So, who cares about this adult stage development stuff, SWOG lady?  Well, let me make the case for why we should all care.

Take a look at this chart, and focus on the difference in percentages between the UK and US when it comes to the earlier vs later stages of adult development (you can click on the picture to see it more clearly):

adult-stage-distributions-us-uk

Knowing the little bit I do about the differences in how people behave in those earlier stages versus the later stages, the fact that the US has over 58% of US managers and supervisors operating at the “Expert” stage or earlier is concerning to me.  We wonder why the country is polarized and divided.   I think the following information taken from the Cook-Greuter work will help shed light on some of the behaviors demonstrated at those earlier stages:

 

  • Morality: When Opportunists lose a test of will, or overstep a boundary, they see the cause as outside themselves. They get frustrated and tend to show free-flowing anger and hostility. Others are to blame, never oneself. Their own anger towards the world is projected outward.
  • Interpersonal: Self-protective individuals especially the Opportunist type tend to cause much friction and hurt feelings wherever they go because of the “I win, you lose” mentality. This is especially so in relationship to others at more conventional stages. In turn, others describe Opportunists as unpredictable, unreasonable, manipulative and exploitative.
  • Cognitive style: Thinking is concrete and dichotomous, based on global, undifferentiated judgments, and simple ideas. Things look black or white. Others are either for me or against me.
  • Language clues: Experience is described in simple dichotomies – good/bad, right/wrong, fun/boring or with concrete, physical words such as in “life is hard.” Often strong negative affect is expressed.
  • Morality: Conformists adhere to a simple rule: “everything goes into two piles. The good, or correct, and the bad, or incorrect.” Knowing the distinction makes it easier to make sense of the world. Every decision, every idea, every person, every action, fits in one pile or the other. There are few, if any, shades of gray, no irony, and no intangibles. Actions are carried out with conviction. This is how it is done around here. “Either you are with us and agree or you are against us.”
  • Feelings: Blind conformism, fundamentalism and prejudice can be expressions of this early conventional frame of mind.
  • Interpersonal style: Because Conformists so desperately want to belong, they will conform to the rules and norms of whatever desired group, gang, political party they belong to.
  • Conscious preoccupation: Conformists put great value on appearance, status symbols, material possessions, reputation and prestige. They are concerned with social acceptance and attempt to adjust to group norms. They deeply care about other’s opinions and evaluations although they are not likely to ask for feedback.
  • Coaching-Counseling style: Conformists like to give lots of advice telling others what to do or not to do. They also tend to compare and evaluate others according to their own preferences where the way I manage or we do it here is the right way while other ways are simply wrong and need to be corrected.
  • Cognitive:  Experts tend to focus on doing things right or correctly, not yet on doing the right things. That is they offer single loop solutions, rather than questioning their preferred approach. Indeed, their own way of doing something is seen as the only right way.
  • Social: Experts may reject their family of origin or their childhood beliefs, yet they still need a reference group that accepts and respects them. Only now they want to be accepted by others because of how they are different and special. Expertise and knowledge are ways to distinguish oneself. Professional peer groups and organizations thus supply the need for approval and belonging. Degrees, authorities, and reference books in the field also provide the needed support for defending one’s approach. However, feeling special can easily lead to feeling superior as one wants to stand out from the crowd.

This is a small sample from her work but you get the idea.  And we wonder why we’re polarized?  If you have access to HBO, I would recommend you watch the special, “VICE Special Report:  A House Divided.”  See what you think about whether the above information is reflected in that report.

I’m not sure exactly what to do about this except push ourselves to continue developing broader perspectives, other ways of looking at things, realizing we’re not always right and our way isn’t the only way to do things.  Seek to understand before being understood.  If your natural inclination is to judge, I would encourage you to work on suspending judgement and conclusions in the interest of understanding.  And, of course, demonstrating that behavior to others you lead is an important consideration, as well.

I used to be drawn to intelligence and accomplishment.  Now I find myself drawn to open-mindedness and away from polarizing judgments.  I love the “what if” discussions instead of “this is the way–the only way–the right way.”  I also find myself admiring humility.  You know the person in the room who is the world’s expert on whatever and you would NEVER know it because of how unassuming he/she is;  the people who have grown beyond having to prove themselves to everyone or anyone who will listen to them; the people who don’t need to be the center of attention and tell people how special they are.

Maybe I’m just old and tired.  Maybe I’m onto something.  I’ll let you decide for yourself.  Next up is how to recognize (potentially) if you’re going through a transformation to another stage of development.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

 

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Enough is enough!  This is the last one, I promise (maybe!), but I have gotten some good feedback on this one so I thought I would share it with my swog blog friends.  This comes right out of the Harvard Business Review daily blog and it was written shortly after the election last week.  It is long, but I’m putting it into my blog in its entirety instead of posting a link.  The reason?  I really, really want you to read it.

I am giving a shout out to Harvard Business Review.  They have been so adept at sharing perspectives on the election results from articles like the one below to one on why the polls got it so wrong.  I would be remiss if I didn’t put a plug in for them.  If you lead–and again, most of us do even within our own families if not at work– I would highly recommend you subscribe.

Finally, I’m interested in what you’ve heard, read and the themes you feel are important for us to address as Americans going forward.  What thoughts do you have a week later based on what you’ve absorbed?  Let’s continue the dialogue.

What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class
• Joan C. Williams
My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment.

He dropped out of school in eighth grade to help support the family. Eventually he got a good, steady job he truly hated, as an inspector in a factory that made those machines that measure humidity levels in museums. He tried to open several businesses on the side but none worked, so he kept that job for 38 years. He rose from poverty to a middle-class life: the car, the house, two kids in Catholic school, the wife who worked only part-time. He worked incessantly. He had two jobs in addition to his full-time position, one doing yard work for a local magnate and another hauling trash to the dump.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he read The Wall Street Journal and voted Republican. He was a man before his time: a blue-collar white man who thought the union was a bunch of jokers who took your money and never gave you anything in return. Starting in 1970, many blue-collar whites followed his example. This week, their candidate won the presidency.

For months, the only thing that’s surprised me about Donald Trump is my friends’ astonishment at his success. What’s driving it is the class culture gap.

One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctor without the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful.

Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.

Manly dignity is a big deal for working-class men, and they’re not feeling that they have it. Trump promises a world free of political correctness and a return to an earlier era, when men were men and women knew their place. It’s comfort food for high-school-educated guys who could have been my father-in-law if they’d been born 30 years earlier. Today they feel like losers — or did until they met Trump.

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.

Isn’t what happened to Clinton unfair? Of course it is. It is unfair that she wasn’t a plausible candidate until she was so overqualified she was suddenly unqualified due to past mistakes. It is unfair that Clinton is called a “nasty woman” while Trump is seen as a real man. It’s unfair that Clinton only did so well in the first debate because she wrapped her candidacy in a shimmy of femininity. When she returned to attack mode, it was the right thing for a presidential candidate to do but the wrong thing for a woman to do. The election shows that sexism retains a deeper hold that most imagined. But women don’t stand together: WWC women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin — 62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won.

Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics. Policy makers of both parties — but particularly Democrats if they are to regain their majorities — need to remember five major points.

Understand That Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor
The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

Progressives have lavished attention on the poor for over a century. That (combined with other factors) led to social programs targeting them. Means-tested programs that help the poor but exclude the middle may keep costs and tax rates lower, but they are a recipe for class conflict. Example: 28.3%of poor families receive child-care subsidies, which are largely nonexistent for the middle class. So my sister-in-law worked full-time for Head Start, providing free child care for poor women while earning so little that she almost couldn’t pay for her own. She resented this, especially the fact that some of the kids’ moms did not work. One arrived late one day to pick up her child, carrying shopping bags from Macy’s. My sister-in-law was livid.

J.D. Vance’s much-heralded Hillbilly Elegy captures this resentment. Hard-living families like that of Vance’s mother live alongside settled families like that of his biological father. While the hard-living succumb to despair, drugs, or alcohol, settled families keep to the straight and narrow, like my parents-in-law, who owned their home and sent both sons to college. To accomplish that, they lived a life of rigorous thrift and self-discipline. Vance’s book passes harsh judgment on his hard-living relatives, which is not uncommon among settled families who kept their nose clean through sheer force of will. This is a second source of resentment against the poor.

Other books that get at this are Hard Living on Clay Street (1972) and Working-Class Heroes (2003).
Understand How Class Divisions Have Translated into Geography
The best advice I’ve seen so far for Democrats is the recommendation that hipsters move to Iowa. Class conflict now closely tracks the urban-rural divide. In the huge red plains between the thin blue coasts, shockingly high numbers of working-class men are unemployed or on disability, fueling a wave of despair deaths in the form of the opioid epidemic.
Vast rural areas are withering away, leaving trails of pain. When did you hear any American politician talk about that? Never.
Jennifer Sherman’s Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t (2009) covers this well.

If You Want to Connect with White Working-Class Voters, Place Economics at the Center
“The white working class is just so stupid. Don’t they realize Republicans just use them every four years, and then screw them?” I have heard some version of this over and over again, and it’s actually a sentiment the WWC agrees with, which is why they rejected the Republican establishment this year. But to them, the Democrats are no better.

Both parties have supported free-trade deals because of the net positive GDP gains, overlooking the blue-collar workers who lost work as jobs left for Mexico or Vietnam. These are precisely the voters in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that Democrats have so long ignored. Excuse me. Who’s stupid?

One key message is that trade deals are far more expensive than we’ve treated them, because sustained job development and training programs need to be counted as part of their costs.

At a deeper level, both parties need an economic program that can deliver middle-class jobs. Republicans have one: Unleash American business. Democrats? They remain obsessed with cultural issues. I fully understand why transgender bathrooms are important, but I also understand why progressives’ obsession with prioritizing cultural issues infuriates many Americans whose chief concerns are economic.

Back when blue-collar voters used to be solidly Democratic (1930–1970), good jobs were at the core of the progressive agenda. A modern industrial policy would follow Germany’s path. (Want really good scissors? Buy German.) Massive funding is needed for community college programs linked with local businesses to train workers for well-paying new economy jobs. Clinton mentioned this approach, along with 600,000 other policy suggestions. She did not stress it.

Avoid the Temptation to Write Off Blue-Collar Resentment as Racism
Economic resentment has fueled racial anxiety that, in some Trump supporters (and Trump himself), bleeds into open racism. But to write off WWC anger as nothing more than racism is intellectual comfort food, and it is dangerous.

National debates about policing are fueling class tensions today in precisely the same way they did in the 1970s, when college kids derided policemen as “pigs.” This is a recipe for class conflict. Being in the police is one of the few good jobs open to Americans without a college education. Police get solid wages, great benefits, and a respected place in their communities. For elites to write them off as racists is a telling example of how, although race- and sex-based insults are no longer acceptable in polite society, class-based insults still are.

I do not defend police who kill citizens for selling cigarettes. But the current demonization of the police underestimates the difficulty of ending police violence against communities of color. Police need to make split-second decisions in life-threatening situations. I don’t. If I had to, I might make some poor decisions too.
Saying this is so unpopular that I risk making myself a pariah among my friends on the left coast. But the biggest risk today for me and other Americans is continued class cluelessness. If we don’t take steps to bridge the class culture gap, when Trump proves unable to bring steel back to Youngstown, Ohio, the consequences could turn dangerous.

Saying this is so unpopular that I risk making myself a pariah among my friends on the left coast. But the biggest risk today for me and other Americans is continued class cluelessness. If we don’t take steps to bridge the class culture gap, when Trump proves unable to bring steel back to Youngstown, Ohio, the consequences could turn dangerous.

In 2010, while on a book tour for Reshaping the Work-Family Debate, I gave a talk about all of this at the Harvard Kennedy School. The woman who ran the speaker series, a major Democratic operative, liked my talk. “You are saying exactly what the Democrats need to hear,” she mused, “and they’ll never listen.” I hope now they will.


Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

 


OK, well I said I was going to stop commenting on the election, but this is about broadening my/our collective perspectives on how others view this phenomenon.  And since many have compared the recent Brexit situation in the UK with Mr. Trump becoming the American President-Elect, I thought it would help to share this author’s perspectives.  I have another HBR article I may share tomorrow as well, which somewhat serves to complement what you’ll read below.

The author of the below blogpost is Richard Barrett who is Founder and Chairman of the Barrett Values Centre based out of the UK.  I attended a webinar he conducted a few weeks ago and was immensely impressed with his research and ideas on human development.  And, yes, I know the UK would likely be considered Social Capitalists so this article won’t come as a total surprise.  Here are his thoughts in a recent blog post:

Dealing With the Shock of the Brexit & Trump Votes

On the 24th June and the 9th November 2016, approximately half the population of the UK and half the population of USA awoke to the shocking and painful news that their current lifestyle was under threat and their future needs might not be met.

Meanwhile, the other half of the population of the UK and the USA awoke to the joyful and hopeful news that their current lifestyle might improve and their future needs might be met.

The same event in each country triggered fear in one group and hope in another group.
The fear of the first group is that they will not be able to meet their aspirations. The hope of the second group is that they will be able to meet their aspirations. Why this difference? The answer is simple—inequality.

One group was presented with opportunities to evolve and grow so they could take care of their survival, safety and security needs, and the other group, mostly for reasons beyond their control, never got those opportunities. They got left behind. Their life is a daily struggle for survival, safety and security .

The system was stacked against the group that got left behind because those who were able to evolve and grow became the political elites who controlled the policies that enabled them to further enhance their own survival, safety and security. Now, those who benefited from this situation, and took their opportunities, are in shock.

There are three possible reasons for this shock, all of which have to do with fear:

They are afraid that they will no longer be able to manage their current survival, safety and security needs;
They are afraid that they will no longer be able to manage their future survival, safety and security needs;
They cannot make meaning of what happened and have defaulted to their greatest fear. Whenever we cannot make meaning, we always assume the worst. This inbuilt survival mechanism lies at the root of all traumas.
If you are experiencing any of these fears, here is what you can do.

First, try to see the bigger picture; this will help you to understand what happened. If you cannot understand what happened, then you will not be able to give meaning to the situation, and you will live in your greatest fear.

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Second, recognize that this is a transformational moment: an opportunity for you to move beyond “us and them.” The truth is we cannot move forward unless we all move forward together. We must shift our attitude from “What’s in it for me” to “What’s best for the common good.” We must individually and collectively embrace those who got left behind and help them to meet their survival, safety and security needs. Only then, will we all be able to move forward/
We either move forward together, or we don’t move forward at all.

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Third, understand that the world is in turmoil because billions of people on the planet are not able to meet their survival, safety and security needs. We will never find the peace and stability we are all yearning for by focusing on our own needs. We will only find peace when we can embrace empathy and compassion for those who are less well off than ourselves and by doing whatever we can to contribute to the good of the whole.

~~

If you are living in fear, you are part of the problem. When you move beyond fear, you become part of the solution.

For further reading:

Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations

A New Psychology of Human Well-Being

Written by

Richard Barrett
Chairman and Founder at Barrett Values Centre

 


I do want to bring my commentary on the election to a close but I do not want to stop the dialogue on the valuable lessons we must learn from the experience.  So, let the discussion continue!

I couldn’t help but wind down the topic with a special post that Richard Rohr put on his blog last Friday morning.  You will find it below.

Rebuilding from the Bottom Up: A Reflection following the Election

Friday, November 11, 2016
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
Beside the streams of Babylon, we sat and wept, trying to remember Mount Zion. —Psalm 137:1

Every four years a significant portion of the United States is disappointed with the outcome of our national election. Still, this election has felt different. There was a palpable fear and anger leading up to Election Day, and for many it has grown even stronger.

This fear is felt deeply by those who are most vulnerable in our country. As a follower of both Jesus and Francis, my primary moral viewpoint is not based in the wellbeing of those who are on top but first in those who are at the bottom.

For the vulnerable who have now been rendered more vulnerable, I lament and pray and promise to stand with you.

A time of national introspection must begin with self-introspection. Without our own inner searching, any of our quests for solutions and policy fixes will be based in shifting sands.

I suspect that we get the leaders who mirror what we have become as a nation. They are our shadow self for all to see. That is what the Jewish prophets told Israel both before and during their painful and long Exile (596-538 BC).

Yet Exile was the very time when the Jewish people went deep and discovered their prophetic voices—Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others—speaking truth to power, calling for justice. Their experience laid the solid foundation for Jesus’ teaching and solidarity with the poor and the outcast.

Maybe some of us naively thought that we could or should place our loyalty in any political agenda or party. Remember, Yahweh told Israel that they should never put their trust in “princes, horses, or chariots” (Psalms 20:7, 33:16-17), but only in the love of God. We must not imagine that political or programmatic changes—of themselves—will ever bring about the goodness, charity, or transformation that the Gospel offers the world.

Do not be afraid to allow conventional wisdom to fail and disappoint you, which is often the only path to wisdom. Imperial thinking focuses on judging who is worthy and who is unworthy, who is in and who is out. We who know about universal belonging and identity in God have a different form of power: Love (even of enemies) is our habitat, not the kingdoms of this world.

Our message is not primarily political, it is much more pre-political and post-political—with huge socio-political implications. We thus need to rebuild from the bottom up!
This election has solidified in us an urgent commitment to CAC’s work of action and contemplation, which now seems needed more than ever before. Grounding social action in contemplative consciousness is not a luxury for a few, but surely a cultural necessity. Both the Christian religion and American psyche now need deep cleansing and healing, and I do not say that lightly.

Only a contemplative mind can hold our fear, confusion, vulnerability, and anger and guide us toward love. Let’s use this milestone moment to begin again with confidence and true inner freedom and to move out into the world with compassion.
May God grant us both courage and peace!

A Prayer
All vulnerable and merciful God,
We do not know what is ours to do.
We feel scared and alone today.
We are tired of taking sides.
We cannot hold any more fear or anger or rejection.
And yet we know so many of our friends feel unheard and unwanted.
Help us trust that no feeling is final,
And that YOU will have the full and final word.
If You are indeed a Suffering God, may we hold this suffering with You for those who voted for Hillary Clinton, for those who voted for President-elect Donald Trump, and for the many who have felt excluded by our politics in the many ways that we do indeed exclude.
We offer ourselves as best we can to hold this Love outward and open toward all, just as You never cease to do toward us.
We believe You are praying this prayer through us.
Amen.

“Only a contemplative mind can hold our fear, confusion, vulnerability, and anger and guide us toward love. Let’s use this milestone moment to begin again with confidence and true inner freedom and to move out into the world with compassion,” Rohr states above.  This my friends is the key.  See Timi’s comment from yesterday.  We must do all AND; not see either OR.  This is a foreign concept for many of us who experience the world in polar opposites.

You can hold all these emotions–anger, fear, confusion AND compassion, hope and love.  I urge you not to demonize those who voted for the other side–whichever way you voted.  Now is the time for gracious winners and losers and the recognition that our country had an almost even number of people who voted for each candidate.  AND, we had a huge number of eligible voters who didn’t vote at all.  We should examine what each of those statistics tells us.

Most importantly, now is not the time to be complacent.

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Here are the next group of responses to my email appeal for understanding.  If you want to read the original email, please see yesterday’s post (November 12, 2016).

 

#8

Hi Bev-
I woke up yesterday feeling very depressed about the election results and our country. I honestly don’t know what I find more upsetting…that Donald Trump will be our next President, or that nearly half of the country would vote for such a close-minded, narcissistic bully. I honestly can’t help you to understand, because I do not understand myself. I guess as I have had a little more time to digest the news I realize that there is a lot of discontent and pain in the country, and I don’t think we can lump all Trump voters together as to what prompted their vote. I’m not sure what the way forward is…but I am going to try and do what Hillary suggested yesterday in her gracious concession speech. Keep an open mind about Trump and give him a chance. Although even as I am typing that I feel very, very skeptical. I woke up this morning and said a prayer for Donald Trump. That his heart would be softened and that he would seek wisdom. I felt a little better afterwards. So perhaps the way forward is to remain civil, disagree in a loving way when called to do so, pray for Trump and our country, and continue to live out and work toward the values that we hold dear.
I would be interested in your thoughts. This is a tough one to swallow!
Take care.
Love,
XXX
P.S. It was kind of ironic…I happened to go to my Afterschool program yesterday afternoon where I volunteer. Several of the teacher aides are refugees from Nepal and are muslim. We had a baby shower for the Director of the program…and these wonderful, kind-hearted aides who hardly have two cents to rub together for their families brought in the most amazing food, baked an incredible cake, and bought or hand-crocheted the most lovely and generous gifts. I would love for Donald Trump to meet them and to see what I see…how they are beautiful additions to our country, and we should be glad that they are here!

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#9
I’m reaching for anything uplifting and inspiring. A good read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-this-disabled-mexican-jewish-woman-isnt-afraid-of-the-trump-administration_us_58239c88e4b0e80b02cead5f

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#10
Hi Bev,
First of all thank you for sending this em, I got a lot of comfort when I saw your em this morning. I was so stunned and disoriented this morning. Like you I have decided to stay away from news for a while to process and heal.
Well my friend it was my first time voting in a national election. I became a US citizen only a year ago! I continue to feel blessed that I got to vote.
As I look forward I am looking at two initial ways to move on from this feeling of what just happened here. First I need to use my meditation practice to focus on an open mind to what lies ahead. In addition, when I am ready to review the autopsy of what happened, I would like to put myself in the shoes of a range of Trump supporters to try to understand what the draw was. I feel that this will help me see their point of view better as well as help me heal and get back to center.
Sending you peace, love and hugs.

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#11
I have struggled to respond because I am still processing. I have not even read the other replies yet. There are so many factors and realities that I find in this outcome that I struggle to get my hands around all of them. But here are a few of my thoughts….

The result makes me believe that the division in our country is even greater than I realized and I have not been paying attention (neither has the media, liberal to moderate Americans, pollsters, etc. but Trump did and maximized on it). Sadly, I believe some of the vote was a hate vote, but hold on to faith that not all who voted for Trump share in that hatred.

The result also makes me believe we are further behind in women’s equality than I thought. And I am disappointed in myself. About nine years ago I shared with my friends that I was certain that America would elect a black man before a woman. I did not say it with sadness (because a wonderful barrier was broken with President Obama’s election), but with steadfast believe from many of my working experiences that men and women continued to hold women to a different standard, were sexist without understanding they were, and many, many barriers existed to women knowing equal rights and equal success in business and politics. I am disappointed that I thought it was different a decade later and did not see that America would not elect a white woman over a white man. But I was certain that the barriers would be hurdled given that the male choice was hateful, lacking civility of any form and had no qualifications for the job. I was wrong.

As for the question What Now…..I believe women must rise stronger and fight harder than ever. Our facilitation skills and nurturing tendencies are needed more than ever. We must use our gifts and help our nation heal and find unity. We must be leaders in reaching across the aisle, holding fast to the believe that we can find common ground – it is simply not that difficult. We are built for this stuff! And we must be prepared to protect those who need protection like a mother lion looking out for her cubs. People of color and religious minorities as well as white people who love these people are scared. No less than three friends of mine who are minorities or have minority children shared this week with me how afraid they are. For those of with privilege, we must use it for the greater good and lend its claim to our neighbors who feel like they have been left in the cold.

While we must be prepared, we must also not despair but draw on our faith to answer this difficult time. We are not alone. I know God is with those who love and so is half of our country who just rejected wanting to live in a hateful, hopeless nation.

May God bless you Bev, all women on your email, the United States of America and ALL of its citizens!!!

Sending you hugs my friend!!!

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#12

Regarding your first question to me…I was in shock and disbelief all the way up to 2:00 am when it was likely a done deal. I shut the tv off and before going to bed, I spent a few private, quiet moments in something like “prayer.” Some of my thoughts were “requests.” For strength, wisdom, and compassion for myself for this time in history. I also requested the same for all of the leaders of our country. I also found myself expressing my gratitude to be living in this time and place.

What surfaced almost immediately last night and this morning was my persistent underlying optimism. The feeling in those moments reminded me of another moment in time when my job and career were directly undermined–IRS was consolidating 7 Regions into 5. We in the Mid-Atlantic Region were a certainty…until at the very last minute, our Region was abolished!! I remember all my co-workers wringing their hands incessantly and being obsessed with worry. I don’t know where it came from but I found myself calm and confident–not stressed at all. I remember saying to myself, what’s the worse that could happen to me with my tenure? My imagination walked through a worse case scenario that would take about 2 years to unfold. I reminded myself that I was a competent, hard-working, likeable employee and that I could weather that possible outcome. And, that in the meantime, I knew I would find something else.

That’s a moment in my life when I fully realized that it is an “abundant” Universe. And that just because one opportunity dissolved, it didn’t mean that no others would become available.

Last night and this morning that same sense of stability came over me. While I detest much what Trump stands for, I do want him, our government, and our country to succeed. Last night I reminded my best friend that this country survived a revolution, a bloody civil war, several world wars, 911, and other big crises…and we got through them all. Having Trump as our president is not as horrific as any of those earlier events in our history. We will work it out. And for me personally and my family, friends, colleagues, community, and other connections, we will make our way even if we don’t know exactly what that way will be like. We will figure it out.

This wave of optimism in the midst of great disappointment did not leave me painless. Hillary’s message this morning was not possible to watch without a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. I am grateful that she was so dedicated to serving our country in such difficult times and under such personal attack.

My sadness and disappointment are still hanging around and will for a while. But I won’t let it consume me and I feel competent that I, and we, can ride out the storm. I can and will continue to do all I can do to take care of myself and my loved ones and to contribute to the greater good.

Thank you for asking for our reflections. It was useful to think through how I feel and to explore what my small presence is in the larger world. I am confident about not just surviving but about thriving.

That’s my 2-, no, 50-cents worth.

Be well.

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This was a “letter” that one of my girlfriends on the original email sent me that was composed by her daughter. It has a link for a letter to Hillary.

#13

Friends,

I don’t know about you, but the shock and pain from Tuesday night have barely begun to wear off. I keep finding layers of reasons to be sad…and I keep coming back to thinking about how awful I feel for Hillary as a human being–to say nothing of her political work, or what her loss means for our country.

The only thing that made me feel a little better this morning was to write a note “to Hillary” and commit to what I want to do next. I’m under no illusions that she will ever read it, but for a few minutes, it felt really cathartic. If you’re on Medium, I’d encourage you to write your own–maybe we can even start a series of these letters. Or feel free to share or react to this post, if you feel so inclined. At a time like this, I think it’s really important that we all capture why she is so important to us in personal ways before people move on and lose some of their passion.

View story at Medium.com

It’s been a real honor and privilege to campaign alongside so many of you this year–thanks so much for your support.

Lots of love,

 

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“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” — Helen Keller

Why does almost every good book or movie drama have a twist and/or tragedy in it?  It’s all about the transformation and overcoming that makes the story a compelling one.  (Spoiler alert!)  Harry Potter had to die so he could live; when he came to what he thought was the end of his life, he learned the difference between Voldemort and him was–love.  Elizabeth Bennett had to lose Darcy until she realized he was the right guy for her after all, AND that she was looking at things in a way not helpful to her.  Romeo and Juliet had to die in order for the two families to finally relinquish their hatred.  In all three examples, they gave up control of something or a way of looking at something in order to gain something deeper and in some ways more powerful.

In real life there is usually some place along the road where one of two things happens to us.  Either we experience something where we have no control AND/OR we come to know that the way we’re looking at something is no longer serving us.  For some people that first time comes when they experience death of a loved one or some illness/injury to themselves or someone close (Harry Potter loses Dumbledore).  The other example happens when a belief or way of thinking causes us to act in ways that no longer get the results we desire or actually leads to a tragic result (Romeo & Juliet’s families).

If we live long enough, we CANNOT escape this.  There will come a time when a situation is completely out of your control or when a tried and true belief and way of behaving leaves you hanging.  And it can be bone-crushing and heart-wrenching.  It can throw you into a sharp angle tailspin, and you feel like you’ve been sucker punched.

Thank God for it.

Say whhaaattt????  :0

What you do with that situation is the gift you’ve been given.  Listen to excerpts from Rohr’s blog posts last week:

…We recognize in male initiation universal patterns of wisdom that need to be taught to the young male in his early “tower building” stages. This was the rather universal conclusion: Unless the male is led into journeys of powerlessness, he will invariably misuse power. He becomes a loose cannon in the social fabric, even dangerous to the family, always seeking his own dominative power and advancement to the neglect of others. The human inclination to narcissism has to be exposed, humbled, and used for good purposes.

Remember, anyone—male or female—who has not gone on journeys of powerlessness will invariably abuse power.

The path of descent involves letting go of our self-image, our titles, our public image. I think this is one of the many meanings of the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). What is at stake here is not just false images of God (which mostly serve our purposes), but also comfortable images of ourselves. That’s probably what the saints meant when they said we have to move to the place of faith, to the place of self-forgetfulness, of nothingness, which ironically is the place of abundance!

The German Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart (c. 1260—c. 1328) said in essence that the spiritual life has more to do with subtraction than with addition. But in the capitalistic West, we keep trying to climb higher up the ladder of spiritual success. Some Buddhists call it spiritual materialism or spiritual consumerism. We’ve turned the Gospel into a matter of addition instead of subtraction. When we are so full of ourselves, we have no room—and no need—for God or others, or otherness in general.

When C. G. Jung was an old man, one of his students read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and he asked Jung, “What has your pilgrimage really been?” Jung answered: “In my case Pilgrim’s Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.” [1] That’s a free man. We aren’t really free until we’re free from ourselves: our ego, our reputation, our self-image, our need to be right, our need to be successful, our need to have everything under control, even our need to be loved by others—or to think of ourselves as loving.

Wow!  I know that all sounds heavy, and I did say I was going to need to be brave to go here.

I watched my parents hang on to so many things that did not serve them well as they moved toward death.  When you examine your own lives, what are you hanging on to that is no longer serving you?  Perhaps it’s a body image ideal.  Perhaps it’s an income ideal.  Perhaps it’s a relationship ideal.  Perhaps it’s a grudge.  Perhaps it’s a home that’s gotten to be too much of a burden to maintain.  Perhaps it’s a habit or habits that are physically hurting your health.  Perhaps it is “control” itself that’s having an impact on your health, your life, your relationships.  Perhaps it’s the need to be perfect, to perform, to overachieve to the point of exhaustion.  Perhaps it’s the need to always look a certain way.  Perhaps it’s the need to always be right.  Perhaps it’s the need for affirmation.

Whatever it is, the path of descent gives you the opportunity to shed these burdens you carry and look at things from a fresh perspective.

To be continued…

 


I can almost hear the cries of disbelief and the snorts of indignation.  Okay, well maybe not quite.  But, I can hear your questions or concerns that go something like this:  “So let me get this straight, SWOG lady.  You want me/us to purposely live within this pain while I’m living in this pain?  Whhhaaaaattttt???!!!

Yes, I admit, this will not be the path many of you will choose to take.  And that’s totally understandable and okay.  Our western culture does not encourage it, recognize it or support it.  Who even teaches you how to do it?  Rohr is the only one I know, although I’m sure Merton, Bourgeault, and other wisdom teachers hit on this theme.  So, for those few who are intrigued with the idea of pushing to a new life understanding, let me take excerpts from Rohr’s “The Grace of Descent” that I posted the other day.

 

“…the mystery of transformation” and “taken where he would rather not go”  Why in the world would you want to change if you think something isn’t broken?  When things are working okay from our point of view–meaning–we’ve got things under control OR, they’re going according to our plans, OR day-to-day living is at least satisfactory, OR day-to-day living is predictable for us even if not great–why in the world would we put energy into changing?  Unless you truly feel the pain of something that is broken or lost (“taken where you would rather not go”), it is difficult to motivate yourself to do the work necessary to transform your way of thinking and behaving.

“…we must go inside the belly of the whale for a while. Then and only then will we be spit up on a new shore and understand our call, our place, and our purpose” and “Unless you have gone down, you do not know what up is! ”  This is harder to explain, but let me try.  It is hard to change!  We have ingrained ways of thinking and behaving that have developed and solidified over many years.  Even though we may know being a perfectionist isn’t a healthy way of living, if it has served us well in the past–meaning we’ve gotten promoted, we’ve achieved success in our profession, we’ve received affirmation on our appearance, we’ve built the perfect home, birthed the “perfect” kids, and so forth–we are not likely to change until the house of cards falls down.  When the house of cards falls, if we scramble to rebuild the same house of cards back up, we will not have learned from the experience and tackled the perfectionism that will ultimately hurt us again.  We will keep repeating the same potentially destructive patterns.  It’s only when we allow the descent…don’t medicate from it by re-creating the same as before, by being busy to ignore the pain, by avoiding thinking about the questions of “what led to this happening,” or “why do I feel this way,” and so forth that we stand the chance of changing our path.  This is why so many second marriages fail.  We jump from one failed situation right into another relationship to avoid the pain of self-examination and learning what went wrong in the first marriage.  No surprise that the pattern that existed in the first marriage often shows itself in the next one.

In addition, it’s hard to know what a different way looks like–even with a health issue that perhaps won’t get better–it may only keep deteriorating.  But, if you live with the questions for a while, it’s amazing how the answers begin to present themselves.

We are transformed through death and rising, probably many times in our lifetime. There seems to be no better cauldron of growth and transformation.”  Georgetown taught us something called Adult Stage Development.  There are nine stages altogether and they’re organized into three overarching periods:  pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional.  Most of the adult population is housed in the three conventional stages.  To move to those post conventional stages (which include “self-actualization” and “unitive” that Rohr and other mystics discuss) a person generally must “let go” of present ways of making meaning of life.  If we allow ourselves to embrace the pain, we can move to later stages of adult development.

“We seldom go freely into the belly of the beastUnless we face a major disaster such as the death of a friend or spouse or the loss of a marriage or job, we usually will not go thereAs a culture, we have to be taught the language of descent because we are by training capitalists and accumulatorsThese dark periods are good teachers.”  If you examine literature from greats like Shakespeare, Austin, Dickens, even Rowling there is always a tragedy–some major crisis, disaster, or descent that the main character(s) experiences.  The author, poet, or playwright uses that difficulty to get to a deeper stream of consciousness…to learn some vital life lesson.  The same holds true in real life.

 

“We would prefer clear and easy answers, but questions hold the greatest potential for opening us to transformationWe try to change events in order to avoid changing ourselves. We must learn to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning. That is the perilous dark path of contemplative prayer. Grace leads us to the state of emptiness—to a momentary sense of meaninglessness—in which we ask, “What is it all for?” The spaciousness within the question allows Love to fill and enliven us.”  I think Rohr says it best–no need for me to elaborate.

 

“Historic cultures saw grief as a time of incubation, hibernation, initiation, and transformation. Yet we avoid this sacred space. When we avoid such darkness, we miss out on spiritual creativity and new awareness.”  This is powerful.  We are a pain avoidant society.  We medicate mostly through busyness, action, and we often avoid the pain of self-reflection and the hard work of change.  And, in all fairness, I get it–there is no short cut on transformation and it is grueling, at times thankless work.  I have a feeling Rohr will discuss the rewards of this hard work in later posts.  Peace, joy, patience, self-love and self-respect will likely be noted by Rohr…but we shall see!  Please join me for upcoming posts and don’t hesitate to throw your perspectives, experiences, insights out there for all of us to learn from!!

 

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Boy, I’m about to be either brave or foolish.  Ah…perhaps a bit of both!  My fingers are twitching at the keyboard and I keep egging them on…c’mon–“You can do it; you can do it!”

 

 

Thank you, Béla!  OK, here goes.  There are several of you readers out there in SWOG blog land who are going through some tough times right now. I’ll be general when I say there are a few with health issues, a few with job changes or challenges, some with fractured personal or work relationships, a few with parents who are aging and infirm, and at least one with a pending divorce.  First, I am sorry for your pain.  I know it is not easy, and my heart extends to you in this time of challenge.  And, as difficult as this may be to contemplate, I’m thinking now might be a good time for me to discuss the opportunity for transformation that exists for those of you going through a difficult time.

I can still remember being coached in the 2011-2012 timeframe when I was going through my divorce right on the heals of my mother’s death.  My father’s health was rapidly deteriorating, and I was trying to figure out how to re-engage my full-time career since– pre-divorce– I had shifted to part-time work in order to care for my parents.  Blah, blah, blah…you get the picture.  Most of you lived with me through it (God bless you!).  I engaged a coach…a wonderful SWOG who follows this blog…and she did an amazing thing for me–actually two amazing things.

First, she had me write “my story” of when I felt I was at my best–my “hero in victory” story.  Of course, I went about–as I always used to do–listing my various (read here– “western culture”) accomplishments.  Wasn’t I just wonderful?  A history of promotions, awards, impressive GPA’s, graduate schools, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Not long after I went over that with her, she non-judgmentally handed me Richard Rohr’s book called Falling Upward, which was the second amazing gift she gave me.

Again, if you’ve been following me for a while you have heard a lot about Rohr.  But, this week his blog just happens to be focusing on this issue of “Path of Descent,”  which is a central theme behind his Falling Upward work.  In his book, Rohr discusses how, what he terms the “necessary suffering,” can be used to transform your life into something more genuine, more true to who you really are.  Because I know many of you are out there struggling, I just feel compelled to invite you to consider the opportunity a “path of descent” offers you.  Let me provide you excerpts from Rohr’s words of wisdom in Monday’s blog–and some key phrases I have highlighted in bold –and then I’ll follow this post with more thoughts as the week progresses:

 

Jesus’ primary metaphor for the mystery of transformation is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39, 16:4; Luke 11:29). Jesus tells the growing crowds, “It is an evil and adulterous generation that wants a sign” (Luke 11:29), and he then says the only sign he will give is the sign of Jonah. Jonah was swallowed by a whale and taken where he would rather not go. This was Jesus’ metaphor for death and rebirth.

Rather than look for impressive apparitions or miracles, Jesus said we must go inside the belly of the whale for a while. Then and only then will we be spit up on a new shore and understand our call, our place, and our purpose. Paul wrote about “reproducing the pattern” of Jesus’ death and thus understanding resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11). Unless you have gone down, you do not know what up is! Unless you descend, you won’t long for and make inner space for ascent.

This is the only pattern Jesus promises us. And we see this pattern mirrored in other traditions as well. Native religions speak of winter and summer; mystical authors speak of darkness and light; Eastern religions speak of yin and yang or the Tao. Christians call it the paschal mystery, but we are all pointing to the same necessity of both descent and ascent, and usually in that order.

The paschal mystery is the pattern of transformation, and it indeed is a mystery—that is, not logical or rational at all. We are transformed through death and rising, probably many times in our lifetime. There seems to be no better cauldron of growth and transformation, for some cosmic reason.

We seldom go freely into the belly of the beast. Unless we face a major disaster such as the death of a friend or spouse or the loss of a marriage or job, we usually will not go there. As a culture, we have to be taught the language of descent because we are by training capitalists and accumulators. These dark periods are good teachers.

We would prefer clear and easy answers, but questions hold the greatest potential for opening us to transformation. We try to change events in order to avoid changing ourselves. We must learn to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning. That is the perilous dark path of contemplative prayer. Grace leads us to the state of emptiness—to a momentary sense of meaninglessness—in which we ask, “What is it all for?” The spaciousness within the question allows Love to fill and enliven us.

Historic cultures saw grief as a time of incubation, hibernation, initiation, and transformation. Yet we avoid this sacred space. When we avoid such darkness, we miss out on spiritual creativity and new awareness. Let’s be honest: there has been little solid teaching on darkness in Western Christianity for the last five hundred years. We have instead sought light, order, certitude, and theological “answers” for everything, which by themselves do not teach us very much.

 

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So some of you have been the recipients of cards that I’ve purchased from this card company called Cardthartic.  I first stumbled on their cards in Montana and then discovered I could order an array of different cards for different occasions from their online site.  Every order you receive comes with a cute thank you card and usually a free magnet from the owner who signs her name:  “Your Fairy Cardmother.”  (OK, I’m sure it’s not the owner who sends it, but they make you feel like she did!)

What a clever woman and company!

She also sends out periodic emails.  So, just yesterday I received one that had this card on the top of it:

usa-cardtharticusa-card-2

 

And her email went on to say the following:

We know it will take way more than one well-meaning greeting card to unite this nation but, cardies, it’s a start!

In an email yesterday morning, my friend Susan Lyon expressed exactly what I was feeling. “My heart is sad post-debate,” she wrote. “I woke feeling tired of the ugly descent to behavioral lows I am seeing on our national stage.  I hope this finds you writing your big heart out, creating new cards with diligence, delight, determination and a desire to lift up our weary souls.”

Susan’s positive ending reminded me of how Sunday’s final debate question was such a breath of fresh air in that tension-filled room. Town Hall participant Karl Becker had asked the candidates, “Regardless of the current rhetoric, can you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

FYI, when she saw this USA card featured last week, cardie and inspiring patriot Amy Murray ordered 40 and, at checkout in the Order Comments box, graciously added, “I traditionally send friends and family a card to remind them to vote. This year’s campaign has been so toxic that I was struggling with what to send.  Of course, Cardthartic has just the right message.  Bravo!  And be sure to vote!”

I myself had mailed the USA card to my 92-year-young friend and neighbor Hannlis last week and received a call minutes after the mailman had successfully waded through her Hillary yard signs.  “Just calling to say I feel the same way about you!” she enthused.  “Thank you, thank you for the card.”  And I know who will receive my next two: Conservatives who have never held my liberalism against me! 🙂 Jack Kraft and Randy Moore may lean as far right as I do left, but our fondness for each other has only grown over the years. I would go so far as to say — were it not for these two — Cardthartic would not be today. Both successful business owners and investors, they helped back Cardthartic, and have continued to have my back for two decades.

I’ll never forget what fiscally conservative Jack wrote on the memo line of his investment check: “Spend it wisely and well.” And more protective than I could ever learn to be, it was Randy who early on proposed and then personally secured a line of credit for Cardthartic. “Let’s give you and your staff this sense of security for a rainy day.” While they both could have played on my “I’m so not a numbers person” insecurities, instead they would say, “But this company is nothing without your creativity!”  Well aware of our differences, these gracious men not only helped this woman business owner feel that I have a respected place at the table, they’ve made a point of proudly reminding me that it’s my being at the table that has put food on many others’.

Hehe, Jack once stayed in my place while I was away, and I returned to find my television had been tuned to Fox News. I sent him a teasing text that read, “Really?! I didn’t even know my TV got Fox.” and immediately came his quick-witted reply, “Sorry. Before I left, I tried switching it back to CNN, but your set cried out, ‘No! No! Please let me remain fair and balanced!’”

So if I’m Dem to the core and yet could not love and admire these Republicans more, how have we bridged our philosophical divide?  Regardless of our rhetoric (and there have been times! 🙂 we’ve never lost sight of all the good in one another, and how it’s our combined differences that make us a better whole.  I hope you are fortunate enough to have your own Jack and Randy, and that you’ll use this undebatable opportunity to acknowledge them and any other compatriots you choose.  Thank you for considering!

 

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director

 

Oh, by the way, she also put a direct link in the email to be able to acquire two free American flag cards like you see at the top of the page.  Yes, I did send for mine…but I just want everyone to know that the sentiment applies to all of you regardless of whether you get the physical card in the mail or not.  If you love this one, you should see the others.  Here’s their website (and no, I don’t get any royalties from sales–darn!):  www.cardthartic.com

Now for my soapbox:  Celebrate each other and our differences.  Be respectful and kind.  Don’t give up your passionate views, AND don’t hate others whose views are equally passionate in the other direction.  It’s a “grace-filled” way to be.  God Bless the United States of America.


This is the post I knew I had to do all week but I have been struggling to figure out how to attack it.  Let’s start here:

Just because you’re kind doesn’t mean that you’ll be rewarded in turn.

There, I’ve said it.  Launched the obvious grenade into the middle of the table.  Well, you might ask, why in the world do we want to be kind if it doesn’t make people around us be appreciative or be kind in return?  Great question, and most of you that read this blog already know the answers to that query.  So, for the next several paragraphs, I’ll literally be preaching to the choir.

First, this is not a black and white position I’m taking.  Not everyone will be kind in return–true.  Not everyone will pay your kindness forward to someone else.  But, some will and you will find your kindness appreciated and returned by many.  I think of a simple example of holding the first door for someone in a double foyer who, in turn, holds the second one open for you.  Or the older person whose groceries you carry to her car to be rewarded by her appreciative smile and “thank you.”  So, while there’s not an inevitable guarantee that your kindness will be received with gratitude and repayment, in many cases you will receive some acknowledgement for your efforts.

But, is this really why I’m proposing a life of kindness, generosity, mercy and helpfulness?  So, you can get repaid by kindness or so you can hope the benefactors of your kindness will “pay it forward” in return?  No.  This is where it gets trickier to explain and we must go deeper to understand.

The kindness I discuss above really has its root in common courtesy and manners–the stuff many of our parents teach us as we’re growing up.  Samples of this courtesy kindness include saying, “thank you,” opening doors for people, letting someone go before us in line, holding chairs out for our dates, and in the old days bowing and curtsying when we would meet new people.  We do have to admit that in this day and age those things are NOT a guarantee anymore the way they might have been years ago.  So when they do happen, it does legitimately feel like someone has extended us a kindness. And, I do think this common courtesy is an important part of civilized society and it DOES make a difference in someone’s day.  So, please…by all means, “rock on” with these forms of kindness.

The kindness that’s harder to draw on in our day-to-day lives is the kindness born out of love.  Yep, that’s what I said.  You read it correctly–LOVE.  This is not the ordinary day-to-day love we watch in movies or read in romance novels.  I’m talking about deep love for ourselves and others regardless of what they do for us or to us.   This is not conditional love based on whether someone “loves” us back.  Picture here: that colleague at work you just can’t stand to be around; that homeless person you run into on the way to work; that family member who always finds fault with the way you do things; that counterperson in the bakery who’s not very nice to you; that nurse in your doctor’s office who seems impatient with your questions; that neighbor who just won’t cooperate by following deed restrictions; that driver who cuts you off in traffic; that friend who seems to try your patience by talking your ear off about her woes.  I’m talking about the people in our lives who we find hard to “love,” or to show kindness.

I’m not sure we can find that type of love easily. You may have been blessed to grow up in a family or in a church that taught you this type of love. Others of us have only begun to glimpse it as a result of experiencing loss and the transformation which can be br0ught about by the loss.  It is from a deep sense of vulnerability that you can transform the way you regard yourself and others.  You realize when people are unkind to you that it is more about them and less about you.  It frees you to treat them differently than if you take what they say or do personally.  Your behavior is not dictated by whether they show you kindness.  It is dictated by a deeper sense of humanity; a deeper sense of love and compassion.

Those of you who know me know I’m not a “religious” person.  I have a deep and abiding faith and exercise it through various spiritual practices, but not through weekly visits to church.  If I find a minister who teaches like Richard Rohr, then I’ll reconsider that practice, but in the meantime, my mind has been opened to interesting possibilities by studying his books and his daily blogs.  For those of you who want to learn more about the “love” I’m talking about, I’ll provide you links below to two of Rohr’s blog posts this week.  These are posts on love and Paul’s famous chapter in 1Corinthians which we’ve all sat and listened to at weddings over the years (“love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”).  Hopefully, it will further your understanding of the journey to a kindness that’s built on the foundation of love.  I am grateful for the food for thought his posts bring to me.

 

Love Never Fails

Vulnerability–Even in God!

 

In the meantime, it’s been seven days of kindness.  Remember it takes 21 days to develop a habit.  Keep on keeping on.

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