The Day My Life Changed Forever – 3

orchid - JonSullivan

I haven’t considered myself religious for over 30 years now.  It’s not that I have anything against Christianity (or religion); I just feel guilty calling myself a Christian and not believe in a God, Heaven, the hereafter, and all that other ‘leap-of-faith’ logic.

That’s not to say I’m not spiritual.  I believe on some level that there is a spiritual connection to can make with others – and I believe it happens all the time.  It comes from the energy each one of us put out to the world.  We are, scientifically, all bit of energy vibrating at different speeds to form various types of mass and structure.  So I therefore believe there could be something to it – and I can feel it from people.

But for the most part, I stopped believing in a lot of things a long time ago.  It’s just that religion had a good hold of me (school, social, punishment), and for the most part, it got me through some tough times. (I invite you to have a compelling look at one of those times here: Benni’s Dirty Secret.)  It was sort of like therapy with a twist; and for the most part, it worked.  That’s why I stuck around – and I have much to thank for the many individuals who entered my life in those times.

***

If I were to give myself a label, I would say I live my life today as an Existential Humanist.  This describes the kind of relationship I have with the world as I live it every moment.  As such, it serves and allows me:

  • To express my observations and perceptions of how I experience life as it occurs, and
  • To express my feelings and actions towards actions.

As an Existentialist, I am able to exercise my logical side of thinking.  I can see how the world operates without the noise of drama, stories, miscommunication, crisis, and all the other distractions created by humankind to interrupt our progress of human understanding.

As a Humanist, there is nothing I appreciate more than being in the company of others who are chasing dreams that improve theirs and the lives of others.  Not in a socialist sense; rather, I appreciate environments where EVERYONE is truly equal and compassionate about life and living.

I understand the Human Condition.  I know the how-to’s, where-for’s, and what-not’s about how we operate in life.  And while I can see how knowing this stuff can be beneficial to some; this is only part of the equation of experiencing human potential.  The other half is UNDERSTANDING.  That’s the plane of life where I exist with all my relationships – human or otherwise.  It is quite exciting, actually.

My life occurs in the little things that make up our day.  For example, when I go to the office to do my writing and work for the day (the local Tim Hortons coffee shop), I am greeted by some familiar faces I see every day.  Reasons are found to talk to each other.  I find the joy in holding the door for someone, and others often do likewise.  Friendly nods of respect are cast to solitary individuals, and infant/toddlers always laugh and smile when we interact.  It’s a good feeling to feel welcome.

***

I guess it would make sense that I would evolve to be such a person.  I suppose my early lessons to see life with the drama, deceptions, and manipulations molded me and the logical-thinking side of my personality.  As for the emotional side of me, I see now how I was emotionally immature (and distorted). Yet, I was living a life of service to others.  My 30+ years of volunteering, and the years of working in service-related industries (health, social service, military service, neighbourhood groups and agencies, etc.) provide evidence of my subconscious decision to help others.  What is surprising to me though, is that I’ve done a lot in my life – and all along (for over 30 years), I was living with Mental Health issues and didn’t even know it.

***

 But it was on that night that everything started brand new for me.  All that outer space stuff.

Here I was, instead of celebrating the possibility that I could become an astronaut like most other boys my age, I was having a philosophical crisis that was about to change my life (for the first time).

I suppose it was the last straw.  And I suppose it was natural for me to cry.  After all, I saw the last bastion of Trust and Understanding disappears from under me and there was nothing left on which to rely.  The well of my life had run dry.

Needless to say, I have issues with Trust to this day.  I’ve studied it to death and have developed a keen knowledge and understanding of it’s implications on our lives.  For example, there is so little trust in the world, we have laws, contracts, rules, wars, guidelines, tests, governments, and all those other tools to keep us all honest.  I’m not different from much others in this respect.

I did learn these 3 things about trust over my travels:

  1. Trust is NOT earned, it is only granted.
    Trust is ours to lose.  We have to give trust to others or nothing much would get done.  We understand there is not much trust in the world.
  2. Trust can only be expressed through action.
    It doesn’t matter how much you tell someone you are trustworthy, nobody will believe it until they actually experience it.  This can only be done through performance.
  3. Trust is driven by our personal level of fear.
    We all come from different backgrounds, so we are all different in our approach to life.  As life is driven primarily by fear (everyone), then it is easy to find someone’s level of trust.

Because of this experience, I (unknowingly) decided to invest time in my life journey for something to believe in – without success, over the years.  I have a trail of evidence littering my life experiences growing ip where I trusted others (within the standards of social mores) and got burned – sometimes badly.  For example, a recent business venture a few years back involved having a retired religious Minister as a partner.  He got an honourable doctorate, was elected a bishop, and honoured for a life’s work in central America helping the poor.  When everything is said and done, after I invested time and money into the operation, he disappears.  I find out he decided he wanted to get involved in a multi-level marketing (MLM) business instead.  I never had an opportunity to talk to him about it because I’ve never seen him again.  Incredible luck, huh?

I’ve learned not to take things personally anymore because I realize I am not life’s only victim.  I am one of many before and after me.  From this practice, I come to have more compassion for people and more derision for institutions or large bodies of businesses who benefit unfairly from the people they serve.  I am an active advocate for others when I see an immoral or unethical event taking place.

In that night of profound awakening and awareness, it seems incredible that the emotional crisis of a little boy would have such an impact that would shape and mould the direction of one’s life.  Yet, I can attest (through my background and accomplishments) that life never did occur the same again.

Whether an unconscious or subconscious decision, I decided to find out why people do what they do.  And after 40+ years of personal inquiry (remember, I am a Whyz-Guy) and experiences of much sacrifice, I did come to some personal beliefs about people and life:

  1. We all live in Fear,

  2. We are socially conditioned from our influences in life to behave the way we do, and

  3. We are only being the only way we know how.

Not bad for something started by a lonely 10 year old, huh?

Just think, I could have instead started down the road of resignation, crime, confusion, and death a long time ago.  I had my moments, but I am still here; and I am not going to give up on life.

Thank you readers for allowing me these last 3 days to share this with you.  I’ve been wanting to do this for years (but I had nobody to tell).  The fall of another wall – the cleansing of essence – the joy of it all.

Namaste

Advertisements

Conversations with Mom – Life’s Lessons

There are so many things we learn and live by from our parents.  And from Mom, she gave me her 5 most valuable beliefs about people and life.

In my case, it was my mother who shared her thoughts with me because I’ve only ever had one conversation with my father before I was 45 years old (the ‘condom’ talk) – so Mom was my teacher.

I had many embarrassing convos with Mom (some I won’t share, lol), but other than those, Mom sprinkled her wisdom into my life in many different ways over many, many years.

What I loved most about Mom:

She was a straight-shooter and to the point, so I knew if I wanted to know ‘the way it is’, she was the one to go and get advice. She didn’t mess around with muddying up the lesson with emotional drama or excuses – like I said – just like an unpire (and she loooooooved baseball – Go Jays!).

A point about her opinions and parenting: when I say ‘the way it is’, I am referring to her existential way of looking at life.  She wasn’t an emotional person (and she passed that down to me, drats!), and I think she saw the fakery and illusion life can dish out.  She didn’t say ‘the way I see it‘ or some other attachment, she ‘gave it to me straight’.  There was a strange humility about her because she never really acknowledged her wisdom because she was never aware of her own expertise based on her personal Life Lessons.

She once said to me (as she said to many) as she gave her opinion on her racism (and she was proud of her humour in it):

“I’m not a racist, I hate everyone equally!”

Anyways, back to my point of this post.

She was cynical about life too.  She learned, saw, and did enough living in the big city (Toronto, Canada) to get a taste of everything urban life can offer.  Like most others around her (especially her friends), they were of the same general opinion about life.

Personally, I think some people liked being around her because she spoke for them – for their frustrations, venting, saying something when it needed to be said.  Like I said earlier – she is a straight-shooter, and (like I picked up from her) she didn’t care who the person was thay may have been doing something that wasn’t Ethical, Legal, or Moral – she was going to say something.  She had a saying for it, but I’m getting too old to remember it now, lol.

trelaske_woods

5 FACTS OF LIFE
I LEARNED FROM MOM

_____________________

1 – Everybody WANTS something.

  • She was the one who gave me my first “Sales” training.  She didn’t know it; but in sales, they call it “WII-FM” (no, not a radio station). That acronym stands for “What’s In It For Me”.
  • That’s why marketers are very good at having our average family debt currently at about 165% of income.

2 – Most (if not all) people have ‘something going on’.

  • Mom saw this cynical side of people a hundred times over.  For example, I remember her telling me about all the things she saw at “Maple Leaf Gardens” which was rotten, in her opinion “from Harold Ballard all the way to the basement”.  But she loved working at the former Toronto shrine at Carlton and Church.
  • In her own many travels and adventures she shared with me, she explained how reciprocation worked and the role it played in life.  She practiced it even at home (though we kids weren’t cognizant at the time) – and it was always a reason not to trust someone.
  • The scheming of  ‘something going on’ is the need for a return of the effort/favour/thing you bestowed upon another. A lot of the time, it was an unspoken and understood way of being towards expectations in others.

3 – Everyone looks for the easy way.

  • “People tend to be lazy and they don’t expect much from you.  Put the extra effort in and you could do anything.”
  • She held those views in another rational explanation into why it was easy to impress others (“baffle them with your brilliance or boggle them with your bullshit”).
  • Don’t become THEM.  “Keep working harder – this mark of ‘A’ is not enough – I want an A+!”

4 – Everybody is afraid.

  • If you looked up the word “persistence” in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Mom next to it.
  • Mom knew that everyone was afraid of losing something (a personal thing).  She used threats against systems, businesses, relationships, and every other part of her life where she may have felt oppressed, experiencing a threat to her dignity, and/or finances.
  • In large conflicts with systems and businesses, she often won her issue on the basis that she knew how to fight the battle.
  • Fear plays a big role in life – that’s what I was taught – just not in those words or as eloquent.

5 – Everybody NEEDS something.

  • Mom believed, for the most part, that we are all in this huge struggle – and we are all in it together. If she was political, she’d probably be a NDPer (the left in Canada) or a Democrat (in America).
  • Not only in her life-long critcal battle with health issues (emphasema killed her), she realized that was small compared to the massive number of needs everybody has.
  • She weighed much of her opinion of friendship and other relationships on need. Not overt – but still there.
  • Funny thing – she knew Maslow’s Theory and yet she never studied him or heard of his Needs hierarchy.

Is Something Wrong? or …

“My rant against the bias towards Disabilities”

Serene Pathway

*

I swore that I would,

if only I could

change my life completely around.

From many time of trying,

I’m now used to the dying

when you tell me my mind is not sound.

*

I look in your face,

vainly search for a trace

that makes me want to believe.

I’ve heard it before,

and I’ve come to abhor

your labels designed to deceive.

*

Your smiles are crooked,

and your posture does show it

there’s something amiss in our sharing.

Thinking you know,

I’m not status quo

without ability for the Daring.

*

My abilities – yes different,

my mind – most competent

seeking out dreams – just like you.

I certainly can’t,

and most definitely won’t

humble myself for you.

*

Disabled you call me,

Unable you see me

But I don’t fit your profile.

I make no transgression,

I work at discretion –

your feigned ignorance reviled.

*

Scandalous at times,

most shameful, poisoned minds

your integrity completely lost.

Stolen power is yours

knowing patience wears,

at attempts to create trust.

*

Challenges – indeed,

I still look to succeed

not discouraged from daily falling.

Strength I am gaining,

gathering, sustaining

towards living my personal calling.

*

Chasing My Dream,

Life begins to redeem

and is giving me freedom to live.

I refuse to give up,

I’ll keep getting up

I refuse to be held in captive.

*

I pass now to you,

a chance to renew

your desired belief in another.

I willingly stand,

to help you understand

we are, after all, here for each other.

*

*

Namaste

(c) 2013 Kevin Collins

Nietzsche says about our life:

There is no truth, no meaning to life in the world that is relevant to you, except the truth that you yourself give your life.

… To give life a meaning:

that has been the grand endeavor of all that have preached ‘truth’;
for unless life is given a meaning it has none.

.

At this level, truth is not something that can be proved or disproved:

It is something which you determine upon, which, in the language of the old psychology, your will.

.

It is not something waiting to be discovered, (it is not) something to which you submit or at which you halt:

It is something you create, it is the expression of a particular kind of life and being which has, in you, ventured to assert itself.

.

Because each particular life and being needs a fortress within which to preserve and protect itself and from which to reach out …..

and truth (your meaning to life) is this fortress.

The Subtle Power of Media Abuse?

The media is powerful – you know it – I know it – we all know it.

We know their power is established in doing their work with honesty, integrity, and the highest degree of professionalism.  They’ve fought for the right to hold that esteemed position; and as a result, we (the viewers/readers/listeners) have come to expect the media to live up to their responsibilities that come with being a part of the industry.

Because of the acknowledged MAJOR role media plays in our lives, our societies have developed “checks and balances” consisting of agreements, guidelines, and laws that ensure the media honours the privilege of their position in society.  It gives us, the public peace of mind in believing “Big Brother” is being watched.

Sadly, it appears that over time, the public has come to unrealistically trust and believe the media’s commitment to “the truth”.  Sadder still, recent events in the last few months have had me wonder whether the public has been duped into this false belief.

– – –

Below, I list 4 examples of recent Media releases in the Toronto Canada market (within the last 3 months) that are at the very least, in very bad taste.  When you group the incidents together according to what they do (according to the ELM Test of Integrity), it appears to me to be almost heinous in the powerful abuses they exercise in their actions.

– . –

1 – TSN:  The Sports Network – a national cable sports channel

What happened:

There was a between-period segment where a number of commentators discuss issues and games based on their hockey expertise.  The bit was about supportive relationship between a budding young hockey star and the coach of an NHL team. It was an inspiring and positive report.

After the segment, the hockey panel went on to remark on inappropriate relationships with young athletes.  Because of what the NHL coach said, the panel made an inference of child abuse by an NHL coach by joking and commenting on the coach’s remarks that he had a good relationship with the young hockey star.

They further joked about it and laughed to give the impression that it was acceptable to laugh about child abuse.

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: They crossed the line when they brought in the issue of inappropriate relationships with young athletes when it wasn’t necessary.

Legal: They may have caused a legal issue by using the NHL coach as the butt of their jokes about having inappropriate relationships with young athletes.

Moral: They minimized the seriousness of the issue of inappropriate relationships with young athletes by making jokes about the issue.

As a victim and survivor of a sports coach abuse when I was a boy, I was very upset with the segment and how it was twisted.  I wrote an email to them (mid-May), but I did not receive a response. I then wrote to another news outlet – they did not respond either.

___

2 – CP24: CityPulse24 – Toronto local 24-hr all-news channel

What happened?

A “breaking-news” story came on the TV about two missing women. As is the standard protocol with news releases by the Toronto Police Service, they included information that could help identify the person that is missing.

The second woman broadcast included a description that seemed a bit odd.  Along with the usual information (height, weight, hair, etc), it included that the person was Persian. I wondered how someone would know how to identify a Persian, and if there was still a country named Persia.

After I did some research, I found out the name of Persia is no longer in use.  I also found out something else that actually scares me:

There was no Toronto Police media report about the missing person.

Actually, the media release didn’t happen until a few days later.

I wrote an email to CP24 asking where they got the reference to Persian, how it was part of the description, and it could be considered racist. They thanked me for my writing to them.

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: They crossed the line by adding something to the description that was never included in the first place. They manipulated hard news from the police.

Legal: How did they get the information from the Toronto Police Service? The official release wasn’t listed until a few days after the news first broke.

Moral: Was morally wrong to believe they can get away with misinformation.  There was no police report (yet the inference was so), and they intentionally made up information.

___

3 – CTV: CTV News Toronto of national media network

What happened?

There was a new news host on the program this particular evening. He was doing quite well until he got flustered.  When that happened, it only got worse.

After the break, the host introduced the weather person; and unfortunately got her name wrong.  After an embarrassing chatter to recover, the host then went on to compliment her on her beauty and the connection to her work.

The weather person handled it very well, and they moved on.

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: Is it unethical to use something in poor taste (in this day and age) such as referring to a (co-worker and) woman’s beauty to recover.  What the heck was on his mind – and how did the weather person feel?

I didn’t find any other questions regarding this incident.  I was wondering how they would apologize or even if they felt there was something for which to apologize to the viewers.

___

4 – Toronto Sun: local daily tabloid newspaper

What happened?

I was reading the local newspaper and came across a photograph that didn’t look right. After further research, I noticed the “photograph” (as it was credited) appeared to be manipulated by creating an image from several others.

What caught my interest in this particular issue is that I was under the understanding that publicly published images has certain royalties, required credits, and correct information of the image.  This image was listed as a photograph when it actually was not.

So, if they are willing to take liberties with something as minor as this; how many other instances has there been in the past?  Do they often pass of images as photographs (and thereby deceiving the reading public)?

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: It appears the image has bee manipulated and has falsely given the reader the impression the image was taken as a complete shot in one take.

Legal: Given the issues with royalties and credits, I have to wonder if the image was created from just his shots or did he use public domain issues?  How can the photographer claim any credit for something that isn’t an actual photograph?

Moral: I don’t know if there is a moral dilemma with this issue other than the photographer’s own feelings.  Knowing that he did not create a photograph and only created an “image”, how does he come to terms with himself with the appearance of a fraud he is perpetrating?

– – –

In all of these incidents (as subtle as they are),

the players are all professionals;

they know the media rules and guidelines;

and yet, it appears they still chose to put their integrity

in jeopardy by not responding when questioned.

Values & Beliefs: The “ELM Test” of Integrity

Our integrity is all we’ve got.  It’s “our word”, a handshake”, a promise”, “showing up”, and many other acts we perform in our daily lives.

Because of this, our personal integrity is what we are measured against – and the most revealing of who we are being in that relationship.

We see it in the stories ordrama of our lives.  The Grey in our black and white world.

***

IntegrityWhenever I consider the actions of myself/others, I have this tendency to measure (judge) the motivations behind those decisions/actions.

Of course, I’m not talking about decisions to do everyday sort of things; rather, I’m talking about decisions/actions that make a relative difference in my life – especially when it comes to business with others.  I’ll explain further as we go along.

So, what is this “ELM Test” and how is it used, you ask?

ELM is an acronym for:

  • Ethical

  • Legal

  • Moral

Ethical:  working in accordance with fulfilling the principles of right or wrong (especially within a profession).

Legal:  a statutory obligation to exercising the principles of right or wrong.

Moral:  an individual conscious decision as a human being to live the principles of right or wrong.

***

The process when I use this is not only for my own behaviours, but also that of others in my ‘official’ or business relationships.

Personal relationships do not usually need the Test because they don’t involve legal or ethical questions, only the question of morality.  Of course, I wouldn’t want to chill with a Ponzi schemer or a wife-beater – that crosses the line for me.

The way in which I use this test is by questioning the motivation or logic behind my (our) decisions before I decide to take action.  By doing so, it keeps my integrity in check and lets me gauge my sincerity behind my actions.  (I am always learning about myself, too!  Ackkkkkkkk!)

.

If I profess to love people,
I better be ‘walking the walk
instead of just ‘talking the talk, right?

.

Now let me digress just a little (my little humanistic caveat).  I am by no means implying that I am this walking edifice of righteous indignation – not like I was 15 years ago when I was the top of my capitalist game.  Heck NO!  I am human too.

Like you, my dear reader, I make mistakes – and some of them intentionally.  That’s what we do sometimes.  Sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of ignorance, and sometimes out of spite.

.

Yup, we are always stretching the boundaries
of our moral compass – right?

And stuff will happen.  But …

***

When I enter a relationship, I feel I have an obligation to follow the ELM Test in order to ensure the best outcomes can be reached.  In other words – to get what I want.  There are many benefits:

  • it maintains a measure of respect and dignity for each other,

  • it allows us to know the boundaries of acceptable decisions/actions, and

  • it fertilizes the trust that is required for each other to be effective in the decisions/actions.

***

Here’s an example of how I recently employed the ELM Test:

I was recently looking for a job, and I wanted to work in a community organization doing outreach and providing support services like resume writing.  I found several opportunities (at least for summer work) that piqued my interest, so I applied.  Most replied and I went on a few interviews.

Keeping in mind that interviews are a good place and time to find out more about the agency as well.  I always want to ensure the agency is a good fit for me as well.  I always come prepared with questions for the interviewer as well as have word prompts to help me remember to make and note specific observations within the agency as it operates day-to-day.

I didn’t get a job.

I guess I could have been a little easier on my judgment of the agencies; yet, I wanted to work somewhere that was actually making some kind of difference.

After employing the ELM Test when deciding on these job opportunities, this is what I saw and determined from one of most obvious failures:

This agency’s main focus is to offer daily meals and snacks to feed the hungry, have a space to drop-in, and have access to free computers and telephone. The typical user is homeless, poor, hungry, speaks another language, men, recently landed, and between 30 and 50 years old.  The programs they offer are creative writing, painting, resume writing, how to find work, and how to write a cover letter to name a few.

FAIL ELM TEST
_______________

They failed their Ethical obligation to know the needs of the services users and offer them the programs and services they need.

To walk into the agency – and even to the untrained eye, it is obvious the service users are not in a position of using the above-mentioned services offered.  Besides language barriers, literacy is an issue.  Many are homeless and less-skilled.  Most were older men.

They failed their Legal obligation to use public funding to provide services according to the requirements from official needs assessments.

To hire staff to fill an agency need for funding does not give us value for the money we invest in human potential.  I witnessed a lot of casual conversations between staff (not with service users – they watch TV – in Spanish).

When the time came to offer the services, an announcement is made, a sheet of paper is checked, and the facilitator then goes back to the conversation at the front desk.

They failed their Moral obligation to reach into the lives of their service users and find out what they need and want to develop themselves as “productive citizens”.

Again, even to the untrained eye, it is obvious they are employed by the agency just to have a job.

.

Granted, government funding makes it impossible to find qualified staff because of funding restrictions; but at least those that do work at the agency must have some sense of compassion, integrity, or desire to help others genuinely in need The staff were just floating around looking busy, but really – they were not accomplishing much more than feeding the neighbourhood.

Given this is their main intention, they would be a better agency that address the main issues that confront the services so they indeed do make a difference – as intended!

Needless to say, I ran away from that agency.

***

I couldn’t honestly work for someone who is just playing the game of life.  I don’t want to just fill a hole – I want to make a difference in my little corner of the world.  From the results of their decisions and the actions the staff were taking, my observations compelled me to make a critical decision from this question:

Do I take the job and try to make changes from the inside,
or do I walk away and pick an issue where
I can invest my time and resources into something
that will actually achieve a difference?

I had to keep my personal goals in the social struggle in perspective – and I had to invest in my emotional balance, so I chose to walk away.

https://i2.wp.com/ezinearticles.com/featured/images/ea_featured_70_3.gif

Updated from 2009

Values & Beliefs: Is there Real Truth?

.

TRUTH!

That elusive amoeba promising something forever out of reach; yet, remains close enough to give us its sister: HOPE!

TRUTH!

This spoken declaration – this pretend game every organized group claims to own and behold.

TRUTH!

Applied in the reality of agreement.  The greater number of those declaring a statement as truth, the greater and more powerful the truth becomes.

TRUTH!

With agreement (and agreement only), comes a unified voice whose only aim is to convince others they own the truth!

TRUTH!

Handcuffs of human conditioning placing our values and beliefs into a negative-based system of “punishment or more punishment”.

TRUTH!

Disempowering when sought in the realm of morality and religiosity – with its rules, crimes, rituals, and exclusivity.

TRUTH!

An elephant in the room of those in a position of power whose responsibility it is to practice and live in the spirit as well as to the letter.

TRUTH!

That soothing and addictive elixir first nurtured at suckling.  We seek it because we were promised it.

TRUTH!

As it is.  It is so.

.