Identity Beacon

Illuminating Possibilities

Identity Beacon - Illuminating Possibilities

For the sake of humanity, join the Ubuntu party!

Politics has gotten in the way of our humanity and it’s time to change that. To borrow a phrase from the 1976 movie, Network, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

So, here’s my proposal: Let’s launch a new party — a decidedly unpolitical party — dedicated to celebrating the stuff that makes us who we are at our core, and that we can all get behind. Further, I propose we name that party the Ubuntu Party.

Ubuntu is a term meaning “humanity,” whose origins trace back to Southern Africa. According to Wikipedia, Ubuntu is often translated as “humanity towards others,” but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

One of the key markers of Ubuntuism is what is termed “extroverted communities” — the idea that there is sincere warmth with which people treat both strangers as well as members of an existing community. (Translated for today’s rabid climate, this refers to the people who don’t agree with me and the people who do).

There is an Ubuntu deficit in America today and we’re all suffering for it. There’s just too little appreciation of the fact that we are one, human community, our differences notwithstanding. This is not a political statement. I do not care which side of the political spectrum you lean into or who you voted for. I do care about how we treat one another, how we speak to and listen to one another, how we build communities that will be productive and self-sustaining.

According to a recent CBS News poll, 7 in 10 people — regardless of party affiliation — say the country is losing its identity. The article opens with these words: “We can’t even agree what it means to be an American.” That may be the case. But can’t we at least agree what it means to be human? I’d like to think so.

We’d do well to bring a little more Ubuntuism into our lives.

 

What do you believe? (v.5)

Whether the state of the world today leaves you feeling desolate and fearful, or elated and excited, no doubt you hold strong beliefs that fuel those feelings. Consider this posting your opportunity to express some or all of those beliefs. 

Below, you will find 12 fill-in-the-blank statements — one for each of the 12 days of Christmas. There’s also a blank statement in each category for you to use as you wish. Fill in some, or all of them with whatever comes to mind.

Instead of being random in my picks, I’ve organized my list of ideas into two categories: What is topical and what is timeless. Why? Because one of my beliefs is that these two categories elicit very different kinds of emotions in us and are best considered, separately. Here you go …

What is topical:

I believe globalization ________________________

I believe race _______________________________

I believe WikiLeaks __________________________

I believe fake news __________________________

I believe The U.S. Constitution ________________

I believe social media ________________________

I believe ___________________________________

What is timeless:

I believe nature _____________________________

I believe music _____________________________

I believe justice _____________________________

I believe light _______________________________

I believe karma _____________________________

I believe hope _______________________________

I believe ___________________________________

Any other ideas? By all means, add them. Let’s see how your beliefs align with those of others.

What do you believe? (v.4)

It’s that time of year again — the ‘believing’ season: a time when little kids and big kids alike, from 8 to 80, surrender just a bit to the warmth and wonder of the Holidays.

This time, I find that experience to be especially challenging, given the insanity going on in the world today. But, that’s life. So, this year, I invite you to tell me and others what it is you believe about a variety of topics — some comforting and others clearly bot. Here you go:

I believe Donald Trump ____________________

I believe compassion ______________________

I believe family ___________________________

I believe wealth ___________________________

I believe truth ____________________________

I believe freedom _________________________

I believe ISIS ____________________________

I believe denial ___________________________

I believe America _________________________

I believe evil _____________________________

I believe good ____________________________

Got your own idea? Fill it in here _______________

The Un-Common Core – What educators are forgetting and our kids aren’t getting

The public school system in America is undergoing an overhaul. That overhaul is called Common Core — the new curriculum structure based on “consistent academic guidelines created to help all students succeed.” Those words aren’t mine; they greet you when you go to the Common Core official website.

On the surface, it sounds reasonable to standardize, right? Consistent metrics for all. Level playing field. Better outcomes for our children, our communities and our nation.

But, I am concerned that Common Core will turn kids into robo-students, whose only aim is to meet imposed measures. Lost in the academic shuffle will be the opportunity to tap into that special ‘genius’ that resides within all individuals — and which cannot be discerned or measured through any set of standards.

Human beings — that includes kids — aren’t all the same. They aren’t “common.” They are unique beings with distinctive characteristics that define who they are and what their potential is. Children have identities, which need to be cultivated just like their ability to solve trigonometry problems, interpret literature and conduct successful science experiments.

At the center of every child is an uncommon core. If educators would ever wake up to this fact and offer personal discovery experiences, as well as academics — experiences that fostered self-awareness and, in turn, smarter decision-making — we’d be able to “measure” outcomes in terms of healthier, more well-adjusted adults, not just better test scores.

Descartes’ trap – Don’t fall into it!

The U.S. is doing it. Microsoft is doing it. Lots of people – not just nations and companies – are doing it: Falling into Descartes’ trap, and it’s taking a hell of a toll on everyone. If you don’t remember, Rene Descartes famously said, I think, therefore, I am. Five little words that set into motion one of the most prevalent and insidious identity traps ever.

Exactly what is Descartes’ trap? It’s when you unwittingly confuse the timeless nature of who you are with the changing nature of what you are.

The Obama Administration wanted to bomb Syria. Was this a rationale military strategy or a misguided, knee-jerk reaction to the idea that our country is the world’s policeman and must act accordingly? In short, if we’re not the world’s policeman, are we still America? Unwittingly, we confuse who we are with what we are – or believe we are – producing undo risk for all involved.

Microsoft is held prisoner by the unspoken belief that it’s value-creating potential is the result of is size and influence. In short: We are big, we are powerful; therefore, we are. Au contraire! Microsoft’s size and influence (what it is) are the result of how it creates value (who it is).

Individuals are also susceptible to Descartes’ trap. People confuse what they do with who they are, all the time. I am a star athlete; that’s who I am. I’m a young investment banker; that’s who I am. I’m a doctor; that’s who I am. Maybe not.

At some point, the star athlete retires, then “who” is she? Or the banker gets fired — for the second time in three years — and is at a loss for how to understand who he is in the face of recurring rejection. The label is gone, but the person remains. Now what?

Before you make life-shaping decisions about your job, career, love-life, whatever, make sure you distinguish between the temporal nature of what you are and the enduring nature of who you are. And keep in mind that who will always trump what.

Your happiness lies in the balance.

 

 

What exactly is the ethnic vote?

I just heard a commentator – it is now 7:30 pm EST, Tuesday, election day – say that it’s important to assess the “Asian-American” vote as a harbinger of the election. What the heck is that and how do you calculate it? If Suzie Chow, who is Chinese, marries John Jones, who is “just” an American, and changes her name to Jones, how do count her vote? Is she Asian or American? How would you know? How on earth do you assign her vote, correctly?

If Jose Gomez changes his name – via marriage or simply desire – to Josh George, how do you know he is, or should be counted as, part of the Hispanic voting bloc? Or, if I were to change my name from Ackerman (Is that really Jewish?) to Atkins, how would one know I’m part of the Jewish-American vote?

You don’t. So, why are the commentators – with such serious suits and eyes – telling us to follow the voting trends of these seeming tribes? Seems misleading to me, if not analysis devoid of reliable content.

May the best human win. Amen.

I am who I say I am! (Maybe not)

Everyone has a view on the pluses and minuses of social media. So do I!

Most people love social media for its power to connect them anytime, anywhere and with anyone. On the other hand, many folks are suspect of social media because of what some call the Connection Paradox: We’re able to reach out to whomever, whenever, but, as many pundits point out, we’ve never been more isolated or, in fact, lonelier. Continue reading

Living leadership (Lessons from the dying)

The idea that life, let alone leadership, can be informed by those who are dying, seems counter-intuitive at first. Of course, it isn’t. People who face death, especially, those who’ve lived long lives, can see things more clearly than those of us who are still running with the herd, whose perspectives may be clouded by the dust storms we encounter as we move furiously forward, every day.

The spark that led me to write my Living Leadership newsletter – the article, Top 5 Regrets of the Dying – also led me to ask myself what regret(s), if any, I would have at 90 (!!), if I chose not to do something in the here and now.

So, in the spirit of commitment (mine) and community (ours), let me share with you one thing I would regret not having done, were I to find myself, 30 years from now, reviewing my life.

i would regret not having worked more with children; not having brought my love, understanding, skills and experience with identity discovery and development into places where children (read teens and college kids) reign … youth organizations, schools, perhaps, even families.

If I can help kids learn a bit more about who they are at, say 15 or 19, then I’ve upped the odds that they’ll make better choices going forward. For me, that’s worth fighting for. Whether, years from now, I’ve touched 100 children, 100,000, or more is less important than the fact that I’ve tried. No regrets.

Is there a “regret” you just won’t tolerate when you’re looking back over your life, decades from now? Feel free to share. You’re probably not alone.

 

 

What do you believe?

12. I can’t get the number out of my head. It must be the season…the 12 days of Christmas, the 12 months of the year, even being on the cusp of 2012.

We’re not just in the season of 12s; we’re also in the season of believing. In family, in friendship, in giving, in — yes, for some — even Santa Claus. So, I have chosen to offer up a little “belief” quiz.

Here you go: Continue reading