Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Moving Forward From The 2016 Election...

Peggy Guggenheim collection, Venice, Italy
I continue to noodle and ponder the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election ...

I have been having some tough conversations with others who supported Trump as well as Clinton as I am sure many of you are. There are a lot of tension, wounds (some self-inflicted), uneasiness, resentment and anger. Distrust is rampant toward everything, including 140+ "fake" news sources, and everybody. We are creating an unhealthy, toxic environment for ourselves and for others.

It is up to each of us to stop it.

Consider the ageless wisdom of The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz:

    1. Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Keep your promises. Be sincere. Be reliable. Make sure what is written on your resume is verifiable and truthful. Be compassionate in conversation with others.

   2. Don't take anything personally. What people say and do is a projection of their reality. Their perception may not be reality. What is their reality is not your reality. To embrace someone else's reality is to suffer.

   3. Don't make assumptions. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Seek to understand before being understood. This one practice can reduce conflict and suffering. Avoiding assumptions can be transformative. 

   4. Always do your best. Be your best. Give your best. By always doing, being and giving your best, you avoid self-deception and the unawareness of what's beyond ourselves.

Ruiz's writing is the second greatest commandment of the Christian faith in detail, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39, NIV). Don't take that concept neighbor lightly. Recognize your neighbor is the person who voted opposite of you. Recognize your neighbor is the person who didn't vote. Recognize your neighbor is the 'least of these.' Recognize your neighbor is the immigrant, the Muslim, the LGBTQ. Recognize your neighbor is marginally informed. Recognize your neighbor is the 'other.' That is a very tough challenge and yet it is what Christ did. He modeled the way and asked those who follow Him to do the same.  

I put faith before politics. I put my neighbor before my politics. I do not see Jesus Christ being a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist or a Communist. He didn't come to take sides, yet many will justify Christ supporting their political view. If you can justify Christ supporting your political view then you believe the Constitution holds more wisdom than the Gospel and when you die, you are going to Washington, DC.

Second, part of this commandment is even tougher for me - love myself first with all my scars, failures, brokenness, imperfections, and delusions ... so I can love my neighbor. As the late Brennan Manning wrote in The Ragamuffin Gospel, "To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, 'A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.'" 

To love myself just as I am, is to be open and vulnerable. Openness and vulnerability means asking questions and listening rather than telling and ignoring. We all live in a state of being marginally informed. No one has a monopoly on knowledge, information, facts and truth, including the talking heads on radio, television and social media. We would all benefit from being a lot more curious and questioning than assuming and judging based upon our marginal knowledge. 

Another very tough scripture I'm trying to live into from this 2016 Presidential election is from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "give thanks in all circumstances." How do you give thanks for the fire that destroyed your home? How do you give thanks for being without a job? How do you give thanks for the candidate you did not vote for? How do you give thanks for depression?

Mitford series author, Jan Karon, In This Mountain, has her main character, Father Tim, deal with depression. It's from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that Father Tim finds solace and peace to deal with his depression. Father Tim experiences deeper gratitude for his life and what is in his life. Furthermore, he discovers more compassion for others. 

I submit to you, The Four Agreements, loving yourself just as you are so you can love others, and Thessalonians 5:18 may be the healing balm we need moving forward from this election. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Continued Processing of 2016 Presidential Election

I received a lot of feedback from my last blog post of 11/9/16, Fear Just Won the Election. Some of it positive and supportive. Some of it negative and hurtful. Some asked to be removed from my blog mail list. I am still processing the outcome of this election. Here are responses to some to comments I have received.

"How would you offer the phrases if the word Faith was in front?"

I have a very difficult time understanding how those of a strong Christian faith could justify and support Trump as their candidate. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ who support Trump strongly value a woman's sexuality as sacred. So how do they enthusiastically embrace a man who sexually assaults women, degrades women, and calls them obscenities? When I study Matthew 5, I see no following of Jesus' teaching in Trump's words or behavior. 

Political power trumped values, morals and Christian faith.

The brand of faith that got Trump elected was in secular political power and fear, not the faith of spiritual, sacred, the Holy and love.

A vote for Trump was a vote against ACA and the rising costs of health insurance.

A vote for Trump was a vote against the growth of the national debt.

A vote for Trump was a vote to get manufacturing jobs and coal mining back to pre-NAFTA.

A vote for Trump was a vote against the expansion of ISIS.

A vote for Trump was a vote against "the other" including Blacks, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBTQ.

A vote for Trump was a vote against a liberal Supreme Court.

A vote for Trump was a vote for anti-establishment, against politicians who know no term limits, lobbyists and big money (things I do like!).

These voters had faith in a person who can make these changes. God and the belief of walking the path of Christ wasn't part of the consideration.

I get it. I don't like it. Personally, I had hoped at the beginning of this whole election cycle, there would be no Bush or Clinton. I was tired of their dynasties. I would have preferred Elizabeth Warren, Kathleen Sebelius, or Justice  Sonia Sotomayor as the first woman president.

Someone else wrote me, "I never in a million years imagined that when you joined the hard core left in this country that you would jump right in with total fear mongering.  That you would throw logic out the window.  

I hope you go back to your “I’d be afraid” note and go “oops”. If not I will know that logic has left you behind. If this happens, now I’m afraid."

First, as the father of a gay daughter, I am afraid for her. Vice-president elect Pence has already said he is seeking to roll back LGBTQ legislation. The second greatest commandment seems to have been forgotten.

Second, I saw fresh graffiti this morning, "WHITES RULE, blacks, immigrants, muslims, jews drool." Yep, I'm afraid we are losing compassion for our fellow human beings who look, act and believe differently than I do. Ignorance rules and fear is the motivation.

If the "hard core left" means being accountable to the values of Micah 6:8, then I am guilty as labeled. I'd like to think I'd be in the company of Jesus Christ.

Still someone else wrote me, "As a Christian and believer, I don’t fear or worry.  Matthew 5 – 7 gives me the power and strength every day – no matter what." I am pretty sure that was written on a full stomach, from a warm, comfortable home, with a good income and as a older white male. I would challenge him to go spend time with the disenfranchised, the broken, the homeless, the imprisoned. Go where Jesus went. Spend time with the "least of these." Check your judgment and bias at the door. Engage in conversation. Ask questions. Get to know them. Listen to their stories. Practice cognitive dissonance. Try to experience their fear.

It's interesting how there is a call to heal the great divide. There was a similar call after President Obama was elected. Senator McConnell made it his mandate to keep the divide seeking to have Obama serve one term and stonewall everything Obama was seeking. This includes nominating recently, a reasonable, non-liberal Supreme Court Justice, Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, will we get more ofthe same?

I don't like Trump as my President. His values and behavior don't sync with mine. I do respect our political system, and I do accept Trump as President. Hope is a call for action. I hope Trump's past performance and behavior is not an indication of future results. I hope Trump will surround himself with good advisors.  I hope he will challenge Congress to earn their salaries and get to work. I hope he can heal the divide. I will do my part to help. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fear Won the 2016 Presidential Election

As an older white male, I have little to fear after this Presidential election. In fact, things look pretty good for me.

On the other hand…

If I were a woman, I’d be afraid.

If I were a person of color, I’d be afraid.

If I were a Muslim, I’d be afraid.

If I were a part of the LGBT community, I'd be afraid.

If I were an immigrant, I’d be afraid.

If I were poor, I’d be afraid.

If you are a person who cherishes a green, healthy, nurturing environment, I’d be afraid.

If I were someone who finally got health care coverage through ACA especially with a pre-existing condition, I’d be afraid.

If you are a person of integrity, I’d be afraid.

If I were a foreign ally to the United States, I’d be afraid.

As person who lives by the Old Testament values of Micah 6:8, I’m going to be tested. I recognize I am going to have to live deeper into compassion and social justice. I recognize I’m going to have act with deeper humility. I realize my call is to stand with women, Blacks, Muslims, immigrants, the LGBT, the poor, the sick, the environmentalists, our Allies and share my white male privilege to help others.


Love has to win. Love has to trump fear. It’s my calling. What about you?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

I Can’t/Won't Leave This Miserable Job!

“I’m too busy to look for a new position.”

“I can’t leave this miserable job. The pay and benefits are too good.”

“I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“No job is perfect.”

“I’ll just tough it out. Something has got to change!”

“I’m afraid there isn’t a new position out there for me. Nobody will want me. Besides, how do I explain leaving a job to a potential employer?”

What is your excuse du jour for not leaving a miserable work experience? What faulty rationale or logic is that little voice in your head saying to you? 

Let’s begin with some basic hard questions.

Is your work environment nurturing? How does your work environment impact your well-being and health? Is it positive or negative?

Does your work environment value its cast members and treat them with respect?

Are you being treated fairly and given a manageable workload for your competency? Is your competency being used to your highest and best potential?

Are your values being compromised? Does your organization act with integrity? Does the organization seek diversity and inclusion? Does male staff get treated differently than female staff?

Is the organization’s financial well-being more important than its cast members’ well being?

Does the organization have safe practices? Is conflict handled in a healthy way?

Does working in the organization require “playing games?” Are there extreme office politics? Is transparency a joke?

Does your boss or supervisor care about you as a person? Are they interested in helping you to grow? Do they coach you and help you be a better cast member? Is education a part of your annual performance review?

Do you have a mentor? Does your organization offer mentoring?

Is the organization underperforming to your expectations?

What are other cast members saying about the character and reputation of the organization of which you are a part?

What are external customers saying about the character and reputation of the organization of which you are a part?

Where are the red flags showing up in your answers?

Learn to fire yourself from a miserable job or a miserable boss. It is your duty to let go of an underperforming or unhealthy organization. It’s in the best interest of the organization, a manager and the other cast members for you to leave.

By the way, this challenge is doubly hard if you are a family member of a family-owned business!

No one want’s to hear Trump’s favorite line from The Apprentice, “You’re fired!” but if all the evidence is there, if your well-being has taken a hit, if your values are being compromised and if you’ve reached the end of your rope, then fire your employer!

At the root of continuing to remain in a lousy work environment is self-deception and denial. Self-deception is lying to yourself and not being honest with yourself. Self-deception is about turning away the awareness you need to live fully. Self-deception denies truth and reality. It blunts compassion for yourself and for others. Self-deception is living the lie.

Three final questions. 

Instead of not deciding this now, are you willing to spend time every day thinking and talking about how lousy your work-life is for the next several months? 

How will others outside of work-life experience you? Will you be a joy to be around?

Are you willing to live with the consequences, if you don’t make a change?

It is your duty, your calling to live a well-lived life!