of ‘Peek-a-boo.’ From hiding behind our hands, to holding blankets between us, to hiding behind doors or furniture, one teaches and the other learns that an object is still there even when we cannot see it. Giggles and delight ensue. Knowing that we may not, in fact, be alone just because the other is not visible brings happiness and sometimes anxiety. Is my baby asleep or is something wrong? Is Mama or Daddy in the other room? If I cry, will they hear me and come play with me again?

Four Hands Joined Together

Research conducted in the United Kingdom by Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggests that this kind of ‘magical thinking’ is developed beginning at birth and may be related to the tendency of humans to develop religious or spiritual beliefs. This powerful psychological force may have been useful in human evolution as people learned to work together at hunting and gathering, thus helping their community to survive.

Other research has confirmed that feelings of spirituality are experienced in conjunction with certain electrical patterns in the brain. (The article from conversationtheology.blogspot.com, below is especially interesting on this. Check the CNN article, too.) One wonders, after reading some of the arguments, whether it comes down to “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Does the brain create religion or does religion make use of the brain’s inclination toward belief in things that are not visible but that provide pleasant feelings?

Does it matter?

I believe in many spiritual ideas. It’s all that multicultural background in my family, combined with experiencing life in all its muddled complexity.

Nothing discourages me so much as listening to those who profess that they have no spiritual beliefs. Most do, but they do not recognize them as such. The most ardent atheists are often quite vocal about their belief system: that no deity exists. There are other groups who do not follow a deity or many deities. Buddhism, for instance, doesn’t follow a deity, though some Buddhists do choose to do so. Spiritual beliefs take many forms, including conceiving of the natural world as a focus for worship and ancestor worship. Many people have deeply-held views of right and wrong behavior. These ethical systems guide them in life and I suspect they are very similar to the systems that many people find in their religions.

How one perceives religion, spirituality, personal philosophy…these are highly personal things. I believe we all have some form of spiritual foundation in our thoughts. I also believe that, if we had another word for ‘religion’ or ‘spirituality,’ more people could discuss them without rancor. That might make it possible for humanity to once again move forward towards showing compassion and charity towards one another.

+++++++++++++++
Resources for further research:

http://buddhismbeliefs.org/

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/04/04/neurotheology/

http://conversationtheology.blogspot.com/2010/03/belief-in-god-trick-of-our-brain.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1211511/Why-born-believe-God-Its-wired-brain-says-psychologist.html

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/06/05/science-explains-why-our-brains-may-be-hardwired-for-god/

http://www.religioustolerance.org/druid2.htm#

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers

%d bloggers like this: