My talk today in honor of Religious Freedom Day

How often do you get to see a speaker’s original script? Here’s mine, below, from today’s Religious Freedom celebration. It was a great event. The home of religious freedom in America is considered to be Historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson and his team first drafted the concepts underlying our First Amendment. And in the heart of winter, following weeks of cold / grey / wet weather, we had a sunny, 60-degree Springlike day that might have indicated the approval of the Almighty Himself!

At Religious Freedom 160110 with Munira
A few of us up on the stand before the ceremony

I was honored to deliver the keynote for today’s annual event, which was hosted by the Knights of Columbus and supported by the Freemasons. We had representatives from numerous faiths, including my friend Munira, whom you’ll remember from the pages of Powerful Peace.

My comments were lengthy, as you’d expect from a 12-minute keynote, but I thought I’d drop them in here in case you have the time to read them through and give them some thought.

Munira and Cindy at Religious Freedom 160110
Cindy and Munira enjoy Springtime in winter

Without further ado, my tribute to religious freedom:

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Like every other person in the world, I had my own ideas about religious freedom. So to make sure I did not misrepresent the general understanding, I first consulted that great oracle of the 21st Century…Wikipedia:

“Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

Actually, although I found the definition through Wiki, it is referenced directly from the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” article 18, which states that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Look how similar that is to Thomas Jefferson’s own “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom” from 1779, which we celebrate today:

“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men…

( …Or women, of course, was their ideal…)

shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

In other words, you cannot be prevented from even becoming President by virtue of being a Jew, or an atheist … or a Catholic! But that’s exactly what happened in the United States for almost 200 more years until JFK’s 1960 run. According to his own Presidential Library:

“Only one Catholic, Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, had ever been the nominee of one of the major parties. His 1928 campaign was derailed by claims that he would build a tunnel connecting the White House and the Vatican…

(… Are there any engineers in the house? How tricky would that project be? …)

… and would amend the Constitution to make Catholicism the nation’s established religion. He was overwhelmingly defeated nationwide.”

Does that sound ridiculous today? Let me now speak out on behalf of all of us in this “one nation under God:” less than a century later, we have a similar alarming trend—according to a poll by the Associated Press last month, about 8 in 10 Americans said protecting the religious freedom of Christians is important … in the same poll, about 6 in 10 said the same about Muslims. The Jews fell right in the middle, as 7 in 10 respondents said their religious freedom should be protected.

Eric Rassbach, a religious liberty attorney, said:

“People may not realize you cannot have a system where there’s one rule for one group and another rule for a different group you don’t like. No religion is an island. If somebody else’s religion is being limited by the government, yours is liable to be limited in the same way. Even if you only care about your own particular group, you should care about other groups, too, because that’s the way the law works.”

And this is the my main point on this issue: we have a system of law in this country, based on protecting religious freedom, and that system itself is designed to uphold the laws of the land. Some Mormons in Utah insisted on practicing bigamy, counter to the law of the land, and some of those are in prison for it. If any faith demands its way in opposition to the law of the land, it will be handled accordingly. We need to trust ourselves a little more and let the system work, rather than terrifying one another with dire threats about competing systems taking over. We’re better than that…although you wouldn’t know it from the frenzy on social media today.

In my own book, Powerful Peace, I unpacked this situation in what I hope are helpful terms. And this is in the context of the “mosque war” that raged regarding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in 2010:

[hold up and read these highlighted portions from chapter 37, “In defense of faith”]

“The mosque war caused some unacceptable and ironic casualties against deeply-held American values called freedom of religion and respect for diversity.

My two-part response to The Question that The Muslims are Waging a Stealth Jihad against America:

Answer Part A) YES…there is a stealth jihad underway.

Think about it: any group sophisticated enough to carry out the complex attack of 9/11 is smart enough to come at the problem (us) on multiple fronts. They told us who they are: al Qaeda. And AQ said it speaks for all of Islam.

Remember that Hitler said he spoke for all good Germans. Remember, too, that through the skillful manipulation of grievances and fears, he whipped up a fever pitch against another cultural-religious group, that he accomplished this through impassioned nationalism…and that the German language root for ‘nationalism’ led to the term Nazi.

Answer Part B) NO…it’s not ‘the Muslims’ who are after ‘us,’ any more than cop killer Eric Rudolph and his Christian supporters could be interpreted as proof that ‘the Christians’ are out to murder abortion doctors.

There are unsettling similarities between today’s warnings to WATCH OUT for Them-There Muslims and der Fuhrer’s earlier hysteria-laced speeches warning about the menace of Them-There Jews.

This appeal is not intended to raise Islam above Christianity, or vice-versa. I’m merely asking that we pause in our daily drama to consider where each of our fellow humans is really coming from. I believe in God, and I believe God made us all. I’m also pretty sure that each of us is flawed and sees only a small part of the whole picture.

Not one of us is big enough, brothers and sisters, to declare that we individually hold all of God’s truth. I suspect God finds our presumption either very amusing, or very irksome.”

I have a shocking admission: I haven’t always been a Christian. Before joining the Navy and circling the world for decades, I was raised a Protestant in a tiny village of 1,000 people in Upstate New York. Needless to say, everybody knew everybody—and everybody knew everybody else’s business. I was told that God loved honesty and right behavior…yet every Sunday I would see the adults sharing coffee and cookies with individuals we all knew had been doing some pretty bad things, and acting like nothing was wrong. In adolescent, intellectual disillusionment at this hypocrisy I left the church at 15. I first tried to be an atheist. That didn’t stick, and lasted about a week. I then wandered among other traditions like Buddhism and even paganism for about 20 years, finally being compelled by my re-reading of the Bible to return to my roots…with a wizened and skeptical eye for what people tell me about God.

Gandhi, who arguably lived a more Christlike life than many professing Christians, said:

“True religion is not a narrow dogma. It is not external observance. It is faith in God and living in the presence of God.”

We find a similar understanding and tolerance in the First Amendment of the Constitution, part of our American Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Think about this: every one of you here today has the inalienable right to start your own religion, if you’re so inclined. I thought about establishing Robism, but my Christian beliefs wouldn’t let that go very far. The point is, you and I are blessed mightily to be here in this land where the freedom to worship is not only a right; it is our responsibility to ensure for all others.

We have a privilege unknown to many around the world. This comes with an obligation to defend. I’ll leave you with these final wise words of Thomas Jefferson, found on this plaque that sits on my desk:

[hold up and read plaque]

“There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.”

[return to seat]

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(Care to learn more about my commonsense approach to improving your Self, your Teams, and your Security? Check out our site at SEALofPeace.com or connect with me at social media: Twitter | Facebook Google+ | LinkedIn | Instagram)

I’m giving you permission to be selfish this year

Happy You Year!

“It’s better to give than receive.”

True. But that has its limits. You can never give what you have not got.

selfish girl
Sometimes you just have to roll alone

With my coaching and retreat clients, I’ve observed that many good people have a bad habit—of giving, which is good…but giving to a fault, which is bad. Husbands and wives do this for their spouses, parents do it for their kids, and many of us do it for those we meet in daily life around the office or school. In some of the churches I’ve attended over the years, some church ladies and bleeding deacons make a veritable specialty of giving more of themselves than anyone else does…and making sure everyone else knows about it.

Ask yourself this: during 2015, did you ever have the vague feeling that something was lacking? I’ve never worked with anyone who didn’t have some sense of dissatisfaction. After all, why would you pay somebody like me to help you make things work better, if things were working perfectly well?

I often discover that the missing pieces of life are personal, things important to that person; things that may have fallen between the cracks while being good and taking care of other people’s needs…or just wants.

Listen—there’s nothing wrong with being human.

And being human means you have your very own complete set of wants and needs. It also means that, if you’re an average “good” person, you sacrifice a little here and there in compromise with others. The problem comes up when you don’t set reasonable limits on your giving and end up in deficit. Let me offer a personal example to illustrate:

IMG_0077 - Copy
Who I was—Dark circles, washed out, puffy

I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, in a small village (yes, a real village—Port Henry had about one thousand people, and probably always will). And when I say “in the mountains,” I mean that literally. In my teens I would take off on the streams and trails at every opportunity. It was no surprise I ended up making a pretty good living as a river and trail guide for a couple seasons.

But then I went off to the Navy, and began a life of adventure in different ways. After 20 years of spooking around for NSA and sneaking around for the SEAL Teams, I retired in 2006 and headed off to defense contracting and program management. I thought I was “supposed” to go that way, because I thought “everyone else” was doing it. I lived intense years under those fluorescent lights, approving time sheets, and seeing only as many trees as I might pass on the drive to and from work.

It wasn’t until this Summer, when I launched the first SEAL of Peace #GoWild river retreat, that I realized how desperately I had been missing my natural environment. We had a fantastic four days experiencing Body, Mind, Heart and Soul breakthroughs on that trip in Northern Virginia…but I honestly think I got more out of it than all the satisfied participants combined—I got my Self back. I got to be where I needed to be (in the woods), doing what I needed to do (leading people to be their best in the woods), and it was like getting a new lease on life.

 

IMG_8773
Who I am—Happy

Here’s the kicker: My going out on that river and getting what I needed did not take away from anyone else. Living my true life, honoring who God made me to be, added to everyone else instead of taking away. My family got a nice check as I earned my living my way; son Jack even came along and experienced the whole trip for himself as my outfitter! The clients who came along, and told me they wished the trip could be much longer, weren’t hurt in any way by my taking what I needed. Quite the opposite, judging by the surveys!

When you don’t live your life to its fullest, in line with what you feel you should be doing, you don’t only steal from your own happiness. You take away all the good that your best you could do for everyone else. If you take the time to look hard at you, and remember what you wish you could be doing, you change everything for the better. It isn’t always easy, and it can take a lot of time and energy (sometimes money, for you aspiring doctors out there), but it is always worth it. Remember that whole You Only Live Once (#YOLO) thing.

As this year gets kicked off right, I’ll soon release my brand-new “Ten Steps To Your Best” (#10Steps2U) method to help people A) Get more clarity on who they are and what they want, and B) Make meaningful progress on that improved vision. Be watching for that here, and rest assured: the #10Steps2U are not a tricky scheme to con people into giving me money for “secrets”…the list will be free, and open, and always will be. I will want you to share this far and wide. I want to see a lot more people around me on the streets who can say they feel Happy.

The first Step,as you will see, is Choose.

Choose to set foot on your necessary journey. Choose to allow old assumptions to fall away if you discover new data that serve you better. Choose to let hope and enthusiasm and determination bubble up in you again, as you remember from many years ago…and begin to see how great your life will be.

Register for tonight’s free “Think Like the Threat” webinar

Strengthen your understanding and your resolve.
Sunday evening, I’ll offer you some solutions. When things go all to hell like they did Friday night, it’s easy to get swept up in fear and uncertainty and, basically, become paralyzed in ineffectiveness. That’s when you need to take a knee, take a breath, and take stock from an informed perspective. Understanding is a force multiplier. 

 
Think Like the Threat (TiLT) is my “signature” presentation. I’ve used this constantly evolving, interactive instructional talk to help military, government, and private organizations get inside the minds of their adversary and learn to look out through his eyes. Try to imagine how powerful that is for protectors.

Usually, associations or corporations pay me $4,500 for a one-hour TiLT plus two hours of workshopping to help tailor their own in-house Threat Working Group (TWiG). But in response to the tragedy in Paris, I’m going to broadcast TiLT via webinar, at no cost, to any interested participants Sunday evening at 7:00 Eastern. Please note that to allow for questions we can only accept a total of 100 attendees, so register now and make sure you tune in early. Once 100 have taken their seats for the session, we are full.

Registration details are below.  

 [LATE-BREAKING UPDATE: People have been writing in from France, Germany, Poland etc asking for a TiLT that suits their time zone. So I’ve scheduled a second session, planned for Monday the 16th at noon Eastern, 6:00pm Paris time. Stand by for the registration link, later today, if that one’s better for you.]

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Please register for Think Like the Threat (TiLT) on Nov 15, 2015 7:00 PM EST:

Register for Sunday TiLT webinar

In this free session, Rob DuBois will spend one hour helping you understand the mind and methods of people who would do you harm. Any adversary, whether terrorist, hacker or business rival, can be sized up to give you an advantage. We call it “TiLTing the game in your favor.”

Rob has presented TiLT to Marines during combat operations in Fallujah, to the Fort Knox Mint Police leadership, to Lockheed Martin staff and executives, and for more than 100 other clients and keynotes. Be advised that you need to be ready to be challenged personally, if you want to get any value from this; a closed mind cannot grasp new concepts. 

Note: Again, we can only fit 100 attendees, so don’t delay your registration:

Register for Sunday TiLT webinar

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Burn Your Dream Board

(But take a picture of it, first.)

[Written on my smart phone, so don’t expect a lot of flourishes.]

  When I got back from these six weeks in Africa, I knew two new things. Actually, I knew a bunch of new things, about myself and about my newly crystallized thoughts on the world, but I’m only going to talk about two things here. Remember, it’s a smart phone.

The first thing is simple: I had to help others step out of their crippling comfort zones and back into the elements so they could burst into similarly transformative realizations about their own lives. I used to guide in the Saranac Lakes, so the work would be second nature for me. (Get it? Second nature?) That’s all set up now—I’m calling it #GoWild, and our first weekend trip starts August 6 in Northern Virginia. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, drop me a line and I might let you come along.

The second thing is also simple (I’ve concluded that True things seem to be simple, as a rule): I am too goddam busy. Not only today, but tomorrow, too. I’m too busy tomorrow—or at least I was, when I left for Africa—because of a Very Bad Habit (#VBH) of mistaking Planning for Productivity.

I have spent countless Today hours planning myself into over-scheduled bondage for Tomorrow. My Dream Board, a beautifully-crafted 3’x5′ cardboard collage of glue and glossy images, had at least FIFTY lofty goals (they included solving poverty, and becoming a helicopter pilot). Is there anything wrong with solving poverty, or becoming a helicopter pilot? Heck, no. But there is something very wrong with staring at those lofty goals instead of ACTING, in the moment, on something I need to accomplish Today. I was too busy, all the way into Tomorrow.

And it seems I was the last to know….

Anybody who’s spent any time around me will tell you I do too much. Or, rather, that I did too much. Now I don’t do much at all. I do what needs to be done, and I also spend time NOT doing, so I can examine what I want to do and decide whether it needs to be done, or is just another example of my #VBH of adding crap to my list.

Because when I came home, knowing these two new things, I took my Dream Board into the back yard and I burnt that sucker up into little tiny ashes. Then I kicked them around. Then, and only then, I realized I was free—to live and act and think and breathe in the present.

Don’t spend the precious few hours of your remaining life staring at a glossy picture you cut out of a magazine two years ago. Instead, give yourself and your loved ones the gift of seeing and hearing and knowing yourself and your dreams TODAY. If you want to become a helicopter pilot too, it’s not like you’re going to forget that just because you don’t have a picture of it.

Note: I am not an enemy of Dream Boards. Used responsibly, they are an awesome tool for personal motivation.

Dream responsibly. 

The terrorist’s journey; step one

IMG_3523-0.JPGToday I was asked why young men join terror groups. I’ll also be speaking to this on Al Jazeera America tonight (Sep 25, 11:00 p.m. Eastern) and tomorrow on The Morning Show (9:00 a.m.)
The complete answer goes all the way back to fundamental human nature: each of us chooses what he believes is the best option in any situation, according to his total body of values. Basic self-interest. This is true whether a person is standing by fearfully and letting a friend drown, or putting his own life in danger on the battlefield. I wrote about this in Powerful Peace.
The jihadi, like every other person, has a particular range of experience and information available to him. He can only know what he knows. Much of that knowledge is fed by external “authority” sources, each with its own agenda in mind, and they feed “facts” including the existential threat to society posed by evil Westerners or Crusaders. The young and impressionable man may be merely a thug pursuing personal rewards, or he may legitimately perceive that he is “defending” his people. Often it’s both. In any case, he is acting according to what he believes in—exactly like you and I and every other human on the planet. This is why we’re in a war of the mind as much as of the flesh.