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.

A house divided against itself…

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

In our attempts, our efforts, at building a viable, vital society, we can learn much by observing and understanding the functioning of our own bodies.  There is a saying attributed to Hermes Trismegistus:  “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”   This is often shortened to “As above, so below, as below, so above”.  This concept, or the observation of the nature of our reality, provides us with an understanding, which, if applied to our efforts at creating and maintaining a human culture, can do much to guide us toward what will be in harmony with the natural world.  The natural world which we are working with and within and therefore toward a more vibrant, stable and enduring culture.

Our bodies are miracles of design.  They are self-repairing, self-renewing, and they offer us multiple senses, or avenues of interface, with our environment.  They provide us with much enjoyment and pleasure.  And provide us with discomfort and/or pain to let us know when we’re not supplying them with what they need, or too much of what they don’t need.  Ultimately what makes the whole thing work is the the organs, the cells, within the body work together to keep the body, the whole, alive and well.  One of the serious threats to the health of our bodies is the occasion when some cells become sickened and engage in a pattern of runaway duplication (growth) and a voracious appetite for energy.  One could say they get greedy for resources and want to take over.  They behave more competitively than cooperatively.  Of course, as our ancestors knew centuries ago:  Mark 3:25, Jesus states, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  

Now really, just think about that last statement for a minute, it’s not rocket science.  It’s something that immediately makes sense both intellectually and emotionally.  I think this is one of those truths that people just innately know, that comes with birth.  Yet it is one many people quickly turn their backs on when the world dangles some bling in front of them and says:  Go now and compete.  Within human cultures around the world that is the genesis of a cancer that is destroying our cultures with the same certainty that an untreated malignant cancer destroys a human body.  I can imagine someone thinking, but isn’t that just exercising personal freedom?   Yes it is.  And freedom is an essential aspect of a healthy human culture.  However, it is also just exercising personal freedom to take an automatic weapon to an elementary school and start shooting students.  Freedom is a double edged sword and is only an asset to humanity when it is combined with wisdom.  Such as the wisdom that if we aren’t all working together, cooperatively, for the good of the whole of humanity, the body of humanity, we are in the process of destroying that body.  And just as the cells of a body cannot survive for long once the body as a whole becomes unviable, no matter how adept a survivalist one might think they are, human beings cannot survive indefinitely outside a viable human culture.

All my life I have heard Charles Darwin exalted as one of the, effectively, high priests of the natural world.  I don’t think it’s possible to think of Charles Darwin and not think of the phrase survival of the fittest.  That is the phrase those most industrially disseminating information within popular culture have locked onto regarding Darwin.  But today those who are seriously researching Darwin’s ideas and adaptive strategies are saying friendliness and cooperation is the most successful strategy for survival.  This is just one more example of how spirituality and science are converging in the world today.

If we are to survive as a species on this planet we must recognize our oneness, our interconnectedness and interdependence.  Not merely within cities, or nations, but as global body of humanity.

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.

 

What does a new “case” of covid-19 mean? (And is it okay to shout “fire” in a crowded theater?)

fake-news-2

In almost every discussion I have had regarding covid-19 and the various governmental responses to it, one of the first issues that comes up are all the inconsistencies and contradictions in what we’re being told and what we’re being told to do.  But before I get into that, I want to look at one other aspect of the covid-19 picture that we in the U.S. are hearing and reading about every day:  the growing number of “cases” being found every day. 

One of William Shakespeare’s most well-known questions is: “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  However, it is also well known that names, words, can and do make a great difference in how we perceive a thing.  The noun “case”, especially when relating to illness/disease is one of these words.  We have to be aware that sometimes a word means something in common usage, and also, within the specialization of one discipline or another, that word may have a particular meaning.  For example, we all know what the common usages of the word “head” are.  Either a body part or possibly the boss, or leader of something.  However, in the Navy, the word “head” can and often does refer to the toilet/WC.  Sometimes it all depends on the context the word is being used in.  The word “case” has some similar usage issues.

In common usage I venture to say we usually think of a “case” as being something that holds something else, like a cellphone case.  Or, when speaking about illness, a case is commonly thought of occurring when someone is actively ill with something.  We’ve all probably heard about someone coming down with a case of food poisoning, or, heaven forbid, a case of cancer.  The fact that someone ate some food which somehow, later, turned up as tainted, means that maybe the person might “come down with a case of food poisoning”, but not necessarily.   With cancer I have heard that at any given time most (all?) of us have some cancer cells in our body, however that doesn’t mean we’re suffering with a case of cancer. A “case” of something commonly means someone is actively suffering, ill, with whatever it is.   The CDC and other public health related people and agencies however, seem to have a different meaning for the word “case” within their technical jargon.  In that usage a “case” can evidently mean simply a positive test result. 

So when we hear about all the new cases of covid-19 turning up, what does that mean?  Does that mean all the people represented by that number are actively suffering from the severe ravages of covid-19, which we’ve heard so much about?  If we’re thinking in common usage terms, the word “case” tends to lead our minds down that path.  However, the reality is that in terms of the daily covid “scoreboard”, it doesn’t mean that at all.  It means more people have been tested and some of the test results are positive.  Kind of like someone eating some food with some unwanted bacteria growing on it.  Does that necessarily meant they are going to come down with a case of food poisoning?   As with exposure to just about every potentially harmful substance on Earth, there a few other variables involved such as the amount of the “dose” of bacteria and the person’s pre-existing state of health.  I think that the robustness of the human immune system is being largely ignored as the covid scenario progresses.  Which brings us back to: will someone who tests positive for covid become ill, develop symptoms?  Maybe. I’m not sure there are any reliable numbers on the relationship between testing positive and becoming symptomatic.  But even if odds are that an infected person will develop some symptoms, as the World Health Organization states:  “COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.”

At this point I find myself asking, would the daily news have the same quality of sensationalism if what is reported are “positive test results”?  As it is, while typical pornography titillates feelings of lust, what is being titillated by the current media onslaught is fear.  I don’t think it’s inaccurate to call it “fear porn”.  So, imagine the headline:  “Today an additional 1,000 people tested positive for covid.”  After a few weeks, how many people are going to be on the edge of their seats waiting for the latest tally?  But if they say there are 1,000 new cases of covid, especially without any qualifying explanations, our minds, our imaginations, tend to take us down the path of common usage to a forest of doom and gloom, don’t they?  So, are we being misled?  I think so, I think the folks putting the words together know exactly what picture those words are likely to conjure up in the minds of the general public.  However, are they lying?  I think it can be easily argued in a court of law that, no, the health officials are merely reporting the facts as they define them.  And the media is just parroting what they’re being told. 

I think the reporting which is taking place around covid by the mainstream media in the U.S. begs the question: is it okay to shout “fire” in a crowded theater?

Getting back to the matter of the inconsistencies, I probably don’t need to go much further, if you’ve been paying much attention to the claims about covid and the various orders coming from the various levels of government you could probably enlighten me about a few notable inconsistencies.  However, here are a few I’ve encountered:

  • One major inconsistency I’ve heard more than once is that while the State Legislature in Washington State is still meeting online, the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is looking at, at least some, students being back in the classroom.
  • Another I’ve heard a couple times is: if covid is so contagious, why aren’t cities, or whoever, prescribing safe methods, or providing receptacles, for disposing of all the used facemasks and gloves? Personally I’ve seen quite a few discarded masks and gloves on the street or in parking lots.
  • If gathering in large numbers inside enclosed spaces is not okay, why is it okay to shop in large numbers at Walmart and other “big box” stores but not okay to shop in smaller numbers within smaller, local stores?
  • However, one I find most notable is: with all the expressions of danger and concern coming from the CDC, State governments and the Federal government, why aren’t our leaders showing the will and wisdom to use the same medicines and methods which are being used in the countries which have already been able to return to functioning for the most part as they were before the virus showed up?

With all that is at stake, with all the losses, of jobs, homes, and lives that have taken place and will take place around the covid scenario, there possibly has been no time in modern U.S. history in which it is more important for average citizens to be diligently seeking information about the situation facing us from all sources offering such information. Then the task we face is to sort through that information, seek what bits and pieces from the various sources hold up to scrutiny and fit together with other bits and pieces which we have confidence in the reliability of.  We must also factor in motives of individuals or groups which want us to do, or not do, something or another.  Are we “all in this together” or are there winners and losers?  Why?  When a relative few of the richest are becoming richer and millions are losing significantly, when those in seats of power are obviously garnering more power through their manipulations of the situation, there obviously are some personal interests being served.   What’s happening isn’t all about health.  It’s also very much about economics and power.  We should be looking into every nook and cranny that presents itself, then, with thoughtful analysis, we can begin to see the “big picture” of what is actually taking place.  Sometimes we may not like where our own observations and conclusions may take us.  Sometimes the truth is not the reality we want to acknowledge or have to deal with.

What makes a country great?

IMG_1010While “Make America Great Again” is a political slogan in the U.S. right now, the fact is, every country wants to be great.  Every country, every person, wants to be prosperous, safe, healthy.  Who wouldn’t?  So how can it be done?

In the U.S. the de facto message being sent out by those currently in charge of our country’s government and industries, and which has been sent out for quite some time, is that having a very wealthy upper class is what makes America great.  That and having lots of exorbitantly priced weapons to attempt to instill fear in everyone else in the world.  In the U.S. we have heard and still hear that our enemies hate us because of our freedom.  Honestly, I can’t think of anything more ridiculous.

It is a fact that has been learned from the study of human behavior that primarily we try to kill what we fear, not what we hate.  Therefore, the goal of instilling fear in one’s neighbors is not a good foreign policy.

But back to the original question, what makes a country great?  Is it having a wealthy upper class whose wealth is comparable to the wealth of other countries’ upper classes?  Does it all work like a game of Monopoly?  The country with the richest upper class wins?  (Wins what?)

Almost every country in the world (every country?), has within it the edifices, or the ruins, of the temples and mansions/palaces built in the past by a very wealthy ruling class.  If having some few very, very wealthy people in it, with everyone else serving those few, is what makes a country great; then there have been, a lot of really great cultures in the world.  Which leaves us with the question:  If these cultures were so great, why did they all disappear?  Were they too good to be true?  I highly doubt that.

A widely ignored piece of truth in the world is that each country, like every person, has a spirit.  A healthy spirit goes a long, long way to maintaining a healthy body.  An unhealthy spirit portends the decline of the body it inhabits.  The health of the spirit of a country is determined by the health of the entirety of the population who live within that country.  The entirety of the population making up the ambient spiritual/energy system.  There is a great spirit present when a group of happy, healthy people are singing “America the Beautiful”.  It doesn’t quite ring the same when those people are hungry, depressed, fearful, sick, homeless.  Honestly, does that reality surprise anyone?  The same holds true for any country’s anthem.

What makes a country great?  The simple answer is that it is those thoughts, actions and conditions that contribute to making the spirit of a country healthy.  What fills a country with citizens who care about their communities, their country?  What makes them want to work, to want to invest their energies into the country?  The answer is, again, a simple one:  when they feel cared about and invested in by the culture, the country they live within.  Like so many other aspects of human relationships, it’s a two-way street.

When the inhabitants, the citizens of a country feel ignored, abandoned, or even betrayed by the government, the industries (the dominant cultural powers) of the country they live within, how much love do you think they’re feeling for that government, those industries?  And if that government and those industries have been promoting the thinking that it is they themselves, the government and industries and their actions which define the country, that country is in serious trouble.

In all cases, without the indispensable contributions, the blood, sweat and tears of the citizens, their parents and their grandparents any government or major industry would not, could not, exist.  It is all the people who have invested their minds, bodies and spirits, their work, their lives, into building something they hoped, they expected, would be there to help sustain themselves, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  Their hope was that the institutions; the government and industries they helped make possible, paid taxes to, and quite possibly fought for, would contribute to improving their lives and their descendants’ lives.  That reality exists deep and pervasively within the spirit of America and every other country on the face of the Earth.

The fact is, there is no industry, no wealth that exists in America today that doesn’t have it’s foundation in the work and industriousness of the common people of both the present and previous generations.  It has taken every contribution by every person who has contributed for any greatness that exists in America, or any other country, to come into being.

If the top of a pyramid decides it no longer requires the health, the good regard, of the base of the pyramid, what is going to happen?

Indeed, the wealth that was built by many has been captured by a few.  It may have been done legally.  After all, legality is subject to those who control the making of the laws.  It may have happened because too many common people weren’t paying attention.  It may be that very many of the common people lust for the opportunity to do likewise.  All those things may be true.  However, is that what is going to make America, or any country, great?  The unequivocal answer is “no”.

A necessary, indispensable, key component to making America, or any country, great is the recognition and honoring of the spiritual reality that pervades the entirety of the country and the people within it.

 

Don’t Play The Victim To Circumstances You Created

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

“Don’t play the victim to circumstances you created.”  I saw that statement on Facebook and it hit me like cold shower.  Wow.  So simple yet so profound.  I would alter it some to read;  “Don’t play the victim to circumstances that you helped to create.”  The latter statement sums up what is going on with the issue of illegal immigration to the U.S.  The U.S., as a nation, is experiencing the consequences of decades of supporting tyrants and greed in Mexico, Central and South America and elsewhere.  Everyone who believes it is too much trouble to  pay attention to politics needs to wake up, politics can and will affect your life!

What do we expect when some U.S. corporations have been engaging in profiteering too often at the expense of and to the detriment of the common people in several Central and South American countries.  While, concurrently, the U.S. government has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars supporting leaders and methods which render countries unlivable for vast numbers of the populations of those countries?  

We cannot as a people continue to ignore a simple reality;  we need to be working to build a culture which is supportive and nurturing of whole and healthful human life.  And we need to support such efforts elsewhere.  What we are doing now, as a matter of national policy and culture is worshiping the “bottom line”.  It’s all about the money.  We have become a species in which too much of what we, as a species, are engaged in seems hellbent in destroying our environment…and ourselves.  Often or always in the name of corporate and/or personal “profit”.  It seems too many in positions of political and industrial power have narrowly defined “profit” to include only monetary or material gain.  This is proving to be a very costly error in reasoning.

In order to correct things one thing is certain, there needs to be balance brought back into our economic reality.  There is an absolute need for us, as a species, to recognize our mutuality and keep each other’s well-being in mind.

Why focus on something so mundane as money rather than lofty sentiments about love and/or spirituality?  Because what is happening with the material wealth we possess is a visible measure of what is happening with our spiritual reality.  I don’t think that we’re all greedy, or callous to the well-being of our neighbors, however, look at what’s happening in so many places around the world.  No matter all the high platitudes being written and spoken, platitudes about love and beauty, the truth is how we treat each other speaks much louder than the words in book or magazine or the music on the radio.

We usually think of external/worldly change happening as a result of an internal change, however, the reverse can also be true.  Sometimes when we realize the absolute need for an external/worldly change, and act upon that realization, the dynamics precipitate a fulfillment of the change within our psycho-emotional make-up.

So, as we look around at the increasing poverty and suffering of the many on one side of the scale and the extravagant, inordinate wealth of the few on the other, isn’t it obvious what needs to be done?   The only question is how is it going to happen?  Because when things get too far out of balance, the natural tendency toward a viable balance will assert itself, that’s as inherent a reality as gravity.  (As above so below, as below so above.) Will it happen in a caring, thoughtful manner or in a chaotic, traumatic series of events?  Like so much else that happens in this world, it’s all up to us.

July 2017: I need to add that the predatory exploitation of developing and/or “third-world” countries has not been limited to individuals and/or corporations headquartered in the U.S.  Nor is the government of the U.S. the only government which has a history of supporting, even subsidizing such exploitative activity.  And finally, the problem of refugees and immigrants from countries which are suffering in significant part as a result of such exploitative activity is not limited to the United States.