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Archive for January, 2015

MLK on YBR

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coin toss

World problems, in a nutshell, can all be traced back to one concept. Believing. Despite the fact that we are all humans occupying the same tiny planet in a universe so large as to make us inconsequential, we all believe different things.

The people living in the Emerald City were different, because they all believed the same things, and that was because they all wore emerald glasses and they all saw the world the same way. Well, we don’t live in Emerald City. Or do we? I have come to believe that we all live in different Emerald Cities that are only geographic to a degree. By that I mean, just because the French live in a geographic part of the world with manmade borders, that does not mean that ALL French people think alike.

Thinking and believing are the two sides of the same coin. Ideally our thinking and believing should conform, but that would be a hard idea to sell on the open market where thinking and believing are often miles and centuries apart.

Our ability to think….openly, clearly and critically, is one of the aspects of being human that we surrender as we get older. As members of a tribe (family, community, nation, etc,) we are taught to think one way. If we want to maintain membership in our tribe we are obligated to think the way everyone else thinks or we could be banished to the deep dark forest.

Anyone or anything that penetrates the bubble that surrounds our way of thinking is immediately identified as an enemy. It doesn’t matter if we have right thinking or wrong thinking, we really don’t want to THINK because thinking involves testing our what we think against what someone else thinks.  If you only want your liberal thinking to be supported you will only listen to people who preach the message you want to hear. If you want to hold onto your conservative way of thinking you’ll only tune into networks that support your conservative views. Tell me, is there a right and a wrong?

I’ve thought long and hard about this and have come to the conclusion that our thinking is largely influenced by our inherent belief system, and this belief system is usually controlled by religion.  Usually by the time we turn seven or eight our belief system has been wired and it is very difficult to change the wiring. What we believe in and how we believe drives how we think.

If you live in a secular society you have been dual-wired. On the one hand you can “embrace” a very specific religious belief system even if it contradicts your enhanced thinking abilities. If you think about something, you just can’t “believe.” You need some sort of proof, and as we all know demanding a proof often flies in the face of religious belief systems.

The power of science can be found in the very fact that if something is “disproven,” the science has to change. If not, it is no longer science. The power of religion can be found in the very fact that it resists changing. I ask you, are all powers equal?

Holding onto an idea that we’ve believed for most of our life and asking to think about it is something many people cannot bring themselves to do.

Are we at a point in history that we have to flip a coin? I hope not because there’s too much at stake. We need to encourage real thinking. But before we can do that we have to be willing to embrace a new way of thinking…if it’s called for. And there’s the rub. When do we know when changing what we believe and the way we think is called for?

We need to become a world where thinking is encouraged, where love steers our ship, and where we have the courage to stand up for what is right.

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world in hands

Rather than hold YBR blog followers in suspension anymore, I’ll reveal the word I believe should forever replace tolerate and any of its forms. Embrace.

Why replace tolerate with embrace. Largely because I believe the word tolerate can’t shed the idea that people who just put up with something or someone (often reluctantly) can claim to be tolerant.

I don’t think people should fly under the radar by claiming to be tolerant when they are not always invested in what they are tolerating.

I propose that the real word should be embrace. The dictionary defines embrace this way:

(v) accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically; (n) an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.

The difference between tolerating and embracing can be found in the willingness or enthusiasm attached to embracing something.

To embrace something or someone is an active process where toleration can often be a passive activity. When you embrace something you actually have to “wrap” your mind and heart around it. You willing accept it. You just don’t deal with it or put up with it.

Think about it. And be honest. How many people, things, ideas, notions, etc. do you merely tolerate because you do it because it’s politically correct, the thing to do, or because you have nothing to lose by tolerating it.

If you have your heart and mind in that which you tolerate, you can proudly say that you embrace it.

In time, I think if you can wrap your head around the point of this blog, you can embrace embracing,

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Tolerance - 1

In light of the recent, cold blooded murder of 12 people at France’s Charlie Hebdo I can’t stop thinking about a word that has always caused me a problem. The word is “Tolerate” in any of its variations. It is one of the banner words wildly waved around today. People proudly proclaim how tolerant they are and that it’s intolerance that is the cause for so many of the problems facing us today. Well, I have a different take on it. I believe far too many people claim to be tolerant while in fact they are either closeted closed-minded individuals or shallow mob followers.

The word bothers me because it’s one of those words that actually has two diametrically opposed meanings. The older meaning of tolerate is “the capacity to endure something, especially pain or hardship.” People often use the word when they are telling us that they “put up with something.” With this meaning, toleration has its limits. An individual can usually tolerate something for just so long before they take action to end that which they are suffering.  The other definition is the one most popular today: “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one’s own.”

I ask you to focus on the words “permissive attitude” because that’s where I have a big problem. Is it always good to have a permissive attitude? Aren’t there limits to what should be permitted? I think there are. Consider the popular concept found in schools, organizations, companies, etc. “Zero Tolerance” meaning that certain things will NOT BE TOLERATED.

While I don’t think we should ever “tolerate” racism, bigotry, sexism, violence…the very fact that we as a society have a list of things that should be tolerated and things that shouldn’t be tolerated, makes me believe that toleration is really in the eye of the beholder. I can’t say that I have a total permissive attitude toward all opinions, beliefs and practices that differ from my own. And if you are honest, you’d have to admit that you too don’t have a “total” permissive attitude.

I get a big kick out of religious leaders who publicly declare that they are open about other religious beliefs. BS.  That’s virtually impossible because many of the beliefs of one religion contradict or don’t support the beliefs of other religions. Christians believe in the divinity of Jesus. Non-Christians don’t. Fundamental Christians don’t, from what I know, believe that non-believers are going to be saved. How can someone with that belief system be tolerant of someone who has a different viewpoint?  They might give lip service to non-believers, but I don’t think they are keeping the spirit of permissiveness alive.

Take a walk back in time and consider the Maryland Toleration Act (1649), also known as the Act Concerning Religion. It was a law mandating religious tolerance for Trinitarian Christians.

“The Calvert family, who founded Maryland partly as a refuge for English Catholics, sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicanism of Britain and her colonies. The Act allowed freedom of worship for all Trinitarian Christians in Maryland, but sentenced to death anyone who denied the divinity of Jesus.”

Sentenced to death! Wow! That’s real tolerance. A little bit more on the nitty gritty of  the Maryland Toleration Act” …no person or persons…professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be anyways troubled, Molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof within this Province. Settlers who blasphemed by denying either the Trinity or the divinity of Jesus Christ could be punished by execution or the seizure of their lands. That meant that Jews, Unitarians, and other dissenters from Trinitarian Christianity were practicing their religions at risk to their lives. Any person who insulted the Virgin Mary, the apostles, or the evangelists could be whipped, jailed, or fined. Otherwise, Trinitarian Christians’ right to worship was protected.”

You might argue that’s ancient history, and you might have a point, however, what one man tolerates another man abhors.

Today, liberal thinking rules. And while I am a firm believer in being open-minded, especially about things that might be out of my comfort zone, I have no problem in questioning some of the things we tolerate just because it’s the thing to do.

I believe there is a better word for what toleration is supposed to mean. And I’ll introduce that word in the next post on the YBR.

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A new year and another chance to find NEW meaning on the YBR.

Along The Yellow Brick Road

The_Meaning_of_Life

My daughter Jennifer, the mother of three girls, posted something interesting on her Facebook page this morning about “mean girls.”  It’s well worth the read:

Mean Girls

Like any good read, it got me thinking. And because I have always been fascinated with words and their “meanings,” I go to thinking about the meaning of “mean,” and came to a somewhat “startling” thought.  I think we need to encourage our children to be “mean.”

Crazy? Not so if you follow me down the YBR.

While being “mean” as in mean-spirited, unkind, cruel, nasty etc. is wrong to the tenth power, being “mean” as in asserting who you are not as one of the huddled masses, but as an individual, your entire life is all about “meanness.”

Here’s what I “mean.”

Say what you mean: be as polite as the situation and circumstance allows, but always say what you…

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