"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Discovering Hurt (re-post 12.29.10)

Over the past two days two people shared with me their dissatisfaction with each other. Both are very important to me. Both are very interested, to say the least, in ending their lifelong friendship. I hope that doesn't happen. Causing pain and being hurt are two universal phenomenons that will touch every human being at some point in their lives. Below is a piece I wrote in 2010... here is to those that hurt and to those that are causing pain. -sbb

Pain: physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc. A distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain. Mental or emotional suffering torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.

“When you hold a grudge, you want someone else’s sorrow to reflect your level of hurt but the two rarely meet.” -Steve Maraboli

The term "hurt" means many different things to just as many different people. What may cause you pain often doesn't even register with someone else. Some people are overly sensitive and others have thicker skin than rawhide; that would be my father. Some hurt is universal, such as a death of a loved one, a broken or failed relationship or some kind of accident that cause physical pain

As Webster defines hurt we often can experience this not so uncommon phenomenon physically, mentally and emotionally.

The pain I want to discuss is the pain "we", you and I, cause others. To be more specific, the kind of pain or hurt that is caused by us only to learn about it at a much later date. Often we have no idea what kind of feelings, hurt or pain someone is carry around with them on the inside. And if you would all do me the honor of allowing me to be more specific once again, the truth of the matter is many times those people that we have unknowingly hurt are often some of our closes friends and well meaning acquaintances. 

This past Sunday I had the "great fortune" to speak with someone that I hurt in the past. This person wasn't physically harmed nor have they been scarred for life because of the situation. They are not currently in therapy nor despise me as a person. In the end it was the inappropriate behavior on my part and the completely inconsiderate actions on my behalf in the past.

In a word, I was tremendously "insensitive".

The names and places, the event and the time are irrelevant. Trust me, I hear the faint sound of many voices saying, "Whatever dude...give me the dirt." There will be no dirt or gossip, only an opportunity for everyone involved, including the reader, a chance to gain some insight and knowledge into how one is to properly listen, and respond, to the words of someone we offended or hurt. And if we are lucky, and blessed, we will grow in wisdom when we capture the ability to "consistently" behave in the right way when we find out that we have caused another pain in the future. 

If you heard me once, you have heard me say it a thousand times; "knowledge is the knowing, but wisdom is the doing." 

As I mentioned earlier, it was a gift and a blessing that this person shared with me their thoughts, concerns and hurts. It was a gift that they had the maturity to share with me in a non-threatening way and it was a blessing that they were able to display their hurt with such conviction that it will leave an everlasting impression in my mind and on my heart. 

As I drove away from this chance encounter I reviewed in my head what I just learned. 

In the end there were three guiding principles that wouldn't leave my mind. 

Allow me to share. 

"Silence is Golden"

REMAIN SILENT: The first thing that fortunately came to my mind when the other person was sharing with me their disapproval was to shut up. Plain and simple, keep your mouth shut. There is a reason the good Lord gave us one mouth and two ears. I have had the great misfortune to meet people that act as if they have two mouths and one ear. They are insufferable. I know... I use to be one of those people. The quickest way to minimize, blow off, offend, "say you don't get it" and otherwise come off like a clueless and arrogant knucklehead is to start defending yourself immediately. It is immature, childish and adolescent to behave in this manner. Whether the person is completely off base or spot on let them talk. Let them voice their disapproval and let them finish their sentences. Don't interrupt... just shut up. Just as an aside, the only time I would do otherwise is if the other person is creating so much tension and their body language is so demonstrative that could cause the situation to escalate, in this situation I would calmly walk away. In both instances it's vital we don't argue our right to be right. It is a very natural and human response and reaction to defend ourselves when someone is taking us to task. I can only humbly suggest not to. The other person will be more inclined to listen to your response if you first let them talk. The saying isn't: "Silence is bronze", there is a reason for that. Silence is golden because its most often the best option available. In the end it's best to remain silent, everyone will benefit in doing so.

"Walk a mile in another's shoes"

WEAR THEIR SHOES: One of the best, and most productive, things we can do is to view the hurt and pain of another from their perspective. This takes maturity, humility and empathy. If you are lacking in any of those qualities it will be very difficult to remain silent and see things through their eyes. No matter the degree of the hurt, no matter the cause or reason for the pain the opportunity for moving closer to one another is eminent and very possible. The chances are often much greater than anyone can, or wants, to believe, but please hear me when I say there is a legitimate opportunity to draw closer to that person.  Again, listen when I say there are something's that are almost impossible to get over. I get that and I won't even waste our time giving examples of those situations. What I'm talking about is the million hurts and pains people are victims of because of the careless nature and behavior of another. When we find resolution in these areas, situations that often can take on a life of their own, is when we grow as a person and create deeper and more meaningful relationships. It is easy to forget, but solidarity is often born out of suffering. When we empathize with another, when we suffer just a portion of what they have suffered is when we truly have the opportunity to move closer to that person. I like what Sting penned in the song King of Pain; "There's a little black spot on the sun today, It's the same old thing as yesterday." At the end of the day, that is just how some people feel when they are hurting and they are upset. We are better off if we realize, understand and empathize with this truth. 

"I'm sorry"

APOLOGIZE: Romans 12:18 states; "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. The quickest way to improve a matter and the first major step to gaining reconciliation is to sincerely apologize for the wrong(s) you committed. This takes humility. An apology doesn't always lead to reconciliation or a resolution, but both of those outcomes are impossible without a heartfelt and sincere apology. Apologizing is the first step. Two of my favorite quotes on apology are: 

 An apology is a good way to have the last word.  ~Author Unknown

A stiff apology is a second insult.... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt. 
~G.K. Chesterton

Both statements are very good, and very true, when it comes to the concept of apologizing. It takes a big person to apologize; it takes an even bigger person to accept one. 

Humility is the key, and is required, in both situations.

In order for a tree to grow it needs many things, but one of the most important things it needs is wind. The wind is important because it causes the roots to grow deeper and stronger, without wind we would have no trees. 

This past weekend was one of those wind/tree moments for me. The words were a little hard to hear and the comfort level was a little less than what I would like to experience on a daily basis. To use a meteorological term, it was more than a little windy.

But because of this experience I grew. I realized the importance of not causing another person pain, and I also learned the importance of acknowledging, accepting and apologizing when I cause hurt in another's life.

The offense wasn't catastrophic, but the lesson was paramount.

sbb  29.12.10

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mindless Menace of Violence (re-post 8.16.11)

Below is a piece I wrote a year ago this coming August. In light of what occurred in Aurora, Colorado I thought the piece was worth revisiting. I hope you reflect, think and hope (and believe) for better days to come. -sbb

Senseless: destitute or deprived of sensation; unconscious. (2.) lacking mental perception, appreciation, or comprehension. (3.) stupid or foolish, as persons or actions. (4.) nonsensical or meaningless.

 Tom Stall: In this family, we do not solve problems by hitting people!
Jack Stall: No, in this family, we shoot them!

Last night as I finished my piece on bullying entitled "BULLY Pulpit" I began to research, and listen, to some of my favorite speeches in American history. The speeches were given by actors, athletes and politicians alike. As I listened to snippets of the many persuasive words used by others I began to realize that the best of speeches have a way of motivating, encouraging and inspiring us to move closer toward the person we were created to be. The words used didn't have to be uttered in perfect grammar nor did its presentation need to be eloquent enough for a queen or grand in stature, fit only for a king. Great speeches only need to honest and heartfelt with a display of humility and touch of vulnerability. 

In the end, great speeches are authentic and have the ability to refresh our soul and provide hope for our spirit.
Luke 6:45 states; "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

I believe great speeches often display a great heart.

Not always, but often.

One of my favorite speakers, and people, is Robert F. Kennedy.

Though I identify with a more conservative approach to politics and government I have always admired RFK. He is my favorite Kennedy and one of my most admired orators. There are few men that I have spent time with or watched from afar that I admire more than Robert Kennedy. Just a side note, I have always thought that if Bobby Kennedy were a famous musician he would be Sting. Both men expressed, and exposed to those around them who were willing to listen, a brand of compassion, wit and intelligence that isn't often seen by people that have such a powerful platform and visible stage. 

The reason for me sharing these thoughts with you is because of a story I watched this evening that was reported on NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams

The story was sad and disturbing.

A former Marine, who just returned from Afghanistan and served two tours in Iraq, turned San Diego Police officer was gunned down while sitting in his patrol car on Saturday. Minutes before he was killed, Officer Jeremy Henwood bought cookies for a 13-year-old he’d never met before... and his "last" random act of kindness was all caught on tape at a local McDonald's in San Diego.

Video: Slain officer's last act of kindness.

After seeing the segment I couldn't help but think of the words I listened to last night. The words were from the April 5, 1968 speech given by RFK in Cleveland, Ohio at the City Club entitled "The Mindless Menace of Violence"

The speech was given the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King

And though the speech was given some forty years ago the message still resonates today with power, truth and relevancy. 

Below is RFK's speech in its entirety.

Kennedy speaking to a Civil Rights crowd in front of the Justice Department building on June 14, 1963.

The Mindless Menace of Violence

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

The Ambassador Hotel - June 5, 1968

sbb  16.8.11