Friday, March 30, 2012

Message #20 - Be a Crybaby!

“Be a man. Men don’t cry.”

How many of you gentlemen out there had this pounded into your brains when you were a child?” If you’re an American and of a certain age, your father or your uncle or a big brother or some other male authority figure probably passed on this piece of sage advice.

Don’t pay attention to them. Forget what you’ve heard. Be a Crybaby!

Most of you women are already crybabies, so this message may not be relevant to you. I invite you to read it anyway. It may give you an insight into why your significant male other(s) behaves the way he does.

When I was growing up I was pretty good at suppressing my emotions (truth is, I still am) so I could hold back the tears. I didn’t want to be taunted with “Danny’s a Crybaby, Danny’s a Crybaby” when I fell and scraped my knee or someone hurt my feelings. So no way would I cry.

That would be a sign of weakness. That would prove I’m a sissy. That would mean I’m behaving like a girl.

And is there anything worse than that? Behaving like a girl. Humiliating.

I’m not sure if this phenomenon is the same in other cultures. I suspect it is. After all, male and female roles are deeply ingrained from birth everywhere. It may even be worse in other places, especially where machismo is stronger than it is here in the U.S.

If you’re a man, think about it. Your relationship with crying is a powerful part of how you’re wired up. I’ll bet you’re embarrassed when you cry or feel like crying. I’ll bet you are uncomfortable when you see other men cry. I’ll bet you don’t even know to cry.

Have you ever watched a man cry? We’re really bad at it. We don’t have much experience with crying. So we are like fish out of water. Our breathing gets in the way. Our body shakes awkwardly. We try to stifle the tears, which makes it worse. We’re hopeless.

Women are experts. They can cry easily. It appears to be a natural mode of expression for them. They don’t fight it. They just cry. If they’re embarrassed it doesn’t show. And it doesn’t occur to us to chide them for it, to call them crybabies.

How silly, don’t you think? Why should you deprive yourself of a natural part of being human? Because somebody somewhere decided it’s not the way you are supposed to behave is not a good reason. It’s another one of those ‘shoulds.’ Or in this case a ‘shouldn’t.’

Men of the world – arise. Throw off the chains that force you to wimp out on crying. Turn it around. Tell them that only sissies won’t cry. Real men aren’t afraid to cry when they feel like crying.

Be a Crybaby!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Confident!

I’m not confident that:

The Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Health Care Act . . .

The U.S. will face reality and get out of Afghanistan soon . . .

The Sumo elders will do anything meaningful to revive their sport . . .

FIFA will stop being an autocratic dictatorship . . .

Movie producers and distributors will make films available for viewing on line or on discs when they are released, even for those of us who are willing to pay a high price to avoid going to a theater . . .

We will be safer when the government uses increased secret surveillance to spy on people some Big Brother profiler deems suspect . . .

Political pandering to the Israeli lobby is good either for the U.S. or Israel . . .

Politicians have the guts to confront either the short or long-term economic issues we face . . .

Sorry, that’s too narrow:

Politicians have the guts to confront any issue that might be controversial . . .

Sorry, that’s still too narrow:

American leaders and citizens will be able to resurrect, salvage and recreate that which made this country great in the first place.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Our ‘war ‘ in Afghanistan is a disaster. If you’re surprised, you haven’t been paying attention.

Our goal (10 years ago) was to prevent Al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a safe haven and – I guess – to get rid of the Taliban. About the former, that happened long ago. The safe haven has relocated to Pakistan. About the latter, they’re waiting in the wings and ready to come back.

But somewhere along the way this war on ‘terror’ morphed into working with a new Afghan government, which is in place and corrupt from top to bottom. And doing a few other things.

We decided that counter-insurgency was a good idea – winning the hearts and minds of the people by going out to the villages, working with them, being benevolent occupiers. That goal never got off the ground, and now the Afghan President, who is mad at us, is telling us to stay in our armed bases and stay away from the villages. So much for the hearts and minds.

Also it seemed like a good idea to train the Afghan military and police so they could take over security in their country. A noble idea – absolutely impossible to achieve in a generation, let alone a few years. So their internal security is woeful.

I say we go back to a simpler idea. Get our troops out of there – so we stop having them killed and wounded, and at the same time keep them from killing innocent civilians and children. That’s win-win.

Set up an effective network of spies and local informants who will help us direct our drones to blow up bad guys. Do this in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, whether they like it or not. And about the Paks, Afghanistan is an easy problem compared to what it would take to turn Pakistan around. Ain’t gonna happen.

So we can save money and lives and keep suppressing terrorists. We just have to admit how most of what we’ve done up to now has been a misguided disaster.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Off Your Radar Screen

Items you might have missed:

Swansea beat Manchester City yesterday. To put together the entire Swans team cost less than one of the City stars. Indeed, the Swansea stadium is worth less on the market than one City striker. Yet yesterday, at least, the best team won.

When the Sumo Association chose a new leader recently they reinstalled Kitanoumi, the guy who resigned in disgrace in the face of multiple scandals a couple of years ago. How’s that for a step forward?

If you need a place to sleep, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. the St. Boniface church in San Francisco’s Tenderloin is open to you. Sometimes it doesn’t smell too good, but it’s usually quiet.


I watched “Game Change,” the HBO film about the 2008 campaign. I thought it was very well done. Contrary to those who see it as a hatchet job on Sarah Palin, I found myself actually feeling some compassion for her. Don’t misunderstand. I’m no fan. Just conscious of how utterly, totally unprepared she was for the new world she found herself immersed in.

Afghanistan is more hopeless than ever. It isn’t enough that our soldiers piss on the bodies of those they’ve killed. That’s followed by burning a bunch of Qurans – by mistake they say. And now some rogue American sergeant goes out in the middle of the night and kills 16 Afghans – many children – in their homes.

And Mitt Romney is also more hopeless than ever. If he’d just be himself and stop pandering to every group he meets, maybe he’d be seen as an authentic candidate. Or maybe he is just being himself. Doesn’t matter. He’ll be the nominee. I can only hope it isn’t sewed up too quickly.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Message #19 - Should is an Evil Word!

When I stopped working on a regular basis I was quickly confronted by everyone’s first question: “What are you going to do now, Dan? How will you spend your time?”

I didn’t have an answer to the question. I didn’t know for sure. But my mind leapt to a familiar place – What should I do? Not what would I like to do? Not what would be fun to do? Not what do I now have the time to do? It was what should I do? I’d learned my first lesson about life as an old age pensioner.

Should is an Evil Word!

I call this the Tyranny of the Shoulds. Where do they come from, these shoulds? They aren’t written in stone on some sacred tablets. They aren’t laws handed down from Washington or Sacramento. They aren’t (necessarily) how mommy and daddy told me to behave.

I made them up. They’re my personal set of ‘to do’s’ created by me sometime in the past. They are decisions I’ve made that I adhere to automatically, without thinking about it. They are my internal on-duty Should Cops and they never take a day off.

If you think I’m a rare species, a burdened Should Victim who deserves pity – think again. You’re in the boat with me. You’re a Should Machine just like I am. And so is everyone around you. It’s part of the price we pay for being human.

I don’t object to you behaving in a way that is consistent with one of your personal shoulds – if you choose to do it. But that’s not what happens. What happens is that a should is triggered and off you go, responding to it like an automaton without a second thought. You haven’t chosen it. It has chosen you.

Early on in my non-working phase I realized that a big big should for me was ‘Making a Difference.’ My mission in life was to make a difference. I’d always been motivated by my desire to make a difference. Could I question that should? What would happen if I did and found that it wasn’t sacred after all? Would I be betraying myself? Maybe the Dan I thought I knew would disappear in a puff of smoke.

Try this one on for yourself. Question one of your sacred shoulds. You know what will happen? Neither it nor you will disappear. What will happen is that you will regain the power of choice. At some point you chose to live your life consistent with that should. And then over time it shifted from choice to automaticity. You became a Should Puppet, dancing on strings being pulled by a you from the past.

Becoming aware of a should and reassuming your role as chooser is giving yourself a gift. I found that I didn’t have an issue with making a difference. I was still free to do that. But now I could do it as an act of choice, not as a should. Free is an appropriate word. I had an extraordinary experience of freedom when the chains of the should were gone.

Should is an Evil Word!