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That solitary silence has followed me like a shadow in the five decades since, a theme relevant both here and later when we drill into the perception of relationship value. My father, a naval veteran for 20-plus years, was frequently transferred base-to-base or away at sea for months at a time. When I was aged four we planted firm roots in Scotland. I vaguely recall living in Edinburgh before moving to South Queensferry on the Firth of Forth. It was a shorter trip for Dad to Rosyth dockyard over the Forth Bridge in Fyfe. Being born in England yet raised in Scotland opens strange mindset doors. I recall being politely labelled a 'Sassenach' and laughed at for anything. More impolitely, all too frequently, the haranguing was far worse. Next, to the adult children in the room I say, Take us back to your earliest childhood memories of your dad. When you were just a little boy, when you were just a little girl, what was it like to be with him? What of your dad's character do you see in yourself? I am interested in their adult perspective about their parents' marriage. They'd be thrown out of the business without hesitation. Unfortunately, we have a very expansive definition of what laziness is. A drug addict who's trying to get clean but keeps having relapses? An unemployed person with depression who barely has the energy to get out of bed, let alone to apply for a job? My friend Kim, who spent every day searching for resources and shelter, worked a full-time job, and still made time to teach their kids math and reading in the back of the broken RV that their family slept in? Clearly a very lazy person, someone who just needed to work harder to bring themselves out of poverty. The word lazy is almost always used with a tone of moral judgment and condemnation. You know, I was the English c**, fcker and the likes.

It's confusing to grasp why a nativity location or origin of descendancy were such catastrophic birth defects. Being born English, raised in Scotland, with some Scottish heritage on my grandma's side of the family, became an early catalyst for bullying. Perhaps the additional silent ostracism and self-loathing that was to come were somewhat inevitable. I do recall having the hell kicked out of me on most days in the littlies playground starting from primary school level one. Some days I was lucky enough to be of value during every play break as a practice punch bag. Four and five year olds may not pack a hook like Mike Tyson, yet to another rug rat, slight in build, every whack did damage. The wallopings did fall in regularity with each passing primary school year. Then I'll say, Suppose I said to your dad, not recently when he has been so ill, but let's say twenty years ago when he was feeling great, 'You have all day and all night to do whatever you want. This allows everyone in the room to remember their loved one before age and disease took their toll; There is an old Yiddish expression that says, A half-truth is a whole lie. When we call someone lazy, we don't simply mean they lack energy; They made bad decisions when good ones seemed just as feasible. Lazy people don't deserve help, patience, or compassion. It can be comforting (in a sick way) to dismiss people's suffering like this. If all the homeless people I see on the street are in that position because they're lazy, I don't have to give them a cent. If every person who's ever been jailed for drug possession was simply too lazy to get a real job, I don't have to worry about drug policy reform. And if every student who gets bad grades in my classes is simply too lazy to study, then I never have to change my teaching methods or offer any extensions on late assignments. The vast majority of homeless people are victims of trauma and abuse; I do believe though it's one reason I became so good at athletics -- one of the fastest kids. I was like Forrest Gump: for the longest time, I don't know why I didn't hit back, I'd just run.

Except for this one time years later, primary school Year 6 or 7, when I was aged around 10. Finding myself cornered against a schoolyard wall, for some reason the frustration and fury channelled down my arm to a curled fist instead of my legs to winged feet. I walloped the main antagonist a mighty, unexpected, uppercut and side blow. It wasn't canvas flooring but it was enough to stun and shock, creating an easier escape. The bizarre thing is that later that night my mum received a phone call from the mother of the boy in question asking that I leave Murray alone! Verbal harassment, exclusion or silent treatment over the years was equally hurtful, in fact more so, than being bashed up. Eyes dart back and forth as if to say without words, Can we, should we, talk about this in front of the grandchildren and the rabbi? This moment allows a family to express a whole truth about a whole person--the regrets, the shortcomings and mistakes of their loved one's life. Not long ago there was a media scandal in the wake of Kobe Bryant's death in a helicopter crash. The scandal was the result of CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King's interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie. The people we've been taught to judge for not trying hard enough are almost invariably the people fighting valiantly against the greatest number of unseen barriers and challenges. I've noticed this in my professional life as well. Every single time I've checked in with a seemingly lazy and underperforming student, I've discovered that they're facing massive personal struggles, including mental-health issues, immense work stress, or the demands of caring for a sick child or elderly relative. I once had a student who experienced the death of a parent, followed by the destruction of their house in a natural disaster, then the hospitalization of their depressed daughter, all in one sixteen-week semester. That student still felt bad for missing assignments, despite everything she was going through. She was certain people would accuse her of faking all these tragedies, so she carried documentation with her everywhere she went to prove that these things had happened to her. Why do we view people as lazy when they have so much on their plates? One reason is that most human suffering is invisible to an outside observer. Unless a student tells me that they're dealing with an anxiety disorder, poverty, or caring for a sick child, I'll never know. Ostracism creates hidden scars not so easily mended or reconciled.

Kids seem to learn early that juvenile powerplays work better than smacking someone about. Silent treatment and mind manipulation (including gaslighting) inflict pain without the annoyance of being caught by the evidence of visible marks of a tangible assault. That's why clinical narcissists also use these mean mechanisms as preferred weapons from their armoury. These passive-aggressive behaviours may seem innocent to the rest of the world, a disguise of taking the high ground, where the reality is anything but. Especially if they've been role-modelled such behaviour. Adults, without an actual clinical diagnosis of narcissism may have prejudices, a different value system, their own deep-seated personal devils, fears, limiting beliefs or patterns from prior experiences to draw upon. They may also be simply operating from lower ranges of emotional intelligence. It's why with the work I now do there are occasions when I share some insight. Kobe was the greatest basketball player of his generation and did a lot of great things in his retirement too. From a public standpoint, his deepest flaw was revealed when Bryant reached an out-of-court settlement with a nineteen-year-old accuser who claimed he had raped her. Kobe initially lied to investigators and denied having sex with his accuser. When the officers said they had physical evidence, Bryant admitted to having sexual intercourse with her. He also admitted to strangling her during sex, as the accuser had bruises on her neck. Gayle had interviewed me for the launch of a previous article, and we had exchanged a number of emails after Charlie Rose was fired at the beginning of the #MeToo movement, just a day after he and Gayle had interviewed me. In her interview with Lisa Leslie, Gayle said Kobe Bryant's legacy was complicated, and she went on to ask Leslie if her feelings for her basketball mentor had been affected by the incident. What followed was a blistering attack on Gayle, including death threats from Kobe fans who thought the question was mean-spirited and inappropriate. If I don't have a conversation with the homeless person near my bus stop, I'll never hear about his traumatic brain injury, and how that affects basic daily tasks like getting dressed in the morning. If I have an underperforming coworker, I have no way of knowing that their low motivation is caused by chronic depression. They might just look apathetic to me, when really they're running on fumes. When you've been alienated by society over and over again, you tend to look totally checked out, even if you're really busting your ass.

The people we dismiss as lazy are often individuals who've been pushed to their absolute limits. They're dealing with immense loads of baggage and stress, and they're working very hard. But because the demands placed on them exceed their available resources, it can look to us like they're doing nothing at all. We're also taught to view people's personal challenges as unacceptable excuses. Zee is reentering the job market after years of combating a heroin addiction. He's been hard at work fighting his addiction in rehabilitation programs, learning life skills in group therapy, and rebuilding his sense of self by doing volunteer work. Research suggests the simple act of ostracism may activate the same neural pathways and areas of the brain associated with physical pain. Think about that for a moment: to deliberately cold shoulder another soul is no better than physical assault. The same is true for malicious gossip, rumour or lies. Once you know that sound bite of information you can't pretend anymore not to know it, which creates an opportunity to work on your emotional intelligence. You get to show the world the true nature of your character anew every day. The value we bring is demonstrated by the choice of our actions, not the emptiness (or deliberate silence) of words alone. I share the first part of this personal childhood story because it powerfully highlights two destructive layers (debilitating demons that cause a breakdown in self-confidence, self-worth and perception of value): Life experiences -- external behaviour and situations: being told you're no good or being mistreated by others (physically, verbally or mentally) Life experiences -- internal dialogue translated to behaviour: negative self-talk or putting ourselves down These scenarios in my childhood all played havoc with my self-confidence and self-worth and impacted me for quite a period of time. It was a sad example of how cruel and cowardly people can be when hiding behind the curtain of social media. I immediately emailed Gayle and told her I wanted her to know that her rabbi friend believed in her and believed her question was right and fair. I told her how, whenever I sit down with a family to prepare for the funeral of their loved one, I ask a lot of questions, and one of them is always about the person's flaws. If you don't ask that question, you don't get the true picture of a person.