IFX Group 2006 Web Log
- Liberty to be Civil. (January)
- Dumb Questions. (February)
- Action and Apathy. (March)
- The Bill Snooze Alarm. (April)
- Teachers That Do. (May)
- Hot Stove Relationships. (June)
- Ethnic, like the rest of us. (July)
- Pinhole Perspective. (August)
- Living to Work vs. Working to Live. (September)
- Not so Traditional. (October)
- Awareness Displacement. (November)
- Dull as Diamonds. (December)
January, 2006 - Liberty to be Civil.
Look inside some relationships and you will see something absurd. People will be kind or at the very least civil to their hated neighbors. But those same people think nothing of using harsh words, sometimes laced with the most bitter verbal venom, on those they love simply because of temporary anger or frustration.
Why is it so hard to show our loved ones the same kindness and civility we show to those we hate?
If the people we love died today, we would be filled with regret about the kind and gentle words we didn't have a chance to say.
So don't wait. Start this new year out right and speak those words now!
February, 2006 - Dumb Questions.
Over 50% of the human population of this planet is female and this makes women the majority and the men the minority. What does that do for us as a whole human race? Not much until we can find our way free from the habits, traditions and social baggage of past generations.
Women are not dumb and yet in some social and personal situations women are expected to act dumb. This is just an act that has become more of a habit in some situations. Don't believe any of it.
Maybe somewhere back in the dark history of polite society it became socially acceptable for women to play dumb and to avoid public displays of thought and intelligence. This has crippled our world by repressing more than half of the population and effectively preventing them from contributing to help solve our common problems.
Why do we blindly accept and even propagate dangerous displays of stupidity? Why do we allow un-answerable questions like
Does this make me look fat? to continue to be spoken unchecked? Why do we allow complaints about things like mammograms from women who repeatedly state that if a man had to endure such pain that an alternative would be soon found? Why must this be a
man thing to change instead of a
human thing? Why do women feel like they are prevented from thinking up new and better ways to do things and making them happen?
If we as a society and individuals openly point out and reject the overt displays of false stupidity, refuse the dumb and ignorant sayings, and reward the intelligent, who knows what will be possible for our planet to do?
Maybe all we need is a woman's touch.
March, 2006 - Action and Apathy.
The worst thing about hard times is that so much of it seems to happen all at once. Sometimes it feels like the world is just waiting to kick those that are down when things are at their lowest.
Think about the poor people that could not afford to get out of town when hurricane Katrina hit last year. Sure they lost property and possession, but this loss is made worse because they have less opportunity and fewer resources available to recover. Apathy from those that otherwise could help only compounds the problem.
If you are tired of apathy hurting those that are down, take a few minutes to locate a charity that is making a real difference and donate what you can. Even a single Dollar will make a difference. If a million people each give one Dollar, that is much better than fewer people giving bigger amounts of money because it also shows action instead of apathy.
What would happen if everyone cared enough to send a single Dollar to help those that needed it most? Would the world be a better place? For those in need, your simple act of caring may make the difference between the direction of things getting worse or things getting better.
April, 2006 - The Bill Snooze Alarm.
The credit card is an amazing idea that has proven to pull 17% more out of our pocket than we would otherwise spend if we only used cash. The sad part is that we do not always get 17% more value out of our spending due to the interest and fees that come with using credit.
Using a credit card instead of cash is like hitting a snooze alarm on the bill. Unfortunately not all credit card owners fully understand that a snooze alarm means the bill doesn't go away forever, just for a little while. Eventually the snooze button will no longer work. In most cases this comes at a time when you really need a snooze button for your bills.
The best choice is to never use the snooze button if at all possible.
When it is time to pay the bill, pay it in full. If you can't then put some serious thought into if you really need to spend the money in the first place.
Chances are you can live much better without that fancy new thing than you can with the high bills it will bring.
those that can, do, and those that can't, teach reflects a very big problem. This may point to why teachers get so little respect when it comes to compensation for their time, talent and effort.
The wonderful part about learning to skydive is the teachers must survive their own jump before they can teach others. What is the value of advice from a skydiver that has never left the ground or from one that didn't survive? Why do we trust teachers, councilors and consultants that have never experienced success in the field they profess?
Think about how many marriage councilors are single or worse, divorced multiple times and still claim to know the best way to fix the relationship problems of others.
This does not mean we should ignore failure. In fact we should pay very close attention to learn from their mistakes along with any successes. Remember it is extremely hard to learn how to skydive by only looking at the failures just like it is hard to learn to be a success without at least one good example to follow. Find a person that has found success and follow what they do.
Following the example of the successful, will make much easier to repeat their success. What success are you following?
Imagine walking in the footsteps of others while wearing your own shoes.
June, 2006 - Hot Stove Relationships.
Why do some people refuse to date someone different saying they are not their
type? These are typically the same people with a string of relationships of the right type that have all ended badly.
Where did the idea for this type preference originate?
Why is it so easy to learn not to touch a hot stove after only one or two painful encounters and so difficult to learn not to repeatedly pursue the same type of painfully
hot relationship even after many encounters?
Maybe this is because children always try to replicate what they see.
We are all still children to some degree. This has nothing to do with our physical age and everything to do with how we look at the world and learn how to survive in it.
Do as I say, not as I do is an all too common saying some parents repeat to their children as if saying it more often will make it happen. This is a vain saying that has proven to be a total waste of breath. It will never change the fact that, much like lemmings, from earliest childhood we all tend to do what we see others doing.
This may be how mobs happen in the streets after major sporting or political events where each individual alone would never think of such acts. It may also be how we learn to replicate the bad relationships of those close to us, likely our parents, because as children we often can see our parent's relationship in more personal detail than anyone else.
If all we have seen are bad examples, is all hope lost? Not if you know this is how things work.
Seeking out people with relationships that work and observing like a child is a good start. Learning the difference between their relationship and the model instilled in us since childhood is the key to avoiding that hot stove and the pain it brings.
July, 2006 - Ethnic, like the rest of us.
ethnic carries different meanings to different people, but literally the word means characteristic. This only becomes an issue when people with one characteristic try to impose that as something
normal on people with a different characteristic.
It is a little strange that most groups of people view the rest of the world as ethnic when in reality those same groups of people are considered ethnic to the rest of the world. For example, the typical westerner thinks the Chinese are ethnic, but if we look at the planet from the population majority point of view then being Chinese, with a 22% population share, is the norm and everyone else is ethnic.
Maybe the best way to look at this is to trace our roots back through all of our ancestors to the beginning of time. No matter what religious or other views you hold about the beginning of time, everyone agrees that people were not here when the planet started. When people showed up on this planet, there were very few of them. Think about this and what caused all the variety of culture and characteristics. And then ask, is this difference really such a bad thing?
How long will we hate our brother just for being different? How long will we provoke our brother to hate us? How long will we allow the idea of
cleaning up ethnicity to be a source of pain and suffering in our world?
August, 2006 - Pinhole Perspective.
One of the more interesting and lesser-known facts about vision is that no matter what kind of focusing problem you may have, nearsighted, farsighted, astigmatism or otherwise, there is a very simple device that you can use to see one thing clearly.
This amazing device is called pinhole glasses although it actually contains opaque metal, cardboard or plastic and no glass lens at all. The trick is in the pinholes punched in the opaque material that allows only a very few rays of light to pass through to your eye. Fewer rays mean less interference and no need to focus all of the different rays on the retina. For that small point of light, your eye can see clearly. The problem with pinholes is they do not allow any perspective or peripheral vision.
What if our view of life was limited by the number of rays of light reaching our mind's eye? Too many rays makes a fuzzy picture outside of our small area of focus while too few limits our perspective.
Teenagers often see one thing very clearly through their pinhole on life and mistakenly think they are seeing the whole world, while their grandparents have had the time to add more pinholes and see a much wider range of the world but know that they still do not see the whole picture.
Does this mean we are hopeless to see life obscured through a pinhole? What if we all shared the perspective we are able to clearly see with others seeing a different perspective? This would allow everyone to gather many different perspectives together into one picture no one person could have clearly seen on their own.
Maybe this is how we all can get a clearer and more true picture of life itself.
September, 2006 - Living to Work vs. Working to Live.
It is profound to realize there are so many people in this world that simply settle for a job they think is safe. These are the people that are most likely to look first at the money a job will pay before they consider anything else. The sad part is that this only leads them into dead-end jobs with little or no personal rewards or feelings of accomplishment to offer. This is the rat race where a whole lot of effort goes into something you eventually grow to hate just for a small piece of cheese.
On the other hand, there are people that somehow escape the rat race and find their own path. These are the people that first discover their own abilities and actively pursue anything that fits with those abilities. Sometimes they look crazy because they will bypass what may look like a secure, high paying job to go after something with little or no promise for income, but with a very high personal reward and feeling of accomplishment. They always end up with more satisfaction for their time and effort than can ever be bought with money. And, interestingly enough, the money often follows.
Go with your ability and talent even if it looks like it might be the wrong direction.
October, 2006 - Not so Traditional.
If you do the same things, you'll get the same results is a common saying among motivational speakers trying to push others out of their habitual ruts. What if everything we know as traditional is little more than a shared rut?
The word tradition can be applied to just about any action, custom, belief or way of thinking. Some hold so tight to their tradition that any attempt to question it brings up strong feelings and possibly strong words too.
How do traditions start? What if the person that started the tradition made a mistake when they pointed us in this direction? What if it started in the right direction but, just like the old
grape vine game, important details became fuzzy and confused in the process of passing them on to the next generation? What if all traditions are skewed in some way just by being traditional?
Maybe the best way to approach tradition is to first ask why. Go back to the roots and find the reasoning behind the tradition but question everything that gets more silly and confusing the closer you look.
Questioning the source may be a practical way out of our personal and collective ruts onto other paths that, up until now, have been hidden by our traditions.
November, 2006 - Awareness Displacement.
One of the strangest things about the mind is how it is impossible to tell someone not think about a pink elephant with blue zebra stripes. Nobody has ever seen one and yet the moment that elephant is mentioned it is right in the center of our mind's eye.
There are many examples where talking about a green Volkswagen makes people notice all of the green Volkswagens that have suddenly come into being. But why is this such a strong phenomena?
A long time ago someone wise told me how to get rid of those stupid songs that like to get stuck in your head and repeat endlessly to the point of irritation. The trick is to fill your mind with a different song, one with a strong and easy to remember tune. Before long the problem tune fades into the background of the mind.
Have you ever wondered why it is impossible to purposefully remove a thought or memory? Maybe the brain's memory is more like magnetic storage than we have previously imagined. It is impossible to remove a file from the hard drive in your computer. But it is possible to write over that file with something different.
All of those bad memories that plague us could just be the mind's way of asking for new memories to displace the bad once from their prominent role.
What new memories are you making today?
December, 2006 - Dull as Diamonds.
The most valuable gems found in the wild are quite dull and uninteresting. They are so dull the typical person would ignore a dirty valuable rock while looking for something shiny, but sadly worthless. The true value of a gem is created with pressure and yet is only revealed through the removing of dirt and even some of the dull exterior. Surviving pressure makes the gem more valuable. Surviving abrasion makes it more beautiful.
What if this were true for people? The true gems appear at first glance to be dull and uninteresting while the most eye-catching have little more to offer than glitter.
Without pressure there would be no diamonds. Without abrasion those diamonds would never show their true light. Could this be why the world is so full of pressure and abrasion?