Who Is To Blame?

An Overly Simple Look at the Rippling Effects of the Current Violence

Who (or what) is to blame? The people who killed cops? The protesters who scared people? The cops who killed people? The vitriolic rhetoric of the politicians? Social media that propagates hatred rapidly and often falsely? The changes in the world that frighten people?

Did it begin in the battle for civil rights that simultaneously gave us Martin Luther King Jr., George Wallace, Lyndon Johnson, and Malcolm X? (Which was really a continuation of a Civil War that was devastating to more people than any event in our history as a country.)

Could it be the fault of the founders of a country who established some noble ideals but did so in a terribly flawed design that was barely consummated? (Note: No attempt is made to reflect the effects of the failings of this noble experiment on women, Native Americans, animal life, or even nature itself.) Or was it the people who fled the Old World to escape tyranny and lack of opportunity, and brought with them the practices of slavery? Should we hold to account the leaders of the Old World, who through their violations, drove people to this New World? 

Who created racial and ethnic enmity in the first place?

Can we see that placing blame is a fool’s game? Is it not clear that we have a collective problem, that together we are the creators of culture? Dare we look and see that that which we do not resolve within ourselves will be propagated through us, knowingly or unknowingly?

Can we accept that responsibility? Seeing it to be in every form of blindness, insensitivity, and defensiveness which contributes to the ripple effects through our action or inaction?

Seeing True

Once upon a time hatred and violence appeared in the world. Each expression of it created a ripple effect that extended its reach. As long as those effects remain unresolved within any of us, they will somehow come to effect all of us.

If you wish to find fault, first look within. If you seek a solution, first look within. 

First look within.

It is only there that the roots of violence can be dissolved. Only then can we be released. Finally, we can act to good purpose. 


What is the Difference Between Loneliness and Solitude?

Loneliness versus Solitude

“Do you suppose that loneliness is actually a neurosis?” Linda asked.

“Hmmm. I never thought of it that way.” I replied. “Tell me more about what you’re thinking.”

“Well, isn’t loneliness a dysfunctional response to solitude?”

That produced a long pause on my part as I contemplated her point. Quickly my mind raced to something my long-time mentor had explained to me only a few weeks before.

He had described an adaptation many of us unknowingly make when we are too often neglected or otherwise diminished as children. Sam said that when we have experienced that kind of childhood emptiness it sets up a longing. Then when someone enters into our lives in a significant way and the ache is temporarily abated, we desire that person’s presence all the more. That is a predictable set up for us to experience loneliness, a need to be filled from outside ourselves.

I shared those thoughts with her, and she smiled.

“Of course. That’s the neurosis of loneliness.”

“It does make sense I replied. Well done!”

A perplexed look crossed Linda’s face. I waited to hear what else was on her mind.

“So what is to be done about it?” she wondered.

“Well, it is my experience that no one can fill that emptiness except ourselves. We must attend to ourselves. We must practice self-nurturing and self-care. Once we have not received from others, we have no choice but to demonstrate it to and for ourselves. When we seek it from others we fail to heal, and the result is invariably loneliness.”

“Okay. What happens then?”

“Not so fast,” I replied. “Learning to self-care is a long and slow process. But when we are sufficiently fulfilled the problem solves itself. When the longing vanishes, there can be no loneliness. Only solitude.”

Linda smiled again. “Solitude replaces loneliness.”

“That does seem to be the case.”

Seeing True

“May there be space in your togetherness,” spoke Kahlil Gibran’s prophet.

And may you relinquish the hold of loneliness, by embracing the balm of solitude.

Seeing True in Action

One way to appraise loneliness in contrast to solitude is to examine our use of open space in our lives.

·      How much solitude does there seem to be in my life?

·      What are my feelings when faced with unplanned or unfilled time?

·      What are the ways that I use to fill up time? Are those ways compulsive?

The only way to understand ourselves is to look for demonstrations in our lives. There we will find proof, and from that proof will come our healing.

Do You Have a Problem?

The Nature of Life, and Our Relationship to It

For many years I’ve been involved with advisory, coaching and developmental services to assist people in overcoming adversity and challenges. While there are countless forms of difficulty any one of us can experience, the truth is they all ultimately boil down to a single problem that has two facets.

The first facet is when we find something wrong in the world. Let’s be honest, most of the ways of the world are beyond our ability to influence. That does not mean we should not try to alter them, it means our efforts will likely prove to be futile. Yet our ability to be effective in any attempt to change the world is greatly enhanced when we understand and accept the nature of the world.

This first point matters because when we perceive there is a problem with life itself, we position ourselves in a context of great stress. We are opposing the nature of things. On the other hand, if we can find acceptance, the stress decreases which then increases the likelihood of our effectiveness in dealing with the situation. So understanding and acceptance are outstanding strategies for real results.

The second facet is when we find something wrong with ourselves. Once again, honesty will show us that much about us is simply not likely to change no matter our desire or efforts to be different. And once again, we return to understanding and acceptance as the magical elixir to approach any personal developmental need. Similarly, self-judgment and self-condemnation are extremely stressful and unproductive.

The wisdom of Tao now arises.

It is quite useful to see and know that things are simply the way they are. Every opinion we have of the situation is the root of our difficulties. With awareness comes understanding. When we understand, we are able to work with the nature of things rather than in opposition to them. We act through knowledge of the current in the river of life, rather than in ignorance. As a result, we navigate more effectively and to greater result. Better still, understanding is found to be the secret path to acceptance and thus to transformation.

Seeing True

The problem with the problem is that we experience it as a problem.

Perhaps everything is perfect for time, place, circumstances and the way in which we perceive.

There is the way of releasing, which is too often misconstrued by our limited ideas about forgiving. In order to find harmony, we must “forgive” all those people, things, situations and outcomes with which we find fault. To do so we must first engage them in ways that lead to understanding, which in turn leads to releasing.

With still more inner work, we can transcend the very nature of our relationship to those factors which were formerly seen as problems. Then we come to a radical acceptance, where no lack or wrong is to be found.

In order to change anything, first look within.

Seeing True in Action

Pick any challenge or difficulty you face. In writing, describe the circumstances as best you are able, but try to keep it relatively simple.

Now turn within and write answers to the following questions.

·      Can I be certain this description is completely true?

·      How does it affect me, and why do I consider that a problem?

·      Is this feeling and experience a familiar one? In what other circumstances does it occur?

·      In what ways do I seem to benefit from feeling this way? Do I feel justified or wronged? Does it support me in blaming or feeling vindicated?

·      If I were to see it differently in order to release it, how would it look?

·      What keeps me from seeing it that way?

Consider discussing this with someone you can trust, and likewise trust to provide honest feedback.

Sometimes this kind of exploration must be performed multiple times. Keep looking for situations that are similar, and come back to deepening your understanding.



What if You Knew the Whole Story?

What if You Knew the Whole Story?

Jeannie is a middle-aged white woman who is upper-middle class with a Masters Degree in education. She works at a high school in a somewhat marginal neighborhood where she focuses on teaching with an emphasis on college preparation for young people who are otherwise unlikely to have that opportunity. Jeannie is also a long-time volunteer for a community-based organization working for the development of cognitively impaired adults.

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