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What about the human element?

Where are we headed?

As much as I appreciate the benefits that advances in technology have brought us, I ponder whether those advances will ever fully and in any way meaningfully replace the human element.  Would we even desire to have such a world, ultimately? In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, I offer a poem.

Humanly elemental

Industrial revolution

Internet

Cloud computing

Electronic mail

Socket layers

Virtual fire walls

Machine learning

Pattern recognition

Human recognition

Human evolution

Human revolution

Artificial intelligence

Emotional intelligence

Intelligence quotient

Self-serve check-out stands

Vending machines

ATMs

Scanners

Swipe and go

Robots

Robot dolls

Human interaction removed

Elemental

Detrimental

What happens to connection

Hand to hand

Heart to heart

Human pulse

Life force

Life source

Life blood

Batteries already included

Artificial anything not needed

What’s needed

is

the

human

element

 

For your consideration:

Have we gone too far with technology? Or, have we not gone far enough? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Okay, your turn:

Where in your life have you found advances in technology to be your saving grace? When at times have you simply stepped away from technology and turned instead toward other life enhancing alternatives?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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The loftiness of law and public discourse

In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we take a look at public discourse and what it means to be a good citizen.

Why so lofty?

With our President scoffing at current climate crises, and declining to attend a climate discussion meeting at this year’s recent G7 summit (this within two years of having pulled the United States from the multilateral Paris Climate Accord) – and, in lieu of holding frequent press conferences, resorting instead to a constant flow of shall we say disrespectfully taunting tweets online (lessons in how not to play well with others), and with the overall rise in documented hate speech and hate crimes in our society, I ponder this:

Have we reached a low point in our collective public discourse? And where do we as citizens – and the legal system and the government as well – play a role in elevating the discussion?

Shall we be aiming higher? Not unlike having a set of golf clubs, we have at our disposal a range of “lofts” to choose from. By that I mean, depending on the degree of upward spiral we select, we aim by design to reach an intended end state. A golfer may select a high loft club (such as a sand wedge) to pop up the ball from the sand trap and onto the green, gently landing and running a short distance without the ball making a bee line well beyond the hole and off the green altogether and maybe even into a water hazard.

Sometimes we speak of “lofty ideals” and “lofty goals” as if they are far-off, unreachable, untenable, and unattainable. I’d say that when they are grounded in tolerance and compassion, they stand a good chance of longterm success, not only for us as individuals but as a collective. (For more on this, see the previous edition of Soul Notes, From Idealist to Lost in the Practice of Law, here.)

In Ancient Greece, the “agora” (translated as market square or gathering place), as captured by Christopher Phillips in his book entitled, Six Questions of Socrates:

“Those who converged centuries ago in this center of commercial and civic life didn’t just come to barter and sell a wide range of merchandise, but also to exchange and examine ideas and ideals.” (p.10).

In Ancient Athens, considered the center of polis (think politics) and the birthplace of democracy, towns people would come together to create coalitions and build upon a shared sense of morals and high conduct. There was an emphasis placed on being a good citizen. Public discourse was encouraged and carried the day. History tells us that Ancient Athens eventually unraveled due to increasing corruption and resulting cynicism. So, what can we learn from Athens’ later societal crumbling and decline?

Recently, I attended a town hall hosted by a Southern California member of Congress. The Congressional representative spoke for about twenty minutes from the stage and then opened up the forum for an hour of questions from the audience. I was struck by the thoughtfulness of the questions and the candor and specificity of the responses. There was an exchange of ideas and while passionate at times, all the while respectful in tone and temperament. I felt the genuine need for citizens to be heard was being honored. I felt the appreciation from the audience that they had an opportunity to share their admiration, ideas, as well as their pleas for improvements in Congress and what we can expect from our representatives on the national stage. There was a discussion of enacted and pending legislation. The rule of law and how we are governed was a running thread.

For your consideration:

In our own lives — in how we communicate in person and online — we have an opportunity to elevate rather than debase one another and the sharing of ideas.  It makes for a more tolerant and dare I say more learned society. And with that comes greater understanding and an increased ability to sustain our planet and each other.  Let’s commit to being good citizens, good friends, and good stewards.

Okay, your turn:

Where have you witnessed a rise in the sharing of ideals, wisdom, and collective calls to action that are a way of building up rather than tearing down?  Have you taken part in a public forum, such as a town hall?  If so, what did you notice?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Going viral

Going viral

In social media terms, we describe something — whether it be an article, a photo, a video, a particular hashtag, or meme — as “going viral” when it spreads rapidly and in effect takes on a life of its own.  In common parlance, we say something spreads like wild fire. We use phrases such as “circles of influence,” and “ripple effects.”

Is it no surprise then that influence and influenza both stem from the same origins, etymologically? (These are the things I ponder as I prepare to craft a blog article for you all. Grin).

During this time of year, we talk of physical viruses spreading from person to person, and “sick buildings,” and diseases in the form of “contagions.”

What if, instead, however, we chose to focus on ease-ease, instead of dis-ease? Hashtag, ease-ease. Let’s see that go viral.  Kidding. Not kidding. Well; sort of.

Not unlike going viral in social media terms, we do also speak of someone having an infectious laugh, and we say things like “we got to giggling so much it hurt.”  That’s the kind of world I’d like to replicate and to see catching on with wild abandon.  Particularly during these times of seemingly widening rather than narrowing political divides, especially in the United States — and of course increasingly being amplified by way of social media – I’d say we would all benefit from an emotional recess. Maybe we each need to put ourselves, myself included, in a political time-out?  Sit in the corner, take deep breaths, and let the high fever simmer down.

Less hate, more love. Less ridicule, more understanding.  Less disdain, more compassion.  Less anger, more joy. Call me crazy. Crazy good. Crazy human. Going viral. Pass it on. Hand sanitizer not included.

For your consideration:

What is it that you’d like to pass along from one person to the next?

Remember when paying it forward was a thing? When it was an actual cultural phenomenon, not just a movie?  The idea was: You go out and positively impact three people, and they positively impact three people, and so on. And so on. That’s what we could focus on as the new, old way of going viral – not for the fame, but for the humanity of it. For you, for me, for us all.

Okay, your turn:

What are you willing to share that brings about comfort, solace, happiness, or pure joy in  someone else?

When’s the last time you got together with a friend and laughed so hard it hurt?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2019 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.

 

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The honoring of union and unity: Are you in?

Oneness

Union and unity

or, at least the potential of it

exists

within ourselves

and with and among each other

and with the Divine.

We are more alike than we are different.

We are all made of the same ‘stuff,’ the same stuff as the stuff of the earth and the stars.

 

As we hear spoken at Mass on Ash Wednesday, from the Old Testament:

From dust we came and to dust we shall return.  (Genesis 3:19)

And, as set forth in the New Testament, we are reminded that:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. (Mark 3:25)

 

Also, as Americans we’ve often heard repeated this pre-revolutionary war era rallying cry:

United we stand; divided we fall. (“The Liberty Song,” by John Dickinson (1768))

 

Each of us has this one life to live – staying true to ourselves and our convictions, and with our own sense of right and wrong – while also living as members of our increasingly globalized society.

So, why do we so often seem to be hell-bent on finding ways to emphasize our differences in such a way that, rather than uplifting each other, threatens to cut each other down, and keep us separated?  Why must we do so in ways that are disrespectful and even dare I say dehumanizing?

To do so, is to forget an important spiritual principle, as so eloquently set forth in Yogi Bhajan’s First Sutra of the Aquarian Age:

Recognize that the other person is you.

I have this sutra, included in the list of all five sutras, posted on a wall right next to my bathroom mirror.  It reminds me of the mirror, if you will, that each of us is of each other and for each other.  (For more on this First Sutra, go here.)

How We Express Ourselves To One Another

On social media, I find it challenging.  I may not always, and may not ever, truly get it ‘right.’  I do approach it with the intention, however, of striking some sort of proportionate distribution among: raising awareness and shining a light on issues that matter to me in this world, and doing so without inflicting harm, shame or blame on another – especially on anyone in the private sphere.  Elected and appointed officials, in my opinion, are subject to a bit more scrutiny, although there too I do my best to raise awareness, clarify facts, and share my point of view in a way that’s not focused on shaming the person on a purely personal level.

For the most part, I look for examples of what I’d like to “see more of” in the world.  By contrast, I suppose that in so doing, I’m also pointing out what I’d like to see “less of” in the world – and yet, why give extra mileage to those things, is my thinking?  Haven’t those negative things already gained more than enough traction?

Sometimes, by design, I take a moment to reflect, and refrain from posting anything at all. It’s not that I don’t care.  Sometimes, I feel maybe I care too much?  Is there such a thing as caring too much?  I don’t know, really.  I do know that often there is much more to be learned from listening than from telling, and certainly more to be gained by showing compassion rather than by “making a point” in a way that’s browbeating and berating to another.

As I write this, I’m reminded of the proverb: There but for the grace of God, go I.

We never fully know what another person’s experience or conditions may be.  We can only hope to heed even but the briefest moments and garner but the slightest glimpses of understanding.  What would we do if we were in their particular situation or living within their particular circumstances?  What if the roles were reversed?  I am not suggesting that I have it all figured out.  I do know, though, that at least I’m trying to be conscientious and expressing myself with a certain level of decency while also maintaining my sense of advocacy on behalf of those values and ideals I hold most dearly. It’s an ongoing, day-by-day, invocation.

For your consideration:

With friends, colleagues, and even strangers, can we aim to be more compassionate, and less quick to dehumanize?  Have social media “won” the game — in terms of reducing us to online bullies and to showing up as web-based wielding knife-throwers? Can we change the rules of the game?  I say we can.

Are we up for raising the level of discourse? I’m game! Are you in?

Okay, your turn:

Where do you feel we’ve gone astray with regard to how we treat one another, and why? How can we improve our discourse? From a loving place, and not from a place of vindictiveness, harshness, or shame or blame, are there any examples you’d like to share?

I invite you to SHARE your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by leaving a Reply in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2018 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.