Imagine yourself on the London bridge last Saturday night — Sympathy VS. Empathy

Imagine yourself on the London bridge last Saturday night — Sympathy VS. Empathy

I will be honest. I did not enjoy writing this article. It makes me sick to my stomach to truly imagine myself in the place of some of the witnesses to the London bridge attack as I recount the stories in my own words. Sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another. Imagine it’s Saturday night. You are out for a couple of beers with some friends. Someone suggests you all go to another bar just across the London bridge. “It’s a better vibe over there,” they say. You all step out into the warm spring night and start making your way over to the next establishment. There are people everywhere in the streets, its the weekend. The group walking ahead of you is a little drunk, singing and laughing, as they stumble along the sidewalk. There is a couple walking behind you, holding hands. Others are following them. You hear the squeal of tires and immediately guess it’s another young kid showing off, spinning the wheels on his dad’s sports car. You laugh. You were his age once and know what it’s like to crave attention from the ladies. You hear the roar of an engine as the pedal hits the floor and look ahead to see a pair of headlights swerve towards the sidewalk. It’s not a sports car, it’s a van. “Drunk idiot!” you say, “He’s going to hit somebody clowning around like that.” The tires hit the curb and the van bounces onto the sidewalk. The folks ahead of...
How to: The simple 3 step guide to dividing people

How to: The simple 3 step guide to dividing people

A “Nazi” and a “Communist” take an Uber together. A few days ago I was in Seattle for work. We finished up our project early and decided to catch the Mariners baseball game being played in town that evening. We ordered an Uber and hopped in, heading for the stadium. On the ride over, we learned our driver was born in Germany. His grandpa fought for the German’s in WWII, and ended up in a Russian prisoners camp for 13 years. I thought this was neat because I was born in Soviet Russia, and my grandpa fought against the Germans in WWII. He ended up in a German death camp for prisoners of war. Here we were, nearly 65 years later. We rode in the same car and we shared stories of a disturbing time in human history, a “Nazi” and a “Communist,” as we would have been called not too long ago. There was no hate. Why would there be? The war was fought by young boys, convinced they were fighting evil, justified in their actions. But it was started by manipulative, power hungry, ******* (Insert expletive here. I personally like the word “bastards.”) So how do you divide and create a hate between people, to the point of them murdering each other? Easy. 1. You make them believe they belong to a great cause, even greater than human life.  We humans have an amusing characteristic. We NEED to believe in something and be a part of something. It’s what gives us meaning, a sense of belonging, a sense of community. Sharing a common belief with others gives us comfort...
“What will people think?” Why we should avoid conformity

“What will people think?” Why we should avoid conformity

There are a few questions we ask ourselves when it’s time to make a tough decision and we may not even do it consciously. How will this make me look? What will they say? What will people think!? You don’t actually say these words, but you think in this way. I do. When I started my transition from living with blind hope that one day I would be a success and do work that gave me a sense of fulfillment and happiness… to actively searching for my purpose, I was afraid. I was afraid of what people would think. What would they say to me when I would tell them that I could’t take it any longer? That I was about to walk away from a job to which I studied in school for? What would they say to me when I would tell them that I would rather mow lawns for a living than spend another day behind that cubicle? They would think I was nuts. And worse yet, they would laugh when I told them I was doing it to pursue my dream of being an inspirational speaker and writer. I was “good-time Charlie” on the weekends and I made people laugh. I led the charge when it came time to break into a football stadium at night or climb the roof of the house at a party. What the hell did I know about inspiring others? They didn’t know I had a single serious bone in my body. And they never would have if I had crumbled to my fear, conformed, and never took the step....
5 ways we can keep the Christmas spirit going year round

5 ways we can keep the Christmas spirit going year round

Christmas was always my favorite holiday as a kid and still is to this day. There really is something magical in the air and from about December 1st to the day after Christmas, we all behave just a bit differently. We are more patient in lines at the grocery store or in traffic. We toss in a few bucks to the guys with the bells and red kettles at the mall entrance. We put in extra effort to spend time and talk with family and we tend to be much more giving. There is something about this time of year that just exudes the true meaning of family. Even the way we communicate with strangers is different. A few years ago, a couple of friends and I made a trip to New York City for the annual ball drop on New Year’s Eve. We were staying on the east coast for 10 days and were also spending Christmas there. We thought it would be a more “Christmassy” trip if we made a point of saying “Merry Christmas” to as many strangers as we could on the trip, starting with the plane ride. The goal was for each of us to say it to at least 100 strangers in the span of the 10 days. We had a blast and the conversations I had with complete strangers were incredible. So much so that I began to wonder why I couldn’t continue to be so open and friendly with people year round. During these last 25 days or so, I am again reminded of the need for us all to find...
5 “Golden nuggets” we brought from the Soviet Union

5 “Golden nuggets” we brought from the Soviet Union

My family migrated to the United States 25 years ago and coming from the Soviet Union, things were different. Many things can dilute a society and the only way to maintain strong principles is instilling them into our lives at a young age. Times are always changing and along with that comes the change in the culture. Principles that we lived by 10 years ago may not be valued today and principles that we live by today may not be valued in 10 years. My father knew that as kids, we would adapt to a new culture quickly and even though adapting was necessary, he wanted to make sure we held our family values above all else. No matter what we saw around us, we were always taught to stay true to these 5 principles, or “Golden Nuggets” as I will refer to them from this point on. Currency may rise and drop but gold never loses it’s value. Carry these 5 nuggets with you for the rest of your life and you will have success in all that you do.   Golden Nugget #1: Someone being bullied is YOUR responsibility. This is especially true for men. Even if you don’t know the person being bullied, it now becomes YOUR problem. If someone is getting their butt kicked, you get yours kicked with them. If someone is getting unfairly treated, you speak up. “DO NOT EVER walk away from someone being bullied”. This is rule #1 for all of humanity, LOVE EACH OTHER above all else! “Evil prevails when good men fail to act” – Edmund Burke Golden Nugget...
Why I’m praying for an alien attack

Why I’m praying for an alien attack

In 1953, psychologists conducted an experiment. They brought 24 boys into a camp, separated from society. The boys were all 12 years old and were split into two groups. They were given activities and various duties that involved them working together but only in their own groups, competing against the opposing group. They were out to see how individuals interact when they are brought together and given common goals and activities and would these individuals create hierarchical statuses and roles within their given groups. They also wanted to see how these individuals, once a part of this group would treat people outside of their group.   Phase 1 Just as the psychologists suspected, in a very short time, the boys quickly adapted to their groups, gave themselves group names, and immediately separated. One group called themselves “The Rattlers”, the other gave themselves the name, “The Eagles”. Over the weeks, the boys treated the opposing groups harshly during competitions and other activities. Calling each other names, breaking out in food fights, and even started real fights. They would only eat with fellow group members and during free time, only hung out in their groups. Phase 1 was complete.   Phase 2 Now the experimenters attempted to highlight individuals instead of groups, setting up activities and competitions that focused on individual success and victory as opposed to team victories or trophies. Fail! The kids would only root for fellow members, celebrated victories of individuals of their own group, and disrespected the other team’s flag. Still more fights and continued separation. Phase 3 It was time to see if they could be...

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