Friday, February 8, 2013

Notes - February 8, 2013

1.   Our great tilted planet is once more rotating into position for N. California to get more heat and light each day. Frosty mornings are becoming less common. Some plants are responding to the increased light by releasing hormones that stimulate flowering or other seasonal changes.  My arch-nemesis 'Acacia' is blooming its pretty yellow flowers that produce the first pollen allergy of the season!  Lovely! Mustard greens in my garden are rapidly coming to blossom...  After a very dry January we are off to a dry February – Today is tantilizingly misty ( at the moment ) ...

Thank goodness for that 23.5 degree tilt - it gives us our seasons!
2.  Today marks three weeks since my neck surgery – and I continue in recovery mode – improving daily... I walk about 40 minutes a day, I have gained back a reasonable amount of weight,  I once more enjoy swallowing and eating, and I am sleeping better at night.  I am not completely off codeine but I use only enough to sleep at night without pain.    Bad news – I am told that I should not plan to drive for another 3 weeks yet... My task now is to increase activity – but to avoid those things that are harmful. "Dont do anything stupid!" "Be patient".

Advertisements are the art of getting buy-in from potential customers - give them something positive with which to identify...
3.  The great human flaw – pretty much found in all cultures – is that of taking in a bit of information about a person or situation and forming a belief... a conclusion ... and then confusing that interpretation with reality.  A classic example that I have seen in many times and places is to “guess" the motivation of a person for acting as they did in a situation.  The real reason becomes less important than the theoretical  explanation developed in the viewers mind.  When we come to believe that our explanation  is correct, we end up defending that view rather than continuing to learn more about the person or situation. Many of us are slow to change even when faced with irrefutable facts.   I see this happening in politics, teachers in classrooms, interpersonal situations, and within families.  If  I am persuasive and believe in my interpretation of the facts, I may feel a great need to convince others to buy-in to my belief as well.  (Convincing others is a way to reinforce my own belief ).   When I was a teen ager I remember driving each day past a farm with a large hand made sign; : "US out of the United Nations".  I wonder what input he based his conclusion on.

There is a certain difference in identify in this situation
One of the saddest aspects of becoming fixed in a particular belief is how it cuts off and limits our ability to connect with the wider reality – Fixed beliefs build walls... Teen age kids tend to form an identity early – based on ethicicity, sports, pro or anti academics, music style, heros and heroines, politics, church groups, supremacy groups, sexual orientation, gangs...  And around many of these kids rigid walls form.  "I am this but not that."  "This is good and that is bad." "I can get away with this, but I will fight for that."  Once an identity is formed it often shapes the future direction and life of that person.  We are slow to change.  Go to a high school reunion and see how many people show the influence of early identity decisions made when they were 16.

This property owner does not welcome outsiders 
Fights erupt, bad feeling emerge, wars are fought over beliefs!  "Which team do you support?"  "What is your religion?" "What is your political party?" "What country or cultural group are you born into?" "What, you like Rachael Maddow (or Glen Beck)!?"

Two words that with very different meaning: Ignorance is the state of not having knowledge about a topic.    (We are each ignorant of many things.) Stupidity is slowness of mind.  Why do you think ignorance is the worst form of violence?
Over my lifetime I have developed firm ideas of who I am and what I value as important in matters of religion, politics, social issues, and the role of science in the development of human knowledge.   Some of my beliefs I hold most ardently.  My goal is to remain open to new ideas.  The challenge is to be able to listen to those with whom I disagree.  The challenge is to avoid wall-building but rather to engage in bridge-building.  I most probabily won't change the beliefs of my opponents but we both gain when we can continue to  talk.

Each of us from an early age builds a sense of who we are and what we stand for...
Do I meet my goal?  No - I build my share of walls when it comes to isolating myself from people of other political and social positions... We are more polarized as a nation than many times in our history.  Most of us tend to watch the evening news programs that reinforce our bias - but news sources themselves cater to polarized audiences.  BBC News America or the news on PBS probabily come the closest to balanced complete news coverage. My challenge and my goal is tobe open as I "grow" my beliefs and opinions. avoid a closed mind...The big question is how to be open and honest with myself and still hold fast to what  I believe to be life enhancing ideals...

Healthy discussion can be a balancing act - be honest and state your belief - but accepts the right of 'the other' to disagree
What distresses me most is when someone who disagrees with me feels that they can no longer engage in civil discussion and they feel that they are  left with no response but labelling and name calling.  This is a mark of a failed discussion... it leads to the building of walls and the closing off of communication... 


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