Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How would you like your government?

Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy, like ordering your eggs for breakfast?
Yes, scrambled please. Not too dry and crumbly but not too wet and runny either.
Oh, and with ketchup of course. Thank you.

Part of the reason that it's not that easy to custom order your government is because it involves more than one person being governed and of course we all have unique preferences. You might prefer your eggs fried, sunny side up. But really, ideally, government would be best if it was custom tailored for each person, wouldn't it? It's such a novel idea that it's actually difficult to imagine. Or is it? What if that kind of government already exists?

One challenge when speaking about government is that we tend to think of the BIG forms of government. For example, when you hear someone say "the Government is growing 10% per year" you probably think of the Federal Government. It's OK, we all do that. But I wish we didn't. We've been trained by the media, by each other and by the big forms of government themselves to think and talk that way. Do you want to call that being brainwashed? You would probably be right. How then shall we think? And speak? And live?

Before I go any further, these are basic ideas I think we can all agree on:
Government is necessary
Government should serve the best interest of the governed
Government involves power, and power tends to corrupt
Government involves politics, and politics tends to be divisive
Government involves control, and control tends to expand

Assuming that we agree on those 5 ideas, consider the following statement: The very thing that is necessary but tends toward corruption, divisiveness, and expansion should be serving the best interest of the governed. When stated like that, it's a wonder that governments last as long as they do. It also comes as no surprise then, that every federal government has a shelf life as these tendencies cause nations to implode over time (if not overtaken by another country/government operating under the same expansion dynamic).

The first idea is an amoral fact of life - that government is necessary.
The second idea is good - government should serve the best interest of the people.
The next 2 ideas could be labeled bad;  the dynamics that eventually cause the implosion or demise of the good and necessary thing- corruption and divisiveness.
The last idea seems to be morally neutral in itself. Expanding is great if the content and dynamic is good. Expanding is terrible if the content and/or dynamic is bad.

So what? Now what?

History, experience and common sense all tell us the same thing: the government that best serves the people is decentralized. The more local and relationship driven, the better. And I'll cut straight to the chase here: The family is the best government around when it's fully functioning. 

*News Flash*--------*10:08pm, April 21, 2015*---------*TRUE STORY*
I just heard what I thought was a gunshot in our neighborhood. Other neighbors on Facebook have pretty much confirmed that it was actually some type of firework. A discussion ensued and there was talk of the danger of a fire being started as it's so dry and of the police not responding to calls in the past. I suggested a form of self-government. One neighbor who seems to know the source said "J, I love the idea and will happily see if I can chat with them..."  
I volunteered to go with them.
If I wasn't in the middle of thinking and writing about this, I may not have suggested what I did. Makes me wonder how much I've been brainwashed: #notmyproblem #taxdollarsatworknotatwork

Q: What are the chances that our visit will have a better net effect than a visit by the police?
A: Consider: tax dollars (police time and expenses better served in other ways), neighborhood relations (not "us vs. them"  but " us helping us"), stopping that activity from them in the future (public and private property damage, possibly lives at stake)

Q: What are the chances that the harmful activity could have been avoided by a fully functioning family background vs. by govt?
A: Way, way better considering that government isn't good at preventative crime (it's not their job and the more they attempt to, the more they interfere with personal liberty). Family is the best context for instilling character starting from the very beginning.

Q: Why is a well functioning family the best government?
*note: I'm using the terms well functioning and fully functioning to describe a dynamic that would require a whole 'nuther blog post. It's not a perfect family - in fact, the way it deals with not being perfect is perhaps the best indicator of how well it does function and is the root of the need for government in the first place. Hope that makes sense.

A: Families have the unique ability to discipline in love like no other relationships. Examples of some that can serve as great substitutes and enhancements are: Coaches, Teachers, Mentors, etc. When we are confronted with our dark side, we know that impersonal, uncaring force is the worst way to effect positive influence and change. In fact, it typically drives the recipient deeper into darkness. People respond to love and literally never tire of being loved. It is impossible for larger, centralized forms of government to provide this because of the relational requirement.

So the aspect of laws (legislating, adjudicating and enforcing) is one thing and easy to see how a family that models the basics of love and the golden rule are the best foundation and guide for people to self-govern. But what about Mail delivery, Defense, Infrastructure, Parks, Education, etc, etc.?

This post can't address all those in detail but I'll throw some ideas out:
1. The more local a service can be, the less overhead it will have and the more efficient it will be.
2. Some services, but precious few, can only and should only be carried out by the Federal Govt. I would say Defense falls firmly there. Not much else. The way our country was originally set up, the States have the say over much of what the Feds now operate.

This reminds me of a dynamic that I think may be in play: When a smaller form of government abdicates it's role and responsibility, a larger and more impersonal form will take on the role and responsibility by default. If a family doesn't function well, it will spill onto the churches, onto the schools, onto employers, the police, the courts, etc. As the chain grows, the costs increase and the efficiency goes down. If I did enough research, there is probably a case for this going all the way to Federal Defense Scope and Budget. Why else would we need to worry about invasions, terrorism, etc if the families and communities of the world governed themselves well?

Another awesome thing about families is that term limits are built in. Maybe that's a healthy example to use for other forms of government? As a father with my amazing wife, our real governing days are coming to an end. In all, it will last about 25 years total. Our children may take the baton in that arena and start fresh, with some of the foundation that Cheri and I have built. The best form of government is continually being renewed and refreshed, yet built on foundations that are eons old. Now that's beautiful government. Two words you never see together!

My challenge to you when faced with a 'government issue' is to look for the smallest, decentralized, grassroots way to solve it. The answer may be right in front of you and the effect may surprise you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thinking between the lines

Your brain thinks way faster than my mouth can speak. Pretty sure the reverse is also true. This fact creates a number of opportunities, challenges and great potential for disaster... or wonder! I'd like to explore that here.

For arguments sake, let's say the typical conversation is equal parts speaking and listening with some moments of silence. By definition the average conversation has to be equal parts talking and listening (assuming that every time you speak I listen )

The portion of time when I'm talking and you're listening, your brain is: 1. making sense of my actual words 2. adjusting the message based on my tones and inflections 3. adjusting the message based on my body language, facial expressions, and many other non-verbal cues 4. wondering where I'm going with this, what my agenda is 5. formulating your response or a way out of this conversation 6. considering the context of this conversation 7. wondering why I chose this shirt with those pants 8. planning your lunch 9. zone/space/airtime 10. adding to or correcting one of these points.

From experience, I know we can do all 10 with time left over in a typical conversation. Right?

Now, consider the fact that most of your time is not in conversation or reading. To be more specific, most of your waking hours are not spent in direct verbal or written communication. Which means that the vast majority of your time is spent not on incoming information. We have a LOT of time to work with.

My premise: Our minds have SO much time in between and during our typical interactions.
My observation: We waste much of that time with: 1. stories that aren't true 2. stories about our stories that may be pointless or worse, harmful.
My theory:   If we can find a way to literally take our thoughts captive, we have the potential for incredible awareness, progress and connection.

I'll stop there for now. What do you THINK??

Saturday, December 24, 2011

3 thoughts for 2012. OK maybe one...

I've found that I like to have three words, thoughts or ideas for a season. For the year 2010 the words were Perspective, Shalom, and Incarnate. Obviously they don't lose all meaning when the clock strikes 2011 and in fact, when 2011 came I didn't have something definite to replace them. I did write a blog about the 3 words and as I remember the first two words came and it took awhile for the third to hit. When it did it I knew right away. I still love and treasure the meaning in those 3 words and hope that they continue to grow and permeate my life.

The latest thoughts are: Stay connected, (I completely blanked on the second thought) and live each moment with purpose. I don't edit these posts (except for grammar and structure) and I'm writing off the top of my head so this is what happens when I don't write things down. It's funny that the first two thoughts have been with me for awhile but only in my head. It wasn't until just this week that the third thought formed and now I can't remember the second one. wow...

This takes me on a tangent (which is just another way of saying that I had an agenda for this post that is currently on hold). As I realized that I couldn't recall the second thought I had some quick thoughts of disappointment and a frantic memory search. Then the realization that if I truly dial in the first thought, Stay Connected, all else will fall into place. Maybe I was starting my own religion of "3 thoughts"...by that I mean creating a structure for myself that placed more emphasis on the structure and following the "rules" (even if they were self imposed) than allowing the Life of God to flow through me. So I just added to the title line...

If I live as I was designed to live, in constant connection to God, my life will have meaning, purpose, joy, hope and more in abundance. The challenge is to let go of my agenda, of my small and pitiful ideas of what will bring true joy and satisfaction and trust the author to write my story like I know He has, He can, and He will. This will happen on the macro scale with the 'big' decisions and on the micro scale, the moment by moment awareness of my relationship with God and whether I'm open or closed, running to or avoiding, listening or ignoring. The micro, as it turns out, is more important than the macro as all 'big' decisions are a culmination or result of many small decisions. The most important decision I can make right now is to be as connected to God as the branch is to the vine.

It will be interesting to see if that second thought comes back to me...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

when i die

I just had a thought that I wanted to capture about what I hope is said at my memorial service. It's not something I think about often but a facebook post about a funeral by someone else sparked the idea.

"In all the appropriate ways he didn't care what anyone thought. In all other ways, he cared deeply what everyone thought. and listened well"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Monkey Story

borrowed from Kit Pharro: Email: Kit@PharoCattle.com Website: www.PharoCattle.com

The Monkey Story –

First, you start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked, and the previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey, then a fourth, and then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey will ever again approach the stairs to try for the banana. Why not?

Because… as far as they know, that's the way it's always been done around here. And that, my dear friends, is how most ... traditions get started."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

what script am i living?

Last week I went to Clarks football teams fundraiser: "comedy night". I don't think the guy told one joke all night but for almost 2 hours he had me laughing harder than I've laughed in at least 10 years. I almost fell out of my chair and kept having to wipe the tears away. He was a hypnotist and he has the special ability of hypnotizing multiple people at once in public. I've seen this from a distance at the OC Fair but didn't stick around long enough to really appreciate what they were doing. He called for volunteers into a crowd of mostly high school students and out of about 300 kids and 20 or so parents, he ended up with about 25 kids on stage, girls and guys- many football players included.

I won't, and shouldn't, recount everything he did with these kids but it was at the same time ROFL funny and completely fascinating. He had them totally under his command and control so that whenever he 'woke' them from their deep sleep they would act immediately on the cue that he had told them about. It's hard to pick my favorites because he raised the bar with each new act. One time he told them that when they heard the phone ring, they needed to quickly answer their 'shoe phone' because it was their favorite celebrity and they needed to tell their favorite celebrity how great they were. And it was ok to exaggerate! Well, he woke them up (and when I say 'woke' I mean they set up straight but were still in a little bit of a daze, not completely limp like they were when they got the instructions) He proceeded to chat with them and as he was talking, his assistant rang a bell. Immediately they ALL grabbed their shoe like a phone and started talking a mile a minute! some were gesturing with their hands and using body language. One guy walked over to the back of the stage and plugged his other ear! Then...the hypnotist proceeded to interview them!!! One girl was talking to Justin Beiber "yeah, baby!" and then another guy said "I'm talking to Taylor Swift!" and when told to tell Taylor something awesome about himself he said "I play football!"

I'm sure that part of what made it so funny was that i knew some of the kids, including big football players who, at one point were told they needed to pose because they were super models. Another time he told two students that they could speak perfect Chinese and also that they were "laughter police" so if they saw anyone in the audience laughing they needed to tell them off. I think that was one time I almost fell out of my chair- watching this guy 'speaking' Chinese and using karate motions as he told off the laughing audience. They must have performed at least 20 different acts that were each better than the one before. Super hilarious!!!

But very fascinating too. I don't know the physiology or psychology of hypnotism but I do know that it's real, that is to say the students were completely under the spell of this guy and they literally were acting in unison like robots. The implications of this are very eye opening. What would a person do if they are under hypnosis? I'm told that normal inhibitions apply so that if someone is told to do something they consider to be wrong, they won't do it. That's nice to know but I have to take this outside the entertainment world and make a life application.

Hypnotism is acting from a script that is placed intentionally in your head. Is not life acting on scripts that are placed intentionally AND unintentionally in our heads by us AND by others? What are the implications of acting on scripts that are placed unintentionally? What are the implications of acting on scrips that are place intentionally by others? Who could others be? What role does TV, movies, music have in placing scripts in our heads? What would prevent a script from being written over to make what once used to be considered wrong, now considered OK?

And now it gets personal. What scripts do I repeat inside my own head (if not actually out loud) that are a life draining, dysfunctional script? "I can't do that", " I suck", " I'm not good at that", " I'll never get there" , "why do bad things always happen to me?" , "I always fail so why try?" and on. and on... What are the consequences of living scripts that are negative and destructive?

Where to find the right scripts? The scripts that are life giving, positive, encouraging and wonderful? The best scripts ever are written by the Author of Life and they can be found scattered throughout SCRIPTURE. How about these? "I'm created to be exactly what God intended me to be","I'm forgiven" "I'm a child of the KING!" "My life is safe and secure in Jesus" "I've been redeemed" "There is NO condemnation for me" "I will reign forever with God"

What scripts are you living? Who gave them to you? Do you want to rewrite some of them?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

perspective and string theory

The need for an introduction is present when a thought is about to be downloaded so - (or maybe it's a disclaimer) - warning: this idea is half-baked. do not ingest without proper preparation.

Two people looking at the same object report seeing different shapes. One sees a circle, the other a square. No tricks or gimmicks involved and in fact, they are both right. They then have a conversation about their observations. It could go something like: they both comment, they both doubt the other person, they both doubt themselves, they reassert their view, they don't trust the other person, they stop talking thinking the other person is out of their mind (you really can't confuse a circle with a square).

I've had some conversations like that. It really seemed like there was no room for compromise - a black and white issue.

That's true in a 2 dimensional world. A circle is not a square and there is no middle ground.

Everything changes in a 3 dimensional world. The object above is a cylinder and one view is from the side and the other view is from the front. Each person, from their perspective, sees a different shape yet the true object is greater than either perspective. In fact, it's greater than both perspectives combined.

Translation to life, for me: be aware that there are perspectives different than mine of something that may seem so clear to me.

String theory is way beyond my ability to grasp. My last physics class was all Newtonian and this is quantum mechanics. String theory works in world of 10 dimensions (one version needs 11). This requires serious thinking outside the box because the world we interact with includes 4 dimensions (space x,y,z and time). We (ok, I) don't have the mental framework to imagine a 5th dimension, let alone 6 more dimensions but the formulas all work on this level. This is the place where...no, this is the realm that can have one thing occuping two places at the same time and (where) an x particle can be vibrating and not vibrating at the same time. Does your head hurt yet? There is a point...

Translation to life, for me: whether or not there is actually 6 other dimensions does not affect my reason for living BUT the idea that God lives in all dimensions gives me a tiny idea of how limited my perspective is on ANYTHING and allows a sense of wonder and humility, knowing that God knows all and the best man can do (in this realm) is to chase Him. I can chase Him through science (no thanks, but I'm fascinated by those who do) I can chase Him in many ways and I know that He wants me to. He wants me to "seek His face" I like that. A relationship with the One who knows all AND loves me.

Also: the implications for reconciliation are huge. There is no room for judging. I only know my own perspective. I can expand my perspective by moving closer to you and seeing yours. I can exponentially expand my perspective by moving closer to God and seeing His. The potential for unity through diversity because of wonder and humility is both huge and gratifying.