Why Do We Punish Ourselves and Each Other?

In considering today’s title, please understand the format for today’s article will shift.  I will ask you to read how it was written, scenario, question, pause, reflect, and then continue.  The idea is to spark a conversation inside you, launch a discussion with others, and raise awareness.  We need to change how we think about several things if we are ever to move forward.

Scenario:  An employee is hired for a front-line, entry-level position.  Quickly the employee distinguishes themselves, the employee’s experience is an assortment of companies, but the education is first-rate accredited schools.

Questions:  How do you treat the employee?  Do you help them professionally to advance, even if it means they might outrank you?  Do you stifle them and keep them in their position because they have not “paid their dues with the company?”  Does veteran or disability status matter to this scenario?  How long is “long enough” with a company to “prove value” as an employee?

PAUSE

Reflect – Has this happened to you?  Have you treated someone similarly?

Scenario:  Slightly similar to the first one, a competent employee is hired into an entry-level position.  A recruiter needed a slot filled to meet a quota, and a desperate person required employment in a tough job market.  Circumstances led to a poor hiring choice, but the employee is not complaining and is working well but is looking for advancement.  The employee could be considered for a higher-level position if they were not an employee, as the job market has changed dramatically.  Since they are an employee, their pay grade automatically excludes them from consideration for the positions they are applying for.

Questions:  How do you treat the employee?  Do you help them professionally to advance, even if it means they might outrank you?  Do you stifle them and keep them in their position because they have not “paid their dues with the company?”  What matters more time with the company now and paygrade, or the original recruiter decisions?

PAUSE

Reflect – Has this happened to you?  Have you treated someone similarly?

Scenario:  You notice a problem at work.  You raise the concern using standard company protocols to the proper leaders for action.  The company strongly believes in a desire for speedy action and customer service focus.  In this situation, you, as the employee, are the customer and deserve to see an effective but quick response on the issue.  Weeks pass, a co-worker mentions that you should give up your focus as the problem has been around a “long time and has never been resolved.”  Worse, by focusing on the issue and asking for resolution, you are labeled as the problem.

Questions:  Do you keep pressing on “beating your head against the wall until your face is squishy,” or do you drop the issue?  What about from the other perspective, you’re the manager, how do you treat the employee?  What do you say to support the problem-solving skills, even though a situation might not be resolvable?  How would you approach the employee?  What if the employee is correct, the problem is solvable, and the situation could be resolved with a new approach and new eyes?  Are you willing to risk and win?  Are you willing to risk and lose?

PAUSE

Reflect – Where is the line between courage and victory and acceptance and misery?

Scenario:  “A new Chinese restaurant is opening in Phoenix, lots of hype, lots of marketing.  The cook staff is all zombies; the place is called “Deadman Wok’ ing.”  Yes, it’s a corny dad-joke.  Nobody chooses to be offended in a virtual room of 12 people, but the joke teller is advised not to tell jokes as a spouse of an attendee could be offended.  The spouse is not in the room, was not told the joke, and is not in the primary audience.

Questions:  What do you do as the joke teller?  You observe this scenario; what do you choose to support the joke teller or ridicule the joke teller?  Why?  Would the country of origin make the joke more or less acceptable?  Why?

PAUSE

Reflect – Humor has power; when did we stop allowing humor to help?

Scenario:  In a public space, a man strikes a child; you observe this strike.  Before the strike, the child was verbally harangued, assaulted, and abused.  A major public scene has developed, cell phones are recording the incident.

STOP! – Replace Child for Woman, does the significance change?  Why?

STOP! – Replace Woman with Animal, does the significance change?  Why?

STOP! – Replace Animal with Man, does the significance change?  Why?

Questions:  What do you choose to do?  If the significance changes, does your response change?  Why?  If you step to the defense and the situation worsens, are you mentally prepared for the consequences?  If the victim despises you, are you still willing to accept the responsibility for stepping into the fray?

PAUSE

Reflect – The equality of humanity requires mental courage until the first time violence is necessary to back up our choices.  Do you accept the consequences, and are the consequences still worth it?  Even inaction in these situations is a choice with consequences; will you accept inaction and the consequences?

Some will think this post is esoteric, others will disregard it as philosophic, and others will try to ignore it as never happening to them.  Yet, for some people recently on a subway, when a woman was brutally raped in front of them, the last scenario was a reality, and the consequences will be their’s for the rest of their lives.  Recently a woman was stabbed for interfering; she also will have life-changing consequences.

How many others carry scars from choices and actions they never realized would turn out negative from a positive choice?  More, why do they consider a positive became a negative and have they judged themselves too harshly?  I know people who experienced rough childhoods, who now punish the world.  These people gained a little power, as they suppose, and use every means at their disposal to punish and inflict misery and pain.  Worse though, I have met people who had great childhoods who grew up mean, sallow, and they intentionally inflict harm and pain because it is the only way to experience the world.  I actively work to see these people stripped of their power, regardless of what it costs me, for I would see these people’s streak of tyranny end!

I am not here to save the world.  I am just here to influence my small corner for the better.  Maybe, if that is the best we can all do, that is how we make this broken world a little less broken.  Take courage, act!  You will never regret the consequences of standing for the innocent and hurt and helping those who need the hand up.

© Copyright 2021 – 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.

What is Compassion? – Chapter Three in the Emotional Chronicles

Bobblehead DollI admit October has been a hit-and-miss month, and I apologize.  I am not sure why, but I recommit to doing a better job.  Thank you for your patience, dear reader.  Though I haven’t been sitting on my thumbs, I was invited to speak at a disability event and have been furiously writing for that.  I speak on 27 October 2021 at 0600 EST.  While the event is not open to the public, I plan to post my comments online after the event, suitably altered to hide the event and employer for contractual reasons.

Due mainly to the method of my upbringing, I struggle with conceptualizing terms like love, charity, compassion, feelings, and emotions.  I fully understand anger, hate, and rage, but the rest I am a pure novice at best, and at worst, wholly ignorant.  I read the texts, studied the books, watched films and lectures, been to psychiatrists and psychologists, and much more.  My wife is very patient with me on this topic; my friends tend to tease me gently when they trip across my ignorance on a topic.  My enemies know my shortcomings well but cannot use emotions to thwart me, for emotions just don’t work on me.Angry Grizzly Bear

However, I am not a natural people person.  I see someone crying, and I have no clue what to do if there is no visible injury.  I know problem resolution, crisis management and can act well in all types of situations, but when it comes to soft skills and “playing well with others,” guess what subject I have consistently failed?  Believe me; I have the K-12 report cards to prove my inability, as well as many a note sent home!

What is Compassion?

When the gushy parts in movies come along, I line up for the popcorn and soda machines.  I know I am not alone; sometimes, there must be 20 other people, not just men, standing out there making purchases and visiting the bathrooms.  I know I am a people watcher, so I can deduce there are more people than I who struggle with this concept.  Let’s discuss; maybe we can learn something and not be so uncomfortable.

I find the etymology of a word tends to bring enlightenment; the definition of compassion includes the following gem, deep awareness of other people’s suffering accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  “Eyes that see and a heart that feels” is a saying the comes to mind to describe compassion as a noun.  However, as a verb, compassion means to pity, and pity as a verb is to reflect regret, sympathy, or sorrow with another person.  A word of warning, sympathy is very closely related to and often concealed by empathy. Where one is only dangerous to oneself when taken to extremes, the other is dangerous to all whenever practiced.

What is Empathy?

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyEmpathy is all about acting like you understand another person’s emotions and you have a personal desire to share those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in the attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern.  By encouraging empathy, a person with authority is looking to steal control over enough people to contain a group through that group’s emotional connections.  By choosing to be empathetic, control over the conscious emotional choices is given to someone else for momentary social gains.  Shift the social environment even slightly, and empathy becomes foolish.  Still, people will continue to look for something to emote about, even after being caught feeling ridiculous about being empathetic for social gain.

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling in a social setting or group.  The emotional pathway is journeyed by people or groups to feel the same emotions for someone else’s emotional state.  Sympathy is a most dangerous emotional tool, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sadness or experiencing adversity.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame or lemmings to a cliff.  I have met people in my travels who were so sympathetic with another person that they thought they had contracted cancer, become pregnant, or had an addiction to dangerous drugs.

Historical Etymology of Compassion

The following is quoted from the Online Etymological Dictionary to satisfy my inner nerd and explore the etymology further, and the link is provided above.  Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia.  Sometimes in Middle English, it meant a literal sharing of affliction or suffering with another.  An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.  “Com” word-forming element usually meaning “with, together,” from Latin com, archaic form of classical Latin cum “together, together with, in combination,” from PIE *kom– “besides, near, by, with” (compare Old English ge-, German ge-). The prefix in Latin sometimes was used as an intensive.  “Passion” c. 1200, “the sufferings of Christ on the Cross; the death of Christ,” from Old French passion “Christ’s passion, physical suffering” (10c.), from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) “suffering, enduring,” from the past-participle stem of Latin pati “to endure, undergo, experience,” a word of uncertain origin. The notion is “that which must be endured.”

Wwwe-Buddhism Com if Your Compassion Does Not Include ...To the atheists, just because Jesus Christ is mentioned does not make something a religious discussion.  I find it interesting that passion, passio, is directly related to enduring and suffering of physical experiences of Jesus Christ.  Does this mean that a compassionate person is reflecting attributes of Jesus Christ?  If so, does this mean mortal beings can acquire godly attributes and still be mortals?  If not, to what should mortals aspire?

Along the vein of etymology, feeding my inner nerd, and discovering insight into compassion, I went looking for actions that reflect compassion, adjectives describing compassion.  The foremost adjective for compassion is compassionate; how very intriguing.  You look for concrete ways to act in a manner of compassion, and you are told to be compassionate; doesn’t this form a logic circle and a paradox?COMPASSION Is My STRENGTH Not a Sign of Weakness Dr Ronnie ...

Remember, a paradox includes two seemingly opposite points, which are opposites on the first reflection but, on further consideration, are more closely related than opposing.  In considering compassion and compassionate, we find the etymology important to understanding the relationship, physical suffering endured and experienced for others, or on another’s behalf.  According to the New Testament and other religious texts, we find this is the recorded mission of Jesus Christ.  IN the definition of compassion, we find mortals can possess a deep awareness of other people’s suffering and choose to have the awareness be accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  But, what if the person with the awareness and desire does not have the ability; what do they do?  Are they less compassionate?  Do they somehow become reduced, heartless, uncaring, or judged for not giving when they do not have?

The answers from the different religions are fascinating on this topic, and if you belong to an organized religion, please feel free to discuss this topic with your Rabbi, Minister, Father, Preacher, Bishop, etc., Atheists, feel free to discuss this topic below and with your friends.  Those in less organized and non-standard religions do what I do, the absolute best you can, and leave the rest in the hands of people more capable.

Compassion Article and Quotes - Funny Stuff, Inspirational ...However, we still return to the core root of compassion; what is it?  From this point forward, I am going to express my limited knowledge and informed opinion.  I could be as wrong eating yellow snow in January, but here goes.

Compassion is being cognizant of the people around you.  See someone with their arms full; rush to open a door.  Offer a hand; better still, find a cart and help them fill the cart.  It’s raining, hold an umbrella—Pet a dog.  Sit down beside a stranger and listen.  See a puddle while driving, slow down, and drive throw without splashing the bus stop where someone is waiting for a bus.  See a sign asking for help, give without judgment; does it really matter what they will do with your contribution?  Say please.  Say thank you!  Say you’re welcome.  Manners matter.Compassion is the path... | Favorite movie quotes, Star ...

Modesty in speech, clothing, and behavior matters.  A friend of mine was fond of the following, saying, “Everyone can do something.  Pitch in!”  As a disabled person, I miss being part of that mentality.  I miss being able to “pitch in.”  Society tells me to stay away, we do not need you, “You’re disabled.”  See someone left out; find a way to include them.

If you question why you are doing something, keep doing it until the questions go away.  Never fear a question; fear not acting on something you feel is the right thing to do.  Want to see society change?  Start the change you want to see by exemplifying that change.  I am still not totally sure what compassion is; I know I want to help people.  I know my resources are limited, but my desire is great.  Let’s do something compassionate; if I understand compassion properly, let’s encourage one person today.  Even if that person is just you, be more encouraging to others.  Society needs more encouragement, needs more smiles, needs more humanity.

Father Mulcahy 2By the way, did you catch the news?  A huge cheese factory explosion occurred in France; da Brie is everywhere.  A large multinational response is underway.  The Kaiser is rolling Hamburgers, and the Danes sent fresh pastries.

© 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.

Father John Patrick Mulcahy – M*A*S*H 4077 Chronicles

Father Mulcahy 2Of all the unforgettable characters from M*A*S*H 4077, one of the most important characters is Reverend Francis John Patrick Mulcahy, Chaplain, United States Army.  A most courageous and kind person, a character full of intestinal fortitude, with a deep desire to help the living, and a solid right hook when needed.  Father Mulcahy has always been a hero of mine, and I wanted to explain why, as a tribute to both the character and the actor William Christopher.

Father Mulcahy:
This isn’t one of my sermons.  I expect you to listen.”

Humility is not a weakness!

Of all the attributes of Father Mulcahy, his humility always shines through.  From his unfailing kindness to seeing the best potential anyone can have, to representing the best of what the Chaplains Corps means, William Christopher, as Father Mulcahy, produces flawlessly the sentiment that humility is a strength, a desirable, needed strength.  Consider the episode where Father Mulcahy belts the unruly and demanding lieutenant in the jaw, the episode where Father Mulcahy rides in a helicopter as a counterweight or the episode where Klinger and Major Burns get into it over a scarf, and Father Mulcahy talks Klinger into giving him a grenade.  Never do you see Father Mulcahy backing down, giving up, or losing sight of the potential goodness of a person.Father Mulcahy 4

Father Mulcahy struggles with the US Army’s ineptitude to promote him to Captain in a couple of episodes.  Even as he struggles, you see Father Mulcahy learn invaluable lessons, teach kindness, forthrightness, and compassion, and diligence, and reliance upon the strength that only comes through commitment to something greater than oneself.  Father Mulcahy’s strength is one of the glues that held M*A*S*H as a TV show together for as long as it ran.  Why; because Father Mulcahy was genuinely genuine!

Consider the episode where Father Mulcahy sits down with Colonel Potter shortly after Klinger takes over for Radar as company clerk.  Who else could have talked Colonel Potter down without talking down to Colonel Potter and allowed Colonel Potter the opportunity to act without disrespecting his rank and position?  Who else could counsel Major Houlihan, chastise Captains Pierce, Honeycutt, and Trapper John, hold Major Burns’ feet to the fires of accountability, and seamlessly interface between the enlisted and officers?  Nobody!  Better still, Father Mulcahy did all this while epitomizing the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If.”

If—
By Rudyard Kipling
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except for the Will, which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

From an interview with William Christopher, we find that Father Mulcahy was not just a character played but a person in reality.

How did you and Barbara survive the many disappointments caused by failed interventions when Ned was young? For example, the assessment of one doctor that he was “retarded,” and nothing could be done other than to “take him home and love him.”

We regarded this particular guy as a young psychologist who may not even have finished his studies. Maybe he was still in his early practice, a student who hadn’t earned his doctorate yet. In any case, we felt he was in the wrong field. We thought he couldn’t possibly know us and advise us to just accept a limited life for our son….  But we both believed that people make mistakes.

Humor is a Prerequisite Quality

Father Mulcahy always used humor to express himself.

Major Winchester was a blessing.  May the good LORD never bless me with him again!”

Some of the funniest lines in M*A*S*H belong to Father Mulcahy, and unless you are listening closely, they are often missed for the banter between the central characters.  Consider the episode where the company sings the M*A*S*H version of “Gee Ma; I wanna go home.”

A chaplain in the Army
Has a collar on his neck,
If you don’t listen to him
You’ll all wind up in heck
.”

Humor plays an incredible role in facing traumatic situations and coming through, not unscathed but mentally capable, confident, and more able to achieve.  Father Mulcahy teaches us this lesson in spades, with dignity, class, and a ripping sense of humor.

Father Francis Mulcahy:
Try to be compassionate. Remember, even one of our saints received a Dear John letter.”

Don’t be passive – Be Active – Work Hard

Father Mulcahy 5There is a story about how William Christopher got sick with Hepatitis, and the show’s producers wanted to remove Father Mulcahy’s role entirely.  Instead, Alan Alda went to bat for William Christopher, changed the scripts, and wrote Father Mulcahy’s sickness into the show to keep Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H.  Why would Alan Alda do something like this for a co-star?  There are several reasons; Alan Alda was a good person.  William Christopher was a good person.  But William Christopher was always working hard; he was not supposed to carry litters and all the other stuff he was always doing in the background.  William Christopher set a standard of behavior that modeled what a chaplain was supposed to do, and military chaplains copied his behaviors, mannerisms, behaviors, attitudes, and work philosophies.

Consider this for a moment; military chaplains learned how to be chaplains by watching a fictional character, imitating a US Army unit on a Hollywood set.  Reality has been changed to emulate fiction because fiction better reflects how people should act in reality.  I was not the only chaplains assistant who measured his chaplain by Father Mulcahy.  It is gratifying to know that many chaplains in the military have measured themselves against Father Mulcahy, found themselves wanting, and then worked to improve how they responded.Father Mulcahy 3

Name an episode where Father Mulcahy is not working, and I will show you an episode of M*A*S*H that was never made.  Father Mulcahy was always available, always cheerful, and constantly engaged in a good cause, as he himself said, “to be helpful to the living.”  Carrying towels, standing in for a nurse, providing an extra set of hands in surgery, comforting a patient, nurse, soldier, patient, always there, always caring.  One of the most poignant episodes is when the Bishop of the Catholic church is coming for a visit, but a soldier wants to give blood for his buddy, and he finds out he has leukemia, and Father Mulcahy spends all night, not on his sermon, but talking to this young wounded soldier.  Take a page from Father Mulcahy; working hard is not going to kill you.  Engage!

Father Francis Mulcahy:
[Wearing a dress] While I was showering, someone stole my robe and left me this… this… house frock!

Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger:
Better not take it off, Father, or you’ll be a defrocked priest!

Father Mulcahy:
How would you like to get last rites, [raises his fists] and a few lefts?

Standing for your Convictions is Mandatory

Father Mulcahy:
How dare you! You seek refuge in this house of the Lord when it serves your purpose. Then when it’s no longer convenient, you desecrate it by pointing a deadly weapon at another human being. Private, a faith of convenience is a hollow faith.”

Father MulcahyThe episode this quote comes from is where the mess tent is being used for services, fresh eggs had been donated, and a soldier comes in seeking ecclesiastical refuge and is AWOL from his unit.  This episode has always been a favorite of mine; it has come back in times of stress and trial when the harder right and the easier wrong conflict, and I have the choice to make about which to follow.  Father Mulcahy always chooses the moral high ground, the harder right, instead of the easier wrong, and the lessons he taught through living are not easily forgotten or pushed aside.  I might not be as practiced in the execution of living the harder right, but I cannot choose the easier wrong, and that makes all the difference.

Father Mulcahy:
Klinger, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, but you take the cake.”

© 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.

Knee-Jerk Actions – Micro-Aggression or Humor: A Choice!

Exclamation MarkLet me be clear, upfront, and personal; I am not here to tell you what to think, how to think when to think, or where to think.  I will not force my opinions and ideas upon you as the global corporate media does.  I will offer ideas and suggestions and how you proceed is your affair.  Your choices will determine your destiny.  I aim to aid you in understanding and viewing the world a little differently to improve your destination.

Action vs. Reaction

Action encapsulates intention, producing accomplishment from organized activity; action is a process of thinking, acting, and becoming.  Only in physics should we ever consider every action having an equal and opposite reaction.  Why; because for humans, any reaction gives control to someone else and removes intentional controls.  A reaction is all about response to stimulus, no thinking, no changing, no intent, no organized activity, and no recovery until we, the human agent, retake control of our action.Paradox

Easy example, consider the toddler throwing a fit.  The toddler is trying to obtain a reaction from the parents favorable to that toddler’s individual desires at that moment.  However, any good parent will not respond to the toddler’s demands and usually provide behavior correction to enforce the thought that the toddler cannot make demands.  To regain control over the stimulus provided, the toddler must correct behavior or will not gain control over the future individual actions without additional parental intervention, an undesirable activity.  Thus, early on, the toddler will realize actions do not bring reactions but decisive action by parental figures, which is generally not the desired outcome.

Action versus reaction is an essential principle with foundations in moral agency, individual agency, and long-term consequences.  However, if the parent reacts to every toddler fit, the toddler gains power over the parental figure, which is an undesirable activity for the parent.  Action versus reaction is not splitting philosophical hairs or linguistic nuance; action is an intention-producing accomplishment; the reaction is an intentionless activity where self-control has been given to others.Calvin & Hobbes - Irony Hurts

Victor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and Robert Solomon, author of “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice,” both speak to this action versus reaction principle in a manner easily grasped.  We, as individuals, might not be able to control our every environment nor control the activities of others upon us, but we can control our actions in response.  Retaining control of self, improving who and what we are, and keeping the power of intentional activity.

Knee-Jerk Reactions

The ‘knee-jerk response’ is any reaction that is done automatically, without thought.  The knee-jerk reflex is what’s known as a mono-synaptic response. The impulse only has to jump from one nerve to another once.  Thus, the medical definition for a social activity, a knee-jerk reaction, requires no cognitive thinking, no intention and is the worst form of response to the intentional stimulus of others.

Bait & Switch 2For example, Speaker Pelosi tore up President Trump’s State of the Union speech record on live, national TV as a knee-jerk response to the sitting US President.  Of all the US President’s Speaker Pelosi has experienced, her behavior to President Trump was the most toddler-like, and people quickly excused this behavior as “Trump-Derangement Syndrome (TDS).”  Thus, we can drop the “knee” in knee-jerk responses and describe the activity aptly as being a jerk.  No thought, not intentional activity (even though the action has intention, the brain does not register cognitive effort), and the reaction to the stimulus is mono-synaptic.

Micro-Aggression and Macro-Aggression

Micro-aggression, according to Webster, is “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”  What is missing in this definition; individual perspective.  Micro-aggression is a personal choice to take offense at “a comment or action that” is judged to be “subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally” expressing what is considered by person one to be “a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”

Social Justice WarriorMacro-aggression is the complete opposite and are “obvious, intentional, above-board insults, where there is no chance of a mistake on the part of the transgressor to be provoking, insulting, or otherwise discourteous.”  But, again, the definition does not include the fact that the person claiming another person’s activities are macro-aggressive is a personal choice, a judgment, and a socially powered decision.

Social Justice Warrior 2Micro- and macro-aggression are often claimed to be “triggered” by specific words, colors, foods, waters, fruits, and a host of other items.  Essentially using fear and envy to demand people act differently or the consequences are toddler-like fits and fussing, picketing, rioting, looting, e.g., acting like a terrorist.  Thus, micro- and macro- aggression is nothing but the toddler throwing a temper tantrum because they are not getting what they want at that moment.  While claiming their aggression is on behalf of someone else, and their acts of terrorism are excusable because the aggression was triggered by someone or something else.  This is like the eight-year-old older brother or sister throwing a fit that the toddler was punished and claiming they are behaving irrationally in support of the toddler’s tantrum.  How many parents will buy this logic; I do not!

Humor

cropped-laughing-owlLove them or hate them, comedians have changed since I was a kid sneaking peaks of comic relief on cable while washing dishes late into the night.  Comedians now carefully pick their materials based upon their perceptions of the audience.  Thus, we have classes of comedians, including “Shock Comedians,” who try to be as offensive as possible and still get laughs.  We have political comedians; some come down equally on both sides of the political aisle, others are as cemented to a political agenda as they can be and use their “comedy” as a tool to influence their audiences towards that political agenda.  We have a host of comedians dedicated to helping people laugh and others who see themselves as able to influence, regardless of consequences.

I am not providing marketing to any comedian by giving examples of the statements made above.  You can certainly use a search engine to find these examples for yourself if interested.  You might even be able to think of several instances from history, especially recent history, that fit into the descriptions provided.  As I said in the beginning, you remain empowered to think as you prefer.

Bobblehead DollMy point is that humor, like every other emotion, can be a tool to build or a tool to destroy, and the choice of build or destroy rests in the user, but the consequences rest in the hands of the audience.  Consider this for a moment, how fast would a “Shock” comedian change their tune if the swearing, foul and degrading language, and behaviors manifested on stage did not get a single laugh, or worse, resulted in people standing up and walking out?  Some would change quickly, others it might take a little more pushing, but the result would be the same, a changed comedian.  Why; because capitalism works!

The comedian is the greatest example of capitalism at work in the world.  People will pay money for entertainment, but if the entertainer insults, denigrates, and derides, that entertainer is history and is told to find a different line of work through capitalism.  The pattern of comedians can be witnessed and applied across the spectrum from politicians to judges, from businesses to non-profits, all because capitalism works.

Why?

Why this article; why now?  On Monday this week, I received an email talking about micro-aggression.  The author used greeting cards and their sayings as representations of trigger events for micro-aggression.  We have the US President (Fraudulent or Not) being hostile and aggressive towards unvaccinated people.  But unvaccinated people are not spreading the Delta-Variant COVID virus; vaccinated people are.  We have social unrest in Cuba, where nobody is taking notice because for too long, the social elite has said that Cuba, as a Marxist-Leninist country, is a good thing and cannot stand watching their lies become evident.

Knowledge Check!Like the disc-jockey’s of my youth said, “And the Hits just keep on coming!”  Pick a spot on the globe, and you will find problems, issues, and concerns driven by micro- and macro-aggressive people who refuse to understand the difference between action and reaction—leaving this article as an attempt to aid in making better decisions.  How you choose to respond to the day’s events informs the political leaders and social influencers if they are winning or losing.  Thus, choose better, knowing that the social influencers and political leaders want you to react, not act!  Hence, choose to act.  Choose to use your moral agency and individual agency as a tool to intentionally choose your following action in the process of becoming who you want to be and not what others want you to be for their selfish gain.

© 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.

Now Panic and Freak Out!

Bait & SwitchOn my desk is a book, “Now Panic and Freak Out,” full of quotations about the lighter side of life.  No, I am not revisiting humor as a powerful tool again; instead, I am addressing some common themes in an uncommon manner.  While I agree that staying calm and carrying on is a tool that needs revisiting, I agree with Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic” is just not working, and too many people forgot their towels!  So, get comfortable; we are going to discuss why it’s okay to panic now and freak out!

Just because nobody complains does not mean all parachutes are perfect.” – Benny Hill

A work acquaintance complains that too many managers are not squeaky wheels, so problems can be discovered and proactively worked.  For example, an automated report has not been generating for 18-months, and nobody said a word, even though the report generates the productivity of associates working and plays a role in a host of other decisions.  As a society, it appears that even if the parachute fails, nobody is willing to ask questions, and that is a problem.  Why did we as a society stop asking questions, digging for answers, and being curious?Pigeon Revenge

I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them.” – President George H. W. Bush

Was this one of those infamous slips of speech, a symbol of politician spinelessness, or is this a reality?  I have strong opinions, and I find it natural not to always agree with those opinions.  I do this as a reality check for my opinions and have found that playing “Devil’s Advocate” on my beliefs teaches me to learn, investigate, stay curious, and keep learning.  However, when I discuss this in public, people act like I stole their breakfast, kicked their dogs, and slapped them across the face.  Thus, I ask again, only for emphasis, when did we as a society stop chasing curiosity, valuing questions, and searching for answers?Calvin & Hobbes - Ontological Quandry

Everything has been figured out, except how to live.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

I heard a teenager express “I know” so often, I wanted to smack them.  Except, I was that teenager, and self-abuse was not going to help me.  I have read books all my life, and according to my wife, I have an incredible memory, plus I get the stories, just maybe not all the names and numbers.  Hence, I can tell you stories on a host of topics; on some topics, I can still quote the numbers and hazards, and on some topics, I just love having the basics nailed to see where the foundational stones can be laid to generate solutions.  But I have no clue how to live!  I still have some of my report cards from K-12, the most common comment, “Does not play well with others.”  Followed by “Would rather read than socialize.” Then closely followed by, “Does not like being interrupted when reading!”  I think Jean-Paul Sartre has something here worth discussing.  Why do we punish failure when failure is part of living?B.C. - Terminal Velocity

There was yet an uninteresting life.  Such a thing is an impossibility.  Inside the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a tragedy, and a comedy.” – Mark Twain

Jean-Paul Sartre and Mark Twain make excellent points here from both sides of the coin of life.  Better, figuring out how to live involves drama, tragedy, and comedy as tools for building knowledge.  Thus, the next time you hear someone claim, “I am dull, my life is boring,” you can assure them, Mark Twain and Jean-Paul Sartre would disagree with them vehemently.

Caution:  Cape does not enable the user to fly.” – Tag on a Batman cape.

But wouldn’t it be cool if it did?  How many have seen a Superman cape, a Batman cape, or Spiderman costume and thought, “I wish this would help me fly, climb walls, swing through the city on a web, or leap tall buildings, etc.”  Imagination and curiosity are crucial to learning, living, and being human.  Why would anyone not imagine?  I cannot fathom that reality, but the truth stares at me daily, where imagination is considered just for kids.  Have the adults in the room stopped learning; if so, why?  I cannot imagine a life without imagination as the tool to grab in problem-solving, understanding operations, or visualizing processes; yet, mention a daydream, or ask someone to imagine, and people recoil like you have leprosy.  If there was a reason to freak out and panic, a lack of imagination and refusals to learning are symptoms of the problem.Calvin & Hobbes - Pragmatic Principles

Facts are stupid things.” – President Ronald Reagan

Boy is this the absolute truth!  I see a lot of data every day!  Data are accepted as facts, and even when proven to be erroneous, people will still cling to the data as facts.  During my undergraduate statistics program, the instructor designed an awesome class.  We took a sample of data in Week 1, and by Week 8, we have proven our hypothesis, disproved our hypothesis, twisted the hypothesis, and written a host of reports to support our data as right and wrong with confidence.  Know what we learned, not to trust statistics and data as facts.  Unfortunately, not everyone has learned this lesson, want another lesson, people will always trump data!  I have witnessed people do extraordinary things under pressure that the data claims are 100% impossible.  Where people are involved, nothing is impossible, just improbable!BC - Definition

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” – George Bernard Shaw

Just to be fair, let’s include women in this category of learning from experience.  I know for a fact that men are not the only ones who struggle with learning from experience.  Plus, I think that was the point in emphasizing “Man” in the quote above; but I have learned that someone will choose to take offense that women are omitted.  Do you think this is a symptom of the disease or the disease itself?  Would you be surprised if I said this is only a symptom of the disease?

The disease is envy, labeled as equality and fairness, and aspersions are cast to justify choosing to be offended.  I was discussing this topic Sunday with several people, and the disease of envy is just too simple to understand, and the disease of envy is repeating the history of Rome.  Rome repeated Greece, Greece repeated the Byzantine Empire, who repeated Egypt, and the list goes on and on all the way back to Cain and Able.  Not a single society in history is exempt from the disease of envy, being displayed as equality and fairness.Anton Ego

Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard

WWGDPanicking and freaking out are not opposite sides of the emotion coin; they are extensions of staying calm and carrying on.  I promise you cannot prove you are staying calm if you have not felt a reason to freak out.  You cannot prove you are successfully carrying on if you have not experienced fear and panic.  This might at first appear to be a paradox, but telling someone to stay calm who has never experienced panic, they will not know what you are talking about or what to do.

© 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.

Killing the Status Quo – Revisiting That Powerful Tool – HUMOR!

Deep PoetryDale Dauten authored “The Laughing Warriors: How to Enjoy Killing the Status Quo,” who, alongside Robert Fulghum, author of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” have taught me much about the sword and shield of humor.  Humor is a tool; it is the best tool in a leader’s toolbox, and “Dad Jokes,” especially those that are “a parent,” work the best.  Interestingly, when killing the status quo, one must first become creatively useful.

Creative Usefulness

Creative usefulness is a term coined by Dale Dauten (2003), which reminds us of a quote by Conrad Schneiker, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get it to float on its back, you’ve got something.”  Humor creates creativity in other people, allowing that humor-inspired person to do a job. It makes them useful first to themselves and then to others. As a result, humor and usefulness break out like sunshine after a moonless night!

How does the man in the moon cut his hair?
Eclipse it!

Dale Dauten (2003) nailed creative usefulness by changing the language of success.

“The Old Language of Success:
Persistence, Goals, Numbers, Positive Attitude

Versus

The New Language of Success:
Smiling, Laughing, Feelings, Saving, Helping”

Mediocrity JokeDauten (2003, p. 10-11) went further and added that creative usefulness is also ambitious helpfulness; this motivates people.  When your employees creatively use their talents, skills, and abilities, they become helpful to the whole brand, the full organization, and guess what, you never have to talk about employee morale or engagement.  How many fewer meetings would executives have per day if they were not discussing just these two items; a lot.  Meaning they could be on the floor listening, helping, and enjoying what they created: ambitious helpfulness and people’s growth.  Just remember, mediocrity is okay!

What happens when you squeeze a smurf?
You Papa smurf!

Slaying Mediocrity

Plant JokeMediocrity is acting in a mediocre manner.  Mediocre is nothing special; in fact, mediocre happens.  Mediocre is indistinguishable, lacking quality, indifferent.  In being indifferent, mediocre becomes deadly.  Avoiding mediocre attitudes and mediocrity in actions is not a perplexing problem; embrace mediocrity.  Sounds absurd, doesn’t it.  The whole world wants us to chase quality, nag people into higher performance, and organize differently into success.  Guess what; none of those things will bring happiness to ourselves, success to our organizations, and fulfillment to the employees around us.  Our brains will go on full alert in embracing mediocrity because we have been taught that mediocrity is dangerous.  Guess what; mediocrity IS dangerous.  Why embrace mediocrity; because therein, we find the problem with hierarchies, organizational designs, and strategical goals; we forgot the people!  Psychologists and geneticists find that the best way to reach people and get the best out of them is to remind them of their weaknesses.

What do you call a belt entirely made out of watches?
A waist of time!

Mediocrity is the safe spot, and people and institutions will invariably fall back to this spot as a personal safety zone.  Thus, stop criticizing yourself and those around you for being mediocre.  It is okay to be shy and to tell the world about your problems with being shy.  Business organizations bring out the worst in people, be liberated by that knowledge, and you can then begin to understand how humor and a laughing warrior mindset can help.  Use eyes that encourage.

What happened when prison wardens allowed inmates to take pictures?
Cellfies!

Looking Through Eyes that Encourage

Pigeon RevengeDuring my MBA, the current buzzword for improving people was “Management by walk-around,” and this philosophy has been incredibly popular while also being fantastically useless!  Why; because getting out and taking a walk helps only the manager, not those managed!  Worse, management by walk-around brought out the worst egos from their offices, and employees tuned out, turned off, and fell into mediocrity as a shield of protection from “know-it-all” leaders.  Want to change that; embrace a “learn-it-all” mentality.  When you walk out your door, ask the first person you see to teach you something.  Repeat for as many people as you encounter.

There are three signs of senility.
Loss of memory is the first one.
… I forget the other two!

When asking for help, take notes.  The action of taking notes reflects the seriousness of your desire to learn.  Plus, with a notebook in hand, you can remember to tell that funny joke you just heard after training completes.  Never forget, in fact, teach this to your employees through example, “Empty hands; Closed Mind!”  Dauten (2003, p. 40-41) quotes Shashi Gupta:

If you want to implement an idea, you must be able to answer three questions.”
What are the three questions?”
“The answer: “NO ONE KNOWS!”  (By the way, this includes the boss!)

Moon Re-EntryWhich would be more preferable, employees who ask questions or know answers?  How you answer this determines a lot about you and speaks volumes about what a consultant will find in your operations, employees, and customers.  As a consultant (since 2004), the number one expression I have heard consistently across the lower 48-states has been “No Way!,” followed closely by “Impossible!,” and “You are out of your mind!”  Why; the first excuse, “That is the way we do things here.”  Announcing for the world that processes never change, procedures never flex, and customers never change, so why not just keep doing what we have always done, ad nauseam ad infinitum.  When reality bit, all of these organizations saw stars, all lost tremendous amounts of capital, shrank operations, and many went bankrupt!

Overheard in a bar.
Patron 1: What does “IDK” mean?
Patron 2: I don’t know.
Patron 1: I cannot believe this; no one knows!

Cow and Moon JokeLooking through encouraging eyes is refusing to do the same thing over and over, expecting no changes ever to result; not looking through encouraging eyes is a short bus to insanity!  Looking with encouraging eyes is all about asking, “Why Not?”  Repeatedly.  Consciously.  Then looking at the answers and still stepping into the unknown with confidence.  Why not; when faced with a problem, ask your employees for solutions, input, and ideas; this leadership style uses “Appreciative Inquiry” to the fullest extent possible.  Why not; shake off the status quo, laugh, and enjoy the human element as a tool for creating great people dedicated to your brand.  Why not; ask the impossible, explaining the why, and see how the results occur.

True Story:  Whenever I have a problem, I sing…
Then I realize that my voice is a lot worse than my problems!

Pin by Tara Bites on for school in 2020 | Clean jokes, Jokes, Clean humorI am asking you to choose to become a laughing warrior, slaying the dragons of status quo one idiosyncratic obstacle at a time.  Having fun, growing people, improving business, and being adventurous.  Never forget, dehydrated water, in a can and pet rocks, sold like wildfire!

What do you call Security guards at the Samsung Manufacturing plant?
Guardians of the Galaxy!

Dehydrated water | | thetandd.com© 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.

NO MORE BS: Another Powerful Tool – Humor

LaughterIn my email inbox right now is an interesting email all about humor.  The authors discuss humor’s power in improving relationships, improving business, and building small and large teams concisely.  An interesting:

The average four-year-old laughs as many as three hundred times per day while the average forty-year-old, by comparison, laughs three hundred times every two and a half months.”, say doctors Aaker and Bagdonas, authors of “Humor, Seriously.”

Why are adults taking themselves so seriously?

Firefox!Common knowledge, laughter IS the BEST Medicine, and Reader’s Digest has been declaring this for multiple decades [Emphasis Mine].  Consider:

– Laughter releases oxytocin, creating connection, looping fear out.
– The anticipation of laughter decreases cortisol (the stress hormone linked to anxiety) and epinephrine (our flight hormone) by 39% and 70%, respectively.
– When we are less scared (less stressed) and lonely (more connected), we are better prepared to learn.
– In one research study where people wrote testimonials for a product, people who wrote humorous testimonials were rated as five percent more competent, 11 percent more confident, and 37 percent higher in status.
– In another study, managers perceived to have a sense of humor were rated by subordinates as 23% more respected and 25% more pleasant to work around.

Sharing is CaringEd Rivera, a US Navy/Marine Corps Chaplain, suggested six reasons why people take themselves too seriously.  Included are four points from Chaplain Rivera’s list for consideration.

  1. “[People] generally do not understand the humor or purpose for levity.”
      • How many times has a situation been humorous, but the business rules, social concerns, or fear proclaimed that laughing is inappropriate; but, as soon as the peer group changes, the situation is hilarious and is often retold?
      • Hence, the problem is not that the situation was not funny, but fear and peer-pressure interfered with an emotional response, and the core problem was never relaxed.
      • There is a line between everyone laughing at a situation and laughing at a person. Being cognizant of this line is everyone’s job.  However, laughter should not suffer, and mental health should not take a nosedive because it is funny, but the people are overly sensitive.
  2. “Humor unnerves people with insecurities because it uncloaks their wounds and weaknesses. They feel vulnerable, out of control, and emotionally naked. In a nutshell, while you’re feeling pleasure, they’re feeling pain.”
      • Except, choosing to feel vulnerable, out of control, or emotionally naked is the problem, not the situation’s levity.
      • What would happen if a leader employed this opportunity as a learning opportunity?
      • If failure is allowed as a learning experience, then why not teach people to laugh at themselves?
  3. “As a ‘rule of thumb,’ avoid having fun at the expense of others. Seriously, if they’re not laughing, it isn’t funny.”
      • I do not think much of this “Rule of Thumb.” I have included it as a consideration point but not as a governing rule.
      • Are Darwin Award winners and nominees funny? I think so, and my wife, though, does not.  I find Jeff Dunham and Bill Engvall are hilarious; my wife does not.  This separation in senses of humor has been constant in our marriage, but it does not mean we do not find humor together; it merely means we choose differently what makes us laugh.  Thus, the “Rule of Thumb” is not correct or applicable everywhere.
  4. “Our world does have an overabundance of people that do take themselves and others way too seriously. However, there are also pockets of people who will get or understand your humor.”
      • The main point as to why the “Rule of Thumb” is not a good rule, people choose what is and what is not funny. That choice is personal, and that choice has natural consequences.

KermitWhat is a person to do to enjoy more levity?

Laughing OwlBefore my injuries took me, when I needed more levity in my life, I would skip.  Funniest thing you can imagine, a grown man, on an Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer which happens to have low ceilings (overheads), skipping.  It brought levity to me and a lot of funny stories to others.  Like the time I smacked my head into the overhead hard enough to see galaxies.  Or the time I skipped too high to clear a low knife edge and drilled the upper knife-edge of a watertight door hard enough to clear my sinuses and darken my eyes.  I can attest, though, skipping always brought me a euphoric mental attitude.

Learn a new joke weekly.  Use it often!  When my mother-in-law was in a long-term care facility, another patient’s kids would tell her dirty jokes, and I would tell her clean jokes, the best part of my week was trading jokes with a stranger.  For example:

What did the pasta say to the green bean?
Answer: Penne for your thoughts.

Pie HumorChange your perception.  I love hanging out with kids!  When I spend enough time with kids, my perception changes, and I begin to see how they see the world.  Then, the humor of the world hits me, and I laugh – a lot!  For example, how funny is a squished animal on the road?  Not very, right.  Except to a couple of six-year-old boys, this is the coolest find, and the jokes write themselves when their sister walks into her room and finds that animal remains!  Priceless!

While learning a new joke weekly, always have some “Dad” or “Mom” jokes handy!  I was outraged, and I did not want to be in a meeting, I did not want to present; I was mentally disconnected and madder than a wet chicken with hemorrhoids.  I learned an amazing lesson at that moment, “Dad” Jokes are awesome, and having one ready at a moment’s notice makes the best ice breaker and mind changer.

What did the fish say when he with a wall?
Damn!

As I got to the podium, I stumbled and a “Damn” fumbled out of my mouth.  The person farthest from the podium asked what?  I said, “That was what the fish said when he hit a wall.”  You could have heard a pin drop.  Then the laughter got started, and someone told another “Dad” Joke, which loosened the mood a little more.  By the end of the “Dad” Joke session, I was in a better mood, the room was more relaxed, and that meeting was memorable for being productive.  Never waste an opportunity to pull a “Dad” Joke on someone!

I used to play the clarinet by ear; I learned it was easier to play by hand.

Until I moved from Albuquerque, NM, in 2020, I owned a hat.  Better, this hat had bells, it had palm frond branches, it was multi-colored, and my wife of 20-years never thought I would wear this hat in public.  She lost that bet; I have pictures!

Dave's Hat

Car BearMeme’s, especially the funny ones, can add a new level to a PowerPoint.  During my undergraduate degree program, I had a PowerPoint Assignment, and the minimum was 12 slides, minus the reference and introduction slide.  I had 11 slides and could not find a way to create one more slide.  On slide seven, I found a picture of a bear in Nevada, who had climbed behind the seat of a gorgeous car, cherry red, chrome, beautiful car.  The owner had a pizza and beer in the car, and I had this slide play a total of three seconds to crawl across the screen.  The owner claimed that the bear ate his pizza and drank his bear before leaving the car.  I laughed all week, awaiting my score; I laugh today from the comments and the responses.  Having a ready supply of humorous pictures, memes, images are the absolute best trick to play on someone.

Oops!I have a challenge for you, find something funny, share it!  Repeat!  Repeat!  Keep doing this for a month and see if you have changed.  I heard this joke…Difficult Times

© 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.