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 “It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.” (Albert Einstein)

  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi)

 “We do not act rightly because we have virture or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly” (Aristotle)

 

 

Here we are facing another municipal election in Squamish and once again there appears to be no shortage of high emotions, bitter disputes, accusations, suspicions, personal attacks and what appears to be at least one witch-hunt. Not the sort of environment which is likely to entice the 60% in our community who typically refrain from voting to get involved this time around. During the last round of municipal elections in 2011 I made the decision to vote and to become involved with local politics for the first time in my life. Since I am politically ignorant my only contribution was around helping candidates with getting out their platforms, aggregating election material on a site which became THE most popular election/candidate portal in town, engaging on social-media and facilitating/administering the creation of the Squamish Speaks Facebook Group. A personal donation of hundreds of hours of my time and hundreds of dollars in costs which I believe benefited every candidate, the community and the overall election process in Squamish in 2011. Although I enjoyed contributing in a small way to the previous election, there was also a dark-side to the process. A disappointing dark-side which demonstrated how strong emotions, passionate beliefs, inflated egos and in some cases how personal and self-serving agendas can often evoke the essence of someone’s character, both for the good and not-so-good.

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happy-at-workChoose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ” ― William James

This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ― Alan Watts

So, how do we find happiness at work? This is a very relevant topic, and question, for most people since I am sure we have all had a job or contract where we questioned the value of that working/contract relationship, or we are just plain unhappy in our current job. Often, particularly if the position or contract is financially lucrative, it is easy to justify maintaining the status-quo and “tough it out”, even when the environment becomes dissatisfying, stressful, unfulfilling or even toxic. But there is a heavy price to pay, both for you and your family, for putting aside your psychological or emotional well-being, or in some cases your integrity or principles, by remaining in a less-than-fulfilling, or dysfunctional work relationship, regardless of the financial benefits. This is an important topic I would like to try and cover more in-depth in the future, but let me see if I can offer up a few insights, starting with my own experiences with less-than-satisfying work environments. Continue Reading »

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Compassion, forgiveness, these are the real, ultimate sources of power for peace and success in life.” (Dalai Lama)

…the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it.” (Joseph Campbell)

 

After watching the painful and disturbing interview between Donald Sterling and Anderson Cooper on CNN earlier this week following the controversy over Sterling’s racist comments involving persons of colour, particular Magic Johnson, I found myself (internally) passing harsh judgement and condemnation towards Sterling – along with a good deal of pity. I am sure I was not alone with these thoughts. However, this got me thinking about how we tend to respond to such poisonous conduct and persons with judgement, dismissal and often discrimination and separation. And in Donald Sterling’s case, even punishment and banishment. I began to ask myself – from the perspective of psychological, emotional, spiritual and social health – is this the best we can do? From an ethical and utilitarian perspective, are we doing the “right” thing to ensure maximum benefits and maximum happiness for the greatest number of people? I don’t believe we are when we respond to these “poisons” (or persons) with judgement, discrimination or vitriolic statements and I think Magic Johnson has showed us how to respond with grace, respect and even a bit of compassion. Continue Reading »

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Neal KingCharacter is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.
(J.C. Watts)

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” (Marcus Aurelius)

Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (Kant)

 

I really didn’t know how I would approach this blog posting so I wrote a few different versions ranging from the usual judgmental rant with lots of finger pointing, even one with a few “I told you so’s” mixed in. It is always easy to look back at a crisis and speculate as to where things went wrong and as is often the case, point fingers at those we believe are to blame. The disgraced (ex) president Neal King is certainly an easy target for blame in this unfortunate situation with Sofia University (Sofiagate?) and it probably makes us feel better when we can point the finger at one person. However, I think there is much more blame to go around behind the Sofia University scandal that is satisfied by simply pointing a finger at the apparent irrational, unethical, unprofessional and possibly illegal conduct of the past president Neal King. Everyone – students, faculty, alumni, founders and staff who witnessed or directly experienced many of the early warning signs of managerial, professional or ethical misconduct, yet did nothing, may hold as much if not MORE of the blame than one person alone. In my opinion Sofia University reached this unfortunate state not simply from the actions of one man, but from the INACTION of those who knew something was wrong for quite some time, but said or did nothing out of cowardice, self-interest or in the case of some, an exaggerated detachment indicative of spiritual bypassing – I am on a “spiritual path of self development, I don’t want to hear, read or discuss anything “negative’ about the program“. I spent one year in Sofia’s Global Master’s Program and I can tell you that even from the limited perspective of a graduate student in an online program who has never even set foot on campus, there was ample evidence of managerial, administrative, educational, technological and professional “issues” indicative of wide-spread and systemic problems. In spite of trying everything I could to engage fellow students and collectively raise many of these issues or concerns with senior staff, including the president Neal King and Provost Paul Roy, I was not successful and so along with at least one other student, left the program in frustration just before the proverbial shit hit the fan.

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HandsEarth

 “To build a global ethic of nonviolence, coexistence, gender equity and peace by facilitating secular processes that cultivate personal and social ethical values.” (FUR)

 “To promote universal responsibility in a manner that respects difference and encourages a diversity of beliefs, practices and approaches.” (FUR)

To enrich educational paradigms that tap the transformative potential of the human mind.” (FUR)

I have always enjoyed philosophy and during my undergraduate years at Simon Fraser University I had the privilege of attending some of the early meetings of the SFU Philosophers Cafe. Sometime around 2009 I had the further privilege of starting a Philosophers Cafe in Squamish BC with the support and moderation of Jill Fellows who was teaching at Quest University at the time. One of our last topics for discussion was “Universal/Global Ethics: Is there such a thing? What would they look like?“. Although the topic and discussion was at times philosophically technical, the underlying meaning of the topic is universal and easily recognizable. The population of the world continues to increase, and boundaries between countries, governments, communities and communications continue to dissolve. These population growth and technologically driven communication changes are bringing together people of widely different values, ethics, laws and perspectives on life and community. One of the important questions that arises with this growth and increasing connection and interaction with diverse populations is “how can we possibly create a harmonious and sustainable future living together on this crowded planet if we all have different ideas as to what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’?” Many believe the only way we can attain such a harmonious and sustainable future is through the the development and adoption of Universal Ethics & Responsibility. A set of personal and global values which we all recognize as important and worth promoting and adopting as guides to living our lives, how we behave, and how we treat others. Although the notion of Universal Ethics & Responsibility is undeniably complex and likely to take hundreds if not thousands of years to attain, and will require a level of global cooperation yet to be seen, there is much to be gained by beginning discussions, and trying to adopt some of these values now.

In 1989 when the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he donated a portion of the 1/2 million dollar award to many facing starvation in various parts of the world; a portion to some of the leprosy programs in India, a portion to some existing peace programs and a portion to start the Foundation for Universal Responsibility. I believe the Dalai Lama, along with remarkable human beings like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and many others, have already shown us how to create a better world through the universal values of compassion, respect, tolerance and love for one another. Each and every one of us can begin laying the foundation for a world we wish to leave behind for our children and future generations, by adopting some or all of these values right now. I am trying to do my own very, very small part by learning about these great people, their powerful and universal ideas and finding new ways not only to spread their ideas, but to adopt them into my own life on a day-to-day basis.

Although this topic is far too complex to cover adequately in one blog posting, what follows is the outline for the Philosopher’s Cafe talk on Universal & Global Ethics which was originally written by Jill Fellows along with a few edits, additions and paragraphs of my own. I believe it makes for reasonable starting point, from a philosophical standpoint, for a discussion on some of the perspectives on Universal Ethics. Continue Reading »

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