Friday, December 28, 2012


The ego will question even the idea that a universal experience of love is possible, never mind the experience itself. But it is the experience that counts. It is the experience of love and ‘unearned’ grace where it shouldn’t be--in the midst of a traffic jam, or a radiation treatment, in a grocery store line or at a funeral, the experience that the brain denies, but is nonetheless there, that makes the ego a liar.


The ego will demand many answers that cannot be given. It will ask: if God is Love, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? How could a part of perfect Oneness be separate from Itself? How can individuals exist? Though these are in the form of questions, they are really statements, actually one statement:  I believe the ego, separation and individual consciousness are real, and I want you to explain how they happened.


The seeming question is an attempt to seduce us into the questioner’s web of separation. To attempt to answer the question, affirms the underlying statement. The only way to truly answer the question is to come from love. That means not letting the obvious differences in form keep us from experiencing the less obvious oneness of content—either a call for love or an expression of love.


Underlying the ego’s questions, doubts, fears and constant shrieking is a call for love, a fervent plea: ‘Please help me realize that the separation is not real and I am wrong. Help me shift and choose again.’ The only way I can hear this call for love and respond appropriately, in a way the questioner can hear and accept, is if I realize I am and want to be an expression of love and want to answer without judgment, fear, anger or impatience, as love would answer.


“The ego may ask,” The Course says, “‘How did the impossible occur?’, ‘To what did the impossible happen?’ and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this and do not let theology delay you.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Universal Experience of Love

My intention is to have experiences of spirit more often; to allow these to undo my ego’s sense of separation, alienation and specialness.  Beliefs about how to do this vary, and so it’s not possible to have a universal belief system. Yet such differences are meaningless, for all can serve the single purpose of moving us beyond the form to the universal experience of love.


I don’t have to agree with everyone and can’t. But I can experience differences as an opportunity to learn, to see the ego world as a classroom in which to learn that though we may differ on the level of form, our content—either an expression of love or a call for love, remains the same. Form is irrelevant, content is all.


Many religions seem to have forgotten this, substituting the rituals of love for the experience of love. Love alone is constant. Once put into form, theology or belief, uncertainty is introduced because not everyone will agree. Brains differ, but the mind is one—both the wrong minded ego—the call for love, and the right mind of spirit—an expression of love. That’s why the experience of spirit’s love is so important. A universal theology is impossible but a unitary experience of spirit is not.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Puny Gifts

Actively being with spirit, aware of Its presence and open to Its guidance, not only saves me from the mistakes and inadequacies of my puny mistaken ego but opens me to the realization that I am part of something greater, that this is not all there is. Realizing that, ‘of myself I can do nothing,’ is a seeming paradox that enables me to gain all power. As a spiritual being, as God created me in Its own image and likeness, I have all the power of spirit; as an ego, I have very little. I need to let go of the power I thought I had, and accept instead the power of spirit that is the still small voice in my mind. The still small voice knows the truth about me, that I am more than the image I made, the ego does not.


Yet despite its obvious and complete ignorance, this image assumes it knows most important things because I have given it that belief. Me, the decision-making self in the mind, not the body’s brain, have given it that belief. “Who assumes a power that he does not possess is deceiving himself,” The Course says. The power the ego has on its own is nothing because it is only the power to make illusions. “Yet,” The Course says, “to accept the power given by God is but to acknowledge [It] as Creator and accept [Its] gifts. And [Its] gifts have no limit.”


As I awaken to my spiritual reality, I understand I have thrown away the unlimited gifts of spirit and accepted in their place the puny and limited gifts of my ego. Boo! But, as I release the guilt, anger and shame that comes from understanding this, I am able to change, shift and choose again. Hooray! I need not remain only with my ego.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Taking Things Less Seriously

When I take things seriously, which I do most of the time, I’m essentially saying, ‘If I (my ego self) don’t take care of this or do this, it won’t get done.’  This is denying mySelf, my reality as spirit and even that there is a spiritual reality. It’s saying, ‘What you see is what you, get’; that ‘this material reality of time and space is all there is.’ It’s saying, ‘I am separate from God, can live without God, and without spirit’s loving, inclusive, fearless, wise, compassion and creativity in my life.’ Of course, from perspective of every day living it’s true that if I don’t wash my hands and brush my teeth, they won’t get washed or brushed. Spirit won’t do that for me.


But what if, as I’ve posted before, my imagined separation from God never happened? What if the still small voice within, the alternative to the ego, speaks for ‘God’ and is constantly reminding me of my oneness with God and my spiritual reality? What if the ego made up this whole belief system of original sin and separation to keep itself in charge and us separated but it’s not the truth?


Simply recognizing that this is so, that what I’ve been taking as the ‘truth’ is not the truth but an illusion created by the ego, then recognizing that there is a presence within that does know the truth opens up the possibility of new joyous, compassionate, inclusive, fearless and creative ways of living. I still have to wash my hands and brush my teeth, but I’m doing it with spirit, with the realization that I am part of something greater, that this is not all there is.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Taking Things Less Seriously

Taking things less seriously, doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do care deeply about politics, justice, inclusion, environment and contributing to a world that works for everyone and everything. Taking things less seriously simply means not only do I understand how my ego works, but I understand how to get past it and move forward. It means it’s not up to me fix the world, know all the answers and to be right most of the time. Whew! What a relief! It means all I need do is give my fear, concerns, blaming and sense of urgency over to spirit and go forward with spirit’s guidance. My fear, sense of urgency and concern are ego, made to keep from spirit. As long as I cling to the fear, danger, blaming and sense of loss and doom, I am cut off from spirit and Its guidance.


All I need do first is to bring my illusory perceptions of what’s going on in, around and through me—be that cancer, global warming or the so-called fiscal cliff to the decision maker within and choose spirit over ego. Choosing the content of spirit: peace, joy, compassion, fearlessness, creativity and inclusion first, having the intention to manifest this in the world, rather than the ego’s various forms as anger, fear, competition, blame and guilt is what taking things less seriously is about.


The only work I must do is bring the ego to spirit. After all, can I really be responsible for decisions about which I know so little? Spirit knows…like the Shadow knows…. We judge what we know nothing about, and are thus always wrong. Our limited egos can never understand the meaning of things or even what is in our own best interests, let alone the whole world’s. To try and judge, which we do constantly second after second, is the height of arrogance. Yet this is exactly the ego’s plan, which we follow slavishly, to have us think we know and understand.


Taking things less seriously, pausing and shifting to the inner decision maker is spirit’s plan and it works better.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Understanding and reframing the ego’s panic—thinking about it differently, helps me be kind and gentle with it as I continue the process of shifting away from it towards spirit. Thinking about the shift process as a birth and the ego as an expectant mother who knows nothing about birth, helps me be kinder and gentler with it.


If I was a mother going into delivery and had never heard of birth, I might think I was dying. If I didn’t know the baby would grow up, it would be very difficult to care of it. The ego is the expectant mother that doesn’t know about birth and evolution of its child. Of course it’s going to panic! But I, the decision maker, know and I can inform and comfort my ego as I continue to shift away from it and choose spirit. Of course the birth and awakening of spirit is scary, messy and dangerous…to the ego. But not to us. Knowing of the peace, joy, compassion and creativity that is mine as spirit, makes it easier to be compassionate with the ego’s fear and panic and to soothe and love it each time I experience it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Never-Ending Process

I definitely wish and want the identity shift away from ego to spirit to be done already! God knows, and She knows everything, that I’ve been working on it consciously for a quarter of a century, so it’s time already! But no, it’s a process, a seemingly never ending process. From an ego perspective, this seems like punishment, like failure and inadequacy. Why can’t I—the ego, get this done!  Well, fact is, the ego will never get it done, because that would mean its demise. So like the old Playboy philosophy of ‘look but don’t touch’, the ego makes spiritual noises, but will never be spiritual.


What moves me forward with the process of shifting is my intention to move forward, my realization that I am spirit first, and my compassionate understanding of how the ego works. Something else that helps with the forward motion are my experiences of being light—of being pure, fearless, limitless, creative energy.


Light is energy and energy is, like consciousness, ever present in and thru all that is. Since there is no beginning or end to energy, so there is no beginning or end to ‘me’—the non-ego me. Thus, when I awake from the ego nightmare of life and get my bloated nothingness out of the way of the divine circuits, all that’s left is my light--the natural joy, fearlessness, compassion and creativity of spirit. It’s my intention to experience that light more and more, to shift from ego to spirit and to keep on keeping on, even tho the ego panics, yells, screams and berates me for wasting my time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ego Panic

But, when I start taking things less seriously, my ego panics. What?!? It says. You’re not going to worry about that? You’re going to trust, who – God?!? Really?!? You’re going to be open, to allow yourself to experience things differently? You’re not going to do what you always did? But we’ve worked that out, painfully. It’s not the best, but it’s good enough. How do you really know the new way will be better, or even work? What if it makes things worse?  Things are pretty bad already, aren’t they? Remember the last time you stopped worrying and took things less seriously, had faith, trusted, let go and let God? How’d that work for you?


The ego panics and when it panics we get fear, a headache and much worse. We get stressed out, can’t think straight, worry even more, get paralyzed, want to and do shrivel up inside, want to disappear and die. Because shriveling up, disappearing and dying is what will happen to the ego when we identify more with spirit, less with it, take things less seriously, have faith, trust, let go and let God. The ego will do everything from cancer to war to keep us taking things here very seriously.


We need to expect the ego to react this way, understand why it does what it does and be kind and gentle with it. The ego will always do what it does. But we are not the ego. We are the decision maker that chooses between the ego and spirit. We need not take the experience of the ego’s panic so seriously. We can feel it, acknowledge it for what it is, take whatever action seems best and most consistent with our intention to identify more with spirit and go on. Ego panic is a constant on-going experience, especially as we take things less seriously and identify more with spirit. But we can reframe ego panic and learn that each time we experience it is an opportunity to double down, to be kind and gentle with ego, but continue our identity shift.

Monday, December 17, 2012


So, the ‘outside’ is feedback about the ‘inside.’ Literally. Feedback: info, neutral information about a state or condition. Not judgment or opinion simply information that can be used to decide if I’m on course or off course. If the feedback indicates I’m on course, then I keep doing what I’m doing. If it indicates I’m off course, then I choose actions that will put me back on course. Either way, on or off course, the feedback is useful.


‘Inside’ and ‘outside’ are in single quotes to suggest the lack of distinction between them. Given what the earlier posts have said, all meaning, decision making and experience start on the inside. This suggests that only the ‘inside’ is real, and further, that what we label ‘inside’ reality is only a temporary condition that will pass as do the clouds obscuring the sun of our reality as spirit: peaceful, joyous, fearless, creative and loving. When I get the clouds of my bloated nothingness out of the way, the sun of divine reality are revealed.


So I want to use my experience, inner and outer, to learn not to take things, both inner and outer, too seriously because they have no effect on my inner peace as spirit. This does not mean I deny my pain, sickness, fear or anxiety, only that I accept that the problem is not what I think it is. The problem is not what I think is happening inside or outside, but that I identified with the ego instead of spirit. My experience is not a problem to be overcome, but only feedback, telling me I’m on course with spirit or off course with the ego.


As long as my most fundamental beliefs about the world and living are based  on original sin, dog-eat-dog, scarcity, lack, duality and the separation of matter and spirit, then I will see these reflected in my daily experiences. And by the same principle, when I am able to not take the ego so seriously and am able to shift from myself to mySelf and am open to spirit’s compassion, joy, creativity, fearlessness, inclusion and abundance, I see these reflected in my daily experiences.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Projection Makes Perception

Projection makes perception. Whether we’re aware of it or not, experience begins on the inside and get’s projected out.  The consciousness that we are a part of and of which everything is composed, is always accepting our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Like clay or jello, consciousness receives the impressions we make in it and reflects them back at us. That is not only what Goswami and many Quantum physicists have discovered, but also what all the great spiritual avatars throughout the ages have said. Seek ye the Kingdom first.


What this means is, that it is not the ego itself that is the problem, but my mind’s decision to believe in the ego that is the problem. Both the physics and spiritual wisdom agree, I make real in my experience what I most fervently believe in. What I see outside me: the fear, guilt, blame and terror are a reflection of what I see within me, first.


As long as my most fundamental beliefs about the world and living are based  on original sin, dog-eat-dog, scarcity, lack, duality and the separation of matter and spirit, then I will see these reflected in my daily experiences. And by the same principle, when I am able to not take the ego so seriously and am able to shift from myself to mySelf and am open to spirit’s compassion, joy, creativity, fearlessness, inclusion and abundance, I see these reflected in my daily experiences.


What I’m experiencing outside is a reflection of what I’m experiencing inside, so “seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world,” The Course says. Without judgment, guilt, blame, punishment or attack on myself, others and events, I can simply understand how the cosmic ‘system’ works and choose again. Remember, it’s not the ego itself that is the problem, but my mind’s decision to believe in the ego and all its horror and negativity that is the problem.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Experience of Flow

From the space of the grandeur of spirit’s magnitude, we experience a fearlessness, freedom and guilt-free lightness, a sense that anything is possible and that we live in a benign no limits world. This is what Quantum physicist Amit Goswami calls a ‘flow experience,’ an experience of being in the zone, an experience of wholeness and oneness. Through such experiences we learn that spirit is not something separate from us, but a part of us, and not only a ‘part’ of us, but the truth about who we and all creation are.


Flow experiences show that realizing the intention to go within and seek the Kingdom first, works best.  Goswami’s view of Quantum Physics is that matter first exists as possibility within consciousness. This scientific finding of the ‘primacy of consciousness’ and ‘downward causation’ shows that the classic injunction to go within and seek the Kingdom first, not only works best but is a correct and accurate description of how things actually work in the world. This finding also shows that not only is our traditional world view of downward causation’- that nothing but physical matter is real and that the root cause of everything flows from subatomic matter, is wrong, but that this view inhibits us, actually creates limitations, and blocks our ability to solve problems and create solutions.


The integration of Science and Spirit, both/and instead of either/or is the key to transformation, the key to seeing problems and opportunities. Yes, Spirit is first and primary but to work with it we need reliable, sustainable science. “The road to freedom lies not through mysteries or occult performances,” Ernest Holmes says, “but through the intelligent us of natural forces and laws” such as the primacy of consciousness and spirit shown by Quantum Mechanics. “We have been looking for the right things in the wrong places,” Goswami says and now it’s time to shift. Deep down, we know what to do, we just have to do it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The 'Isness' of Experience

The ‘isness’ of experience in the now suggests that we accept our bodies and personalities as they are now also, but undo and escape from the burden of guilt the ego has placed on them. “Rather than harbor self blame (or blame) for a life of scarcity, for instance,” Ken Wapnick of The Course says, “we could surmount our painful circumstances by learning that feelings of self worth are not contingent on meeting the world’s criteria of success, but on recognizing that the mind is the source of all scarcity and abundance – and what we experience is our choice.”


Experiences of limitation: spiritual, mental, emotional or physical are almost always thought of as negative, that there is something wrong with us because….. But experiences of limitation are also great teachers. Consider Helen Keller. She shows us that inner peace is not dependent on external circumstances. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with having ego thoughts and ‘negative’ experiences as long as we don’t make them our primary focus.


We can escape from allowing ‘limitations’ and  ‘negative’ experiences to be our primary focus and to make us feel guilty by seeing them as opportunities to shift our identity, to quit identifying with ourselves and start identifying with ourSelves.  Appreciating that our experiences are a learning laboratory, shows us that the real problem is the mind’s decision to identify with the grandiosity of the ego’s littleness rather than the grandeur of spirit’s magnitude.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Experience Just Is

I recently had two or three ‘bad’ experiences that turned out ‘good’ and took me in directions I needed and wanted to go, but wouldn’t have gone if those ‘bad’ experiences hadn’t happened.  Hasn’t that happened to you? Using the past, the ego judges and labels experiences ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ but for spirit which exists only now, doesn’t judge and doesn’t use labels, experiences just are, and it’s up to me to make sense of them, give them meaning, decide if they’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’.


But when I read the paper or watch the news or have ‘bad’ experiences, it’s difficult to remember that I have a choice about experiencing with ego or spirit. I literally have to stop and ask to experience things differently, with spirit instead of ego. When I take the time to become still and quiet the ego, I begin to understand what’s going on - that my poor tiny ego is trying to control everything, and be right about everything, and then I can shift to spirit and appreciate that there’s so much more than I can ever grasp and it’s all unfolding for the highest and best of all concerned!


The more I catch myself defaulting to ego, stop, shift and dwell with the inclusive, compassionate inner world of spirit, the more that world becomes my outer experience. It’s so cool, allowing ‘bad’ experiences to become ‘good’ experiences!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Experience &the Ego

The kind of experience I’m talking about is a ‘full’ transcendent experience, an experience involving all aspects of being human: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical, an experience that makes us feel whole, complete, different and strangely exhilarated.


We routinely have experiences that emphasize one or the other of the four aspects and down play the others. But a ‘full’ transcendent experience, one involving and integrating all aspects of who we are simultaneously is rare.


That’s because our inner gatekeeper, the ego, can not manage and control a ‘full’ transcendent experience. Full transcendent experiences overwhelm and threaten the ego, so it avoids them, instead focusing us on a single aspect of our being, usually the mental or physical, while avoiding the spiritual and emotional aspects. And the ego is right in its fear, for ‘transcendent’ means transcending or bypassing the ego.


To have a ‘full’ transcendent experience, the ego would have to willingly surrender, which it is loath to do. But we can help it surrender by staying in the now, relying on loose/tight both/and thinking, realizing we’re with ego when we find ourselves blaming, excluding, judging and punishing, and choosing spirit’s grace, compassion, love and peace instead. We want to show the ego its ineffectiveness and train it to if not, surrender then at least let go and let God a bit more often.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Experience & Now

Spirit can only be experienced and experience can only happen now. We can re-experience spirit and other things now, but that is merely a memory of the past not an experience. We can know and experience our spiritual reality, quietly and effortlessly, only now, in this moment.  If we are experiencing fear, worry or urgency, we are not in the now, not with spirit, but with ego thinking about the future.


Now is an empty space, a blank page, a clean slate—a place to be open and receptive to the still small voice of spirit within, an opportunity for new beginnings. Often, the emptiness is frightening and our ego selves rush to fill it with hopes, dreams, fears and worries.


But if we—Republicans and Democrats, men and women, can have faith in our reality as spirit, stay with the emptiness and let our bloated nothingness go, we are blessed with the experience of grace; rewarded with the experience of effortless, quiet wholeness – the quiet knowing that we need not worry, rush or suffer; that if we get out of the way, get our ego selves out of the way, our Self, will come thru with exactly what we need, when we need it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The past was reality. But it does not remain reality.


The past is only real and with us now, in the present, because we choose to make it real. Now is all there is, the only time there is.


If now we choose to remember the past and choose to believe we are the products of our upbringing, then we are giving our power away and not being responsible. And how accurately do we remember the past? Are we remembering everything about a particular situation that is important to us, or only some things? If we selectively perceive the present, paying attention to some things and not others, how much more do we selectively perceive the past?


Don’t believe now is the only time there is?  Try breathing for five minutes ago…or five minutes into the future.


It is in this moment we choose, only this moment.


The ego would have you believe that if you are unhappy now, it is not because of a decision you are making, now. No, not at all. You didn’t ask for this. You are simply the innocent victim of the past. And even if you did do some terrible thing in the past and it cannot be undone, or some terrible thing happened to you and it cannot be undone, now is still the only time you can make amends or forgive yourself and others.


Now is all the time there is, the only time that matters. Try breathing for five minutes ago…or for five minutes into the future….

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quiet Knowing


Another way of thinking about loose/tight thinking is as a quiet knowing.


Quiet knowing dawns on our awareness gradually, like a sunrise. As in a sunrise, the darkness of fear, doubt, blame and exclusion slowly give way to the certainty of love, strength, courage and creativity. But unlike the sunrise which must come (we hope!), quiet knowing though also inevitable, may be blocked and delayed. Our ability to choose cannot keep the sun from rising, but it can keep quiet knowing from dawning.


With quiet knowing as our compass we come to understand that it is not only what we, believe, say or do that matters, but the purpose of what we believe, say or do - our intention, that matters.


This is how so-called ‘tough love’ works. If quiet knowing reveals that our purpose and intention is to bless and heal, than blessings and healing flow from what we believe, say or do. The words and actions may seem harsh from a surfacey ego perspective, but when guided by quiet knowing and the intention to heal and bless, the effect of the words and actions is anything but harsh.


Spirit can use anything and everything in our hearts, minds and behaviors, whatever we believe, say or do, even when those things seem the complete opposite of what the ego labels ‘spiritual’. Only choose spirit and quiet knowing first then give spirit the lemons in your life and experience spirit making lemonade.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Loose/Tight Thinking

The kind of ‘thinking’ I’ve been writing about, is the so-called ‘loose/tight’ kind, the kind in which you hold your usual, habitual ways of thinking loosely, but cling tightly to your ideal spiritual vision. The habitual ways you want to hold loosely are: pessimism, fear, pre-emptive attack, blame, hyper-vigilance and business as usual planning. The ideal spiritual vision you want to cling to is: optimism and a vision of an inclusive world that works for everyone and everything in it. We need not know how, and indeed can not know how to bring such a world about, but only that we desire it, believe such a world is possible and are willing to take the next step, the step that feels right, that we are guided to take.


‘Loose/tight’ thinking is more intuitive than rational, more inner than outer. It involves both sides of our brains, the rational analytical left side and the intuitive visionary right side. It is ‘whole brain’ thinking, both/and thinking, in which we use all of our mental capacity. It emphasizes the intuitive and visionary, because normally we de-emphasize these. 


Loose/tight thinking is the kind of thinking that enables us to be aware of our intentions, will not engender blame or guilt when we ‘fail’ to meet them, but rather sees such ‘failures’ as opportunities for a necessary course correction. Loose/tight thinking is more about resonance than deciding. It’s like the way we appreciate a song, a painting or a sunset. The song just resonates within us and we like it. We don’t decide to like it, we feel we like it, we know we like it, we just like it.


So loose/tight thinking is the kind of thinking I’ve been writing about. Try it, it works, plus it’s a great freeing, empowering, more creative and less stressful change from our habitual ways of thinking.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What's the meaning of that?

When the words and thoughts come howling and roaring into your head, beware!


Think, reflect, consider before you act, consider even before you entertain those thoughts and words, think about them. The words, thoughts and ideas in your head are probably not even yours. They probably belonged to your mother or father, your holy person, your political party, your cultural traditions, and were handed down to you as they were handed down to the people who handed them down to you. But while the words and thoughts are in your head, you’re responsible for them! Will you hand them down, unexamined, or will you think, reflect, consider before you act?


Partial meanings, expectations and outcomes are in the words and traditions themselves. But these are only partial meanings. You complete them, you fill in the rest, you add your meanings. You can pass on and act on the partial meanings reflexively, without thinking, or you can take responsibility for what comes next. The words, thoughts and ideas may not have originated with you, probably didn’t, but while they’re in your head, you’re responsible for them.


Please, please, take that responsibility seriously. Look at it as a gift, an opportunity to see things differently, to think about thinking; go deep connect with your spiritual wisdom at share it.  The Course says the ego speaks first and is always wrong. So, when the words and thoughts come roaring and howling into your head, beware, pause, take a deep breath and think about what you’re thinking and the kind of world and experiences you really want.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thinking About Thinking

Setting an intention, being aware of when we are not meeting it and then re-commiting to it, all without blame and guilt, is awkward. It is thinking about thinking, not something we’re trained to do. The more we do it however--think about how and what we’re thinking, the easier it becomes, and the greater the rewards. There’s a growing sense of self-mastery, clarity, less fear, doubt and worry, and even a greater sense of community, one’s purpose and connection to the whole.


We are the thinker, not the thoughts. Thoughts flow through us. It is our choice to entertain them; it is our choice as to which thoughts to entertain - those arising from spirit—intuitive, creative, fresh, innovative, inclusive and inspirational or those arising from the ego—fearful, anxious, punishing, exclusionary, legalistic. Setting an intention to think about thinking, being aware of when we are not meeting it and then re-commiting to it, all without blame and guilt, is awkward but worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Map Is Not the Territory

The map is not the territory, Alfred Korzybski wrote in 1922. We know this, but forget. The words--the maps we use are not the same as the feelings, facts and phenomena we want them to represent. As I wrote yesterday, words are but symbols of symbols, maps that are only rough approximations of the territory we want them to represent. We know this. Yet we still act as if the map is the territory, that our words are accurate descriptors.


We also know that meanings are in people, that the thing you see when you see the word ‘table’ is probably not the thing I see when I hear the word table. These two phenomena: the map is not the territory and meanings are in people, create a lot of our human conflicts, ineffectiveness and inefficiencies.  If we could stay aware of these two phenomena, be more careful and precise with our choice of words, then we would have less conflict, and be more effective and efficient.


One way to do this is to treat our beliefs and words as theories and hypotheses the way scientists understand theories and hypotheses as “more or less informed assumptions or inferences we make about what’s going on” both within and outside us, not as facts, not as Truth, but merely our perceptions and ideas about Truth, perceptions and ideas colored by our biases – cultural, religious, political and familial. “You are never upset for the reason you think,” The Course says.


Accepting our beliefs and words as theories and hypotheses about what’s going on internally and externally, means we are more open to corrections, more prepared to make adjustments in the light of new information. We are not as devastated and disappointed when our plans and expectations are not met.  When our theories and hypotheses are not confirmed we can build new ones more aligned with what’s really going on internally and externally. Accepting our beliefs and words as theories and hypotheses means we don’t always have to be right and can avoid the stress of always having to be right. We can allow life and love to flow thru us as they will, showing us wonders our limited thinking denied and kept from us. We can be expansive, creative and innovative, and experience much less fear, lack and limitation.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dogs Hear More, Cats See More

There is so much more than we can comprehend. We are designed to be narrow, to function in a limited zone of comfort. But there is clearly much more. Dogs hear more than we do, cats see more. What understanding we have is gleaned through our physical and cultural experience, which is but a fraction of all that is.


Our scientists, religions and great teachers have barely touched the hem of Its garment. We will always, always have this longing to know God. Our teachings are helpful, but they are not the thing Itself. Learning is a pathway to illumination. But it is only when we become still and quiet, and let our everyday minds go, getting our bloated nothingness out of the way, that we know and can embody a greater portion of the Divine that dwells within us. Experiencing a personal communion with God, even in what we take to be difficult times such as these, is our purpose - what the Covenant is all about.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Being Right All the Time is Exhausting!

Having to be right about everything or most things is exhausting! Controlling the sun and the moon, the media, internet, world hunger, politics, justice, the people at work and in your family (get ready, Thanksgiving is coming!) is difficult.  Oh, you say you leave the sun and the moon to God? Is that because you’re doing such a good job with the other things, especially your family, friends and the people at work?


When we struggle to control the things and people in our lives and to be right who or what are we trying to please? The ego. What are we trying to prove? That my ego, my little ‘s’ self’s limited beliefs, attitudes and understanding of the world, are better than my big ‘S’ Self’s guidance. I’m settling for grandiosity instead of grandeur. I’m accepting a tiny tiny slice of reality instead of an appreciation of the wondrous magnificence of the mystery of life.  I’m limiting mySelf to myself.


Isn’t that sad?  Why settle for a little fenced-off part of Life dominated by fear, guilt and blame when we can experience the wonder, joy and creativity of the inner flow of unlimited unconditional Love?  “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment [and the need to control and be right]”—The Course in Miracles.


It’s OK to want to be right and control what you can, especially in your own life. In fact as long as we identify more with ourselves instead of ourSelves, we have an obligation to do so. But we can do so with the awareness that we’re limiting ourSelves, could have wonder, joy and peace instead, and whenever possible, let go of our self’s need to be right, control and judge and let ourSelves guide us to unimaginable wonder, joy and peace.

Monday, November 19, 2012

God as It


“God does not forgive because He has never condemned”—The Course in Miracles


And ‘He’ has never condemned because as I posted last time, ‘He’ is an ‘It,’ not a ‘He’—a neutral power like gravity or electricity, but greater and all encompassing. The gravity is not responsible when a building collapses. The gravity does not keep score, judge, punish, nor reward, it is just there, a force we can use or misuse.  When a building collapses it’s probably because we misused the gravity—bad design, construction, etc. So it is with God.


People dislike this view of ‘God’ because it makes them responsible for what happens in their lives. It’s very stark, very clear—there’s no one or no thing to blame, just ourselves. Much easier to be the innocent victims of a nasty, vengeanful God—I mean, after all, I’m just doing the best I can, right; shit happens! Aren’t there “Acts of God” in all our insurance policies?


Bull shit! There’s no one and no thing to blame but ourselves! But hey, why blame at all? Why not just finally learn how the world works and take responsibility for doing things differently, for using the power correctly? It’s a little difficult at first, growing up always is, but my, what a difference, what a positive difference being responsible and in-charge makes in our experience of living!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What I Mean by "God"

The word “God” that I use in these posts has many meanings. I want to clarify what I mean when I use the word.


To me, the word “God” is a symbol, as all words are symbols, that stands for the energy that creates, animates and guides all things; the source in and thru everyone and everything. It’s an energy that human beings have been seeking to understand and use since the beginning of time.


Science seeks to explain and use this energy as does religion. But the energy itself remains a mystery. Cutting edge science and spirituality have enabled us to understand some things about it, but not all. It’s encouraging to me that the findings of cutting edge science and spirituality reveal a congruence with many of the insights and core ideas of most of the world’s religions. Physics shows that the ancient idea of one God, one energy, is true. Contemporary spirituality shows that the ancient ideas of, “it is done unto you as you believe” and “seek ye the kingdom of heaven first,” work best.


This energy is what I mean by the word “God.” Ubiquitous and invisible in its purest form, it steps down into the particular in our human experience of it. We experience it first in its ubiquitous invisible form, what we label “spiritual”, then as a mental/intellectual experience, then emotionally and finally physically. All four kinds of experience: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical, are manifestations of the one energy, co-exist simultaneously and are the labels we use to describe our experience of It.


This is what I mean when I use the word, “God.” I do not mean an old white man with a beard, sitting on a throne in the sky who keeps score, judges, rewards and punishes. I mean a neutral force like gravity or electricity that we can partially understand and work with. When we use electricity correctly, it’s a blessing. When we use it incorrectly, it’s a fearsome horror. It is not the electricity that blesses or destroys, but our use of it. The electricity and gravity, like my understanding of the energy that I call “God,” is neutral.

Spirituality is our basic, fundamental connection with this energy, the thing Itself. Religions are the various brands, the stories we make up to help us understand the thing Itself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blancing Prayer and Action

So now Rick Scott wants to have a “conversation” with Washington (he’s dead, isn’t he?) about the affordable care act. You see how well giving it over to spirit works? But I didn’t just give it over, I also took action.  Once again both/and and balancing giving it over/praying and action worked. Both are needed. But the giving it over needs to come before the action. Action first usually arises in the amygdala of the brain, the fear center, bringing on the flight or fight response. Acting first is the impulse thinking I blogged about two weeks ago.


Balancing both giving it over/praying and action is a constant ongoing activity. When we’re aware, we do the one, then the other. But when we’re not aware, full of lust, hate and fear, we default to action and impulse thinking. Fine. No sweat. No error, no foul. Simply train your awareness without guilt, blame or judgment so that you’re more conscious and able to choose giving it over/praying first. Form a new habit, a new default. The more you do it, the more you do it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rick Scott and the Affordable Care Act

Governor Rick Scott is once again talking about turning down a Federal program, this time the Affordable Care Act.  This is unacceptable. Too many lives, too many people’s health are at stake.  There must be something we can do to help the Governor change his mind! I know the hospitals want Florida to participate in the Act.  Are there other potential allies out there that can help us help the Governor change his mind? Obama’s organization is still intact, let’s reach out to them. The League of Women Voters too, and the AFL/CIO.


Despite the Governor’s beliefs, this is a humanitarian community concern. The ideology of fiscal austerity and fiscal whatever, cannot be allowed to Trump (ha, ha, ha!) the concrete needs of flesh and blood human beings! Besides, this is Florida—all kinds of people from all kinds of places, places with inadequate sanitary facilities, can come here with latent communicable diseases. If they get sick and go uncared for, it’s only a matter of time before we all get sick.  Good health care is not only for the so-called ‘deserving’, or ‘legal’, or those who ‘earned’ it; it’s required for the good and welfare of the entire community.


Governor Rick Scott is once again talking about turning down a Federal program, this time the Affordable Care Act.  This is unacceptable. Too many lives are at stake.  There must be something we can do to help the Governor change his mind! Let’s get on it!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Bursts of Wisdom

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony –Gandhi



Your life is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened—Wayne Muller



We don’t see things as they are, but as we are—Anais Nin



Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions—Hafiz



It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult—Seneca


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Political Consequences of Not Balancing Impulse Thinking With Deliberative Thinking, Part 3

This is the last post building on my post of a few days ago: We have, to me, reached an imbalance and a need to shift in our use of smart phones, iPads, Twitter, Tumblr and that kind of technology. These things have, as John J. Pitney Jr. wrote in the 10/15 Christian Science Monitor, “increased the speed and reach of communications…so that almost as soon as a thought enters your mind you can send it everywhere. Twitter-like thinking—the kind that relies on quick intuition and impulse—can work well when we’re playing sports, for instance.


“Of course, the internet also brings huge benefits. It is now possible to access more kinds of information than ever before in history. But most people have neither the time nor the know-how to sort through the countless government documents and scholarly studies available online. They have to rely on public figures and news organizations that are the objects of distrust or partisan scorn.


“As columnist and former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan has written, ‘Someday we’ll be told something true that we need to know and we won’t believe that, either.’ Long before anyone could have imagined the technological marvels that we carry in our pockets, the Founders understood the risk of hasty judgment.


“In The Federalist No. 71, Alexander Hamilton wrote: ‘When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them [the people] time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.’


“The moral is that public figures, reporters, and commentators of all kinds should take a breath and think before they post. Slow down, because speed kills.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Now what?


We’ve got to remember that the millions of Americans who voted for Romney are still here. They are not going anywhere. They are not all moving to Canada; tho it would be fine if Sheldon Adelson and the Kochs went. But even Adelson and the Kochs are still Americans, as are the millions that voted for Romney. We need their skills, hearts, minds and compassion. We don’t want to throw people away, deprive, diminish or dismiss them. We want to win them over, need to include them, but not at the cost of diminishing or dismissing the work—climate change, equal rights, immigration reform, greener energy, banking reform, ending the wars without starting any new ones--that must be done.


I have blogged about new process, methods and procedures for building and maintaining a healthier, more inclusive democratic governing consensus. We must learn more about these methods and implement them. Let this be the last BS election! If we always do what we always did, we’ll always get what we always got. Enough of that! Enough of either/or, win/lose thinking! Let’s shift to win/win and both/and. I find it difficult to believe that if we get over the polarization and the process, methods and procedures that sustain it, we won’t be able to meet the challenges we face. We can do it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Political Consequences of Not Balancing Impulse Thinking and Deliberative Thinking, Part 2

The next few posts will build on my post of a few days ago: We have, to me, reached an imbalance and a need to shift in our use of smart phones, iPads, Twitter, Tumblr and that kind of technology. These things have, as John J. Pitney Jr. wrote in the 10/15 Christian Science Monitor, “increased the speed and reach of communications…so that almost as soon as a thought enters your mind you can send it everywhere. Twitter-like thinking—the kind that relies on quick intuition and impulse—can work well when we’re playing sports, for instance.


“Political polarization heats up when discourse moves faster than the speed of rational thought. Given a chance to consider an issue carefully, people may see the strengths and weaknesses of each side. But when they respond immediately, they will cheer for the home team and boo the opposition.


“This tendency is especially strong during the ‘live blogging’ of a speech or debate. We will often read ‘Wow!’ ‘Yea!’ ‘lol’. We will seldom see a commentator saying, ‘Gee, I wonder what will be said next. Let’s all sleep on it.’”


“Moreover, people of all persuasions know that the mainstream press is not as thorough or thoughtful as it used to be. Reporters are reacting to what they see online, then posting their own stuff in hopes of keeping up.


“As Jay Root writes in his wonderful new book on the Rick Perry campaign, ‘We’re not so much reporting the news as blurting it.’”


“Even basic factual accuracy can [and does] suffer. Racing for a scoop this summer, CNN and Fox initially – and falsely – reported that the Supreme Court had struck down the comprehensive health-care law.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Political Consequences of Not Balancing Impulse Thinking and Deliberative Thinking

The next few posts will build on my post of a few days ago: We have, to me, reached an imbalance and a need to shift in our use of smart phones, iPads, Twitter, Tumblr and that kind of technology. These things have, as John J. Pitney Jr. wrote in the 10/15 Christian Science Monitor, “increased the speed and reach of communications…so that almost as soon as a thought enters your mind you can send it everywhere. Twitter-like thinking—the kind that relies on quick intuition and impulse—can work well when we’re playing sports, for instance.


“[But] public life is different.  Impulse reacting draws on stereotypes and mental shortcuts that can mislead us when we apply them to political questions. It is better to [shift to] a more deliberative and reasoned approach, thinking things through and seeking additional information.


“A shrill feedback cycle is at work: hasty reactions to hasty reactions to hasty reactions.


“Without clearance from the State Department, a diplomat in Egypt rushes to tweet about an anti-Islam YouTube video. The Romney campaign rushes to attack the tweet. The Obama campaign rushes to criticize the Romney attack. Journalists rush to weigh the political consequences of the campaign exchange. For days, meanwhile, serious questions about terrorism and embassy security get too little attention.


“Political polarization heats up when discourse moves faster than the speed of rational thought.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Either/or Thinking Blocks Empathy


Here’s another indication that we’re out of balance, have gone too far in the direction of either/or thinking and need to shift more towards both/and thinking. The October/November issue of the AARP magazine—yes, now you know, I’m old enough to be in AARP—has an article headlined: “Peaceful Politics: How to stay friends during election season—even if you don’t see eye to eye.”


The article cites a University of Michigan study showing that political differences made participants less compassionate toward their ideological opposites, even when they shared the same problem.  “Researchers approached subjects outside in the cold, then asked them to read about a hiker stranded in winter. Those whose political views were different from the hiker’s couldn’t identify with his plight, despite being chilly themselves, whereas those who had similar views could.” The study concludes: “It seems like political dissimilarity is blocking us from even beginning to step into somebody else’s shoes. But you don’t have to be this way.”


I think all of us, especially those that follow politics closely, have felt the pull of this insidious lack of empathy and perhaps even caught ourselves giving in to it. But, as the study says, “you don’t have to be this way.”


Next time you find yourself hating, blaming or enjoying the misfortune of those who disagree with you politically, remember, they’re flesh and blood human beings just like you. Realize you’ve gone too far with your exclusionary either/or, win/lose thinking and choose to shift to a more balanced inclusionary approach with both/and, win/win thinking.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sports, Public Policy and Either/or Thinking

Clearly in the complex arena of public policy making, impulse thinking aided and abetted by instant communications has “obvious defects.” Impulse thinking may work well in sports games supported by rules and referees, but what rules and referees exist in the public sector are being rapidly eroded by the current win at any cost politics most prominently practiced by Republicans.


The constant pressure to get the ‘scoop,’ the need to be first and always right and the rush to judgment, lock journalists and politicians into a vicious spiral of impulse thinking and instant communications. Everything, no matter how complex or how important, has to be reduced to a tweet or a text and delivered instantly, before everybody else can deliver it. “The resulting commentary,” John Pitney says, “is long on reflex and short on reflection.” 


Plus this way of thinking and being reduces everything to trivia. Important things are no more important than the current score. People pay more attention to high school, college and pro sports than they do to voting and being informed on issues. Of course that’s understandable being that politics and the important stuff is so complex and messy and sports is so clean and straight forward. Much easier to follow sports and reduce everything, especially the messy important stuff, to a game and think of it as a game with only two sides, two choices, either a winner or a loser. Perhaps this way of thinking and being once worked well for us in the past, but it doesn’t work well now. The interdependence and complexity of real life no longer lends itself so well to the simple minded winner/loser sports/game metaphor.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Balancing Either/or and Both/and

“A shift from either/or thinking to both/and thinking…” is what I posted yesterday. A shift.  Not, one or the other, not either/or or both/and, but both either/or and both/and--a balance.


The question then becomes when to shift, when to rebalance?  When have we had too much of one and need to shift to the other?


When the results, the phenomena and our experience have gone too far in one direction and are creating problems, not working for the benefit of people—individuals, society, and the planet—when we are not contributing to a world that works for everyone and everything.


We have, to me, reached an imbalance and a need to shift in our use of smart phones, iPads, Twitter, Tumblr and that kind of technology. These things have, as John J. Pitney Jr. wrote in the 10/15 Christian Science Monitor, “increased the speed and reach of communications…so that almost as soon as a thought enters your mind you can send it everywhere. Twitter-like thinking—the kind that relies on quick intuition and impulse—can work well when we’re playing sports, for instance.


“[But] public life is different.  Impulse reacting draws on stereotypes and mental shortcuts that can mislead us when we apply them to political questions. It is better to [shift to] a more deliberative and reasoned approach, thinking things through and seeking additional information.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Both/and Win/Win Thinking for Creating Jobs, Part 2

Creating jobs is not about either government or the ‘private’ sector, corporations or small business, but both/and.  For example, co-ops. Such community focused business organizations now have a membership of 130 million Americans, employing 865,000 people according to the 10/22 issue of the Christian Science Monitor.  Evergreen Co-operatives in Cleveland, operates an industrial laundry service, a solar company, and an urban growing center to create living-wage jobs. Instead of allowing mechanization and high tech to displace jobs, such community focused business organizations tend to look for ‘human solutions’ to increase productivity.


Both/and, win/win opportunities such as those represented by community focused business organizations abound in our current political/economic situation. For example, our current emphasis on paid employment ignores ‘off the books’ unpaid work, such as child rearing, domestic labor and thousands of hours of volunteer service. A both/and approach such as reducing the workweek would reallocate available work among more people, giving people more time for their families and communities. Such a both/and approach could enable people to exchange the soulless accumulation of toys and ‘stuff’ for the more meaningful benefits of contributing one’s talents to family and community. Right now, volunteer matching services and time banks facilitate this.


People are yearning for a new economy that increases well being, improves employment, diminishes meaningless consumption, and lowers destructive impact on the environment. A shift from either/or thinking to both/and thinking can begin to make this kind of economy a reality.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Both/and Win/Win Thinking for Creating Jobs, Part 1


In the last post I wrote that, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got! Enough! The door opens inward. If you want things to be different, you be different. Quit looking out and blaming. Be the change you want to see! Begin shifting from either/or, win/lose thinking to both/and, win/win thinking now.”


With that in mind, consider the best way(s) to create jobs. Notice I wrote best ways. Typically in the either/or, win/lose model there is only one way, one size fits all. Clearly, common sense, which is so uncommon these days, would say that with our complex, rapidly changing, high tech world and economy there would have to be multiple ways of not just creating jobs, but doing everything. But no, in spite of that, we get hung up, especially during this win/lose election season, on the idea that there is only one way, either working on the demand side or the supply side.


What crap, either the demand side or the supply side! Why not both, simultaneously? Duh! Also, we have focused too much on big instead of small, on big corporations instead of small community business organizations like co-ops, credit unions and employee owned companies. Such community focused business organizations are not only more collaborative and democratic than the huge monolithic multi-national corporations, they are also more democratic and people centered.  


Community focused business organizations because they are place based and rooted in community also tend to bring a different kind of stability. They are not subject to the whims of predatory investors in search of quick, short term profits; the jobs cannot outsourced; and the co-op can’t be moved. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Either/or Thinking Is THE Problem!

Either/or thinking and the competition that flows from it are, in and of themselves, the problem.


Thinking that there are only two sides to every story is very limiting. Not only does such thinking give power to extremists by draining it from the center, it also leads to stagnation and lack of growth.  Polarization around either ‘X’ or ‘Y’, denies most of life in the center and deprives us of the innovation and creativity vital to success.


Either/or polarization requiring people to take sides locks individuals and whole societies into non-productive traditions and orthodoxies.  Either my way or the highway!  What about all the other ways, all the other millions of possibilities? What if the blacksmiths, horse breeders and saddle-makers had the power oil and coal companies have today?  We’d still be using horses instead of horse power. 


Either/or thinking and the competition that flows from it alone, in and of themselves, keeps us from coming together and solving our problems. Either/or thinking and the competition that flows from it alone, in and of themselves, benefit the few at the expense of the many.


The decline of American power and the loss of the American dream show us the limits of either/or, win/lose thinking.  The door opens inward. If we want to see the American Dream restored, we’ve got to change how we think. We’ve got to ease off either/or thinking and the competition that flows from it, and switch to the more inclusive, flexible both/and, win/win thinking—the kind of thinking that says it’s not either my way or your way, but both ways.  Either/or thinking has a place, but not the dominant place it’s had in the past. We and the planet simply can no longer afford it. We need everybody’s talents, skills and cooperation. Turning people into either winners or losers deprives us of the ‘losers’’ talents and skills, and lately there seem to be more losers than winners.  We can’t afford that, it’s not viable and it’s not working. Enough!


Can’t we take responsibility for how we think, what we believe and how we see the world and try to think differently? The door opens inward. Can’t we try both/and, win/win thinking for a change? I think we can. After all, as Groucho said, “I love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth once in awhile!” And, consider this: If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got! Enough! The door opens inward. If you want things to be different, you be different. Quit looking out and blaming. Be the change you want to see! Begin shifting from either/or, win/lose thinking to both/and, win/win thinking now.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Door Opens Inward

Thinking about thinking; reflecting on our beliefs; challenging ourselves about our certainty and what we take to be true; opening our minds to other, new, and even ‘wrong’ ways of perceiving, knowing and being—is there any reason to do this, anything to be gained from it? Is it ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to expand our consciousness, be more inclusive more tolerant, more willing to learn and experience differences? Or is better to close our minds, cling to the ‘rugged cross,’ wall ourselves in and fear what’s new and different and ‘other’ and change itself?


Thinking about thinking is uncomfortable and disruptive. It threatens our ‘secure’ ego identities. Things are hard enough without having to bother or worry about how and what I’m thinking! I’ve got work to do, people to see and places to go. I just can’t take the time to be bothered right now.  Maybe later.


But what if we as a race, the human race, understood that the door opens inward? What if we came to realize that to improve human and planetary welfare we need to modify some of our own attitudes and ways of thinking? What if the door really does open inward and we really do have to think about thinking and modify some of our own attitudes and ways of thinking; to take individual responsibility for what and how we’re thinking? What if we can begin to make things better by realizing we have to stop pushing on the door—blaming, proselytizing, punishing and legislating, looking at everyone and everything but our own hearts and minds because the door opens inward?


Ask: “Am I contributing to wholeness and a world that works for everyone and everything, or am I selfishly arrogantly insisting on ‘my way or the highway,’ that what’s right for me and people like me is right for everyone and everything? Am I blaming, punishing and finger pointing? Am I willing to listen, learn, discuss and compromise? Am I willing to entertain the idea that the one God in me is the same one God in you and in everything?”


If that’s true, if the one God in me is the same one God in you and in everything, then you and your ideas, needs and wants even if they’re different, ‘wrong’ and against the Bible, are as righteous as my own and as worthy of respect. Am I willing for the sake of our common humanity and contributing a world that works for everyone and everything, willing to think about my thinking and realize that the door opens inward to God?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mainstream Media Bias Against the President?

Does the Herald have a bias against Obama?


Consider the front page story that appeared about the last debate Tuesday morning.

On the front page [very significant] clearly labeled “news analysis” [also significant] is the headline: “The winner: maybe Obama.”  Hmmmm.  What does that suggest? To me, it casts doubt, creates suspicion,  hints that things are not as they seem, that perhaps there’s some manipulation or falseness involved.  You know, like the conspiracy to make the unemployment numbers seem better than they are.


Is this bias?  If one considers the levels of choice and decision making involved in getting something on the front page of a newspaper, perhaps it is. The writer, Marc Caputo, first decides on which words to use—what they infer and suggest and what they actually say. Caputo chooses “maybe.”  Hmmmmmm. Then his editor and his editor review and allow, “maybe.” The fact that it appears in the paper on the front page no less, suggests the management and owners of the Herald approve.


Then the story itself; it starts off with the first 5 or 6 paragraphs that seem to be pro-Romney. The next few paragraphs are a bit more neutral and slightly pro-Obama. Then it says, damning with faint praise: “And the president probably won, but he probably needed a far bigger win to change the trajectory of the race. He didn’t score the type of knockout that Romney did during the first debate. So Obama, who started to close the gap after the second debate, is likely to still trail in the polls….  A sign Obama was behind: He went on the attack early and often with one-liners and barbs. Romney held his own, but it’s tougher to score on defense.”


Poor, honest, hard-working, all-American Romney, struggling to hold his own against the vicious attacks of the nasty black man who isn’t even a citizen!


There’s no question of the slant in that article. Yes, the Herald labeled it “news analysis” which means opinion, but the fact of it’s being on the front page, suggests a strategic series of choices by those deciding what goes on the front page—the management team, to put it there.  Is this bias? If we know that most people don’t read the labels such as “new analysis” but only the headlines: “The winner: maybe Obama,” I think we have the kind of subtle bias that has not only characterized this campaign but all the coverage of the President.


The October 15 issue of the Christian Science Monitor in an article entitled: “Are the mainstream media biased?” has this paragraph near the end: “The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism crunched numbers late last year and found that coverage of Obama had a negative tone more often than did coverage of Republican presidential aspirants [right? That gang of charlatans and buffoons got more favorable coverage than the President? Can you believe that?].  As of this spring, the project was tracking the tone of coverage for Romney and Obama, and was finding a generally positive tone for Romney from March through May. For Obama, the tilt was more negative.”


So the negative bias seems to be real and pervasive, a constant drip, drip, drip clouding the perceptions of those casual, uninformed consumers of mainstream—I hate to agree with Palin but I will, “lame street” media. Are the casual, uninformed consumers of mainstream media also the uninformed voter and the much vaunted “independents” who still haven’t made up their minds? Maybe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One More on Fixing Democracy, Part 3

This is the last in a series of posts on how to make our democracy work better based on an article, The Wisdom of Crowds, How to involve ordinary citizens in complex political decisions, by Marco Visscher, in The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly Ode).


“The Danes realizing over beers in a Copenhagen cafĂ© 25 years ago never imagined their radical idea would strike such a chord.  ‘We usually meet skepticism in the science and industry communities, but it fades during the process,’ says Kluver.  He understands that experts tend to view social and political challenges as technical problems, while citizens raise ethical and cultural issues. ‘The conference usually provides a milestone for them to which they refer even years later,’ he says.


“Satheesh believes there’s a lesson to be learned: Talk to the people first, before you make political decisions. ‘Put all your cards down in front of them,’ he says. ‘Don’t cheat. Don’t hide. Let them make decisions.’”

Monday, October 22, 2012

One More on Fixing Democracy, Part 2

This is the next to the last in a series of posts on how to make our democracy work better based on an article, The Wisdom of Crowds, How to involve ordinary citizens in complex political decisions, by Marco Visscher, in The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly Ode).


“Over the years, these citizen panels, made up of 12 to 18 volunteers, have fueled debate inside and outside the Danish Parliament.  They’ve also inspired new legislation, including a ban on the use of DNA testing by employers and medical insurers. And the model has found its way to other countries, from South Korea to Zimbabwe. This fall, ordinary citizens will be consulted in anticipation of the U.N. conference on biodiversity.  According to Kluver, this proves that ‘citizen participation can, in fact, be brought to the global level as well.’


“The model has also been applied with illiterate farmers in India.  Plans by the Indian government to give biotechnology a prominent place in agricultural policy would have significant consequences for farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh, yet they were not consulted. So in 2001, several NGOs decided to form a ‘jury’ of local farmers. For a week they discussed, based on expert interviews, the consequences of the government’s plans. The week resulted in a prajateerpu, or ‘people’s verdict.’


“P.V. Satheesh, director of the Deccan Development Society in Hyderabad, was there. ‘Great excitement was in the air,’ he remembers. ‘Never in their lives had the farmers been consulted on such issues to give a verdict as a jury. The farmers we had assembled didn’t have the social power to ask touch questions. They were very polite and asked questions softly and a bit circumspectly.’


“Nonetheless, a lobbyist for a seed breeder bellowed that he had come to give a presentation and ‘not to reply to your stupid questions.’ One government official refused to stand in front of the group of farmers and demanded a table and a chair.


“The farmers advised the government to put its biotechnology plans on hold. According to them, malnutrition in their region would decline only barely or not at all, while dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides would increase.  They called for self-sufficiency and a vision of agriculture that better embraced Indian values.”