Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

Water, Land, and Religion

March 30, 2012

In 2005, a movie called “The Corporation” was released.  In that movie they told of the Water Rights Movement of Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Apparently in the year 2000 the water was privatized and Law #2029 gave the water rights to a private company. The broadness of this law debatably gave the company control of people’s irrigation systems, personal water wells, and even the rainwater. The protest movement of the Coördinator questioned whether God’s rainwater from the sky could ever be properly or rightly owned. Eventually the people of Cochabamba had their own water rights restored to them, The “Corporation” book/movie was certainly highlighting the overreaching control of corporations. I have since been informed that the rainfall water rights of Western America are controlled by the Government and related water corporations.

In 1626 Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan from the Carnasee Indians for gifts with a value of 60 Dutch guilders.  While this has variously been described as being worth $24.00, when it’s truly adjusted for inflation it’s a sum more than $1000.00 in today’s market.  The nearby Raritan Indians supposedly sold Staten Island at least six times.  This probably means one of two things: the Indians either knew what they we doing or they didn’t understand what property rights were.  There’s no evidence that either party attempted to swindle the other but it seems to me that the Indians must have at least pondered what was going on.   Did they in fact wonder whether they could also sell the moon, or the sunshine and the stars?  Did they think the land was being leased?   Again how can land be owned?  Does anyone anywhere have the deed from God?  Did Mother Nature give anyone the title to those resources?  Isn’t it really just a manmade invention.

Mankind has an inordinate desire to own things and this has even been seen in our Spirituality and Religions.   Many people want to OWN God, to make him their own.  Religion has become a possession. “In my church….”,  “In my religion….”,  “In our beliefs….”!!!  It’s a natural expression of wanting to belong to something and to have that thing belong to us.

I feel that we should release our feelings from the temporal qualities of this world and realize that we are just passing through.  Yes we should adhere to God’s laws and we should be part of the community and we should love  one another but beliefs of ownership polarizes us.   You and me, yours and mine, us and them are just examples of claiming God’s world as our own.  Mankind frequently does that to control others and to control resources.

It also undermines our real relationship with God because we put others up as intermediates to God and others put themselves up as intermediaries to God.   No person, group, institution, or organization has greater connection to God than your own self.   God wants me to ‘remind’ you that your greatest connection to God is your own Self to God. No one anywhere can speak for your needs better than your own Self to God.

Lastly, I hope that we can realize that we walk through God’s rain, we travel through his Land. The rivers and mountains and streams are his domain. God’s plan is his alone and we can’t own it, change it, amend it or control it. We are stewards of God’s land and we can walk through it but we will never own it.

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books”
                                                                                                                                                                 – John Lubbock
 

When you listen, what do you Honor?

June 13, 2011
I’m trying to tell her but she just doesn’t get it.  She brushes me off. I explain again. I try to make her see how crucial this is to me.  I become more emphatic.  She ducks and dodges and weaves from my finest arguments.  Finally, I really am arguing and she is too.  Our voices get louder and more and more sarcasm enters the picture. Finally we both are in full-fledged battle.   We break apart……and lick our wounds. 
 
It’s taken me a long time to understand how most of us have learned to communicate with one another.  We learn from our parents. We learn from TV and the movies. But most of those experiences don’t really reinforce positive communication.  From the media, movies, and TV world, positive communication is not good drama or entertainment. A most striking example is the English Parliament where insults and embarrassment appear to be the standard fare. The resolutions appear disappointing if people resolve things without acrimony.
 
Frequently when people discuss things, their focus can be on winning, scoring points, laying down the gauntlet, embarrassing their opponent. Sometimes it can manifest as absolute and total denial.  People want to preserve their identity and their illusions, particularly about their own image. Especially in America where we definitely have a whole sports culture that says that winning is everything. Every issue is engagement.
 
In marriage, relationships, and sometimes the work world this doesn’t work well.  We can’t run over our spouse, dominate our kids, and do whatever we want. 
 
One way to have a more adult relationship is to be “continually & willfully mindful” of what we are saying and what we are doing. I call this CWM.   When I fix this thought with a little axiom I can then fix it in my mind.  This CWM can be hard to do since our upbringing has indoctrinated us by TV and Movies to act less than our best.
 
Recently(the past two years), I’ve been trying to not honor power, force, sarcasm, winning and self-righteous behavior. Not that I consciously honored them, that’s my point, but that I have been taught to honor them.  I’ve been trying to pay attention to how I talk, how I sound, what I mean when I say certain things. 
 
I’ve made a list of conflict resolution arguments that I stay away from. Most of this list if from TV, Movies and personal experience. It’s a lengthy list of “don’t do’s” for avoiding arguments and staying on track, getting what you want without resorting to boorish behavior. It’s difficult to do.
 
 
It’s important to not:  use sarcasm
It’s important to not: use knee jerk reactions,  in responses or baiting.
It’s important to not: change the venue, “Another thing you did…”          
It’s important to not: use name calling, “Doodlehead, Crazyman,…”
It’s important to not: use Demonizing or Polarization, “You did..,” Us vs Them
 
It’s important to not: use one-upmanship behaviour, “At least I am…….”
It’s important to not: use a negative tone, another form of sarcasm or disdain
 
It’s important to not: use a cavalier manner or attitude 
It’s important to not: use impunity, “That’s too small to even worry about!!”
It’s important to not: Gesticulate, arm waving, finger-pointing, giving the finger…
 
It’s important to not: use tagging, “Yea, Jim is that way.”  indirect positioning
 
It’s important to not: use inverse tagging, “I’m the good one.”
It’s important to not: use Short Shrifting to undermine others 
It’s important to not: use  Buckshot Charges, “You did A, B, C, D, & E.”
It’s important to not: use Blanket Denial, “It’s ALL WRONG, the WHOLE PACKAGE”
 
It’s important to not: use Stonewalling, (defensiveness) 
It’s important to not: use Stiff-Arming
It’s important to not: use “So What” Answers, People’s feelings, ideas & opinions count
 
It’s important to not: use Brush-Off Answers
It’s important to not: use Plausible Deniability
It’s important to not: use Punt, Fumble, Out oF Bounds Answers
or Arguments
It’s important to not:…………..
 
There are an endless supply of bad arguments and answers.
 
I’ve been trying to shift to good responses, earnest responses, and real answers to real questions.  I found that it wasn’t enough  to just agree with GOOD ANSWERS.  It wasn’t enough to just try to work with people.   I had to HONOR the sensible way out.  I have to lift that good measure up as an ideal and make it and keep it real.  
 
I realized from my list of conflict resolution arguments that it’s real easy to mess up and it’s extremely difficult to stay on track and resolve things honorably. 
 
The things that I HONOR now are civility, kindness, dialogue, others input, truth no matter the source.  It’s important to value the merit of ideas regardless of another’s high or low status.
I’m willing to take the short disappointments because now I’m playing the long game.  Not as a game but as a way to treat others and myself honorably and respectfully. 
 
P.S. This is a work in progress for me.
 
Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.
                                         -Mary Wortley Montagu
 
 
The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.”
 
        -Socrates

Empathy(101)

June 4, 2011

I was thirteen. I knew as much as any other thirteen year old boy which was almost nothing. We were crossing the football practice field on the way to my house.  My friend Jon was recently broke up with his girlfriend.  “What am I going to do now?”, he said. The breakup was not his idea.  He had been sullen and quiet all day. “I was really starting to like her a whole lot!  Do you think I should call her again in about a week?”   I started to say “Yea” but I didn’t really know and in fact I actually didn’t really care.   I didn’t really know what to say so I punted and said, “Gee, I don’t know.” I didn’t know anything way back then. Jon clammed up again.

We finally get to my house and sit down at the kitchen table. My mother comes in, says ‘Hi”,  and proceeds to take care of the dishes she had washed earlier. I’m talking to Jon and he really isn’t responding. My mother senses that something is wrong and asks Jon point-blank  if he’s OK. He blurts out that “Nancy and I broke up with each other.   She wants to see other guys.”   My mother just looks at him and then she says, “Really, did you want to talk about it?” He says “Yea.”  She sits down and him and her start talking.  He starts talking about Nancy.

I just sat there.  My hands propping up my head, my eyes going back and forth with their words.   I didn’t really want to do this.  I didn’t even know it but I was afraid to “go there.”

At this point an amazing thing happened.  I started to see. I listened and saw that my best friend, Jon, actually had very strong feelings for Nancy.  I saw that my Mom knew how to talk to him and how to listen to him.  I saw my friend and I saw my Mom in a totally different light. They talked for about 40 minutes.  For sure my Mom had talked to me like that before but she was my Mom, that’s what Mom’s do.  I didn’t know she could talk that way with others or that it was even acceptable. 

 My Mom saw a need that wasn’t food, wasn’t warmth, and wasn’t security.   She saw that my friend needed some solace, he needed a balm.  Her words weren’t magic, in fact I can’t remember one sentence that stands out from my memory.  She somehow managed to find out how he was feeling. More importantly she allowed him to vent his feelings and to validate them. She listened to HIM.  She affirmed that many people have had the same feelings. She shared some of her own experiences and knowledge of boyfriend/girlfriend stories.

He still didn’t feel great, but I could tell that what my Mom had said, had made an impact on him.  Finally he turned to me and said “lets go back to my house.” We left and made our way across the practice field.  Jon turned to me about halfway across and said without judgement that “the way your Mom let me talk and explain myself was the way I wanted you to talk with me.”  At the time I fumbled some sort a of an apology.  Inside I knew he that was right. What good are your friends if they can’t lift you up or support you?   But for me at that young an age, I didn’t even know what the word was for what had happened.  Later I learned the word was Empathy. The word means “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another(Dictionary.com).”

My Mom showed me.

My friend told me.

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.
                                                              -Meryl Streep

Marriage (102)

May 6, 2011

 It’s amazing to me, that in most of the Western Civilized world, we predominantly marry for love(not that it’s a bad thing).  In the past and in certain geographical areas of the world that has not always been the case.  It’s amazing because its something that should really be taken with very much more consideration. 

Have you ever gone to the casino and bet the family business?  Me neither.  However a fair amount of us fall in love, decide this is “the one” and get married.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  We actually make the biggest decision of our lives based on an immediate emotional state.  Why is that important? Because essentially a lot of marriage is a business.  If you don’t believe me just ask the lawyers. They’re the ones that negotiate the fate of the company when it breaks up. Marriage is a legal obligation. This is why pre-nups were invented. Marriage is usually recognized by the church or the state or both. While the institutions have to deal with the custody, financial, and property rights it’s usually the individuals that have to bear the burden of the breakup. You don’t want to be in that spot.

In the prior centuries and in other countries people have also married for Royalty reasons, security reasons, status reasons, family loyalty obligation, and money reasons.  Examples: A Prince to a Princess(for the continued illusion of Blue Blood), a marriage between Royalty for the binding of two previous warring countries, the marriage to the CEO and in turn the Trophy Wife, an arranged marriage as done in Asian countries such as China until 1950, and the taking of a wife with the biggest dowry.

If you’re idealistic(naive) like me, you may think that Love conquers all……..well, sometimes it does, but not always.   There are other facets of love beyond mere attraction and likability. Things like respect, patience, understanding, tolerance, and even being blind at the appropriate moment.    

If I had my way( and I usually don’t), it would be mandatory that everyone would have about six months of therapy before they got married.

If I had my way( and I usually don’t),  it would be mandatory that everyone would have to take a marriage test. A written test; with multiple choice, true and false, and essay(although the test would not be a pass/fail determiner qualification).  I myself may not have passed the test, but the point being that people should think about their decision in an adult and mature fashion(is that naive or idealistic!!!).

Things to think about before marriage:

Will there be a Honey-Do list?   A reciprocal Honey-Do list(can they handle each other’s list)?  What is a Honey-Do list?

Are Spiritual/Religious Values important?  Is it necessary to be absolutely alike, or is each finding their own path.  For sure to have a succesful union to work it will have to at least have both people sharing the same Values and Ideals but maybe not necessarily the same institution.  

Sexual/Emotional compatibility is important also.  Sexual incompatibility can destroy a marriage.  If sexual abstinence is observed before marriage then it might be a good idea to obtain a Sex Manual and review and discuss EVERY page together. Sure we want discovery on the honeymoon but not unwarranted rejection or ignorance.  Sexual compatibility should not be presumed. Again another issue that can just be blindly misunderstood.

Emotional compatibility is important to compare and share very simple things.  Can he listen? Can she listen?  Is he morose and she upbeat?  Is she sullen and he anxious?  Emotional outlook is very important. Is he/she happy in other situations besides just being with you.  See how they are in the supermarket, the restaurant, long trips, short trips, and every other situation without them tailoring their needs to yours.   What you may find may shock you.   If they’re only nice in your presence then eventually they may be unnice to you.   If they’re not courteous to the help, waiters, attendants,and service people then they eventually may not be nice to you.

More stuff: In-laws, parents, children, discipline, household/yard/car chores, shared interests, vacations, travel, friends, food & cooking, politics, House & Home. Everything is on the table.

Beginnings:  It’s a very good idea to disclose ALL of your BAGGAGE if you can, ask them for their own. It’s a very good idea to declare absolute DEAL BREAKERS early in the relationship(but maybe not to early), request their own. It’s a very good idea to declare ABSOLUTE MUSTS early in the relationship(but maybe not to early), request their own. The very reason to declare this stuff is it won’t be nice and it won’t be settled later.  Address it now.

Last words almost: Men, marriage requires maintenance just like other things in your life, Ladies, don’t expect to change him after the marriage, it’s too late then.

None of these things need complete agreement from both parties, however, there should be a majority of agreement or at least understandings of the differences with future noted expectations.

With all that is said it should still be noted that even smart people get divorced, mature people get divorced, religious people get divorced, it’s not the end of the world.

I do believe that marriage for love is very, very good. But…I also believe that it’s OK to be smart.  The two are not incompatible.

I found this excellent quote(with no last name given):

It’s not who you are to the world, it’s who you are to me. It’s not how many times I say I love you… it’s how much I really do.
                                                            – Mary Ann

Marriage(101)

April 21, 2011

Today’s post is practical reality, after all what good is Spirituality if it can’t also be practical?  I may pray, and meditate, and fast but if I can’t get along with my own wife what good is it all?   Marriage should seemingly be easy, natural, the right relationship, but sometimes it’s not and we need help.    Bette Midler said it best, and I’m paraphrasing here, “If sex and relationships are so natural and easy why are there so many books written about them?”    Because people are complicated and unique.

First let me talk to the men. Why would I read marriage manuals?   So I can fix things, I am a man after all.  I read my router’s manual, I read my welding book, I did my psychology homework and I can read my tax forms.  I can read. I can fix things.  My life is better.

  I’m listing these in MY order but as usual anyone can read them anyway they like,….as the spirit moves us.

The first book to read is “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”  A great beginning foundational book.  When I first  started to read it and I was all smug  I’d be reading the man’s part and I’m thinking “That’s exactly like I think, that’s just how I feel,…..everyone knows that.”  I actually yawned through the man’s part.  Then I came to the women’s part.  I read that thinking, “No, she doesn’t actually think that does she, how can she feel that?  Oh, I guess that makes sense, I never thought about it like that before.  So that’s why she does that, no wonder!!!”  We are different;……very, very different. This book explains how.

One of my female friends was surprised that I had read it. She said that among her female friends the running joke was “it’s a great book. Just try to get a man to read it though.” Once I read one manual I had to read more.  I had to be expert then and I was torn between being a great husband/humanitarian or being a great welder. I finally realized  that putting two people together was a lot more rewarding then putting two pieces of metal together. I’m kind of joking here but even I can’t tell if I am or not.

The next book to read is “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerich. A great book advancing the ideas of the first book, slightly more sophisticated, very slightly. This is my personal favorite. This is another great book that actually tweaks the message of the first book.  It shines just ever so subtly a light that further illuminates relationships. This book is Christian based so if that offends, read it any way.  It may even come across that he is playing stereotypes, that is NOT what he is saying. Get the message anyway. While it’s a lot like the other book, his examples are different and he places a lot of emphasis on the man’s need for “RESPECT”.  That’s why this book is different.  In the polling for his conferences it was shown to the author that the reason the men even attended the  conference was because “RESPECT” was in the title.  Message to Women:  EVERY WOMAN SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.   If every time a woman wanted to tell her man that “she loves him”, she could stop and sometimes substitute the words, “I RESPECT YOU” then the world would be a much better place.  

A third great book is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.  Another classic. His book explains the way people(regardless of gender) actually express love. There are five ways that people usually express their love.  Why this is a problem is because if you, the man, are using one way and she prefers another expression than it doesn’t work well. I’ll cite three examples.  Some people like to give gifts, some people like quality time with one another, some people do things for the other person. There’s five but you’ll have to read the book to know the other two.  If she wants quality time with her spouse and he thinks to get her chocolates and flowers then the love is being thrust past each other.  Neither party gets it.  If she thinks to do things for him(like cleaning his golf clubs)  and he wants gifts, like basketball tickets or new garden tools then the love is being thrust past each other. Neither side gets it.  This book helps each party figure out their own preferences and needs and then teaches each person how to love in the manner that the other person understands.   Again it’s simple but complicated. 

The last great book is Steve Harvey’s “Act like a Lady, Think Like A Man”.  Mr. Harvey cites three “P’s” that are the obligation of every man.  I’ll cite two of those. You’ll have to buy the book to find out the other “P” in addition to the woman’s own understandings.   A man is supposed to Profess, Protect, & P______.   How he Professes?   He tells you that he loves you.  He tells your parents and his parents that he loves you.  He’s able to tell the whole world that he loves you.  If he can’t then he’s just gaming you.    How he Protects?  If the lady gets insulted, or treated rudely or badly IT IS the man’s job to step up to the plate and protect her.  Unless she wants to do it herself.   He also protects with his castle. 

Some of this may seem stereotypical.  Some of it is.  Your Husband/Wife may be different.  Maybe the roles are even reversed.  Humanity can’t be pigeon-holed and boxed in, but we can still read the signs to find our way and if we can find a better way than so be it.

For easy access I’ve listed these books on the right under Marriage Manuals.  Enjoy.

 A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

              ~Mignon McLaughlin