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A Soulful and Soul-Friendly Workplace

We all want to enhance our experience of work and enrich our work environments with greater meaning, purpose, joy, and deep human connection.

We want our work to be a place of inspiration, where we can find full creative outlets for our deepest values and highest vision, where we aim for what’s never been done, and call out to a bigger, freer self that is just beyond who we are now. If we package all this together, we might just say we want to bring our soul to work in a workplace that is soul-friendly.

Bali temple

If we’re going to use the word soul in a business context, we’d better define it. Otherwise, this single word — often thought of as abstract, esoteric and impractical — might create confusion, doubt and maybe even cynicism. There are many definitions of soul, some more precise than others, put forward by various religious, spiritual, and metaphysical belief systems. For me, the soul refers to the vital principle or animating force within all living beings.

The Case of Hillary's Emails

From March 18, 2016: Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova discusses the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal email server during her time as Secretary of State with C-SPAN Washington Journal host Peter Slen.

In my view, Mr. deGenova sheds light on the investigation without passion or prejudice, and what he has to say is hugely informative and illuminating. It is well worth 49 minutes of your time, if you have a sincere interest in the legal “facts of the case.” In this interview, there is a clip of Mrs. Clinton talking about the investigation during a recent presidential debate. I wish Mr. diGenova had been the one asking her questions.

Are We Going to Elect a Psychopath?

A quick look at some of today’s headlines referring to the U.S. presidential candidates’ debate and campaign trail performances include these words: racist, insane, crackpots, weirdos, bizarre, nonsensical, disaster, fear, hate, narcissist, fascist, Mussolini, psychopath, Hitler.

Psychopaths and Hitler vying for the White House? Seriously? Let’s hit the pause button and let this sink in, before we are swept away by the next news cycle — coming in a few minutes. Let’s have a deeper look at the real possibility that we might well elect a psychopath in 2016. Policy proposals and position statements, rehearsed talking points, bombast, bravado, soaring promises — these are not reliable indicators of the actual mental make-up of candidates.

At the moment, the only requirements for holding office are set forth in Article II, Section I of the U. S. Constitution. It specifies that, to be president or vice president, a person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years of age, and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. That’s it; nothing more. Except tons of cash.

With the entry requirements for candidacy being so low, what is to prevent a host of moneyed crazies from running for president, even being elected? Apparently, nothing at all. How are we to know if candidates for president are mentally sound and emotionally mature and stable?

How can we, the citizens who are charged with making wise and considered choices about who becomes president, evaluate whether a candidate is mentally sound or suffering from mental illness? We do not have that kind of access to candidates, who we finally empower to set our national priorities, influence public policy, command the military, raise or lower taxes, establish budgets, maintain or violate treaties, assemble a cabinet, and so much more. We can only witness manufactured, media-based performances that are scripted and rehearsed to produce an effect. We need to get behind the curtain of smoke and mirrors, behind the misdirection antics of press secretaries and publicists, to see who is really pulling the levers. We need a way to ascertain the mental health of presidential candidates before they are granted world-shaking powers.

Are we in danger of electing a psychopathic president?

In his 2005 collection of essays entitled A Man Without a Country, American novelist and wise elder Kurt Vonnegut offers some insight into how this can happen:

“To say somebody is a PP (psychopathic personality) is to make a perfectly respectable medical diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete’s foot. And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick. What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!”

Ah, yes: socialized psychopaths.

In Without Conscience, Dr. Robert D. Hare, one of the world’s foremost authorities in the area of psychopathy, says that such socialized psychopaths “appear to function reasonably well — as lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, academics, mercenaries, police officers, cult leaders, military personnel, businesspeople, writers, artists, entertainers and so forth — without breaking the law, or at least without being caught and convicted. These individuals are every bit as egocentric, callous, and manipulative as the average criminal psychopath; however, their intelligence, family background, social skills, and circumstances permit them to construct a façade of normalcy and to get what they want with relative impunity.”

Most alarming of all is the theme that runs through the case histories of all psychopaths: a deeply disturbing inability to care about the pain and suffering experienced by others — in short, a complete lack of empathy. If this inability to experience or care about others’ pain and suffering marries compulsive lying in the Church of No Conscience, presided over by impulsivity — well, good lord, that’s a train wreck for sure.

Should we be concerned that such a person would become president of the United States? A checklist of emotional and interpersonal traits of such people would include: a grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, lack of remorse or guilt, shallow emotions, lack of empathy, poor behavioral controls, lack of realistic long-term plans, impulsivity, and irresponsibility. Do we really want a president whose core behavioral patterns include lying, cheating, cruelty, irresponsibility, lack of remorse, poor relationships, exploitation, manipulation, destructiveness, irritability, and aggressiveness?

It is unconscionable to elect a president who lacks empathy and conscience, honesty and integrity, and mature impulse control. Shouldn’t these qualities represent the minimum standard of mental health for someone who is commander-in-chief of the largest military force in the world and who has virtually unlimited power to affect the lives of billions of people?

So, I propose that all candidates submit to a battery of psychological tests to be administered and interpreted by eminent psychologists — and the results made public. I’m surprised this hasn’t already occurred. After all, psychological tests, along with drug and polygraph tests and background investigations, are routinely required in the public safety sector, including police officers, correctional officers, dispatchers, security guards, park rangers, SWAT teams, fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians. Military psychologists conduct psychological testing and applicant assessment for general fitness-for-duty and for highly sensitive jobs requiring security clearances. (It’s interesting to note that the Department of Defense employs more psychologists than any other organization or company in the world.) Courts may sometimes order a battery of psych tests to determine parental fitness. Work-related aptitude, ability, and personality trait testing, a billion dollar industry, is common practice in Fortune 500 companies. In a document entitled “Nuclear Security—Before and After September 11,” the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission “requires background checks for nuclear facility employees to ensure that they are trustworthy.

I’d like to have an equivalent screening process for candidates for president. I’d like to know that they have a human heart that can feel the pain and suffering of others. I’d like to know they have a conscience to hold their base instincts in check. I’d like to know if they can tell the truth or whether they are compulsive liars. I’d like to know they can work cooperatively with others. I’d like to know that they are not seeking to conquer the world as compensation for lovelessness. I’d like to know that they respect living things, that they have a sense of the sacred. I’d like to know that their soul moves toward peace, not war; toward forgiveness, not vengeance; toward freedom, not oppression; toward tolerance, not hatred. I’d like to know these things. This is where I want to set the bar.

There are a number of valid and reliable tests used to evaluate and assess a person’s personality traits and psychological health. The Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) can provide a comprehensive assessment of adult psychopathology and can help assess major symptoms of social and personal maladjustment.

Personality tests and inventories evaluate the thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and behavioral traits that comprise personality. The results of these tests determine an individual’s personality strengths and weaknesses, and may identify certain disturbances in personality, or psychopathology. Tests such as the Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory MMPI-2) and the Millon clinical multiaxial Inventory III (MMPI-III), are used to screen individuals for specific psychopathologies or emotional problems.

In 1972, George McGovern initially selected Thomas Eagleton, a senator from Missouri, as his running mate. What McGovern didn’t know at the time was that Eagleton had been treated for depression with electroshock treatments. In the eyes of many Americans, that meant Eagleton was not fit to be president, and as a result of the public disclosure of these facts, McGovern asked Eagleton to resign.

My guess is that in the eyes of most Americans, a psychopath is not fit to be president.

A Zen lesson from my 4-year-old great-niece

A ZEN LESSON FROM MY 4-YEAR-OLD GREAT-NIECE

Two weeks ago, I saw my great-niece at the birthday party for my 91 year-old aunt. Ev said she was Lava Girl, and proceeded to throw massive energy bolts at me all afternoon! Yesterday, I made a little video to send to her (care of her “nanny” Gina, my sister). I asked how Lava Girl was doing. I got back a video from her, saying, “Uncle Robert, you’re so silly. I’m not Lava Girl. Today, I’m Rapunzel.”

Lava Girl  22758619739_2f78888a5c_k

How could I have been so STUPID as to think she’d be the same person two days in a row?! Thank you, Ev, for this timely spiritual teaching.

Also, at the risk of being sexist, note to men: women change. Often. Without notice. Try to keep up.

Amani Yahya: Yemen's first female rapper

I have created the Speaking Truthfully Award to recognize and honor people who exemplify and embody Speaking Truthfully principles and practices.

Award

Amani Yahya is Yemen’s first female rapper and she is raising awareness of the struggles of women in war. The 22-year-old singer, who has had to flee her troubled homeland, is determined to use her music to highlight women’s rights, child marriage and sexual harassment in the Arab world.

Amani Yahya

“Women in Yemen don’t show their talents because our society is so dominated by men, and they don’t support women … in music,” she says. “But my dad loves music and my parents always taught me to speak my mind.”

Read a wonderful article about Amani in The Guardian by Homa Khaleeli: “Amani Yahya, Yemen’s first female rapper: I will find a way, I will shine”

Not-for-Profit of the Month: SAFE WORLD FOR WOMEN

Once a month, I will profile a not-for-profit organization, whose purpose, work, and values I wholeheartedly support. February 2016:  Safe World for Women.

Safe-world-for-Women

Our online resource centre helps you to find organisations working with issues affecting women and children, throughout the world.

Joy-Orphanage

As the founder of Safe World for Women, I am committed to bringing together women and men who share our vision for a safer and more humane world.

We need to start by protecting the most vulnerable. Women and children still make up most of the world’s poor, most victims of war, most refugees and so it goes on. I truly believe that a Safe World for Women is a safe world for all.

In the summer of 2009, I visited women’s groups in the Middle East and rural Uganda, with my husband Andrew. I returned home feeling blessed that we live in a peaceful, lush part of the world and also inspired by the strength of human spirit when faced with unimaginable challenges.

My dim distant past varies from being head keeper at a wild-life park, book cover artist, columnist for a local journal, running a gardening business, studying biology, natural nutrition, homeopathy and Tibetan psycotherapy, coordinating workshops and retreats … to bringing up two children in the wilds of Ireland and Cornwall along ‘natural nurturing’ principles.

Chris Crowstaff, founder and truste

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MOTHER: Caring for 7 Billion

I have been helping a client develop the presentation he will soon deliver to a local college, on the general theme of climate change with a focus on what we, as individuals, can do to be more conscious in our use of energy. In my research on his behalf, I came across a film entitled Mother: Caring for 7 Billion. I watched it. And now I recommend that you do the same. I am posting a synopsis of the film taken from their website, which contains much more information about the film, as well as instructions on how you can buy the DVD or stream it from Vimeo and Amazon. This film re-ignites the essential conversation we need to have about population growth and its implications for societies throughout the world.

 

MOTHER: Caring for 7 Billion

This film breaks a 40-year taboo by bringing to light an issue that silently fuels our most pressing environmental, humanitarian and social crises — population growth. It is a critical time to talk about this subject because for the first time, in 2011 the world population reached 7 billion; a startling seven-fold increase since the first billion occurred 200 years ago.

Mother_poster

Population was once at the top of the international agenda, dominating the first Earth Day and the subject of best-selling books like The Population Bomb. Since the 1960s the world population has nearly doubled, adding more than 3 billion people. At the same time, talking about population has become politically incorrect because of the sensitivity of the issues surrounding the topic — religion, economics, family planning and gender inequality. Yet it is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.

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Good for You. Good for our Earth.

Gerald W. Bernstein offers us a pathway to healing our disconnect from Nature, a condition that may well be at the root of our disregard for our environment. As with many hot button issues facing our society today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and paralyzed by negativity, contradictory information, and the sheer scope of the issue. Jerry offers us a simple, practical, doable action that cuts right to the core of things: healing our disconnect from Nature. It is so sensible and dogma-free as to be un-common in its sanity. We cannot kill what we know and love, can we?

Good for You. Good for our Earth

 by Gerald W. Bernstein

We are in deep shit. In case you didn’t notice, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere exceeded 400 Parts per Million (PPM) for much of this past Spring. This wasn’t considered “newsworthy” except in some environmental postings even though it is the highest level yet recorded. Any level above 350 PPM starts gambling with atmospheric and glacial responses: 450 PPM is a level climatologists warn against due to almost certain adverse long-term impacts. And we continue to expand carbon accumulation in the atmosphere at a rate approaching 2 PPM per year.

Now that you know the facts, how do you feel? Frustrated, angry, fearful, overwhelmed, despair? This is the challenge for concerned individuals, because our desire to do something is overcome with despair and associated emotions. They are lousy motivators. Feel it — outward breath, shoulders hunched.

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"From Shock to Awe" — an interview with Janine Sagert, Ph.D.

Two dear friends — Janine Sagert and Nurit Oren— get together to speak about “From Shock to Awe,” a documentary film intended to raise the awareness of healing “post-traumatic stress disorder” victims with substances such as cannabis, ayahuasca and MDMA instead of the conventional drugs that make them docile and lifeless. Janine explains the healing effects of these substances and shares miraculous stories of veterans who have not only been restored but have become successful and inspiring individuals.

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Charity of the Month: RIGHT TO PLAY

Once a month, I will profile a not-for-profit organization, whose purpose, work, and values I wholeheartedly support. The first Charity of the Month is: Right to Play. Watch the video at the bottom of this page!

What is Right To ​Play?

​Right To Play is a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. It was founded in 20​00 by Johann Olav Koss, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and social entrepreneur. Through sports and games, we help children build essential life skills and better futures, while driving social change in their communities with lasting impact​.