Monday, December 19, 2011

Rules of Engagement

If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough. 
– Albert Einstein

You’ll get the right answers when you condition yourself to ask the right questions.

Rules of Engagement

·  I don’t have all the answers but I’m beginning to ask the right questions.  

·  Do not believe anything you’re told at face value, even if it’s what I tell you.

·  Take what you hear, weigh it against what you know to be true.

·  Take what you know, and evaluate how you know it.

·       Did you learn it through experience?

o   Did you come to your own conclusions?

o   Were your conclusions influenced by your culture, experiences, opinions, family or friends?

·       Did someone tell you?

o   Even the most credible sources are human

§  Humans are fallible

o   Even humans with the best intentions, preparation, or status are human and therefore are susceptible to flaw or error (myself included)

o   It is quicker to learn from the experiences of others than to attempt to experience all things yourself

o   It is important to assess validity of what you hear to establish the sources you can trust

§  It is crucial to understand context of information as well as the content

§  It is critical to understand the difference between intent (cause) and impact (effect)

·       Please treat me with respect, and you will receive respect in return

·       If you are unclear of my intentions or disagree with my opinions, please refer to “My Intent” listed below

·  Subject matter; substance

·  The surroundings, circumstances, environment, background or settings which determine, specify, or clarify meaning of an event or occurrence

·  The purpose of something that is intended
·  Intend – to fix the mind upon (something to be accomplished); be intent upon; mean; design; plan; purpose
·  Summary: The reason why people do the things they do; motives behind actions

·  A significant or strong influence; an effect
·  Effect – the result or outcome of a cause
· Summary: The effect of another’s actions are based on the action themselves and how this action correlates to our perception and reality to cause a reaction

Intent, Disclaimers, and Purpose


I do not want everyone to adopt my specific opinions

·        If everyone thought as I do, the world would be very boring

·        Rather, I want to help equip people with the tools to think critically about their own lives and reality

o   When people think critically, opinions will differ - but they are based on more substantive information than just adopting the opinions of the surrounding environment/culture

To foster critical thinking, it is critical to evaluate all ends of a spectrum

·        Even if you do not personally agree with an opinion I believe that makes it even more crucial to listen to and fully understand the opposing argument

o   Hearing opposition can help one solidify your own beliefs by specifying what you don’t believe

o   In debate, you must understanding opposition to systematically evaluate WHY it is wrong, supported by facts and not just raw passion or personal opinion

I am not perfect

·        I will continue to grow and develop every day I am alive

·        My opinions are based off of personal opinions and critical analysis of the opinions and experiences of others

o   When I am introduced to new ideas I entertain/consider those ideas

o   After listening to a new/opposing argument, I weigh these beliefs and this information against my own beliefs and experiences

o   If I agree with points made, I may adopt them into my own belief system, connecting them to preexisting beliefs and my own justifications/experiences

o   If I do not agree with points made, I understand that my dissenting opinion may be based on differences between my own reality and that of the opposition

§  If I am to have the freedom to believe and express my own opinions I must therefore understand others have the right to believe and express what they want as well

§  Defensive/Offensive responses distract from the message of the argument and are rarely successful in changing the opinions of others

·        In fact, such responses generally lead to the other party becoming defensive, which detracts from their concentration on the intent of your message

·        This can lead to emotional fights and internalization of “attacks” rather than intellectual debate

§  It is sometimes important to voice your dissenting opinion, however for comprehension it is critical this is done in  a non-offensive manner

·        If you do not voice your opinion, by your silence the opposing opinion may incorrectly believe they have your support

·        If opinions are expressed in a defensive/offensive manner, the opposing side will respond accordingly, and once this has been established it is much harder to communicate openly and concisely without the complications of emotions

Healthy Relationships are Built on an Exchange of Trust
·        Relationships are established by agreements made between multiple parties

o   Each party trusts that the other will act in a manner according to the nature of the relationship

o   ie. Business Partners, Familial Relationships, Domestic Relationships

·        Trust is Earned

o   Trust without a sufficient basis can lead to the abuse of that trust if one of the parties is unclear or guarded about their true intent

o   Trust can be established through clear definitions of expectations and the consistent meeting of those expectations by the opposing party

I Aim to Earn Your Trust through the Clarity of My Intentions

My Motivation

·        Writing these thoughts out helps me clarify my own opinions by justifying them on a tangible medium

·        I believe in America, and I recognize its problems

o   I believe in a New American Dream, I believe in the fundamental principles our nation was founded upon, and I believe in the potential of Capitalism

o   I believe that in its current state, America has been institutionalized by the minority in control to hold socioeconomic standards at a fixed inequality

o   I believe that capitalism should reward those who work hard, but is currently stratified to cyclically keep the status quo

o   I believe that the quickest way to give up your power is to believe that you don’t have any

o   I believe that the foundations of corporate America need to be reevaluated and redefined to return to the founding principles of the Bill of Rights

§  Protect the Natural Rights of Liberty and Property

§  Guarantee of Personal Freedoms

§  Reserve Powers to the States and Public

o   I believe by extending these rights of an individual to corporations, we subject ourselves to being ruled by corporate agendas

§  Corporations primary objective is to maximize financial investments of the primary stockholders

§  This means, generally corporations value financial power over social responsibility, and their actions and impact are directly correlated to this intent

§  The structure of a corporate entity gives it more purchasing power which can be leveraged to effect politicians, the outcome of legal rulings, and the focus of the general public by regulating the economy and therefore controlling the effect financial changes have on individuals and households

§  I believe that though some media remains “pure”, media is the message and the messenger, and like all information we receive it is critical to evaluate the source and intention of these messages

·        Money opens the door for research on how masses of people will respond to given stimuli

·        When this is understood, it can be applied to drive mass action and beliefs in the desired direction of the controlling party, often without the masses realization of being controlled

·        The only sure way to counteract this is to be aware of it by thinking critically and making decisions based on facts and information rather than public opinion

o   I believe that a government powerful enough to give us everything we want is also powerful enough to take everything we have

§  It was for this reason our nation was established with checks and balances

§  Due to changes in corporate structures, these checks and balances need to reflect modern issues and hold the corporate agenda in its place so that capitalism can be the means to the American Dream rather than the driving entity that decides the future of our nation, which should be the power and opinion of the people of that nation

·        I believe to get things done you need

o   Everyone is born with a unique set of privileges and disadvantages that manifest due to the environments we are in and our personal choices in those situations

o   I believe those born with the most privileges do not always maximize their potential because it is easy to take those privileges for granted without outside comparison

o   I believe those born with significant disadvantages often have intense motivation due to their experiences in struggling to overcome those disadvantages, but are often limited in their success due to lack of resources

o   I believe by providing the individuals across these lines of privilege with the resources to create their own opportunities and maximize their own abilities we can see the societal changes I believe to be both necessary and critical to our nation and the individuals therein

·        I believe I can help people attain a much needed sense of peace and understanding

o   Though I cannot tell individuals their meaning of life, I can direct their trajectory by initializing critical thinking

§  You’ll find the answers when you begin looking in the right places

o   I believe to be a happy and functioning member of society, it is critical to understand how that society functions

§  To ensure we navigate our individual paths effectively, it is critical to first fully understand our options

o   To maximize the effectiveness of our actions and communications, we must understand the implications of intent versus impact

§  To understand action à reaction we need to understand the context of how our words and actions are received

§  To understand context, we need to understand how others decode our intentions and actions

§  Once we understand how others are prone to understand what we say and do we can effectively communicate by eliminating the distractions that result in miscommunications

o   I believe for TRUE happiness we need a combination of:

§  Something to do

§  Somewhere to be

§  Someone to care about

·        I believe with the rapidly shrinking world as globalization and global communities continue to develop, it is increasingly important to understand other people and cultures outside of our own

o   Understanding helps break down boundaries of hate

§  By understand what we believe and why, we can better understand the beliefs and reasoning of others

§  When you break down culturally established boundaries it is easier to stop seeing things as “us” and “them”, and begin seeing them as “we”

·        You can accomplish more together than any individual on their own

·        Surrounding yourself with diversity will help you forsee unique problems and solutions that would be invisible or minimal through your personal cultural lenses

·        People from different and unique backgrounds can complement your own productivity as your weakness may be their strengths and vice versa

§  Ex. You may be culturally taught that homosexuality is wrong and have a vendetta against all of “them” that are different than yourself, but when you discover your best friend or your relative is homosexual it is easier to relate to the person as “who they are” and separate from the hate based off of “what they do”

o   Being open to understanding the experiences of others will make your life more vibrant and open your own opportunities to maximize your own life experiences

§  Ex. After 9-11 you could culturally conform to others around you who “hate all Muslims”. However, when you understand the horrific acts of 9-11 were the extremist actions of a small subsection of a larger group and not the norm for all people who identify with this religion, you rid your heart of the weighing hatred and open yourself up to meeting new people with unique life experiences. It has been my personal experience that the majority of which are trying to live the best lives they can, with good and honest moral intentions, and are not too different from yourself after all

o   I believe it is less important to judge others by the factors of what they are born with or into, and more important to evaluate based on what individuals do with these factors

§  We do not choose the body we are born with, the people we are born to, or the culture that we are raised in

§  You do choose how you react to external stimuli

§  Ex. You don’t choose the crayons you’re given

·        It may be the 8 pack or the 64 pack

·        It all comes down to what you do with the crayons


·      ·  I am a deeply introspective person, and highly inquisitive of the world around me

·      ·  From a young age I began to question the meaning of life

o   I discovered my meaning is to help those around me

o   I will not be remembered for the exact number of dollars I invested in my bank account

o   I will be remembered for the time and energy I invested in other peoples lives and how my existence affected theirs in some way

·      ·  My life has not be easy

o   I have struggled and hurtfought and lostloved and been abused

o   When you encounter hardship I believe you have two options

§  To let it control and define you and to feel bad for yourself

§  To take control, evaluate what can be learned, and persevere

o   I have been blessed with an amazing family

§  They have been my example of strength in the face of adversity

§  They have sacrificed for me to provide me with opportunities to pursue my passions

§  They have taught me faithdeterminationhard-workcreativitypassioncompassion, and to view my environment from an atypical lens

§  They have set high expectations for me, not to set me up to fail but rather to teach me to expect the most out of myself to struggle and reach my full potential

·        Even if you try and fail, you will have achieved more than if you never tried at all

·         Success will not mean the end of failure, but if you stop at failure you'll never experience success

o   Though I have bottomed out and made many mistakes, I learn from every one before I move on to the next stage in my life

§  Experiencing failure means you will better appreciate success

§  Experiencing pain will make you stronger

§  Experiencing embarrassment will teach you empathy

§  Experiencing loss will help you appreciate what you do have

§  Experiencing the depths of sadness will give you a richer appreciation for the happy times

§  Experiencing heartbreak will teach you the value of true love

I’m trying to find my balance

·        I have observed that all things in life have the ability to balance themselves naturally, and to navigate life happily we must work to emulate this balance

o   If balance is not achieved, it is generally due to human intervention or action

o   Though varied points on the spectrum may appear more appealing, they are generally not sustainable

§  Without sustainability, even with current desirable outcomesbalance will eventually be reinstated on the system (Karma)

§  Without maintenanceresources, and some foresight the system will crash

·        Though I have seen the public opinion of this manifest and warp its meaning, or distract from the central message with flashing lights, this is what drives me, finding my own balance

·        Western society often tries to identify almost all things in such dichotomies and  in the guise of balance

o   Man and Woman
o   Life and Death
o   External and Internal
o   Right and Left
o   Up and Down
o   Good and Bad
o   Right and Wrong

·        We fear what we do not understand

o   So when we do not understand, we label trying to fit new stimuli into our current “cubbies” used to explain life (compartmentalizing)

o   Though it is necessary to filter and sort external stimuli for quick comprehension and reaction, it is important to know that most things do not exist in such evenly drawn “boxes” - there's an exception to every rule

o   In an attempt to direct public opinions it is often the extremities of these dichotomies that are most publicizedcharacterized, and villainized to direct the public opinion to fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes

§  The reality is most things are not simple dichotomies

§  Most things to be evaluated fall on a sliding “sphere” more so than a “line” as we are typically inclined to see

·        We are inclined to see things that way subconsciously due to the conditioning of our social and cultural groups

·        These groups decide our educational systems

·        Our education conditions us to respond certain ways within society to receive success and social approval

·        Our education teaches us to look for stimuli that reinforce existing beliefs and minimalize or ignore stimuli which oppose those beliefs

§  When there are high social pressures to conform, those who do not “belong” or fit “perfectly” within these identified criteria are outcast

·        When the “exceptions” are removed from the equation, the equation appears to be true

·        This does not mean that the perception is the reality, it means fear and shame of social pressures outcast the obvious dissidents while scaring the rest of the population into conforming for risk of social isolation

·        I am not a prototypical non-conformist, and I am not a conformist, but I choose to exercise my right to determine my life’s direction and worth for myself

I believe there is nothing more valuable than life

o   Though varied religious and spiritual views may affect one’s understanding and perception of this subject, I ask that across the board those are set to rest for one minute to not taint the understanding of this point, though they may be later evaluated in comparison with it as you develop your own opinion

o   I believe by the nature of being “human beings” with the advanced consciousness to engage with our environments, we have certain inalienable rights and privileges within our environment

o   “With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility”

§  One such responsibility being to protect our rights and the rights of others by establishing a governing and punishment system

§  Given dominion over our environment means that we must also respect that environment and treat it in a way to facilitate its sustainability so the system we’ve created can and will outlive ourselves and adjust to future developments

o   I believe there is no greater violation than to end one’s life

§  I believe the lives of all human beings are equal

·        Though attempts are often made to quantify the worth of people by “traditional standards” and “majority opinions” this does not take into consideration the unseen factors - intent, heart, and that life’s potential impact for good in the future versus actual impact

·        I believe the intrinsic value of a life far outweighs the net worth or social standing of that life

·        I believe that no other human can adequately assess the value of another’s life because there will always be outlying and misunderstood factors

o   I believe the only way to attempt to understand another’s life is a qualitative value of the impact of all of their interactions and relationships

§  I believe it is the duty of government to look at all entities equally and assess punishment and retribution as determined by the educated opinions of the majority population

·        I believe before judgment is passed all associated parties should have an uninterrupted opportunity to speak their opinion and view without fear of being subjected to judgment or persecution

§  I believe it is sometimes necessary to take life in order to save lives

·        Ex. Upon breaking and entering with intended harm to one’s family, I believe the head of the house would be justified in ending the intruder’s life if there were no other means of stopping the imminent harm of the family. However, if ANY lesser options are available that would ensure the same protection of the lives of the family, those options should be exercised.

§  I believe that humans have the capacity to validate any internal justifications they choose

·        Just because it is validated by some measure, does not make it right

o   Justifying in one’s mind helps them come to terms with an unsettling event so as to deal with that event and move past it

o   Validity of justification often depends on perception more than reality

·        I believe extreme necessity when all other means to a solution have been evaluated and removed is the only justification for this act

o   I believe the worst harm anyone can ever do to themselves is ending their own life

§  Feelings of unending, all consuming and irreparable miserysadnesssocial disapproval, and lack of purpose or huge factors I believe play into this tragedy

·        Having both experienced severe depression and the loss of loved ones at their own hand has lead to this opinion

·        Since then, I have realized that the problem is not necessarily the truth of reality, but rather the perception with which individuals constructinterpret, and interact with that reality

·        I believe by changing our perception, we can change our reality to maximize happiness and meaning to life

·        I believe that it is important to keep a perspective of the whole network of life and our role in it to deal with the horrific realities we sometimes must endure to develop an unbreakable spirit and realize our full potential

·        I believe the worst case of this occurs when an individual is made to feel like an outcast until they end their own life

o   Instead of establishing new norms of accepted behavior this merely reestablishes the public opinion that “different” doesn’t belong. It therefore will continue to be socially acceptable to outcast those who do not fit the comprehendible “boxes” of that system 

o   I believe the second worst harm anyone can ever do to themselves is limiting their own potential by figuratively “committing suicide” and giving up on themselves and their own talents and ambitions in the pursuit of being like someone else

§  I believe that it is critical for people to have role models

·        You can’t be what you can’t see

·        Seeing how others like you achieved goals you desire can help direct you on the path to achieving and surpassing those goals

·        Role models and mentors direct your development, idols lead to complete submission and emulation

§  No one else should have the power to decide what you do, as they do not know your unique experiences and potential consequences like you do

§  No one else lives with the consequences of your actions like you will

·        You do, you have more at stake

·        Therefore its critical you make decisions you can physically and morally live with & do not engage in activity if you are not ready to handle the consequences

§  I drew an in-depth analysis of this subject through the evaluation of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

·        In this essay, giving up one’s own passionstalentsdreams and pursuits in the attempt to be like another is compared to suicide, because it is the end of the life you were created to live

·        You do not have the talents and experiences of that other person, and you will never be a better “them” than they are

·        Similarly, no one else has your unique experiences and talents and no one else will ever be able to be a better you than yourself are if you can identify these unique abilities and strengths and apply them as you’re meant to

·        I believe for a healthy society we need diversity

o   As humans we all have weaknesses, and need diversity around us to learn how best to strengthen those areas

o   Diversity of perspective allows us to better assess reality past the scope of cultural lenses

o   Every person performs a different function in society – like parts of a body

§  If we were all the mouths, and there were no ears, talking would be pointless

§  Some people are the hands doing, some people are the feet moving forward

§  Some people are the neurons transporting information between the distinct parts and organizing reaction to stimuli

§  Some people are the brains, receiving all the information and processing it and then attempting to coordinate the action of the parts

o   THE IDEA IS – no one could do it alone, as much as were taught its “us” against “them”, you and they have a common destiny, and by stabbing yourself in the eye because you don’t like the color of the pupil you’re not going to make yourself walk there any faster or have any more of an idea where you’re going

§  When we allow the media to control the public opinion of what is and is not acceptable, we are allowing them to strip us of our unique potentials and evaluate us to fit unrealistic social molds that do not embrace our talents or foster happiness and our capacity for good, but rather teach us to hide them and change them to “fit in”

·        When everyone believes the same way, it is easier to direct the actions of that group by anticipating how they will respond to events and stimuli

·        It benefits corporations to subconsciously advance conformity while simultaneously showing individuals how they do not meet the unrealistic ideals to strip them of their pride and sense of self-worth

o   When this is done, it is easier to increase product sales by convincing consumers through buying in to what they are selling the consumer will finally attain self-worth and approval

o   From this view, happiness is associated with an end all result of having the right things and being loved and envied by everyone else

I Believe That We Need to Listen to and Respect Our Elders

·        Their CONTEXT may be out of date but their CONTENT is still relevant

·        It is our responsibility to decode their messages and apply them to our modern scenarios

o   Their messages are full of meaning and purpose if properly understood

o   If you don’t personally have grandparents there are tons of retirement homes filled with loving elders who have stories to tell and just want someone to take the time to listen
o   They will do you the favor of helping to teach you if you do them the favor of showing respect and listening – unlike many modern information sources that want monetary gain and personal advancement in return

·        By learning from the experiences and stories of others we do not have to “reinvent the wheel” every time a problem arises

o   We can build procedures and guidelines by anticipating problems based on the problems encountered by those who have experienced similar situations

Love One Another
·        Above all else, I believe love is the one emotion strong enough to connect every living soul and transcend this hell we’ve created for ourselves on earth

·        I believe Love comes in many shapes and forms (as I will later discuss)

·        I believe that the people that are the most difficult to love are the people who need to experience love the most

·        When we break down the insignificant barriers we’ve been taught to separate ourselves from others we will realize that we are more similar as human beings than we will ever be different due to our cultural experiences and conditioning

·        To truly love another and feel that love in return will transform your life