December 31, 2014 – New Year’s Eve!

new-years-eve-2014Out with the old and in with the new! New Year’s Eve!  The end of our past and the beginning of our future!   All over the world, we count down the minutes and then seconds until a New Year begins.  New Year’s Eve represents a finish and a time to put failures and bad dreams behind us.  New Year’s Day represents a new beginning.  We pray and hope that each year will be better than the last.  Curiously, we celebrate this ending with a night of wild parties and much drinking.

new years eve partyDo you ever wonder why so many people get drunk on New Year’s Eve?  Is it simply to forget the past or is it to celebrate the past?  How many New Year’s days have been ruined before they even got started?  Tonight we drink, tomorrow we make promises about how different our lives will be and what changes we will make.  Each New Years is a time new-year-resolutions-300x304of magic.  We think it will mean great differences in our lives, but how long do these commitments usually last?  Go to the health clubs on New Year’s Day and the parking lots will be full.  By early March, the parking lots will be back to their normal contingent of cars.  The landscape will be littered with failed promises and failed New Year’s resolutions.  Some may think that they can escape this debacle by simply not making any resolutions.  Instead their failure to make any commitments remain with them day after day.

new-yearThankfully, we have 365 chances each year to start our life anew. You don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to begin again.  Each day you fail, tomorrow can be a new start.  If each day your commitments can last a little longer than the last time, you are making progress.  You do not have to wait until next New Year to start over. The only failure in life is not trying and then trying again.  Each time you fall down and get up again you are a success.  Each day that you make a new commitment to try, you are a success.  Each time your commitment lasts a little bit longer than the last time you are a success.

Time for Questions:

What are you going to change in your life this New Year? What would you want to do differently?  What changes would help you to lead a happier and healthier life?  What are you going to do about it?  How long will your commitment last?  Can you fail and then keep trying?

Life is just beginning. 

Tonight is the first day of your new life.  Don’t wait to start.

thisyearwillbedifferent

 

2014 in review —- Happy New Year and Thanks to all of my readers. Without you I would be lost.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

December 30th 2014

the-end-of-the-world-2012Are we getting close to the “end of time” or just the end of this year?  Will the universe and everything in it end on December 31st, 2014 this year?  Are you ready if it does?  Have you ever really thought about when time will end? Will time end only when the world and the universe end?  Or maybe time will just quit, like a watch that stops running.  Some religions believe that time ends on judgment day.  Do you think that there are any clocks in Heaven?  What about Hell?  Does the Devil track time for us?  What about in Purgatory?  (Click to hear The End of Time by Beyoncé)  Do you think we will get to hear Beyoncé dance and sing for free in Heaven?

“Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”  (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm ).

The Catholic Church teaches that we need to spend time in Purgatory only for certain offenses.  If you are really bad, Purgatory is not an option.  It is only for those who screw up but not really in a very bad way.  You screw up really bad, you go to Hell.  Thus Purgatory would be a stopping point for just about everyone in the human race who is not going to Hell.  Since the punishment is temporal and not eternal, do you suppose they have clocks in Purgatory?  Who do you suppose winds them up?  Can you imagine spending 500 years in Purgatory and watching the clock until you are released?

old-clocksPerhaps, time will simply wear out when we get tired of keeping time. People have been thinking about and tracking time since the first human beings walked the earth.  Time seems to be part of the human psyche.  If humans did not have time, they would certainly have created it.  It is hard to imagine any place where we would not mark time.  Heaven qualifies as one place though where there would seem to be no reason to mark time.  Why keep track of time when everything is eternal and unchanging?  Heaven should be a place where there are no goals, no accomplishments, no meetings, no places to get to, no tasks to complete, no projects due, no emails to answer and no shortage of time.  If any of these things existed in heaven, then we would need to track time.

children playingSo what do we do in Heaven?  We all seem to want to get there, but what do we do with our “time” when we are there?  I guess we just play all day since play does not require us to track time.  Play is by definition devoid of timeliness.  You do not have to be on time to play.  Little children would not have invented time.  Children do not seem to worry about time anywhere near as much as adults.  Maybe that is why Jesus said you must be like little children to enter into heaven.   Adults would be bored in heaven in less than a day.  As adults we become more and more fixed on the idea of time and the limitations that time places on our lives. Perhaps if we could just play all day, then time would end and we would all have less stress in our lives.

Maybe we should create a “holiday” each year where time stops.  A day when you do not have to keep track of time or when time does not matter.  It is difficult to think of living a single day when we are not keeping track of time.  I guess we will just have to wait until we get to heaven for time to stop.  Do you suppose anyone wears watches in heaven?

Time for Questions: 

What if we played more and worked less?  Could we cut time down some?  Can you “end time” when it is just play time?  When was the last time, you were able to forget about time?  How long did it last?  What does it take for you to forget about time?

Life is just beginning.

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”  — Hal Borland

December 29th, 2014

We have 3 kerry roper time waits for no mandays to contemplate the year of 2014 before we begin a New Year.  Perhaps, it might be useful to think of the time we have lost in arguments, grudges, misunderstandings and not wanting to say “I am sorry.”  We go on with feuds and squabbles and time keeps fleeing.  We think that perhaps we can make up for lost time, but making up for lost time can be bittersweet at best and at worst an impossibility.  Time waits for no one.  (Forgiveness song by Matthew West)

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come.  fWe have only today. Let us begin.”  ― Mother Teresa

I have a daughter who has not talked to me for many years now.  I think of the time that has gone by and how we could have spent it together doing things we could never have afforded to do when she was younger.  I think of how as adults we could and should have become good friends with talks by the fireplace and walking in the woods.  She is over forty now and I am nearing 70 and the clock keeps ticking and ticking.  I think of the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years that keep moving on by, each moment lost forever to us as this blanket of silence and anonymity shrouds our lives.

“They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite”  ― Cassandra Clare

time_waits_for_no_man___tattoo_design_by_mortar_girl-d67o35cTime is lost forever, or can it be made up?  What if she suddenly decided that she wanted to have a relationship with me?  Could we make up the lost time?  If we started today to try to get to know each other; imagine the events that have changed our lives, the places we have been to, the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the funerals and weddings we have been to, the jobs and careers we have changed, the grandchildren we have helped raise.  So much that has changed each of us.  Could be ever bridge the gulf that now separates us?  Would it be possible to be close to each other or even love each other?

“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes.  Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”    ― Haruki Murakami

It is difficult to imagine making up lost time, nevertheless, few of us would not try if given the opportunity.  It is an opportunity full of promise but also anguish.   We think we can go back to where we wanted to be years ago but while we are trying to make up the lost time, forgive1we feel anger at the waste of time that could and should have been prevented.  It might be water under the dam, but it will always seem like a useless expenditure of time and energy.  I have known brothers and sisters, parents and siblings and former friends who did not talk to each other for over fifty years.  Unfortunately, some of them died and there went any possibility to make up for lost time.  There are no guarantees in life and if you choose to waste time or lose time, perhaps you will never be able to make it up.  It might be too late when you finally realize your mistake and ask yourself WHY?  You will be left with regrets about what might or could or should have been.

“Any time not spent on love is wasted.”   ― Torquato Tasso

Perhaps you have no control over your lost time.  Time spent in jail, time spent recovering from an accident, and time spent in a relationship that was wrong may all constitute lost time.  Lost time is time away from ForgiveHeart-Jessica_Keylife that could have been lived much differently.  It is time that could have been spent more productively and happily.  Can this time be made up?  Better to not lose it in the first place.  But if you have lost it, then do your best to get on with your life.  Live each day the best you can.  As they say with money, don’t throw good money after bad.  Do not throw good time after bad.  The lost time is over and you have the rest of your life to live.  If you can live each day the best you can, you will be able to put the lost time behind you and perhaps even forget it someday.  Then again, maybe the time that was lost was a lesson and you needed to hear the message it was sending.  A good friend of mine was fond of saying: “There are no mistakes in life only lessons to be learned.”  I think of this comment often.  It is a good lesson to remember.

Time for Questions:

Do you have any lost time to make up?  Are you currently losing time that you should not be losing?  Have you thought about how you can stop losing this time? What can you do today to make it up?  What might you feel regrets about someday if you do not change your life today?

Life is just beginning.

Start now.  Don’t wait.  Tomorrow may never come.

 

 

Dear Friends and Family, Our Holiday Message and Greeting to You All.

anniversary partyAs we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the start of another New Year, we also look back at the celebrations of 2014.  Foremost for us was the joint celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary and Karen’s 70th birthday.  It’s so hard to believe both of these numbers.  Our 25 years of marriage (plus 5 dating years) have been so full of adventure, laughter, and love.  But, just in case we don’t make the ages of 93 and 95 for our 50th, we thought we’d recognize the interim event.  Having friends and family travel and stay with us for a few days really was special.

Jeanine (our sister)  came from Rhode Island, Peg (Karen’s “best friend” from grade school) came from Chicago and Xibo and Mary, our friends from Shanghai were able to come from San Francisco where they now live Jeaninemost of the time.  The party brought a nice combination of new Wisconsin friends and “old” ones Peg and Kathyfrom Minnesota.  And Karen got a picture of herself, Peg and Kathy (her “best friend” from high school) who all turned 70 this summer.  They look terrific and that 70 number is starting to be less scary.  We are also celebrating John’s successful recovery from two surgeries this year.  The report after his prostate surgery is that he is cancer free.  Then, about the time he was feeling “almost” as energetic as usual, he needed hernia surgery.  Now he’s back running in the Casa Grande Mountains.

Ice SkatingWe’ve settled into the snow bird routine well.  It’s a bit schizophrenic to leave one set of activities and friends and walk right into a second set, but it definitely keeps life interesting.  Karen misses her dulcimer buddies from WI, weekly coffee get-togethers and her Pilgrim church family.  John misses his “library guys” fellowship which start most of his mornings and the “green and blue” of WI.  But, when it’s time to return, Karen misses her Zumba/Curves group, our First Karen and MeganPresbyterian friends and the mountains plus her new tradition of Lefse and Christmas Cookie baking days with Megan.  New traditions combine with old as John continues to make an annual Jesuit retreat and Karen finds music and choirs wherever she is.  John has been working hard at marketing his consulting business and teaching while in MN.  Karen takes her work with her and does ICD-9 coding for Select Data and home health consulting with Alstar Consulting Group.  Be sure to check out John’s weekly blog at http://www.agingcapriciously.com.  He is very proud of his blog and puts about 4-6 hours per week in researching, writing, editing and publishing the blog with music and pictures to enhance his message.

Orphanage childrenIn-between “commuting” we participated in a mission trip to Puerto Penasco, Mexico in March with a group who support an orphanage in Sonoyta and a thrift store/meals program in Puerto Penasco.  The orphanage houses children who are unadoptable as their parents are still living, but Puerto Penascooften incarcerated.  They are beautiful, happy children, but there is little funding available and they need so much.  Karen did manage to put down the 2 year old boy who wanted to be held and snuggled for the whole time we were there.  As we go to the dentist in Sonoyta, it gives us an opportunity to bring things at other times before our next trip in the spring.  In June, we spent a week in Kentucky for music week.  Karen played her dulcimer most of her waking hours and John toured the area more fully Jim Beam Distillery 2and Karen Dulcimerchecked out a few more Kentucky bourbon brands.  During the fall commute to AZ, we spent 2 days in Colorado viewing the cliff dwellings at Casa Verde National Park.  In November, we spent a weekend in Tucson with our MN/AZ friends Dar and Denny to watch the Day of the Dead parade.

Grandchildren keep getting older which is so much fun to watch.  Juli’s Garrick (22) is a cast member now for the Renaissance Festival and Emily (14) is delightful.  Susan’s Zach (18) is in his first year of college in Rochester MN—and playing year around baseball and Sam (15) is busy with sports and school in Northfield.  Juli is co-leader of the Hastings Paranormal Society; Susan is still at HealthPartners as a pharmaceutical buyer; Kevin is in San Francisco at LinkedIn as a Systems Engineer and Megan has a new training position with Multiple Listings System.

Wishing you and your families a Blessed Holiday Season and the best for the New Year.

John and Karen

A Candid Conversation With God:  What Do We Talk About?

How does an atheist or agnostic talk to God?  What do I call him or her?  What about the irony or would it be hypocrisy of an atheist talking to God?  I guess if I can be an agnostic, you can understand or dismiss my conversation as the musings of a man sitting on the proverbial fence.  Someone who wants to hedge his bets “just in case.”  However, even an atheist might want to hedge his bets.  (Listen to the song “Word of God Speak”- Mercy Me with Lyrics (High Quality)

talking-to-god (1)So what do I talk to God about?  The meaning of life?  When will the world end?  How can we eliminate evil in the world?  The weather?  Sports?  TV?  Movies?  What could I talk about that would keep his interest?  What if God is a her?  Would the same things interest her as him?

John:  Dear God, I am not doing much today, so I thought maybe we could have a little talk.

God:  I’m kind of busy, will it take long?

John:  Uhn, I dunno.  Got fifteen minutes?

God:  I guess so.  Who do you want saved?

John:  No one I can think of.  I know a lot of people I would like to send to hell.

God:  I don’t do that.  Talk to Satan.

John:  Just kidding.  Thought you might have a sense of humor.

God:  If I didn’t, I would not have created humans.

John:  Good point.  So why did you create us?

God:  For the hell of it.  (Laughs)

John:  Good one God.  But really, what was your purpose in creating humans?

God-creationGod:  If you really want to know, it was kind of an experiment.  In the entire universe, I was the only sentient being.  I wondered what would happen if I created a whole bunch of sentient beings and put them in one place.  So I created stars, planets, the solar system, earth and all the things that you would need to satisfy your emotional and intellectual needs.  I then created humans and let you grow and develop.

John:  You mean you never interfered or interceded on our behalf?

God:  Well, sometimes. I like to speed things up a bit, so I send some prophets or a few demagogues.

John:  So you sent Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed and Abraham?

God:  Nope, just Jesus and Mohammed.

John:  What about Hitler?

God:  Nope

John:  So who created Hitler and where is he now?

God:  You created Hitler and he is now in Hell.

John:  Where is Hell?

God:  For Hitler, it is a land ruled by Jews.

John:  Is that your idea of justice or is it vengeance?

God:  Justice is where kindness and compassion and love flourish.  Hitler will someday come to appreciate the Jewish people.  I don’t do vengeance.  It throws the entire universe out of kilter.

John:  So you mean, we can all get to Heaven some day?

God:  Only if you want to.

John:  Since we don’t have much time, I would like to be very candid with you.

God:  So?

John:  Well, you really made a mess with the earth and humanity.  Have you bothered to look at the earth and see the wars, poverty, disease, crime, injustice, famine and misery that you have created?

God:  You people.  You always want to blame someone else.

creation-of-the-universeJohn:  Who more than you?  You are All Knowing and All Powerful.  Yet you sit up there and laugh at the human race or perhaps worse, you take pleasure in our misery.

God:  I never said I was all powerful or all knowing.  I told Moses I always was and always will be, but I never said anything about omniscience or omnipotence.   You created those myths with your stories and desires; always hoping that someone like Superman or some super-hero will get you out of the shit that you create for yourselves.

John:  People look up to you. They pray to you.  They sacrifice lambs and goats for you. They build altars for you.

God:  Yes, and they fight for me. They kill for me.  They wage war in my name.  They pray that I will protect them and destroy their enemies. They pray for their relatives and ask for death for their neighbors in the next state or next town or next country.

John:  Are you blaming people for praying for these things?

God:  Have you not heard that I gave people free will?

John:  Free will for what?  To kill and maim and scourge and rape and destroy?  Is that supposed to be some kind of a blessing?

adam and eveGod:  I meant to give humans a choice.  Maybe I made a mistake.  I never told anyone that I was infallible.  I have toyed with destroying the entire human race and trying something else, but nothing really comes to mind.  How could I create a race of sentient beings and not give them free will?  Should I have created a race of puppets or robots?  Say the word and I will destroy your entire planet and all the people on it!  It is really a very small thing to do in terms of creativity and imagination.

John:  Please, don’t put that on me!  I don’t want that decision on my shoulders.  I thought maybe you would have some better ideas.

God:  Well, if you think of any, let me know.  I have things to do now and I need to end this conversation.

John:  One last question.  Are you planning to send any more prophets?  I think we need some help down here.

God:  Each time I send one, you listen for a while and then you somehow change the message back to what you want to hear or what you want to do.  The Ten Commandments become the two “maybe” Commandments.  The Eight Beatitudes become the Christ_at_the_Cross_-_Cristo_en_la_Cruzeight “Would be nice to do” but they are kind of impractical.  The Eight Fold Path becomes “I don’t have time.” The Six Articles of Faith become a prescription for Jihad.   You have a propensity for converting the words of the prophets I have sent into formulas for bigotry and intolerance.  Nevertheless, when I can, I will continue to send more prophets and messengers.  Keep in mind; they will all say the same thing:  “Love One Another.”

John:  Well, thanks for your time God, and Merry Christmas.

God:  Merry Christmas to you John, but I don’t do Santa.

Time for Questions:

Do you ever speak to God? Does he answer? Is God a he or she? Does it matter? Do you get the answers you need from God?  Do you think God should wipe out the human race and start over? Why or why not?  Did God screw things up with “Free Will?”

Life is just beginning.

“In the beginning..
when ray and day hadn’t yet come into existence at all,
there was a kind of radiance that illuminates universe.
That radiance is the light of knowledge and goodness.
That radiance will persistently and consistently shine brightly
even after all the stars and moons in this vast universe die out.”
― Toba Beta,

 

 

 

What the Hell Do We Need Morality For?

morals and ethics

This blog is about the subject of morality.  Once upon a time, they taught morality in school and in church.   The first system of morality that many older Americans were exposed to was probably the “Ten Commandments.”   This was a code of rules given to the Israelites by Moses on Mount Sinai.  I have always thought it ironic that a set of morals from the “Old Testament” was supposed to be the foundation for a Christian America.  Even today, advocates of this code of morality want to hang it in town halls, schools, courts and government centers.  This is a part of the Bible that promoted an “eye for an eye” and stoning adulterers.

Jesus did say “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).  Jesus added at least one commandment to all others that was even more valuable than the ten TenCommandmentsMoses gave.   Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John: 13:34).  I would be much more in favor of seeing this posted in my neighborhood than the Ten Commandments.

Perhaps even more importantly in terms of a system of morality, Jesus gave a sermon where he proposed what has been called:  The Eight Beatitudes:   (Click here to hear the The Beatitudes Song

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  —- Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10

It is my opinion that the Eight Beatitudes constitute one of the greatest systems of morality to come out of the Bible.  I would rather see these taught (if we are going to teach a system of morality) than the Ten Commandments.  I would also not mind these being posted in schools and other public places whereas I am sick and tired of those who want to post the Ten Commandments.

I noted that once upon a time, we taught morality in schools and churches.   Actually, we not only taught morality but morality was also imbued in our social fabric by many traditional stories and the media.  Children from an early age were exposed to Fairy tales, Uncle Remus stories, Aesop Fables, and Tales of the Arabian Nights.  These stories were full of morals on how to live and behave properly.  Early TV was also full of morality tales.  Shows like Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver and Andy Griffith each week clearly conveyed stories of morality and what was right and what was not right in terms of behavior.

sin-guilt-causes-body-pain-sicknessSomeplace along the way, we started losing our sense of morality.  Some have blamed it on becoming a multi-cultural environment.  Some have blamed it on the decline of religion and church going.  Some have blamed education while still others have blamed progress and a business culture that has no room for strict morality.  I am not sure what the actual cause was.  I am more concerned that it did happen.  Studies have shown that our culture has become more amoral than moral and that narcissism now plays an increasing role in our society.  People are less moral and more self-centered than ever before in the history of this country.  A book by Joel Marks (Ethics without Morals: In Defense of Amorality -Routledge Studies in Ethics and Moral Theory, 2012) is one of several that makes an argument for amorality:

“In clear, plainspoken, engaging prose, Joel Marks presents the case for abandoning belief in morality. Anyone who wants to defend the practice of making moral judgments will have to confront the issues Marks raises, and the alternative to morality he proposes.” – Mitchell Silver, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA 

In the book “The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality (2009)” the author Hans-George Moeller advances the following case for amorality:

“Justice, equality, and righteousness—these are some of our greatest moral convictions. Yet in times of social conflict, morals can become rigid, making religious war, ethnic cleansing, and political purges possible.  Morality, therefore, can be viewed as a pathology—a rhetorical, psychological, and social tool that is used and abused like a weapon.”

In an article “Why Is Narcissism Increasing Among Young Americans?”  by Peter Gray in Freedom to Learn (2014), Gray notes the following:

“For the past three decades or a little more, researchers have been assessing both narcissism and empathy using questionnaires developed in the late 1970s.  Many research studies have shown that scores on these questionnaires correlate reliably with real-world behavior and with other people’s ratings of the individuals.  For example, those who score high in narcissism have been found to overrate their own abilities, to lash out angrily in response to criticism, and to commit white-collar crimes at higher rates than the general population.[1]  Those who score low in empathy are more likely than the average person to engage in bullying and less likely to volunteer to help people in need.[2.]

Over the years, these questionnaires have been administered to many samples of college students, and analyses that bring all of the data together reveal that the average narcissism score has been steadily increasing and the average empathy score has been steadily decreasing ever since the questionnaires were developed [3.]  The changes are highly significant statistically and sufficiently large that approximately 70 percent of students today score higher on narcissism and lower on empathy than did the average student thirty years ago.

What accounts for this historical rise in narcissism and decline in empathy?  There is no way to know for sure, based on the data, but there are lots of grounds for speculation.”

I think we have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bath water.  I agree we need to keep the State separate from the Church.  I also agree that we don’t need the Ten Commandments as the foundation for moral thought in America.  Nevertheless, I do believe that we all need a code of morality to live by.  Whether it be Christian, Buddhist, Confucian, Agnostic, Atheist, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Baha’i, or other, we need a set of morals as a template and foundation for our behavior.  We need a baseline that each of us can start from so that we can assess what is good and what is right.  We need to have some system of ideas about what is correct behavior and how we should live in a socially interconnected world.

When I was a kid, (somewhere along the way) I was taught the Seven Deadly Sins.  Sometimes they were called the Seven Deadly Vices or the Seven Cardinal Sins.  I assume that since I attended a Catholic school, it went along with the teaching.  The Seven Deadly Sins included the following:

  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Wrath
  • Envy
  • Pride

7 deadly sins

Some of you might think that this list is old fashioned or out of date.  How could this set of implicit moral values make a difference in our society?  They are so old; do they really have any relevance anymore?

Take a close look around you at the world.  You have only to look for a few minutes to persuade yourself that these “sins” are at the top of the list of major problems.  Greed, envy, gluttony and lust appear pervasive in our culture.  (See my series on Gandhi’s Seven Social Sins) TV shows, movies, magazines, radio, supermarkets, superstars, sports, credit services, escort services, pornography, Las Vegas all portray an American brand of materialism that is nothing short of sick.  Get it now, get it fast, and get more and moreMore is better!  Bigger is better!  Shop till you drop!  He who has the most toys wins!

“If necessity is the mother of invention, then surely greed must be the father. Children of this odd couple are named: Laziness, Envy, Greed, Jr., Gluttony, Lust, Anger and Pride.”  ― John R Dallas  Jr.

Black Friday ( The day after Thanksgiving in the USA) is only a small manifestation of the greed, lust and sloth that has infected our society.  How many Americans have a regular exercise schedule?  How many obese citizens can you count on the street each day?  How many Americans spend more each week then they earn?  How many Americans will go in debt this Holiday Season to spend money that they don’t have on gifts and toys?  Where is the self-restraint that is necessary to push oneself away from the table or shut the TV off and say “Enough.”  It barely seems to exist.  Is it any wonder that so many countries have a very negative stereotype of the “average” American?  We appear to be a group of people who have lost our moral compass.

ARTICLE 29 —  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • You have a responsibility to the place you live and the people around you-we all do. Only by watching out for each other can we each become our individual best.

At this point, you well may be asking “What right does he have to be so damn moralistic?”  Didn’t Jesus say “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?”  “Are you so perfect that you have a right to look down on other people?”  “Who does he think he is, Jonathan Edwards?”  “I don’t need anyone telling me my faults.”  “I get enough negativity from work without having to get it from you.”

Please allow me to clarify a few misconceptions.  In some religious circles we are all sinners.  Since I am agnostic, I don’t subscribe to a religious view of sin.  My use of the terminology is borrowed from the religious sphere since I think that the concept of sin has a very useful connotation if we can free it from some of the pejorative and negative associations with which it is fettered.  First of all, I do not believe that you will go to hell for committing these Seven Sins.  Second, you will not be a bad or evil person because of them.  Third and accentuating the positive, you may be happier and healthier if you are more aware of these “sins” and can do a better job of examining the role that they play in your life.  My bringing these “sins” out is to help us all become more aware of the morality that we have allowed to become obscured in our daily lives.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.  —-Buddha

We have had a decline in morality that started over one hundred years ago and it still seems to be declining.  More people are worried about their taxes increasing then the poverty facing many people in this country.  More people are worried about their security then the number of people going to jail every day for victimless crimes.  More people are worried about the price of gasoline then the pollution we send into the atmosphere every day.  Self-centeredness has become a dominant fixture of the American landscape.  “Greed is Good” says Ivan Boesky and everyone applauds.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.   — C. S. Lewis

Why do I think we should care about morality? 

goodevilWithout morality, we are not even as good as animals.  Animals eat, drink, sleep, procreate and fight when they have to.  They do not do it simply to hurt other animals or to wage war against groups or individuals that they cannot tolerate.  Animals care for their young and exhibit many characteristics of moral behavior.  In captivity, animals may display much more aggressive behavior.  For instance, Orcas in the wild have never been observed to kill other Orcas.  This is not the case for Orcas in captivity.  There is no such thing as civilization without a commitment to moral and ethical behavior.  Even animal societies are proof of this.

“I am Envy, begotten of a chimney-sweeper and an oyster-wife. I cannot read, and therefore wish all books were burnt; I am lean with seeing others eat – O that there would come a famine through all the world, that all might die, and I live alone; then thou should’st see how fat I would be! But must thou sit and I stand? Come down, with a vengeance!”  ― Christopher MarloweDoctor Faustus

Without morality, we have no compass to define what is good behavior and what is bad behavior.  We are reduced to the level of opportunists willing to take advantage of anyone and anything that suits our ends.  Listen to the current debate on the use of torture and the recent CIA report and you will find numerous “experts” advocating that the “ends justify the means.”  One man on NPR noted that he thought we should ask the victims of the Twin Trade Towers what they thought about the use of torture to capture Osama Bin Laden.   John McCain (May he Rest in Peace) once said it best when he opined in Congress (12-9-14) that “”Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.”  Nevertheless, he was opposed by his own party in his opposition to torture and in fact to even releasing the CIA Tortmoralityure Report. 

Many Republicans argued against releasing the report, especially as the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria grew and U.S. intelligence officials had warned that its release could cause backlash from nations and groups hostile towards the nation.   American embassies in the Middle East had been put on heightened security alert for its release.

McCain replied that “This report strengthens self-government and, ultimately, I believe, America’s security and stature in the world.”  (CNN 12-9-14)

Finally, without morality, there is no way to transmit values from one generation to another.  A lack of morality has led to the increase in amorality that is now symptomatic of our society.  Amorality is a set of beliefs which deny the value of morality or at best are indifferent to morality.  A rock is amoral.  It is neither good (moral) or bad (immoral) but may be used for either purpose.  Anything or anyone without a conscience is amoral.  It is a fine line and one that is very easy to trespass between amoral and immoral.  Many people today may think their behaviors are amoral when actually they could better be described as immoral.  Harken back to the Seven Deadly Sins and ask yourself, how many of these vices are amoral?  Are greed, gluttony, lust and wrath amoral?   Can anyone with a good conscience say it is okay to partake in these vices?

“Seven deadly sins,
seven ways to win,
seven holy paths to hell,
and your trip begins

Seven downward slopes
seven bloodied hopes
seven are your burning fires,
seven your desires…”
― Iron Maiden

Time for Questions:

What is your moral code? What are the three most important morals in your life?  Do you think everyone should have an explicit moral code?  Why or why not?  Do you know many amoral people?  What do you think about amorality?  When is it justified?  What do you think the world would be like if everyone was amoral?  Would it be a better world or worse? Why?

Life is just beginning.

“Remember tonight… for it is the beginning of always”  ― Dante Alighieri

Social Legacy Systems: How They Block Change and Prevent Progress: Part 2- The Legal Correctional System

Responsible_Prison_Reform-e1373996928213No set of institutions in America are more in need of reform than our legal correctional systems. No systems in America cost the taxpayer more money with less return or value to the taxpayer than our prisons and correctional related systems. No institutions in American cause more misery and heartache than our courts, legal system and correctional institutions. Together, our courts, legal systems and correctional systems cost the American taxpayer well over $100 billion dollars a year. The Economics of the American Prison System”  (Listen to Wake Up Dead Man) as you read my blog today. 

And what do we get for this “investment?”

  • Within three years of being released, 67% of ex-prisoners re-offend.
  • Within three years of being released 52% are re-incarcerated
  • The rate of recidivism is so high in the United States that most inmates who enter the system are likely to reenter within a year of their release.
  • In 2008, one of every 48 working-age men (2.1 percent of all working-age men) was in prison or jail.
  • In 2008, the U.S. correctional system held over 2.3 million inmates, about two-thirds in prison and about one-third in jail. 450px-Incarceration_rates_worldwide
  • Non-violent offenders make up over 60 percent of the prison and jail population. Non-violent drug offenders now account for about one-fourth of all offenders behind bars, up from less than 10 percent in 1980.
  • The total number of violent crimes was only about three percent higher in 2008 than it was in 1980, while the total number of property crimes was about 20 percent lower. Over the same period, the U.S. population increased about 33 percent and the prison and jail population increased by more than 350 percent.
  • Crime can explain only a small portion of the rise in incarceration between 1980 and the early 1990s, and none of the increase in incarceration since then. If incarceration rates had tracked violent crime rates, for example, the incarceration rate would have peaked at 317 per 100,000 in 1992, and fallen to 227 per 100,000 by 2008 – less than one third of the actual 2008 level and about the same level as in 1980.

These facts are from “The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration” by Schmidt, Warner and Gupta, 2010

US_criminal_justice_cost_timeline

These facts have not gone unnoticed by state legislatures and politicians.

“In 2013, 35 states passed at least 85 bills to change some aspect of how their criminal justice systems address sentencing and corrections. In reviewing this legislative activity, the Vera Institute of Justice found that policy changes have focused mainly on the following five areas: reducing prison populations and costs; expanding or strengthening community-based corrections; implementing risk and needs assessments; supporting offender reentry into the community; and making better informed criminal justice policy through data-driven research and analysis. By providing concise summaries of representative legislation in each area, this report aims to be a practical guide for policymakers in other states and the federal government looking to enact similar changes in criminal justice policy.” Vera Institute of Justice     US_incarceration_timeline-clean.svg

I have written about this problem before. See my blogs (The Law Enforcement Legal-Judicial Correctional Complex and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or “How did our drug laws get so crazy?” It is not a new problem and in the years since I published my first article on it, it has only gotten worse. I published my first article on this issue back in 1995. In it, I applied the concepts of process and quality improvement to the criminal justice System. My article was published in a journal of pro’s and con’s on the justice system. Subsequently, I was asked to speak at a correctional conference in Minnesota and to explain the concepts that I had outlined in my paper.

The conference was attended by hard Right and hard Left people: Correctional Officers, Wardens, Prison Reform Advocates, and Relatives of both victims and prisoners. The Right wanted stronger sentencing guidelines and tougher police policies. The Left wanted more humane treatment for prisoners and more focus on rehabilitation. Each group had read my paper and each group thought I was “on their side.” The fact of the matter was, each side was wrong. I was not on either side. Tougher sentencing (which seems to have won out) has only resulted in prison reasonshigher levels of incarceration, less feeling of safety in society, higher costs and no appreciable decrease in drug usage or correctional costs. The Left may have lost in terms of policy but their solutions would not have fixed the system either. You do not get a better system by fixing defects after they are created. Process improvement focuses on going upstream and preventing defects, not warehousing and reworking them. It became clear as I tried to explain concepts of process control, six sigma system capability, rework, redesign and systems analysis, that I was speaking Greek to the participants, both Left and Right. Neither side had a clue as to what I was talking about. I suspect each side was disappointed that they had not found a new advocate.

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” ― Max Planck,

People in the old paradigm cannot see the new paradigm. Both sides might as well have been deaf and mute while I was speaking since the concepts I introduced were so foreign to them. I noted that the Correctional System needs reform. This was an understatement. The Correctional and Legal systems in America need nothing less than a major paradigm shift. Or to put it another way, we need a revolution in thinking about crime, incarceration and justice. Einstein noted that: “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We need new thinking and new ideas. We need creative inspired leaders who are willing to break with conventions and boldly go “Where no one has gone before.” This kind of courage is sadly lacking in our political leaders today.

If I had to give my talk over again today, I would not talk about process control or process improvement. I would simply talk about the need for a paradigm shift. I would try with all my might to get the fish to see the water, to get the birds to smell the air and to get the people there to see the failure of the present paradigm. I do not need to recite the facts again. They have been repeated ad nausea. The problem is getting people to open their eyes. More prisons do not mean more safety. Longer sentences do not mean less crime. Tougher policing does not mean less violence on the streets. Witness the wave of protests rocking America today following the Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice and John Crawford III shootings by police. Every one of these names represents a killing by a police officer of an unarmed Black man or Black child. To date, not one killing has resulted in the indictment of a single police officer. The apparent message this sends is that: “Black men are guilty until proven innocent and that that they are so dangerous that they need to be shot first and asked questions of later.”

Bill James in his book “Popular Crime” provides the following observation:

“What we are doing, in a sense, is making ourselves constantly more aware of the threats and dangers around us, and then erecting security walls as if these threats were closing in on us, when in reality, we are pushing them further and further away.” P-96

James consistently provides evidence that we are safer and crime is lower than it has ever been in the history of this country. A point I made in my blog Are We Living in More Dangerous Times?  , see Part 1 and Part 2 with numerous statistics from the FBI and other agencies. Nevertheless, as the media treats us to a steady crescendo of violence and terror on the news, radio and TV, it is hard for anyone to feel like they are really safer or that they are less likely to be murdered in their sleep. Gun sales, concealed carry weapons and ammunitions sales have increased dramatically in the US in the past ten years. Smith and Wesson’s stock price has gone from 1.65 per share in 2004 to over $9 per share in 2014.

“The “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States” report from the Crime Prevention Research Center released Wednesday (July 10, 2014) analyzed parallels between a 22 percent drop in the overall violent crime rate in the same time period in which the percentage of the adult population with concealed carry permits soared by 130 percent.

The report finds that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, which are up from 4.5 million in 2007. This 146 percent increase parallels a nearly one-quarter (22 percent) drop in both murder and violent crime rates during the same time period.” —  Number of Permits Surges as Crime Rate Drops

Citizens, police, homeowners, retired people, elderly, minorities and even children are walking the streets with their weapons in Condition O. That is cocked and ready to fire. Only the slightest provocation is needed to shoot. A dark figure lurking in a hallway, a man running towards us down the street, someone knocking on our front door late at night and the response is “shoot, shoot and shoot.” The reaction is even more rapid when the “allegorical” assailant is a minority or a stranger.

We need a paradigm shift. We are going in the wrong direction. We are safer and more secure than ever before, but we are walling everyone away who pose even the most minimal threat to our security. We are walling ourselves away behind security fences, gated communities, threat detection systems, private police forces, concealed weapons and reduction of liberty and spontaneity. We don’t feel safer and we are more suspicious of outsiders and strangers. We resent immigrants and foreigners and anyone who is different from us. Send them all back. The hell with sanctuary or diversity! America for people that look like me, act like me and think like me.

Build more prisons!  Invoke the three strike rule!  Make it a two strike rule!  Get tough on crime!  Platitudes like these get voters on the side of security and restraint. No new taxes does not apply to building new prisons. The contradiction between liberty and safety is ignored. Fear drives irrational behavior. Everyone develops blinders as the police go about harassing would be criminals or even suspected criminals or anyone who even looks suspicious.  “Thank God, once we lock them away, we can throw away the key and not have to deal with them anymore!  If only we could put all the “suspects” away, we good people could go about our lives feeling safe and free from the possibility of crime and violence.”

“By age 23, almost a third of Americans have been arrested for a crime, according to a new study that researchers say is a measure of growing exposure to the criminal justice system in everyday life.” — http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/us/nearly-a-third-of-americans-are-arrested-by-23-study-says.html?_r=0

Time for Questions:

How safe do you feel: On the street, in your home, late at night, at a movie concert? What makes you feel safe? Have you ever been arrested? Do you know anyone in jail? Can you think of a way that prisons could be eliminated? Do you know how many people are in prison for non-violent crimes? What if they were doing public service instead? What can you do to help bring about prison reform? Are you happy with the present system?

Life is just beginning.

“A moment’s beginning ends in a moment” ― Munia Khan

 

Social Legacy Systems:  How They Block Change and Prevent Progress:  Part 1- Education

KuhnCycle_BasicCycleAccording to Thomas Kuhn when a paradigm shifts, you cannot be successful doing what you did in the old paradigm.  In a new paradigm, you must obey new rules to be successful.  Our culture and world are going through one of the greatest paradigm shifts in history.  It has been happening now for four generations starting with the Baby Boom generation.  The transition or swing generations have been Generation X and Generation Y.   These later two generations have been stuck between paradigms.  The final or new generation has been somewhat appropriately called Generation Z.  Generation Z *(See Footnote) represents the end of the paradigm shift.

The rules and cultural norms that have traditionally applied to: family, education, government, employment and law are all legacy based and present significant barriers to change.  In computers, a legacy system refers to either hardware or software that is out of date but is difficult to replace because of its widespread use.  I am using the term as it is known in the IT world, to refer to our outdated social and economic systems that are difficult to replace because of first: their widespread use and second: because of attitudes and policies that make it difficult to either change or replace them.

(Listen to Tracy Chapman sing  “The Times They Are A Changin.”  A song made famous by Bob Dylan)

Generation Z must create new rules for success and happiness to reign in this new order.  The emerging social and business systems will march to a different set of norms and standards.  Those systems that fail to change will gradually erode and die.  Their deaths will not be without casualties or bloodless.  Already we see the decay and decline of our antiquated educational system.  Our justice and prison systems are not far behind in obsolescence.

Legacy ChangesIronically, the Baby Boomers started the paradigm shift and are now the major roadblocks to change.  As Baby Boomers age, the systems they are most comfortable with (What I am calling the legacy systems) are increasingly dysfunctional.   In this blog, I want to talk about how the traditional systems have become barriers to change and the ways that these systems will need to be changed in order for Generation Z to achieve the success and happiness undoubtedly their parents want for them.  Indeed, the one thing that has not changed in six thousand years is the desire by parents for their children to live in a better world then they did.

What is the New Paradigm and what was the Old Paradigm?

The change in paradigms is embodied in the following dominant forces:

  1. From an Analog to a Digital world
  2. From Family centered to Child centered
  3. From Independence to Interdependence
  4. From Text to Visual based
  5. From Linear to Nonlinear sequencing

Each of the above factors has played a major role in the decline of social systems and economic systems in the USA if not also in many other parts of the world.  However, before we look at these individual factors, let me repeat a very important fact that is often ignored.  The changes in our systems will happen whether we want them to or not.  They are as inevitable as the weather changing or the mountains eroding.  There is nothing anyone can do to stop them.  Examine any of the five factors noted above and ask yourself “how likely is it to be turned back or changed back to what we once knew in bygone years?”  The only choice that we as a society and culture have is whether we want to try to restrain these changes or whether we want to help facilitate them and make the transition smoother and easier.

The old system and its rules and norms are barriers to change.  Laws and policies that support the old legacy systems now have the vice of creating friction and turmoil.  Just like two tectonic plates sliding over each other, when smooth transition is not permitted, one result may be an earthquake that shatters reality with its violent upheaval.  We are seeing many examples of both the inevitable frictions and resulting earthquakes in many areas of society and business today.  Sometimes, the changes are smooth but as often as not they are violent and chaotic.

Let’s look at two of what I am calling our legacy systems to see how these explosions and cultural clashes are playing out.  We will start with our education system (which is now quite similar all over the world).

How Does the Education System Block Change?

Paradigm-ShiftIn the late nineteen century, the American education system was one of the most progressive in the world.  Offering access to people that before could never have gone to school or college, the system was a reflection of many of the emerging industrial era virtues.

  • A mostly democratic system of mass education
  • Standardized learning
  • Linear and hierarchical movement through a graduated system of grades, curriculum and tests
  • Experts in various fields who could bring ideas and knowledge to a centralized location
  • Easy availability of texts and reading material
  • Credentials essential for the new Industrial Age that was emerging

For nearly one hundred and fifty years, the elements of the Education or School paradigm were beneficial and coveted by many other nations of the world.  Witness, the vast numbers of foreign students who came to attend Higher Education in the USA.  The factors making our education system a success in the early 20th Century have changed.  The need for an education system is still there but the “School” system that now dominates the “education” paradigm is hopelessly obsolete.   Each one of the five forces has played a role in this obsolescence.    Let us look briefly at the role that each has played in degrading our present education system.

  1. From an Analog to a Digital world

analog to digitalStudents now carry as much information in their ubiquitous smart phones as in all the encyclopedias in the world combined.  Many schools that once banned IPADS and Smart Phones are beginning to allow them in the curriculum.  Attempts to control what students can see are rather fruitless and doomed to fail.  (The 12-3-14 Casa Grande Paper reported today that the FBI seized 20 boxes of an LA school’s iPad documents.  “Hundreds of students initially given the IPADs last school year found ways to bypass security installations, downloading games and freely surfing the web.”  HORRORS (My comment)

2.  From Family centered to Child centered

family versus child centeredSingle parent families are now nearly 40 percent of all households.  About 4 out 10 children were born to unwed mothers in 2013.  https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics.  Children are now the center of attention in many households.  Whereas the family was once the most important component, children are increasingly the center of the family system.  Evidence for this is numerous.  From Soccer Moms to Helicopter Moms to parents that blame teachers for all that is wrong in the school but would never blame their children.  As an educator for over 40 years now, I have seen this shift firsthand.  Today, in all too many cases, if the child misbehaves or acts out, it is the teachers or schools fault.

  1. From Independence to Interdependence

independenceAmerica has always prided itself on rugged independence.  Many examples exist to show that much of this was image and not reality. Nevertheless, from individual grades to individual tests and individual merits of achievement, our schools have reflected this standard in its policies and procedures.  Sharing information with others in school whether on a test or writing assignment is usually labeled as cheating.

In business as in school, the individual performance ethic also reigned supreme.  This has gradually but inexorably been changing.  Today, the team norm has become increasingly dominant in the work place as we see that the old saying “two heads are better than one” is an essential platitude for innovation and creativity.   Schools are still lagging considerably behind the marketplace on the value they place on team work, cooperation and interdependence.

  1. From Text to Visual based

Visual-Tsunamis-Ketchum-first-pageFrom the early Jane’s readers to English Classics to modern stories like Harry Potter, the school system is dominated by a text based paradigm which has made the text-book the center of learning for most classes. This is true from kindergarten to Ph.D. programs and is of course reflected in ideas like Common Core and standardized curriculum.   At the college level, I have been told that I had to use a textbook because everyone else was using a textbook.  Recently we have seen that most hard cover textbooks have become e-books but this is a minor change and does not reflect the real underlying fact that kids today are increasingly living in a visual world.

Examples of this change abound:  Windows based interface systems, Smart Phone icons, You-Tube videos, documentaries, and just about every famous novel in history has been rendered into some form of video.  Children today are visual learners while the school system has standardized on text books, written assignments and term papers.  I wish I had a dollar for everyone that has said “Kids today do not know how to read or write.”  While, they may not express themselves in ink and papyrus, one only has to look at YouTube to see the abundance of musical and visual creativity now being displayed by young people today.

  1. From Linear to Nonlinear sequencing

non-linear-narrativeSchools are like factories with assembly lines. Everyone moves together at the same pace doing a standardized set of procedures designed for maximum efficiency.  Of course, these procedures were wonderful during the Industrial Era and propelled the USA to world leadership in manufacturing and production.  They also made the USA education system the envy of the world.  Today, these concepts are obsolete in business and also in education.  Just as businesses are moving to mass customization, so our schools need to move to customized learning curriculum designed for team of learners with similar interests and goals.  Our school system is now a testament to inefficiency, boredom and frustration for more than half of all students attending.

Conclusions:

Why are children dropping out of school or getting pregnant in school at horrendous rates?  I think the answer is simple:  School is boring and not meeting their needs. If in a business, your customers stopped coming, you would assume that something was wrong with your products or services. This does not seem to have occurred to either politicians or educators.  Perhaps, it is a case that “The fish is the last one to see the water.”  Schools have become obsolete.  The American education system now serves well only a small percentage of the students that enter the system.

Drop Out RatesMany will survive the system only to be glad when they finally get out.  Critical thinking is not well tolerated and the system does not accept challenges to its fundamental premises. Nevertheless, every school shooter represents a distorted but none the less serious challenge to the education system in America.  There will be many who ask “Is he crazy, how can he say that?”  One only has to understand the concept of a chaotic system to know that in any system that is undergoing decay, outliers or special causes will spring up that do not seem to be part of the system or that seem to have no relationship to the other elements in the system.  These special causes are all part of a normal system of variation.  In systems with a high degree of instability or inconsistency, the amount of variation results in increasingly greater episodes of chaos and breakdowns.   Looking for reasons for these “special causes” only results in speculation and frustration and failure.

No single theorist has painted a profile or single underlying reason for the increasing violence in our schools.  I submit, the schools and their dysfunctional paradigms are ultimately the cause of this violence.  If this is true, we will see more and more examples of such violence as our school system gradually deteriorates and becomes increasingly less relevant.  No amount of police in the hallways or concealed weapons will stop this inevitable and remorseless deterioration.   We are well past the time when we need a new education paradigm for the 21st Century.

In Part 2 of “Social Legacy Systems:  How They Block Change and Prevent Progress”, I would like to show how our legacy Prison and Judicial System has become a negative and restraining element in our present social system.  The result has been escalating and unsustainable increases in prison costs, legal costs, police costs and costs associated with our judicial system.

Time for Questions:

What is your opinion?  Do we need to change? Why or why not? Why are so many people only interested in half measures of change?  What will it take to change our education system?  Are you willing to work or financially support the changes that are needed? Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” ― Meister Eckhart

* Footnote:

Gen Z, Gen Y, baby boomers – a guide to the generations by Harry Wallop

 

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