Sunday, October 25, 2020

Should President Biden pardon Trump’s crimes against humanity?

“…wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” – Thomas Jefferson

When Biden becomes President, he must not pardon Trump without a public trial. Americans must know the extent of his crimes before any pardon is provided.

It is traditional from the incoming President to pardon the previous President for misdeeds committed. There is a monstrous political struggle that happens around the Presidency. Mistakes and stumbles get exaggerated for political purposes; and it makes the office holder seem much worse than he actually is.

So, the incoming President usually pardons the outgoing President “to preserve the dignity of the office and the unity of the country.” But Trump’s numerous offenses include crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity are attacks directed against civilians such as dehumanization, deportations, extrajudicial punishments, kidnapping and forced disappearances, unjust imprisonment, political repression, racial discrimination and other human rights abuses.

Americans need a public trial of Trump to realize the extent of his crimes. They need to be properly informed so they can understand what happened under Trump’s watch. Only then can we pardon his crimes while in government office (but not any personal business or civil violations).  

Trump has committed two clear crimes against humanity:

1) Trump contradicted the medical leaders to minimize coronavirus, leading to tens of thousands of preventable deaths. By his words and example, even in the face of ever-increasing deaths, he encouraged people to ignore governor's mandatory masking directives to stem transmission of the disease. Evidence of his criminal wrongdoing: The USA has the worst record of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the world.

2) Trump directed separating children from their parents at the border, which he stated was to scare away others seeking asylum. Every psychology professional in the world will tell you that child separation from parents causes Reactive Attachment Disorder, which results in lifetime suffering with delayed physical growth, delayed learning, and challenges in school that lead teens to drop out of school, and display delinquent or antisocial behavior. Trump’s harmed innocent children for life.

After holding a public trial so Americans can grasp his crimes, then perhaps Biden could pardon Trump, but only for his actions in government office, not for his private transgressions as a civilian.  



Saturday, October 17, 2020

The missing part of Dobson’s story

This is in response to an electioneering video published by James Dobson, Christian evangelical conservative:

Lincoln’s Republican Party was significantly different from today’s Republican Party. Lincoln led to free the unpaid black laborers. Today’s party opposes organized labor and fair wages, which cuts into profits and makes more people into wage slaves. In the last 43 years, the formerly balanced portions of income garnered by each class has shifted so that the middle class is disappearing, and we have megalomaniac billionaires in a race to see who will be the first trillionaire.

During the American Civil War, Lincoln’s party passed major progressive legislation in Congress to promote modernization, including the first income tax, many excise taxes, a huge national debt, free homesteads to farmers, and aid to education and agriculture.

In 1896, under McKinley, the GOP guaranteed a sort of pluralism arguing that prosperity would be shared by all ethnic and religious groups, clearly a Democratic position today.

In 1907, Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed, “But during the last few years it has been the wealthy corruptionists of enormous fortune, and of enormous influence through their agents of the press, pulpit, colleges and public life, with whom I've had to wage bitter war." Today, Republicans are the party of the wealthy. 

Lincoln’s Republican Party that Dobson refers to, was progressive.

Now, Dobson’s party is one that threatens armed revolution, the overthrow of American freedoms in support of an extreme right agenda that will continue to oppress the poor, and make the average American dependent on corporations and government.

Dobson wants us to vote (in the order he listed them) …

For the second half of the 2nd Amendment, which gives gun rights ... without the first half of the Amendment which conditions gun rights on being “well regulated.”

Wants not just a 6-3 extreme right-wing court, but even the next supreme court justice.

To maintain a college of elite electors ... to change a 3-million-vote majority into a loss for the people and a win for the rich minority.

A republic ... with democracy in chains or even free of democracy.

Police enforcing law and order .. instead of peace officers and social workers operating community outreach programs that prevent most crime and ensure everyone gets a fair chance at prosperity.

To grow what is already the most powerful military on Earth and the military-industrial complex that provides 75% of the weapons to the world. Jesus teaches this, you know.

The right to speak his opinion ... which is handed to him by misinformation agents of the Koch political organization and its minions.

To secure the borders ... against hungry people seeking a chance at a normal life.

The right to praise God without fear ... and to write laws that enforce Dobson's version of God’s will on others.

To prevent all abortions by law ... even those that would save a mother’s life, even though the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency twice in the last 20 years.

For freedom ... to not wear a mask, spread disease and disrespect the vulnerable,

and the American Dream ... the liberty to lie, cheat and steal in a cut-throat competition to accumulate more dollars than the next guy at the expense of anyone who gets in the way.

For good and against evil ... good being whatever benefits the rich and powerful, and evil being people who cry out for a fair chance and a decent life.

For the future of the country ... restoring it to what it was 150 years ago.

For candidates who will exercise sound judgment ... like Trump who dismisses the advice of Department of State, FBI, CIA, CDC, his military leaders, Dept. of Health and Human Services, and uses his Justice Department as a personal legal team, 

     in favor of embracing dictators around the world, interference with our elections, misleading Americans about the pandemic and proper precautions, and pardons convicted felons who are his friends. A candidate who will deny aid to a state on fire, and use funds from a federal health insurance program to distribute cards with his name on them during an election campaign. Someone who got caught illegally withholding Congressionally authorized military aid to a country at war in the hope of manufacturing a scandal against his political opponent.

Support Israel ... especially by keeping Palestinians locked in hopeless poverty.

Protect children from leftist curricula ... instead of our religious indoctrination programs, which religious oppression the Pilgrims fled. 

For the nation’s fiscal integrity ... including the $3.1 Trillion deficit this year alone, which could have been avoided if people were paid a fair wage and could actually save some money.

For parental rights ... to continue the pandemic of child neglect and trauma that results in virtually all depression, anxiety, drug abuse, and crime.

For the right to fund our private schools with money meant for public schools.

For freedom (from poor, oppressed people) in the suburbs.

To vote for Christian organizations.

For racial unity ... without equal rights and without admitting – much less resolving – systemic racism.

In support of In God We Trust ... because God can’t deal with these issues by himself.

For school prayer ... so everyone can learn our religion and minority religions will feel minimized.

For freedom of conscious for physicians ... like they can’t already refuse to do abortions, and haven’t been forced to deny the abortion of a dead fetus in Texas.

For marriage ... loveless relationships that are harmful to the children, and against any other actually loving relationship beside the one we ordain.

For life in all its dimensions ... except those of which we morally disapprove or evils we choose to ignore.

For wisdom in handling the pandemic ... because God knows we haven't seen that yet.

For protection for the church and oppressive politicians, because … wait: for protection of oppressive politicians? Wait, wait … government protection of the church? Well, we knew he wasn’t thinking things through completely.

Against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide ... because everybody deserves to suffer hideously, screaming in pain for three days until they final pass.

And against socialism ... because the government really is trying to take over ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods. And like social responsibility is a problem that the church and government don’t already address with major resources. Like the government never supported railroads, electrical wiring, interstate highways, and the Internet. Like insurance isn’t about sharing the financial risk of illness, death and property loss.   

This election is about you. It’s about our kids and grandkids.

This election is about our Constitution and the immutable God-given rights that it protects ... like protection for our churches and our guns.

It is about truth, values, greatness and hope.

Choosing a president based on frivolous personality characteristics is so unfortunate ... because we certainly prefer a president who has a personality disorder.  

Pray that God will spare this nation from tyranny and oppression of religious liberty … so we can dictate that everybody else live according to our religion.  

Vote for the candidates who will best uphold your values and convictions … as they’ve been taught to you.






Monday, October 5, 2020

Answer to Trump-supporter: "Why do you want Joe Biden as your President?"

Jill and Joe Biden
By TonyTheTiger at English Wikipedia
A friend on Facebook (who happens to be a staunch Trump supporter) asked me ‘why I want Joe Biden as my president?’

It’s actually a good, reasonable question that deserves a reasonable, honest answer.

Admittedly, as a long-time former Republican, my support for Joe Biden is equally about my disdain for Trump as it is about any affection for Joe Biden.

There really is no way to compare the two men. Biden has demonstrated good, decent, honorable and ethical behavior for more than four decades. He’s squeaky clean; so squeaky clean that Trump had to send his man to the Ukraine to try to create some dirt to throw at him. Trump was caught seeking the aid of a foreign nation to influence our American election, just as some of his campaign staff were; and Trump was impeached.  

Biden’s politics and ideology are moderate, which I like. He will work to unite us, rather than to divide us. Biden will restore a level of dignity and rational behavior to the office of the president. He will foster unity once again in our nation, and civil relationships and healthy economic exchanges with other nations in the world. We will all prosper from Biden’s leadership.

But Joe Biden and I are not ‘perfectly aligned’ ideologically. He thinks our government and our economy are working fine; but I see clearly that our government is undermined by a radical-right, minority, rich movement. Biden is a participant in this government and is not likely to change it much. My support for Biden is not about ideology or partisanship, and especially not about emotionally charged issues like guns or abortion.

This election is about the very character and soul of our nation. It is about placing ‘love of country’ above ideology. It’s about saving our democracy, which has been severely undermined and disrupted. It’s about re-evaluating how successful we are being in providing for “the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” It’s about whether we accept those in the office of President, Senator or Representative as nobility or entitled. Indeed, I see clearly that our democracy, government, and those who hold office are all corrupted.

Joe Biden is basically honest and will not insult us with a daily barrage of easily disproved lies, as Trump has done.

Joe Biden never has and never will tell us the 'free press' is the ‘enemy of the people,’ as Trump has done.

Joe Biden never has and never tell us we should trust Vladimir Putin more than we trust our own CIA, FBI, NSA or Department of Justice, as Trump has done.

Joe Biden never has and never cage families – separating children from parents, nor will he ever demonize immigrants with lies and hate-filled rhetoric.

Joe Biden never has and never will tell us that NATO, which has successfully maintained peace in Europe for the past 75 years, is obsolete.

Joe Biden never has and never will insult our closest allies (Germany, France, Canada) while flattering and fawning over dictators Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

Joe Biden will not start unnecessary trade wars with our major trading partners, but will work to end them, bringing prosperity to all of us.

Joe Biden never has and never will deploy federal troops against our own citizens, against the expressed wishes of the duly elected governors and mayors.

Joe Biden never has and never will 'tear gas' protesters to clear a path for a blasphemous photo op holding a Bible upside down against the backdrop of a church, the actual bishop of which expressed outrage at Trump’s actions. Joe Biden is a devout Catholic, and he won’t ever use Christianity as a prop under any circumstance.

And this is important ... respected (former) Republican leaders, men who I trust and respect, such as Gen. John Kelly, Gen. Colin Powell, Gen. James Mattis, Adm. William McRaven, Adm. Michael Mullin and Rex Tillerson will never feel compelled to warn me that Joe Biden is a threat to my nation, my constitution and our democracy, as they have done about Trump.

And finally, white supremacists, such as David Duke, will never endorse Joe Biden and tell us that voting against Joe Biden is betraying our white heritage. If any of these White Supremacists did endorse him, Joe Biden would immediately denounce their endorsement and their racist beliefs.

Joe Biden will never say, 'I take no responsibility at all.’ That is simply not in his nature.

I think you get the point. Joe Biden is my president because he is the ‘not Donald Trump’. I want Joe Biden because in many ways he is the antithesis of Donald Trump.

I want Joe Biden for my president because I love this country; because I believe in America, its citizens and the world. It is not ‘us vs them,’ as Trump keeps asserting in words and actions.

I could talk about the COVID response as well, but you already know that Trump is lying about his incomplete response, which was 1½ months after the first case.

I sincerely hope everyone will take the time to consider what kind of character we want for our leader, for America and for the world. And let’s really ‘make America great again.’


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Governments have limits, and We are those limits

  • Folks sleeping on park benches
  • Someone behaving erratically and in harm’s way
  • Someone selling drugs to youth who are overdosing
  • Someone in your home is perpetrating violence on others in your home
  • Someone is talking to themselves on the bus
  • Someone is experiencing a mental health crisis and is afraid
  • Someone is seen snooping in car windows on your block
  • Your friends are intoxicated and starting a fight
  • Your brake lights aren’t working
  • You’re sick and unable to mow your lawn
  • You hit a rough patch and can’t repair your roof

Imagine accessing your neighbors as a resource of knowledge, referrals and immediate help, instead of waiting on a church “mission” team or the government to help.

Imagine having access to training, so you can know how to respond to these situations yourself as part of a neighborhood team of good citizens, instead of calling in the distant, cold government.

Imagine if everybody were included in a small neighborhood community that knows them, meets them regularly, and cares for them; and isolated people can get plugged into a supportive small community that really cares about them for the long term.

Imagine if there were a database where small communities share their information and coordinate care so no one community gets overwhelmed.

Imagine all the people.

We expect police to be capable of responding to ALL of these types of situations, and have to trust that they're doing it right all the time. That's not happening because it can’t happen. Yet, the current model of a police force as a social Swiss Army Knife persists.

Trusting that "a small task force of good citizens" will always be capable of responding to problems in the right way on short notice is not a reasonable expectation. The community pooled its resources to make those people available on call is the entire purpose of government in the first place. But we have shirked our responsibility and put it all on the police. We’ve blamed them for not doing our job. And the laws are written to keep us from doing our part.

I propose that people in the neighborhood start talking to each other and taking care of neighbors and “loose cannons” in their niche of the world; and stop waiting on government to fix our problems.


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

How can I learn preemptive forgiveness?

There are a few things I keep in mind to achieve the poise of pre-emptive forgiveness in the turmoil of life...

1. Humility - "[W]hat you know for sure that just ain't so," makes up about 60% of what we think we know. That's science.

2. Honesty - Before you say or do anything that impacts another, do diligence. Research what you think you know. Interview the people who were there. When we take time to study it out, we can achieve about 85% accuracy in our understanding and judgment (at best). ... In the process of doing this, our emotions have a chance to calm down and our instant judgments disappear.

3. Grace - Realize that everybody is doing the best they know how. In 1940s New Mexico, there were two escaped convicts in a shack surrounded by police. As they reloaded their pistols, the murderer said, "Why are people always picking on me?" The answer is, he was brought up in a way that, he just never learned how to get along in this world. But he was doing the best he knew how. Everybody is doing the best they know how. Nobody really knows how. Those who seem to know what they're doing, are faking it. "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

4. I forgive myself preemptively. Any outburst, emotional or rational reaction is a normal human thing, so I forgive myself. How can I not forgive others? "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Of course, it's always an imperfect process ... but really, isn't that the point?

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Christian friend feels cut off from family

A friend asked, “I have been divided off from the rest of you due to my beliefs. What do you think of this?”

I think you can believe whatever you want to believe. I think that everyone is doing the best they know how. That’s good enough for me.

The difference between me and most Christians today is that they use scripture to determine what love means, but I use love to determine what scripture means.

Jesus taught that we should love God, and our neighbor as our self; and that all the Law and the Prophets depend on that. The Law and the Prophets (and Psalms) were all of the authorized scriptures of Jesus’ day. By extension, the same thing applies to all the authorized scriptures of today – including the Bible. Understanding it depends on love. Love is the key to understanding.

The English version of Deuteronomy 6:4 usually leaves out a word included in the original Hebrew: “Hear you, Israel, Yahweh Elohim-of-us, Yaweh [is] one, AND-you-love Yaweh ….” In the original message from God, the phrase “God is one” is integrally connected with the command “love God.”

In John 17:3, Jesus makes a formula statement: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God ….” For the rest of the chapter, he expands on that, praying that we be one with him. He culminates in the ecstatic statement in verse 23, that “they may be brought to complete unity (or perfect oneness).”

So, I think that Jesus teaches love and unity. Out of that core message, he warns of divisions or denominations.

It seems obvious that people want to feel the world is safe and their lives are stable. Anything that doesn’t fit with their nice, neat worldview meets with strong objections and defensiveness, even violence. “Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matt 10:36  

In fact, when someone starts speaking about something that isn’t nice and neat, most people will ignore him, turn their backs on him, avoid him, interrupt him, and even rescue others from a sensitive topic by talking loudly over the top of the speaker. We can’t have a civil argument, because people are so fragile and defensive, even actively seeking to misunderstand. Vigilant defensiveness. Divisiveness. Resisting knowing more and even anything different.

But divisiveness is not Jesus’ message. Division is the reaction against Jesus’ message.

So, what do I think? I think people use scripture to justify what they are doing. 

Instead, I accept preemptive forgiveness. I use love to guide what I am doing. I seek first to understand. Then I seek to be understood. And, if someone wants to be my “enemy,” they can do it without my participation. - Christopher

Thursday, August 6, 2020

An Outline of the History of the Radical Right's Rise to Power

By Christopher Aune

It’s come to my attention that virtually nobody understands the historical context of the current radical right-wing takeover of the government and overturning the Constitution. So, here are some points to consider.

  1. The Founding Fathers – esp. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson - debated whether the Constitution should foster rapid growth or empower individuals. Madison argued for rapid growth, free markets, unregulated interstate commerce, large companies and gleaming cities that benefit the surrounding countryside. Notably, Madison was very wealthy and owned slaves, and he was trying to protect his class in the Constitution. Jefferson argued for small businesses, family farms, individuals’ rights, and regulated banks and commerce. In the end, Jefferson relented because, despite winning the Revolutionary War, America was economically weak and the British Empire was mighty. The USA had to foster rapid growth and expansion to stand off a return by the Brits. 
  2. It turned out to be the right move, as the British returned to reclaim “their colonies” in the War of 1812, but lost.
  3. In 1828, the federal government imposed an import tariff aimed at limiting dependency on other countries. The Southern states labeled it the Tariff of Abominations because it resulted in retaliatory limits on Southern exports. But it was consistent with the Constitutional intent, because it fostered the strong growth of the North’s manufacturing industries. 
  4. John C. Calhoun, during his term as seventh Vice President (1825-1832), reacted against taxes and fiscal policy because he saw it as key to withstanding democracy’s threat to economic liberty. That is, he wanted to empower plantation owners over the will of the majority of Americans.
  5. James Buchanan, President from 1857-1861, was a Southern sympathizer from Pennsylvania. He chose four Southerners and three Northerners, whom were all Southern sympathizers. In 1857, Buchanan intervened in the Dred Scott case – which initially denied the enslaved petitioner’s request for freedom – and prevailed on a Supreme Court judge to create a majority and make the ruling apply more broadly to include all Western territories. This outraged Northerners who denounced it. Buchanan’s was considered a failed presidency, which led directly to the Civil War. 
  6. In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional; and ordered states to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."
  7. Around 1956, Professor James McGill Buchanan – with support of many others, including Milton Friedman – reacted strongly against the Brown decision. He formed a school of political economy at the University of Virginia. He spelled out and taught in great detail the case for “economic liberty,” that is, the benefit of few rules to constrain how a man might get wealthy, and great restraints on the government levying taxes on that wealth. Later, he pointed out that the majority of Americans would not support his ideas; and therefore, they could not win by persuasion. Therefore, they had to create “winning strategies.”
  8. In the 1970s, Charles Koch learned of Buchanan’s theories. In 1997-98, Koch invested millions of dollars in Buchanan’s Center for Study of Public Choice. It trained operatives to staff institutions funded by the Koch brothers, including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, the State Policy Network, the Competitive Enterprise Institute , the Tax Foundation, the Reason Foundation, the Leadership Institute and dozens of others, plus Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries itself. Buchanan’s center has now moved to the Mercatus Center on George Mason University. Buchanan died in 2013. 
  9. Now-VP Mike Pence is heavily involved with the Kochs. When Pence left as Indiana’s District 6 Representative to Congress, Luke Messer, who first worked for the Kochs, replaced him. Pence’s brother, Greg, followed Messer in that elected seat. Senator Ted Cruz is another name most will recognize. 
  10. When the Senate Republicans rejected the evidence for impeachment in January 2020, they excused it, each using virtually the same wording, saying it was a political move by Democrats. By doing so, they failed to perform their Constitutional duty, putting politics over rule of law. Many were following the radical right leadership, fearing their Senatorial vote would be invalidated if they didn't march in lockstep. 

This is a bare-bones outline of how this line of thought developed and now comes to rule in the USA. The philosophy is this:

  • They are reacting to what they see as the ability of the federal government to force individuals with wealth to pay for more public goods and social services that they had no say in approving.
  • Their aim is to insulate private property rights from the reach of government, in particular by reducing the freedom of the many … by hollowing out resistance from the majority of voters.

To gain a more authoritative look at the history of James McGill Buchanan and Charles Koch, and their radical-right legacy, see Democracy in Chains, by Nancy McLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. 




Thursday, June 4, 2020

In Union There Is Strength
By James Mattis
Retired United States Marine Corps general who served as the 26th US secretary of defense. During his 44 years in the Marine Corps, he commanded forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. 
This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

James Mattis

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Racism: Root cause and a key solution

I’ll cut to the chase: Here is the root cause and the answer you are looking for…

“It falls on all of us, … to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions and our hearts.” – Barack Obama


Bias in any form is never okay and should be avoided.

How can you recognize if you're being biased? And how can you practice avoiding bias?

How to recognize your own bias: Any time you FEEL STRONGLY in agreement or in disagreement about anything, that is a bright red flag that you are holding tightly to some preconceived notion that is preventing you from truly understanding. That is bias.

How to avoid bias: When you notice that red flag of bias (strong feelings), first, remember that there's a whole science behind this. Our initial understanding of any other person is only about 34% accurate. We fill in the other 66% with our preconceived ideas. This is Phase I Understanding (superficial, automatic, grossly inaccurate). (Research cited in No One Understands You and What to Do About It, by Heidi Grant Halvorson PhD, Harvard Business Review Press)

When you notice the red flag, stop and start LISTENing. Patiently seek out the rest of the story. Start trying to figure out why that person is acting or talking that way. SEEK UNDERSTANDING. This is Phase II Understanding (studied, takes work, still imperfect). You will never exceed 85% understanding, even after 40 years of knowing someone. Truth!

So, be humble: Realize that you do not know everything; and, in fact, you know very little. Other people are always weird, but they can describe a good reason for their words and behaviors if given the chance. Give them that chance.

Everyone must be trained in this skill once a year. By itself, this will change the world.

Can it be that easy?! Yes. And no: It takes practice. 

And BTW … We know how to bring Heaven to Earth in this generation. – Christopher

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A lesson in humility from COVID-19

One man tried to convince me that the coronavirus mortality rate was much lower than was being reported because people who had pre-existing diseases and died with coronavirus were being listed as death by coronavirus.

Another man tried to convince me that the coronavirus infection rate was much higher than was being reported because many people had only minor symptoms and never reported it.

What I have observed in life – and learned from social science research – is that people build a world view that is between 33-50% accurate; and we fill in the rest with memories from previous, similar experiences. At best – even after two people have lived together for 40 years – our understanding of them is 67-85% accurate. 

That’s 15-33% wrong. We don’t know each other. We don’t really see reality as it is. We’re inventing a huge chunk of it on the fly.

We use this mental-construct of the world to guide our response to the ever-changing, overwhelming changes of the real world: A process called ego. We project our own interpretations onto the world based on our imprecise perspective, and we try to convince other people of the way we see the world. Leaders are good at convincing people that their worldview is the most accurate, when actually it’s just the most popular and most widely shared.

We work hard to impose our inaccurate, ego view of the world on others, and we get upset when someone disagrees. They don’t get it.

Alternatively, we can learn to recognize that there are way too many stimuli in our surroundings for our senses to detect. If our senses could detect all those stimuli, our brains would be overwhelmed. We’d be unable to function.

To prevent that overwhelm, our senses and the brain have evolved to sort through incoming stimuli to select that which is familiar and makes sense: that which fits our narrow worldview. We dismiss the rest – the majority of information. There’s nothing wrong with this, it is natural and normal process.

But we almost never recognize that this is what’s going on. It’s important to recognize that we get overwhelmed, and that we are selective in what we sense in the world. It protects us from information overload, which would disable us. We wouldn’t be able to make sense of the real world without a mental concept to compare it against. We couldn’t survive. We would die.

When we recognize that this is going on and that our understanding is usually 33-50% accurate – 85% at best, after we’ve thought about it – we become better able to accept that there is more going on than we know. When we recognize that there is more going on that we know, We can be more flexible about accepting the utter fluidity of life and other people’s mental constructs for what they are. This is the practice of HUMILITY, which I keep trying to master in a perpetual struggle with my ego, which wants to be king.

So, my questions about the COVID death rate and the COVID infection rate would NOT be, “Are these accurate?” We know they are not. We don’t have enough accurate data to make evaluations.

My questions would be, “Which perspective is best? One that is certain, or one that is humble?” “Who can be certain?” “Can anybody be certain at this point?”

Obviously, there is no certainty; so, humility is in order.

And that’s a lesson in humility that COVID is teaching us ... IF we’re paying attention.  


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