Police shootings

OK. Everybody is getting pretty sick of police shooting. I guess this last one really pushed me over the edge. I suppose it is because the victim works in the same field I do–mental health–and was shot while doing his job. In addition, when he was shot he was laying on the ground with his hands in the air. This may be the most outrageous police shooting incident yet.

Interestingly, after he was shot in the leg he asked the cop, “Why did you shoot me?”

The cop responded, “I don’t know.” His attorney says he was shooting at the victim’s autistic client. If this is true, it does not make the situation better.

I’m not going to list all the things that are wrong with this scenario. I’ll leave that for you to decide. But I will suggest some solutions

When you have a pattern like this it means your whole society is sick. To change that it will take a comprehensive two pronged approach.

Certainly, our leaders need to change the way police are hired and trained. I think at this point everybody understands that. Here’s the part that most people miss: A society is made up of individuals. The attitudes and beliefs of each individual define that society. An individual may feel powerless to change society, but only you can change you.

So if you want to change any aspect of our sick society, look within. Drop your judgmental thinking. Be inclusive–it’s not “us vs them”, it’s all us. Do this in spite of your fears. Actually listen to the needs and concerns of your fellow human beings. Let go of beliefs not supported by facts. Cultivate an attitude of compassion and gratitude.

I know that most people don’t like to look within. People don’t think they need to change anything about themselves. People are afraid. Well, guess what: If the events in our society scare you, buckle in because it is going to get worse. It’s going to get worse until a “critical mass” of individuals change.

You decide.

Compassion Wins

This morning I watched a segment on the morning news about a young woman in Florida who got arrested because she was video streaming her drunk driving. You may have seen it too. The reporters expressed the full array of judgmental thoughts about this person, pointing out how dangerous not only drunk driving is but also the dangers of video streaming while driving. Certainly these things are dangerous.

I just thought that this story was a god example of the wrong way to handle this situation. The comments come off sounding judgmental of the person. Certainly this person exhibited some bonehead behavior. I think we need to be careful to condemn the behavior and not the person.

So, what really happened here? This is an example of the Universe telling that young woman she needs to change her behavior. My guess is that there were hints prior to this event that she ignored. (If the universe is trying to tell you something and you’re not listening, it turns up the volume. –“In Pursuit f Joy”) I think our job here is to support that message.

As a society we want this risky behavior to stop. The message we need to send to this woman (and all others in her situation) is this: “You are a good person, but this behavior is unacceptable and must stop.” Our judgmental thoughts about the person actually mitigate against producing the change we all want.

Compassion wins.

 

4 Arguments in Support of Mindfulness

There is so much talk these days about mindfulness these days that I thought I would try to clarify things a bit. You may be wondering what my qualifications are to make these statements about mindfulness. To begin with I have been meditating regularly for about 40 years. I took the Transcendental Meditation course at that time as a way to deal with stress. I have read extensively on the topic since and practiced numerous techniques. Additionally, I taught mindfulness as a therapeutic technique when I was the director of a residential facility for mentally ill adults. While I’m sure there are people out there who know more about the topic than I do, I know there are quite a few who know less.

Having said that I want to address some of the negative things I have heard about mindfulness.

  1. Mindfulness is a secularized Buddhist practice. I have seen people use this statement in two ways. First, people say that by separating mindfulness from its spiritual component you devalue it and limit its effectiveness. I have even seen the word McMindfulness used to derogatorily describe the practice. My answer to that is that we are not secularizing the spiritual, we are spiritualizing the secular. Mindfulness is a spiritual practice no matter how you package it. Second, there are people who think that you shouldn’t practice mindfulness because of its Buddhist origins. The truth is that there are mindfulness practices in every major religion, though they may call it something else.
  2. Mindfulness is a waste of time. People who say this generally have not tried it. There is an increasingly large body of evidence that clearly supports the usefulness of mindfulness.
  3. Mindfulness is dangerous. Generally, people who say that are referring to difficulties that can arise when someone who already has some mental difficulties tries mindfulness without supervision. My suggestion here—and this is a good idea for lots of reasons—is that we all quit being judgmental about people with mental illness and direct more resources as a society to helping them. Mindfulness is not dangerous for the average person.
  4. Mindfulness is confusing. There is a lot of debate about what is and is not mindfulness, or how to classify the different types of mindfulness. I will say this: If something meets the definition of mindfulness then it is mindfulness. Mindfulness is directing your attention to one thing, this present moment, without judgment. I have noticed that people who want to say that their definition is the right one are usually trying to sell something. Mindfulness is simple. Getting good at it requires practice.

My advice at this point is this: in the long run don’t learn all your mindfulness from one source. Practice every day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When you see positive changes in your life be grateful.

6 Ideas to Prevent Mass Murders

Ok, so here we go again. Once again somebody has decided that it is a good idea to kill a whole bunch of people and themselves—going out in a blaze of glory. Our president says this has become routine–and he is right. Clearly he is fed-up with this kind of thing and so am I. So, what do we do about it? I thought I’d do a little brainstorming on the topic and see what I could come up with.

  1. I think we need to take a serious look at our relationship with weapons, particularly hand guns and assault rifles. It is true that our founding fathers put the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights. It is also that at the time the height of firearm technology was the muzzle-loading rifle. Of course there were also cannons at the time but most people couldn’t afford them. The intent was to prevent tyranny. It has long been the habit of tyrants everywhere to forbid conquered people from bearing arms—even before the invention of firearms. But times have changed. The variety and power of our weapons has increased exponentially. We don’t let people own nuclear weapons or battleships. Clearly there is a line beyond which we will not allow private citizens to go regards weapon ownership. We just have to decide where that line belongs.
  2. Everyone needs to vote. You may think this is not related but it is. Your vote is the BEST defense against tyranny. In a true, working democracy assault weapons are not needed. So, my message to all you people that advocate unregulated gun ownership is this: Accept that times have changed and as a society we can no longer afford to have such firepower unregulated. Put away the guns and pick up the vote.
  3. MENTAL HEALTH IS EVERYBODY’S BUSINESS!!! Clearly at this point we all realize that everyone is at risk from attacks such as this. They occur with disturbing regularity and lethality. Every single time lip service is given to the mental health issue. A sane person does not commit mass murder. We live in the wealthiest country the world has ever known and yet the people who provide direct care to the mentally ill are often paid the lowest wages in a given community. I know that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous. I also know that people who commit mass murder are sick.
  4. We need to look at stigma, what it really is and how to eliminate it—not just regards mental illness but all stigmatized segments of our society. Stigma is judgmental thinking, plain and simple. It is judgmental thinking that is so imbedded in our society that we often don’t know we’re doing it until it is pointed out or we decide to examine our own actions and thoughts. Yet it is this stigma that prevents people from voluntarily going for treatment. It is also stigma that prevents us as a society from allocating the resources needed to prevent good kids from growing up to be mass murderers. We can only purge our own individual stigmatizing thoughts. You can’t change how others think.
  5. Every single one of us must work on becoming more compassionate and spiritual people. As individuals we tend to get so wrapped up in attending to our own needs that we let our fear push others away. I believe that if any of these mass murderers had enough compassionate and spiritual people in their life as they grew up they would not become murderers. This is not about saying “What is wrong with you?” It is about saying “What is wrong with me?”
  6. We must modify our sense of group to include everyone. People who feel a sense of belonging to a group generally do not attack that group. We are all human beings after all.

I know these are long-term fixes, but I don’t think there are any quick ones. It seems to me that these terrible events are symptoms of deeper problems with our society. Fixing a society takes a lot of effort from everybody. Do your part.

A Visit From the Pope

Greetings to all my readers. I haven’t posted for a while; sometimes I just get too busy. Well, anyway, one of the things I have been doing is changing my website a bit; so please look around.

Other bits of housekeeping: I am doing a Goodreads giveaway of my award winning book “In Pursuit of Joy”. Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/155333-in-pursuit-of-joy Work continues on the next instalment in the Redemption series; “Rebecca’s Destiny”. Also, I’m expecting the revised edition of “The Mindful Lifestyle” to be out in a couple of weeks—exact date not set.

This morning I realized that my schedule for the next four days includes three funerals and a wedding. While there was a funny movie with a similar name a while back, I am not expecting there to be much opportunity for farce. In fact in the last two years I have been to a disturbing number of funerals. I suppose it has something to do with my age, and the fact that I have a rather large family. I have been trying to think of something profound to say about the upcoming weekend. All I can think of is that I need a break.

Well, enough about me. I want to talk about the Pope. I’m not catholic nor am I likely to convert. However, I do like Pope Francis—and I’ll tell you why.

I have noticed that many previous popes seemed to be much too concerned about the power of their office and protecting outdated dogma and not concerned enough about changing the world for the better. However, Francis addressed a joint session of Congress this morning and used the “bully pulpit” of his office to tell our legislators to stop this petty partisan bickering and work toward the common good. In my opinion this is the best and proper use of his office.

I also like that he is humble and sociable. I know that people responsible for his safety are not pleased about his tendency to be with “the people”. But, isn’t that what he is supposed to do? Isn’t he role-modeling how to express God’s love in the world? I suspect that his stand on security is that he will be doing the best job as he sees it until God decides he is done, whether he is killed by an assassin or dies of natural causes. And really, isn’t that the attitude he should have? In a larger sense, isn’t that the attitude we all should have?

So, for me, this weird week, with its abundant reminders of mortality and this historic message from this remarkable Pope reinforces my belief that we have reached the time in history when each of us must look inside and examine our lives. Are we doing what the universe wants us to do? Are we honest with others and ourselves about our motives? Are we working toward the common good? I believe that these are the kinds of questions we all MUST answer for ourselves.

 

Author News

I have several bits of news.

I will get the unpleasant news out of the way first. I have had to take “The Mindful Lifestyle” off the market for a while. Apparently the term “transcendental meditation” is trademarked by the Maharishi Foundation. At least that’s what their lawyers say. So I have had to remove all reference to it from my book. Revisions are currently at the publisher and I expect the revised edition to be out soon.

The good news is that “In Pursuit of Joy” has won the Reader’s Favorite Bronze Medal in the category of Non-fiction—Inspirational. I will be receiving my medal at the awards ceremony in Miami the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Since that is the week of the Miami Book Fair I will be visiting there also. By the way, there were over 450 entries in this category so I’m feeling pretty good about third place.

I have always thought “In Pursuit of Joy” was a pretty good book, but it is nice to get some objective validation. I encourage you to check out the reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22979094-in-pursuit-of-joy

http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Joy-Gary-Green/dp/1631354213/

My final bit of news concerns my new fantasy “Rebecca’s Initiation”. Last weekend I ran a free Kindle download promotion. People download 89 copies. At one point it was #7 in one category and #23 in another category on the “Top 100 Free Amazon Best Sellers” list. I am hoping for more reviews out of this. Reviews so far are good. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W2UZ0V0

 

 

 

In Pursuit of Joy now an award winner!!!

Hurray!!! I just found out that “In Pursuit of Joy” has won the Bronze Medal in the prestigious Readers Favorite book awards!

In my category there were over 400 entries and I got 3rd place!

Here is the link to its’ Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Joy-Gary-Green/dp/1631354213/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1441564392&sr=8-2&keywords=In+Pursuit+of+Joy

Also, I would like to remind everyone that my new fantasy, “Rebecca’s Initiation” is FREE to download on Amazon through Monday. It has gotten positive reviews so far.

Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Rebeccas-Initiation-Redemption-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00W2UZ0V0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1441564756&sr=8-2

Also, I wanted to thank you all for your support.

 

News and Violence

I have been working hard all week on my website. This is my first post on the new and improved model. Please feel free to look around. You will find sample chapters from each of my books and if you sign up for my news letter you can download a free PDF of Rebecca’s Initiation. People seem to like it and you can’t beat free.

Also, I am doing another giveaway on Goodreads. So, you can enter to win a signed copy or you can sign up and download a free PDF.

There has been a lot on my mind this week so I thought I would just get it out.

It came to my attention that the cover of “Rebecca’s Initiation” has been featured on a website called something like “Terrible Book Covers”. Apparently there is a group of people who have nothing better to do than post mean comments about book covers. I actually thought it was kind of funny. At least they are talking about it. One of the people commented that it looked like “dino-porn”. Dino-porn? Really? Someone else responded that the guy that did it probably had never heard of dino-porn. That guy is correct.

I’m going to miss John Stewart. His replacement is going to have big shoes to fill, but I wish him well.

There has been a rash of violence in the past month. It has become common place. Everybody wants to carry a gun. Because of the shooting in Chattanooga recruiting offices are going to have armed guards. Violence begets violence. While I agree that a society must protect itself, I think that violence fails in the long run.

I think that the only solution, the final solution, rests with the individual. As for me, I find that it is helpful to expand my view to see my self not as a white man, not as an American, but as a human being. Like all human beings, I am happiest when I feel connected to my group of close friends, when I have work I love and when I am fully present in each moment.

When I look at things the way they really are I know that I owe my very existence and everything in it to others. I feel gratitude for that and that opens me up to the possibilities that each moment presents.

I also know that I am not perfect and sometimes my actions have hurt others. I strive to learn from that and not repeat those actions. I also know that I must forgive those who have harmed me–be it intentionally or not. If I am worthy of forgiveness then so are they. Also, carrying a grudge generally hurts me more than it does anyone else. It is about the past. I am trying to live in the present.

I don’t claim to be perfect. That is the work of a lifetime–perhaps many lifetimes. But I am working on it. Perhaps if each of us worked on ourselves the world would change and violence would be a thing of the past.

More Free Books

I am running 2 giveaways on Goodreads. The first one is my YA fantasy “Rebecca’s Initiation”. People seem to like it so far. Here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/144506-rebecca-s-initiation

The second giveaway is my first book “In Pursuit of Joy”. It was rated 4.3 stars on Goodreads. Here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/144841-in-pursuit-of-joy

There are 5 copies of each available. Enter early and enter often.

Book Giveaways

I just finished two Goodreads book giveaways. I like doing them. As an author I can decide in which countries the giveaway is available. Since we live in a global society I have opened it up to the bulk of the English speaking world and also China. So far I have sent books to the US, Canada, Great Britain and India. Hopefully the winners will spread the word.

Goodreads has a policy that you can’t run a giveaway for books that have been out more than six months. Since “In Pursuit of Joy” has been out longer than that I have been enclosing a copy of it with the copies of “The Mindful Lifestyle”  people have won. I’ll just have to see how that works out.

I am currently running another giveaway of “Rebecca’s Initiation”. So far it has been well received. Here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/144506-rebecca-s-initiation