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Archive for the ‘respect’ Category

You Say “Chaos” Like it’s a Bad Thing

Isn’t it Time We Got Back to Kindness?

Lately, I’m finding all sorts of reasons to hide posts from friends on Facebook. Between the usual (and this year, sometimes unusual) BS inherent to election years, the transgender issue and a score of other things people find to be passionate about, my drama-free zone is in jeopardy. I’m forced to exercise regular diligence to keep my news feed fun, friendly and inspirational.

In the last couple of days, I’ve seen a new villain appear; the anti-change proponent. These people are so set in keeping their own personal idea of the status quo that they’re trying to turn what to me seems obviously necessary change into a demon they call “Chaos”. But I ask you, if it weren’t for chaos, how would we be able to understand order? If it weren’t for chaos, how would we evoke massive change in a society which has become overly complacent and willing to be led like sheep to the slaughter?

“Chaos”: A Word Coined by Those Who Will Be Usurped by Change

Let’s face it, in order to make significant changes to ourselves, our surroundings, and most of all, widespread hatred, we have to shake things up a bit (ok, maybe more than a bit). For many, this is a terrifying concept. They want to know that one day will follow the next, predictable and ordinary. They’re the first ones to jump on the bandwagon like a bunch of lemmings when someone sounds sufficiently authoritative about how something new will turn their lives upside down.

But do they even look at the issue? Do they look at the authoritative body and check their facts? (Blackfish and Obama Care come to mind here). Do they take the time to understand what the change, the innovation really means to them, to their families? Or do they take the word of someone they don’t even know,  accept that it’s bad and start beating their chests and re-posting scathing reports which, if investigated would be found to have no basis in fact at all?

Let’s face it. Nothing really significant has ever happened without upsetting several factions. There is no way to please everyone, so why not look at the greater good? If you exclude one group, you open the doors to bullying. Then, how do you teach our children not to bully when the message they get is “don’t bully except…gays, transgenders, Democrats, Republicans, Muslims and homeless people”?

If you ask me, we need a lot more chaos right now. We need to shake people right out of their boots. We need to show them in full technicolor what their outdated viewpoints ;have created and are perpetuating.

Chaos Brings People Together

After the Northridge earthquake in 1994 there was a lot of chaos. Freeways were closed, neighborhoods were without power and water. And you know what happened? Neighbors who’d never even met were out helping each other. We were forced to think beyond the confines of our own, small worlds and actually care about someone besides ourselves.

After 9/11, the whole country and even people from other countries came out to help people who were complete strangers, often who they’d never see again. Out of Chaos came a sense of community, a sense of pride and concern for people in need, no matter who they were.

Well, here we are again. Hating people and making scapegoats of them, Putting up smokescreens to hide the real issues. Putting the fear of some nebulous, human-created god into people who won’t take the time to check the facts themselves, but instead, take the word of strangers that change is bad, no matter what that change might be.

Scapegoating: An Unsuccessful and Costly Tactic

As a Jew, I know what it’s like to be shunned or treated like our only path to salvation is accepting one of our own as the one son of god and savior (he was a rabbi for chrissakes; a teacher!). Otherwise, we’re not good enough to share space with those who’ve “seen the light”. And if you think the end of anti-semitism was after WWII, you’re living in a fairy tale. It’s simply become more covert. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I was told I wasn’t a whole person because I didn’t accept an ancient rabbi as my end-all and be-all. And because of my lapse, I wasn’t fit to be part of the lives of a bunch of judgemental, myopic idiots. (Thank you for that, by the way. In retrospect, you all did me a favor by kicking me out of your lives!) This week, the Muslims are the ones-to-be-most-hated. And for what? Different beliefs and a few fanatics. Open your eyes now as you could be next!

And by the way, for those Christians who were recently arguing that Messianic Jews practice Judaism, here’s a quote from Wikipedia. Note the part I’ve italicized.

Salvation in Messianic Judaism is achieved only through acceptance of Jesus as one’s savior,[8][13][14][15][16][17] and Jewish laws or customs which are followed do not contribute to salvation.[16][17] Indeed, belief in the messiahship, power to save, and divinity of Jesus, which Messianic Judaism professes, is the defining distinction between Christianity and Judaism.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Other Christian groups usually accept Messianic Judaism as a form of Christianity.[24]

So I say, bring on the Chaos. It’s long overdue. Force people to see past the pretty, well-coiffed lies to the ugly truth beneath.

Why Not Put as Much Effort into Embracing as We do Into Rejecting?

My point is, you’re not going to eliminate the differences, the uniqueness of various cultures and points of view by ostracizing, condemning or fooling yourself into believing they must be like you and can be like you. Even a man like Hitler, infamous in his insanity tried and failed to wipe out an entire culture with a little help from his friends. Yet that culture still thrives and, in fact produces far more than their fair share of scholars, Nobel laureates and and highly successful business people and philanthropists.

Why any rational person believes they can stop the progress of other cultures like the Muslims or gender identification that isn’t heterosexual is beyond my comprehension.

For a Real Laugh, Listen to the Original Pedophiles

And speaking of the gender issue, I nearly peed my pants laughing when I read someone’s post about how co-ed restrooms would encourage pedophilia. Good grief! Is that the best they can do? The most rampant place for pedophilia is the Catholic Church and has been for longer than we probably realize. Is there a more unnatural state than a man who has to remain celibate to keep his job? And yet, these same men are supposed to counsel couples who are getting married? Seriously? What is the basis for their knowledge? What do they know about the challenges of raising a child? They’ve taken their natural carnal instincts and stuffed them into a cardboard box, then left the box sitting out in the rain!

Winding Down and Getting to the Point

I make no apologies for this seemingly disjointed rant. In the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some of the hated ones first-hand, and know they are not the fanatics the propagandists want us to believe. In fact, they are better people than most of us, and are living beneath the shadow of the actions of a relatively small group of extremists.

I have friends and family who are homosexual or transgender, and for the most part, they are the most forgiving, accepting people I know. Once again, we could all stand to learn compassion and respect from them. Many of them face challenges we in our insular lives cannot even imagine, but they don’t judge.

Change is inevitable, folks, and if to you that means Chaos, then I would suggest you buckle in and get ready for a very bumpy ride. As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing some old social and political structures razed to make room for something new and better. We probably won’t get it exactly right the first time, and it will take time for the dust to settle and the benefits to become apparent, but I’m hoping we’ve learned from our mistakes and will be open-minded to the lessons we can learn from people who have suffered at our hands, yet never even considered laying blame. They’ve taken the moral high ground and learned that it’s our differences rather than our samenesses which make this a better, kinder, more compassionate and more progressive world.

I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure I’ve offended a lot of people with this rant, but as I’m a proponent of this change you call chaos, it was inevitable. If you choose to comment, please follow the common courtesy of posting which goes back a number of years: “Attack the post, not the poster”.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for a world where we have the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of people.
2. I am grateful for the ability to check facts and sources, if we only take the time and make a little effort to do so.
3. I am grateful for places where differences are valued and celebrated.
4. I am grateful for the ability to hide hatefulness, ugliness and ignorance.
5. I am grateful for abundance; kindness, compassion, change, lessons, multi-cultural exchanges, gender acceptance, enlightenment, love, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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June 28, 2015 Do People Really Understand What Hate Means?

This Rant is Brought to You by the Tremendous Outpouring of Hate Attributed to Yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision

Let me preface the upcoming rant by saying that I, myself am not Gay. Although I may, on occasion, notice something attractive about another woman, it is in a purely objective, non-sexual, appreciative way. However, I respect the right of people (man, woman, black, white, purple, green, Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Buddhist…all of those differences some people seem to find important) to fall in love with whoever they find themselves attracted to. After all, when have we ever been able to control who we are attracted to? Honestly! Admittedly, some of this rant was spurred by someone who tried to tell me that a particular trades person was automatically honest and trustworthy because he was a “good, church-going Christian.” My question to that statement is always “How does that make them honest and trustworthy? And how does simply attending church on Sunday make them a good, honest person Monday through Saturday?” I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been screwed over enough times by people who are in a church pew every Sunday morning, and frankly, I believe they give those who truly do practice their faith every day a bad name!

Our great United States was formed (or if you ask the indigenous Indians, taken over) by people who sought a place where they could practice their religious beliefs freely without fear of reprisal from their government. Despite the fact that most of the people who fled their homes to come here practiced some form of Christianity at the time, other faiths came and worked hard to prosper in this untamed land as well. Each of those faiths, as well as those of the indigenous people, shared some beliefs and differed in others. Yet, by hook or by crook, they worked together to build the land we now call home.

The results of their efforts are far from perfect, but then, what man-created concoction ever is? Instead, it is a series of compromises, false starts, tearing down and rebuilding so it’s better and stronger, and even discussions which escalated into arguments on occasion. The true beauty is not only in its imperfections, but in its diversity.

Honoring and Respecting Diversity

So what is the latest Supreme Court decision but that very mindset which created this country saying “Yes, we honor and respect diversity, and uphold the right to exercise that diversity”? The very last thing it represents is a spitting in the eye of certain religious factions, nor is it an order for them to allow or encourage their particular believers to immediately start indulging in gay marriage. It is simply saying that those who do believe it is acceptable for them may now do so without fear of legal strife and may also enjoy the benefits of any other married couple. How, may I ask, is this hurting anyone? How is it undermining your religious beliefs? And for the love of God, why does it give you the right to spew hatred and vitriol all over social media, lambasting everyone from the President all the way down to some underpaid clerk far down in the court system?

Last time I checked, religious texts encourage love and acceptance, not hatred and judgement. How is sharing posts of people lambasting the President, questioning the parentage of the Supreme Court Justices or comparing homosexuals and their behavior to that of lowly and maligned animals an act of love and acceptance? Furthermore, how is it that one group’s set of religious beliefs is more important…more right than any other group’s? How is it anyone’s right to insist that others live by the moral standards they, themselves follow, and often follow blindly?

Yes, we live in a country in which free speech is one of our rights. In fact, here is the text for Article 3 of the Bill of Rights:

Article the third… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Let’s dissect this a little. First of all, denying people the right to marry on pretty much any of the bases I mentioned above (gender, race, religion) and doing so by law violates Article 3 because it prohibits “free exercise thereof”. Freedom of speech assumes (in many cases, erroneously) that we are respectful, compassionate human beings and would not use that right to belittle, defame or otherwise abuse another person or group of people. While it is certainly acceptable to disagree with someone, something, a cause or a belief, it is not OK to judge someone, abuse them or otherwise hurt them for believing differently that you do.

And yet, otherwise intelligent, compassionate individuals are writing or sharing such hatdid-i-fucking-stuttereful words it makes me cringe. Some have been so awful I couldn’t click “hide” fast enough to avoid singing my eyes with their outpourings of hate. I ask that before we post anything abusive or hateful, and regardless of our religious beliefs, we spend a moment or two thinking about what this image is trying to convey.
Do we really need to shed more blood, invoke more dissension or separate ourselves from each other over something which simply allows us to be individuals and create a more interesting world? Think how boring it would be if everyone had exactly the same beliefs. We’d live in a colorless, odorless world; sterile to the point of stark and unaware of where true beauty lies. It is in our differences, not our samenesses that we are beautiful.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that I live in a country where we can express ourselves, even hurtfully. From those who feel they must be hurtful will we truly learn kindness and compassion.
2. I am grateful that at least a majority of our Supreme Court justices has read and absorbed our Bill of Rights and Constitution which they are tasked to uphold.
3. I am grateful for the diversity which allows ingenuity to shine rather than hide itself from the light.
4. I am grateful that I can and will continue to question people’s motives when they are made simply in the name of one religion or another.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, faith, trust, respect, devotion, caring, sharing, peace, harmony, hope, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

October 19, 2014 Common courtesy isn’t so common. #shericonaway #blogboost

What ever happened to teaching our children manners? Are people so self-involved that they don’t even realize that their behavior is as bad as bullying?

Tonight, I am beside myself, though it involves a situation which does not directly affect me. The pure poorly disguised malice involved has forced me to drag out the soap box again.

Recently, a support group sponsored a Halloween party which included costume contests for the children and adults in attendance. Finalists were selected by the organizers, then put to a popularity vote to be shown by applause. (already, I’m fuming because I find this method to be completely barbaric. It has nothing to do with the time, thought and effort a person puts in, nor to their creativity, but instead, focuses on how many friends and family members are in attendance.)

One individual who was chosen as a finalist had come alone. When it was time for the popularity vote, not a single person had the good grace to even offer a courtesy clap! Where were these people raised? My guess would be a refuse pit overseen by Fraggle Rock’s Trash Heap.

Although I’ve attended my share of functions which utilize this popularity contest style vote to select contest winners, I have never…let me repeat myself…I have NEVER seen anyone forced to stand there in silence when the MC asked for votes for their effort. Frankly, if it weren’t for low class, the members of this “support group” would have none at all. To blatantly humiliate a new member in front of both adults and children sends the worst possible message. Yet, I guarantee that these would be the first people to complain that one of their precious children was being bullied at school.

If we want our children to be treated with respect, we must teach them what that looks like…and the way to do that is by example

Our world is full of whiners and complainers, ready to put the blame for their less than perfect lives on anyone but themselves. They treat friends and strangers alike like crap, then wonder why people treat them disrespectfully. Wonder why they aren’t getting the job or the car or the recognition they believe they deserve.

The reality is, if you want someone to treat you with respect, don’t sit around waiting for it to happen. You need to show them some first. You need to put yourself out there. And yes, there are times when you are going to get crapped on. It hurts and it sucks, but it also teaches you to recognize who really can both give and receive respect and who is respectfully retarded. Sadly, there are a lot of people who just don’t understand the concept. Some are worth trying to teach by example, but unfortunately, many are just lost causes.

I raised my daughters to treat everyone, at the very least, politely. I advised them that they were going to meet some people who were just unpleasant, unhappy people. The best you can do is to be cordial, and spend as little time in their company as possible. Responding in kind by being nasty and rude only lowers yourself to their level.

Every group, club or organization I’ve ever known has a core group of people who do all of the work.

The rest are good for support at best and lip service at worst. If you’re part of that core group, you learn to recognize newcomers who are destined to be part of the “worker bees” and do your best to make them feel welcome and appreciated. If you don’t, they’ll find someone more deserving to give their time and effort to. At the risk of stating the obvious, humiliating a potential worker bee in front of a group of members is guaranteed to see them taking their business elsewhere, and there is never a shortage of deserving organizations who would love to have a dedicated volunteer.

To paraphrase a quote from “Pretty Woman”: You folks depend on volunteers, right? Remember the person you humiliated? Big mistake! Huge!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve both taught and learned regarding respect. It paves the way for so much more.
2. I am grateful that the people I know and associate with will always be kind, courteous and compassionate with newcomers who don’t abuse the privilege. Even then, basic courtesy will always win out.
3. I am grateful for all of the people who have been taught the common courtesies. They are far from dead, despite evidence to the contrary.
4. I am grateful that I can avoid humanity when I need to, as I still lose patience with rudeness and cruelty. (just another lesson I’ll be repeating ad infinitum, ad nauseum.)
5. I am grateful that we all have outlets and can vent when we need to. Life isn’t always fair, but we always have someone who loves us and to whom we can turn when we’re battered and bruised.
6. I am grateful for abundance: compassion, kindness, friendship, love, health, harmony, peace and prosperity.

Namaste

October 1, 2014 Accepting the challenge to blog on a given topic #shericonaway #blogboost

Tonight’s UBC topic suggestion, “who do you admire?” is actually a subject close to my heart.

I often take time to talk about people I admire here, sometimes naming names, while others just admiring them collectively. I tend to admire people for a variety of reasons, but most often because they set extraordinary examples for me on lessons I struggle with.

One such lesson is kindness. Too many years of working in a man’s field and a male-dominated industry toughened a skin already the consistency of rhinoceros  hide from long years of single parenthood and the joys of trying to love alcoholics. Needless to say, my kindness quotient was so far into the negative, I didn’t hold much hope of ever digging it out. Despite my tendency to drift back to those tried-and-true ways when the going gets tough, several women in my life have shown by example that it is entirely possible to be a strong, independent woman, not of the doormat persuasion and still be kind.

Not only have these women developed successful careers, often in male dominated industries, but they’ve raised strong, confident, ambitious children and have loving, charming, supportive mates.

Some have even shown me that it is entirely possible to be kind to someone who irritates the snot out of you, smiling sweetly and making them feel special without losing a piece of yourself in the process. In fact, they seem to be more just by being kind when the inclination was to be rude.

As I’ve watched and learned the last few years, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. But let me set the stage, first.

Each of us finds ourselves in the position, every now and again, of having to contact customer service to resolve an issue with an account. Often it is the phone company, a utility company or a cable company, but it could be almost anything. Often, we’re already annoyed, if not angry when we make that call, and having to sit on hold listening to a perky voice tout the benefits of their product, at least for me, tends to set my teeth on edge. When a human finally answers the phone, my first hope is that English is at least their native tongue. Needless to say, by the time said human answers my call, I’m even more cranky than when I began. Here is where kindness plays a huge part. It would be very easy to take my irritation out on the first person I talk to, but frankly, those folks aren’t paid enough to be the recipients of rude or angry behavior. Yet, there was a time when I would shoot those messengers, and believe me, it doesn’t get you very far. In fact, even when I don’t shoot the first messenger, I can still get someone who will put me in hold hell now and then, simply because I didn’t like the answer they gave me, and asked for someone higher up the food chain.

I say this because I had an issue with Paypal this week, and the first person I got did exactly that. I am happy to say that when I called back today, the people I spoke to were much more willing to let me speak to someone higher up, and the second escalation gave me the results I wanted, if not a little more. (a little side note here, Customer Service people sometimes think they know everything, including what their bosses are and are not allowed to do. As an accounting professional, I tend to take issue with someone who tells me that their system is incapable of issuing a credit or reversing a payment. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but anyone with accounting background is going to know that it is all about permissions!) At any rate, the point I’m trying to make here is that treating those folks kindly and respectfully will usually make them more cooperative and likely to give you someone with more authority (or permissions, if you will) who can and often will respond positively to a reasonable request.

While my natural tendency would be to not-so-politely explain the hierarchy of permissions to one who told me that what I want can’t be done, I’ve found it far more effective to follow the examples of my much kinder friends, and remain polite and respectful, keeping comments like “Moron!” and “Imbecile! Stop wasting my time and give me your boss!” kept buried well beneath what might be a falsely calm exterior. That archaic saying “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” still holds true today.

I cannot even imagine being a customer service rep who has to sit on the phone all day and speak to angry customers who might just take out their ire on the first person they speak to. To me, that is like a hundred bad days all rolled into one. No matter how much training they receive in defusing a volatile situation, some of that has to hurt. People do remember how you made them feel far longer than they’ll remember what you said. So I’ve learned through a great deal of trial and error that I’d much rather be remembered as someone who was kind under duress than horrific over something rather inconsequential.

I think it’s pretty simple, really:

  • People respond best to kindness
  • People like it when you address them by their name (I learned this from a man I dated briefly. Most store clerks and cashiers wear a name tag. They address us by name, shouldn’t we return the favor?)
  • Everyone wants to be treated like they matter.

How hard is it to suck up our anger over a situation which it’s very unlikely it was caused by someone who is trying to help us resolve it? Those times when I did rake someone over the coals were, to say the very least, extremely unsatisfactory on all levels.

To the women who continue to teach me kindness, whether they realize it or not, I love and admire you all, and appreciate the example you set far more than you’ll ever know. Thank you so much, to Dezi, Judy, Lorna, Barbara, Leslie, Kay, Candy, and probably more than a dozen others who I may have lost track of, but know that the influence and the lesson remains. But for you, I would still be an angry, cranky woman who wondered why things never went her way, instead of a joyful, happy one who has everything going her way! All it took was a little kindness!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for all of the kind people who have been put in my path, in my life. I am a much better person for their influence.
2. I am grateful for interesting blog topics on a night when I didn’t have one of my own.
3. I am grateful for the process of writing which allows my mind to empty so it can slow down for a few hours each night.
4. I am grateful for my daughter who, despite the miles between us, is still very much a part of my life, and I, hers.
5. I am grateful for abundance; kindness, sharing, loving, growing, learning, joy, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Namaste

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