Will the Next Generation have Their Lives Lived for Them?

The mariner admits he is a privacy advocate. It stems from his first job in computer systems: he was responsible for a corporation’s system and data backups. Security was an aspect of the job. Throughout his career in systems, he was aware of the power of information in the automated world. The mariner has written many times about the disappearance of privacy.

Generally, the younger generations have less or no concern about individual privacy in exchange for the toys, correspondence, convenience, and social media. In this post, the mariner asks a few questions to demonstrate the kind of control and abuse a computer can impose on your personal life.

Assuming that most folks eventually will order groceries online, the grocery store wants to know your shopping preferences. At least grocery stores are willing to pay for this information with discounts on gasoline or sale prices. With your history of purchases, two things occur: first, the grocery store can trim its inventory overhead by providing only those items you are likely to buy. This seems reasonable but you will be offered fewer options to buy other items unless the grocery store wants to show them to you. It will be to the store’s advantage to offer only those items or brands they want you to see.

Second, you cannot price shop; the options are offered via the Internet showing the grocery store’s pricing to you, the individual buyer. Are your prices the same as everyone else’s? Are your prices competitive with other grocery stores? Will your income, bank balance or credit score determine how much you can buy? You have traded independence for convenience; you have surrendered private shopping preferences to anyone who wants to see them for their own purposes. Mariner wonders whether a shopper has lost control of grocery shopping decisions.

Anyone who owns a computer today, whether it’s a PC or the multitude of handheld devices, has experienced unwanted popups and other advertisements that almost trap the reader into making a purchase – wanted or not. How many inexperienced folks have bought computer cleaning software because they couldn’t get rid of the popup? Further, have you noticed that advertisements and email for automobiles are limited? They are limited because the seller knows your credit score, your entire history of auto purchases, and your income.

A store clerk will not see ads from Cadillac and Tesla; more likely, it will be Kia and Mitsubishi Mirage. On the surface, this limit of choices seems innocuous; on the other hand, someone else is deciding what car you will buy. In a subtle way, someone else is telling you what you can’t buy. Can’t is the operative word: today, interest rates are based on risk – not only your credit score but if the store clerk is buying a Cadillac, the interest will be higher because a Cadillac doesn’t fit the clerk’s profile.

Banks know your credit situation before they send you an offer for another credit card. Is your credit score high? You have the opportunity for a higher line of credit and many credit options; if your credit score is low, your line of credit will be low and your interest rate higher. You actually have little choice in the matter; the full array of credit card choices is not shown – someone else has selected your card for you.

The mariner receives thousands of junk email from boat suppliers, hardware companies, woodworking companies and especially plant nurseries. How do all these retailers know about the mariner’s propensity for boat, shop and gardening? The businesses have two external sources: they buy customer lists from other businesses and they buy from the worst lot of them all, the companies that control your access to the Internet.

That brings us to Google – the worst thief of the bunch that, usually without your knowledge or any recompense, takes your personal life and makes large profits selling that information to anyone who wants it. Why do others want your information? They want to live your life for you – using their products, of course.

I mentioned in a post a few years ago that I had written an email using an AOL account; Google was my link to the Internet. In that email, I used the word “depression.” The next day, when I launched Google, three separate ads for psychiatrists appeared. Google reads our mail even if we don’t use gmail. Google knows everything. It knows the brand, model and configuration of your device; it knows every website you ever visited; Google knows all the information available through government agencies like your birth certificate, driver license, social security number, and all your insurance policies. Google denies its obsession to know everything about everyone. Google says they don’t read people’s mail – but their computers do and the computers sort, select and bundle your information to obtain the highest price from information buyers.

Another growing use of your personal data is psychological evaluation. By cross-matching your computer activity over time, Google (and anyone wanting to pay for it) can determine the status of your life. The mariner knows for a fact that Google can deduce you had an increase in pay from your purchasing patterns; Google can deduce that a divorce is imminent; Google knows your political disposition and can determine who you will vote for by cross-matching the shows and channels you prefer on television, the neighborhood you live in, the car you own, your arrest record…need the mariner go on?

What provoked this post on privacy is the fact that Google again is caught red handed modifying settings in school PCs so that Google can monitor the use of the PCs unbeknownst to anyone. Further, a student cannot modify the setting to turn off Google’s snooping. The news article is a MUST READ. See:


Mariner says it again: Don’t worry about what NSA knows about you; it’s Google who knows a lot more than NSA ever will and can use it without accountability. Besides, at least the NSA doesn’t want to live your life for you.

A recent advancement in computer technology is the use of “clouds.” A cloud is a data storage service where you can leverage many processing devices to process your data. The cloud also stores your data. This is a boon for large companies and science research that need faster processing than possible in their own locations. These large scale users have IT specialists to assure security and accuracy – specialists that you may not have to protect your data for you. The issue of privacy is bound up in the cloud service because the smart phone companies store your smart phone activity on clouds whether you need high powered processing or not. However, the smart phone companies use the high powered processing to sort through your data just like Google always has.

The next chapter in limiting your choices in life will come soon when you can no longer buy your own processing system and programs. You will rent them from owners of the clouds. Like the child who picks up a dirty object and you say, “Don’t put that in your mouth – you don’t know where it’s been!” you may also be able to say that about your data.

Ancient Mariner

Red Brain, Blue Brain

The following information was published in the PLoS ONE journal on February 13, 2013:

“Red Brain, Blue Brain: Evaluative Processes Differ in Democrats and Republicans

Liberals and conservatives exhibit different cognitive styles and converging lines of evidence suggest that biology influences differences in their political attitudes and beliefs. In particular, a recent study of young adults suggests that liberals and conservatives have significantly different brain structure, with liberals showing increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and conservatives showing increased gray matter volume in the in the amygdala.

Here, we explore differences in brain function in liberals and conservatives by matching publicly-available voter records to 82 subjects who performed a risk-taking task…. Although the risk-taking behavior of Democrats (liberals) and Republicans (conservatives) did not differ, their brain activity did. Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, while Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala….. These results suggest that liberals and conservatives engage different cognitive processes when they think about risk, and the results support recent evidence that conservatives show greater sensitivity to threatening stimuli….. Conversely, liberals had stronger responses to situations of cognitive conflict than conservatives.”

Red brain art

The mariner apologizes for the scientific journal lingo – rather dry reading. He will paraphrase while contemplating what this means in the world of politics and beliefs in general. His comments easily can be interpreted too literally; the reader should consider the mariner’s informal interpretations as parables.

Republicans orient attention to external cues. What this means is Republicans find it less important to understand how they feel inside; more important is their control of potential risk outside.

On the other hand, Democrats orient attention to perceptions of internal feelings – how they feel about the external cues. This orientation also borders the temporal-parietal junction, and may reflect the perceptions of internal feeling and motivation in others as well.

Now the reader has a clear and firm understanding of the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. The mariner perceives this may not be true. Let’s take a real example but remember that simply saying something for clarity may be overstated and may not be wholly true in the first place.

Republicans are good managers because they are risk averse. Republicans are sensitive to anything that blocks their range of decisions in dealing with risk. Therefore, Republicans do not like labor unions because labor unions have the ability to limit what the Republican may want to do regarding job profiles and salary – risk-laden issues in any business. This does not mean Democrats aren’t good managers, too. Remember the statement in the journal lingo: “Although the risk-taking behavior of Democrats (liberals) and Republicans (conservatives) did not differ….” In other words, a good manager will deal with risk appropriately – liberal or conservative.

The Democrat manager, however, is sensitive to his/her feelings about jobs and salary and, because the temporal-parietal junction is nearby, empathy may play a role in how the risk is perceived. As long as labor unions play by fair rules, the Democrat is more likely to accept why being in a union is important to the employees’ perception of risk.

How are we doing? Maybe one more example. But to keep it simple, no elected government folks are allowed:

Bah, Humbug! People have nothing to do with global warming! Republican or Democrat? We don’t really know for certain but several surveys show that this is a Republican. Global warming is nothing if it is not constrictive, behavioral (the right amygdala doesn’t know about behavioral) and interferes with profit strategies across the board. A Republican would run from the restrictive regulations that cure global warming. The same is true of the fossil fuel industry, the banking industry and a myriad of other corporate interests that do not want to be curtailed in their decision making regarding risk to profit.

What is the future of humanity if it all boils down to Left Posterial Insula versus right amygdala?

Ancient Mariner

Po Pouree

Know Thyself – Read the Comics

Today, Sunday May 24, 2015, the mariner’s local newspaper defined him, in his entirety, with only two comic strips, one following the other on the same page. The first strip was Peanuts, a rerun from 1968; the second was Dilbert.

The mariner has maintained throughout his life that comic strips and single-pane cartoons are the most important section of the newspaper. The comics have a sly way of slipping through one’s prejudice, ignorance, and lack of emotional maturity to plant the seed of a new insight. Think for a moment how comics reflect basic angst that often affects each of us. Think for a moment how comics can reflect an entire segment of our culture in one cartoon. Think for a moment how narrow minded we would be if we could not laugh at ourselves. Simultaneously, comics are irreverent, biased, simplistic, insightful, hilarious and wise.

Each of us is a complex conglomeration of evolution that began billions of years ago. It is no exaggeration that we entered life as no more than a cluster of chemicals that could replicate and today we are warm blooded, mammalian, intelligent (relative to other creatures although we lack the skills they possess) and now we stand on the edge of a future that will allow us to manage our own evolution. God forbid.

We have brains that use deduction and induction in an unbelievably powerful way, reducing complex knowledge to a few simple terms; who defined motion across the entire universe with the formula E=MC2 ? Each of us can read a thousand words in a momentary facial expression. Each of us – well, most of us – can deduce years of history from a single cartoon. As complex as we are, each of us can be fully defined in one comic strip with faster speed and more acuity than if defined by a psychiatrist.

John Nash

Tragically, John Nash and his wife Alicia were killed in an automobile accident yesterday. Do you remember the movie A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe as John Nash? The mariner became a big fan of the movie, John Nash, and the subtleties of game theory. Nash won the Nobel Prize for Mathematics in 1994. Game theory studies interactive decision-making, where the outcome for each participant or “player” depends on the actions of all players individually. Consequently, whether an individual, business, government or sewing circle, we play game theory in virtually every activity – even buying groceries, a game between us, the market and the producers. Nash was able to prove mathematically that ‘equilibrium’ is an actual state of being at all times, like a chess board is always present no matter who wins the game or how they play it. However, the chess board limits squares in such a way that a player must consider what the opponent’s strategy is in order to make his or her own best move.

The most familiar demonstration of game theory is applied in virtually every cop show on television. It’s called The Prisoner’s Dilemma:

The police interrogate two suspects separately, and suggest to each that he or she should snitch on the other and turn state’s evidence. If the other does not snitch, then you can cut a good deal for yourself by giving evidence against the other; if the other snitches and you hold out, the court will treat you especially harshly. Thus, no matter what the other does, it is better for you to snitch than not to snitch — snitching is your uniformly best or ‘dominant’ strategy. This is the case whether the two of you are guilty or innocent. Of course, when both snitch, they both fare worse than they would have if both had held out; but that outcome, though jointly desirable for them, collapses in the face of their separate temptations to snitch.

The mariner apologizes for being pedantic; his dominant strategy was to share why John Nash is important to everyone. The mariner snitched.

Oh, Those Promiscuous Neandertals

The following is an excerpt from Scientific American letters to the editors. The mariner sent it to a few family members in an email. They just will have to read it again. He included the writer’s response because it shows how we can be caught up in our own value system without including peripheral knowledge simply because it doesn’t fit easily into our values:

When the mariner was in his thirties, the scientific explanation for red-headed Homo sapiens was due to occasional inter-species sex with neandertals. It has been proven by DNA studies that we do have a small piece of neandertal in us. However, “occasional inter-species sex” has been thrown out. Read the response to a woman who wrote of neandertal ‘dalliances’ in her February article in Scientific American.

Kate Wong’s suppositions about what brought about neandertals’ extinction in “Neandertal Minds” are contrary to the known history of anatomically modern Homo sapiens (that is, us). Her assertions that neandertals were just out competed and that the 1.5 to 2.1 percent neandertal DNA within people outside of Africa is the result of occasional “dalliances” would be historically unlikely.

The most likely scenario would involve waves of immigrating anatomically modern humans taking over land and causing death by plunder and disease, as Europeans discovering the New World did. And it would be naive to think that our neandertal DNA was the result of consensual dalliances when rape went hand in hand with the pillage of every other civilization.

It would be wise for us to give up the notion that we are, or our ancestors before us were, a benevolent and sharing species.

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine”

Ancient Mariner



The Brain Knows More than it can Handle

Note that this post is in the musings category; neither advocacy nor nostalgia is present. Rather, it is the brain’s incapacity to integrate percentages with empirical reality that has always intrigued the mariner. He was reminded of this recently when the mariner and his wife sent a birthday card to our son advising him that every year that passes, he grows closer to the mariner’s age.

Empirically, this is not true – our ages remain the same number of years apart in arithmetic terms. However, convert the difference to a percentage and one can make the case that our ages are converging.

Hypothetically, let’s say the mariner’s son was born when the mariner was 20 years old. On the son’s 5th birthday, he is 20% as old as his father. On the son’s 10th birthday, the son is 33% as old as the mariner. On the son’s 40th birthday, he is 66% as old as his father. As a percentage, the son is growing old faster than his father!

Humans can understand percentage values only after their brains interpolate percentage values to an approximate empirical reality, that is, an absolute event. The mariner knew a person who believed that when the weather report said 30% chance of rain, it meant the person would receive 1/3 of all the rain that would fall – an absolute value.

This inability to rationalize probability in terms of absoluteness is what makes lotteries work. Simply say, “You gotta play to win,” And the brain thinks that if one plays, one wins. Never mind that as a probability, one may win once in 17 million tries. But even that is not guaranteed. One may win 17 million times or may never win at all or win any number in between. That’s the problem: probability is not empirically guaranteed. The brain is much more comfortable coping with the absoluteness of empirical reality.

The brain can override probability (percentages) very easily by replacing a percentage with one that is an unrelated empirical situation that has completely different probability. A common example is ignoring the probability of an automobile accident by responding to the empirical urge to answer a text on the cell phone. The odds that someone will be on the other end of the call are very high both empirically and statistically. The absoluteness of the texting seems more dependable than the absoluteness of having an accident. A fair trade off, wouldn’t you think?

The obvious conclusion is that the brain has difficulty evaluating percentages. The brain is much more comfortable comparing empirical relationships. True, over evolutionary time, the skill of evaluating empirical absoluteness is more useful, else, lions, tigers and panthers would have eaten all our ancestors while the ancestors calculate the probability of whether they actually will be eaten.

One may argue that the brain actually accepts percentages and alters empirical behavior. One can train oneself not to respond to the cell phone while driving. An intellectual victory but not an empirical one; a dog will accept heeling intellectually but, all things said empirically, would rather be running off doing what dogs like to do best – answer the cell phone.

Over the years, mariner has given countless presentations to managers, planners, project teams and others who must develop decisions that most graphically affect the empirical world but in the beginning are decisions based on percentages, statistics, base expectancy and gut feelings. Human society cannot live without probability. Still, probability is a foreign value until it is interpreted as an absolute event.

Think of all the things that face probability in your life – starting with the color of your eyes and hair and whether your middle finger is as long as your ring finger. What is the probability that you would meet the person you married? No judgment intended, what is the probability that you did not meet the person you should have married? How fortunate are you to have the job you have? You may never have had the chance for that job if you reacted to 30% of the rain that was going to fall on that fateful day.

The truth is, probability shapes our reality in every way – even to the fact that life would not exist without the moon. How fortunate we are that, against all probability, the pieces of Earth that formed the moon did not fly off into a scattered belt of asteroids – as percentages would have predicted. We are not conscious of the influence of probability because the brain does not notice probability until it is converted into an empirical event. What if you were told that the son’s age is 66% of his father’s age? Does that help with your understanding of the family relationship?

What is the probability that this post is important to the empirical circumstances of its readers? Probably not worth mentioning but the mariner had a good time writing it – a victory for empirical judgment in spite of probable value. Just don’t call him while he’s driving.

Ancient Mariner


Using Oneness in Family Life



Husband and Wife. Marriage starts as a state of togetherness – togetherness and the discovery of a new relationship that intertwines the psychological uniqueness of each person into singularity. Togetherness seems very much like oneness but it is not. Togetherness has an element of self gratification. The period of togetherness can last from months to years depending on personality compatibility but a time will come when sharing emerges and togetherness fades. Sharing is the time when each person is able to identify permanent differences between themselves and their partner. Unlike togetherness, sharing implies a responsibility to empathize more clearly who the other person is, their wants, needs, and overall character.

The marriage shifts to personal and greater realities, which requires that each partner (if oneness is an objective) use empathy and compassion to reconcile their realities. This does not imply that love has left the relationship; there still is an emotional bond and a permanent respect for each other.

Still, the fact is that there are two separate persons at the base of the marriage. Each personality is different and has different empathetic and compassionate abilities. Each person forms agendas to express their personal objectives in life. Conflicts are inevitable and oneness skills defined earlier must become part of the reconciliation. As in any situation of personal and greater reality, the rule says your reality is always the least important. This assumption provides space for empathetic sharing and will lead to a compassionate solution for each partner. At times, easier said than done.

Gradually, issues that actually are extraneous fall away over the years and skilled marriage partners are able to mitigate most conflicts under the umbrella of empathy and compassion – oneness. One must not simply yield their reality for the sake of avoidance or compliance. This is false compassion. Reconcilement is required.

Not to understate togetherness, which always is present to some extent, but oneness becomes the primary objective for satisfaction in married life.

Children. Parents have a genetic desire to care for their children. Unfortunately, how to parent is not in school curricula. Many parents – make certain you understand that parenting dysfunction is not class, culture, or wealth specific – have children for myriad reasons that have nothing to do with wanting to share love and oneness. The list of reasons is virtually endless but a few examples are provided: the genetic motivation to procreate; accidental result of sex; reinforce the sense of self worth; cultural influence from definition of ‘family’; keeping up with friends who have children; extend the family name to the next generation, etc. Every example is based on fulfillment of self importance.

Many people who become parents should not be parents. In the context of oneness, they are incapable, for whatever reason, to recognize the relationship as a personal and greater situation. Therefore empathy and compassion are distorted, unevenly applied or can’t exist in the first place. Were it not for the resiliency of children to adapt to all but the most egregious maltreatment, cultural civility would have its limits.

The rules for oneness are more important when raising children because in a subconscious way children learn the parenting style and will reflect it as they grow older. There are frequent television commercials about paper towels or household cleaners. In these commercials, the parent is cleaning a mess made by a child who has neither sympathy, nor empathy, nor responsibility for the mess that was made. Nevertheless, the mother smiles and reassures the child with a hug while cleaning the mess. The objective is to sell towels or cleaner by showing cleaning is so easy there is no need to be frustrated or act out against the child. The author has wondered on many occasions whether the advertisement agencies know they teach oneness. Other cleaner commercials show the parent engaging in the creativity of drawing on the walls, throwing food, or dropping things down the toilet. One must acquire understanding if only by watching cleaner commercials.

Raising children who have passed puberty and are under twenty-five is another complexity. Within these children, the buds of awareness are present that show sympathy, empathy and compassion are present but the judgment when and how to use them must be learned during those youthful years. Indeed, large mistakes may be made like marrying before they understand the complexity of marriage, choosing to ignore the responsibility for actions that will assure a better and less troublesome life, choosing improper sets of friends that will be harmful in the long run, etc.

A parent cannot clean immature decisions with paper towels. The parent is on their own, sans cleaners, to practice oneness. It is often hard because the parent can see the error of the child’s ways and agonizes in their behalf. Nevertheless, the ability to understand personal and greater realities enables the parent to have more influence than otherwise may be available.

Forgiveness plays a large role in performing oneness with children.

The exercise: Essentially, this is the same exercise posed earlier in the section about which personal or which greater reality:  You know that you have difficulty relating to your child because of your opinion of the child’s behavior. Common phrases used by a parent are, “As long as you live in this house, you live by my rules!” or “you’re grounded!” or “You can’t go out until you clean your room and do your homework”! Imagine the child without letting your opinion affect you. Try to raise empathy. What are the good characteristics of the child? What reality does the child perceive that is different from yours? Can you define a personal and greater reality? What would you do instead of each quote above?

Ancient Mariner

Oneness VIII – Person Driven Oneness

Using a person to avoid isms

Using a person to heal abuses

In the post Oneness VII, the behavior required to define reality and fairness was documented. This post follows with two more circumstances that require Oneness skills

Using a person to avoid isms.  An ism is an entrenched position. The position comes complete with doctrine, ritual and predetermined cause. As in the section about using a person to define reality, you are the first brick. Within you is a library of opinions, prejudices, habits, and preferences. Every one of your isms is a blocking agent that cuts off the ability to reconcile personal and greater situations. Everyone has a cache of isms ready to deliver on a second’s notice. Still, we know some individuals who are better listeners than others. Perhaps they are not strident in nature or don’t carry their opinions like chips on the shoulder. Many of these better listeners are willing to accept your isms without conflict. In this situation, is their acquiescence a reconcilement between your personal reality and their greater reality? No. Whatever distance existed between the two of you still remains. The other person was being polite but there was no reconcilement as far as that person is concerned. It will be obvious that oneness did not occur.

Entrenched isms come from all classes, all races, all religious believers, all those who condemn the nonworking, all those who are elitist, all those who disregard others in favor of money, all those who suffer from greed and avarice. You are among them. It will be hard for you to set aside your isms to forge a new reconciliation based on compassion – perhaps the hardest task among person driven oneness.

Oneness is simple to define and difficult to acquire: the other person(s) is received simply as the person they are; their reality is more important.

Using a person to heal abuses.  Abuse is a distorted version of an ism. The added dimension is mental and physical damage caused by someone who has vindictive attitudes and likely has suffered abuse as well. Oneness is a matter of practicality based more on repair of a situation than comparing personal and greater realities. The process is similar to the first exercise where a person is used to define reality except that in this situation, immediate intervention and problem solving are priorities. Compassion will rise when it can but oneness in the case of abuse requires a return to stability where compassion may be retrievable under better circumstances. Imagine your role as one similar to an empathetic triage physician.

Abuse may be a long standing situation, for example, debilitating poorness where a person does not have enough to eat or have proper clothing. Abuse often is unseen by friends and associates and your sense of empathy must be keen. Examples are spousal abuse and abuse to minors. Similar again to the first exercise, you must take a moment to determine the proper intervention that will repair abuse without letting further abuse occur – perhaps even to you.

The question: People driven solutions require empathy and compassion to achieve oneness. There are personal behaviors that do not achieve oneness but only achieve propriety. What is the difference between propriety and oneness? What are signs that oneness has occurred?

Ancient Mariner


Oneness VII – Person Driven Oneness

Using a person to define reality

Using a person to define fairness

Using a person to define reality.  That person is you. You must be aware of a situation from several perspectives. Very few situations are wrapped around one idea or one condition. You must practice seeing situations using empathy as an interpreter and compassion to create oneness. This may be difficult in our culture today – difficult in that compassion appears to open the door to personal vulnerability; difficult in that you will not be understood by those who must also see the same realities; difficult in that your habits and opinions are ingrained in you.

To help loosen your empathy and compassion as tools in decision making, here is a training technique for you to try: Walk around your neighborhood. The walk will be good for you on its own merit. Look for someone of any age, sex, race, or circumstance to whom you can give a helping hand – no matter how small or large your help may be. It may only be a sentence or two to acknowledge neighborliness. A popular term for this is “passing it forward.” Someone helps a person; that person helps another person, etc. This training exercise makes you focus on the situation of other people rather than simply people-watching. You are the lesser, personal reality; the others are the greater reality. Once you find a person who may need help, quickly determine how you will help that person and give a moment’s thought to whether you are improving the situation or just butting in. The object is to have compassion and take action, not, as the old boy scout story goes, help an old lady across the street whether or not she needs to cross the street.

Sometimes you may have to walk for a long time but if you perform this training exercise regularly, you will find some situations where you can help even if the other person is not present. For example, repacking a trash can on the curb after raccoons have dumped it. Further, you will be amazed how quickly your neighborhood comes to know you personally. You are a neighborhood asset. You will notice others passing it forward. You have changed the neighborhood gestalt! Remember to continue honing your empathy and compassion skills when making decisions of any kind.

Using a person to define fairness.  The key to fairness is not only using empathy and compassion but actually understanding the best process for reconciling personal and greater situations. Besides your own participation, you will need one or more other persons with whom you perceive conflicting realities. “Conflicting” does not necessarily mean argumentative. One can have conflict over which restaurant to visit. Remember that your conflict is the lesser reality. Consider this another training exercise; do not try to right the wrongs of the world at first try. Many will take a mediation/arbitration approach to define fairness. This may work from time to time but mitigation without compassion prevents reconciling situations and achieving oneness.

Often, a profession lends itself to managing only with the personal reality of the individual. As an example, a school principal is autonomous and tends to become autocratic. Organizational and educational edicts may be issued without considering the greater reality that may be affected by these edicts, that is, the greater reality of the teachers, students and parents. A principal may move students or educational policies around in a manner that reflects efficiency from the principal’s point of view but when applied, the move may be unfair to teachers or students. Fairness is an attitude that should always be present in one’s mindset. It is the attitude that kick starts a search for a greater reality.

You will need a bit of social skill to define fairness. Control of the process is important. To identify a few procedural rules, let’s use the earlier example of the employer whose workforce is too expensive:

  1. Know your own feelings about your situation and what causes those feelings.
  2. Engage other persons in a controlled way. If the employer calls a sudden meeting of all the employees, the chances are good that the process for defining fairness will collapse under the weight of anxiety and, because there are many more employees, the tool of equality will yield to mob responses. It may be better for the employer to maintain control of the process by talking with a few trusted employees one-on-one so they are aware of your personal reality and, importantly, that you want to reconcile by including the greater reality of the employees. These few will carry the message to the others for you thereby preventing a confrontation and further, the employees will begin their own processing of rule 1. If you have been honing your compassion on regular walks, you will sense the right way to do things in a compassionate way.
  3. How rule 3 plays out depends on how the employer has managed the employees. If the employer has been fair in the past, rule 3 is almost automatic. If there is personality conflict or any signs of disrespect, rule 3 can become nasty. Seek feedback from those few trusted employees. Seeking to sharpen your compassionate choices, ask about the mood of the employees. Very important to the process at this point is to talk about fair solutions with the trusted employees; you must build empathy in them for your situation even though yours is the personal reality.
  4. Rule 4 is the end game. The employer will prepare an agenda – again with the input of the trusted few. The agenda should be a discussion of solutions, not problems. It is a meeting focused on what is fair. It’s a coming together of understanding what ‘fair’ means, which can be painful even if fair. Compassion should be active in everyone’s mind. Just as the walks produced positive resolution, the employer is in a position to share compassion with the employees.

No question at this time. Second installment of Person Driven Oneness forthcoming. In the meantime, keep walking; perhaps drive around to find places where you can use your personal reality to resolve a few greater realities. Here’s a simple one: ring the bell for the Salvation army.

Ancient Mariner

Oneness Dictionary

Oneness (Definitions)

The mariner has had a number of questions about the use of various words, their context and meaning. Presenting a broad philosophy about how to live better by making better decisions is sometimes heavy reading. What remains to be released is lighter reading. The mariner wants to make sure that key words in the philosophy of oneness are understood before we move on.

What follows is a list of frequently used words and the mariner’s intended use of those words.


ANOTHER’S REALITY A reality or situation that is observed in others. Their realties are accommodated in one’s decisions.
COMPASSION Empathetic awareness of another’s distress and a desire to act in a way to alleviate that distress.
EMPATHY The experience of emotional understanding, shared feeling, and understanding the thoughts of another.
ETHIC A set of moral principles or values that guide behavior.
ONENESS A sense of comfort, satisfaction, and achievement shared between one’s own reality and that of another’s reality. Oneness requires that a decision to resolve an issue is based on the greatest good for all persons involved and further, is a decision that is not driven by personal objectives.
PERSONAL REALITY One’s own reality. Oneness requires that one must focus on an external (greater) reality rather than one’s own. One’s reality is always the lesser reality.
PERSON-BASED DECISION Decisions that are made based on human quality of life as the most important factor. NOT decisions that prioritize assets, profits, or any possession above human quality of life.
REALITY The sum of all circumstances that exist in one’s life at any given moment; the sum of self awareness both internally and externally. Basically, everything that has brought you to the present moment.
SITUATION Similar to reality except a situation is limited to a specific set of circumstances or issues that require a decision.


It is hoped that this short list of specialized words will help. Future posts about Oneness will be laden with practical applications.

Ancient Mariner


Oneness VI


Effect on Social structure

Acceptance of Hidden abuses

 Effect on Social Structure.  There is an African subculture known as the Ik. The Ik live in the mountains of Uganda. They long have been a marginalized culture. Survival is so severe an issue that children are not raised by their parents but are expelled to live with children their own age. These children must find subsistence on their own and bond into small groups of like-aged children to protect themselves from bands of older children. One asks immediately what the role of empathy and compassion is without the family unit to inculcate these values. Yet this subculture survives – but only in remote regions where contact with other cultures is unlikely. One can imagine there is little hope for the Ik in the long run. It is a survivalist life worthy of a television series and sustains itself on competition comparable to chimpanzees. The Ik are incapable of mediation and certainly cannot achieve oneness.

The Ik people survive without empathy and little compassion. The price they pay for this barren approach to life is the inability to develop an ameliorative society; it is not possible with such meager resources and such barren childhood. The lesson we can learn from the Ik is that our modern society, with its elaborate infrastructure, complex economy and cultural sophistication, is more dependent on oneness than we would like to admit.

The United State is a clear example of change in social structure, moving from middle right but homogeneous society in the forties and fifties to an extremist, non-negotiating society in this century. It is societal rather than incidental because so many cultural issues are involved. Abortion is a religious war that sometimes kills people; Voting rights are a racial battle that sometimes kills people; very limited government is a political war that counts victory as a failed congress and often causes death because of brutalization of defenseless poor. Beyond the cultural issues, the States have just enough power to disrupt processes that reflect the greater good for the greatest number – for example, gerrymandering totally disregards concepts related to one person, one vote.

Oneness is in short supply these days.

Acceptance of Hidden abuses.  Abuse occurs everywhere in many forms from the brutality of murder, rape, and molestation to ignoring the inequities of millions of families losing their homes and savings, to racial and economic prejudice and many more examples. In too many homes child abuse is a given. Whether sexual, starvation, destruction of a healthy personality, or physical beatings, maltreatment is the norm within too many households.

Old style slavery was outlawed by the Emancipation Proclamation but still today the racial burden of being black is not part of a national discussion that will lead to oneness. African Americans suffer unending hope for equality in society. The whites appear to be completely ignorant of black reality or guiltily sweep the issue under the rug.

Corporations and large financial entities feel free to run the US and State governments through the back door with a system that requires elected officials to attend endless fund raisers where their votes are bought by the wealthy. Yet only 39% of eligible voters actually vote. Out of sight, out of mind.

The information industry evades the compassion required to respect an individual’s privacy, security and in recent years, has developed a retail cost model that makes investors salivate.

You understand the situation. We can continue to list hidden abuses but the case is made. This list suggests with certainty that our society has lost its way and is virtually incapable of using compassion to use personal advantage in behalf of the greater good.

The question: Will you commit your time, skills and energy to improve your neighborhood, politics, or improve public service to those who may be disadvantaged?  To what cause will you commit? You are the first brick…..

Ancient Mariner


Oneness V

Lacking Compassion, is there another way?

Measuring the Outcome

Mediation and Arbitration

Measuring the Outcome. Through the ages, many have negotiated deals that were worth good profit because they gave away something that the other party wanted and was willing to pay a price to acquire. Until money dominated commerce, buyers and sellers had a culture that allowed for barter, which is dickering about the comparative worth of two commodities. True, it was awkward to carry a sheep around or three bales of timothy hay, but everyone was in on setting the price. Those were the good old days. Today, a customer pays a price set by the seller. It is uncommon to dicker about dollars unless one is engaged in stocks, bonds and commodities – which is limited to those who do not need to barter for basic necessities. If a farmer wanted to sell a sheep on the open market today, much of the profit is already taken by a commodities trader who may never have seen a sheep.

It used to be that business and labor would sit down and dicker, each side knowing the financial status of the company. In one example, the business negotiating team was under severe orders not to grant more than a two cent per hour raise. The labor negotiating team had its members clamoring for ten cents an hour. After three weeks at the negotiating table, the final result was: the union received a two cent raise. However, labor also received a four-week vacation instead of two and was allowed to accumulate sick leave. The solution was a two cent raise to please the bosses and the equivalent of a ten cent raise for the union members. It’s all in how one measures things. There is no doubt the process improved oneness in the company.

Measuring the outcome requires that two elements be in place: those involved are using the same measuring stick – one of the big reasons money became a standard; the other is respect for the measuring process. With these two items in place, it is possible to reconcile differences even if there is no compassion. It may not be easy but it can be done.

In recent years, airline companies have received a bad reputation because some airlines did not want to measure the outcome with the union’s help. Some airlines declared bankruptcy, which negated labor contracts that were in place. Weeks later, when the bankruptcy court agreed to a method for emerging from bankruptcy, the employees were at the mercy of the airline if they wanted to keep their jobs. This is an example of not agreeing about how to measure outcomes. Another failure to use the same measures for outcome led to heated reactions by US citizenry when in 2008 banks that caused a severe recession were not allowed to fail and the citizenry was furious when large bonuses were paid to bank traders. Behind the scenes, the Federal Government and the banks were dickering and making deals about who would fail and who would pay fines. The Government actually ended up owning bank stock as a guarantee. For lack of agreed measuring, this situation is still unresolved in the citizens’ minds six years later.

Mediation and arbitration are controlled dickering. This is accomplished by using a third party to oversee the negotiation. A good example is when Egypt attempted to mediate a compromise between Gaza and Israel. The mediation will not work for two reasons: neither Gaza (Hamas) nor Israel want to use the same values by which to measure the outcome; neither Gaza nor Israel perceive a greater reality. Oneness, even by an uncompassionate process, is out of the question.

Having an arbiter or judge decide the outcome of a conflict inevitably leaves one party or the other, or both parties, unsatisfied. Granted there are times when two parties will never accept a common measure of outcome; neither will accept the arbiter’s measure of outcome. While forcing a conclusion to an unstable situation, the difficulty with mediation and arbitration is that the methods generally do not build oneness.

Conflicts that find themselves in court inevitably enter a win-lose environment. While negotiation may take place within the court process, the win-lose environment remains. Constricted by legal procedures, empathy and compassion are not players. One may make the case that courts expedite irresolvable situations, for example divorce or property conflicts. Still, these arrangements are self serving and do not encourage the union of lesser and greater realities based on compassion and oneness.

The question: You may be familiar with this situation and may already know the act of compassion. You and a friend have one doughnut to share. What is the best procedure to assure the doughnut is equally shared? Think about your combined feelings of trust and fairness that were necessary. Which feeling was stronger?

Ancient Mariner