Archive for June, 2013

Responsibility of Understanding

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A person recently said, “I am responsible for what I say, not what you hear.”

The only reason to say anything is to convey something. If it doesn’t get conveyed then you have failed. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you should. Why say anything in the first place? Why do we put these silly boundaries in place? We don’t want to accept the burden of responsibility. Somehow by attempting, however lamely, to communicate something, we feel we have shifted the burden of responsibility to the hearer, freeing ourselves to continue on in comfort, not having to worry about the outcome.

Remember that something does get conveyed, though it may not be what you intended. If it’s important enough to open your mouth, see it through.

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The Role of Prayer

PrayerWhat is prayer for? Or, perhaps of more relevance, who is it for?

Pat Robertson recently said that the tragedy in Oklahoma could be attributed to them not praying enough. He’s pretty far out there more often than not, but this kind of disconnect about the power and purpose of prayer is widespread enough that it reveals a lot of uncertainty about what’s really going on, even though many people feel quite certain in their individual beliefs.

People occasionally tell me they prayed for me, or for someone or something else. And I wonder…does that make a difference to God and what he does in some capacity?

Is prayer for God? Do you need to pray in order for certain things to happen (doesn’t he know all anyway)? Sometimes people ask others to pray about something. Is it a voting system, where he pays more attention if more people pray about it?  There is some value in a person who believes in the power of prayer knowing that others are praying on her behalf, but other than that type of scenario, could it be that prayer is really for the person praying? There is some neuroscience that shows our brains are in a sense ‘pre wired’ to respond to religious beliefs. It can make one feel better, like she is taking some action about something she is concerned about. It also strikes me as dangerous because it can have a tranquilizing effect. “I didn’t contribute anything to helping you through your dilemma, but I did pray for you.” And what if the prayer doesn’t work? The patient dies on the operating table in spite of all the people praying for a different outcome. Maybe donating blood would have been a more beneficial use of time.

I have asked this question on occasion. Not very many people have a good answer. Most send me off to some other resource that talks about it. That’s fine, but it seems like a fundamental thing to be well grounded about if one is investing the time and (emotional) energy in it.

Non-Linear

NonLinearHuman systems are non-linear.

Take the human auditory system, for example. In music an octave represents a doubling (or halving) of the pitch. In frequencies (Hertz) it also represents double. But the scale changes as the pitch increases. 41 Hz (low E*) to 82 Hz (octave higher E) is double, and a change of 41 Hertz. The next octave requires a change of 82 Hertz, and so on. Volume works the same way. Doubling it takes roughly 10 times the power in watts. To double the volume of a 100 watt sound system will thus require 1000 watts. Doubling the volume of that requires 10,000 watts.

In light the same sort of rules apply, which means it’s easier to tell the difference between two flashlights that are 5 lumens apart when one is just 3 lumens bright than it is to tell them apart when one is 100 lumens.

It’s easier to tell the difference between two bags of flour that are three ounces apart in weight when one weighs a pound, than it is to tell the difference between two bags that are three ounces apart when one weighs twenty pounds.

Making a difference…

The more stimulus you’re getting (light, sound, pressure, delight, sadness) the less easily you can notice a small change. If you’re entering a market filled with loudness, it’s harder to be noticed, even if the incremental benefit you offer seems large to you. If you’re trying to impress, the more impressed someone has been, the more you need to do to turn heads. If someone is miserable a small compliment may make her day.

One more reason to seek out those that are both interested and underserved.

* Tuned to A=440 Hz.



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