Ideas, Inspiration

Never Apologize for What You Feel

How much briefer the conversations in life would be if people stopped apologizing for how they feel!  The thing is, there is absolutely zero reason for anyone to ever apologize for their feelings because feelings aren’t the result of rational thought: the just are.Never apologize for what you feel

Ok… so I know that there are  people who are insecure and who think that no one in the world is less than them, so they have to apologize for everything.  And while I would like to scream until they stopped doing that I know my temper tantrums aren’t going to fix what has become a way of thinking.

Still, there are others out there who apologize to:

  • take up time while they are thinking of something meaningful to say.
  • as a way of ingratiating themselves to others
  • because they confuse feeling with action.
  • and probably a thousand other reasons.

The thing is, things don’t apologize for being what they are.  And that’s the key here. Feelings are part of who you are.  As a guy who has been known to cry in public I had to get used to the idea that crying has nothing to do with being macho, or masculine, or right or wrong, or anything in particular.  The embarrassment about crying, or the need to apologize for something, anything, else arose from within me.  No one ever told me to apologize for feelings. I can’t even say my parents ‘modeled’ it to me; though to be honest that was long enough ago that it’s getting harder to remember just what things they might have modeled for me and which ones they instructed me about.  (Getting older sucks 🤨)  My point simply being that we all put unnecessary burdens on ourselves that no one else expects us to carry — but we do it anyway.

Learning to stop apologizing for being who we are is like learning a new habit.  They say it takes 21 days to learn a new habit.  Whether it takes 21 days, or 18 days, or 45 days, the key point is that our brains don’t commit to habits easily;  it takes some repetition, it takes some forcing our body to repeat the same action over and over again.  The first few times your brain tells you to apologize you have to consciously stop what you’re doing and say to yourself, “NO.”  Give yourself a reason (like “I don’t have to apologize for being who I am.”) or just take yourself by the proverbial hand and cross the line between apology and owning who you are and be done with it.  The second or third times may be easier — or they may not — I bet a part of how easily we form habits has to do with a.) how stubborn we are or b.) how much we really want to change.  But, if we persist we can change our behavior; first by force of will, and finally by accepting that this is who we are and the act of apologizing is unnecessary.

Just because I’m a contrary sort of guy, or an independent cuss doesn’t mean I haven’t had the urge to apologize for things that don’t need apologizing for.  It might mean that I’m a little more cantankerous about doing it.  I’m not always sure my apologies have sounded like what they were supposed to be, but that’s just me.  In any event I hope you have good fortune changing at least one of your habits. 🙂





Rubber Ducking


The problem of changing social values

Does the value of an artist’s work change with the values of society?  By that I mean, is a piece of brilliant writing/composing become less brilliant if the artist is obnoxious, or lawless, or perhaps a pedophile?

What about we change the nature of the human — instead of asking about artists, what about politicians, or doctors, or garbage collectors?  How far do we go in re-evaluating a person’s role in society based upon values that are popular today but were not  popular 5, 10, 20, 50 years previously?

The idea of revisionist history has come up before but in the past few weeks I’ve seen the idea of revisionist judgment applied to Michael Jackson and Joseph Biden — among others — and I wonder where we think we can go with the idea of judging folks’ actions in the past by the standards that have become popular in contemporary society.

Frankly, I doubt that the world will suddenly stop playing all Michael Jackson music because stories about his proclivities are freely floating around the cosmos.  I suspect that generations to come will continue to “oohhh” and “aaahhhh” over the myriad tunes that teens have loved for 20 or more years.  But I also suspect that Joe Biden will find a much more difficult time dealing with the question of whether or not he treated Anita Hill fairly during the Clarence Thomas hearings.

We are schizophrenic in our application of moral judgment in this society.  It’s funny that we do so, because in many ways as a society we have abandoned values and judgment.  Instead of agreeing that there are standards or values that we all should apply, situation ethics has become the standard.  No longer is any lifestyle right or wrong — not heterosexuality, nor homosexuality, or even pansexuality.  But, if a rich, old, white guy offended someone 20 years ago by being just like everyone else was 20 years ago it’s ok to cite that as a disqualification for political office.  It’s kind of mind boggling to think of the applications that such behavioral standards could have in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for Michael Jackson, nor for Joe Biden, nor for any of the other artists, scientist, explorers, and saints of the past who — revisionist historians have, or are about to, criticize for their life choices.  Personally, I happen to think it takes a bit of genius to create.  And if that genius comes at the cost of otherwise normal behavior, well I suspect that may be the price the world pays for genius. Someone who is abnormal in their ability to create may just be abnormal in other aspects of their life.

Whether “abnormal” is something to be judged is the question.  It seems to me that “normalcy” is, for each of us, the sort of things we grew up with — what was around us all the time, what was accepted and not sanctioned, that was what we understood as the way to “be.”  If our parents argued, we think that’s normal.  If our siblings bullied us, we think that is normal. If we had a difficult time coming to terms with our sexuality then it’s not surprising if we project that difficulty onto others as well.  Normal is a very slippery thing.

And “right” and “wrong” are equally squishy and difficult to nail down.  I grew up in a time when women didn’t belong in certain business positions; that wasn’t “right” and not only was that the way everyone behaved, those who challenged that behavior were punished in a variety of ways.  Coercion isn’t a good way to effect standards in a society but it’s been the de facto way for millennia. Coercion results in vast swings — rather like hemlines in fashion.  I don’t think that the use of coercion it’s going to change however.   In fact, judging people for their historic actions has been a pretty successful way of effecting radical social change.  And so we have gone from one extreme to another.  And will continue to do so.

The real reason for this post is that disqualifying people for their past actions is the very reason we have a Trump in the White House.  If you keep your history hidden there isn’t much to judge.  But if you are out there in the public eye working for change it’s easy to find things to criticize. The Dark Horse has an advantage over the Public Servant.  The unknown has an advantage over the known.  Change has an advantage over Skill/Experience/Character.

I don’t know where we are going in this country.  The fact is there is no “plan”, there is no direction.  We are a fractured society that for 30 year at least has been vacillating between opposing ideals and we can’t unite for long enough to pick a national course and stay on it.  Our elected rulers have kicked the can of government down the road to the next generation and in that action they have compounded the problems we faced in the same way that unpaid interest deepens our national burden — and our unpaid debt is both real and figurative.  We not only owe other nations, we also suffer from broken health care, a broken environment, broken infrastructure, and broken government.

Humans talk a lot about god/s but the fact of history is that human prefer taking control of their lives over letting some diety have a go at it.  In our arrogance we swing from one form of government to another, we swing from one cultural or ethical extreme to another,  we wage war against those who disagree with us, and we annihilate those weaker than ourselves.  We are the most violent species on the planet and all other species ought to be afraid of us because we alone have the power to screw up the eco-system of this blue ball as does no other species. Earth From Space

I don’t know where we think we can go with revisionism, but the reality is that no one is making that choice — we are all making it, by our daily actions and our daily obsessions — there is no one in charge, and sometimes it scares the bejeezus out of me.


Things Change

The feature image is from a 1932 DeMille movie called The Sign of the Cross.  For those of you familiar with Hollywood history that was in the days called “Pre-Code” Hollywood — before public censors began restricting cinema content.  I chose it because it’s a reminder to me of a gradual march away from some things and towards others.

“The Ascent of Man”

I suspect we’ve all seen these images of “The Ascent of Man”. Whether humankind is actually progressing in such an arc remains to be seen — now that we have the potential to extinct ourselves from the planet the degree to which we are “progressing” may be at dispute, but for the sake of discussion let’s look at man’s time on this planet as being something of a rising scale.

Our earliest ancestors (as a species, not as individuals) had little concept of social justice.  They were far more challenged by simply staying alive in a very inhospitable world.  Actually, it would appear that our earliest ancestors had very little concept of a LOT of things!

I have long reflected on the Old Testament name of God, and regardless of whether you’re a Christian believer or not I think there’s still something that bears considering.  The English translation for that name given to Moses is variously read as “I will be come what I will become.”  That seems a strange name for God but for those who see God as a continuing revelation the name is perfectly fitting:  whatever you need me to be, is what I will be to you.

Sign of the Cross - 1932 - Cecile B DeMille


What does all this have to do with Pre-Code Hollywood or change?

The common theme, I suggest, is also the common theme in human history:  an arc of shared knowledge extending from mass ignorance to refined speech, advanced technology, and defined social interaction. We have gotten “smarter” as a species even though the average child can identify over 1000 corporate logos but probably can’t name 6 species of animals living in their area. Shared knowledge doesn’t always look like evidence of our advancement. 🙂

2017 has been a great year for discussions about ethics and lies and abuse of power;  publicly we have struggled with sexual harassment and the continuing sad story of whites fighting to repress blacks in various and sundry ways.  There are times when, perhaps, one wonders if we are making progress at all. After all, the young have their heads buried in smartphone screens, other nations are making a much better go of both democracy and freedom than we here in the U.S., and our own politicians are behaving as if they’ll never again have to stand in a free and fair election.

I guess I look at these things and I see a crossroad.  As a nation (forget for a moment all thoughts about us as a species) we have allowed the country to get to the point that it’s at right now.  We have done so by failing to take an interest in elections — our track record for turning out voters is terrible compared to other democratic countries.  We have also put $$$$ above most everything else in this country.  The idea that one person can amass wealth seems to have inspired a great many to amass more than they can ever use, and to hoard it — not putting it to work for the benefit of anyone but themselves.  We have a choice to wake up to the threats we face and act upon them, or to continue along our happy way and face whatever consequences may come.

The thing is, no one is going to come along and shout from the housetops “WAKE UP, HUMANS!” And at the same time many are worried about the direction of mankind just as many or more don’t really seem to care.  The multitudes who dont vote clearly don’t care about what’s happening.  They are too busy doing something else.  A few folk are talking about high ideals and principles, but the mass of humanity is more worried about who will win the Super Bowl, how much an athlete gets paid, and whether some celebrity is pregnant or dating.  Popular culture is all most people need, it seems.

If you go to the mall, you’ll see store after store telling you that you are in need of articles that aren’t going to help you live a better life at all.  The media will tell you all the horrible stories that get you to watch/listen, and when they have your attention they’ll bombard you with ideas that you aren’t pretty enough, or rich enough, or something-else-enough.  Popular culture makes consumers; the economic machine needs consumers to buy all those things that robotic manufacturing can produce to put more money in the bank account of a very few, while millions wander the streets in drug induced stupor.  It’s not a happy picture.  Not happy at all. the descent of man

The thing is, the only person who can change anything is you. If life isn’t fair, don’t complain about it; do something.  If you don’t have the life you want, do something — change it.  If you don’t have the tools, go out and get them; sacrifice and scrimp and concentrate until you’re equipped for the job, or the battle you see.  Some things no one else can do if you don’t.  Some battles will never be waged if you don’t sound the call to arms.

As a race we have increased our shared knowledge because we were challenged — hunger and death were powerful challenges in the past — today our challenges may be more along the lines of justice and equality, but they are challenges just the same.  It’s sad that the creative minds of today, when tasked with looking into the future, all seem to see some sort of post-apocalyptic world.  Gone it seems are the dreams of a desirable Utopia; they have been replaced by a negative, fatalistic, gloom.  We are worried about so many things that we seem incapable of acting in favor of anything.

I am not, by nature, a negative person.  But I’m also not blind.  I can, and do, act and speak about things that concern me.  But I also accept that any battle for fairness, for culture, for equity, for humanity is way bigger than me.  I can do my part, but others have a part to play too. Whether you are still in school, recently graduated, in the workforce, or retired, the world doesn’t need passive observers: do something.


Ideas, Relationships

Freedom to Annoy

How often it happens that social attitudes swing like a pendulum from one extreme to another.  The child who was spanked, chooses not to spank their offspring — making a statement against their parents.  An industry that produces miniskirts one year puts out maxi-dresses the next.  Mens suits favor wide lapels one year and narrow lapels the next. The child who lived in a home with scant resources is want to live as extravagant a life as possible. Trends do keep us on our toes.

From time to time I have chosen to write about male/female relations.  I seems bizarre to me that men treat 1/2 of the human population as if they were some kind of undesirable minority to be victimized and taken advantage of.  For those of you who don’t know, I spend the better part of 5 years in my photo studio shooting discreet nudes. Surely, if there is a circumstance where the possibility of treating another human insensitively exists, it’s going to be while one party is fully clothed and the other party isn’t wearing a stitch. To say that I was extremely careful about how I dealt with my models — male and female — would be an understatement.

Consequently, the question: “how do you treat other people sensitively” has great meaning to me. I took extraordinary steps to make sure that the women & men I was working with felt comfortable in what could be a very uncomfortable situation. I think I succeeded because I’m still friends with most of my former models. But I have to say that after having been in that situation I am befuddled by some of the things I see and hear in public discourse.

At the end of this blog I am reposting a letter was published January 9, 2018 in Le Monde.  I apologize for the translation, it’s by Google and there are some choppy bits — but I wanted to use it to illustrate a point.  I should mention as well,that Catherine Deneuve — who was a signatory to the original letter has since apologized to women who have suffered the humiliation and violation of rape.  In her apology she was quick to note that her apology was to women who had been through these things — and not to anyone else. I think that is a point well made.

Subsequent to Deneuve’s apology none other than Brigitte Bardot has called out the #METOO movement:

“Veteran French actress Brigitte Bardot has dismissed actresses who have commented on sexual harassment via the #MeToo movement as “hypocritical”. The star was asked in an interview with French magazine Paris Match what she thought of actresses denouncing harassment in the film industry. “In the vast majority of cases they are being hypocritical, ridiculous, uninteresting,” the 83-year-old said. “There are many actresses who flirt with producers in order to get a role.” She added: “Then, in order to be talked about, they will say they have been harassed. In reality, rather than benefiting them, it harms them.” “

— BBC News January 18, 2018

The fact that there is disagreement among women — particularly women who are in an industry that is particularly prone to harassment makes the point I want to think about this morning.

I suppose it was predictable the letter would produce a violent reaction — both supporters of #metoo and opponents of #metoo — because the “thing” about trending movements is that too often people don’t listen to what is being said, or even have an idea of what the movement is really all about.

Instead they react from their gut to snippets out of context.  Or to their imagination of what they think the another party is saying — never having actually listened to an opposing point of view and given it some thought. On a fundamental level huge public statements aren’t what it takes to make lasting change. They are soundbites.  And too many people make their public statements to gain a little notoriety for themselves that has nothing to do with the topic on which they are commenting — no more than flirting to get a role is seen as anything wrong when that is just sort of the inverse of sexual harassment.

But what bothers me is that the real problem is ignored because of all the public posturing.  Sexual harassment in the workplace is but the tip of the mistreatment-of-women iceberg.

There are a lot of marriages (and affairs) that begin in the workplace. I’m not sure there will ever be a way of stopping flirting in the workplace.  Drawing a proscribed line around clumsy flirtation in the name of stopping sexual harassment is doomed to failure. The instinct to procreate isn’t going to be stifled that easily. We tried (in this country) to ban alcohol and we all know how that turned out.  Banning behavior aimed at the propagation of the species isn’t going to be any more successful.  Men and women can be very clumsy about flirtation;  I know I was for most of my life — probably still am.

But it’s abuse we are talking about, right? Stepping over the line. It ought to be obvious that you don’t go around putting your hands on people — I would never touch a model in the studio — and yet in a social setting, among people I’ve known for years a hug,  or a pat on the shoulder/hand are so much a part of the culture I have been part of that I wonder what I would do if I was 20 instead of 68.  Of course you can ask.  Or you can watch the other person’s eyes and demeanor for clues as to whether your friendliness is welcome or not. I’ve been in enough situations to know that women can telegraph the fact that you’re overstepping their comfort zone without saying a word.

Personally, I have no idea why a woman would choose to wear something to work that exposes most of her cleavage, or a dress with a hem that’s nearly up to her hoo-ha.  I’m a guy, I was accustomed to going to work in long trousers, a long sleeve shirt, a tie, dress shoes, socks and a suit coat or sport coat.  To me that was “business dress.”  For my gender.  I never paid a lot of attention to other men — they too were covered to the hilt, as it were, with clothing.  Women, not so much.

Most of my working life I was not in an office setting.  For a few years I did spend my working hours in an office, and I can guarantee that all the men, myself included, spent more time looking at women than men. Typically they offered more interesting viewing:  to be blunt — they showed off more.  And no one on this earth can tell me that women are not aware of the fact that regardless of what they say about who they dress for men, they are aware of the reaction they produce. Much of the time they are glad to reap the results:  after all, it’s always ladies night at the bar, not gentleman’ night, now isn’t it?  Often, women aren’t afraid to use their looks to their advantage.  So innocent protests about whether it should matter what someone is wearing are blatantly dishonest.  If you know people are going to treat you differently because of how you dress, then dressing that way isn’t as irrelevant as you’d like to make it sound.  You can’t both garner the benefits and complain about the consequences at the same time.

My point is simply this.  You can go ahead and do whatever you want whenever you want.  That’s your free choice.  And people — men and women — are supposed to behave in a respectful manner and not to abuse you — male or female, young or old, rich or poor.  But I’ll bet that many women will be careful to park in a well lit part of the parking structure; and that there are parts of town they may not frequent; they will avoid certain employees in the company who freak them out…. and yet they truly believe that it’s a good idea to wear things that they can predict will draw attention to themselves.  If in fact drawing attention to themselves is not the reason.  It seems to me that’s not a very smart move because not everyone is always going to do what they are supposed to.  Doesn’t it make a little bit of sense to be prudent in one’s decisions?

The Le Monde letter makes the point that you can’t outlaw the right to annoy someone.  Human behavior is not always logical/rational/well thought out.  We all do things that we ought not, from time to time.  From speeding in an automobile to skipping ahead in a queue, failing to own up to the incorrect change a cashier gave you, or shoplifting something for kicks — humans just do stupid stuff from time to time. Guys are going to annoy women; just as women are going to annoy guys — often for very different reasons but the fact is the net result is the same.  Yeah — it’s wrong.  But does anyone really think that they are going to push public behavior to the point that an occasional annoyance doesn’t occur?  Or to think that every annoyance deserves legal punishment?

I should not have to say this, but you realize I am not talking about illegal activity. I’m not encouraging sexual harassment — that is wrong, all the time, every time.  But I do think there’s a difference between harassment and stupid behavior.  As a guy who grew up as the odd duck in his social group I’m here to say that embarrassing oneself in public isn’t all that hard to do.  I have long said I am Socially Obtuse.  I don’t alway see the social cues others seem to be aware of.  So I can understand how people make mistakes that they certainly don’t intend the way they are taken; in many areas of life — not just how you treat men or women.

One point I thought the letter made was that everything that happens does not make a person a victim.  Most of the time we have no problem recognizing the difference between playful interchange and sexual harassment.  Sometimes it doesn’t even reach the level of flirting — sometimes people are just being clever or witty — not everything is the world relates to your genitals.

I wish there were more public discussion about what people want in the workplace. Censored stories about events from years ago aren’t particularly helpful.  Yes, equal pay in the workplace is a real goal.  Fair treatment is a fair goal.  But I’m not sure that the person who calls everyone of the opposite sex sweetie is “harassing” anyone — they are being inappropriate.  And as someone who has been socially obtuse all my lifetime I understand that inappropriate happens.  Some inappropriate behavior you’re going to effectively change; but I doubt very much you’ll ever wipe it out — no more than you’ll wipe out idioms from the English Language or dialects.  A part of our behavior IS idiom. We all say and do things that don’t mean the dictionary definition of the words we use.

We have been retired for 6 years now.  For 20 years before that I was either self-employed or working outside an office setting with any significant number of women.  At the time Peggy would come home with information from her place of employment about sensitivity training, and equal rights in the workplace and on more than one occasion we talked about the difficulty in knowing what is expected or forbidden.  It seemed as if the metaphorical goalposts kept moving — and that was as an outside observer who was not in the situation.  Would I have understood better if I was in the situation?  I have no idea.  But it’s not a new situation and it’s not going to go away any time soon.

I’m glad people are talking about the proverbial elephants in the room.  It helps to acknowledge them.  How to deal with the elephant once you have acknowledged it’s existence may not be easy, but you’ll never accomplish anything until you say, “Oh Look — there’s an elephant!”

Here is the article/letter:

“We defend the freedom to annoy, essential to sexual freedom”

In an article in “World”, a group of 100 women, Catherine Millet, Ingrid Caven and Catherine Deneuve, affirms its rejection of a feminism that expresses “hatred of men.”

Rape is a crime. But insistent or awkward flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry macho aggression.

Following the Weinstein case a legitimate awareness of sexual violence exerted on women occurred, especially in the workplace, where some men abuse their power. It was necessary. But this speech today release turns into its opposite: we are talking intimate as it should, to silence the angry, and those who refuse to comply with such injunctions are regarded as traitors and accomplices!

Now this is the own of Puritanism than to borrow, on behalf of an alleged general good, the arguments of women’s protection and empowerment for better chain them to an eternal status of victims, poor little things under the influence of demons male chauvinists, like old times of witchcraft.

Accusations and indictments

Indeed, #metoo resulted in the press and on social networks accusations a campaign and put in charge of public individuals that unintentionally leaves them the option or respond or defend themselves, have been exactly on the same plane as sex offenders. This summary justice already has its victims, men punished in the exercise of their profession, forced to resign, etc., while they were only fault that he hit one knee, tried to steal a kiss, spoke of things “intimate” during a business dinner or to have sent messages of a sexual nature to a woman for whom the attraction was not mutual.

This fever to send the “pigs” to slaughter, far from helping women empower themselves, actually serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom, religious extremists, the worst reactionaries and those who believe in the name of a substantial conception of good and Victorian morality that goes with it, that women are beings “apart”, children in adult face, demanding to be protected.

In front, the men were ordered to beat their breasts and find, deep in their retrospective consciousness, “inappropriate behavior” they could have had here are ten, twenty or thirty years, and they should repent. The public confession, the incursion of self-appointed attorneys in the private sphere, that which installs as a climate of totalitarian society.

The wave of purification seems to know no limits. Here we censor a nude by Egon Schiele on a poster; here called the withdrawal of a painting by Balthus museum on the grounds that it would be an apology for pedophilia; in the confusion of the man and the work, asked the prohibition of retrospective Roman Polanski at the Cinematheque and obtain the postponement of that devoted to Jean-Claude Brisseau. A university considers the film Blow Up, Michelangelo Antonioni, “misogynist” and “unacceptable.” In light of this revisionism, John Ford ( The Searchers ) and even Nicolas Poussin ( The Rape of the Sabine women ) do not lead off.

Already, publishers are asking some of us to make our male characters less “sexist”, talking about sex and love with less excess or to ensure that the “trauma of the female characters” are more apparent! At the edge of ridiculous is legislation in Sweden that wants to impose an explicit notification by any party for sexual consent! Another effort and two adults who will want to sleep together should first check via an “app” on their phone a document in which practices they accept and reject those they will be properly listed.

Indispensable freedom to offend

The philosopher Ruwen Ogien defended freedom of offending essential to artistic creation. Similarly, we defend freedom to annoy, essential to sexual freedom. Today we are sufficiently informed to admit that the sexual drive is inherently offensive and wild, but we are also clear-sighted enough not to confuse awkward flirting and sexual assault.

Especially, we are aware that the human person is not monolithic: a woman can, in one day, lead a professional team and enjoy being sexual object of a man without being a “slut” or a vile accomplice of patriarchy. It can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but does not feel traumatized forever by a shoe in the subway. A single incident can be considered either an expression of great sexual misery or as a non-event.

As women, we do not identify with this brand of feminism, beyond denouncing abuse of power, which takes the face of a hatred of men and sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say “ no” to sexual proposal does not go without the freedom to annoy. And we think you need to know to answer this freedom to annoy other than retreating into the role of prey.

For those of us who choose to have children, we feel it is better to raise our girls so that they are sufficiently informed and aware in order to live full lives without being intimidated or guilty.

An accidental touch to a woman’s body does not necessarily offend their dignity and should not, if they are hard sometimes necessarily make her a perpetual victim. For we are not reducible to our body. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom we cherish is not without risks and without responsibilities.



Ideas, Old Diary

Hear Your Enemy/Opponent/Customer

Most of us think “We are the good guys.”  That is simply the way the human mind works.  People don’t set out to be despicable humans; on some level, for some reason, we all think we’re doing the right thing for our circumstances.

Of course the kicker there is for our circumstances.  I say that because in cases like insurgency, or armed rebellion the folks down there fighting with sticks and stones instead of rockets and computers are doing so because they think they have no alternative because of what has been done to them previously.

That is one of the reasons that peace in the Middle East has been such a hard sought goal.  The social makeup of that area views justice as a very different thing from our Western view.  We tend to isolate instances and if someone does something against me on Wednesday I’m in court on Thursday seeking redress for that action.  But the Middle Eastern mind tends to have a longer view of justice.  How can you get justice for what was done on Wednesday if you haven’t first addressed what was done to me on Tuesday and Monday and the Sunday previous.  Justice can be isolated to instances and it becomes cumulative, or it can be viewed in toto and sought as a summation.  When one part of the negotiating team is seeking one form of justice while the other has it’s eyes on something completely different the complexity of negotiation is multiplied exponentially.

The thing is, though, that we can never achieve peace, or to be far more practical, make a profit, if we don’t listen to the people on the other side of the fence.  Business is learning that.  In recent years businesses around the world are learning to respond to the feelings of customers.  Businesses have an immediate need to do so.  No sales, the company goes bankrupt, people lose jobs, banks lose money…. you know the drill.

But governments don’t go “bankrupt” in the same way.  And they can continue in a course of action for years, for decades, for centuries and unless something changes to cause them to see the world differently there will be no change.  The United States, for example, feeling it’s superiority over other nations has been at war for the better part of it’s 200 + year history.  As a nation we don’t know how not to be at war — in part because a huge part of our economy is based in the jobs the Arms Industry provides to the population.

Take a couple minutes to listen to this video.  Regardless of it’s origin I challenge you to find fault with it’s logic.

I say, “regardless of it’s origin” because as you’ll notice it bears the logo for Al Jazeera.  Al Jazeera you may recall is a Middle Eastern news source, originating in Qatar.  Understandably the bias (and EVERY new source has it’s bias) is different from a news outlet originating in the U.S. but different does not automatically mean “wrong.”

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a little, wooden, pocket coin.  IT wasn’t currency, it was a reminder.  engraved on both sides were the admonition,

hear the other side

and I can’t tell you how big an impact it had on me.  Carrying that around with me when I was making the rounds of customers served as an excellent reminder to listen first before I started formulating a response. You do realize that formulating a response while someone else is talking is a big problem for us here in the U.S.  We can be so sure of ourselves that we don’t care what the other person is saying because we are certain we are right.  And we’ll be doggone if anyone is going to tell us otherwise!

The thing is, sometimes the U.S. has sometimes been the equivalent of the Evil Empire.  Our First Nations surely would agree — after all we treated the first residents of North America disgracefully, and in fact we continue doing so as government at the behest of business continue taking land and resources from Native Americans in violation of treaties we made with them.

We are at a point in history when military mistakes can make the earth uninhabitable for us all.  The impetus for peace is greater than it’s ever been and yet there seems little willingness to consider peace as an alternative as long as the military has new toys to play with that they are just itching to use.  And decisions made in private without the light of public scrutiny are guaranteed to favor the few and not the many.