The Cycle of Change, Simplified

April 16th, 2013

Fear – Knowledge – Understanding – Acceptance – Normativity

New ideas are met with fear. People fear what they don’t understand. So, those with the new ideas keep talking, bringing knowledge about the idea to others. They educate people so that there can be understanding. Once there is understanding, people can begin to accept these new ideas. Once enough people accept an idea, it becomes the norm.

The trouble comes when fear closes eyes and ears. When it stills tongues. When fear kills a new idea before it can even be explored. Fear can be strong, so strong, that new ideas are met with violence. Over and again in human history, ideas beget fear, and fear begets violence. When there is fear and violence, there is no learning, there is no science, and there is no progress.

And sometimes we move backwards, and we have to start the cycle all over again. Homosexuality is nothing new, it has been part of human culture since the ancients. But somewhere along the line we moved backwards, and acceptance of homosexuality became a new idea again. And it is met with fear, and sometimes violence. Today, the knowledge is overwhelming the fear more often, and understanding is growing again. But we are still too far from acceptance, and much too far from normativity.

I mentioned to gay marriage to my mother, a retired pastor, this week. Her response to me was to mention that a different denomination approved of it. Her answer to my disappointment in the Church I grew up in, was to change denominations.

The idea of multiple loves, and marriages, is nothing new. Around the world today, various cultures approve or disapprove of it for various, mostly religious-based reasons. People interpret their holy texts in the way they see fit, and base their values around it. And that’s fine, the trouble comes when they try to make others live by their chosen values. This is a nation based on freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom of expression. But we make laws about who can love who, who can marry who and how many. Why is that even part of the legal system?

Health benefits, death benefits, power of attorney. You can have a wife and three kids on your family insurance, why not two wives, if you pay for it the same? Child custody is just as complicated with marriage, divorce and remarriage and divorce as it would be in multiple parent households. We were founded by people fleeing religious persecution, only, centuries later, to be basing our laws on Judeo-Christian religious values.

I went to church this past weekend and the lesson was the parable of the Good Samaritan. The lesson was to love, not just those that believed as you did, but to love everyone. The world gets more crowded every year, we have got to stop pretending that we are right and everyone else is wrong. There will never be peace while there is fear, hatred, and intolerance. Fear breeds violence, and violence brings change to a screaming halt.

Share

Lessons in Negotiation

December 30th, 2010

These last few weeks have provided many lessons in Negotiation. First as an observer and then as an active participant. I watched several new people learn their first lessons in trying to fence with him, and in trying to assist one of them, became part of the scene. Bear with me and I’ll tell you all about what I ended up agreeing to do. So, what have I learned?

No wishing for more wishes. This seems simple enough, most of us remember Robin Williams’ genie quoting this to Aladdin. But in the heat of the moment, when you don’t have any better ideas. A blank check, while dangerous, seems simple enough. You must, however, remember to stipulate, that it cannot be cashed in for more blank checks, otherwise, a single scene at his whim becomes many more.

Don’t forget your limits. Not that you might forget your limits such as they are, but always remember to include them in a negotiation. Whether it is telling a new partner what your limits are, or stipulating that the above blank check(s) cannot violate them. It is all well and good to push your limits when you want to, but make sure you want to.

Be specific. At all points of the negotiation, be clear and precise. What are you offering, what are you getting, what are the terms and the rules and the boundaries. “Test me!” might be a fun thing for an excited student to shout, but it behooves one to specify what they want to be tested on. “School girl outfit” can mean different things to different people. “Skirts” come in many different lengths and styles. “Tied together” sounds fun, but do you really want to leave the binding material up to his imagination? Stockings, hose, fishnets, knee-highs, socks all very important distinctions in how much leg is covered or uncovered.

Offer something of value. Different people value different things from different people. Some people value sex. Some people value service. Some people value suffering. Some value the passing of knowledge. Learn what it is that will be of value and find ways to offer it.

Be creative and then be even more creative. Don’t offer things you have already given or things he already has. Offer something new, offer something bigger, offer something more interesting. Start with new and interesting offers, and then push them one step further. And don’t be afraid to make them well rounded – paint the full picture, not just the center of it. Bootblacking is good, but bootblacking while naked and kneeling is better, and bootblacking while naked and kneeling followed by some boot worship is even more interesting.

Don’t let other people negotiate for you. Stay in control of your side of the negotiation. Keep your wits about you and keep your mouth moving. If you want to be happy with what is agreed to, stay actively engaged in the discussion. Stick up for yourself and stand your ground when you have to. You do not have to agree to everything they say, keep seeking compromises that work for both parties. Unless agreements to the contrary are already in place, you can always say no, and most times even then.

Be reasonable and trust the other people in the negotiation. If you have a real problem with something, explain it, trust that they care about you and will listen. (If you don’t trust them or they don’t care about you, well, that’s another entry entirely.) Then, negotiate to find a way to make it work for everyone. Try not to just say no, that is impossible. Look for solutions that benefit everyone. Most problems are only little bumps in the road.

Be flexible and open minded. Understand that everything is not going to go the way you want it to. Understand that your definitions may not be the same as his definitions. Accept that sometimes comfort zones are meant to be left behind, it is how you can grow. I am incredibly curious, sometimes I have to let the curiosity override the fear.

Relax and enjoy it. Negotiation is where you get to learn about the other person. You get to see how their mind works, what they like and don’t like, how they feel, what their state is. You get to know them, and get to share yourself with them. You are not going to get it all right, but you’re not going to get it all wrong,either. But if you’re both/all happy when it is over, then everyone wins. Keep talking until you’re happy.

So, I promised to let you know what I got myself into. A new friend was starting a negotiation with him, and I was offering some advice. When he was presented with that fact, he suggested that since I was trying to help out, perhaps I should join the negotiation. Her fate and mine became intertwined. We spent most of the rest of the night negotiating. When it was all said and done, we had quite the scene lined up:

Three of us, dressed as school girls (clothing was one of the largest parts of the negotiation) – Japanese, American and British, respectively (I hear there may be a chalkboard hung high up on the wall for sentence writing). We may not say no for the entire night (creativity will be flowing). The evening will start with bootblacking, and we will be available at any time for massage. At his leisure, he may put us in the dog cage (with a violet wand kit nearby), or bind us all together (quite possibly with saran wrap, followed by ice and then hot wax). And at some point during the evening, there will be a Japanese song and dance (whaddya mean I have to dance when I’m sober?) in front of an audience of undetermined size (our voluntary third musketeer is joyfully plotting choreography to the song chosen last night).

It shall be a Very interesting evening. I can hardly wait.

What are you thoughts on Negotiation? What traps have you fallen into?

Share