How People Can Be Bad

The best way to fight is to encourage individualism, contrary thinking and a disinclination to follow blindly the teachings of any leaders, no matter how seemingly benign. ~~Unknown

It keeps coming up, the question of how people can be "bad" - especially when I emphasize and wholeheartedly believe that all people are "good". A Wired article called "How Good People Turn Evil..." will help me explain.

It's possible that the terms that have leaked through to common use from Psychoanalytical theories have muddied the waters of understanding our selves, and ultimately, others. For example, the term "ego" is often not used per the definition that Freud gave it within his topography of personality (id, ego, superego).

The id is unconscious and contains instincts, sexual and psychic energy. The superego develops with socialization and contains values, morals and judgments that serve as a monitor of our behavior. Freud believed these two components of the personality were in a constant tug of war. The ego is the component of the personality that interacts with reality, the real world, in order to relate to our social and physical surroundings. It attempts to reduce the tensions of the id by channeling the id's energy into more adequate and appropriate releases for impulses that the superego has tagged as unacceptable behavior (e.g., aggression and destructiveness).

A strong ego is the cornerstone of a healthy personality. Instead, popular uses such as "he has a bruised ego," which should be 'superego' and "his ego is so large that it can't fit through a door" should be 'id'. Though the ego's function is to procure relief for the id's libido within the constraints of what the superego declares acceptable, the term "self-centered" would be a far better description than "egotistical" in talking about a selfish prat.

Instead of id, ego and superego, we can use the terms "temperament and character" that equals the "personality." The temperament (shy and timid, or confident and assertive, etc.) combined with character (morals and values adopted from parents and society) defines who a person is. The temperament is innate and unlikely to change, and the character is learned and evolving all the time.

What seems to be the primary factor in whether someone is 'good' or 'bad' is character. Values are first learned as an infant's screaming id's demands are served peas (yuck) instead of carrot cake (yum) or water instead of milk. As the child develops and interacts with the world, his parents' demands of "don't lie," "don't talk back," "elbows off the table," "be nice to your sister," "respect your elders" and "big boys don't cry" begins the formation of values that are learned, whether right or wrong. Values are taught by parents and teachers that represent society as a whole. Some are integrated and become core values, others are accepted and adhered to just because it's easier to get along with others by conforming. In other words, those superficial values are not really believed at the core level.

Philip Zimbardo believes that good people under a tremendous amount of fear and stress will lose the ability to reason and lose their free will, no matter how strong their character: "Situations can be sufficiently powerful to undercut empathy, altruism, morality and to get ordinary people, even good people, to be seduced into doing really bad things -- but only in that situation." He believes that any situation can alter the character of a personality enough that it is impossible to predict who will and who won't become 'bad.' A common example would be a person told to do something against his will and values and has to do it in order to keep his job. Unfortunately, this happens a lot in various degrees.

In order to combat the potential of "bad" situations, Zimbardo suggests that we exemplify those who take extraordinary moral actions and teach this to children as a matter of course:

There are some programs, starting in the fifth grade, which get kids to think about the heroic mentality, the heroic imagination. To be a hero you have to take action on behalf of someone else or some principle and you have to be deviant in your society, because the group is always saying don't do it; don't step out of line. Most heroes are more effective when they're social heroes rather than isolated heroes. A single person or even two can get dismissed by the system. But once you have three people, then it's the start of an opposition.

Gaining an understanding of the personality helps us know ourselves and others. This helps us realize the important role that character plays individually and socially as we navigate life. Character begins at home. In order to offset what I call the Current Trend of Violence, values need to be taught at home and encouraged at every opportunity. We need to define and exemplify what we believe so that we all have the strength and courage to defy "the system." An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and defining and teaching values at home is the prescribed cure for today's rise in pressure, stress - and violence.

I'd like to start an opposition. Will you join me?


Today's Conversation With Odin

I don't get "horse whisperers" - as a term, not the Joe Schmoes who call themselves one. I have to admit, I've tried it. I've tried whispering in Odin's ear just to see if I was missing something. Well, I still must be missing something because not a thing - nada, zilch, nothing - happened! You might consider the strange look my horse gave me as "something happening," but somehow, I don't think that's what they profess to get.

I bring this up because of the time I spent with Odin today. It was a nice, warm day and I just couldn't resist going out to enjoy some of it. So, I grabbed the rope halter and long line, and stuck the curry comb in my pocket on my way out the door.

Since I bought Odin as a weanling, he and I have gone through many different phases of his understanding of our herd-of-two pecking order. Did you know that horses go through the Terrible Two's too? For just about an entire year, he kept nipping me on the same place on my arm to the point where it remained black and blue for a year after. I'd go out to the barn every night for a final check and bring apple slices with me or some other treat and ask for a move or two to earn a treat - that I gave him from my hand. Major, major mistake. Feeding a horse treats from your hand teaches a horse to relate human skin with food, and that turns into biting. Maybe not every horse will become a biter, but Odin did. As soon as I started putting his treat on the ground or in his feed dish, no more biting, and that arm finally got the chance to heal. Trust me, I tried every way I ever heard of to try to break his biting during that year, and it was my own behavior that was causing the problem.

There have been more than a few "testing" behaviors throughout the years, and I've learned more about horses and Odin than I ever imagined. I've had dogs all my life, but I've never learned much about dog behavior. Take the dog to the vet, apply flea collar, teach it to go outside, sit, lay down, stay, and feed it and you have a happy companion. When I was a kid, I learned how to brush, pick out hooves, saddle and bridle and not fall off too often, so I thought I knew all I needed to know about horses. Odin has taught me that I was dead wrong about thinking I knew all I needed to know about horses. And he continues to teach me every time I'm with him. I don't whisper to him either. Instead, I've learned to listen.

Today was the first time in months that I took the halter and rope out with me. Odin has been free lounging for the most part, but the last time he was a bit too frisky and showed me some heels, and without the rope, I couldn't think of a way to curb that behavior. He surprised me today when I put the halter on. He was immediately compliant and willing and very, very soft. Quite a different horse from the last time! Not once did I have to take the slack out of the rope to get any part of his body to move, like I didn't need a rope to get him to do anything I asked. But, that halter and rope told him I was serious about what I was asking for and I think that he was glad (relieved?) to be the follower. He gets a kick out of picking up the rope and holding it in his teeth when I'm brushing him. He never pulls on the rope, just stands there with it in his mouth. I think that's his way of telling me he's OK with playing on my terms. Funny horse.

We walked up and down the driveway, trotted, stopped, backed up and changed direction a lot. When we changed direction, I asked him to walk on my other side. I'm hoping to teach him how to 'shadow' me. At one point while I was brushing him, he was distracted by dogs, and really wanted to chase them down; but a soft "whoa" and a hand on his side planted his feet into the ground. I could feel his energy under my hand, his want, and all his strength as he stood there with his back legs under him ready to spring into action; but he listened to me instead. I think that told me more than anything else we did. I'm still amazed by it. He got a lot of pets, scratches, hugs and kisses from me. What a joyous animal!

When it all is said and done, I don't believe there is any such thing as a "horse whisperer." A horse hears and listens to so much more than any whisper that might come out of your mouth. What I've learned is that Odin and I do best when I listen to him as much as I expect him to listen to me. Today, Odin was telling me he was happy to be with me, to play together on my terms, no doubt about it.

Communication is a two-way street.


All People Are Good

The most beautiful as well as the most ugly inclinations of man are not part of a fixed biologically given human nature, but result from the social process which creates man.
~~ Erich Fromm

I'm a person that believes that, inherently, all people are good. Bad things happen to good people. Good people sometimes do bad things. But, all people are good. Here is the basis for that belief:

Instincts alone cause a bird to fly south for the winter, hunt for food and reproduce. It's the same year after year, generation after generation with very little variation. The bird as a species adapts to environmental changes, or it dies off. The same can be said about every living thing - except man.

In it, but not of it...

Mammal, fowl, reptile, plant, even bacteria all live in complete harmony with the planet Earth. Each species depends on other species and all depend on the Earth for life. As if by accident, man appears on Earth - he is in it, but not of it. If one or a thousand other species die out, it has no effect on man's ability to continue on. But, what man as a species can do and has done has a large impact on all other life. Ignorance or irresponsibility, the result is the same.

Humans lack the relative instinctual regulation to adapt to changes in his environment. What developed instead is awareness. Man is aware of himself as an individual as well as a species. He can remember the past, imagine the future, and record both as symbols. He can reason, understand; he can be bored and discontent. Most of all, he can create. He knows that he will die. He can live because he knows there is unlimited potential in every moment - meaning.

A part of the human species, he is apart. This is frightening, this aloneness, so he seeks to add his individuality to the community, fulfilling his need to belong, to be accepted. The strength of the species lies in each individual, though this truth eludes those who find it easier to believe in a power that transcends him rather than believe in himself. It is each individual's responsibility to realize that he alone can productively create a meaningful life.

The strength, the power of man, is in each individual. Every human is born good, creative, understanding and reasoning. Each human is filled with potential and creativity. It will take each individual to realize this power to correct mankind's "ugly inclinations" and come to realize that the Garden of Eden is right here under his feet: Earth.

It will take courage. It's a daunting task to become responsible, self-realizing, and aware. But, every person is born with potential and creativity; with goodness.

Let it will out.


Not Quite Concerto

If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it. ~~Jascha Heifetz

I pulled my violin out of a very dusty case this morning, tuned it up after searching everywhere for an "A" and came to realize very quickly that a) I love the violin, b) it still fits me, and c) if I don't practice for many years, I have two choices: Put the violin back in its case or buy a very large bottle of Advil!


Reality Check: A Poor Economy Is Violent

Reality is hitting home harder than ever, and what was hidden behind Curtain 2 is now out in the open for all to see. That second curtain contained the accepted fallacy that credit = wealth, or at the very least, stability for the general state of the US economy and family households. It all comes out now with an article titled "Hard Times Heighten Long-Felt Unease" by AP writer Adam Geller.

I wasn't working yet in 1973, but back in that era, a job paying $6.83 per hour was a darn good job. I had no trouble making my $120 rent, $7 phone and $13 electric monthly bills - in 1976. Even so, I didn't yet feel financially stable enough to have children. Here's a nice slap in the face concerning wages - Geller says that Americans are earning less now than 35 years ago:

Except for the late 1990s, pay has been stagnant for more than a generation, barely keeping pace with inflation. In 1973, the median male worker earned $16.88 an hour, adjusted for inflation. In 2007, he earned $16.85. ...For many families, the stagnation has been moderated by the addition of a second paycheck as more women went to work, and their pay rose over the same period.

That families now have no choice but to have two incomes to survive has had a dramatically detrimental impact on our children. Interestingly, WebMD is calling the youth of today the "Columbine Generation" to illustrate this negative impact and says that "...young people have been exposed to more violence than perhaps any other previous generation just because of [its prevalence] in television, movies, and actual coverage of violent incidents."

Because violence has become so common, the article continues, it may not shock today's youth as much as it does older generations, though you'd expect them to be more fearful because they've had far more incidents of school shootings - and 9/11 - in their lives. Kids are left unsupervised and few have an adult around to offer comments and advice about the events they are witnessing, nor do they have a role model to compare their reactions with. Both are crucial in formative years.

But, there is no choice but for both parents to work. Imagine how dire the situation is for single parents! No matter how inoculated kids may become to violent events, none can deny the necessity to secure basic needs, as Geller elaborates:

Now, economic worries are rising fastest in households with smaller paychecks, and that chasm is widening. Over the past decades, whether inflation was much higher or lower, or incomes grew faster or more slowly, there has never been such a wide divergence in the experiences separating richer households from poorer ones.... That insecurity shows in small, but telling ways... Wal-Mart Stores Inc noticed that many people who received its gift cards for the holidays used them in January to buy food and other necessities instead of extras.

It is way past time to honestly and realistically address today's issues. Our children need us. Our generation fought many fights back in the day, and though we lost that war, we need to stand up against "the establishment" again. There is power in numbers, and we cannot allow ourselves to be beaten down into the role of helpless sheep any longer. It's time to take life back.

Caught by the Beauty: David Garrett

I never heard of David Garrett until I read an article about him falling down stairs and crushing his million dollar violin made in 1700. From Germany, he now lives in NY City and supplements his income by modeling part time. Skeptical, I went to his site and learned that he was a child prodigy that started playing with the London Philharmonic at age 10.

Once the David Garrett site loaded, a video started. The sound of his violin caught my breath. Watching him play, the emotion, the feel of the music he creates is a beauty rarely heard. I know what CD I'll get next: Virtuoso.


We All React to the Violence

I have been following the February 14 shooting at NIU closely, waiting for solid information to come through. There have been many, many articles released, all rehashing the same few known points. I don't know what it is that I'm looking for in all those articles. None of them will ever undo the tragedy, or explain why this is yet another instance of the senseless violence that seems to have taken hold of our country.

I realized that I need to step back and identify all the things I have been feeling these last few days. You may have been feeling things without knowing why. Maybe you are feeling a general sense of unease. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, we're all more susceptible to traumatic events, no matter how far from us they may be, because our resilience diminishes with each additional instance. The effects are cumulative. Identifying these feelings will help us move forward again. Here's a few feelings I've identified. I hope it helps you identify yours:

I feel overwhelmed. A week ago, tornadoes hit and destroyed whole communities around me. Shootings happened in a department store, a city council meeting and a technical college. A sugar refinery blew up and a grade teacher was stabbed. On top of this, the country falls into recession and prices continue to go up. Now there's another college shooting and a deadly illegal street race. Every hour, the headlines change, so I have to read to see if anything new has come to light. In reading these 'new' articles, I find the same things I've read a hundred times said in maybe a slightly different way. If there is anything new, it's one minor sentence buried deep within the article. If I drag myself away from the computer, the news is all over the TV and the radio. I am bombarded.

I feel angry and helpless. I feel angry because I feel helpless. There is no rhyme or reason behind the violent things people do. One of the articles I read said the NIU shooter "didn't fit the profile" with the retort that there really wasn't a profile. Yes, there is a psychological profile of violent offenders. Why mislead? Not that it matters. Is there any explanation that would make the shooting any easier to understand? No, I don't think so. So many more people in grief!

I feel terrified of the loss. Life isn't so normal anymore. It is no longer safe to shop or go to school or go to college or even stand on the side of the road. I have friends with children in school and in college, and my son works in a large store. I am terrified for all of them. And, is it me, or is the weather a lot more wild and crazy nowadays? The places where I can feel safe are a lot fewer now.

All of these feelings have had an impact on me. The result is a kind of numbness, a feeling of detachment not only from the things around me, but from me. How I broke through the haze was writing this post. I made myself do something, be productive. I can move forward again.

I found a book called "Bearing Witness: Violence and Collective Responsibility" that deals with traumatic, violent events in depth. I'll be writing more about this in the days to come. In the meantime, take a few moments to honestly identify your feelings. Just doing that is a big step toward healing.

Thanks for reading.


A Royal Valentine Gift

Mr. Jeff Boyce of Arkansas surprised his beautiful wife on Valentine's Day with dinner at Colton's, followed by a ride in a one-of-a-kind Cinderella Carriage provided by The Princess's Carriage. Red roses, hearts, red velvet lap blankets, two footmen and a white horse topped the evening fit for royalty. Together with friends, Mrs. Boyce was enchanted as they snuggled up and rode through town in the cool night air. "Oh, it's beautiful," Mrs. Boyce exclaimed as she kissed her husband.


The affirmation of one's own life, happiness, growth, freedom, is rooted in one's capacity to love - in care, respect, responsibility, and knowledge.
~ Erich Fromm


NCAApHC: Everyone's Horse Club

North Central Arkansas Appaloosa Horse Club

NCAApHC is a horse show club that strives to create a friendly, warm, open show experience for all horse owners, no matter what breed of horse they have. No fancy show clothes or equipement required! The purpose of the club is to offer a show that puts the emphasis on the horse and rider. Money-back Jackpot classes are offered in order to offset the high cost of showing, and a new club member point system that emphasizes accomplishments is in place. The area's first working ranch/trail classes and halter classes for all breeds are included with the traditional Western Pleasure and HUS classes, etc. to round out the showbill. There really is something for everyone!

Here's how the club President describes it:

NCAApHC prides itself on our all inclusive show program. We really do offer something for everyone. Also setting us apart from other horse show venues is our commitment to prize money for our participants. With the rising costs of fuel just to get to the shows along with the increasing costs of feed, hay, shoeing and general upkeep of our horses, we feel it's more important than ever to provide an affordable way to exhibit our horses. We have a user friendly show bill that appeals to those who wish to showcase their horses' finished talents as well as those that are still working on their horses' training.

I hope you take the time to poke around on our web site and see what we are all about. Come on in and stay awhile. Or better yet, join the club and share this exciting, innovating club as a member. We would love to have you!

For me, this club is great. I've never really had much interest in showing, nor do I own a show horse. Odin is QH/Percheron, what some would call a "sport horse", and most shows cater to registered, purebred horses instead. I've often said I would love a way to get feedback from other horse people on how Odin and I get along together and on our training accomplishments, and this club offers just that. I'm really looking forward to our first show, and I'll be sure to write about it here! The club plans to offer educational workshops, training clinics and charitable events when the show season is over.

I invite everyone to check out the NCAApHC web site and join us at our shows. And come with an empty stomach. We always have the best BBQ pork sandwiches!

Thanks for reading!


More Doo Doo Hits the Fan

I just found this article, buried among other relatively insignificant headlines. It was not important enough to give an above-the-fold spot:

Venezuela Halts Oil Sales to Exxon

(AP/CARACAS, Venezuela) — Venezuela's state oil company said Tuesday that it has stopped selling crude to Exxon Mobil Corp. and has suspended commercial relations with the U.S.-based oil company.

State-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, said in a statement that it "has paralyzed sales of crude to Exxon Mobil." It said the decision was made "as an act of reciprocity" for the company's "judicial-economic harassment."

President Hugo Chavez has shaken oil markets this week with broader threats to cut off oil supplies to the United States. His threats came in response to a drive by Exxon Mobil to seize Venezuelan assets through U.S. and European courts in a dispute over the nationalization of its oil ventures in Venezuela.

The impact of the decision on Exxon Mobil was not immediately clear. Both Chavez and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez previously said the Irving, Texas-based company is no longer welcome to do business in Venezuela.

Short and sweet.

It will be interesting to see just how long it takes for prices at the pump to go up yet again. My money is on tomorrow. It will also be interesting to note whether other journalists pick up on this base AP thread and run with it. I bet this little tidbit remains buried. It seems to me like the media is trying to give Bush a break and paint him in brighter colors with his economic stimulus package and foreclosure plan.

In my opinion, the cause and effect of today's recession is more than a little obvious. Once we put gas in our cars to get back and forth to work, anything left over goes into food and heat for our houses. The cost of both are through the roof too. So now the government will send me a check for an amount not large enough to pay my current utility bills and expects me to spend it on frivolities to boost the economy!

The culprits that have caused this economic slump are posting record profits. Their greed is squeezing the life blood out of this country. Instead of this bandaid approach for a gaping wound, why hasn't Bush gone after the cancer itself? Oh, I forgot: He and Cheney are Oil Men.

The rest of us just don't matter. Heck of a thought, eh?


The Week That Was

February 3 - 9, 2008 goes down in history.

An article by Ted Anthony, an AP writer, tallies it up:

"Fifty-nine dead from the tornadoes in the South. Five dead after Edwin Rivera opened fire on his family and a SWAT officer in Los Angeles. Six killed in Kirkwood, Mo., when Charles Lee 'Cookie' Thornton opened fire at a city council meeting and was slain by police. Five women herded into the back room of a suburban Chicago Lane Bryant store and gunned down by a man still at large... Three dead in an Oregon plane crash, three dead in a Louisiana vocational college shooting, five dead and three missing in a Georgia sugar refinery explosion. An Ohio teacher stabbed in front of her grade-school students after her estranged husband walked into the classroom and pulled a knife. Across the state, hundreds of homes damaged in severe flooding. Hordes of motorists stranded on Wisconsin roads by snow."

Though far too close for comfort, all of this happened at a distance around me, as if I had a dream-like bubble keeping it all at arms length. I had 15 minutes of heavy thunder, lightening and rain, and then it was gone. I wasn't aware of the devastation that storm brought to other areas until after it had passed and the satellite signal came back. I was terrified as I always am when weather hits here. It never just rains, it always storms. There is never a breeze, it's always gales. Then the news reported the tornadoes and whole towns destroyed within miles of me, and I started to shake.

Still, life goes on, as it does for those not hit by disaster. I had three interviews this week, for three very different positions, and though it means a lot to my little life, to me, it is insignificant compared to what others had to deal with not so far away. Yet, my own survival had to take priority, at least during those interviews. I met some wonderful people; smart, dedicated, committed people just as focused on the here and now as I had to be, and all seemingly untouched by the disaster.

I remember the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot. The news broke in to interrupt that morning's Captain Kangaroo to televise the motorcade, and when it said the President was shot, my mother screamed. Soon, my father came home from work. Schools were let out, businesses closed and the world seemed to come to a deathly quiet standstill while waiting for further news of the President's condition. Everyone and everything stopped.

I had a 9:30 class on September 11, 2001. I had just watched the second plane hit the Twin Towers on the TV in the main office and had to walk in to tell my students what I had just seen, though I didn't believe it - yet. Some of my students screamed and ran down the hall to the pay phones; more than a few had family in New York City. Instead of doing what I had planned, we all searched the Internet for updates and talked. I let our collective little world stop to begin to come to terms with what was going on, but the rest of the world went on as though nothing unusual had happened. Nothing closed, schools didn't let out and life just went on in the rest of upstate NY.

It was the same this past Tuesday here in Arkansas. Many died, hundreds hurt, even more lost everything, yet everything just went on as though nothing happened. There was no time to process, to help our neighbors hit by the tornadoes, or to mourn.

A horrible week filled with devastation, and life goes on around it, as though all the horror is just another Hollywood fabrication. Explosions, shootings, tornadoes, floods, and none of us are allowed or able to step off the wheel of the rat race.

When did we become such a cold, cruel and uncaring society?


The Economy is Biting the Hand that Feeds It

I'm allergic to numbers, always have been. My 1 + 1 equals 2, but my percentages don't always add up to 100%. I think that comes from a lifetime of robbing Peter to pay Paul and other creative bookkeeping techniques. In light of this as a frame of reference, I am confused about the state of today's economy.

A headline in today's news says "Dow plunges 350 on weak service sector." Now, the service sector (restaurants, retailers, banks) is two thirds of our economy, keep in mind. We lost jobs for the first time in years, and now they are looking for the collapse of collaterized bonds and securities (mortgages). All of this "drives a nail into the coffin from investors' minds that we're in a recession."

Yet, yesterday's news included an article that said: "Buoyed by soaring crude oil prices, Exxon Mobil announced yesterday that it set new records for U.S. quarterly and annual corporate profits in 2007, and Chevron, the nation's second-largest oil company, also reported big gains in earnings." As if that isn't enough to make your blood boil, the same article says, "Even after paying taxes and expenses, Exxon earned $20.97 a barrel in profits on its production... and the company bought back 365 million of its own shares." I guess it doesn't want to share the wealth any more than it has to. Exxon also produces it's own crude - 2.5 million barrels a day and is bemoaning a 1% drop in production because it's operation in Venezuela was nationalized.

I have no idea how OPEC works, or what the price per barrel of crude is based on. But, am I erroneous in thinking that the cost per gallon at the pump is directly tied in with major increases across the board in consumer goods? Doesn't consumer spending comprise around 74% of the nation's economy?

Let me put this in real life perspective here. It now costs me $20.00 for gas what used to cost $7.00. It now costs $3.98 for a gallon of milk when it used to cost $1.98. My wages have stayed pretty much the same for as long as I can remember, yet it is costing me three times as much to heat my house in the winter, buy food and put gas in my vehicle to get back and forth to work. There is no discretionary spending in my budget. The last time I bought new clothing was over two years ago, I rarely go out to eat, and the last time I went to the movies, it was on someone else's dime. Feed for my dogs, cats and horse come out of my grocery money, and since those prices have also gone up exponentially, my diet consists of Ramen noodles and other healthy foods like that. To sum it up, 74% of my budget does not fall into service sector spending.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but didn't all this worry over recession start with major hikes in gas prices? I've always felt that Big Business was short sighted, but now it is blatantly, overtly biting the hand that feeds it, with absolutely no remorse whatsoever. The rich are getting richer, no matter the state of the economy for the rest of us.

By the way, we are in a recession. Am I more worried? No; I'm already quite used to my stomach growling.

Thanks for reading!


Trying to Define "Be-ing"

For the last week or so, I've been reading and reading (and reading and reading…) to try to come up with a way to define "be-ing." I've read psychology, philosophy and spirituality essays and books, and sifted through numerous self-improvement type sites. They all seem to point to the same thing, yet it still seems as though something vital is missing.

I'll present a few things I've come up with so far. It's all pretty rough and more or less my interpretation of a lot of different sources, so there won't be any direct resources cited. Inspiration comes from numerous sources such as Burt Wilson, RHH, Carl Rogers, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Viktor Frankl, Eugene Kennedy, Sigmund Freud, and many authors that have written about the major personality theorists. Boiling it down, here are some of the things that I feel are included in "be-ing:"


As our internal guidance system, values are the assumptions we've made about what is right and wrong. What we declare are our values shed light on the internal struggles and moral dilemmas we've experienced, and forms a rough sketch of what we expect of ourselves. Values form the basis of our definition of ideals and aspirations. Value formation starts as an infant and is based on real, "organismic" needs and preferences. There is no doubt in your mind when an infant is uncomfortable in a wet diaper or given a spoonful of a fruit that is not liked.

Willing to be Open to Experience

Along with defining likes and dislikes, a young child will devote all waking hours to exploring her body and her environment. The driving need for love and acceptance of this new, real self forms and then continues throughout life. As values and the real self continue to form, the need for love and acceptance cause some values to be in conflict with the values of parents or friends, which in turn impacts the perception of the real self.


Conscious and unconscious defenses are used to protect the self from anxiety and stress and discomfort caused by the conflict between real, "oranismic" values and self perception and the need for love and acceptance. Thinking and reasoning play a part in self concept and self worth here. "If I do this, then mommy and daddy love me; if I don't, they don't love me" and "I should be a perfect student or housewife or parent" and "I ought to be much better at this than I am." As this ideal self conflicts more and more with the real, organismic self, anxiety, stress and discomfort increase.

Unconditional Regard

When love and acceptance are found, the feeling of safety and the ease of discomforts follow. Behavior and feelings are separate from and do not impact worth as perceived by the self or others. It is OK to drop defenses and masks and ease the pressure of the demands placed on the self to perform. The distance between the ideal self and the real self decreases.

Growth and Potential

Becoming or "be-ing" is a process; a never-ending, fluid process. Values are defined and true to the real self, experiences are welcome and joyous, genuineness begets deeper and more rewarding relationships, and unconditional regard felt and given positively strengthens relationships even more. Within this real, honest self is unlimited potential and boundless growth, self-realization and actualization.


I'm astounded to think that all the reading I've done boils down to five short paragraphs! I see that my interpretation is more reflective of Carl Roger's person-centered theory than anything else, and I think it's because he leaves a very wide-open door to spirituality. I'm a Big Picture thinker, obviously, and though I've managed to boil a mountain down to a pimple, I still feel I've missed something vital and important.

I need your help. Maybe we can find that missing link together.


Groundhog Predictions: Half Empty vs Half Full

"PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. - Brace yourself for more wintry weather. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Saturday, leading the groundhog to forecast six more weeks of winter."


"Gen. Beauregard Lee, Punxsutawney Phil's counterpart in Lilburn, Ga..... did NOT see his shadow Saturday morning at the Yellow River Game Ranch." (Photo and quotes: AP )

This is the third year in a row that the two groundhogs didn't agree in their predictions. They must be related; it sounds like two teenagers to me. So be it, and not to worry: Punxsutawney Phil's accuracy is only 39%, which, to me, means that General Beauregard Lee's glass-half-full prediction wins the day!

I'm looking forward to an early spring!


February Comments

February Comments, Ideas, Critiques, Jabber... Let 'er Rip!

It's February! Half way through winter here in the US, and I'm ready for spring!

Thanks for keeping up with me, dear readers. I am enjoying this blog more and more every day. I'm loving the research, and I'm thrilled to be able to write to share it all. Comments, topic suggestions, applause, slams, whatever floats your boat is welcome always!

Click on the "comments" link below, or on the title of each post - that will take you to a separate page that includes the article and all the comments so you can join the discussion.

Welcome to my side of the tracks, and thanks for reading!


January Highlights

January was a great month for A Bumpy Path, and we rang in 2008 with a bang of our own. Here is a list of January's most notable posts.

To see all of January's articles, check the January 2008 Archive. I talk about UFO sightings, blow a gasket about a few things that get under my skin and have a few "blasts from the past" thrown in too.

Comments on any post are always welcome, and I'll be sure to respond.

Thanks for reading!