Monthly Archives: December 2013

My Father’s Best Joke – imho

Extraordinary Listening implies being aware of and able to adapt the attitude through which you construct meaning from a given communication. By changing how you listen,  you could create very different experiences out of the same communication. Much as two different people walk away from the same situation with very different interpretations and therefore very different meanings or internal descriptions,  thereby creating very different experiences. This implies if you can listen with the intention to do so, you can consciously create for yourself, a very different life. Without that awareness and intention instead, as we most often do, we keep unconsciously repeating our habitual meaning making, keeping us running in the same loops of thought, with little option for creativity.

Let me share with you a joke that my father told.

He had a few that I liked, but this was always my favorite, though I suspect I found it funny for reasons different than his. (btw this is a joke from the 1920s)


A man very properly dressed walks very quickly out of the railroad station. He looks around and notices a kid leaning against the wall. He approaches the kid and he says very briskly

“Young man where’s the post office?”

The kid hands in his pocket moves his head very slightly in the direction and mumbles under his breath,       ” ’s that way”

The businessman, clearly somewhat irritated, says,

“Young man if you can act any lazier I’ll give you $.50”  (back then $.50 bought what $50 buys today)

The kid mumbles with his equal absence of enthusiasm,

“Put it in my pocket!”

Best wishes for the meaning you create in the new year!

“It’s a rare person that wants to hear what they don’t want to hear!”


I assume everyone thinks what they think is right. Otherwise wouldn’t they think something else?              (more on this later)

This from a friend, “Benford’s law of controversy is an adage from the 1980 novel Timescape, stating:

Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available.

The adage was quoted in an international drug policy article in a peer-reviewed social science journal.’

I would paraphrase what Sun Tzu said 2500 years ago as, it is easier to control a (superior) force through the information they perceive than to oppose them on the field.

Those who oppose free speech, free press and the spirit of respectful argument to tease out the truth beyond our inherently unconscious beliefs that our thinking is right, have learned over time: It is easier to either, control people’s thinking or cheaper to buy votes or the media that influences them, then to buy and use tanks and guns.

Freedom requires knowledge and an educated populace. To that end we need to speak and LISTEN to each other with an open and respectful spirit. Democracy implies a responsibility to continually pay attention. Our unwillingness to pay that cost will end freedom in a way that no tyrant ever could.

“the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion…” JS Mill, On Liberty

We need to generate that quality of dialogue, that quality of what O Sensei called reciprocating echoes, especially with those who see the world differently, both for their benefit and ours. This becomes exponentially true in the face of media bias toward hatred of opposing ideas and  talk radio’s profits at selling the drug of self righteousness that unsuspecting, so many of us are addicted to.

I say the most serious drug problems in this society are sugar and vitriol and they are likely inter-related. No drug or cartel has influenced the course of human history a fraction as much as sugar and the cartels that profited from it. Full disclosure I believe that personal freedom, including drug use, including sugar and its derivative alcohol, is a critical value to a free society but with the caveat and expectation that they are used with responsibility to a larger social field.

Where the real fight for freedom must be fought is within our own thinking. It is in the creation of a civil society within each of us and between all of us, where people try to learn from and understand the views of others. It doesn’t matter whether the realm is business or developing a society where people can be productive in all realms.

The Buddha taught, “Hatred does not at any time cease by hatred. Hatred ceases by love. This is an eternal law.”

Extraordinary listening implies not only a willingness to hear people who disagree with you and implies an actual desire to do so, but much more importantly, it implies paying attention to that part of you which causes you to disregard or discredit information that you don’t like.

As Dick Cavett said, “It’s a rare person that wants to hear what they don’t want to hear!”