11-29-16

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Despite its dubious history, it reminds me of the better aspects of living in the US, even in these turbulent times. This year is no different.

There is so much to be thankful for… The farmers who grew the food and raised the turkeys, I salute you. And a gentle hand across the table to thank my dear wife for her goodness and beauty and efforts.

When a tricky situation arises or a tough decision must be made, my wife often says, “Take it to the Wheel”.

The Wheel feels like a guidance system, pointing me in the right direction, in this complicated world. It feels intuitive to seek Balance, my Higher Purpose, and embrace Right Relationship.

The role of the Sacred Witness is so vital to me, yet we’re all being pulled toward the future by uncertainty and back to the past by echoes of pain and suffering. Cell phones and computers keep us out from that inner abyss, although for many it is a place of tranquility with no “dangerous shards” around to harm us.

I feel so fortunate to be working at the private school and I was thrilled to give a poetry class to some students recently. We did a free write and some of the angst I read later was rather poignant.

“Life is like a river of endless beauty
full of dangerous shards at the bottom
I drift like a leaf dancing upon the water’s surface
until I slip, and crash into the depths, enveloped…”

11-15-16

Behind the Scenes

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This Sunday, I went to work to address some behind-the-scenes computer issues. I don’t think anyone is aware of these particular issues, but as users they recognize whether a system works, or doesn’t.

As I started up my computer, I heard signs of life in the building, so I went to investigate. Turns out, it was the cook. He explained to me that he comes in most Sundays to take care of things and prepare for the week. Again, all folks know is that delicious food is served everyday, they don’t always realize the preparation and the people behind it.

As our world becomes more complex, fewer of us understand the Process by which things get done. Whether it’s the networks and systems at the school I work, or the restaurant kitchen, so much is hidden behind the scenes. The Law of Cause and Effect asks us to understand Process and how it relates to all things.

The cook told me that 80% of what he does is never seen by his customers. He cares and I care so we do all this invisible work to ensure that the food tastes good and the computers operate as expected. My heroes don’t reside in DC or Wall Street, they live in the quiet places, behind the scenes, taking care of business without fanfare, because they Love what they do and they care for the task intrinsically.

Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago saluting those folks who work behind the scenes.

Heroes
There are no heroes
just quiet men of confidence
who drink from the deep water of the soul
held in a well of trust
tainted not by hubris intent
but scented by the shared experience
the sweat of hard work and perseverance.
Yes, heroes step forth in the heat of battle
but it is in those moments of tranquility
when peace reigns, quiet times
it is then that the foundations are fixed
so when the fight begins
uncertainty, indecision, ignorance
these are the foes to be vanquished
and so they are by the pride, the camaraderie
esprit de corps wins the day
team work and relationships are the victors here.
It is this group, buoyed up as one
they are the heroes
in the innumerable battles
we face each day.

Malcolm Davidson, October 22, 2013.

11-07-16

Integrity and the Pyramids of Egypt

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Recently I read a trending article about an anti-Trump Republican, attacked at a Trump rally in Nevada. Some members of Trump’s audience kicked, punched and choked him.

Trump was rushed from the stage for protection. This is in sharp contrast to similar situation when someone heckled President Obama. The President defended his heckler’s right to free speech and castigated the crowd for booing him.

It has been stated, “To know someone look at their friends”. To know a candidate, look at their supporters. I think on Tuesday the battlegrounds will be drawn not by Democrat and Republican but rather more by Bravery and Fear, or Connection and Separation.

Integrity is on the north side of the Wisdom Wheel. Its Balancer is Trust in the South. Hillary Clinton may be a flawed individual but I believe her vision and intent is to bring the country together.

When I consider a pyramid, I think of a solid core, a robust shape, one very difficult to overturn. They remind me of people with Integrity, who are not necessarily people, but who can acknowledge their feelings and uncertainties. They try to embrace the truth and can be trusted. These are the brave ones.

Alternatively, flip the pyramid upside down and you get instability and fear. This represents all of the things I observe in Trump supporters. Why fear difference? Because it threatens my uncertain perspective on life.

For our Sweat Lodge ceremonies each month, we build a pyramid of stones for the fire. No matter how many times I’ve done it I remember the power of the pyramid.

The Egyptian four-sided pyramid has five sides, if you include with the base. For me that represents the Balance center stone and the four cornerstones, Right Action, Trust, Higher Purpose and Integrity. Embracing all four quadrants helps me to feel robust like the pyramid. In this way I can accept difference and maybe even embrace it.

Being open is a quality of Integrity, real integrity. In those pyramids of Egypt there are secret tunnels where various Pharaohs were buried. Like my fears buried away deep inside am I ready to find them and bring them into the light like the discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922.

11-02-16

Chopsticks Across the Ocean

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I experienced mixed emotions this week. I was happy to be with friends visiting from China, then sad, to see them leave. While they were here, we shared wonderful stories and great meals. Our dinners were joyful although sometimes the only sound was the clacking of chopsticks and chewing.

However, I was pulled out of these warm memories by the news of a young Chinese Frenchman, beaten to death in France.

Recently, I mentioned I believe that people are good. Am I wrong or naïve? What is it that propels young men to beat up and kill someone different from them?

In my momentary grief I swore at those men and called them cowards. But that makes me as guilty as them, in a way. It’s the easy way out, but it takes Courage on both sides to Forgive and learn why such behavior exists. Often, I feel that people just want to be heard.

10-25-16

Whistle While You Work

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The other day, I caught myself whistling “Deck the Halls” in the school corridor. I stopped half way through, when a memory from the 1970s struck me.

It was 40 years ago, yet it seems like yesterday. I was living in London, working in an open office, designing circuitry for a new telephone exchange. One of my older colleagues was drinking a cup of tea when he suddenly began convulsing. He put his cup down and ran out of the office. I had no idea what was going on.

I later learned he was having a panic attack, from PTSD. Someone’s whistling in the corridor reminded him of the German V1 rockets. These rockets reigned terror on London and south east England, killing thousands and injuring many more. They were known for their whistling sound, followed by a moment of silence as the motor stopped and then the explosion.

When stress and violence are meted out, we have no idea what the impact will be over the long term. Whistling may be a trivial act for some, but it had unforeseen consequences for my former colleague. What else do we do innocently that hurts others?

No more bombs, whether they’re bombs of deceit, or bombs of hypocrisy. From now on I’ll send boxes of roses and kindness to my friends and acquaintances. Explosions of understanding and love.

The Law of Love is the master Love. Love and all of other laws seem to unfold seamlessly.

I’m not sure if I’ll whistle at work again; there are many other ways to share joy. Maybe next time I’ll try singing.

A photo by Anna Dziubinska. unsplash.com/photos/mVhd5QVlDWw

All Man is Evil

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The other morning while at work at school, I saw a quote pinned to the wall that read, “All man is evil”.

I asked the teacher if it referred to men or humankind. She informed me that it was a quote from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I remember reading the book and seeing the movie as a teenager.

Right now, I am tired of the negative aspects of men in the media. I do not believe that man is evil.

As a poet, I like to play with words and I’ve been toying with the word “Mothering” recently. If we do not accept our Self, the Me in Mothering, we end up removing the “M” and end up with “Othering”: the process of seeing others as separate and apart from ourselves and our tribe. There is a lot of othering going on right now.

When I sit circle around the Wisdom Wheel, I often focus on the South quadrant. As we pass the Law of Eternal Present moving through Trust we eventually must to look at our Shadow. It seems there are many people who cannot be present for it increases the likelihood that Shadow issues will come up. It takes Courage to be able to be present to our own Shadow.

Men and Women, Mankind, Womankind, Humankind are inherently good. Surely we are all a mixture of good and bad. Learning the Wisdom Wheel has enabled me to become a better human being. I am more accepting of what is, rather than spending my time wishing for things that didn’t exist.

10-11-16

The Red Cross and the Red Road

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Today, I was supposed to be in New Hampshire helping friends cut some felled trees. But the steady rain from Hurricane Matthew cancelled out those plans. My heart goes out to the thousands in Haiti, where Hurricane Matthew has wreaked unimaginable havoc. No doubt the Red Cross, among other charitable organizations, will solicit donations for the victims.

I think back to Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and the outpouring of funds in its wake. Apparently, the Red Cross collected well over $500 million, however, much of that money is unaccounted for. The Red Cross refuses to share details of how the money was spent. Non-profits’ books should be open to the public, in my opinion. Haitian government officials claim they never received sums near that amount. But local governments also have spotty records when it comes to dispersing aid dollars.

When I think of the “Red Cross”, I envision just that: a red cross. It corresponds to the red road indicating the four quadrants of the Wisdom Wheel: Integrity, Higher Purpose, Trust and Right Action. If the Red Cross adhered to these laws of the Wisdom Wheel, I suspect they’d be a very different organization.

Perhaps there are more transparent agencies we can donate our money and time to. But the only thing I know for certain is that Haiti needs our help, now more than ever.

A photo by Vadim Sherbakov. unsplash.com/photos/osSryggkso4

Inter-operability

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I’m still settling into my new IT job at the school. The other day, someone from the administrative staff came up to me and said, “My Printer doesn’t connect to the wireless anymore. Can you fix it?” It may sound easy in principle, but it’s a harder problem to solve in reality.

As systems become more connected, they also inherently become more complex. Thus, the likelihood of problems greatly increase. Unfortunately, many designers fail to take into account who will use their product and how.

I often weigh the Law of Right Relationship. This law is part of the inner circle stones, and I think it’s one of the most important laws, whether we’re dealing with people, objects, or problems. We must break down complexity to a point where we are in Right Relationship with the information in front of us.

When trouble-shooting I strive to be Eternally Present to the data I encounter. Armed with technical know-how and optimism, I gather information.

In this case, the printer was an HP. What model? What version of software was it running? What about the wireless signal? What type of encryption was being used? As you can see, there was a lot of information to gather, verify and test.

When I attempted to connect the printer…it failed. “Printer failed to connect to Wireless network”. That is all, nothing more, no details. I continued to trouble-shoot and after 10 hours we identified the problem: the wrong version of software in a module of the wireless provider.

There are other issues to deal with, but this one illustrates how challenging technology can be today. A degree in electrical engineering is a qualification for this job, but I think more in terms of skills like “paying attention” and “perseverance”. The Law of Integrity provides a good base and the Law of Commitment is a powerful reminder that once you begin to fix a problem, your goal (Higher Purpose) must be reached no matter what. In my case I will fix the problem, resolve the issue. I will do whatever it takes.

A photo by Alejandro Escamilla. unsplash.com/photos/BbQLHCpVUqA

More than Money

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Awhile ago, I gave a TED talk in Providence entitled “More than Money”. In it, I mention that financial transactions must be about more than money. Financial transactions should include the interests of all parties. In the Giving and Receiving, all must feel Trust and Integrity are part of the Process.

I think people are motivated by two urges: greed and fear. I’m motivated by the greed for knowledge and truth, but I’m also driven by a greed for appreciation and respect. These were two things I never received as a child, so as I grew up I sought it from others.

This all came flooding back to me recently as I read the Wells Fargo scandal. Unfortunately, the president and senior management have not been held accountable. Apparently, their staff and customers are merely their tools to attain the profits they were greedy for. I would like to sit circle around the Wisdom Wheel with Wells Fargo’s president, but I doubt he’d sit with me.

When we treat people with respect and dignity, I believe both parties can enjoy sustainable profits over the long term. Where Trust and Right Relationship are paramount, it may not satisfy Wall Street, but it will bring real connections among people on all sides. This is something that money can never buy.

09-22-16

First Grade Forgiveness

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Jeffrey positions himself with his nose inches away from his buddy’s. “I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen. I’m sorry Rowen.”

“Humph!” declares Rowen, lower lip out, chin up, eyes narrowed. Rowen actually says things like “Humph!” and “Rats!” and “Good Grief!” because he identifies with Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh and also Charlie Brown.

“Rowen,” I begin, “Jeffrey didn’t mean to hurt you when he tagged you. He’s trying to do the right thing by saying sorry. Here comes his mom’s car. He has to leave in a moment. Can you do the right thing, too?”

Rowen starts wailing and, to borrow a term from one of his favorite authors, Mo Willems, “goes boneless”.

Jeffrey’s mom approaches and greets us. “Hi guys, how was soccer practice?”

“Good Mom, I won in Knock Out!”

Rowen lets out a scream that echoes in the space between the house and the garage. I bring Jeffrey’s Mom up to speed.

“Rowen,” I attempt once more, “Let’s try to end on a good note. This is your chance to forgive Jeffrey. He is leaving now. Do you think you might feel worse if he leaves before you get a chance to tell him it’s okay?”

Rowen never does well with a looming deadline. He falls completely to pieces. Jeffrey and his Mom offer a wave and then their car pulls away.

I try to coax Rowen into the house but he is not done with his antics so, patience exhausted, I walk in without him. I throw my bag on the chair. I am embarrassed. Why couldn’t he just go through the socially appropriate motions? Why does there always have to be drama?

Eventually he comes in, has a drink, dinner, and a warm bath. He pulls on his dinosaur PJs and we read stories. As I tuck him in, I ask if he’s forgiven his friend. He sighs and says, “Well, ok,” and it’s finished. He’ll see Jeffrey in school the next day and they’ll talk about soccer and all will be well.

Forgiveness among children is rarely rushed yet comes quickly and wholeheartedly. Purification is the first step, a physical release of the sadness, anger and fear, and then, quite simply, hurt is healed. The sun sets upon the day and sleep sweeps out the trouble. The next day is met with Love.

Why can’t the Process be this simple for grown-ups? Why do we fall into the Cycle of second-rate apologies and false Forgiveness, or worse, utter silence? Children remind us that emotional energy needs a release, no exceptions. While it may not always be pretty, it is truly the way to remain in Right Relationship with those around us.