3 Things We can Learn from the Government Shutdown

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Lessons We can Learn from the Government Shutdown

1.) Don’t be indebted to others

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,”

Okay, so Polonius was kind of a jackass, but he has a point here. Politicians have become so tied to their interests, whether corporate or their direct constituents (the people who voted for them in their district), that they fail to make good decisions for the most americans in favor of their sliver of the pie.

Don’t be a slave to your contributors. A donation is not a company investment, it is a sacrifice made on good faith that decisions will be made for the common good.

2.) What is the common good?

Ideology is important. It’s inspired revolutions of many kinds. It’s also promoted genocides.

In the popular meaning, the common good describes a specific “good” that is shared and beneficial for all (or most) members of a given community.

Somewhere along the way, both parties have lost track of what this actually means. We pass reforms for small niche groups that infuriate entire swaths of regions and people.

Now, there are many cases where this is important. The common good shouldn’t become code for “oppress minority opinions”. However, discussion of hard issues has dissipated in favor of bombastic press releases, name-calling and finger-pointing. The common good is a tension to be managed between the needs of the many and the needs of the few.

How do we meet this middle?

3.) Compromise isn’t a dirty word.

Somebody took out a stick and made a line in the sand. Battle lines have been drawn. And whoever crosses into “enemy territory” gets eviscerated by their fellow party allies and the press for being a flip-flopper or a vacillator. These “flip-floppers” are trying to be pragmatic and fulfill their oath to get the best for the most. They’re trying to compromise.

That is a dirty word now in politics. People want their opinions etched in stone like the 10 commandments. And that is not how good decisions are made. Compromise does mean that nobody gets everything they want, BUT it does mean that more people get some of what they want.

This was the problem with the affordable healthcare act in the first place: a democratic majority railroaded the legislation into being, and the other side got angry. Now we are in the mess we have: both sides won’t budge and both are just powerful enough not to compromise us all into gridlock.

Compromise is important to decision making.

When the Pendulum Swings

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Prepare yourself for a really random rant… sorry for the stream of consciousness.

The problem with getting our way is that our way usually means that someone else isn’t getting theirs. Life is constantly seeking equilibrium, and, like a pendulum, swings back and forth until it can resolve the tension of its energy.

We think we have control over life’s events when we are pushing our agenda, pushing that pendulum toward our goal. It’s not until the force becomes too great, the weight of our agenda so crushing, that we realize that the pendulum will come back around.

Life is seeking balance, chaotically swinging back and forth until it can meet its middle. When we push our agendas, we are generating even more force and energy into a system that is desperately seeking a moderate stillness. And the pendulum doesn’t care who gets hurt on its way back around. We push it to its very apex and then become surprised when it comes back around to someone else’s agenda, when we should be trying our best to find a middle ground.

The 2014 Bucket List

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By the time 2014 kicks the bucket, I’d like to have done some stuff. And a lot of stuff. So I’d rather not wait for January 1 to roll around before I start pontificating my agenda on the new year and start unpacking it now. It should be a year for AWESOME.

Lots of Conversations

I would like to make a habit of getting into conversations with people about what I see is their passion center. (It’s kinda like the juicy center of a starburst. More on that later. Actually no. I probably won’t talk about starbursts anymore.)

If you’re on this list, I’m sorry that I’ll be tracking you down and trying to get at the core of your spirit for whatever it is that you’ve been called to do. (okay, you got me… totally not sorry.)

– Doug Robins and urban leadership.

– Joe Cavazos and graphic design.

– Mark Richard and Andre Jennings about the creative process.

– My father, George, about theology. (and I mean father in the paternal way not the priestly way. He’s actually my dad)

– Rey Lopez about writing.

– David Saathoff about long term leadership.

– John Witte about story, the Bible and how we all connect with that.

– Jon Pyle and Sandrine about Community and making something infectious.

– Rick Lopez about art, design, sketching and how it all boils down in the pot.

– Carlos Maestas about Freelance work.

– Humbie Cervera about production.

– Scott Clinton about worship, musicianship.

I’ll probably uncover some awesome secrets, find out what motivates people, and maybe eat a starburst with someone (tried to go for the callback… it didn’t work.)

Learn a New Skill

Whatever I do next year, I better be learning something. Without learning, we atrophy. We get sluggish, stop testing ourselves and inevitably break down. I’ve pulled up some contenders for these new skills.

– 3D Modeling

It’s been a topic I’ve already found intriguing, and I’ve dabbled in its dark arts, but I think I’d like to dive in headfirst to figure this 3D modeling thing out.

– Comic artistry

I’ve been working at this recently (if you recall earlier posts with cartoony goodness), but I haven’t really taken the time to immerse myself in the comic book atmosphere. I think graphic novels (even webcomics) have a way of giving society another way to look at itself. Just look at the popularity of comics now (the Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, even the Walking Dead). I want to see if I have stories to tell in this medium.

Take on a New Challenge

I think I may have already filled in this category. I tend to do this too often. Maybe I should stick to a challenge instead.

Take onĀ Stick to a New Challenge

(there that’s better) I tend to find things that don’t work for me; roles that I could play that just don’t pan out. Right now, I think at work, I’m running about 3 roles (designer, creative and marketing) that fit because they have a certain amount of synergy to them. My 2014 Bucket List should have me sticking to these guns and robbing the train of success. (Okay, we’ll put that analogy into the trash bin and chalk it up to the excessive caffeine this morning)

If all goes well, 2014 should be a fantastic year. Now, I just have to unpack all of these things and figure out how to get at them. Of course, God will always come in and show me some new thing and take whatever planning I’ve done and use some and discard the rest (like these joke attempts no doubt).

If you’re not on this list, I wouldn’t worry too much. You can always bring me some starbursts (which I don’t think I really even like all that much) and we can talk. Some of the most powerful conversations of my life have been unplanned.

If you want to start a project together drop an email in my inbox, tweet @robfike, send smoke signals… however you want to do it. (I probably won’t see the smoke signals though. sorry.)

Millennials: the ME (now) generation

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The Millennials (the generation of people born since the early 1980’s to now) or Generation Y, has been oft labeled the ‘me’ generation [link] as many from this gen (my gen I suppose) is opined as shallow, self-serving and narcissistic. This would be a pretty hard tag to shake as we are the generation of facebook, twitter, instagram and myspace (oh dead, dead myspace).

We are the generation obsessed with ourselves and letting people know how unique those selves are by posting photos about our lives, our duck faces, our family and our food. Without shame, we boast of our double cheeseburger and fries from the local hamburger joint. Without shame, we squeal ‘selfie’ and pucker our lips so everyone can see how scrunched our face can get. We spout status updates about our political leanings as if they are the hard core of truth in the universe. Did I mention we made up new slang for pictures where we are the sole subject?

But it’s not just a problem that we are a ME generation: we are a ME [NOW] generation. All our planking, duck facing, and twerking is about here and now and capturing some brief moment of exhilaration. What if we looked at our facebook profile and twitter feed from the perspective of our unborn children: what kind of legacy are we leaving in our wake of youthful, narcissistic exuberance?

This generation, while shallow and self-interested, also has a taste for outrage. KONY2012, Trayvon Martin, Marriage Equality… we like getting upset about stuff, much of it not really pertaining to us, but upset and outraged nonetheless. We take to social media and voice our opinions (because we think they are so very important). And opinions are important… when action is followed by them. Ā Let’s think about problems that aren’t small, fractional problems. Let’s for a minute forget about that stuff, and look at something that is a BIG problem: human trafficking.

According to the UN Global Compact initiative to fight human trafficking (mouthful. let’s call it UN GIFT.) [link], in 2007 there were an estimated 2.5 million people in forced labor. 2.5 MILLION. 1.2 Million of those trafficked areĀ children. Where is our global outrage about this? Why isn’t this on CNN for 3-4 weeks in a row as a major talking point? It is sad that Trayvon Martin was killed and my prayers are with his family, butĀ 1.2 MILLIONĀ children are being forced into labor and sex slavery across the globe and we just pretend like it’s not happening? Is this problem just so large that we can’t handle it?

[other stats on trafficking – link]

The Millennial generation is the ME generation but we are also seen as a social action generation. Sometimes this outrage that we are feeling does focus into action. We raise money, awareness, and form organizations to combat these things.

My lesson isn’t ‘less talking’, it’s this:Ā MORE TALKING, MORE ACTION.Ā Lazy muscles atrophy. Words are easy and lazy, but the more those are focused into action, the more power those words become and the more action is generated from them. This generation is more connected than any other generation ever. Geography, age, education, and income don’t mean anything when it comes to the internet and social media; and being outraged into movement by something can happen faster and deeper than ever.

If you are looking for an immediate step because of your outrage check out Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) [link]. Our church does work with them in Moldova, and they are focused strongly on creating opportunities for children to stay safe and away from traffickers.

Also, International Justice Mission (IJM) [link] is another great organization trying to find justice for people globally.

Human trafficking isn’t the only problem in the world. Abject poverty is still a problem throughout the globe. Charity Water is another great organization doing good in the world to bring fresh, clean water wells to people. [link] Also, if you live locally in San Antonio, our church (ww.sacitychurch.com) partners with other organizations globally and locally to help others in need. Check out their social action facebook page for more information [link].

Our generation canĀ give money, give our time, give our hands and give our voices to causes that will be more than just temporary outrage and exuberance. We can be a source of permanent change on our terms for a legacy far greater than a handful of selfies.