Magna Res Est Vocis Et Silentii Temperamentum – A Valuable Lesson Indeed!

Detective 4The proverbs of Seneca the younger provide the title and the lesson for consideration, “The great thing is to know when to speak and when to keep quiet.”  I make this statement and write on this lesson, not because I am good at knowing when to speak and when to stay silent, but in the hopes of learning more perfectly when to speak and when to talk.  In reviewing my K-12 report cards, the ones my parents had to sign, the most frequent comment is knowing when to shut up, closely followed by “Does not play well with others.”  The latter is a badge of honor; I have never played well with others!

But, knowing when to speak and when not to speak is a challenge, and in observing people, I find I might not be the only person afflicted with a lack of knowledge on this topic.  My wife is a perfect example of someone who knows when to speak and when to stay silent.  She has mastered the art of saying the exact word in season someone needs to hear and claims manners and discernment have honed her abilities.

Charles de Lint is quoted on educating children, saying in part, “Teach them to learn how to see and ask questions.”  The greatest teachers I can recall easily are those who taught me to either perceive differently or how to ask questions.  Long have I desired to return these lessons and remain enthusiastic about finding the opportunities to teach.  I often quote and consider the lessons taught by Henry Chester, who said, “Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world.  It beats money, power, and influence.  It is nothing more or less than faith in action.”  While appearing paradoxical, enthusiasm and learning when to speak and stay silent are anything but contradictory, and this is the point and the lesson for your consideration.Pin on Why Volkalize?

Why do we speak?

Of all the questions asked me in my K-12 journey, the number one question has to be an iteration of the following: “Why are you talking?”  I never could understand when to shut up.  Worse, there were plenty of times when my refusal to shut up would worsen the punishment, even though I considered the teacher’s actions immoral, unethical, or plain wrong.  For example, in 12th grade, Mr. Moro’s class, Camden-Rockport High School, Camden, Maine.  I had been a student of this school for a grand total of 1 day; this was the second class on my second day.  My first meeting with Mr. Moro, who, very clearly stated, “This is his classroom, his castle, and in his castle, he was king and demanded respect.  To which I firmly replied, NO!  He sent me to the principal’s office and said I would not return until he had a parent/teacher conference.  Being emancipated, I told him he would have to speak with me, and he could fax me!  I still have no idea what a senior class advisor is or what they do, but apparently, I had to appease Mr. Moro if I wanted to graduate.

Quotes About Listening And Speaking. QuotesGramWhy was I speaking in this incident; I was not going to be pushed or bullied by what I considered at the time a pompous moron.  I needed to change how I perceived Mr. Moro as a person.  I graduated high school, Mr. Moro never became a friend, but we did learn how to get along with each other.  Yes, I ate some crow and had to chip away at my ego.  After graduating and traveling to Advanced Individual Training for the US Army, I got a nice letter from Mr. Moro.  One of the reasons we speak is we feel put upon and do not know how to extricate ourselves, or in my case, extricate my foot from my mouth.Are you an active listener ….or do you just hear? | Psychoeducation in Psychotherapy ...

Another reason we speak is a desire to say something, but how often have we opened our mouths without forming the thought entirely, and our mouth is running way faster than our brains, common sense, and self-preservation?  In my case, way too often.  Several comedians call this an older person’s disease, not having the brain mouth filter, common sense, or good social skills to know when to say something and when to listen.  One of the reasons I love old people is explicitly derived from this truthfulness and lack of filter.

When my mother-in-law fell and had to be placed in a nursing home, long-term care facility, I made some great friends in her facility.  Not a single filter anywhere to be found.  One older lady, her name regrettably escapes me, had family who would come and tell her the filthiest jokes on the weekend.  During the week, I would visit my mother-in-law and slip her a couple of clean jokes, dad jokes, and just plain funny jokes.  One day I told her a joke about passing gas in church after a bean supper the night before.  She laughed so hard; I thought I had injured her.  I came back the next day and learned she had told the entire staff this joke, and she told me she had laughed so hard so peed herself.Raji Lukkoor Quote: "Respond; don't react. Listen; don't talk. Think; don't assume." (9 ...

I apologized to the nursing staff and armed them with a few choice dad jokes.  She did not want an apology, but she told me a story from her youth where the night before her church had hosted a community-wide bean supper, chili cookoff, raffle/silent auction, and how the next day’s sermon was cut short because the pastor could not stand the air in his church, which is when I began laughing hard enough to make me wonder if I was going to pee myself!  Worse, this was the day after serving baked beans for supper, and she and I listened to the chorus of frogs from the patients and kept falling out of our chairs laughing.Spalding, Laura - Kindergarten / Special Classes Schedule

Betty Eadie eloquently provides a caution for our words, “If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely.  If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.  In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.  Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts.  We can always replace negative with positive.”  The next lesson on why we speak is that our brains are too full of words and need an outlet.  Yet, how much better would the world be if we filtered our thoughts, slowed our thinking, and kept our mouths shut?

Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” – Buddha

The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts.” – Peter McWilliams

Listening Quotes | Listening Sayings | Listening Picture QuotesThree people from different periods of human history, all messaging a truth, thoughts do become things, and often the things our thoughts become are not what we wanted or desired.  More specifically, the thoughts became things because we expressed the thoughts that should have stayed silent in words.  In learning to control the post-traumatic stress disorder I suffer, the words of Peter McWilliams became the answer I needed and the balm in Gilead I sought.  I had to stop fighting my thoughts to be able to control the pernicious and repeated images, feelings, and constant reminiscing over a terrible incident from my service in the US Navy.  Every day remains a challenge to acknowledge the thoughts and let them go.  Every day it becomes easier to achieve.  There is hope!

Why do we listen?

Of all the questions I have never been asked, I hope to learn the lesson of controlling my thoughts so I may hear better.  I suffer from tinnitus, many times though the ability to listen does not reside in my ear where the tinnitus rings, but in my brain that is a ravaged wasteland of competing ideas, factions, and imaginations.  When the voices in my head go silent, I hear the birds in the trees, I hear voices of people around me, and I experience hearing.  The moment I begin speaking, I lose the ability to hear.Hearing Vs Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Ken Kesey is quoted as saying, “See with your ears and hear with your eyes.”  What a remarkable idea.  One of the most momentous times I can ever recall occurred while onboard my ship, deep dark of night.  You know how dark night can get if you have ever been beyond the hundred-fathom curve.  I was an engineer on the mid-watch (0000-0400) and was roaming around topside between rounds, something I should not have been doing, but I needed fresh air and wanted to see if the stars really were more brilliant at sea.  On a night with no moon, deep dark, I saw the ship passing through the water with my ears.  I heard the waves; I heard the wind whistling through the ship’s rigging; I saw with my ears the stumbling of smokers going to and from the smoke deck—an experience like no other.  Why do we listen; to learn, to experience, and if we choose, to marvel!

In the 1990’s I had a screen saver called psychedelic.  When music was played, it changed colors according to the beat, and you had user interfaces where you could pick specific interpretations to display on the screen in colors, lines, and contrasts.  This was the first time I can remember visualizing sounds.  I had previously turned the stereo speakers to maximum and watched sound interface with the water in a fish tank, but this screen saver was the first time I can remember seeing sound displayed by a computer.  Since this screensaver, I have watched sound played in flames (SUPER COOL), watched water falling display shapes as heard through a computer, and synthesized (unique experience indeed).  I have used several computer programs that took that old screensaver’s concept and improved the display and synthesization.  Yet, I am still want to hear with my eyes and see if I can improve how I listen.Hearing And Listening Quotes & Sayings | Hearing And Listening Picture Quotes

Something was pointed out to me, the word silent has precisely the same letters as listen, but in the arrangement of those letters, the ability of one is lost or found.  I have learned that a silent mouth precedes a silent mind, and you need both to listen.  Yet, it is a rare moment indeed when my brain is silent.  My brain runs lyrics to songs, words I think I should have said, words I am preparing to speak, responses to questions, responses to other people’s opinions, facts, figures, fights, and the list goes on ad nauseum ad infinitum!  A book by Stephen Covey mentioned, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand.  Most people listen with the intent to reply.”  Why do we listen; this is a valuable question to consider!

I have mentioned this previously and repeat myself only for emphasis; all the musical talent, knowledge, and skill I possess can be poured into a thimble and never moisten the bottom.  I mention this because Linda Ronstadt said, “Ninety-Nine present of singing is listening and hearing, and so then one percent of it is singing.”  A thought I had never previously considered.  I love music and have an eclectic taste in music, but I hear not listen to music.  Music has never been an escape from reality but has often been a balm to my world-weary soul.  Music has been a tool, a weapon, and a shield, in the battles for knowledge, learning, and protecting myself from the words of others.  In the US Army, Basic Training music was the key to getting me to relax and shoot the M-16A2 sufficiently to qualify and eventually graduate basic training.  But, only now, when considering Lind Ronstadt’s quote, I realized I hear music, not listen to music.Humorous Listening Quotes. QuotesGram

Funny story, while my parents are hippies, my father is a professional musician but not a music teacher.  As a kid, music in our house was how food made it to the table, how my father retreated from the world’s cares, and often a weapon against my mother.  Yet, even coming from a home where music was a major part of daily life, I never learned to listen to music.  Have you ever heard reveille played on a tuba, French horn, clarinet, trombone, guitar, recorder, or flute?  If so, you know a little of what growing up in our house was like.  When 0400 came, whatever instrument my father was playing at the time became the instrument upon which reveille was played.

Knowledge Check!A song covered by a multitude of musicians originates with Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence.”  The second link is to Disturbed’s cover of the Paul Simon song; I think this is the best version.  What are the sounds of silence?  Are they different for each person?  Does the sound of silence change with the environment, the weather, or humanity’s influence?  I once read a research report regarding the negative impact of listening to the sounds of New York City and how the city’s sound shortened the lives of those who constantly heard the city.  As we consider the lesson on learning when to speak and to discern when to stay silent, may we consider how to improve listening, moving from hearing to listening, and find joy in seeing with our ears and hearing with our eyes.

© 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.

Woman!

Detective 4The majority of this article was drafted before the controversy with the SCOTUS nominee.  The intent is to honor the role of women and woman.  Affirming again that how you choose to live is your business and is between you and whatever god, God, or gods you worship.  Provided you allow others the same rights to life, liberty, and pursue happiness, I do not care how you choose to live.

How you choose to live should not denigrate anyone, let alone biologically living males and females, men and women.  Leading this discussion to answer the simple question posed by US Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) to SCOTUS nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, “What is a woman?”  Again, affirming the role and embodiment of a woman is more than the sum of her sexual parts; the question does have merit and deserves answered.  What is a woman?

The Bible relates that all creation occurred in six days; on the sixth day, the woman was created as the supreme creation of God, and then God rested on the seventh day.  Not here to argue religion, but to herald that final glorious act of creation, the woman.  How grateful I am for the women in my life.  Various scriptures relate that woman was created so man would not be alone, so a helpmeet was found for Adam, and the woman would be equal to the man in all things.  An interesting dichotomy was found in creating the woman: Adam was created of the dust, but the woman was created from Adam’s side.  According to biblical accounts, no other female in the species created replicated this pattern.  Clearly, there is a lesson for us to understand, acknowledge, and support socially through laws and societal norms.

Male v. FemaleWhat a unique creation the woman is.  Paradoxical in all things, a woman is soft and strong, inflexible and flexile, independent, and a great team member.  What family is complete without a woman and a man?  One of the great truths in life is that man and woman were created separate and dependent, and gender is an eternal construct.  Each person is born male and female, with their creator’s traits, personalities, and intelligence.  Yet what do we see in all modern societies; the continued blurring of lines, roles, and dehumanization of the grandeur of man and woman, but of the two woman, has been taking the worst hits.

Consider fashion; since the feminist movement began, fashion for women has warped and destroyed the modesty, chastity, and glory of a woman.  Fashionistas are trying to make the woman into a young boy at best.  Always to be “fashionable,” the woman is made to squeeze, pinch, and be uncomfortable.  Women’s shoes are a contortion and torture exercise, a balancing act sacrificing function and comfort for some twisted idea of style.  Long have I looked upon the inequality in fashion between men and women and been abhorred, disgusted, and discomfited by the base and profane ideas accepted as “stylish” and “fashionable.”  Women, why do you allow yourself and your high and holy station to be demeaned in the name of “fashion?”

Consider make-up and all the chemicals a woman is “supposed” to use to “improve” her beauty.  The emoluments alone are sufficient to baffle and bewilder, then add the smells and paints, and the woman is taught from day one that being natural is insufficient to being attractive or whole.  Yet, I know differently, for I have seen strong and powerful women who never touch these things and remain effective, regnant, and influential.  Tell me honestly, what you put on your face, to make up, what value is there in this process?  Who told you you needed these chemicals to be a woman?Virtuous Woman 3

Human biology, and I would presume all biological sciences, defines a female as having two X chromosomes, whereas males have an X and a Y chromosome.  I passed biology with high marks but failed zoology as I did not attend enough to be scored.  If there is a biologist who would like to weigh in, please feel free to correct me.  The developing fetus develops as either a male or female as growth occurs in the germinal, embryonic, and fetal stages of life.  The physical characteristics separating males and females are coded into a person’s DNA, and fourth-grade science was apparent on these topics.

Psychology in recent years has declared that a person’s choices can change the gender of a person, but the sex of a person remains coded genetically.  Thus, woman, as a biologically separate class of animals, have different bone structures, hair, glands, skin, hormones, etc., coded from birth, regardless of how that person chooses how to live.  Please allow me to make a strong point, a woman, and for that matter, a man, are more than the sum of their sexual parts.  If this were not true, then those men having sexual reassignment surgery to obtain female genitalia would automatically adopt all the characteristics of a woman upon the conclusion of surgery.  VaccineEstrogen and testosterone, hormones, and chemicals would not need to be supplemented, and the mental processes separating a man and a woman would not need to be fought so assiduously by those having their sex surgically or chemically altered.  Again, supporting the fact that it is psychology and not biology, establishing the difference between biological men and women, and the sum of their sexual parts is a non-issue.

On the topic of psychology, look to the results of choosing to live in a manner opposite of birth sex.  We discover suicides, depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental diseases prevalent in this population, not witnessed to the same degree in different populations.  Why the LGBTQ+ populations have such prevalent and significant occurrences of these mental diseases is a question modern society refuses to research as this has been termed out of bounds as potentially anti-LGBTQ+.  Thus, research supports that the populations of those choosing to live life in this manner have these mental problems but refuses to ask why; do you see a problematic situation?  All this while attacking the role, lifestyles, and position of woman.

20 Inspirational Quotes for Women All Around the WorldUnder the role of woman, there is a title worthy of acknowledgment, and the title is lady.  Like gender, being a lady is a choice, a lifestyle, and contains social obligations, societal expectations, and requires significant effort on the part of the woman to obtain the title lady.  For example, Nancy Reagan was a lady, Hilary Clinton is merely a woman.  What separates these two women is class, respect, dignity, and more, not politics, not personality, and definitely not lifestyles and social circles.  Being a lady requires sacrifice, making choices over long periods of time, and it demands total commitment to achieve.  Females become women through growth, females become ladies by choice and sacrifice, and are granted this title by others.

In attempting to make this distinction clearer, allow me to draw a more specific example between women and ladies.  Gretchen Wilson sings a song, “Redneck Woman.”  The song lists qualities of a woman, specifically a class of woman “Redneck women.”  No aspersions cast, no denigration, and no offense offered.  Frankly, I have deep respect for several redneck women.  I am also proud to know and respect a lot of women who ride horses as cowgirls and rodeo stars, some really kick butt women from the US Military, and more.  But, a lady is phenomenally different by choice, and this is the point.18 Inspiring Independent Women Quotes By Famous & Powerful Women

Great ladies of history include amongst their ranks Katherine Hepburn, Doris Day, Nancy Reagan, Barbara “The Silver Fox” Bush, Abagail Adams, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Sarah and Esther of Old Testament fame, Mary of New Testament fame, these and more are ladies.  First and foremost, these females are women, strong and independent, then they choose to become ladies and are honored more than mere women or as the sum of their sexual parts.  Women honored, revered, and respected for their contributions to womanhood, society, and sacrifices, women who practiced gentleness, compassion, respect, and kindness as quintessential aspects of their core identity, not for worldly fame or personal gain.  Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th President, honored two women as mothers and called both ladies of influence.  Yet, Disney would have us believe that all stepmothers are horrible creatures.  A vast chasm exists between women and ladies, and this is but one of the separations or classifications between women; by the choices the woman makes, a lady is created.Strong Women Quotes, Powerful Independent Woman Quotes

In trying to make a point about not hitting women, President Biden accidentally created a problem.  President Biden remarked that nobody should punch a woman in the face.  Distinguishing multiple times in the same speech that hitting a woman in the face, specifically, is not allowed.  As a kid, I learned not to hit women at all; even if being attacked by a woman, a man merely defends themselves restraining a woman if necessary, not to cause additional injury to herself or someone else.  But, Biden implied that only hitting a woman in the face is problematic; what a detestable creature is the man who would hit a woman!  I am not condoning violence in any shape or against any person.  For thousands of years and across hundreds of societies, those who would enact violence, society, rightly, has dolled out steeper punishments to those committing violence against women.Quotes from some of the most Famous Women in History ! - TechStory

Social laws throughout recorded history have always treated women differently.  Sometimes in history, this has been to the detriment and unequal treatment of women, and recently in history, treating women as equals to men is a fact that should be cheered and heralded.  Yet, along comes transgenderism demanding equal treatment under the law, not as a separate but equal category, but supplanting women, representing more attacks on women and womanhood by conspiring men for personal gain.  Don’t believe me; look at the story of the NCAA and the recent swimmer making news and winning championships, and tell me that conspiring men are not attacking the equality of women.  A charade of disrespect is cast before us, slandering women and womanhood for some amorphous and ambiguous term for lifestyle choices and not sound science, or respectful dialogue about laws.

Knowledge Check!I conclude where I began, respecting women, honoring ladies, and decrying the attack on women and womanhood as the demented and twisted attack of conspiring men and women who would see women destroyed upon the altar of political correctness.  Ladies, you have my respect, admiration, and sword, for you are deserving.  Women, you have my respect for the roles you fill as opposites of men and your work as mothers, teachers, and the co-equal helpmeet of men.  May those conspiring to destroy you be found buried in the hole they have dug for your destruction.

© 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.

Christmas and Other Holidays – A Frank and Open Discussion

I am unapologetically a Christian, I regularly attend church, and I exercise faith through daily scripture reading, prayer, and other works synonymous with being a Christian.  Being a Christian, I embrace freedom, especially freedom of religion; “Let [all people] worship how, where, or what they may.”  I am not smart enough to tell anyone, convince anyone, or try to force anyone to believe anything.  As a point of fact, my articles very specifically encourage you to find your answers, much as I have done, through study, learning, and faith.

Yes, this is a discussion!  I do not understand Christmas in any way, shape, or form; while this also applies to all accepted holidays, Christmas is my focus.  If you understand Christmas better or any holiday mentioned, feel free to teach me so that we both may learn more perfectly.  Christmas, as a child, was only once a time of wonder.  I remember that Christmas; I must have been 6 or 7 years.  I do not remember what I got for Christmas, but I remember how I felt.  I have not felt similarly since, and while I know why, I do not understand how to put the wonder back into Christmas.

Annually, Christmas, New Year, and the rest of the mid-winter holidays are a time for deep depression.  I struggle to feel anything from Halloween to mid-February; think London Fog as a mental condition, and your close to understanding what is happening between my ears annually.  As a child and teen, the holidays were always a time of stress, increased drama, and tons, and tons, of dishes.  The holiday season brought increased torment as parents’ stress (especially) resulted in increased violence (physical and mental).  Thus, I learned not to appreciate the holidays but loath the workload, violence, and abuse and view the holiday season as a time of greater pain and suffering.

Don’t even get me started on how to celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day.  There are holidays, and choosing to celebrate or not is just as important as how to celebrate and whom to celebrate.  The biggest mistake society makes is trying to force everyone to celebrate the same holiday!

As an adult, mainly due to the depression, I avoid stores between Halloween and mid-February, like the plague!  The music of “Christmas” does not lift, and I find it difficult to hear.  To me, the people during Christmas are more challenging to be around.  I do not understand their choices and changes in attitude, their happiness, nor share in their wonder and excitement.  The pagan beliefs Catholicized into Christmas traditions blow my ever-loving mind!  I do not see Christ in a decorated “Christmas” Tree or other Christmas pageantry.  Simply put, every Christmas Tradition, generally accepted by Christendom, is stolen from mid-winter pagan holidays.  As I have studied the origins and beliefs inherent in Christmas, Easter, Halloween, All Saints Day, etc., I see more and more of the historical imprint of early Catholic Church leaders, and I stand aghast that these beliefs have turned into traditions that bind and hold fast the human mind.

Yet, to not wish someone else, especially another Christian, “Merry Christmas” is to be judged less a Christian.  I do not understand!  I believe in Christ; I believe in and have a knowledge of his reality, birth, life, death, resurrection, and visitation to all the Twelve Tribes of Israel after his resurrection.  I accept Christ as my Savior and advocate before the Father.  But, I do not understand Christmas celebrations or why these celebrations “speak of Christ, rejoice in Christ,” or promote Christian beliefs!  I understand the underpinnings of, and like the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.  I see Christ in this celebration of lights and appreciate those who celebrate this simple holiday simply.  But Hanukkah is not a holiday I can fully enjoy either, not for the lack of trying.

I have the same problem with Passover, not for the lack of trying, but I cannot celebrate this holiday, for I feel something is missing.  Easter, will someone please explain to me the lines of logical congruence between a bunny rabbit laying eggs and the resurrection of Jesus Christ!  None of the “traditions” of Easter make a lick of sense to me.  While I feel different at Easter than I do with any other holiday, I do not celebrate this holiday either, even though I respect and honor, follow and try to emulate Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, advocate, and hopefully friend.  While we’re on the topic of incongruent traditions, Santa Claus creeps me out!  The fear of being judged without an advocate or appeals process is anti-Christian, but Santa Claus continues to play a fearful role in Christmas.  Worse, the mysticism prevalent in a belief in Santa Claus fills my mind, not with Christ’s giving of himself, but of Halloween!  Tim Burton’s movie, “Nightmare Before Christmas,” is closer to how I see Santa Claus, put him in Halloween, and leave him there!

Yet, here we are, another Christmas celebration is upon the world, and I do not understand!  I like the lights of Christmas and enjoy them year-round, but they are not symbols of Christ lighting the world; they are just lights to me, with no particular holiday attachment.  I am a foodie, but food is just that, food.  No special holiday attachment; worse, as a diabetic, I have to watch how, when, where, and what I eat.  There is no fun in that, no holiday significance, and frankly, no joy in Mudville.

A friend declared, Christmas is about love.  What is love?  I know from significant study what love is not.  Love is not sex!  Love is not punishment, abuse, torment, and throwing all the dishes out of the cupboard and forcing a young child to wash every dish in the house repeatedly until that dish somehow passes an arbitrary level of cleanliness, with frequent beatings for failure to meet that level of cleanliness!  Love is not inflicting pain, causing tears, and being violent.  It has been easy to identify what love is not.  But defining what love is, what it feels like, and how to share love, I have no clue!

Often, I am referred to as a “Cold-Hearted, mean, bastard,” many times, other adjectives are thrown in to describe me.  I wear a “bar-sinister” proudly; I am a bastard!  I fight this nature of myself every single day; sometimes I win, more often I lose.  Sometimes I have thought, maybe this aspect of my character is why I cannot fathom the meaning of holidays, find wonder, or experience joy as readily as others.  Sometimes I think the method of how I was raised is inherent in being that bastard I despise.  Yet, I am a survivor because of the ways and manners of my childhood upbringing, and I have gratitude for being a survivor.  Meaning somewhere in there is gratitude for how I was raised and being a bastard.  I fully appreciate how paradoxical that thinking is.  Remember, a paradox is where two points that appear contradictory at first glance but in deeper understanding are closer than they are apart.

What does being a bastard have to do with Christmas and celebrating the birth and life of Jesus Christ; thankfully, I can answer that question.  Only in and through Jesus Christ can my nature change.  That single hope is precious to me, remains an impetus in motivating me to change, and powers my striving.  Without the birth of Christ, there could not be a death and resurrection.  Without the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, man could not change his nature, understand and possess freedom, or comprehend the higher laws of giving of self, choosing a different method of living, and rising above the natural man and comprehending why man has to rise above his natural beliefs into a higher understanding.

Yes, I celebrate Jesus Christ!  Make no mistake; I am grateful for my Savior; but, I do not understand Christmas!  I cannot fathom a celebration of Easter as currently celebrated and understood in Christendom.  I long for further light and knowledge to more appropriately commemorate the birth, life, reality, resurrection, and example that is Jesus Christ!  I know that only through the merits, mercy, and justice of Christ can I eventually gain the further light and knowledge I seek.  Please don’t think I do not celebrate when I wish you the happiest of holidays; it is an honest expression of a heartfelt desire for you to celebrate and worship how, where, when, and what you may.  Please understand, though, I am not participating, not because I do not believe, but because I do not understand.

A well-intentioned person told me to “Fake it until you make it.”  I have tried following this advice, and while it worked in other aspects of life, I learned more, and faking it stopped working.  Where holidays are concerned, I cannot “Fake it, hoping to somehow, make it.”  Faking it requires a method of belief with a hope.  I have hope and knowledge; thus, I do not have a belief, or reason to believe.  In possessing knowledge, my belief can take wing with confidence, and in that understanding, I can no longer “fake it.”  As a respecter of religious belief, and as a seeker of light and knowledge, there have been times I have thought how easy it could be to be an atheist; but, in possessing knowledge, I understand I cannot live without the belief and knowledge of a Savior, a Heavenly Father who had the sense to hand man laws, cover his mind with a veil of his past life, and tell man to live by faith.  The atheist cannot understand the value in living by faith, for they choose not to believe, even when presented with evidence.

C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, speakers, and characters from history. He understood the chasm between choice and the consequences of choosing not to believe and live according to beliefs. Mark Twain is another character, author, and speaker who I deeply admire and appreciate, for many of the same qualities exhibited by C. S. Lewis, are found in Mark Twain.  Thus, we find both an exemplar of the principles discussed and another issue with the holidays.  Knowing what I know regarding the origins of the holidays, the traditions adopted and Christianized, and the chains which bind from traditions, I struggle with celebrating holidays.

As a child, I asked why do we decorate a Christmas Tree?  After removing all the religiosity, the answer was because their parents did it that way.  Why did we feast; remove the religiosity, and we find it’s because everyone else celebrates holidays (peer pressure and traditions) with feasting.  In the movie and play “Fiddler on the Roof,” the primary character sings, discusses, and lives under the iron fist of tyrannical tradition, and I am left with one question, “Why?”  Why do something just because it is tradition?  Jesus Christ brought freedom of conscience; believe how, when, where, and what you may, act and live according to your beliefs, and you are exercising freedom and liberty.  Where does tradition fit into belief and living according to choice, freedom, and agency?

Bringing the conversation back to principles of freedom, choice and showcasing how decisions determine destiny.  Again, I am not casting aspersions, nor trying to convince anyone to do something they are not comfortable with, nor am I denigrating or deriding anyone’s beliefs, traditions, or methods of worship or celebration.  My intent is not to cause a crisis of faith but to understand for myself.  Please, embrace your freedom to choose to worship, and celebrate, how, where, when, and what you may.  In possessing this freedom, allow others to worship and celebrate how, when, where, and what they may.  Enjoy your holiday traditions and celebrations.  But, please do not judge me as less because I do not understand, believe differently, and live according to my beliefs.

Santa Claus coming to town fills me with dread and despair, not hope, wonder, or joy.  A white Christmas is not a dream for me but a symbol of more snow to shovel, even though I LOVE watching the snow fall and playing in the snow.  Christmas trees do not thrill me but represent a ton of work to put up, more work to maintain, and more work to take down.  Food is not a celebration but represents more work, time, effort, and sacrifice, for momentary pleasure.  While I enjoy food, eat food, and talk about recipes to make food, I do not worship at the altar of food or see any connection between food and traditional celebrations.

I totally get it; the Children of Israel fled Egypt the Passover is a sacred remembrance and should be celebrated; but, Christ showed a better way, and through that better way, the bitterness of fleeing is swallowed up in joy.  Why eat bitter herbs and unleavened bread as part of the tradition and celebration?  Joy is knowledge with aspects of painful experience encapsulated in achievement.  Thus, to me, the flight of Israel shows how faith, painful experience, and achievement are possible, and I want to shout and sing for joy.  I have always thought of Passover as a time for glorious celebration.  Strike up a band, sing, shout, and make merry, for we survived the Passover, escaped Egyptian slavery and harsh bondage, and now are free!  The same goes for Hanukkah, the resurrection of Christ, the birth of Christ, and every other holiday.  The holiday, to my understanding, represents, or signifies, a reason to make merry because those who came before achieved something through enormous difficulty, suffered dreadful pains, and achieved a better place.  They have joy, and we share in that joy.

Bringing up the final aspect of the holidays, sharing joy.  How do we share in the joy those who suffered experienced?  This is the crux of holiday celebrations.  How we answer this question determines the traditions we embrace; the decisions and consequences produce a destiny.  Consequences are neither good nor bad, simply natural actions formed from a choice an agent made.  How we choose to place a value on those consequences immediately determines how often we will make the same choice again, leading to determined destiny over time and repetition.  Using this understanding of choices and consequences, we revisit the question, “How do we choose to share joy?”

I do not know how to answer this question!  Worse, I feel this single question forms the crux of all holiday celebrations, and I am flummoxed!  Some have suggested I perform more service to share joy.  Others suggest giving gifts.  Others have offered well-meaning opinions, ideas, and suggestions that I cannot fathom as connected to a holiday—leading to a need to understand why.  Why act differently leading up to a holiday when you act in an opposing manner the rest of the year?  Why not act the same year-round?

Again, there is no judging, no aspersions cast, no denigration of actions and choices here.  I am not your judge!  But, these questions are the questions I struggle with living, understanding, and connecting to holiday celebrations.  If you have answers, please share them with me, help me understand how you share joy, celebrate, and feel.

© 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.

Reverence, Conflict, and Contention – Understanding Improves Capability

Several commenters have erroneously confused conflict and contention and harangued me for promoting conflict.  With this article, I intend to dispel the confusion and encourage understanding.  These three principles, reverence, conflict, and contention, are paradoxically connected, and a greater understanding is needed.

Reverence

Some of you think that reverence only belongs in church settings, and frankly, your lack of insight into this word is why we are discussing reverence.  Please, turn off the voices in your head for a minute.  M. Russell Ballard provided etymological understanding for the term reverences pertinent to this discussion.

Reverence may be defined as profound respect mingled with love and awe. … The root word revere also implies an element of fear.  Thus, reverence might be understood to mean an attitude of profound respect and love with a desire to honor and show gratitude with fear of breaking faith of offending.” – God’s Love for His Children

Webster also provides additional insight into reverence.  Reverence contains definitions, including an action to show respect; a feeling of mingled awe, respect, and admiration; veneration; esteem heightened by awe (wonder), as of a superior; especially, such a feeling toward deity.  Finally, we find more insight; reverence includes treating with profound awe (wonder) and respect, or veneration.

Many Christian religions sing a hymn that encapsulates reverence, “How Great Thou Art.”  The first stanza is my favorite:

O Lord my God!
When I in awesome wonder
consider all the works
Thy hands have made,
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
the power throughout
the universe displayed.”

Take anything you see out your window right now.  Flowers, trees, grass, snowfall, frost, cars, asphalt, window glass, etc., and consider the hands, science, and creation of that item with wonder.  With awe, consider the birds, bugs, animals, humans in all their variety.  Want to know a secret?  You just showed reverence.  More importantly, you made a choice to open your mind to see past the mundane and explore the higher plains of existence with your human eyes.  What are the consequences of awe and wonder, joy!  Reverence brings joy!  Want to know another secret; one of the most challenging problems all societies face is choosing to show reverence and look with wonder and awe upon the world around us.

I can build a house; well used to be able to build a house, now all I can do is teach my skills to someone else.  But, guess what, I am the first to declare I am no expert, and their remains much I can and want to learn.  Want to know another secret; learning shows reverence and brings joy.  I marvel in awe at craftsmen displaying their skills, be it building a house, fixing engines, creating delectable goodies, or simply watching small children explore the world, I choose to view in wonder the majesty around me, and this brings joy!

What is Joy?  Why pursue Joy?

Joy is defined loosely by Webster as “Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.”  But does not fully encapsulate what joy is; joy is mental peace, mingled with an uplifting spiritual feeling, leading to physical contentment and feelings of well-being.  Joy is a pursuit, not the object, not the destination, and is a drug you can become addicted to quickly.  However, pursuing joy for pleasure is a pathway to problems, for joy does not contain truth, only the recognition of accomplishment.  Joy is a by-product of choices leading to success in achievement.

The pursuit of joy includes failure, feelings of hopelessness, and even despair, physical and mental pain, and anguish.  Yet, joy is still sought and pursued, why; because at the end of the day, joy occurs when goals are accomplished, and in evaluating the goal, we find the struggle worthwhile!  When we, as individuals, choose to stop pursuing joy or achieving a goal, we die inside, leading to physical and mental disease.  This is why retirement is such a bad idea, why giving up is so physically, mentally, and spiritually destructive, the loss of joy can physically, mentally, and spiritually kill a person.

The lack of joy precedes a loss of hope, bringing with it soul-crushing despair, depression, and opening the door for that individual’s destruction.  Why pursue joy; to avoid the death inherent in hopelessness.

Contention

Let me be perfectly frank, contention and conflict are not the same.  While the terms are close, they are distinct and tell different sides of the same story.  First, contention is an act of striving or an assertion.  Contention is a violent effort to obtain or protect something vehemently!  There is effort, struggle, exertion in contention; there are violent efforts, and the core of contention is pride.  Pride breeds animosity, animosity breeds struggle, and struggle is contention, where pride is demanding that violence is acceptable as a means to achieve the desired end goal.  When contending, “The ends justify the means.”

Contention is animosity personified into action, effort, and desires become evident as contention unfolds.  We cannot forget these facts about contention.  Consider the following; I went to work in a hostile atmosphere; due to a contract signed, I could not quit and find a new job, and reassignment was not going to happen.  Jealousy and pride entered because I was very good at my job, and violence followed like the sun rising after a moonless night.  The result was that contention was born and festered, violence was perpetrated against me, and the violence was acceptable to the leaders as it gave them feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

The violence was justified because I was “too good” at my job, made “decisions above my paygrade,” and “I needed to be taught humility.”  The result was four disastrous years of struggle, incredible stress levels, and mental torture, with physical acts of violence thrown in to spice up the environment.  Contention is pride expressed through violence and justified to fit the individual’s desires.

Conflict

I have written a lot about conflict, conflict’s benefits, how conflict is a tool, and the dark side of conflict.  At its most fundamental level, conflict is all about helping spur growth, development and bring about change.  However, I cannot stress this enough; conflict is NOT contention.  Conflict is not born of pride and a desire to feel better about yourself through violence.  Conflict can be observed in a disagreement or difference in opinion, but conflict does not include emotional hyperbole (pride).  Conflict should be about mental disturbances spurred by people seeking greater ideas and ideals, personal growth, or team development.  Does conflict lead to contention?  Yes, because pride enters into the disagreement, emotions are injected, and desires to be right at any cost dictate it is time for violence.

My wife and I have a conflict.  She does not like being mentioned, even obliquely, in these articles as she feels it is disrespectful.  I disagree because she has achieved much, and when she is mentioned, even obliquely, it is not to denigrate or deride, but as an example of what can be achieved and what I want to become.  She has gained a lot in self-mastery, and I long to learn how to achieve similarly; thus, it is not disrespect, but profound awe and wonder, mixed with desire, that I mention her.

Our marriage has been a long string of conflicts leading to personal growth, primarily for me.  I have learned that when I feel my emotions begin to boil, it is not her that is wrong in the conflict, but me.  Those emotions are pride screaming, “Oh, please let me be right!”  When the reality is, if I took some time to cool down, mentally focus, and look at my perceptions, I could see where and how I was wrong.  My parents possess a contentious relationship, and many times I have longed to see them divorce and go their separate ways.  I have observed them get into physical fights, watched them argue over BS while something else was the real problem, and I have witnessed several seasons of intense warfare between them.  Hence, I possess a motivating influence to be different, even if I have to unlearn and relearn.

Thus showcasing the significant difference between contention and conflict, growth never occurs in contention, EVER!  Contention only breeds more violence, not personal growth, not individual development, not team cohesion and goal attainment.  When the dust settles from contention, there are generally physical, mental, spiritual wounds and scorched earth between the opposing foes. In contrast, conflict breeds individual growth, personal strength, and goal success.

Leaders, followers, encourage conflict, teach how conflict can lead to contention, monitor conflict closely, and do not try to solve the conflict.  Settle contention, but do not deprive people of conflict.  Use wonder and awe as tools to breed an inquisitive nature and explore with a mind full of reverence.  Therein lay the path to joy; pursue the path!

© 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.

The Power Found in Restraint – Appetite Control is Freedom!

Exclamation MarkThere is a principle in life, “If you are not whole without something, you will never be whole with it.”  Modern psychology will not teach restraint to gain freedom.  It will often try to encourage a person to continue to do self-harm through their lifestyle while at the same time trying to find inner peace through the same lifestyle causing inner turmoil.  Yet, natural law and common sense declare if what you are currently doing is causing you distress, stop what you are presently doing first.

Several times in my life, I have had the pleasure of working with people who have been in this crisis.  All of these people are good people; I make no judgments about their lifestyle choices, moral codes, or desires.  Simply making observations as compared to the principle under discussion.Bait & Switch 2

Person 1, male, arrives onboard the USS Barry, an American Aegis Destroyer about the same time as I.  Works as a cook.  A hard-working person expresses his innermost desire is to obtain a tattoo. It has always been his dream to have a single tattoo.  He thinks it will make him tough.  Upon return to America, he gets a tattoo, then another, and then several more.  He gets off on the pain, but with every tattoo, his soul becomes more and more distressed and anguished, and he begins to hate his appearance simultaneously and desires more tattoos.  Because he was never a complete person mentally, he will never be complete with a tattoo without a tattoo.  He does not understand why something which gives him pleasure through pain is also causing him more mental and spiritual anguish.combatindex.com: DDG 52 : USS BARRY

Person 2, female, sailor from the USS Barry, born and raised in a Christian home, always harbored doubts about religion but never voiced them.  She always considered religion to be a restraint on freedom.  She joins the US Navy, cuts ties to the religion of her youth, and claims she has never been freer.  Her promiscuity is the stories of legends told in the engine rooms and back passageways of the ship.  Her friends on board are scared she will crash and burn on some port visit and find a dead body where their friend used to be.  This sailor thought sex would be the ultimate expression of freedom.  Instead, it became the chains of her demise mentally, physically, and spiritually.  When  I met her, very little remained of the modest and good person she had been as she was growing up; by the time I left the ship, she was unrecognizable.

Two very good people, quick to help, hard-working, people of different backgrounds, but essentially the same.  They discovered the same truth through two very different means, and the truth had nearly broken them when I left the ship.  I grieve for my colleagues and their friends.  By not knowing who they were and understanding their potential, the added freedoms and responsibilities of becoming adults were not the freedoms they expected but chains by which they bound themselves to paths of pain and destruction.

The Paradox

Carl R. Rogers Quote: "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can ...A paradox is anything that initially appears to be two opposing forces, but when studied, they are not opposites but are closer related than opposites.  For example, one of the principles in understanding oneself and enjoying freedom is accepting restraints.  Case in point, using person 2, had she exercised the modesty discussed in the religion of her youth, she would have found that sexual relations are improved with restraint, not ruined with discretion.  Lies spread in society since the 1960s have claimed that sex is free, has no consequences, and can be engaged in without concern.  All of these are absurd lies leading to the destruction of everyone who listens and becomes engrossed in the lifestyle of free sex.  Hence, sexual restraint is a paradox; practicing restraint in sexual relations improves sexual relations, not hinders them, a contradiction, and freedom is found in restraint.

Person 3 has been observed the longest and is a family member, one of my younger brothers, to be precise.  He has lived his life in a manner that has seen him restrained by external forces because he refuses internal restraint—losing good companions as wives, relationships with children, friends, and colleagues along the way.  All of which has been difficult to witness, but the real tragedy has been the hero-worship heaped upon my younger brother by other more youthful siblings, leading them into dangerous and difficult paths.  Hence, you could call Person 3 an amalgamate of four of my younger siblings, all of whom have chosen paths of appetite fulfillment instead of appetite suppressant.Remember

By choosing to engage in appetite fulfillment, each of them has chased his one preferred appetite, to the exclusion of other all else, usually to the detriment of spousal relationships, children relationships, familial bonds, and responsibilities to society and themselves.  Worse, the shell of these people forms a prickly wall around genuinely good people, who, if they would choose to learn, could be taught appetite suppression.

Training is Contingent Upon Choosing to Learn

One of the most difficult lessons I have learned is that those who choose to learn will, and those who choose to refuse to learn will as well.  Nothing a teacher can do will change a student’s mind once it is made to refuse to learn.  Unfortunately, this means that the teacher will witness a lot of struggles in the student, watch the student experience consequences, and be harmed physically and mentally from the choices made to refuse to learn.

Andragogy - LEARNBelieve it or not, appetite control is a choice and begins with a desire to learn.  The paradox in training is that when the desire to learn is stronger than the appetite to remain ignorant, the learner will produce the effort to change through learning.  This is why appetite control is such a critical and fundamental topic for understanding.  Desire is appetite, an appetite is a tool for good or ill, and bridling an appetite is every person’s job if they choose self-mastery as a means of self-regulation and self-improvement.  When we choose self-mastery, we choose to become free!

Freedom is a paradox of bridled appetites to the greater realization that through suppressed appetite and controlled desires, a person can enjoy more, not less.  Can learn and experience more, have more, become more, and realize more potential.  Long have I been fascinated with racehorses, and the story of Black Beauty is one of my all-time favorites.

How Black Beauty Gave Animals a Voice - ilovehorses.netHow are the best racehorses made?  Sure, breeding helps.  But, training is as, if not more, crucial.  A good animal does not become a great animal until they are placed into the hands of a good trainer who puts restraints upon the animal.  A bridle, a harness, a saddle, wrap their legs to protect against ligament strain, shoes on their feet, and much more.  Then over time, the animal learns that the restraints, which at first were chafing and fought against, become the tools by which the horse achieves greatness.  The same is true for humans, every human, and those who, throw the restraints, never achieve freedom, never achieve excellence, and refuse their potential for momentary happiness, all because of appetite.

Living in a representative government, the citizenry needs to understand this lesson and monitor those elected for people who refuse restraint.  Those who refuse restraint will gather everyone who chooses to take a lazy route to their side, and in doing so, will ruin the representative government and destroy liberty for all.  The debt so many representative governments face right now, which has reached critical mass stages, is due to unbridled appetite and appetite fulfillment for the masses when the government needed appetite restraint instead.  The world’s problems in Afghanistan where rampant appetite fulfillment for the masses when appetite restraint was required.  Terrorism is nothing but an unbridled appetite mixed with modern weapons and a desire to watch the world burn, more unbridled appetites.

Knowledge Check!Do we understand that only through restraining our appetites can we personally enjoy freedom?  Do we teach appetite restraint to our children, knowing that when they control themselves, they can enjoy freedom, and help them to understand why appetite restraint is a good thing?  Do we exemplify appetite restraint in society in speech, clothes, manners and encourage others to do similarly?  If not, why?

© 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.

“I Hate the Living!” – Our Brains are Wired to Connect

Men in Black | Movie fanart | fanart.tvThe title for today originates as a quote from the movie “Men In Black” and is an opening line from the mortician as she signs for a body from an NYPD officer.  “I hate the living;” I love this line.  My second time in fourth grade, I was forced to take a personality test.  I was told to pursue a career that did not involve interacting with other people, specifically as a mortician; a bully heard this and claimed I should be the mortician’s dummy.  I guess you could say this was the beginning of my dislike for standardized tests in general and personality tests in particular.  While I do not “specifically” hate the living, I have extensive experience in and with people in a dynamic range of environments.Bait & Switch 2

Having been on the front lines of mental health emergencies, physical emergencies, religious crises, and family issues, I have met some great and some truly horrible people.  More to the point, I have been reading an interesting book, “Social: Why our brains are wired to connect,” written by Dr. Matthew D. Lieberman.  The book has me thinking, and I would like to discuss some of the high points the book raises.

Social Pain and Physical Pain

Several years ago, I learned a lesson about the word “paradox.”  A paradox occurs when people think some things are opposites when they are much closer than they are apart.  Physical pain and social pain are a paradox, most people believe that physical pain and social pain are opposites, but science indicates that the pains are much closer in the brain than they are apart.  The author asks a question that has me thinking, “Given the fact that our brains treat social and physical pain similarly, should we as a society treat social pain differently than we do?”

Non Sequitur - DecisionsMy paternal grandfather died when my grandmother was relatively young, she was forced to raise her two children as a single parent, and several times I could not help wonder that she was sad that she did not have a companion to grow old with.  My mother-in-law spent more than 20 years alive after her long-time spouse passed.  I know for a fact she was lonely and longing for her spouse.  While my mother-in-law had family and friends, they were not a spouse, and the lack of a spouse was very difficult for her to survive.

As discussed in the Old Testament, the social connections in a married relationship make two people one, making the social pain of a spouse passing physical and mental.  Now, I have limited experience with death.  My aunt passed when I was around eight, my grandparents passed while I was deployed in the US Navy, and my family never even informed me.  I called my grandmother and got chewed out by my uncle for missing the funeral I was never told about.  Yet, I am still enthralled with the implications of the scientific discussion revolving around physical and social pain to the brain.  More the point, as a person who struggles with socially connecting, does this mean I am missing something mentally?Scared Eyes!

Thinking Socially

One of the most significant trends in recent years in business has been the rise of emotional intelligence.  Except, emotional intelligence is a misnomer, a fallacy, and a fascinating social experiment, all based on the premise that I can control someone else’s emotional response by increasing my intelligence regarding emotional connections.  Why are humans the dominant mammalian species on Earth; non-religious people claim opposable thumbs, imagination, and other unique aspects made humans dominant.  Religionists claim it was inherited from the creator as an assignment, as discussed in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament.  Dr. Lieberman proposes it was because of the unique aspect of human mammals’ ability to think and connect socially.  Believe as you choose; I am not here to dictate a single belief structure.  However, I would like to discuss the unique aspect of connecting and thinking socially.Mediocre Joke

A correlational aspect of the brain is important to note, “In many situations, the more you turn on the brain network for non-social reasoning, the more you turn off the brain network for social reasoning.”  This relationship creates a dichotomy and an antagonism between social and non-social thinking, especially apparent in problem-solving.  I can attest to this phenomenon, even though I could not describe what was occurring and being observed before reading this book.  Long have I been hailed as an incredible problem-solver but a lousy social integrator.  In emergencies, people want me around to help fix the problems, but I am not a desirable person to associate with when there are no emergencies.

Too Many Synaptic Connections in Cerebellum Creates Problems | Psychology TodayLong have I wondered what other people realized that I could not, and the answer lies in the fact that my brain is hard-wired for non-social reasoning or problem solving without the human element.  It is also why a friend of mine is always wanted around when there are no emergencies.  His brain is hard-wired towards social reasoning, and he is constantly having problems disconnecting from group-think situations.  Our brains work 180-degrees separately, which is not a bad thing, in and of itself, but not knowing how we approach problem-solving was the problem.

New Light Shed on Brain-Behavior LinkMy friend harmonizes easily with social situations, social cues, and social environments.  On the other hand, I am lousy at picking up social signals, am horrible at understanding social-emotional displays, and have never cared about the social aspect of problem-solving.  I hate funerals and weddings; I never know what to say, how to act, where to stand, how to dress, etc.  I am a full-blown social dunce!  I rely upon my spouse and others to tell me what I am expected to do, trying not to insult someone who doesn’t know me, by not being sensitive to social situations others naturally understand and adapt to.  The more I read this book and others, the more I think my experiences changed my brains wiring where socially connecting is concerned, leading to additional questions and self-reflection.

A Socially Malleable Sense of Self

Leadership CartoonDr. Lieberman makes the following point, “The self is more of a superhighway for social influence than it is an impenetrable private fortress.”  My brain is not very malleable in social situations; I have learned to recognize social cues, usually through failure and poor social experiences.  But, my sister appears to have mastered socially connecting and hiding her beliefs behind a socially acceptable mask of cheerfulness and a cherub-like demeanor.  I have no idea how she does this, for my emotional state is as recognizable on my face as a red nose on a clown.

I have often been in trouble for not being able to bend in social situations on principles to meet the demands of a crowd.  To find a balance between points of view and promote calm instead of contention.  My self is not very socially malleable; in fact, it is quite rigid, much to my chagrin and dismay!  However, I must ask, is this a bad thing?  Is being socially rigid undesirable?  Dr. Lieberman claims that social malleability promotes survival and reproduction, intensifying bonds felt while increasing our capacity to predict what is happening in the minds of those around us – which sounds very much like emotional intelligence.

Bobblehead DollLet us consider these topics on a grander and larger scale.  Is it possible for society to change how we consider social pain and award the same degree of medical attention to it as we do to physical pain relief?  One aspect of social pain relief that is not as emphasized in physical pain relief is the attitudes and choices of the pain sufferer.  For example, a broken leg is not dependent on the patient’s beliefs and behaviors to mend.  Whereas in contrast, social pain is more dependent upon the choices and behaviors of the patient.  Would this focus improve physical pain relief?

© 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.

Stress in the Workplace – Starting a Discussion on Organizational Design

Non Sequitur - Aphorism TroubleRecently, I was told that stress in the workplace was the most significant factor in how people in workplace settings can be understood.  I disagreed, rather pointedly, but the bias of the person making this statement was too loud for other points of view and perspectives.  Although the conversation got me thinking, I present the following as my perception of stress in the workplace.

Detective 4Labeling stress as a “significant factor in the modern workplace[s]” is disingenuous at best and thoroughly deceitful at worst.  What is the purpose of the stress being experienced?  Who is experiencing stress?  How resilient is the person?  These questions and more never appear in the research on stress in the workplace, but they are fundamental to understanding stress.  Training, experience, job satisfaction, home life quality and quantity, personal physical fitness, and so forth all play roles in stress (also referred to as anxiety) in the workplace and to lump all of what is being experienced into a label such as “stress” deceives and destroys where health and growth might be occurring, except for the label stress (Garcia-Izquierdo, de Pedro, Ríos-Risquez, & Sánchez, 2018; Moore, 2018; Sok, Blomme, & Tromp, 2014; Strutton & Tran, 2014; Vanhove, Herian, Perez, Harms, & Lester, (2016).

Scared Eyes!Garcia-Izquierdo et al. (2018) researched resilience among nurses and reported connections between emotional exhaustion and cynicism and nursing professionals experiencing burnout; yet, resilience was found to have positive causal relationships to psychological health, emotional exhaustion, and cynicism.  Hence, merely presuming all stress is harmful reflects an ingrained bias against stress, and the positive and healthy aspects of stress are never mentioned or researched honestly (Strutton & Tran, 2014; Vanhove, Herian, Perez, Harms, & Lester, 2016).  The more resilient a person chooses to be, the more potential they have to harness stressors from the environment and produce positive results; thus, Strutton and Tran (2014) maintain that stress can be a positive force for good.  The conclusions present a roadmap for businesses to follow.  Leaving a question, if resilience can be learned and trained, if stress is good and through learning resilience productivity has the potential to improve, why the focus on flexible working arrangements instead of productive tasks, e.g., employee training (Strutton & Tran, 2014; Dizaho, Salleh, & Abdullah, 2017)?

Baby Blues - Good AnswerDizaho, et al. (2017) again lumped all workplace activity into the term stress, doesn’t mention employees’ resilience, or differentiated between males and females, resilient employees and less resilient employees.  Dizaho, et al. (2017) labels stress as bad and promote flexibility in the workplace as an employer issue to manage through flexible schedules, job-sharing, part-time work, shift work, telecommuting, and encouraging a work/life balance arrangement.  While some employees might need these tools due to personal choice regarding the onboarding of resilience training, it seems to me that the academic community is cheating businesses through the disingenuous lumping of all anxiety from the workplace into stress and overlooking the positive effects of stress and the causal relationship in resilience.  Leading to several questions on this topic:

      1. Why is this a business organizational problem?
      2. Where is the individual employee held accountable and responsible for their own anxiety and personal training on resilience?
      3. Dizaho, et al. (2017, p. 462) make clear concluding the problem is “paramount,” and the business organization is responsible, but why is the business organization responsible?

Male v. FemaleAnother aspect to the flexible work environments discussion brought forth and detailed by Gloor, Li, and Puhl (2018) is the inequality of treatment between the sexes in receiving flexibility in the workplace.  Females are more likely and have an easier time obtaining flexibility in working arrangements, even when García-Izquierdo (2018) reflects both male and female nurses can experience resilience, learn resilience, and all mammals can experience anxiety in some fashion or another.  Why are females treated differently by policies for flexibility in the workplace (Vanhove, et al., 2016)?  The same inequality is apparent between male and female disabled individuals as well.  As a male disabled person, the processes are skewed to females with disabilities.

ParadoxA paradox occurs when two seemingly opposing items are compared, and reality shows the articles under question are more related than different.  Anxiety in the workplace is a paradox.  Understanding this dichotomy while embracing the power and influence of resilience is part of the solution to leading an organization in fundamental change.  An essential characteristic and work circumstance that can positively affect change-induced anxiety (stress) in the workforce will be resilience (Garcia-Izquierdo, de Pedro, Ríos-Risquez, & Sánchez, 2018; Moore, 2018; Sok, Blomme, & Tromp, 2014; Strutton & Tran, 2014; Vanhove, Herian, Perez, Harms, & Lester, (2016).

Strutton and Tran (2014) laid out three different plans worthy of modeling for turning non-productive anxiety into growing and motivating stress:

      1. Leveraging anxiety through pragmatic optimism.
      2. Leveraging anxiety through constructive impatience.
      3. Leveraging anxiety through confident humility.

Strutton and Tran (2014) discussed how to mitigate the risk of workplace violence during change by examining the positive influence of tension, claiming, “too little tension may promote contentment… too much tension may promote challenges that appear too large and increases anxiety (p. 1098-1099).  Gluschkoff, Elovainio, Hintsa, Pentti, Salo, Kivimäki, & Vahtera, (2017) emphasized that rampant anxiety can lead to violence.  Gluschkoff, et al. (2017) related how well an individual sleeps is an indicator of anxiety having a negative influence in the workplace; thus, the employees need encouragement in improving how to sleep as a managerial tool for organizations experiencing fundamental change.  Hence, a mitigatory force in workplace violence is how well an employee sleeps; but this leads back to a question of employee responsibility, not organizational change.

ResilienceVanhove, et al., (2016) and Sok, et al., (2014) possess the last word on organizations in fundamental change or organization-wide changes; the need to learn resilience.  Resilience is learned through workplace programs that facilitate employees maintaining a healthy work/life balance and understanding that work spillover is not always a bad thing for employees.  Those employees with work spillover need monitoring, but that is a leadership function at all times and seasons, not just during change initiatives.  Employers and business leaders need to understand the individual nature of workplace anxiety.  The leaders must not force a one-size-fits-most policy onto the employees.  However, knowing the employees, and training employees, opens doors to evaluate employee actions towards stressors in the environment and potentially select new leaders post-change.

Calvin & Hobbes - Pragmatic PrinciplesFascinating and related to stress in the workplace was how much of the literature rejects how beneficial stress can be.  Research also appears to contradict how stress is a choice and how choosing resilience, training about resilience, and improving a person’s resilience are better actions for an employer to take than what is indicated by the lawyers, researchers, and NGO’s (Garcia-Izquierdo, et al., 2018; Gok, et al., 2016; Moore, 2018; Sok, et al., 2014; Solomon, 2003; Strutton & Tran, 2014; Vanhove, et al., 2016; Zabawa, 2017).  Workplace stress is rarely, if ever, considered beneficial, but the research always wants to hold the employer responsible for reducing stress.  Frankly, I was appalled that the employer would be given more power over the employee’s life (IRS.gov, 2018).

Leaving me with questions:

      1. If the employer is responsible for employee stress, what about the employee’s role in choosing healthier emotional responses (Solomon, 2003)?
      2. What about employee responsibility and accountability for their own health, mental, physical, and spiritual (Garcia-Izquierdo, et al., 2018)?

BiasArnulf, Larsen, Martinsen, and Bong (2014) detailed how internal bias predicts results; thus, we can discount most stress-related research as nothing more than bias magnified and personal opinion presented as research, how the research questions are formed dictates the answer that will be arrived at when the study concludes.  Of all the topics I have learned and relearned, the need to question everything, ask more questions, and become ever more selective in the materials I cite has been confirmed.  Interestingly, the more I think I know, the more sure I become that I do not know anything; but, I want to learn so much more.

References

Arnulf, J. K., Larsen, K. R., Martinsen, Ø. L., & Bong, C. H. (2014). Predicting survey responses: How and why semantics shape survey statistics on organizational behaviour. PloS One, 9(9), e106361. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106361

Dizaho, E. K., Salleh, R., & Abdullah, A. (2017). Achieving work life balance through flexible work schedules and arrangements. Global Business and Management Research, 9(1), 455-465. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/docview/1903433226?accountid=35812

García-Izquierdo, M., de Pedro, M. M., Ríos-Risquez, M. I., & Sánchez, M. I. S. (2018). Resilience as a moderator of psychological health in situations of chronic stress (burnout) in a sample of hospital nurses. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 50(2), 228-236. doi: http://dx.doi.org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.1111/jnu.12367

Gloor, J. L., Li, X., & Puhl, R. M. (2018). Predictors of parental leave support: Bad news for (big) dads and a policy for equality. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 21(5), 810-830. doi:10.1177/1368430217751630

Gluschkoff, K., Elovainio, M., Hintsa, T., Pentti, J., Salo, P., Kivimäki, M., & Vahtera, J. (2017). Organisational justice protects against the negative effect of workplace violence on teachers’ sleep: A longitudinal cohort study. Occup Environ Med, oemed-2016.

Gok, K., Sumanth, J. J., Bommer, W. H., Demirtas, O., Arslan, A., Eberhard, J., … & Yigit, A. (2017). You may not reap what you sow: How employees’ moral awareness minimizes ethical leadership’s positive impact on workplace deviance. Journal of Business Ethics, 146(2), 257-277.

Moore, P. V. (2018). Tracking affective labour for agility in the quantified workplace. Body & Society, 24(3), 39-67. doi:10.1177/1357034X18775203

Purcell, N., Shovein, E., Hebenstreit, C., & Drexler, M. (2017). Violence in a US Veterans Affairs healthcare system: worker perspectives on prevalence, causes, and contributors. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 15(1), 38-56.

Sok, J., Blomme, R., & Tromp, D. (2014). Positive and Negative Spillover from Work to Home: The Role of Organizational Culture and Supportive Arrangements. British Journal of Management, 25(3), 456–472. https://doi-org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.1111/1467-8551.12058

Solomon, R. C. (2003). Not passion’s slave: Emotions and choice [Kindle 6.10 version].

Strutton, D., & A. Tran, G. (2014). How to convert bad stress into good. Management Research Review, 37(12), 1093-1109. doi:10.1108/MRR-06-2013-0139

  1. S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS.gov) (2018). Independent contractor vs. employee. Available from http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,id=99921,00.html
  2. S. Internal RevenueService (IRS.gov). (2018). The Agency, its Mission and Statutory Authority. Retrieved from http://www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=98141,00.html

Vanhove, A. J., Herian, M. N., Perez, A. L. U., Harms, P. D., & Lester, P. B. (2016). Can resilience be developed at work? A meta-analytic review of resilience-building programme effectiveness. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 89(2), 278–307. https://doi-org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.1111/joop.12123

Zabawa, B. J. (2017, November 14). Using the law to reduce worker stress – WELCOA. Retrieved from https://www.welcoa.org/blog/using-law-reduce-worker-stress/

© 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.