The Assault Upon Our Democracy

Graphic: Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

As we enter 2021 the United States is filled with a citizenry which, on the whole, is more troubled, fearful, angry, and poorer than they ever have been in the last 75 years. A citizenry which is increasingly homeless and hungry. A citizenry which is increasingly being “ruled”, not governed, by a cabal composed of the wealthiest who have managed, over the past 60+ years, to shape the thinking and culture of the nation to their liking. Joe Biden was certainly correct when, in his speech on Jan. 6, he stated “…our democracy is under unprecedented assault…”. However, he is sorely inaccurate in his assignment of the source of the assault merely to those who were demonstrating, and rioting, at the Capital Building.

While the demonstration and riot did manage to achieve a graphic display of the dissatisfaction which is widespread in the U.S., as far as preventing a fulfillment of the results of the last election, it was a misguided, futile effort. The pervasive and, at this point, long standing threat, the primary threat to American democracy: which is on the verge of dealing a fatal blow to the American experiment in democracy, is the dissemination of inaccuracies, lies, propaganda, which those occupying the highest positions in both government and industry have been increasingly engaging in since the end of the Second World War. It is impossible for a healthy democracy to exist without a steady flow of honest, accurate information for the people, who are at the heart of the system, to base their decisions upon. As we enter 2021 we must face the fact our democracy is crippled in this regard by five realities:

  1. Our “representative government has in reality become a government/industry amalgamation which routinely cries out “national security” to prevent the citizenry from gaining access to critical information. Information essential to any genuine effort at democratic government.
  2. The corporations deeply entrenched in governmental function are so obsessed with being at the “top of the food chain” in a predatory corporate culture, lying to the public is simply standard operating procedure.
  3. The governmental agencies which have been originally tasked with the protection of the interests of the public, have been co-opted by the industries the public expects them to be regulating. Their proclamations are little more than corporate PR.
  4. The “mainstream” news media (the fourth estate) has been monopolized by large corporations and, collectively, have become little more than conveyors of propaganda disseminated under the guise of “news”.
  5. Our government is increasingly populated by self-serving politicians who: have learned how to manipulate the system for personal gain, are increasingly dependent upon the wealth of corporations and certain wealthy individuals to obtain office, employ professional speech writers who expertly write speeches which divert, manipulate and placate the public. Speeches which they have no compunction against delivering. The U.S. has not yet had a President which does not fall into this category during the 21st century.

So yes, Joe Biden is entirely accurate with his claim of an unprecedented assault being waged upon our democracy. However, his assigning the primary source of that assault to those who engaged in the misguided actions in Washington, D.C. on Jan 6th is just more diversion and manipulation. It is more misinformation, which is, in fact, the true assault upon our democracy.

The key to dismantling this monstrosity of a manipulative system is simple and easily available to every individual in the U.S. In fact, every individual in the world. It is love. It is having love for all of humankind. It is basing our speech, our actions, our systems on the reality of that love. We must embrace the reality encapsulated in the “Golden Rule”: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” and genuinely and thoughtfully apply it in our lives. We are all an important part of an interdependent system. When we realize that, “One for all and all for one.” becomes much more than an interesting motto from a book.

Arrogance, Abuse and Denial in 2021

The twentieth century was rocked by devastation stemming from the arrogance shown by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis, along with the Japanese Empire of the day. It would be easy to believe, and I think many do, that a nation which played such an important part in defeating these two arrogant, abusive, murderous regimes would have an innate immunity from taking such an attitude itself. Yet somehow, it has happened. The behaviors of many American industries and the United States Government in relation to the people of many other countries, and, in many cases, to the citizens of the U.S. itself, demonstrate at least an equal amount of arrogance as that shown by the leaders of Germany and Japan prior to WWII.

As of this writing, within the U.S.:

  • There is a higher percentage of citizens imprisoned than within any other country.
  • Many of the prisons are being privately run for profit (slave labor).
  • The attention and the energies of the Government are being inordinately spent in the service of the wealthiest small minority of citizens.
  • Poverty, homelessness, and hunger are widespread and on the rise.
  • For decades the U.S. has been spending trillions of dollars not on infrastructure and well-being here in the U.S., but on destroying lives and infrastructure around the world. Often further enriching the already economic elite in the process.
  • There is a nationwide infatuation with stock prices and “profits” rather than genuine well-being.
  • Millions cannot afford routine healthcare.
  • Citizens are routinely and grievously fed information which is an outright lie, and if it is not an outright lie, often it is partial information presented in such a way as to mislead those exposed to it. This is done by the elected officials within the Federal Government, the CEO’s of many major industries, and too often by spokespeople for various governmental agencies.
  • The press, the “fourth estate” has too often become little more than parrots of the misinformation put forward.
  • For an elected official or other prominent business or entertainment personality to be linked in an incriminating manner to people engaged in human trafficking has become so routine it hardly raises an eyebrow.
  • The pursuit of money has come to be apparently accepted as an excuse in and of itself for grievous abuses of people and our environment.
  • “United we stand, divided we fall” has come to be replaced by “fuck you, I got mine”.

When faced with the abuses and the increasing cries of outrage, millions of Americans apparently accept it all with a complacent “it can’t happen here” attitude. Today, too often, being a proud American has come to mean being an arrogant American. To say this trend doesn’t bode well for the well-being of the U.S. is a horrible understatement. If the U.S. stays on this trajectory, the U.S. has nowhere to go but down.

I was born in the U.S., raised in the U.S., and live in the U.S. I have traveled a lot around the country. I have witnessed and experienced love, stimulating intelligence, positive human thoughts and attitudes and just plain human decency everywhere I have been. I cannot believe the greed, the callousness toward human life, the short-sightedness toward our environment and well-being, which are too often embodied and grievously displayed by those in prominent positions within government and various industries, and which are prominent within many of the ongoing policies and practices within the country, truly represent the heart and soul of the American people.

America desperately needs a reorganization of it’s operating principles. We can no longer sustain a country organized around what is good for mega-corporations and the wealthiest 1%. We need to prioritize the nation around what is good for human life, all human life. This includes fair wages, fair prices, affordable health care, affordable education, secure housing, clean water, nutritious food and a healthful environment.

A Tale of Two Crises

We, the people of the world, are facing two crises at this time. First, there are the cases of illness from the novel coronavirus. Secondly, there are the cases of extreme financial/material hardship taking place. If we just watch or listen to mainstream media one might think that in many cases the second is a direct result of the first. But it isn’t, not at all. Whether or not there was human involvement in the appearance of the novel coronavirus on the world stage is too big, and too obfuscated, an issue to get into in this article. However, the financial/material hardships that millions are facing around the world is entirely within the control of the human population of our planet. And it has been for some time.

The novel coronavirus has yet to touch one penny of anyone’s material security. Human kind has shown itself entirely capable of imposing hardships upon humans all by itself. There’s nothing obfuscated about this issue. And there isn’t anything obfuscated about how it can be solved. All it requires is for human culture to realize our interrelatedness, our interdependence. WE, who are whole and capable need to take responsibility for our lives and to do what we can (and if we’re working together, that is a lot) to assist those who are not whole and capable to develop greater capability. And to be housed, fed and cared for at all times.

We have the resources, we have the people, we have the knowledge, all we need is the will to make it so. It will require that everyone has the understanding that this is OUR world. WE decide what kind of culture we desire for humankind and WE are the only ones who can make it a reality. We must divest ourselves of competitive thinking and behavior, except in regard to recreational games. Cooperation is absolutely essential if humankind is to not only survive but fully realize the wondrous potential that is innate in every human being.

Competition results in stress and trauma and those things result in diminished human capability. Little by little those things do not nurture us, they cause us to gradually shut down and eventually kill us. Kindness, good nutrition, good information, exercise, work, play, art, contributing to a thriving human culture and enjoying the benefits of a thriving human culture, that is what elicits us to realize our fullest potential.

When we realize that the greater “profit” lies in a spiritually and physically healthy human culture (the two are interrelated) then we will be on the path to wholeness. Until then we’re just tripping over our own feet.

I say to-may-to, you say to-mah-to. The importance of the names we choose for our social-economic systems.

In a recent discussion on Facebook, it was pointed out to me that Denmark (and presumably other Nordic countries with similar economies and social programs) are not “socialist” or “democratic socialist” countries. I have to admit, as particularly the descriptor “democratic socialism” has been being used widely in the U.S. to describe the social-economic systems in those countries, I fell into using it. So in an effort to settle the matter once and for all in my own mind, I did what we so often do these days and went searching the internet. I found an article which does pretty conclusively settle the matter: “Scandinavian Socialism: The Truth of the Nordic Model”. In the article the Prime Minister of Denmark makes the following statement: “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” He then goes on to add: “Some refer to this as democratic socialism, though this is far from correct. Some economists refer to it as cuddly capitalism, contrasting with what is seen as cut-throat capitalism in other Western countries.

Ok, I stand corrected, but not dissuaded from my very strong opinion that we in the U.S. need to adopt similar healthcare, educational, and social safety-net programs, programs which are paid for via taxpayer funding, as are in place in Denmark and other Nordic countries. My educational background and a lot of my work history is within social programs, social work, mental health. I tend to primarily reference things from this perspective. because a program works for the wellbeing of society, I tend to think of it as “socialism”. I think I’m not alone in that. However, from an economic perspective, while socialism and communism are not literally the same, they do share some important attributes and tend to be lumped together in the thinking of many in the U.S. That is another discussion.

My message here is that we cannot become so locked into labels, one way or the other, that we cannot move past them to, as a society, do the things we need to do best ensure a healthy populace. A populace that experiences life within the culture as welcoming, nurturing, safe, and that encourages each citizen to be a productive, contributing member within our communities. I would go further to say that as a general rule, if someone wants to be “taking from” society, we should require that they also be “giving to” society. To only be either taking or giving is not a healthy thing. However, for this to be anything other than a cruel, exclusive, policy, there must also be the support and training readily available to help those who need it to find real ways to contribute within their own set of abilities.

What has happened to the promise of science?

We take the path of our own choosing. Although sometimes we can be led to believe our choices are limited to those another would choose for us.

I can remember growing at a time when there was a general understanding among people of what “science” is. It was known to be a method, a system, of approaching a problem, or a question, which will result in our having the most true and accurate perception of the thing. Then, using those results, we can make the best decisions, the decisions which will best serve humankind to not only survive, but have the best and brightest future possible. Of course, in our scientific explorations we also discover things which can be used for death and destruction, but good people have the wisdom to put those things aside unless possibly needed to defend ourselves, to defend our lives. We trusted those to whom we entrust the reins of leadership and our cultural wellbeing, to be people of honesty and integrity who will make wise decisions in our best interests and who will not lie to us about matters of consequence. That is the beautiful concept of a world I was introduced to in the mid-twentieth century.

So what happened? I think, in retrospect, a hazard of new fortune happened. Immediately prior to, during, and just after the second world war, humankind came into a wealth of knowledge about our world, our selves. Knowledge which could be made widely known and, while challenging some of our previously held beliefs, could help humankind have a collectively brighter future. Or, could be kept secretively in the hands of a relative few and the power of that knowledge used to manipulate everyone else, the general population, into becoming impotent, docile servants to a new version of “conqueror”. Conquerors who, for the most part, utilize the manipulation of ideas and our own perceptions to lead us into a willing enslavement which we perceive as the cost of defending our safety, even our freedom. Conquerors who use the tool of our own mind against us.

Unfortunately, if possibly predictably, those holding the reins of power at the time chose the latter path. I say predictably because I have learned it is normal for children to get it wrong before they get it right. And the plight of humankind is as children trying to make a life on a beautiful planet which we have somehow, miraculously, found ourselves upon. It seems that, in the process of finding our way, as in the book “Lord of the Flies”, humankind is quite capable of allowing our imaginations and intoxication with power, along with some bad assumptions, into leading us to taking cruel actions upon one another. Unlike the children in “Lord of the Flies”, I don’t think we can expect a military rescue. If we are going to be rescued it is upon us to rescue ourselves. We must get in touch with our better nature, turn to the values, the thinking and behavior, which will lead us to a recognition of our kinship, brothers and sisters bound, if by nothing else, by the mutuality of our plight. A plight which, if handled with loving care, can be realized as a blessing in which we can fulfill our best and brightest dreams.

So what has happened to the promise of science? That bright, shining, light on the hill which has so often wonderfully inspired our hopes and imaginations? Along with the reins of our economy and government, it has been captured by those driven by the profit motive. The goals of many occupying the most visual, authoritative positions within science have been turned from being concerned with the collection of knowledge for the wellbeing of all humankind, into, far too often, being concerned with maximizing profits for one corporation or another. It’s that simple. Science itself, as the public often interfaces with it, has morphed from a tool for the betterment of all into, again, far too often, a tool primarily for the enrichment of a few. As it turns out, science, as with any other tool humankind has ever developed, is only as good as the motives and methods of those wielding it.

Cults, Mind Control and Covid-19

Well before Covid-19 emerged on the world scene, in a series with a goal of freeing people who are in cults from oppressive mind control, cult expert and deprogrammer Steve Hassan had this to say about how cults gain control over peoples’ thinking and behavior: “Someone who’s skilled can figure out how to systematically and incrementally manipulate you into a vulnerable and isolated place, and start to control your behavior, control your information, control your thinking, and make you dependent and obedient.”

Bear in mind this is almost always, if not always, done with an expressed goal that involves loving yourself and others and the assurance that what you’re doing is for the greater good. There is also always a covert agenda of which the person being targeted has no idea. The covert agenda(s) are certainly never explained in any presentation by the cult. In this dominant/submissive scenario, any serious questions about the imposed ideas/rules are often unwelcome and may not be tolerated. If anyone who senses something isn’t right asks questions which threaten the leadership’s authority or in any way might address/expose the covert goals, that person may find themselves identified as someone who is suspect, possibly an enemy. They may be targeted with degrading and derogatory remarks. They may possibly experience harassments and threats to their wellbeing.

Particularly in regard to what those in positions of political power are proclaiming and demanding of the public in regard to Covid-19, I have to ask; is the scenario that Steve Hassan describes the scenario that is playing itself out in the U.S. and other places? Everything that Mr. Hassan describes in the above quote is most certainly taking place. What I think we need to be asking is: is there a covert agenda or, are everyone’s motives and agendas in the open? One logical subsequent question is: is there money and/or other worldly value at stake? In this case, concerning Covid-19, there are billions of dollars at stake in terms of sales diverted from one retail outlet to another. There will most likely also be many real properties being repossessed and they will become available to investors. And then there are the potential billions in profits from the sales of vaccine(s). So the answer is yes, in a very big way, money is on the table.

What about other worldly value? Is there economic and political power to be gained by the way things go during this period of time? There absolutely is. As we have seen, especially since the passage of “Citizens United”, in many ways, I would say too many, money controls politics. So yes, at this time it is an inescapable fact that economic and political power, along with great wealth, is in play with the dynamics around Covid-19.

The next logical question we should all be answering for ourselves, and maybe the most profound one, the one we really need to seriously be examining considering what is at stake is: are the people who are profiting, or who stand to reap future profits, people we can wholly trust? Are they people we trust with the level of control they have established and those they are working to establish over our lives? Over our childrens’ lives? Are they people who are being completely honest about their agendas and/or other Covid related factors which affect our lives and which may affect their current or future profits? It’s a very important question. After all, we’ve been rearranging, limiting, postponing our lives on the basis of their proclamations. In some cases people are being thrown into financial hardship, bankrupted, losing their businesses, losing their dwellings, losing educational opportunities, due to the demands being placed upon us.

So it comes down to: are we being lied to? Is the data around positive test results, “cases”, and even the deaths attributed to Covid-19 being covertly, manipulated? Is it being exaggerated? Are the authoritarian demands truly commensurate with the dangers in the situation? (Despite all the uproar and superlatives being thrown around by the media, the death rate, in the U.S. is less than 1/10th of 1% of the population.) Is the authoritarian response to Covid-19 grievously harming more people than the virus itself?

Are we being given half-truths and/or outright fabrications? Two differentiations I think we very much need involving the Covid-19 statistics are: 1. What is the number of people who are in the hospital for an unrelated medical condition, are subsequently tested, found positive, as opposed to those who actually check into the hospital for Covid-19 related issues? And, 2, What is the number of people who die with Covid-19 as opposed to those who die from Covid-19? Right now those two populations are apparently being lumped together. This is not a distinction without a difference, there is a very real difference in both the reality and implications involved.

We know there is certainly a very real motive, should the temptation be too great, for some to see the current situation play out a certain way. Are those controlling the data and the media reports, those making demands upon our lives; are those individuals above succumbing to the temptation of using their position of power to manipulate “reality” in order to funnel some of the substantial amount of wealth and power potentially available in this scenario into their own hands?

What do we have to base our perspective, our answer to this question upon? In fact, the only thing we have is what we can learn about their behaviors, not their words, but their behaviors in the past. Especially if looking at the “distant” past, say 20 years or more ago, those behaviors may or may not be any real indicator of present behavior. Despite the protestations of those who maintain otherwise, people can and do change with time and experience. Some more, some less. It often depends upon the nature of the experiences in a person’s life. With this in mind, what are the more recent indicators of a person’s ethics, honesty?

So, again: can we trust those amassing and distributing the information regarding Covid-19 and, on the basis of that information, making subsequent demands upon our lives?

What do you think?

Covid, Vaccines and the Profit Motive

Photo: (c) solarseven http://www.fotosearch.com. Text by author.

In our cultures for centuries we have accepted the need for social/governmental mandates regarding public safety. Traffic laws, and other laws which make it illegal and mandate consequences if people engage in behaviors which harm others exist in all countries. Sometimes, as we have seen especially in the southern U.S., laws may be interpreted and written primarily to benefit one group over another. No question about it, laws can be of use and laws can be misused. Yet we all know, or should know, there are some laws that are necessary to keep a civilization civilized.


Today we face a situation in which private, for-profit, prisons have become an industry. I read years ago that there is a Zen Buddhist saying that: “Where interest enters in the door, honor flies out the window.” This is undoubtedly happening with the for-profit prison system. With contracts that require a certain number of prisoners be provided, we can be sure we are seeing sentences being stretched out and incarceration being handed down as a sentence when it may not otherwise have been so (see article).


Now we are entering an age of manipulated, engineered viruses. Viruses designed to foil our natural immunities. I believe, in the long run (however long or short a period of time that is), nature and our immune systems will prevail. However, we are seeing governments stepping in to legislate, or using executive order, to compel populations to certain actions. The ultimate benefits, or curses, of the current covid mandates are yet to be known. Will the distress caused by the mandates weigh heavier, cause more suffering and death, than the consequences of the disease? That is a highly relevant and unanswered question at this time.


Which brings us to the question of whether or not an eventual vaccine will be offered…or mandated. If mandated what will the “levers” used to enforce the mandate be? Financial? Social and economic ostracization? What we do know is that some groups of people are looking to profit greatly from the sales of a vaccine. Whether it is from people paying themselves for the vaccine, insurance companies paying, or our tax dollars being used, we can be sure that if we ever see the word “free” associated with the vaccine it will be in a misleading manner. What other disreputable realities may or may not be associated with such an interest/profit driven scheme remain to be seen.


Our skin, our bodies, are our last boundary, our last physical line of retreat and/or defense from the ravages of the world at large. Is it ever wise for us to allow individuals or groups with ulterior motives to be able to demand, or surreptitiously gain entry beyond that boundary?

We need…

It won’t matter much if we have women’s rights to their own bodies or bans on abortions, gay rights or no gay rights, equal pay for women, if we finally rid our country of racial discrimination, looser or tighter immigration laws, prayer in schools or no prayer in schools, a lot of today’s social issues just won’t matter much if the legalized piracy, and that’s what it is, piracy, of inordinate amounts of the capital in the world by the ruling elite continues along the pattern it has been the past few decades.  A pattern which has recently been escalating dramatically.

The economic/sociologic trend we’re seeing in America is that life expectancy is decreasing.  Our communities are seeing ever increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness, hunger, unaddressed physical and mental illnesses.  Infrastructure is deteriorating.  People seem to be worshipping greed, which is truly a psychological/spiritual pandemic destroying lives and communities.  The idolization of the ways and means of those who are capturing the wealth of the world is on par with idolizing a deadly plague.

We don’t need people to be scheming and hoarding hundreds of millions and billions, even a trillion dollars’ worth of the capital which we, our parents and grandparents, and ancestors back centuries, have worked to develop and produce in the world.  We need better governance than what we’ve been receiving which not only allows such inequity but encourages and subsidizes it.  We need the resources of the Earth to be cared for and distributed in a way that all people have their basic needs met:  housing, food, education, medical care. 

And, yes, we need all people to be contributing to the care of our world and communities.  We don’t need a welfare state. That’s not good for the psychological and spiritual well-being of people.  With the rise of technology taking over so many labor jobs, we need shorter work weeks, job sharing:  but all with a living wage.  We need to be paying for services which do not produce a financial profit but are necessary to maintain healthy, viable communities.  That is true profit:  healthy people within healthy communities.  A world which nurturers the wellbeing of and the development and progress of humanity.  Progress in the arts, sciences, and greater understanding of our shared spiritual reality.

We need people to take reproductive responsibility within the reality of our world and finite resources.  We don’t need men and women making babies which they cannot and have no genuinely viable plan of adequately caring for.  Would-be parents should have a plan which demonstrates consideration of and responsibility for one’s family and the communities we all live within.  We need social programs which provide a temporary “life-boat” for people hit with unexpected hardships.  But living on welfare is not a socially, nor even a personally, responsible plan for supporting a family. However, in order to have a job, jobs need to exist, and when a parent can have more money coming in from welfare than the jobs which may available to them, something is wrong with the economic system.

We need to see the stock market abolished.  We need to see giant corporate farms broken up and an increase in smaller, ecologically responsible, farms.  We don’t need a corporate or national mentality of “saving” money, or of not funding needs in one area only to spend exorbitantly in others:  we need a mentality of the wise use of money.  The same way our bodies do not “save” blood and nutrients it carries, but keep it in circulation throughout the entirety of the body for the health of the whole. 

And, to be healthy and to have healthy communities:  we need truth as truly as we need healthful air, water and food.

Demonstrations, protests and riots are going on all over the U.S. Why?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Why do I use Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs so often in my articles? Because it informs us of a concept key to a successful life as a person or for a culture.

In many important, essential ways, people, by and large, aren’t all that complicated.  Maslow knew this aspect of our reality and took the time to try to organize our needs by importance in relationship to our survival and well-being.  Of course we don’t always find ourselves involved with filling each need in exactly the order Maslow arranged them, however, if our needs aren’t met at one level, the more desperate the need we feel, the more we’re stuck on that level.

We need to keep this reality in mind when we are working to understand and/or figure out how to respond to the demonstrations, protests and riots going on in the U.S. and elsewhere.  What these events are, every one of them, are symptoms of unmet needs.  They are populated by people who can no longer stand idly by while feeling their innate human needs go unmet.  It might have worked for them at one time.  A time when they were, for whatever reasons, able to suppress their internal urges because they felt hope that a pathway was going to open up for them to pursue fulfillment.  But when that hope wanes, desperation comes in on it’s heels.

The “rugged individualists”, particularly the ones who have found themselves in comfortable positions, might say:  well it’s their fault, they didn’t work hard enough to take care of themselves, they’re lazy.  Maybe, to some extent, for some of the people, there is some degree of truth in that.  But there is something obvious that really flies in the face of that logic:  those “lazy” people are out marching in the streets.  They are feeling a need and somebody, or something, provided them with a direction.  When one is desperate, doing something, anything, even if it’s wrong can be preferable to doing nothing.  If a direction offers some degree of even blind, hope, it is going to have an attraction.  That’s how desperation works.

The fact people are out marching, protesting, even rioting, shows that, given a direction, they are willing to take action to do something, anything, to try to gain fulfillment for their unmet needs.  It is clear that what most people need in such a situation is direction.  What is being demonstrated in these events is raw, potential energy looking for a way to become kinetic, to provide what is needed to fulfill the unmet needs.

In a civilized society it should just be a given that we are working together to meet the needs of all.  Whether we privately own things, communally own things or work with a model that embraces the best method for the immediate needs at hand, as long as we have the mind that it is a combined effort for the good of all, we will be fine.

Have you ever been poor?  After two-thirds of the month has gone by have you ever found yourself wondering how you’re going to eat for the remaining third?  When you are in that position, and you walk into a grocery store, you want EVERYTHING.  It can seem that you couldn’t possibly buy enough to satisfy your hunger.  However, if you’re not poor, if you’re well fed and you enter a grocery store, it’s not that hard to be totally satisfied picking up whatever it was you came for.  People are like that, in more ways than simply regarding food.  When we are feeling an acute shortage of something, a deep-down need for something, we can easily find ourselves thinking we want it all.

No matter how absurd or grandiose the participants’ expressed demands in the heat of desperation may be, when the people involved see and feel their needs are being genuinely fulfilled, they will, however tentatively at first, begin responding favorably to whatever is providing, and shows it can continue to provide, that fulfillment.   To merely offer such a movement resistance is to stand squarely in the way of much needed hope and change.

A footnote:  This is not to advocate for a program of ongoing free stuff for all dissatisfied people.  In Maslow’s hierarchy, self esteem is a basic human need.  Working at a fair rate in exchange for what one receives is a part of healthy self esteem.  Sometimes a person’s being able to accept “free” stuff is needed in order to pull that person up when they are down, but it’s not a viable long term solution.

The Lifeguard Principle: What it is, what is it good for, how to make friends with it.

Fotosearch_k22192444
(c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

I am realizing that many of us, me included, have a tendency to readily notice and respond to the things in the world that are blatantly wrong, or problematic, and that this may consequently mean we simultaneously are not giving enough attention to the things that are right. 

I first became aware of this tendency decades ago when I worked a couple summers as a lifeguard.  When I found myself in the lifeguard chair, looking at a large, crowded pool with lots of noise and activity, I had a moment of doubt.  I wondered how in the world am I going to see someone in trouble in this chaos?  I asked an older lifeguard that question and he replied that I just needed to keep my eyes on the pool and if someone got into trouble, I’d see it.  Sounds too simple, right?  It isn’t.  As it turns out our attention is drawn to the things that aren’t right.  Whether it is inconsistencies, differences in movement, sometimes the obvious shout for “help”, or some other more esoteric phenomenon, it is a reliably real thing.  I would always find my attention drawn to someone in trouble.  Sometimes a few seconds before they were actually experiencing the distress.  Of course it is also true that my mindset, my internal desire, was to see such occurrences.  That may be a part of the function at work.  I began calling this tendency to have our attention drawn to what is wrong “the lifeguard principle”.

While paying attention and looking for trouble was an explicit part of that job, I think it is something we all do to a greater or lesser extent.  It definitely is a survival trait in times of threat.  Maybe it’s a carry over from the days when we were walking through forests or jungles and we had to be aware of our surroundings to avoid being eaten.  It definitely is a behavior that is necessary in times of warfare, one person, gang, tribe, nation, attacking another.  I believe it is universal among humankind.   For those interested in looking into such things, there is some correlate in the functioning of our “exciting” and “calming” neurotransmitters.  Our bodies have evolved in a way that we deplete our “calming” neurotransmitters well before we are in danger of running out of “exciters”.  I suppose that would help keep us from just lying down and being eaten when being chased by a tiger.  But now, in the year 2020, for many if not most of us, the dynamics we face in our day to day lives are not quite the same as they have been through much our existence.

It’s not that there still aren’t some acute dangers in the world; in some places much more than others.  However, the dangers most of us face in developed nations are more of a chronic nature.  We don’t get pounced on and quickly killed and eaten by a tiger, we get killed more gradually by being slowly consumed by worries, fears, anxieties, and insecurities.  Just as the nature of the threats has changed over time, our reactions to the threats we’re facing needs to change also.  A sudden, pervasive startle, fight or flight reaction to all the, sometimes subtle, threats an average person may face during their day would certainly result in a person becoming overly stressed, burned out, and significantly more at risk for a plethora of diseases.  Further, not only would such a reaction pattern do that, having such acute reactions to daily stressors has and is doing that to people today, every day.

Sometimes we need to intervene in what direction our “autopilot” chooses and become more reasoned with our reactions to life’s events.  Having an innate sensitivity to things that are “wrong” in our environment can be part of an important survival system.  Our “lifeguard principle” exists for just that purpose, to help guard our lives.  This brings to my mind a book by Gavin De Becker:  “The Gift of Fear”.  It addresses the important role fear can and does play in our lives.  However, with both the “lifeguard principle” and “The Gift of Fear”, whether or not these innate aspects of our being serve us or sabotage us depends entirely on how we react to the input we receive from them.

In our complex, more populated, human culture primitive responses to what are often sophisticated situations become less and less viable.  As a culture, we need to get way more invested in learning more about what it is to be human and what we inherently, and universally, require to establish and maintain healthy, vital, lives.  When we learn to respond to human, social, problems in a manner seeking to solve those problems on the basis of seeing needs met and lives stabilized, we are going to find ourselves in a thriving, vibrant world such as we have only had the partial passing enjoyment of, you could say glimpses of, during a few periods of time in the past 150 years.

Within the current available knowledge from the fields of psychology, sociology, physiology, and spirituality, we have all we need to have more than a good start.  It only requires our will and determination to do so.