Sunday, December 27, 2015

Can you train yourself (or someone else) to become an optimist?

Sarita and I were talking about built-in predilections concerning how we think, how we perceive the world, how we feel about things.

Our eldest daughter, Amy, has been an advocate of the Enneagram as a tool for understanding personalities and, Sarita says, Amy and I are both obvious "gut" people. We respond from the gut. Viscerallly.

(I wrote to a co-worker this past week concerning something I had read: "It makes me want to throw up." And concerning a certain set of ideas in the article: "I hate that thought." --Visceral responses, said Sarita. And I think she is right.)


So then I ran across this story from Randy Cassingham's The Optimist and the Pessimist on Christmas Morning:
A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up.

But worst of all, one was an eternal optimist, and the other a doom and gloom pessimist, so their father decided to play a trick on them both.

On Christmas morning they found two huge boxes under the tree. The pessimist's box had the greatest, most expensive toy ever. The optimist's box was loaded with horse manure.

When the pessimist opened his box, he burst into tears.

"Why are you crying?" the father asked.

"Because my friends will be jealous, I'll have to read the manual before I can play with this, I'll constantly need batteries, and eventually it will get broken," sobbed the pessimist.

Then the optimist opened his box, and he whooped with joy.

"What are you so happy about?" the father asked.

"Well, daddy," the optimist twin replied, "there's got to be a pony around here somewhere!"
I shared this story with Sarita, and then, an hour or so later, in a totally different context, I commented, "Boy! I sure wish we could help ____ overcome his pessimism!"

"I don't think that's possible," she replied. "Remember the story of the optimist and pessimist twins?" . . .

What do you think? Can one train someone to become optimistic, to become--as some say--a "possibility thinker"? Or are these things totally innate?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Finding people of good will and common purpose . . .

I ran across this video:

And I got thinking. Am I missing something? Is this guy's rant heinous? Or are his questions valid?

As I thought about it, I came to some conclusions.

 First, some background.

I was a fan of Martin Luther King (as much as I could be a fan at my young age when he was alive and active). Despite my grandmother's comments about him "stirring up trouble" or "trying to push change too fast," I thought SOMEONE needed to bring the problems to the national spotlight. I have often IMAGINED I would have participated in the Freedom Rides of the early 60s. Honestly, however, I expect I wouldn't have. Not because of opposition, but, rather, because I would have had too many other options and opportunities open to me . . . and/or, again, honestly, I'm too much a chicken at heart.

But still.

I desire justice. Righteousness. Fairness. Much that goes down in the United States today is NOT just, righteous or fair. And we need to face the injustice, unrighteousness and unfairness. But we need to do so in a just, righteous and fair manner.

And Wayne Allyn Root, here, at least SEEMS (to me) to be asking for this. "Quit listening to any and ALL race-baiters and power-hungry 'big people.' . . ."

Or maybe not.

As I asked up top--am I missing something?

 Ah! It struck me: Yes, I probably am!

I think Root is correct: President Obama and the national media are NOT doing a great job at this time. But I'm afraid Root hasn't gotten to the root issue [excuse the unwanted pun], either.

President Obama and the media are pointing their fingers in one direction. And Root is pointing his finger in the opposite direction. But what we need--what is missing--is this.

We need to begin asking--in addition to questions of guilt and responsibility: How SHOULD the problems of race relations be addressed? How can we find people of common purpose with whom to join forces so we can pursue justice and peace in ALL of our neighborhoods (black, white, mixed) AND in our society as a WHOLE?
From Root's video:
Shouldn’t the media question why the federal government calls it a “hate crime” if a white person kills a black man . . . ? One happened to a white Bosnian immigrant driving through a black neighborhood in St. Louis only days after the Ferguson verdict.
His fiancée watched him being murdered by a gang of black criminals who had allegedly yelled out, “Kill the white people.”
Yet there is no “hate crime” designation for that murder, no civil rights investigation, no federal intervention, no national media headlines, no coast to coast protests and no press conferences by the president or Al Sharpton. Where are the media? Silent.
What about Sharpton? Shouldn’t the media be pointing out that a known racist rabble-rouser who . . . was filmed negotiating cocaine deals, who was a federal informant doing business with the mob, who tried to destroy the lives of police and prosecutors back in the ’80s based on false rape allegations (see Tawana Brawley) and who owes more than $4 million dollars in back taxes (as reported by The New York Times) is one of Obama’s BFFs (best friends forever) and has visited the White House 81 times to give the president of the United States advice on racism and race relations?
Are you kidding me? . . .
Where are the media questioning the role of a “race pimp” and con man (Sharpton) hanging out in the White House with the president? What’s the difference between Sharpton and David Duke? Both are racists and haters. Both have made money trying to cause racial division and stir up violence. The only differences I can think of are that Duke was never involved with the mob, has no background in drug dealing and doesn’t owe the IRS more than $4 million. Shouldn’t the media be asking Obama why he isn’t embarrassed and ashamed to have a man like Sharpton step foot in the people’s house?
Shouldn’t the media be asking what’s the difference between white Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Sharpton? Bundy owed a disputed $1 million in back fees to the government, so the government raided his ranch with militarized SWAT teams, airplanes, helicopters and assault weapons. But Sharpton owes more than $4 million to the same government; and there’s no raid, no threats or intimidation by government and no police surrounding his New York City headquarters.
Remarkably, that same guy (Sharpton) gets to pal around with the president of the United States. That same guy gets to give advice on race relations to the president. That same guy gets a national TV show on MSNBC. That same guy makes a living extorting corporations in the name of “racism.” . . .
There's more. Much more. And it's not merely about black-vs-white. It's also about black-vs-black. For example:
Where are the nationwide protests for the thousands of innocent black lives taken by black criminals? Is there no money or media headlines or political gain in those kind of protests?
Why don’t the media ask the president if black-on-black crime matters to him? If so, why has he never chosen to speak out about it? Why don’t they ask Obama to name one victim of black-on-black crime in Chicago this past weekend? Can he name anyone in the past year? Why are their deaths unimportant, insignificant and anonymous?
Why not ask Obama and Holder why there aren’t teams of Justice Department investigators and prosecutors assigned to black-on-black murders in Chicago (Obama’s hometown)? . . .
Again: AND MORE. . . .