deception pass Washington

The Art of the Dodge

Have you ever been the target of a “but”? You’ve asked a question and the person has said yes, but you sense there is a “but” coming. It can be in response to a request or a discussion point. You think you have success, but there is a qualifier coming – one that may negate all the sucess you currently feel. You think you have someone recruited but then they bring up conditions to their acceptance which may cause you to retract the offer. They may agree with your debate point, but qualify their agreement so as to not really accepting your point at all.

This may be a way to make a counterpoint. People do it all the time. Think of the non-apology. They say they are sorry for what they did, but then proceed to make excuses for their behavior. That is a rationalization, not an apology. They might also say, ‘I”m sorry if what I said/did hurt you” or “I’m sorry if you were hurt by my words or actions”. Nope. The true apology is accepting that you did something wrong and it did hurt someone and that you are sorry for hurting the person.

Another way this comes up is when people cast a false equivalency. While saying ‘yes, what that person did was wrong” they try to point out someone else’s error as just as bad. We even do it to ourselves – we say yes and then denigrate ourselves. “Yes, I can do that, but I don’t know if I will be any good” “Yes, I will help you, but I don’t really know why you asked me”

I have participated in a icebreaker/mixer activity called “yes and”. It’s a version of a group telling a story, building it person by person. It starts with someone saying a few lines and then each person is supposed to add to it with “yes, and”. It might be as simple as “once upon a time there was a farmer boy taking his cow to sell in the village” The next person might say “yes, and he met a strange fellow who offered him some magic beans for his cow” Sounds like a certain fairy tale. In this way it builds the story.

The point is that we should always let our yes be yes and our no be no. It’s okay to have a condition on accepting but if we have too many we might as well just say no. If we don’t agree with someone’s point, just say so, instead of pretending to agree. It’s as if the yes, but is just buying time for a response.

And what if you’re not sure about something or not sure how your should respond? Is there a place for doubt or not knowing? Yes, indeed, and we will end the week with that.

Are You Nervous Saying Yes?

Are you nervous saying yes? Do you wonder, what have I gotten myself into? Do you think that maybe your misgivings are trying to warn you against what you just agreed to? If so, have no fear. This is normal. When you step out of your comfort zone it is normal to feel nervous – or uncomfortable. That is the point, right? We’re all right there with you. Everybody has had their first time at everything.

I’ve been giving speeches in Toastmasters for eight years -loads of speeches. And people will often ask me, “do the nerves go away?’ “Not really” I say, “you just get used to it”. The strength of the nervousness goes down greatly as you do it more, but there is always a little bit of it right before you present. And it is a good thing, because it shows you care about what you are going to say – you want to do it right.

And when you say yes to an opportunity, a new position of any kind, you will get surprises. You will have those times that you say “what did I get myself into?” You can do the best preparation and still not anticipate what may come up. I was in the middle of my first year as a Division Director in Toastmasters when covid hit. We were in the midst of speech contest season and all of a sudden we had to make a big switch. Not only did we have to help clubs go online, but we had to take our contest online and learn Zoom very quickly. I think we did a great job adapting but it was definitely not something I could have anticipating when I began my term of office.

Balance out the nervousness when you say yes with a vision of that old ketchup commercial with Carly Simon’s voice in the background belting out “Anticipation”. Dream of the good things that may come your way because you said yes. The people you will meet, the pleasure moments you will enjoy, the unexpected rewards – including future opportunities- that may come your way as a result of that simple “yes”.

So don’t be nervous saying “yes”.

Tomorrow let’s talk about saying “yes,but” versus “yes, and”

Knowing When to Say No

Knowing when to say no is important. Once we free ourselves of the perpetual no’s of childhood and become involved in adult activities like working together with others to achieve goals we freely say yes to many things. There is energy and satisfaction working together to achieve common goals. Whether it is at work, school, church or civic organizations we have things we all care about and are willing to work together to accomplish what needs to be done. There is power in mass numbers. And we all love to celebrate community achievements.

But we can also all experiences fatigue and burnout. Whether we achieve the goals or come up short we only have so many hours in a day and only so much energy. Whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or psychological we can experience a drain on our resources if we are not careful about rationing our effort. We need to prioritize our efforts and manage our time.

How do we do that? One way is to examine why we do what we do. Are we saying yes because the ask is something we love or like to do? Is it because we feel a rational duty? Those are great and should be encouraged. But perhaps we say yes because we feel we should, or perhaps we feel an unspoken obligation. Or worse yet we feel that we will look bad if we say no. Perhaps we feel that if we don’t do it nobody will and it won’t get done.

Those times are when we need to draw the line and respectfully say no. If we step in because “no one else will and it needs to be done” we may be stepping in the way of someone who should feel more pressure to do it. In other words we might not be the one who needs to do it. Guilt, like fear, is a terrible reason to do anything and will be a repeat offender if you let it. It can also lead to resentment. Choose wisely where your efforts will make the greatest impact and leave yourself plenty of space and time to refuel.

The other time to say no is when someone or something needs to be opposed. There are those in our society who would drag us back to “the good old days” where they were more comfortable but where many people did not enjoy the benefits of today. Think of those on the margins, due to race, gender, economic disadvantages who did not fit into the “mainstream”. Those who have not had a built in birth benefit are easily forgotten. These have fought long and hard to achieve recognition and the “mainstream” nostalgia folks are resentful.

But this is no time to go backwards and these people must be opposed. The fight for voting rights, for equality, for acceptance, is not over. There are those we can reason with, use logic and debate, appeal to their common humanity. But there are others who will not be swayed, stubbornly holding to racists, ignorant, dismissive ways. It is to those that we need to say “no”.

No, we will not go back to the closets and the back alleys. No, we will not be silent, we will continue to speak truth to power, to march for a “redress of grievances”. We will continue to believe as Martin Luther King said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. Stand up and speak up and let no one still your voice.

Why We Say “no”

Why do we tend to say no? I believe it begins in childhood, right from the womb. Kids are vulnerable, needing protection from a world they do not know. They are not in control and do not understand much. It takes months for them to be mobile, moving from crawling to sitting to standing to walking. Speech is a process, just words at first. One of the first ones, after momma and Dada, is “no”. They can’t do or say much so they rely on “no” to try and give them some sense of control, even though most times it does not work. They are exploring their world and push against boundaries. They also are often afraid and don’t want to be carried into strange territory with strange people. So it is understandable that they often say “no”.

Do you remember those feelings? Most of us don’t actually have memories going back that far but unconsciously we remember and for some of us the feeling remains. That’s why saying no is understandable. If you feel a lack of control and feel like everything outside your control is strange and dangerous you will resist change. If the imagination and curiosity is not strong enough you will stay with the familiar and resist change.

In 2010 Chip and Dan Heath wrote a book called Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard where they liken change to an elephant – a great word picture. They layout strategies of promoting change that involve ways to move the elephant, help the rider to move the elephant, and clearing the path in front of the elephant. Brute force alone will not work – imagine try to push an elephant:)

Next time you get frustrated by someone’s resistance to change think about where they might be and what they have come from. No one should penalize a baby for crying – they have so many reasons for it – hunger, fear, wet diaper, etc. Similarly, we should take the time to listen and understand why some might be resistant due to their life circumstances. In the end we may need to press on with change and leave them behind. But not first without trying to listen and induce them to move forward. We may learn something n the process.

This week I would like to examine the “no” and “yes” responses that we may face – in our world and in ourselves. Think about your “yes’s and “no’s and the reasons why you respond that way.

It Pays to Work Together

Nature teaches us many things like the circle of life, the food chain, the inevitability of change, and cooperation. That’s right, cooperation. We get caught up in competition that we forget the importance of working together to bring about positive change. Nature does that with colors. If you look around you will see lots of green, things growing and thriving. Green is a sign of life. And green only comes because of cooperation.

For things to grow they need both sun and rain. And good soil to grow in and stand tall, but that brown is for another day. Today we talk about photosynthesis whereby plants transform sunlight into growth, with the help of rainfall, or when needed, human watering. Metaphysically we can look at it as taking the yellow of sunlight and combining it with the blue of the water to make all that green. It takes just the right combination. If you have too much yellow/sun the plant will wither. If you have too much blue/water the plant will drown.

We can see other colors in nature that are examples of cooperative combination. Orange, my favorite color, is a combination of yellow and red. Mellow and fiery, you might say. I love oranges and carrots, two orange-colored healthy products totally organic and good for you. I love the harvest moon and sunsets which can bring out the orange.

My wife, by contrast, loves purple. It is a combination of blue and red. We see it in mainly in grapes and eggplant. It has been seen for centuries as the color of royalty – someone said to be “born to the purple” was of royal blood. And one of our national songs talks about the “purple mountains majesty”. It is a rich color and some say it got its association with royalty because the plants used to dye cloth purple was very hard to find and pricey.

So we see that the primary colors exist by themselves but also each have combinations with each other. And then we can see the contrast between these combination colors – orange and green I think of the Irish split between orange for Protestants and green for the Catholics. Purple and Orange brings up one of my favorite sports teams – the Phoenix Suns – whose colors are orange and purple. Purple and green would bring memories of our grape arbor growing up with the abundant purple grapes surrounded by the lush green leaves. Yum!

Take a look around you this week and spy out the colors of nature, especially these combinations. Remember all that green is only possible because of cooperation. I think we could use more of that in our human part of the world.

Be a Wizard of Ahhhs

Do you remember the first time you say the Wizard of Oz? Do you remember the transformation when Dororthy went from the black and white of Kansas in the tornado and then woke up in the colorful land of Oz? And do you remember your first color TV and how special it was? We had black and white for quite a while and went up to a neighbors house to watch the movie because they had a color TV. It may seem silly now, but it was big thing back then to have a color TV. I know I am aging myself, but it’s true.

I want you to have a similar experience in nature today. Too often we take things for granted, like the colors around us. We really don’t think about them and how they combine to make our world beautiful. So this week I’d like you to think about color and your reactions to it. You see, each color can bring up certain emotions and each person is different. Most people have a favorite color- mine is orange, my wife’s is purple. And some people have colors they don’t care for – to see or to wear.

We see the use of color to make differences. Stop lights use red, yellow and green. National flags come in all sorts of colors and shapes – ours being red and white stripes, and a blue field of stars. Companies use combinations of colors to help you remember their product. And animals use color to stand out or to camoflauge. We associate certain colors with ideas. But what kind of order do we see in color?

If you look around you out in nature what is the most common color you see? Green. Trees, grass, many growing plants. You might think that the primary color of our world is green, but it isn’t. There are three primary colors – Red, blue, and yellow. All other colors are made up of a combination of those three – will talk about that later. Today let’s think about those three primary colors.

Blue reminds us of the clear blue sky and cool bright water – lakes, rivers, the ocean. Seeing forever. And of true love. Red reminds us of fire, warmth – remember roasting marshmallows over a campfire? And yellow reminds us of the sun, bananas, and lemons.

Colors can also bring up negative feelings – like someone in a down blue mood, or someone in a red rage, or cowardly yellow. It’s all in how you look at life and what you see when you see those colors. It isn’t a matter of good or bad, colors are neutral, but our reactions can be very different. Think about how you view colors, especially the primary ones. And tomorrow we will talk about combinations that bring us the other colors.

What makes you go “ahhhh:) “?

Privacy Matters

How do react to something being done to others that don’t affect you? Do you only speak out when your “ox” is gored? Do you see yourself as your brother’s (and sister’s) keeper or do you view others’ hurts and struggles as “not my problem”? What became of the sense of societal obligation to look out for the welfare of all, as opposed to the attitude of “I got mine, now you go get yours”?

We are all in this world together and things go better when we look out for each other. Someone once said “where there isn’t justice for all, there isn’t justice at all” The English poet John Donne said it well in his poem No Man is an Island “Everyman’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind”. And it is often too easy for us to not see people in hurt when it doesn’t directly affect us, but we should see and respond.

That is the case with women’s rights today. Isn’t it amazing and distressing that men object when efforts are made to level the playing field between men and women when it comes to pay or opportunity or health care. Yes, health care. When have men had laws passed to come between them and their doctors? Never. When have their personal medical decisions been questioned or have medications been the subject of public debate.? Never. Because men have always been in control.

The decisions on Roe v Wade go way beyond simply abortion. It is an issue even beyond health care. Privacy matters. Re-read the Bill of Rights. If you don’t see the right of privacy running through it I think there is a problem with your vision or understanding. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated” US Constitution 4th Amendment. Pretty clear.

But today the right to privacy is under attack primarily in matters of women’s rights. The right to health care and the right to make the very personal choices surrounding pregnancy are not affecting men, just women. The demands that restrict their choices often imperil their lives, their health, and their economic conditions. A man can participate in the start of a pregnancy but then can walk away with no consequences. A woman cannot.

And it is so easy to rationalize and dismiss the struggles others go through when you are not going through them yourself. But I have heard too many stories of the situations that have happened to women to discount the pain and terrible decisions that have to be made by women in difficult pregnancies. It is enough. They should have support in those times, not fear of condemnation for not making the “right” decision.

And for a political party who supposedly stands for getting government out of people’s private lives to be legislating in many areas the very opposite of that is the heighth of hypocrisy. I for one, am a guy who believes that the defense of women’s rights, including the right to choose, is a defense not only to their right to privacy, but to the right to privacy for all of us.

Science is Real

Science is real. This is another line on our neighborhood sign. How did we get to the point where you had to say this? Where people scorn science and believe in conspiracies that are more bizarre than science fiction or fantasy. Science is based on observation and study of the natural world and yet people would rather make up their own worlds and scorn research because they don’t like what they see. They don’t want to face up to inconvenient truths so they deal in and depend on ‘alternative facts’…ie – lies.

I am the son and grandson of college graduates. My grandfather was a chemist, my mom was a botany major, and I was a chemistry major. My father was a civil engineer. We all depend on science. It is the structure of our physical world. Some things are beyond debate. Like the damage that we do to our world constantly. Man-made change is as clear as the smoke that rises up from the car exhaust pipes on a cold day and sickens the air we breathe.

To safeguard our food, our water, and our air, we need regulations that protect us against contaminants that would harm us. Because of food inspections, we can have confidence when we grocery shop. Because of workplace safety rules, we can work securely. Because of regulations requiring wetlands and other protected natural spaces, and national parks and forests, we can still observe a multitude of wildlife species. What would our world be like if we didn’t have forward-thinking conservationists who worked to set aside some of the most beautiful places in nature for future generations to enjoy?

And what would it have been like to live in the days, not so long ago, when bloodletting was considered healthy? When surgery was done without anesthesia? When more military men died from disease and infection than bullets and bombs? What would it have been like to live in a day when most people could not read or write and doctors did not have accurate information on internal organs because human dissection (autopsy) was seen as unholy.

Science is not perfect and it does not solve all problems. Life in society is often messy. But it has enabled us to progress and also to make peace with our world. We don’t have to fight it but rather use science to understand our world and live in connection with it. Science is real.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter. Does that mean only black lives matter or that black lives matter too? Depending on your political bent you might answer either way. I would say it is that black lives matter too like in addition to us privileged white folks who have never had to worry about being “profiled”, never had to worry if people wondered if we were qualified or just got the job because of a desire for diversity. We’ve never had to worry about being in the “wrong” neighborhood, or looking suspicious when we were just out for a walk – or locked ourselves out of our car or house.

People get rankled when privilege is brought up. They bring up tales of hardship and deprivation. And those tales are probably true. But as someone put it “privilege doesn’t mean you won’t have hard times, it just means that your skin color isn’t the cause of it”. I don’t use it as a guilt trip, but as a reality check. And diversity recruitment efforts usually aren’t a “politically correct” publicity ploy (I hate that PC phrase) but rather an effort to more fully represent society in general.

Remember your history, really. When my great grandfather was fighting in the Civil War for the Union at Gettysburg, other people’s great grandfathers were slaves. And that has consequences down through the ages. When my grandparents were welcomed at state colleges, other people’s grandparents faced “whites only” signs and couldn’t imagine having the money or the opportunity to go to college. And I didn’t have to have law enforcement escort me to high school as nine African American teenagers did in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Like women who were dragged to jail for the temerity to try to vote, African Americans who were dragged from lunch counters, and gays who fought with police at Stonewall to get respect, many minority communities have struggled to be accepted as equals. It is good to remember Seneca Falls, Stonewall, and Selma and what those historical events mean to the cause of equality. It is important to review our history and not leave it to be whitewashed as it was while I was growing up. Other people unlike us have made great contributions to our history.

It is important for the children of today to be able to see people in positions of influence – like teachers, political leaders, sports stars, and even people in commercials or films – and see people who look like them. Role models are important some communities have not had that opportunity until recently. And it is important for those of us in the mainstream to bring in those on the margins and appreciate the difference – in culture, language, history – that can enrich us all. We do not gain by pretending to be “color-blind”

Are you afraid of embracing diversity for fear of losing influence? As someone said, recognizing the rights of others and offering them a place at the table doesn’t mean less for you. This isn’t a pie we are dividing up. There is plenty of room at the table and the world for all of us.

No Human is Illegal

No human is illegal. That is another line on our neighborhood sign. This comes from the disgusting habit of some people to dehumanize immigrants by calling them “illegals”. They contend that since many are coming across the border without following certain legal requirements they are illegal and thus deserve to be called simply “illegals”. This is a dodge around using terms that are clearly known to be racial and ethnic slurs, but it is no different- it is still a slur.

Anything that dehumanizes others is offensive and unworthy of a nation that was founded and grown by immigration. Every one of us, unless we are of indigenous blood, comes from immigrant roots. Some of us, like me, can trace it very far back. I once remarked at work that my ancestors came over on the Mayflower (true). To which my Native American coworker Kenny replied “yea, well my ancestors met them when they got off the boat”. Touche!

Some people will complain “just follow the law”. But do they know for one thing how long and complicated the legal process is to immigrate? Do they understand the stress that many people have gone through to consider immigrating? Economic pressure, political persecution, not to mention the crime infesting their homelands? Desperate times make for desperate people making desperate decisions. Those of us who are native-born Americans were fortunate to be born on the right side of an artificial man-made boundary line. We should not cast aspersions on others who were not so fortunate. Especially those who live in a wide swath of land that up until 150+ years ago belonged to another country ( the southwest US states).

Stop and realize that most of these immigrants are struggling to do what most native-born Americans do – learn a foreign language. We should be patient with them, not insult them. We learned English naturally – being born into it. When was the last time you tried to learn a foreign language? For me, it was high school and college – with Spanish and German. Most Americans have never done that.

Immigration issues are complex, like most other policy discussions. We as a country have had our bright spots and blackouts, our celebrations and shames. We need reform of policies and not knee-jerk reactionary campaigns. But in all the discussions and debates the one thing we must not forget is that immigrants are humans, just like those of us who were born here. They are deserving of respect and the commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” applies to them just as much as the family who lives next door to us, because they are all our neighbors.

Page 1 of 9

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén