Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Pod People are coming! Will YOU be the next to be assimilated?

Two articles that would have Miles Bennell saying, "I warned you!!"

From a recent CBS NEWS item:

PALO ALTO, Calif. - "Palo Alto City Council members won't have to turn their frowns upside down.

"The council had tried to do away with frowning as part of a proposed code of conduct during public meetings. But on Monday, council members voted unanimously to adopt the code but remove language discouraging elected officials from using facial expressions that show 'disagreement or disgust' at public meetings.

"The broad proposal on body language, which critics said could be interpreted as infringing on the First Amendment's guarantee of free expression, made the council the butt of many jokes.

"The intent, said council member Judy Kleinberg, was to eliminate intimidation that arises when colleagues act aggressively or rudely.

"Council member Nancy Lytle wrote a memo suggesting the code be reworded to ask for 'respectful silence and decorum, paying and showing signs of attention while colleagues, staff or public have the floor.'

But council member Jack Morton said that wording won't work either.

“ 'I don't think it's appropriate for a city council to limit any form of expression — or require a positive form of expression,' he said."

And from the Associated Press:

Pastor preaches against complaining

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- "The Rev. Will Bowen tries not to complain. He wants everyone else to stop carping, too -- all 6 billion of us on the planet.

"And his message, first preached in a sermon at his small suburban church, has caught on -- even though some critics note complaining serves an important function.

"Last July, Bowen challenged worshippers at Christ Church Unity to quit complaining as a way to bring more prosperity into their lives. The congregation is part of the Association of Unity Churches, which offers what it calls 'practical Christianity' -- a way of life leading to health, prosperity, happiness and peace of mind.

" 'When you're focusing your attention on what's wrong or complaining, you're going to get more of what you're complaining about,' Bowen says.

"Positive thinking is not a new concept, but Bowen's spin came with a contemporary twist: the silicone bracelet. At the July sermon, Bowen handed out about 250 purple bracelets he wanted his congregants to use to remind themselves to stop complaining, criticizing or gossiping. Sarcasm was another no-no.

"He challenged them to refrain from complaining for 21 days because, he said, that is how long it takes to break habits. Whenever they found themselves failing they were to switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start over.

" 'Complaining draws all of its essence from negativity," the 47-year-old Bowen says. 'When you complain, you do it typically to attract attention or sympathy. It's you saying, "There's something wrong with me." You're sending out this vibrational energy into the universe that you're a victim, and the universe responds with more negativity."

"Bowen thought the challenge would be easy for him since he's a "positive minister guy." But he broke three bracelets after moving them from wrist to wrist so many times before making his 21 days. It took him nearly three months.

"The bracelets and the no-complaining challenge were a hit with church members, who came back looking for more bracelets, which the church gives out free. People at their offices wanted them. Family, friends, students wanted the purple bracelet and to take the 21-day challenge...By October, reporters came calling. After the initial burst of publicity, the church sent out more than 1 million free bracelets. Requests came in via the church's Web site from around the world -- Russia, South America, Asian countries. Some Pentagon employees began using the bracelets, which they kept on their desks because they were not allowed to wear them, says Tom Alyea, a church board member who has been coordinating the no-complaining effort with Bowen.

"But Barbara S. Held, psychology professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, says Bowen's approach is misguided. Complaining is an important, necessary tool for some people, she said.

"Held, author of the book 'Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching: A 5-Step Guide to Creative Complaining," says people cope in different ways and some people need to vent. 'The tyranny of the positive attitude in America, which Reverend Bowen wants to spread to the entire world' can actually hurt some people, she says.

"The research is compelling. When you force people to use a coping style that goes against their nature their functioning goes down," she says. "I'm not pushing pessimism. I'm saying let people cope in the way they cope and don't make them feel defective."

"Since Bowen's appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in March, volunteers have taken orders for more than 4 million bracelets. They've been coming in to the Web site at about 1,000 a day, Alyea says.

"The bracelets are free, but the church includes a donation envelope in each packet it sends out. Bowen will not say how much the bracelets cost the church or what the donations amount to...But so far, contributions are keeping up with costs, he says.

"A book, 'A Complaint Free World', is due in October, and Bowen's next goal is a nationwide 'No Complaining' day, preferably the day before Thanksgiving.

"Held likely wouldn't support that idea. 'If they want to stop complaining and be optimistic and look on the bright side, fine....But why cram the agenda down everybody's throat? You don't see the kvetchers and complainers saying that everybody has to complain.' "

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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