Flashes – How is your quest for JOY coming?

Bobblehead DollLong before I read Leo J. Muir’s book, “Flashes from the Eternal Semaphore,” I knew I wanted to find joy.  But, I was stuck; what is joy and how do I identify joy were my first two obstacles.  Yet, from many sources comes the following, in many different forms:

Man is that he might find joy.”

What is Joy?

An appeal to the dictionary confuses joy and happiness, forming part of the problem where understanding joy is concerned.  The closest definition for joy coming from the dictionary is to define joy as an ecstatic feeling, pleasure, or deep satisfaction.  But, if a person goes around chasing a euphoric feeling, they will be disappointed in pursuing joy.  If we consider joy as not an emotion but the result of an unexpected event that creates feelings of peace and contentment, then joy is more fully understood, but the quest for joy becomes more challenging to pursue.  How does one pursue an unexpected gift?

Christians, and some Jews, share a description of joy as a “good feeling in the soul, produced by a visit from the Holy Ghost (Spirit); thus, joy is felt as a consequence of a visit from another being.  However, unless you pursue education into those religions, you still might not fully grasp what joy is and why we seek joy so ardently.  One of the most straightforward descriptions for joy comes from the writings of Pope, an English author from the 16th century who wrote:

Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, lie in the three words –health, peace, and competence.”

Hence the pursuit of joy is gaining health, peace, and competence.  So we can conclude that joy is found in possessing health, peace, and competence, as a consequence or good feeling stemming from achieving these three items.  Now, I know someone will get bent out of shape here; what if I have poor health, how can I pursue joy?  The answer lies in understanding peace and competence as co-equal parts of health.50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Recently on YouTube, I watched an amputee discuss their amputation, health, peace, and display their competence.  One could argue that losing a foot is poor health, yet this person glows with good health for having joined health to peace and competence.  By the same token, I know several people who possess poor health, are depressed from not finding peace, and are not competent.  While working with mental health patients, I met a person in a wheelchair who cannot walk, can barely speak, and this person chooses to live on the street in misery.  This person has plenty of money for an apartment but chooses to live on the street eating from garbage cans in abject misery.  Thus, we can see the need for combining health, peace, and competence to obtain joy.  One might even define joy as a consequence of choices that build a life.  However, and this is critical, the feelings of joy are internal!

Imperative to understanding joy as a consequence is the need to grasp that joy is an internal feeling of ecstasy, delight, and wonder while dependent upon health, peace, and competence.  We cannot understate this importance nor overstate the criticality of joy to the combination of health, peace, and competence.  I have met very depressed people who possess competence but cannot find joy.  I have met people with great health and who are miserable.  Possessing one or two of these components does not disqualify you from obtaining joy or pursuing joy, but lacking all three will not produce joy in any quantity or with any staying power.  Joy is not an event in life but a collection of events from life, where “everything just clicked.”50+ Joy Quotes - a Perspective on Life | iCreateDaily | Quotes

Finally, it must be expressly noted joy is not an emotion; thus, joy cannot be chosen from a list of emotions to fit circumstances.  Since joy is not an emotion, this is where happy and joy are most often confused.  If an external event occurs, and health, peace, and competence are not present, happiness, not joy, is being felt or experienced.  If health, peace, and competence are present, and the feeling of joy swells inside, independent of all other factors, then joy is being experienced.

Case in point, in the US Navy, I served in a toxic working environment as a highly competent sailor.  I possessed health and, through inner strength, enjoyed peace inside myself.  Frequently, I would experience joy, even though external elements and environments appeared expressly designed to “make me miserable.”  By choosing to disallow an external event to choose my emotions, peace was mine, and joy was a consequence.Joy Quotes 3 | QuoteReel

Another English author from the 16th century was Edward Young, who concluded the following:

On the soft bed of luxury, most kingdoms have expired.”

What is happiness?

The definition of happiness is as convoluted as the definition of joy.  Consider the following: “Any state of being, having considerable permanence, in which pleasure predominates over pain.”  Yeah, that’s going to help a person understand!  Sarcasm aside, the definitions of happiness also include some interesting aspects for consideration: fortuitous aptness or fitness, grace, beauty, and felicitousness.  Happiness is also the quality or state of being happy, as if that actually helps.

Happy, the root word of happiness, is defined as cheerful, willing, possessing good luck or fortunate, a marked pleasure satisfaction, or showing the same.  What the dictionary skips, and the elements needed for understanding happy and happiness, is that being happy relies upon external factors and is a choice.  We choose to emote happy or happiness based upon external forces, societies, people, events, and environments.Spread Happiness Quotes. QuotesGram

Steven Aitchison is quoted as saying, “Happiness begins with the decision to no longer feel sad.”  Is it clear that happiness, like all emotions, is a choice?  The importance of choosing our emotions cannot be understated, and many of life’s biggest problems would disappear if we chose better emotional responses to external stimuli.  Aristotle provides the final word on happiness:

True happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best possible self.  Otherwise, all you’re having is immediate gratification pleasure, which is fleeting and doesn’t grow you as a person.”

What is the difference between Joy and Happiness?

Of a truth for certain, confusing Joy and Happiness leads to despair, misery, and failure.  Please keep the following clearly in mind; happiness is external.  Happiness is based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts.  Happiness is connected to your hope.  Believe it or not, the following observation is not religious thinking, faith builds hope, hope builds charity, and charity is nothing but an outward action of an inner commitment (faith).  Happiness is faith and hope expressed for everyone to see.  Put the words in any order and use a thesaurus.  The result never varies; happiness is a consequence (resulting from) of faith and hope combined into action, and others might call that action charity.Quotes about happiness

If further questions arise about distinguishing between joy and happiness, please review the above definitions where I have attempted to clarify the delineation.  One essential factor in pursuing peace is time to reflect, which promotes peace and distills into competence.  Competence breeds from education (formal and informal) applied over time and understood through reflection.  Peace is stability, mental calm and derives from reflection and additional education (formal and informal).  Health can be physical, mental, and spiritual, but of these three, mental and spiritual are more important than physical health.  Again, when combined, independent of all external forces and environments, joy is the consequence, not happiness!

Please allow me to point out something truly obvious when a person wishes you joy, they generally also include happiness as an addition to their blessing.  For example, the Whitney Houston song whose lyrics claim:

I wish to you joy and happiness.  But above all this, I wish you love.”

Thus confirming that joy and happiness are two distinct and separate entities.  The US Constitution allows and encourages a person to pursue “Life, liberty, and happiness” as inalienable rights.”  Joy is not included!  Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:

The US Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch up with it yourself.”

The Quest for Joy

The quest for joy begins with education (formal and informal) as a building block for competence and to begin the process of finding peace.  While influenced by external factors (drugs, alcohol, disease, viruses, bacteria, etc.), health requires mental and spiritual inputs and is not content without peace.  Choosing to accept physical limitations is part of building mental and spiritual peace, and the human body cannot long survive without mental and spiritual health and peace, but the body can long endure physical health problems if mental and spiritual health remains.Meme Quotes » Happiness

Another truth becomes evident when questing for joy, “Joy dwells in the ordinary.”  Consider this for a moment; a person gives another person a flower.  Ordinary, simplistic, and yet this giving provides joy to the giver and receiver.  How swift and fleeting is the happiness of Christmas, where the gifts are generally more extravagant, costly, and luxurious, but a simple flower can spark a world of memories.

Why bees & biodiversity benefit from indigenous wildflowersMy granddaughter, a toddler at the time, and I took a walk.  She found a wildflower in the midst of thousands of other flowers on this walk which was important to her.  Upon our walk concluding, we pressed that flower into a book.  The time spent with her remains a cherished memory for me, and when I see wildflowers, the memories of this walk and flower pressing come back readily.  Truly, joy is found in the ordinary!

Elbert Hubbard reminds us that:

Ozone and friendship will be our stimulants – let the drugs, tobacco, and strong drink go forever.  Natural joy brings no headaches and no heartaches.”

Why; because natural joy combines health, peace, and competence into a powerful force.  No further stimulation is needed or wanted.  Bulwer Lytton provides the best flashing sign for contemplation:

We lose the peace of years when we hunt after the rapture of the moments.”

What will you sacrifice in the quest for joy, the peace of years, or the rapture of moments?  One of the most miserable people I have ever met chased rapture in the moments and could not understand why chasing momentous euphoria did not lead to anything other than the chase for more rapturous moments.  Like any drug, the mind and body build a resistance to the drug over time, and more and more of the drug is required to obtain a similar experience.  Be the drug sugar, chocolate, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, alcohol, etc., the pattern is the same, and the consequences are the same.  Depression, anxiety, addiction, destruction, call the consequences what you will, chasing the rapture of moments is death.

We conclude with the following from Robert Louis Stevenson, may his words ring out on our journey for joy as a beacon and a sounding board to base decisions upon:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauties, nor failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given the best he has; whose life is an inspiration; whose memory, a benediction.”

May your quest for joy be fruitful!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Code Enforcement Response Letter – 29 October 2021

The Honorable
Mayor Ken Miyagishima
City of Las Cruces
700 N Main
Las Cruces, NM
88001

29 October 2021

Dr. Dave Salisbury Ph.D.
1805 E Idaho Ave
Las Cruces, NM
88001

Subject: Unequal Treatment Before the Law, Code Enforcement, and Staff Incompetence and Unreliability

Dear Mayor,

On 19 October 2021, Officer S. Chavez (#C438) drafted a letter to me complaining that my property was somehow in violation of Las Cruces Municipal Code Section 18-2(1).  Which according to the website linked, states the following:

Noxious weeds and other rank vegetation.”

Item 1:  What is a “noxious weed,” how does one identify “rank vegetation?”  The municipal code is vague and unclear.  This means that the code enforcement officer is left to use their own opinion, opening the doors to authoritarian interpretation and the abuse of the taxpayer in the application of the municipal code.  I have some deep and abiding concerns.

Item 2:  The letter was dated 19 October 2021, but the postmark from the stamp machine is dated 25 October 2021, and the US Postal Service delivered this notification to me on 28 October 2021.  These dates are important for several reasons.  Please note, I was mandated to comply with the authoritarian and opinionated code enforcement officer’s interpretation of the municipal code by 31 October 2021.

  1. Why did Officer Chavez (#C438) sit on the letter for six days before stamping it and dropping it in the mail?
  2. I asked this exact question of Officer Chavez (#C438) and received three separate and distinct excuses, and then was “offered” an extension of the deadline without asking for it. Alerting me to the fact that Officer Chavez (#C438) knew he had done wrong, knew he had been busted, and knew he needed a plausible excuse.  This is a clear indication of Officer Chavez (#C438) being incompetent and unreliable.
  3. When I called his supervisor on 28 October 2021, I left a message; I identified myself, left my number, and left an expectation for a callback. Officer Chavez (#C438) identified the supervisor as simply “Roach, like the bug.”  Alerting me to another problem, a lack of respect for authority in the code enforcement offices.  I have some concerns; if the officers do not respect each other and their supervisors, how can they respect the law, the municipal codes they are expected to enforce, the taxpayers, and themselves?
  4. 0815 – 29 October 2021, I called dispatch and asked for Roach’s supervisor, as I refuse to play phone tag. If “Roach” will not meet a taxpayer’s expectation or make it a priority to call that taxpayer the following day, then it is time to speak to a higher power.  More than an hour later, “Roach” calls me.  By the way, I am still expecting a callback from “Roach’s” supervisor.  Who is that, and when is that call going to transpire?  The dispatcher did not know and could not tell me.
  5. For the record, who is “Roach?” What is his title?  What is his full name?  None of which were provided when “Roach” called me.  By “Roach’s” call, I have now introduced myself three times to the Code Enforcement Officers, and still, “Roach” proceeds to call me not by my name.  Indicating disrespect is endemic in the City of Las Cruces Code Enforcement Department, and there is a severe lack of leadership on top of the problems with unreliability and incompetence.  Where is the training of these officers coming from, and who is modeling this execrable behavior?
  6. When I asked “Roach” the question, “Why did Officer Chavez (#C438) sit on the notification letter for 6-days?” he proclaimed he did not understand what I was saying, chose to become offended that I was trying to explain, and claimed I was berating and belittling him. “Roach” actively refused to listen, preferring to listen to the voices in his head instead of the taxpayer voicing legitimate concerns about being abused by his staff.  Are we sure “Roach” is a supervisor?

Let me pause here and clarify a few points.  I possess more than 20 years of experience as an industrial and organizational psychologist.  I have worked in many different roles across the United States, including government, the private sector, and non-profits.  I have been in crisis management, led teams in emergency response, enforced legislation, and much more.  My jobs often see me needing to evaluate and observe, quickly make conclusions, and then develop action plans to generate positive results in a timely and efficient manner.  I am very good at my job!  I am a data analyst, a project manager, and hold an MBA in global management specializing in human resources, a master’s in adult education and training, with deep experience in eLearning design and delivery, and am writing my dissertation to complete my Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology.

I have seen incompetence and unreliability in people many times and in many places.  The experience witnessed over the last two days at the hands of the “Code Enforcement Officers” for the City of Las Cruces leaves me mentally breathless, and my blood is boiling.  There is no excuse for this unprofessionalism, lack of respect, and the refusal to apply the law equally and appropriately answer simple questions from taxpayers!

Item 3:  When I drive through my neighborhood, my yard is desert and is in no way, shape, or form less or better than my neighbors.  How many of my neighbors received code enforcement letters for their yards?  If the answer is none, then the law was not equally applied, and the officers involved need discipline for being selective in their application of the law and enforcement of the municipal code.  Suppose the answer is all of my neighbors. In that case, the code enforcement officers need to visit the neighborhood and explain precisely to everyone what specifically the code means by “Noxious weeds and other rank vegetation.”  The same vegetation growing in my yard is found in the desert surrounding Las Cruces.

Item 4:  The vegetation in my yard was left alone intentionally because the birds had been eating the seeds.  I prefer to see the birds as I am allergic to cats and dogs.  Since I cannot have a pet, and the vegetation had pretty flowers and had a valuable purpose of feeding butterflies and birds, I am still at a loss as to which of the vegetation is considered, “Noxious weeds and other rank vegetation.”

Item 5:  The time delay of Officer Chavez (#C438) cost me more than $1500 and worsened my injuries that were sustained in US Military service.  I am a 90% disabled veteran, and the stress of having to comply due to the refusal to notify taxpayers timely meant I could not hire anyone to help, nor could I obtain assistance from friends.  Thus, I had to perform the work myself, causing me significant injury over the 5-hours I was performing the yard work.  I take serious umbrage at the time-lapse in the notification from Officer Chavez (#C438) and his unreliability, and incompetence which need immediately rectified and resolved to my satisfaction.  Officer Chavez’s (#C438) actions were unconstitutional and potentially criminal.

I expect a prompt and timely response as a taxpayer.  Please note that a copy of this letter is posted to my blog and found at this link to promote governmental transparency.  Thank you for your time in this affair.

Sincerely,

Dr. M. Dave Salisbury Ph.D.
I/O Psychologist
US Army/US Navy Veteran

MDS/mds

CC: City Councilor Gabriel Vasquez

Juneteenth and Critical Race Theory: A Head Scratching Conundrum!

QuestionI fully admit, every time “Juneteenth” comes around, I have to look up the word and the history to make sure someone is not pulling my leg.  For those like me, Juneteenth is the celebration of the emancipation of slaves in Texas from 19 June 1865.  Apparently, President Biden just made the day an Official U.S. Holiday, the first since Martin Luther King Day in the early 1980s.  There are times I feel like, for all the work I invest in knowing what is happening, I am still living under a rock.

Included at the bottom of this article are references to the source materials and knowledge gleaned.  Unless explicitly linked, the references below can support both my questions and my conclusions.  Feel free to expand your mind and read; be warned, though, once your mind expands, it can never go back!

The historical celebrations of Juneteenth included prayer, new clothes, hymn singing, and expressions of gratitude regarding being made free.  A celebration of freedom by slaves in America also included food.  I have never seen race; plain and simple truth!  Your choice of race is your business; how you act and live is more important than race, culture, creed, religion, handicap, and gender to me.  While working on my MBA degree, I was introduced to two concepts, critical race theory and the fact that the United Nations claims race and culture are a conscious choice.

WhyIf the United Nations can claim that a person’s race is a choice, then I am an American.  I am not distinguished by color, several colors, or even my history.  As a point of reference, America was set up that way for a reason; it releases people from bondage to not be judged by their family, their financial circumstances, historical tribal connections, color, or any other line of separation.  When America as a “Melting Pot” was described to me in school, I cheered because it meant I am not the sum of my family’s actions!

Then along comes Critical Race Theory, and my mind took a sudden jolt.  Critical Race Theory is a loosely organized intellectual movement based upon a shaky legal framework and premise claiming that race is not a natural, biological, or physical distinction separating subgroups of humans.  The intellectualists embrace Critical Race Theory and attempt to make race a sociological invention to oppress other people.  They further adhere to an almost religious belief that America is inherently racist, especially to African Americans.

Question 3Here is where my brain disconnects, the questions asked are honest, and I would appreciate dialog without emotion to attempt to answer the following questions:

    1. If the United Nations is correct, and race is a choice, how does Critical Race Theory have any followers and adherents?
        • Since race is my personal choice, I can be any race I choose, regardless of skin tones, speech, mannerisms, etc. How can anyone claim to be oppressed by another race?
        • How can race be an issue if race is a sociological construct?
        • Under the Rule of Law, there is no distinction of race. The lady of law has a blindfold for a reason, so she cannot judge by sight, only by hearing, and weigh the results on the scale.  Where is the legal justification for Critical Race Theory?
    2. Is Juneteenth a celebration just for black people? If so, doesn’t this upend the Critical Race Theorists?  If not, then what is Juneteenth historically?
        • If Juneteenth is a celebration of liberty, why did we need another holiday when the 4th of July celebrates freedom?
        • When considering people’s kept as slaves across history, race becomes an interesting variable if race is not a choice but a biological, physical, and method of sub-grouping humans. Africa has seen a lot of periods where one tribe conquers another, and the conquered became slaves.  The same pattern has been witnessed across all the different tribes, countries, and human species throughout world history.  Does this mean that Critical Race Theory was just proven invalid as a concept?
    3. If Juneteenth is a holiday only for those emancipated from slavery, does this mean others cannot celebrate humans ending forced servitude?Bob Marley
    4. Why is Critical Race Theory all about black oppression? Didn’t the American Indians have it much worse than black people in early-American history?  Where is the holiday for the American Indians being freed from reservations, empowered, and promoted as a distinct culture worthy of respect and study?
        • Wait, if the United Nations’ supposition is true, that culture and race are a choice, does this mean that the laws against and for American Indians are now in question and under doubt?
        • What about other indigenous tribes across the world facing brutal oppression? Are those laws invalid due to the United Nations or due to Critical Race Theory?
        • Which minority groups are “more equal” and “deserving” than other minority groups under the Critical Race Theory? Why the distinction if race is a choice and not a biological, physical, or cultural tribal distinction in human sub-groups?
    5. Since the American Indians owned slaves, why are the Critical Race Theorists attacking white people only?
        • If the United Nations is correct, then those purporting to be Critical Race Theorists are broadcasting their ignorance by adhering to a group that pushes a lie about race being a factor, right?Commit

I need to understand something, and history, as well as archeology, supports the following:

“White slavery pre-dates black slavery in America. This fact has been verified by forensic evidence from archaeological digs and historical documents uncovered by contemporary scholars, including Don Jordan and Michael Walsh in White Cargo (New York University Press: 2009).”

The stories behind white slavery, indentured servitude, and other means of conveying the purchase and abuse of people are incredibly heartbreaking.  What man has done to their fellow man through all of recorded history is appalling.  Trying to further that oppression through Critical Race Theory is despicable on a level I can not describe.  Yet, what do we see, Critical Race Theorists doing precisely that, getting a person to choose a race, then choose to allow themselves to be victimized and oppressed because of their choice to join a culture, tribe, or race.

Knowledge Check!Hence, my conundrum!  If we accept that race, culture, creed, and religion are choices made by humans without compulsory means, what is Critical Race Theory talking about and preaching?  If we refuse the belief that race, tribe, and culture are not choices, then we still have a logical disconnect between Critical Race Theorists and the history of civilization.  The Critical Race Theorists seem to be missing the forest for the bark they are stuck seeing.  Unfortunately, I still do not understand most holidays, since I prefer to work than rest, I do not need to know to understand the holiday, just save me some food.

Slavery References

Davis, J.B. “Slavery in the Cherokee Nation.”
Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 11, No. 4. December 1993.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. “Did Black People Own Slaves?”
The Root. 4 March 2013.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. “How Many Slaves Landed in the U.S.?”
The Root. 6 January 2014.

Hall, Kermit L. The Oxford Companion to American Law.
New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2002. ISBN 0-195-08878-6.

Halliburton Jr., R. “Free Black Owners of Slaves: A Reappraisal of the Woodson Thesis.”
The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 76, No. 3. July 1975.

Johnson, Michael P., and Roark, James L. Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South.
New York: W. W. Norton, 1986. ISBN 0-393-30314-4.

Mintz, Steven. African-American Voices: A Documentary Reader, 1619-1877.
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. ISBN 1-444-31077-1.

Rodriguez, Junius P. The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery.
Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1997. ISBN 0-874-36885-5.

Russell, John Henderson. The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1913. ISBN 1-480-03049-X.

Walton, Hanes and Smith, Robert C. American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom.
London: Routledge, 2015. ISBN 1-317-35045-6.

Critical Race Theory Reference

Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K. (1995). Critical race theory. The Key Writings that Formed the Movement. New York, 276-291.

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction (3rd ed.). NYU Press.

Juneteenth References

Donovan, A., & De Bres, K. (2006). Foods of freedom: Juneteenth as a culinary tourist attraction. Tourism Review International, 9(4), 379-389.

Ellison, R. (2021). Juneteenth. Modern Library.

Taylor, C. A. (2002). Juneteenth: A celebration of freedom. Open Hand Publishing, LLC.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.