Raising Monarch Butterflies

So a departure from my usual blog posts,

I have always been a fan of monarch butterflies. They are just so pretty. And a few years ago, when I started hearing news reports of their numbers dwindling, I decided to do something about it. As I often say to people I am advising/ coaching, step one is to take inventory of your power. What did I have any actual power to do about the situation? Well, I have a small deck on my apartment, I live in Massachusetts on one of the many migration paths of monarchs, so I bought a big pot, I bought some potting soil, I sent away to cheapmilkweedseeds.com, and right at the start of the pandemic in 2020 I planted some milkweed seeds for them to eat as they flew by . . . and waited.

So that spring and summer a few stubby plants came up but they did not flower, so I wrote it off as a lost cause. But then, the next year, those same stubby plants spouted little buds and actually grew into full size milkweed plants.

Sadly, only one monarch made a fleeting visit and . . . nothing. The plants did flower though, and they sprouted a bunch of seed pods, the seeds scattered with the wind, and nothing . . . So I again write it all off.

So this spring I decided to plant flowers instead. But what I did not know was, a bunch of the milkweed seeds from last year had found homes in my old potting soil (which you are suppose to change every year but what did I know), and a bunch of milkweed plants sprouted up again.

But this time . . . this time . . . a female monarch deemed them worthy and laid some eggs right out on my deck. The first inkling of this came when I started to see little chew holes in the leaves.

And now . . . and now, I am the proud poppa of at least two monarch butterfly caterpillars!

So fingers crossed that the little guys will manage to survive and turn into beautiful butterflies.

WordPress has changed its interface and I am struggling mightily to learn it but hopefully I will be posting updates as things progress!


Well two days later and I have to tell you these caterpillars grow pretty darn fast. below, a pic of the one guy . . . doubled in size in 2 days. looks like only a mattter of time before he and his sibling crawl off and build a chrysalis. I hope they make it somerwhere where i can see it and watch it hatch. well . . . we’ll see.

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Revisiting John Bradshaw

Way back in the 1990’s (ancient history for many I know) I was flipping thru the TV channels when I landed on a guy doing a show on PBS.  One more lecture, ugh, and I nearly flipped to the next channel, but then . . this guy started to talk about MY FAMILY . . . at least, it sure felt like it.  His name was John Bradshaw and he was discussing the dynamics of dysfunctional families.  

25 years later, this 10-hour series is still the best thing I have ever seen on PBS.  It was all about the work people are doing on healing dysfunctional families, covering addiction, compulsive behavior, Alice Miller, and so on.  In recent years I have looked all over for the program but it was not available anywhere; out of print, out of stock, and so on, but then just last month I found the whole darn thing on Youtube.  Here is part one, easily linking to the other 9:  (purposefully linked to a discussion of family system-ology


I think it says a lot about the current state of our culture generally that a program like this has fallen thru the cracks.  It was a bit of a shock even to me to re-watch the show, as, in our society, where all children are above average, no one, especially parents, drinks or does drugs or hits their kids, right?  It really struck me how this kind of thing is not discussed openly these days.  

So anyway, the program covers so much material it would be impossible to do quick summations, but again, the one thing he talks about throughout is “family systems.”  Now in the beginning I always leapt to the assumption that he was referring to ~5 person cast of mom, dad, and the kids . . .  and in fact the mobile hanging on the stage is meant to represent those players.  BUT 

I have leapt to another idea, which is the concept of (drumroll please) . . . the super parent.  

The super parent is my word for the influences of multiple generations of trauma.  We all have grandparents who went thru something awful, be that a war, someone whose parents died or abandoned them when they were little, the loss of a child at birth  . . .  and all too often, those damaged unhealed people go out and have kids and pass their unresolved issues on to their kids, and it can be handed down thru multiple generations.  

The super parent is hard to define as a tangible thing, it’s more like a ball of bad memories and traumas that lurk unseen in the background, and they become a sort of vague map of the world for those who, needing a parent, make one out of these imperfect people . . . or worse, the make one out of the imperfect impressions and vague memories of multiple generations of these imperfect people.  

In my own case, it has been a major leap of growth to realize that (as Bradshaw explains), people who are caught up in a dysfunctional family systems never become their true selves, and so my parents were like actors in a play that they did not write.  So instead of focusing solely on my 2 biological parents, it is way more empowering to go upstream to the playwrights of those scripts, scripts  that my own parents were just mindlessly reciting out of loyalty to people long since dead.    

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The Problem Is not the Problem

I have not written a new blog post for quite some time here. Part of it was just the pandemic generally, but also something new.

After having spent a great deal of time blogging and writing books and speaking to various audiences, I confess, I have generally failed. If you take a look around, despite all the books and speeches and coaches and commentary and TedTalks, . . . the world . . . .and the people in it . . . .are just not improving generally. Some could argue things are getting worse.

So I decided to take a break and come at it all again, and I will get right to it. The problem, as I see it now, is the human propensity towards states of hypnosis.

We are not generally conscious of what we are thinking or how we came to those conclusions, and other people are using various hypnotic techniques to control us.

A quick story, many years ago I was at an outdoor event in an urban park here in Boston, and there was a guy who was a hypnotist for the police department. Once he gave his short talk, he asked for a volunteer for a demonstration, and then he looked at me and said, “You, sir, how about it?”

So, up I went, and long story short, he hypnotized me, in just a minute or two, right on the stage, no rehearsal. Soon after, he induced me to actually fall over backwards (fortunately, he caught me before I ht the ground.) I was humbled and impressed.

The reason I say all this is, the political problem we face today is not properly defined. The “sleight of intellect” is preventing us from seeing the actual problem, and we end up chasing an imaginary one, and of course those solutions never have any effect.

So instead of trying to solve this or that social problem with a concise statement of logic and facts, I have come to the conclusion that before anything else, we must first recognize the nature of the problem in the first place, which is the propensity of human beings to fall into these trances. Once there, logic or cogent arguments are ineffective. The problem . . . is not the problem.

If we continue to believe that logic will have an effect when it clearly does not, we are just as guilty of being in a hypnotic immovable trance (not of our own choosing) as the person whose political views we find so vexing.

So in yet again a probably vain attempt to somehow make a difference, I say let’s try to identify the actual barriers to progress, and from that perhaps we can divine some strategies to find solutions.

The first aspect of the practitioners of successful political hypnosis I can identify seems to be the use of comfort. General ideas and description of the world that people find to be familiar seem to meet this requirement.

The next requirement is offering the subject(s) the feeling of superiority to another group. If you ask any republican if they are smarter they are any democrat, they will generally say yes. And if you ask a democrats the same question, they will generally say yes as well. That sense of superiority (be it intellectual or moral or something else) is so delicious that we will abandon our conscious mind if it gets in the way. Hypnosis has the power to make thoughts . . . . and facts . . . . simply disappear.

There is nothing new here. There are many articles describing the basic sleight of hand that magicians use to great effect, and Cialdini’s book Influence is an excellence analysis of how the human mind can be led astray.

Sad to say, since my goal here is higher wakefulness and consciousness, I will likely fail here as well. But I can at least go down swinging . . . This time, at the right pitch. The next step, it seems, is to create a collective acceptance of the notion that we are all susceptible to being hypnotized with these techniques, and until we recognize that, we will all – left, right, abstainers and undecideds . . be forever in the thrall of those who know these techniques, and are relentlessly using them to keep us divided and conquered.

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An Introduction to Dealing with Crazy People in Power

I have a dear friend who grew up in a house with a raging alcoholic mother. While the normal response to such information is shock, pity, and empathy, you should understand that to her, the insanity was just another day at the office.  Kids are survivors, and if your mother is crazy, you just adjust and cope.  I am fond of saying of this person, if I had to parachute in behind enemy lines, she is the person I would choose to take with me. She knows how to handle adversity.

Since I had a somewhat similarly crazy set of parents, she and I had a lot in common. We would sit and have brunch and try to top each other with the most outrageous happenings from our respective childhoods.

We did share one other important common experience though. We had learned early on not to tell these stories in general public spaces to people who had grown up in somewhat normal functioning families. People who grow up in relatively normal homes, where at least one parent had a steady job, and there was generally heat and hot water and food, are simply not equipped to deal with stories of extreme emotional abuse and general neglect. Whenever either one of us made the mistake of going too far over the line and telling a story that was beyond the capability of our listeners, we would get what my friend called . . . “the look.”

“The look” was a moment when someone has simply been exposed to an idea of negative human interaction that was beyond their capability to handle.

Thus, for much of my life I have kept many of these wacky survival stories to myself, but lately I have discovered that my strange and wild childhood has rather magnificently equipped me to deal with the vicissitudes of modern American life. All the poverty and drug abuse and sexual abuse in our society has grown too large to be kept in the dark corners any more, and people who suffer from this kind of trauma have risen to high office. And now, far from being thrown off kilter, I feel like B’rer Rabbit in the briar patch.

Unfortunately, the average journalist sent out to cover and report on such people are, all too often, people with loving parents, and they try to use that template/ world view to comprehend something they can’t quite grasp, which is a person who in power is mentally disjointed. In this case, “the look” is a reaction of non-comprehension of this other person’s behavior. To deal with it, they will use entirely inappropriate tools, such as logic and requests for empathy.  They will list the transgressions and the many flaws in this crazy person’s logic . . . and it is assumed this will serve to alter their bad behavior, when in fact such bad behavior is designed to override and confuse, and it does so with great success.

So as a public service, and I want to thank Alice Miller for most of this, for those of you whose parents were not insane, here is a quick primer in how to deal with crazy people in power:

1) First of all, before you try to make any sort of change or argument, bear in mind that until this crazy person sits down and consciously faces the truth of all the trauma that was visited upon them, nothing, and I do mean nothing, will change. You have 3 choices: you can become/remain a victim, you can become a similar perpetrator, or you can become a healer. Bear in mind, systems cannot be changed from within; you have no power to change your relationship with them unless you first leave that relationship.

2) Understand that loyalty to the parents who did the abuse is an overwhelming force here, and the victim of the trauma will protect their grandiose cover story myth of the abusers with extreme passion.

3) Be aware of what Alice Miller called the Re-enactment Syndrome. The idea here is, if someone suffered some sort of abuse, they will, as adults, re-enact what happened to them, either as victims or as the perpetrator. Remember all those priests who abused little boys? It is thought that 90% of them had all been molested as children. They were not being randomly cruel and perverse by conscious choice; they were trying to find their way back to their true self re enacting the trauma. Only if you view their behavior in this way can you find logic in it. And head-on logical arguments are useless against it. Instead, the damaged soul must be found and healed.

4) Again, recalling Alice Miller, people who suffer from such extreme trauma often get taken up in what she called grandiosity. Rather than accepting the reality of where they are, they seek to put on an act of grandiose glamour or status.

5) Understand the basic elements of shame states. Our preferred healthy way of being is to feel strong bonds of connection with other people. If this is lost, the result is a “shame state.” People who find themselves in shame states seek a kind of substitute form of connection by achieving higher rank than others, mainly by achieving power. And part of the deal is making people with less power suffer, to remind all others that this power is possessed. The sadism is a replacement for contact and intimacy.

5) And this last is my own contribution, I call it “Justin’s Rule of Opposites.” This means, when a person has escaped from their inner reality, most of their denial consists of the exact opposite of reality. For example, if they are stealing money, they will exclaim that everyone else but them is stealing money. If they are incompetent, they will claim that they are the only one who is competent.

In conclusion, I certainly laud and admire people who protect their children from crazy people, and I am of course endlessly envious of people who had loving parents who fed them and supported them and provided mature emotionally stable role models. But at the same time, the children of such people have never had to develop skills in coping with traumatized people, and in the first meeting, the traumatized people always overwhelm . . . sort of like Hitler and the French army.

I hope this guide helps your decision making.

© Justin Locke

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The USPS and the Waning American Empire

Like many Americans I have been much disturbed by various assaults on Constitutional rights of late, but the Postal Service issue has struck me particularly hard.

What consistently gets lost in political debates is the broader notion of nationhood, which is a sine qua non of all other rights (and powers) we may discuss. We freely talk about red and blue states like that’s no big deal.  Such talk is dangerous.  Maintaining an empire– and the Unites States is, by definition, a collection of separate states– is a dicey operation. In my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of the Soviet empire, and it was not that long ago that France, Spain, and of course England were major empires as well. There is no guarantee that our empire will be here tomorrow.

Using self inflicted budget shortfalls as an excuse to hamper the flow of the United States mail is one of the most egregious threats to the American empire I have seen in my lifetime.

One quick example, as you may or may not know, I publish various programs for orchestral kiddie concerts. A few years back, The Guam Symphony Orchestra called me up and booked the programs. I had to box up about 15 pounds of sheet music and send it half way around the world. But . . . because Guam is part of the United States, all I had to do was saunter over to my local post office, slap about $17 worth of priority mail flat rate postage on the box, and off it went. And I am just one of who knows how many people and companies selling things to Guam (and Hawaii and Alaska).

Without that line of easy communication, it would have cost me what, $200 to ship the same thing? And if enough resistance to commerce built up, perhaps the folks in Guam would get sick of us and ask China to come take things over? This is how empires fall.

Bear in mind I have no love for Jeff Bezos but at the moment, when you buy from Amazon, you aren’t always buying from Amazon. Thousands, perhaps millions, of small cottage industries market their goods on Amazon, but they ship the products themselves. In other words, there are tens or hundreds of thousands of small relatively independent sellers and manufacturers out there, and while UPS does a lot of the shipping, I am willing to bet that the USPS does a whole lot more.

The Romans ruled the Western World because they built roads, the Venetians the British built massive empires because they built ships. Empires are built on ease of commerce. The lines of communication are what make us collectively great. Reducing the speed of the Postal Service is tantamount to blowing up roads and bridges. Commerce cannot occur without the means of transport.

I really try to not be political in my blog posts but this 3rd grade reading level in the White House has gone far enough. You cannot shrink to greatness. Smooth efficient operation of the Postal Service is essential to American commerce, hence American greatness.

© Justin Locke

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Creating the Monster

So, the provenance of this post:  a few weeks ago Bill Maher posted a video on his facebook page where he pretended to give Donald Trump’s Eulogy.  I am not sure how the chain of creativity occurred, but I posted a comment somewhat on the fly, that went something like this:

” In the upcoming Xmas movie “Screwged,” Trump has federal agents gas the Ghost of Christmas Past, fires Bob Cratchit, sues Fred for his tell-all memoir, takes away Tiny Tim’s healthcare, and pardons Jacob Marley. It is what it is.”

Okay, a fun little play on the Dickens plot, I figured I might get a few dozen likes, and I went about my business.  But amazingly, and this is by far a personal Faceboook best, I got over 600 likes, along with a total of 90+ comments.  No money of course but, nice to be noticed.

While the vast majority of the comments were complimentary (My fave:  “You won the internet today”), a handful were not.  It doesn’t make immediate sense to me why a fan of Donald Trump would even visit Bill Maher’s page, much less watch the video or read the comments, but . . . they did.  And here is the key:  instead of making any logical argument, the Trump fans basically said I was stupid, or a moron, or something similar.  It was remarkably consistent.  And patterns like that set me thinking.

Now normally in our culture the word “stupid” is an effective shaming tool, and I suppose the goal here was to silence me with shame (good luck with that guys); but since I wrote the book on the science of stupidity, the hoped for effect of essentially seeking to silence me with shame did not work.  Instead, it gave me an insight into the minds and souls (yes, souls) of these Trump voters.  And here is what I discovered:

With all our eagerness to send kids to school and test their intellectual capabilities, the people (now I am making a presumption here) who run the schools and administer the tests tend to lean democratic, and I think that group is not seeing how they are helping to create the Trump voter block.

Here is the deal:  if you score high on a test, good for you, but what if you don’t? What if the public school system repeatedly shoves your low tests scores in your face and repeatedly tells you you are “stupid”?

Bear in mind, for a helpless little kid going through that kind of shaming experience over and over, for all the good intentions of measuring academic achievement, I think the big picture is getting missed.  Those kids have collected a massive pile of shame, and they associate it with any and all things academic.  That includes their teachers as well as any kind of intellectual or scientific expert, as that is the group of people who shamed them so often.  That resentment has been building for decades, and now Fox News and the Republican Party have recognized the potential lying therein.

As Alice Miller explains, when people are traumatized in childhood they seek to heal themselves via the “reenactment syndrome,” meaning, they repeat the abuse, only this time they are in charge.  And these Trump fans who told me I was stupid were trying to put me through their worst childhood experience, of being told one is socially unacceptable due to a mental defect.

I could explore this issue at much greater depth but the point I wish here to make is, if you are an education professional, have you ever taken a moment to look at this block of Trump voters and wonder, we spent on average $100,000 of taxpayer money on “educating” each one of these kids; and did we, perhaps inadvertantly, create the monster which supports this kind of anti intellectualism, and eagerness to visit shame and social ostracization on some vulnerable party?  In dumping shame on others (sometimes violently so), are they merely reenacting what school did to them?

I fear that for people who did well in school– those who had parental support, better qualified teachers, perhaps also paid coaches to help the more average among them get by– really don’t have a good grasp of what this kind of experience can do to a kid who is on the edge anyway, with divorced parents, abusive parents, or poverty stricken parents in the mix.  That shame energy needs to go somewhere, and a charming leader can exploit that energy by telling them to direct it at his enemies.

In our eagerness to test and test, we of course create a select group of elite high scoring winners, but in so doing, are we not also creating a far larger group of low scoring losers?  And is any thought being given to this massive mound of intellectual tailings piling up year after year?

People who live at the top end of intellectualism and academic elitism have precious little direct experience with the kind of intense shaming and embarrassment that so many C and D grade American children go through.  The emotional scars can be so great that they can overwhelm the conscious logical mind.

The Treaty of Versailles had many good intentions, but the unintended consequences– of humiliating and impoverishing many of the German people for 20 years– created the collective crazed anger that allowed Hitler to rise to power.

Politics these days is seldom about logic.  It is about tapping into the worst  buried memories of wounded vulnerability that overwhelm the conscious mind.  People who seek power do not hesitate to tap into these dark emotions, and before we complain about it, we ought to ask if we have contributed to the problem.  With the best of intentions, have we created a lower intellectual caste that is burdened by overwhelming amounts of anger towards society, a caste that that might someday outnumber us?

(c)  Justin Locke


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It’s Time to Buy a Bidet

Many years ago I visited the city of Paris.  Besides the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, one of the most interesting things I found there was the bidet in my hotel room.  Here was a thing that essentially removed any need for toilet paper . . . and it did a WAY better job at doing that task.

So here I sit in the middle of the great Covid 19 Toilet Paper Rush, watching people posting on social media asking where they can buy some toilet paper.  And I just shake my head.

Two years ago, after years of wishing I owned a house with a bidet, I discovered there were all sorts of portable bidets.  I bought one for $13 on Amazon and, pardon the phraseology, I have not looked back.  My annual outlay for toilet paper dropped by 90%.  

We Americans walk around with a lot of shame regarding elimination of bodily waste, but it’s time to grow up and face facts.  Along with doing a 2nd rate job, toilet paper requires the DAILY cutting down of 27,000 trees.  And once flushed, all that paper pulp gets thrown in with the regular fecal matter in massive piles of compost.  That says nothing of the fuel and the 37 gallons of water needed to make a single roll, and the attendant carbon dioxide that is generated as well.  You should also figure in all the wrappers and the inside cardboard tubes, that’s what, 250,000 of those put into landfills every day.

Look online, they have nifty little squeeze bottle bidets for $14.  And for about $45 you can get one mounted on your toilet seat, altho one with hot water (you really want that) runs a little more.   Even so, it pays for itself in a year or less.

Then you can sit back with me and observe the odd phenomena of people crazily buying and hoarding something they don’t need.



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Latest Podcast Guest Appearance

Hello all,

So I got invited onto a podcast done my a drummer turned financial advisor, a guy named Thomas DeSchutter, out of Vancouver . . .   I have to say the guy did a great job.  He really has the whole podcast idea down.  Anyway, throughout the show I got to pontificate and expound at length about many of my favorite speaking topics, including what made great conductors great, the Principles of Applied Stupidity, and since he is a finance guy, we got into my Rich Kid Poor Kid book as well.   Anyway, here it is, click on the pic or the link, I start talking at about 8-10 min or so.  A perfect cure for insomnia!   – JL










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Patty Duke Water Pump Moments

Okay, for those of you who have never seen the movie “The Miracle Worker,” it is a classic, with Patty Duke portraying a young Helen Keller. Helen Keller was blind and deaf from age 2 and her family had learned to live with this person who had no means of communicating with them.

Enter Anne Bancroft (yes, who also played Mrs. Robinson) who plays a teacher of deaf and blind children. Throughout the whole movie she does her darnedest to teach little Helen how to communicate using sign language, by making individual letters with finger positions than one can feel in the hand. It’s 90 minutes of struggle until near the end, when Helen Keller “gets it.” She runs to a water pump and Anne Bancroft spells “water” with her hand in Helen’s hand. Suddenly, Patty Duke/ Helen Keller grasps this amazing new level of possibility of something that well, not that it seemed impossible, it was just not something she had ever thought of, period.

SO now I refer to such earth shaking life changing shifts of consciousness in my own life as “Patty Duke water pump moments.”

Now bear in mind, PDWPM’s don’t occur in a vacuum. They usually occur in an environment where limitation is accepted as the norm. There are people who have accepted the dogma– e.g., that little Helen will never be able to communicate and that’s just the way it is . . . and then there are people like Anne Bancroft saying, no, there is a better way, but it’s tough to grasp and it conflicts with current dogma which some people are actually happy with maintaining.

I will illustrate with a personal example,

When I was a teenager I had taken up the string bass, and it became my path to something better. I was able to get out of the farmhouse in Ohio and get to see a little bit of the larger world because I was willing to play the bass.

Unfortunately, I was okay for a high school kid, but I wasn’t all that good. I am a very competitive person, and whenever I bumped up against any real bass playing competition, I always came in at 5th place. This bothered me to no end. But I did not know what to do about it.

I actually practiced a LOT, but I was practicing the way that everyone in the music school dogma soup taught me to practice, i.e., just play a piece through from beginning to end and then go back do it all again. This made minor temporary levels of improvement here and there, but for the most part, it did not work. I was stuck in being a third rate bass player. This endless failure suited the teachers who profited by my taking their lessons, and it profited the music schools who collected tuition, but I was going nowhere.

Enter Joe Scheer, a very skilled violinist who was my age, and I asked him what I could do to improve myself, as following the standard procedures had not worked. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said “Go home and practice your scales and arpeggios.”

This, folks, was my first real Patty Duke water pump moment. Joe had gone on to say that “All the (tonal) music we play is just bits and pieces of scales and arpeggios, so if you can play all the scales and arpeggios, you can sight read anything, and do it perfectly.”

So I went back to that little farm in Ohio and instead of “practicing for a lesson” I just started to play nothing but scales and arpeggios. The fundamentals of music. Over and over and over again. 8 hours a day, seven days a week. I did that for 3 months, and then 2 months after that, I had leapt over all my competition and become one of the top pro bass players in Boston.

That PDWPM forever changed how I approach, well, just about everything.  In my humble opinion, no matter what it is that you are trying to accomplish, I am totally convinced that while you are surrounded by people who are hacking their way through with no mastery, often guessing and hoping and faking, there is always some basic underlying principle that, if you can just master THAT, everything else becomes simple and easy and you achieve total command of the situation, instead of hoping your fingers will magically land on the notes you want to play.

Bear in mind, there were a fair number of people who were not happy with my transformation. Once I achieved technical mastery of the locations of notes on the double bass, I quit taking lessons, so my teacher was not happy about my lack of need for his services. The music school I was attending was not happy to lose my tuition money either– their business model was based on my endlessly seeking to improve but never actually doing so. And of course the other bass players who used to be better than me weren’t all that thrilled either.

So when I see things like vague advice on leadership that has long lists of what successful people do every day at breakfast, or studies of “emotional intelligence” that have a vast amorphous plan of attack, I have to roll my eyes and ask, “What are the fundamentals needing to be mastered here?”

Real teachers that can take you through to a Patty Duke water pump moment are actually kind of rare, partly because they just are, and partly because there isn’t very much money in teaching in this way, as your students don’t hang around for very long. Very often people who have achieved mastery do not share their secrets, in part because, as I have learned, most people do not seek to achieve it. They like just poking along, fitting in with the other amateurs, and not making any major changes.

So now, whenever I write or speak about management or self improvement, it always comes from that experience of understanding and mastering fundamentals. It’s what actually works.


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The Grapes of Shame

In the aftermath of World War II, several eminent psychologists of the day, including Erich Fromm and Alice Miller, wrote books that all asked the question, “Why?”  They wanted to find the core psychological forces that had taken Germany, the most civilized nation on earth, to being one of the most brutal and murderous.

I would like to offer something a little similar in the here and now.

There are many comedy TV shows that make money by making fun of the ignorance that abounds in America today.   It is tempting to take some superior-feeling pleasure, when folks from Comedy Central go to a Trump Rally and ask the attendees questions like “Can you define communism?” and just generally expose their many layers of fuzzy logic.

I think we indulge in this at our peril.  Just because many of these people lack language skills, does not mean that we should not try to understand the deeper meaning of their admittedly often hurtful language and symbolism.

When I was in grade school, I was given three “F” grades. Even though I was generally a “top” student with a better than 4.0 grade average, those rare memories, of being given an “F,” still cut deep. They were insults to my spirit; a person who had the power and authority of the “state” was judging me as being somehow inferior.

If just 3 “F” grades left that much of a resentment mark on me, a star student, what must it be like for the average C student kid, who is told every day that they are defective, flawed, in error, and judged to be a failure and stupid?

The point I wish to make here is, in all of our lofty disdain for all those who dwell in the basket of deplorables, perhaps we should lay some blame at the feet of the learned and educated.  It is college graduates, i.e., grade school teachers, who subject people to a state mandated system that repeatedly rends their spirit.  And they do this, perhaps with the best of intentions, but without any regard for the long term consequences.

Definition of grapes of wrath:
an unjust or oppressive situation, action, or policy that may inflame desire for vengeance : an explosive condition

So now, look at the oh so common disdain for science, or the disdain for the “elite.”    Instead of condemning those who manifest these attitudes, perhaps we should think  about HOW their minds were systemically brought to this state, where years of accumulated shame energy is eclipsing their ability to think rationally.

If you just leap to the convenient, appealing, and simplistic conclusion that the reason they behave this way is because you and I are just genetically superior to them, we are one step away from the Nuremberg Laws.  Oopsie.

Whenever you see a seemingly ignorant Trump supporter, take a moment to remind yourself that each and every one of them represents an expenditure of about $100,000 in local tax dollars for their K-12 education (not to mention over 15,000 hours of classroom time). If they are ignorant, is it really entirely their fault? Can it be that the cultural imperialism of the educational industrial complex is creating this ready-made seething mob, by putting masses of people through shaming / belittling / exclusionary experiences in their formative years? How many times can you give someone an F before they turn on you, and give you an F as well?

It’s always easy to blame someone else for our problems, but it looks like, as Walt Kelly so famously said,

“We have met the enemy– and he is us.”

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