The Racist“It's not that I condone fascism or any 'ism' for that matter. Ism's, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an 'ism,' he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: 'I don't believe in The Beatles. I just believe in me.’” - Ferris Bueller
Ism’s are funny aren’t they? They really represent simplification - simplification that we as humans crave, given our limited cognitive capability.
Abstraction and generalization are powerful tools that we can use to understand the world around us, and the underlying realities that we are always having to deal with. They help us to create rules for ourselves, without knowing about or understanding all the specifics of every possible situation we might find ourselves in.
We create a problem for ourselves though - when we start to think that our abstractions and generalizations are the actual reality and not the rough map of the territory that they actually represent.
Human behavior is (ironically) especially hard for us to understand and therefore very ripe for generalization. When we generalize about behavior and when that generalization is so important to our thinking that we have to have a word for the concept - that’s when we start coming up with ism’s.
And this is where the problem lies - simplifying human belief and behavior into a single word and then assuming that we know when it applies is obviously frought with problems. Not the least of the problems being the fact that it’s really REALLY difficult to know what another person really believes. And it’s equally difficult to know the intentions behind a particular behavior.
It becomes really easy to assume we know what someone who is an “ism” thinks or believes - by attaching whatever meaning we want to the word.
A popular ISM that gets thrown around today is “racism”. This term is used to identify the belief that there are groups that can be generalized about be treated poorly based on certain superficial traits. This belief (and the accompanying action) is a terrible evil that has existed in the US and around the world for many many years.
It is the opposite of and is solved by “judging people according to the content of their character and not the color of their skin”.
Because of the slippery nature of ism’s an additional meaning has crept in. That is that it is acceptable to generalize and prejudge those with characteristics that haven’t put them in the crosshairs of the historical evil of racism.
The irony here, if it’s not clear, is that this is actually a racist belief in itself.
I saw a poignant example of this is in a dialogue I recently participated in on social media. A friend of mine who is in a group that has been generalized about and mistreated in the past, made generalizations about another group of people based solely on skin color. Presumably my friend felt justified in this - because historically the group that was being generalized about has been a majority and not on the receiving end of the same caliber of racially-related bad things.
The real problem here is that we can’t fix racial problems with more racism. We can only do it by judging people according to the content of their character. So if we’re interested in really solving this problem and not just passing it on to future generations, we need to make some choices to view people not by their superficial characteristics but by who they are as people.
My friend Kevin has some bad drum chops - you know - the good kind of bad...really good. :) Anyway he was fiddling around and shared some playing on Facebook. So naturally I felt compelled to take it and remix it.
Social Media Mogul"Seek first to understand - then to be understood" - Covey
Social Media - communicating over the internet - has huge potential. Potential that we are really not tapping at all.
Beyond connecting, and sharing pictures of cats, it has the potential to allow us to share opinions and ideas, to learn from each other and to help us to grow as individuals and together as a society. It has such a vast potential because of how quickly our ideas can be shared - as quickly as we adjust our own thinking we are able to reach out to others and “try out” our new ideas.
Unfortunately due to a “baby with the bathwater” effect - there is a collective sense that we shouldn’t share ideas of substance on social media since they might offend someone and elicit a negative emotional reaction. Or as the kids call it, a flame.
Being the recipient of a flame is definitely a possibility - there are a number of negative, mean people out there. But, as with any human relationship, a certain degree of courage is required to refine your own opinions with the input and thoughts of others. It also requires a certain degree of skill - phrasing things in certain ways, giving an arrogant or self-centered tone, or just being mean, no matter how thoughtful your opinions are, are more likely to inspire flame.
And this really gets to the heart of what any aspiring Social Media Mogul needs to have at the center of sharing their opinions and gathering those of others. We have to remember that discussing things in text is more difficult than discussing things in person, because a large chunk of usual in-person interaction is done with body-language. I’m not sure what the actual ratio is - but it’s a lot. With text communication, one must be very careful to accurately and thoroughly communicate emotional content and anything that would have otherwise been implied with body language or facial expression.
This is difficult. REALLY difficult. But it is very possible.
Myself, now in my 30’s, I’ve been communicating this way since I was in middle school. Many of my early inter-personal relationships were developed over the social media of that time (things called BBS’s). I’m sure my parents thought I would be emotional stunted - and maybe I am - but what I was learning at that age was how to express myself as thoroughly as possible in text both emotionally and turning implicit thoughts into explicit text. I’ve since worked at companies where large portions of our communication were done over IM, email and other text communication forms.
I’ve seen people that did it well, and I’ve seen people who didn’t do it so well.
Some try to avoid it entirely while others embrace it.
But the important thing to take away is - is that it is a skill that requires practice. And there’s HUGE value to being good at it.
Being able to communicate globally, rapidly, and accurately allows us to share and sharpen ideas with a variety of perspectives that we would otherwise not have any access to. And it allows us to do this as fast as we are able to learn and adjust our own thinking. It’s really amazing.
I challenge you to develop this skill - to become a social media mogul. It will bring value and blessing into your life for years to come.
The rain didn’t help the groggy, foggy sensation Ked was feeling. But as she usually did, she chose to appreciate it as the mechanism used to keep the area green and clean. And to be honest, even with the cold and the widespread gray, the sprinkling was really beautiful. The peaceful brush of the raindrops through the trees and the fresh scent of the accompanying wind really set a relaxed mood if not exactly stimulating to mental faculties.
Anyway that was what VisiCup was for. As Ked walked through the doors ready to grab her morning mocha, she recalled the other reason she was feeling a little groggy - a very difficult, but very productive late night planning session for the center to provide food and temporary shelter for the homeless in town. The grogginess was matched by a certain excitement about the impact that it will make in the lives of so many people in the area.
Topher, Ked’s favorite Barista, greeted her heartily but also with a certain look of concern in his eye.
After taking the order for her beverage, Topher began to explain the sentiment behind that look. He explained that Mr. Lode had been in an hour or so ago to get his morning coffee. He had been very excited to explain an evil plot that he was working to fulfill.
Mr. Lode was putting the final touches on this particular piece of equipment. This place he had been a steal - he purchased it for a small sum, but it would surely spell the end of that medler, Ked. It was hard to understand why everyone loved her the way they did. She was so smug. Sickening.
The smell of oil and ink sat thickly in the air. It was an elegant smell. The newspaper and its accompanying creative machinery came from a more elegant time. This papery sophistication has led to the rise and fall of many great men in its time. Certainly it would help him easily dispatch a marginally great medler.
Topher continued to explain that Mr. Lode had caught wind of Ked’s initiative to help the local homeless, and was seeking to use it to his advantage. After purchasing a defunct news paper printing facility, he was going to print and distribute stories about Ked using this initiative as a front to meeting her unrelated, nefarious ends.
And to make matters worse, the printing was due to start immediately - within hours the whole town would be seeing this lie, and being turned against Ked.
Thanking Topher for the mocha and the information, she grabbed her steaming cup of heaven and quickly left.
THERE! That’s it! In his freshly pressed black suit, Mr. Lode almost squealed in delight standing atop a huge piece of machinery, as he tweaked the last fix that would allow him to begin printing. He felt a deep laugh welling up inside. As he laughed, he determined to need a side kick who would join him in this particular kind of revelry.
And then something slipped, he tripped and almost fell into the printing press. He pulled himself up and received a rather painful incision on his left arm - a protruding piece of sharp metal had caught him. He scolded it as if it were the most annoying, worst person he had ever known...and as chance would have it, Ked had snuck up on him and was tapping him on the shoulder.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m going to let everyone know that you’re stealing the money from your charity to build a new mall that will consist only of stores that sell SHOES AND HANDBAGS.”
“You know that’s a lie! ...not to mention slightly sexist”
With that Ked punched Mr. Lode in the face. “I will never let you get away with this!!”
Flinching and stepping back he snarled, “Fortunately I’m more prepared for this encounter than the last - this “Laser” gun will render you unable to move, at which point I will tie you up and leave you in my office until the truth about you and your nefarious plots are spread across the whole town” while Lode was sermonizing with his new weapon pointed at Ked, the equipment they were standing on began to rumble curiously and somewhat emphatically.
Mr. Lode quickly looked down to see what was going on. Ked realized she was still holding her mocha. Not wanting to waste it, but realizing that these were extraordinary times, she took the opportunity to take the top off and throw it into Lode’s face. Momentarily stunned and before he could do anything else, Ked pushed him. He fell into the equipment.
As he made his way being dragged through the entire works, Lode seemed to become more and more compressed by the equipment as it was printing him as if he were a newspaper.
The equipment didn’t seem to have a taste for him, either, though - as he made his way through the machinery, things began to come crashing down. Ked ran out of the building.
When she had gotten out she noticed Mr. Lode limping from one of the exits. With his facility burning and falling to pieces behind him and him seeming to be visibly reinflating after his trip through the press, Ked walked up to him and suggested, “It looks like your story fell a little flat.”
We are complicated creatures. So much so - that we barely know how to operate ourselves.
This is especially true when it comes to thinking.
We think we know how to think.
We don’t. At least not without some practice - and then, even still, it’s far more of an art than a science from our limited perspective.
Coincidentally both my wife and I have been learning about how to think - my wife from a formal class she is taking and me from a new mentor I’ve been working with.
The big theme that we both have been coming face to face with over the last few months is the balance between explicit, conscious understanding and implicit, intuitive understanding.
I think we all understand this tension, generally. But it’s really amazing how it plays out - and the harmony that can arise from the interplay between the two.
When we begin doing things - we think that we can just do - with no explicit thought. We think intuition will carry us - and it’s a romantic, magical idea - because we, by definition, have no idea where we gain the insight necessary to do a thing.
We learn though - as we get older - that explicitly thinking through things can lead to higher predictability - which, superficially anyway, can lead us to believe that we are producing higher quality value.
Good things can happen, though, when we balance the linearity of the explicit with the “magical” non-linearity of the implicit. The speed and arbitrary insight of intuition can be focused into laser-like intensity with the predictability and the control of conscious deliberation.
This is what I’ve been learning with this song. I seem to repeatedly err on both sides of the equation - sometimes I try to feel through a thing - which leads to some meandering (as enjoyable as it may be) and a lot of self-doubt (not quite as enjoyable). And sometimes - I attempt to explicitly think things into being….which is impossible - and leads to a lot of energetic contact between my forehead and some proverbial brick-walls.
I just ask that you join me in pursuing whatever it is that you do - using our whole being - to strive to be like our creative, ingenious Father by (to steal the words of Oswald Chambers) being our Utmost for His Highest.
Adventures of Ked
Lost in the memory of her recent victory, Ked strolled down Main Street. The slight smell of salt water in the air gave it a vibrance that was almost easy to miss. But having just spoiled one of Mr. Lode’s most evil plots ever puts a person more in tune with the beauty around her. And a mocha at The VisiCup, she thought, would be the icing on this particular cake.
Mr. Lode wasn’t all bad of course - most people aren’t - but he made it his mission in life to suck all the happiness out of Ked’s. It’s hard to figure why.
This most recent incident had had Ked very worried - since she had been brimming with excitement about the upcoming hydroplane races on the bay. Knowing this and of Ked’s love for sitting in VisiCup and enjoying the view of the bay, Mr. Lode had set up hundreds of small laser emitters around the outside of the bay - planning to dry the entire thing up.
He had definitely gotten what he deserved this time…
Ah - arriving at The VisiCup - the smell of fresh espresso tickled Ked’s nose before she even crossed the street in front of the shop.
After sitting down with her mocha and taking the first perfect, rich sip, she noticed someone she had thought she wouldn’t see for some time - Mr. Lode. Apparently the hospital is releasing patients sooner than it used to. Speaking of which - you couldn’t even see a mark on him. He was wearing a sleek black suit, a dark shirt and a subtle purple tie - and his hair was slicked back like he’d used some vile combination of baby oil and super glue. He definitely looked like an evil villain.
He chatted with Topher, the baristo, asking him about his family - Topher asked jokingly about his pursuit of world domination. If he only knew.
Who was Mr. Lode trying to fool anyway, Ked thought. In order not to ruin the glow of victory she was experiencing - she decided to look away and enjoy the beautiful day.
It had been only a second - - when she looked back it was gone. A quick glance out the front door confirmed that Mr. Lode was leaving with her mocha!
Oh well, Ked thought, I can get another. It’s still an amazing day.
Just then she saw Mr. Lode feel his pockets - it must have been an opportunistic mocha theft - it looks like Lode was in the process of paying Topher and had left his wallet at the register.
Ked slowly reached into her bag as Lode returned.
As he took a step toward the register their eyes met - fear quickly filled his face as Ked’s taser barbs cut through his suit and attached themselves to his flesh.
Leaving him twitching on the ground, Ked smuggly whispered, “maybe you should switch to decaf”.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Providence - (noun) - the protective care of God
"Life isn't always fair...anyone who says differently is selling something" - The Dread Pirate Roberts
Life is complicated. We're given a short amount of time - and there are a million things that we are hungry to get accomplished within that short time. We are hungry to seek out why we are here - we are wired to seek and show our affections to our Creator. We want to have meaningful relationships with people. We want to create. We want to procreate. We want to recreate. We want to learn.
Photo by Rudolf Getel
Well I really hope you like this. Its genesis was different than those of some of my other tracks. I really like where it landed
and I like it's groove - so hopefully it will put a smile on your face as well. :)
This tune was a ton of fun to put together. It differed significantly from my usual way of working on a couple of major points. First of all, the track has and focuses on a lead vocal. Because of this there was a whole new dimension to the music. Some might view this as obvious - but I hadn't anticipated the new world of expression and art that this opened up. So this was really exciting.
Further - I had a writing partner! Mr. Scott Ruch wrote the vocal melody and the lyrics and performed the vocal part on the recording. This was really fun and interesting on a number of levels in itself - it was fun working with a good friend - but it also taught me a lot about the freshness and energy that can come through having just one other person to work a song out with.
And for a little bit of the story about how I found my collaborator....I had thought it would be interesting to make a song with my co-workers at my day job - maybe a fun tune with some clever inside jokes - maybe a company theme song or something. So I asked a few folks if they'd be interested in writing or singing for it.
Mr. Ruch took me up on it - and wrote some excellent lyrics that are far better than anything I had been imagining. Here's the story from his perspective...
"It was actually an experiment in using some of the ideas that the gentleman who owns the company I work for is always talking to us about. He's a big proponent of the "mastermind" principle, which is about the power of collective problem solving and collaboration. Kyle originally suggested something along the lines of a company theme song, but I thought it would be more creatively satisfying to come up with something that expresses some of those ideas without overtly referring to them or by using the terms directly. My own idea was that the mastermind is kind of like the concept of emergence (see Wikipedia) but not on the level of physical or societal phenomena; more of the level of synthesis of new ideas from competing or collaborating ones. I don't know if I got that across or if it's even a valid analogy, but it was an interesting and challenging exercise."