Brevis Ipas Vita Est Sed Malis Fit Longior – Adversity

Father Mulcahy 3The title is Latin for “Life is short, but trouble makes it longer.”  Recently I was reminded of the power and blessing of adversity.  One of the comments that struck me was, “You will all experience your own Gethsemane’s.”  Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives and became famous in the New Testament for the place where Jesus went to pray and, according to the New Testament, completed the atonement.  Gethsemane remains a symbol of hope for people experiencing trouble, difficulty, or adversity.  However, the thought of us experiencing our own Gethsemane individually intrigues me as a concept.

One of the scriptures that holds a lot of hope for me comes from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 7-9:

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands
.

Nowhere is recorded how long Jesus spent in Gethsemane; one might presume the time was longer than an hour, but less than 8 hours.  Beyond that, I cannot guess and will not venture an opinion.  However, the thought that adversity will be but a small moment rings like an eternal truth in my mind.  Let me elaborate on this point, my wife and I spent 6-months homeless, living out of our car, showering at her mom’s apartment, and working as often as I could find work.  During this time, I was studying for a master’s in business administration and struggling with depression for feeling like an absolute failure for not being able to provide a home for my spouse.Adversity is an advantage to embrace, not an annoyance to avoid. | Art Coombs Art Coombs

Yet, as I look back on this homelessness period, it seems but a small moment.  While I know mentally that the timeframe was six excruciating months, the truth is that the adversity felt like a moment even during the adversity and the months following.  My friends found during this time were such an incredible solace; my wife’s family and even my studies became lifts to my spirit and a balm to my mental processes.  How grateful I am for the adversity that has shaped me since this event and the incredible people who supported my wife and me.

Interestingly, in M*A*S*H 4077, the final episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” the poignancy of Father Mulcahy’s predicament with losing his hearing has become more meaningful since this episode of homelessness.  Indeed life is lived forward and understood backward.  As Father Mulcahy said, “What good is a deaf priest?”  The value is found in learning and living, but the learning and living is the adversity shaping us physically, mentally, and spiritually.Grit - Defined

Long have I pondered what a piece of clay must think as it is placed on a potter’s wheel, and if it realizes that when the potter is done, the adversity on that wheel will make it something beautiful, useful, or both.  Whether you believe in god, God, or gods, what are the adversities in your life making out of you, and will you recognize yourself when the potter is done?  Will you care what the potter has made you?  Those two questions lay on my mind, not with weight, but nonetheless with power.  A final question struck me as Father Mulcahy was marrying Klinger and Sun Lee, will we respect the potter for the work invested in creating us through adversity?

30 Best Adversity Quotes To Regain The Courage | Brainy ReadersIt’s no secret to those who have known me that I did not like serving in the US Navy and the pressure cooker of the USS Barry (DDG 52) from 2000-2004.  I have often cursed and shook my fist at the sky over the experiences during the US Navy.  Yet, even now, the experiences in the US Navy are felt as a small moment, and time does help heal wounds.  Better still, time tends to soften the edges, and one of the other things I have found is that how we choose changes how we remember.  I loved being “haze grey and underway” in the navy.  Many things were better while sailing that worsened to the point of breaking while in port.  More to the point, being “haze grey and underway” was always an adventure, fun, and never dull, even while pulling five and dime watch standing, doing maintenance on a pitching deck, or even climbing the mast while underway to fix something broke.

Adversity QuotesMajor Winchester leaving M*A*S*H in a garbage truck reminds me of my time in the US Navy, very appropriate.  As soon as Major Winchester came to M*A*S*H 4077, I watched to see what pranks could be done to Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third.  I loved watching Charles become the butt of a joke.  Yet, even as I type, I cannot help but wonder, was a garbage truck appropriate; is it disrespectful of the potter to see another person struggle and heap more scorn upon them?  Charles’ life changed dramatically and horribly; his ways of thinking, the path of his life, and even his belief in his own self-worth were constantly challenged and scrutinized.  I can understand Charles’ experiences more now than at any time previously.

Having been homeless multiple times in my life, one of my greatest difficulties is seeing someone putting up their petition for help and not being able to help.  I know there are a lot of scams out there, but that has never mattered to me; not being able to help bothers me greatly.  The war in Ukraine, the orphans left after war and storms, the hunger and depravity in this world, those individual adversities we see all around us.  I always want to help.  Long have I thought if I could relieve an ounce, a dram, a smidge of suffering, I could sleep better at night or know I succeeded at something.  Life has taught me how to fight, then it taught me how to think, and then my body was injured, and I am left stuck somewhere in between—proving that adversity comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and types!Adversity Quotes

Please know, I am not maudlin or melancholy about my life.  I have some great stories, met some truly amazing people, and lived to tell those tales.  All I ever wanted out of life was to be “an interesting old person,” and if I can keep reading and thinking, and especially writing, I should be able to tell some of those stories.  If I died tomorrow, I could say I lived a rich, full life, with no regrets.  I have no complaints and look forward to learning a lot more.  Bringing up another exciting facet of adversity, the learning that comes through adversity.

For example, did you know you do not teach adults?  Anyone who tells you differently does not know what they are talking about.  Teaching only happens to children, and if those kids are like me, barely even then.  For adults, you help them see their life experiences in a new light, applying existing knowledge to current situations to improve how they think.  You do not teach adults; they teach themselves; as an adult educator, my job is to help them learn how to think.15 Quotes About Overcoming Adversity Never to Forget

I know a kid, now an adult, who had been molested, beaten, and suffered greatly.  Growing into a scrappy adult, this child had experienced the horrible and survived.  Sure, you might teach this kid how to reach a formulaic solution, but the core knowledge of life, this kid held a doctorate.  Adversity had trained this kid how to think, how to act, how to understand, and how to fight back.  While other kids learned how to wield a bat and hit a ball, this kid was learning how to throw punches, duck, dodge, and handle pain.  While some kids learned how to cook, this kid already knew how to cook and could make meals out of practically anything.  Adversity taught this kid, and the student was worthy of the master’s teachings how I have longed to be as apt a pupil to adversity’s teachings as this kid.A Layman's Blog: Pasternak on adversity.............

When considering the potter, as we are placed upon the wheel, then into a kiln, are we clay, easily molded, or a rock choosing to be chased off the potter’s wheel for refusing to change and be moldable?  A young adult uttered the saddest commentary on life I have ever heard.  My father did it this way; his father did it this way; his father did it this way; going back as far as family memory can relate, I am doing it this way.  When I saw the stubbornness of this person, I felt like weeping for the potential lost to generations who choose not to change.  Adversity gets us asking questions; for me, those questions are always about how I improve—improving myself, a process, an environment, the situation, anything that can be changed to drive improvements.John Wooden Quote: "Adversity often produces an unexpected opportunity. Look for it ! Appreciate ...

Another book referred to the “captivity of the fathers.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevia sings the song of “Tradition!”  Is adversity trying to tell us there is a better way, and tradition is trying to hold us back?  In previous articles, I discussed how a friend of mine related that he is the first generation of his family who could read, and his children and grandchildren are graduating college because as a child, he was forced onto a bus, driven to Oklahoma, and forced into school and off the Indian reservation.  He experienced traumatic adversity as a child of seven.  The blessing of that adversity has lived and made him every day since, but to make him, the traditions of his fathers had to be forced out of his mind by formal education hundreds of miles from his northern Arizona home.  I weep for that little boy but cheer for the man he became and cherish my friendship with a man who had to justify two worlds.  Beware the traditions of your fathers so they do not become captivity your children must suffer to escape.

Not for any other purpose than trying and making the adversarial moment something I do not have to repeat.  I have repeated too many adversarial moments; there must be a better way to live!  For example, I was forced into bankruptcy twice!  I hope to learn from my mistakes, and if anyone knows how to raise money, improve earnings, and live more fully within one’s means, I am all ears!  If you know how to monetize a website, I will trade for this knowledge and assistance.  Bringing up another powerful tool of adversity, placing us into situations where we can help and will choose to be helped.Adversity Opportunity Quotes. QuotesGram

One of the reasons why some adversarial incidents last as long as they do is because we are proud people, and giving help is easier than accepting help and multitudes of times easier than asking for help.  My first time homeless, I had to get off the streets as walking the streets all night was interfering with my ability to work a complete shift.  Plus, it was cold, and those nights in Auburn, Washington in October and November were miserable!  So, I asked for help from a church, and asking for help was one of the most challenging events in my life.  In fact, asking for help has never gotten easier with time or experience.  I would rather get beat with a brick stick than ask for help; is it any wonder that pride is one of the seven deadly sins?Adversity | Adversity, Lds quotes, Church quotes

To ask for help, I felt I needed to have a plan to repay the money.  I demanded that I stick with that repayment schedule, even after being told, very kindly, that I did not have to repay and that there was no debt to repay.  How often do we make the pains and problems of adversity worse because we struggle to ask for help or feel a need to repay debts when there are no debts?  The reality is that when adversity appears to drag on and on without end, being a relentless taskmaster, many times I am the problem making adversity worse.Adversity Quotes By Famous People. QuotesGram

Bring us back to that garden near the Mount of Olives and the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Leaving me with a final question, how do I know when enough is sufficient?  I do not know how to answer this question, nor am I sure I am asking the right question; I merely know that adversity is not occurring because the intelligence’s of the universe want to see me struggle, adversity is not happening because I committed a crime or deserved being punished.  Adversity is a tool that helps us gain strength and I am weak, and the only way to get my attention is to put me in situations where I can grow through the things I suffer.  But help is always available; this is another lesson adversity teaches.  Help, assistance, support, we are not left bereft of these in our times of need, and this is a comfort and a hope.

Knowledge Check!Let us choose to be more charitable, relieve suffering where we can, ask for help when we need, and choose to make today a little better than yesterday through our involvement in the world around us.  I am not asking anyone to go broke helping those putting up their petitions, and it does not matter where the money goes.  Be the hand reaching out, and you WILL always find a hand reaching out to you; this is the final lesson adversity teaches us.

© 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.

Unconscious Bias – A Fallacy of the Oppressor!

Bobblehead DollA few years ago, I had the unfortunate privilege of having for a manager a homosexual person.  Let me emphasize; I do not care about your personal choices and lifestyle; keep it to yourself and out of the workspace.  Hetero- or homosexual, does not matter; it does not belong in the workplace!  Back to the manager, as he was openly homosexual, he embraced all the biases claptrap and accused me of being racist and homophobic.quote-mans-inhumanity

Of which, I am neither.  When informed that I am neither homophobic nor racist, sexist, genderist, etc., I was told he was observing my unconscious biases and claiming that I was not biased was actually declaring I was heavily biased.  He then went so far as to write me up for being biased.  At the time, I had not studied the research on biases and could not counter his charges.  This manager chose to stand inside personal space for the guys on his team, but not the females, which was sexual harassment, but the business refused to think this was sexual harassment.  That this manager continually rubbed himself against the guys on his team was also rejected as sexual harassment.quote-mans-inhumanity-2

I have learned much since this incident, and I want to help those in similar situations understand a few pieces of the language plasticity that goes into the bias arguments.  I will be clear that if a heterosexual male rubs against a female, which is considered sexual harassment, then the same is true for a homosexual, regardless of gender.  Being uncomfortable with being touched is not an indication of bias, simply an expression of a personal preference.

Unconscious Bias

3-direectional-balanceBog-standard bias is considered as attitudes, behaviors, and actions that are prejudiced in favor or opposition to a person, group, or thing.  But, here is the clincher, bias is judged by others as a projection of themselves when they encounter other people, places, or things.  If you think you have a handle on the language of biases, an unconscious bias is also called an implicit bias.  Implicit bias is described as bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors, however just to keep you in the dark, implicit biases are also stereotypes.  In social identity theory, an implicit bias or implicit stereotype is the pre-reflective attribution of particular qualities by an individual to a social out-group member. Implicit stereotypes are shaped by experience and learned associations between certain qualities and social categories, including race or gender.

Now, if you think you finally have a grasp on biases, stereotypes, and preferences, we add the final straw to the argument.  Biases and stereotypes are judged by an observer using their understanding, education, experience, and opinions as a projection upon you and your actions, behaviors, and attitudes as a lens to understand the world around them.  Thus, my not saying “Good Morning” to my manager was projecting his own biased thinking and homophobia, declaring my actions are homophobic slurs.  In reality, I am not a morning person and generally do not talk to anyone, spouse included, before 0800.  Walking in at 0400 to begin a shift in a call center meant my cherub-like demeanor had not woken up yet, and silence was the only policy.

Bias Self-AuditingWhy

In my email box, I have an email that includes a self-audit of bias for managers.  Before continuing, consider what you know about bias.  Bias is the thoughts, feelings, ideas, and visions of another person, project upon you and your actions, attitudes, and behaviors, so the person projecting can understand the world.  I cleaned up the obvious grammatical errors, not that this improved the material very much.

How and to whom do you delegate work?

            • By giving specific tasks to one team member, am I depriving another team member of a growth opportunity?
            • Am I giving the same level of detail, and therefore equally setting each team member up for success when I assign projects?

End goal: Ensuring that everyone has an equal chance to take on challenging and meaningful projects

How do you give feedback to different direct reports?

            • Am I delivering feedback casually to some team members and formally to others?
            • Do I soften critiques for some team members more than others?

End goal: Making sure you’re delivering feedback equitably.

Any generalizations you make about team members.

            • What kind of assumptions am I making about team members based on age, ethnic background, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, appearance, or anything else?
            • Do my assumptions impact how I feel about their capability and competency?

End goal: Minimizing the perpetuation of stereotypes while practicing and displaying empathy.

Who do you praise publicly, and who do not praise publicly?

            • Is there a personal motivation behind team members I praise publicly and those for whom I withhold praise?
            • Do I limit the exposure of my compliments for some team members and show my appreciation more widely for others?

End goal: Ensuring that you’re sharing accolades fairly.

How and with whom do you exchange casual banter?

            • Do I have friendly conversations or share memes with some teammates more than others? How might that affect workplace alliances?
            • Do some teammates feel alienated or marginalized by witnessing my apparent affinity for other teammates?

End goal: Avoiding outsized allegiances with people based on your shared perspective to the detriment of developing relationships with others with different viewpoints.

Who do you go to for advice?

            • Do I go to the same people time and time again for mentorship? Do they look like me?
            • Are there people to whom I could go for advice and a more expansive perspective?

End goal: Avoid making decisions based only on the feedback shared in an echo chamber.

Consider these statements with me for a moment as part of a discussion on biases.  Feel free to leave your comments in the space provided below this article.  When I need advice, my manager is younger than I am, but has years of experience in the company.  His boss is older than I am by a little bit.  They both look like me.  Does this automatically mean that I must sacrifice talents, skills, abilities, and tenure because the information comes from someone who looks like I do?  No, logic screams.  But the emotional immaturity of those casting biased aspersion will claim yes.Anton Ego

When I first arrived on my ship USS Barry (DDG 52), my second-class petty officers were two white males, one black male, and one black female.  For competence, I went to the black female as she displayed the most leadership—the two white males were involved in their own relationships and were rarely available to answer questions.  The black male did not possess the maturity to answer questions.  The first-class petty officers were three white males, two of whom embodied immaturity, and our chief… well, let’s not speak ill of the dead.  If I acted as these bias audits claim, my Navy career would have been disastrous, for I would have rejected competency and maturity for race, gender, and incompetence.

Suggestions, Ideas, and Thoughts

Stop seeing race, gender, nationality, and other lines of separation.  These are distractions cast upon everyone by foul oppressors who see these lines of separation and project their inadequacies upon everyone else.  It is perfectly acceptable not to have biases and claim you have no preferences.  I do not care about your gender, race, color, creed, religion, handicap status, or anything else.  I care only about your competency, and if I can help you, or you can help me increase competency, let’s work together!cropped-rocks-in-a-stream-2.jpg

Believe that you are a good person!  I know those projecting their inadequacies and claiming you have biases are profoundly pernicious in their approaches.  But, when you have confidence that you are doing the best you can, you can rest easy when these pernicious oppressors begin to attempt to humiliate you.  In the movie “The Sound of Music,” there is a song called “I Have Confidence.”  When you need reminding of your goodness, play this song, and sing along at the top of your lungs!  I promise you will feel better!

When you treat everyone as you desire to be treated, without fear and with confidence, you will always have loyal people at your back to support you.  If you live by implicit bias and fear, the whole world will never trust you, and you will not have confidence in yourself.  Those who oppress want you miserable; deny them that opportunity!Knowledge Check!

Living without biases is possible, is easy, but is sometimes not very convenient.  But, as Mr. Miagi said in the original “Karate Kid,” “Man who walks in street, gets squished like grape.”  Dr. Seuss is right, “Be the best you, you can be.”  Stop allowing the oppressors into your mind; they are not worth your time.

© 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: Patriotism

Jonathan Foreman, author of “The Pocketbook of Patriotism,” made an excellent point about what patriotism is in the introduction of his book, patriotism is “a celebration of this country [America].”  How cool is that, to know that the cheer I feel when I see the American Flag, the thrill I get when I see a parade when I see the US Military in action or marching in a parade, is patriotism, and I am celebrating America.  That sentiment is special to me; I like celebrating America.  I know the No MORE BS movement is global, but maybe patriotism can also be a celebration of your country and your country’s accomplishments, something to consider.  Hence the reason for this article, let us stop being afraid to be patriots or showing patriotism.

LinkedIn ImageAfter 9/11 and the terrorist attacks on that day, the corporate media, as early as 9/12, began trying to curb patriotism, stop the cheering, make citizens feel ashamed of being Americans, and going so far as to decide what American’s can and cannot see due to sensitivity and a perverted desire for nationalism to return.  During 9/11, I served onboard the USS Barry (DDG 52), an Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer.  Our ship was undergoing some maintenance that kept us tied to the pier when our carrier and battle group was called to New York.  We still served the battle group; we just did it tied to the pier.  Our sister ship, another Arleigh Burke, was off the 100-fathom curve performing ship inspections when a German Destroyer sent their condolences extraordinarily and uniquely to our sister ship, and our Navy, and the US Government.  Just remembering the action of this German Naval Destroyer brings tears and chills.  How humbling it was to have our national tragedy recognized by such a great ally and former enemy!  To that crew, you know who you are, thank you!

PatriotismPatriotism is a celebration of all we are, all we have achieved, and the hope of more extraordinary achievements to come.  America never claimed to be perfect, never desired to be the “shining city on the hill,” but America is one of the few countries who actively strive, and for that, I would live nowhere else!  I celebrate America’s Civil War, not because of the slavery issue or the thousands of dead, but because America proved that individual States’ rights are paramount in American governance.  Yes, we need to have some standards between the states for which the Federal Government is responsible, but individual States’ rights are critical to the American Republic, and I would have it no other way.  Do we, the inheritors of this Republic, understand how precious States’ Rights are to us individually?

LookLet us be perfectly clear; the corporate media would have all Americans celebrating nationalism instead of patriotism.  So, let’s clean up the confusion on these terms.  Nationalism, as detailed by Webster is, “an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation, especially to gain and maintain the nation’s sovereignty over its homeland.”  The plasticized version of nationalism’s definition coincides with Charles Reich’s “The New Property” and sees the government’s maintenance over the people as representatives of the nation.  Adlai Stevenson wrote, “Men who have offered their lives for their country know that patriotism is not the fear of something, it is the love of something.”  Adlai Stevenson went further and claimed; patriotism is “not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”  Love and celebration of your country, what better sentiments can describe and define patriotism; I know of none better.

A principle from leadership is that of the loyal opposition.  Loyal opposition is a person’s true character, but they want and need to know why and know their efforts are acceptable, even when they appear to be in opposition to the proposed plan.  America was born in dissent from loyal oppositionists.  The American Republic owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the loyal oppositionists and dissenters.  Through the paths of opposition and struggle, America was stronger for their loyalty and opposition, dissent, and eventual unity in the ideals that make America great.  Hence, to subdue dissent is the height of nationalism as a means to change America’s fundamentals, and treason is not a strong enough word for the actions of those who refuse dissent, declaim loyal opposition, and censor speech they find personally or politically unpalatable.

Mount RushmoreOne of the little-known founding fathers was John Dickinson.  John Dickinson (1732–1808), known as the “Penman of the Revolution” for his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, was, at various times, a militia officer in the Revolutionary War, a member of the First and Second Continental Congresses, a primary drafter of the Articles of Confederation, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and the state president of Delaware (1781) and Pennsylvania (1782).”  John Dickinson is mentioned here for a song he wrote that was popular leading up to and during the American Revolution.  The lyrics are meaningful, but the music can be listened to here.  One phrase from the “Liberty Song” has been oft-quoted many times, “Then join Hand in Hand brave Americans all, By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall; In so righteous a cause let us hope to succeed, for Heaven approves of each generous Deed [emphasis mine].”  Consider how many times you have heard or seen this phrase in one context or another, and cheer for the man who wrote those immortal words!

Detective 3Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary who authored, among many others, “Common Sense” and “The Right’s of Man,” two books highly recommended for future reading.  Thomas Paine is quoted saying, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”  Of all the self-evident truths a patriot should never forget or be confused upon, this is the single most significant point and hinge for a country’s future.  The other self-evident truth, needing full remembrance, comes from President Thomas Jefferson, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  The legitimate government will always injure the citizens, hence the need for a smaller, more responsible, and flexible government.

American Patriotism is inclusive, generous, and tolerates and supports dissent.  I am not a judge of your patriotism, confusion between nationalism and patriotism, nor do I care about your personal choices, provided those choices do not interfere or remove the freedoms and liberties of others.  I feel this needs to be made clear, your choices are yours alone, and the consequences from those choices are yours to evaluate and consider without any input from me.  That is tolerance, generosity, and inclusion; without the plastic words, popular culture would have you believe.

Literary ArtsPlease believe and live the following truth; you, as an individual, are the key to America’s future.  Your choices are essential; your consequences suffered or enjoyed are part of your story that makes America grow or shrink.  Your choices and consequences will determine both your destiny and America’s destiny.  A “Liberty FIRST Culture” depends upon you, and you are worthy of the heritage and the honor of this position!

© 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.