What Really Matters

Having a more interesting life, a life that disturbs complacency, a life that pulls us out of the comfortable and thereby demands a larger spiritual engagement than we planned or that feels comfortable is what matters most. James Hollis in What Matters MostIn his recent column, Building Better Secularists, New York Times Columnist David Brooks wrote that secular writers…”are so eager to make the case for their creed, they are minimizing the struggle required to live by it.”Brook’s list of tasks a secularist would have to perform to live secularism well:• Religious people inherit their creeds; secularists have to come up with their own convictions, • Religious people inherit a community with rituals and practices that bind people together; secular people have to create their own communities and come up with their own practices to give them meaning, • Religious people are directed to drop worldly concerns one day a week or for specified periods of time; Secular people have to create their own times of solitude to reflect on their spirituality, and • Religious people are motivated by the love of God and their desire to please him; Secularists have to find their own motivation that will bring forth sacrifice and service.Brooks concluded that secularists place unprecedented moral burdens upon themselves and risk drift and a loss of meaning in their own lives.Paternalism is a belief system that requires that wisdom, knowledge and creativity come to people from others with greater power and authority. Most people grow up in paternalistic families surrounded by paternalistic clergy, bosses, coaches and teachers whose dictates they conform to. “Don’t think, just do what I tell you to do” is the spoken and unspoken command.When young adults leave home, the organization often replaces the parent as the paternalistic force in their lives. Conformity is the first rule of organizations and institutions. Continue Reading

How Many Must Suffer for Us?

New York Times Columnist David Brooks:Maybe you’re familiar with Ursula Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” It’s about a sweet and peaceful city with lovely parks and delightful music.The people in the city are genuinely happy. They enjoy their handsome buildings and a “magnificent” farmers’ market.Le Guin describes a festival day with delicious beer and horse races: “An old woman, small, fat, and laughing, is passing out flowers from a basket, and tall young men wear her flowers in their shining hair. A child of nine or ten sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, playing on a wooden flute.”It is an idyllic, magical place.But then Le Guin describes one more feature of Omelas. In the basement of one of the buildings, there is a small broom-closet-sized room with a locked door and no windows. A small child is locked inside the room. Continue Reading

Happiness at Work

On-site exercise equipment. Paid volunteer time. A wall of baking tools you can borrow. These may sound like the perks some flush tech companies extend to their engineers.

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Parents: Raise Your Children to be Artists and Entrepreneurs

From the book, Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz:That is the great question about bureaucracies. Why are the best people so often mired in the middle, while nonentities become the leaders? Because what gets you up the ladder isn’t excellence: it is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Being smooth at cocktail parties, playing office politics, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Continue Reading

Please Disturb Us

Shortly before Christmas, organizers of a group protesting the treatment of black men scheduled a demonstration at the local monument to consumption: The Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The Mall is private property and authorities said no to the request to demonstrate inside. Demonstrators said they would demonstrate there anyway to bring attention to their cause.Authorities tried to use the threat of force and mass arrests to deter the demonstrators. Sandra Johnson, Bloomington city attorney, threatened charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing and even inciting a riot for orchestrating a peaceful demonstration meaningful to everyone. That made matters worse.Between 2,000 and 3,000 people gathered in the mall’s rotunda and sang songs and chanted slogans. Continue Reading

Tom Heuerman: Time to Think

Anne Lindbergh told the story of Andre Gide who was traveling fast through the jungles of Africa. One morning the native guides sat in a circle and refused to leave the camp. When Gide urged them to get moving they looked at him and with firmness said, “Don’t hurry us–we are waiting for our souls to catch up with us”We live in a frenetic and connected world. We fear anonymity. Everyone wants to be known. Continue Reading

Don’t Let the Fools Drag You Down

I took the title of this post from Detective Harry Bosch in Michael Connolly’s, The Burning Room.Bosch, one of my favorite fictional detectives, was encouraging his young partner to stay true to her potential and excel despite the pressures she will encounter from other detectives who excel at the “conform, comply, mediocre–don’t rock the boat” culture. Bosch might not be around to support her because he had just been suspended by the bureaucrats who don’t care about people: they care about statistics and going along to get along and they just can’t stand Bosch–I love the guy.Each of us has fools in our lives determined to drag us down to their particular level of mediocrity. Then they won’t feel uncomfortable seeing in us what they don’t see in themselves because they choose ordinariness over excellence. Bosch spoke in the work context so I will limit my thoughts to my work experience.I worked at the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis and had many management jobs. The first fool I encountered was the smarmy union steward who, on my first day, taught me how to cheat on my expense account and warned me to not make other union members look bad. I didn’t pay any attention to him and set out to excel. Continue Reading

Tom Heuerman: Losing our way

If our nation is to be changed for the better, ordinary citizens will have to intervene aggressively in their own fate. The tremendous power in the hands of the moneyed interests will not be relinquished voluntarily. – Bob Herbert in Losing Our WayThis is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.I just read Herbert’s painful book about the reality of life in America and her decline. This readable book examines crumbling infrastructure, the willful destruction of the middle class, the corporatization of public education, failed wars in which America met evil with evil and shamed our nation, and the disastrous national and political leadership of incompetence and malfeasance by those trusted to lead our nation. Continue Reading

Tom Heuerman: Relieving our pain

We do live in times of great pain and suffering—locally, nationally, and internationally. And with television and social media we can see and feel all of the world’s angst—often more than we can bear.This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.Some of us use chemicals to alter how we feel and become addicted. Others become dependent on sex, porn, food, power, money, status, gambling, video games, the Internet, “likes” on Face Book, our children’s successes, and scaling the corporate ladder. And most of us appear driven to consume the biomass of the planet as fast as we can despite the threat to humanity.Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel wrote in The Addictive Organization, “An addiction is any process over which we are powerless. Continue Reading