just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

The Map Can Never Be the Territory and Why Brett Kavanaugh is Not Truthful

The Map Can Never Be the Territory and Why Brett Kavanaugh is Not Truthful

Once again a group of attorneys who are afraid to admit uncertainty will engage in old school procedures to determine the ‘truth’. Yet, the truth can never be known as we guess who to believe through our filters of political bias. Both sides will go to great length to convince us who has the credibility in their ‘story’. And that’s all it is, a story, a memory or not from decades ago. This is a time where the Democrats need the famous general semanticist, Sen. S. I. Hayakawa. The Republicans are masters at shielding awareness through a number of divisive techniques:

Name calling. i.e. mixed up woman
Appealing to Authority, thinking a statement is true simply because it comes from a renowned authority.
Appeal to the Club, “proving “ a statement by pointing out that the majority of people consider it true.
Over confidence in an age-old belief or tradition, i.e. pushing patriarchy over the matriarch or the belief the full story can be found through Aristotelian logic.
Reasoning in a circle or ‘begging the question’, where one uses the assumption of truth to prove its own truth i.e. Brett is a man of impeccable character now so he must have been that way when in high school.
Arguing from ignorance. “I can’t recall the event you accused me of, so you must be lying.”
Exploitation of pity. “Brett has an outstanding career and a great future as one of our justices. He couldn’t have possibly committed the crime the accuser speaks of.” The factors outlined have nothing to do with whether or not he committed the crime.
Sincerity. We sometimes hear the expression, “Well, at least he’s sincere in his beliefs.” This is offered as a mitigating factor, as if sincerity necessarily enables a person or validates a belief. I suspect by now that Brett fully believes he didn’t do what Dr. Ford claims. I’m sure he’s a master at convincing others of his ‘story’. That’s all it is, his story. Yet, here we are again giving ear to an untruth when he claims complete denial. The event was not significant for him and lost in the plasticity of memory. I don’t dispute that he doesn’t recall the event. Most of us only recall a few very significant events from decades ago, let alone, weeks ago. The true test for this would be to research several events that took place when he was in high school and ask him to categorically confirm or deny their truth. At this point he could correct his ‘untruth’ to “I don’t recall”, the only plausible truthful response for this situation.
Irrelevant conclusion. Suppose we argue that Brett has a law degree, has served in the legal system for years, establishing the highest regard from the Federalist Society. Dr. Ford doesn’t earn as much money, hasn’t served in the legal system, and doesn’t have a law degree, so, therefore, we must conclude that Brett is telling the truth.
Composition. “Dr. Ford is a university instructor with ‘elite’ thinking and an advocate for women’s rights, therefore she’s simply a pawn for the Democrats.”
Division. Here we begin with a higher level of abstraction and identify with a lower. i.e. Paul is a citizen of the US, a wealthy country. In the fallacy division we then conclude that Paul possesses wealth too.
Appeals to the baser emotions of fear, hatred, pride, or greed. Canny manipulators well acquainted with crowd psychology have used their skills to arouse fear and resentment to whip up hatred. We’ll have plenty of this going around as today’s opinion media feeds on conflict, fear and anger.
Argumentative Leap. I might argue that A can act better than B, because A won an Oscar, whereas B has not. My statement only proves that more people voted for A.

There are several other techniques that shield us from awareness to the territory. Again, we’ll never have the full territory, only the most accurate maps we can construct. People enter our judicial system with ‘their map’. Many have convinced themselves of a new story. I’ve seen this play out too many times.

Trump’s old school power thinking of ‘deny, deny, deny’ ignores the truth. The only authentic, truthful answers we can provide are, “For me, this is what I recall or don’t recall”. Dr. Ford has a memory. She can only say, “For me, this is what I recall from that event decades ago.” The trauma of the event and the corroboration presented so far may have her in a more believable position. Yet, the real issue here is Brett’s categorical denial of an event he’s very likely forgotten. I suspect that if he had been raped by a man at that age it would clearly be in his memory. When you go from a black and white conclusion from decades of lapsed memory it’s clear to me he’s not the justice we need to serve in the intricacies of legal decisions that affect us all. At the very least, there is no option but for him to correct his denial and state, “I simply don’t recall that event.” Period.

Ref.: The Children of Prometheus by William Dallman

As I Get Closer to My Last Breath I’m More Motivated to Celebrate My  First Breath


The Dali Lama says our main purpose here is to live in joy.  Brother David, a Benedictine monk, says we can always find joy in gratitude practice.  When asked, “Gratitude for what?”, he responds, “Gratitude for the opportunity to participate”.  I have my thoughts about how I got here, some concepts and theories that give me a sense of belonging.  Yet, when pushed to what I really know, the explicit answers have not come.  However, I do know that ‘I’ did not make me.  The heart that beats was a gift.  The lungs that breath were not my creation.  This very body that  continues to serve me took its first breath Sept 15, 1950.  It has not escaped disease and injury nor my periodic lapses of stewardship to its care.  And yes, I can get depressed when contemplating the inevitable moment when I will say goodbye to it.  Today, however, I’m filled with great joy for the opportunity to plan another birthday week filled with family, boardsport, nature, music and friends.  


Saturday:  Ride Blues Band reunion Washington Square,  White Bear Lake, MN  9-midnite

Ride Blues Band


Why the Need to Attend Class Reunions?

I’ve just spent a weekend celebrating the 50th anniversary of high school graduation, 1968.  I have a deep gratitude for the classmates who collaborated to put this event on.  I suspect most of us have a little trepidation about meeting after all these years given the inevitable entropy of our bodies.   We’ve had lots of practice at facing the importance and impermanence of the physical form.  

As a historical refresher, most of our class was thirteen when JFK was shot, Dr. King was shot the spring of our graduating year, and Bobby Kennedy was shot that summer, and the Chicago protests at the Democratic convention took place that summer.  The Beatles and the British music invasion were full swing, Woodstock happened the following summer, Eastern thought was meeting Western thought, and psychotherapists were promoting the benefit of hallucinogens that had the capacity to further ‘pull the rug’ from what we thought we knew.  The controversy of Vietnam was building.  Some of us went there.  Most of us used the student deferment to avoid it.  Two of my childhood playmates died over there the fall of 1969.  I recall that one sent letters back about the atrocities, threatened suicide and generally numbed out with drugs.  The other was a medic killed while collecting the injured.

Our class was pretty homogenous, white Christian.  Our wars of difference tended to be around the varieties of Christianity.  Our minorities were very minority of number, mainly a few hispanics who were able to live here year round.  Our parents weren’t accustomed to racial diversity and almost unintentionally carried an air of superiority over any diversity, even though they had known what it was like to be an ‘outsider’.  For as many reasons as there were classmates, some of us couldn’t wait to leave and explore the world and some stayed home and contributed to the local Albert Lea community.  We all found our different ways of healing from the pain of living throughout our growing up.  I have deep gratitude for the wonderful times we shared as we were just beginning to ‘be cooked’ in this wonderful pot called ‘life’.  At the time I felt excruciating pain and failure, and now I review how high school wounding made me a better person and prepared me for handling future relational failures.  I suspect there are those who refuse to heal from their wounding, holding anger to the conditions they felt hoisted upon them.  Some resorted to intoxicants to dull the pain.  Yet, most of us used the support that came from friends, faith and family to move through these difficult times.

The classmate who put the most into putting on our reunion on spoke to us with an eloquent, touching story of where he found his support and confidence.  He recalled moving to Albert Lea when thirteen, feeling anxious about fitting in, only to be met with kindness by the kids that shared the first row with him.  He listed the names of those kids, holding tears back with each name.  I’m honored to know my wife was one of them.  I told her this story since she didn’t attend the meeting and she didn’t recall the event but felt so good to hear the story.  So much of our life story is to fight those never ending thoughts of ‘not being enough’.  The restless mind of disatisfaction is forever at work saying we need more, should be more, should have done more, etc.  I’ve found the antidote to this is resting in that place of peace for kind actions we’ve done, the effects of which we’ll generally never know.  The effects shown by the kindness of the kids in the front row still lives over a half a century past the event.  I suspect my classmate has told this story to his children and grandchildren so that it has potential to be told another fifty or one-hundred years.

I have a practice called the Five Remembrances that grounds me with a daily review.  Essentially, it says it’s of human nature to age, to experience illness, to shed the body, and to let go all of our personal attachments when we take our last inspiration.  Yet, the results of our actions when in these bodies live on.  It’s why it’s so critically important to be careful with how we treat one another, how we examine potential harm we may cause with our actions, and why we need to let others know how grateful we are for how they supported us, how they gave us strength and confidence to move on into unknown territory.

I feel bad I haven’t specifically told my greatest supporters how central they’ve been to my navigation down new roads.  I recall the teachers who pushed me beyond what I thought possible, the ones who gave me lifelong skills I still employ, the ones who thought I was worth a shot, and the ones who inspired me with their dedication.  Our class honored a great teacher by the name of Paul Goodnature.  His last name captures what I’m talking about.  He knew his material and inspired his students to explore with a never ending curiosity.  He gave a speech that was filled with his gratitude for the students and the collaborative pilgrimage we were all on.  I never had him as a teacher, but I can guarantee, he’ll rest in peace knowing the results of his actions. His compassion and depth of curiosity will live on without entropy.

In conjunction with this reunion, I’ve been reading Thomas Friedman’s latest book, “Thank You For Being Late”.  He’s a fellow Minnesotan who concludes his book with the beauty of what’s been called ‘Minnesota nice’.  There really is something special about this part of the country and how we face change.  The book deals with the accelerating speed of climate change, globalization and technology and how it seems to be moving at an overwhelming pace.  Our capacity to collaborate, to adapt, and thrive will depend on our capacity to keep an open mind.  He writes: 

“Who cares where you are on the right-left political spectrum today?  What matters is where you are on the open-closed, love-to-learn, don’t love-to-learn, spectrums.”  p. 260

Given the tremendous propaganda forces in our culture today that try to eliminate curiosity and the open mind through opinion media, special interest lobby groups and pay to play politics, I’m so grateful for those teachers and friends who’ve given me the confidence to explore new territory or to see old territory new.  

What do you say to classmates after fifty years of being cooked?  It was a turbulent experience as we’re flooded with memories of the past.  I’m sure we all had our share of blundering comments as we moved through such intensity of experience unsure of what to say.  However, the real gift of class reunions for me has come in the insights after.  After fifty years you have to learn to let negative bygones be bygones. The heart heals with gratitude for the gifts given and a strong conviction to hold humor at the missteps we’ve made along the way.

Yes, entropy happens.  It’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  It’s a law of nature that energy ultimately dissipates.  Yet, the results of our emotions, thoughts and consequent actions live long beyond our time in these bodies.  At a fifty year class reunion we’re all now much more cooked than our parents were when we were in high school.  Some of us are great grandparents.  Some of us are trying to get through the day with deep emotional or physical pain.  I suspect there were some facing diagnosis of a terminal disease.  At the end of the day, I can only hope I’ll always hold gratitude for the many who’ve given me support on the way, joy for the unknown moments of kindness I’ve shown throughout the journey, and most importantly, forgiveness from those whom I’ve intentionally or unintentionally harmed.  We seldom will know the results of the positive or negative seeds we’ve sown through this journey.  Yet, when an old acquaintance recalls a moment of our kindness and how it fed their spirit, that’s what makes peace in the heart by feeding our spirit.  In essence, it’s the Golden Rule applied.

More Entries