We All Know Someone Like This;)

Helping Others

Have you secretly admired a truly devoted, caring person?  With some guidance and perseverance, you can develop those habits that make them stand out from the crowd.  Here are some pointers that will have you elevating your friends and family in no time.

  1. DO NOT DELAY. As an adult, you can look back at all the missed opportunities of your younger days.  Imagine how much you could have contributed to your parents, siblings, and the kids at school, even if they stubbornly resisted.  The good news is that it is never too late.  Start now, but not at your high school or college; you might seem a bit creepy, at your current age.
  2. FUNDAMENTALS.  Aside from finding people who need your help, (who does not?) the primary skills of the compassionate person are sympathy, forthrightness, and clear judgment.  Let people know that you see their faults, and that despite those flaws, you still care for them.  Do not waste time trying to phrase things tactfully, just get to the point.  If they do not warm up to you at first, approach them again, every time you see them, unless they get a TRO.  Once these primary “ways of being” are second nature, you can advance into being thoughtful, uncritical, giving, and understanding with the people who so desperately need your help.
  3. SENSE OF HUMOR. Keep things light. Show them your playful side.  For example:  Make impromptu calls to friends and family; ask them to come to the airport and pick you up for your vacation visit.  Chide them for forgetting your trip.  Once they agree, call back 15 minutes later, laughing, to say “Surprise!  I am still at home.”  Sharing fun like this strengthens personal ties.
  4. ENCOURAGE IMPROVEMENTS. After you lay out the areas that need improvement, point out the ways other friends or family members excel in these areas; compare them honestly, use comforting expressions like, “Bless your hearts,” “I know you mean well,” and “They sure are the lucky ones.
  5. BE HONEST. People need to face the truth, if they ever have a chance to improve.  Some people let feelings get in the way; do not be one of them.
  6. SHARE WISDOM. Understand that some people are reluctant to ask for what you know about life, so go ahead, tell them what you see about their lives that they can and cannot improve.  That hurt in their eyes will fade once they realize, it is for their own good.
  7. TRUST YOUR GUT. You are not naïve or gullible.  Do not let your family or friends tell you who and who not to trust when making hard choices in your own life.  Remember, you are the one bringing wisdom to them.
  8. TELL IT ALL. Just because all the facts are not in, does not mean you should withhold, from the people you love, what you have heard on the street.  Some of what you share may turn out to be untrue, or gossip; but that is the way things are, sometimes.  You can show them you are not a hypocrite like the people who insist on being right all the time.
  9. BE THE JUDGE. Friends and family are usually poor judges of what information should stay secret, and what you can share with outsiders. Sure, sometimes people let slip really embarrassing, harmful things, but the hurt or embarrassed people must move on; what is done, is done.  You should still be confident in your keen intuition.
  10. IT TAKES A VILLAGE. How can your friends and adult children ever grow, if you are unwilling to express your disapproval of their choices, to other people in your community who can help? It is for their own good.
  11. YOU HAVE EARNED IT. Some friends and family members just do not understand that they owe you respect and tolerance because of who you are, not because of harmful, degrading, moral or legal mistakes you made in the past.
  12. REFRESH MEMORIES. Many people do not have clear understandings or infallible memories, like you. You must remind the people around you, of the vigorous personal development efforts you have lavished on your friends, children, and their spouses, to remedy their unfortunate, non-genetic faults, before they are passed on to your grandchildren.
  13. BE RESOLUTE. Becoming a devoted friend and parent takes practice. Resolve to work at it every day. Ignore distractions. Do not be moved by pitiful complaints or disrespectful accusations from your friends or children. They may be in the learning stage of dealing with early-level, disappointments, or hurt feelings. Your more fully-developed, mature feelings are what count.  We are adults, and no one promised us a rose garden.

As you mature further, you will see, in the lives of your friends and family, how much your guidance and support means.  You may see and hear less and less of them as they become absorbed in life’s offerings.  That is fortunate, because so many people still need your help.

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Conflation = Confusion – Part 2

Ignorance and misunderstanding do not fit the model of “ignorance is bliss.”  You may get all excited and enthused about a social issue that pertains to 1-5% of the US population, because you thought that group was far larger than it is.  Emphasis and repetition of social themes can become “truth” for many people.  Fifty-six percent of the US adult population believe that  33-50+% of Americans are black.

Americans believe that 29% of the U.S. population is Hispanic, more than twice the actual percentage. Nearly 40% of Americans say Hispanics constitute 30% or more of the population. Just 10% accurately estimate that about 17% of the population is Hispanic.

The overemphasis on “inclusiveness,” and “diversity,” in advertising, movies, and television, gives false impressions.  For example, how many television commercials have minority actors portraying more than 13% of American families at gatherings?  How many show one of each race as representative.  Deliberate exaggeration for PC and plain political power.  See below how far off you may be in your estimates of the US population.

Conflation = Confusion – Part 1 asked you to guess the percentages of Americans by race, sex, and age.  Part 2 asks you to compare your answers from Part 1 with these statistics.  Here are unbundled percentages, according to the best, recent, sources I can find:

                                                    Actual        Your Guess     Difference

White                                          62.0%                ____%                 ____%

Hispanic                                  16.8%                 ____%                 ____%

Black                                         12.4%                 ____%                 ____%

Asian                                           5.3%                  ____%                 ____%

Native American                    1.0%                  ____%                 ____%

Pacific Island                          0.2%                  ____%                 ____%

(Bi-racial people split between component races)

Male                            49%                    ____%                 ____%

     Heterosexual                  95.1%                  ____%                 ____%

      Homosexual                    1.9%                   ____%                 ____%

      Bisexual                            2.0%                   ____%                 ____%

      Other                                 1.0%                   ____%                 ____%

Female                        51%                    ____%                 ____%

     Heterosexual                  92.3%                 ____%                 ____%

    Homosexual                     1.3%                  ____%                 ____%

    Bisexual                             5.5%                  ____%                 ____%

    Other                                  1.9%                   ____%                 ____%.

Age        0 – 14                     19.8%                   ____%                 ____%

              15 – 64                     66.8%                   ____%                 ____%

                 65+                       13.4%                   ____%                 ____%

How would you explain the differences between your perceptions and the facts?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Where do you notice disparities in representation of race, sexual preference, and age?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How does this information affect your thinking?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Conflation = Confusion – Part 1.

All generalizations are false, including this one.  Generalizations “divide and lump” people into groups with common characterizations.  Racists, politicians, and military commanders are the most common offenders, because it makes it easier to objectify, exaggerate, and attack people. Dubious is the recent trend of using “people of color” as a term to describe all Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders.

Ask the members of any of these groups to distinguish themselves from the other groups.  Ask them what they think of politicians and other spokespeople who do this.  “People of color,” ascribes the user’s thoughts and views to all “non-white” people.  Arrogant, presumptuous, conflation, much abused, like the terms “immigrants,” “LGBTQ,” “conservatives,” “liberals,” “evangelicals,” “mothers,” “geeks,” and Gen XYZ.  Members of political, ethnic, religious, racial, and other minorities use this approach to make the number and proportion of like-minded people seem much larger.  And it works.

Print out and try this exercise to see what you might already misunderstand because of conflation.  Without research, what percent of Americans do you believe are:

                                                     Influences on Your Perceptions
White               ____%  ___________________________________________
Hispanic         ____%   __________________________________________
Black              ____%   __________________________________________
Asian               ____%   __________________________________________
Nat Amer      ____%   __________________________________________
Pac Island   ____%   ___________________________________________
Male                 ____%    ________________________________________
Heterosexual      ____%    ___________________________________
Homosexual         ____%    ____________________________________
Bisexual                 ____%    ____________________________________
Other                       ____%    ____________________________________
Female         ____%    _________________________________________
Heterosexual   ____%    _____________________________________
Homosexual     ____%    _____________________________________
Bisexual             ____%    _____________________________________
Other                  ____%    _____________________________________
Age     0 – 14    ____%    ______________________________________
           15 – 64    ____%    ______________________________________
               65+      ____%    ______________________________________

What influenced your ideas of the proportion of Americans in each category?  News? Commercials?  Movies? TV?

 

How do these perceptions affect your attitudes and thinking? (Make some notes before you look at Part 2.)

Give & Receive Grace – Love Unfettered

Our first gift is life, our mothers “giving birth.”  Then, as helpless, tiny people, we do nothing but receive every day.  We do not even know what giving is, for years.

o-GERBER-BABY-570

Then a glimmer of sharing, (food with the dog, or toys with another baby), gives us the first clue that we are not the only person in the world.

How scary, we might lose what we have.  The idea of “yours,” and “mine,” “have,” and “not have” dawns on us.  Then we learn to hold and withhold from others for our own sake.  It is all about “me, myself, & I.”

Greed is natural, inborn, survival, fear instinct.  Most of us rise above these automatic emotions once we find abundance.  Some people find balance between “thee & me” based on what we really need and the gifts we can give.  Some people never get over it.  Those are grim misers without love, because they see everything, material, emotional, and spiritual as limited “possessions,” to own or lose; to hoard.

Love opens our hearts, and forgets about hoarding in exchange for fervent mutual giving of ourselves to others, with receiving, a byproduct.  The purest form of love is grace.  Grace is not an exchange, it is not earned, or deserved; it is generous, unreserved, unconditional, unlimited openness, acceptance, forgiveness, caring, and affection.  Grace is what we received as babies.  Can we generate grace as adults?  Not without a way to experience it.  Where can we do this?

turkey-bend-park-texas-rough-road-jg-thompson

The road from cherished baby to self-sufficient adult is fraught with naïve mistakes, unfortunate accidents, painful losses, unrequited love, disappointing lessons, potholes of betrayal, detours of deceit, and dead-end dreams.  How to navigate life’s path, with courage, endure the hardships, withstand the evil, grow strong, prosper, and still be able to love and receive love, to be gracious and receive grace, is the challenge.

Christians have a perfect example.

Grace-To-You-Header_article_image

 

A Hybrid Name for Your Baby – Practical and Inventive

 

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.  The truth is, names matter, a lot.  That is why so many books scour the values and meanings of various names and relate their historical background.  Tradition says, choose an established, powerful name so your child will grow up powerful, “living up to his name.”  Lately, many mothers ignore tradition and create unconventional, unique names for their babies.

Contradictory articles abound on the effect baby-naming has on children as they grow and become adults.  In America, simple, familiar European names are easy to like.  Difficult, unusual names are harder to like.  That is the situation, no matter how much one resents the bias.  Immigrants from Asia, Scandinavia, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe understand this and choose names that do not get in the way of social or vocational success.

The current controversy seems to orbit “African-sounding” names.  Cries of racism go up when anyone struggles with the unfamiliar, unusual, multi-syllabic names they create. The juxtaposition of these special names to common surnames confuses people.  Nonetheless, baby names that are unique in spoken configuration and spelling are a modern trend among American mothers.  The truth is, such names can encumber a child growing up, and an adult seeking acceptance and equal opportunities in American society.

Rather than cover the same ground as countless authors, let us “cut to the chase” with an idea that may satisfy both society and community – Hybrid names.  By hybrid, I mean a first and a middle name that can make things work for children and adults in both worlds.  One name for American society, (Tom, Rob, Dale, Doug, and Wayne, for example), pronounced and spelled in the conventional way.  Another name for the community, whatever the ethnic or racial background dictates or allows.

The order of names is not important; the presentation of names is vital.  Suppose you name your child Theodore Vladimir Trotsky.  At home, you call him Vlad, on a job interview he uses Ted.  T. Vladimir Trotsky and Theodore V. Trotsky are both valid names without handicap in either sphere.

Parents should think about their child’s future when they assign names.  Consider making your child’s life easier in American society.

(BTW: If your name hinders you, a legal name change is a few hundred dollars away.)

 

 

Big Ears – Words That Shape Our Children

Adults’ attitudes and language, especially if they have strong political convictions, can have lasting impact on young children. Young children model adults; but they take what they hear and see as true in an early-development brain.  They do notice strong body language and emotions, regardless of the words spoken.  They take to heart any strong expressions.  In recent years, Americans have hardened their political rhetoric, growing more divided in other ways as well.  Children take this to heart.

girls 50

Parents and grandparents discussing politics or watching political TV can influence how children view the world and other people.  Observe Occupy Wall Street, hackers, ANTIFA, skin-heads, Bernie Sanders.

Children come into the world knowing nothing.  People shape a child with experience and example.  Kids like to try on behavior they see, usually in an exaggerated way, to see if it works for them. They repeat what adults say regardless of their understanding.  Imagine exaggerated politics coming from a 5-year-old, with perfect tones and inflections: “damn stupid ‘publicans!” or “Democrats murder babies.”  Any parent who has raised children will tell you how much the little ones hear and sense. They look for the biggest crowd of adults to “say the darndest things.”

How will the current virtual civil war show up in the children born in 2010 and after?  My guess is, at worst, they become like the vicious, cowardly, lurking “trolls,” that infest the Internet.  They hide behind the anonymity of social media and batter opponents with political fisticuffs, epithets, and gossip. What else should we expect from the next generation?  We raised them.

America has decided public opinions, slanderous attacks, and groundless propaganda are facts. How can our children choose reason, gracious deportment, and civility, if they never see it?  Where are the models of nobility, demeanor, compassion, honor, and generosity?  Lately, I find the opposite, wrapped in the constant siren song and emotional dazzle of “breaking news,” terrorist attacks, violent video games, Hollywood, and Hip-Hop.

How did we get here?  Three generations are on-stage now.

Baby-Boomers

The Baby-Boomers are confused grandparents.  They grew up in a “post traumatic” era of marriage, morality, respect, honor, civility, discipline, and manners (born 1946-1964). Their parents survived the Great Depression, and World War II.  They are, “The Greatest Generation.”

When the war was over, the soldiers came home; they brought the strict discipline of war with them; mothers gave birth to four million babies per year for 18 years. Hence the name “Baby Boomers.”

With-Uncle-Henrys-boys-at-The-Knoll-c.1950-350x490px

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” was parenting for them.  Having a job or trade was paramount.  College was a choice a qualified child could “work your way through.”  The GI Bill financed thousands of veterans’ college educations.

It was an era of reasoned politics, lofty rhetoric, and gentlemanly debate.  The President and the Congress dueled with vigorous dignity until they settled their differences.  Then came the Vietnam war and the draft.  Viewpoints divided among generations and races.

Many veterans, held on to the structured views of their parents.  The Hippies broke non-violent social conventions, seeking freedom from all rules (drugs, sex, dress, music, money, race).

Blacks chose among:

  1. The traditional, proper Baptist families,
  2. Hippies’ white, racial acceptance
  3. Black power groups, like the Black Panthers.

The battle for equal civil rights attracted people from all mindsets.  The process was long, painful, and successful.

The Baby Boomers attitude was “hard work will bring its reward,” and “self-discipline is the key to success.”

 Gen X

The Baby-Boomers’ grew up, taught their children (Gen X, 1965-1984) the right things; but they lost them to the youth revolution, or seduced them with cradle to college indulgence.  This was the first generation of parents to make college “mandatory” regardless of aptitudes, interests, or commitment.

child listing
Politicians saw this “need” for college as an opportunity.  Presidents declared that all children should have a college education; Congress passed legislation to encourage disadvantaged college students.  Growing demand led to astonishing increases in the costs of college education, and a greater dropout rate of students unable, unqualified, or unprepared to learn at the college level.

Growing costs of college education quickly outstripped the ability of college kids to “work-your-way-through.” Parents struggle and sacrifice to pay thousands of dollars per year, even at community colleges.  Scholarships and financial aid are not enough, or not available to every student.  Sky-high student loans are ubiquitous indentures on the next generation.

The Gen X attitude was, “you can make yourself what you want,” and “results rule.”

Gen Y/Millennials

Gen Y/Millennials (1985-2004) Techno-Basement Generation. Parents take and keep control, like “stage moms,” “soccer moms” protect their children from all dangers, focus on ideal paths to success, and prevent distractions, and deviations.  Sheltering parents orchestrate, indulge, and control everything, with full, dawn-to-dusk schedules for each day of each week; they are sure to enroll their children in time-consuming activities and sports, like soccer or some other sport that has strict rules, and scholarship potential.  They are the transportation to sports and tutoring, and everywhere else.  This scheduling leaves little time for “real” friends; “virtual” friends are always available. They become under-socialized, and lack people skills.  They excel at computer skills and become smartphone, social-media addicts.

baby screen

“Basement” means they still live at home into their 20’s, and sometimes their 30’s. They have little or no money, they are looking for jobs, and trying to pay gigantic student loans.  If staying home is cheap, staying on the Internet is cheapest.  Many have no car because of the expense.  Many postpone marriage and children as well.  All this because Mom and Dad insisted on college.

Many support Bernie Sanders, a liberal populist, who promises to relieve the student loan burden, and other problems through Socialism.

I do not know what the Millennials” attitude is.

What the Millennials say around their children will influence the perspective of tomorrows leaders, and the direction of our government.  I hope it will be an attitude of “listen to and investigate all sides,” and “Independent thinking, = independent living.”

Kim Jong-Un – China’s Tiger to Tame

Forgive, is the message of Christmas.  But do not forget.  The person who betrayed trust is still in that body.  Trust is a gift best reserved for those who deserve it. We reserve the word “disgrace” for a serious reason – it is the permanent loss of credibility and assumed morality; it is a revocation of the gift of grace.

In 2005 Doug Bandow resigned from the Cato Institute because he accepted bribes from Jack Abramoff.  He published articles in the Copley News Service, favoring Abramoff’s clients.  He served almost four years of a six-year, plea-agreement sentence.

My question:  why does anyone listen to him or publish his opinions?  Well, the Huffington Post raised their hand.

His recent HuffPost opinion article is about Korea.  After visiting Pyongyang in June, he says, “Washington sees North Korea as a security challenge. Yet the North threatens America only because the U.S. intervened in the conflict between the two Koreas. The case for defending now populous and prosperous South Korea expired long ago.”

What did they do to him while he was there?  Did they bribe him too?  Does he know Dennis Rodman?  Is he still an American?

He proposes more-of-the-same diplomacy.  From 1953 until today,  North Korean’s persistent, winning tactic has been to extract financial aid and other concessions from the West by making promises to be good or do better.  Once they have what they need, they break all the promises, ratchet up the oppression of their people, and take food out of the mouths of their children for money to develop rockets and nuclear weapons.  (I wonder if they would be willing to sell such things to terrorists?)

220px-Kim_Jong-Un_Photorealistic-Sketch

The whole mindset of engaging North Korea in diplomacy is ludicrous.  How many times will we settle for the same false promises to liberalize their iron-fisted culture, or scale back their military?  After six decades of this soft-headed, “gentle” approach, what do we have to show?  Rocket Man.  Doing more of what has not worked is insanity.

What do we have now?  Change.  China knows North Korea intimately.  They buy most of their exports.  They have people living and working there.  They are North Korea’s lifeblood.  As long the N. Koreans stay “in bounds” and do not unsettle the region, China sees them as proxy insulation between themselves & Western encroachment.  But the “buffer” has begun to attract rather than distract Western attention, and not in a good way.

China has finally broken ranks with the North Korean government.  They have more to lose than gain from world condemnation or another Korean War.  China knows that the U.S. cannot, and will not allow any kind of attack on itself or its allies.

Kim Jong-Un is no fool.  We Americans imagine a vast divide between North and South Korea.  Not so much.  Families still span both regions of the same peninsula.  The desire to reunite is strong and frustrated in a culture that reveres family to the point of sublimating the individual.

In a recent speech, Kim played on this underlying theme in a “we/us” versus “they/them” appeal, saying that, at last, with the nuclear shield he has created, Koreans are no longer under the thumbs of other cultures; that Koreans can stand on their own and join hands.  I know that sounds strange to us, but the connections are powerful and subtle.  The overture to discuss the Olympic Games is another tactic to get us back in the old game of you give, we take, while they crash forward with nukes and missiles.  Is this fooling anyone?  The South Koreans are all smiles.

The biggest challenge Kim faces is China.  Kim and his predecessors have skillfully played the Chinese desire for stable unity in Asian and the threat that millions of North Koreans would flood across the extended border with China.  Pressure at the borders is building.  The number of attempted defections/escapes across the DMZ is amplified, while similar attempts to get into China and Russia are not reported at all.

Almost all North Korean defectors head to China before making their way to South Korea to avoid the heavily militarized border separating the two Koreas.  The Chinese accept this conduit role, as long as the escapees do not stay in China. (Like Mexico, giving Central American migrants and refugees a free pass through Mexico to the U.S.)

China has quietly added military resources along the most likely escape routes from North Korea.  Russia has a small, but similar border vulnerability, and has built up its military presence across the border.

The US current stance is likely to spur the Chinese to tone down or neutralize Kim Jong-Un to achieve their ultimate goal: stability.  Appearances are key.  No one wants their fingerprints on this effort.  Deniability is the standard by which all will be judged.

I am confident that China, South Korea, the U.S., and Japan are engaged in every type of discussions and plans they can imagine.  The main obstacle to resolution is “face.”  All parties need to preserve and improve their “face” at home and in the world.  How to tame or replace Kim Jong-un is a top priority for some of the world’s most powerful governments.  I have faith that Chinese ingenuity and American courage will combine to defuse threats to peace in the region.

(Discussion of Face: https://wp.me/p1qZOe-C7)