Your Arguing…

I don’t want you to agree with me on this.  I don’t want you to disagree, either. I want you to understand what it is that I am saying. Any person, with any amount of knowledge or understanding, can either agree or disagree to an argument that is presented. It doesn’t take a whole lot to do either. It does take something, though, to understand.

An argument is typically defined as

: a statement or series of statements for or against something

: a discussion in which people express different opinions about something

: an angry disagreement (

Think about this for a moment: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~~ Attributed to Aristotle.

Remember, trying to understand the other person’s viewpoint takes a bit of extra work. Clarifying definitions, understanding positions, and seeing their goals are not always so easy to do.

It takes time. It takes patience. It takes a desire to know. Do you have what it takes?

The apostle Paul, in the Bible, once wrote that he became “all things to all men, so that by some means he might win a few.” (I Cor. 9:22b)  This doesn’t mean that he accepted the lifestyles of those he came to understand. It simply means that he tried his best to understand the other side’s view, so that he might apply the strengths and weaknesses of what they had to more readily accept his message.

Viktor Frankl once said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Would you choose to hear someone out, to really hear and understand their views? Would you be able to keep your biases outside of your hearing? It takes discipline. More than that, it takes courage.  Most do not have what it takes.  The next time you find yourself in the midst of an argument, take the time to think about your position. Lay it down for a few minutes and listen to what the other person is saying. Listen beyond their words. Listen to their silences, as well.

When you begin to practice this sort of communication, you will begin to grow by leaps and bounds. You do not have to accept what is being told to you. You should try to understand, though.  In that understanding comes strength.


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Our Vocabulary

Words are the symbols by which we live.

How often do we allow them to rule us, rather than we them?

Here’s an example:

How awesome is “awesome”?  It seems like there’s an inflation factor in the use of words.  People, nowadays, are always seeming trying to make things better or more attractive than what they are. The use of the word “awesome” is one of the words that prove my point.

If we were to stumble upon something that is truly awesome, what words would we use to describe them? We wouldn’t really have anything, as that word has been usurped to describe everyday things.  Heck, even my voice activated text messaging app on my phone uses the word…

She says, “To send a message, say “Send text.” So, I say, “Send Text.” I then make my statement, which she generally gets right. She then asks me if what I said was what she heard and is ready to send. I answer, “Yes.” Her next words…  make me want to throw my phone out the window, “Awesome, I’ll send that.”  What the heck is so awesome about that? The fact that…  what???  I’m communicating?

I know it’s a small thing, but it’s really irritating to me.

Another thing that is irritating to me is the use of the phrase “unconditional love.”  There is no such thing as “unconditional love.”  Love, by its very nature, places restrictions on the relationship that it is in.  In other words, “unconditional” means “anything goes.”  When’s the last time you were in a relationship where anything goes?  If you were in that sort of relationship, then chances are it wasn’t worth very much.  Heck, if there were ever an unconditional love that worked, well…  that would be….  awesome!  Just think about it.  I could have unconditional love from my wife.  I’ll let your mind wander a bit with the implications of that… now that we’re living in such an awesome time.

The point that I’m getting after here is that some people are living in such an existential vacuum, that they need to make up thoughts that aren’t really there, in order to make themselves feel better.  They are simply masking the problem of emptiness, while continuing to go down that path, wondering why their outlook in life never gets any brighter.  They are trying to manufacture happiness by the use of their words.  It hasn’t worked, and it will never work.

What words do you use in your life that “ain’t necessarily so”?

Gauge your words and see how effective they truly are.  Gauge the positive, as well as the negative.  One of the negatives would be the latching on of the suffix “phobia,” to words of your choice.  The word “homophobia” is one such word.  That is a political word, meant to try to discredit the character of the one that it is aimed at.  By a large margin, a person who is labeled as being homophobic is probably about as far from that psychological condition as can be. A person who is phobic has an intense fear or dislike of something, to the point of where they basically cannot function while the object of their problem is in their environment or has the chance of being so.  Unfortunately, all of the self-professed unconditional lovers of mankind who think that their views are awesome are more likely to use a term such as this, because a person who might disagree with their views is the exact opposite of their selves.

I have my own label for these types of people.  They are called alétheiaphobics.  I’ll leave that up to you to decipher.

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Phobia This, Phobia That…

You know what I really like about strapping the suffix “phobia” onto the end of so many words…

The words actually begin to lose their meaning, or actually mean nothing at all to begin with.

Phobias are clinical conditions, and those who suffer from real phobias, as opposed to imagined ones, are being done the greatest disservice by those who have political agendas of trying to shame others by their use of words on a public that is unenlightened about the impact words actually have on the human psyche.

If more people actually took the time to expand their vocabulary beyond what they are familiar with, then we’d not have so many gullible people being tossed around by every wind and wave that comes along.

The problem is…  and here we go…  a word of my own creation…  I think… is that most people are alítheiaphobic.  I think it’s my own word.  I googled it, and came up with no hits.  Hey, it’s my one and only claim to fame.  How paraphrytical. Oh…  that’s another word of my own.  Guess what it means.

Now, getting back to the alítheiaphobic condition, I think everyone suffers from it.  There are very few of us who are headed down one way of living life who can stand, unaffected, when we come up against a measure of truth that contradicts the ways we believe/act.  We start to get all sorts of bent out of shape and begin to resort to all sorts of tactics to maintain our error-prone ways.

Whereas we can never know an ultimate truth, we can pretty much be assured that we can have most of our ideas disassembled right before our very eyes by bits and pieces of that ultimate truth.

We…  don’t… like that.

The best way to defeat an alítheiaphobic way of being is to simply not get into arguments (the presentation of ideas, and not verbal fights) in order to agree or disagree. Any fool can agree with the least amount of evidence, and any fool can disagree with the greatest amount of vehemence, based on the least amount of evidence.  How about this for your next argument (the presentation of ideas, and not verbal fights): Try to understand the other person’s point of view.

There is a quote that is attributed to Aristotle that reflects this thought of arguing to understand: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Now, you might want to google this quote, as it could actually be from Linus in a Peanuts cartoon.  I’m just sayin’…  We need to be sure of that which we speak, before we speak it, and not simply base our thoughts on emotions, which is what the majority of any population does.

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Your Path IS Your Goal

When we are on the path of growth, we are already at the goal.

Each day brings many goals. The goal to be a better person. A smarter person. A stronger person. A wiser person. A more loving person. A more patient person. At the end of the day, where have our paths taken us?

And, there is no perfection. There is only another step toward becoming whole.

This wholeness will never be achieved, though. But, this is countered by the fact that when we are on the path of growth and we strive for all of those characteristics, plus many more in life, then we pass by milestones in our lives, however small or unconsciously noticed they may be.

We hit many goals every day. No sales goals make us better. No achievements that put us over another human make us better. Nothing of a tangible nature counts toward the fulfillment of our daily goals, only other than when we can sense the intangibles in ourselves and give them freely to others to help them along, as well.

Then, it might be a good time to go sit down at Burger King with someone else and share a meal.

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The Words We Offer, The Gifts We Give

Ok, so after a week of working on the computer, and preparing for a speech contest, I’m able to get back on and put up a post.  This post is about a speech that I’m giving in the Toastmaster’s International Speech Contest. It’s a direct result of the work that I am choosing to do with helping people to understand how things affect their lives, as well as how their lives affect the environment (including other people). Words are probably (in my estimate) the greatest influence in our lives, after we begin to learn how to use them. Hence, this speech that I want to present to people.  It will only take about 8 minutes to read, so if you have the time, please, sit back and let me know what you think of it.


Did you know that life can be divided into three phases? The first is when we come to believe in Santa Claus. The second is when we come to no longer believe in Santa Claus. The third is when we… become Santa Claus.

I’d like to touch on these ideas, starting with my father.

My father, in his younger days, was a big man, strong and courageous. This seemed to be amplified by the fact that he had steel taps on his shoes, because his job demanded it.  Wherever he walked, he always strode with purpose. It was CLICK, CLICK, CLICK. Wherever he went, people knew he was around. Back at the house, we kids used that as an early warning system, because we could always hear him coming, before we saw him.

That was my dad.

Through the years, he would give us gifts: Christmas, birthdays, other occasions… he gave us wonderful gifts. But, as courageous as he was, there was one gift that he never gave us. It was the gift of a particular talk. It’s a talk that we all need to give as well as receive.

I didn’t appreciate growing up with my family, so I left when I was 18. I did not see my father again for over… twenty… years.

I came home one night, expecting my wife’s wonderful cooking. As I came in the door, it was, “WHOA, DAD! What are you doin’ here? Where’s mom?” Well, mom didn’t make that trip. I thought, Geez, dad didn’t like traveling alone, and what’s more, he despised air travel. It didn’t dawn on me until much later as to why he made that trip.

He had come to give a talk.

He spent three days with my family, but unfortunately, that talk never came. What I saw during that time was an old man. An old man with white hair, bent and stooped, who, when he walked,  no longer strode with purpose. He… he shuffled and shook with… Parkinson’s.

Where is my father?  That’s not my father! I want my father back, strong and courageous!

I had one more lesson courage to learn, one more gift to be given.

At the end of those three days he said goodbye to my family, and he and I drove to the airport, a two hour trip, alone, together. No talk. Parking garage to the terminal, long walk, no talk. We got to the terminal where we would wait for the boarding announcement. We sat there in painful silence, two grown men, struggling for something to say, with time dwindling down. And then it came.  Not… the talk, but the announcement telling us it was time to say goodbye.

We had run out of time.

We got up from where we were sitting and walked across the way to where we would say our goodbyes. Thinking back on it now, he had overcome his distaste of traveling alone. He had overcome his greater fear of flying. In just a moment, at that time, he would overcome his greatest fear… that reason for his trip.

He didn’t need time. Two seconds. Four words.  As he was saying goodbye to me, he looked me straight in the eye and his last words to me were, “Tim, I love you.”

Santa came through one last time, and it was the best gift I ever got from him!

Those words!

What are the words we offer? What are the gifts we give?

As I mentioned, I left home when I was 18, full of the infinite wisdom of a teenager.

Phase two: No longer believing.

I figured I could give myself better gifts than old man ever could, so I set out to get those gifts. Indeed, wonderful gifts I got. The best was my wife and three kids, all still as beautiful as the first day I laid eyes on them.

But I lost them.

I lost them because of words. Words that manifested themselves into action. I didn’t use drugs or alcohol. I used arrogance and ignorance, a potent combination. I lost my wife. I lost my family. I lost my home. And down into this big… deep… dark… hole I went…  It’s called “depression.”

I don’t know how far down I went. I didn’t hit bottom, because somewhere down there was this little glimmer of hope, and it came up to me in the form of a Craigslist advertisement. It said, “Hey, would you like to learn to speak? Come to us, we’re Toastmasters!” Now, I don’t need to remind you all that we shouldn’t trust people we meet from out on the Internet…  I’m just sayin’…

As it is, I took them up on their offer. I didn’t so much take gifts anymore, but I began to receiving them again. I got the gift of learning more about people. I got the gift of learning how to measure my words. But, the most important gift I got was the ability to face the fear of… self and who I thought I had become. I took the pleasurable as well as the not-so-pleasurable, and I held them close. I hold them close to this very day. I also learned that I’d be a fool if I did not share what I have come to understand.

Phase three: Becoming Santa Claus.

What are the words we offer? What are the gifts we give?

Will they be in the quiet of a living room to a confused teenager, or in a darkened bedroom to a troubled spouse? Will they be in a boardroom in front of 20 people, or on a stage in front of hundreds? The size of our audience will not matter. What will matter is that we stand and speak. Our perceived successes and failures will not matter, either. What will matter is that we stand, we find that courage and say what must be said! Regardless of who we face, when we face them, and how, I only have one question for you now… What will be the words you offer? What will be the gifts that you give?

Please, whatever they be, do not delay in giving them.

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