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When Nothing is Definitive and All of History is Up for Grabs

Today, nothing is ever settled and that is a cultural shame

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It’s a sad commentary on our current state of affairs: the Left and the Right agree on next to nothing and, in many respects, have 180 degree opposing views. Nothing seems to be settled, every other issue is under contention, and the rift seems to be worsening each day. No consensus, no agreement, no closure…

I’m not sure when all of this started, but 1963 was certainly a pivotal year. This might have been before you were born, so I’ll take you back to November of that year. President John F. Kennedy was shot. The case was solved 30 years later in 1993 and presented in Case Closed, by Gerald Posner.

Case Closed, Hardly Anyone Knows

In the book Case Closed, Gerald Posner walks the reader through every conceivable detail of the case. He shows conclusively why, acting alone, it was Lee Harvey Oswald who fired the gun. He explains how the “magic bullet” took the angles it was supposed to. Noted historian William Manchester, after reading Posner’s book, said that he couldn’t imagine anyone having any further doubt about the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald, on his own, shot and killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

I read Case Closed cover-to-cover and concur. U.S. News & World Report concluded that Posner’s work was so thorough and so convincing that the magazine would never feature another “who shot JFK?” book review again. What’s more, modern day testing, using the latest technology, and presented on the Learning Channel, the History Channel, and PBS, has consistently supported everything that Posner concluded 21 years earlier. Yet, new mythology and conspiracy theories about who killed John F. Kennedy will be concocted and added to the glut of information you can’t use, information which serves no one.

Currently, the “who shot JFK?” industry currently earns multi-millions of dollars a year, constantly fed by more TV news “investigations,” authors, books, and tours.

Misinformation That Won’t Die

Do not regard the deception surrounding JFK’s death lightly. Society changed as nearly an entire generation suspected that a conspiracy, perhaps a government-led conspiracy, might have brought down the leader of the free world in broad daylight. Who knew what cynicism about the press, government, and truth itself ensued?

Finally, 30 years later, when Posner offered irrefutable evidence about the only single assassin responsible, hardly anyone knew, or worse, actually cared. Even now, a majority of the U.S. population still believed that President Kennedy’s assassination was the result of some type of conspiracy. The case has been long solved, but there is no sense of national closure.

The nature of your life been altered as a result of the cultural incompletion, misinformation, and unreality that has glutted society’s receptors. This situation is more than simply a mystery for the uninformed – it signals the start of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers unwittingly entering the era of incompletions, when nothing is ever settled.

How has that impacted our psyches? Aren’t we supposed to get to the root of such events, especially those that shook a generation, a nation, and the world? What unrecognized psychological scars has the incompletion of the JFK assassination stamped into the cerebrums of an otherwise free-thinking, optimistic generation? When major cases are never closed, everyone suffers, even if in small and undistinguishable ways.

Vital Inquiry to Media-Fueled Lies

Fast forward from 1963, to 15 years later in 1978 and to the death of Elvis Presley in Memphis. Unquestionably, he died as a result of a self-induced pharmaceutical drug overdose, which resulted in heart failure. The coroners’ reports reveal this as do reputable follow-up inquiries and analysis. Still, many people from that era, and many thereafter, think Elvis died as a result of a conspiracy.

Some people believe that Elvis didn’t die, that he’s alive and well (he’d be 86 today) and showing up in random locations captured by the ever-present photographers of the Enquirer, Globe, or Star.

Regardless of what you think about Elvis, his death, even amidst the jokes, and everything that’s been made about it since then, the pervasive message is that no case is ever really solved. Everything lingers on and on and on.

The turmoil in the 2000 presidential election, centered on Florida, with its endless motions filed, court appeals, and legal procedures, has spawned debates, arguments, and accusations that exist to this day and no doubt will linger on for years. No conclusions, no consensus, no closure. Just additional coverage. The 2016 election has Democrats still complaining. The 2020 election might never be “settled.” The media wins, the pundits win, one candidate or another wins, but everyone else loses.

History as Turf Wars

The turf wars fought in our age of incompletions, especially in the political arena, now retroactively extend to anything that has ever happened, whether you’re assessing U.S. history, the formation of our nation, world history, the origins of Islam, or the origins of Christianity.

At one time, it was widely held that dropping the atomic bomb on Japan hastened the end of WWII, saved a bare minimum of 60,000 U.S. troops who would have been needed to fight a ground war in Japan, and provided the world with the closure it so sorely needed after six years of global destruction.

Since then, the arguments about the U.S. being the over-aggressor, the only nation to ever drop an atomic bomb on another, and the inhumanity of it all, have risen to the forefront of many people’s consciousness. Some people drum up scraps of ‘evidence’ that the United States had no need to have dropped the bomb, as if the casualty rate of invading mainland Japan would have been minimal.

Some people say that Japan was near gone (yet even after one atom bomb was dropped, it still did not surrender!), U.S. intentions were racially motivated (although the bomb was originally designed to use on the now-surrendered Germans), the hawks had their way, and so forth.

What had been regarded by many people as closure to the most terrible event that the earth had ever encountered in which 44,500,000 perished, is now the subject of endless debate in some circles. Not that debate isn’t healthy, quite the contrary, especially for an action of such magnitude.

Every Inch Contested

When every inch of political terrain is contested everywhere around the clock, and when all public discourse is subject to interpretation, reinterpretation and revision, and essentially nothing is final, it begins to wear on humanity and notably trickles down to the level of the individual. You, an otherwise confident professional, have reached adulthood in an era and in a culture where incompletion more often than not, is the norm. Nothing is ever settled and that is a cultural shame.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Business

Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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Life

A World of Possibilities for Each Of Us

Let us be free to like what we like and not have others be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits

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I read a remarkable Letter to the Editor in a college newspaper, from a young black student. The point of his letter was so amazing and its insights so profound that it needs to be shared across the country for everyone, of all races.

This student wrote that, as a black male, it would inaccurate to make judgments about him without knowing him personally. He highlighted, for example, that while he likes some rap music, he much prefers traditional rock and roll, and even an occasional country song.

Is Your Bias Showing?

He wrote that if you think a black student should not like country music then your bias is showing. Why couldn’t a student, of any race or ethnicity, enjoy a particular type of music even if it’s not traditionally ascribed to his or her particular group? Who is in control here?

He likes historical novels, modern novels, biographies, and autobiographies. He was captivated by a biography about the Wright Brothers. He enjoys poetry and finds the poems from many writers to be relevant to him, from Maya Angelou to Carl Sandberg.

He suggests that there is a world of possibilities when it comes to entertainment, music, and literature. Why, he asks, must we be confined to the narrow band of choices that others, particularly within our own races and ethnicities, suggest that we adhere to? Who decides what is best for all members of a particular group? On what do they base their decisions?

Who Chooses?

Who determined that venturing outside of such restrictive limits is somehow being a traitor to one’s group? And what does it mean to even be a traitor when it comes to literature, history, music, and so on?

He pointed out in the most eloquent of terms that following the dictates of a small section of the populace and adhering to the stereotypes that prevail are extremely limiting to one’s personal freedom and an attack on one’s individuality and, potentially, creativity.

With so many experiences and possibilities that one can enjoy, he ponders, why limit yourself, especially at the age of 19, 20, or 21 to predefined, limiting confines?

No Free for All

I marveled at this young man’s wisdom which seems to transcend his years. I certainly was not as wise and perceptive myself at that age.

Over the next few days, I was eager to see if there would be any responses to his letter. Surely, he’s going to get some blowback. Someone of his own race will tell him that he needs to get “back in his lane.” Someone will tell him he’s “not acting black,” or not black enough. Somebody else will say that he’s been brainwashed, probably from an early age and he’s trying to capitulate to the predominant Caucasian culture. Someone might call him an “Uncle Tom.”

While I was monitoring the publication, actually nothing was said of his letter. I hoped maybe somebody else, or lots of somebody else’s, understood the man’s viewpoint. They could see the wisdom in his observations. I thought perhaps someone would comment in that direction, but that didn’t happen either.

Free to Choose

In the larger sense, it’s a shame that blacks and other minorities, as well as Caucasians, are supposed to act this way or that way. Hispanics are supposed to prefer this versus that. Asians are supposed to do this versus that. Why, exactly, do these illegitimate confines continue to rule the perceptions of vast numbers of our population?

Why can’t we be free to like what we like, to prefer what we prefer, and have others not be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits?

I have no knowledge of this young man and how he has fared in his studies and overall life. I surmise that whatever he’s doing, whether it’s continuing in his education, landing a job, entering the military, volunteering, traveling, or simply taking time off, he will continue to pursue his interests and remain unique.

Bound for Success

Hopefully, he’ll continue to sidestep unwarranted, prevailing norms that dictate what he can like, think, and be. May we all strive to have such personal freedom.

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