Saturday, August 15, 2015

Always the new path, and it starts with apologies

Lately, I've had some drama to deal with and those that know me know I avoid drama.  Drama generally shows up in what the smart folk call ad-hominem, or personal attacks.  This can be painful, embarrassing, and cause serious damage to one's peace of mind, regardless of how much truth or accuracy is in the attacks.

I know who I am inside.  And I know that when the sea of drama rises, I have to swim through it to get to peaceful waters.  But I'm getting better and better at it, swimming faster, and eventually will see it from far enough away to avoid it altogether.  Life would be so much easier, wouldn't it, if you didn't care about people?  I care about people.  When I see them attacked, or I'm attacked, it's immediate pain and a feeling of depression.  I can't be the judge and jury; only they know the truths about their personal lives.  But I can feel for them, no matter what they did that didn't match up with somebody else's view of good behavior.

My friend Shane taught me two things; first, he told me I have a problem with forgiveness.  I had no idea.  And he was dead-on.  And I STILL have that problem; he told me this six years ago so I could begin working on it.  He's a peaceful, mature, good person, down at the soul level.  He's the kind of guy I always strive to be like.  He also told me that he believes in karma; I still don't.  I've seen too many aholes get through life with reasonable ease and unless they are getting their justice from some higher authority after life, I don't see karma at work.  I HOPE karma is real and justice finds its way into everybody's life.  And I hope justice has at least a touch of forgiveness in it.

But if I'm going to do what I say, and continue to close down or at least control this part of myself that gets affected by drama, there is only one real way to start out.  That is to say I'm sorry.  I'm sorry to anyone who I have ever hurt, or embarrassed, or caused any discomfort.  If karma is real, I can assure you that I've already been paid back ten-fold for those I have hurt if we're measuring in physical and psychological pain.   If karma is real, I'm thinking maybe it forgot to stop punishing me once justice was served.  So by saying and feeling that I'm sorry for those that I've hurt, I can begin to (hopefully quickly) forgive myself for those actions.  And maybe if I can forgive myself, I can forgive others.  But if I'm going anti-drama, or with the create-a-better-world-for-people philosophy, there is no place to start except to say that I'm sorry for any drama I've caused anybody, ever, or anything I did that made your world anything but a better world.

With that out of the way, which just made me literally breathe in some fresh air and feel weight come off of me, I can get on to the business of making sure that I don't go near rising seas of drama, and regardless of how much pain I'm in, nobody deserves to be snapped at because I'm hurting, even if they do something out of line.  My goal is peace of mind and helping people when I can.  I want those two things more than anything, and they have become the goals that I will now live for and repeat to myself every day.  You've heard all of the cliches; life is too short, golden rule, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, if you're not giving, you're not living... well, I have nothing to add to that except that I do know from experience that good feelings and peace of mind come from just such behaviors.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kev Still Says Get the Negative OUT!

I've seen the thought gaining momentum lately and I just want to do my bi-annual push for it as well.

Cut the negative people and thoughts out of your life.  You'll be doing yourself and those around you a huge favor.

When two of my sisters and I stood in a little circle outside the house at my Mom's 70th birthday party some years back and made a pact to kick out and keep out the negative everything from our lives, I knew it was a big deal.  I had never even considered it.  My imagination (which can be my greatest strength or weakness) immediately felt the power in it.

From that day on, I've stuck to it like glue.  I wasn't even on Facebook yet; I think it was just in its early stages then.  I don't even remember what got us talking about removing the negative stuff, but the agreement was that once we realized we were having negative thoughts or were spending much time around a negative person, they had to go.  Distance had to go between us and the thought/person.

At the time, when I told people about it, I would say, "If you've got negative people in your life, you have to toss them over the fence, out of your daily circles."  And I was careful to separate negative people from people just having a bad day or even a bad month, or a good friend or family member just giving you some difficult truths to help you see one or more of your blind spots.  The negative people we were talking about were people who lived to complain about and scorn other people, places, and things.  An example might be a coworker who starts his day telling you, "Damned traffic sucked.  Did you see the Mets last night?  Terrible.  Ok, let's go see what my dumbass boss has for me today.  He'll probably have us have a meeting at that sucky restaurant again.  I think I'll take my horrific wife their next week; she deserves it.  Hey, are you working the Anderson account?  Yes?  Good, I hated those people.  They actually think I care about them.  Ah, this coffee sucks.  And I hope our president has a terrible fishing accident today.  Where's Mills at?  Is he late again?  God that bastard is a loser.  How did he even get hired here?"

Get away from that co-worker, and stay away, if you even want a reasonable shot at true happiness.  And that goes for people in any other category.  If you can't get away from them because you have to be shoulder-to-shoulder for some reason, just stop talking to them.  They'll get the idea.  You can also send your friends and family a personal memo: "Hey, I'm trying a new thing.  Starting next month, I'm going to be putting some distance between myself and people that seem to be constantly negative--just wanted to give everybody a heads up."  Or however you would word that.  More and more, with technology, we can cut people out of our circles that bring is pain routinely or who just seek to attack.  Or you may find that you just disagree with somebody on so many fundamental levels that there is no real point in keeping them in your circles, because every conversation turns into a debate or dismissive attitudes.

If you care about other humans, you will automatically be influenced by their moods in your presence, and if they carry around a dark shadow of doom and gloom and hate and remain discontent no matter how well things are going, you will sink to the bottom with them.  It's just a matter of time.  People with no empathy have a strong advantage here--I'll call it a psycho-perk.  If you aren't concerned about others, you won't be influenced by their feelings or moods.

With the internet the way it is now, people can drag up any mistakes you've ever made and they can usually remain anonymous doing it so they have no moral equivalence test to take in order to make sure they aren't being hypocrites.  They can hurt you, your family, your friends, perfect strangers; some get joy out of it.  Normally, that comes from their own pain; projection could be happening, or they feel like failures at some/most things, and in what I believe is the most selfish kind of behavior, they seek to make others hurt just because they hurt.  I have so much "dirt" on people, I don't know where to store it all.  But I don't share it.  Most of it was shared with me in confidence; some is just stuff I stumbled across.  It is not only just mean to share that type of information, but it's not interesting to me.  Personal attacks aren't interesting.  There's probably some science behind why astrophysicists don't watch Jerry Springer re-runs.

One of the greater ironies is that most of those that are judging are self-proclaimed Christians.  How is it that I, as an Ignostic, can be less judgmental with no definitive guide to lead me than a Christian who is taught directly not to judge if they want to live the Christian life?  Say nothing of turning the other cheek or following the 10 commandments.  If it weren't so sad--this mountain of cognitive dissonance that allows them to turn off the rules when convenient--it would be hilarious.  And this goes really for all rigid religious directives or even strong personal constitutions (for example, somebody who is always preaching about how the death penalty is a good thing until somebody they know and like ends up on trial).  I know plenty of religious folks who do live by the word or their tenets, but I know too many that do not.

Overall, I believe we humans are pretty weak.  I believe we're still mostly animal, but I'm encouraged because I know we have the power to love, forgive, and, assuming normal psychological health, to empathize with our fellow human, regardless of their race, sex, oreintation, religion, or any other quality that would warrant a label or category.  As I get older, I'm losing a little bit of heart and become less defensive over my general belief system which I would normally defend pretty rigorously since it took a lot of reading and thinking and note-taking to arrive at what I believe is an accurate reality.  I couldn't possibly sell that exact reality to everybody because they took different notes, did different reading, and had different thoughts, say nothing of genetic and environmental differences or early-life influences (such as being brought up by parents of a certain religion or political party).

One thing I do know is that the ultimate freedom for the mind comes only when you can truly think for yourself (those who don't have this yet are either ditto-heads or are constantly in search of a perfect leader to lead them), but the freedom of the heart, if you care about others, is only gained when you move the haters away from this sensitive thing that you love with.  I'll treat my heart like a small, warm fire that I only let the kindest, purest, most honest people near, and I know a lot of them, so we'll have to pack in tight already, but the dark and cold personalities will have to just stay out in the dark and cold, where they like it.  If you let them near your fire, they'll just pee on it.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Cops Kill

Do you think you are a fair-minded American?  Listen to this story real quick:

A cop has pulled over a 20-year old male who has no license plate on his car.  The rap music coming from the car is so loud the cop has to cover his ears as he approaches the car.  "License and registration, please!," he yells as the man rolls his window down.

"Here you go," the man says, handing some papers out the window.  The cop says, "Do you realize you don't have a tag on the back?  Your rear license plate is missing."  The mans says, "Aww, naww, it musta fell off somewhere.  It's one on the front if you wanna look at that."

The officer confirms the front does have a plate, which matches the registration and the man on the license.  He goes back to his cruiser to run the man's plates and name to check for warrants.  He gets a hit on his computer that the man has a warrant for felony assault out on him.  He calls in to the dispatcher to tell them he'll be making an arrest.

He steps back up to the man's car and says, "I need you to step out of the car and place your hands behind your back."  The man pulls out a handgun and shoots the officer 7 times, killing him instantly, and speeds away.  He is never caught.

The question is: how do you feel about this?  Please take a minute to think about it.  What should happen to the man?  What about the officer's family; how should they be taken care of?  Should policies change instantly?

Now, if you were imagining the cop as white and the suspect as black as most people do, reverse it.  Black cop, white suspect, same story.  The difference you felt when you did that (or reversed it from whatever you had imagined) is what racism is.  It's really that simple.