Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

Wednesday, May 09; Thursday, May 10; and Sunday, May 13, 2012
I have used this copout for many years to partially explain why I left college in the middle of my junior year: with all the cheating going on around me just what value is a college degree? It seemed to me that degrees awarded to those who cheated their way through college devalued every degree awarded. The practical value of a degree for getting a job wasn’t a factor. The emphasis on the word “cheating” is to slightly altar the meaning of the word from that which is commonly understood. I think I believed that corroboration outside the classroom sullied one’s efforts, and made the product – a finished homework assignment – not one’s own. Copying someone else’s test paper in class is certainly cheating in the traditional meaning. But, to what extent is one’s homework understood by the professor to be the sole effort of the student who turned it in? Could gaining cooperative skills be valued in the process; thus making corroboration not important as an argument against the value of the homework? I can remember incidents of students being chastised and flunked by teachers who determined their work was not their own because the teacher knew who’s typical work was represented on the papers. Of course if more than one paper is the same then collusion – versus corroboration – was evident.
I am forced to resolve the idea that gay marriage cheapens the traditional idea of marriage (i. e. the spiritual and physical union of a man and a woman). It is so easy to adapt either the conservative or liberal view without much thought. But, that is intellectual laziness. The very arguments, for and against gay marriage, should be considered; at least on an academic level. Can we ignore the effect of society’s accepting gay marriages be considered when thinking whether they are ok or not?
If I revisit my long-held opinion that the cheating that was going on around me rendered the results of my undergraduate studies worth less than in a pristine (non-cheating) environment, then maybe I would think that maybe my copout was just a copout. On a pragmatic level, who really cares?
When a certain Fr. Toner called me at my rooming house to forward the offer of an anonymous donor to pay for my next semester’s tuition, my opinion regarding the actual value of the degree may have clouded my thinking. I can imagine an extended conversation with Fr. Toner. I might have added my thoughts about how those who cheat their ways through college debased the degree I would have gotten if I had broken my commitment with the Navy and continued my university studies.
He might have argued that my degree would be as valuable as what I had actually acquired in the process. Seeing that, I might have re-thought my decision.
As for the marriage issue the same argument might be advanced separating heterosexual from homosexual marriages. The heterosexual marriage is only as valuable as the effort expended in making, and preserving it.
Sunday, May 13, 2012:
In today’s edition of the Kitsap Sun print edition, page 11A – below the fold, column’s 1 through 4 – is a column by Cal Thomas. It starts off with a typical conservative’s slant on President Obama’s evolved thinking on same sex marriage. He is not accurate in his opinion of Obama’s reason for delaying and finally arriving to the conclusion that we ought to allow gay marriage. It only reveals his cynicism. His opinion about why the conservative Christian’s stand can’t carry the day because of their inability to adhere to the teachings of the gospel as it teaches about the nature of marriage, that of not allowing divorce.
Garrison Keillor has a wonderful spoof of the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It proposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage the way it was in ancient times, and still is in some societies. The strongest argument against the new real proposed amendment is in the part of the spoof about a man doesn’t need to be a virgin but a woman does. This is great stuff.

Thinking about how demeanor can influence people to do what you want I am reflecting on how my older daughter became associated with a large Catholic family. They, through their friendship, got her engaged in praying the rosary. I asked her how this activity made her feel. She told me it made her feel good. I could draw the conclusion that she was on her way to embracing the Catholic faith.

The next piece of back-ground information will lend further understanding to this. When her boy-friend (when she was a senior in high school just short of graduating 10th in a class of about 250) and she became intimate, he decided “Catholic roulette” was the best way to practice birth control. Well, that failed. She became pregnant (I don’t recall it “showing” when she actually graduated) and she had two choices: she could have gotten an abortion or not. She chose not to; which is one more reason for me to hold her in very high regard (i. e. I am that much more proud of her).

But, her path to Catholicism was cut short by a young woman who could have been branded as a zealot. These people will bring extreme views to arguments (like abortion is murder). It was this proclamation that turned my daughter off to the Catholic religion (the budding romance with the Catholic church was killed by the frost of a cold wind of an extreme view) and she ceased being involved. I believe she would have become a model Catholic; like so many ways she makes me proud of her.

There are two flaming issues in today’s politics that draw my interest only inasmuch as the interest I have in them is lukewarm. One is women’s rights; the other is rights and responsibilities.

I maintain that abortion is wrong and the argument that women only want the right to do with their bodies what they want; they don’t want men telling them what it the right thing to do when they become pregnant. As I asked my daughter, when she brought up that argument (it was an academic argument for her as she chose to have both babies when she had unplanned pregnancies), “what makes women think that being inside their wombs is their body?” A follow up question would be, “isn’t that developing fetus a separate and distinct being? I agree with the ancient philosopher that they are important in society to guide politicians in their quest to do the right thing. Philosophers bring thoughtful arguments to a dialog that can influence debaters to take actions that benefit mankind.

The other issue is rights and responsibilities. When I get a plea to join with the President in his efforts to reinforce the safety net by telling him what $2000 in a year means to me (my budget). Well, I used a calculator to find out what that amount translates to in a weekly budget. The answer is $38.46. Guess what: my income is on the verge of being increased by about that much because my distributor is employing me to help out. How did that happen? I think it is a combination of two factors: I have been volunteering my services to keep the ball rolling when it comes time for us to pick up our papers from the plant. The other factor is her shrinking number of employees due to her basic ignorance of the methods you can find in Dale Carnegie’s wonderful book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. (I think the title is misleading and I would rename it “How to Become a Better Person”) In other words she has come to need me.

Now, I don’t want to come off as some kind of arrogant “if I can do it, why can’t you?” I do realize there are all kinds of impediments to success. I’ve experienced a lot of them and “there, but for the grace of God…” isn’t an entirely religious phrase. It is a very real assessment of the differences between successful and unsuccessful people. The two observations are merely ways my attitudes are molded.

These twin entities are partners in the crime of destroying the cohesive fiber of our society. These sinister elements can penetrate institutions that purport to the betterment of society. Inasmuch as conservative mind-sets fall into traditional quagmires and use the twin perps to try to vanquish both liberal and progressive movements, they stifle goodness that should be allowed to thrive.


Posted: September 4, 2012 in Leadership, Personal Growth

Don’t mix bad words with
your bad mood.
You’ll have many opportunities
to change your mood,
but you’ll never get
the opportunity to replace
the words you spoke…

Sometimes this 71 year old feels I am descending into a world of clichés; no substance or deep meanings. But I had the good fortune to purchase a copy of The Last Days of Socrates by Plato at a yard sale. The introduction is written by Hugh Trennedick. It serves to enlighten me about the subjects I barely scratched the surface of in my meager understanding of philosophy and what it is about as an undergraduate in college.
What joy I get from reading this! It approaches that which I experience when I read S. I. Hayakawa’s Language in Thought and Action. I quit reading that wonderful book as I rose to the heights of feeling. I think I felt I was approaching God and had to back off.

An article by Patrick Condon of the Associated Press printed on page 9A of today’s print edition of the Kitsap Sun entitled “Strategist is central figure against gay marriage” gets my creative juices flowing… big time!
I will take the points I observe in order.
First, “…he jokingly calls `the forces of evil’” I would say, this is not a joke, and is not funny. It is tragic that a political shill enjoys credibility on the issues because of his success in persuasion. His strategy is employing academic arguments that sound good. These arguments only succeed if the person persuaded closes his/her mind and refuses to listen more reasoning. The other factor that leads to his success is the dearth of reasonable arguments with persuasive clout. This winning strategy does not make his argument right. It is a classic error of “might makes right”. I can only hope this writing can be a good weapon against the evil extant.
Being part Carl Rove is another factor that makes his quest a decent into hell. Carl Rove successfully got George W. Bush elected and reelected by appealing to the worst instincts of people. One of his strategies that typifies his wrongful way was the whisper campaign in the state that eliminated John McCain from the Republican primary in 2000. The campaign pushed a lie that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child because of the child McCain and his wife adopted who happened to have dark skin. That will live in infamy in the history of politics. This kind of strategy is successful in furthering all manner of evil. The Pat Robertson part of his persona just confirms how religion can be misused to further evil.
“Five thousand years have shown that marriage between a man and a woman serves us well” is a really poor argument because it eliminates the possibility that including gay marriage could have served us just as well. Using a successful institution to argue against another is just wrong. It proves nothing to use the color red to argue that the color green is wrong.
What I find most amusing is the rest of that statement … it (heterosexual marriage) is “fundamental to our nature as people.” The alternative, he said, is a culture based on personal desires. Really? So, let’s adopt arranged marriages because most marriages are based on personal desires. And to enforce that let’s bring societal force to parents to do their duty in arranging marriages for their children.
“Gay rights organizers begrudgingly admire Schubert’s ability as much as they detest what he’s doing” is like arguing that allies admire Hitler’s ability to bring his country together ignoring the evils he spawned in the process. Don’t forget the German word for “great” is “gross”. Gross has become an expression of bad to the extreme. In that sense Hitler was gross. So is this Frank Schubert.
Schubert’s convoluted reasoning rises to the front in his feelings for his sister who is raising children with her lesbian partner. “I love my sister very much, and I want her to know that my working on this issue was not a reflection of me seeing her as a less valuable person” is at the center of the heartless campaign to eliminate a rightful joy from gay and lesbian couples and relegating them to a less valuable existance.
Schubert’s twice winning the MVP award bestowed by the bipartisan American Association of Political Consultants reduces the battle to that of two competing sports teams with no regard of whether one or the other is right. In fact neither sports team is more right than the other unless competing elements like money vs. love of sport is taken into consideration. In non-commercial sports neither team is more right than the other.
My attitude on his other effort to make divorce more difficult has definitely matured from the days when my first marriage fell apart. I would have agreed with him wholeheartedly then. But in retrospect I see all kinds of evils surfacing in a marriage forced to endure because of artificial strictures that only prolong the misery and inevitability of the break up. Viewing the movie “War of the Roses” can illuminate the tragedy of a marriage breaking up without a speedy enough resolution.
Schubert’s attending an all male Jesuit high school could very well have caused him to adopt a warped attitude towards homosexuality having probably witnessed it first hand in an era when it was considered evil and the prevailing doctrine was that it was sinful. He failed to mature past that failed policy.
Finally, I hope the trend towards tolerance continues against these efforts to enshrine outmoded doctrine based on emotion rather than reason.

This happened last Friday. I had gone to the library to access its computer and print out something. I felt what seemed to be an ocular migraine, which I had experienced many times before. I sat and waited for it to go away, but it persisted. I went back to my car and drove to the Grocery Outlet to buy a juice drink. I had seemed to have some results consuming something like that restoring my eyesight.

I spent some time selecting what I thought was a tasty drink (without high-fructose corn syrup of course). When I went to pay for it I tried to tell the clerk about my ocular migraine, but I couldn’t remember the name of it. I wasn’t alarmed at this time; I’ve often had temporary memory lapses before without any great consequences. The clerk was sympathetic saying he knew what I meant by the description; but he couldn’t remember the name either. I went outside and drank the drink. I stood there for a long time but the feeling of the ocular migraine morphed into something else. Gradually I couldn’t think clearly and I decided to get into my car and write down the words “ocular migraine”. But, I still couldn’t say it. I decided to try to recite a poem I knew by heart. I couldn’t get past the second or third line. Now, I was concerned and somewhat panicked. I noticed the Kitsap Transit busses were at the transfer center about a hundred feet away. I decided to ask a bus driver to help me. I approached him and said I thought I had a problem. I tried to describe it as best I could and added that I would call 911 but I didn’t know just what to tell the operator. Finally, he coaxed me into making the call. The lady on the other end of the line was very helpful and she helped me make the decision for her to call an aid car. I felt I needed to go to the hospital; but I knew better than to drive there. I had been tempted to approach somebody with a driver’s license and as them to drive me there in my car. But, I didn’t know anybody near there.

When the aid car came they did some quick checks and asked me if I wanted the ambulance, which had arrived by now, to take me to the emergency room. I replied that I guessed so.

I don’t remember what I talked about on the way to the emergency room. It isn’t probably relevant. When I arrived they wheeled me into a room to wait for health care professionals. They came in really fast and did the initial checks. I lost track of time and a doctor came in fairly quickly. He did a quick analysis and determined that I had had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). He explained, as best as I can remember, that a small amount of the plaque that had built up in the veins leading to my brain had broken lose and lodged into a narrower passage of vein on its way into my brain. I believe he said that beings I was in such good health other veins were able to circumvent the clog and restore flow to my brain before serious injury happened.

The doctor wanted to (exact words fail me) into the hospital to get the tests done. I asked for how long and he responded for a couple of days. I then exclaimed “Oh, no. I can’t do that I have papers to deliver and there is nobody else to do it for me.” He said we could do them on an outpatient basis at a doctor’s office… probably on Monday. I said that would work.

He left and my wife came in. It seems my younger daughter had called to get a ride someplace and when I told her what was going on, she called everybody and his brother (sister) to tell them how I had had a stroke. Probably the first one she called was my wife. I had talked to her on the phone and told her where the car was. She didn’t know how she was going to get over there, so I told her to ask the neighbor-lady to give her a ride over there. She must have done that because she got the car and drove to the hospital.

The doctor returned saying I could go to an urgent care facility the next morning between 8 AM and noon. The exact sequence isn’t firm. This is as close to what happened as best as I and my wife could remember.
To be continued…

So, I’m watching the NewsHour on PBS; and every segment is full of fascinating detail about the subject covered. As the report is shown, my mind is constantly looking for what my conservative friends might determine is bias. In this particular report there are two people being questioned about the conditions in Syria. One of those is Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. When I google that organization I find that it is supposedly an organization “whose central aim is to push an Israel-centric Middle East agenda”. Is that injecting an element of bias here? Near the end of the segment he states, “This hurricane is gathering on the Eastern Mediterranean. And I really don’t know what we can do to stop it. We can deal with the effects of it, but the most important thing is that — is for the United States to achieve President Obama’s policy objective of getting President Assad to step aside.” It is clear to me that he backs something the President is doing. Is he biased? How about the other panelist? Is she giving us an alternative view that might be featured prominently on Fox News? She is Mona Yacoubian; and she was an analyst for the state department, now with the Stimson Center, a Washington research organization according to the NewsHour. If we google her name, however, we find that even though she is with the Stimson Center, she has connections to the Washington Institute of Peace. If we look at that organization’s background… and the search goes on. It’s how those who read articles from do research until they find something to challenge the veracity of its results from research that the person uses to support his/her opinion be it liberal or conservative.

I notice the interviewer didn’t use the much overused terms: “liberal” or “conservative”. In the past the terms were used to pigeon hole the organization.

My little piece here is the tip of the iceberg, as you can see. One could spend all his/her time ignoring what is being said for who is saying it. I can now see why The Jehovah’s Witness magazine doesn’t include the name of the author of its articles – besides the stated reason: that they want to keep from giving anyone too much recognition or something like that. I have used the argument against an article I didn’t like by saying it was written by somebody who didn’t attach his/her name, thus retaining anonyminity. My argument was effective only because the person who I was arguing with didn’t think to use a counter argument.

This is another time when I remember the comic strip about the mother putting her little boy to bed. His name is Pasquel and the comic strip is “Rose is Rose”. So, Rose is tucking Pasquel in and he, like my older daughter, is having a problem putting his mind to sleep. He says to her, “I can’t decide what I want to do when I grow up”. She responds, “The simplest way to make decisions is to trust your instincts.” She leaves, and her answer seems to calm Pasquel’s mind because he rolls over and goes to sleep. But, his sleep is interrupted by two little figures showing up with “Greetings Pasquel. We are your instincts, Do and Don’t.” Pasquel asks, “Which of you is Do and which is Don’t?” They answer, “We take turns”. Pasquel has a follow-up question, “How do I tell which of you is right and which is wrong?” They answer, “We take turns on that, too… sometimes.” With that, Pasquel rolls over and says, “Instincts apparently can be confusing. Maybe it would be simpler to follow logical reasons.” Immediately about 50 little figures show up with “Greetings Pasquel!” Trying to use reason to argue can get as complicated as using instinct in a good debate. Both participants have their own perspective. The more informed each is, the more challenging the debate.

Once in while it behooves us to stop and ponder whether what we are doing is important; or whether we should turn our attentions to other, more pressing priorities. I did just that a few moments ago as I read an article by Christopher Dunagan in this morning’s Kitsap Sun, “Sediment flow at old dam site watched”.

I am often checking my motives for reading the articles by Mr. Dunagan, thinking I might be doing this because he is the wife of my grandson’s head start teacher; and he helped us move from our former residence. While this might be an underlying motive, I think what is more important is my desire to be aware of my environment and the features, live and ascetic.

So, would I have everybody to be this zealous of his own awareness regarding what’s happening? The short answer is, “yes”. In fact I would (metaphorically speaking) surgically remove a non-reader’s senses, one by one, so they would understand the importance of being aware of one’s environment and community.

I also believe that those who ignore their environment and community ultimately fall into a pit of ignorance and lethargy. Once they do this they are almost sure to become morose and depressed; to the point of drinking to stop the feelings of emptiness.

I would also offer this community awareness as an alternative to music to spur mental activity and slow the fall into Alzheimer’s.

“Those who don’t read are no better off than those who can’t” is a very good expression of my reasons to read. Yes, one should balance reading non-fiction and fiction. The first is a direct connect to the world, the later is a good backdrop that enables us to more fully understand our world. If one accepts gaining knowledge as an ongoing education might even accept the idea that reading, thought it is not the only way of gaining knowledge, is important in its being a more intensive way to gain knowledge than hearing or viewing sources.

Now, I have to offer a slight departure from this radical approach. I see my grandson, who is high functioning autistic, getting a lot of mind stimulation from watching certain shows on TV, and movies. I would offer that some minds are stymied by the challenge of converting the written word to mental images. The quest to alter this is worth pursuing, however. If the non-reader were to mount the challenge to improve reading comprehension, he/she would gain another important avenue of improvement.

“An informed citizenry is essential to a functioning democracy” is also a great reason to keep informed of one’s community. I would create multiple copies of signs to accompany displays of local print media. Of course this is a chauvinistic approach that ignores the truth that the print media is not the only way to become informed. It does imply that the print copy that is available to the reader is the best; and draws the prospective reader to access it, either by purchasing it or visiting the library (that temple of knowledge in most communities) and reading available issues there.