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Nolan

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    Thoughts and Musings

    Rusted Compass Thoughts and Musings

    Unite Locally and Abandon National Factions

    Chances are you’ve seen or heard calls for the need to unite America again. With the political and faction divisions at the national level, there is an increase in violent and divisive events happening in the United States. However, the assumption the solution must come at the national level is misguided. Yes, the goal is to stop the wedge that’s driving through our country but the means to achieve that requires focusing at the local level.

    The problem isn’t that Americans disagree on politics. Political disagreements have been happening throughout our entire history. So what’s different now? If you look behind the surface of these divisions, it’s a struggle for power. The political power at the national level has increased to such exponential levels that every Presidential election is more like that of a King. Rarely is the emphasis on Congress anymore, and most people know very little about their Senators and Representatives.

    This division we’re witnessing is actually a proxy civil battle of Americans standing behind their factions and against each other because it gives them a sense of strength and comfort. Human beings have a tendency to faction up when the motivation is fear. The fear is that the opposing faction will gain control of that seat of power if they don’t fight to grab a hold of it first. Whoever gains the power seat then proceeds to stomp on and plunder their opposition with no respect for individual rights, liberties, and shared citizenship. It has become a battle under the collectivism that our media is now promoting. In the void of individualism, collectivism guides people to a mob-rule style of Democracy. What nobody seems to see is that both factions and political spectrums are wrong whenever they both seek to gain at the expense of all American citizens that are “outside” of their faction. It’s not about creating opportunity and liberty for individuals, as was the foundation of this Nation. Instead it has become about giving favors to certain groups and demographics that support their political endeavors. The group that holds the power seat also grants special privileges, special funding opportunities, and special interest group favoritism. Through the increase in collectivism, the citizenship form into collective groups that struggle for this zero-sum power at the national level. The answer isn’t to unite America again at the national level. We need to stop feeding this poison by shifting our focus away from national politics completely to focus our efforts instead on local needs and personal charity.

    The tragedy is that Americans show more loyalty to their national factions of power than their own neighbors! People could very well find a way to unite, get along with each other, and show respect for one another locally because we all have a shared vested interest in the places we call home. Unfortunately national factions and politics blind most people from the mutual interests they have with their own neighbors. Instead of working together face-to-face, they stand under their national banners and call each other enemies.

    Stop letting the politicians play on your fears. Stop believing that supporting political parties is the answer to improving our great nation – it’s not. Abandon collectivism and see that we are all unique at the individual level. If the people of the United States are going to find unity again, it’s going to be the work of everyday ordinary citizens working together to find mutual interests with their own neighbors and fellow citizens in their local communities. Empowering each other at the personal and individual level. It will be the efforts of people willing to leave the national politics behind and to make that sacrifice for the good of their own Cities and States. The top-down federal power struggle for control has become the problem. We don’t need more top-down power, we need decentralized bottom-up power arising from individualism and localism. This is the only way we’ll rebuild general trust and respect toward our fellow citizens in America again.

    The Folkway Chasm

    Throughout all of history, mankind has encountered pivotal epochs which have defined generations not simply by the breakdown of age groups, but instead by the drastic events and changes that shifted the overall culture of a society. In today’s world we understand our generations as X,Y, and Z – a.k.a. “Millennials.” Unfortunately this simple method of dividing generations, by ranges of birth years, doesn’t give us a very in-depth understanding of the fundamental changes and differences that we witness from generation to generation.CONTINUE READING

    Etiquette – It’s Personal

    We’ve all encountered uncomfortable moments and been in places where we don’t quite know the social expectations of us and acceptable behavior. There are old formal traditions of manners and unspoken rules floating around in society as well as new more casual views on etiquette. This diverse mix of generational viewpoints and upbringings only manages to blur the lines of these social rules and adds confusion. The problem isn’t so much that we don’t all know the “rules,” it’s that we’ve forgotten the core meaning, purpose, and value of etiquette. As a society we see it as just a behavioral expectation being placed on us, but we have forgotten the purpose it ultimately serves.CONTINUE READING

    The Two Frames of Perception

    In previous articles I have described and explained why community begins first with the individual. When individuals are empowered it will enable them to get involved and contribute through voluntary action as well as find a personal sense of belonging. Empowering individuals doesn’t favor a faction, bias, or collective interest of one group over another. It doesn’t group people and pick one side over the other. It benefits the greatest number of people in a society because we are all individuals. If we are to repair the divisions in our nation it must begin with heralding the individual above factions and extending basic respect toward one another. This can only happen at the individual level, and it begins with personal choice.

    I would like to invite you to perceive society through two very different frames:

    1. The Collectivist Frame.

    2. The Individualist Frame.

    CONTINUE READING

    The Role of the Iconoclast

    “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

    We exist in a world of constant influence. Whatever we set our minds on, that idea slowly becomes our reality. You can read a book that’s so fascinating and intriguing to you that even when we put the book down it continues to resonate in your mind and shape your worldview throughout the day. Because you set your mind on it for a long period of time, it becomes the forefront of your reality. This happens when we individually choose to focus on something, but it also happens socially. People think, act, and conform to the hegemonic cultures and views. Ideas come to us through our daily interactions in the world primarily from other people.

    The most effective influences on us are through our social connections. Not just any social connections, but the ones we’ve allowed to become a part of our lives. The social spheres that influences us the most are the ones we already have accepted and find belonging in. The social connections that are most entrusted by us have the greatest ability to open up our perspectives and worldviews. We naturally guard against those with opposing views or from social influences that we don’t relate to. Suffice it to say that our closest friends and relationships can change our worldview much more effectively than not-so-close acquaintances and complete strangers trying to change our worldview. Keep in mind that if you try to persuade others to see the world from your perspective, if you aren’t taking the time to first build their trust and respect you’re probably wasting your time. People will always default to the views they’ve already developed over time and put up a guard against unfamiliar and effortful consideration of new ones. CONTINUE READING

    The Importance of Community Resilience

    Community resilience isn’t something that happens by chance. It’s dependent upon the attitudes and respect that people in a community have for one another. We all have a vested interest in contributing to cultivating our own communities to make them more resilient.

    Few areas in the world are completely immune from various potential disasters and conflicts – natural disasters, financial disasters, civil unrest, energy and power grid failures, etc. What would your community look like if it faced one of these disasters today? Would people band together and help each other generously, or would it quickly become everyone for themselves? Would people trust and respect their neighbors enough to form support for one another, or would their immediate survival reaction lead them to an attitude of strife and competition? Ask yourself these questions and determine what you can do to contribute in building trust and respect in your own sphere of influence.

    You’re never going to find a utopia community where everyone holds hands and sings “kumbaya” together, but you will find that the attitudes and dependencies of communities will definitely vary in various regions. Some micro-communities within just a small city block or neighborhood may be very tight-knit and close, even if the overall broader city is less inclined to charity. What type of community or neighborhood to you want to be a part of? Don’t settle for living somewhere where you don’t feel a sense of belonging and basic respect among those around you.CONTINUE READING

    You Define and Create Your Community

    Communities aren’t built from the top down, they’re built from the bottom up. It begins with the individual. Attitudes toward your own community derive from knowing this. It’s the acknowledgement that you can do something positive in your own life and influence others rather than focusing on the hopeless and disheartening conditioning of mainstream media and news. It pulls you in to focus on everything around you that you can change, rather than the plethora of information overload flooding you with things that you can’t change.

    Here is the ladder to reaching community improvement:

    CONTINUE READING

    Importance of the Individual in a Community

    In every community, there is a common factor that brings many different groups or individuals together, whether it’s as simple as living in a common geographic area or having a common vested interest.

    Though the focus is often on the community itself, we can’t undermine the importance of the individual in a community. The greatest communities are propelled by the voluntary actions and initiatives of individuals. Some people are natural leaders. Others want to contribute specific talents and gifts to become an important piece of contributing to a common goal.CONTINUE READING

    What are you thankful for?

    We all have goals and ambitions that keep us growing, improving, and moving forward in life. As soon as we attain one of these goals, however, there’s always a new one to take its place. Whether it’s a goal of self-development, career, health, lifestyle, or learning, the irony of our goals is that they seem so grandiose and idealistically amazing when we’re pursuing them but that estranged desire slowly seems to fade after the dream becomes reality. It doesn’t take long before we turn our attention away from what we’ve attained and focus on to the next thing. CONTINUE READING

    Community Learning Opportunities

     

    Learning isn’t by any means restricted to institutions. Well into adulthood we’re constantly discovering new avenues of learning, and many times we’ll choose to take different paths and explore new fields that were once unfamiliar to us. It may be suddenly sparked by intrigue and inspiration, or perhaps we’re looking for increasing our utility by learning a new skill or trade.

    Information is so accessible in our modern world that we can easily research new toopics online. We can visit the library for a book to read or even take college classes. However, I’ve found that my favorite type of learning is that which is designed through interacting with others. I enjoy working with people who have personal experience and wisdom in a particular area. It’s much more valuable and fun to attend a workshop or hands-on dynamic learning course than to read static information. Not only can you soak up the information, but you can have it delivered to you in a more personable way. If you have questions someone with wisdom and experience is right there to answer your questions. Most important of all you can learn hands-on and get your feet wet.CONTINUE READING

    A Resurgence of Family Legacy

    I often find it strange that family legacy doesn’t play as much of a role in our society as it once did. In many cultures it has been extremely important for people to have pride in their family name and to carry on a legacy. For families with a tarnished history it can be an opportunity to break the cycle and start a new family that diverges from the less desirable aspects of past generations. Family trees can help to document the history of how the youngest family came to be. The Mormon community, for example, places much importance in the concept of genealogy and learning about one’s family history. They even offer free services that will assist you in tracing your own lineage.

    During medieval times many families had their own family crest, which was often a shield with symbols to define what made their family name significant. Family names were so integrated into the importance of the identity of a person that they were inseparable. There is something to be admired about the importance of family and knowing where you come from.CONTINUE READING

    Our Society is Seeking New Identity

    What constructs your identity? Your occupation? Your interests and opinions? Your experiences?

    As human beings, we’re very complex when it comes to identity. There is no single aspect of our identity that’s exclusive. It’s what makes all of us unique individuals. It’s the pieces of the grand puzzle that make us who we are. We want to be loved and respected for who we are and each of these aspects are only small parts of the complete picture.

    Many people go through stages of an identity crisis. Consider highschool kids that change their hair color, clothing, piercings etc. They are attaching an identity to themselves because external appearance gives others a picture of how they want to be seen according to how they identify themselves. A 45 year old man may go through what’s known as the “mid-life crisis” as he tries to grasp that younger identity and nostalgia by buying a motorcycle or classic car. Everyone does seemingly strange things on the outside which are just a reflection of that person trying to find self identity on the inside. We attach “things” to our identity, but does that really make us who we are? If we shed those things that we choose to attach to ourselves, are we no longer us? (I can hear a few quotes from the movie Fight Club right about now.)CONTINUE READING

    Moving to a new city with an adventurous spirit.

    Moving to a new city can be a difficult yet adventuresome experience. It can be easy to become overwhelmed and disoriented; however, you’ll find that your attitude toward your transplant to a new city will be your most important asset.

    It can be a culture shock to move from what was once familiar to a completely new environment. Whether it’s from a small town to a big city or vise versa, no two cities are alike and each have their benefits and disadvantages. Large cities are bustling and vibrant with many career and education opportunities as well as offering city life and amenities. You can blend into the crowd and go incognito if you’d like. You can find your own cliques and micro-communities based on your interests. Big cities have a greater variety of social groups that you can seek out and eventually become a part of. On the other hand, smaller cities don’t have all of the amenities and opportunities but offer a closer-knit identity and community. They’re quieter with less traffic and often are surrounded by more wilderness to explore. They don’t have the fast-paced competitive city spirit, but you can enjoy quiet simplicity that big cities don’t provide.CONTINUE READING

    National Media: The only winning move is not to play.

    Most of the Rusted Compass posts up until this point have been playful for the most part. In this post, it’s time to get a bit more serious to address some of the unrest that I’m witnessing in my own Country, and it’s beginning to weigh on my heart.

    Back in the 80’s, there was a movie called Wargames in which a discovered military computer program appears to threaten the imminence nuclear WWIII with Russia. However, at the end of the movie we find out that it’s all just a game being run by the computer. None of it was real, and at the climactic moment at the end of the game all is revealed by the computer which communicates, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” The ironic ending leaves the characters stunned and breathing a sigh of relief. They had been striving and fighting tooth and nail trying to prevent nuclear war, only to find out that there was no way to win because it was just a game, and there was no winning move.

    Though just a work of fiction, this theme holds a great amount of wisdom in our contemporary society as we see the news media covering social movements and unrest more everyday. Our human nature responds to these news stories and demands that in order to win something we must fight! It tells us that in order to oppose an injustice, we must fight that injustice directly. There is a sense of noble heroism that we all feel when we directly push back against the threat in protest and petition. What is unfortunate is that this aspect of human nature often blinds us from seeing the more-effective alternatives.CONTINUE READING

    From Consumption to Community

    “We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.” – Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers

    In the 1920’s, through the help of PR campaigns and advertising, America shifted in a new direction called consumptionism. Ads started to promote products less on the basis of what people need, and aimed more toward what people desired. Ads began to use emotions and desires to evoke an attachment to products rather than their functionality for everyday life.CONTINUE READING