Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Callousness - Alive and Well


With the constant anxiety in regard to what tomorrow may bring economically, socially, politically and internationally one would think that striving for goodness, kindness, mutual respect and logic within our citizenry would be the norm rather than the exception. Although there is a tremendous amount of positive human behavior being demonstrated every day by those who are more selfless than self-centered, it is always disheartening to witness so many who take delight in personally attacking others anonymously. Whether it be verbal or written comments to articles and blogs locally and nationally, not taking ownership for destructive personal attacks demonstrates a complete lack of self-respect and integrity on the part of the attacker. An individual who obtains gratification from spewing a venomous, anonymous assault on another is innately a coward.This type of public ridicule does little to unify a community and its citizenry, but rather divides it and creates further cynicism, and inaccuracy in deciphering potential pertinent information because of the emotion the comment may generate. If you disagree with one's sentiment, and want to express that publicly have the courage to identify yourself for that will demonstrate a degree of personal courage rather than cowardice.

In regard to leadership, an authentic and principled leader welcomes ideas, suggestions and constructive feedback as it offers differing viewpoints and perspectives on issues and concerns. This provides the opportunity to ensure an honorable and corrective course of action is taken. The irony with an anonymous attacker is most people do not take their point of view seriously. Why? The attacker exemplifies a clear lack of principled character by not identifying themselves, and therefore negates their own personal and professional credibility. Therefore, what could be useful points and counterpoints are meaningless. Personally, if any of those I serve disagree with a decision I have made, or an issue that I stand for and believe in, they have a right to voice a dissenting opinion and state their case. I enjoy being challenged, when it is honorably presented. Anyone in the public eye is often demeaned, but what does it say about our society when personal destruction is glamorized, sensationalized and used to manipulate the mindset of the masses? It demonstrates an acceptance of a lack of personal integrity, apathy toward dishonorable behavior, and an artificial enhancement of ones own sense of self worth at the expense of others. It is always easier to take delight in emotional ridicule than analytical evaluation of the facts.

Callous is defined as, “showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others.” How applicable that is to the anonymous attacker. One synonym of callous that stands out above the rest is heartless; and a heartless person is defined as, “displaying a complete lack of feeling or consideration.” Constructive and respectful discourse is always beneficial in reaching common ground, mutual understanding, and a successful conclusion to an issue or concern at hand.

Five considerations for those who take joy in anonymous personal ridicule are the following. * Attempt to think more of others than yourself. You will be happier as a result, and achieve a greater level of respect and credibility. * Understand that anonymity demonstrates a lack of personal respect, integrity and is cowardly. * Look at the bigger picture in regard to how your words and thoughts may affect what it is you are attempting to make right. * Ask yourself, what does it say about me when I lack the ability to take ownership for a destructive opinion that I present to those around me? It says you lack a foundation of values that are healthy and in alignment for the common good. * Reflect on what character traits you believe truly define effective leaders, and those individuals who have made a positive difference in your life. I doubt they were anonymous, and likely had the integrity and character to take ownership for their thoughts, words and deeds. These are points of practice we can all reflect on as a reminder to abide by the golden rule of treating others, as you would like to be treated. It certainly makes for a kinder and more civil community and society.

Pride and Significance - You Really Do Matter


Have you ever felt insignificant or asked yourself, does anything I do really matter in relation to the world around me? I drive to work each day. I do my job. I try to make a difference. Am I doing the right thing? Do those around me appreciate me? Does anyone really care? In the scheme of time, space and living each day do I make a positive impact, and is it really meaningful in the long run? Depressing questions? You bet! This type of thought process and attitude is the antithesis of possessing pride. Yet, pride is a word that tends to be frowned upon. Why? The saying, “pride goes (or comes) before a fall” is a proverb that means if you are too conceited or self-important, something will happen to make you look foolish. Although at times this may indeed happen, pride is not something to shy away from. It is important to be proud of who you are and what you stand for and believe in.

When pride is genuine, selfless and honest the feeling and modest display of such pride is healthy, and important in validating for yourself that who you are and what you do is significant. Pride is defined as, “a feeling, or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated with, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired, the consciousness of one’s own dignity”. Dignity? Dignity is defined as, “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect”. Who would not want to possess that state or quality? Personally, if I have achieved in an ethical and upstanding manner, and generate a degree of honor and respect within myself and from others, I would certainly be proud of that accomplishment. It does not mean you take an attitude of self-importance over humility, but if you are not proud in what you have achieved then why did you strive for anything to begin with? Pride becomes harmful when it transitions into the behaviors of conceit, vanity, arrogance and egotism.

Pride should also be modest not boastful. There is no doubt that actions speak louder than words, and it is recognizing and acting upon that thought that eliminates the potential to be boastful. However, it is also interesting to observe that the more insecure one is with themselves the more likely they are to accuse someone of being overly proud. When another succeeds it can be threatening to those who doubt their own abilities. It is your own recognition of how you display your pride that will determine how valid another's negative assessment of your behavior may be. When your pride is attached to humility and selflessness there is no need for concern about how others perceive it. It becomes more about them than their negative perception of you.

As I write this I am on a plane to L.A., and at this moment our cat Cleo of almost 21 years is being euthanized. She had been failing for days and we made the difficult decision this morning. I know my wife is with her holding, loving and comforting her as the injection takes effect. As I said my goodbyes this morning before I left for the airport, a characteristic that came to mind of my beloved feline was pride. She always displayed pride in herself, her family, her longevity and doing things her way. As she lay dying this morning, she was still purring as I stroked her head, as soft and furry as it had always been. I believe she was proud of the joy, love and memorable times she had provided to our family over all these years. Selfless pride is a characteristic of having done more for others than oneself. It is a characteristic of personal confidence that others admire and follow, for it is genuine, sincere and never boastful. Take a moment to appreciate yourself and what you have accomplished in your life. Be proud of the times where you made a positive difference in the life of another. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently stated, “To know just one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” You can take pride in that.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

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