4 years, 2 months, and 18 days. Willful blindness is a bad thing: be open-minded.

ELEPHANT AND THE BLIND MEN

Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”

They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.

“Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.

“Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

“It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

“It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

“It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”

“Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

There is much noise these days about “fake new” and “alternative facts”.  Elevate yourself beyond the nonsense.  Be discerning.

Gravity exists regardless of whether we believe in its existence.  Likewise, the truth exists regardless of our perception. The fact that the elephant has four massive and rough legs, two big fan-like ears, a thick body, and a rope-like tail does not change the fact that those are all but parts of the creature we call an elephant.

These days, talking heads play fast and loose with the truth and would have you focus on only parts of reality … the parts most amenable to their claims.  Don’t be fooled.  The sins of omission are just as, if not more, egregious as the sins of commission.

The trick is to pull back until you can grasp the whole truth, not just the part offered up by those who want to persuade you to buy their wares.  Snake oil salesmen haven’t gone the way of the dinosaurs: they’ve only gotten better dressed and smoother tongues.  Beware the snake oil salesmen!

How can you discern the truth?  There is but one way: to investigate and gather as much information as necessary.  For example, if you are curious about a subject matter, don’t just read one book or from one source about it.  That one source may be — and most likely is — biased.  Look to many sources.  Read materials by both those in favor of and in opposition to that subject.  Once you see the data starting to repeat, then draw your own conclusion.

Be your own man.  Don’t be mislead by fools.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years and 7 days. Merry belated Christmas. The holidays are most difficult.

https://i0.wp.com/www.silversuperstore.com/photos/lenox/ornaments/porcelain/2016/2016-lenox-a-year-to-remember-snowman-800x800.jpg

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Do you recall our tradition of choosing and making our own Christmas ornaments every year?  I miss that.  I hope someone protects the ones we have made so that you can have them for yourselves and your own families when you are older.  (However, I fear the thugs may have destroyed them as when they stripped the clothes off Little V’s fabric doll and illegally seized highly confidential and privileged notes and documents to and from our lawyers about our case.  Unfortunately, we are not the only ones wronged.  See, e.g., https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/01/09/the-punishing-price-of-freedom?ref=hp-3-111#.Wri5eLSAd; http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicago-police-misconduct-findings-released-today-by-ag-lynch/; and, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-findings-investigation-chicago-police-department.)

I hope you enjoyed the holidays this year.  I know the absence must be as hard for you boys as it is for us.  Life, and the holidays, is simply not the same without you.  The rainbows are less magical, the birds sing less sweetly, the rising sun less promising.

They say time heals all wounds.  They lied.  They say I should move on with my life.  How do I move on when most of my heart — the best part — is missing?

You are the best part of me.  Don’t you ever forget that.  My hopes and dreams lie with you.  That’s why it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have hope for, and dreams about, the future with you absent.

All my love, always,

Dad

3 years, 11 months, and 6 days. Be compassionate: it’ll make you feel good.

https://linnealenkus.com/inspiration/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Inspirational-Quote-Compassion-by-Buddha2.jpg

While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people….

Compassion makes us feel good: Compassionate action (e.g., giving to charity) activates pleasure circuits in the brain, and compassion training programs, even very brief ones, strengthen brain circuits for pleasure and reward and lead to lasting increases in self-reported happiness.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion/definition

My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

These days, you hear the term “snowflake” banter about.  Apparently, it is the defining insult of 2016.  https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/nov/28/snowflake-insult-disdain-young-people.  It expresses disdain for those who are “fragile” and who “melt” at the first sign of hardship.

For example, much has been made of the “safe space” demanded by college students who has to “suffer” through the experience of hearing ideas and opinions that do not conform with their own.  They are fragile.  Schools are places where ideas, even those not to our liking, should be freely exchanged and debated.  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/oklahoma-university-president-school-not-safe-space-article-1.2450165.  Closing ourselves off from differing opinions is part of the problem today of people only getting “news” from agreeable sources.  That’s not news.  That’s mere confirmation of their biases.

I want you boys to grow up to be real men.  Real men are compassionate, courageous (even when they are afraid on the inside), perseverant, humble, and integrous.  The following are not necessarily the best representations of what a real man should be, but they give you a general idea.

Be compassionate.  Being a real man starts there.  The world needs compassionate people, given all the divisive news we hear these days in the U.S. and the world.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ is one of my favorite sites.  It gives you the science about how living a meaningful and happy life is good for you, and how to live a meaningful and happy.

3 years, 10 months, 29 days. Beware: studies show Facebook makes people feel worse about themselves.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for the absence.  The election has brought concern and depression.  I fear for you.  There has been increasing reports of hate crimes leading up to and following the election.  http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/southern-poverty-law-center-reports-outbreak-hate-after-election-n689601.  Be careful.

Also, be careful about the use of Facebook.  As one study states, “On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.”

Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults.

Abstract

Over 500 million people interact daily with Facebook. Yet, whether Facebook use influences subjective well-being over time is unknown. We addressed this issue using experience-sampling, the most reliable method for measuring in-vivo behavior and psychological experience. We text-messaged people five times per day for two-weeks to examine how Facebook use influences the two components of subjective well-being: how people feel moment-to-moment and how satisfied they are with their lives. Our results indicate that Facebook use predicts negative shifts on both of these variables over time. The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time. Interacting with other people “directly” did not predict these negative outcomes. They were also not moderated by the size of people’s Facebook networks, their perceived supportiveness, motivation for using Facebook, gender, loneliness, self-esteem, or depression. On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23967061

All my love, always,

Dad

3 years, 10 months, and 21 days. Kent M. Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, I am sharing wise words from Dr. Keith about how to give your life meaning.  Life is about finding what works for you, being your personal best, and making the world a better place.  Don’t worry about others. The small-minded detractors and nay-sayers will always be there.  Ignore them.  The people who matter, the high-minded humanists, will notice, even if they say nothing.  But, that too doesn’t matter.  Live well, and you’ll know you did right: that should be enough.

Beauty comes from within.  Feed your soul with goodness.

Without further ado, I give you Dr. Keith:

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

 

Over the past forty-five years, Dr. Keith has published articles for newspapers, magazines, and professional journals; poetry; conference papers; and ten books.

Dr. Keith’s first book was a student leadership manual, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council, published by Harvard Student Agencies in 1968, when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard. This is the book for which he wrote the Paradoxical Commandments. A revised edition was published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in 1972. Approximately 30,000 copies of the two editions of the booklet were sold or distributed throughout the United States between 1968 and the mid-seventies.

In 1969, Dr. Keith wrote another student leadership booklet, The Silent Majority: The Problem of Apathy and the Student Council, which was used in workshops and then published by NASSP in 1972. This book urged students to reach out to their fellow students and link up with their interests and needs, so that the student council can fulfill its noblest purpose: people helping people. New editions of The Silent Revolution and The Silent Majority were published by Terrace Press in 2003 and 2004.

In 1997, Dr. Keith learned that Mother Teresa had put a copy of the Paradoxical Commandments up on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta. This inspired him to write his national bestselling book, Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments, which was published in 2002. The book is an introduction to the Paradoxical Commandments, including some of the events in Dr. Keith’s early life that shaped the creation of the commandments in the sixties. The book has been translated and published in 17 different languages. His narration of Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments won a national “Audie” award from the Audio Publishers Association as the best audiobook of 2003 in the personal development/motivational category.

Dr. Keith continued to explore the Paradoxical Commandments in three subsequent books. Do It Anyway: The Handbook for Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness in a Crazy World was published in 2003, Jesus Did It Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments for Christians was published in 2005, and Have Faith Anyway: The Vision of Habakkuk for Our Times was published in 2008.

In 2003, Dr. Keith created “The Universal Moral Code” while writing about morality and ethics. The code is featured in his book Morality and Morale: A Business Tale, published in 2012. Dr. Keith believes that living a moral life is energizing and meaningful, as well as being the key to long-term personal and organizational success.

For the past twenty-five years, Dr. Keith has been a passionate advocate for servant leadership. His publications on the topic include The Case for Servant Leadership (2008/revised in 2012); Servant Leadership in the Boardroom: Fulfilling the Public Trust (2011); Questions and Answers about Servant Leadership (2012); The Ethical Advantage of Servant Leadership: Guiding Principles for Organizational Success (2013); and The Christian Leader at Work: Serving by Leading (2015).