Gronk, JuJu, etc.

Three professionals viciously hit others in their weekend work. Were they intentional? At least some were. Each initially suspended NFL player heard from NFL VP of Football Operations Jon Runyan…

To New England’s Rob Gronkowski, who launched his body on top of a down man, forcibly hitting him in the back of the head when the play was already over:

“Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.’ Those hits include the play you were involved in yesterday.”

To Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, who blindsided a linebacker, put him on the ground, and then stood on top of the defender he personally put into concussion protocol, gloating about his self-perceived accomplishment:

“You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night’s game. Specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then ‘celebrated’ the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. Your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player.”

And to Cincinnati’s George Iloka, who speared a still-in-the-air, opposing receiver dangerously in the head, potentially taking revenge for Smith-Schuster…

“On a play which began with 3:55 left in the game, you violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game’ and has encouraged the league office to suspend offenders for egregious violations such as the one you committed last night.”

[Note: all three appealed their suspensions; only Iloka’s was reversed.]

Here’s the thing…

What each of the above did was wrong. It was bad behavior, poor judgment, awful, sinful, vicious, you-name-it. As one of my brothers said simply but profoundly, “If that happens on the street rather than the football field, it would be a crime.” That’s how violent each hit was.

So hence, the question…

Does being a Patriots fan keep us from seeing Gronkowski’s viciousness?
Does being a Steelers fan blind us from wrestling with the sad haughtiness of JuJu’s gloating after the hit?
And does being a Bengals fan make us think what Iloka did was not really all that bad?

In other words, does our loyalty impede our objectivity?

What about in areas more sobering and serious than football?

What about regarding the current focus on harassment, abuse, and sexual misconduct?

Does being loyal to a person or party keep us from seeing the viciousness?

Can we still wrestle with reality?

Or do we become a little more lenient, depending who the allegations are against, thinking it couldn’t have been quite so bad?

For the record, I root for the Bengals; Gronkowski is a key player on my playoff-bound fantasy team; and one of my besties is a diehard Steeler fan. Hence, I am significantly challenged here.

Our challenge, no less, should never diminish our objectivity.


gratitude… it’s good for our health

So this week I was challenged in the area of gratitude. I was challenged to be intentional in practicing it. Let’s face it. Grateful people are not grumpy people. And it’s no fun being grumpy.

Take not my word for it. Take Harvard’s…

Twelve years ago, three postdoctoral fellows who were concerned about the anxiety and depression that heart disease can set off designed the Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program at Harvard Medical School.

As reported earlier this year in the Harvard Gazette:

“Patients set for discharge attend an in-person training session and receive a manual with eight to 16 weeks of daily exercises. These exercises include writing letters of gratitude, performing acts of kindness, and reflecting on past successes. Participants also receive a weekly phone call from one of the program’s five trainers, who reviews the previous week, reinforces the positive message, and encourages exercise and other goals.

‘I try to emphasize gratitude: Think of three positive events during the week, small or large,’ said Carol Mastromauro, a social worker and trainer who has been with the program from the start. ‘I ask people to practice that if they’re sitting in a traffic jam. In a way, it’s kind of homework. Give yourself a breather, take a mini-vacation.’

The three studies conducted by the program so far have highlighted its ability to improve patient outlooks, Huffman said. Three more now underway are testing the link between a positive mental attitude and health.

‘What we’ve learned so far — small but important steps — is that if we ask patients to learn how to identify the good things in their life — write a letter of gratitude, imagine a better future, do acts of kindness — people with heart disease and other chronic illnesses are willing to sign up for the studies, willing to do the interventions and feel better when they do, with increased happiness, decreased anxiety, decreased depression,’ Huffman said. ‘We feel pretty confident about that.’”

Note the effects of a grateful life… identifying the good things… intentionally thanking and focusing on others… A grateful life may even actually help us live longer.

And yet, expressing gratitude for what we already have seems so countercultural to a society that is always pushing us for something “more”…

… more money…
… more success…
… more power…
… more offense…
… more influence…

But what would it change if we looked at what we had as enough?

What would it change — not that we need to stop striving, seeking, and finding — but what would it change if our focus was less on our stuff and less on our self but more thankful for what’s in our life and for others?

Isn’t that the reality?

Grumpiness is often self-focused.

I mean no disrespect, friends. I mean, I can be grumpy with the best of them.

But more often than not, when I am grumpy, it’s usually because of something I don’t like or I’m frustrated with or I’m mad about or choose to show no grace or patience or empathy for. Grumpy is thus often based on “me.” When I’m grumpy, I’m not generous with my gratitude… my grace either.

Today — aware of the holiday season ahead of us — why don’t we intentionally choose gratitude?

Sounds like it’d be good for our health.


what happens when we know the harasser?

On Wednesday many watched NBC’s “Today Show” anchor, Savannah Guthrie, struggle to maintain her poise as she announced the firing of Matt Lauer due to alleged sexual misconduct. Shortly after 7 a.m., Guthrie announced the termination of her professional peer and personal friend.

“… As I’m sure you can imagine, we are devastated and we are still processing all of this…

… We are heartbroken.

I’m heartbroken for Matt. He is my dear, dear friend and my partner and he is beloved by many, many people here.

And I’m heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story and any other women who have their own stories to tell.”

Guthrie was visibly, emotionally shaken.

In recent weeks accusations have been made toward many. Primarily toward men at this point, the alleged bad behavior knows no bounds, as its been accused in men of all ages, races, parties, etc. — even in men who have long claimed to be advocates for women.

One respected friend of mine, who has long professionally advocated for women and victims of abuse and domestic violence, was asked this week if she was surprised. “No, not at all.” For years she’s heard stories; for years she’s worked with victims. For years she’s been aware of the probability of kept secrets by our favorite anchors, actors, teachers, business owners, etc. Even by our friends.

That’s the challenge; is it not?

There is no defense for the man who harasses a woman. (True, there is no defense for the woman who harasses a man, but such is not part of the current cultural conversation.) But what happens, when the person who behaves badly — like Lauer and Guthrie — is known and loved by us?

What happens when we know them?

As Guthrie stated at the end of her announcement, “We are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks. How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? And I don’t know the answer to that.”

Does knowing the person — and knowing them well — change anything?

It certainly does not change the lack of defense (… and on a total tangent, I’d really like to see our defense of the person not alter or be more or less grace-giving pending party affiliation or fear of losing that person’s potential vote… wrong is wrong is wrong…).

But here’s the challenge… There will be a “next.” There will be a “next” for Matt Lauer, a “next” for Kevin Spacey, a “next” for Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Garrison Keillor, and all those accused. There’s a whole list of accusations; granted, we don’t know at this point if they are all true. But if to the extent that the allegations are true and the abuser is repentant and remorseful — if they humble themselves and change from their wicked ways — do we allow them to have a “what’s next”?

Do we allow them to serve their time, so-to-speak, and then positively contribute to society once again?

Or are they now deemed incapable? … we’re simply done with them, and they just need to be quiet and fade into the backdrop of life so we never hear from them any more?

Or… (and this is a big “or”) does it depend on if we know and love them?

In other words, assuming individual repentance, do we only forgive those we know? Or do we forgive none of them?

This is today’s zillion dollar question, friends. And it’s a tough one. Please know, too, that forgiveness never equates to an absence of wise boundaries, an ignorance of consequence, nor pretending that the offense never happened. Forgiveness instead means we release our anger and resentment toward a person, recognizing how the fiercely holding on primarily only hurts us.

Are we selective in our offering and withholding of forgiveness and acceptance?

Or again, as Guthrie states, “… How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?”


enemies no more

First published in 1928, German vet Erich Maria Remarque wrote “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The fictional account depicts some of the intense physical and emotional stress experienced by WWI soldiers, while also describing the challenging attempts to resume civilian life once back home. The book (and its sequel) was later banished and burned in Nazi Germany. I wonder if such was in part due to one of the book’s most powerful accounts.

As told by blogger Scott Higgins…

“Erich Remarque’s book, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ tells of a remarkable encounter between two enemy soldiers during the Second World War. During battle a German soldier took shelter in crater made by artillery shells. Looking around he saw a man wounded, an enemy soldier. He was dying. The German soldier’s heart went out to him. He gave him water from his canteen and listened as the dying man spoke of his wife and children. The German helped him find his wallet and take out pictures of his family to look at one last time.

In that encounter these two men ceased to be enemies. The German had seen the wounded soldier in a new way. Not as an enemy combatant but as a father, a husband, someone who loves and is loved. Someone just like him.

This is always the path of peace and reconciliation, learning to truly see the other and in them recognizing someone just like yourself.”

For years the Intramuralist has advocated for what’s good and true and right. Reconciliation is one of those things. Few things are more powerful, moving, and contagious than reconciliation.

And yet we live in a society which increasingly justifies not reconciling. We live in a society that seems to instead justify adding to our personal enemy lists.

Last week “The View” cohost Joy Behar appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” in a seemingly sincere segment addressing the difficulty in conversing with persons who feel differently than she does about the current state of political affairs. Behar then averred that she did not believe supporters of Pres. Trump and opposers could actually find a way to live together. In the ensuing roundtable discussion, the cohosts and others seriously wondered aloud if such was even possible.

My heart saddens. Not because it’s about Pres. Trump; we could make it about another person and still find the same sort of heated division. The reality is that society has morally digressed so far that we now often see opposition as people we can’t live with… people we can’t speak with. We see them as enemy combatants.

We justify seeing them as combatants.

But what would it change if instead of looking at another as the enemy combatant, we saw the person differently?

What would it change?

We might not agree with them. We might still think they’re a little off. But what if we actually, intentionally looked at them differently — humbling ourselves long enough, seeking to love and understand — what would that change?

What would happen, if, just like the German soldier — who had far more on his personal vendetta list than most of us will ever have — if instead of seeing those who fought a different fight or came from a different angle — even militarily — what if we could see that person as… a father, a husband…

… someone who loves and is loved…

… someone just like us.

This is us, folks. If we could only realize that, wouldn’t we solve more? Wouldn’t we listen better? And wouldn’t we love better and more? Wouldn’t we also rid ourselves of some of the hatred that has unknowingly settled within our own hearts? It’s so deep and passionate we can’t always even tell it’s hatred?

That reconciliation would be so good, so true, and yes, so right.

It’s also always beautiful.


ok to discriminate against one?

Let’s juxtapose two different legal proceedings.

First, as reported by the progressive advocacy news site, “Think Progress,” in May…

“At last, Jane Meyer gets to celebrate a victory.

The former senior associate athletic director at the University of Iowa sued the university for gender and sexual orientation discrimination, whistleblower violations, and unequal pay. On Thursday, she was awarded $1.43 million in damages from a Polk County jury…

Meyer began working at Iowa in 2001, when she was hired by then-athletics director Bob Bowlsby as the senior women’s administrator. She was the second-in-command in that department, and Bowlsby gave her excellent performance reviews and indications that she would be able to run her own athletic department some day. But everything changed when Bowlsby left the school in 2006 and Gary Barta became athletics director…

At the end of 2014, Meyer gave Barta a memo outlining the gender discrimination she had witnessed and experienced in the department. The following day she was reassigned to another program at the university, away from the athletics community she loved.”

Second, as reported by the conservative commentary,, a little over a month ago…

“Former college basketball star Camille LeNoir was hired to be a college assistant coach. However, the offer was rescinded when the school found out from an old YouTube video that she was no longer gay. Not only did she no longer identify as gay, she said it was a sin.

LeNoir’s former coach at New Mexico State University, Mark Trakh, offered her a job as an assistant basketball coach. But just two days before she was to leave for New Mexico, he called her to rescind the offer. Trakh informed her that he’d watched a 2011 YouTube video where LeNoir talked about basketball, sexuality and faith.

For most of her collegiate career, LeNoir was in a relationship with women. After college, LeNoir played basketball in Greece, where she was the top Point Guard of the league. It was during her time in Greece that she felt convicted to leave homosexuality…

Trakh told LeNoir to pull the video or she’d never work in the industry. ‘I felt the job was taken away because of my heterosexuality,’ she said. She’s now suing New Mexico State in a U.S. District Court. She said she was discriminated against because of her religious beliefs and sexuality. New Mexico State claims in court documents that LeNoir’s statements on homosexuality in the film would ‘have had an adverse impact’ on her ‘ability to effectively coach and recruit players who identify as LGBT’…

‘I never had a chance to talk to anyone, to share,’ LeNoir told The Washington Post. ‘It’s like they took this video and the fact that I’m heterosexual now and made decisions without getting to know the Camille six years later.’

‘I believe it was an injustice,’ said Camille. ‘A huge injustice.’”

So two women feel discriminated against…

One because she is gay.
And one because she is not.

Assuming the accusations are true (which has yet to be determined in the latter case), allow me a brief series of sincere questions:

Is discrimination ever ok?

Why would we be sensitive to only some injustice? Why would we be sensitive to only one of the above?

And, in our sincere efforts to love and respect some, why do we sometimes justify the victimization of someone else?

Respectfully… always…

last week’s questions

As this semi-humble current events blogger, attempts to have a pulse on the world around us, often it helps to scan the news for the latest questions. True, the question mark is notably the Intramuralist’s favorite piece of punctuation, as it’s the only punctuation mark that invites a response.

I wonder how we would each respond to last week’s questions, each of the 50, which at some point was a featured headline…

  1. Does Intellectual Humility Matter for Democracy?
  2. Is Being Good Good for You?
  3. On Taxes, Who’ll Be Crying in Their Beer?
  4. What Does Patriotism Mean?
  5. What’s the Matter With Transparency?
  6. Can My Children Be Friends With White People?
  7. Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World?
  8. What Will Happen to the UCLA Players in Trouble in China?
  9. How Will California Pay for Free Community College?
  10. Do Better Tests Lead to Better Teaching?
  11. Is the Middle East Breaking Up?
  12. What If All Americans Went Vegan?
  13. What Are Your Thoughts on the Latest College Football Playoff Rankings?
  14. Liberals Still Aghast at Trump, But What Good Has It Done?
  15. Who Will Vote for Republicans Next Year?
  16. Write-in Option for Voters?
  17. Could Prince Harry Ever Marry Divorcee Meghan Markle?
  18. Can a Robot Join the Faith?
  19. Should We Fear Robots?
  20. Is There an Intrinsic Morality of the Free Market?
  21. Want More Gilmore Girls Episodes?
  22. Will Schools Start Lying About Attendance Rates?
  23. Can Religious Symbols Be Tolerated on Public Lands?
  24. Pre-Black Friday Sales: BS or a Good Deal?
  25. Is the Gun-Maker Liable?
  26. Did World War I Not Teach World Anything?
  27. LeBron Looking to Make a Statement at MSG?
  28. What Will Happen This Winter?
  29. Why Do We Sleep?
  30. Are We Born Believing in God?
  31. After Wacky a Week, What Happened to Reliable Fantasy Studs?
  32. Did Crabs Hide Amelia Earhart’s Remains?
  33. Is This the Future of Commuting?
  34. Can You Really Be Addicted to Sex?
  35. What Policies Can Really Lower Drug Prices?
  36. What Happens When Secular Ideals and Tenets of Faith Conflict?
  37. Do We Understand the 2nd Amendment Anymore?
  38. What’s Wrong With Sidney Crosby?
  39. Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair Loss?
  40. Does a Litigious Culture Undermine Our Capacity for Humility?
  41. More Lawyers or More Justice?
  42. What Is Moral Injury?
  43. Does China have a Grand Strategy?
  44. Is Trump’s Base Support Slipping?
  45. Do Trump’s Liberal Critics Seem Increasingly Unhinged?
  46. When Does a Watershed Become a Sex Panic?
  47. Who Should Pay for Electric Vehicle Chargers?
  48. Is God Wholly Separate from the Material Universe?
  49. Can You Learn to Control Your Mind?
  50. (… and, maybe my favorite this week…) Why Don’t Fish Swim Upside Down?

Amazing the variety of perspective we could learn… that is, if we actually took time to ask questions.


a social experiment

Every now and then I really like a line on this blog so much, I think it and say it over and over; sometimes it’s more than a line. I keep thinking today of how each of us contributes — knowingly or unknowingly — to the division in this country. As stated Thursday, “Our national divide will never get better if we keep contributing to the fire. We’re adding fuel to the fire with our sideways comments… our angry posts, our cutting comments on social media… the rolling of our eyes when people are sharing their stories.” Yes, we are part of the problem.

I have a good friend with whom I have long bantered over all sorts of stuff… from music and kids to healthcare and home life. We’ve long been able to talk about all. We don’t always agree, but we both recognize that agreement is not necessary for unity; respectful dialogue is always more important. We are both sharpened via such.

In recent months, my friend found herself tempted to be more of the problem, contributing to that division. It’s easy, folks. Sometimes we don’t even recognize our involvement. We feel strongly… react strongly… sometimes even baiting another by posting something provocative… maybe they’ll say something disrespectful or outlandish back… then everyone will see that they are the problem.

Unfortunately, we are part of the problem.

Recognizing such, my friend decided to conduct a small but significant social experiment. With her permission, I share such with you now…

What exactly was your experiment?

I wanted to see if I could change the quality of my Facebook feed and take control of the algorithms. I unfollowed anything political in nature — all news and current event pages — and I unfollowed friends who only post provocative political posts. I also marked all like ads as irrelevant — and I replaced them with pages that promoted peace, joy, kindness, etc. I began liking posts like crazy that were similarly peaceful and positive and then hiding posts that triggered anger, sadness, or hopelessness.

What motivated your experiment?

My feed had become 90% news and politics. Funny thing is that before the 2016 election, I hid many abrasive conservative friends. After the election, I had to hide my abrasive liberal friends, too — who were doing the exact same thing, just from the other side. I don’t care for Pres. Trump, but I didn’t need to hear the sky was falling every time I opened my feed. My gut then told me the steady diet of political opinion was unhealthy and responsible for my emotional funk. I had to change the diet or continue feeling badly.

What have you learned?

I’ve learned that I feel better when I stay clear of the political backbiting. I was taking every snipe personally, feeling defensive and hopelessly unable to control the mess in our country. I’ve become better at observing others without my heart getting so personally involved. I’ve learned it’s pretty easy to change your social media feed.

What has surprised you?

I was surprised how easy it was to change. By limiting my exposure to the bad stuff and focusing on what unites us, I began to feel better immediately.

Do you feel like you know any less than you used to?

No. I can tell if something major happens by other people’s posts. I’m then forced to go to actual, factual news sites, avoiding the provocative spin of social media.

Will you keep it up?

Yes. No second guessing. I want my involvement in social media to promote peace and loving kindness — to all. I don’t want to be drawn into any mudslinging.

What else?

I think it’s important that we take charge of the angry rhetoric being thrown around — rhetoric that only divides us. We need to realize how easy it is to become part of the problem.

My friend also added that she wishes to help build that path to unity — to positively influence those around her — to intentionally build positive relationships.

Building positive relationships… dare I say, so much wiser than any fueling of the fire.



sutherland springs

Sunday mornings are a reprieve for me. I walk in, typically greeting a few friends along the way — some greetings shorter than others, recognizing we each pushed the time to the max hoping not to be late. But I sit, relax, and intentionally attempt to throw off all the thoughts, troubles, and to-do lists on my brain and submit them to someone bigger than me. I try to center myself and be still, preparing for the rest of the week.

That’s really the bottom line for me. Going to church — and not like there’s any rule somewhere that we all have to go to the same church every Sunday at 9:30 or whatever a.m. — but going to church and intentionally resting and refocusing is the recognition that there actually is someone bigger than me. I don’t always get it. I don’t understand everything there is to know. But recognizing the reality of God is the start to wisdom and growth. I need that. Without that recognition — or, in other words, with the ulterior assumption that any of us could possibly be on par with God’s wisdom, omniscience, or goodness — what’s right and moral in this world becomes ambiguous; what’s right and moral evolves based on individual experience.

While I’ve never been a “rule follower” (yes, just ask my parents), there is no “rule” that says we have to be in church on Sunday mornings. I go not because I follow a rule; I go because it centers me. It helps me refocus. It helps me not put “me” in the center of my world and thinking.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to go attempt to refocus — and then have the epitome of evil show up.

On Sunday, a man armed most with evil walked into a church building that held about 50 people in a Texas town of only a few hundred. Most churchgoers were injured; 26 died. One survivor, gut-wrenchingly, lost his pregnant wife, three of his children, and his parents, with two more of his children in critical condition at the time of this writing.

At this time it’s too early to know all the details. In fact, with the shooter’s death, we may never know all… what was in the head of the gunman? … how long was this planned? … why here? … why now? … what set him off? … was he ill? All are questions we will attempt to find an answer to in the days ahead; all are also questions we may never answer with certainty.

But I can’t get past that here in a weekend gathering, a setting that occurs in all-sized towns across the country in which people come to rest and refocus — where the people recognize that “we” are not all there is — that someone would come blow up the deep sincerity and serenity of that moment. In essence, evil pierced the peace.

That grieves me.

Regardless of the unknown answers, regardless of the shooter’s potential mental illness, this killing of the innocent is the manifestation of some form of evil. I don’t say that angrily. I say it soberly… with tears in my eyes and a pit in my stomach. Murder is evil. That grieves me.

This is a moment, friends, in which we could come together. We could each bow down, refocus, and recognize that there must be something or someone bigger than us.

We are heartbroken about the evil. We are heartbroken about the gruesome deaths. We gasp at the pics of the children whose lives were tragically ended. “Why?! Why did this happen??”

And in those heart-wrenching questions, we have the potential to together submit ourselves to the only one or thing that has the answers — because friends, the reality is that sometimes life on this planet simply doesn’t make sense.

What do we do when it doesn’t make sense? For me, it serves as an intentional return to submitting to someone wiser than me. When we fail to recognize that we have often mixed up the positioning — meaning we put any of us on par with the wisdom and righteousness of God — conflict ensues.

And then — as if on some sort of enemy’s cue — we fight.

We fight. We don’t solve. We don’t grieve. We don’t seek to understand. We don’t say, “Lord, help me. Help us all. Help those so hurt by this horrific tragedy.” We instead fight.

And with all due respect to each of us — as sometimes we are part of the problem — myself included — that fighting grieves me even more.

God be with the victims and families in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Be in small town America. Be in our big towns. Be with each of us, too.



So over the weekend, after months of planning and putting multiple things in place, the Intramuralist & Co. moved into a new home. In other words if you could see me now and take note of my current, domestic surroundings, you would see a box to my left, a box to my right, and a creative selection of odds and ends all in between. Things are a bit more messy at the moment. There’s a ton to untangle and much to unpack, but… all things are “new.”

What is it about “all things new” that attracts us?

A fresh start?
Clean backdrop?
New relationships?
A do over?

An opportunity to change things up?
Do them better?
Learn from past mistakes?

An opportunity, for instance, not to plaster that one last pic or divisive opinion on social media?

There is simply something within the “all things new” idea that is empowering and attractive… that opportunity to start anew.

I’m wondering if we sometimes get into behavioral and ideological ruts — like “this is what I do” or “this is how I think” — and therefore because, “this is how I think, I’m always going to think this way”… as if it what we do and think could never be new.

The challenge, it seems is when we cast those ruts onto another — when we put another into a so-called, stereotypical box. For example… “This is what they do, so they’re always going to do it that way”… “this is how they think”… and the ultimate, “this is who they are.”

In other words, we judge them.
(Granted… it’s pretty easy and convenient to judge…)

But what if our assessment of “them” isn’t accurate?

What if we’re (God forbid) wrong in what we think of them?

What if they’ve grown? … they’ve changed? … and they have found the freedom and freshness of “all things new”?

Hence (in today’s zillion dollar question), what if we could see “them” differently?

My sense is that judgment is clouding our assessment. It’s impeding us from seeing the growth and the good in another. It’s blocking us from fording another the same opportunity we crave — to “do and think” differently — to make “all things new.”

And if it’s blocking us from seeing the good in another, it’s blocking, also, the wisdom in us.

As said by the Chernoffs in “1,000+ Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently,” “When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself.”

It seems like we’re missing a lot of good…

… in ourselves.



the mysterious effect

It’s been referenced in multiple publications… The New York Times, Huffington Post, People Magazine, “Next Door as It Is in Heaven”…

It’s been called an “effect” — even a “mystery.” It’s been talked about, written about, and studied for decades.

“It” is Roseto… Roseto, Pennsylvania… a small borough in eastern Pennsylvania, not far from the Jersey state line. It is named for the village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, as the small town was largely settled by German, Dutch and Italian Americans. The mysterious effect of what happened in Roseto fits right within a current theme discussed here. This, my friends, is fascinating. Something within is good and right and true.

As said by authors Brad Brisco and Lance Ford…

“In the early 1960s a happenstance conversation over beers one evening between two doctors was the precursor to what has come to be know as ‘the Roseto effect.’ A local physician casually mentioned to the head of medicine at the University of Oklahoma that it seemed as if heart disease was rarer in his town of Roseto, a small village nestled in the hills of eastern Pennsylvania named for the Italian city that are the roots of its founders, in comparison to nearby cities. Researchers began an extensive study of Roseto, discovering a near-zero cardiac mortality rate for men aged fifty-five to sixty-four. For men above sixty-five, the local death rate was half the national average.

Why did this diminutive Italian-immigrant settlement boast such extraordinary heart health? Researchers assumed the answer lay in diet, exercise, and labor habits. But the investigators were stunned to discover this was not the case at all. The citizens drank plenty of wine and subsisted on classic Italian foods rich with cholesterol-laden pastas and sausages deep-fried in animal fat. Smoking was a daily habit for the men, who worked in back-breaking and toxic conditions in the local quarry.

None of this made sense to the researchers. The medical field was stumped. Microscopes would not be able to solve the mystery. So they brought in clipboard-carrying sociologists, who visited with town officials and went door to door to interview the Roseto citizens. Several unusual elements caught the eye of the researchers. For starters, the crime rate was zero, and there were no applications for public assistance. Yes, you read that right: no crime and no social services requested. Nada. Zilch. A rich community-wide social life was practiced, not divided along economic or educational lines. The haves and have-nots played, partied, and prayed together. The wealthy did not flaunt there affluence and seemed to make a conscious effort to avoid doing so. Local businesses received virtually all patronage of the townsfolk, despite larger stores nearby in surrounding towns. And though families were close-knit and took special care of their own, researchers discovered a spirit of assistance, friendly concern, and a tangible regard for neighbors and non-family as well.

It seemed to the examiners that no one was alone. The elderly were not placed into institutions and were actually ‘installed as informal judges and arbitrators in everyday life and commerce.’

The medical community was left to conclude that the secret of such astonishingly high cardiac health in individuals in Roseto was because of the community heart that beat for one another. The people in the community had healthy hearts because the community had a heart for one another.

Sadly, the Roseto effect would not last. In 1963 researchers keenly predicted that ‘as Rosetans became more Americanized (meaning less close, less modest and less interdependent), they would also become less healthy.’ The American Journal of Public Health revisited Roseto in 1992 and found Rosetans suffering the same statistical rate of heart disease as neighboring cities. What happened? Single-family homes had become the new norm, fences appeared, and churches moved to the outskirts of town. Community fabric wore thin, and with it the sheltering warmth it had provided.

The lessons from Roseto are remarkable. Roseto had been a competent community. While its inhabitants were no wealthier than the average American town, their quality of life was improved by their interconnectedness. Abundant communities have the capacity to take care of one another. They are convinced the basic everyday needs, along with many unexpected bumps in the road of life, can be met by the collective talent, skill, wisdom, and durable goods already present in the home and garages in their neighborhood.”

In other words, the secret to health wasn’t wealth, social status, or the size of their homes. It was not about diet or exercise, nor was there anything forced upon these residents. They simply chose to do life together. They chose to live in and promote community.