Posted on | February 10, 2016 | Comments Off on Flint and……Plenty of outrage these days about Flint and the appalling lack of oversight (or any sight at all) of the water quality. Good. It's only by protesting that things can change. But think for a minute: can Flint be the only place this happened? Really? I doubt it. Put it this another way, in terms of another scandal - was Volkwagen the only company that lied about emission standards? It turns out almost everyone was doing it. Yes, almost every major car manufacturer was fiddling the numbers. Can water be any different? Have a glass of water.
Posted on | February 3, 2016 | Comments Off on As some of you may have noticed…I've decided to apply the strictest spam filters to my site. You can still respond to my posts but you have to be a real human to do so. The arrival of so much spam, so often, made me wonder. What good could it possibly do to the senders? And that thought was followed by this thought: can you imagine how great our world would be if people devoted the same amount of time and energy they spend doing something pointless and damaging and decided instead to do something good for other people, the planet, and so on? Makes one wonder, really....
Posted on | January 26, 2016 | Comments Off on In Praise of KindnessHave you ever noticed how people like the 'zinger' reply? We love those quirky quotes of Oscar Wilde, the put-downs of Downton's Dowager, and so on. The wry asides. Witty. Fun. And ultimately rather cruel. Why is it we tend to admire things that we might hesitate to say ourselves, face to face with another? And if we admire those harsh words in others, doesn't that admiration bring us closer to saying them, to feeling them? That's how unkindness grows. The positive aspect in all this is easy: we are, almost all of us, naturally kind and reluctant to offend. We have to be trained to be unkind, just as soldiers have to be trained to face danger and kill. We don't do that naturally. It's time to reclaim who we naturally are.
Posted on | January 17, 2016 | Comments Off on ChangeChange is inevitable. Everything changes. Progress, however, requires work and effort.
Posted on | January 14, 2016 | Comments Off on We Become the Thing We FearUnless we combat the fear, we become the thing we fear. That seems to be a law of nature. Imagine it this way: someone is afraid of violence in the world. So that person goes out and buys a gun. Suddenly the chances of that person feeling threatened and becoming a killer are hugely increased. Imagine someone who is afraid refugees will be terrorists. That person seeks to ban all refugees and treats any who arrive with hatred. This immeasurably enhances the chances that the refugees will show hatred in return. That's how it happens. We become what we fear - unless we combat the fear.
Posted on | January 13, 2016 | Comments Off on Twixt Sleep and WakingWhen Zoe wakes up she has a little bit of a hard time transitioning from the world of sleep and dreams to the world of here and now today. It occurred to me that the “here and now” world is actually something we all have to get used to – with its odd demands and hard edges. It’s a world that seems to require we take it seriously, whether we want to or not. This must be confusing for any small child who loves imaginative play and whose dreams are, presumably, not fenced in by the solid boundaries of this world. It’s a coming down to earth that must often feel discordant, and compared to which our own daily struggles to get out of bed and get started are slight. Why? Simply because we’re used to it. Zoe isn’t. And yet – our world is one of our own making in terms of how much emphasis we place on it. If we believe that we absolutely have to get to work on time or life as we know it will end, then, yes, we will be taking this world of ours as seriously as we possibly can. But there is a down side to being so focused and serious. Stress and unhappiness often are the results of such a life. If we buy into the cliché that hard work and dedication will make us wealthy, and that wealth is what we need above all else, then we will take the stress, accept the unhappiness, and seek the wealth of our bank accounts. Then, presumably, we will feel satisfied sitting isolated in our trophy room as the last vestiges of life wither from us – because we did what we were supposed to. But what if the things we’re supposed to do are all delusions, delusions as misplaced as other delusions that we buy into? Many people buy into the idea that guns are necessary and make them safer; others have the delusion that anyone with a dark skin is inferior; still others believe that there is no Global climate change problem. And so on. These are all delusions. And the delusion that democracy will cure all our problems is right in there, too, because it doesn’t take much thought to realize that crowds can often be very wrong about very important things. It all depends upon what they buy into as beliefs. Zoe doesn’t buy into many of those beliefs yet. Watching the Republican debate the other night she said, “Look at those kids”. She simply didn’t believe these were adults having an adult discussion. I have to say I agreed with her.
Posted on | January 9, 2016 | Comments Off on War and PeaceNarratives of "War" and Peace It seems we have two different stories we tell ourselves about armed conflict. One is the personal I-Hate-Others story, that focuses on hand to hand struggle. That's what we tend to see in those movies that glorify courage and war. Certainly it's a narrative that sells. The second narrative is much cooler and more impersonal: it reflects a general distain for human life. It seems to say, "we must lose this many of our troops in order to inflict this kind of damage on our opponents, and that is fine." By contrast there is only one narrative of Peace - and that is that all human beings deserve to be treated well and not subjected to suffering. Let's stick with the single story. After all, the more stories we tell ourselves the greater the likelihood that we're just finding excuses to give in to our lowest impulses.
Posted on | January 8, 2016 | Comments Off on Therapy and CounselingThe debate about what "works" and what doesn't within healing relationships is one that will never be closed to everyone's satisfaction, if only because people are all so different and all heal (or fail to heal) in different ways. I've been a counselor for many years, and watched the debate fairly closely. One thing that can be said, though, is this: When people come looking for psychological help it is because they feel that they cannot understand themselves - and so consequently they are afraid they can never be understood by anyone at all. Having someone who listens, who comprehends more than most ordinary people, and who does not give up on the person sends a message. The message is that, although complex, most people are understandable. The patient may be confused, but simply knowing that someone else feels that he or she is understandable gives the hope that, with some work and guidance, the patient can begin to understand him or herself. I may be puzzling (the inner awareness says) but I know I'm not incomprehensible. It's a powerful, hopeful message. Perhaps what eases the pain is the validation of that hope that we experience when with another person who believes in us.
Posted on | January 3, 2016 | Comments Off on Hobbies and MetaphorsOne of my hobbies is repairing and restoring old things. These things were once new, were then taken for granted, wore out and were thrown aside. Then, after the damage is done, people like me take them apart and try to breathe life into them. Life works the same way - we take things for granted until they break, and it's only when we try and put them back into working order that we realize how complex and delicate and wonderful they are. The Environment; friendships; our bodies; the heart. My hobby is a metaphor.
Posted on | December 28, 2015 | Comments Off on Christmas StressI have conducted a far-reaching and deeply scientific survey, statistically valid in at least three of these great United States, using the well-tried and mathematically flawless methodology known as talking to my friends. The topic? Why do so many people get ill right after Christmas? Quite a few folks seem to have succumbed this year, and a quick call to my doctor this am revealed a phone line that was heavily engaged for about an hour - doubtless with calls from suffering souls. My analysis is simply that the Holidays are hard work, stress-filled, and exhausting - as well as fun for many. We make it through the presents and the Christmas dinner and then we give in to the flu, colds, sore throats and so on we've been fighting off for quite some time. In short, we crash. Obviously this is not true for everyone. Yet it seems true for plenty of people. The stress gets to us. So here's a thought: Love your family and friends, spend time with them, have fun, but at the same time be kind and loving to yourself. Do less; take it gently; stay well. keep looking »