Archive for April, 2013


Of late I have been doing a number of odd jobs in and around the house. While doing these jobs I was reminded of something my father once told/taught me: He always said “let the tools do the job.”  He was right, of course. Having the right tool is only part of the process. Using it  properly is probably more important.

When cutting a piece of wood this week I was amazed how easy it was because I let the tool do the work. It’s something to think about when we consider our journey on the YBR.

Dorothy was given a number of tools on her journey. She had the ruby slippers, she had Toto, and she had three good friends. But even more important than her slippers, her dog, etc. was her ability to think…or what I would call he ability to reason.

In life, I believe, when we use our ability to reason…properly and correctly, we are using a wonderful tool and letting it do the work.

When we fail to use our ability to reason, we run the risk of having the tool become an impediment.

And then I thought about something else…but related. I thought about how the word “tool” has taken on a less than upbeat or positive meaning. To call someone a “tool,” is (according to the Urban dictionary) One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used.

Dorothy used her tools, but she was also “a tool.” She was the Wizard’s tool. She did his bidding. He wanted the WWW (world wide witch?) dead and he “made” Dorothy do it.

How often are we someone’s “tool?” How often do we do someone else’s bidding?   Being an unwitting tool is one thing, but today many of us know we are the “tools” of a cruel boss, a nasty co-worker, etc. but more often than not we can’t do anything about it.

I wish I had a resolution to what I think is a growing problem in our society and the workplace…but I don’t. It’s just something to think about.


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A funny thing happened recently when I gave a presentation on the yellow brick road to Oz as a meaningful metaphor for the heroic journey…you know, the journey where we venture into a foreign land and are confronted with challenges and obstacles…or the journey common to characters in our favorite fairy tales when they travel through the deep, dark forest.

The two-hour presentation went well and I believe the 18 people in attendance were amused and perhaps even enlightened a bit.

Following my presentation, a woman came up to me. She said, “I enjoyed your talk and I agree we all need to go on a quest, but there was one thing you didn’t talk about.”

I was all ears because I appreciate hearing what I might need to improve my Oz talks. The woman continued, but went in a direction I was not expecting.

“It’s valid to talk about taking the hero’s journey, but no one ever talks about the fact that we had no choice in being born.”

She had a point. But what was I to say.

“I sometimes think that if I had the choice, I would not have chosen to have been born because life can be such a painful journey.”

Again, she had a valid point about life being a painful journey.

She continued to talk but as she did her eyes were filling with tears. “We need to be invited in. We need someone along the way to say, ‘come with me and join me.’ We need someone to look at us and say that we are important. That we matter.”

By this time the tears were rolling down her cheeks. I reached out and hugged her.

“I just don’t want to get to the end of my life and feel like I never belonged.”

I told her “the very fact that you feel this way makes you the special person you are; it shows how much you care.”

(I plan on getting back to this woman to continue our conversation.)

That one woman’s reaction got me to thinking and I realized that most of us spend our lives looking for happiness (sometimes in the wrong places) when what we should be doing is trying to live a life of joy. There is a difference. Happiness is the weather. It changes quickly when our loves go from sunny and warm to cloudy and stormy. Joy is a climate. It is weather over time. Joy makes room for both the sunny and the cloudy. Joy helps us to appreciate every moment without being burdened by having to be constantly “happy.’

I wonder if the woman who came up to me is confused by joy and happiness?

I’ll have to find out. I’ll get back to you when I do.

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Holocaust for lecture


Sunday, April 7, 2013. Holocaust Remembrance Day. Unlike other “days” that are remembered with parades, decorations, gift-giving and merriment, Holocaust Remembrance Day is an attempt to “not forget” the horrors of a time when all traces of humanity vanished and in place of it, the basest and lowest side of man appeared.

In truth, there is no real and meaningful way to remember what happened to the millions of people who were sent to their deaths or who died behind the barbed wire of a concentration camp.

If there is one word that I believe sums up the Holocaust, it is the word “evil,” because that was the root cause of the horror we call the Holocaust. But, we make a mistake when we nod and agree that what the Nazis did was evil because in doing so we have washed our hands and declared “we had nothing to do with it.” That’s because the evil of the Nazi regime was not our fault.

There was no barbed wire in Oz, but isn’t it interesting that the first thing Dorothy had to deal with when she crash-landed in Oz was evil. Evil was present in Oz. The Munchkins and other denizens of Oz were imprisoned by two evil witches. Dorothy might have had her own agenda, i.e. getting home, there was no way of getting around the evil. She was in the thick of it, and in order to get what she wished for, she was going to have to destroy the last vestige of evil in Oz.

I think we have really forgotten what evil is and where it comes from. It’s not limited to a Korean despot, a militant Muslim bent on riding the world of infidels, or any of the crazed individuals who pop and now and again and commit horrific acts. Evil is ever-present in our lives. The only thing is we either ignore it or make believe it’s not happening.

We want to make believe that the evil we see in the workplace isn’t really evil, it’s just…business as usual. I say BS to that. Anytime we allow a boss at any level to use their power to make life a living hell for a “subordinate,” or turn our back when we see someone in a position of power and authority misuse that power, then we are providing a breeding ground for bigger evils.

But what are we supposed to do? If we dare speak up and out we risk getting fired because we all know there’s no such thing as freedom of speech in the workplace. And there’s the rub. Once we tolerate evil even in its simplest form, we open the door for more powerful evil to be unleashed. How many “good” citizens of Germany didn’t say or do anything because the evil flame that had once just flickered was now a raging holocaust was something they couldn’t blow out.

Let me end by including something I try to remember every day.

First they came for the communists
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.


Then they came for the Jews
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Remember.  Never forget. What happened can still happen…again.

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