Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Coincidence, Messages From Beyond .. or …?

I had a very restless night last night, dreaming about all sorts of people from my past – friends, family and clients from many years ago.

One series of dreams that kept recurring concerned a friend of mine whom I have known for over 35 years.  My friend Christopher is a great guy with a huge heart - a talented producer and director who shares interesting musings every weekend from “the shed”.  The shed is in his backyard and from it emanate thoughts and ideas that inspire thoughtful introspection, dialog and sometimes just a good laugh.  I often checked into Facebook on a Friday night to see what would come from “the shed”.

I kept dreaming that people were telling me that he had passed away and that we were saddened by the loss of his kind heart, his friendship and his musings from “the shed”.

When I awoke this morning, I learned that “Big Tom” Fitzgerald, a well-known radio personality for K-Rock radio in the area where Christopher lives, had passed away overnight.

“Big Tom”, who like Christopher is known for a heart larger than Life, was well-known for his live broadcast every Saturday from a mobile studio known as “the shed”.  The live request program was known as “Saturday in the Shed with Big Tom”.   I’ve met Big Tom – his gentle heart was obvious to me and to everyone who met him.

I found it unusual that I dreamt of the passing of a friend over 6000 kilometers away who is famous for his “musings from the shed” and on the same night, another personality in a similar industry in the same part of the world who broadcasts from “the shed” on Saturdays actually passed away.

As a long-time corporate strategy guy, I don’t believe in coincidences.  Everything in the world happens with purpose behind it.  However, as a long-time pragmatic, often sceptical, observer, I wrestle with things that appear to have a supernatural flavor to them and so I tend to write such things off as coincidence or the product of overactive imaginations.

But then my brain returns to my personal belief that there are no coincidences.

So I’m left to wonder what, if anything, this means.

Is there a message for me here?

Perhaps there is a message for Christopher in this.

Maybe there is no message and it’s all a coincidence.

Ah yes .. maybe.  But have I told you that I don’t believe in coincidences?

In the meantime as my brain ponders this unusual event, I offer my deepest condolences to the Fitzgerald family.  “Big Tom” had a big heart and will be missed by many who were blessed to meet him and who enjoyed his weekly broadcast from “the shed”.

In service and servanthood,


Addendum – April 30, 2012

Big Tom is being buried today.  I was surprised to hear that he is being buried at St. Michael’s Church on Bell Island, the parish that my ancestors attended.  Rest in Peace, Big Tom.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Wouldn’t ET Be Fascinated With Us?

People who know of my connection to certain military and government projects often ask me “If extraterrestrials are real, why would they even care about humans on Earth?”.

Think about it.

A species that attains a state of perfection would be perfect in love or perfect in destructive capability.  Keep in mind that perfection doesn’t necessary mean a positive thing.  It merely means that one is perfect in its ability to carry out its purpose.

Mankind, however, sits on the cusp of perfection in love or destructive capability, having not leaned either way yet.  What a fascinating opportunity for a superior intelligence, good or bad, to observe a culture early in its march towards perfection.

We see examples every day that show what our society is capable of, both good and bad.

Some people complain when they have unlimited amounts of everything while others are grateful when they have practically nothing.

Some create war when the death of thousands or millions solves nothing while others find ways to create peace amidst chaos.

Some gorge themselves selfishly into early death while others seek to find ways to share everything with those in need.

Some see hatred everywhere while others see love.

Some see scarcity while others marvel at unlimited abundance.

Some people see the complexity of the world as proof that “God” doesn’t exist while others point to the same complexity as the very proof they need to establish that “God” is real.

Our ability to create love or hatred, abundance or scarcity, war or peace and ultimately life or death, in unlimited quantities, would be fascinating for an external species to observe (and maybe to influence).

Heck, it would be fun to start a pool as to which way the savage Terrans with fantastic potential will finally lean as they make their way towards their ultimate state of perfection.

If I were  a betting man, I would wager that our potential to become an all-loving, knowledge-seeking, sharing, collaborative, peaceful species is the stronger of the two potentials.

But to get there (or as close as “humanly” possible) requires conscious choice, effective strategy, strong tactics, proactive action, visionary leaders and a will to make it that way.  It requires conscious choice in how we think and execute at every level of society, in our personal and professional lives, from the foundational building blocks of our immediate relationships right up to international governance.

It requires a will to avoid something as incredibly frightening as is illustrated in this video:


Nuclear testing around the world.


Last call ….. care to make a wager?

In service and servanthood,


PS Does anyone know the intergalactic exchange rate from dollars to cubits? Winking smile

Monday, April 23, 2012

Democracy–Be Grateful For It

Watching the Alberta election unfold and the US election get into high gear and seeing the highlights and lowlights of the various leaders and candidates, one thing comes to mind for me.

For all the warts in the political system; controversies, disappointments and other things that drive us crazy, make us angry and everything else, democracy is still a pretty cool process to watch in action.

Despite all the stuff we like to complain about in coffee shops, on blogs, on call-in programs or in social media, we are still very fortunate to have choices and to be able to openly explore and discuss those choices.

When the Occupy Wall St. movement was going in full swing, I was told by a number of people that our system had become either too fascist, too socialist or some other “ist” word.  They fail to realize that if we were one of those “ist” societies, they would have been jailed or shot long before they could have complained about it.

Meanwhile, Albertans today and Americans in 7 months or so will go to the polls and dutifully select the candidates and parties that they think will lead them.

And while we like to complain about how a lot of politicians let us down routinely, when I think of the alternatives, I can only bow my head in gratitude for the system we have.

No system is perfect, not even democracy.

Regardless of who we elect, even the ones that disappoint us, in the end they are their because we had the opportunity and the freedom to put them there.

THAT is a pretty awesome power to consider and with it comes significant responsibility.

And so whether tomorrow provides Albertans with Premier-elect Smith or Premier Redford (apologies to the other guys who won’t make it) and whether November provides Americans with President Obama (round 2) or President-elect Romney, the power is still ours to determine the future of our province, state or country and ultimately our world.

Having made our choices and regardless of who wins, we must support the leaders and their plans to make our world a better one.  Undermining them in office prevents all of us from creating a stronger society.

If in the end we don’t like who we have chosen and what they have produced, we can change our mind again in a few years and hopefully get it right (or at least better).

This power is ours and unless we screw things up really badly, it will always be ours.

In a world where many people couldn’t dare to dream of having such power, who wouldn’t be grateful for the opportunity to have as much opportunity to change the world as we have with a single vote.

Let’s make sure that the world we create with such power helps more people see the unlimited potential in the world and their unlimited opportunity to contribute to that world.

By doing so, we will have leveraged democracy to its ultimate potential.

In service and servanthood,


Addendum: April 24th

Ms. Smith’s comments after a significant loss to Premier Redford and the Progressive Conservatives are a sign of what makes some people cynical of the system.  The correct response after losing would have been something along the lines of “We look forward to serving the people of Alberta, keeping the Redford government honest on behalf of the people of Alberta, etc” and leaving it at that.

Instead, her closing comment “We look forward to defeating the Conservatives in 2016” shows a naïve dismissal of the next four years or a focus on winning an election instead of accomplishing the best things possible for the people of Alberta.

And you know what they say about wishing your time away.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Right to Bear Arms (or the need to)

The media is all abuzz today carrying the bond trial of George Zimmerman, facing 2nd degree murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.

There are lots of things being tossed around in the media today, including whether Zimmerman profiled Martin before killing him, if Martin’s death was truly an act of self-defence and what the future is for Florida’s stand-your-ground law.

There are cries of injustice by some camps and racial prejudice by other camps.

But one that I don’t hear a lot of politicians wrapping their politically-motivated rhetoric (disguised as justice) around is the right to bear arms …..

…. or rather … the need to bear arms.

I’m as familiar as anyone with the Second Amendment in the US, “the right to keep and bear arms” and while I don’t consider myself a pacifist by any stretch, I wonder where the interpretation of the Second Amendment is taking America.

When the Amendment was written, the citizens of a newly-born country felt threatened by local indigenous people and the “oppressing government overseas”.  The need to defend one’s self from foes inside and outside the young nation was real.

But I wonder how real this threat is today.  Do we really need the right to have handguns, automatic weapons and other forms of assaulting each other from a distance?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not anti-firearms.  For people who enjoy hunting, target practice and such, I have no issue with people who enjoy the sports associated with firearms.

But if George Zimmerman was not armed that night, would he have approached Trayvon Martin as the charges suggest, or would he have retreated to a safe distance and called for help if he felt threatened?  Is it possible that Zimmerman approached Martin, feeling empowered or at least safe by the weapon he carried?

I posit that carrying a gun not only protects us from dangerous situations but it in fact emboldens us to create or enter dangerous situations that we might have avoided otherwise.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if buying more guns out of the need to feel safe was actually creating more potential for violence, thus creating the rationale for going out and buying more guns?

The cycle that results has no solution or rational end.

Many of my friends whom I respect and love dearly have great stockpiles of weapons to protect themselves and their families should times of strife arrive and the need arise to defend their families.

As I have pointed out to them, if they have a stockpile of weapons and they intend to use them, they should know that when others arrive, knowledge of the defender’s stockpile will cause the antagonists to bring a larger arsenal.

How certain are they of winning then?

Now consider this.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 8% of 18-25 year-olds and 6% of 26-49 year-olds suffer from serious mental illness in the US (2008 statistics).

According to the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Americans own approximately 270 million weapons (2007 statistics) with purchases exceeding 4.5 million units per year.

These are two statistics that don’t work well together and should create some level of concern for all of us.

Is it any wonder that the Department of Homeland Security recently ordered 450 million rounds of HST (armor piercing) ammunition for domestic use?  I wonder what they see in our future that we don’t know about.

True gun enthusiasts are correct when they say that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and that racial prejudice and other forms of hatred are not created by the existence of guns.

Both statements are true.

However, unnecessary gun ownership (including handguns, automatic weapons and the right to carry concealed weapons in public) enable people filled with hate or fear to do more than they would have done had they not been armed.

And therein lies a huge difference.

As an enlightened society and alleged masters of our domain, I wonder why we don’t see it.

In service and servanthood,


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Leadership–Make the Right Choice

The provincial election is going full-tilt in Alberta and the long-standing ruling party, the Progressive Conservative party under Alison Redford finds itself being heavily challenged by the Wildrose Alliance party under Danielle Smith.

As a long-time strategy advisor to Fortune 25 organizations, I strongly believe that the strength of an organization, the future of that organization and the impact of that organization on the people whom it serves can often be gauged by studying the leader of that organization.

So when some controversial comments from some Wildrose Alliance party candidates hit the airwaves, I thought “I’ll wait to see what their leader says” and sure enough, after many requests by the CBC, she finally agreed to have an interview on CBC Calgary’s Eyeopener.

Now I’m wondering if she should have stayed off the air.

Wildrose Alliance candidate Pastor Allan Hunsperger made news last week regarding a blog he wrote about a year ago where he indicated that gays should not be accepted and that they will burn in hell.  Pastor Hunsberger even criticized the Edmonton Public School system for creating policies that protect gay students from bullying.

In commenting on this, Ms. Smith indicated that people are entitled to their opinions and that “we need to be tolerant of other people’s views”.

Even when those views are highly intolerant of other people, Ms. Smith?

She also pointed out that she would not comment on the pastor’s comments because she believed in the separation of church and state.  When a candidate, pastor or not, brings his personal views to their candidacy, this is not a matter of separating church and state – it is a matter of understanding the values that the candidate brings to the table.

The fact that Ms. Smith would say these things indicates that either:

  • she doesn’t understand the definition of “separation of church and state” and how it is interpreted under the Canadian Charter
  • she won’t stand up to people within her own team, even when their views are controversial or problematic
  • she doesn’t want to make waves by addressing the issue as she should, thus playing it safe, hoping it goes away and holding on for the win.

Any or all of these are a reflection of ineffective leadership and have me greatly concerned that such an ineffective leader could potentially win the upcoming election.

Ron Leech, another candidate running for the Wildrose Party, had this to say earlier in the campaign:

“I think as a Caucasian, I have an advantage,” Ron Leech told a Calgary radio station on Sunday. “When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speaks, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community.”

He later apologized and said that as a Caucasian, he is not at a disadvantage.

Yeah … that fixed it all right.

With all the things going on in the world, why is race relevant in this election, Mr. Leech?

Ms. Smith’s thought is that when people make a mistake and apologize, we should all move on.

That may be so for some mistakes.  However, in these two situations, we see personal values and beliefs leaking to the surface.

Values and beliefs around intolerance and prejudice.

In these situations, there’s a big difference between apologizing for a genuine mistake versus offering a perfunctory apology just because one’s true self got exposed to the public.

Speaking of values, in the Calgary Herald in May 21, 2001, when discussing university behaviour codes, she noted:

It is perfectly reasonable [to] expect its students to refrain from practices that are biblically condemned, and sign a pledge not to get drunk, swear, harass, lie, cheat, steal, have an abortion, practise the occult, or engage in sexual sins such as premarital sex, adultery, homosexual behaviour and viewing of pornography.

I wonder if we will see laws passed around this also.

Ms. Smith appears to be a leader who allows hateful words of intolerance to spread and one who sidesteps controversy and truth when they erupt.  She also believes in equal contribution by her caucus. If what we are seeing in the media is a sampling of what her caucus is capable of, I am very worried.

What really worries me though is that, as the party leader, she seems to be annoyed that this stuff matters to people and this fact reveals how naïve she is as a leader.

These events and how she is handling them are early indications of what her leadership of the Province might look like.

The famous quote “We get the government we deserve” applies here.  When we blindly elect a party and a leader without taking the time to understand what we are electing, then we deserve what we get.

I just don’t want to hear anybody whining about it later because the damage will already have been done.

However, the real reason I don’t want to hear any whining is because Ms. Smith will not be alone in owning responsibility for the damage.

We will share the blame, for having enabled her in the first place.

In service and servanthood,


Addendum - April 20th

During a presentation, Ms. Smith indicated that as far as she is concerned, she would not fire Mr. Hunsperger because his views are religious in nature and she believes in freedom of religion.  We can hide behind religion and use it to justify hatred … but that doesn’t make it right nor does it command respect inside or outside the religious community.

She also believes that to be critical of Mr. Leech’s comments is a form of character assassination and that his racially-ignorant comment was an accidental one-off.  I guess speaking up against racially-biased comments is unfair and we should stop doing so immediately (according to her).  Meanwhile, a second interview (also here, summarizing just his inflammatory remarks) surfaced today – advance the video to 2:45 (if using the first link) to hear his comment on how being a Caucasian puts him at an advantage.  Mr. Leech’s beliefs that being gay is sinful and an insult to God are also well documented.

Finally, she has no interest in reaching out to Mayor Mandel of Edmonton to try to smooth things out.  A strong leader attempts to heal rifts whenever possible.  If nothing else, a selfish leader would at least suck it up and reach out to him in an attempt to win extra votes.  The former way is the better way but it appears that her confidence level is so high in her ability to win that she appears to not care about the need for collaboration moving forward.

Sadly, these are not great leadership attributes for our young people to emulate moving forward.

Addendum – April 23rd

Both of the afore mentioned candidates (Mr. Leech and Mr. Hunsperger) went down to defeat in the Alberta provincial election. While Ms. Smith won her seat, the Progressive Conservatives under Alison Redford won a majority despite the polls claim that the Wildrose Party would win a majority.

This should be a lesson to Ms. Smith – that a strong leader must take decisive action when team members go astray.  Hoping that problems will go away on their own is rarely an effective strategy for success.

Addendum – April 24th

Ms. Smith’s comments after a significant loss to Premier Redford and the Progressive Conservatives are a sign of what makes some people cynical of the system.  The correct response after losing would have been something along the lines of “We look forward to serving the people of Alberta, keeping the Redford government honest on behalf of the people of Alberta, etc” and leaving it at that.

Instead, her closing comment “We look forward to defeating the Conservatives in 2016” shows a naïve dismissal of the next four years or a focus on winning an election instead of accomplishing the best things possible for the people of Alberta.

And you know what they say about wishing your time away.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What We Tolerate Today …..

…. we embrace tomorrow.

So goes the old adage attributed to many and existing in many forms.

I was somewhat shocked yesterday to see a story about HBO’s series “Angry Boys” and in particular, an image of a very young girl drinking out of a cup shaped like an oversized, pink, anatomically-detailed male penis.

If you want to see the picture that I am referring to, please click here (if they haven’t taken it down already). *WARNING: graphic imagery*

Meanwhile, Michelle Williams, Chief of Staff of the New Black Panther movement had this to say on the radio on Tuesday:

"Let me tell you, the things that's about to happen, to these honkeys, these crackers, these pigs, these pink people, these ---- people. It has been long overdue. My prize right now this evening ... is gonna be the bounty, the arrest, dead or alive, for George Zimmerman. You feel me?"

Freedom of speech and expression, we say!  It’s not promotion of hate – it’s expression of passion!  She later apologized and claimed she wasn’t inciting anything.

Yeah … right.  Words of passion, that, when the words are changed and directed back towards African Americans, are words of racism are still words of hatred.  Period.

Meanwhile, there are video games being played by pre-teens where one of the objectives is to pick up hookers, kill them and take one’s money back.  There are even unofficial contents held where young people come up with the most creative scenarios in this regard.

“How much impact can such things have on the developing mind?”, ask many of the freedom-of-expression enthusiasts.

Then I think about the book “The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct” which was available on Amazon in 2010 and which Amazon vigorously defended under their “freedom from censorship” policy before eventually removing it under public pressure. 

I remember debating the nature of this book with a lot of freedom-of-speech folks who thought that there was nothing wrong with it until I gave them this scenario and asked for their opinion.

The book has just been sent home with your child as the school’s book-of-the-month and will be studied after-hours at school in small-group sessions for the next four weeks.  Homework will be done during the after-hours session.  Now what do you think of the book?

Suddenly, when realizing the potential impact within their own world, they understood the concern.

Now, in fairness, many things that are the norm today once started out as controversial subjects.  Three that come to mind immediately are the emancipation of slaves  in the USA, revocation of child labour abuse and equal rights for women.

However, people like to hide behind important successes like these in our culture when justifying and rationalizing the other things I just described.

They chant the mantra “take the good with the bad” in order to make society better overall.

But that simply doesn’t hold water with me.

Surely we know the difference between what needs to be improved in society and that which drags society down.

For the people that don’t know or can’t see the difference , maybe I’ll arrange for their child’s school to source out a copy of the pedophile book and have it sent home with their children.

Maybe then they will see that there is a not-so-fine-line between change that improves humanity and change that tears it down.

Maybe then they will have better insight into what should be tolerated and what should not be.


In service and servanthood,


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Much Help is Enough?

I was recently contacted by someone struggling to get a project off the ground and while I am often happy to entertain people’s stories to see how they might be helped, this person’s story made me angry.

She lamented that no one would help her and she played the violin of victimhood.

What made me angry was that myself and others had interceded on her behalf many times and each time someone had reached out to help her, she decided that she would do it her own way (even if the people offering advice had demonstrated repeated success in the same area).  After acknowledging her way didn’t work, she would return for guidance, receive the same help, shrug it off again and repeat the cycle.

Now here she stood indicating that no one would help her.

It was her closing comment that caused me to lose patience with her and to share with her, my observations of her project and its potential for success.

In a moment of weakness, she revealed that she wanted the glory while others did the work.  In some strange way, she assumed that this is how successful people “made it”.

Ah, if Life could present such a lottery, that success is not made up of hard work, perseverance, collaboration, knowledge and luck but rather, by sitting and thinking positive thoughts, we will be overwhelmed with people who want to martyr themselves so that we can be successful and claim a life of luxury at their expense.

This person asking for help didn’t want to participate in the marathon of Life, with its challenges and victories.

She wanted to be carried for the duration of the marathon, with guaranteed victory in her sight while her minions suffered the challenges of completing the marathon on her behalf.

Helping people is an important element of Life

I’m not suggesting that we never help people.

In fact, as I have noted in previous musings and to quote Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants” … these giants being friends, family, colleagues or random strangers who lifted me up when I was down, who carried me a short distance, set me down and then allowed me to get on my feet and continue learning and living (sometimes with a friendly wave and sometimes with a gentle or not-so-gentle prodding that it was time for me to run again).

I would be nothing had it not been for these people who gave unselfishly of themselves and sometimes, at personal sacrifice.

And truthfully, there are some people, especially the physically or mentally disadvantaged who will always be in need of others to help them.

However, in recognition of the help I have received from so many in my Life and in an effort to help others as a means of expressing gratitude, I have discovered that not only have I picked them up but I have been carrying them for many years.  In answering a cry for help, I have discovered that what they really wanted was someone to live their Life or their dreams for them.

Empathic people carry others like this routinely and more often than they would appreciate, find themselves carrying the burden of others as well as their own burden for greater distances than intended.

Kindness can be fatal

You can carry people across a torrential river and in fact, there are many times we have been carried across such an obstacle by others and so we should recognize the importance of doing the same for those in need.

However, to cross an ocean, eventually everyone must swim together.  If we don’t, we will discover that carrying the other person causes us to become exhausted and we all drown.  In other situations, we may carry someone across the ocean and as we get within sight of the distant shore, the person we have carried pushes off from us and swims to safety, having not expended their energy on the journey, while we drown in exhaustion and disappointment.

When we help others overcome challenges and live their dreams, we should help them in ways that will get them back on their feet.  We should be patient (and persistent) with them as they adjust to the speed of the marathon of Life and be aware that they may have a few stumbles along the way as they get back up to speed.

But we mustn’t offer to carry them or step in unasked to carry them.

Marathons can only be won when the required muscles have been developed.  When people stumble, we stop and help them back on their feet and we both move on towards the finish line.  But when we carry them, their “muscles” atrophy while ours become worn out and we discover that an act of kindness eventually prevents anyone from winning.

When we discover that we are carrying the lives and dreams of many, we also learn that our ability to live our own dreams and our ability to live up to the expectations of others becomes extremely difficult.

And then nobody wins – the people asking (or demanding) to be carried, the people who have real, valid expectations of us and ourselves.

The marathon of Life is complex, long and at times, exhausting.

It is easier to run this marathon when we help each other to run it instead of assuming (or expecting) that some people exist to carry others for the length of it.

In other words:

Always be prepared to share your heart but never sell your soul nor allow others to take your soul from you.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to lay some people down and focus on the people whom I have obligations towards.

How about you?

In service and servanthood,


PS I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the folks that call upon us to carry them and when we rush to their aid, they have vanished before aid can be given.  They are the ones who call out that disaster has befallen them and when we show up to help, they either cannot be found, they are too busy (even though they are the ones calling for help) or they assure us that all is well after creating a panic in everyone around them.

When the Good Samaritans resume their own journey, the cry goes out for help again and being a Good Samaritan and rising to the call for help, they respond with a sense of urgency, only to be told again (once the person has been found) that everything is fine. 

Such abuse causes Good Samaritans, in their desire to serve others, to run many Life marathons concurrently while, alas, their own marathon of Life and Purpose becomes second in priority.  The Good Samaritan’s Purpose is never fulfilled as they sacrifice themselves to serve those who routinely call upon them to serve their own misguided or selfish needs.

In such situations, the Good Samaritan may not actually have carried others but will have expended the same time and energy in responding to the false cries of others.

The result is the same and in the process, the personal identity and Life Purpose of the Good Samaritan will have been lost in an effort to meet the expectations of others. 

When this happens, perhaps the Good Samaritan’s name should not be on their own headstone when their end-of-days has arrived but instead, the headstone should contain the names of all the people they served. 

It is, after all, the lives of all those people that they lived and not their own.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Courage … But Only From a Distance

Some years ago, I was cut off by a driver who grazed my car bumper while I was parked.  Even though I was parked and she had hit me, she proceeded to issue a litany of phrases that can’t be repeated here.  Curious as to why she was so angry after hitting me, I lifted my 6’3” frame out of my vehicle and proceeded to her vehicle.

It was at that point that she realized that the safety of distance between our two vehicles no longer existed and that my frame towering over her small car now presented an entirely different situation than the one she thought she was in control of.

She muttered something and quickly drove off.

Social media, for all its good stuff, presents a similar gap that I believe is creating a dialog that is detrimental to society.

For example, I made some observations about the Occupy Wall St. movement some time ago that prompted some folks to send me death threats, offering to kill me as a representative of the capitalist system.

Now, if these people had been standing in front of my 6’3” frame, were cognizant of my martial arts training and knew of my personal belief to stand up to bullies at any cost, do you think they would have had the courage to shout such threats to my face?

I doubt it.

The other day, I happened to make a comment on Facebook about the warming / cooling cycles that the Earth has experienced in its lifetime and the insulting comments that followed surprised and disappointed me – comments that I suspect people would not have expressed if we were having a passionate conversation in a coffee shop.

How about the many people around the world who have expressed hateful comments in the Trayvon Martin case (on both sides, may I add), mostly through Facebook, Twitter and other social media that allows them to vent their hatred and calls for violence from the comfort and safety of their own home.

Unfortunately, their belief that the gap and perceived anonymity provides safety is merely an illusion.

For example, some of the people sending me death threats stopped sending them to me when I demonstrated that I had possession of their home addresses and was prepared to contact authorities.

Suddenly there was silence.

To spread hatred, intolerance or intimidation as many are doing in social media actually adds layers of complexity and confusion to the world as we attempt to work together to solve the world’s challenges.  It whips people up into a frenzy to the point where facts don’t matter – our fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in and we see the opposite side of the dialog as someone who threatens our very existence and we respond as such.

Meanwhile, as we use the illusion of anonymity (and implied safety) to spread hatred, confusion and our opinion (presented as the only “facts” that matter), the people that we charge with our safety are also watching with ever-increasing concern.

At some point, if we continue to allow our hate levels to grow, the pot will boil over and the people who we look to for our safety will be forced to take extraordinary measures to ensure our safety.

It will be at that point that the people who thought they could spout hatred from a distance will discover that they have brought the results of such actions much closer to home.


I’m not asking people to stop spreading hatred.  In fact, my one voice is not loud enough to be heard above the din of hatred that is out there and I could wear myself out pleading with the hate-filled and ignorant of the world.  There’s nothing more that these people enjoy than an opportunity to justify why they are filled with such negativity and so arguments with such people can never be won.

However, I will say that the those whom we charge with our safety, (including our government leaders) are willing and prepared to do what it takes to ensure our safety moving forward.

Are the people who are spreading hate willing to do what it takes to not force their hand and instead, try working together towards solutions …. while solutions are still within our reach?

Hatred reaches across the miles pretty quickly and influences many, even in anonymity.  It also takes relatively little effort.

Love, respect, patience and open-mindedness also reach across the miles pretty quickly, with the potential to influence many.

The challenge is that love, respect, patience and open-mindedness often require significant levels of courage and effort.

Courage and effort that produces a much better result.

I think it’s worth it.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,