How the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged are treated is the measure of society.
If you go behind all our masks, behind the tattoos, the makeup, the hair, the gender, the orientation, the religion or non-religion, you will meet a human. Someone who breathes the air, has blood in their veins, eats, rests, and generally lives from one routine to another.
We are all human.
My eyes were opened one day when a feared gang member stopped outside a food shop to buy his lunch. What I saw that day was a person, who probably ordered and paid for his favourite sandwich, and looked forward to eating it.
A man with a hunger, a need, a desire for something, normal, satisfying.
I got to know this man in a small way over a few years, I knew him as a person who looked out for his friends, he was a caring man, he tried to protect youth when needed. He shared with me his concerns about children playing in a derelict building site. He had a desire to improve his circumstances and of those around him.
He was also a gang member, he wore a patch, I am sure he had earned it in a way I did not want to know about. He was an outcast from “normal” society.
What I mainly saw was the man, a human.
A desire to change from someone with a less than “normal” past, whether that be criminal or other anti-social background (mental health especially has a stigma that people need to overcome) requires us to change our attitude, it requires us to get out of our comfort zone to reach out to the one wanting to change.
It means taking a risk.
Unless we are prepared to take a risk to reach out to others who are different from us how can we ever expect to improve our community.
To ostracize the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged is an indictment on the society we live in.
We need to be a community where forgiveness is a norm, where there is acceptance of the different, and where those wishing to and needing to change can find a place to do so and people who can help.
To love the unlovely is to love your fellow human. Something we are all called to do.
Paul S Allen
I promise you this
Nothing is certain in this life except for death and taxes, according to the saying anyway.
There is one thing, however, I can guarantee without question or doubt. It is a certainty beyond all others and a promise I will keep even though I do not want to.
It isn’t riches, power, fame, comfort or security, it isn’t health, safety, salvation or peace.
It is a promise that will annoy and disappoint you, it will be frustrating for others and myself.
It will be something I can learn from and grow through but still it will happen again-and-again.
All I ask is that you will encourage me as I keep this promise, even though I will try to break it, and when I keep the promise, I hope you will understand that I am only human, nothing more and nothing less.
So forgive me…
My promise is simply this…
… I will make mistakes.
Beware of leaders who tell you what to think. Think for yourself, if they are threatened by that, good.
One of the problems of society as I see it today is that we spend far too much time trying, and succeeding, to not think. We have been spoon fed doctrine, ideologies and propaganda without taking time out to analyse what we are being fed. It is far to easy to go along with the masses with the assumption that everyone else is doing it/thinking it so it must be right.
To think for yourself carries its risks. Your independent thought might just upset the people around you, it might upset those who manage the status quo and those in authority.
A true leader will always encourage free thought amongst their team.
One of the keys to successfully solving problems, fixing that which is broken or bringing about longstanding change is to simply allow yourself to think freely, independently and then collaboratively with other such free thinkers.
I dare you to have an opinion, don’t just mouth off over some minor irritation, investigate the issues, ask questions – expect and demand answers, be prepared to be wrong and to back down, but you must have your opportunity to think. The problem often is not what you think, it is whether you actually do think.
Never be made to feel inferior because you have your own thoughts on an issue. You do not have to just believe everything that so-called leaders teach you. Learn to question do not be put off or intimidated. People may not like the question, those in authority may especially be threatened because you question them, or seek clarification on points that you do not understand.
A belief system should be able to withstand rigorous questioning. Any belief system that does not allow deep questioning of its core beliefs and values should be treated with utmost caution.
The older I get the less afraid I become, and I find myself questioning the very core of my faith systems. What I find out is that there is so much I don’t understand and that I don’t have all the answers (and neither does anyone else), I do not have all the wisdom and I especially do not have any right to judge others.
The older I get the more issues become grey, and so does my hair.
The black and white taught thinking patterns I had when I was young have changed because I realise so much is beyond my limited understanding of the universe. As such I will not blindly follow any doctrine, belief, ideology or mass hysteria. I will question, I will not be satisfied with the status quo, I will think for myself and if others do not like that, tough.
I will not tell you how or what to think but I will encourage you to think. We may not agree on many or any issues and that is good as long as we respect each other for having the ability to think freely. May be one day we can dialogue and collaborate on an issue and bring about great and positive change. In the meantime think for yourself.
As I start this new day I take a few moments just to think, contemplate, meditate, pray and take time to allow my thoughts to settle.
It is my cave (or quiet) time, where nothing matters apart from stillness of the heart and mind. I can sit and watch the world go by without participating in its busy-ness. Sometimes I think about the work I must do, but, the most important thing I do is to just sit and in quiet contemplation just allow myself to listen.
Contemplation, meditation and prayer, to me, are much more about spending time listening than about the process or method or in the case of prayer, speaking or asking for things. When we sit and listen we discover many things about ourselves. Some are good some are not so good, but it is always for us to be encouraged about something or challenged to work on other things or even just to be a peace for a short time in our busy world.
Whether you are a Christian, as I am, or have another faith or even no faith at all, let me encourage you to practice the art of just “being”, sitting for a few moments everyday in quietness just to listen. You will be amazed at what you will discover.
Here are a few points about communication for you to reflect on. Ask yourself “how well do I measure up on these?” then ask someone else to use the same statements to measure you.
- Be open to communication
- Input and output are required
- be concise not verbose
- Ask the question: “are words required?”
- Body language and vocal tone matter
- Let your actions support your words and your words support your actions
- Honesty is required, but delivery requires tact and skill
- Not all knowledge is for sharing
- Know how to keep confidences
- Know your subject
- Know yourself
- Develop a soft heart and a thick skin
- be prepared for disagreement
- Ask questions
- seek to be questioned
- Think before you speak
- Think before you answer
- Value diversity
- be cautious of those who always say “yes”
- What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say
- How you say it is just as important as what you say
- Use the language of those you wish to communicate with
- Value differences of opinion
- Honour the other
- Listen, listen well, listen generously
- distill your thought to deliver the message as clearly as you can
- Conflict is not always bad and agreement is not always good
These are just a few point to help with basic communication. If you are a leader you need to be able to communicate well and this does not mean just issuing commands, it will require practiced skill. Get training to help or find a good mentor to give you honest evaluation of your ability. Do not assume that you communicate well or that others know what you are about.
This is a very large subject and this is just a scratch at the surface of it