Tag Archives: society

If just for a day…

It isn’t often these days where you get to personally experience the kindness of strangers. Unfortunately for me, I have become very cynical towards people and have come to expect rude, inappropriate or indifferent behavior. I do not have much faith that people would act to help someone even if they were obviously in trouble. Now, before I go any further, I admit that I am far from perfect but I have made an honest attempt over the course of the last several years to treat people the way that I would want to be treated. Am I always successful in this endeavor? Not at all. But I like to believe that I am making a positive change in this area.

Today we were at the Danbury Mall where my daughter was getting a second hole pierced in each ear. Even after the piercing, she told us with a smile on her face that it hadn’t hurt and she was pretty surprised at that. However, as soon as she stood up, my wife saw that something wasn’t right. My daughter’s eyes had glazed over, she couldn’t speak, her knees began to buckle and she passed out. She and the woman working at the store gently lowered her to the ground and began asking if she was ok.

As this was happening,  a couple of strangers came over to see if she was ok. They were kind, considerate and spoke to my daughter as if they had always known her.

After several minutes I asked Hope if she wanted to try and stand up. She said yes and I helped her get to her feet. We walked out of the store I looked to my right and knew immediately that having her get up so quickly had been a mistake. She had the glazed look again and was mumbling incoherently. At that point she passed out again. Not that I wasn’t worried before, but I was really concerned now thinking that something was really wrong.

Security arrived and I asked them to call paramedics so she could be checked out by medical professionals. Once again, several people stopped and asked if there was anything they could do. They spoke with my daughter and asked if my wife and I were ok. A gentleman soon saw what was happening and identified himself as an EMT.

I think that I can assume that he either worked for a living as an EMT or as a volunteer in a local fire department in the area, but the fact remains that he did not have to stop to see what was going on, but he did. Those 5-6 other people who stopped to see what they could do to help didn’t have to, but they did. The EMT spoke to my daughter and waited until the fire department arrived to take over. As he was walking away, he seemed genuinely surprised when I stopped him, shook his hand and thanked him for taking the time to make sure that Hope was ok. Soon after that, the EMT’s arrived, did what they had to do, and told us that Hope would be ok.

My whole point in relating this story to you is that I am thankful that we still have people who care enough when they see someone in distress to stop and see if they can help. Of course it could have been the fact that she was 14 years old, but once again, they chose to stop to see what they could do to help. The concern was genuine and I genuinely appreciated their assistance. After the professionals arrived and they began to drift away, I made it a point to thank each of these strangers for doing what has unfortunately become behavior that can not be expected. That in itself is truly saddening. My sadness lies in the fact that it seems that people are so fearful these days (of so many things), that although they may want to help when it is needed, their fear does not let them.

I know that it may seem trivial, but it was heartening to have these total strangers approach us to ask if they could help. My faith in humanity has been restored, if only for a day.



There is no Zen in PC thought.

“Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.”

-Timothy Keller

We live in a pretty disturbing time. Yes, we have to contend with ISIS, economic woes, poverty and many other issues that consume our thoughts. But in the last couple of weeks, however, something more disturbing has come to the forefront and really needs to be examined.

Let me first say that I am no fan of political correctness. My friends, political correctness has run amok in this country. Our college campuses, high schools and society have fallen prey to the ideas of a few, and if you don’t agree with them, you are then branded a bigot among other things. Gone are the days when you could actually have an opposing thought, because if you don’t agree with a person or a group, then you have committed some form of unthinkable crime. Peter Thiel says that “the core problem in our society is political correctness.”

I firmly believe that we all strive to think and act in ways that correspond to a belief that most everyone is tolerant of others in society. Unfortunately this is not always the case. It seems that those who claim to be the most tolerant are not. I honestly can not comprehend how you can say that a person is racist, bigoted, homophobic or whatever because they don’t agree with you is acting in a tolerant manner. Noted author Ray A. Davis sums it up perfectly when he says that “tolerance only for those who agree with you is no tolerance at all.”

As a strong believer in the first amendment, it should be obvious that as long as you’re not threatening anyone or spreading any type of hate speech that could hurt someone, then what you say should be left alone. You shouldn’t be demonized, threatened and ostracized because of your beliefs. The beauty of the first amendment and living in the United States is that we are allowed to actively disagree with others who do not share the same thoughts.

I would like those who instantly have a guttural reaction to those who oppose them and vocalize it to rethink their reaction and ask themselves, “how is this being tolerant?”

In trying to be a more compassionate, and yes, a more tolerant person, I am trying to keep an open mind to other people. I’m not going to lie-this has proven to be a very difficult task. I do not agree with a great many things, but I refuse to resort to saying that someone is a racist etc. because they do not agree with me. What then can we do to truly show that we are tolerant?

First and foremost, everyone needs to accept the fact that people are not going to agree with everything that you say or think. Having this belief alone would considerably elevate the level of discussion in this country when it pertains to controversial issues,  

Second, let’s agree that just because someone disagrees with us that they instead choose another way of reacting than spewing hate back at your detractors. Accept what they have to say as what they believe. Resorting to the old responses of “you’re a racist or a homophobe” just doesn’t cut it anymore. If anything, it shows a distinct lack of intellectual depth and understanding of what free speech is.

Third, if you disagree with a radio program or a television show based on its content or message, turn it off. If you find a book, blog, newspaper article or any other written matter to be offensive, don’t read it. It really is as simple as that. As fervently as you hold your beliefs, so do people who disagree with you. And that is the point as well as the big picture.

As with earlier posts, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with hiking, and more importantly Zen Hiking?” I believe that a distinct correlation exists between the two. Being Zen in being able to live in the now, and not worry about what has happened in the past and what may happen in the future. We all want to live our lives as we choose without being afraid to express our views.

Taking the time to think while I hike has allowed me to do several things. I know that at work I have colleagues who have expressed differing viewpoints as to handle a situation. When I am out in the woods (especially this time of year) walking, thinking and breathing in the crisp autumn air gives me a chance to examine each side of a situation. Sometimes I stand firm and other times I am compelled to change my view based on what has been presented to me. Regardless of what the end result is, I have thought about it and can further articulate it when asked to do so. I am not blindly and ignorantly shutting down the ability to express opinions that differ from mine own.

Another colleague, whom I respect immensely, told me recently after a rather contentious discussion that she disagreed 100% with what I had to say. No name calling, no threats. A mutual disagreement among colleagues that did not end badly That is how it should be.

My point is a simple one. We all choose how we react to everything that happens to us everyday. We can choose to react passively or in anger. We can choose to react showing our ignorance. But, if we choose to do so, we can react in a manner that shows compassion and tolerance. Labeling and calling people names because they do not share our thoughts is the antithesis of actually being tolerant.

Think about these questions:

If I choose to react in a negative manner to those who disagree with me, how is that promoting any type pf beneficial discussion?

If I choose to accept the fact that other people will hold different beliefs, can that possibly hurt further discussion?

If I am at a point where I hold a very strong belief, can I at least get to a place where I can, at the very least, begin to understand where that other person is coming from?

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.



“It’s not my fault.” Thoughts on taking responsibility when no one else does (or will).

“Cut the crap and stop whining. Put your big boy pants on and suck it up.”

-The Zen Hiker

I am, and always have been, a firm believer in personal responsibility. I believe that everything that happens to us, and doesn’t happen to us is a direct result of choices that we have made and continue to make. This true in every aspect of our lives.

In our personal lives people to often bemoan the life situation that they are in by blaming everyone and everything else in their lives. The reason why they don’t live in a bigger house? The bank wouldn’t give me a loan. No new car? The dealer wouldn’t give me a good enough deal. Why is my marriage failing? My spouse is the problem. Why are my kids a mess? It’s the schools fault. It is this type of thinking that is killing us as a society. It seems as though no one assigns blame to themselves for the trouble that they may be having.

Sophocles said that “It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.” A truer statement could not be made. We live in a society today where it is ok to not accept responsibility for anything. Unfortunately this type of behavior starts all the way at the top. Our President has spent the last seven years blaming the previous administration for every single failure during his term. What are we to think when the President of the United States can’t even take responsibility for anything that he has done? Since he does it, why shouldn’t we?

At work we hear the same mantra:

“It wasn’t my fault.”

“I can’t do that because it won’t work.”

“What do you expect me to do, the administration tells us what to do.”

“They have always done it that way.”  

“They expect to much from us.”

When was the last time that you actually heard someone say, “I messed up and I will accept the consequences for what I have done”? I would venture to guess that it is probably not in the recent past. This is a societal issue that needs to be addressed and until we do we will continue to sink lower and lower as a people. This runs across all ethnic lines and income levels.

For those of us getting older, time is running out. For you folks who are younger and yet again much younger, consider making a change in your life that could not only produce better results for you, but would certainly make you happier. What is it that we can do to produce change in ourselves?

First, don’t think that you are entitled to anything. If you want something, go out and earn it. Here’s a shocker-you can’t afford it? Guess what? You can’t have it! Hard work has never killed anyone. Our society is riddled with those who believe that due to their circumstances, they are owed something. Not true. Ken Keyes jr. said that “you are not responsible for the programming that you picked up in childhood. However, as an adult, you are one hundred percent responsible for fixing it.”

Second, If you spend all of your time blaming others for your problems, they will never change. Accepting responsibility for what you have done empowers you and allows you to change things that may occur in the future. You won’t be relying on others to change to help improve your situation. If you want change, you have to be the one to make it happen.

Lastly, I refer you to the quote at the top of this blog. “Cut the crap and stop whining. Put your big boy pants on and suck it up.” Do I really need to say anything else?

Some other quotes to think about as you choose the path to change::

“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting responsibility for our circumstances , we greatly reduce our power to change them.” -Steve Maraboli

“This is your life. You are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait.”  -Natalie Goldberg

“Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” -Erica Jong

Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.” -Hubert Selby jr.