Archive for November, 2008

The Latest Happenings!

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Just a quick note to let you all know that, while I’ve been trying to keep up on current submissions to this website, I admit I’ve been preoccupied. Preparing the manuscript that describes the events of the last four years is finally done! I think it will explain much of my ups-and-downs recently!
The new book, Surviving Human Venom, will be available by 25 December. It is an exciting and harrowing expose of county-level corruption and abuse of power

And for those loyal (and impatient!) readers, we’re offering a 20% discount if you order in advance through this website. That’s just $ 11.96! (Add $ 3.54 for shipping costs –2-3 day delivery in a cushioned envelope. Total: $ 15.50!)
When it hits bookstores, the list price is $14.95 US (9.50 GBP or 11.75 E + VAT). And copies will be available through this website as well as though your Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K. But if you are reading this now, the above advance discount is available to you. Orders are already coming in, so don’t miss out. Order now.

And because of all your requests to read my other books all at once instead of in installments, we will also be reprinting both Realistic Leadership and Living Your Religion in the Real World within the next year. Meanwhile, we have limited copies of the original paperback editions. So if you can’t wait, feel free to order now. Also soon to be in print is a follow-up book, tentatively called Expecting the Best in People: An Antidote to Human Venom.

For nearly forty years, I’ve been working to bring out the positive potential in people. Through books, teaching, in-service training, and my clinical work, I’ve striven to bring to life the concepts of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies and realistic solutions to difficult problems. I kept that faith and hope through numerous adventures in some strange and dangerous situations. Imagine my horror to have my world turned upside down by events in one small California county!

In spite of a heavy schedule (explained in detail in the new book) I’ve tried to keep up on articles for this website. If you’ve wondered why they are sometimes more pensive than current, it’s because I needed a break from the study of evil in all its forms from the vicious to the pointless. After all these years of studying and expecting the best from people, I found myself immersed in a nightmare of petty maliciousness that I call human venom.
Sometimes there were so many comments and requests coming in that I could not answer them all. If they were similar in content, I’ve tried to respond by writing about the subject. From now on (and with the help of my new team of Site Managers!), I’ll try to answer more individual queries. With the book manuscript finished and approaching press time, in the future I should be able to be more interactive and more current.

Only now am I beginning to find the energy to emerge from the gloom and reunite my understanding of the worst in people with my previous work in finding the best in them. Thanks to my colleagues, my patients, my family, and my friends, I’ve been able to begin to make sense of an epidemic of apparently senseless violence and corruption. And I’m finding a way to build an antidote to this epidemic of petty evil. But more about that later, as I try to share what I’ve learned in the last few years. Because evil doesn’t have to happen everyday. And WE can stop it!

A Bad New Twist to Self-Fulfilling Prophecies?

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

In my career, I’ve written so much about self-fulfilling Prophecies, SFP’s. That’s the idea that what you believe will happen, you will create by the subtle non-verbal messages you send out to create your future. Visitors to this Website have always been fascinated by the positive aspects of this concept, and the potential for its use to create good things.
Well, a number of my colleagues, knowing how much I’ve taught and written about the subject, have suggested I discuss a current phenomenon they call the “Self-Deceiving Prophecy!” Since it’s directly related to the content of my new book (Surviving Human Venom which comes out this month), I felt it was time I faced the question.

Self-Deceiving Prophecies occur when you believe the worst about others and your own future, and then act in ways that make them come to pass. Current news stories and this current election appear to be full of examples of this. I admit that having just finished a book on the venom humans can spew at their worst has made me sensitive to such examples. But the mundane but malicious evil that I call “human venom” seems to be turning into an epidemic. Unreasoning hatred of others appears to be an epidemic!
Let me give you an example of this phenomenon. Last week I walked into a local store. I said a cheery hello to the clerk (let’s call her “Corky,” a pseudonym to save the real person embarrassment.) I’d had many friendly conversations with her before, mostly about our favorite movies and the difficulties of life in a rural area.

But something was different this time. Her radio was tuned to a station whose announcer was sounded loud and angry. I couldn’t even make out the subject of his rant, but when I suggested that she turn that station off, an amazing thing happened. My friendly neighborhood shopkeeper started yelling something about a presidential candidate lying. I smilingly and non-committedly said I wasn’t sure I trusted anyone politician.
Whereupon “Corky” started yelling that documents had been forged, the candidate wasn’t even a citizen, and how could he be allowed to run for office! The extreme statements were of such an intense hostility that I couldn’t resist asking her where she had gleaned this information. She furiously informed me that if I read the blogs and emails, I’d know the facts too. I suggested that chatting on the Web did not always yield reliable information, and asked for her sources.

At which point she turned on me, indicating that my very calmness proved I was the Enemy! She yelled at me, “Well, at least I’m not a Socialist! I work for a living!” Confused, I pointed out that I did too, as she well knew. Furthermore, I had never been a registered member of any Socialist Party, so I had no idea why she had turned on me so suddenly.

Remember, so far, I had not even made a statement for or against either presidential candidate. My worst crime appears to have been that I was calm when she thought I should have been angry. Under the watchful eye of a seemingly just-as-confused young customer, I dropped the few items I intended to pick up and fled the store. Out in the parking lot, I found I was still shaking from the intensity of the hostile verbal assault.

I had the oddest feeling that even if I walked back into the store waving the American flag, I still wouldn’t know what to say to her to get us back to friendly conversation or to be safe from further attack. She knew that two of my three sons had spent years with the Army in Iraq. (In fact, one of those sons is career military.) Two of my sons appear to be supporting one candidate, one was leaning towards the other candidate, and I was still making up my mind. So what was all that anger about?

I’m still afraid to go back into that store, and I’m pretty sure that “Corky” retains ideas and stereotypes of me that just aren’t true. But where did they come from?

Back to speaking of American democracy and reasoned debate. (Well, we were talking about presidential elections, weren’t we?) I realize that something has changed over the sixty years I’ve been alive. I thought that political campaigns were a time for gathering accurate information and having serious discussions, then making a choice while realizing that no one can predict with 100% accuracy what crisis will occur and what any human being will do when faced with that crisis and a gaggle of other politicians who all have different opinions on what should be done.

But I didn’t think that democracy meant that if I said I like strawberry ice cream while you preferred pistachio, that it might result in your picking up a chair and bashing me over the head while screaming insults. Is that what our society is coming to? Are we headed for Nazi Germany and the overnight stereotyping and vilification of anyone who disagrees with you? Is what a Self-Deceiving Prophecy leads to?

Is history in danger of repeating itself? Has it become okay to label a person different and then make them a criminal and a scapegoat? Remember, we’re talking about vilification NOT based on evidence but on assumptions!

It makes me glad I took a break from writing timely articles during this election season. I’m not sure I would have been prepared for the mindless stereotyping and vicious vilification that is everywhere! As my new book describes, I’ve been dealing with a county-level version of this maliciousness for the last four years. We’re all in serious trouble if human venom has become a terminal infection!

P.S. And for those of you who are interested, the only practical result of the incident I described above was to convince me that I could never vote for a candidate who inspired such mindless anger and hatred in his supporters!