July 25, 2010

A Victim Treats His Mugger Right: NPR

You've probably seen this in a movie, but here is the real life version!

"Julio Diaz ends his daily subway commute one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner. One evening, his routine was broken when a teenage mugger took his wallet at knifepoint. But neither of them could have predicted what happened next."


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November 1, 2009

One more friend, one less foe

Creating relationships between the citizens of isolated and estranged countries, to create a world that is truly Ahad/Echad/Uno/Yek/One.

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October 12, 2009

When they attack you...

When they attack you and you notice that you love them with all your heart, your Work is done.
--Byron Katie

I've always been most impressed with people who can do that and change the attacker in the process. Here is a fabulous example of how a "black man defeated the entire Ku Kux Klan": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBwIRq_hmjg

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August 3, 2007

How cooperation (eventually) trumps conflict by Robert Wright

In this TED Talk, "author Robert Wright explains “non-zero-sumness,” a game-theory term describing how players with linked fortunes tend to cooperate for mutual benefit. This dynamic has guided our biological and cultural evolution, he says -- but our unwillingness to understand one another, as in the clash between the Muslim world and the West, will lead to all of us losing the “game.” Once we recognize that life is a non-zero-sum game, in which we all must cooperate to succeed, it will force us to see that moral progress — a move toward empathy [and respect] — is our only hope."


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November 25, 2006

If it caught on it might be the formula for a revolution

[This entry is not a story, but a beautiful essay by David Bradley that fits brilliantly with what this blog is about. Enjoy! FL]

It doesn’t matter if you like me, as long as you respect me.

-My Father

From our earliest days most of us were coached to accept that it is important to earn the respect of others. I was taught to earn it by conducting myself in ways that deserve respect, usually meaning being trustworthy and honest in my dealings with others. I have tried to live my life accordingly.

Interestingly, the root of the word means to ‘look again’. Literally then, to be respectful is to be willing to look again at someone, to see beyond our first impressions and to hold our gaze in order to get a clearer sense of who is with us at any given moment.

Everyday we crisscross destinies with many people. This ranges from the intimacy of waking up next to our beloved to the casual nod towards the person in the car next to us at the traffic light. In these many daily intersections with others, even with family and coworkers, we often do not take the time to ‘look again’. We share air and space with a whole host of people, most of them unknown by name, yet with whom we have much more in common than we might think, each of them, like us, needing and wanting respect.

I would like to suggest that respect for others should not come at the price of passing a litmus test to determine if they are worthy of it. We have to be receptive to both the idea and possibility that respect is not something earned but rather something given, unconditionally. Mother Teresa, one of the most respected people of our lifetimes, did not judge people worthy of respect by how many good deeds they did or did not perform. To get her attention, to earn her respect, you simply had to be there. She transformed other people by stipulating on the first encounter that they were worthy of respect no matter what.

A key element of respectfulness is receptivity. Receptivity, as the psychologist Rollo May described it, “is holding oneself alive, open and nimble enough in order to let one’s self be the vehicle of whatever may emerge from the circumstances of our encounters with others.” Like an artist before the canvass, we have to let the picture come to us. To be receptive we have to look again and see who is before us and be open, not without risk, to a more complete picture of others.

This time of the year that often evokes a sense of reverence from us, as we look back on a year gone by too quickly as we begin to make resolution to do and be better next year. Reverence is a term too strictly reserved to describe behavior in the presence of something sacred. Perhaps it would be helpful if we could be less selective about what we consider sacred.

Paul Woodruff, the author of the book Reverence, Renewing a Forgotten Virtue, states that reverence is an antidote to hubris, the misuse of power over others. Reverence is a quality along with justice that the noblest heroes made manifest in their interactions with others, even those that they had defeated in battle. The conquered became the revered.

Although we may not be personally going around conquering others these days we may be doing so symbolically when we do not give others the reverence that they are due simply because they are before us.

Reverence is like an unexpected and soothing balm on the open wound of fear and prejudice. It’s the startled look you get when you hold the door for someone when they do not anticipate you doing so.

Respect is given not earned. This could be a dangerous theory. If it caught on it might be the formula for a revolution. Imagine a revolution of respect for others based solely on the fact that we are here together.

The revolution would be unique in that it would require a disarming rather than a stockpiling. It would demand a relinquishment of our own tried and true defenses.

Make no mistake, the course would be laden with danger and uncertainty. Receptivity requires vulnerability, a risky and dangerous posture. Reverence would undermine ingrained and subtle prejudices, very powerful enemies who will not surrender so easily.

Were I to follow this course personally I would, in a way, still be following my dad’s guidance. I am going to respect them even if I don’t like them. This might lead to a life of daring and adventure. I think that makes for a good resolution.

--David Bradley, CEO of La Paloma Family Services Inc.

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November 24, 2006

Prejudice against the rich and powerful

[Mother Teresa and I] were deeply engaged in this intimate conversation when we were interrupted by a scuffling noise and loud voices coming from down the hall.

First I smelled them, then I heard them: a middle aged Indian couple, a man and a woman, both very tall, very large, very heavily perfumed and clearly very rich. The woman came first, pushing ahead of her husband, moving aggressiely toward our small meeting table. She had diamond studs in her ears and one in her nose. Her arms were covered in lavish bangles, many laced with precious stones. She was heavily made up and was wearing a blue and white sari covered with opulent gold and silver brocade and embroidery. She was very overweight and her flesh bulged through the open midsection of her taut sari.

Her husband was bigger, wider, and flashier than she was. He wore a turban with a topaz set in the center just above his forehead, and a white brocade kurta. He had a ring on every finger of both hands. In the quiet of this hallway, they seemed to me like monsters as they barged into our tranquil and intimate scene.

With no greeting at all either to me or to Mother Teresa, the large, loud woman shoved a camera into my hand as she and her husband pulled Mother Teresa from her chair and situated her against the wall between them. Then they pushed in like giant, grotesque bookends on either side of Mother Teresa and demanded a photograph.

"We didn't get a picture. We need to have a picture!" the woman complained loudly, and she motioned for me to snap a photo with her camera. I was livid. The beauty of my moment with Mother Teresa shattered in the rage I felt now at these rude and opulent intruders. As I snapped the photo, the tall woman fussed at Mother Teresa to look up toward her for a second shot. Mother Teresa was bent over at the neck from old age and osteoporosis, but without hesitating the woman put her hand under Mother Teresa's chin and forced it up. Shocked that anyone would treat Mother Teresa that way, but wanting them gone, I snapped the second photo. The woman then snatched her camera and she and her husband, without so much as a "thank you" to Mother Teresa or to me, disappeared in a noisy rush back down the hall and away.

Mother Teresa returned to her chair by the table and continued as if nothing had happened, finishing her thoughts on the topic of our earlier conersation. But I could hardly hear her, I was so full of anger and outrage toward this couple. I could feel the blood coursing through my veins; my palms were sweaty. It was time for our meeting to end. Tearfully, I said good-bye. She kissed both my hands, and I kissed hers, we embraced, and we parted.

I walked out through the nursery to my waiting car, and settled in for the forty-five-minute drive home. I was perspiring and breathing hard, running over and over again in my mind the dreadful scene of insult and entitlement that had just played out. I recalled the moment the large woman forced up Mother Teresa's chin, and I felt enraged all over again. I thought terrible thoughts about the intruders and felt a seething anger at the bossy, obnoxious, arrogant rich. My body was tense, and hatred ran through me.

Along the way, fifteen or twenty minutes into the ride back to my hotel, I bacame somewaht calmer. I realizd with some shame how I had reduced myself to hatred and prejudice in the presence of one of the most inspiring spiritual beings on the planet. I thought back and realized that Mother Teresa had had no problem with the wealthy couple. To her, they were children of God, no less and no more than the orphans in her care, and she had treated them with love and respect and then calmly returned to her meeting with me.

I had always thought of myself as open and compassionate with everyone everywhere, but now I saw my own bigotry and where my compassion stopped. I saw my own ugly prejudice, a prejudice against the rich and powerful. These were not my people. These were people I could not embrace and include in my circle of love. They were rude. They were ugly. They were disgraceful. I also could see now that this chance encounter with this wealthy couple, behaving as they did, enabled me for the first time to confront and know my own prejudice. I could not have imagined the power this lessson would come to have in my life.

It was dark and late when I returned home to my hotel, exhausted from the day's roller coaster of emotions, from the moment I learned of the meeting early that morning to the actual moments of being with her, then the upsetting interruption, and my rage, then my realization and my shame. I lit a candle and sat down to write Mother Teresa a letter. I told her everything, including the unbridled rage, hatred, and resentment I had felt toward her visitors. I shared how shocked I was to meet my own prejudice and the limit of my own compassion, even in her presence. I asked for both her forgiveness and her counsel.

Weeks later I received a letter from her in her own hand. In her reply she admonished me, saying that while I had expressed compassion for the poor, the sick, the faint, and the weak all my life, that would always be a place where my self-expression and service would easily flourish. The vicious cycle of poverty, she said, has been clearly articulated and is widely known. What is less obvious and goes almost completely unacknowledged is the vicious cycle of wealth. There is no recognition of the trap that wealth so often is, and of the suffering of the wealthy: the loneliness, the isolation, the hardening of the heart, the hunger and poverty of the soul that can come with the burden of wealth. She said that I had extended little or no compassion to the strong, the powerful, and the wealthy, while they need as much compassion as anyone else on earth.

"You must open your heart to them and become their student and their teacher," she said in her letter. "Open your compassion and include them. This is an important part of your life's work. Do not shut them out. They also are your work."

--Lynne Twist (excerpted from The Soul of Money)

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November 19, 2006

Employee prints the wrong company name in program

Years ago, my marketing director produced a program for a training event, and the person printing it for her put the wrong company in the content. Let's just say that I was not too happy. But I thought about it, and what could be done? She was already beating herself up over it and had always been a top performer for me and the company. So, we met about it and decided we would make the best of the situation, as well as put a plan in place to fix the programs. She knew I wasn't happy and that it made us look bad. But, she was also surprised I didn't overreact or blow up at her. Years later, she told me she really respected me for how I handled the situation, and it's one of the reasons she stayed with the company and felt loyal to me.

--Doug Dwyer

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November 9, 2006

Salesperson almost loses his commission

[This is the first entry contributed by a reader! Please continue submitting your stories! FL]

I do sales.

When seeing one of my clients (a retail store) he told me about a near sale we could have had together if we had kept a certain product. I informed him we still sold the product, just not through dealers. I told him I would cut him in on a commission if I got the sale. It was a HUGE amount of product that was needed. As much as a month’s worth of sales for our whole company (3 sales people).

I called the lead he gave me, and they took down my email address to give to the project manager. However, the project manager went on our company's website and contacted us through our general information email address instead of emailing me directly. His inquiry was forwarded to our Commercial Manager (I am the Retail Sales Manager) as it was a commercial project. I came back to the office that day to find samples waiting at the front door to go out by courier to this same company. Seemed like I was out of the loop in a sale that I had initiated so I hunted down the Commercial Manager!

We talked a bit and he would not give up the lead. I appealed to our manager and he said to work it out between us. So, the commercial manager and myself agreed to talk the next day.

Through a night of thinking I made the decision that I was willing to split the order 50/50. I could see his point. However, I still felt it was unfair as my customer had found the lead and passed it to me.

The next day, as I walked to work, I used a technique called “Pre-Paving”. (Lynn Grabhorn, “Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting”) I imagined everything going smoothly and the two of us actually feeling friendly towards one another afterwards. At that point I did not care whether we split it or not.

During the meeting I explained my point and then he explained his. He became angry at one point and spoke loudly for a couple of minutes. I felt feelings of defensiveness during this time. The mind began creating rebuttals. I noticed then I had feelings of hopelessness and anger. I could see us having a big argument. Goodbye to my pre-paved outcome. “Oh yes! My pre-paved outcome!” I thought. Quickly, I took my focus off the arguments the mind was building and the agitation the body was feeling, and I placed my focus on breathing deeply and diaphragmatically. I began to feel peaceful. Near the end of his speech he said something and I found I had a clear response to that something. I understood why the lead was totally mine. I spoke this fact to him. He stopped speaking and looked at me. He said something like “This is fucking ridiculous!” and stamped out of the room.

We didn’t talk the for the entire day. I did go to him at the end of the day to see what was going on for him. He would not talk at that moment. But 5 minutes later, as he was about to leave, he came over to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and said “I can’t believe I’m about to say this.” “I was wrong,” he said, “The lead is totally yours.” I was floored!

This was a dollars and cents lesson ($2000 in commission paid out to the original client of mine and double that to me) that the most important thing in any moment is state maintenance – keep your emotional state calm and your mental state focussed on the outcome you want. Arguments and rebuttals beget more of the same!

--Michael Boulger

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November 3, 2006

Father discovers that his children have been abused by one of his best friends

In the movie Monsoon Wedding, Lalit Verma discovers that one of his best friends and supporters has sexually abused his older daughter and now also the younger one.

After a confrontation that is getting ugly, Lalit Verma stops the escalation with this brilliant line:

"These are my children, and I would protect them from myself even if I had to."

The fact that he sees that it could be himself (under different circumstances) that his children needed protection from, creates the respect needed for this friend to back away without denying the gravity of the situation.

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October 14, 2006

Facilitator gets verbally attacked in prison forum

The story is part of a case study written by Max Schupbach:

Opening Situation: We are with a mixture of inmates, some correction officers, and ourselves, the three facilitators. As we opened, one of the inmates challenged me right away, as the lead facilitator:

Inmate’s challenge: ‘I know they have flown you guys in from the USA, because they (the prison administration) are afraid of a prison riot, and because we are all so fed up with what is happening in here. Now you are supposed to prevent that, right? Well, it won’t work, buddy!’

Max’s response: I instinctively tried to de-escalate and respond truthfully that this was not the case, and that we had no prior knowledge of any unrest.

Inmate: ‘Oh yeah,’ he answers, ‘either they didn’t allow you to tell us, or youwould be too much of a coward to admit it if you were allowed.’

Analysis: This is a direct confrontation and escalation, which can no longer be avoided, since my offer for de-escalation was not accepted. I must admit it was a little scary.

Max’s response: ‘You are scary. You must be used to bullying and challenging everyone in this place and getting away with it. I say no to that. I love the strength and pride that I sense behind your words - it’s awesome to experience that in these surroundings, and see how your spirit soars in the midst of all the troubles - but I hate how this comes out as an attack against me. I will insist on us meeting as equals respecting each other, no matter what you do, because I know you are looking for that also. Why else would you show so much strength?’ We silently stared at each other for a long moment, our eyes locked into each other. He then broke out in a grin, and said, ‘You’re alright.’ Everyone breathed out!

Analysis and comments: One interpretation of this interaction was that the credibility of the facilitator and the respect for the inmate both seem to have found a place, such that no one was forced to back down. It felt like being in an initiation ritual and a test for how authentic a relationship can be within this particular setting. Central to this was the authenticity of the facilitator’s feelings, such as admitting fear or owning making mistakes. Such honesty and authenticity supported the move towards a sustainable solution.

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