Archive for the 'Unity' Category

>Ob Petere

>”Competition” is an interesting word. It’s also a charged word. While it doesn’t have a lot of definitions, it does have a lot of surface applications that can be confused with different meanings. It can also be used to justify actions or lack of actions, in certain contexts. It can be fun or it can be serious. It can build up an organization or tear it down.

Probably the most common usage of the word is in reference to the “friendly” competition of athletics and the like. The second, then, comes in describing a commercial concept. In both cases, competition implies that some person (or group) is winning and another is losing. To win a competition, one must simply rank better than the opposition during officially measured trials. Therefore, the goal of competition has become the defeat of the opposition.

I am only a novice when it comes to linguistics, but a quick search of the word “competition” reveals that it comes from the Latin, “competere,” which means “to strive for”—from “com-” meaning “together” and “petere” meaning “aim at, seek.” While the word came to mean “rivalry” in late Latin before entering the English vocabulary, its early meaning did not include the concept of opposition. As you can see, it included a prefix which means “together.”

The idea of striving for something together seems rather alien in our contemporary culture. More commonly we think in terms of striving against someone or something. This mentality about competition has shown itself historically to motivate improvement on all sides. There hardly seems like any point to playing sports if it isn’t to defeat the other teams. To do so, the players must improve themselves—both as individuals and as a team.

The same advantage applies to the commercial sense of the word. Historically, nations that allow businesses to complete generate more innovation and subsequent prosperity than those that either do not allow free enterprise, or highly regulate it. The reason is the same as it is in athletic competition: for anyone who wishes to run a successful business (win the competition), there is pressure to improve the quality of the goods and services he provides.

Unfortunately, the mentality of striving against (or “obpetere” with “ob-” meaning “against”) the competition tends to promote practices which are not conducive to prosperity, even if they technically count as winning. Basically, I mean endeavoring in any pursuit—legal or illegal—which handicaps the competition. This ranges from outright sabotage to lobbying for laws that favor your business other others.

It’s cheating. It’s destructive, degenerative, and wrong.

Instead of focusing on beating the competition, people who endeavor for success should focus on creating value, ignoring the competition. It may be that looking back at the competition periodically is important for success, but confusing success with simply being better than the next guy will never allow you to reach your full potential. It is far more important to the world that you (or anyone seeking success) develop the mentality of “striving together.”

In other words, competition serves the primary function of democratic growth, wherein the participating populace is collectively inspired and motivated to improve the whole. It is not because we are forced or brainwashed into improving the whole, but because we stand to gain both recognition and monetary reward for ourselves from winning an honest competition. The operative word here is “honest.”

If the primary focus is on creating value, then rewards are given for reaching this goal, not cheating others out of it.

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>Celebrate You

>Whenever a greeting card holiday rolls around, I can't help but write posts about the frivolity of industries based on them. This time, I think I'll switch it up a bit. Valentine's Day might mean a burst of candy sales and restaurant reservations, but because it is a minor holiday, much of this is actually done out of love.

In contrast with Christmas, which I believe is driven by family obligation more than genuine love, Valentine's Day is easily ignored by those not in the spirit. Sure, you run into the candy displays, and your kids have their parties, but it's rare when someone is pushed into a Valentine's Day party who doesn't want to go. No, people largely choose to celebrate the day when they feel they have something to celebrate.

Which brings me to my topic: Why are there so many people who don't have anything to celebrate?

I've been happily married for five years, but I remember hating Valentine's Day. I wanted someone to spend the day with, but lacked prospects. The traditionally male role of finding a mate weighed heavily on me, and the day had a way of rubbing it in.

Being a man and an introvert, I struggled with performing the tasks of my "duty." I wasted enormous amounts of energy on planning, rather than doing. Here's the part where I'm supposed to offer the advice to just do it, and if you're an extrovert, that's exactly what you should do (man or woman).

However, if you are an introvert, the advice is somewhat different. It is not in your nature to do the asking. By the same token, it is also not in the nature of your ideal mate to be asked. If an introvert forces himself into a dominant role for the purpose of winning a mate, he will only win a mate that compliments that role. Going forward, he will be forced to maintain a counterfeit role, or abandon the relationship.

While there are aspects of the human heart that coincide with gender, personality traits are not sex-linked. This confusion is caused by the media's tendency to typecast the sexes through over-simplification of the human condition. Consequently, there are many of us that end up feeling like misfits or freaks, when we are actually perfectly healthy individuals.

Love is finding common ground, often between complete opposites. If you're comfortable with who you are, and you know what you stand for in life, then you'll "magically" attract people that compliment you—including, but not limited to, a traditional romantic relationship.

The reason so many people feel lost on Valentine's Day is because they don't understand themselves. It's okay if you're not suave, if you're just not. In relationships, your level of discomfort speaks louder than any gimmick used to make you seem better.

Jamie Klueck
theFITmedia.com

>The Creep and the Internet

>Nothing stays the same, everything changes. There are many people with many different agendas all over the globe who want to direct the flow of that change. Most of these people mean well. Many have a perfect plan to fit their particular perspective. Many more are willingly ignorant, or even outright selfish. Some think things would go better if they had total control. Shockingly, some are even right on this point—at least for a short time. Most plans center on what someONE is going to do about the problems.

Every time something disastrous happens, someone steps in to offer a solution. Unfortunately, the solutions that look the easiest, fastest, or cheapest to us have an enormous long-term price tag—one that always stipulates a loss of freedom. Just as America went from being the most free nation on Earth to a bureaucratic nightmare, so the Internet will likely succumb to the forces of controlling powers. That will spell the end of freedom in the information age.

The technique of utilizing a disaster like 9/11 to push forward political agenda is not a new concept, but is fundamental to political science. Even before we might have understood what it was, we—collectively as a young race, and individually as young children—developed the ability to get our way by applying pressure to a weak spot. Leadership author, Chris Brady, called this the “creep” in a recent blog article. Sometimes, this technique is necessary, justifiable, and even righteous, but not always. And not just because an individual or elite group perceives a benefit to humanity.

If humanity doesn’t “buy it” then it’s not right for everyone. The obsession with centralized solutions is founded on the belief that one person can’t make a difference. The thing is, this observation is accurate, just not completely true. One person can’t make a difference, but one person can share his vision with two or three others and inspire them to share the vision each with two or three others. The difference between this and centralized solutions is that the direct approach allows for the vision to be adapted to each group or individual. It both encourages understanding of individual situations, and allows for this information to be shared communally to increase understanding in the whole organization.

Think this doesn’t happen? Au contraire! This is what was done in every example of prosperity throughout history. The fact that we feel this is impossible is a creep in media content toward that propagated image. Big media is supported by big-everything-else, and nothing big wants to feel threatened by something little. So they naturally censor—perhaps without even understanding what they’re doing—any nugget of an idea that feels like a threat to their interests. The result is a flock of sheep that think they can’t solve their own problems—and can’t because they haven’t learned how.

The Internet is wild and revolutionary. Just look at Wikipedia. User created, user supported, and free to the general public. Nothing that revolutionary has happened since the printing press! But we all know it’s under fire for just that reason. The carefully laid structure of a bureaucratic society is being exposed to those who care to engage in the conversation at all. So the weapon of mass media tends to discourage personal exploration.

Even more so, it tends to discourage personal growth. When people become independent thinkers and independent operators, they create change—natural, and therefore, uncontrollable change. That is terrifying to anyone who has a stake in the here-and-now because it might mean the vacation is over. No one can stop change any more than one could stop a speeding locomotive with his bare hands, so in trying to tame the wild beast, they rip up the tracks and undermine the whole thing.

As companies—which shall remain nameless—grow larger and more influential on the internet, they will use the power they gain to stack the deck in their favor. The solution is not to regulate them, because that only transfers the power from one big organization to a bigger one. It also tempts wealthy private businesses with the option to hire lobbyists who can further the company’s cause by manipulating the legal system.

The internet still leaves the power in the hands of the people. Let’s be bold enough to come together and keep it free. What we need is to prevent companies from growing large without our approval. An internet company can easily generate $1 billion with the help of its customers, but if we don’t like something they’re doing, we need to lift a different company to that level. It’s possible.

>On Minorities

>http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0671657151&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrI have recently been reading through Allan Bloom’s book “The Closing of the American Mind.” It is too soon for me to say whether I agree with his particular views, though I appreciate much of his observations on both education and modern media. So far, the book has been a journey that has challenged my thinking in certain areas—the kind of challenge that tends to make one angry. That particular brand of anger is just the sort of feeling that shields us from having a more open mind. If we are not willing to read things we do not agree with, we cannot truly be open minded.

In any case, a quote from early in the book concerning minorities prompted me to write a brief article as to the what I thought he meant by it. I hope this will be mind-opening for you, even if you disagree.

***

“For the Founders [of America], minorities are in general bad things, mostly identical to factions, selfish groups who have no concern as such for the common good.” – Allan Bloom

Minorities represent aspects of humanity which are not necessarily good or bad, just not as common as other aspects. Basically there are three kinds of minorities: physical minorities, defined by race or other physical characteristics; political minorities, defined by culture or other social and civil thought; and spiritual minorities, defined by passion of purpose or other philosophical beliefs. (As a side note, religion is an aspect of political life and is distinct from spiritual life, though one informs the other.)

Instead of creating unity by embracing commonalities which the majority (an act which might gain them more acceptance and strengthen society’s understanding of natural principles), minority groups create divisions by embracing their major differences, then fighting for “equality.” Inherently, they value being different for the sake of being unique, not necessarily because they are right. Therefore, they tend to disregard—as judgmental and closed-minded—those comments which might suggest they are in the wrong, because they feel such comments threaten their individuality. It is therefore ironic, that it is often the minority which is closed-minded. This, of course, makes learning impossible for the minority.

A value for differences is the opposite of unity, as unity can be founded on common ground. This common ground is what we speak of as “truth” or “natural law.” Diversity is desirable not because of differences, but because of the strengthening of unity despite differences. It is the civil disagreements between individuals allied in common purpose, which tempers the resources for the battle. “Iron sharpens iron.” The Founders of America understood this, according to Mr. Bloom, when they sought a system of majority rule.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B000A3XY5A&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhenever any system seeks to impose arbitrary regulations to benefit the minorities, it ultimately makes the problem worse. Take, for instance, Affirmative Action: a set of rules meant to give racial and gender minorities a “fair” chance. It was meant to be a step forward in equality, but in assigning value arbitrarily to race, et al, the divide between minority groups and the majority deepened. A person’s minority status became more important than his skill level or other human qualities. This also re-enforced prejudice that certain minorities were not hard workers. If it is not a person’s performance, but the color of his skin or the group to which he belongs that gets him into an organization, why bother pursuing excellence?

Paradoxically, all fervor over minority inequality fundamentally disregards the fact that we are all human and therefore equal by nature, a trait that should be at the forefront of any understanding of society. Considering anything else in priority above equality by the nature of being human, is the very definition of inequality.

FEATURED MEDIA: The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom, is a book about the degeneration of higher education in America.

Crash is a fictional film about prejudice in Los Angeles. Several different characters from all walks of life “crash” into each other, revealing some interesting thought nuggets on race and class distinctions.


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Quotes

"For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction."

- Kahlil Gibran

"All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?"
- Nicholas Johnson, author:
"We need the media to be presenting pictures of possibility not just continuing to be prophets of doom and gloom."
- Kevin Kelly, Wired

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."

- Adam Smith
"And the science is overwhelming that for creative, conceptual tasks, those if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm."
- Daniel Pink, author: Drive

"I wish we had a Problem-Solver Party because we have very big problems that need solving. And I think a lot of our attention is addressed to the wrong problems."
- David McCullough, author: 1776
"The goal shouldn't be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen."
- Seth Godin, author: Tribes
"The role of the media is to disseminate information, highlight important current events, and to essentially stand as a witness, an observer of cultural, political, community, and educational events. A healthy media provides a check on the government and increases the political astuteness of republican citizens."
- Stephen Palmer, The Center for Social Leadership
"Advertisers and politicians rely on a half-educated public, on people who know little outside of their own specialty, because such people are easy to deceive with so-called experts, impressive technical or sociological jargon, and an effective set of logical and psychological tricks."
- Robert Harris
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
- John Adams
"I know no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education."
- Thomas Jefferson
"Fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise--as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine."
- Allan Bloom, author: The Closing of the American Mind
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
(Proverbs 13:20)
"If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"I learn a lot from TV. Everytime someone turns one on, I go in the other room and read a book."
- Groucho Marx, comedian: Duck Soup
"There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought."
- Charles Kingsley