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On Disability

It strikes me as highly unlikely that the average human being having done much of anything in his or her life has not experienced the “agony of defeat.” As I said in another post on this site, it is often (if not always) true that the most celebrated and, well, successful people, have also been the worst and most dismal failures.

I would think it would also be obvious that those having managed a great deal of success after failure, would assuredly acknowledge that they would rather have just been successful to begin with and by so doing, skip the immense difficulty of failure.

I suppose many might argue that failure, though a harsh one, is a great teacher, and I don’t suppose I can manage a very strong argument to the contrary. After all, on top of teaching one what doesn’t work, failure also teaches one humility—or at least, that is the hope.

Perhaps you’re beginning to wonder at what point I intend to breach the subject upon which this article was to be written. Let me help you to understand that I already have.

You see, disability is not limited to those with physical maladies or disfigurements, nor is it strictly for those with mental problems of various kinds. Putting things simply, to some degree, the entirety of humanity can be said to suffer from some sort of disability or other. In fact, many of us suffer from multiple forms of disability by comparison to those ostensibly determined to be our peers.

Let’s be clear, I’m not trying to say that there are not types of disability that are more severe (some substantially so) than are others. The challenge, of blindness, being deaf, losing or not having limbs and paralysis being pretty obvious examples; and certain mental issues (whether a result of chemical imbalance, trauma, or many other things, aside) certainly do not simplify one’s life.

That being said, one need not experience any of these to be disabled by comparison to others. Just being five feet, eight inches tends to present a serious issue to somebody playing basketball against someone who is over seven feet in height. That doesn’t mean the height disadvantage (handicap or disability) never has been, or cannot be, overcome. That it is or is not overcome though, does not change whether or not it is a disability to the person dealing with it.

My rather simple point though, is that if we can all claim disability, it becomes much harder for people to make a case for that disability being sufficiently severe to keep one from being a productive member of society.

The fact is, I have friends and family members, who though disabled to a degree or extent that is far beyond any I can claim—and the truth is, I’m far from alone in that—are not just productive members of society, but can be and are, considered all but (if not) “model citizens.”

I’m not saying that the folks about whom I’m speaking have never had periods where they counted on some sort of payments or other support for their disability or disabilities (whether governmental in nature, or private). What I am saying though, is that for the most part, those individuals did not count themselves consigned to forever be beholden to society at large for their sustenance, much less pleasurable activities and pursuits that had need of “financing.”

And lest you decide to challenge the level of disability about which I’m speaking, you need to be entirely aware that I have known multiple people who ended up at some point firm in the understanding they would spend the rest of their natural lives moving about in some sort of wheel chair, rather than being able to walk.

I have known more than one person who had to work a great deal harder than all but a very few of their peers to accomplish that which you and I take for granted as barely worth worrying over.

I have been acquainted with blind and deaf people (and we’re not talking about people whose sight or hearing could be “corrected” here either).

I have had the pleasure of knowing folks who had comparatively quite low levels of intelligence, whether as a natural thing, or as a result of some malady or accident.

I could continue down this course, but I think you grasp what I’m trying to say by now. If not, maybe I just can’t get what I’m trying to convey across to you.

Out of all of these people a scant few decided they needed to be supported by society without doing anything to add value to it—and that in ways society, not the people themselves counted valuable.

In some cases, they continued to receive assistance of one form or another, in others they entirely ceased doing so. The point though, is that they did things they knew would be valuable to others around them, even though it was difficult so to do.

Equally, even if such a one had need of additional assistance, the fact that they were, by and large, compensated for those things they took the time and effort to do for their fellows, their needed assistance was almost certainly substantially less than had they not done so.

And I should point out that they are far from alone. Mr (Dr?) Stephen Hawking has a great deal of trouble even communicating with those around him, yet (though I may not agree with nearly everything he posits) he is world renowned for his work in astrophysics and cosmology (among other fields). And I’m pretty sure he’s not a poor man by any stretch of the imagination either.

I want to say one more thing, then I’ll get back to other important activities. Assume for a moment there are people who are generous enough to work to help folks who are unable to support themselves as a result of some disability or other.

Now assume, as is almost certainly the case, that the folks in question have limited resources. The more folks taking from the “pot” they have created, mean the less available resources for those in need.

If you happen to be a person who could live without those resources (by doing productive things and being compensated therefor), does it not seem reasonable to you that you ought to do so? For in so doing, others who have not such abilities can take from that resource.

Suffice it to say that certainly seems sound to me.

Okay, over time and words, so time to call it good for now.

As usual, thanks for reading and have an excellent day.

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On Celebration

It’s been years since I celebrated most of the things the average person considers worth their time and effort. Oh, I wish folks a happy birthday, and congratulate them on new jobs, the birth of babies and things of that sort. On the other hand, I don’t do things like, really celebrate Hallowe’en, Christmas or Easter—at the very least, not in the way others do (and to be fair, if at all, on the days themselves, not generally at all).

There was a time when I was rather “radical” in my approach to such things. That time is long gone. These days, the fact is, when you look at what most folks are doing to “celebrate” such things (along with gems like Cinco de Mayo and Valentine’s Day), you may come to an understanding as to exactly why I don’t tend to celebrate those events.

The reality is, where I don’t always succeed, I try to celebrate every day above ground. But you see, that does not mean partying, getting drunk or dancing the night away for me.

The most basic element of that celebration, is just being happy to be alive to see another day. That’s not the only thing I do to celebrate though. I like to do things like, spend time with my family and friends, involve myself in activities I and others around me enjoy that I consider non-destructive and just generally be happy to be with those I love and choose to spend my time with.

Obviously, it can be somewhat harder if not impossible to celebrate some aspects of life. Seeing people get ill, watching or hearing as folks die, these are things about which it can be awfully hard to have any good feelings. You never want to see anybody robbed or assaulted. It’s never a good or exciting thing to see somebody’s house or business get burglarized.

Even so though, each day is cause for celebration. Thing is, even if I believed or liked celebrating by “tying one on” or dancing the night away (and to be honest, I really don’t), it’s obvious that doing that too much of the time is anything but a good thing.

Personally though, my preference is to sit and talk, maybe have a beer (not a bunch of them, just one or two) every once in a while. I like to eat a meal with folks about whom I care, that’s a good way to celebrate life in my view.

Maybe I am getting old and stodgy, or maybe I always have been. This I say because frankly, I can scarcely look back on a time in my life when I really liked what most folks refer to as “celebration.”

Mostly, when I was doing what many folks consider celebratory activity, I was actually unhappy with everyday life, and was trying to find ways to mitigate that fact. Can I tell you a little secret? It never worked. In fact, it almost always made things worse.

See, the funny thing about life tends to be, the more you put into a given situation, scenario or relationship, the more you get out of it. That’s not always the case, there are “black holes” out there—people and things that take, but rarely give. At times you must “feed” those situations, scenarios and relationships, even though you have no desire so to do. Generally when you do that the hope is that the situation will “turn around”—that things will become happy or productive. Sometimes you wait a long time to see that happen, sometimes it never does.

The reality though, is that if you expect life to “get better” without your putting in the effort to make it so, you are badly confused about how life works. And I don’t say this to shame or insult folks, I say it with the intent of helping folks. Further, I’m by no means saying that this is an easy truth to internalize, nor am I saying that, once accepted, it is easy to live. On the contrary, the worse a given situation, scenario or relationship is or has become, the harder it is or becomes to deal with it.

The temptation is always there to discard or step away from such things, and I’m not going to tell you that’s not understandable and in some cases, warranted. How you react to such a thing, depends on how much you value that thing.

Put another way, when you consider a given thing to have no worth, your reaction to it tends to not be good. There are times when that’s not only okay, it’s the right thing to do and way to be.

Too much of the time though, people vastly undervalue things and people in their lives with the result that, in important ways, they lose those things or people.

Likewise, it’s not uncommon for people to place value on people and things that ultimately are not so important. The sad reality is, as a rule, those things and those people don’t stick around. And even when they do, often they add little or no real value to the person placing value upon them.

I guess the ultimate point is, we have choices to make on a daily basis, and to put that into the focus of the theme of this article, the choices involve who and what we choose to celebrate. Just remember, if you choose to celebrate that which has little or no meaning, you’re not likely to get “good returns.” Conversely, if you make it you business to celebrate things of worth on an ongoing basis, you’re likely to see ever increasing returns as a result. That’s not always true, and I guess we shouldn’t always expect it to be.

Let’s face it, sometimes others need you far more than you need them. The funny thing about that is, life has a way of rewarding you when you do for others when the cannot or even will not do for you. Sometimes though, you just have to accept that doing or being good is its own reward (and nothing else is coming your way in that regard).

As usual, I could talk about this for quite a bit longer, and not repeat myself in the process, but I’m “up against” both time and my word limit.

As such, permit me to thank you for reading and wish you the best of days.

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On the Ills of Social Media

Do these pants make me look fat? Wait! That wasn’t what I intended to ask. Sorry, the question I intended to ask is, “Do I seem long-winded to you?”

Both questions are about appearances, but the first doesn’t really bother or concern me; and because it’s not a real concern for me, I don’t have an answer for it.

The other, on the other hand, I can and will “answer” for your benefit. By comparison to a good many people posting things on the Internet, writing articles in print and otherwise opining, not only do I seem long-winded, I am long-winded.

A good followup question would be, “Doesn’t that bother you?” Funnily, the “short and sweet” answer is, “Not at all.”

The next obvious question would seem to be, “Why not?” The answer is what I intend to detail in this article.

There are certainly myriad things “wrong with” modern day communication, to name just a few:

  1. Lack of research
  2. Lack of depth of research when research has been done
  3. The sacrifice of clarity on the altar of brevity
  4. Too great a desire to “sound” good
  5. Not enough desire to do or be good
  6. Desire to resonate with others rather than be truthful—even when it’s difficult to be truthful

You can be assured I could easily come up with more such things; and maybe if I edit this article at some point, I’ll do exactly that. At present though, I just want to quickly address each of the above, considering them to be among the more important needing discussed.

Lack of Research

Far too many folks put things out there, not having done any work to verify the rectitude of what they’re saying. They “go with their gut,” and ignore the facts. Where I could say more about this, I think my fairly simple statement speaks for itself.

Lack of Depth of Research When Research has been Done

More often than not, those claiming to have done research on a given subject or idea, have barely skimmed the surface. They think of the more immediate results or consequences of implementing various concepts or when considering diverse situations and occurrences, without taking the time to look at or consider long term or far reaching results, or in-depth issues of concern or “deeper facts.”

The result is that what they put out there sounds and looks good, but if you take the time to dig (often just even a tiny bit) deeper, you will see that the thing or things being said are not so wonderful or correct after all.

One of the worst contributors to the not-so-greatness of what folks are saying is the “law of unintended consequences.” An excellent example is that, whatever people want to believe, if you give people things “no strings” attached—things like food and shelter—contrary to popular misconception, they will likely not take them as a “hand up,” but as the proverbial “hand out” instead.

Further, many will not just not be grateful, they will expect more.

Okay, enough on this, time to move on.

The sacrifice of Clarity on the Altar of Brevity

Too much of the time, people will say things with either no consideration of how they might be taken, or knowing fully people will take them in one way and clear the way for a later misinterpretation or misrepresentation.

Sometimes though, they just don’t really consider what it is they’re saying.

Other times, people think “consider your audience,” means catering your writing to the supposed audience’s attention span or intelligence (or lack thereof).

These ideas and others, often end in the same malady, lingual imprecision. You may well think people will “understand what you’re saying,” and some even may understand what you’ve said according to your intended meaning. On the other hand, many will take from what you say things they want to hear. If you’re imprecise in your language, your lack of clarity will result in people believing you do or do not support things incorrectly.

Let’s face it, even if you are lingually precise, there will be those who will seek to corrupt, or just who genuinely misunderstand your intent and subsequent meaning.

Too Great a Desire to Sound Good

I have to admit, on this I am often “guilty as charged.” I will work to carefully craft whatever I say, with the intent of sounding good so I can engage my “audience” and not come off as boring.

That having been said, the important consideration—the thing that sets me apart from those about whom I am speaking—is that I “acquit myself” as much as possible by not doing the next thing(s).

The well crafted work of a serious, solid wordsmith is often a joy to read (even when what is written is total rot where content is concerned). That in itself does not make his or her writing or speech worthy of your attention.

Not Enough Desire to Do or Be Good

As stated in the former point, how you sound can be an important part of how you will be received by your “audience.” Though this is the case, the far more important thing is to say things of consequence and substance.

I can sound pretty good more or less just blathering. That doesn’t mean that’s how I ought to spend my time.

On the other hand, I can sound horrible whilst writing solid and significant content.

I urge those reading to be more concerned about substance than form. And to those writing, do not disappoint your readers by writing fine sounding rubbish.

Desire to Resonate with Others Rather than be Truthful—Even When It’s Difficult to be Truthful

The vast majority of folks desire to be liked and accepted. Often this leads to people saying and doing things that they know to be incorrect or untruthful in order to achieve popularity.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as choosing an improper venue for your work. Sometimes it can just be “bending the truth.”

In other cases, it can be outright lying, or saying things that indicate a lack or discretion or decorum.

Does what you say on social media—or for that matter pretty much anywhere and everywhere—meet the “test of time?”

“What,” you may be asking, “is the test of time?” Well, in current context, I would define it in a way that answers this question with a resounding, “Yes!” The question being, “If I look back on what I have said or done twenty years hence, will I be able to do so in a way that is not to my future self’s shame?”

It is a hoped for thing, that we will all continue to grow and change. Stagnancy is not a desirable trait in the mind of most folks you will ever meet. As such, the “younger us,” can hope and aim to be more like the “elder us” in our communication and conversation (an interesting word, worthy of word study if you have not done so).

I urge you—nay, I beg you—to consider the things I have said here. How will what you say, and yes that includes “sharing” the words and images of others, look to your future self? Are you seeking to be truthful above popularity? Do you seek to be solid in your substance before concerning yourself with your form?

Please, at least consider, and at best, take strongly to heart what I am saying here. As time goes on, even more than before, your statements and actions past can and will affect your opportunities and more importantly credibility at present and in future.

I know I’m a little over my self-imposed limit word-wise, but I think it important to stress those things herein said. I ask you to forgive me my wordiness.

Thanks, and, as always, have a wonderful day.

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More on Success and Failure

I’ll be the first to admit that I have found myself to be wrong on more than a few counts over the course of my life. As one might expect, some of the errant perspectives I have held have been entirely minor, some more major, and some life changing when internalized and understood.

In this post, I’d like to talk about one of the more important things I have had entirely incorrect in my past, that being the accounting responsibility—and equally importantly, authority—for successes and failures in my life.

As a young man I, like so very many others when in youth, tried to place the blame for my failure and the “glory” of my success in a variety of places other than myself.

In doing this, it would have been quite difficult for me to have been more wrong. The “shift” in my view has “placed the blame” for both my failures and my successes squarely upon my own shoulders.

I don’t know when certain realizations regarding success and failure came solidly into focus, just that now, in focus they are.

One extremely significant realization is, unless others are somehow magically aware of what counts as a success or a failure on a given front looks for me, their ability to influence that  success or failure is at best, quite limited.

Another important consideration is that, where one can look at the world as a set of adversarial transactions and activities, in truth, almost everybody actually ends up better off only of those around them do likewise. Put simply, a person attempting to amass wealth or power to him or her self will do a poor job indeed unless he or she has help, and where that help can be coerced, in general, that person is much better off if instead, he or she can elicit that aid willingly. What’s the best way to get people to cooperate in your activities happily? To offer them some benefit they wouldn’t attain outside of working with you, or at least not as easily or quickly.

That doesn’t mean others will ever be pleased to do as you would have them, or that they will get all that they need from such an interaction. It does, though, mean they will attain benefit of some sort that is desirable to them.

Because this is the case, others will likewise seek to gain your aid, and in the process, offer you things they believe you will find useful or beneficial as a reward for your compliance. Is it a requirement (as a rule) that you work with the people in question? Not at all. Nor—unless you make it so—is it a requirement for them to do likewise where you are concerned or involved.

So, except in societies where free transactions (in the sense of their being allowed so long as the parties are willing and the acts not illegal) are not allowed, one may benefit by his or her interactions with others in society. Of course, it is possible to not benefit, and even to have entirely unprofitable transactions with those around one, but as a rule, those too are a matter of choice.

The error made by my younger self was manifold. Certainly, by way of example, I made the assumption that my success or failure was not a matter of my own choice. It was an easy way to excuse may failure, or in some cases, just my not succeeding to the level that should have been possible.

Don’t get me wrong, others will have an effect on your success or failure inasmuch as it counts on them taking or not taking specific actions, but if you’re as I was, you assume more than this. You assume that others are actively seeking to thwart you—as it were, to keep you from succeeding. I’ll not say that never happens just that, in general, it tends to be a rare thing as the average person hasn’t the time or energy to worry about what you may or may not be doing—much less to attempt to keep you from doing it.

This is so true, that people speed down the roadways in the United States without any but the most meager of concerns of being caught, and even less concern of real or lasting punishment for so doing.

Another flaw in my logic can be expressed as follows. If someone else has control over your success or your failure, then it basically makes little sense to get up in the morning unless they’re more likely to let you succeed than to cause you to fail. The point here, is that it’s pretty much of little to no consequence whether or not others can cause you to succeed or fail unless they work towards that end. And since most of the time, others are too busy in their own little bubble to even look at you, chances are good that will not happen.

Too, even today, I “fight the monster” that says, “Don’t do that, it will result in failure.” Even though I have no real reason to believe that will likely be the case. I doubt I’m anything like alone in that.

I know full well, that there are simple things I can do to better myself in some regard, yet I fail to act because there is a sometimes even crushing fear of failure.

Maybe I will fail, but often, the only way to know with any certainty, is to try. And I would imagine more often than not, failure is not even likely, but even when it’s possible, I think it likely that it can be averted by appropriate action on my part.

Are you like me? Do you fail to try because you feel others are working against you (who generally are not)? Do you fail to try because you believe you are destined to fail?

If you are, consider that it’s more than a little unlikely that anyone is actually standing against you most of the time. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that if you never try where you never fail, you will assuredly also rarely succeed.

As usual, thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.