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November 27, 2008

Does “Happy Thanksgiving” Suggest Giving Thanks? What are We Really Saying?

How authentic are our relationships?

Are we in relationships with people where we really communicate, or do we say what we think people want to hear?

When people say "Happy Thanksgiving" or "Happy Holidays" are they saying it with heartfelt consideration, or just extending a played out platitude with no true weight behind it?

Don’t you wonder about some of the personal or intimate conversations that must take place between brothers and sisters, nuns and priests, Michelle and Barack, wife and wife, Caesar and Cleopatra, Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll, a junior and senior faculty member that both dislike you, Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan, Sinatra and Bacall, two homophobes who don't realize they are homophobic, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie, a democrat and republican, Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis, two actors (strangers to one another) immediately after a very hot love scene, Jack and Jackie, two "I'm not racist" racists, Michael and Lisa Marie, two failing students, Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, Arnold S. and Maria Shriver, female doctor and male nurse, two librarians, Hillary and Bill, a restaurant owner and her manager, Mayor and Councilperson, two felonious inmates, the couple next door, a Black University President and the diversity director who replaced that president’s wife, two stock brokers, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons? Do you think most of these conversations offer unvarnished truths, or political prose proffered to placate?

When we fabricate a statement to flatter someone that we know really isn’t the case (“My you look like you’ve lost weight,” or, “That was a really ‘intriguing’ suit you had on the other day.”) are we wrong for not being truthful, or right for caring about their feelings? How much should we endure someone’s ineptness before we become obligated to challenge them? Are we sure we are correct in our interpretation of what we are seeing when we judge/prejudge someone’s actions, or is it just our perspectives with all their inherent flaws and foibles?

Is there a chance we can actually find truth? Does it exist as a freestanding entity? What do you think about the thought that talking is what it takes? What do you think about the line that listening is the lesson? What do you think?

November 5, 2008

The Obama Presidency: What Does It Mean?

I asked my son this morning what the Obama presidency means to him. He looked at me and said, what do you mean dad? As I lost the battle of holding back my tears as I spoke to him, I explained to him some of the things that Obama’s presidency might mean to different people, cultures, sub-cultures, constituencies, counties and countries. I then realized that my perspective on the significance of the Obama presidency is limited and that if I really wanted to understand the significance I would be better served by asking others. So, what does this historic event mean to you as an individual, or the world that you live in?