If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

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“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Derek Bok

Throughout history, higher education was looked at as something for the elite, the intellectuals and the wealthy while the average person  usually learned a trade. Although a higher education wasn’t a requirement, in order to live decently one still needed to learn a trade.

It used to be if you were healthy you had a good chance of finding decent work. As time went by, many jobs began requiring the ability to read and write. As jobs evolved and became more difficult, a high school diploma became a requirement.

Within the last ten years, a high school diploma wasn’t enough anymore to find a decent paying job. The problem was there were more people than jobs. Jobs that ten years ago only required a high school education now required a four year college degree.

Even with that additional requirement, there are still more candidates than available jobs.  Those who don’t have any education stand no chance in finding a decent paying job. Pretty soon, even the lowest paying jobs will require an education.

Obtaining an education is expensive, but with the right education, that cost can be paid back in a reasonable timeframe. Taking the money required for an education and spending it on a business venture or something else will not get you very far. In order to survive in today’s market, a formal education is really needed.

Every so often you hear of someone striking it rich without an education, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Most of these individuals were in college and only left after their venture took off. These individuals were also far from ignorant. The ignorant will not get very far in today or in the future.

Everyone at one point or another has to pay someone to do something for them. Even the wealthy and educated have to pay others to perform certain functions. The educated don’t need to pay many others, since they are able to perform some of these functions themselves. The rich can afford to pay people for every function. The ignorant also have to pay people for almost every function, except they have no money, and usually get taken for a ride.

Without an education these days, you have to pay more people to do things for you, and many of those people who will take advantage of you. In the long run, ignorance will end up costing much more than that education.

Not only will ignorance end up costing much more than an education, it will kill the possibility for many opportunities. You may have an idea or two for creating something that may make create wealth, but without an education, the connections an education establishes or vast sums of money, you will not get very far with your ideas.

 

 

For real power, be a person of character

“Character is power; it makes friends, draws patronage and support and opens the way to wealth, honor and happiness.” John Howe

Dictionary.com defines character as:

1. The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. One such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. Moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. Qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. Reputation: a stain on one’s character.
Character, individuality, personality refer to the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. Character refers especially to moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, and the like: a man of sterling character.

Your character is defined by the type of person you are and how you live your life. Being a person of good character means you have qualities that inspire trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. It means you act in a manner consistent with those qualities.

There is no amount of money that can hide a character defect. A person may hide behind an image of someone with character for a short period of time, but eventually, their true character comes to light.

Throughout history, people who’ve possessed qualities of good character have risen up from obscurity to become very powerful individuals or leaders.

Abraham Lincoln was one such person, who is remembered throughout history for his powerful character and using that power against great opposition to abolish slavery. Others who were chosen to lead because of their character include John F Kennedy, George Washington.

With enough money, a person can buy the appearance of power, in much the same way most of our elected officials got elected, but it doesn’t give them true power. With true power, which comes with people of character, mountains can be moved. How many people in power today can move mountains?

Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. moved mountains because of the type of character they were. No amount of money could do what these individuals were able to do merely by the force of who they were, defined by how they lived their life and molded into their character.

True power comes with good character. People will follow to the ends of the world someone with the six pillars of character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. That kind of power can’t be bought. The only way to obtain that kind of power is to earn it by being a person of good character.

The world will change when we change how we think

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“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein

People used to take pleasure in watching performers at their best. Back then, no one was amused or enjoyed or tolerated by anyone taking pleasure in the miss-fortune of others. That was during a time when ethics, morals and maintaining good character were foremost on everyone’s mind. That was a time that ended just a few decades ago.

Things are different now. Ethics and morals have taken a back seat to greed and corruption. Pleasure comes before morals. For many, today’s philosophy is the individual comes before society or even the family.

Today, success and the pursuit of personal pleasure are the dominant goals. There are no longer any boundaries which are taboo. Taking pleasure in the miss-fortune of others is the latest rage. New reality shows that exploit and mock those who are less fortunate appear every week.

Those who are looked up to and admired aren’t the ones advancing mankind, but those who exploit mankind the most or those who can take the most from everyone else.

We let this happen. It’s us who’ve sat back and did nothing or applauded as these things happened. We’ve let others decide for us what’s in our best interest. We vote for politicians that we know are corrupt. We accuse them of corruption, and some even get convicted in a court of law, and yet we vote for them again at the next election.

We watch shows that we know are demeaning to the human race and we cry out how horrible they are, and yet we continue to watch them.

The world will not change until we do. It will not change until we say we will not tolerate this behavior and follow that up with our actions. It is not enough to say we abhor this behavior while continuing to live with it. We must be the vehicles of change. We have to change what we do, what we watch, how we vote and who we look up to.

We must change how we think. We have to acknowledge in our minds this is unacceptable behavior.

Looking the other way makes us equally guilty in what’s happening to society. It is only when we take a stand that is followed up with our actions that change will begin to come about. It is not enough to say you want change, then to hope someone else will bring it about. All of us have to be part of that change. All of us have to change how we think and what we do.

 

It’s you, your conscience and your faith that matters, not what others think.

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“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa

There will always be people who’ll find fault with something which you’ve done or are doing or will do. Let them. It’s not their life, but yours, to live.

When you need people to be reasonable and to do something that doesn’t benefit them, they will disappoint you. You’ll find they will not listen to reason and will not help you, instead they will remain stubborn and selfish. It’s their nature and their business, so don’t hold it against them. In the long run, they will pay for that behavior, but it isn’t your place to judge them. Accept them for who they are, otherwise it will eat away at your insides, turning you into someone just like them.

When you’re kind to these people, they’ll think you have something up your sleeve, that you’re being sneaky. That’s because it’s something that they’d do if they were in your place. They can’t help themselves. They can’t be kind, unless they have an ulterior motive and think the same of everyone else. You have no ulterior motive, so be kind anyway.

When you’re honest, they’ll think you’re a push over and will try to cheat you. Fight this by being careful, not by becoming dishonest. Remain honest, yet watchful.

When you’re happy, those who can’t find happiness will be jealous. Don’t let their misery take away your happiness, but let your happiness infect their misery.

Few people remember acts of goodness and kindness, but we aren’t good or kind in order to be remembered. We do good and are kind simply because. That is it. There is no need to explain further than to simply say we choose to do good and to be kind.  It doesn’t matter that tomorrow it’ll be forgotten.

There will be times where your best won’t be good enough. Try anyway. What’s important is that you made the effort and didn’t give up. There will be other times where your best will be just enough. Rather than pick and choose, always give it your best effort.

Regardless of which God, Higher Being, or Afterlife you believe in, when the time comes, you will have to reconcile what you’ve done during your time here. Let others think what they want, because it’s you, your conscience and your faith that matters, not what they think.

The buck stops with you

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“The buck stops here”

This phrase originated with poker to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a person didn’t want to deal, he would pass the buck, a marker such as a knife with a buckhorn handle, to the next player.

Since President Truman, this phrase has come to mean accepting responsibility. As President, this meant accepting responsibility for everything within the Federal government.

One of my best traits has always been the ability to get things done. Regardless of the situation, whether it was at work or a personal matter, I knew that as long as I was in the right, by going up the management chain someone would listen, take responsibility, and then do the right thing.

Unfortunately, that is a thing of the past. Try going up the management chain today and see where that gets you.

The problem now is that almost everyone passes the buck. Corporate leaders, whose company is caught in a scandal, plead ignorance, passing the buck to subordinates. If profits aren’t high enough, they pass the buck to customers and workers.  Killers pass the buck to their parents. Criminals pass the buck to society. Adults pass the buck to their parents. Even Washington has joined the bandwagon. The president passes the buck to congress and to the other party. Congress passes the buck to the white house. All of them pass the buck to somebody else, when things are bad, yet take all of the credit for anything good which has happened.

The majority of people pass the buck when things go bad, but take it back when things improve. Many actually proclaim the ‘buck stops with them’, but make it impossible to find or reach them in order to give them the buck. One can send a letter to the White House or the corporate headquarters of many corporations addressed to the President, but the letter would be screened by so many people that the likelihood of the President actually seeing the letter are very slim. That is unless the letter was overflowing with praise.

As a result, there is no empathy from those around. There is no motivation for anyone to do what’s right, especially knowing they’ll get blamed if something bad happens, and that someone else will get the credit for anything good.

Many of us are exactly the same way. We continually pass the buck. When things go bad, we think to ourselves “It was David’s fault I got laid off.” “It was Susan’s fault Jim left me.” “It’s my partner’s fault that I’m not happy, or broke, or depressed.”

If we want others to take us seriously, to have empathy for what happens to us, we have to begin accepting responsibility for our lives. If we want to be happy and not worry what others are thinking, we have to take responsibility not just for ourselves, but for what happens to us.

If you want to be able to live with yourself, you have to take complete responsibility for your life. This also means that you have to be reachable, that someone can reach your heart and your mind.  It means that you don’t ‘yes’ people, but actually listen to what they’re saying.

We don’t hesitate to take credit when something good happens. When things don’t go our way, we have to take responsibility for it. By taking responsibility, we’re acknowledging that it’s within our power to make it right.

Always remember, no matter what everyone else is saying or doing, when it comes to you and your life, the buck stops with you! Don’t just say it, but live it!

Careful The Things You Say… (Guest post by Elizabeth Rose)

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“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” —Harold Goddard

The most dangerous thing that a person can say is- ‘don’t worry. It’s just a story’. The idea that a story can even be ‘just’ is risky. Take a moment and ask yourself- what stories have you told people today? Have you told someone you love the story of a past hurt, told a buddy a funny anecdote to make them laugh; told a child a bedtime story? How did you tell it? How did you describe the ‘characters’? Did you make your ex out to be an extreme villain? Did you claim that ‘no one was hurt’ by your past college prank? Did you tell your child that the hero wins in the end by enduring horrible suffering through to the bitter end?

Whether you recognize it or not, by telling those stories, you are creating reality. When you talk about someone in light of your anger, and subsequently gloss over what good qualities had drawn you to them in the first place, you are creating an ‘evil’ character for your listener that will stick with them for a long time. When you condone certain actions in light of nostalgia to a friend, and do not qualify for fear of ruining the humor, you plant the seed of condoning that action for life. When you tell a child a story, they believe it.

The reality that we create in stories can stick with us for the rest of our lives, too. Take, for example, a popular fairy-tale: Beauty and the Beast. We tell this to our children for a very good reason. We want them to be able to learn how to look past people’s appearances to see the goodness within them, and not judge a book by its cover. However, in many tellings of this story, a second lesson emerges: if your love is true, pure, and strong enough, you can change someone’s heart. While this may also seem like a noble message, consider this scenario: a woman in an abusive relationship is trying to deliberate whether or not to get out of the relationship, or endure further abuse at the hands of her lover. If she’s been told, time and time again, that a ‘pure’ love could change a lover’s heart, what conclusion might she come to? In my own personal experience of abuse, I was led to believe that the reason why I was being beaten was because I did not love my beloved enough. I would end up sticking it out for four years, remaining loyally by his side, because the stories that I had been told had told me that I was the one who wasn’t working hard enough.

Of course, this was not the kind of love that my particular assailant needed. He needed to have someone show him how to love in a healthy manner, whether that be through therapy or through the shock of judicial action. He was truly, and completely, sick- and I had been taught, through not just fairy tales, but the popular fiction of the day that championed brooding, mentally abusive romantic heroes (looking at you, Meyer), that my endurance would be rewarded by a kind of love that was somewhat better  than other loves because it had been through such a drastic wringer.

That’s not what I got, however, and that’s not what many women like me get. What they get are bruises and scars that never go away. What they get are traumatic flashbacks whenever they see someone who looks like him, or smells like him or talks like him (or her, women are fully capable of being abusers as well). They get side-glances and judgmental comments from the people who read the same stories, and ask questions like, ‘Well, why didn’t you just leave?’, or, ‘Well, maybe if you had done x, or y’. Their society continues to read stories that perpetuate the glamorization of domestic abuse, they popularize it, and then act surprised when the battered women’s shelters are full to capacity.

We cannot operate on the assumption that stories are ‘just’. They have such power to destroy us- they get under our skin and enflame our imaginations in ways that cannot be done through rhetoric alone. But they also have the same power to raise up victims, to empower a new way of thinking, and to teach a healthy way to love. Think of stories such as Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult, or The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle, or even just the healthy relationships in popular fiction by J.K. Rowling or Terry Pratchett. Begin to have open, honest conversations about the unhealthy relationships that permeate most mainstream, popular fiction and refuse to settle for the messages they give the next generation. I was once told that the reason why you shouldn’t tell rape jokes isn’t just because the joke isn’t funny- it’s because you might be unwittingly telling the joke in front of someone who has, or who will in the future, rape someone, and they will look back on your laughter as assenting to their crime (much as racist jokes have and continued to excuse racist practices, and sexist jokes do for sexist practices). When you tell bad stories to victims who are going through pain you could not even imagine, you are helping to keep them in their situation. When you tell good stories for them to love and believe them, you are giving them the strength to reclaim their dignity and the sanctity of their being. Don’t ever ‘just’ tell a story- you never know who might believe you.

        Elizabeth Rose is the author of Till the Last Petal Falls, a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast with a social justice slant. 10% of all author royalties from the book are donated to battered women shelters in Colorado. Find her and more of her work on the Once Upon a Reality series at www.thesingingroses.com

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It’s All About Attitude

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“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

Many times in life the difference between failure and success is determined by a person’s attitude. The business dictionary defines attitude in this manner:

A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli).

A person’s attitude, when faced with a certain idea, object, person or situation goes through several stages.

The first stage is immediate effect: feelings and emotions at the moment.

The second is comprehension. How is the situation being interpreted?

Third is inclination to act. Does the situation inspire action?

Fourth is final evaluation of the situation. Is the situation seen as something positive or negative?

These can happen in the blink of an eye or may take days or weeks.

Having the right mental attitude simply means one is able to go through each of these steps in a calm and rational manner. Each stage is digested and thought out. Too much weight or emphasis on one stage will have an impact on the final outcome. Too much emotion in the first stage means that the second stage, comprehension of the situation, becomes compromised or negatively impacted. When that happens, the final evaluation and corresponding feelings or actions will then be based on flawed information, causing one to act in a manner that may do more harm than good.

Having the right mental attitude simply means that someone can go through these stages calmly and intelligently without letting emotions distort their judgment. When a person performs these steps rationally, actions will be based on thoughtful analysis, increasing the likelihood for achieving specific goal.

Having the wrong attitude, usually caused by emotion or a certain disposition in your head thereby clouding a rational interpretation of each stage, will make it difficult to reach goals. In other words, without a clear head to analyze any given situation, it will be almost impossible to achieve success.

Scratch your back with nothing in return? You’ve gotta be kidding

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“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” George Sand

It is very unfortunate that many will scratch your back only for the expectation that you will scratch theirs in return. They may have a long line of back scratchers waiting, but over time, they will have no fingers left to scratch other peoples backs. They are useful only while scratching and get abandoned when others no longer need their back scratched.

Human kindness is becoming a rare commodity. One has to look far and wide to find kindness within a person, simply for the sake of it, with no expectation of anything in return. But there are many still out there who will scratch your back simply because it itches.

For those who still have this trait within them, guard it well and use it often. It is a trait worth treasuring. It is a trait which puts one in the same league as angels.

To be kind means to give to those who are in need without pausing to ask “what do I get back in return?” It means to help someone simply because they need help which we are able to provide.

To show kindness means being a valiant winner and loser. It means you are gracious when you lose. You give the winner a sincere smile, the same type of smile you would like to see when you win.

Many say that in order to succeed one has to be tough, mean, driven and unforgiving, showing no signs of mercy.  Those are the ones who would never give you a lending hand unless there was something in it for them. More people have succeeded who practiced kindness than brute force of will. More people are remembered for their kindness to others rather than for how much they acquired.

It is possible to acquire what one needs while showing kindness to others. Those are the people who are looked up to and admired.

When you show kindness you get kindness back in return. When you don’t show any kindness, people will walk all over you, approach you with false promises and will help you only when it benefits them.

Always practice kindness and with time, you will be treated with kindness in return no matter where you turn.

(Back Scratch by ~Lelpel on deviantART)

The Old Man and the Plumber

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“The way to overcome the angry man is with gentleness, the evil man with goodness, the miser with generosity and the liar with truth.” Indian proverb

I’ve lived my life by always giving people the benefit of the doubt: treat people with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

This philosophy has constantly proven how naïve I am. When I was young, one out of twenty people would turn out to be greedy, corrupt, liars, only looking out for their own self-interest.

As time went by, the number who couldn’t be trusted or were simply evil began going up. Regardless of this change, my philosophy remained the same. Sometimes I’d put myself in their shoes in order to understand why they acted the way they did. Why did they feel the need to lie or to get angry when confronted, or to constantly take rather than give, or suddenly become evil when it seemed they were good all along. I’d sympathize with them, get angry, and sometime even bend the truth for them, so that they wouldn’t get hurt or caught.

Being young, I’d let them think they were getting away with something, without anyone being any wiser. I’d let them take more than they should or deserved, feeling they needed it more than I did. As a young man, a little extra work to make up for what they took wasn’t going to kill me. I was young and they were older, so my feelings where they needed the money more than I did and with a little extra work replacing it wouldn’t hurt me.

Now, I am the older man. Things are different. Now, nine out of ten people I come across turn out to be evil, greedy, untrustworthy liars.

My philosophy though hasn’t kept up with the times, and so I continue to treat people with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

And so, when our boiler broke down a few weeks ago and the plumber sent by the warranty company arrived, I treated him the same way I treat everyone else. Tom was a very nice and polite fellow who was about half my age. I listened in as he told the service company it would be a three hour repair and he would need to return another day since he didn’t have the needed parts.

Rather than doing the three hour repair as he told them, the plumber performed a ten minute temporary fix, using parts he forgot he had in his truck. To me, this was good news all around. I had heat, Tom wouldn’t have to make a second one hour drive to return, and the warranty company saves some money.

Two weeks later the boiler stopped working again. The temporary fix stopped working. To make a long story short, it turned out Tom charged the warranty service company for the full three hour repair and for a second visit to complete the repair. To avoid performing the three hour repair, which the service company already paid him for, Tom claimed tampering caused the second failure, which voids the warranty and gets him off the hook.

Initially I was angry. Tom had robbed me, since now I have to pay another plumber myself to perform the job Tom was already paid for, but never performed.

The shoe is on the other foot now. Tom is the younger, stronger person, who as a plumber with employees working for him, can afford to be honest and trustworthy. I’m the recently laid off older person who can’t afford to be taken anymore.

Despite all that, my anger faded fairly quickly. I suppose I should have learned my lesson, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Tom is an evil, greedy, dishonest man who will get what he deserves one day. Life is too short to get angry and to hold grudges. Tom will never be allowed to set foot back into this house.

And so, even though nine out of ten people don’t deserve it, I’ll continue giving people the benefit of the doubt by treating everyone with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

I’ve reached this age a happy contented man using that philosophy. I’ll continue being happy and stress free because each time another one of those nine crosses my path, I’ll confront the angry man is with gentleness, the evil man with goodness, the miser with generosity and the liar with truth. What’s more important than anything else to me, is that I remain part of the one in ten who is gentle, good, generous and honest.