A downside of writing about mature behavior.

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Back on April 4, 2017, I rewrote the ACE test in a positive way and named it the Positive Childhood Experience test (PCE test.) The object was to present a simple set of rules for human behavior that would help people to live better lives themselves and help their children to live better lives too. That has been the goal of this Probaway – Many helpful hints on living your life more successfully.

Adverse Childhood Experiences versus Positive Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences versus Positive Childhood Experiences (ACE versus PCE)

Also on this blog, you may read my rewrite of Epictetus – Enchiridion, which is the Stoic view of how to live a good life. That may be released in the not too distant future in a paper form of media.

Also, there is reasonable progress on my book, Love Your Life – A Way to Approach Health and Happiness, which is in part a rewrite of the 147 Suggestions by the Seven Sages of Greece.

There are many other postings on this blog with the general theme of living a good life, but there is a downside to writing about mature behavior. After thinking about ways that people should behave and seeing the benefits of their behaving well, it is depressing to see how poorly so many people do behave.

A case in point happened yesterday when at a clearly marked four-way STOP intersection a car drove through at near highway speed immediately in front of me. I have almost gotten used to people going through stop signs at fifteen miles per hour, which is a flagrant flaunting of the law, but yesterday’s event was a truly dangerous act for the driver’s well-being and the lives of all the people at that intersection. It sets me to wondering if this kind of behavior has been precipitated by the model of a President who so flagrantly disregards other people’s rights. Driving has become noticeably more precarious this last year, and several people have commented on that problem at my social gatherings. I mentioned this to my City Council friend and she is going to discuss it with the Chief of Police. My suggestion seems to be about as much input as is available to me at the moment, but people have been getting killed in “accidents” here, and it will be interesting to see the year-end statistics.

Have I become sensitized to these kinds of behaviors because of thinking too much about them and am I over-reacting to normal behavior?

It is easy to identify kind behavior and easy to be kind and that kind of action makes everyone happier. 

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Why do we watch the news?

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The news is always so morbid. It’s usually ugly. It is rarely informative in any way that can influence the behavior of our daily lives. Usually, the stories that are most prominent are designed to lead to personal anxiety. “If it bleeds it leads” is the mantra of the media because that is what sells newspapers and other media. And yet, if someone we don’t know is injured or killed, there is rarely anything we can do to help or even begin to help because the events are so remote.

When something that is so catastrophic that doing something, even giving a single dollar, would help someone over there, very few dollars are actually given. For example, it has been two months since the American territory of Puerto Rico was ripped by a hurricane, and according to the news media itself very little has been done to help them. Without a doubt, there have been some efforts but considering the magnitude of the disaster and the enormous wealth of the United States, the help was abysmally tiny. Just now there is a political effort to help, but it was the first few days were the help was most needed.

The reason why people watch the news is probably because of its entertainment value. That’s the same reason millions of people watch sporting events. It isn’t because of the sport, or the value of those events. It’s because of the violence and the entertainment value, the crowd’s enthusiasm and the agreed upon media-generated feeling that this is important. That, of course, is a delusion. The only meaning to the games is to transfer money from the emotionally needy public’s pockets into the pockets of those willing to put the games before them and then pretend that it is important to these people’s lives. Their lives become important because they identify with a team. That’s absurd because they can pick a team randomly and become enthralled.

So it seems that the reason people watch the news and sports is that they believe there is something important being given to them. In fact, the only behavior that people change from attending to the media is selecting the appropriate clothing for the day’s weather. The weather that is reported is almost totally concerned with comfort; the real killer effect of the weather is rare but real and it is flooding and drowning. But  I don’t recall ever hearing a newscaster warning me to stay away from rivers before they flood; they much prefer to report on the after-effects of a flood. That’s newsworthy. What’s the body count that has a surviving family member to interview? That’s news! What I would suggest …

Pay attention to things that will actually change your physical behavior.

Clockwork Purple – Do you not think that God wants this?

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Clockwork Purple November 27, 2017. Bend, Oregon, writers’ group prompt selected unseen from …

The Poet Prince by Kathleen McGowan

The randomly chosen line is from … Page 14, Line 14

“Do you not think that God wants this ?”

Alexa, set the timer for 45 minutes … 10:56


“Do you think God wants this?” That sentence popped into my mind again, as it often did, when I was sitting on top of Grizzly Peak looking out over the San Francisco Bay. For five years in the 1980s, I ran twice a week to this place from my home below Sacramento Avenue in Berkeley, California. It was about twelve hundred feet up and ten miles by street and trail to the top. Usually, it took about fifty minutes to make the run. I always ran it at close to my fastest possible time, so when I sat down I was near exhaustion and breathing heavily. My pulse rate was usually about 180 beats per minute, which was way above my morning rate of 45. Yes, I was in great shape at that time and had run several marathons. My times were not great for those events, about three hours and forty-five minutes, but I did finish. I would burn out at about twenty-three miles and would be forced to slow to almost a walking speed. That’s not uncommon for marathon runners. They like to say, anyone in good shape can run twenty miles; it’s the last six miles, three hundred and eighty-five yards that are difficult.

About five hundred times I was there looking out over that world-famous San Francisco Bay Area and because there was a locked gate a quarter of a mile below the summit, to prevent cars from coming up to the radio towers, I had the view all to myself. The only other visitors were birds, occasionally a deer, once a fox, and once what appeared to be a cougar a goodly distance away. Usually, Grizzly Peak was all mine, the San Francisco Bay was all mine and needless to say I had many pleasant moments on that spot.

“Do you not think God wants This?” It was so magnificent! There below me was not only a beautiful view but many beautiful people, and I had the good fortune to know many of the most famous among those millions. I would marvel at the diversity of the people and what they had done. Right there below me were people whom I knew, who had created marvels, and still were. Who had created disasters and still were, who had founded world movements, and still were, who had done appallingly stupid things and still were! Who had made the world a better place, and a worse one, too!

“Do you think God wants This?” or “Do you not think that God wants This, and this, and this and this?” Yes! I have to say God wants all of this. Didn’t he say in the Bible, there in Isaiah 45:6-7, “I created this, all of this; I created the good, I created the bad. I created everything,” and therefore, I being a mortal man and not an immortal being, must simply agree with God and say, and say with all of my possible heartfelt enthusiasm …

Thank you, God, for creating … THIS!!!

Sage tip #35, Value other people’s thoughts.

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In the book I am presently working on named Love Your Life – A way to approach health and happiness, there is a section on The wisdom of the 7 Sages of Greece. That wisdom consists of 147 brief suggestions published on a stone before about 500 BC at Delphi in Greece. Those precepts are so brief they require some interpretation and expansion to make them useful to a modern English speaker.

I have used the term “respect” in several of the suggestions, which I have been calling tips to make them less demanding and more friendly. Tip #34 is presently stated, “Respect other people’s space and property,” and that usage of the word respect feels appropriate. However, the next one, Tip #35 was written “Respect other people’s thoughts.” That doesn’t feel quite right anymore because it has the connotation of tolerating other people’s thoughts. Tolerating implies there is something wrong with their thoughts, and with their thinking, and with their personal experience. However, if we had lived their lives and had their experiences, we would probably be in much closer alignment with those thoughts and their presentations of them. In that case, we would have greater respect for those thoughts and statements. Our respect might well move over into the more approving connotation implied by the word “value.”

If we value other people’s statements and the thoughts behind those statements and thus the experiences and analysis of those experiences, then that other person’s whole world opens up to us. We have a more intimate relationship with them and their worldview and thus our personal relationship with our own world becomes more expanded. If we value other people instead of tolerating them our lives become better.

However, if we go away from valuing their worldview, away from even tolerating them, we move into intolerance and perhaps into dislike and even hatred, loathing and animadversion. It’s all bad, both for our feelings about life and for our relationship to them.

But, if we are able to see the world as others see it, then we can have a much friendlier and more meaningful relationship with them. If we see as they see we can find common ground on many and probably most mutually overlapping situations. We can probably find situations where we can have a mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services. The very places where our lives are most different are the very places where mutual exchanges can be most beneficial to each of us. We can trade those things which each of us has an overabundance of for those things which each has a paucity of.  We can find our greatest friend in those who are most different from us. This mode of relating works for ideas as well as the trading of physical goods.

We will greatly benefit by learning how to value other people’s experiences and thoughts.

 

 

The Tao Teh Ching – #42 – Revealed by Lao Tzu – Rendered by Charles Scamahorn

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42

Out of the void of Tao,
A unity is born;
This unity generates its opposite, and
A duality is formed:
This duality is unified, and
A third existence comes into being;
These processes repeat themselves
Over, and over, and over again, and
Out of these three kinds of action,
The visible universe is formed.
The universe which now exists thus contains
Void forces, opposing forces, and unifying forces, and
Through their interaction, the all-pervading harmony resounds.

People hate to be seen as orphaned, friendless and unable
However, princes refer to themselves as such; for
Things are added to when called insufficient, and
Things are subtracted from when called excessive.

Since ancient times sages taught the following maxim, and
It lies at the invisible core of this Tao also:
“Strong and violent things attract destruction.” And
Attraction is at the core of this method.

43

The 147 Sage tips are a challenge

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These posts have been discussing some of the 147 maxims given in the Delphi Oracle back in Greece about the time of Homer. They were probably the first document easily readable by the speakers of any language. If a person spoke Greek and began learning the first few tips they would soon learn the Greek alphabet. The letters alpha and beta are the first two letters and there would have been people standing beside the stone documents to help you learn them.

The 7 Sages of Greece

The 7 Sages of Greece found buried at Pompeii in 79 AD

The Seven Sages of Greece are the ones given credit for creating the list of tips on how to live a good life. Nothing like that published list ever existed for learning how to read and write. Other lists were made, such as Hammurabi’s Laws and Moses’ Ten Commandments, but they were not easily read by everyone because the writing was not phonetic.

I have been using the basic list of 147 tips to clarify some basic ideas on how to live a good life. Every time I read the whole list it would further clarify to me what was intended by the document. That process fed back on itself and thus the terse sentences were expanded a little to get the words into a more understandable form for a modern reader of the English language. The goal was to make the good sense more available to us so we can apply the good sense implicit in the tips to our own lives.

Seven Sages of Greece

The Seven Sages of Classical Greece – Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493 AD.

When looking back over some of the expansions I have created for those terse Greek sayings, they feel like the things my grandmother Bertha would be telling me: “Charles, Do your work with skill and diligence” is something I can almost hear her saying. That’s tip #99. I don’t remember her saying #51, “Shun criminals and murderers,” but I suspect that it is my faulty memory rather than her not asserting that bit of wisdom. She would also recommend #73, “Seek and enjoy what is easy and natural,” and perhaps the most important of all the tips, #133 …

Use your life as an opportunity for doing good deeds.

Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn – book review

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An easy read for bedtime dozing off the last few weeks was Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn. Upon me, an old white American male, this book projects a blame that is legitimate. But I am only blameworthy in the sense that I was at birth the recipient of a national property which I did not personally take or earn. My native society gave me these things as a member of their group. Blame is a quality earned by personal commission of some misdeed against some existing social moral code. But, my groups’ violation of these other humans’ personal rights happened before my existence and therefore it doesn’t seem legitimate to blame me personally. The term shame is more legitimate because it is a feeling that something I inherited is somehow a wrong acquisition.

I have been ashamed of the people who were the immediate predecessors to my paternal grandparents’ home on the Hangman Creek (the Little Spokane River). That beautiful little creek intersects the Spokane River near downtown Spokane, Washington. The river gained that nickname because of the actions of Colonel George Wright of the US Army, hanging Native Americans there. Later, in my adolescence, living in my parents’ home, directly across the Spokane River from Fort George Wright, I remember feeling shamed by my historical associations with the brutality of that important but cruel person.

Occasionally while Debbie was reading Neither Wolf Nor Dog, I would remember my remote contacts with the Spokane Indians. My father, who grew up on Hangman Creek, said he knew the chief of the Spokane Indians. He lived close by along the creek. This book is a document of Native American people’s continuing struggles and degradations created by the actions of an overpowering foreign government confiscating their ancestral land. I remember by grade school friends saying, back in the 1940s, about those people, “They didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell.” Probably it’s still an accurate description of the plight of the Indians in South Dakota, at least as described by Nerburn.

Neither Wolf Nor Dog is worth reading but be prepared to feel sad and guilty.

Sage tip #115, Before you speak think kind thoughts.

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I have done complete posts on several of the 147 tips from the Seven Sages of Greece. There is a booklet presently in progress titled Love Your Life which discusses various strategies for coping with life. The book is loosely based on those ancient tips, but those tips were at the foundation of Western Civilization and so they do have a record of stimulating success. They are mundane tips but they do convey common-sense to an uncommon degree.

Tip #115, Before you speak think kind thoughts. This is a simple idea but it is helpful in keeping conversations on a path for mutual satisfaction with your friends and in group conversations where there is always a problem with getting the conversational floor. Of course, we usually get involved with what is being discussed and we want to get our ideas infused into the flow of ideas. Typically there will be several people trying to talk at the same time and we are pulled in multiple directions as things progress.

At times when the conversation is bringing forth strong thoughts and emotions, it is important to maintain an appropriate demeanor. Conversations that have unusual and sharp distinctive points of view are the very ones where you can gain the most intellectual development. If everyone you encounter is in perfect agreement with you, there may be mild and friendly interactions but not much fun or personal growth. I attend some groups where there isn’t much agreement, but we usually have a good time exchanging ideas. We make an effort to make our conversations about ideas and try to avoid personal acrimony, and that is where the idea of maintaining kindly thoughts becomes important. When we remember that the other person has a huge backlog of experience that brings them to their worldview and their statements about that worldview are heartfelt and important to them, we should give them respect.

Of course, they are wrong. They are always wrong! Except it is we who are wrong because we are not seeing the depth of experience that is bringing them to their beliefs. If we did see as they see we would be in agreement with them. Of course, that is impossible because we must come to the moment with our huge baggage of history and ingrained habits.

These thoughts could be amplified, but the point must return to the idea of treating others better than we treat ourselves. That means that we must step back just a little bit and give the other person the space they need to be themselves. When we do that tiny thing we are helping these other people to live their lives more fully. The cost to our person is minute and is actually a moment of personal growth when we are able to treat others better than we treat our own self. To gain the benefits of this course of action …

Before you speak think kind thoughts.

Sage tip #28, Respect everyone’s point of view.

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The 147 suggestions attributed to the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece are so brief that it seems better to call them tips, so I have been using that word the last few days. It feels like a better word because it isn’t so demanding. Tips sound more like an idea which you might think about for a while and consider using in your daily life, and that sounds about right for what is intended.

Tip #28, Respect everyone’s point of view, seems like a mild enough tip, and yet when one pays attention to what other people say and do it becomes challenging to actually feel respectful. The difficulty arises because people want the world to be a place that caters to their fondest wishes regardless of reality. And, if the present world can’t or won’t live up to those expectations, then these same people easily fall prey to some colorful guru who promises them a lovely fantasy that will deliver their beautiful heaven in some not too distant time.

Saint Augustine stated this lust for wish fulfillment most eloquently about the year 400 AD. “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”  With that concept exploited by charlatans, it becomes possible to convince people of any unknowable and untestable assertion. Propose a beautiful fantasy as an attainable reality, and state it with enthusiasm and conviction, coupled with some fancy physical decorations; and a charlatan’s postulation is halfway to being an honored movement.

A big problem arises for a critical observer because it appears that “everyone” has chosen to believe things which are unknowable and untestable. We are all ready, willing and even eager participants in personal self-delusion. We are all pitiful creatures caught in webs of our own self-delusion, and the best we can do is to respect everyone else’s point of view.

We need habits which protect us from ourselves.

Clockwork Purple – I will refer to this entity in the masculine

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Clockwork Purple November 20, 2017, Bend, Oregon writers’ group.

Random book – The History Of God, by Guy Needler

Unseen random page by Ahonu 28, Aingeal chose line 10

We agreed upon, “I will refer to this entity in the masculine”

Alexa set the timer for 46 minutes. Timer set for 46 minutes. … That means 10:56 AM

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Confusion has reigned for a decade now, here in the English-speaking world, as to the sex of people. For a hundred years now we have been trying to equalize the legal and social rights of women and men. Equal voting rights were instituted here in the United States and that no doubt helped to level the legal world, but the social world is still skewed. The literary people of our country a couple of decades ago decided to change our language in an effort to make neutral pronouns for people. This created one form of confusion which still dogs us and many writers now insert the word she, whereas a few decades ago the word man would have been absolutely standard in every grammar book. Others thought there should be a new smashed-together word to combine he, she, and it. Unfortunately, that became he-she-it which would be pronounced, he shit. That word failed to gain traction. It was hoped that after the public became comfortable with it as a word associated with those pronouns instead of bodily excretions, that everything would proceed smoothly. That hope was made a total failure because the standup comics just couldn’t get past the odoriferous implications. No other word was attempted. We now have developed the convention of frequently referring to all people as she instead of he.

One convention used by writers is to totally avoid the problem by omitting all references to generalized people, and they only refer to the sex of people when that is appropriately defined as an individual person of acknowledged gender. The masculine generalization of the group in NFL football players is not a problem because all of them are masculine, but when speaking of American military personnel it is a problem.

Our current political situation is a huge step backward on this issue of word usage because of the ugly manipulation of the voting system. With our democracy and its values of fairness toward all minorities being violated by the people with the most power, we of the general population must struggle even to reassert our Constitutionally given right of fairness from our government. Sad!

What has been forced upon us — I will refer to this entity in the masculine — has been known for decades as “The Man”. That term refers to the evil aspect of those who have grabbed the power to rule over others, over us, over me, over you. Now is the time that we must reassert ourselves and take back the responsibility for our own well-being. We must not only vote, we must take responsibility for supporting the healthy aspects of our society and identifying the corrupt portions of it so we do not give “The Man” any power. I will refer to this entity in the masculine, The Man. We must all struggle against The Man even when He is inside of us, and even when he is only part of the pronoun as in the word Woman.

Every woman must also struggle with “The Man” inside of her.