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“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”
— Elvis Presley
Save water – turn the tap off when brushing your teeth!
Smile at a stranger
Answer the phone in a cheerful voice – even if it is a sales person
Help someone carry their pushchair up/down the stairs
House chores can be tiring – offer a helping hand
Purchase ethical goods
Fight climate change – go vegetarian for today!
Bake something for your family/friends
Be proactive – sign a petition for a good cause
Leave someone flowers anonymously
then an old, live aardvark sleeps
enjoying the salt
Sometimes these random phrases in the morning give me an indication of how the day will progress. I am a believer in “Things Average out” concept and they generally do. Some days are like a Dog’s day when nothing goes wrong and some when nothing does.
Fight Fire With FireMeaning:To retaliate with an attack that is similar to the attack used against you.
Poke Fun AtMeaning:Making fun of something or someone; ridicule.
Keep Your Eyes PeeledMeaning:To be watchful; paying careful attention to something.
Hands DownMeaning:Anything that’s easy or has no difficulty; something that is a certainty
Pen – A Haiku
why a ballpoint, grand pen drools
after the pebble
There are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout,” wrote Thoreau as he considered the power of silence and measure in argument.
Our culture tends to mistake volume for authority and hostility with influence. We equate the loudness of someone’s voice to their leadership and jump into shouting matches instead of reasoned discussions.
A behavior that was once limited to conservative politicians determined to stay on the wrong side of history, this mindset now continues to infect more and more parts of our lives.
And nowhere was this more apparent than my town’s recent school board meetings.
A Soon-to-be-Condemned Elementary School
The elementary school that my daughter attends is on the verge of violating building codes. The boiler’s on its last legs, there’s not enough restrooms for the size of the school, and the ceiling tiles need to be rotated so the numerous leaks in the roof don’t cause mold.
In a world where online resources are clearly the future, the school cannot supply kids with enough computers or tablets because the electrical infrastructure isn’t sufficient.
I could go on. There are many more examples. Many more ways that the current school is set up to support an education of 1958 but not 2018.
They need a new school. One that’s designed and built to support a 21st century education. So you’d think the decision would be obvious.
I did. Which just goes to show how naive I was.
And the People Who Don’t Want to Improve It
It turns out that the opposition is fierce. Despite repeated historical warnings of what happens to organizations that stop promoting development, there’s multiple “concerned citizen” movements that are set on derailing the project. Their main gripe? Their kids have already gone through the school system. It was good enough for them. So why should they have to pay for it?
Yet this entitled selfishness manifests itself in many ways. Concerns over traffic patterns. Concerns over child safety. There was even some concern for the freshwater eels that live in a nearby creek.
Yes, the group that threw a welcome parade to invite fracking into the area and the people who refuse to listen to a discussion on common sense gun control are suddenly worried about environmental protection and safety.
Grasping at straws. Any straw will do.
So I decided to start attending the discussions. I wanted to lend my voice to counter the negative ones. But it turns out there’s no need. Because the opposition chose to ensure their own defeat.
All because they were unaware of some advice that’s been around for nearly half a millennium.
Without Empathy, There’s No Commitment
Before psychologists popularized the backfire effect — that tendency where opposing arguments actually strengthen our initial beliefs — French polymath Blaise Pascal recognized it’s impact on persuasion. In Pensées, his masterful collection of 923 meditations, he wrote,
“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”
Long before the various aspects of confirmation bias gained notoriety, Pascal recognized that people are rarely convinced when we push our own ideas on them. He understood that people are much more open to an idea if they’ve contributed to it. He’d also write,
“When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides.”
Before we can gain any lasting commitment, we need to develop a sense of shared empathy. It’s only after both sides can understand each other’s perspectives that we’ll gain a meaningful agreement.
In Never Split the Difference, former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss explained that gaining a “Yes” is meaningless without the commitment that comes from someone who fundamentally agrees with your position. A position that’s only gained when each side can empathize with the other’s concerns.
“When your adversaries say, ‘That’s right,’ they feel they have assessed what you’ve said and pronounced it as correct of their own free will. They embrace it.”
The New Humanity will be freed from a life of limitations, allowing unhampered scope for the creative life of the spirit; and it will break the attachment to external forms and learn to subordinate them to the claims of the spirit.
The limited life of illusions and false values will then be replaced by unlimited life in the Truth, and the limitations, through which the separative self lives, will wither away at the touch of true understanding.
——-AVATAR MEHER BABA
[Discourses by Meher Baba, volume-I, p-22 (Copyright ©1967 by Adi K. Irani, King’s Rd., Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India)]