Posted: August 19th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: empathy, fear, growth, justice, love, responsibility, society | No Comments »
How is a society ultimately judged by history? One criteria is by the art left behind and how its most helpless, most insignificant members were treated. Think about the massive monuments created by the Egyptians and the stories of oppressive slavery. Or consider the Romans with their great architectural and engineering triumphs created in parallel with the persecution of Christians, Jews and other “barbarian” slaves.
How will we be remembered? As I write today, I am less concerned about our art and literature, however I am deeply concerned about how we so casually, rationally and systematically marginalize or even worse, ignore the weakest among us.
In 2009 America, the richest, most powerful, most free nation in the history of history, how many kids, no how many people go to bed hungry? How many people go to bed afraid of violence perpetrated inside the family and how many go to bed scared of the violence from without? How many live with not just the fear of getting sick but with the fear of not being able to get help?
Will we be remembered as a society that could have been more? That could been better but chose to turn a blind eye to mercy, empathy and caring for our own? A society that allowed the larger broader concepts of real justice and righteousness to be institutionally obfuscated until the issues could be lacquered over or just swept away with the election cycle rhetoric?
It is usually really hard to look inward and be honest. It is often painful and upsetting. And the thought of it may be foreign and scary. But looking inward with an unbiased eye is essential to grow and become better. To become something worth remembering. To create a society in which it is truly worth living.
Posted: August 18th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: collaboration, cooperation, heroes | No Comments »
Everyone is familiar with the iconic image of the solitary hero overcoming long odds to defeat a much larger and seemingly unassailable opponent; John Wayne’s numerous portrayals, Bruce Willis in the Die Hard films, Clint Eastwood’s roles as the stranger & Dirty Harry and James Bond in his various manifestations are all examples. This “cowboy” self-reliance is deeply ingrained into our culture and our spirit. So deeply that it is elevated as something to aspire to. But the tragedy and fallacy of this mythology is that we are much more effective, much happier and frankly just plain better when we are truly operating as part of an effective and focused team.
Don’t misunderstand me, real individuals are thrust into circumstances where they selflessly act every day. They are true heroes. But as a generality, we are wired to work with others, to rise to a higher level and be driven by our peers. To bring out the best in each other by working cooperatively for the collective benefit and collaborative goal.
This is the kind of environment where we thrive and really grow as individuals because we are part of a team. Whether it is inside a marriage, a family, a friendship, a partnership, a company or a spontaneous gathering – identify the common need and commit to that goal as one focused force where the sum of each component acting synchronously far exceeds the effectiveness and power of the individual.
If you lead an organization foster this. If you are led, initiate it a lower level and nurture it. One solitary man or woman can make a difference, and that difference is focusing the energies and spirit of the group. Be that person in that group. Remember wolves don’t hunt alone, they work in packs.
Posted: August 17th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: commonality, compassion, empathy, love, sons | 1 Comment »
Today is #1’s birthday, so most importantly, Happy Birthday #1 -I love you very much and hope that you have a wonderful day!
Prior to his birth, being a parent was never real to me. Even though I watched my wife grow larger, saw the ultra-sounds, was with her when she went into premature labor and then sentenced to bed rest for 8 weeks, actually having a baby was more surrealistic than realistic. The entire concept was an abstraction, the scheduled Cesarean was a date marked on the calendar, a day when I would not go to work. A day with other events scheduled before and after. I was completely naive, selfish and simply unprepared for the remarkable ramifications that would unfold.
A little back story for those who don’t know me: growing up I could be characterized as difficult. I probably got into more trouble than the average kid. I could be mean, insensitive, aggressive and generally difficult. I gave my parents, my JHS teachers and peers a tough time. I was a bit more subdued while attending a private HS but some of the more wild traits re-emerged in college and beyond. By the time I met my wife and got married in late 80’s I was more “mature” but certainly still aggressive and prone to rage, especially when frustrated. My view of the world and overall philosophy could be characterized as zero sum or all or nothing. Your gain was my loss and my gain, well I didn’t really care about the ramifications of my gain. If you were not with me you were the enemy.
Back to August 17, 1994. While my wife was in the OR, I was outside, trying to get my scrubs on when the anesthesiologist burst out and rushed me inside. I saw my wife on the table and her insides were literally on a tray as the Ob/Gyn was extracting my son. He looked perfect, like a movie prop (as all Cesarean babies are -they don’t get squeezed during delivery). My wife was fine and she held him. I was pretty scared to hold him, frankly more scared than each of the times when I was shot at, but I did it anyway. And I think that is when it hit me. That was when my life began to turn, when my anger, fear and aggression began to dissolve.
When I held my son I had an epiphany; I realized that everyone on this earth is some-one’s child. And that someone hopefully loves them as much as I loved this little boy. And further, they may even be some-one’s mother or father, they may be a person who loves their kids and is loved by their kids.
My perception was changed. I was changed. I was made more human by understanding our commonality. Black, White, Asian. Christian, Jew, Muslim. Male or female. It doesn’t matter, we were all born and we were all someone’s child. With that understanding, how can we not love and feel compassionate to each other?
Thank you #1, you and your brother have changed my life forever for the better. I do and will always love you both. I am forever grateful that you guys came into my life.
Posted: August 15th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: performance, pressure, process, why blog | No Comments »
Haven’t blogged for a while because the kids have been away. As it turns out, they actually read my stuff and find it interesting, even insightful. Its still unclear if they hear me when I speak -OK, I do tend to implore the Socratic method, meander into abstraction and then find my way back using various metaphors to illustrate key points- but they do find it interesting, as do 161 other people who read this around the world -that in and of itself blows me away…..
But now #1 is back and #2 is returning in 5 days. I need to actually memorialize something that is worthy of a passing comment on the way out of the house, or at the very least, a raised eyebrow. I have to say, I do enjoy the pressure to perform but I really don’t have any expectations of how that performance will be manifested. So what am I actually enjoying?