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Haven't seen this clip? Click on the picture. But really, it's not this difficult.

Haven’t seen this Portlandia clip? Click on the picture. But really, it’s not this difficult.

From the City of Kirkland, Washington’s Environmental Services Blog. John MacGillivray is the Solid Waste Programs Lead in the Public Works Department. He is not a known relation of the venerated Jacobite Donald MacGillivray, subject of a rousing Scottish folk song often featured by the Wicked Tinkers. (Here’s to recycling and Johnny MacGillivray!)

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Is Recycling a Political Statement?

Our society has done an outstanding job creating and perpetuating stereotypes: over-simplified assumptions and widely held beliefs about how a society, group, or thing might look or behave. So as not to offend, I’ll offer myself and my Scottish heritage up as an example. Contrary to popular belief, all Scottish folk don’t drink Scotch (I prefer tequila), we don’t all own and wear kilts (although I reckon they are probably quite comfortable), and I’ve never eaten haggis (thankfully). And, by the way, I don’t have any desire to do any of the above while wandering around in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish highlands amongst the gorse, herding sheep trying to remember the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne.

In the Northwest, we’ve also done an excellent job molding an image of the stereotypical recycler. To the front and center Pemco and your “Obsessive/Compulsive Recycler” advertisement. Take 30 seconds and check it out. Pemco’s amusing commercial hits the “stereotype grand slam” by implying recyclers in the Northwest are predominantly women; that many of these women spend hours of quality time in their garages devoutly sorting their glass bottles by color as if it were their ticket to an eternal afterlife; and that many of these women suffer from Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, compelled to scrub their soiled aluminum foil before dropping it into their recycle bin. If you look closely, you’ll also notice they even threw in for good measure a late-model Volvo 240D parked in the driveway that, at least in the Northwest, screams liberal. Oh boy. The directors of this commercial might as well as have dressed the actor in Birkenstocks, hemp underwear, a tie-died Grateful Dead t-shirt, and put a flower in her hair to top off the ensemble. Such is the danger inherent with stereotypes.

So, does this mean that by default all political conservatives are going to be lumped in with the stereotypical “right winger” that throws his aluminum pop can in the trash in defiance; thinks that there’s nothing more beautiful than a fresh clear cut on a crisp fall morning; or believes that no body of water is complete without an oil derrick? I certainly hope not, but unfortunately, I work in an industry where the prevailing stereotype has been that conservatives don’t recycle and don’t particularly care for the environment or at least give short shrift to it over other competing concerns when forming their policies and taking action. Fortunately, there’s a growing group of conservatives like myself that believe that the protection of our natural environment and resources should transcend traditional political stereotypes and play a decisive role in the development of policy.

And to put a cherry on top, I even owned and drove a Volvo 240D for many, many years.

It’s our role as professionals in the solid waste and recycling field to relentlessly break down all stereotypes and educate those that might be predisposed to make nonsensical political statements to the detriment of the environment just to be contrarian. Waste reduction and recycling is the one behavior that can and should transcend our political leanings, our religious beliefs, the color of our skin, or anything else We, as stereotypical human beings, can all play a role in reducing our waste, reusing our resources, and recycling.

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Go John. Go John. You’re spot on.

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Saeed Prayer Vigil

Tonight on TBN I heard Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini, speak at length about their history and present situation. I learned how they became Christians and Americans despite being born into devout Muslim families in Iran, how they met, and how many other times they’ve been arrested for their charity and faith. Naghmeh was very candid about her struggles with fear and anxiety, but demonstrated that the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) is real.

Evidently Saeed’s faith and passion for the gospel is so vibrant that despite horrific torture he has other prisoners singing praises to God along with him! This is a man who has death staring him in the face, and yet he does not waver from the belief that God is good. How many of us can attest to faith like that? As I listened to Naghmeh I had to ask myself how many of us Americans would be willing to fight for, be imprisoned for, and even die for our beliefs. I wondered how many of us, when faced with beatings, violations, and isolation, would stick to our guns and not renounce our commitments to freedom and our faith.

The church all over the world is under attack. Whether we are brothers and sisters in the Christian faith or believers in freedom and human rights in general, September 26th is a day to unite on these issues and cry out as one. Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you believe in God or not, there are organized forces in this world that are hell bent on subjugating you and forcing you into a life of slavery. These forces are raping, pillaging, murdering, conquering, and enslaving people who are different from them. The crucifixions and beheadings of children in Iraq are a perfect example of how evil these groups are.

Take a stand for free will and the rights of others no matter what they believe, and join millions of others in shouting out that we stand as one for those who are under attack. As someone who puts my faith and hope in Someone infinitely more powerful than myself, I expect that He will reward this petition and do miracles.

Naghmeh Abedini on Twitter

Save Saeed Campaign Reaching New People in Brazil

And yes, I still wear my hot pink #SaveSaeed t-shirt proudly!

Save Saeed Shirt

 

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Wherever there is prayer, there is the danger of His own immediate action. -C.S. Lewis

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

The Tangerine Man

One artist's depiction of the Tangerine Man. To date, no verifiable photos of him exist.

One artist’s depiction of the Tangerine Man. To date, no verifiable photos of him exist.

“EEEELLLEeeccccCCHH!! What is THAT?!!”

It started one overcast, drizzly day as we were cleaning out the fridge specifically for the use of the Records Division of the police department. Thanks to the benevolence of a coworker and her husband, who worked in the beverage industry, we had acquired a dedicated fridge on our end of the building.

Besides being more convenient than the creepy, putty-colored fridge in the designated break room we never used, we felt that our food would be more protected. We were wrong. Someone kept stealing my yogurt at night when our division was closed. Yes. In a police department. It happens more than you’d think. We knew, from surveillance tape, that the janitors had lifted an amaryllis one woman gave to another as a Christmas present, but the person/people with the midnight munchies who helped themselves to my Yoplait and also stole my Blackhawk Down documentary were never apprehended. Officer Yogurt Bandit, I have not forgotten.

Yeah– what was that? Someone had removed what very well could have been a shrunken pygmy head with Smurf-colored hair from a back corner of the second shelf. We gathered round and debated was it was… or had been. No one recalled stashing a fruit even remotely resembling that in our snazzy little cooler. We all had our names on our shelves so that one person’s food cache was not confused with another’s. But that edible has-been had worked its way off the beaten path and morphed into something quizzical and disturbing.

“It was the Tangerine Man,” one coworker stated confidently.

“Who’s the Tangerine Man?”

“He’s the mischievous guy who sneaks rotten fruit into unexpected places.”

Shazam! The light went on. At long last, after decades of wondering, our group finally had a coherent explanation for the times when mystery fruit seems to materialize out of nowhere. Our culture believes in the Tooth Fairy, doesn’t it? Elves? Leprechauns? Honest politicians? Elvis partying on without most of his internal organs? Why not a Loki-like character who specializes in produce? The Tangerine Man is likable in the sense that he gives something instead of taking away as well. He’s a pay it forward type.

A recently discovered planet? Or what you intended to have for lunch Monday?

A recently discovered planet? Or what you intended to have for lunch Monday?

Fast forward to a meal with my grandparents soon after. I began to tell them about The Legend of the Tangerine Man. My grandfather was intrigued and had a sparkle in his eye. “He struck just the other day,” Grandpa said. “Where?” I asked. He told me how he’d reached onto the top of the fridge for something (in my mind that’s the parking spot for an ever present bag of corn chips that has been faithfully replaced on a weekly basis since 1976). His hand touched something unnatural. It was an overripe banana, oozing out of its peel. “Aha!” I thought. “He is real!” Our family proceeded to discuss other recent visits by the Tangerine Man at our various residences.

And why not? Think about the last time you cleaned out your fridge. There was inevitably mystery Tupperware, the contents of which had fermented and evolved into another life form weeks ago. There was that half jug of (insert juice-ish beverage here) that the kids had forgotten about despite their insistence that you buy it because they were dying of thirst. Perhaps there was a moldy can of refried beans or a cubic inch of ancient cheese that could cut a diamond. If you dug deep enough, though, you were sure to find a shriveled little– citrus fruit? apple? maybe a nectarine?– wedged behind a wire rack. No one remembers buying it. It may be unidentifiable. If this has happened to you, you’ve probably been visited by… the Tangerine Man.

How other cultures might see the Tangerine Man

How other cultures might see the Tangerine Man.

The Tangerine Man has visited me when I’m driving. I keep my vehicle relatively clean and while I find an occasional French fry or balled up muffin wrapper that someone tried to hide in the console, there have been times when I’m startled by a hard object rolling out from under my seat and striking my accelerator foot. Perhaps I’ve just been cut off by an oblivious motorist coasting through a stop sign on a side street and have had to hit the brakes. Wham! Something shot out from under the seat and tried to tango with the pedals. “NOW?!!” I roar, hoping the Tangerine Man can hear me while he’s crawling back under the spare tire. There’s usually just a fleeting suggestion of a chuckle as I try to kick the hacky sack-sized object to the passenger side (where I have to remember to pick it up later).

He’s also targeted my purse and bags. I like to take enough of everything to work that I and possibly one or two other coworkers of my choosing will survive a nuclear war if needed. But this generally involves packaged items, and when I bring produce, it’s usually in its own bag. (For my people in Police Records reading this, I don’t carry the Family brand foreign dried mangoes from the white elephant exchange in 2004 to work, but they remain in one of my emergency kits. I knew you’d ask. If they actually do go bad– I don’t think so– the hallucinations might make nuclear war more bearable. Or even hilarious.)

You already believe in these guys...

You already believe in these guys…

Anyhow, I have a mental inventory of what goes to work every day and so when I’m cleaning out a bag and do the “whazaat” shudder when my hand touches mystery fruit, I can say with a degree of relative certainty that the Tangerine Man did it. I don’t like to waste food. I work because I like to have food. I like for my tribe to have food. Yet once or twice a year I’ll find a dehydrated alien pod-looking thing in the bottom of a bag and start debating its origins. You’d think I’d smell it if I were walking around with rotting ___?? in that bag for 39 days. But I didn’t. Here again, it’s only logical to blame the Tangerine Man.

So keep an eye out for the Tangerine Man. He can strike when and where you least expect it. Right now you might be rolling your eyes and sighing away the possibility that such a character exists. Trust me, you will come to believe. He will find you. Sooner or later you’re going to find that pinkish-peachy thing resembling a Nerf ball fried by a death ray and have a “hmm” moment. You’ll ask your husband if he remembers what it was. You’ll ask your children what it was. All will disavow knowledge of the purchase and prior knowledge of the object’s existence, and at that moment you will gasp slightly as you think back to a blog post from last National Skyscraper Day.

“The Tangerine Man… he’s real.”

He certainly is. And I assure you that Officer Yogurt Bandit is as well.

A possible associate, the Kiwi Kid.

A possible associate, the Kiwi Kid.

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Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, it’s wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy. -Thich Nhat Hanh

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Update, 9/11/14: Further evidence of the Tangerine Man’s existence. I found this… banana peel (?) under a hedge today. Nearby my dog located yet another piece of a discarded double cheeseburger that he keeps sniffing out pieces of. The former matches the Tangerine Man’s MO. The latter was likely the work of a local hoodlum who was using the unfortunate bovine remnant as a Frisbee. Believe…

Oops. He did it again.

Oops. He did it again.

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.


 

Go Canada!

If only we Americans were as direct.

From the BBC

From the BBC

There’s more good stuff at #BBCTrending: Canada and Russia in Twitter fight over map.

RIP James Foley

James Foley

Oh, God, no, please no… I think that’s what I said when I read the headline today declaring that American journalist James Foley had been savagely beheaded by the demonic gang of terrorist thugs called ISIS. Frankly my brain makes up its own acronyms for ISIS, like Ignorant Savages Instigating Slaughter. I know these people need the love of Jesus, but their merciless rampage of death and destruction, which has included the beheading and crucifixion of Christian children, makes my blood boil red, white, and blue.

I first became aware that Foley was missing in Syria while writing my December 2013 post More Americans Left Behind. In that post I featured a number of Americans who were being held in other countries and strongly questioned why the Obama administration has not done more to bring them home. James Foley had been a captive for nearly two years, for example. Supposedly a rescue mission was mounted on behalf of him and other Americans this summer, but it allegedly failed because the intelligence wasn’t good.

The videotaped beheading of an American is a direct terrorist strike at our nation. It’s a strike at you and me, and I wish more Americans had the mentality of the New Yorkers in Spiderman: You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. Americans should not be at the mercy of regimes like Iran and North Korea; we don’t bow to them. We should not be tolerating the ongoing torture of Pastor Saeed Abedini or the criminal mistreatment of Kenneth Bae.

“Oh!” some say. “But they’re Christians, or Jews, or they put themselves in a dangerous situation. This is the price they pay for taking those risks.” We would all be living under a foreign language facist freak show if it wasn’t for the risk takers among us. These guys didn’t go to another nation to go skydiving or dabble in extreme wakeboarding. They traveled to these other countries to make a difference, to save lives, to sooth souls, to shine a light on the reality of the situation in these dark places.

By all accounts I’ve read, James Foley was one of these people. His parents say he went to Syria to show the world what was truly happening there. He ultimately gave his life for that. Thankfully most websites that show his execution video have edited out the part where his throat is cut and his severed head is lying on the ground. But you can still see most of it, in which he reads some sort of prefabricated statement.

His voice does not shake, he holds his head up high. His back is straight. His spirit does not appear to be broken. Knowing he’s about to have his throat slashed open by the masked coward with the British accent next to him, he doesn’t panic or scream. He faced death with courage and dignity. He didn’t have to. But he did. It is an image that will stay with me forever.

Earlier tonight I had to ask myself a question: am I more outraged that these (ooh, I’ll omit the next scathing acronym) primitive killers that Osama bin Laden didn’t even want anything to do with executed James Foley? Or am I more outraged that the United States didn’t get him back in time? How many more Americans will die because of erratic and spineless foreign policy and the fact that American tax dollars actually do go to terrorist groups and rogue nations? Who’s next? Whose family has to know that their son’s murder will be broadcast to billions of people around the world?

This shouldn’t be happening. It makes me sick. It makes me angry. One of our own has just been taken out into the desert by a group that has less morality than a fossilized amoeba. They believe their god lauds them for killing infidels, killing randomly, killing other Muslims, killing Christians, raping, and pillaging, and selling Christian women as sex slaves. It’s clear to me who their god really is, and that master will betray them when their last breath is taken.

There will be a lot of debate as to what the American and British responses should be to Foley’s murder, but first and foremost we must continue to pray. We must work harder to bring home the other Americans imprisoned in foreign countries. We must not allow Westerners fighting for groups like ISIS to return home as free citizens. We must demand that our government stop giving our money to groups and nations that pose a threat to our own people, to human rights, and to freedom.

And we must never, ever forget James Foley. For a brief moment in time, in that orange suit with the black microphone clipped to it, I saw all of us, our nation, with a knife to its throat. Because that is what ISIS would do to every one of us if they had the opportunity. These radicals would imprison us, enslave us, rape us, torture us, and brutally kill us. If you question the existence of evil, all you have to do is watch one of their videos. All you have to do is read one story about what they’re doing to women and children in Iraq.

Now is the time for our nation to unite against this evil. Now is the time for us to step up on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Iraq and other places stained by the blood that ISIS spills so freely. If we believe in freedom, and justice, and equality, and women’s rights, and human rights, we cannot sit passively by while this brave proponent of the First Amendment was forced to kneel in the devil’s playground and enter eternity at blade’s edge.

Regardless of what action you believe needs to be taken– military, sanctions, covert manhunt, prayer, financial aid to ISIS victims, or whatever else– do something. Contact your elected representatives. Make a donation. Make your voice heard. James Foley was one of us, and we’re Americans. Our forebears didn’t sit idly by when such horrors happened. Neither should we. ISIS messed with one of us. They should find out the hard way they messed with all of us.

As I go to bed tonight, I say to Jim Foley, who walked into the belly of the beast to show the world truth, I’m so sorry we didn’t come for you much sooner. I hope the last thing you thought of on this earth was how much you are loved.

Gary Farvel, Indystar.com. Note that James Foley was formerly a reporter for the Stars and Stripes.

Gary Farvel, Indystar.com. Note that James Foley was formerly a reporter for the Stars and Stripes.

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In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

Ye Shall Be As Gods

Ye Shall Be 1

It’s the original lie: you can be your own god. This seems to be the mantra that narcissists exercise regularly through their thoughts, actions, and words. THEY are superior. THEY are special. EVERYONE should bow down to their every whim, whine, and wish.

We all know these people. Somewhere in their dysfunctional upbringing or exclusive social cliques, they’ve lost touch with anything resembling humility, gratitude, and empathy, trading it in for a soul-sucking mentality in which the world revolves around them. Period. No one else’s wants, needs, or views could possibly be as important as theirs.

Narcissists are cheese graters on the nerves of life. Their self-absorbed temper tantrums and constant demands drain those around them of their time, money, and energy. Their extreme need to be the center of attention and be praised or spoiled is exhausting. Narcissists are sometimes talented people, but they believe the spotlight should be on them far more often than their actions or efforts merit. If they are particularly gifted in certain areas, they might well be deficient in their social skills or lacking meaningful relationships altogether. All that glitters is not gold.

To be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) by a mental health professional, a person must have five or more of the following symptoms (the symptoms have been copied directly from Psych Central):

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Notice how these traits are very much the opposite of what God requires of us. The more deeply these traits are indulged, the farther away we get from values that require us to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect our Creator. It should be no wonder, then, that narcissists wreak so much havoc in life. The path they are walking leads further and further away from the original design. Eventually it leads downhill and over a cliff. It will never come to a good end.

Like a lot of people, I’ve interacted with narcissistic people in nearly every area of my life. I’m sickeningly familiar with each of these symptoms and have experienced the damage they do to families, friendships, workplaces, and organizations. Narcissism can factor heavily into family violence and workplace bullying among other evils, and narcissists often get away with being childish, sadistic tyrants because people won’t stand up to them out of fear or because they’re concerned about litigation. To protect myself and my family, I’ve had to end or severely limit relationships with narcissists multiple times.

Ye Shall Be 2

Over the years many arguments have been made that some degree of narcissism is essential to success. Successful people, of course, are frequently confident and competitive. But you don’t have to be a jerk to get ahead. You can be driven, sure of yourself and your God-given abilities, and focused without being a massive black hole that devours everyone else’s happiness and sanity. You don’t need to steamroll over everyone else to achieve great things, or even to create the appearance that you have. When you are living as the person your Creator intended you to be, your actions and achievements will speak for themselves.

Looking more closely at each symptom gives a clearer picture of why those with a narcissistic bent, diagnosable or not, can be so taxing to be around. When someone has a grandiose sense of self-importance, it’s like they want the first place trophy while giving a third class performance.

I remember seeing an audition for American Idol one time in which a young girl gyrated and mumbled a Christina Aguilera song. Her mother became very upset when the judges passed on her, snapping, “she’s the total package.” I was taken aback because her daughter’s audition didn’t show any exceptional singing, dancing, or entertainment talent, but in her mother’s eyes, she was Christina’s clone. While it’s good for mothers to cheer on their children, this mom seemed delusional (or possibly tone-deaf).

Similarly, narcissists believe that just because they have some good qualities or talents, they are THE BOMB. They can have a very skewed and unrealistic view of their own abilities. In their minds they can be royalty, worthy of the highest honors and awards without putting in the sweat equity that would get them to that level. Does the word actor come to mind? There are actors and actresses who carry a heavy sense of self-importance because of their acting resumes. But I puzzle over their fame when they seem to play the same guy or gal in every movie.

Do they truly deserve the attention and praise lavished upon them? Or do we pay attention simply because they and their agents make such a big deal of themselves? This reminds me of the “popular” kids in high school. Were they “popular” and “cool” because they were friendly, kind, generous people, or because they constantly kept themselves in the public eye through their drinking, sexual escapades, and designer clothes?

Narcissists can be more than preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love– they can be obsessed. The Great Gatsby is a fair example of this. His desire for riches and success (and Daisy) motivated him to go to extremes that were eventually his downfall. Narcissists don’t want imperfect love; they want perfect, effortless love (which often involves meeting a mirror image of themselves, because it would bore them to partner with someone who has different interests). They don’t believe they should rise to middle management and spend a career there; they believe that they should be the CEO, whether qualified or not. They can live in a fantasy world in which their family members and friends become swept up in, and expected to work towards, their lofty dreams. I’m all for aiming for the moon and being the very best, but that involves a strong individual work ethic, not climbing up others’ coattails and bank accounts.

Believing that he or she is special and unique, and therefore should only rub elbows with other special or privileged people, is another frequent trait of narcissists. In their minds, they are so special and unique that 99 percent of the world’s population is riff raff who are beneath them. They think that only other chosen ones can truly understand them because they are superior to the rest of humanity.

Ye Shall Be 3

Now God did, in fact, create each of us as special and unique individuals with a purpose and mission. No human is an accident. You are worth more than gold to Him, so much so that His son died to bring you life everlasting. He did not, however, intend for you to be an elitist snob who only associates with other intolerable elitist snobs. While we should choose our friends wisely, it’s important to remember that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and your life is not worth more than the guy’s standing next to you in the checkout line.

Narcissistic people have a serious need to be told how good-looking, talented, funny, hard-working, insightful, creative, generous, ___ (insert another adjective, repeat, etc.) they are. They might not be any of those things, but boy do they need you to remind them every single day that they are all that and a super-sized bag of potato chips. If you dare to suggest that they need to make some improvements or aren’t as spectacular as they claim to be, they will attack you. When you do so, you are disturbing their fantasies and their skewed view of themselves. Perhaps that attack comes out of a deep-seated insecurity that could even have traumatic origins, but it’s vicious and unnecessary.

“Has a very strong sense of entitlement.” Whew… I think I have a PhD and a black belt in dealing with this narcissistic demon. When you are around a narcissist, you had better jump when they say jump. You’d better act scared when they want to be intimidating. You’d better grovel and beg and mooch as soon as they hold out the royal ring. If they want food or sex or to watch a particular TV show or to be entertained– you’d better snap to it regardless of your own needs or time.

THEY dictate the terms of your relationship. THEY decide what is best for you. They will punish you if you don’t bow down immediately, and will incessantly remind you of your failures to comply as time goes on. The only way you can stay in their good graces is to treat them like a god. If you have a discussion about people’s rights, they are only concerned with their rights. Any exercise of your own rights is seen as a violation of theirs. If you try to solve a problem, you will soon find that not only is the problem yours to solve, but you are the cause of the problem as well.

Narcissistic people have, as the symptoms say, unrealistic expectations of the people around them (even the pets around them). Like a spoiled prince with half a jelly donut smeared all over his face who has tired of breaking his new toys, they will demand that those around them pay attention to them at all times and keep them from being bored. They take little responsibility for furnishing their own amusements. They want everyone around them to “dance,” as if they are toddlers who need mommy or daddy to keep bringing them the latest and greatest gadget to bounce around their highchair tray and then toss onto the floor. While they should be asking what they can do for others and how to engage others in mutually enjoyable activities, they are so laser-focused on themselves that life with them is a 24/7 reminder that you exist for their pleasure.

Exploiting others is as natural to narcissists as planting a tree in the ground. That’s where you’d plant a tree, right? So that’s what you do with other human beings. Whatever can be gained from the people around them will be taken unless they are stopped. They are powerful vacuum cleaners who contrive all sorts of darling (yet usually transparent) lines about how to gain your money, get you to pay for a trip, buy them clothes, and generally take advantage of you. Some can be intimidating and mean rather than darling, but the goal is the same– to use you as a filling station on the road of life. You are a means to their fantasies of perfection and glory.

It should be noted that narcissists don’t just exploit your time and money, they can exploit you sexually, emotionally, and in other ways. In their eyes their victims must seem like one-stop shopping centers. They pick and choose what they want for themselves regardless of the costs to their victims. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been exploited before or have little to give; what matters is that your store is open. This is why it’s so important to set and maintain boundaries with narcissists, and cut off the relationship altogether if needed. Don’t let people tell you that you have to keep a door open for a narcissist because they’re family, or you’ve known them for years, or they’re your boss. You already know the hell they cause and need to draw a line in the sand to protect yourself and your own people.

Ye Shall Be 4

Narcissists lack empathy. What is empathy? It is the ability to stand in another person’s shoes. Narcissistic folks frequently lash out at others when their demands aren’t being met. They will say the ugliest, most horrible things to try and force others to comply with their wishes. They will tell you you’re stupid, ugly, unfair, evil, selfish, abusive, and any other insult during their tantrums designed to force you to give in. They don’t care how much this hurts you or how low this makes you feel. Yet if someone were to call them stupid, ugly, unfair, evil, or even one of those things, they would be horrified at how deeply you’ve wounded them (and not let you forget it). “Do unto others” is lost on them because life’s all about them.

People like this are often envious of others and think others are envious of them. Their eyes are on what makes them most noticeable, the most outrageous, the most “popular.” They will sometimes do shocking and perverse things to remain the center of attention as they attempt to outdo their perceived “competition.” Again, this sounds like high school. But it also sounds like a lot of so-called celebrities who are basically famous for being famous (or because they “leaked” a sex tape). Life is a cutthroat beauty pageant for them. When they enter a room they want everyone to drop what they’re doing and come fawn over them as if they’ve floated in on a throne perched on clouds. If you don’t pay these games, then you’re “jealous” of them or there’s something wrong with you.

This brings me to the last symptom of NPD, regularly showing arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. I once worked with a woman who liked to let me know that my opinions and beliefs were inferior to hers. There was no rational basis for her objections; she just enjoyed trying to let others know how superior her tastes were. If I was talking to other coworkers about how much we liked ravioli, she’d enter the conversation uninvited and expound upon the reasons that spaghetti was far superior to ravioli. The verbal spaghetti bludgeoning would be accompanied by a knowing smile and chuckle, as if the rest of the idiots in the office didn’t have the mental capacity to comprehend why no adult could possibly like ravioli better. What a sad way to live. There was such an unhealthy need to dominate others’ views and conversation, particularly mine.

Narcissistic people are adept at communicating like snotty little fifth graders who don’t want the kid in hand-me-downs to play with them at recess. They sometimes lack adult communication and problem-solving skills, yet believe they communicate perfectly well and continually remind you that “you’re not listening.” They like letting you know that you’re not ___ enough (insert giving, fun, adventurous, cool, smart, or other adjective) but that they are. Just the other day I was listening to this type of person extol their own virtues and was reminded how much I can’t stand being around this. I was doubly reminded when I tried to find common ground and a personal jab was taken to remind me that they were “superior.”

If you identify as a narcissist or struggle with NPD, please consider how much your arrogance and haughtiness alienates people. Your family members or coworkers might have to tolerate you to the extent that they see you at family gatherings or work with you every day, but in time they’re going to pull away to protect themselves. If you treat them as commodities rather than fellow travelers on the road of life, your motives will become obvious and they will create distance. Everyone needs a support network and some semblance of a family, so you’re ultimately damaging yourself and your world by being so take and not give. Someday you’re going to wake up and find that they’re no longer there for you, and that will be a very lonely place to be. Now is the time to seek help. You need an intervention. You need therapy.

You also need your Father. Why? By setting yourself up as what we call in my church a little g god, you are denying the power of the big G God in your life. God is love. Who would deliberately turn away more love? Love can cause a radical shift in our behaviors and worldview. The more love we have, the more inclined we are to turn outward rather than focusing inward. The more love we have, the more we ask what other people need rather than what they can do for us. The more love we have, the more power we have to change the world in ways that can last forever. As Marcus Aurelius said, what we do now echoes in eternity. Do you truly want to be remembered as someone who never matured beyond an infantile sense of self-entitlement, or do you want this life, this mere beginning in the grand scheme of things, to count for something far greater than yourself?

Philips Brooks said that the true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is. Stand at your highest, and then look at Christ, then go away and forever be humble. How small we are indeed when the created try to measure up to the Creator. No matter how magnificent we think we are, not one of us has ever spoken one complex little atom into being. Not one of us makes the stars come out at night or makes the grass grow or can cause a man and a woman to look at each other and experience a depth of feeling so profound that they are left speechless as some ancient memory is stirred. There is simply no value in being a narcissist when you consider that all of your greatness and all of your glory has been made possible by Someone infinitely wiser and more powerful than you anyway.

If your life is being impacted by a narcissist, start setting boundaries today. Lay down clear ground rules and do not waver from them. You must also provide consequences for violations of those rules and boundaries. You might also need to take away the tools they are harassing you with. You might be in a situation in which you have to tell the person that you will only communicate about specific matters at certain times and by certain means. If you have to obtain a court order to enforce this, do so.

Narcissists will pick at you and remind you of how needy they are by every means imaginable. You might ask them to only speak on the phone and ignore their obsessive texts, or you might ask them to communicate in writing only so you have a record of what was said. Don’t respond every time they prod you. That rewards the bad behavior. Expect them to act within guidelines and stick with it. This applies to children as well. Don’t give in to them by jumping every time they say jump. That’s how narcissists are made. You’re the adult; lay down the law and provide consequences when they start acting like they’re the grown-up instead.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a real problem and can’t be fixed overnight. I believe it can only be fixed if the person exhibiting those symptoms truly wants to change. To change, they generally need to realize how their mindset and choices are hurting themselves. They’re not good at understanding how their actions affect others, so they need to realize that ultimately their behavior is self-destructive and that people they depend on will only tolerate it for so long. So you cannot continue to allow them to act like little tyrants with jelly donut on their faces. You are doing both them and yourself a disservice if you don’t set boundaries and– boom– put them on notice when they try to cross those, which they inevitably will. Think of a gate that comes down when a drawbridge is about to go up. They shall not pass.

Ye Shall Be 5

In conclusion, I am deeply disturbed that narcissism has become so pervasive in our society. Every day self-centeredness is evident by people’s driving, shopping, lack of manners, and lack of empathy. WE are more important. WE are entitled to great things. MY time is more valuable. These are the lies that are dividing people instead of bringing them together. These are the lies that crush families and destroy relationships.

My hope is that as we look towards true perfection, and a truly flawless character in our Creator, that we will use Him as the mirror in which to look when wanting to compare ourselves and not each other. In this form, in the here and now, we were not created to be as gods. We were created to glorify the one true God, and in doing so, to become more and more like Him instead of more and more like humans who took a chance on the lie and ate the apple. The original lie has never worked and it never will.

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Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self… Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Slave to Entertainment

Lolita's (Tokitae's) capture in Penn Cove almost half a century ago

Lolita’s (Tokitae’s) capture in Penn Cove almost half a century ago

Yesterday, August 8th, was the 44th anniversary of the Penn Cove Capture. In this sickening, inhumane event, a large group of wild orcas was chased into a cove near Whidbey Island, Washington with speedboats and explosives. Seven were taken into captivity and five died during the roundup, including a mother trying to rescue her calf.

No feeling person could read an account of how the orcas responded during this event and not feel disgusted by it. Orcas are intelligent mammals with their own language and culture, and because scores of them were captured in Northwest waters in that time period, they are an endangered species today.

Only one of the orcas captured near Penn Cove– also the oldest captive orca anywhere– is still alive. Lolita, originally called Tokitae, has been at the Miami Sequarium ever since 1970 when she was taken from her pod. She is nearing 50, and for the past 44 years has been having to dance for her food in a substandard-sized tank in the hot sun.

She still recognizes her native tongue; she still has relatives, including an orca in her 90s who is likely her mother, roaming the Salish Sea in the Northwest. Despite all the efforts to bring her back to a sea pen in her native waters, the Miami Seaquarium still won’t allow her to come home and our government has failed to make it happen. Lolita/Tokitae is the Seaquarium’s star attraction and has made untold millions for them.

The Penn Cove Capture of Southern Resident Orcas, August 1970

The Penn Cove Capture of Southern Resident Orcas, August 1970

Howard Garrett of the Orca Network provided a link to this documentary in a recent newsletter, Lolita: Slave to Entertainment. This film was made in 2003, and sadly, more than 11 more years have passed without improvements in her situation. As the experts interviewed in this piece said, this orca will be worked until she’s dead. She’s already outlasted the rest of her captured peers, some by decades. Some captured orcas have even killed themselves, as did Kathy, the lead dolphin in the Flipper TV series. It’s why Flipper trainer Ric O’Barry became a marine animal rights activist.

You’d think that after 44 years the Miami Seaquarium’s owners could show a little compassion and let their star attraction retire in peace. Orcas have life spans similar to humans and I know that when I hit 50 I don’t want anyone keeping me locked in a bathroom and making me do ballet for a sandwich a couple times a day. I don’t want that now. Yet this amazing creature, who has shown such resilience and spirit despite the daily cruelty she endures, is required to do exactly that in a crappy concrete prison that’s not even properly sized.

Please take an hour to watch Lolita: Slave to Entertainment in memory of what happened at Penn Cove (and elsewhere in the Northwest in the 1960s and 1970s). Some clips, like seeing Lolita/Tokitae float listlessly and alone in her tub between shows and at night, are difficult to watch. But this is a story every schoolchild in the Northwest and in Florida should know. This is an issue all Washingtonians should unite on.

Now is a good time to make your voice heard. As the Orca Network has pointed out, last month the Miami Seaquarium was purchased by Palace Entertainment, which owns over 70 theme parks. We have an opportunity to change the barbaric practice of orca capture and confinement; let’s do this. The Orca Network’s Lolita page has links so that you can easily contact Palace Entertainment.You can read Howard Garrett’s letter to Palace Entertainment here.

Tokitae Ferry

Next time you board the new Washington State ferry Tokitae, take a moment to think of who it’s named after. Your involvement could save her life. Photo by Karen Ducey, Puget Sound Business Journal.

When the half a century-old Lolita is finally brought home to a sea pen in the San Juan Islands, I’d imagine that her reaction would be similar to Raju the elephant’s, who was just released from 50 years of captivity. Raju had been beaten and forced to wear spiked chains. He ate what he could get from passing tourists but sometimes ate plastic just to fill his stomach. When his captors knew he was about to be rescued they chained him even tighter, and then when those shackles finally came off, he cried.

Raju

Like orcas, elephants are highly intelligent animals who live in groups, and Raju went through 50 years of hell as well. He now lives in a refuge with five other elephants who have welcomed him as a friend. He can now spend the last chapters of his life eating regular food, being loved by a family, and being properly cared for by humans instead of exploited.

I hope for the same for Tokitae. Together we can make it happen.

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A righteous man regards the life of his animal,

But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Proverbs 12:10

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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