Sunday, December 22, 2013

Majority Rule versus Minority Rights

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia commons
Isn't it part of our form of government that the majority not be able to oppress the minorities? Weren't the founders of our country interested in ensuring equals laws to protect the minority against the times when majority rule might become unreasonable? The LGBT community are a small portion of our society, but it makes sense to look at laws made to see if they follow the constitution. I am glad Judge Shelby addressed his civic duty here to rule according to law using his best ability.

I see many reasons to think the world will generally be a better place because it begins to help the nice folks in the LGBT community to feel more connected to all of society. I understand there are some concerns, some fears that this will unravel the societal fabrics, patterns and cultural quilts that have protected us and kept us warm as we've continued to develop our community here in Utah.

Photo Courtesy of Salt Lake County
Bar Association
Following in that thought, I think it important to consider also that while many of us have felt safe within the warm blanket of this master quilt created from the weaving of our deep cultural pioneer roots with that of the social wisdom developed from our world's greatest minds and societies including the ancient Greeks that helped form the opinions of our founding fathers. They studied, considered and thereby recognized the enormous opportunity they had with this idea we call the United States of America. Under the weight of that responsibility, they carefully crafted our constitution considering where to follow and where to differ from that of other competing civic constitutions in practice in parts of Europe and around the world.

They understood well the ideas of Majority Rule, and the power that could bring. They also understood the other side of Majority Rule, that of the oppression of the rights of the Minority.

President Thomas Jefferson proclaimed in his first inaugural address,
“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.” from http://billofrightsinstitute.org/resources/educator-resources/americapedia/americapedia-constitution/majority-rule-minority-rights

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons
From this consideration, I think it useful and even possibly our responsibility to consider those that are kept from enjoying the warmth and security of our quilt. I have an image of these folks who in many ways have been kept out in the cold for so long, as we enjoy each other's company, sociality and civic protection, while our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, nieces and nephews are kept from enjoying the warmth of the many fabrics and stitching that keep us together because of the preference of whom they choose to love. I consider it important to consider how we can extend our shared quilt of friendship, warmth and civic protection to our loved ones in the opportunity. 

I believe there is room to sew in the patterns and fabrics of camaraderie, brotherhood and what the ancient Greeks called Agape, or brotherly love those whom we have responsibility through the bonds of our shared human empathy and roots. 

If we can find ways of extending the laws which make up the patterns of our societal quilts, we can begin to reverse the ostracism felt by our loved ones as they are welcomed within its warmth and protections. Where there once was pain, pain sometimes felt so deeply as to contribute to ending their own lives, these steps can begin to stitch up those wounds, and bind them to our society and build a stronger, more united society from our diversity. 

I am Brent Fisher, and I support Marriage Equality.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The First Fisher Bank Grand Opening

We hired 3 Associate Apprentices today at the newly founded First Fisher Bank.  We presented them all with job offers, along with their associated job responsibilities and financial responsibilities.  Shea was so giddy.  As we began to explain that she would begin to make a lot more money, she at first thought that it must be a trap, and resisted terribly.
Finally I said, "I don't understand Shea, I thought you would have been so happy about this opportunity.  I'm having trouble understanding your reservation.  Can you help me understand?"
She replied, "It just doesn't seem possible dad, like it's some kind of joke or something.  It just doesn't seem possible that you would pay us $XX every week."  and then she giggled some more, like she'd won the lottery.  More on how we determined the size of their paycheck.

Yesterday, after reading and contemplating the entitlement trap for quite a while, as co-presidents of the Fisher Family Economy finally got up the courage to begin the implementation of the entitlement trap as outlined in the entitlement.  We created offer letters for each of the children, made a bank (the box you see in the picture), gave the kids some check registers to track their balance, and explained how the program works.  "Everyday, you take care of 4 things, deposit a slip, and every Sunday becomes payday.  Then, when you need to buy any clothing, toys, entertainment with friends, candy, sporting goods, etc. you take out your check register, write a check to the bank for the amount of the purchase, and Mom and Dad will buy it, subtracting the balance from your check register"

Responsibilities
The responsibilities went something like this:

Morning

get up on time
get ready for school
eats breakfast
get everything ready to go to school on time
bed made
room straightened

Homework

Finished Homework
Sheets signed
reading finished
spelling done
positive attitude
assigned computer work
Music Practiced
Long term Projects advanced
all stuff organized and signed in folders for tomorrow

Zone

(make sure nothing bad is happening there)
Checked, clean & tidy
Fully participate to clean up dinner

Bedtime

In bed on time
Showered
teeth brushed
School stuff laid out
backpack in place

Citizenship Bonus

(twice per week)
Call a friend
Cultivate relationships
plan an activity

Day One

Day one went pretty well.  All of the kids were very anxious to deposit their slips into the bank.  Logan approached me first tonight, asking me for a signature.
"Well, let's see." said I.  "I began running through the responsibilities.  "Music practiced?"

"Twenty minutes"

"Homework finished?"

"Completed."

I ran through a few more... "Let's take a look at this bedroom."  A sheepish grin eased into Logan's face.

"Ummm....  Maybe you could give me a moment Dad."

"Don't worry Logan.  I want you to succeed and have a good experience with this.  How about we take a look, I'll make some suggestions on what can be done, and you see if you don't agree that you like it better that way."

"I feel like I wish you weren't inspecting my room dad..."

"Well, if you will allow me to inspect, make suggestions on how to tidy it and organize it, then I can sign your paper with a 4.  Otherwise, I'd have a hard time signing a 4."

"You'll still sign me a 4?"

"Yes, if we can tidy it."

"Alright..."

We ended up learning how to find a place for everything, and everything in it's place, removing the clutter, and adding some of Logan's personality instead.  The room was pretty nice, honestly.  The bed was made, and only 5 or six things on the floor.  But after going through, Logan said to me with kind a surprised tone, "Hmmm.... I'm kinda surprised, but I actually like this a lot better.  Thanks Dad."

I grinned and beamed inside.  "Your Welcome.  I'm happy it worked out so well."  And I truly was!

I went through a similar experience with Hayden and Shea.  Both of them hesitant to have me inspect their work.  But when they found that I was there to help them learn to improve their ability to keep a straightened room, and that I was intent on giving them credit for a job well done, they lost their reservations and cleaned up nicely.

They absolutely beamed when I signed their cards with a 4, and a 4 plus bonus for Shea.  She called one of her friends for extra citizenship points.

You may have noticed that I'm hesitant to reveal the amount we determined to 'pay' them weekly for their new jobs.  But it was a lot more than the monthly allowance we had been giving them before.  As directed, we calculated everything we spent on our kids for clothing, toys, parties, entertainment (movies, parties) etc. per week and then took it at 2/3rds a weekly rate, because they may not choose to purchase underwear and socks, and some other necessities.  It was quite a bit.  Don't be surprised yourself if this number may seem unreasonable.  But when you consider the prices of winter shoes, jackets, coats, sweaters, gloves, etc, etc., it all adds up.
The idea is, that they will now buy these things with their own money, and begin to therefore take ownership, rather than feeling entitled to it.
So far, we haven't had a purchase moment, but I promise to make a followup report.

Please, if you have used this method, I would love to swap stories with you.  I haven't heard anything from any other friend of mine on their usage of this tool yet, and I'd love to swap stories from the trenches on it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mormon Fight Songs Sing-a-long

Friday night at 7:00 P.M., Mormon Expressions will be hosting Mormon Fight Songs for Dummies at the University of Utah Post Theater.  I volunteered to direct the sing-a-long portion at the invitation from Zilpha Larsen.
In the lead up to rehearsals, Zilpha mentioned that they would be singing 'The Cave' by Mumford and Sons.  I took a listen, and realized I had no idea of the meaning of the lyrics.  A few minutes research on Google and it soon pointed to Plato's Allegory of the Cave.  I'd never heard of that either.  So I read through the Wikipedia page on it, and then watch a sort of silly animation of it on You Tube.
Friday Greg held rehearsal at his home.  They were learning a new song titled 'The Cave' by The Mumford Sons.  Greg was on electric guitar, Hans on banjo and bass, Monolo on drums and Emily on keyboards.  As they were rehearsing, they let me audition to sing it.  I haven't sung in quite a while, but I was pleased for the opportunity.  it was pretty raw (for me anyways), but absolutely fun.  Those guys were seriously moving through the music.  It was great.
So, I'll be conducting the Sing-a-long on Friday, plus trying out my vocals on Friday.  I'm excited.  The lyrics are quite expressive, unique, and therefore, have been somewhat difficult to memorize, but I think I've just about got it, memorizing it to and from work.  If you're not too busy Friday, you ought to come and visit!  See you there!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leaving the Fold

In October, Colleen and I attended the conference for those dealing with leaving Mormonism. AKA: The Ex-Mormon Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel in SLC.
We stayed at the Hotel there, and enjoyed most of it.
We attended Dr. Marlene Winell's presentation on 'Leaving the Fold'. At first, her message seemed somewhat drab. In other words, she didn't seem to connect really well with her audience very well. Which was somewhat strange and interesting at the same time because it seemed that her message would be spot on relevant to everyone in attendance, but something about the delivery seemed to put you to sleep. (If you're reading this Dr. Winell, sorry about the frankness of the message) However, as I concentrated, I could tell that she had done some pretty deep study, and practice around the topic.

She offered an after conference group therapy session which Colleen and I attended, plus a book. Frankly, the after conference session seemed a little bit too large to have its intended affect. It seemed somewhat similar to many of the CALM meetings I've held in my home, or at Dennis Borg's home. The difficulty that I found, however, was that I felt I had moved past that portion of my restorative therapy.

The book, however, as I began to read it, and take notes, and complete the exercises, has really begun to resonate with my trail. In her book, she outlines the process that folks leaving the fold may experience from twenty years or so as a practicing psychologist specializing in clients recovering from religious indoctrination both on the phone and person from her practice in Berkeley California.

In this blog, I'd like to begin to share with you some of the things she has shared, and perhaps open a window to myself, and in the process, perhaps you too may see some of the value contained there in. Especially as she has recommended as part of the exercises in her book to begin maintaining a journal to document the process.

Chapter 1
"The Recover Process" went into detail to help me inventory my own impact from Religion in my life. Colleen and I read this chapter, and answered it's questions on our last trip to Disneyland. The reading was actually somewhat uncomfortable because of unearthed issues that we had left buried for years, now rising like stinking, ugly zombies. But, there we were, and the zombies needed to be dealt with. So we talked openly about subjects we had been far to afraid to deal with.

The end of the chapter features an exercise: The Impact Inventory. 25 questions to assess the impact of particular issues on your daily life.

Issue/Feeling
1-5
Confusion
3-4
Anxiety or fear
4
Lack of clear identity and personal values
3
Negative sense of self
1
Emptiness, as if you have no core
4
Negative image of your body and discomfor with sexuality
5
Lack of meaning or purpose in life
5
Anger and bitterness
2
Loneliness
3
Loss and grief
3
Depression
3
Persistent guilt
3
Difficulty enjoying daily pleasures
3
Unreasonably high expectations, perfectionism
5
Trouble appreciating people
1
Difficulty with self-responsibility
2
Lack of deep self-love and skills for self-care
3
Trouble thinking for yourself
2
Difficulty feeling and expressing emotion
5
External focus for satisfaction
3

Colleen and I were quite surprised to see the impact still occurring in our lives.  We must have talked for quite a while around how religion definitely impacted our views of our body and discomfort with sexuality, and such topics.  I was very surprised to learn about how difficult expressing emotion was.  I'm working on it though.  I think that there is just a bit too much fear around that.  I fear rejection, etc.

Next up, an inventory of the benefits we used to share with religion.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A thought about God and Humans, from Aunt Marilyn



A few days ago, as I sat mourning the loss of aunt Marilyn, at her funeral, I reflected on god a bit more. This funeral was held at a Mormon chapel in Alpine Utah, close to my last home in Highland. Many folks from my family were there, and it was the first time I'd seen them since going to Belgium. The moment provided much time for introspection, which, I think should be the purpose of true spirituality and religion, so it was very appropriate.

The ones she left behind shared wonderful stories of her life that I'd never heard, letting me ascend or pretend to remember more of her than I actually knew. My aunt Linda commented on how Marilyn was her angel, and, at the time, I remember thinking---

OK, I don't think that god actually exists, but all of these people sure do. I love these people, many of them my close family. I love them, and I hope that they love me too, without pity or sorrow... But even more, as Linda was obviously thinking on Marilyn as her metaphorical angel, I had an interesting thought about believing in god metaphorically... which was interesting to me because most religions use quite a few symbols to help folks remember god, and parables to teach without condemnation ...

but I remember thinking to myself, I know I don't believe in god literally, as these folks do. But I enjoy believing in a metaphorical god. I enjoy believing in a god that represents people. And I remembered several things that Einstein had mentioned about god, even though he was an atheist, leaving religion once he entered schooling and found that most of what his religion taught him to be completely different than what he learned in school, etc. But, he often continued to refer to god anyways. He's quoted as saying, "I for one, don't think god plays dice with the universe", using god as a metaphor for pretty much all of the forces, laws and circumstances that originated our existence.

In thinking of Einstein using god as a metaphor, I began to think of my own metaphor for god, and religion as well. I began to consider god as the metaphor for all of the people around us, sharing this existence and making lasting connections with us. I remembered one of Christ's teachings: In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me...

As I continue to explore this metaphor for god, I believe that I begin to like god, more and more. With this, I'm able to see others in this godly, spiritual light. I think that reaching out to these other people, actually reaching and connecting with other people, is as close to god as anyone will ever get, and that heaven is only attainable right now actually.


Then, tonight, while still organizing my new home office in my new place in Cottonwood heights, I ran across something I jotted down on three post-it notes (1,2,3) several months ago, before I came to Belgium:


(1) I believe the spirit to be the Human urging to affect goodness to fellow human beings - Humans have a primal need to pack together - to pack together we must respect each other as Gods - for without each other - we would

(2) not exist - We would become depressed - violent and ultimately never even come together to reproduce - an instinctive trait present in all animal life-form species.

(3) I postulate we would live autistic lives, possessing the ability to carry on, but without the desire.

Anybody else had these kinds of thoughts about the human condition? the human form? The metaphorical god?

Thank you Marilyn for sharing your warmth and kindness in the few short years I knew you, and thank you Aunt Linda for sharing your kind words about Marilyn and those who knew her.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What do Beavers, Dolphins, Owls, Foxes and the Simpson's all have in Common?


It sounds a little bit like the animals on the Chinese calendar. By the way, I'm always so pleased to discover that I'm a rat. You don't need a calendar to tell you that. Or maybe, I'm talking about some strange horoscope? Give up?

Today, after a half hour of Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana with dutch subtitles, we brought out Les Simpson, Totalement Dejantes. I bought it from the bookstore called 'Club' in Wavre Belgium. We went there on a special trip Saturday in search of some fun French books to have around the house. The idea being that we could use it as one of our study pieces in a sort of fun fashion with context, imagery and familiar settings.

We bought the book Saturday, and every night, after watching whatever T.V. the kids pick (I don't want them watching too much, and definitely, I don't want them watching it last thing before bed, thanks to a little advice from 'A New Earth' by Eckhart Tolle), we sit down to the Simpson's in French.

The idea is, if we go through it in a comprehensible fashion, pacing ourselves to words we all understand, and using our elementary French, piece by piece, we will slowly begin to understand more and more of the book. Whenever we encounter a word or phrase that we don't understand, first we try to figure it out using the context. If that doesn't work, then we ask Google or 'My French Coach'. Then we also write down the words right on the page. Soon, the page begins to fill up with translation all over the place. Hayden likens it to National Treasure. Cue theme to National Treasure, or Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Tonight, Hayden and Logan dig right in to the exercise. Shea starts off pretty enthusiastically, looking up every single word. Even the teeniest of words like de and le... which is perfectly fine, expected, hoped for and promising, because everyone starts somewhere. But rather quickly, she begins to fiddle and wish she were somewhere else. She slowly inches off of the couch to do something else. I allow it, just to see what she's up to. She has that look of, "A girl of my brilliance and creativity can't really be troubled with such tedium." It's probably true. I pull her back in. Now I'm losing Logan. "I can't do this from behind your back dad." That's probably true too. I have but one book, and the whole family is trying to look at it over my shoulder. Much better might be to have several copies of the book, or little teams working on different books together.

By the end of tonight's exercise, it seems clear that while this exercise works well for me and Hayden, and Logan, it isn't so productive for Shea and Colleen. We went through one caption in about 1/2 hour. It read something about Homer watching a T.V. game show in which the contestants dunked their heads in a water tank with dollar bills floating around. Pretty funny stuff, but it was getting clear that we had better break soon, or mutiny would occur.

I suggested that better behavior and respect was expected. I got too frustrated, and took too much of my frustration out on my kids. I suggested a short break for ice cream, to be followed by more.

When our break finished though, I didn't pick up the book. An Improv idea filled my head. I played one of the French audio lessons I brought along that led us through some simple French conversations. After running through it a couple of times, I recommended that we adjourn to the stage! Shea? you are Ms. Isabel. Hayden? you are Pierre. Please play your roles kind of like you heard it on the tape. if you do, you get a Disney pin from Carrefour (a local grocery store).

Shea lit up immediately. Now this was more like it. Finally a challenge worth paying attention to. Conversational French began bouncing out of Shea. I was delighted. Shea and Hayden began to talk all about the French conversation. Logan too. I couldn't believe it.

I brought out my iphone to record the event. When Shea discovered that the camera was on, and that she would be featured on my Facebook page, her French began to form. Her Rs began to roll in the back of her throat and her lips even began to purse together in typical french fashion. Her arms and hands began to gesture like a curly moustached, beret wearing french painter. Hayden as well.



So, what does this have to do with Beavers, Dolphins, Owls and Foxes? Have patience. I will be there in one more moment. I must complete the setup here.

I couldn't believe the change in Shea. This was one of those moments when I could tell I had learned something significant, and I had better take a moment to process, discuss and discover what it was that I had discovered, else it could be lost, possibly never encountered again. In this moment, I began to glimpse a way of reaching Shea. Shea has been neglecting her French studies, almost entirely if possible, to where she has been on lesson 8 & 9 for over two or three months, while her brothers raced past lesson 70 weeks ago.

But Shea is on fire. She is asking questions, and rehearsing key French phrases. Somehow, I have appealed to her learning style, or perhaps I have succeeded in not insulting her sense of self and sense of style. I don't know for sure, but what I did know, is that I need to continue on this path to guide her away from a life of living for watching T.V. to a life of creativity, cultural engagement and social connectivity.

What could it be? I felt I must know... but it might take a while. Most things do...

We put the kids to bed, tucked them in, and returned to our almost nightly (and daily) ritual of researching local schools and houses & apartments for rent. Until we settle this, I think we will not be able to settle down and feel at ease. After some study side by side, Colleen and I, Colleen sounded excited.

"This is so me!" She said. "This reminds me of Shea." "What could she be studying?" I thought to myself. I looked at her glowing screen to read the words she was connecting with:

The road children take to acquire knowledge is intrinsic to their personality. Now let’s see if you can recognize your child’s (and your own) learning style:

Beavers

Beavers love to go about their work in a methodological way. They are consistent, like lists, adhere to the timeframe, do as you ask and feel comfortable within a framework.

They are challenged when they are required to come up with innovative ideas, creative concepts and open-ended questions. It irritates them when others frolic around and do not seem to be responsible for a solid outcome.

Dolphins

Dolphins are very much in tune with the emotional life of others, they like to assist, help where they can and often have a very positive influence on a group. Their work is colourful, unique and well cared for.

Due to their eye for detail, adhering to a time frame can be a challenge. They love brainteasers but dislike memorization and tedious study that needs drilling. Those boring questions do not deserve their energy.

Owls

Give them knowledge! They are deeply interested in the functioning of the earth, mechanics, and the sciences in general. Knowing why and how phenomena take place absorbs their thinking. A deep, individual concentration assists their hunger for facts.

Needing to be a team member or even a leader can be a source of great stress. They like to be left alone and are often not aware of the needs of others. Social interaction seems a waste of time, keeping him/her away from the more important things in life.

Fox

The fox is quick. They are multi task people, who know what others are going to say. They are keen and witty and understand concepts very fast. Give the fox a problem and solutions are found very fast.

Give the fox a book or series of calculations to work through and you will have a minimal response. They need to be able to wander on new roads, tease their mind and be innovative. Otherwise they will switch off and classify the surrounding as boring and uninteresting.
We found this on an International Montessori School website describing learning styles. Colleen identified with the Beaver, and matched Shea with the Dolphin. After reading the Fox, Hayden's experience with so quickly boring in Kindergarten surfaced to our recollections and both of us matched Logan to the Owl. That boy constantly requests the T.V. be turned on to watch documentaries. "Oh, I love these science shows!" Its quite a hoot.

Knowing these different learning styles may enable Colleen and I to recognize and use more effective teaching methods with our children. In turn, we may enjoy ourselves with them more, and them with us as well.

So, what do Beavers, Dolphins, Owls and Foxes all have in common? Well, I just found out, that they are all members of my family that I have been ignoring to some extent, missing out on some very creative moments. These four animals represent a starting point to a more positive and engaging life experience for me and my kids. these three animals have brought an interesting element to planning my evenings of study with my kids. Of course, not forgetting about T.V. but with the help of Dr. Tolle, putting it into the right perspective. Providing some context for new views, opening your eyes, and active engagement with your surroundings. I look forward to the sessions to come.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First impressions.



As some of you may know through the grapevine and personal acquaintance, I have moved my family to a small town in Belgium, called Leuven. We are making ourselves an experiment. Some of you may recall my post involving Dublin's Church Bar, some of you didn't quite like it, while others did. In order to test out the hypothesis, I just had to come and live in Europe to see if it is true.

Turns out, it isn't as true as I had originally thought, but probably true enough. Of course, every town has a giant early period Church building, to show its dedication to God, through a very large edifice that all of the people can see. Remarkably, the city hall in Leuven resembles the Salt Lake Temple.

And when going to school, you have the choice at primary school age to choose a course in religion or morality. Most of the schools are still sponsored or at least called Catholic Schools.

The folks who own the home we are staying in (Very nice couple by the way. Wish I could meet them in person. Perhaps someday soon I will) were married ecclesiastically, though I see little or no sign of religious devotion in the home.

In any case, we are here, and having a time of it. The learning curve seems to be high. We have a lot to learn. I spent around EUR$250 on my first grocery shopping trip. EUR$8 for a four pack of AA duracell batteries. And I forgot to bring a US Power strip to leverage a US / European Power adapter. They wanted EUR$40 for a power adapter. I couldn't believe it. Luckily, I found two in the bargain bin at EUR$5.

Today, we went to the North Sea Beach near Brugges. We thought the weather might be too cold and windy but it proved to be fantastic. There are no waves there and the sand is smooth as powdered sugar. Plenty of other people had the same idea, and there were folks speaking all sorts of languages, although, I didn't see too many speaking English (I heard none, Colleen says she heard one).

Some of you following my Facebook request may have also noted this dilemma. To try and save money, we investigated sabbatical homes for rent. One of the homes we are investigating sits 30 km south of Leuven, in the Walloon district of Belgium. It offers spacious country living, attendance at a small French School and very reasonable rent. I keep thinking of Disney's the Beauty and the Beast. A small provincial town...

Colleen and met with the owner and some of his family on Friday. They were delightful folks. The kind of folks you would just love to know under any circumstances. Their daughter asked Shea and Hayden if they would like to play with her while we discussed somethings on the back patio, sipping cold bubbly water.

We followed that up, visiting with the local school director. For all of their privacy, I don't mention their names. He generously invited us into his office (on a particularly hot day in Belgium) and offered us all of the help we could ask for.

After much consideration, and input from many of you, it looks like this is where we'll be headed. Thank you all for the input.

Cheers!