Tag Archives: Morals

My First Solutions Saturday

Time to start delivering on my proposed once a week look at solutions to problems. No telling how long this will be able to run, but I’m going to give it some serious effort, and my best insight. So, let’s start with two BIG underlying problems that very few people want to address. They’re common to all the situations that we’re facing nowadays.

The BIG Common Denominator:

No games; let’s just say it. The one contributing factor to every problem out there is simply a lack of morals. There, I said it. Probably lost half my readers right there also. Morals are old fashioned. Morals are oppressive. Yadda yadda… I call BS! Read on if you want to see why.

First, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about the basic values that are common to almost every religion and spiritual belief system or philosophy though. Things like don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t murder, and treat others the way you want to be treated. Basic concepts that act as a glue to a civilized society.

Religion helps reinforce the idea of treating others kindly, BUT this SHOULD be such a common sense idea that it can stand on it’s own merit. Same is true with other “old fashioned” ideas like honesty and not stealing.

Too much of the world has developed a “I want what I want NOW and you have no right to tell me I can’t have it” or (more simply) win at all costs mentality. And if you can’t get what you want, have the government steal it for you. Who cares about the other person?

Speeding and zig-zagging in and out of traffic? Sure I caused an accident, and nearly caused four others, but *I* wasn’t in it and I got home one and a half minutes sooner! Same thing with cellphone use while driving. MY text or latest Facebook like is more important than your life! How dare you tell me to put the phone down and focus on driving!?!

Oh yeah, you can drive fine while texting. Tell that to my other half who is still having back pain after getting hit by some braindead twit. If we didn’t own a Subaru, the injuries would have been much worse. Twit didn’t care though. It was just one of those things.

Weeks back there was an 86 year old lady with dementia in Brooklyn who was shoved down over social distancing rules. She suffered internal injuries from the fall and DIED. Coronavirus be damned. Where’s the humanity for our fellow human beings? ME ME ME.

This “the ends justify the means” crap extends to the social justice and political realms too. Remember Jessie Smollet in January of 2019? He paid two Jamaican guys to beat him up and then went to the police filing a false report. He claimed it was white supremacists wearing clothes supporting Trump that beat him up. Oh and screaming that SOUTH CHICAGO(!!!) was MAGA country. And the DA was going to let him get away with it too!

It’s striking at racism, and more importantly TRUMP, so EVERYTHING is justified (right Doug?). More like it hurt the cause of equal rights for black people and damaged the credibility of the political Left.

If we’re going to survive as a species much longer, we HAVE TO get to a point where TRUTH is more important than petty ambition and vanity. Where treating others how we want to be treated is valued more than arrogance and greed.

We have to realize “the easy way” isn’t easier. It’s not gaming the system either. It’s faster, more seductive, but ultimately only hurts yourself, those around you and society in general. It also typically damages your self respect because you know you took shortcuts instead of accomplishing something honestly.

That last part is why you have people trying to tear down the whole concept of morals. It helps them justify the crappy things they do. It numbs their conscience. Even more so if they can start getting others to act the same way.

The whole trouble there is that what you have if everybody can do anything as long as they can get away with it is textbook ANARCHY. It’s might makes right. You’re either the big dog, or you’re ground down under their heel. Is that the kind of world any of you want, for yourself or your children?

Think about it. Everything from predatory capitalism, to communist dictators… from lying reporters to crooked politicians could be solved, at least in large part, if people simply valued basic, universal morals and treated others the way they wanted to be treated.

Can we get there?

I’m up and down on this like a yo-yo. There are days I’m convinced that the majority of humanity is lower than knuckle dragging neanderthals and savages. Then there are other days where I see people rising up to show the very best humanity has to offer. Construction workers and local residents digging people out of the Loma Prietta earthquake here in California decades ago. Relief efforts after Malasyia was ravaged by earthquakes. The way people have come together in the midst of this pandemic. Soooo… I just don’t know.

What does concern me is how the shrill voices out there are trying to turn even the most well intended act into an utter evil if it benefits them to do so. If we can shut them down, we MAY just have a prayer of accomplishing the rest of it and surviving as a species.

OH, and that second big issue… Next post. 😉

This one is long enough.

Reblog: Be The Light

This was originally done way back at the beginning of the year, and republished a few months later. Funny, it feels like I wrote it a lifetime ago. I’ve had several people follow me since then, and it bears repeating. It’s also part of a resolution I’ve made to return to being more positive and looking for solutions instead of just venting.

WordPress isn’t letting me reblog my own post, so I’m going to cut and paste it below.  I originally wrote this after getting REALLY fed up with all the negativity and hypocrisy on Twitter.  The advice speaks for itself, with one possible exception.  It IS written from a Christian perspective since it was a church service that inspired it.  None the less, I don’t believe that Christians have a monopoly on morals or leading by example.  What’s written here is a universal truth (for lack of better wording).

I’m sure I’m confusing people on twitter with my moderate’s disdain for the political extremes running amok there.  I’m grateful that some people seem to get it though.

My “No Politics” post didn’t make things as clear as I’d have liked.  I have TWO big problems with politics and the way people talk to others:

1) Issues are NEVER as simple as the extremists and demagogues on either side make them out to be.  For example, gangs are just one good reason for a border wall, BUT we have to overhaul our immigration system as well and allow good people a chance at the American Dream, take an honest look at what we may be doing to contribute to problems in Latin America, and see if we can do things to help them help themselves.

2) These extremists not only shut down thinking and discussion, they spread hate and poison.  There’s a principle of metaphysics that says hate only attracts more hate and conflict.  It doesn’t matter how righteous you THINK your cause is, if your answer is trashing and threatening violence against those you disagree with, you are part of the PROBLEM, not the solution.  You are also actively working to make the world a DARKER place.

I keep saying be more like Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Jesus, Buddha, etc…  I have a perfect story that illustrates the point also.  The Christmas Eve service is the one time this heathen is guaranteed to turn up at church.  The closing part of the services; the same every year, are exactly why:

The Pastor talks about the need to carry the Christmas Spirit into and through the new year, and how the world is a dark place if everybody withholds their love, compassion and caring from the world.  To illustrate the point, the lights are turned off in the chapel.

Now, everybody is given a candle entering the service.  They’re all being lit as the Pastor speaks.  He tells everyone to keep the candles low at first also; withhold their light from the world metaphorically.  Then he starts talking about how people can be the light, and make the world a better place.  Then all 2000 people (It’s a big church) hold up their candles.  It’s beautiful and amazing the difference it makes

Afterwards everyone sings Silent Night and then the services are over.

Watch the YouTube video through to the end and see if it doesn’t have the same impact on you as it did me.  It’s alot of light, and it’s people wanting said light to better the world, NOT burn it down.  THINK about that. Remember the people you disagree with are human beings with legitimate reasons for feeling and thinking the way they do.  If you actually talk to them like human beings, you will PROBABLY find out that you have more in common than you realize once you get past artificial labels.

Think win-win and you can probably also find a solution that’s not perfect, but works for both of you.

BE THE LIGHT

The Art of Persuasion Hasn’t Changed?!?

I’m writing this in response to an article I came across on the Harvard Business Review (HBR).  They sometimes have some good stuff, but I think this particular article was a little short sighted

The irony here is that the author is a Harvard professor in communications.  He had a point about the basics not changing since Aristotle.  His list of the five basics are:

  1. (Establishing) Character
  2. Reason
  3. Emotion
  4. Metaphor
  5. Brevity

The only one I could argue with is that I think establishing character is now often replaced with establishing some sort of (often imagined or exaggerated) expertise or credibility.  Morals don’t matter so long as you’re an expert, a victim or better yet both.

Re-reading the article, maybe it’s fairer to say that while I agree those key foundations haven’t changed much, I’ve seen a great deal of change in the nature of persuasion.

Misrepresentation and half truths have always been a tool of the unscrupulous.  Nothing new there.  I’m seeing them used FAR more often nowadays though.  The media and politicians on both sides do this constantly anymore, to the point I don’t believe anything they say without extensive fact checking.  There’s a HUGE difference between “unarmed man shot by police” and “unarmed man high on drugs shot by police while trying to wrestle gun away from officer”.  The former gets far more ratings than the latter though.

Combine that with sarcasm and you’ve got the play book for all the late night talk shows.  A far cry from the days of Carson.

As I mentioned in a reply to another blog, I also see deliberately vague communication being used much more frequently.  Typically with the goal of creating some sort of deniability on the speaker’s part if they’re called out on anything.  I miss the days when  “establishing Character” and speaking plainly yet in a civil manner was considered a virtue.

The biggest change in persuasion specifically that I’ve seen is the use of manipulative language.  Without getting into politics, let’s take another look at the news.  We’ve all heard the term “collusion” tossed about in excess the last few years.  It sounds horrible and it’s used to provoke a strong negative emotional reaction.  Yet, there’s no LEGAL basis for the term.  It was used in place of the proper criminal term of “conspiracy” because then the media and various other people can’t be sued or prosecuted for making false criminal charges.  The Left did it with Trump and the Right did it with Hillary.  That was just an easy and blatant example.  I’m not taking sides at all here either.  I think we all would have been better served by honest discussions about what may have been illegal and what may have been legal but was certainly bad form or outright immoral.  The lesson here remains to be aware of the manipulative use of language.

Persuasion has become far more of a science today also.  People know that if they can get a peer in a group to say something is good or bad, the rest of the group is much more likely to follow suit.  That’s the whole trick to selling Tupperware or Mary Kay.  I could go on for quite a while here, but there are dozens of websites devoted to revealing sales tricks like that, push-pull techniques, take aways and imagined scarcity, etc…

Probably the most insidious form of persuasion is Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP.  I’ve mentioned this a few times in previous posts.  NLP was first created in the late 70s with the goal of figuring out how the best in any given field do what they do and making it repeatable.  NLP quickly became focused on communication and persuasion, and borrows heavily from Ericksonian Hypnosis.  It’s used in everything from selling to seduction too.

To over simplify it, NLP persuasion (at it’s most basic levels) relies on subtle “hypnotic” commands and catch phrases to trick people into thinking they want to do or not do something.

For example; “what was it like when you…” will get a person to recall a specific experience.  Anything from sex to the first time they saw and fell in love with their dream car.  Don’t believe me?  Ask yourself about something that way and see if your mind doesn’t begin recalling that experience.

There are dozens of phrases like that also.  “What would it be like if…” for example.  The whole idea being to capture and lead the target’s imagination toward a desired result.  There are other tricks used along with those phrases, such as the human mind’s inability to process a negative.  Phrase anything as a “don’t want to” and the other person’s subconscious will process it as a “want to”.  Which sounds more sincere?  “I don’t want to have sex.” or “I just want to cuddle and relax.”

It’s not necessary for you to immediately realize just how twisted this can get.  If you think about it though, you might find yourself aware of just how great the potential for abuse here is.  😉

Presuppositions are another NLP trick used by nearly everyone today.  A presupposition is something stated as fact and used as a premise for an argument / persuasion attempt.  Let’s avoid politics and the media for this example.  If I said “It’s going to rain today, so you should take your umbrella.”, the presupposition there is that it is indeed going to rain.  That may or may not be true, but by stating it as fact, the debate on if the umbrella is needed is derailed unless the likelihood of rain is challenged.  That challenge is less likely since the rain was stated as a matter of fact.

Again, if you pay attention (an NLP embedded command to do so), you’ll see presuppositions used everywhere.  Anything from you need something being sold, and that it can be a benefit to you, so something that “other” group over did was evil and clearly motivated by malice.

So yes, the very basics of communication may not have changed much, but I think it’s easy to see that the science and morals of how one goes about persuading have changed a great deal.