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New Existentialists

Thanksgiving Is a Verb

12/06/2013
Thanksgiving Is a Verb
Jesus of Nazareth told the story of two men praying in the Temple. One man, a religious leader in the community, stood in a place where his presence and prayers were obvious to others. He was dressed in the finest robes, and he spoke loudly, “Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.” (Luke 18:11-12, The Message). Meanwhile, the other man, a government tax collector, went to a corner in the Temple where he would not draw attention to himself, and...

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Rethinking Complexity

Listen for a Change

12/05/2013
Listen for a Change
As I write this post, I am in Mexico City having just spent the day with a group of mid-career managers facilitating a program about how to have more productive conversations at work. I cannot say for sure what the participants got from today’s session, but I definitely walked away with some food for thought. The fact that today’s workshop, one I have facilitated dozens of times, affected me differently, might have had something to do with a recent interview I heard with Thich Nant Hanh on the NPR program Humankind. Nhat Hanh is a Zen monk and peace activist who spoke eloquently...

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New Existentialists

The Pathological Twisting of Bradley Manning: Part Two: Social Change as “Post-Adolescent Idealism”

12/05/2013
The Pathological Twisting of Bradley Manning: Part Two: Social Change as “Post-Adolescent Idealism”
Pathological diagnosis can be used by medical and psychological professionals as a neutralizing technique by transforming social discontent into personal doubt and imaginary demons. For the vulnerable subject involved it can function as a kind of mental pill that if swallowed can leave them impotent and unable to defend themselves or see reality clearly. In this excerpt, the psychological experts attempt to define Manning's actions as a maladjusted developmental phase. Q. What is post-adolescent idealism? A. So post-adolescent idealism, it's a normal state of adult development that...

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New Existentialists

The Pathological Twisting of Bradley Manning; Part One

12/04/2013
The Pathological Twisting of Bradley Manning; Part One
The sentencing of Bradley Manning in August 2013 ended for the moment a type of social theater where many interesting and at times disturbing realities were brought to center stage. In relation to the theme of psychological diagnosis, what was fascinating was how the legal debate surrounding Manning's reasoning for leaking the documents shifted from political to psychological discourses. Both the prosecutors and the defense, perhaps for different reasons, moved attention away from the question of the validity of his reason for releasing the documents he made available to the public to...

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Rethinking Complexity

Social Media, Shared Learning, and the Consciousness of Collaboration

12/03/2013
Social Media, Shared Learning, and the Consciousness of Collaboration
Recently, through a Saybrook University learning experiment entitled “Project X” participants were immersed in a learning experience designed through the lens of social media. The course was on Evolutionary Leadership for Sustainability and was facilitated by Kathia Laszlo, Ph.D. As a bit of a flanuer, I observed the class for research on its effectiveness and design, while becoming a member of the input as well.  From this overarching lens, the boundaries of this learning objective stretched into multiple directions such as technology and self-expression, collaboration...

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New Existentialists

Zap! Pow! Bam! Being!: Batkid, Cirque du Soleil, and the Soul of a City

12/03/2013
Zap! Pow! Bam! Being!: Batkid, Cirque du Soleil, and the Soul of a City
Within Existential conversations, there is a lot of talk about Being. And why not? Existentialism has been called the “Science of Being” and, as such, how “Being” is defined and understood tends to be the basic premise against which all our movement’s themes and concerns are evaluated. “Being” has been described as the ur-experience, the primal essence of the living organism, the inner force of potentia—potential—that leads the organism to “the most alive feeling of power” (May, 2004, p. 31) or the fullest expression of its...

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New Existentialists

A Remembrance of Tom Cloonan (1936-2013)

12/02/2013
A Remembrance of Tom Cloonan (1936-2013)
Sudden losses of ones we love can initiate the gut-wrenching reality we sometimes experience when confronting our finitude in mortality. Our existence is so fragile and susceptible to sudden termination and we know it. I have come to believe that everyone with whom I have a relationship, actually becomes part of me, and when they die, a piece of me dies with him or her. We recently lost Thomas F. Cloonan to cancer. For those who did not know Tom, he was a professor emeritus in psychology at Fordham University in New York and a student of Amedeo P. Giorgi, who was also my mentor. Additionally...

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New Existentialists

An Attitude of Gratitude

11/27/2013
An Attitude of Gratitude
I was raised in many ways to be British. When it comes to holidays, though, American holidays can be some of my favorite. Christmas I find nauseating and struggle every year with feelings of sadness and disgust, but Halloween is great fun, and Thanksgiving is increasingly a favorite. In many ways, it is too easy to point at the ways American culture is growing increasingly vapid, filling empty, despondent lives with increasingly meaningless soporifics like reality television, cable news, and Angry Birds. Thanksgiving, though, shows us that people are not as shallow as we deep thinkers over...

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Rethinking Complexity

Group Intelligence

11/26/2013
Group Intelligence
Why does the intelligence of a group matter? What is group intelligence? We spend most of our lives engaged with people in a myriad of activities. Our livelihoods depend on our interaction with others.  For most of us living in modern societies, our success and quality of life are completely dependent on the various groups we belong to including our families and workplaces. We all have been exposed to the concepts of IQ and EQ as measures of intellectual and emotional intelligence, respectively.  These are individual constructs that we possess and can cultivate in ourselves. But...

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New Existentialists

The Tallest Trees Have the Strongest Roots

11/26/2013
The Tallest Trees Have the Strongest Roots
I chose this quote by Nietzsche as the title of my blog because I was reminded of it during a recent trip I took through southern Xing Jiang in Northwest China earlier this month. My friends in Xing Jiang introduced me to the multi-leaved poplar tree (poplar diversifolia). My friends brought me to admire the transient beauty of the poplar when it turns various hues of yellow prior to losing its leaves. This changing of color happens during a two-week period every year. The yellows hues are brilliant and draw large crowds from afar to come and experience its beauty. Of course, this beauty is...

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