Monday, January 31, 2011

What do people want most?

I suppose you could argue that people want to live, but how would you substantiate those that commit suicide? You could say that they want peace, but what about those that thrive upon hostility? We could say they want to believe in a Creator, but that isn’t true either. Is there anything that all people want?

Apparently what people want most is to achieve their personal ambitions. If you agree with them you are on their side, but if you don’t, you are then their adversary. It appears that nationally we are noticing this very harsh discourse, but as we focus our attention on our local community we see a similar sharp dissent as well.

Apparently no matter what the issue may be there are people that oppose what is offered. Those who oppose something will usually let you know how much they are against the proposal very vocally. In other words, no one has exclusivity on how things should be run in our town. This is just how people are.

When it comes to what is best for your town, who can truthfully say they know what is best for the citizens? No one can totally do that. No matter what suggestion or issue is proposed, most assuredly someone will disagree. This is a reality we need to accept.

One person mentioned the term civility in reference to this public discourse, which is basically politeness or courtesy. You might think that we would all seek to be polite or courteous, but that is definitely not the case. Some do not prefer civility as a means of handling disputes. Are they wrong for deciding to take such a posture?

In their mind, no, but in the mind of people that practice civility, yes. Again, this is just how people are. Very rarely, if ever, will all the people agree with each other on all accounts. That is an awareness point we must learn to accept. From there perhaps each can leave room for the other to totally express their views as they wish without taking it personally, to heart, considering it as an attack on them.

No matter what the intent of things proposed for our community there will be those who will take issue with it. At the same time there will be others who agree. This is something we must learn to both expect and accept without prejudices. The fact that people are willing to discuss important and relevant issues is a good thing. In order to find remedies to important and relevant issues discussion is needed.

Although the intent, in my mind, is never to cause harm or havoc within the community that may not be how my articles are received. Anyone who speaks out must realize that others won’t always agree with their offering, neither will they always be civil about how they disagree. It is simply how people are; to expect otherwise would be futile.

The good news here for those who really want to see positive change and growth in the community is that we are able to see how huge the gap is between certain factions. Then we will know how long a bridge we will need to build in order to bring the sides closer.

In learning how to solve problems the first step is to realize there is one, then you must analyze it, see what your options are, and then come up with possible solutions. We are learning about step one, which is that we have differences, so now we need to learn how to get to step two and continue toward finding solutions.

For those who have issues with the Sheriff’s office, the Town Council, the school system, street gangs, criminals, noise pollution, graffiti, religious organizations, child care, senior care, or any issue for which there is concern, just realize that, just as you have a stand or an opinion, others do likewise. Some try to practice civility when possible, but that is not always the case; that too is part of our human nature

Knowing this and accepting it as fact should lower the stress that comes with being opposed. To each their own: that is how our democracy works. This is the American way. If you don’t like this system I suppose you can move to another country, but once you see how others solve their differences you might want to come back to America.

Thanks for all your passionate comments and opinions about the issues we face as a community. It would be nice if we could learn how to get along, but if you disagree you have a right to do so and it shouldn’t be taken personally. For those of you that practice civility please realize that it may not be reciprocated. Not all people are alike.

So in the future as contemplative issues are brought to your attention please know that it is okay that you disagree with them. After all, this is a democracy and we are therefore free to state our opinions and/or take issues with things we don’t accept as well.

Perhaps what most people want is to be free to be themselves, no matter how kooky that may appear to others. In a perfect world that may work fine but when what you want interferes with the wants of others it may cause a problem. Therefore it is best to simply learn how to get along with them as best possible, and also how to be yourself in that setting.

Just more "stuff" to think about...

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Homeless Man Ordeal

A homeless man with a golden voice was discovered by a news agency. His video was mounted on the Internet that sparked a “media frenzy.”

By now most have heard of the homeless man with the golden voice. Mr. Ted Williams was once a family man with a promising career that found hard times because of his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Eventually he found himself on skid row because of this. His recent emergence is a testament to many things that are worth taking heed.

Imagine one day you are on the street corner begging for spare change to fulfill your next fix and in the next few days you are a media sensation. The human mind doesn’t normally make such rapid transformations. The regimens and habits this man established over a period of years became etched into his being. In order for him to become a “new person” he would need to establish new habits and regimens. This doesn’t usually happen overnight.

Unfortunately Mr. Williams is just another profitable news sensation in the hands of the media useful to boost their ratings. It is not just the morning news but the late night shows as well. In addition there were several advertising agencies that booked him as a voice-over artist to sell certain commercial products. This sounds like a classic rags-to-riches story.

What lessons are we to take from this dazzling event? There are several positive ones and some that are not as flattering. Greed and selfish ambitions may also come into view but let’s first start with the positive points.

To take a person off the street and make them a media sensation could be a positive benefit. However, if the concern is for the individual rather than what the individual offers it is like giving them a chance to become successful, a chance they might not have otherwise had.

Looking at the brighter side, if this individual could be made whole and cured of his past demons this would be a great testimony for countless people that are now on skid row. Since we are only days into this happening it is too early to tell if anything has been done to cure the man as they continue to thrust him out into the public arena.

One would hope that someone or some entity is genuinely looking out for this person above what he is currently providing as a media sensation. If not, then once the bright lights fade, then so shall the man.

In a sense this is like having a boxing bear. People are fascinated by how a bear could mimic the human-like talent of boxing in the ring with a person, but when the bear is not on stage performing he is locked back in a cage as the non-human bear he really is.

In other words the bear is merely a showpiece to his owners. If the bear suddenly got sick or was unable to perform his tricks he would return to being just another bear in a cage. The concern for Williams is about what will happen when his star fades.

Take the fact that you have a person that was poor and homeless and turned their fortune into one with money and the ability to purchase a home. That is definitely a positive causation, but again, if the person is not altered in their internal and/or mental operations it is like giving costly pearls to swine. Unless you are willing to fix the person first, adding material things to them does not change what they are.

As we look deeper we find this person to have children, an ex-wife, and a mother still living. From out of the gutters this man has been reconnected to the life and people he left behind years back. Most of his family members were aware of why he disappeared in the first place. Obviously they may be a bit leery of his return. The mother asked that he not let her down once again. I’m sure she has heard it all before from her addict-son.

His children and ex-wife were less trusting because he let them down once before. The verdict is still out as to what he will do this time. Once a trust has been broken it is hard to recapture the same feeling again. Any past friends or business associates would be equally pessimistic. The onus is on Mr. Williams to prove that he is trustworthy. What will he do with this new opportunity?

Now let’s look at the other side of this story. Who is it that truly benefits here? All the media entities that covered his story have already benefited. Having him on their shows boosted their ratings and attracted audiences that may not have watched their show otherwise. Viewer attraction naturally means money and an opportunity to sell products and ads for businesses. In essence this man made money for a lot of people. Since most of the recipients were the studios and corporations, you be the judge as to the true benefactor.

Taking all this into consideration what is the final figure? Is there more good than bad? Are there more winners than losers? Haven’t we showed that we can all be touched when one of us is given a second chance? Even though the usual suspects are thoroughly in this story there is also a side of our humanity showing its underbelly. We care about each other and would like to see each do well.

What if you were the one on the street and someone gave you a second chance? Perhaps that cold uncompassionate side of us, the human race, thawed out just a fraction? Perhaps we are more internally connected than we would like to believe? Think about it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

People Power

One of the strongest forces known to man is that of people power. This is accomplished when several join forces in order to accomplish a common good.

Imagine the power of a rushing stream after a fierce thunderstorm. It becomes a mighty powerful force only because of the numbers of individual drops of water that join forces. Just a few drops of water are almost powerless, but when many come together they can create a force that can destroy almost anything in its path.

If people were to join forces they would have even more power than mere water because water can’t think for itself. Water just follows the path of least resistance. Because of this its power is usually unpredictable.

On the other hand people have the ability to decide exactly where they wish to exercise their power. They can intensify it upon an exact spot of concentration.

Imagine what interested people could do to eradicate world hunger if they applied the power of the people in substantial numbers. Imagine what dent could be made in bringing families, towns, or even cities out of poverty if people would unite. In fact out of most of the world’s major problems there are only a few that would be able to stand against the power of the people once they become united.

Why do nations form armies? It is because just a few soldiers cannot affectively protect a nation, but an army of solders makes a strong wall of defense or offense in order to protect a nation. If people can be assembled into just as powerful a force, but for purposes of waging war, couldn’t they be just as powerful when fighting for the common good?

If a town or city is plagued with crime it is usually because a very small percentage of the actual population creates havoc on the greater majority of the people. Why should such a minority have that much power against the majority? It is because people don’t unite and use their power.

Take any city or town where the crime rate is extremely high. My hometown of Memphis Tennessee has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. I am almost certain that there are more law-abiding citizens living in Memphis than there are law-breakers.

Criminals will band together if necessary in order to perform their crimes because they realize the power in numbers. They will frequently form a team so each member can add to the strength of the group. When people band together they become very affective, whether the reason is good or evil. It is strange that more people don’t come together for noble purposes rather than those selfish ones that are strictly for selfish profit.

War historians study past wars to find the secrets to successful war campaigns. Apparently the ones that were best united were the ones that were most successful. Great generals and warlords were able to unify their armies forming a solid wall, even when they were fighting against larger opponents. It is not always the quantity of people, but most times the quality of their unity that creates the power.

Understanding this to be factual why don’t more people join forces in order to achieve the common good? The main culprit seems to be our human nature. With it we have volition. We have the ability to go against (choose) what would appear to be the common good. We have the ability to do things that we know are harmful and do so maliciously, if we choose.

Our human nature comes with a double edge of opposite extremes. Unless we make the choice to intentionally “do good” we are vulnerable to our darker side. Just as water can be used to achieve the most incredible positive purposes, it can also become one of the most destructive forces. It is not the H2O that makes the determination, but how it is used. Likewise it is not the nature of humans that is the problem, but how they are used both mentally and physically.

Take the power of the tongue as an example. With this tiny body part one can curse people or bless them. The same tongue can do both. It is not the tongue, but how one uses it. How it is used determines the nature of its power.

It is the same about people. Their power is determined by how they chose to use it. They may form an army to conquer the world or they can form an army to defeat world hunger. The power is characterized by how it is used.

Isn’t it about time for us to realize just how much un-actualized power we have? This power is one of the strongest forces known to man. When we decide to join forces is when we will evolve to our higher potential. If we wanted to do so as soon as tomorrow we could make that happen. The power is in our hands right now. It’s the power of the people.