Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dreaming the Bigger Dream

In the early 1980's, two leftie Berkeley computer programmers founded a company to sell embedded systems software - the software running on machines behind the scenes, like ATMs.

An immigrant who grew up in South Korea was their first employee and business partner. He still felt the ache in his bones from malnutrition of growing up in a country impacted by the aftermath of the second World War, in the 1960s. The three of them used to work out of their homes, dressing and working casually. When the Department of Defense found out about their work and wanted to contract with them, they would hang up the phone.

A few years later, when the company was taking off with real offices and a growing customer base, the two founders had a falling out with the first employee. The company had started selling to military contractors like Boeing and the Department of Defense. They told him to grow up, that he was being too idealistic, and someone else, if not them, would still sell such software to these companies. There was no active war at that time. 

My friend said it was blood money and returned all of his shares in the company. The founders mocked him for his beliefs and idealism. They had grown up with privileges in the U.S. he had only dreamed about as a child. The company became the largest of its kind in the world.

Today, the company makes and sells the software that operates U.S. military drones. An estimated 3500 - 5000 people have been killed by drone attacks, including four U.S. citizens and about 200 children. There is no clear plan as to when these attacks will stop.

We are not perfect in what we choose to do, but every choice has an impact downstream. Because your choices may not seem to be harming anyone and bring you success and money doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. If you are idealistic, others may think you are being judgmental, foolish, or getting in the way. Yet it is important for each person to challenge their choices and dream of bigger dreams.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You shall know the truth

There are different levels of awareness of one's truths.

On one level, there is the surface explanations that are convenient to keep the status quo and a functional denial in place. For example, in a divorce filing, a wife claimed that her husband deliberately and willfully squeezed the tube of toothpaste and left the top off. Certainly, the reasons for wanting to end a marriage go much deeper than a tube of toothpaste. Another example of a surface explanation are friends who claim they are just too busy to call back, when the truth might be an intentional avoidance.

Finding deeper levels of the truth, that in fact the wife is fearful that the husband will never respect her needs, or that a friend finds your public behavior embarrassing because of its similarity to his or her parent, is important because it takes a tremendous amount of energy to contain and keep the truth from oneself and others. I have observed that when a person says to another or oneself what he or she is most afraid of expressing and acknowledges that reality,
the situation changes. Speaking to a core truth, whether or not another person acknowledges it, can create a shift in the world.

Truth telling is the recognition of what is complete in the moment and naming it. In many cultures' mythologies, it is the naming of a spirit, knowing the truth behind a deception, or uncovering a mystery that leads to the next stage of growth.

What layers of the truth do you have yet to uncover?

Friday, December 05, 2008

To allow yourself to be taken by life, by God

I often write in my journal during challenging times and good times as well. The practice of reflection can help to integrate and synthesize experiences, to draw the bitterness out of difficult circumstances and to highlight the preciousness of uplifting times.

During a period of extreme personal challenge in the spring of last year, I wrote some thoughts to recapture my faith. I condensed these thoughts into a quote, which to my surprise seems to have touched many people. It lives in my email signature.

To allow yourself to be taken by life, by God to the shallow edges and the deep ocean, to learn to live with fear, to seek to serve, to be gracious, to love. Perhaps that is all there is - not the having, but the practice of being carried and submitting to that which calls you.