NFL players taking a knee to protest social injustice in the U.S. There is such a level of irony in that scenario I don’t think anything could best it. Is there social injustice in the U.S.? You bet there is. First and foremost is the injustice of economic imbalance, the predatory economic system running amok. There are those who, while most of the citizens simply worked at their jobs, working to keep their lives and communities on a stable footing, were busily working with the single-minded purpose to acquire more. Often stealthily, behind closed doors, working to see cronies obtain key political positions to shore up their single -minded purpose. Working to see laws passed to aid in the furtherance of their, by default or by design, malevolent advance. Always grasping for “more”. Using force, force of law, or sometimes simply force, to both create their path and protect their rear. All in the name of inordinate gain with very little, if any, return of substance to the public they feed upon.
Kind of like professional football. As a matter of fact, not kind of like, exactly like.
The NFL is quite possibly the number one mascot for the thinking, the spirit, that has created and maintains the economic imbalance in the U.S. They do a lot, quite possibly more than any other recognizable entity, to keep the spirit of “I got mine, too bad about you” alive and well. I can remember when street gangs wore NFL jackets as their “colors”. I can’t be the only one who saw the synchrony in that.
The NFL is a crude microcosm which exemplifies the spirit within the more sophisticated, unjust, macrocosm that some within the NFL’s ranks are protesting. And as such, this renders the NFL a de facto PR agent of that predatory system. Undoubtedly one of the most well known and effective PR agents of that system. The media coverage of the NFL plays to the minds of the young, and older folks alike. The media glorifies the greed rampant within the NFL and entices fans to lust after inordinate wealth. And it glorifies brute force in the process. The glorification of greed which is part and parcel of the reality of the NFL, helps white-wash greed everywhere. So, the irony of NFL players protesting the larger system’s injustices is, at the very least, ironic. Possibly even grotesquely so. But maybe it’s a start?
It’s happening all around the world. Once thriving oceans, seas, lakes, rivers are dying. People are experiencing various forms of cancer at unprecedented rates. Also hypothyroidism, diabetes, and other diseases are increasing in prevalence. Then there are the dis-eases often categorized as mental disorders: anxiety, depression, anger, and more. What do all these things have in common? All of these maladies, environmental and human, are either caused or exacerbated by one or more of the various forms of pollution which are rampant in our world today.
These forms of pollution include pollution of our water, air, earth, bodies, minds, and spirits. Many types of corporeal pollution are listed above. Regarding our minds and spirits, we are currently experiencing widespread pollution of human kind by greed, fear, hate and anger. It only takes picking up a newspaper to find instances of this pollution at work.
Who to blame, or is there anyone to blame? Do we always have to look for someone to blame? In this case, yes, there most definitely are people at the root of the problem.
One source; a company, a government, a religion, or other agency with financial or other special interests produces “X” amount of physical and/or mental/spiritual pollution, another company produces 2 times as much. Another company maybe only produces 1/2 as much. And all of them are saying that they do not produce enough pollution to be causing such problems. And all of them are right. And all of them are wrong. If you aren’t familiar with Aesop’s fable of the “The Crow and the Pitcher”, I hope you’ll read it. It explains a lot.
Regarding the environmental pollution, where is the E.P.A. in all of this? They’ve been busy repeatedly firing Dr. William Marcus and then repeatedly trying to defend that action in court. And I imagine other activities of similar ilk, all conducted behind closed doors. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Many believe that today, under the Trump administration, the fox has been put in charge of the henhouse at the E.P.A. (Personally I think that has effectively been the case for at least a few decades.)
Regarding the mental/spiritual pollution, what human agency is watching out for the common person? At this point, no one. We are pretty much on our own to decide what ideas, beliefs, we incorporate into our lives. Which, in order for us to retain our humanity, is as it should be. Free will is a wonderful thing. Yet, why are so many so quick, so willing to incorporate ideas filled with greed, hate, fear and anger? One reason, I believe, is because those are the ideas people are being repeatedly exposed to by, again, those with the reins of power around the world.
Around the world, we see people being led to embrace greed, hate, fear and anger en masse by those whom those people trust to tell them what’s happening in the world. Special interests have most definitely infected many of the media, schools, and religious institutions. I heard a proverb years ago that: “When interest enters in, truth flies out the window.” Again, it’s a matter of no one contributing source being the whole problem, and again, the fable of “The Crow and the Pitcher” tells the story.
Don’t we see what’s happening? Don’t we understand the real and potential problems associated with pollution? Don’t we, with all our technology, possess the means to prevent and correct such problems? The answer to all these questions is the same: “Yes we do”. However, there is another question and an answer which, together, underlie all these problems: Don’t those with the reins of power around the world possess the wisdom and will to value our planet’s ability to sustain life, and the myriad benefits of humankind cooperatively coexisting, more than the unbridled acquisition of power and material wealth? Unfortunately at this time, the answer to that question which we are seeing repeatedly demonstrated is: “No”.
Too many people want their stock dividends, too many CEO’s want their large bonuses, the power and influence of too many public offices are for sale. Amongst the common folk, apparently too many people are contributing to the culture of pollution with the purchases we make. To some extent we are at the mercy of those in control of production and marketing. However we should all be mindful of the impact our purchases have upon the burden of waste in the world. And, I would add, too many are too readily accepting the “reasoning” being put forward by those in power for why our natural resources and our treasuries are being managed in the way they are. And too many people are accepting the special interest driven “reasoning” being offered for why we should embrace greed and hold hate, fear and anger toward others.
I think at some point in the future when archeologists, quite possibly from another planet because Earthlings will have become extinct, look for the “whys” to the last great extinction event on Earth, they will find a direct causative chain of: human greed – pollution – willful ignoring and exacerbating of the problems – extinction.
Yet, around the world, little by little, people are waking up. So the last question is; will enough people be awake and taking corrective action before it is too late? It truly is a case of “United we stand, divided we fall.”
I am using the same artwork for this article as the last one because, well, it is just so appropriate. And I would rather think optimistically then post a picture of the pollution, and it’s effects, which we can all see without any great effort.
This is a “laundry list” of things which, if put into effect, would go a long way toward effectively stabilizing human culture, re-humanizing humanity, doing away with war, decreasing the prevalence of many illnesses, and making life worth living! None of these, except one (I won’t say which one), are my original ideas. They are from people who have studied the issues and weighed the related factors. As I have accumulated them over years I apologize that I do not cite the source. In the interest of brevity I have sometimes combined what were originally separate ideas but which dovetail nicely together.
A three day work week with a living wage.
Abolish the stock market. Keep companies in the hands of their founders and workers (employee ownership). Let the consumers decide via their purchases, or lack thereof, when a company’s product is no longer desired.
New ideas for products/companies can be financed via bank loans, personal loans or the sale of bonds. All at a reasonable rate of interest and able to be paid off.
Eliminate speculation in agricultural or any other products. This only artificially raises prices thereby fueling inflation. (Essentially do away with a “casino economy”.)
All industrial or other waste which poses a threat to the health of our environment must be discontinued or treated in such a fashion as to effectively neutralize any threat it may pose.
Legalize the production, sale and use of all natural substances which may be categorized as “drugs”. These include marijuana, coca, poppies and their derivatives. No prescription needed for these substances. In order to purchase these substances a person must have a card indicating they have completed an introductory class of at least 3 hrs. in duration about the potential dangers and benefits of each substance they wish to be allowed to purchase. Including tobacco and alcohol.
Re-institute regulations around the number of television stations, radio stations, newspapers and other media outlets that any one person or corporation may own.
Via regulations affecting banks, arms manufacturers and other government contractors, remove the the profit motive from war.
Make the dissemination of false and/or misleading information by elected and/or appointed government officials/employees a criminal offense (if it isn’t already) and enforce it.
Restrict election financing. Cap the dollar amount any one candidate can spend during an election campaign. Make it a felony with significant penalties for any person, corporation or foreign nation, or any agent thereof, to give donations, gifts, or make promises of future financial/material gain to any elected or appointed government official/employee. Or for any elected or appointed government official and/or employee to receive such donations or gifts.
Maintain and adequately fund community based (not private) and regulated police forces, fire departments, schools, parks, hospitals, ambulance/EMT services (universal healthcare) and other services. Such as concert and sports venues as a community desires and can support.
Income from concerts, sporting events, etc, above and beyond that used to pay workers, performers, athletes, etc., should go to public coffers and to fund public services and infrastructure.
Establish and enforce both a minimum and maximum personal income. The minimum income would insure basic housing, food and essentials for all. There could be some work requirement (public service) upon those receiving it. The maximum income would include income from all sources combined. This would be in force for all people regardless of profession. The maximum income should be no more than 7 times the minimum wage (not the minimum income which may be slightly less than the minimum wage).
While in a rough draft format, as mentioned above this is at least a partial “laundry list” of actions which, if instituted, would serve to stabilize and re-humanize our cultures and our world.
(Well, it didn’t take long for me to drift away from trying to post on Saturdays.) Anyway, I recently had cause to be researching the topic of “stewardship”. I think most people are familiar with the concept of stewardship, but maybe not. So to begin with, here is an excerpt from the Merriam-Webster Online definition:
“2 : the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”
That pretty much sums it up.
The first I can remember hearing anything about stewardship was when I was young and attending a Methodist church in the small Midwest town I grew up in. Stewardship was an important topic in that church. Probably the most well known Bible story relating to stewardship is the story of Joseph in Egypt. How Joseph, acting as a good servant, espousing good stewardship, was a blessing to the Egyptian people. You can read more about the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis beginning at chapter 37. The topic of stewardship was one that came up every now and then in the topics being presented.
That association of stewardship and religion led me to look to see what some other religions had to say on the topic. There is a lot that is written and discussed online around this topic related to various religions. However, there did clearly appear to be a consensus to be found among many of the world’s religions. Most of the information I have listed below are excerpts taken from the website “Religion Answers” although I often found similar quotes within other sources:
Within the Islamic faith we find: “The three most important principles of the Prophet’s philosophy of nature are based on the Quranic teachings and the concepts of tawhid (unity), khalifa (stewardship) and amana (trust).”
The Hindu teaching has this to say: “Stewardship is Right Conduct, what the Hindu calls dharma. Stewardship extends to water, to land, to animals, to food, to resources. Nature is Prakriti, Mother Earth is one of the Gods. Earth must be treated with respect.”
Buddhism: “Stewardship is management of the Earth and its resources in accord with the dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha. This includes respect for all forms of life. Stewardship scopes to include environmental ethics, obligation to future generations, risk, and development of technology.”
Sikhism: “The holy scriptures in Sikhism say God is the creator of all that exists., Man has a duty to care for the creation, The world reflects what is inside man – pollution, global warming, ecology disasters – all these reflect what is inside every man, woman and child.”
In the Old Testament:(This does not come from “Religion Answers.) I have to say this is one area of discussion that got a little blurry. It seems to be accepted that God gave man dominion over the Earth. The blurriness seems to be in how that may be interpreted from one place to another. Does “dominion” mean do what you will? That the Earth and it’s resources are here for our plunder? Or does it mean that the Earth belongs to humankind for our caretaking? For our stewardship in keeping with love for God and for one another? Big difference. I think (and hope) most conscientious, spiritually minded persons from both Judaism and Christianity regard it in the latter context.
From the New Testament: Titus 1:7 ESV : “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,”
These are just a few examples. From what I’ve found Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Native American teachings, African native spiritual practices and Paganism all hold the value of respectfully and responsibly, if not lovingly, caring for the Earth and it’s resources. I have not researched every religion, however, from the pattern which clearly shows within the ones I’ve listed, good stewardship, especially of the Earth and it’s resources, has been a shared and cherished value within the religious traditions of most, if not all, people from all around the world for a long, long time.
Imagine, human beings from most, if not all, cultures and locations on the Earth, who have sought wisdom within our spiritual reality, have for centuries, if not millenia, held values consistent with one another about how we should revere and care for, how we should engage in good stewardship of, the Earth and it’s resources. Talk about common ground! What has happened to divert so much of humanity from this very common understanding of our role as stewards upon the Earth?
If humankind, around the world, were to in deed practice conscientious, responsible, loving stewardship of the Earth and it’s resources, keeping in mind that humankind itself may be thought of as another resource upon the Earth, imagine how wonderful this planet and the cultures we build upon it might be?
Fake news. It’s a term which we’ve encountered a lot the past couple years. However, as history attests, it’s not a new phenomenon. Fake news, or the reporting of fabrications as if they were real, is older than the invention of the printing press. It’s not that there aren’t reporters and media genuinely dedicated to bringing honest news of the world to the general population. It’s just that it seems a media with widespread customers who rely upon that media to know what’s going on in the world is apparently too readily manipulable a commodity for unscrupulous politicians and profiteers not to take advantage of.
Most of the time, in centuries past or the past several decades, it seems “fake news” is most often used to incite fear and conflict. Or to cover up the misdeeds of those powerful enough to manipulate the media to do so. A recent movie, “The Post”, memorializes the spirit of some who were willing to be politically incorrect, and more, in order to bring the truth to the public. Does that spirit still exist?
Just in my lifetime the shadow of unexplained realities around some horrendous events calls to question whether genuine, hardcore, investigative journalism, at least in the “mainstream media”, has become unfashionable, threatened, if not facing extinction. The Kennedy assassinations, Oklahoma City, 9/11. These are a few instances in which the media is used to repetitiously reassert highly suspect official stories. Those who do dare point out the inconsistencies are often dismissed with the label “conspiracy theorist”. What makes the difference between a “conspiracy theorist” and an award winning investigative journalist? Is it too often merely the willingness, or reluctance, of those who control “mainstream media” to report certain realities? We need a media which consistently places truth above politics.
We read or hear every now and then about someone “going down a rabbit hole”. That is no doubt an allusion to Alice in Wonderland (Or Alice Through the Looking Glass) and a young girl’s journey into a fantastic, somewhat disorienting world. These days “going down a rabbit hole” is most often used to describe someone who is delving into information having to do with conspiracies, manipulations of the public consciousness. Often these people may also be described as being “on the fringe”, nut jobs or nut cases, conspiracy theorists, or even lunatics. However, is this really the case? Are the people who delve into such information, trying to discern what is or isn’t real, actually going down a rabbit hole? Or, are they trying to climb out of one?
It certainly seems many people live in one of two ways: Either blindly, unquestioningly accepting the information they are handed by “the authorities” and adjusting their lives accordingly. Or, some do feel, suspect, things really aren’t what they have been told they are, but the prospect of trying to peer into the darkness is too frightening. These folks then continually seek other people and institutions which will reinforce the status quo and, at least temporarily, soothe the uneasiness which lies below the surface of their lives.
Then there are the people who don’t, can’t, fit into either of these groups. People whose consciousness, whose intuitions about our world are persistently and relentlessly sending them alerts: something doesn’t feel right, something doesn’t make sense when analyzed using all the available evidence. These people often feel like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. So these people read, watch documentaries, talk with others. Not just the books, videos and others that will reinforce the information that is already being mass-produced and presented repeatedly on all the mainstream media. These people welcome all the information they can get their hands on. Including the material being presented on the six o’clock news and the front page. These folks welcome the alternative perspectives, the “outside the box” reasoning, and all the facts, all the evidence, they can find. No matter where it may come from and, more importantly, no matter where it may lead.
It is important to note the critical distinction between “welcoming” of information and “accepting” information. One, the welcoming, is the act of opening one’s senses, one’s mind, to input. Accepting information is the act of internalizing, assimilating, the information as true and accurate. When we do this we are doing more than simply restructuring our mental, abstract concepts about whatever the information pertains to. We are actually directing our brain to arrange our neural connections in such a way that the information becomes “hardwired*” into our neural processing patterns. This is an organic process which requires time, energy and effort on the part of our body, our brain. Our brain is building an organic network of thought, reasoning patterns which become part and parcel of our conscious processes. These concepts, true or false, become the matrix, the foundational fabric of our thinking processes.
In between the “welcoming” and the “accepting” what should exist is a critical, analytical process of vetting the information. What too often happens is that merely the fact that somebody in a position of culturally recognized “authority” spoke or wrote the words passes as vetting information. Is it that millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are too complacent, to think, to research for themselves? Or is there more to it than that? People around the world are often required to expend such a large amount of their time and energy in just striving to keep themselves sheltered and fed that, maybe, there just isn’t enough energy to go around? To look at this phenomenon from the perspective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we can’t do too much on the higher levels of our lives when we’re unsatisfied with and/or expending all our efforts on the lower levels of the Hierarchy. However, no matter what the reason(s) may be, if we aren’t critically analyzing the important happenings in our world, some of our oversights are going to affect us more than others!
*Back to the “hardwiring” our brain is busily involved with. This “hardwiring” is not immutable. Just as these neural circuits were formed via our acceptance of, our assimilation of, information into our belief system; our working concept of reality can be reformed/reshaped in the same manner. But it takes time. Our brain’s neural network is not just a series of “off/on” switches. It is a living organ and change requires time and energy. When we construct complex concepts in our minds we are employing an army of neurons. Some of them are carrying data more central to the concept, some are carrying data more peripheral. Some are doing the work of associating one concept with another. Our brain doesn’t operate like a military drill field where one central command can result in hundreds or thousands of soldiers making an instantaneous change of direction. Our brain, our thought/neural constructs, change via many recursive visits to the subject. Slowly, gradually, change begins to become pervasive throughout our neural network. Sometimes it may take years, decades, for an intention for change to have thoroughly replaced the pre-existing concept(s). To try to change too much, too quickly, can be a traumatic event for the organic neurology involved. It can result in mental illness, and I am told, even death.
That’s why we don’t want to beat ourselves up when we find ourselves falling down on resolutions we make. Our neurology just doesn’t respond in an instantaneous, pervasive manner. It is also why we do not want to “program” ourselves or allow ourselves to be programmed with faulty, inaccurate, untrue information. It is not in the best interests of our species to have to engage in major conceptual changes. It takes a lot of time and energy away from being able to cope with the “here and now”. It is profoundly better to have good information to begin with and to be able to build increasingly complex, increasingly sound conceptual networks over time.
Human kind is probably the only species on Earth in which adults of the species will knowingly lie to their young. Of course, sometimes the adults who are transmitting false, inaccurate information to their young aren’t doing it intentionally. They are doing it because they themselves have accepted false, inaccurate information. Information which was handed to them by an “authority” sometime, someplace during their lives. This false, inaccurate information might be thought of as parasites which have been introduced to the family, dressed up, and have taken up residence, attempting to influence successive generations. Kind of like a horror movie.
When we’re under the influence of false, inaccurate information one can think of it as living at the bottom of a rabbit hole: in the dark.
For decades the American public has been living under the influence of lies. Lies coming from the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress. Lies being regurgitated by much of the media. The lies have gotten so deep, going back decades; so much has been built on top of those lies, those in power must cringe at the thought of the public ever widely knowing the truth. As George H.W. Bush said to Sarah McLendon, a Texas journalist: “Sarah, if the American people ever find out what we have done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us.” That was in 1992. The corruption, lies and abuses, the darkness being cast over our understanding of our world, have only gotten deeper since then. The Kennedy assassinations, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the Oklahoma City bombing, MK Ultra, 9/11, these heinous actions, actions which the American people have been lied to regularly and repeatedly about, are only the tip of the iceberg. Financial abuses, wars, economic disparity, the list of ways the American public has suffered as a result of the lies is long and grievous. Because I live in the U.S., events in the U.S. are what I am most aware of. However, corruption and abuse of the public by those in high office is by no means limited to the U.S.
So, in reality, those seeking the truth about these things aren’t frivolously going down the proverbial rabbit hole, they’re determinedly trying to climb out of one.
Culture. We all need one to live. However, if and when that culture becomes too rigid, too intolerant, it stops being the supportive, nurturing, positive context we all need for whole, healthy lives. We human beings are complex in our make-up, in how it is that we experience our world, our environment, and in how we, as individuals, want to respond and behave within it. Each of us, while we do all share an essential common core of basic needs: water, food, air, shelter, love…, as complex beings are also very different in many ways.
We all experience and relate to our world in a somewhat different manner. Some people are more oriented toward an auditory experience of the world. Some the visual, or the tactile. And there are many other aspects of our lives which we all approach in different measure, with varying degrees of passion. We all have available to us the realities of logic, mathematics, healing/medicine, art, architecture, music, taste/food, physical capabilities; balance, strength, motion, sensuality. There are so very many aspects of our lives and our world which we all can and do find ourselves drawn to, interested in, to varying degrees. And they are all equally valid*. What we find ourselves naturally drawn to is the path we need, as an individual living organism with both physical and spiritual components. The path which will lead us to realizing our individual developmental journey in this life. It is, in fact our developmental imperative. And, again, they are all equally valid*.
This reality, of individual developmental imperatives, while so common sensical and simple at it’s base, has profound implications for us within our cultures and interpersonal relationships. Currently, in many cultures, there is an expectation, sometimes a quite rigid expectation, that within the culture we should all follow a highly regimented common path. This can, and often does, apply within our interpersonal relationships and especially marriages. It can, and often does demand, that one party accept a subservient relationship to the other. Often, but by no means always, the subservient role is expected of the female. It is hard, real hard, (all but impossible?) to get in touch with and express one’s individual developmental imperative in such a situation. Someone may want to attempt the argument that then the subservient person is experiencing that difficulty then that is their developmental imperative at that moment (to learn it is impossible to experience self-actualization while being rigidly held to someone else’s expectations and rules?). What do you think?
Within healthy interpersonal relationships we often take on obligations. Couples take on the obligation of maintaining a household, raising children, working together toward common goals. Honoring one’s own developmental imperative does not mean being defiantly independent and resisting all cooperative efforts and arrangements in our lives. It does mean being in touch with and honest with ourselves. Honoring what we know to be our essential orientations and needs. When partners recognize this reality within their own and their partner’s life, and when the individual orientations and needs are not incompatible with the needs that exist within the partnership, then all’s well. As a matter of fact, it’s better than well, it’s excellent.
The only way it gets any better is when partners within a relationship not only recognize and honor one another’s individual developmental imperatives, but take an active interest in seeing one another succeed in expressing them.
Today in the world at large we see individual developmental imperatives being honored, or neglected, to varying degrees. Some cultures all but totally reject it. When a brutally enforced totalitarian expectation of conformity is present, individual developmental imperative hides in fear. Or there may be martyrs in it’s name. The individual developmental imperative seems to most often demand our attention by being gently insistent. However, if continually repressed there can be pressure that builds up behind it. It can cry out within our being for recognition and expression.
The same is true within families, or interpersonal relationships and marriages. It can require determination and personal effort in developing knowledge and reason for individual developmental imperative to find fertile ground. Personal insecurities can get in the way of one’s own ability to express one’s developmental imperative and it can cause us to try to repress it in others. Within close relationships knowledge of one another combined with trust and reliability are important.
We don’t come into this world “blank slates”. We arrive with a developmental imperative already well underway. Our spirit, our mind, our nervous system are already geared for the path that will serve us the best. And, if we are happy and accomplished at a skill which brings enlightenment, joy, and increased turn-on to life and well-being to others…then it is a win-win-win situation.
Again, there is work involved, and discipline. Work and discipline are not bad things when applied to the expression of that which we deeply love and seek to honor with our being. In that context work and discipline feel right and we recognize the value they can add to our achieving that which we desire.
*So why the asterisk, the caveat? Because there is something we need to acknowledge and honor in order to preserve our individual ability to access, explore and fulfill our lives. It is really very simple: we need to acknowledge and honor the basic needs and lives of everyone else as if they were our own. Which means if we perceive our developmental imperative as requiring us to harm others, to inflict physical, psychological and/or spiritual harm: mutilation, deprivation, destruction, upon others, then we need to rethink how we are interpreting our perceptions. It is likely that if we find ourself having such thoughts that they are an expression of anxiety and fear. Emotions often stemming from, at sometime in our past, our having been harmed, significantly physically, psychologically and/or emotionally mistreated. And/or quite possibly that we are suffering from a neurological impairment resulting from an insult to our brain. Possibly from a physical or chemical insult, or resulting from experiencing significant prolonged stress. What is needed is an experience of pervasive healing: and that experience will not manifest by harming others.