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Posts Tagged ‘beliefs’

       It is D day…make sure that you vote today.  The balance of the well-being hangs on who becomes President of the United States.  Vote your beliefs, vote your convictions, vote your values.  It will be a long day…tomorrow will be a day of all of the talking heads analyzing this and that…and how so and so should have done this and should not have done that.  This country needs to somehow find it’s way back to common sense and put it’s affairs in order.

       No matter who wins…half of the country will be down and depressed for a little while.  This has been one of the most contested prolonged political battles in the history of the United States.  So, now we wait for the news to tell us what happens next.  The next four year’s journey begins today.  I did my part…did you?

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      Comedian Bill Maher appears to have made it a footnote of his career to openly show his contempt for religion; his comedy routines have had a biting edge to many topics pertaining to faith.  He has now made a movie about that very subject… it is a movie that expresses his thoughts that religious beliefs are dangerous and ridiculous.  The movie which is opening in theaters on Friday is called, Religulous.  Bill Maher hopes to open up conversations where others feel comfortable expressing their disbelief, as well as making the viewers laugh.  I am sure he wouldn’t mind making a buck or two off of the whole enterprise either!

       In my mind, religion is not a laughing matter.  Whenever i have watched Bill Maher perform on television, in years past…i was stunned to hear the barely controlled contempt, whenever he would subject the viewers to his views on religion.  I don’t think anything is so terrible about people having differing viewpoints on the subject of religion…but, i do think it is wrong for someone to mock another for their personal religious beliefs.  I think it comes down to a matter of respect.  At the very least, you can agree to disagree without turning to put downs or insults.

       Out of fairness, Bill Maher did allegedly make an attempt to be an equal opportunity offender to all religions in the movie.  He mocks Christianity, Judaism, and Islam allegedly in the movie.  Other religions would have presumably gotten the same treatment if it had not cost so much to do the additional traveling.  After all, there are many different religions around the world and the world is a very big place.

         I will agree with Bill Maher on one thing…religion can be dangerous for those who mock; or are in some way, regarded as a threat to those who hold radical religious viewpoints.  Religions are made up of many different people.   Those people are a microcosm of all areas of society; and, in each of those areas of humanity, there are people who will brook no difference of viewpoint from their personal value system. 

          Respectful individuals will try to discuss their beliefs with one another when there is a difference of opinion trying to persuade the other person with theological discourse on the subject.    Serious repercussions begin to take shape when you think about someone with a mental illness who feels the need to defend their religion.  In that situation, you could potentially have a recipe for disaster.  There are other individuals who will go to any extreme, including terrorism, to make their religious views known to others.  There are elements in any society, of religious extremism.  One must take care to respect each other’s right to believe differently if that person has hope of being treated with respect themselves…even, their right to not believe at all.

        Quite a few years ago, there was a huge threat directed towards a man named Salman Rushdie.   He is an author that wrote a book that offended some Muslims, called The Satanic Verses in 1988.  Some  protested his book, and there were many threats upon his life because of the content in the book.  He was forced to live in hiding for quite a period of time. 

         In making a film on the subject of mocking multiple religions, i think that Bill Maher has provided an irresponsible and inflammatory situation which could draw radical attention towards his movie.  If and when it causes conflict, then he can stand back as a witness to the “crazy and dangerous” effect of religion upon society.  I wish that Mr. Maher had found a different way to express himself and his viewpoint on religion; instead of, filming a movie which could negatively impact so many people.  It is quite an easy thing to incite people when they feel that their core values are under attack.  It will surprise me greatly if you dont see protests regarding this movie, all over the news.

         I’ve noticed that there are other comedians who often take hostile swipes at things pertaining to religious subjects.  I remember hearing about Kathy Griffen at some awards ceremony or another, saying something to the effect that, Jesus had nothing to do with her success.  Another comedian who comes across as offensive, to me at least, on the subject is Jimmy Kimmel.  I think there is a fine line between love and hate…and religion brings that line into focus.  Part of the dual edged sword of celebrity is that you have a platform to sway public opinion…but you also bear a personal responsibility in what you put out there when you do espouse a certain opinion.

         One has to wonder, where all of the anger and hostility comes from.  I have heard that anger issues are the opposite side of the coin when it comes to comedians…they take their anger and use humor as a tool to get their message across to the audience.  Humor can often take a sour slant on a subject and make it more palatable to the masses because it is put in a way that people find a little easier to listen to.  But, just because something can be made into a punch line, doesn’t mean that it should be.   Anger seems like such a waste of energy.   When you have a talent for making people laugh, it seems that it could be better used for something more positive than spreading hostile rhetoric used to offend others. 

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        Have you ever been in a situation where you were won over to another person’s opinion…allowing them to convince you to their way of thinking?  Maybe your original opinion was wrong in the first place; but if not, how were they able to change your mind; have you ever wondered?

         Of course, most of us have an opinion about the things that go  on around us.  Have you ever found yourself in the position of having catapulted over to another person’s way of doing things; when you really wanted to do them differently in the first place?  Why did you allow their will to trump your own?  Was their way of doing things better…or were they just more persuasive?

          It is an interesting thing to think about.  Did you give more value to their opinion than your own?  What convinced you that they were right, and your thoughts or opinions were less right?  Often it is persistent persuasion, combined with perceived superior credibility.  You know your own faults and mistakes…but, you do not know those of the other person quite as readily; giving them the advantage of a certain level of confidence, that you do not automatically give your own opinion. 

          If you are a person that often feels resentment because others seem to get their way; and, your way is often not the chosen path; you need to think about why that happens.  Do you express yourself well?  Do you listen to all of the facts respectfully and then verbalize your opinion in a fair way, with a pleasant tone of voice?  Are you easily led by the firm voice of others, into doubting your own opinion?  These are issues that are important to the daily bump and grind in life, business, families and organizations. 

         If you tend to err on the side of giving more weight to the opinions of others, you need to evaluate where that comes from.   Knowing what you think and believe; and understanding why you hold those opinions, is key.  If you firmly believe that you are in the right, your opinion can be backed up with facts or figures; and, you learn how to present your voice in a confident and respectful way…others will listen.  Present the large and small picture, put things in perspective, use examples that re-inforce your beliefs, validate your opinion with evidence or a precedence that will apply to the situation.

         Sometimes it is important to find common ground where both sides of a discussion or issue can be met.  From that point on, listening is very important.  Listen to the other side of the issue or discussion before stating your opinion.   When you do express yourself, do it in a manner that is open to some give and take; or, compromise.  People who become entrenched in getting their own way, simply for the sake of getting their own way…often don’t. 

         If common ground can be achieved and there are degrees to which an issue can be decided…you have a better chance of convincing others to agree to your way of thinking.  If you can convince one or two other people to agree with you…often, you will start to see a shift in the direction of a group.  Persuading another person or two, begins to show validity to your way of thinking.  Some people may still personally hold a different opinion privately; but, what starts to happen is, that they are persuaded to hold an opinion that is influenced by the majority opinion.  This is effective impact.

         Often, you will see an organization or business use a celebrity or a powerful person who already has credibility in a certain area to give a testimony.  This is also called social proof…that is, harnessing that person’s value as a spokesperson because their opinion has valuable impact that can influence others.  If a group, business, or organization gets a famous person who shares their passionate message to endorse them…they are more likely to persade others or inspire them to their believe their message. 

         That is powerful, and that is why you see advertisers using the most famous powerful person that they can get on their public relations team; you even see it in politics.  Think about recent developments with Sen. Barack Obama…whether you believe in his ability to lead or not…you certainly have seen the star power that has been attached to his campaign.  There have been many celebrities who have given their “testimony” about their belief that he should be President…in fact, media analysts have given mention in the news to the Oprah factor regarding his campaign.  Oprah’s opinions carry alot of weight with some voters…she brings alot of persuasion to the table.

         Influencing a group in this way, needs to be done in a way that is ethical and honest.  Forcing others to your way of thinking can backfire and cause great harm if you are malicious minded.  Think of those who use gossip or rumor to negatively affect persons, or groups of people.  No one wins in that situation and bad feelings are created; leaving everyone involved with a negative impression.

         If you use the process of persuasion…and you are doing it in an ethical way…you will start to find that people will gravitate towards supporting your business, issue, or organization.  Being persistent in stating your opinion or issue is important to getting others to support that issue.  The more people who are pursuaded or convinced, the more that word of mouth spreads the opinion, it becomes viral; and, it becomes more credible to those who have not heard it, or been previously convinced. 

          If your goal of persuasion is to get people to take action…then effective persuasion is a must.  Ken McArthur’s Impact Boot Camp Action Team has spent the weekend learning how to use their impact to get people to take action and to be effective in their collective powers of persuasion.  These team members include people like Jeff Wellman who made a splash in the internet marketing world in the last year or so.  They were exposed to experts in many areas of impact such as publishing, media, social networking and so on.  Author Brendon Burchard, who also gives inspiring advice to businesses and non-profit organizations, was present. 

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        Senator Barack Obama and Dr. Dobson, from Focus on the Family, have brought out their dueling swords…their bible’s and their interpetations of the scriptures as it applies to each person’s choices in their daily living. (more…)

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       In Texas, an appeals court overruled the state’s decision to remove the children of the sect, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The appeals court has found that the CPS department had not proven evidence of immediate danger of physical health or safety of children who had not reached puberty.  The court also said that their beliefs, in and of themselves, did not place children in danger of abuse.

          This is a victory for the 41 mothers who brought the suit against the state for removing their children.  Initially, the state had said that 31 of the mothers were under the age of 18.  It has since been determined that 15 of that 31 are OVER the age of 18.  What that means, for the other mothers, isn’t clear.

        Does this mean that the children will be returned back to their families?  No one seems to know for sure.  The ruling is being reviewed.  It is possible that the 450 children who were removed; could be removed from temporary foster care and returned to their families. 

          No one really seems to mention the fathers.  It is almost as if by accusing some of the fathers of sexually abusing young women…they all are guilty by association.  This is wrong.  Damage has been done to “whole” families…some of them may even be “INNOCENT”. 

          Part of the problem here is that in America, we are supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty.  That didn’t really happen here.  Truthfully, children need to be protected.  However, in “protecting” them…the system damaged others.  This whole case is disturbing.  Allegations that can be proven true, of abuse, are horrendous…and should be prosecuted.  Those who were under suspicion and are proven to be innocent have been done a great injustice.

          The mothers had been represented by the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.  TRLA is a non-profit organization.  They help people, in southwestern Texas, with low income to receive legal services.  http://www.trla.org/   TRLA has been instrumental in helping these mothers to find a pathway to once again regain custody.  Update 5-23-08  Today it was announced that the state of Texas child welfare officials will appeal this landmark decision.  In a notification to the court the state says that a motion will be filed later today!   Keep watching to see what happens….as the outcome will surely define the limits or lack of limits on the department of child welfare that the courts will enforce.  This affects us all!!! 

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      The news spoke of an increase in teen pregnancies just the other day.  It is a sad fact of life that with all of the educational tools that this country has, that the problem of teen pregnancies continues.

      It is hard raising children in today’s world.  It is even harder to do it when you are a young (often single) parent yourself.  Education is the key to earning higher pay when you enter the workforce.  The drop out rate among young women who find themselves pregnant is staggering.  The emotional, spiritual, and financial toll is hard to overlook.

       Today, all over the news is the headline that Jaime Lynn Spears is pregnant.  She is all of 16.  She met the father of her unborn child in church.  It underscores that even with sex education, religious training, strong family bonds as well as the availability of multiple birth control methods; teen pregnancy still happens. (more…)

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