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Posts Tagged ‘conversations’

Note: Cross posted from STATIC Youth’s Weblog.

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Below is a poll question from the Pew Research Center. I find the question interesting. Based on my conversations with most of my friends I am not sure I would get the same response, most of my friends with in the faith are liberals and they have a basic feeling that the

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Note: Cross posted from STATIC Youth’s Weblog.

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2316677591_6654e4ce6f With Mothers Day upon us, it is time to reflect on our mother, both earthly and those that are no longer with us. The other day I posted a blog about having parents, or better yet, the blog was tong in cheek about needing to prove I had parents on my

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Note: Cross posted from STATIC Youth’s Weblog.

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friend2 About a year or two ago a friend gave me a book to read. It sounded very interesting, it was a thriller and love story and mystery and supernatural all rolled into one. I don’t know the authors name, and the name of the book slips me at the moment, but that’s really not that important for what I have to tell you.

Note: Cross posted from STATIC Youth’s Weblog.

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What ever happen to  the concept of responsibility? It seems we have lost that somewhere along the way to enlightenment. As we grab onto those lofty ideas of inner growth and walk down the path of opening our minds, we seem to forget that we have an obligation to self, that we are responsible for our own actions.

In the modern world, all-to-often we hear people state “Not my fault”, “I didn’t know” or even “But, I wanted too” or something along those lines. the basic underling theme of each of them is the same, the lack of personal responsibility.

And the sickening part of it all is that we as a culture now think this is an appropriate response. We now expect and accept the concept that it was out of our control, that we had nothing to do with it, that a great force overtook us and we could not stop it, we were at it’s mercy, that we are the victims (because everyone loves being the victim).

My 17 year old nephew is a perfect example, or for that matter, any teen will prove the point. Ask a very direct question, such as did you_(fill in the blank)_? and 9 times out of 10 you will get the response of an excuse, a reason why they did not.  The question required a simple yes or no, nothing more nothing less, but what you get is reasons why they had no control over the situation. Now you may be saying, well that’s just teens, they all do that… And I will respond by saying, Yes you are correct they all do do it, and that’s my point! We, the adults, allow them to, because we, the adults, accept that, we nurture it in them. If we, the adults, did not allow it, than they, the teens, would not do it. Example, when my nephew, or any other teen, responds to a simple yes or no question my response is “That’s not what I asked you”. I didn’t ask for the six million reasons why the dishes are still in the sink, or why you lost your phone or anything else, what I asked was “Did you _____?”. Simple question requiring a simple response. And the funny thing is, he now knows (for the most part) that he needs to respond to the question, and not play the victim of his own lack of responsibility, in fact, the scary part of all this is, that most youth I deal with learn this lesson rather quickly from me, because I do not allow them to skip over personal responsibility when they are responding or talking to me.

But as long as we, the adults, allow them to continue placing the blame elsewhere, as long as we accept and expect them to do so, they will continue to do so. But, and this is a big but, we must also take stock in our own lack of personal responsibility. We as adults do the same exact thing, I wave worked with and still do work with many who never take the blame, the blame is always place on someone or something else. I have the same exact conversations that I have with my nephew with adults, ask a yes or no questions get a five minute dissertation on why they did not or could not or would not, but the same theme runs through it all, it is never, under any circumstances there fault. Funny how that works, with so many perfect adults in the world one must wonder how we ever got so screwed up.

The challenge before us is one of paramount responsibility, in a world were the Nanny State is on the rise, and were the populous wants and expects the government to take care of them from birth to death we are entering in to a world of no responsibility. We are entering a unprecedented time in American History, it is a defining moment for us, as our President (Mr. Obama) likes to keep telling us, and he is correct! The defining moment is now, and it is all about responsibility, our own personal responsibility. We have to decide if we want to keep passing our responsibility to the government or do we want to keep it for ourselves. Do we want to be truly free (keeping our own personal responsibility) or do we want to be slaves (giving all our responsibility to the government).

Personal responsibility is walking towards a slow death, so far it has been an uphill walk, but we are now at the top of the hill, and what we choose to do at this moment in our history will determine the direction and speed of our walk. If we choose to continue to negate our personal responsibilities we will run, not walk down the back side of the hill in to slavery to the government, but if we choose at this pivotal time in our history to turn back towards they way we came from, if we choose to re-accept our personal responsibilities, that we can start our slow, responsible walk back down the front side of the hill towards our personal freedoms once again.

We have a choice to make, it is our responsibility to make the correct choice, not only for our today’s but also for our children’s children’s tomorrows.

Paul

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How often do we participate in a conversation, but in truth we are only really waiting for our chance to speak? I know I do this, especially when it is a heated debate, I want so badly to speak my mind. I have been working on not doing that to much, but its like a favorite candy bar, you walk by it and have to have it. I just can’t always control myself, i just have to have that candy, i just have to get my argument out, its all the same thing to me.

We know, just from our own experience that when people listen to what we have to say and we listen to them, the debate or argument or just plan conversation goes better. There is a natural pace and flow to it. Now to listen does not mean agree with, but to just listen and take it in, allowing it time to settle in your mind and to form a thought.

Listening is a skill we all need to improve at, we all need to be reminded every now and than to just shut the mouth and open the ears. To listen to the sounds of everydayness and to the voice of reason. Listening is not just a skill for conversations with others, but it is also a skill for conversations with nature and self. The quit time we spend just sipping our coffee in the early mornings, or out on the front porch with a cup of tea at dusk.

The skill of listening to the silence is difficult, but not unattainable. Simon & Garfunkel stated it best in there song, The Sounds of Silence:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

The seeds that are planted when we listen to the silence of self and nature can grow in to the changes we dream of, the new creation of self, only if we can learn to listen to the silence of self.

The task is daunting the reward is great. The other day I posted about self time, and in the past i have written about this topic and I will come back to it often. It is a skill that seems to be lost in a modern world where silence is looked at as unproductive or a waste of valuable time.

In days gone by silent time was treasured and looked upon as a treasure for only the well off. In today’s world we look at silence as a sign of laziness and a sign of the less fortunate.

Look at any great leader of the spiritual ways, Jesus, Buda and Krishna all call for and practiced moments of silence. As a Catholic we have moments in our celebration of of Mass that incorporate silence (or it should be, but not all Churches recognize this) we have seasons that calls us to prolonged silence and intense soul searching. The Church sees the importance of listening to the silence.

Listing to the silence of the soul allows you the intimacy of self, the oneness of time and growth and the universality of joining in the the silence of the ages. Silence offers a sort of magic that transcends time and space, giving us the freedom to listen to the voices of the past or future with the present always there.

I am not saying that through silence we can communicate with the dead or travel through time and space, but I am saying that through silence we free our mind to imagine the possibilities of our many tomorrows by  listening to the echo’s of yesterdays.

I have fixed many a problem through the quietness of listening to the silence, allowing my mind to freely flow over the waves of nothingness. Creating a openness that allowed the sounds of reason enter into my soul planting the seeds of forgiveness or love, plucking the hatred out by its roots and allowing the waters of creation to feed me.

So today, sit and have a conversation with the silence, open your ears and listen to the nothingness of the universe and hear the voice of God speaking.

Paul

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Last night I had a intimate chat with my nephew, he is a 17 year old young man who originates from Cameroon Africa. He has only been in this country for a few years, and I have only known him for 1.5 years or so, well maybe closer to 2 years now, but what ever. In truth he is not my natural nephew, I knew his dad, not very well, through the church I am youth minister at. His son was in the youth group, and to make a long story short, to help him and his boy out, i let his son move in with me, so now he is my nephew. But back to that chat.

Last night at dinner he is usually very quiet, and does not offer up much information, not much more that a grunt or two. But some of that is typical teen age communication but with him it’s also a cultural thing, he was taught to be seen not heard. And that’s what he tries to do, over the last year or so I have worked very hard to get him to open up, to talk to me and other adults more freely. It’s been a hard road, but it has had it’s moments, like last night.

the topic of our conversation is of no real concern for the point of this blog, what is of concern is the importance of intimate conversation. We have gotten away from intimacy in general, our conversations are done via text messaging on our cell phones, one of the latest trends is to text your boy friend or girl friend that you are breaking up. My nephew asked a young lady out via a text message. I was not happy and told him so, to me, asking someone out is an intimate act and should be done face to face, or at least over the phone, voice to voice. The ability to text someone removes the direct contact, removes the personal touch. It makes it easer to have no investment in to the relationship. Sure there are times that texting is called for, or Instant Messaging (IMing) someone one. I IM people all the time, unless it is important, unless it calls for intimacy than it is a face to face contact.

The body often times speaks more that the voice, we can learn more for the language the body is using than the language the voice is using.  With text messages and such, all that is lost, we speak in bits and peaces, using icons to display emotions and words that haven’t even been added to any dictionary as of yet.

When I talk with my nephew I always make sure I can see him and that he is looking at me, often times he looks down or away, and misses the body language of the conversation. I try to explain the importance of looking someone in the eyes when you talk to them, but in this world of texting it seems to make no cense. I am sure he would rather just text me a reply and be done with it.

This all to often is what most teens, and now even adults would rather do. We are loosing the ability to have intimate conversations by allowing our youth to continue hiding behind there phones. As parents and care givers we have a responsibility to teach our children how to be intimate, and we do this by example, but forcing them to look at us when they talk to us, but explaining that texting does not replace face to face or voice to voice, that important things are not reduced to “OMG” (Oh my god) or other such abbreviations, and that a 🙂 does not truly equal a smile.

If we continue down this path we run the risk of living in a world of no intimacy, just a quick text and off we go. So last nights conversation was truly of no great importance except he did communicate with me, he looked at me and he smiles and responded with feeling in his voice. That is much more than a text message ever can be.

ttyl

Paul

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My day job takes me all over the world; I have traveled to7 different countries over the past 11 years and have enjoyed the ability to make friends in places I never thought I would. I have good friends in Brazil, UK, Sweden and Germany. Friends that I will chat with via email or visit when I get the change to fly there, one such change is coming up, I will be heading off for a 3 week trip to the UK, Germany and Sweden this November. Along with all the work I have to do why I am there, I will also get a chance to visit with my friends. It’s always nice to sit and talk to good friends over dinner and a glass of wine.

The chance to chat with friends is one that I rarely pass up, I love to sit and just “shot the breeze”, it allows for the conversation to take on a natural organic flow. Creating an atmosphere of family, there is something worm and comforting about that, each time I travel overseas to work, I always make an effort to make time for conversations.

Conversation is the corner stone of any relationship; it is where true friendship and love are forged and where they can also be dismantled. It is in conversation that we discover the truth of the person, not always what they say, but how they say it, or how they react to it. Conversation is the alpha and omega of relationship; it is the center and outer rings of complex situations.

For example, take the current political session, each candidate is involved in a conversation with America. Each is trying to create the groundwork for a more personal relationship with you. We, as Americans rarely vote on issues, we vote on how we “see” the candidate. We look for moments of connectivity, moments that define them to us. We base our vote on the conversation they had with us.

We can also us our faith life as an example. Many people attend Services; they invest themselves in the process by volunteering their time. They allow the conversation of the church they attend to penetrate themselves. They like what they hear, or they feel safe in the situation.

The traversed can be said also, for both examples. Many people will not vote for one candidate, not because they don’t agree with the issues, but because the candidate “feels” wrong to them. Or a person my not volunteer because they do not feel they are with family, they do not feel safe.  

A conversation is the cornerstone, the foundation that must be laid if we want to build upon any relationship, be it personal or professional. Without a strong conversation the whole social structure you have worked to create will crumble. Without a strong foundation to build upon your work is in vain.

We have seen this throughout history, week foundations in negotiations results in a breakdown of talks, failed relationships results in wars and so on. We have also seen strong relationships built because of conversations that were honest and solid. Wars have been obverted and allies made. Conversations are the key.

In today’s outlook on the world, conversations have been reduced to sound bites and text messaging. We have allowed technology to form us instead of us forming it. We see it in the news, where important information is reduced to a 30 second sound bite, or tragedy is given a catch phrase and logo. We experience with our youth, where text messaging has replaced true conversations. I have watched as two teens argued via text messages, there have been news reports of Hollywood stars breaking up via a text message (of course it was in a 30 second sound bite). We are losing the art of conversation; we are creating cornerstones out of fluff rather than solid materials. We see it in the inability of our youth to carry on conversations without the use of their phones.

Some will argue that text messaging is the new “writing Letters”, I would argue that it is not. With a text messaging your message is abbreviated, both in words and in depth. We have a generation who have taken the art of conversation and reduced it to communication with no true feelings.

Sure I email my friends and even have IM sessions with them, but when it comes to building a relationship with them, when it is truly important, I want to have a conversation. I want to sit with them, face to face, to forge a bond that is strong for years to come.

So I am looking forward to this trip overseas, I am looking forward to adding to the foundation of the friendships I have forged, the foundation built upon good food, good wine and great conversations.

Paul

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