Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Persuasion

As a form of advocacy and protest, persuasion can seem easier than railing and ranting. It is perceived as easier because it is less likely to offend. Persuasion can be done in writing, in person, on social media, through petition or boycott. It is most often a collective action. We band together with like-minded folks who are dissatisfied with the status quo and wants a different outcome which we can combine our signature or buying power. Persuasion is meant to nudge rather than push, encourage rather than blame, discuss rather than chastise.

The Red Cross movement is in 191 or more countries because they don’t climb on a soapbox. They are able to improve conditions and effect incremental change by quietly presenting a case.

When persuasion is the only tool, it is largely ineffective. When it is combined with the myth of neutrality, it is dangerous and complicit with the aggressor.  Persuasion is useful as part of a sales process or a coaching regime because the nudge is followed by another nudge and another and another.  In the face of oppression,  disaster, conflict, injustice, poverty, hunger or an array of social and environmental issues, it leaves the issue perpetually bringing angst, agony, and acrimony.

If you are reticent about taking a provocative action, I encourage you to write a ‘sandwich’ letter to an official as an easy start to activism. Start the letter with congratulations and cordial greetings and end it with a collegial salutation. In between, fill it with a meaty, well-reasoned position and appeal for change.

What did you see in the last 24 hours that caused you concern? Who can you write an email or a letter to? Will you?

Bob

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Denunciation

protest

The FreeDictionary.com defines denounce as;
1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly.
2. to make a formal accusation against, as to the police or in a court.
3. to give formal notice of the termination or denial of (a treaty, pact, or the like).

Over the past fifty years, I have found myself vigorously and rigorously denouncing public policy, corporate action, charitable practices and individuals from my private and in my public life. I lean towards respectful and evidence-based criticism but have found myself speaking in hyperbole and passionate posturing. Respectful denunciation is a much better and more effective approach.

In a world where injustice, prejudice, environmental degradation, inequity, and violence raises their head in every corner, there is much to denounce. This can be down without standing on a soapbox railing at authorities; Condemnation can look like standing arm-in-arm with the oppressed (physically or metaphorically). It can manifest as a silent vigil in solidarity with a cause or an impacted population. It may be a letter to the editor or an open letter to your mayor, expressing your concern and consternation about a decision or nondecision.

Denunciation is one bookend in the continuum of protest and is valuable and necessary in almost every circumstance. Amnesty International and Greenpeace place a strong boundary on the edge of the situation, and even when it inflames resistance, it nudges the middle to take a well-reasoned position and action. Social, justice or environment wrongdoing needs the point of the needle poking and prodding so that less aggressive forms have space to rise up.

I do appreciate the camaraderie and passionate position of denouncers and could easily find myself standing on a dais with a bullhorn raised in a demonstration of my objections.

Whatever your tendency, consider how far you are willing to go to help and then consider if you will raise your voice, your hand, a sign, your influence to hold those in authority to account.

Power to the people,

B

Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Give it a Try

What do you do in your leisure time? No leisure – sad and dangerous. The expression: add life to your days not just days to your life” is hard to manage but in the 21st century, we need to heed the essence of the message.

Do you have hobbies? Are you a musician, an artist, a writer, a knitter, a sailor, a cyclist, a cellist, a baker, a canner, a gardener? When was the last time you did something for the first time?

This weekend, next week, tomorrow, this afternoon find something to do that you have never tried. If you are reading this, you have access to the world and everything in it. Find a free online Tai Chi class, a Skillshare painting class, or an online book club. Search your community for events and activities. There is a big cleanup happening in our neighborhood.
Join a rowing class, walk a pathway and record how many robins you see. Stretch yourself and make a deposit on something more outrageous like music lessons, climbing lessons and dancing lessons.

Add some life to your days by adding something as yet unimaginable to your next 168 hours.

B

Uncategorized

Support and Disappointment

In my not so humble opinion, relationships are complicated, exhilarating and require dedication and commitment. There is a theory that we basket our relationships into four categories; intimate, personal, social and public. I hold one person in my intimate basket, dozens in my personal, hundreds in my social and thousands in public. At the widest point, my commitment and dedication are lowest and so is the exhilaration and complexity.
Those in my personal basket are people who I care about; I care enough that when I am making a decision, I consider how my actions will impact them. We remain connected through an undocumented and unaudited reciprocity. We support each other; we listen for opportunities to offer sincere feedback, and we extend grace to each other when we screw up. It is hard to acknowledge and own the mishaps (maybe it is in all cases), but if I am open to accepting culpability,  the relationship remains authentic. If I am ducking for cover and denying involvement, the relationship is eroded.

In my intimate relationship that has survived and flourished for 43 years. All of the above is encapsulated; complicated, exhilarating, supportive, dedicated, grace and committed. But I believe that the reason that we have continued to work hard every day to live happily ever after is because we don’t want to disappoint each other. I have disappointed her and been disappointed, but I know that each day I ask myself “if I do this would it disappoint her?” 99.5% of the time the answer is “no” and 99.9% of the time when the answer is “yes,” I don’t make that choice.

My relationships are my responsibility, and I take seriously the role that continues to evolve and hold those close to me to a high standard.

Are your relationships healthy and reciprocal? Do you care and demonstrate that you care in equal measure? Are you willing and ready to step up and move to the next level?

Make Today Remarkable, for someone close  to you,

B

The Cultural Curiosity Daily will be a hodgepodge on some days and a treatise on others. If you are entertained, provoked, inspired, edified or angered by any of it you can respond with comments and as always you can ‘buy me a coffee.

Uncategorized

Even When I Don’t Want To

Being considerate, caring and compassionate shouldn’t be optional. Regardless of how I feel, what the situation is, or who is involved, I should strive for the three big C’s.

It seems paradoxical that I can be inconsiderate of people that I have never met and people who are closest to my heart. Neither are acceptable. When I encounter someone, for the first time, that challenges me, offends me, or rubs me the wrong way I feel justified in any rudeness or callousness that pours out of me. I am not justified in treating them badly regardless of the circumstances. Rudeness begets negativity, and I am always in the position to decide to break the cycle.  As I reflect on the times that I haven’t considered someone else, there are far too many times that the object of my derision is the person or people who mean the most to me. I take them for granted; I raise my voice; I cut them off; I can be mean-spirited. Is this because I feel safe that my outburst will be forgiven?
There is a huge segment of my social and public spheres that have never seen that side of me.  I see them once a month, once a year or in specific situations. I treat them with respect even when I challenge them. We disagree without animosity. Is the reduced familiarity a factor? I don’t know how they will react, so I am on better behavior? Am I consciously deciding to treat them as I want to be treated even when I may want to lash out? Can I consistently decide to be respectful to everyone? I think it is possible. I know people who are always sincere, interested and ethical (I don’t live in their skin so my impression may not be accurate).
It is my responsibility to choose to be respectful. To decide to be compassionate. To opt for consideration, especially when I feel challenged.

I am going to observe my tendencies and alter my approach as needed over the next month. Would you benefit from a wee modification?

Make Today Remarkable, for someone else,

Bob

Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Its a Fact

uncertaintyCommuting by foot and train this morning, I encountered a pair of young women holding placards that said ” Know the Facts” and then a sentence describing what they held to be true. For the purposes of personal responsibility, their assertions are irrelevant. Maybe because of the bold red title and the style and font, I was suspicious enough that I read their thesis sentence and then considered it as I finished my trip. In this case, I rejected their truth in favor of my understanding, experience, and research. I discerned that there was a different and better statement to accept.

It seems that discernment and consideration are in short supply. Most of the time we accept the assertions of others; experts, media, politicians, authorities. I suggest that lazy thinking and poor training has created a dangerous and futile habit.

Readers will know that I believe truth is mostly relative and perspective driven. If I believe that all men are created equal, then I take the position that inequality arises from some barrier. If I believe that all men have equal opportunity, then inequality is a distribution problem. If I believe that all men should have equal opportunities, then inequality is framed as injustice. All or none of these statements can be portrayed as facts and will garner support from a predisposed constituency.

I am not trying to convince or unconvince you of anything other than that you don’t need to accept the truth that someone else holds up. You should be willing to explore the issue, arrive at your own conclusion and with discernment build your own values set. There is significant political pressure, from both the left and right, to accept their bill of goods but ideological promiscuity gives us a chance to discover an as yet unimagined approach.

You are responsible for what you believe. An unexamined set of beliefs is a lazy and mediocre way to live through your 168-hour weekly allotment.

Bob

Original Thought · Uncertainty

Intentional

In the spiritual realm (however you define that) everything is intentional. In the material world (however you define that) everything should be intentional. But, I find myself walking amongst many people who expect that somehow, the change they desire will happen organically. If they wish upon a star and take no other action or make no other plan, they believe that some mystical force will move mountains to make their craving (petty or otherwise) come to fruition. My thesis is that there is a magical force; the individual and collective efforts of our world in consort with the rhythms and rules of the planet.  If I want my heart’s desire to transpire, I need to perspire.
 
I have my superstitions and my supersense catches glimpses of many things I don’t understand. I see cause in correlation and correlation in coincidence and coincidence in confirmation. Often, I comfortably comply with a practice that is based on a ‘gut’ feeling because I have never seen tragedy when following this approach. For all my thought and all my reading and writing, I am still comforted by the convenience of a convention. I am convenienced by the comfort that conformity brings. But when I reflect on instances like this I am troubled by my willingness to concede to heuristics, mumbo jumbo and magic rather than make the effort to persist in discovering and uncovering what might be.
 
In “Behave” by Robert M. Sapolsky says ” displacement aggression (prejudice, anger, fear, love .. emphasis mine) can decrease the aggressor’s stress hormones”.” this world of sensory stimuli, much-sensed unconsciously, is subject to what occurred in the prior hours, to change sensitivity?” What evolutionary pressures have played over the millennia or what stressor in the last day is calling for conditioning?
 
As I ramble through this idea, I arrive at an oasis. If everything is intentional (or should be) and my superstitions are in some way influenced by evolution and bias, why do I/we resist nonconformity? Is fear of change or the unknown a DNA flaw in today’s reality? I am not evading sabre tooth tigers or scavenging for non-poisonous mushrooms any longer so why hasn’t this function receded or disappeared? Is there an impending reversal of fortunes that we collectively foresee? Will I need to stalk, hunt, and slay my meals in the future? Maybe, but it seems counterproductive to not adapt to those circumstances as required.
 
Further rambles – Is there any way to believe that events happen organically without having some belief structure that points towards mythical, magical, supernatural cause and effect? In my world, I can’t allow that two people can meet and without effort or intention fall in love and that cupid or some other intervener has cast a spell to have them live happily ever after. A strong marriage or long-term relationship requires hard work every day and when mistakes are made, and they will be, atonement is necessary. The idea that ‘love means never having to say you are sorry’ is a dangerous myth. Diligent and sincere consideration for the other in the relationship and a willingness to recognize and acknowledge when you have been insensitive or inconsiderate is a healthy, enduring, reciprocal relationship.
 
Further rambles part 2 – If Sapolsky is correct and our behaviour is at least partly controlled by genetic and evolutionary building blocks and hormonal secretion as a result of stimulation and stress, how do I manage my own emotions?  How do I reconcile the chaos that I see in others? When Joe snaps at the slightest provocation this morning but shrugs off a slander tomorrow, what am I to make of it? Can I accurately predict how I may react to praise on a day that I have been frightened by a near-miss car accident? How will I react if my beloved, Heaven forbid, has a serious illness? Yes, I see the superstition in the above sentence. Are all behaviour expectations really just averages and generic or is there a way to know how an individual will respond to a situation or a message? Maybe it doesn’t matter unless I am marketing or selling a product or service. If I am in a relationship, some mystery and an unexpected observation or unimagined acknowledgement are healthy for the alliance. After all ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. If I feel I can forecast my partners every move, I am on a short cut to taking her for granted. The balance between sharing enough tendencies and beliefs to feel at ease in someone’s company and being able to ‘know’ what they will say next is a delicate balance. It can only be achieved by testing the scales regularly and making adjustments to keep things interesting.
fun · Original Thought · Uncertainty

Left Behind

My grandmother left me a world that was better for her having lived her life on it. I suspect that her grandmother had given her the same inheritance. What am I leaving my grandchildren? What will you leave future generations?

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( a stock photo courtesy of Canva.com)

I was taught to model my behavior and relationships through her courage, curiosity, and certainty. Grandma had dozens of grandchildren, and at her funeral in 1977, I was a pallbearer. I was also convinced that I was her favorite until I discovered that all my cousins thought the same thing. Realizing that I shared the position with so many didn’t dampen my enthusiasm but rather encouraged me to try to live my life as if the person in front of me was important. I have failed greatly and succeeded meagrely, but her practice still resonates and rings true regardless of my measure.

Gertrude Edith Lavender Holmlund was born in Gillman, Iowa in 1895. She moved to rural Saskatchewan to homestead with her husband Ezra and raised nine children on the small farm. Grandma was a reader and a reciter who performed long poems, stories, and sagas from stages across the prairies. The love of words passed through the stubble and sunshine through my mom down to me. Between my grandmother’s knee to reading to my grandchildren today, there are 50,000 books that changed me and how I see my world. In the 1970’s, she was still reading to learn and was memorizing new pieces to dazzle and entertain an audience. Recently, my mom who is 90, began reciting Kipling’s “If ” around a campfire. The words and verses poured out of her, and she couldn’t recall when she had first learned it. (likely almost 80 years ago).

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

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

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

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

To the end of her life, grandma was certain about many things. She held and lived a life of Christian faith in the Lutheran Church. She held left-leaning political views about government and cooperation. Family, with all its warts, was the most important treasure she had. She saw her world change from breaking land with oxen and pioneering a province and a cooperative movement to international communications and travel. Over the years, she held to tradition where it was relevant and meaningful. She could be stubborn about somethings like God and social action while open to think and adapt to things like music, poetry, and love.

I don’t have nor desire her certainty. I am comfortable living with more ambiguity than should be comfortable. I lean away from tradition even when it might still make sense. I struggle with being compassionate when faced with people and ideas that I abhor. I get to be a provocateur and contrarian because of the life my grandma lived and the world that she left me.

Make Today Remarkable, by leaving today better than it would have been without you,

Bob

fiction · fun · Original Thought · Uncertainty

Future Forecast for Fun

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Future Forecast for the Week February 6 to 13, 2018

Odin January 1 to February 5

Odin is the lord of all other gods. You are the most knowledgeable.You draw wisdom from the tree of life, which gives you your power. Your friends and associates come to you for advice.
This week your horse rides above the clouds. You will be called upon to offer the highest level opinion on a very big project. Be bold with your voice. By the end of the week, an opportunity will be lost.

Thor February 6 to March 16

Thor is the grand defender of the realm. With your huge hammer and your strength, you bring calm and peace to conflict. You use your strength to strengthen others.
You will be asked to choose between the efforts of two colleagues. Lift both of their creations up and help them become co-creators. Mediate and moderate the tone of discussions on the weekend.

Loki March 17 to April 29

Loki is essentially the god of pranks and mischief-making. You bring levity and disruption to your relationships. As a shapeshifter, you are very difficult to get to know.
Tuesday isn’t a good time to cause discord. Use your humor to entertain rather than to provoke.In the final hours of the week, the fruits of last weeks interjection will be apparent.

Heimdallr April 30 to June 3

Heimdallr is the bridge between the powerful and the weak. You act as a peacemaker when discord rises above functional tension. You carry the weight of others and need to deliberately step back on occasion for self-care.
Your courage and conviction to bring collaboration from the fire of conflict are needed all week. Offer your reputation to and resources to save the day on Wednesday. Be honest about your willingness to continue without measurable results.

Magni and Modi June 4 to July 16

Thor’s sons are the contradiction of bravery and savagery. You are driven to succeed and can step over the line to get what you want. If you are on my side, you do what is needed to ensure that I am fulfilled.
Many associates are struggling at the beginning of the week with what seems like insurmountable barriers. You can help them knock some down and get around others.

Njord – God Of The Sea  July 17 to July 20

Njord is the sea and the net. You represent abundance to many of your friends, but they don’t realize that you are longing for abundance and meaning in your relationships.
Loki and Odin are behind you on Thursday, so it is a great day to take the first step and ask someone that you have been admiring on a date. The weekend will be filled with invitations, accept them all.

Tyr – God Of War July 20 to September 1

Tyr is loyal and sacrifices himself and his desires for those he cares about. You go above and beyond what is expected to your own detriment.
You have been bearing the emotions and scars of your family for the past week so lay low on Tuesday and Wednesday to replenish your own cups.On Monday, you will be asked for a major concession. Consider it carefully.

Baldr – God Of Justice September 2 to October 17

Baldr is the god of justice. You have a strong sense of equity and work unceasingly to balance the scales and bring dignity and honor to the less fortunate.
Before noon on Wednesday, you will become aware of a disparity in your workplace, and you are the only one who has the credibility to speak up and redress it. Your reputation will be intact because of the actions you take not your inactions.
Frigg – Goddess of Family and Love October 18 to November 23

Frigg is one of the foremost goddesses of Norse mythology. You are empathetic and empathic, so you feel the joy and sorrow of others. You carry the sixth sense and can foresee future circumstances.
Caution is required on Saturday and Sunday. Revealing what you see in someone’s life can exacerbate the situation and create unwarranted anxiety and chaos. You recognize that a minor choice on Friday will lead to a big decision on Monday.

Bragi – God of Eloquence November 24 to December 31

Bragi had inspiration carved on his tongue, and he inspires creativity in others. You can persuade and influence with fluency, clarity, and humor.
It is time to express your gifts and change the direction of a small group of people who you care about. The direction they are going needs a different heading. At midday on Friday, be alert to instances where your influence will make the world a better place.

 

As always these Norse future casts are for entertainment and levity. Use discretion in how you receive and use all advise.

 

If you were amused or entertained you can always buy me a coffee by clicking the link on the right bottom.

 

Thanks

 

B