How to Attract Conflict or Not

Jonathan wanted to be nicer. He wanted to stop reacting to everyone with a ‘ready to fight’ attitude. But people were so unconscious, or so he thought. When he would go walking they never seemed to pay attention to where they were spatially, and would not get out of the way. Find a path, go right, left or into the water but get out of the way!

Jonathan loved to walk along the beach with his feet touching the water, and was quite conscious of his urge to ‘stand his ground’ whenever unsuspecting walkers strayed toward his very own path. He tensed his body and waited to glance off the oncoming walker, and then immediately cursed himself and moved over. Why am I still doing this? My childhood trauma’s? No matter the reason. Jonathan truly wanted to love and accept others completely, and that meant yielding. Always. Oh well, I am a work in progress.

The two girls were in their twenties and quite flirtatious while they laid out there towels in preparation for sunning. Jonathan sat nearby in his chair under a large straw hat and watched them out of the corner of his eye. He noticed the girl in dark hair could ‘feel him’ looking at her. Why could some people feel others like that? But he knew that same feeling himself and stopped paying attention to the girls.

Later, Jonathan decided to play Woodoku on his iPhone, which he had to hold up and out of the glare of the sunlight to see. The two girls ran into the surf and were enjoying themselves. Jonathan noticed this but did not pay too much attention until the girls came out of the water and he noticed that same dark haired girl looking toward him. She had her attention on him for some reason. He let it go and went back to playing his game. No more than five minutes later the dark haired girl walked toward him and asked something that Jonathan did not hear.

“What?” Jonathan asked.

“Are you filming us?” the dark haired girl asked. Jonathan was taken aback.

“I have no interest in you.” Jonathan said defiantly.

“Because it looks like you are filming us, the way you are holding your phone.” the dark haired girl said.

“I have no interest in you.” Jonathan repeated, defiantly. And the dark haired girl walked away.

Immediately Jonathan felt bad. The same attitude he had when walking, I will intimidate them with my size and shoulder them out of the way. But that at least only happened inside his mind, or so he thought. Surely the other people on my walks have no idea I am thinking this way? Jonathan wondered. And then he thought about how he completely understood the black haired girl could ‘sense’ his attention, just as he knew he could sense hers. Maybe all people could sense the attention or intention of others nearby. Maybe some more consciously than others, but always to some degree. Jonathan realized this was true for him and if he was brave enough to let go of his arrogance and superiority, likely true for others too.

Jonathan thought about getting up and going over to those girls. What would he say? At first, he wanted to say, ‘I am so sorry I made you uncomfortable, I was holding up my phone to play a game. Do you want to see?’ Or something like that. And he thought about a few variations that were similar, but within minutes his mind wandered off to saying things like, ‘I realize you are very taken with yourself, but I assure you I was not interested in you nor was I filming you.’ Or maybe, ‘I guess you feel very well known because you have ten thousand followers on your social media page, but I have no idea who you are, nor do I care.’ Or how about…, and then he stopped and got himself under control.

That whole day was ruined with constant thought about the incident. Jonathan could not stop thinking about it, and most of his thoughts were about verbal vengeance of some sort. He tried so hard to find empathy, compassion, understanding, anything. But he could not. Why is it so important for me to defend my ego so diligently? Maybe my childhood trauma, maybe something else? All throughout that day and into the next, Jonathan hoped he would see those girls again, even though he was still not sure what he would do, but it would definitely be vengeful.

Jonathan never did see those girls again but he did have another interaction the next evening with some friends that gave him clarity, the details of which are unimportant for now. Jonathan realized that he was somehow energetically attracted to people that bothered him. People that forced Jonathan to see things about himself that he did not want to see. And that those interactions always reached a place right before coming to any action, and thereby stayed harmless. Like a learning experience, or a lesson. Could it be possible? Could I be projecting a desire for these interactions? And could some greater force be actively making certain I never get to the point of taking any action so that these experiences are exactly the lessons I am asking for so that I can become the person I want to be?

One never knows. Jonathan relaxed that night while thinking about how he would handle his feelings and thoughts about the odd evening with his friends.

Are We in Danger of Losing Important Values

Memorial Day will be here soon. But, how many of us know the purpose of the holiday? Or take time to do what the holiday was created for us to do? Why does this matter, and does it matter?

This post asks you to give some of your time this Memorial Day to consider two things – gratitude for those that fought to bring about the freedoms we enjoy today, and when should war and the killing of other human beings be allowed.

The Kohima epitaph is carved on the memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery of Kohima in North-East India and reads:

‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’

John Maxwell Edmonds

If you will take a few moments to understand the feeling of that sentence, it will move you. Personally, I cannot imagine giving my life for anyone beyond my family, let alone watching one of my children die in a war. It is actually difficult to comprehend that other people have.

Freedom is a big deal, and I am truly grateful to the brave people that fought to give me this important right. There is great value in remembering these brave people. It is also important to recognize and respect the difficult moral choices humans have had to make. Important to appreciate and give thanks to the values that got created from those choices, and the sacrifices so many took to protect them. One day of appreciation and gratitude is not much to ask each year.

Perhaps on that day we can also do our own small part and work on our civic and human duties. We have become quite complacent in this regard. What I mean by this is that we should participate actively in upholding the important rights we have acquired thus far, and work toward greater human evolution by ‘weighing in’ on important decisions about morality and human rights. To do that we must form opinions about what values are important and how we as a species should make the difficult choices that must get made by humans. You need to participate in this task by going deeply within and finding your own values and beliefs. What will you stand up for? Do not take the easy way out and simply agree with the status quo or consensus, work harder and find what you truly believe.

It is easy to say there is never a time for war or killing another human. That is what we all must hope. But is that choice realistic? Are we, as a species, evolved to that level yet? No we are not. This is sad but must not stop you from looking honestly at what your own actions might be if people came into your home and took your children or murdered your family? Because if there is ever a time for killing another human, or for war, we must carefully consider our feelings about that topic. And then speak honestly about the opinion we have formed. That is our human duty. And that should make us want for the evolution that must happen so that no human would kill another human.

Like our own death, these are things we prefer not to dwell upon. Perhaps we feel that we have already considered these things and formed an opinion. Perhaps we just do not think our opinion would have value. But spending time once a year to reflect on our opinions surrounding human evolution and morality is our duty, each and every one of us. It is too easy and too dangerous to just go with public opinion, which is often formed by small groups. We must regularly go deeply within and find our own beliefs, our own morality, our own hopes and dreams for the human species.

The world we live in today is miraculously tilted toward goodness, despite the violence that still persists. Looking through a thousand year lens quickly shows us that we are making progress, we are learning to get along better, and the path of growth so far is moving toward less violence. We are evolving toward a humanity where all people have quality food, water, shelter, medical care, education, and freedom, something we are quite capable of achieving today. And why haven’t we? It is insane in my mind that every human does not already have these basic rights. What about you?

Everything is OK-There Is Nothing You Need To Do

Are you like me and constantly feel like there is something you have to do? It is a bit hard to relax when you feel like you should be doing something else. For me, a bit of this comes from the way I was raised, but a good portion comes from the genetics I inherited at birth.

One day, I realized that everything was OK, there was nothing I had to do. Of course, there were things like brushing my teeth and eating and my to do list, but I kept worrying there was something else to do. Something that must get done that I could not quite put my finger on. This feeling switched on my survival instincts and kept me from feeling safe and would not allow my nervous system to rest.

Some of you may not relate because you do not have the mental habit of constant worry like I do, but if you are like me, then you get it. Even if you are not like me you may have some other form of mental or emotional challenge. I wish I did not have this challenge and have addressed it in many ways, including reading books (one favorite is the classic Dale Carnegie book ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’). But this is part of who I am and I still have to deal with it.

On this particular day I was staying on the beach in Florida where I had come to relax and do some writing. While thinking through the things I wanted to do that day, I realized only a few items on my list truly needed doing and otherwise there was nothing that needed to be done. Because it was a revelation, it came with enough force to get believed within my mind and included the awareness that the “feeling” of having something else to do is false. In that moment, I truly knew that everything was ok, and there was nothing I needed to do. This brought me great peace and allowed me to enjoy the beach and stop worrying.

As I continued to reflect on this revelation throughout the day I could see how doing nothing, or at least much less than I thought I had to do, had proved true in my past. Other people had done things I thought I needed to do and had done a better job, or by not doing something I had more time for new information to come to light and allow me to make better decisions. These better outcomes happened because I acted with the flow of things and did not overthink or overwork what needed to get done. I trusted myself, others, and the world at large. When I trust that everything is OK instead of feeling tense, I relax and become happier and more creative. This causes better outcomes and a better quality of life.

To accept our shortcomings and be ok that they may last throughout our lifetime is much healthier than getting discouraged or feeling bad about ourselves. Remember, if you or I had a physical limitation like being born with one leg we would be compensating for that the rest of our lives. I hope you do not feel bad about your challenges and accept that they may take a lifetime of effort, and that we may have to learn (do) the same things over and over again. It is alright. The point I am making is to think of our challenges as just that, and to accept them even if they continue throughout our life. The analogy of being born without a leg helps to see that we may have a challenge that does not change or go away, but we can manage our challenges effectively. It is all about our attitude.

As I wrote this post my wife and daughter were leaving Florida to go back to Colorado. I get separation anxiety and start to worry whenever I separate from members of my family. And I get way too emotional, I actually felt like I needed to cry. I worried that if I had been more disciplined, or somehow ‘better’ during my life, might I have dealt more effectively with my challenges?

Then I thought about how much I love my wife and family, how lucky and grateful I am for my life and how it has turned out. Attitude, check.

Then I realized the most important thing for me during my life, other than my family, was to discover more about being human. That requires a lot of reflection and acceptance. I managed my challenge, and I stopped worrying.

The Importance of Compassion

The COVID pandemic created a lot of feelings for most of us. During the past years there have been many important issues that were too quickly “resolved” by public opinion or political decision. And then the war in Ukraine.

This is not the first time society has had to deal with distress and disaster. Humans have survived famine, drought, war, and other hardships since the beginning of time. These are the things that cause reflection, thought, and evolution. It is not pleasant but maybe if we can see purpose that will help.

Over the past years I have had many opinions about the events of our time, but have held off writing them publicly because that is not the purpose of this blog. Forming opinions and hopping onto one or the other side of complex matters would cause division and assign right or wrong to any particular issue or point of view. This blog is meant to explore ways of honoring all beliefs and points of view.

Society must make difficult choices and decisions, this cannot be escaped. These choices and decisions should get made compassionately and carefully, and without creating more division than necessary, or by presuming there is an absolute right or wrong perspective. Managing societies is very complex and requires amazing leaders and leadership, perhaps we can do better in this regard.

So, how do I communicate something helpful about all this? I have to start by learning enough about what I truly feel, not from my fear of catching COVID or my beliefs that no war is good war, or my viewpoint on vaccines after educating myself, but from my heart, from my desire to love all people and to live and let live. This means I have to see life through the eyes of as many others as I reasonably can, and then step carefully into a position that honors those perspectives equally to my own.

The past few years have been extremely hard because important information seemed to be filled with distrust, tribalism, and black and white positions that divided people and caused more hatred and separation. This disappointed me more than I could have imagined. My life’s passion has been exactly about this point, on all things but particularly when it comes to God and “Truth”. Why should God be dismissed simply because people have been told who and what God is? Why should there have to be any one or two or any other number of definitions for God. Why should humans be led to believe there are truths or answers on any number of complex matters?

Perhaps my perspective is the same as yours, or not, but I hope to express myself in a loving, compassionate way that includes you and your perspective. I want to rest firmly in a place of consciousness and thought that includes every other human beings perspective, and refrain from making any of them (or anything) wrong or right.

This does not mean society should not choose a path or way to move forward. This only means choosing the way forward should not pit us against one another, and instead seek to find the path best suited to the largest number of people. And remind all of us to be compassionate and loving above all else.

Let Freedom Ring – The Threat of Losing Free Speech

It became clear to me while listening to a podcast that the deeper issue today is about freedom, and not the COVID pandemic. The podcast discussion centered on compelling people to take a vaccine, whether that be for COVID or to fulfill childhood schedules. The host offered the suggestion that it was reasonable for some people to decline the COVID vaccine due to personal medical freedom and the guest, a pediatric medical doctor, strongly disagreed and insisted that freedom did not extend to medical choices about vaccines. Because the focus of the discussion was around young children and the COVID vaccines, and because I have a six-year old daughter, this shocked me. Not because I am anti-vaccines, but because the COVID vaccines have known side effects and the danger of extreme COVID in children is rare. Both my wife and I are completely against our six-year old daughter being forced to get the COVID vaccine. I personally feel many vaccines are safe, effective, and a blessing to us all. But the COVID vaccine is still in the experimental stages and both efficacy and safety remain a moving target.

Freedom is important to me and should be to you as well. There was a time, not too long ago, when brave people truly put their lives where their hearts and mouths were, many died. I am not that brave, would not risk my life, nor do I want to do the hard work our forefathers did to gain the freedoms we have today. Democracy is the child of freedom and important in its own right.

The most fundamental tool for maintaining democracy is free speech, and we should be most careful about what we allow to be censored. With most things, it is easy to become lackadaisical and take for granted that which has been around a while, but this is not something we should risk by these attitudes. We must protect democracy and its tools at all costs or we could very well face a return to servitude and the need for brave people to risk their lives again. During previous social unrest in the United States, freedom of speech was never censored, not much, and the press was wholly independent. Neither of these two things are true during our COVID pandemic.

For example, at no time during the last century, perhaps the entire history of the United States, have the words of an elected president been censored. Until President Trump was censored and had his accounts terminated by large tech companies. Many people hate Trump enough to find this justifiable but that is what allows this tragedy of censorship to happen. There have also been prominent scientists, doctors, and commentators that got censored. We cannot allow this to happen, not for a pandemic that causes fear, not about the differences of opinion on fighting a war in Viet Nam or the middle east, and not about anything else, lest we lose this critical freedom of free speech. The mainstream media has not remained independent, and has erroneously reported facts that later turned out to be untrue. This is a clear red flag and bad things happen when the media becomes politicized and opines more than being engaged in independent, investigative journalism.

We assume freedom is all encompassing, black and white, all or nothing. That is not true, we do put limits on freedom. Nearly all people agree that freedom should not extend to people who murder or torture or commit genocide, and are willing to outlaw it. In other words, we take away the freedom to commit such obviously heinous acts and because we want these types of behavior to be outlawed, freedom must be gray as opposed to black and white. Most importantly, we have given ourselves the right to determine where lines get drawn within the gray. This is a process that occurs over generations and requires education, correct information, debate and thought. Without these things the general populace can be swayed with incorrect or inaccurate information and lines may get drawn in the wrong place.

The 2020 COVID pandemic is forcing average citizens to consider deep issues and draw conclusions too quickly. Our leadership has not been strong enough to slow down the decision-making process and allow educated and thoughtful legislation based upon facts that may not become apparent for years. The world governments are suddenly, and in concert, acting like medieval rulers or dictators, with absolute power over societies. This should be concerning to each individual because it will be the masses that either allow this to go on or take measures to stop it.

The questions of whether or not the vaccine protects an individual from contracting the virus or completely stops the spread of the virus are already answered by the press and the politicians, despite not having accurate information and the virus being a moving target.  On the other hand, other important questions get very little public consideration and are swept under the carpet, such as whether or not the vaccines harm people and if there are better options available. These questions are critical to determining whether or not we should move personal health freedoms into the gray zone.

Despite widespread belief and statements by the mass media and politicians that these questions are answered, they are not and cannot be answered because we do not have enough information. We are learning as we go and it is becoming more clear as each day goes by that much of what we thought was going to unfold either has not or is markedly different than expected. For example, we now know that the vaccine offers some protection but far less than we hoped. Fully vaccinated people still get infected with COVID, moreover the vaccines do not prevent the spread of the virus. It will take many months or years to understand exactly what level of protection was achieved by the vaccinations. We also know the vaccines do harm some people, there is a medical risk to taking the COVID vaccines and it will take years to know how many people were harmed and to what degree. The question of better options is widely disputed but still unclear. Many treatments have evolved and much has been discovered over the past two years. Anecdotally it looks promising that multiple other options are available and effective. Some are controversial and some are not but the broadest example is that ventilators should not have been the primary treatment for severe COVID and that other means are far more effective.

We have allowed fear to guide our decisions. We have dismissed considered thought and careful decision making. We have allowed this same fear to turn our heads away from the censorship and bias that is occurring right now and eroding the freedoms we have fought thousands of years to achieve. Bravery and courageous actions happen differently today than they did thousands of years, or even one hundred years ago. We do not need to put our physical bodies in harm’s way, but we do need the courage to think carefully and act and vote accordingly. Our system is not perfect but it works. We do have the power to determine the outcome of this important turning point in our history, which while the virus caused its necessity is not the main issue at hand. The main issue at hand is freedom, including the right to public debate. It is important to think very carefully before allowing authorities to resort to censorship. And such drastic measures require transparency and careful review of facts that will take time to become clear.