Sigh

What really bothers me is when outrage is driven by ignorance.

The mode of today: get angry first, get information and facts… maybe later.

 

Stop thinking about doing the thing, just do the thing

We never do anything well until we cease to think about the manner of
doing it.

– Hazlitt

That came through the Maku mozo! list a few days ago.

Ever notice how that happens in life? Doesn’t really matter the context, but when you are focused so much on doing the thing that you just can’t do the thing that well? But when you just turn off your brain (so to speak), stop thinking about doing the thing, and just do the thing, that things run really well?

Funny how that is.

Of course, we can’t really turn off our brains. And we don’t just know how to do things. We have to have put in a lot of work, study, practice, failure, effort, time, money, etc. to get to a point of proficiency. And sometimes you have to think about what you’re doing, because that’s precisely part of the work, study, practice, etc. so you can reach that point of “just doing”.

But don’t be afraid of reaching that point. It’s tough – you do have to make a bit of a leap of faith, you do have to trust more than you had before.

But when everything just comes together and you can just perform, it’s such a sweet moment.

 

Peace… and bullies

I honestly do support peace, communication and compromise.

But I do so not from a position of virtue singling or that these ideas are morally superior. It’s because I truly understand how much violence and hatred suck. I’m talking screaming, blood spatter and bodies ‘suck.’

Unfortunately, we have two contributing problems to the third. One is that ‘peace’ has become a not just a moral issue, but a moral superiority one. “I’m better than you because I believe in peace.’ Two is that this position has expanded into cowardice and inaction. That is someone who uses the excuse of “I believe in peace” so they don’t have to step up or confront something that is spinning out into extremes and heading towards violence.

The third problem is bullies. See in a peaceful, non violent world, the bully is king. He can be as pushy, demanding, vicious and violent as he wants and nobody can stop him. Or to be more precise, nobody will stop him. It’s a win for the violent bully.

That’s what happens when people think that peace is a morally superior position. First, they forget that the negotiating table is the option that sucks less. Second they’re at a loss when someone realizes the inherent weakness of their unpreparedness and exploits it. Third, they’ve lost sight of negotiation without the ability to back it up is begging. Fourth, way too often they start crossing the lines too. (Different tactics, but very much the same strategy and goals.) That last leads to the fifth problem, which is they see no reason not to become bullies themselves.

That works until the shooting starts.

I’d kind of like to get back to the negotiating table with the understanding that peace is not a virtue, it’s survival. Because the alternative is really really ugly.

– Marc MacYoung

Posted by Marc on Facebook.

How to make progress

We will make better progress if we start from where we agree and work with open minds and open hearts, than to start from where we disagree and drive the wedge even further.

 

Don’t let “them” win

Did you ever think that getting angry, that causing us to lose our compassion and empathy, is exactly what they want?

There are a lot of contexts and topics on which this applies, both current events and past ones (and certainly future ones, at this rate).

And there are a lot of people/groups that classify as “them”. Even groups you may identify with.

I’m not saying: don’t be angry, don’t be frustrated, tolerate everything. What I am saying is to keep love, compassion, and empathy as your guiding force – not hate, not anger, not resentment, not guilt, not envy, not greed. To think and make decisions with a clear, informed, and thoughtful mind (not a knee-jerk, pandering, emotional, nor irrational one).

Don’t let them play you. Don’t give them what they want… else, they won.

The problem runs deeper than “guns”

What concerns me more than the gun issue per se is the extraordinary violence-saturated, pornified culture of young men driven crazy by failure, loneliness, grievance, and anger. More and more, there are no parameters for the normal expression of masculine behavior in America — for instance, taking pride in doing something well, or becoming a good candidate for marriage. The lower classes have almost no vocational domain for the normal enactments of manhood, and one of the few left is the army, where they are overtly trained to be killers.

Much of what used to be the working class is now an idle class that can only dream of what it means to be a man and they are bombarded with the most sordid pre-packaged media dreams in the form of video games based on homicide, the narcissistic power fantasies of movies, TV, and professional sports, and the frustrating tauntings of free porn. The last thing they’re able to do is form families. All of this operates in conditions where there are no normal models of male authority, especially fathers and bosses, to regulate the impulse control of young men — and teach them to regulate it themselves.

The above was written by James Kunstler as he attempts to examine the greater root causes of gun violence in America. (h/t Greg Ellifritz)

When you have an illness, if you want to get better you have to address the root causes of the illness. For example, get a seasonal cold, and you have to get some rest so your body can fight the infection. To just take Advil and Nyquil to suppress your cough and runny nose, yet you continue to go to the office and slog through, ever notice that you only get worse? Addressing symptoms doesn’t cure what ails you.

And rarely is attempting to suppress one symptom able to fully address the issue.

“Gun Violence”, as some like to term it, is a symptom of a greater, deeper illness in our society. Supposing all guns suddenly disappeared overnight, the deeper underlying problems won’t go away and it will just (re)manifest itself as “knife violence” or “baseball bat violence” or “plowing cars into groups of people violence”.

And what is that context? A nation physically arranged on-the-ground to produce maximum loneliness, arranged economically to produce maximum anxiety, and disposed socially to produce maximum alienation. Really, everything in the once vaunted American way of life slouches in the direction of depression, rage, violence, and death.

Take a step back and look at our modern society. People do love to opine that all this technology brings us closer together – and it does in the sense that you can converse with people on the other side of the world and be instantly aware of everything going on in the world. But it also alienates us – witness a group of people sitting at the dinner table together, yet everyone has their faces buried in their phones instead of eyes and conversation fixed on each other.

Look at how people are afraid to take time off work to go on vacation, and even when they are on vacation don’t stop checking their computer/phones/emails to “check in” at work? Because there’s a perception if you don’t, you’re not a team player or could lose your job.

Where a guy, finally plucking up the courage to say something nice to a girl and maybe ask her out, gets construed as a creeper and shamed because his nervousness and awkwardness get framed as a “threat” or some other social injustice. So instead of risking knee-jerk crucifixion via Twitter, he just closes off and retreats.

Ever notice the common threads that tend to permeate a lot of these mass shooters? It’s not even “mental health” in the sense that they’re psycho and crazy. Often it’s just alienation taken to an extreme. And when the rest of us prefer to be angry and victimized, instead of actually living the compassion they hashtag all day about, is this any wonder?

The physical setting of American life composed of a failing suburban sprawl pattern for daily living — the perfect set-up for making community impossible — obliterates the secondary layer of socialization beyond the family. This is life in the strip-mall wilderness of our country, which has gotten to be mostly of where people live. Imagine a society without families and real communities and wave your flag over that.

A lot of the talk of the failing of family tends to be framed as: man married to woman, with 2.3 kids and 0.8 of a dog. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care how “traditional” or “untraditional” the family is, because if we’re honest with ourselves, family is a far looser construct in terms of composition, but far stronger in terms of ties. You have people in your life that have no blood relation to you, yet you consider them family. You may have people that are genealogically family, but are complete alien to you. I don’t care if family is 2 men or 2 women or adopted or fostered or whatever compilation you can come up with. Do you care for each other? Do you provide for each other? Do you look out for each other? Do you help each other grow and learn and love? Family.

But yet, is family strong or is family failing? As children grow, they will look for role models, for strength and guidance, for belonging. And they will seek it and find it somewhere, even if that somewhere is what you may consider a perverse notion of “family”. Many young males lack a “proper” father-figure, but find that fatherly role and family bond through gang membership. And if you cannot find that family, if you cannot find that community, what consequences are there of that hole? Where you can’t even find a perverse stand-in? What cost does that bear?

Furthermore, with modern men being unable to express masculinity, what consequence does that have?  Knustler touches on this, but I think Jack Donovan provides the best perspective. Another topic for another time.

I know people want to “do something”, but we are wasting time and money on solutions that will not work. There are those that see guns as the problem, but they are met with so much resistance because there are those that see the proposed solutions as not long not solving the problem but making things worse. So yes, there will be resistence those solutions because there is no positive gain. It’s worth stepping back from your dogma and taking honest stock in the situation; it may not be what you like to see, but if you want real solutions it’s usually best to open your eyes and take your fingers out of your ears before plunging headlong.

Realize the problem is complicated, and rarely do complicated problems have simple solutions. Yet, if we can look honestly at the root causes – even if we must admit we had a hand in creating those problems – maybe we can come up with real solutions. The best part is solving those problems will make many things better.

Which part do you disagree with?

Which part do you disagree with?

The steps in the proof?

Or the conclusion?

If you agree with every step of the argument, but the conclusion leaves you angry or uncomfortable, it might be time to reconsider your worldview, not reject the argument.

From Seth Godin.

It’s not over

It is not over until it is over. You cannot be disappointed if you don’t plan to stop until the fight is over. You never know how far you can go until you push beyond self imposed limits.

An excellent bit of advice. You should read the whole article (don’t worry, it’s short). (h/t Greg Ellifritz)

It doesn’t matter what it is that you’re dealing with – keep fighting until it’s over.

When will it be over? You’ll know. If you’re not certain it’s over, then keep fighting.

Ignorance, incompetence, mechanical breakdowns, bad weather and enemy action can not be avoided, but you can control your reactions. Confidence in your self and training can keep you calm when others panic. Sometimes the winner is decided by nothing more than who stays on the field.

When you’re dead, you’ll be dead; until then, keep fighting.

Good and Kind

What good shall I do this day?

As your day starts, do you ask yourself what good you shall do today? As your day ends, do you ask yourself, what good did you do today?

And what is your answer?

And if you do not ask yourself these things, why don’t you? I too need to improve my practice.

Of course, what is “good”?

Some time ago when I first read Dale Carnegie’s famous How To Win Friends and Influence People, one thing that struck me from his first chapter was his demonstration that even ruthless criminals consider what they are doing is “good”. It’s simply human that we only undertake things we consider “good”. Where the issue comes is when your definition of good differs from my definition, or society’s definition.

To me, a key differentiator is – kindness.

To be friendly, generous, considerate. It implies interaction with others, in a friendly, generous, and considerate way.

You may think killing a bunch of people you find repugnant is “doing good”. But where is the kindness in such action?

You may think manifesting your outrage, labeling others as “wrong”, shouting them down, campaigning for change is doing good. But where is the kindness? And in your self-evaluation, are you considering kindness towards your enemies as well? Or are you just blindly rationalizing your choices?

Look at the fruits of such action. Is it making the world better? Is it leading to a world of more kindness and understanding? At least as I see it, it’s only making matters worse.

Carnegie concludes his chapter:

Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”

I’ve been so angered and saddened the past few days. Another horrible thing happens in the world, and so many people’s response is more anger, more lashing out, more fuel for their political fires, more attacking symptoms and not underlying problems, more blindness, more blame, more hate – and especially from people who espouse otherwise. Something about a log in your own eye.

They all believe what they are doing is “good”. But goodness without kindness, I don’t think is good.

I see no attempt to understand.

I see no attempt at kindness.

I see no attempt to love.

I weep.

But I strengthen my resolve. What good shall I do this day?

What good will you do this day?

 

Things holding you back

I hate to admit it, but I’ve held myself back a lot in life. And now, a lot of life has passed me by, but at least I’ve gotten over holding myself back. But perhaps I wouldn’t be so driven now if I hadn’t held myself back before, having the anger and regret of what I missed to motivate me to not make that same mistake again.

While Paul Carter writes about “The things that are going to hold you back in training” from an exercise/powerlifting/weightlifting/gym perspective, the issues here really apply to anything life. Even if you don’t lift (bro), you should still give the article a read because:

  • Information overload
  • Conflicting goals
  • Inability to embrace discomfort
  • Success
  • Confidence
  • Inconsistency
  • Listening to the wrong people
  • Life

… hopefully you can see those eight things apply universally as things that can and do hold people — probably yourself — back.

The one that speaks most to me these days is “inability to embrace discomfort”.

I had to embrace something I wasn’t really comfortable doing in order to get to where I needed to be.

And THAT is what lifting and life is going to be about sometimes. I could machine gun off a million cliche’s about that right now but I will spare you. The point is, nothing that is worth attaining will come easy. If it does, good for you. However 99.99% of the time getting to a place you desire to be will mean spending a lot of time embracing discomfort.

[…]

Great things generally just don’t fall on our doorstep via UPS.  If you want to find your own personal greatness, then get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  The amount of discomfort you are willing to submit yourself to is generally in parallel with the amount of greatness you’re trying to attain.

Lifting weights has taught me much in life. While I’ve lifted on and off since I was a teenager, never has it been as profound in my life as the past 3.5 years. If I wanted to get stronger, I had to embrace the discomfort of heavy weights on my back, the fear of getting pinned or injury. Or just the simple hard work that has to come, because getting stronger isn’t easy. But I’ve learned to embrace it, and I’m getting stronger as a result.

Or more immediate is my fat-loss effort. I’m down 20 lbs. in just under 3 months. It’s not been easy, and just about every day contains some level of discomfort. Lord it’d be so much easier right now to eat a tub of ice cream, but that ice cream is what created my tub. I have to go through this discomfort. I know there are many more months ahead of this discomfort (probably at least 6 more), but I will never achieve my goals if I don’t go through this discomfort. And yes, what makes it easier to manage is to embrace it instead of fighting it. No it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable, but when you know the pain will bring your greatness, the pain is easier to bear.

I think about my recent career change to having my own business, basically going indie/freelancer making my own products and taking on contract work. I put it off for too many years because I didn’t want the discomfort for myself or my family. But the discomfort of not doing it became greater, and so here I am. And yes, the startup of it all has been quite a struggle, filled with daily discomfort that I never imagined. But that’s what keeps it exciting, and that’s what causes me to learn and grow. It’s like the scene in the movie Parenthood when Steve Martin’s character finally learns to embrace the rollercoaster.

That’s not the ending scene, but it’s the seed for the allusion. And grandma’s right:

You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.