• Why choose Christian Couple Counselling?
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    Why choose Christian Couple Counselling in Calgary?

    Imagine you have been watching your marriage slip away for years.

    Perhaps you finally got to wondering what he had been doing on that computer all of those late nights. You found a spare moment, logged in and started looking at his internet history. When you did, you were instantly greeted by thousands of erotic or pornographic web sites and the hours spent on sites for escorts. Instantly, you understand why he hasn’t been sexually interested in you once this month.


    Perhaps you have felt the sting of her barely hidden resentment for years and, yet, could never figure out why she always claimed things were fine. But, tonight, when she left her phone unlocked, you started seeing text messages from a co-worker popping up on the screen. A few minutes of browsing them suddenly has offered you a very clear picture of why she has had to work late so often this year — and how little hope she has left for the future of your marriage.

    The next few days pass in a whirlwind of first denial, then anger, then furious recriminations followed by deep sadness and then cold silence. Finally, you have time to think.

    As you sit there feeling the crushing weight of betrayal, the self directed contempt for your blindness, the furious rage at your spouse and the terror for the future of your marriage and the family your children so desperately need, one question crosses your mind:

    How can our relationship recover from this infidelity?

    This is just another announcement/posting of an original internal article on why making a choice for counselling that fits with your faith and world view is so important.

    This article is now permanently added to the article section of our primary site — not just a transient blog post.


    (Yes, I’m writing these for S.E.O. purposes but they’re not JUST to keep the Google-Bots happy. Please share with anyone you think would benefit!)


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  • How to learn.
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    People who learn quickest show the least neural activity, a new study finds.

    The research flies in the face of the common myth that the key to learning is trying harder and thinking it through.

    Instead, quick learners in particular showed reduced brain activity in the frontal cortex, an area linked to conscious planning.

    In other words: good learners don’t overthink what they are trying to learn.

    Professor Scott Grafton, who led the study, said:

    “It’s useful to think of your brain as housing a very large toolkit.

    When you start to learn a challenging new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, your brain uses many different tools in a desperate attempt to produce anything remotely close to music.

    With time and practice, fewer tools are needed and core motor areas are able to support most of the behavior.

    What our laboratory study shows is that beyond a certain amount of practice, some of these cognitive tools might actually be getting in the way of further learning.”

    So much of the education system (and the operational norms of our society) functions from the assumption that mastery results from trying harder, and that trying harder is fundamentally motivated by reward and punishment — motivating the brain to focus.

    Yet, when we look at successful education systems, what we see are short school days, low stress on children, incredible attention to care for all aspects of the child’s well being and learning through grasp of context and purpose.

    Those children learn because they are relaxed enough to explore and the actual learning becomes more of a body memory and a familiarity rather then the result of strenuously attempting to remember.

    The same thing occurs when we look at faith communities that bring real change to the hearts and minds of people. They too are a place of quietness, safety, grace, gentleness, freedom, peace and exploration.


    The same thing is true of therapy as well.

    Shame, fear, guilt and judgment all simply can’t have any place here…

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  • Is someone you love in need of an intervention?
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    Psychology Today


    Confrontational methods are practiced nowhere else in the world—for good reason. Interventions are deeply humiliating. They imply a moral and psychological superiority among those staging the intervention. They remove a person’s autonomy, and removing the opportunity for choice is thoroughly dehumanizing. They deflate a person’s already deflated sense of self. Further, interventions also induce shame, guilt—feelings that actually reduce the likelihood of change.

    In 2007, psychologist William Miller and consultant William White reported that “decades of research have failed to yield a single clinical trial showing efficacy of confrontational counseling, whereas a number have documented harmful effects.” Those harmful effects? Interventions actually increase dropout rates from treatment programs and precipitate more and faster relapse.

    Interventions generally rest on a series of mistaken beliefs about drinking and about how people change. One mistaken assumption is that a person would never stop drinking on her own, most likely because of a pathological personality—when, in fact, government data show that three quarters of alcoholics recover without professional help. Another mistaken assumption is that drinkers are always defensive about their problem, so that gentler methods of approach would never work. Interventions rest on mistaken assumptions that everyone knows better than the drinker what she is doing—in fact, there is the assumption that the drinker is out of touch with reality and deluded about the nature of her “problem.” The implication that others are authorities on the drinker and on drinking compounds the humiliation of this method.

    Research clearly points to a better approach that evokes and beefs up a person’s own motivation for change. Motivational interviewing is one such approach. it’s gentler, more empathic—more in keeping with established knowledge about how people change.

    The above linked article is just another voice in the growing backlash finally emerging against 1930’s addiction treatments that still just won’t go away — and it virtually stands on it’s own. Read it!

    This would be a little of why we never got into beating up on clients, shipping them off into 12 step programs, staging the emotionally abusive free-for-all most like to refer to as, “An intervention,” or in whatever way buying into Try-Harder-Religion.

    Whenever you subject anyone to shame, fear or guilt, you take even the very best parts of the person and point them towards escape from such. Almost always, escape = addiction.

    If there isn’t a better way than that, then counseling would not be worth getting and, frankly, this career would not be worth pursuing either.

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  • Inside the mind of a terrorist.
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    In some four decades of work as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist with deeply destructive, violent clients, I have observed that fanatical acts are usually perpetrated by people who believe that at their core they are unworthy and evil. Aspects of themselves that they have regarded as virtuous are split off from their own personalities and projected onto a leader and a strident religious cause. The self-denigrating fanatic, devoid of any constructive sense of self other than his identiï¬?cation with an omniscient and omnipotent leader, experiences his totally worthless self as having to be disregarded or sacriï¬?ced, so that the “good” self— now identiï¬?ed with the leader and the cause—can survive and reign as Absolute Truth, the fulï¬?llment of God’s commandments. In paradise, he is told, his self-sacriï¬?ce will be abundantly rewarded.

    By means of tactics such “loading the language,” asserts Robert Lifton, the cult leader and his lieutenants begin to exclude or blind the critical faculties of the left hemisphere. Speaking in metaphors and cliches that appeal to the typically unsophisticated, underdeveloped right hemisphere of most individuals, these cult leaders gradually take over the thought processes of their flock.

    Some cult leaders have relied on techniques such as psychedelic and mood-altering drugs, nutritionally de�cient diets, sleep derivation, and the monotonous repetition of religious rhetoric or slogans to control their followers in mind, body, and spirit. Taken together, these practices induce a state of psychological confusion and thus dependency on the leader and his doctrines. The follower is caught up in seemingly contradictory worlds of both overstimulation (the seemingly unending repetition of ritual and dogma) and understimulation (such as intellectual and physical deprivation).

    When a religious movement becomes a social cause, it is often because mainstream religious groups and other segments of the social order have failed to meet the sociopolitical as well as spiritual needs of a segment of the population. When this occurs, the appearance of an inspired and inspiring charismatic leader is required. Otherwise, the nascent movement comes to a halt or expires.

    Fanatical violence is an attempt to seek social justice (this is an explanation, not a justi�cation), but crucial to the enactment of his violence is the condoning of the destructive person’s deadly actions by his fanatic leader and his group.

    It is doubtful if anyone commits murder without some belief—perhaps only momentary—that it is justi�ed. The violent fanatic’s sense of entitlement in violating society’s deep taboos against murder is buttressed by his leader’s and his group’s interpretation of the social contract.

    On a deeper level, a fanatically violent person is deeply frightened, experiencing himself as in danger. Like the child that each of us once was, he still demands automatic justice, a spontaneous assuagement of all his painful feelings of mistreatment. His desperate reasoning holds that those denied their humanity by the social order can only be healed of their shame and self-contempt by the exercise of force. His own inner-loathing is speaking.

    There is no more unbearable virulence visited on any of us than unremitting, unrelieved self-contempt that brooks no examination. To survive this contempt, the individual must somehow cast it off. He soon discovers that regarding others as sinners and vermin temporarily relieves his self-loathing, and he gradually learns to convert his unexamined and unchallenged self-contempt into contempt for the world outside his band of true believers. This is the long, dismal history of fanaticism.

    Terrorists are collectors of injustice. They are extremely sensitive to slights and humiliations inflicted on themselves or on members of social groups to which they belong or with which they identify themselves. As one observer remarks: “The terrorist seems to be hypersensitive to the sufferings and injustices of the world at large, but totally insensitive to immediate, palpable suffering directly around him, especially if he has produced it himself.” This may be due to the terrorist’s propensity to dehumanize his victims by regarding them as objects or impersonal concepts. Indeed, the dehumanization of the enemy is a critical component within the belief system of terrorists in general.

    In the end, however, the threat we face is not from a weapon but from a cluster of beliefs, motivations, and cultural forces that have molded a human mind.

    The terrorist perceives himself part of an elite engaged in a heroic struggle to right the injustices of a cruel world. “The struggle in which they are engaged is an obligation, a duty, not a voluntary choice, because they are the enlightened in a mass of unenlightened,”says Cindy Combs in Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. Going beyond these characteristics, some observers have speculated that many terrorists may be stress seekers with a need to interrupt the monotony of their daily lives by the pursuit of adventure and excitement.

    Rushworth M. Kidder, a prominent researcher on terrorism, has identi�ed seven characteristics observed in interviewing well-known terrorists around the world:

    – oversimpliï¬?cation of issues

    – frustration about an inability to change society

    – a sense of self-righteousness

    – a utopian belief in the world

    – a feeling of social isolation

    – a need to assert his own existence

    – a cold-blooded willingness to kill.

    according to Abdul Aziz Rantisi, cofounder and political leader of the terrorist group Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, instead of using the term “suicide bomber,” we should speak of a “self chosen martyr.” Certainly, the writings found in the luggage of Mohamed Atta, one of the key organizers of the suicidal terrorists who carried out and died in the September 11 attacks, contain several references to martyrdom, sacrifice, and serving as a witness.

    Since no compromise, no coexistence, between these two world views is possible, the resort to violence, including its most extreme forms, comes to seem perfectly acceptable.

    This religious justi�cation for acts of violence stems from a literal interpretation of a passage in the Koran that promises the most coveted spots in Paradise to those martyrs who die in the course of a jihad (in this context, meaning a holy war, carried out in the interest of religion or partisan identity). So powerful are these distortions of istishad and jihad to the highly suggestible, that they become the justi�cation for the killing of innocent civilians, even children.

    The above is a compilation of quotes from a much larger document (Above linked) which is itself a collection of essays from a variety of different authors. It’s an attempt to compile a summary of what these thinkers have come to understand about the roots of terrorist acts.

    It’s a disturbing but worth while read…

    The above is written about terrorism — but what’s most disturbing about it is how easily we could substitute another theme into the same text for our tactics differ so little from it…

    Our North American militaries use chants, pain and deprivation to mold soldiers. (Barely a day goes by without another report of injustice from the similarly trained police services of our worlds.)

    Our fundamentalist churches oversimplify nearly everything, convince people they are evil, subsequently confer upon their most zealous members a covering sense of self-righteousness, socially isolate them and create a frustration about an inability to change society mixed with a utopian belief in how the world would be if it ran by their rules. They fan the flames of injustice, swamp minds with fear and create alternative group identities based on shame and disinformation.

    Our media’s talking heads constantly beat the drums of war and violence and repeatedly justify even us actually torturing others while setting up our leaders as heroes to worship.

    Because, hey, we’re justified in OUR fight against injustice — right?

    Maybe the terrorist acts we are seeing are really the breaking edge of a wave? Maybe they are just the result of an increasingly radicalized world, coalescing around varied but equally increasing themes of injustice that has seized onto whatever ideology happens to be available to justify their violence and allow them to fight back?

    Maybe there is a greater, world wide problem of growing injustice that our financial markets, our predatory foreign policy, our shameless exploitation of those with no voice and our callous disregard for human life has created?

    Our solution, of course, is to meet their violence with a nearly identical violence and culture of such — instead of asking why the world isn’t getting to be a better place to be and what we have to answer for in such.

    This guy closes it best:

    Centuries after they lived, such enlightened paradigmatic �gures as Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, and Socrates still profoundly influence the lives of others in positive ways. Many other charismatic leaders, however, have been enraged, deluded men and women who have wreaked havoc in the lives of their followers.

    each of the ancient prophets that I named earlier presented himself as an ordinary man patiently demonstrating by personal example how to live the examined life. They also created a climate in which their disciples could question and reach their own conclusions about how to live. For example, while Jesus believed in the paramount value of life in the hereafter, he apparently did not minimize the importance of the present world nor ask his followers to sacri�ce their mortal existence.

    Above all, the true prophets did not teach their disciples to hate or flee those who opposed them; they all proclaimed that human love is universal and unlimited. They did not need the dubious validation of collecting followers who would embrace their beliefs; nor did they demand that others die for them. Socrates resolutely chose his own death, and Jesus braved alone fear and doubt on the cross.

    The true prophet, by not presenting himself as omniscient or omnipotent, allows his followers to transform themselves by choosing their own ordeals, not trials that he imposes on them. In short, he asks his followers to courageously examine their lives. Courage, in this sense, means to know our limitations, to accept ourselves as less than perfect, to live to the best of our ability, and to come together with others to heal the wounds of loneliness, shame, and self-hatred. This is the stuff of love and virtue. This is the stuff from which we can build a more compassionate and just world.

    How little that last bit defines any part of our world — including us…

    Any sort of honest assessment of the problem of terrorism has to start with the realization that we have met the enemy — and it looks a whole lot like us.

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  • Perhaps you need a really good fight?
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    For some people, this is a truly radical idea: There is no need to fight with your partner. Ever. Accusations, recriminations, character assassination, threats, name-calling, and cursing, whether delivered at top volume or with a quiet sarcastic sneer, damage a relationship, often irrevocably. Nobody needs to be a monster or to be treated monstrously. Nobody who yells will ever be heard. In the heat of a moment, it is always a choice whether to go for a run or run your partner down.

    On the other hand, no two people in the world, no matter how made for each other they feel, will ever agree about everything at all times. (It would be quite boring if they did.) Couples do need to be able to negotiate differences. They do need to have room for constructive criticism. They do need a way to assert opinions and to disagree. And they do need to have a way to express intense feelings (that the other person may not understand or support) without feeling that they will be judged as lacking for doing so.

    A healthy relationship requires knowing the skills necessary for “friendly fighting” — dealing with conflict respectfully and working together to find a workable solution. Friendly fighting means working out differences that matter. It means engaging passionately about things we feel passionate about, without resorting to hurting one another. It helps us let off steam without getting burned. Friendly fighting lets us “fight” and still stay friends.

    Embrace conflict.

    Go after the issue, not each other.

    Listen respectfully.

    Talk softly.

    Get curious, not defensive.

    Ask for specifics.

    Find points of agreement.

    Look for options.

    Make concessions.

    Make peace.

    Follow the above link for the full details.

    So many couples end up divorcing for reasons of how they handle conflict rather then actual issues over which there may be conflict. In other words, they divorce because of how they fight rather then what they happen to be fighting over this particular weekend.

    Pair that with the implicit assumption that conflict is destined to end the marriage and you have a recipe for ignoring things until they explode into utter manageability and then ending the relationship because of such.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. Research repeatedly demonstrates that conflict, properly handled, is the most effective way to improve your relationship and protect it from things that COULD end it.

    But, that requires calm, under-control people addressing specific issues in the right context with a willingness to be wrong and apologize and work towards compromise — not just to try and score points.

    Sometimes getting there requires help…

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  • The gift of compassion
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    Brain Pickings

    Everybody asks during and after our wars, and the continuing terrorist attacks all over the globe, “What’s gone wrong?” What has gone wrong is that too many people, including high school kids and heads of state, are obeying the Code of Hammurabi, a King of Babylonia who lived nearly four thousand years ago. And you can find his code echoed in the Old Testament, too. Are you ready for this?

    “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

    A categorical imperative for all who live in obedience to the Code of Hammurabi, which includes heroes of every cowboy show and gangster show you ever saw, is this: Every injury, real or imagined, shall be avenged. Somebody’s going to be really sorry.

    When Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross, he said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.” What kind of a man was that? Any real man, obeying the Code of Hammurabi, would have said, “Kill them, Dad, and all their friends and relatives, and make their deaths slow and painful.”

    His greatest legacy to us, in my humble opinion, consists of only twelve words. They are the antidote to the poison of the Code of Hammurabi, a formula almost as compact as Albert Einstein’s “E = mc2.”

    I am a Humanist, or Freethinker, as were my parents and grandparents and great grandparents — and so not a Christian. By being a Humanist, I am honoring my mother and father, which the Bible tells us is a good thing to do.

    But I say with all my American ancestors, “If what Jesus said was good, and so much of it was absolutely beautiful, what does it matter if he was God or not?”

    If Christ hadn’t delivered the Sermon on the Mount, with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn’t want to be a human being.

    I would just as soon be a rattlesnake.

    Revenge provokes revenge which provokes revenge which provokes revenge — forming an unbroken chain of death and destruction linking nations of today to barbarous tribes of thousands and thousands of years ago.

    We may never dissuade leaders of our nation or any other nation from responding vengefully, violently, to every insult or injury. In this, the Age of Television, they will continue to find irresistible the temptation to become entertainers, to compete with movies by blowing up bridges and police stations and factories and so on…

    But in our personal lives, our inner lives, at least, we can learn to live without the sick excitement, without the kick of having scores to settle with this particular person, or that bunch of people, or that particular institution or race or nation. And we can then reasonably ask forgiveness for our trespasses, since we forgive those who trespass against us. And we can teach our children and then our grandchildren to do the same — so that they, too, can never be a threat to anyone.

    Christianity has had a war going on for years:

    On the one side are the hawks. Generally Conservative/Republican voting people who see the failure to use military action to punish evil as making an alliance with it against the sanctity of life.

    On the other are the doves. Generally Liberal/Democrat voting pacifist (or pacifist leaning) individuals who see the sanctity of life as being of paramount importance and would prefer to be killed then to take the life of another.

    They both set up their concept of the sanctity of life as the centerpiece of the Gospel — and reaped the rewards of such: Huge money via a military-industrial complex on the one side and logical support for passivity on the other.

    Everybody won — or something…

    Ironically Kurt Vonnegut — the guy so many Christians have fought to ban the books of — got it far better then so many others:

    He saw how we as a civilization, a culture and as individuals have utterly failed to grasp the centrality of the gift of love, compassion and mercy Christ came to bring — and then we ended up playing stupid games balancing the remaining errors.

    Christ’s question wasn’t about the sanctity of life in first place — it was about vengeance, control and the ways we justify our greed and our evil against others. And, His position was that the alternative was forgiveness.

    How quickly we forget He held love and mercy as the central commandment…

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  • Why do we trust those who use us?
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    People who are overconfident in their own abilities are considered more talented by others than they really are, a new study finds.

    These overconfident individuals are probably more likely to get promoted, to become the leaders of organisations and even nations.

    On the other hand, people who are not so confident in their abilities are judged as less competent than they actually are.

    “…[since] overconfident individuals are more likely to be risk-prone, then by promoting such individuals we may be creating institutions such as banks, trading floors and armies, that are also more vulnerable to risk.

    From our smallest interactions to the institutions we build, self-deception may play a profound role in shaping the world we inhabit.” (Lamba & Nityananda, 2014).

    I see this in the field of psychology as well. There are so many experts out there packing out entire churches teaching utter nonsense about erotic materials (Usually misnamed porn), addiction to such and the like.

    They passionately deliver a disproven message our professors were mocking in grad school 20yrs ago and then hand out the elastic bands to wear around your wrist (To give yourself a snap if you think a naughty thought) as a means of credible treatment… They strut, they preen, they pummel the listener with guilt and shame and they set up the spouse to do the same.

    And people follow — in droves…


    Because real science always sounds qualified or quantified, is backed by the research of others, speaks within parameters and offers probabilities — not wild promises.

    That sort of a tone just doesn’t make anyone an Evangelical star, a crusader for righteousness, pack out sanctuaries or make lots of money selling course materials…

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  • So, are YOU meeting your goals?
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    Psychology Today

    One inherent problem with goal setting is related to how the brain works. Recent neuroscience research shows the brain works in a protective way, resistant to change. Therefore, any goals that require substantial behavioral change, or thinking-pattern change, will automatically be resisted. The brain is wired to seek rewards and avoid pain or discomfort, including fear. When fear of failure creeps into the mind of the goal setter, it becomes a “demotivator,” with a desire to return to known, comfortable behavior and thought patterns.

    Finally, there are psychological manifestations of not achieving goals that may be more damaging that not having any goals at all. The process sets up desires that are removed from everyday reality. Whenever we desire things that we don’t have, we set our brain’s nervous system to produce negative emotions. Second, highly aspirational goals require us to develop new competencies, some of which may be beyond current capabilities. As we develop these competencies, we are likely to experience failures, which then become de-motivational. Thirdly, goal setting sets up an either-or polarity of success. The only true measure can either be 100% attainment or perfection, or 99% and less, which is failure. We can then excessively focus on the missing or incomplete part of our efforts, ignoring the successful parts. Fourthly, goal setting doesn’t take into account random forces of chance. You can’t control all the environmental variables to guarantee 100% success.

    The other problem is that goals are often cast in the image of the ideal or perfection, which activates the self-judging thinking of “I should be this way.” This counteracts the positive need for self-acceptance.

    And if the goal is not attained, we can often engage in thinking we are failures, not good enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, etc. So the non-attainment of goals can create emotions of unworthiness.

    We’ve known since forever that rules and standards are there to be broken and practically command failure along with its associated payload of guilt, shame and fear.

    So, we’ve fixed that in our modern Churches and workplaces — we set goals instead. (Because changing semantics always fixes the human heart…)

    The above linked is a really solid explanation of why setting those goals not only doesn’t improve performance, it makes us into liars, backstabbers and people utterly oblivious to the wounded hearts of those who we just climbed over.

    In 1 Cor 3:6, Paul numbers himself among, “…ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” He might have been on to something there…

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  • How fear based control thinks.
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    The Province

    The idea of a tent for cops to stake out the beach didn’t go swimmingly with some of the nudists Monday.

    “Everybody’s been down here for years,” said “Croc,” a local fixture.

    “We see things before they go down.

    “We see the people who are being jerks. We confront them, and they don’t come back.”

    “Having a police tent is a ridiculous, unnecessary idea,” said an angry woman who refers to herself as “Swims With Seals.”

    “I don’t think a police tent has to be installed. Maybe they can just use an umbrella.”

    Grainger said that if any officers act less than professionally at the beach, they will be re-assigned.

    “Did you like the view?” one young woman asked Winpenny flirtatiously, apparently reacting to the sight of a female officer in uniform.

    The smell of marijuana wafted by regularly, but Grainger and Winpenny simply shrugged their shoulders.

    “After decades of patrolling this beach,” Grainger said, “we know we can’t ticket and arrest our way out of this.”

    Control is the strategic application of shame, fear or guilt to extract the compliance of another without paying the relational costs which would cause him or her to meet your needs because of desire to do so.

    It’s the way all systems of force (Governments, police, religious organizations etc.) operate. It’s also a way of thinking that blinds the practitioners to any other means.

    As strange as it is, this beach is a perfect example of the alternative. A bunch of hippies want to lay around naked — and sometimes smoke dope. They take over a beach — and unconsciously develop their own code of conduct which they successfully enforce for decades through nothing more then words.

    The police admit they can not, “Ticket and arrest,” their way to anything different. So, why set up a tent and make their own impotence even more glaringly obvious?

    Because, once shame, fear or guilt based control gets going in a life, a marriage, a society, a system of government, a police system or anywhere, it blinds the practitioners of such to even fully functional alternatives standing before them naked telling them that the alternative works and begging them to go away.

    Because, my way is the ONLY way — and that’s all the justification I need to force you to __________…

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