Monday, October 23, 2017

What are some Youth Empowerment Skills for Healthy Growth


Cavana Faithwalker
Cavana Faithwalker, Empowerment Strategist



Ok youth, that’s a pretty fluid term.  I’ll go with the U.N. definition which is 15-24.

Communication skills (More broadly though this is Interpersonal skills)- This involves a circuit or communication loop. Includes but not limited to; those  that help express emotion; I feel angry, scared, frustrated, etc. I use these examples because empowerment starts on the inside 100% of the time)
The other part of Communication loop is composed of listening and expectations. Ideally one’s goal in speaking is to be understood, not to persuade..
One’s goal in listening is to understand, not to form an argument.  Express/listen/clarify to understanding if need be.  Eg Clarify hearing; “What I heard you say___________.”  Clarify expression often does not include repeating the same thing but rephrasing.  Out of all the other parts of this equation I would add saying “no, as an empowerment skill.” Part of communications is  in Self Love below and has to do with responsibility in communication. Eg., If you say you need a hug and don’t get one know that it wasn’t the other person’s responsibility to hug you and that is how they responded that time period.   If you’d like to know more about developing this look up NVC Nonviolent Communication.  There are hours by its progenitor Marshall Rosenberg.  In broader peripheral terms- it’s very cultural and geographic and not only includes vocabulary but body language and eye contact, intonation and tradition. Also reading body language and situations.  Not necessarily a “thing” this is just to point out there is more than direct communication.

Mindfulness and introspection- the simplest form is being quiet and counting breaths/listening.  The idea in counting breaths is to quiet one’s mind and connect to one’s self.  One will start to be self aware more.  This will aid in communication, decision making, extrapolating and interpolating consequences more fully, Self love, compassion, empathy. 
  • Eg.,” They gang teased Fred all morning.  In gym class I laughed and joined in, pushing him in the back and kicking him in the butt. I felt guilty and ashamed of myself later.”
  • “Again today the gang teased Fred all morning.  In gym class I told them to leave him alone and they teased me too the rest of the day.  They said I must be Gay too. I felt a little scared and embarrassed  and belittled.  The next morning I felt good about my decision.”
  • Comparative:  I’d rather feel scared, embarrassed and belittled than guilty and ashamed of myself. 
  • Acting on positivity (Leadership): “ I think I’ll invite Fred to my and Jack’s table for chemistry”->” I think I’ll blog about bullying”->”I think I’ll start an anti bully group. “
Self talk Self love/Self worth/ self esteem. 
Understanding:
  • My body is my own.  I don’t have to be socially polite about how I want to be treated or touched.
  • Being wrong does not mean being bad, immoral, or inferior.
  • I am responsible for what I think  how I act and respond.
  • Other people are responsible for  what they think, how they act and respond.

Disciplined self-talk and healthy affirmation and visualization are skills.  Many people repeat bad messages that lead to poor self esteem, many times from caregivers.  “You’re such a loser, what’s wrong with you? I knew you’d get it wrong”-get internalized; “I’m such a loser, what’s wrong with me, I knew I’d get it wrong.”
Disciplined self talk

  • I’m a winner, I noticed how beautiful it was today, I listened to my heart, I stuck up for Fred last week. 
  • Who doesn’t get things wrong, I mean really?  That just means I have one less obstacle on the way to a solution.

So there are lots of other skills you read about.  To me though if these things above are working in the right environment ideally kids will pick healthy environments and friends or at least know they’ve made not so great decisions.I’m remiss in not proffering a discussion on what would be cultivating an environment to build these skills.

Ending National Coming Out Day? Get Outta Town!

Image result for national coming out day





Matthew H. Birkhold is an openly gay assistant professor at Ohio State University.  Read his WaPo OpEd here.
I read his proposal to end National Coming Out Day with interest but in the end I was a bit confused and wholeheartedly disagreeing.  
In one breath while affirming that NCOD “...continues to affirm our lives, worth and dignity,” and through his interpersonal experiences, affirming that coming out is healthy and cathartic; Prof. Birkhold in the next breath states; “Coming out,” we’ve been trained, is one of the most important parts of a gay person’s life — something he or she gets to do on his or her own terms, when ready.”
“We’ve been trained?”  This phrase seems cynical at best.  It’s as if some conservative thinker would tell folk, “you’ve been trained that government cheese is good but you actually live in the devil spawned welfare state... and government cheese continues to affirm your lives, worth and dignity.”  
Let’s change the context for a moment and talk about coming out in terms of personal congruency and self actualization.  
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was a humanistic psychologist who agreed with the main assumptions of Abraham Maslow, but added that for a person to "grow", they need an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood)..
 Carl Rogers stated that the personality is like a triangle made up of the real self, the perceived self, and ideal self. According to Rogers, when there is a good fit between all three components, the person has congruence. This is a healthy state of being and helps people continue to progress toward self-actualization.
Being real with one’s self is healthy and being in an  an environment to walk out or carry out that truth is also, ergo National Coming Out Day, a tool to accomplish this.
Although he readily admits the benefits of coming out Birkhold has a better idea:  “stop coming out.”  He seems to assert that America is a safer place in 2017. Coming Out day has outlived its usefulness therefore away with it.  Birkhold thinks that... “for people in different circumstances, this day might provide much-needed support and strength.”  OK... so  forget about them, it’s all about him and his privilege or comfort, or what is he saying?
Safer doesn't mean safe. Although Birkhold tips his hat to his own privilege as a well paid, well educated, gay college professor at a liberal college, noting, “writing from a place of social, institutional and personal security;” he indeed stops shy of outing it as privilege. So let’s end, “we shall overcome and no justice, no peace"  ignoring police brutality because the streets are safer than they used to be? Parenthetically the streets are not safer for the powerless. He also asserts that coming out is stigmatizing. Possibly this perception may be more to his point than not needing National Coming Out Day since we are in a kinder gentler America.  Many are avoiding coming out effectively continuing to remain in hiding often in fear or self loathing.  
Birkhold asserts “Coming out” implicitly announces — to LGBTQ individuals, allies and enemies — that gay people are aberrant. Our homosexuality is so different that we must proclaim it; heterosexuality, however, is normal and expected... “  It ain’t necessarily so but I agree.. a little.  I agree that to “enemies” who I’d like to define as brainwashed and uninformed this is often perceived as  gay people being aberrant.   
In years passed heterosexuality was not only normal, it was the norm, two different concepts. It is still considered the norm but the mantle of non-aberrant status is falling by the wayside giving into the truth of  a sexual continuum and not an “either or” sexual universe.  The general population is becoming more aware of such concepts as “gender fluid, sexual orientation” and relatively new vocabulary as “cisgender” (Naw, look it up.)  enters popular conversation and “sexual orientation” replaces “sexual preference.”   Much of the general population is unaware that there is no dualism in sexuality,  one is either entirely male or female or whatever is  in between, gay, lesbian, transgender or fluid.  It was only 44 years ago this Dec 2017 that being gay  came out of DSMII as aberrant.  Where is the DSM on most people’s radar?  A’ight I’ll give you this one:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders.
  Coming in contact with this broader understanding doesn’t mean you embrace it or even believe it.
In US, More Adults Identifying as LGBT
According to Gary J. Gates, Gallup News 4.1% of Americans identify as LGBT.  In 2012 the number identifying was 3.5%. This is a significant jump.  By 2058 10% of the population will be identifying as LGBTQ. However many see our American society falling to the enslaught of the “Gay agenda.”    If you have a phobia here this number shows how many people are are identifying, not how many people are “turning gay.”


To quote many pastors and religious folk, “The Devil is busy yall!”
Romans 1:22-28King James Version (KJV)  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, ...  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves...

This worldview exists on any given sunday throughout the U.S. sans Jamie Fox and Al Pacino.  So there’s that;  A whole bunch of people don’t give a good goddamn what science says in this area.  I’m not talkin’ Westboro “God Hates Fags” churches.  I’m talkin’ “Love the sinner hate the sin” churches that exist in abundance brothas and sistas.

As an African American I relate this conversation to the 60s, many labeled us racist, felt something was wrong with us that we shouted, I Am Somebody!  I’m Black and I’m Proud!  At what point does this message need to stop what is it’s shelflife?  This language has be displaced by “Queens and Kings” mindset in many parts of the black community.  Now that we’ve established, at least rhetorically that we are human and being black is a source of pride we struggle to affirm our history does not start in slavery but in the rich culture and monarchies of Africa. and we should respect each other as royalty, especial in marriage and other interpersonal reltionships.  I think it no coincidence we levitate to Egypt in light of the white washing of Egypt in the movies vis a vis Liz Taylor, Yule Brenner, Charlton Heston and many others.  Note this commercial for Cleopatra soap from the 90s in which Cleo is white but the servant pouring the water has lots of melanin. Regardless of history Cleopatra soap is pretty sure that many of the servants are black.
Changes in the law are not indicators of social progress.  As any mystic worth her salt will tell you,  you can not legislate righteousness.  Social change comes through appealing to and challenging one’s humanity.  If you don’t know LGBTQ people you are subject to prejudice, bigotry and misinformation.  
Birkhold notes that current polls suggest most Americans consider same-sex relations morally acceptable and that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. He points to a  Gallup survey indicating that most Americans favor  new laws to reduce discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.”  Again to be clear laws don’t reduce discrimination they may reduce acts of discrimintion and yes if they do we need them.
 I prefer to see the proverbial glass partially empty for safety’s sake right now. While believing “we shall overcome” let’s see how far away overcoming is before the end of the struggle is officially anounced.
Here is another statistic; 19.4% of hate crimes in 2015 were based on sexual orientation bias (17.7%) and gender identity bias (1.7). There were 7,121 victims with 5,818 single bias incidents. Over 1,100 people were victimized in our kinder gentler USA.  A surprisingly high percentage considering the Williams Institute estimates that 3.8 percent of the U.S. identifies as LGBTQ.
Though I shouldn’t dignify this with a comment, to proffer, “Straight people don’t come out. Why should gay people?” is a false comparison at best.  Of course straight people don’t come out our culture assumes unless otherwise noted everyone is straight. People assume the traffic light, the gas mask (Garrett Morgan), the first successful open heart surgery (Daniel Hale Williams), and the popular expression, “the real McCoy typically meaning the real thing,  refer to white men.  They are black men.
Here are two more suggestion to add to Prof. Birkhold’s idea. Number 1) Make it a national holiday... too soon? 2) Imagine if in the early years of  National Coming Out Day it had begun in a rites of passage flavored event recognizing the new freedom, the challenges and solidarity of being LGBTQ being out.  The emphasis was centered on coming out to one’s self damn the rest of the world.   It could happen!  Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
“  Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community.”
Has it been successful? Well how does one measure success, does one need to measure it?  It’s been around since 1966 and in 2017 a significant number of black folk have not participated in a Kwanzaa event.  A signifcant number, however, have made it central to their holiday activities and many embrace it as a rule of thumb.  I would say it is successful.
One thing that makes identity and orientation in this arena seem aberrant has more to do with the fact that LG don’t always readily accept T.  Look at the beginning of the fight for equality and acceptance in LGBTQ and you will see Transgender folk often felt kicked to the curb, pushed to the back of the line.  As Prof. Birkhold shows, LGBTQ sounds good together and has a flow but they are more than letters and more than a monolith of ideas, points of view and experiences.
SOME REASONS NOT TO END NCOD NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY
  1. It can improve your mental health.
  2. Coming out is a part of personal empowerment.
  3. Everytime someone comes out they are affirming their humanity and human rights to be unapologetically, celebratorily of who they are.  They may no longer feel that they have to hide their every move.
  4. Everytime someone comes out it is a signal to those hiding that you’re ok and you are not alone.
  5. the more people that identified as LGBTQ the more the view of sexual status quo broadens.
  6. As more and more people are “out” and discussions... and arguments happen the arc toward truth becomes stronger.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Los Dos Fronteras- Great Service-
Great Food. Cleveland Ohio
Is Tipping a motivator?
In restaurants tip is often "known" to be mean To Insure Promptness or To Insure Prompt Service. Completely false etymology but I think many servers work on this assumption, I did and I extrapolated.  Prompt courteous proactive.. etc., this would never happen -5 Easy Pieces [Page on bit.ly]
I even got manicures so my hands looked purty... Ok I liked the attention too.  Good servers are well versed in all of the menu items and many restaurants have regular food and alcohol tasting for wait staff so they know.  I think minimum wage for severs/waitstaff is up to $2.28 as of 2016.  It is anticipated servers will make up to at least the legal minimum wage .

Communicate.
Don't wait for the experience to totally go south before you say something. ... 5 Easy pieces again:  Page on bit.ly .. Have to be out the door for a movie in 45 minutes?.. ask can that be done.   I have a friend who at seating  is known to tell the server, "ya know what I can be labor intensive could you just keep that in mind and glance over a lot?"

What the hell!? All ya have to do is bring.. the food.. to the table!
Decent servers have an extraordinary skill set and it ain't always as easy as it looks.
Many things can keep the food from getting to the table on time.
Anything from cook staff that is "in the weeds," meaning behind on orders, to a server taking out your party's meal meant for you, to to a host/hostess who doesn't seat evenly or can't seat evenly. When a server gets "slammed," (mean a server or the restaurant is seated all at one time)  say with 4 "four-tops" (4 tables seating 4 people each) in a fine dining store it can be difficult to say the least.  
Sometimes a restaurant kitchen sounds like the floor of the new york stock exchange from  .. the hostess barking orders to bussers, servers fussing with the chef about timing appetizers and meals, chef fussing with server about protocol or something, sous chef yelling to line cooks, to line cooks barking out appetizer orders and meals.
Scenario: The server leaves the kitchen on the way from dropping off  orders at the "back of the house" which is usually at the very back of the house, then negotiates through tables to the bar which sometimes is.. wait for it.. at the front of the house, where often one has to queue for drinks, to his or her tables and back to the kitchen with a single plate, "she says this is supposed to be medium rare, it's medium instead," on the way back through the dining room, "excuse me Dude, we have someone else here can you grab a chair and shit?"
What I look for
I look for a server who addresses the table within in a few minutes of being seated, (Whether or not they can serve the table right then) who is attentive and on the floor for me to connect with every so often and who doesn't keep me waiting when I want to leave.
We've all had the server who was 15 minutes getting to the table in a half empty restaurant, the apps are late, the meal is cold, s/he didn't show up  for us to ask for whatever or inform them the soup never came and made us wait on the check... possibly they're not getting a tip.
What I don't look for 
So often you will see that your order comes out after another table even those yours went in first.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, a none issue, let it go.  If you are African-American as I am even though there have been several well documented cases  of prejudice causing this... usually it's not an issue.  Some will remember the 54 million dollar lawsuit Denny's lost in 1994.  The final straw turning public opinion against this subsidiary of Flagstar Companies of Spartanburg, S.C., was when six black Secret Service agents assigned to President Clinton's detail were refused a table at a Denny's in Annapolis. Md., while their white Secret Service colleagues were seated and served.  
  It is "well known, yall don't tip. " I tested this stereotype at a few restaurants and on average found it was not true though the  perception was there.  With many  servers having this perception this can lead to slack service which can lead to the self fulfilling prophecy of no tip. 
Teamwork? We ain't got no teamwork... we don't need to show you no stinkin' teamwork!
Restaurants can't excel without it.  In many restaurants there is a lot of teamwork between servers and some other server helps tend your table so issues  are mostly avoided. Depending on the system this is driven by the hostess/host and front of the house mgr for making the floor run smoothly.
Tipping
  • I've been know to "under" tip and write comments on the bill so the server knows when the service is just excruciating.  If you don't feel like writing/talking to the manager three pennies in a row or column is a somewhat recognized signal  that let's the server know it was intentional. I usually overtip a bit. Realize that servers often tip the bussers, the hostess, the bartender out of their tips.  I also feel everyone's allowed a bad day, right?  When I was poor I was not so nonchalant.
  • When I go to places that are not fine dining and there are "specials" (actually fine dining houses do this often) or coupons, I tip on the original price of the item.  So if it is 2 for 1 at $30 I tip on $60.  If the appetizer was accidental laced with arsenic and the manager takes it off the bill, I tip as if it was on the bill.  A 15% tip is the standard for a server in the USA.  In my opinion you don't need a tip calculator.  I round up to the nearest number with a zero divide by two and add the two together... don't forget to move the decimal point... I'm pretty sure no one will.  Eg., If my bill is $125 I round up to $130/2=$65, $130+$65=$195. Move the decimal=$19.50... for me I'm tipping $20. Easy peasy.  The actually 15% on $125 is $18.75. If you're frugal and round down 15% of $120= $18. We're talkin a $2 difference from top to bottom.
  • I also view tipping as a subsidy to the restaurateur.  It pads the pockets of indies and chains alike.  No way they would get quality staff at minimum wage in a fine dining establishment.  I've know some struggling restaurateurs but no poor ones.  There is a trend that is more or less commonplace now that I resist... tipping the owner.  This goes for service industry period, restaurants, nail salons, and more.  I read a columnist saying not to tip was passe.  I don't understand AT ALL.  In a capitalist society why do I just give the owner more money on general principle who is charging me the most s/he can get away with and not getting underpaid like the staff?   I'm sure they appreciate it like I appreciate a free meal for my party of five on general principal.  The last time that happened was..about never.
  • Parenthetically it is not uncommon for a server to get even with rude customers by making them wait, not attending the table, foregoing the tip in favor of the good feeling from sticking it to an elitist, belligerent client.
  • Although I've heard that it happens I've never ever seen a server spit in food or anything of the nature. Cooks dropping stuff on the floor and wanting to reuse it. A $15 steak... is a $15 steak .. ur ah ahem.. time to go folks.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Dog Gone Dogma or is Religion a Scapegoat?


So part of the US anti muslim narrative is that the Qu’ran is a book full of hate that preaches jihad, war, intolerance, yada, yada. Another part says that Muslims are just barbaric like Christians were a few hundred years ago and they just need time to mature a bit. Muslim apologist say that radicals are a small part of the muslim world. Statistics say muslim extremist are less than 1% of all muslims.  According to a 2010 study and released January 2011, Islam has 1.5 billion adherents, making up over 22% of the world population.  If my math is correct, 15 million muslim fall in to the category radical or extremist, and therefore are potential terrorist. According to the Pew Research Center in 2015 there were 50 Muslim-majority countries. 

In June of 2015 Pastor Rick Scarborough threaten to go up in flames if Gay marriage was rendered legal in the US.

He later, recanted his statement saying it was a metaphor from an old spiritual. He said, “I made that comment to paraphrase a spiritual song, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in which the three were given a choice—to bow to the image of Nebuchadnezzar or burn in a furnace,” said Scarborough.”‘We will burn’ means that we will accept any sanction from the government for resisting [Friday's] Supreme Court decision. We do not support any violence or physical harm.” Maybe some of you see an easy parallel but it is over my head, extremely premature at the very least. I guess he is anticipating a law that makes it illegal for churches against Gay marriage to opt out of performing them.

In a debate between ex British prime minister Tony Blair and atheist and journalist Christopher Hitchens, Hitchens argues, “Religion forces nice people to do unkind things, and also makes intelligent people say stupid things” your thoughts? Sadly, June 23 retired pastor Charles Moore sets himself on fire in protest of racism. The Tyler Morning Telegraph obtained a copy of the suicide note from Grand Saline police. In it, Moore lamented past racism in Grand Saline and beyond. He called on the community to repent and said he was “giving my body to be burned, with love in my heart” for those who were lynched in his hometown as well as for those who did the lynching, hoping to address lingering racism. “Giving my body to be burned with love in my heart,” is straight out of the new testament, 1 Corinthians 13 King James Version (KJV) 13.... 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. I doubt pastor Moore can be called a radical, fundamentalist Christian but I know little about him. 

I’m more inclined to think that there was unfinished business in his life, sometime when, in his own mind, he should have acted and didn’t and it got to him. He could have been a religious person like he was or an atheist or agnostic and had the same end. Timothy McVeigh was raised Catholic but hadn’t practiced for a long time and at the time of his execution considered himself agnostic. http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/texas-pastor-denies-plan-to-set-self-on-fire-if-gay-marriage-was-legalized-was-only-quoting-a-song/

 Is Hitchens correct that religion makes good people do bad things? Does the good that comes out of religion, any religion, eclipse or even balance out the wrong doing? We’ve had the Inquisition, witch hunts, sex scandal cover up in the catholic church, the Ku Klux Klan, a religious organization vs., the Salvation Army, Abolitions, ecstatic, spiritual experiences in all religions and pissing matches: My God is the real thing, yours is fake and it says so right in the book. Is religion the culprit or the scapegoat? Less than one percent doesn’t sound too bad does it? If one percent of Islam is radical, fringe, and a potential hotbed of terrorism that is 16 million people. If one percent of Christianity worldwide is radical, fringe, and a potential hotbed of terrorism that is 22.3 million people.

 The way it’s painted there is a line in the sand and never the twain shall meet, terrorist on one side and people who frown on terrorism on the other side. However after watching terrorism in the US just since the turn of the 20th century through today it seems to me there are a lot of terrorist sympathizers who systemically support terrorism against People of Color, our LGBT brothers and sisters, filling the gap between terrorists on one side of the line and their antithesis. They have posh jobs in the media. Six churches have been set on fire since Dylan Roof, I think they are terrorist attacks because of the number and the timing to the 9 South Carolina deaths and because they are black churches, but the media is showing an unusual amount of restraint calling this arson,: “The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog reports that as of Friday, "a string of nighttime fires have damaged or destroyed at least six predominately black churches in four southern states in the past week." Investigators have determined at least three of the fires were set by arsonists.” “ One Tweet Nails The Hypocrisy of Media Coverage as Black Churches Burn Across the South” http://mic.com/articles/121461/one-tweet-nails-the-silence-of-media-as-black-churches-burn-across-the-south

Sunday, March 01, 2015


Weeping Jesus Strikes Again!




These poor people in Mumbai and probably all over the world are mislead flocking to a statue of Jesus in Mumbai purportedly weeping.  So often religion is at odds with truth and physical evidence.  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  Of course it doesn't mean just widows and orphans but at the time and in the place this was written these two groups held the most helpless of society; I doubt that it is much different in 2013.
All organizations be they churches, temples, mosques, social service agencies or governments are oganizations that work against the good of human kind out of human and organizational nature.  The number one "instinct" of organizations (which I believe the U.S. and most of the world consider a legal person) and people is self preservation.  
Once a church forms we must realize, the church it self must acknowledge that it puts its existence and comfort ahead of worshipping (upholding) the Life, the Way, the Truth. In keeping with this the church in Mumbai upon being proved wrong about the miracle weeping statue sued Sanal Edamaruku the bringer of bad tidings who had to flee the country to Finland to maintain his freedom.  The church will drop the charges if Edamaruku apologizes.
Governments put self preservation ahead of the common good of the people en mass that they serve.
It is up to all individuals to see this and realize individuals do the same thing.  Once we realize this we can balance it against our actions on behalf of others.  Next step the more we realize that we are all one then we find ourselves being holistically healthy so as to benefit others.  Then we will see that a huge part of our own self preservation, happiness and wholeness hinges on giving, loving and meeting the needs of others.  We will see we have needs that others need to fill. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Carpe Diem by Begging Forgiveness?


Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper, 
USN, Ph.D. By James S. Davis 
[Public domain], 
via Wikimedia Commons

By Cavana Faithwalker, Organizational, Community and Personal Empowerment Strategist, Facilitator
 
"Another thing you may or may not know about Admiral Hopper is that she is credited with coining the phrase, “It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission,” a lesson I still may not have completely learned."

Friday, January 10, 2014

Troublemakers and Pain


One of many struggles people deal with when considering the question, 'is there a god' is the question of pain. Pain can register from minor social irritants like the loud neighbors next door to homelessness, the ravages of death and disease.  

Some people reason that all pain is necessary and has benefit.  Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun and teacher in the Shambhala tradition,in the Tibetan tradition, she says that in the vaJiana tradition of Buddhism your teacher becomes your biggest trouble maker.  The idea is these irritants reveal chinks in the armor so to speak.



 Pema Chodron "Troublemakers"


Does all pain have value if one knows how to leverage it? Do we value the human irritants in our lives or shun them? Part of a healthy meditation regimen is bringing your 'third eye' to bear on uncomfortableness in yourself.  Do your experiences bare this out or not agree?  What about pain inflicted by war or natural disasters, necessary and fruitful? To those of you that are perhaps Buddhist initiates or laymen forgive me for not talking about what Buddhism says and for making pain and suffering synonymous.
*Your thoughts?*
Once in the early 80s when I managed a Howard Johnson restaurant in New Jersey, I had inherited a very good staff that got along with each other for the most part and were kind of on auto pilot.
At one point a young man interviewed to be a waiter.  Spencer had big strawberry blond curly hair and had the biggest attitude I'd seen in a while.  He was FLAMING gay, and a white boy, 'girlfren' neck jerk, two snaps up down hands on hip, 'I ain't the one' in your face individual,.
I think I hired him on the spot and others just knew at some  point upper management would fire me for this.
Man, Spencer turned that restaurant upside down and inside out especially Peggy. Peggy was probably 60 years old, a career server, and a devout fundamentalist Christian, as was I.  Well after this she didn't think I was, lol.
I should have had a badge for Spencer, 'I push buttons,' and another one, "my button stays pushed."  I had to suggest to him time-outs, shut down cat fights, and constantly cool off Peggy and others too.
The other side of Spencer?  Spencer was very professional on the floor, conscientious, and one of the most talented people person, food delivering waiters I've ever seen in the ten or so years I was in food service. He had a great sense of humor, used the word 'bitch' way too much, and seemed to accept others, and didn't hold a grudge.  Spencer was an authentic person and I am so glad I hired him.
The culture of the staff improved, he was a great salesperson and other's sales went up.  At first one or two _maybe_ because they weren't gonna let 'that fag' outsell them but mostly because of his example and egging them on.  As time went on it was very hard to ignore Spencer's humanity... He bonded well and became part of the Hojo family and developed great working relationships and relationships outside work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7qFi52FX1Q
A poem from an irritant.