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Love Goes First

God’s fundamental message on how we are to live is simple, universal and has been passed from generation to generation since the beginning of our modern human history. We honor God, one another and our ancestors, by living according to this request from our creator. Namaste

What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. ~ Judaism

Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. ~ Christianity

Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. ~ Islam

A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. ~ Jainism

Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence. ~ Confucianism

One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. ~ Hinduism

One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts. ~ African Traditional Religions

Hurt not others with that which pains yourself. ~ Buddhism

Whatever is disagreeable to yourself, do not do unto others. ~ Zoroastrianism

All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One. ~ Native American Spirituality

Be charitable to all beings, love is the representative of God. ~ Shinto

No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend. ~ Sikhism

This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. ~ Brahmanism

An it harm no one, do what thou wilt (i.e. do whatever you will, as long as it harms nobody, including yourself) ~ Wicca

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. ~ Taoism

We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent of all existence of which we are a part. ~ Unitarian

Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.” ~ Socrates 5th century BCE

May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me. ~ Plato 4th century BCE

Let no man do to another that which would be repugnant to himself; this is the sum of righteousness. ~ From the Upanishads — the foundational document for Indian Brahmanism (circa 700 BCE)

A Very Wise Move

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I am not immune to being on the receiving end of behavior from those who attempt to tear me down to build themselves up. So I understand what a challenge it is to remain patient and to not engage when people gossip about you. Or they try and get people you know to side with them by spreading lies about you. Or they shun you without reason or cause.

Over the course of life I learned a powerful lesson that helps keep me in the kind and patient space. LOVE always reveals the truth about who is guilty and who is innocent. It may take time but the behavior we consistently put out ALWAYS returns to us. That is why it is so important for you and me to refuse to get caught up in the lies and drama people create about us in an attempt to elevate themselves.

Here are three truths I know about those who gossip or spread lies –

  1. Anyone who spreads lies about another person will eventually be revealed as a liar and someone who cannot be trusted.
  2. Those who know both parties but choose to listen to the lies one tells about another are themselves prone to gossip and lying to build themselves up. It’s the birds of a feather flock together thing.
  3. The negative things said about another person say much more about the person telling them than it does about the person who is being talked about.

We cannot prevent what people say about us. We cannot prevent people from believing lies or gossip spread about us. Protesting our innocence or getting involved in a defensive confrontation only makes us look guilty and weak. We are the strong one by knowing God, the energy that is love, will in time reveal the true nature of us all. For our peace and happiness it is best for you and me to let the hurtful words and lies of others go. We intentionally stay out of God’s way. You and I ask God for patience and peace as we will to will God’s will and allow the Divine to act in God’s time. That is the self-loving and respectful thing to do. Challenging – YES. Doable – ALWAYS!

Good vs. Evil

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As a child, Satan was real to me. The hell-fire and brimstone sermons I was subjected to in church enflamed my child’s imagination of an evil demon with horns and a pitch fork. I was certain the devil was lurking under my bed, around every corner, just waiting to steal my soul. As an adult, I do not believe in a flesh and blood evil creature who desires to steal my soul or who controls MY actions. BUT, being drawn to the “dark” side is very real, because the temptation to follow self-centered ego, rather than soul, is a challenge each of us experiences countless times a day.

Ego justifies getting what it wants when it wants it. Ego is impatient, prideful, judgmental, selfish, and controlling. Ego blames others rather than assume personal responsibility. Ego fears losing control of others but does not desire to practice self-control. Ego lies, is envious and lazy. Ego projects its shortcomings onto others. Living from ego we allow the worst of ourselves to create our relationships and our lives, in essence, selling our soul to the devil that is self-centeredness, closemindedness and spiritual unconsciousness.

The GREAT news is, we are completely in control of the choices we make because one of the greatest gifts we receive from the Divine is that of free will. So, with the power and responsibility of choice resting squarely on our shoulders, we are the ones who opt to behave from ego thereby, figuratively, selling our soul to the devil. Or, we can choose to overrule ego and act from our higher, wiser, kind and loving soul.

It takes mindful, purposeful and continuous effort to keep ourselves from allowing our thoughts to justify behavior that goes against God, which is Love. Thankfully, the Divine truly wants us to live from soul. That is why God’s gift of free will supplies us with all the power we need to master a mind with a mind of its own. To question our thoughts by filtering them through our soul. Is what we are thinking real, true, or important? Do our thoughts justify actions that can hurt us or someone else? Are our thoughts attempting to limit the cooperative, inclusive, and virtuous motivations of our heart? Stopping ourselves to care about what we are thinking and the motivations (self-centered or selfless) behind our thoughts, is the moment by moment choice we make to either sell our soul to the Devil, or keep our soul aligned with God.

Ordinary and Extraordinary

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When I lived in Birmingham, Alabama in the late 1980s, I had a friend named Libby. She had one son and made a living painting houses. She seemed to be an ordinary person living an ordinary life. But what many did not know is that she was actually an ordinary person who chose to live an extraordinary life.

Libby was 23 years old when her uncle and three other Ku Klux Klansmen  and segregationist planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite beneath the front steps of the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. The bombing on Sunday, September 15, 1963, was an act of white supremacist terrorism.  Although in 1965 the FBI concluded the church bombing had been committed by four known Klansmen, no prosecutions ensued until 1977, when Robert Chambliss was tried and convicted of first degree murder of one of the victims. My friend Elizabeth (Libby) H. Cobb, was star witness for the prosecution against her uncle, who was convicted, in large part, as a result of her testimony. After the trial, threats and harassment from Ku Klux Klan members and others forced Libby and her son to leave Birmingham for several years.

Dictionary.com defines courage – the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., with bravery.

I cannot tell you my friend Libby was not afraid to testify, to expose her uncle for his part in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and the many other atrocities he committed. In fact, on several occasions she shared with me how afraid she was to do what she chose to do. However, she did not let fear stop her from standing up to courageously do the right thing.

You and I are surrounded by every-day heroes. People who refuse to allow fear, evil, injustice, hate, to have the upper hand. People of courage who stand up for what is right because it is the right thing to do. Brave people who show us how to live an ordinary life in an extraordinarily courageous way.

Nothing to Hide and No One to Hide it From

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When I was young I had many experiences that convinced me beyond doubt – you and I are souls – spiritual beings on great human adventures. And, through much trial and error I came to appreciate we create our best life by living from the soul part of ourselves.

I know soul to be the part of our being where the original creative consciousness put a spark of itself into our human form. That Divine part of us, soul, is where the values of #LOVE (peace, kindness, respect, responsibility, honesty, intuition, wisdom, etc.) reside. In addition to soul, we are also a human being with a personality and ego – sense of self.

A healthy ego (soul in the lead) allows us to see ourselves in others, to consider the needs, thoughts and desires of others. With a healthy sense of self we can see the big picture and how all life is connected. A healthy ego welcomes constructive criticism and accepts responsibility for our thoughts, words and the consequences of our actions. A healthy ego desires to learn from the experience and observations of others, our history, and from our negative choices. A healthy, balanced sense of self depends on the moral and ethical integrity of soul to guide our thoughts, words, actions, evaluations and decisions.

An unhealthy ego (wounded, victim, arrogant, bully, controlling, blaming, vindictive, self-centered sense of self) discounts the ethical and moral soul part of ourselves, and others. An unhealthy ego is focused on satisfying its unending lust for power, wealth, praise, and control, and will vilify and blame anyone who gets in its way. Ego will justify any behavior to get what ego wants when and how ego wants it. Including being dishonest with ourselves about ourselves and being dishonest with ourselves about others. Self-centered ego has no problem lying about anything to anyone and is very skilled at getting others to believe the lies it tells. Therefore, I learned one of the most important values to uphold, to stay aligned with soul – the spiritual part of us – is honesty (truthfulness, freedom from deceit or fraud.)

Honesty keeps us connected to soul, to the Divine, to the good, positive and caring part of us. Being honest is a cornerstone of a true spiritual connection to the Divine because honesty creates a clean, positive life where we have nothing to hide and no one to hide it from. The transparency of being honest is the foundation of all successful and mutually beneficial relationships because truthfulness produces trust, respect, and no hidden agendas.

Truthfulness will always be hugely important in creating our best life. BUT in today’s world, transparent integrity is even more vital to our happiness and peace because some people commanding our attention are blatantly lying without remorse, regret or ethical and moral misgivings. There are people in positions of “perceived” power who are spreading fake news, conspiracy theories, and trash talk with absolute disregard for facts, research and the investigative endeavors of others. This dishonest egocentric lying creates a lack of respect for the reliable information necessary to keep us informed. And, of equal importance, anyone who does not care about honesty, or telling, knowing or acknowledging the truth, is operating without ethical and moral supervision over themselves, their actions, their thoughts and their life. Without a moral compass they cannot make the best decisions for themselves or anyone else.

No relationship, whether between partners, friends, neighbors, countries, political leaders and their citizens, or world-leaders will be peaceful, respectful, and beneficial unless there is a priority placed on honest and impeccable values. Only when heart is involved do we stop to care how our actions, our words, our agenda will impact others. Only with soul can we have the courage to treat others as we want to be treated. Only with soul can we truly know an untruth when we hear it. And, only with soul’s wisdom are we capable of seeing the big picture to view the challenges we face from a different perspective and bring a higher level of awareness to solve what egocentric blindness cannot.

God gave each of us a soul so we can care for one another. God gave us a soul so we can think before we act. God also gave each of us the power of choice to be ruled by a wounded ego sense of self; to discount and deny our soul’s wisdom in order to justify our actions and the actions of those in positions of “perceived” power. OR, we can choose to lead with the higher, wiser, loving part of ourselves to be truly powerful over our selfish egocentric side.

One way you and I choose to lead with the best of ourselves – soul (our LOVE connection to the Divine) – is through valuing honesty, in ourselves and others.

Love Deeper Than Some Hate

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Over the course of my 60 years of life I’ve been beaten, persecuted, hated and threatened for being “different.” And you know the interesting part – WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! Each of us was created to be unique by the Divine.

I knew I was gay around age four or five. I can’t tell you how I knew but it is not uncommon for gay people to know at such an early age. As you can imagine it was a secret I kept as long as possible. I dared not tell anyone. I knew exactly what would happen because each time I entered church or went to school it was made very clear just how much my “kind” was hated.

At age eighteen I finally told my parents and yes, my worst nightmare did come true. I was sent to a physician who sexually molested me. Then I was locked in a psychiatric hospital because they thought I was depressed. I was despondent because I’d just been violated and the two people who were supposed to love me told me I was a business risk, I was going to hell, that I broke their hearts, and I should go live at the YWCA.  My parents were taught by their religion to despise gay people while also having to make sense of contradictory messages such as “thou shall not judge” and “love your neighbor as yourself” and “treat other people as you want to be treated.” Now faced with their worst nightmare too, they feared being shunned by their religious, social and business communities.  Their solution was for me to change so they sent me to a psychiatrist in another town. I’ll never forget the look on my parent’s face when the doctor told them he would not and could not change me since I was #BornThisWay. Like so many other things that make us unique, being gay is biological, no matter what we are taught to believe in ancient religious beliefs that justify condemning others. So what the doctor would do is help me learn to accept myself in a world that flat out did not.

Today, my parents are two of my biggest fans and best friends. They no longer fear being shunned or hated themselves because over forty years ago they began bravely questioning their beliefs. When they did, they found love is stronger than fear. Acceptance more loving than judgment. And, what other people think of me is not as important as what they know to be true of me.  It turns out my parents always loved me. They just had no clue how to accept me while also following their religious beliefs. Apparently they made peace with that because the only thing I now feel from them is complete and unconditional love. The same as if Jesus himself were loving me.

With each harmful action I see happening as a result of the green flag some feel they have been given to act on their hate of those who are different than they are, the resolve I have to do whatever is necessary to #BeLoveInAction to support ALL of my fellow American’s and “different” citizens of our world – black, brown, white, young, old, Muslim, Jewish, disabled, gay, – has strengthened. After a life-time of being hated for being born gay – something so irrelevant to my character – I know my decision to stand up #Indivisible against those who desire to divide us is clear, because I will not go back on the promise I made to God to #LoveDeeper than some hate.

I am not alone. Jesus made a similar decision long ago. I look at my decision as simply doing what Jesus would as #AnAmbassadorOfLove.

When Not Knowing It All is Great!

Outstanding Nation

I spent twenty years getting a formal education. I received a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and my bachelor’s. After being in the work world for many years I returned to earn a master’s degree in management/leadership. It was a three year, forty-eight credit hour executive program which meant I was required to have a certain number of years’ experience in supervisory, management and executive positions to be considered for admissions.

It’s been twenty-two years since I received my graduate degree. Before my master’s degree, and after, my work history included running for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. I was privileged to manage, recruit and train large staffs and allocate large budgets. I wrote and implemented several long-term strategic and marketing plans. I hired and released many people during my professional tenure. As CEO and COO I was the spokesperson, the leader, the face of the organization, and liaison to other organizations. Therefore, as the person at the top, the success or failure, while not completely on my shoulders alone, did finally rest with me.

I have an idea of how effective organizations work and the leadership skills necessary to guide them to success. And, while I readily admit I do not know everything about running every organization, I have learned much about what does and does not work. So, here are a few fundamental things I’ve learned. I share these with you as we watch our current political climate unfold because it is always responsible to remember WE THE 325 + Million PEOPLE of the United States are the major (stakeholders) in our country (organization).

Any successful endeavor, whether it is a personal or professional relationship, depends on clear, concise, thorough, frequent and direct communication. There can be no ambiguity, lying, taunting, false news stories, vilifying investigative reporting, bullying, egocentric posturing, or mixed messages in a successful organization. Without transparent, regular, respectful and honest communication there will be NO trust built among workers, stakeholders and constituents. Without trust there will be no success for the leadership. Eventually those who do not communicate effectively and honestly are deemed untrustworthy and are removed from the organization.

Each productive, respected and effective leader gains a majority buy-in of a mission, vision and strategic plan for the organization. A strategic plan is developed with care and great attention to detail. While an organization must remain flexible to move with the ebb and flow of unforeseen circumstances in achieving its goals, a sound and competent leader does not vacillate wildly on the direction of the organization. Organizations do not succeed, long-term, if the goals of leadership and those in positions of power fluctuate crazily or differ from the goals of the majority of shareholders (majority of citizens in our scenario).

Without seasoned and experienced employees in key positions, the drain on organizational resources (money, time, efficiency, strategy, opportunities, relationships, etc.) will be much greater than for a leader who hires the best qualified for a job. Effective leadership hires those with relevant and applicable experience for the position for which they are hired. Leaders know to establish cohesion and effectiveness within the organization there must be appropriate experience in positions of great importance. A real danger to overall organizations success is that those hired (appointed) without the necessary and applicable experience may have conflicts of interest between a personal agenda and the goals of the organization (citizens). Also, inexperience creates a learning curve situation, and naïveté may create challenges and controversies for the organization that experience and training could prevent.

Whether an organization is large or small, the person (people) at the top need to remain in touch with the masses who work for and are benefited by the organization. Listening to those from the lowest to highest levels is mandatory for decision-makers. Without a finger on the pulse of the people who make up an organization (majority of citizens) no leader will be effective or last any length of time. Eventually, organizational culture will disintegrate as a result of leadership disconnectedness. The organization will become stagnated and ineffective. One warning sign of stagnation is that the organization experiences internal conflict and stops producing positive and desired results.

Ethical, moral and legal impeccability begins at the top and is mirrored down the line. Unethical and illegal business dealings will eventually be the downfall of any dishonest organization as stakeholders (citizens) always demand the best behavior from those in positions of power over others. The bottom line is, we truly admire those who remain people of honorable character, no matter how big the bribe. And no corrupt organization can withstand the eventual backlash created by disgruntled stakeholders.

Overall, effective leaders are composed, balanced, honest, and exude an air of dependable, rational mental and physical decorum. Executive excellence is dependent on authentic, humble self-confidence, self-control, forethought, integrity, respect for differing points of view and a devotion to creating compromise. Only the world’s autocrats, dictators and tyrants view those who disagree with them as enemies. True leaders welcome differing as an effective tool to the collaborative process. Effectual leadership knows cooperative dialogue and varying points of view results in the best solutions to challenges. Successful leaders know they do not know everything.

Attitude is Everything

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I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. My early experience with organized religion steered me off the path of blindly swallowing the practices and beliefs of others to forge my own trail. My spiritual teachers have been real life people who manage to stay loving, peaceful, and who always find the positive, even under the worst of situations.

One of my most profound teachers was a young woman of 17. When she was raped by a man she considered a safe friend, her response was“what do I need to learn from this horrible experience.” As you can imagine I was shocked. At first, I did not comprehend how she could not be angry and want revenge? But then I realized she was making an intentional choice to take a terrible situation, one she was powerless to prevent or change, and turn it around to find what SHE needed to do to move herself forward. I knew that level of courage and self-reflection was directly from God.

I chose then and there, if this young woman could find the silver lining in her experience, there is no reason I cannot live the same way. I accepted the only thing standing between living this heart-first way, or not, is a choice. That was the powerful realization that changed my entire perspective and solidified my knowing we are indeed spiritual beings (souls) on great human adventures.

Over thirty years later I am still passionately devoted to finding the light, even in the darkest situations. I am happy to report choosing a positive attitude has served me well; through Barbara’s cancer, the murder of a friend, death of loved ones, illness, living in a world where acts of violence impact innocent people, job loss, relationship break-ups, losing almost everything, and so much more. Yes, I’ve certainly had my share of heart-break and loss. But I credit my ability to bounce back quickly and to remain focused on positive to the angels in my life. Those who taught me I always have the choice to see my glass as overflowing, even when the tap looks like it may run dry.

The Power of Hope

I was adopted. All the dogs I’ve had were adopted. And, Barbara and I recently adopted a 54 year old woman who, without our help, would be homeless.

We don’t have lots of money. But we have big hearts and great faith. We cannot let her be put out on the street or go hungry if we can lend a hand. We’ve cut back in every way we can so we can send what we can to a new friend who is doing everything within her power to stay afloat. What we are giving is the lifeline she needs to get back on her feet. Exactly the same lifeline I received when I was adopted and received again when I was down and out.

We have faith very soon she will again be able to make it on her own. Until then B and I feel grateful to be in the right place at the right time to give hope to someone who’d all but lost hers. We believe what goes around comes around. We’re okay if the only thing that comes back is the joy of knowing we did what we could when God asked us to do so.

Be Love In Action

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I think you know I’m not the type person who is going to sit around and wait for other people to go first to make OUR world a better place. So, here are five MORE things I do each day that if you do too, WE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD in a very good way.

  1. Refuse to gossip. About ourselves, other people, politicians, actors, anyone. Yes, we can go through life without participating in this destructive and harmful pastime. We can absolutely support others as we want to be supported because we actually raise ourselves up by lifting one another up, NOT by tearing each other down.
  2. Respect others as we want to be respected. That means we respect even those who do not respect themselves enough to be respectful of others.
  3. Apologize when we mess up. We’re not perfect. But we can admit when we’re wrong, when we make a mistake, and we must genuinely mean it by working hard not to make the same mistakes again.
  4. Pick up trash and litter in our neighborhoods, parks, and public spaces. No it may not be our trash but we can do something positive about it.  We teach children how to dispose of waste responsibly.  And we do what we see needs to be done to lead by example to keep our world clean.
  5. We reach out to those who are lonely. Those who feel unseen, unheard, unloved. We smile, say hello, stop and have a conversation with someone we meet. People who feel a part of something good don’t fall victim to joining something bad. Yes, it takes a caring and active village to raise responsible children who grow into caring and responsible adults.

See it really is very easy to make a positive difference each and every day to be LOVE in ACTION.