Cruisin’ with Diego: One of 3 role models


Diego is my youngest grandson, 18 months. He is my inspiration in every way by the way he lives his life. Whatever Diego does, that is what I am going to start doing. I have begun training for another marathon and realize that his training regime is much better than any I have read in any magazine. This is Diego’s method. As soon as his bedroom door opens in the morning he flies down the hall running as fast as he can. When the gate is opened in the backyard, he immediately starts running. He doesn’t look back to see if anyone is watching. He just goes full speed ahead. When we are at the park, he finds a green spot and just runs.

Last night we were all sitting around after dinner with some of my daughters’ friend’s children watching the kids play on the swing set. I brought out a couple of plates of fresh strawberries and raspberries. Diego came back to the plate for more at least 15 times long after the strawberries disappeared. Then he went after the strawberry bushes that only had green ones on them. His appetite was relentless and unending. He barely had time to chew what was in his mouth before he came after the next one.

So I thought to myself, if only I could live life a little more like Diego. Get up, role out of bed, and start running and then have such a great appetite for life that it can’t be filled. What a life! Thanks for being my teacher, Diego.

The Mother of All My Fears: Exclusion

This year I am celebrating the 10 anniversary of the first time that I was ever fired from a job. I was a small child in the 1950s when loyalty was still a value in society. I still tend to believe too much in the leadership and stay too long in organizations because I still believe that the leaders want to do something good in society and are not in it for themselves. Call me naive and leave it at that. The second time I got fired was 3 years ago. It is still much fresher in my psyche than the first. Call me a slow learner. Both times I was under the illusion that I was doing my best work ever when I got fired.

Up until 10 years ago being fired had never entered my mind as a possibility so when it happened I felt devastated and betrayed like nothing I had ever experienced before. My firing, along with some of my other colleagues, was couched in the language of today. “We are not renewing your contract because we are changing the direction in the organization.” It would have been much nicer to hear the words, “you’re fired”.

I had a year off after my first firing and another year off after the second one, so both times I took that time to reconnect to my self by running marathons. In 1997 I trained for one marathon, but 3 years ago I felt so betrayed that I had to do two to get myself together. terryfox1.jpg On the 10th anniversary of my big separation I have decided that I would do some preventive medicine by training for another marathon. When I get up in the morning and have a run, I get reconnected with myself. It is a bit like taking a magical pill. Everything seems right with the world. When I am not running is when I feel the worst about myself.

I have no illusions about leadership anymore, but I still have a fear of being fired. I am not sure that it will ever fully leave or whether it is supposed to leave because being disconnected from people is a painful thing. Thank God for facebook and thank you Generation and X and X/Y for turning this baby boomer onto it.

Hope to see you all on the road. Did I say that I am going to run the marathon in Kuala Lumpur? See you at the twin towers.

Say Goodbye to Guilt #2


The big problem with guilt is that it makes you loyal for too long to something you should have left a long time ago.  While I am a baby boomer by birth, in recent years I have come to admire more and more how generation X operates because the “boomers” keep looking for good leaders to solve their problems while generation X realizes that given the current system, good leaders is an oxymoron, e.g. most leaders are morons.   Unfortunately, besides being a boomer, I was also born under the sign of taurus so I am extremely stubborn about moving.

It is pretty easy to identify a tyrant.  Lots of people die or get kicked around.  Still people feel guilty about leaving a tyrant because they are so fearful of being excluded altogether and being left out there all alone with nothing.  The advantage tyrants have is that they have long realized that people are fearful of being excluded and they use this fact to their full advantage.     This is why so many women hang onto an otherwise worthless relationship for years and years allowing themselves to experience all kinds of trauma.   The fear of being alone is extremely forceful.

Besides having to leave tyrants there is a second group of leaders and organizations that can be equally damaging and hard to leave.   They are “conservatives with a creative flare”.   They do things exactly like the really traditional ultra conservative groups except that they have some positive creativity and some moral principles that make them look like they are really out for changing the world.   You know that a tyrant is a tyrant, and a racist is a racist, but conservatives with a flare lead you on to believe that they are doing something really revolutionary and exciting when, at their core, they are just like all the other traditionalists hanging onto to their closely guarded space and structures.

People tend to hang on with a conservative with a flare because they see the creativity and the ethics and think that something is wrong with themselves when things just don’t live up to all of the hype, but really the core of the organization is very conservative and guards against change very strongly.    A few people see right through it, get really angry, and then are thrown out because this kind of traditionalist is like the tyrant in the end.  They don’t mind eliminating people to protect their turf and recognition addictions.    Conservatives with a flare have about a 5 year run before the walls start to crumble which is about the time they leave to do the same thing somewhere else.

What is really difficult with the flare-types is that they invite you in and allow you to be creative to a degree in the first stages.   This is what keeps people loyal and makes them feel guilty in the latter stages, but what happens when you practice creativity is that you always make mistakes which are seen as liabilities.  As soon as you start making mistakes, which give you the necessary feedback to refine and change the initial attempts, you are seen as a negative because you take away from the leader’s ultimate goal which is recognition.

You know you are working with a conservative with a flare when you start a new project, it runs into the natural difficulties of all new projects, and then you are called into the office, criticized, and eventually asked to stop the project.   A leader who is truly interested in change sees the difficulties, listens to the problems and then then encourages you to go much further.

A conservative with a flare leader can always justify getting rid of you in the end because he has been counting how many times you have made a mistake and then holds that against you.  He doesn’t want real change.  He wants a little flare to make him look good, but can’t stand to do the work of real change.  He will get rid of you in the end almost as fast as the tyrant.   You can tell who a conservative with a flare leader is by how many people they have fired.

Someone who is really interested in change is extremely slow to fire people because they are so good at the transformation work.  People actually change in their organizations.   So you needn’t feel guilty about leaving a conservative with a  flare.   They are really tyrants that have a creative front.

Be radical. Go for change.    Find a group of people who give you encouragement and stay with them.  Leave the tyrants and flares.

Say Goodbye to Guilt #1


There is a huge secret to all transformation work which I have yet to find in the literature. Behind every negative emotion like anger, envy, grief, shame, or guilt is another feeling. It is always the fear of being excluded in one form or another. It turns out that the most importance competency for human beings is closeness to others, i.e. love. It makes a great deal of logical sense if you realize that the first goal of life for a newborn is attachment to his/her mother. It also turns out that the cultures leading the way in the area of psychology, the western cultures, are the worst in this process so it should be no surprise that the literature hasn’t yet identified exclusion as the underlying mother of all of fears. The worst feelings are those of separation while the greatest are those with closeness to others. Most young people will do whatever they can to avoid the feelings of separation from their peers because we all need to be close to others. We are hardwired to be intimate friends. There is no situation in life, none whatsoever, where intimacy is not the primary goal. If closeness is not your primary goal of life, then you are out of touch with your own reality which is tantamount to committing spiritual suicide.

In the Baha’i Writings it says that the purpose of life is to be even like one soul in many bodies. That is pretty close.

So how does guilt come in?

Guilt is the negative emotion that you feel when you are not living up to a certain standard. There is such a thing as positive guilt like in the fear of God, which is what tyrants or abusers or most CEOs don’t have, but for the most part, guilt is something we all need to say goodbye to.

The problem is that we feel bad about not living up to a standard that someone else has set, it is usually unconscious, and the standard is based upon self interest for those setting it, usually the leader at the top. The only reason we remain loyal to the guilt and why tyrants have such an advantage over us is that we are so completely fearful of being excluded.   Most of today’s leaders are not fearful of excluding you because they are so out of touch with reality that firing or layoffs make them feel powerful.

When you work with guilt, first go to how you are fearful of being excluded and then everything else will make a great deal of sense. Ok, some examples.

You want to go out and play some tennis, but you just feel like you have to stay in the office and do another report that someone is demanding of you. If you use a lot of guilt as a motivator, you will stay in the office because you will be thinking that you have to impress the boss so that you won’t be excluded(fired). If you don’t have guilt, you will go for tennis, because people that don’t have guilt work a lot faster and more efficiently and have a healthy attitude toward responsibility so for them, there is plenty of time for work and plenty of time for play.

All negative emotions waste time because they are stressors in your body that keep you from working more efficiently and effectively. When you don’t have guilt, you are free to be responsible and playful at the same time. Guilt will make you tense, which will make you procrastinate, which will make you stay in the office much longer than you need to, but the real reason you stay in the office is fear of exclusion.

Jewish mother guilt: Well, I don’t think that Jewish mothers have the whole market on guilt, but they certainly have perfected it to a fine art. The “Jewish mother” thing is about getting their children to do the things that will keep the family from being excluded. Jews have a long history of exclusion. Instead of connecting children to their hearts and letting them live out of that energy, they want their children in positions in society where they are the least likely to be excluded,e.g. my son the doctor, my son the lawyer. The problem with overcoming a Jewish mother is that she is relentless. Her methodology is repetition so that is what the children believe.

To relieve the Jewish guilt you can simply fall in love with what is in your own heart to do, include yourself in your own true life. The best way to start this journey is by taking more art classes because the arts are the key area that open your heart.  Then you need messages of love to your heart constantly that are positive and nurturing and validating of your talents.

Keep Your Big Mouth Shut


Today we crossed back from Vancouver Island to the Mainland and Juliet, my daughter told me that I should write more about my methodology. In my last posting I said that I would write about guilt, but I will save that for the time being.

The first principle of the method is simple. Just keep your big mouth shut.

Simple, eh? Every teacher and every parent usually has one big issue in raising children and that is discipline. It always gets the most agenda time and the most print. Well, here is the solution. Have enough self discipline to keep your big mouth shut when you want to give advice to someone or criticize someone in order for them to change. If you never learn anything else from any book or anyone about parenting or your relationships, learn this. Keep your big mouth shut. Don’t even worry about what comes next. Just keep your big mouth shut. Everything will get better.

If you want to go for major transformation, then keep your big mouth shut about the negatives you see in others, and just say the positives. They will change right before your eyes. This takes a phd. amount of self discipline, but if you want to have friends and great children and a successful marriage, just do it.

If you want to change the world, then do the following. Keep your big mouth shut about other’s negatives, see their positives and acknowledge them, and then work on your issues. The world will change right before your eyes. If you are a teacher, your students will start having self discipline because you have it.

Self discipline begins with the simple step of keeping your big mouth shut. It is unbelievably hard to do, but it is a complete waste of time to focus on how bad others are. Pay attention to changing your own weaknesses, but not others.

Teaching Your Children to Play


If some of you out there  who are reading this posting are workaholics, I have a confession to make to you.  I am a playaholic.   I know so many people who just don’t have enough time to finish all of their work ever.  They are obsessed with it.  Well, I never get enough time to finish all of my play.  I never pass a court or field or bowling alley or pool table without thinking about having a “go”.   I must say that I am addicted.   I don’t have any issues with choosing between play or work. I always choose play.  Fortunately, by the grace of God, I have a job now that allows me to play all the time.  I am an athletic director.

Play comes naturally to children.  You don’t have to teach playfulness, but you can facilitate it as a life long pattern of energy by putting your children in environments where they are allowed to play hard.   Play is their work.

I think that the biggest factor for developing playfulness and then not giving into being a workaholic has to do with how playful fathers are with their children.  At 57 I am starting to develop some hindsight because now I have grandchildren.  Yesterday I was wrestling with Diego, my 17 month old grandson, on the bed.  We were both rolling with laughter after a few minutes.  Then I thought wow life doesn’t get any better than this.

If you are a father and you are reading this and your work is taking you away from being playful with your children,  you can break the cycle of not having a father who was there for you and just start playing a lot more.  Watch out for the next posting because it is going to be about guilt. Believe me after you are over guilt you can finally kiss all of that useless work you are doing to avoid developing the virtue of playfulness good-by.

If you read my last posting about the nightmare, well, playfulness is the key to all healthy relationships.

How to Change a Nightmare into Bliss

The nightmare: I was with a bunch of people who were all something like FBI agents. Our goal was to capture someone by cornering him and making him give up.  It was working. We just about had him completely cornered,then the dream shifted to a completely different place where we were searching for the same person in a large building with lots of people and corners and floors making it almost impossible to find the person.  We thought that it was a bit futile.  Then I eyed the suspect walking away with someone else so I stayed in the background so as not to be seen and when he came back in, the room was dark so I went to a corner.   Then the dream went from trying to capture him to becoming extremely sinister and horrifying. He killed 3 young police officers in a very cruel way, then became like a super martial arts guy cutting off people’s heads.  I tried to get away and then woke up.

Analysis:  In the dream world time has a different reality than in the material world so one of the things about a negative dream that is useful is to realize that the end is in the beginning, the end meaning the goal or the purpose of the dream. You first get the purpose of the dream and then you get the pattern.   In this dream I was collaborating to corner a criminal.  Time is reversed to real life in a negative dream.

Solutions to negative dreams are always positive opposites.  So the positive opposite of collaborating to corner a criminal would be to  work alone with my own capacities to help someone who is in great need.   The dream is telling me to help the person who is in great need, the perpetrator.

In the second part of the dream the criminal shows me just how bad he has become.  Dream life is symbolic life so killing in a sinister way means ending relationships in really bad ways.  This is what the perpetrator does.  At first I am trying to collaborate to bring him to justice, but in the end I am hiding and trying to get away with my life.

The solution is help the person in his relational life by helping him to get out of a pattern than ends up destroying relationships in really negative ways to learning how to create extremely positive relationships.   Since I was about to be his victim when I woke up, I now know that I can help him heal himself.  In real life I didn’t want to be around this person for fear of him ending relationships right before my eyes again.  The fact that my life situation has changed and I received this dream  means that the time for healing for him is now.

It is a bit of mystery to me why now but it is one of the things that I have learned to do with dreams is to submit to the message. The reasons usually become clear later if I just trust them.   I am fairly certain as to why now, but now I need to meditate on a positive way to do the healing work.  Trying to bring a person who ends relationships in a bad way to justice is pretty useless work.  That was what I was trying to do before.   Doing healing work is much more valuable, but the doors were never open.   It is no surprise that the dream came as a nightmare because without a nightmare I wouldn’t have been clear on the issue and what needed to be done.

My initial work is going to have to be to clear the negative emotions associated with the bad relationship.

Transform your child’s behavior by Changing yourself


There are literally thousands of books available all over the world on parenting which play an extremely important role in helping mothers and fathers do their life’s most crucial work in positive ways.   Several years ago I started experimenting with the radical idea that if I changed my own self, then my children and others would also change.  As I am writing the words in the above sentence, I am thinking that it sounds like a cliche, but I have also found that the focus on parenting and education is usually on the child and not on the transformation of the parents themselves.

The first thing I had to discipline myself to do, which turned out to be the most difficult, was that when someone annoyed me by their actions, to realize that the problem was mine and not theirs.  After all I was the one being annoyed, not them.  I decided that I would only focus on their positive qualities, ignore the negatives, and then work extremely hard to change myself.   Surprise, surprise.  All of my relationships improved remarkably especially with my children.

I can say quite assuredly that when I made that decision, even though I wasn’t able to completely live it for lack of self discipline, it changed everything.   Why does it work?

When your child is misbehaving, according to you, like when he suddenly lets out a scream at the dining room table or regresses two years in his eating manners, his behavior is just that and nothing more.   When I get angry at the behavior,  it means that I am suddenly regressing and losing my self discipline.    I know that this principle is hard to swallow because parents are like gods to children, but if you can get used to the idea that your child’s behavior is a reflection of your own lack of self discipline or whatever other virtue you are seeking to change in them, then the change in them will proceed much faster.

The question to ask ourselves is this.  How can I develop more self discipline? (if that is the weakness the child is showing)  If your child is full of fear, the question is related to finding more courage in yourself, not them.   If you want your child to dive into a swimming pool, with no fear, then you have to be willing to dive into something new with no fear.

Usually when you make the change, the negative behavior in the child goes away instantly or the solution to how to assist the child develop new capacities becomes clear to you.

This past year I was teaching physical education to 5 year olds.  I have a lot of years of teaching experience so I rarely need to make any lesson plans, but the big lesson plan I make everyday is that of analyzing the children’s behavior, checking to see how that makes me feel, and then changing my negative emotions into positive virtues.   Almost instantly a solution to the problem I am having in the class shows up in my mind and when I apply it, it works.    I have been working as an educator for over 30 years now and I can tell you that the number one topic of every teacher in every school where I have ever taught is how to develop more self discipline in children, but I have almost never heard the teachers describe their own lack of self discipline as an issue.

Debby, my wife, and I now have 3 wonderful grandchildren.   We live by a simple principle. Bite your tongue and change yourself.   The worse our tongues feel, the more change we need to make in ourselves.   When our tongues have huge teeth marks, it means that we have a lot to change in ourselves.

Joy dream part 2


So I was talking about my dream to Debby, my wife, (the dream with dancing) and she said that she had a dream with Kurt’s wife, Delane, and in her dream she ended up dancing as well. We both had it the same night, probably at the same time. There is no way to explain this phenomenon if you believe like many people that we are physical beings with a large brain. Don’t you think it is time that we gave into the belief that we are spiritual beings who inhabit a body from time to time? If Debby and I can have a dream at the same time which has a similar structure and content even though we are asleep and unconscious, then what new dreams in waking life can we accomplish consciously that we have heretofore disregarded?

The door appears to be wide open.

Recovering Joy Dream

The dream:  I am in a school, the principal of the school is leaving for another job as a professor at a famous University, and Kurt Hein, my ex-colleague is arguing on my behalf to get me in as the new principal.  Kurt is very emphatic about my skills, but the decision to hire someone else has already been made.  I am left out.  The principal seems apologetic, but Kurt is very unhappy with the way the decision is made.  The next thing I know is that I am in an open square dancing with a huge amount of joy.  It is so ecstatic.

The analysis: One of the most important aspects of analyzing a dream besides the obvious dissecting of the symbols is to look at the structure of the dream outside of its content.   The structure of the dream gives you the entire emotional and behavioral pattern that you are facing.  Structure is just as, if not more important, than content.  In this dream the first section ends in a feeling of being excluded, but the entire dream ends in great joy.  The sequence is first a negative and then a positive.   I am excluded, then I am in great joy.

The transformation principle in dream work is simple.  You remember and enhance positives so that they can be utilized in your life, and you change negatives so that  they become positives.   When you already have a positive in a dream, it means that the energy is available to you right now if you can just remember it in a way that will allow it to work.   In this case the virtue I am called on to remember is that of joy represented in the dance.    If there were no negatives in the dream, it would signify that the joy would be immediately available, but in this dream the negatives precede the positives.  The negatives happen first and then the positives happen.  The goal is to have both sides of the dream become positive so that I can dance my life away in great joy.


Kurt is one of the great colleagues of my career.  We worked for 8 years together at the Maxwell International Baha’i School on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.   We worked side by side.  Kurt is trying to advocate for me in the dream to be the head of the elementary school, but it doesn’t work.  The decision has already been made to hire someone else behind closed doors so I am left out.

Kurt, is a symbol of the part of me that advocates for myself.  This is the part of me that recognizes my gifts and abilities and then puts them out there for others to see.   I think that what the dream is saying is that the part that advocates for me is not the problem because the advocacy is very strong.  The part of me that is like Kurt, that recognizes talents and then advocates to utilize them, is in tact.  Despite having talents and being advocated for, I am still excluded because the decision making process is made behind closed doors.  The feeling I am left with is that of being left out.   This means that the work is the ability to deal with the feeling of being left out.

If the process of the decision making had been been fair and the result the same, then the issue for me would be to develop some new administrative qualities that I don’t have, but as the process was held behind closed doors in secrets, it means that the decision had nothing to do with my qualifications, but was tainted by impure motives of self interest.   Yet I am left excluded.

Up until that  time in my career with Kurt, where we were both fired together in a process that was largely secretive, I had always advanced through the hard work of acquiring new capacities.  At the point of the origin of the dream energy I began to experience the much larger reality of how most of the world actually operates, that is, excluding through self interest.   This was like a big shock to me, and a big eye opener, that fairness as a virtue is largely non-existent in the world.  The experience of being fired and excluded behind closed doors awakened me to a reality for which I had a lot of naivety.   Even great advocacy is not helpful when the process is ruled by self interest.
What then is the solution to exclusion based upon unfairness if advocacy does not work?  Most of the world tries advocacy, but the leaders we have prove how ineffective it is.   Clearly advocacy is not the solution because Kurt is already doing it and I am still being excluded.  The decision making powers behind the closed doors do not act on the basis of fairness.

What is the solution?  If I am being shut out by unfairness and left with exclusion, then the solution is to include myself where the door is wide open.  The dream already tells me that I have  great joy represented in the dance, so joy and energy are not things I have to work on.  What I need to find is the open door and then include myself in it with great joy.  This is the solution.   Being an elementary principal is closed because the processes are secret and impure, but there is another door that  is wide open.  Obviously being excluded took away the joy that I had associated with work so the dream is reminding me to reopen it in the  door that is open.   The school administrative door is closed, but another door is open.

The Mathematics of Change

For those of you who are math freaks and want a formula for change, here it is. This formula works

4 (+ackns) + 1 (-listneg) + 1 (flipw/plan) + x(grndrule)= rchange


1. 4(+ackns) = 80% positive acknowledgments of qualities, actions, virtues already done. Notice how high the % is. Almost all failure is a result of underestimating the amount of acknowledgment needed.

2. 1(-listneg)= listening non-judgmentally to your own or someone else’s issues. Mostly reflective listening, lots of paraphrasing so that the issue is clear.

3. 1(flipw/plan) =Solution to the issue which is a 180 flip of the current negative pattern internally and externally. e.g. flip from running away from a fear by avoiding to running toward a positive goal fully. Plan always releases the positive energy to start acting.

4. x(grndrules) = ethical and moral ground rules that serve as boundaries like fidelity in marriage, not using material substances to deal with issues, not stealing, not using power in an abusive way.

Almost everyone in the entire world has problems with number 1. It is much more important than you think. More to come later. Radical Change the book is soon to be published.

Why Airasia? The Big Shift


Airasia is a low cost airline that provides services all throughout SE Asia. Last year 9 of us in our family flew to Langkawi from KL for about $220 USD. That’s $220 altogether. We have flown to Thailand three times, to Bali, to Jakarta, and Hanoi all in one year. The planes have almost always been full. When we flew to Vancouver this past week from KL on a big carrier, United, I noticed some things that I hadn’t given eye to before. United puts out a red carpet for people in first class and business class and gives them a special gate. I just started to wonder about a question as I gazed on the red carpet that no one was using. Are we, the low-cost travelers, the ones who are paying for the red carpet? Think about it. Do the first class travelers really pay for the first class treatment? Corporate travelers are already getting a big discount and one of those seats takes the space of about 2-4 economy seats. When you consider that they have their own lines that cost more to service per person and more than twice the space, it should become pretty obvious that we are paying for a good percentage of their ride.

A few years ago Bali suffered 2 bombings that really devastated their tourist economy. When we talked to our hotel manager, who happened to be a Canadian that was adored by all of his staff, he said that it was only because of Airasia that the tourist industry has begun to pick up again. Why have they been able to revive the market where big carriers have failed?

Everyone knows that the further away you are from a disaster, the worst it seems. The people in the region know that about Bali, that it is not a dangerous place, so when Airasia began offering low- cost flights, the economy picked up.

So what does all this mean? The rich are charging you, the middle class, for their luxury. This is why you can’t stop video piracy in Asia. No one in their right mind believes that we should be paying for Tom Cruise’s salary. It is just so over-the-top for what he is worth. Come on, let’s get real.

The lesson from Airasia should be quite clear. The middle class is on the rise. Watch out Hollywood. The Airasia of the movie industry is coming.

Hmmm. Where will we travel this year that we couldn’t afford before? India? Cambodia?

Traveling through Airports


I first began traveling in planes in the late 1960s during the height of the Vietnam War. Security was so light, even in wartime, that you used to be able to board the plane by arriving at the airport 10 minutes prior to take off, rush to the plane, and even pay for the ticket on board. This was wartime. The stewardesses were friendlier and the airlines were more generous in those days with food. Here we are 40 years hence. Nowadays, in some airports, you have to arrive 3 hours before your flight, you can’t even take a bottle of water on board, and they practically strip search you before you are allowed to step onto the plane. I am not saying that the security measures are not necessary. I am sure, for instance, that theft in airports has decreased as a result of tighter security and this can be seen as a positive, but I wonder if there is another strategy to stop terrorism and promote peace that we haven’t yet discovered. We know from the lessons of history that the embrace of our former enemies is inevitable. Is it possible that because our focus is so much on stopping terrorism with tighter security that we may be overlooking the processes that will bring us together with our terrorist enemies? There is an interesting film out now called “Breach” which is the story of how the FBI discovered a man within its own organization that was selling secrets to the enemy, the former Soviet Union. What I found remarkable about the film was that long after the US and the former Soviet Union had become peacetime allies; he was still selling secrets to the Russians. He was actually convicted not when the Soviets were our enemies, but when we had already embraced them as allies. His crimes, no doubt deserved great punishment, which he received, but there is a kind of irony in his capture. We are spending billions of dollars each year around the world for tighter security to protect us during our travels, but how much do we spend on the equally important processes that would accelerate the embrace of our enemies. What are the core activities that accelerate embracing people as our friends that could compliment the function of governments to protect is citizens from criminals and terrorists and how can we do both at the same time?

Reflections on 40 years: Letters to Iwo Jima


I was recently in the Bangkok Airport at a bookstore when a sudden desire to read something on history overcame me; so I picked up the book, Letters from Iwo Jima, which has now been transformed into a film by Clint Eastwood. It came as no coincidence to me that at just about the time that I finished the book, I was flying over the same island on the way to Tokyo. This book recounts the story of the battle for Iwo Jima during World War 2 mainly through the letters of the commander of Japanese forces who defended the island. 40 years after the bloodshed in which both sides suffered over 20,000 casualties some of the survivors from both sides gathered again on the island, this time in peace, to commemorate the battle. The first moments of their reunion were warm, and yet somewhat reluctant each wondering perhaps how the other side was feeling, but soon the former enemies embraced each other as if they were life long friends.
Right now I am writing this post in Tokyo, my country’s former enemy, and I cannot help but ask myself the question that has become like a mantra to me. If the soldiers from both sides would have known 40 years prior that they would one day embrace, how would that fact have changed their behavior? The possibility of an eventual embrace existed before the war, but it took the courage and sacrifice of so many men from both sides and then an additional 40 years until it could be realized. It can only mean one thing to me which must be regarded as haunting to all of us. Having peace and embracing the current enemies like Al-Qaeda is already a reality in the future. Is it necessary to have to fight and shed needless blood for the eventual embrace to occur? What do I need to do now to accelerate the embrace of my country’s enemies? I am certain about one process that I can do. I can look into the future and see the possibility that few people seem to be seeing, that is, that we will embrace our enemies. Even history proves this fact. I don’t think it means that I can rush in and embrace someone who is intent on destroying my life anymore than Japanese and American soldiers could have embraced during World War 2, but I know that because the embrace is sure to happen in the future, there must be a set of core activities that will accelerate its happening faster.

Note: The picture above are 3 young Muslim boys who Debby and I met in Phuket last October. Do they look like terrorists to anyone?

Reflection on Radical Change


The woman in the picture above is a grandmother in the northern hill tribe region of Vietnam. Debby and I stayed overnight in her house one evening during our treks in that region. Now if you were a young person growing up in the U.S. in the 60s and 70s, as I was, the thought of spending a peaceful evening with a villager in Vietnam may not have ever entered your consciousness. Today some 30 years hence, the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam has undergone a radical change. The question I have to ask myself as I reflect on my experience with this beautiful grandmother is this. What would I have done different in my life back then had I known that I would be eating stir fry and drinking tea with this wonderful woman some 30 years after? Perhaps I could have had tea with her much earlier. Over 3 million Vietnamese lost their lives in their conflict with Americans. Everyone you meet in Vietnam has been affected directly by the war. Our guide’s father was handicapped for life after 10 years of fighting, but we managed to become close friends with the guide. If we know that peace is coming even with once bitter enemies, how can that change our relationships with others right now? Can we accelerate radical change? Whoever is your enemy right now will one day be your friend. Think about it. I have a lot of work to do to change my enemies to friends. I guess I need to see them as I see the grandmother drinking tea with me. I have much work to do because keeping enemies seems so tantalizing and for sure it is much easier.