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Future Parents

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Parenting has been called the most critical job anyone ever undertakes. Yet, for most of us, we have no instruction and few ways to tell if we are competent. Many of the personality scars that lead to anti-social behavior, violence, dishonesty, bullying, prejudice, and poor adaptability can be traced (at least in part) to inadequate parental supervision or support.

So how do we change this picture? In The Doorkeeper’s Secrets, the responsibility of child-raising is identified as a job. Like any other job, people are educated, qualified, supported, and evaluated regularly.

Continue reading “Future Parents”

Tribute to a Friend

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Friends are important. All my life, I’ve heard dogs described as “Man’s Best Friend.” More appropriate language would be “human’s best non-human friend.”

Saying goodbye to a friend—regardless of how many legs they have is difficult. Particularly true for introverts who tend to have fewer but deeper relationships. Two weeks ago, my four-legged companion departed this life.

Continue reading “Tribute to a Friend”

Foundational Principles Revisited

IMG_20180407_192528841Let’s take one more look at the Five Foundational Principles of an Interdependent Society. In my novel, The Doorkeeper’s Secrets, the goal is to birth a society where everyone is dependable; therefore, we can expect others to act with our (and their) best interest in mind.

 

The five foundational principles create a matrix enabling everyone to give their best efforts, be safe, and find joy in their work, families, activities, and lives. The diagram attempts to illustrate how that might work.

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Creating a Viable Future Principle 5: The Common Good

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fifth and final principle for creating the kind of future envisioned in the novel, The Doorkeeper’s Secrets is supporting the Common Good. In many ways, this is the most important of the five.

Without the “leveling” influence of the Common Good, each of the other four principles could be distorted—either deliberately or by the over-enthusiastic supporters.

For example, Faith could be turned into an exclusive measuring rod projecting one interpretation as superior to all others. Vigilance could be shaped into mob-like squashing any deviance from the “accepted norm.” Even community can become a collection of people who look and think alike; effectively banning anyone with new ideas or perspectives. Finally, Respect could be interpreted from a self-serving perspective: “if you don’t respect me, I don’t have to respect you” attitude.

However, the Common Good serves as a check against the various abuses that can be misconstrued from the other four. The Common Good becomes the fertile soil where Community Respect and Faith can take root to produce fruit enjoyed by all. Likewise, Vigilance takes up its stand to “ensure the Common Good;” not to impose the will of one group over another.

 

When each of the five principles remains in balance, we have a built-in guard against the excesses which seem to inevitably arise out of human nature. Human nature is imperfect, so there will be people who resist any limitation on their so-called freedom.

In our culture “freedom” has been used as an excuse to enshrine excesses. A common axiom is “One person’s freedom ends when it infringes on another’s right.” I don’t have the freedom to construct a house on someone else’s property. In like manner, no one has the “freedom” to end another person life by violence. Yet it happens every day—and we continue to debate the right of gun ownership, opposed the right to live with less fear for the safety of ourselves and our children.

Suppose we replaced the current axiom with another. “One’s freedom is unlimited until it threatens the Common Good.” That is the basis of my vision of the future. There will be more discussion of weapons and safety for the future in later blogs. For now, let’s look at the role Common Good plays in shaping a positive speculative future.

 

It’s easy to identify things that diminish the Common Good. Listing a few might be helpful in establishing some of the parameters to our thinking.

So, what inhibits support for the Common Good? Inequalities of any kind: racial, gender, age, lineage, nationality, education, financial rewards, physical strength, honors, weapons, or power over others. We could name other places where there are imbalances in our society: access to health care, clean water, healthy food, knowledgeable advocates, jobs with advancement potential, warmth in the winter, and comfort in the summer. Of course, any of us can add to the list.

The goal of the Common Good is not to reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator, but to encourage and enhance everyone’s gifts for the good of all. There will always be differences—it is our differences that give every life value.

One person is a skilled artist, and another can’t draw a stop sign. Assuming the artist desires to pursue art—the goal of creating the “best” for all is to encourage and enhance the artist, so that we may ultimately enjoy or appreciate the art. The Common Good is served when people are encouraged and supported in doing what they enjoy.

But the good of all is not served by having an excess of mediocre artists (or doctors, or teachers, or any other profession). In my vision of the future, there comes a point when those who are performing less than adequately will be encouraged to think about their next career. At some later time, it may become more than a suggestion. Standards for each profession are clear, and regular evaluations confirm progress or suggest issues needing attention. These standards are created and reviewed by practitioners with input from clients for each service.

 

The Doorkeeper’s Secrets version of the future has everyone receiving sufficient income to meet all their needs, have adequate housing, healthy food, highest quality medical care, transportation wherever they need to go, and education to train or re-train for any job for which one qualifies (by temperament and intellectual capacity). The Common Good is served when stress and worry over these things are minimized. Then one can give their attention to their families, their work, and their avocations (hobbies and services).

 

So, friends, tell me what you think about this kind of future. Does the concept of increasing the Common Good introduce some sanity into some of our current discussions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Creating a Viable Future Principle 4: Respect

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The fourth of the five principles undergirding the collaborative society envisioned in The Doorkeeper’s Secrets is Respect. Community, Vigilance, Faith, Respect, and the Common Good are the five foundational principles needed to create an interdependent society.

One definition says “due regard to the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others… avoid harming or interfering with….” While deep trust needs to be earned—respect should be granted.

Like Vigilance (the second principle) respect starts with the individual. Just as awareness of the world around us is an attitude one must adopt and practice, treating other’s rights, feelings, and traditions in a manner that will not harm them start within the individual.

So, what does it mean if I grant respect to every person I meet or never meet but only hear about from others or the news? Continue reading “Creating a Viable Future Principle 4: Respect”

Creating a Viable Future Principle 3: Faith (Part 2)

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Last time we lifted up the need to have faith in ourselves and others. Part of what will make our culture more sustainable and predictable is a return to basic trust. Over the years I have worked with enough people struggling with addictions, to know that there are times when we cannot trust ourselves. That’s why we need others.

That is true whether it’s an inability to resist “just one drink,” or our inability to understand that (fill in the blank) Continue reading “Creating a Viable Future Principle 3: Faith (Part 2)”

Creating a Viable Future Principle 3: Faith (Part 1)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe third of the five principles undergirding the collaborative society envisioned in The Doorkeeper’s Secrets is Faith. When pictured in a diagram the Plan is supported by five pillars with Community, Vigilance, Respect, and the Common Good as the four corners and Faith in the center.

When we speak of faith in the first part of the 21st century, we tend to think of some form of religious tradition, or belief system. That is a powerful meaning of the term which we will discuss in the next posting.

I would like for us to begin with other applications of “Faith.” Ones I believe will become universally important in the coming years. I mean faith in oneself and faith in others.

 

Our age has an appalling lack of faith. It is especially apparent in absence of trust we see all around. Conspiracy theories abound. Individuals we used to trust, disappoint us. We feel betrayed by their behavior. We often move off into our little tribes, and complain about those in the “other tribes.”

It matters not what the subject might be: politics, economics, education, the latest action (or inaction) of our congress, state legislature, governor, president, favorite sports team, the role of the press, gun control or freedom, money, the power of the rich, or who makes the best pizza. When any of those come up, there is an abundance of opinions (stated as fact) and little light directing us toward a shared understanding. We soon find ourselves wanting to be with those who think sort of like us—because—well it’s easier than taking blood pressure medication.

And we haven’t yet mentioned the most significant parts of lives: our belief system, career choices, mate choices (or choosing not to mate). What about how we will spend our time and energy on earth (will we be a life-long-learner or quit when the diploma is in hand?) will we accumulate friends, possessions, dollars, or goodwill? And what’s our attitude toward those who are different from us?

 

Yes, we all know these things. But have you thought of them as Faith Issues? They are. Our lack of trust in large groups of “others” is one reason why we do not have a sense of interdependence in our day and age.

For nearly three decades I worked with volunteer organizations in conflict. Usually, there had been a major disruption shortly before I was called. In the first days, I would see the various camps, plus a lot of accusations and finger-pointing. Early in the process, I state my belief: everyone—even those you disagree with most violently—was doing what they believed best for the organization. In-other-words, everyone was acting in “good-faith.” I then encouraged others to adopt the same view.

Once this process gets started we could move toward the perspective of having a “Problem to solve together,” rather than “Turf to defend against others.” In an interdependent society, people work together to address common concerns. When that happens, everyone uses their skill, wisdom, and energy to address the issue. Even when solutions are slow in coming, we still have confidence that we are not alone—and as long as everyone else has not given up—we will get there.

Another stage is finding what we have in common. What is holding us together? Often it is the commitment to a particular mission, vision, goal. In the process of recovering our “glue” or commonalities, we may begin to trust the others—at least a bit more.

Perhaps we can begin such a process as a city, state, nation or international community. If I reach the point of being interested in what you think, and how you reached your conclusion, then I can stop seeing you as someone to be kept off my turf.

 

Which brings us to the other point for today’s blog. We need to have faith not only in the other but first of all in ourselves. Part of the reason we have so many tribes is lack of trust in our ability to reason out an answer—so we join with others—the group thinks for us.

Even in a group where I agree with the mission, vision, strategies, and general directions being proposed, I am still responsible for raising questions and looking at the broader picture. In other words, joining a tribe does not mean I lose my need to think critically about the issue.

We need to have faith in ourselves: our skills, abilities, curiosity, and wisdom. We need to know our ideas, opinions, values, lives and dignity count. We need to remember that our experiences are different from others, and not sharing our perspective is often a disservice to the overall goal.

We also need to have faith in others: family, friends, teachers, leaders, and those who challenger our lethargy. We believe that our particular “perspective group” has integrity, and is working for the best outcome for all—not just the few. And when we are honest, we must believe the “opposition group” to have integrity and desire what they believe is the best outcome of all.

Then we can begin to rely on a process to bring us closer together. To be discussed next time.