Preface, Foreword, Author’s Self-Introduction, & Such

“I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world.”                         ~ Socrates

After workshops young participants & teachers often ask me how they can become stimulating workshop facilitators as they feel that I have been with them. I tell them to have a long, interesting, varied, & challenging life & to make lots of mistakes. My continued risk taking is illustrated by what I did last spring just before my 72nd birthday by embarking on a river kayaking escapade with minimally experienced young adults who would have set off without life jackets had I not insisted on waiting until these were brought back to us by the kayak renter who had carelessly neglected to leave them with us when dropping us off. We made it out alive, but the trip took twice the 2-3 hours we were told it would, several of us were momentarily swept under by the current while trying to negotiate over & around logs, branches, & entire trees blocking our way, & only one of us contracted Lyme disease (yours truly) for a 2nd time.

I was a shy, withdrawn, socially awkward, fearful little kid almost beaten into submission by parents, schools, bullies, & the repressive ethnic community in which I grew up. No more! Now I tell it like it is, no holds barred. Hemingway, when asked what makes a good writer, replied that “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.” & lord almighty, there are entire mountain ranges of media malarkey, corporate sleaze, religious twaddle, schooling BS (bullshit), military crap, patriotic horse manure, government garbage, political hogwash, & historical rubbish, babble, & baloney. & so, so much of it is pure, raw, unfiltered shit. I have been honing my shit detector since being inundated with this sea of blather, myths, lies, exaggerations, fears, prejudices, & innumerable mindsucking, emotional, psychological, & physical terrors, stresses, & strains as an impressionable naive child in a most closed-minded cockamamie fascist xenophobic 1950s inner-city Roman Catholic ethnic ghetto in a blue collar (working class of those not in office jobs) neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio (U$A).

Having climbed out of that pile of horse pucky, I find that the air smells really fresh up here. I despise euphemisms & the dishonesty & insincerity they encourage. This book is about expanding awareness & understanding, but there are some things for which I’ve never harbored any tolerance whatsoever – stupidity, ass-kissing, & inauthenticity of any kind. With mountains of it challenging rationality wherever one turns, we must all become intrepid mountaineers just to survive.

Think of this book as your survival manual in a world full of all the detritus that has piled up over the centuries that gets in the way of one people getting along with & understanding another. Unlike Trump & his Mexican border wall, I am dedicated to the elimination of the barriers that intervene between peoples whether 2 strangers seated next to one another on a train or 2 countries with borders lined with machine gun wielding bullies who would rather spit on the people on the other side of a barbed wire fence than trying to converse with them. If you sincerely consider & apply what I offer here, you will have an easier time of traversing the obstacles in your way & you will avoid & protect yourself from an onslaught of never-ending propaganda & manipulations from various ministries, priesthoods, & their partners in crime.

I grew up in what to locals may have seemed a foreign country on the east side of Cleveland considering how little contact we had with other Americans. There were 2 types of people in the neighborhood of my youth in the 1950s – Lithuanians & non-Lithuanians – & the Lithuanian community did all it could to survive intact by providing a deluge of activities to keep our minds focused on our differences from those around us rather than helping us make sense of or to integrate into the culture & the neighbors among whom we found ourselves. Scouting, camping, sports, feasting, & even some of our schooling were aimed at maintaining the Lithuanian language, traditions, religion, & lifestyle of our foreign parents & ancestors.

Though my family lived next door to 2 other families with boys my own age for 9 years, I never once spoke with either boy or even learned their names because they were not Lithuanian & went to the local public school, not our Lithuanian Roman Catholic school & church at the end of the block. I was not to play with them because they were different.

From the indoctrination I received, I came to believe that unless one was Lithuanian, one was not quite a full-fledged human being. This most unnatural separation & isolation was maintained until I started commuting 2 trolleybus rides across town to another type of ghetto, this one composed of Catholic boys whose heritage was somewhat more diverse. Suddenly, my best friends were the sons & grandsons of German, Polish, Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Lebanese, & various other ethnic immigrants. My world expanded to include African-Americans & many others, & they were just as civil, if not more so, than the Lithuanians among whom I’d been raised. 4 years later when I started at the university, this opened up to include those of other faiths: Protestant Christians, Jews, & even atheists, whose ranks I eventually joined as my awareness blossomed.

Living for 9 years in Vilnius, Lithuania between the mid-1990s & 2006, I felt there was much of that intolerance there, too, especially towards the major minorities, the Russians & the Poles, but it was minimal compared to what I have witnessed in Kaunas, Lithuania’s capital between the 2 World Wars, during the decade I lived there.

I have been a social psychologist, psychotherapist, conflict mediator, social worker, alternative education & organizational transformation consultant, camp director, creativity & systemic thinking catalyst, cross-cultural sensitivity facilitator, & staff & team selection specialist. I have also worked numerous jobs . . . .