Category Archives: Communication
Dear Howard Schultz, & Starbucks Baristas
Dear Howard Schultz (CEO), & Starbucks Baristas everywhere,
By now most of you have heard of the RANTFever that is sweeping our land over your attempt to de-Christianize Christmas on your bright RED holiday cups. I truly am sorry for all this hubbub. It’s just wrong. “Christians are being persecuted,” some Christians cry! One man, Paul Matthew Turner, on returning from India to the US, remarked somewhat incredulously over all the fuss over the Starbucks stuff. I’ll just quote one of his less vitriol reactions here— “what a shallow, disgusting, and completely moronic portrayal of “faith” this is!” You can read more here—https://www.facebook.com/MPTAuthor?fref=ts
Josh Feuerstein, a Christian protagonist (read Jackass), offers us a more inappropriate response in his simple RANT on his Facebook page—https://www.facebook.com/joshua.feuerstein.5/videos/689569711145714/ Really, watch it to see what NOT to do! And read the first link as well.
What amazes me is that anyone is so surprised in 21st Century America that Starbucks is not overtly “Christian” on its holiday coffee cups! Why should they be? Since when have we been a Christian nation, or Starbucks a Christian business?!? One ABC news commentator (whom I have a secret crush on so will not reveal her name) actually said, “If you want the Starbucks cup to be more Christmasy draw a snowman on it.”
During this Holiday Season, do I expect my Volvo mechanic to stamp my bill with a manger-scene— in red & green? Do I expect my doctor to wish me Merry Christmas; he’s Jewish. (He did anyway. Go figure.) Nor do I expect St. Nick to slide down my chimney. He’d get his ass fried.
I do expect people, at this time of year, to be more joyful, loving, suicidal (I do counseling.), sacrificial, and considerate. I even expect (some) drivers to let me to cut into their lane when I use my turn-signal. It’s just “the Season.”
For Christians everywhere, genuine Christians, not the whatever-the-hell-they-are Christians, take this Season of the year to honor your neighbors. DO NOT give them a fruit-cake. Don’t be one either. Invite them for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, a New Year’s party! Learn to make Wassail together. DRINK Wassail together (hic). Share your family’s celebrations together.
So, dearest Howard Schultz & Starbucks Baristas, THANK YOU for your Red Cups this Season! They’re bright & cheery! I need that. Honestly, I need your coffee just as much. Especially the Gram Latte’s! They’re great! Thank you very much for them.
And, not to be offensive in any way, Merry Christmas to all of you at Starbucks! You’re doing a great job of encouraging a lot of people at this time of year. Particularly me.
…and a Happy New Year, too,
Tolerance isn’t what you think it is
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German born 19th Century philosopher who speculated on the nature of Being and Nothingness (“To Be or Not To Be…? Hamlet?). He concluded that for every thesis, a statement about some idea, there is an opposing antithesis, an opposing idea. These two opposing positions would battle it out and result, most of the time, in a synthesis of the two. Hegel used this formulation only once, but it formed the basis for many of his subsequent hypotheses.
So today, 200 years on, what does this have to do with anything?!?
In these last few weeks/months/years our society has become so reactionary that people are neglecting the common courtesy of thinking before they act. Too many of us are jus’ letting” it all hang out, blowing up, accusing each other, not even listening to the other group’s full thesis. Thus do tempers flare, stereotypes flourish, and a kind of seething hatred takes over, further widening the gap between people and positions. Winning is all that matters. Being right. It’s always tit for tat: thesis vs. antithesis. We never seem to grow into a synthesis beyond all our posturing.
The recent Supreme Court rulings for gay-marriages, Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner, and our President striking a nuclear pact with Iran, Confederate Flag waving, have all contributed to the further polarization of the Left & the Right, Conservative vs. Liberal, Bible Belt/Wheat Belt vs. East/West Coasts & our larger cities. E pluribus unum still means Out of many, One; but we are hardly definable by that precept any longer.
It would be more accurate to admit that we are a nation of individualists, of special interest groups, of political parties & sub-parties, of religious and non-religious groups all seeking dominance in the dance of democracy. One group wins over another, then another group triumphs: thesis- anti-thesis; we never arrive at a synthesis for the common good.
It’s time we brought divergent groups, parties, & whoever to the table of human decency and admitted we live in a pluralistic society. We are bound together not to fight only for our own rights, but to fight for each other’s right to exist and to have a voice. We owe it to one another to learn NOT to tolerate one another, but to defend each other, to care about the prosperity and happiness of people who are not like us. We may not be “under God” any longer (probably never were), but at the very least we owe it to ourselves and to our children to work on a resolution to all the brawling for self-aggrandizing superiority.
IF we do not, this reactionary positioning will have reverberations well into many future generations.
God help us all
If you’ve ever driven ‘cross country on Saturday night you might have tuned-in to PBS’s PRAIRE HOME COMPANION, a weekly broadcast of Garrison Keilor, onetime resident of the ill-fitted Lake Wobegone, and modern satirical comedian.
The show is “sponsored” by the fictitious product “Powdermilk Biscuits,” whose slogan is “Made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers; so you know they’re not only good for you, but pure … mostly,” which “give shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. Heavens they’re tasty and expeditious.” Powdermilk Biscuits has its own theme song, sung by Keillor every week. And NO, I’m not going to sing it for you.
It has always been fascinating to me how something can be “mostly pure.” I question this every time I read the ingredients listed on our food products. “Mostly pure?!?” I think. What does that mean? I also think of it at funerals when people speak of the deceased as “a good man.” It’s the reflection in their voice that gives me pause— like they’re trying to convince themselves of it.
Defining anything as mostly pure causes me to wonder if we even know what pure actually is anymore. A girl who is a virgin is defined as pure as she approaches marital status. “Pure 100% Virgin Olive Oil” makes me curious about what the other olive oils are. Are they like Dove Soap— “99.99% pure.” It’s almost as if being described as pure is derogatory, especially if you are a young lass. I mean, who wants to marry someone who is still a virgin!?! Really.
Our culture doesn’t seem concerned with being pure in any way whatsoever, whether it be sexually, morally, politically, or in family and business priorities and commitments. Why is that?
Here are just four causes for our loss of concern for purity—
1. We’ve become jaded. Thanks to modern media we can learn everything about anybody. It’s on the Internet, in the Tabloids, and on Headline News. We’ve grown accustomed to our public figures, be they politicians, athletes, or celebrities, being “dirty” in some way. And we simply accept it.
2. It’s all about winning. UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders has said “Winning isn’t everything: it’s the ONLY thing!” (1950) Win at all costs, by skill, cheating, trickery…, whatever. Just win!
3. Our base concern is the Bottom-Line. Making money is the only thing that matters. Screw anybody, just to make a buck. Remember the Wall Street broker’s answer to the question? “How much money is enough?” “More!” That’s why lawyers are brought in to arbitrate an agreement. It is assumed that both parties will write the contract in their favor exclusively. Purity and fairness never come into the equation.
4. A total abnegation of personal and corporate (not to mention governmental) Integrity. We no longer have a problem with disguising a lie as a truth, or with omitting certain data to make ourselves look better. Pragmatism has supplanted personal integrity in unfathomable ways.
To change this cultural-life pattern is no simple task. But we must start (yes, again) to correct our ways before God and our fellow men & women. Might I suggest we start with our own lives and relationships, and then press on to demand some degree of personal integrity and purity from our cultural leaders? 99.99% is sounding pretty good. Mostly pure!
For what it’s worth,
Beyond being in control
Staying in control is probably the #1 value of most people in Western Society. Being out of control is scary; it is always lurking just below the surface of our consciousness. Personal security, personal independence, and personal significance are our TOP priorities (after food and shelter.) We have this innate fear of being out-of-control.
Some people take it too far; becoming micro-managers at work and a home. They must be hands-on and on-top of everything. If this attitude becomes embedded in a person’s psyche it creates issues of trust and insecurity. Even close friends do not want to be around them. Sometimes, it causes people to hide their true selves from those outside and to cocoon within a private world of fantasy or fear. This is not good for the soul.
However, there is another path to be taken for those who draw their strength and define their identity from somewhere beyond this present realm. It is for those who have decided that being in-control isn’t as safe and secure as they once thought. It is for those who are tired of working so feverishly to have power over everything around them. It is for those who are ready to let go.
Moving beyond being in control is frightening and terrifying. It means that you are consciously removing yourself from the button, the control switch, from being the central figure around whom all others must revolve. You must become such a person who will put your faith, your trust, in others, and, quite frankly, in God.
Why is it that we rise to our point of success in life, only to find a ceiling of doubt and emptiness at the top? The reason is that we were not meant to climb this ladder in isolation, as individuals; we were designed to do it in relationships: first, in relationships with those around us, and second, in relationship with the God who made us. This is not rocket-surgery; it is an obvious observance.
We must move beyond being in control to trust, to delegation, both of responsibility and authority, and to letting go. [Listen— Paul Cardall. Letting Go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUONnfHb7a8 ]. It is in letting go of control that we lose our tightness, our fears, our need for dominance, and put on the cloak of grace.
If you truly want to lead, then you must move beyond being in control and learn to let go.
For what it’s worth,
‘Tis the season for summer colds; viri, if you please. In the last couple of weeks I have had two of them— one in my sinuses, the other on my laptop. Actually, ONE in my body, and 555 on my laptop. I was at the point of despair. I could not be productive because of “malware, viruses, Trojans (probably a few Spartans too), and worms,” and I could not breathe or think clearly because of the, er, mucus. It was disgusting, to say the least. Now, all is well!
Why is it that such small widdle infections shut down our bodies and render our electronic selves null and void?!? It’s just not fair! I want to live a vibrant, productive life; not one run down from some microbe impossible to see even under an electron microscope (die, you sucker!), let alone by some hacker’s idea of fun. (May the computer-gods have mercy on their foul deeds.)
But isn’t that just the way it goes sometimes? We make these great plans for our day, our life, then we wake up one morning with a runny nose; or our computer gives us so many pop-ups and redirects that we just want to chuck it against a wall!?! Does infuriating ring a bell?
It has always astonished me that the evolution theorists don’t seem to be talking to the chaos theorists. Left to develop on their own, things do NOT improve: they get worse, like a teenagers room. Left untreated my virus would run its course and run me down. Selah. Left unchecked, my computer virus would render my faithful widdle waptop useless. Selah.
Things are not getting better.
Certainly, we have great advances in medical technology, protecting the environment, improving the quality of life, even in constructing faster and more versatile computers. But, overall, would you say our world is a better place? My runny nose and CNN seem to indicate otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, these modern technologies and discoveries make my life easier and more productive every day, except for the recent 555 invasion. But we seem to have regressed to a phase of human development where individual power, national and/or religious rights, and the struggle for world dominance has supplanted civil, humanitarian respect for our fellow inhabitants of this planet.
Some people cry out “Why can’t we all just get along?!? Good question. The answer isn’t so pleasant. Want it? At its core? Here’s my version—
We have turned our backs to the principles God set down at Creation
and decided we knew how to run things better than He does.
Thus, virus infections in both man and machine.
First, a disclaimer— I am not a Bourbon drinker, let alone a connoisseur. But when a friend of mine told me he had bought a $4 bourbon, I assumed he meant a glass of the stuff. He did not. He meant the whole bottle. For four bucks! That’s $4.00! Four ounces of STP Gas Treatment costs about the same— by comparison. Octane Boost is $7.50.
But this was an entire bottle of Bourbon for $4.00. My interest was piqued! So I turned to the Internet to discover what could possibly be that cheap. After perusing a few sites it seemed that the unanimous conclusion was a certain brand that will go unnamed because I do not want to go to jail. A number of bourbon drinkers described it as “tasting mostly like dirt.” Blended, no less. I decided sampling it was out of the question.
Thus, philosophically did I ponder— What is the purpose of Four-Buck Bourbon? I came up with these possible options—
1. To get totally plastered! Cheaply.
2. A gift for that special relative.
3. A Car-Starter on a cold winter’s morn.
4. Cheap octane-booster.
5. A De-greaser.
7. Flavoring in even worse coffee.
8. Cough medicine.
9. A Molotov Cocktail.
10. Self-initiated suicide. (No reports on success rate).
More realistically, I pondered— Why would anyone buy Four-Buck Bourbon? Other than a few of the ideas above, I could only deduce two—
1. To get plastered…, again.
2. You could not afford STP Octane Boost.
These same philosophical questions arise when many of us choose what we really value. We tend to settle for group-think; what the majority believes. “I’ll have what he’s having.” We settle for the cheap instead of doing the hard work of considering the issues, the morality, the implications, the ramifications and effects on other people.
Actions DO have consequences. Make sure your actions are worth something. Don’t settle for the Four-Buck Bourbon level of contribution to the needs of our world. And if you DO drink Four-Buck Bourbon, my apologies; and my prayers.
For what it’s worth,
My Preference – my Presc-ciousss!
How much do personal preferences cause perennial problems between people?!? OK, the alliteration is iffy; but the issue it illuminates is a serious one. At times it seems that too many of us place our personal proclivities and preferences above the good of-the-many. It’s what I want that matters; not what you want. My desires come first.
Some of us just cannot seem to get along with anyone. Why? Because we refuse to cut any slack to anyone to who does not meet our standards of excellence; who will not see things any other way but their own; who refuse to admit that their personal preference is is only one way. They will not admit they could be wrong or that someone else might be right.
How dare we make our personal preferences the standard by which we judge everything else?!? So if you disagree with me, forgetaboutit. I need have nothing more to do with you.
NO ONE individual has all the strengths needed to master a craft, to complete a complex task, or to bring a dream or plan to fruition. We ALL need one another to make society, or family, or church, or business, work.
So can we lay aside our preferences and begin to build something together?!? Too many of us hoard our abilities and preferences like J.R.R Tolkien’s Gollum with his Presc-ciousss; his Ring-of-Power, which, in the end was the power that possessed him and destroyed him.
Far too often, our preferences take over our very core-values and destroy us. We believe that our way is the only right way, and we break friendships and commitments with those who feel otherwise. Some things, to be sure, are worth fighting for; but hanging onto our particular preferences is not one of them. True strength, true power, is the natural byproduct of people with different strengths, and preferences, coming together to build something greater.
Are up for that? Or would you rather hang on for dear life to your personal preferences…, your presc-ciousss?
Speak your mind
Quasi anima tua? Speak your mind! So few of us do. Those who know who they are do— cautiously, graciously. Those who are ignorant and uncouth do; usually with little thought to the effect their candor might have on others. Those who parade their arrogance about also speak their mind— what there is of it. Some, to be sure, have something to say and should speak their mind. I believe you are such a person.
But Truth, though difficult to hear or comprehend at times, especially in regard to science or religion, is oft composed of the most blatant, kindest words. To package it any other way would be to dilute it, to treat it as of little significance, or simply to dismiss it as inconsequential.
We at www.needinc.org and www.workingoutyourcrap.com, are purveyors of truth…, and Truth. We want to face the difficult issues of our time with bravery and humility, wisdom and wit, steadfastness and skepticism, openness and curiosity. WE are not afraid of what we might find: we look forward to the challenges to our beliefs and opinions. We hope you hold a few solid opinions and well thought-through beliefs as well. Listening to learn, to understand is always preferable to aiming nukes at each other, starting religious wars, or stereotypically scorning one another.
So please, PLEASE, post some comments on our WEBsites so more people can disagree with us. We don’t want to merely write BLOGS and Posts just to add to the verbosity of the WEB. Rather, we want to engage different minds, divergent opinions, and find people who are willing to make the effort to tell us how much they disagree with us. OR, it would be nice if some of you even liked us, actually agreed with us— and then commented on our sites. PLEASE!
I’m not usually a groveler; and I never suck-up to anyone to get recognition. NEVER! But I would kill to get your feedback! Not you, of course; because then how would you ever write any feedback for us. Oh, never mind! This is getting confusing.
Just SPEAK YOUR MIND! ON OUR WEBSITE! Or I’m coming to get you!
There now, don’t you feel better? I do. J
perspicuous \ per-SPIK-yoo-uhs\, adjective:
- Clearly expressed or presented; lucid.
Perspicuous stems from the Latin perspicere meaning “to look or see through.”
One of the primary barriers to clear communication is our own inability to be clear, to express our thoughts and ideas clearly, to be precise & lucid, when describing or defining something. Our culture has grown lazy with words; thus the constant query, you know what I mean? Or, the abbreviated— um. The average high school vocabulary level is between 6,000 – 45,000 words. College graduates up that to 50,000 – 75,000 words. Post-grads use between 75,000 – 120,000 words.
[note: William Shakespeare (1564-1616) used approximately 30,000 words; he invented 600 words in Hamlet alone, and introduced over 20,000 words into the English common vocabulary.]
Our inability to explain or describe things accurately has numerous effects on our society. For one, we are unable to convey the most important experiences in our lives due to our limited vocabulary. Another effect is our decreasing ability to simply say what we mean, or to write what we mean. Don’t believe it? Check t he norml email and tri to fil in th blanks. And do not try to blame it on spel checkr. We are in the era of LOL, TMI and acronyms for everything. C?
But a more serious problem arises out of our seeming lack of skill with clear communication; that being— our inability to 1) clearly define what we see in another person’s life, and 2) to accurately see into our own lives. A paucity of precise words naturally leads to difficulty in defining our perceptions. We must resign ourselves to a mere sense about another, rather than a rich comprehension of who they truly are. Inversely, a lack of words to define what we want to say limits us from knowing and describing our deeper selves. In critical moments, this produces an aggravating frustration within us. We simply cannot put our finger on who we are, or where we are in life, or what describes us in our deeper, core level.
Let’s go back to the Latin roots of our word— perspicere; “to look or see through.” If we remain lazy about delving deeply into ourselves, how will we ever see through the walls of protection erected by those around us? Maybe if we started being deeply honest with ourselves, possibly bouncing our insights off of a trusted friend, we would be granted the gift of being able to see more clearly into the lives of others.
For what it’s worth,