My Word for 2022, Civility

As I have blogged before, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I allow a word to pick me and then understand and practice that word in my life for the upcoming year. I believe the word that has my attention for 2022 is civility.

Civil war is a big concern I have heading into 2022. Barbara F. Walter is a poli sci professor at UCSD and an expert on civil wars, terrorism, and violent extremism. She has a book coming out in January 2022,  How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them. She was interviewed by David Remnick, The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast. Give a listen at this link. Walter serves on the Political Instability Task Force (PITF) that helps the CIA predict upcoming civil wars in the world. If you go down the PITF checklist of what makes a civil war likely, the United States is in dangerous territory demonstrated by the insurrection we saw on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. As a result, the United States has moved from being a democracy to an anocracy. Walter writes, “We are no longer the world’s oldest continuous democracy. A partial democracy is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy.”
Civility is a huge behavior to move us back to democracy, BUT it requires a lot from each of us including:
– spend more time “slow thinking” rather than “fast thinking” (which is nearly 95% of our thinking!)
– be more curious and less judgmental. If you are a fan of Ted Lasso, here is a lesson in becoming more curious and less judgmental.
– embrace and practice emotional intelligence including being more self-aware, better at self-management, becoming more empathetic, and continuously practicing relationship management (a leader’s #1 responsibility!)
– acknowledge and face your fears. Brene Brown‘s research shows the opposite of love is fear. Hate and indifference are rooted in fear. Our ugly behavior, our addictions, our suffering are rooted in fear.

May civility be our New Year’s resolution as well as the gifts we give to each other going into 2022.

Climate Choice, Really?

I am part of a small group with different points of view, different beliefs, and different opinions. We call the group Building Bridges as we meet to discuss different topics led by two people in the group with different perspectives, learn of each other’s point of view, and seek to find common ground.

An upcoming discussion will be on climate choice. We have been asked to share our opinion on climate choice.

Here is my response:

I believe climate change is science, not a choice. Is gravity a choice? Is blinking a choice?  Busy is a choice. Putting on sunscreen is a choice.

“Death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.”  Seneca

Science is a process of learning and discovery. Science, like the world we live in, is not simple and requires discipline and effort. Science is a collection of facts of which we need to decipher, understand, and adapt to help us make predictions. Science like life represents reality.

“Scientific theories are not perfect replicas of reality, but we have good reason to believe that they capture significant elements of it. And experience reminds us that when we ignore reality, it sooner or later comes back to bite us.”  Naomi Oreskes

Science like us needs to be open to new information and possibilities. Observation, critical thinking, curiosity, and imagination are essential components of science as well as a life well-lived. Science recognizes it can be flawed and with additional observation, critical thinking, curiosity, and imagination, it will update and correct itself. The science behind our continuously learning of COVID, its characteristics, the way it is transmitted, its ongoing evolution is evidence.

Science is not comprised of a dominant group that decides what society will accept and what it will condemn. Science is not groups or systems within our society that adopts and supports misinformation or unsubstantiated beliefs into practices. Science is based on theory, not opinion. While you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts!
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. Aldous Huxley

In May 2019, my wife and I took an intimate Alaskan cruise. Onboard was Karen Dillman, a US Forest Service ecologist who lives in Petersburg, AK. She is a subject matter expert on lichen (of which one is named after her!), fungi, glaciers, and forest ecology. Dillman lead us on exploration hikes and gave talks on subjects of her expertise. It turns out that lichen are climate change indicators! Lichen are a keystone species in many ecosystems; serve as a food source for rodents, birds, and many other animals; provide nesting material for birds; protect trees from extreme weather elements. Dillman pointed out the lichen were suffering from climate change and thus rodents were not as big and plentiful which in turn impacts bald eagles that feed on rodents.

When we arrived at Sawyer glacier, Dillman pointed out that a year ago, this glacier extended out to where our boat was. The glaciers were “calving” at incredible rates due to the warmth of climate change.

Dillman pointed out the deterioration of lichen and the rapid glacier melt were primarily anthropogenic – industrial revolution, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gas emissions that have raised temperatures, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea and retreating on land. At the current rate, more than a third of the world’s glaciers will melt before the year 2100. The glacier melts we are witnessing today are changing the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and have been linked to the collapse of fisheries and the creation of more destructive storms and hurricanes around the planet.

Human beings have changed the environment in myriad ways with industry, transportation, agriculture, and land cover leading to vast increases in CO2, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and N2O. The World Data Center for Meteorology is in Asheville, NC, and tracks these gases and their impact on the earth’s environment. It requires critical thinking to unlearn unfounded, weak, or misinformed thinking nurtured over time.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose. And in our choice lies our growth and our freedom.Victor Frankl

Here is a fact: Ignore the environment and it will go away. I can make choices in how my wife and I wish to impact the environment. Did you know the average American home is over 2,300 square feet? If all 7.9 billion of earth’s current inhabitants lived in a 2,300 square foot home, Earth would need to be four times its current size. We choose to make our carbon footprint smaller by living in half that size home. Consequently, we consume less energy. We are looking to downsize to one car and choose a hybrid. Livestock contributes almost 15% of the global greenhouse gases. We choose to consume less meat.

What will you choose to do to impact the environment and assume your role as a collaborator in creation?

To The Next Person Who Sits At This Desk…

October 29, 2021

To: The next occupant of this desk

From: David Carr, HR Consultant, Human Resources, City of Asheville


I was at this desk for over 9 years! I hope you find your work to be as fulfilling as I did while using this desk!

The people I worked with were wonderful. I hope you find them equally enjoyable.

Here is my advice to you on the use and care of this desk:

First, use this desk as a tool not as a barrier! Whenever people came in to see me, I moved my chair so the desk was not a barrier between us.

When people came into this office, I gave them 100% of my attention! I avoided the distractions of computer screens and smartphones. I was fully present. (This was also important when I attended meetings.)

Second, this desk gets really old after being at it for more than eight hours. I tried not to stay late. I went home! There is no work-life balance – there is just balance. When people ask me what I do, I tell them, I am a collaborator in God’s creation, a significant other to my wife, a father to my children (even though they are grown!), a friend to my cohorts and friends, and then an HR Consultant to the City of Asheville. These were my priorities, thus the City of Asheville got just over 40 hours of work from me per week. The rest of my time went to my priorities!

Third, I emailed less and went to see people face-to-face as much as possible! In fact, if an email took longer than 5 minutes to write, there was emotion involved, and I would meet face-to-face. Emails hurt relationships! I cannot tell you how many people came into this office with a stack of printed-out emails who were in conflict with a cohort just a couple of doors down from them!

Fourth, this was a great desk to handwrite notes to people to let them know I saw them doing something right, or to thank them for helping me with a project or for being a part of the team!

Fifth, this desk was essential on late Friday afternoons! I closed the door, reflected on what went well this week; what got accomplished; who helped me; who I helped. And then I would plan for the next week. This made Sunday evening less stressful and prevented me from thinking about Monday’s work!

Best wishes for the work you are doing here at the City of Asheville! You are part of a vibrant community that makes a difference!

Carrpe Diem!

David Carr

Before I Leave…

My final presentation to the staff at the City of Asheville…a couple of key points…

People asked me what I did with the City of Asheville. I told them I was an adult playground supervisor. I helped employees play better together with sticky learning – learning by doing!

I suggested the City of Asheville staff practice five key behaviors – steal, swear, gamble, drink and lie!

Drink in relationships especially with those who don’t look, think or believe as we do! The absence of conflict is not harmony, but apathy. We need people in our lives who are disagreeable! Disagreeable people reveal our blind spots, help us to unlearn and rethink.

Swear you won’t take yourself so damn seriously!

Gamble! Speak up! Share your privilege with those without privilege – especially those who don’t look, sound, or smell like you!

We are living in an age of “Conspiracy Theories.” Walking on the moon was a Hollywood set. 9/11 was an inside job. The 2020 presidential election was stolen. COVID vaccines are weapons of mass destruction! Don’t believe everything you read or hear. Don’t believe everything you think!

I tell groups, to become a team is huge. Teams collaborate and find flow. But for a team to become a community is sacred! In a community, I can be vulnerable and share my imperfections and hear back, “Me too!” Grow your group to become a team. Grow your team to become a commUNITY!

Here is the Youtube link to my final presentation, “Before I leave…Some Closing Thoughts!”


Are We Close to a Second Civil War?

This blog was inspired by David French writing, A Whiff of Civil War in the Air.

We were driving to Lake Lure, NC, this past Saturday and drove through Chimney Rock. I stopped at a pedestrian crossing and right in front of me was a 60-something white male displaying a holstered handgun on his hip. I got a big whiff of Civil War in the air!

We live in a country of fear, and it is escalating. Fear is in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and all the screens we scan. We are oppressed by fear. It’s the monkey on our backs; the weight on our shoulders. Thus, we fear one another, we fear our leaders, we fear government, we fear business, we fear our shadow!

French writes about malice and disdain. I believe shame researcher Brene Brown would tell us malice and disdain like shame are rooted in fear.

“Malice and disdain make a person vulnerable to misinformation. Misinformation then builds more malice and disdain and enhances the commercial demand for, you guessed it, more misinformation. Rinse and repeat until entire media empires exist to supply that demand.”

Fear keeps us from sharing our vulnerability. If you learn of my weakness, I fear you will take advantage of me.

Fear is the foundation of distrust. We are consumed by distrust. Distrust feeds denial.

Fear is the foundation of cults in which the cult’s leader is seen as all-powerful, can do no wrong, and is not held accountable. A cult perpetuates us versus them mentality and establishes the binary, ‘you are with us or against us.’ Questioning, curiosity, and open-mindedness are discouraged and even punished.

Fear is destroying our democracy, which thrives on compromise. There is no compromise these days. We see opponents, people who think and believe differently from us as enemies, socialists, Marxists, sluts, nasty, snowflakes, and retards. While French writes: “With rising hatred, I’m seeing a rise in purely destructive spirit, especially on the right.” Just to be fair, I also have seen this behavior on the left.

Fear has turned relationships into transactions rather than transformations. Transactional behavior follows law, policy, and tradition rather than adjusting and changing. Transactional behavior is about maintaining the status quo rather than looking for opportunity. Unlike transactional behavior, transformational behavior deals more effectively with the VUCAs – volatility, uncertainty, confusion, and ambiguity which are the headwinds in our face today.

Fear has thrown ethics, values, and principles ‘under the bus.’ We are consumed in the short-run, individualism, and loyalty over truth. The Golden Rule is on life-support. After all, the Golden Rule challenges self-serving interests.

I have Jewish friends who fear living in the United States. They look at me as a Christian and point out how Christianity is dividing our country. Christianity is fueling fear rather than love. They say that “love thy neighbor as thyself” is a sham. Many Christians don’t walk-the-talk of Christ’s teachings. These friends are looking to move to Portugal (which is 2nd in the world in COVID vaccinations at 85% while the United States is 46th with 55% as of 10/3/2021.)

I have POC friends who are considering moving to Spain or Canada to escape racism. (Spain has one of the lowest costs of living in the world and treats BIPOC much better than here in the US according to them. Canada celebrates multiculturalism.)

So how do we overcome this epidemic of fear?

South Africa is working to overcome hate. Perhaps we should take some lessons from them. When South Africa rewrote their constitution in 1996, it sought input from the public. They got over 2 million responses! The opening line of their constitution reads: “We, the people of South Africa, recognize the injustices of our past.” The US Constitution focuses on government structure while the South African Constitution focus is on human rights, including the right to dignity and respect.

We need to learn about our history, our past beyond what is white-washed in high school. I read Boston College American History Professor Heather Cox Richardson who publishes daily, Letters from an American. She schools me about the history of this country I never learned. She continuously reveals how we fail to learn lessons from our past. She adds substance to French’s OP-ED as well as Robert Kagan’s OP-ED on our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here.

Finally, we must mindfully get out of our comfort zones, including our echo chambers, and seek to have hard conversations with others who think and believe differently than we do. When we hear something that is contrary to our belief and stokes our fear, ask a question rather than respond with our point of view, label, or shut down. Stay engaged. Stand in their shoes! Practice empathy and compassion. Find common values and principles.

When I learned the process for identifying core values, discovering purpose, developing a mission statement, and creating strategic plans, I was taught EVERY strategic plan has the same mega starting point: What kind of world do we want to create for tomorrow’s child? As the grandfather of a six-month-old, this challenge has become a living challenge. How about you?

Juneteenth and an Invitation

I wish I could say “Happy Juneteeth,” but this is a day of remembrance much like Memorial Day (which I think we fail to recognize the gravity, the solemn remembrance, and the purpose of the day instead of the  beginning of summer!)

Juneteenth…why should I care? Why should I be interested?

Do you remember the Juneteenth history lesson from high school history class or even in college? I don’t.

Juneteenth was an 89-year-old catch-up to the Declaration of Independence that all men (and women, LGBTQ+, Hispanic, Indigenous, Asian,…) were created equal (even though it failed to recognize different circumstances require different resources and opportunities were/are needed to reach equal outcomes.)

Did you know that Juneteenth occurred 2.5 years after President Lincoln signed Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas where 25% of white Texans owned slaves? Over 30% of the population of Texas were slaves. After the announcement of “all slaves were free,” over 400 freed slaves were murdered over the following three years.

Juneteenth is a reminder that every historic step taken by Black people as well as anyone else who is not white has been met by fierce resistance. Even the 1968 Civil Rights Act and the 2008 election of a Black president have shown fierce resistance.

Juneteeth adds to our national narrative about an important part of American history that is uncomfortable, but which we can not ignore.

Question. How long can our democracy survive if it has no self-respect, no courage to acknowledge the truth? How long can our democracy survive when we turn our heads from the cries of “I can’t breathe”?

Question. Are you up for “Uneasy Conversations on Socialization, Racism, and Privilege?”

Beginning Tuesday, July 6, 2021, from 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM EST and running for five consecutive weeks via Zoom, up to 18 participants will have conversations…
– On the four levels of racism.
– How I as a white person unconsciously contributes to the four levels of racism.
– The untaught history of the United States.
– Examine what it means to be inclusive and empathetic.
– Examine and reflect on “Silence is Violence” including, “What does it mean to be anti-racist?”

I will send out an email before each session with suggested videos, articles, and podcasts to watch, read and/or listen to. I will also send key questions we will discuss.

These discussions will be limited to 18 participants. I am asking for a small financial contribution to show commitment.

If you are interested in being a part of this, email me, and I will add you to the roster.

To the Graduates of the Class of 2021: Did You Carpe Annum?

Did you carpe annum – “seize the year” – this past year? How well did you carpe annum? Perhaps these questions can help you answer this question:
What did I do this past year that I have never done before?
What was my most outstanding achievement?
What did I celebrate?
Where did I extend myself versus pullback?
What was a memorable book I read; an amazing podcast I listened to?
What made this past year more satisfying?
What gave me hope?
What gave me stability?
What valuable lesson did I learn this past year?
What is the quote that summarizes this past year for me?
What got etched into my memory this past year that I will never forget?

“My life feels like a test I didn’t study for.” – Unknown

Were you tested on patience, self-awareness, and self-control this past year? College admissions counselors are checking to see if you passed these three behaviors as part of being accepted to their institutions. They are also interested in how open and curious you are. It indicates your ability to learn and grow.

Let’s acknowledge what a year you graduates of 2021 experienced! Perhaps the greatest experience was of denial! How did denial show up in your life? Denial indicates a learning disability and ignorance of the truth. Denial is an addiction in which reality is distorted, including ignoring the problem, minimizing concerns, and blaming others. Denial is a coping mechanism used to justify or rationalize warped thinking and ugly behavior.

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going away.”     – Elvis Presley

We have a crisis of denial of the 2020 Presidential Election results. Some are calling the election “The Big Lie.” More than 60 lawsuits brought by POTUS 45 and his allies failed due to a lack of evidence to prove their allegations. Numerous state election recounts have revealed no voter fraud. Question: Suppose there was a referendum on governance in the United States. Would you vote for the Constitution and democracy or vote for despotism and disarrangement?

“I grew up as a democrat, so I always thought that it was just half the government that was evil. But now, of course, I’m a little bit more of a grown-up, and I understand that it’s actually one-party rule – and it’s professional wrestling.” – Jimmy Dore

We have denial in vaccination against COVID. Where do our rights over our bodies end, and our duty to the common good begin? In a pandemic event, shouldn’t personal liberty be second to public safety? COVID has revealed our fear and distrust. As I write this, 1 in 4 Americans will not take a COVID vaccination, thus making herd immunity much harder to achieve.

“Ignorance does not make you fireproof when the world is burning.” – Nelou Keramati

We are in denial about our health. There has been an average weight gain of over twenty pounds during the lockdown.

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou

We are in denial about loving our neighbor as ourselves. We see people who have a different belief not as opponents but as enemies. Diplomacy has turned to bomb-throwing.

It’s easy to talk about how much you love God, but loving others reveals how much you truly do. – Elizabeth George

We are in denial about not having enough. Look at the run on toilet tissue and the recent gasoline shortage in the eastern United States. Greed and scarcity thinking are alive and well in the U.S.

“You’re taught to “be grateful” for everything. But have you ever been taught to “be grateful” for yourself? Be grateful for yourself. Make that a promise.” – C. JoyBell C.

We have denial racism is not an issue in this country.

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” – Ijoema Oluo

We are in denial guns are contributing to a health crisis in America. Americans own half of the world’s guns, yet the United States has only 4% of the world’s population contributing to 109 Americans dying by a firearm per day.

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” – Alan Lokos

Consider viewing your 2021 graduation as an opportunity to recognize what you’ve chosen in the past and determine if it is good to take into the future. Use the next part of your educational journey to recognize what you need to unlearn and rethink. This will require more slow thinking and more curiosity and less judgment. Consider these questions going forward:
What is my “on purpose”? How am I living it?
What are my core bedrock values, and how am I holding myself accountable to them?
How do I wish to be experienced by others especially by others who don’t look like me or have the same beliefs and opinions?
What is most important right now, and what will it take to act upon doing this?
What will I do to get into my growth zone?
In the event of failure, how will I fail forward? Who can I count on for support?
What will be my fight song that I will sing when things get tough?
How can I nurture hope?
What can give me balance and stability? Where can I get support?

Has Your Pride Ever Been Hurt?

Mine has! In 1988, after my father and business partner died of a heart attack, I sat down with our family doctor after a complete physical. All my numbers looked great, including my BMI of 23. Dr. Lewis advised me to keep doing what I was doing and wished he had more patients like me! He pointed out the only thing I had no control over was my heredity. I made a commitment to continue to eat healthily and to get plenty of exercise. I continued to hear this post-physical pronouncement through the years from my doctors.  As a result, I was proud I had not been on any medications! I felt superior to others my age who had to take daily doses of meds.

A couple of weeks ago, I experienced severe chest pain while walking our dog. It went away after a few minutes. I thought it was gas from spicy food eaten the night before. It occurred again this past Tuesday, and I went to the clinic to get it checked. My EKG looked a bit off, so they took blood for analysis. Early Wednesday morning, I got a call from Physician Assistant Annie asking me if Terri, my wife, was home. I said, “Yes,” and she said, “I want Terri to drive you to Mission Hospital ER immediately. Your Troponin enzyme is high, meaning you have had a heart attack!” That afternoon I had a heart catheterization that found some blockage in the LAD of my heart, and a stent was inserted.

After the procedure, the doctor prescribed a statin and a blood thinner and said I should keep a small vile of nitroglycerin with me at all times! My pride took a hit. After all the good healthy habits, I fell off the pedestal! My humility took a hit. I’m learning and relearning a couple of things.

First, I’m blessed to have had incredible support from Annie, the PA, who directed me to go to the hospital; the nurses and doctors who treated me; my caregiver wife, my close family and friends, including my men’s small group; and my work cohorts. As I lay in the ER Wednesday morning, I felt peace and knew the prayer that never fails, Thy will be done, was at work.

Second, the only constant in life is change. The antidote for change is adaptation. Heredity is a wild card. It is at play in our lives. You cannot control or change heredity. While I feel like and have the attitude of a 40-year-old, I am reminded I still need to adapt to an older body, so my reality check doesn’t bounce! I admonish my coaching clients to remember to put their oxygen mask on first before anything else!

Third, patience is part of a healthy lifestyle. Patience is the ability to stay calm while you’re waiting for an outcome. Patience is essential in one’s emotional intelligence and aids self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and managing relationships. Patience is the foundation to “seek to understand before being understood.” Patience is essential in dealing with difficult people.

Finally, I’ve been a practitioner of daily prayer and mindful meditation. It has served me well and is proving to be an essential part of my recovery. It, like my nitroglycerin vile, is something I won’t leave the house without!

This is what I know for sure: I’ve lived an incredible life, and I plan to continue to do so. I am looking forward to adding a new title of “grandfather” later this year. I am looking forward to officiating at the wedding of our son and his fiance in December! Thus, I will take my daily doses of meds and carry that little vile of nitroglycerin. I plan to keep running the bases and sliding into home, Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise!


My Word For 2021 – “Selfie”

In a New Year tradition, I continue, I don’t make resolutions. A word chooses me, and I focus on how it intersects my life. It becomes a “trigger” for reflection.

While I don’t want to relive 2020, I don’t want to forget the lessons I learned, including:

  • Face coverings will be an ongoing medical/fashion piece and won’t die anytime soon, unlike the “dickey.”
  • Make sure you always have an adequate supply of toilet tissue and paper towels in the house.
  • Growing a beard doesn’t stop one from touching his face.
  • Pandemics are exhausting even though you don’t go anywhere or do anything.
  • I trust subject matter experts who have integrity, ethics, and principles like Dr. Anthony Fauci (Independent), Chris Krebs (Republican), Robert Mueller (Republican), and Brad Raffensperger (Republican).
  • Taking a knee during the National Anthem no longer means disrespecting The National Anthem. All major sports embrace it. Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admits he got it wrong back in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick took a knee.
  • Black Lives Matter is not an organization. It is a belief.
  • Systemic racism is alive and well, a pervasive force, creating gaps in wealth and health, harming communities, and I’ve unconsciously contributed to it.
  • I can explain systemic racism, but I can’t understand it for you.
  • Diversity training is not effective. It may contribute to more racist behavior and “moral licensing.”

How could these bullet points be captured in “selfies”? Selfie – an image that includes oneself (often with another person or as part of a group) and is taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks. (Merriam Webster)

In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. – George Orwell

I’m reminded of Daniel Kahneman’s breakthrough, best-selling 2013 Thinking, Fast and Slow. “Selfie” is a trigger to think slowly, deliberately, and mindfully. After all, taking, posting, and viewing selfies has become a daily habit for many. “Selfie” is going to be a daily habit of thinking slowly, deliberately, and mindfully.

Studies reveal “selfies” often evoke criticism and disrespect and are associated with non-authenticity and narcissism. They may be the ultimate sign of the narcissistic age in which we live. I intend to use “selfie” to do the opposite for me in 2021. I want “selfie” to trigger Ubuntu – an African word – “I am because we are.”

“Selfie” will be the trigger for me to look inward so that I can look outward.