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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Saturday, 21 January 2017

HOW IS YOUR #BEHAVIOUR SERVING YOU?

So #DT is #President of the #UnitedStates and the question is whether he is in that position because of or despite his #behaviour. The answer is probably both. He has behaved abominably at one level: #lying to the #electorate, #discriminating against #Blacks and #minorities, #harassing and #abusing #women, #belittling, #attacking and #insulting all who might have impeded his progress. (And those are only the things we know about.) You might be forgiven for thinking that any of that behaviour makes him unfit to govern the United States, let alone all of it.

On the other hand, he has in fact been elected as President (despite losing the popular vote by 3 million or so votes), so something in his behaviour has served him to the point where enough people have been willing to look past his ethics - or lack thereof - to enable him to become President. Here is what has served him:

  • His single-minded purpose to become President at any cost to himself and anyone else who got in his way
  • His ruthless pursuit of the job with no regard to or respect for any of the rules of fair play
  • His canny strategic approach to his election campaign, targeting and manipulating the poor, the unemployed and those who want a change - any change - in their desperation
  • His compelling ability and willingness to tell lies and half-truths with both conviction and persuasion
  • His strategic use and understanding of the weakness of the rules of the game by seeking his support in so-called "swing States" which could make a difference, rather than by appealing to the wider electorate
  • His willingness to sacrifice ethics and decency at the altar of power
He has played the ultimate game of "Survivor" and has out-witted, out-played and out-lasted his opponents, and that has served him to attain his ultimate goal, but it comes at a cost.

More than half of his own countrymen didn't want him, don't like him and many can better be described as hating him. Women around the world are protesting against his election as I write this. Comedians around the world are rejoicing at the idea that they are now guaranteed another 4 years of material to discredit and make him the laughing stock of much of the world. Foreign governments such as China, Germany and Mexico have taken serious umbrage at some of his offensive comments about them and are likely to compound the division and separation which DT is fostering. In his resentment for the outgoing administration, and to try and meet campaign promises which were made simply to ensure his election, he has already started the process of depriving 20 million Americans - probably mostly those who supported him - of affordable healthcare with nothing to offer which is better than Obamacare.

If the truth be told, today the United States is more disunited than ever, the world is less connected than ever and the potential for further international disconnection, dysfunctionality, war, radical terrorism and suffering has probably escalated exponentially since Mr Trump's election campaign and yesterday's subsequent inauguration.

So, yes, his unethical and self-serving behaviour has achieved  a particular goal which would appeal to the average narcissist and even more so to a super- and unrehabitabitable narcissist, but it comes with the price tag he has attracted of widespread resentment and hatred towards him and more division in the world.

In the context of reaping what you sow, Donald Trump's behaviour has served naked ambition, but not the greater good, not any ethical standards by which the world might wish to live and in my view will not serve any part of America other than those benefiting from his patriarchy. I hope I am wrong, but time will tell.

Which brings me to the point of this blog: when you behave in a certain way, how does it serve you and how does it serve the greater good? If those two don't align, I want to suggest that you reconsider how you do things.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

#TRANSITIONING FROM GOOD TO BAD, FROM #BEST TO #WORST

Next Friday, January 20, #America transitions from the #President who (in my personal opinion) was the best, most gracious, #trustworthy and #statesmanlike who has served during my lifetime to one who (again, in my opinion) so far shows all the potential to be the worst, most ungracious, unethical and unpresidential in our lifetimes. In fact, #DonaldTrump could be as much of a #disruptor to U.S. and global politics as #Uber, #AirBnB and #Bitcoin have been to their particular industries, save that their disruption was generally for the greater good. I feel anxious about the possibilities of #isolationism, increased #separatism, #divisiveness, accelerated #climate_change, rising #radicalism and an assault on the world's #trade_agreements and #economy, to say nothing of #xenophobia, #sexism, #racism, and, and....I don't believe I am alone with my fears and concerns.

We all undergo #change in our lives and need to transition, sometimes from what we perceive as good to what we perceive as bad. The perception derives from our own reality and meaning that we put on the event. For example #Trump's ascendancy is a nightmare for Mexicans, but a God-send for Southern rednecks. The #Obamas' departure from the #White_House is a matter of sadness for many of us, but glee for the #Republicans.

Whatever, we think however, Life's reality remains the same: Trump is in, Obama is out, and we're stuck with the former for the next four years at least (barring an impeachment, which is not inconceivable). How do those of us seeing this as a change from best to worst transition? How do we not be fearful, how do we stay optimistic and above all, how do we live our lives?

Answer: why must anything change at all? Something else in the world has changed, but within ourselves we are not called on to make any change at all, if we choose not to do so. If we were happy and optimistic pre-Trump, we can remain happy and optimistic post-Trump. If we are suddenly fearful, depressed and resentful because of Trump, who has the power? Donald Trump, of course! We are allowing his boorishness, dishonest and narcissistic behavior determine how our lives should now be. As long as we feel resentful or hateful towards him, who is getting eaten up by the resentment? We are, of course! Trump doesn't know how we feel and, even if he did, he wouldn't give a monkey's.

So that's the first lesson of transition: don't give any power to the new circumstance in the change. Own your own power, feelings and capacity to address the change.

The second lesson is not to feel and act helpless and powerless in the face of the new circumstance. Just because trade deals could be torn up and climate change accelerated does not mean that we have no power of our own to forge links and effect climate saving measures, no matter how small they may seem at an individual level. On a consolidated joint level they become significant.

The third lesson is to live in a way which is congruent, aligns with the truth, good morals and everything else which is the opposite of what you find abhorrent about the new order. Just because the new situation is oozing evil and runs contrary to everything we hold dear in our lives does not mean we must become a part of the new normal for American Presidents (or whatever else happens to have changed and be bothering us). If sufficient people in the world stand by and actively live for what is good and right, we reach a moral tipping point which becomes irresistible to the forces of evil: think Berlin Wall, Arab Spring and Apartheid.

Finally, based on educated and thoughtful research and logic (not reactive fearfulness), make such changes to your personal affairs as will meet any new prospective risks arising from the new circumstance. If you can see the risk quite clearly for what it actually is, determine its potential impact on you and the likelihood of it arising, then you can take some steps to try and mitigate the impact if you think it's pretty likely to occur. Like move your house away from the shoreline, for instance, or start trading in Bitcoins.

There is so much we can do in times of change, but above all else we are called to stay real and true.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

SUSPEND YOUR #DISBELIEFS - AND YOUR #BELIEFS

I am told that I exited my latest #Saturn return on my birthday last year. I don't really know what that means, but I am given to understand that when one is in a Saturn return period (which seems to happen every 28 years or so and can last for at least two years), you can expect Life to really give it to you. Challenges abound and you are called to deal with tough life lessons in a way which will launch you onto a new path in your life. Or something like that. In any event, to put it into more understandable language, it can be quite a crap time for a couple of years in your life. 

I have no idea whether any of that is true or not. I think I disbelieve it. (I don't disbelieve that you can face more challenges than you especially want in your life over a long period, just that Saturn has anything to do with it.) In fact, it could be a complete crock. However, if I were to suspend my disbelief and simply accept that it were so, the question is whether I would then try and live my life some other how during the time of my Saturn return. The tricky premise is that whatever happens to you during that time (indeed during any time) is somehow pre-ordained by the stars. So, suspending my disbelief would open me up to accepting that whatever crap Life delivers to me during the time of my Saturn return is simply offering another big Life lesson to be learnt. (This is also known as an 'AFGO' - Another F*ing Growth Opportunity.) By suspending the disbelief, I might then approach all AFGO's from that very point of view: not that something awful is happening to me and I should be angry/ sad/ despondent, mad at G-O-D or whatever, but rather that there is a piece for me to learn about myself, or Life or others.

The point here is that, by suspending disbelief, we can always open up the realm of possibility. For instance, what if atheists could suspend their disbelief in God for a while? What might be available to them then? Maybe nothing, but maybe a different experience of their lives. What if racists could suspend their disbelief that coloured people can be honest, compassionate, empathetic and engaging? Or, looking at it from another perspective, what if Trump supporters could suspend their beliefs that Mexicans are rapists and murderers, or that Muslims are terrorists, or that Democrats at some level represent the anti-Christ. How might people then start connecting with each other? What if we could suspend beliefs that if we tell the truth we might hurt the feelings of others, or that we have to be a certain way in order for people to keep liking us? We might then actually start telling the truth and behaving authentically and congruently. 

The point is a simple one: if we cannot (or do not) test our beliefs against verifiable facts, we cannot ever know if they are true or not, so if we simply suspend our disbelief or beliefs, we then open up to all sorts of other possibilities, because disbelief and belief keep us stuck in boxes which are defined by our beliefs. 

So that is the invitation: unless you categorically and verifiably know that what you believe is true or untrue, suspend your disbelief, suspend your beliefs and see what possibilities open up.

For the meantime, good luck for your next Saturn return...