A view on our past, present…and future(?).

Oliver and the fishIf you were young and watching television in the U.S. in the 1950’s and into the 1960’s, “westerns” were a staple of Saturday morning programming.  The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, and more.  In these shows it was not unusual to see a moral, rather than a legal problem, being resolved.  Sometimes the problem at hand involved extortion.  Somebody, through force or underhanded legal maneuvering,  got “the upper hand” on somebody else and was threatening their home, livelihood, and/or possibly their life itself.  Whatever the situation there was a clear right and wrong about what was going on.  Viewers knew it instinctively, viscerally.  Legality may or may not have entered the scenario and may not always have been on the side of “right”.

The children who watched these dramas were the generation that recognized the wrong in the Vietnam war and took to the streets.  After the war ended a new generation came on the scene, new TV shows, new movies showed up.  The messages were not at all the same.  But somehow, I would say proving it’s innate place in our lives, the desire for morality in our world has been increasingly showing itself.  Right now, even though rarely reported in the U.S., the “Yellow Vest” movement is sweeping a lot of the world.

Back to extortion.  Merriam-Webster online defines “extort” as:  “… to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power…”  As this definition clearly implies, the power, the process, used in extortion may or may not be “legal”.  And that whether the process in place is “legal” or not does not define whether or not extortion is taking place.

A lot of us have experienced extortion at some time in our lives.  Whether it was a sibling somehow extorting our dessert, a bully on the playground demanding lunch money, being robbed (yes, robbery is extortion), or possibly having “protection” money extorted, a lot of us have experienced extortion.  Incidentally, blackmail is just another form of extortion.

Most of the time I think we see extortion in terms of someone threatening to do something harmful to someone else unless that person gives them money not to.  Sometimes it’s phrased as a service, such as “I will protect your business and you give me money each week.”  The unspoken reality is that the “protection” the victim is buying is, in fact, from the seller.  It is the seller of the “protection” themself that will smash or burn the business if they aren’t paid.  That is what makes the difference between a “protection” racket and the tax money we pay to have police services in a community.

However, what about the cases in which someone is going to withhold something essential to another person’s life unless that person pays them an extremely large, inordinate, sum of money?  Is that extortion?  

One form of extortion I can remember from the old westerns was the case where someone dammed up a river or stream which ran through their property and withheld essential water from ranchers or farmers downstream.  Unless, of course, they “paid up”.  As I recall there wasn’t necessarily a law allowing or disallowing the action, it’s just that it was clearly wrong.  It involved bullying and cruelty and the audience instinctively and viscerally knew that.

Let’s say we’re on a road trip and we’re going through a desert and we need gasoline.  There is a gas station but the price of the gasoline is X times what the gas stations outside the desert are charging.   If it’s one and a half or even twice what the stations outside the desert charge, we may just pay it and feel glad the station was there.  One thing is that the delivery of the product to the station in the desert was possibly more expensive than to the other stations.  But what if it’s 300, 500, or 1,000 times as much as anywhere else?  What if we have to sign over our house to pay for the gasoline?  Isn’t that extortion?

There are at least two methods which jump to my mind that can be used to determine the price of any product.  The first I’ll call the barter or trade value system.  If there is a value system which has become internalized through repetition through the centuries, this is it.  A product or object had the value of it’s natural material worth combined with whatever time and craftsmanship went into turning the raw material into the finished product.  A piece of wood carved into a bear was worth more than just a piece of wood.  In the market place others could see the product, had some idea of the time and craftsmanship, and knew the reality of what went into whatever they had for trade.  Maybe a jar of pickles would bring a carved bear home.  Fair trade was honored and recognized around the world.

Of course scarcity of a product could also dramatically affect it’s value.  Along with the reality of how essential the produce is to sustaining life.  A quart of water from a rare well in the desert could undoubtedly fetch much more than the same quart of water at a lakeside in most places.  People understood this and generally accepted it.  Some undoubtedly tried to exploit this reality and attempted to manufacture a shortage, produce scarcity.  Such is the case with diamonds today.  People might fall for it initially, but over time the truth would become known and, historically anyway, the perpetrator could well face some harsh consequences.

Poisoning a well might be one method of making water from another well more valuable.  In the “old west” of the United States I think doing so may have resulted in the offender being hung if and when the truth became known.  Producing scarcity, poisoning a well in order to increase the market value of the water from another well, is one more form of extortion.

The other method of determining the value of a product is simply one in which a product’s value is whatever a seller can get a buyer to pay for it.  This means the more scarce, and/or essential, or simply desirable a product is the more valuable it is.  This reality exists even when there is a level playing field and “fair trade” is going on.  But today the reality is that fair trade has been replaced with marketplace manipulation.  Scarcity can be manufactured, and too often is.  Need can be manufactured.  A common example of this is providing salty snacks at a bar to sell more beer.   However, an even more common example, one that affects our lives and our planet much more seriously, is the auto manufacturers creating a need for oil products by only manufacturing vehicles which require them.  An accompanying aspect of a culture in which a higher complexity of technology and skills are required to produce the products needed to negotiate the cultural reality is that the opportunities for extortionate business practices are more plentiful.  Finally, desire for a product can be manipulated via marketing.  In other words, manipulating scarcity, inflating prices and thereby, in fact, utilizing extortion have increasingly become business strategies.

So someone who is producing a product and simply and fairly selling it in the marketplace may easily be bankrupted by organized industries that manipulate the scarcity of and artificially inflate the prices of their products.  And just as with the water from the well in the desert, if someone needs a certain product, such as extensive medicine and/or medical care, in order to save their life or the life of a loved one, too often they’re facing an extortionate reality which, on it’s own, too often threatens to destroy the very life the consumer is seeking to save.  While the scarcity of wells in the desert is not manipulated by human beings, and, interestingly it is my understanding that often (but not always) such wells were kept freely available to all, that is not the case with many products today.

Today, far too often, products are controlled to produce scarcity and dire need has become a lever for extortionists to exploit.    

But the discriminatory imbalance has roots far deeper than these aforementioned practices.  Technology and an increased understanding of how human beings function offer means of manipulating the general public that were unavailable, if not entirely unheard of, a century ago.  Today many methods of undermining the physical and intellectual functioning of a large population are both understood and at work in the U.S. and elsewhere.  This means that any chance at “fairness” in the marketplace and life a person might have is often under attack before that person is even born.

Too often we see people, young and old, who are demoralized, filled with hopelessness.  Increasingly widespread, this debilitating state of mind is often resulting from the following realities:

  • Malnutrition and chronic illness:   These go hand in hand.  When food high in fat, sugar/high fructose corn syrup and carbohydrates are readily available while it becomes harder to access natural, vitamin rich nutritious foods, both malnutrition and chronic illness are promoted.  There is a correlated diminishing of physical and mental functioning.  In this condition, hopelessness and demoralization have fertile ground.
  • A limited educational reality:  Simply attending a school in no way guarantees the availability of a quality education that prepares one to face the reality of the world around them.  The manipulation of information in textbooks (as well as media at large) often disseminates misinformation, self-defeating thought constructs and loyalties.  People are often taught to embrace a value system which ignores basic realities about human existence and leads to, again, self-defeating behaviors.
  • Poisoning:  The ongoing exposure to toxins in the air, water, food and medicines which impair either or both physical and mental health and functioning.  Small doses of bio-accumulating poisons any of which alone can be said to be insignificant and not a problem, when occurring repetitively become a significant impairment to the consumer ever having the opportunity of being a whole, healthy person.
  • Chronic stress:   Chronic trauma/stress (as well as severe enough acute trauma/stress) causes our brain to shut down.  Roughly from the frontal regions, back and down, over time leaving us reacting from the “reptilian” area of the brain:  fight or flight.  It’s hard to process complex, abstract concepts, take advantage of opportunities that require complex behaviors, when we’re stuck in survival mode.  Of course, being in a war zone inflicts both acute and, over time, chronic stress.  Most people are aware that military personnel who have been in a war zone often experience stress/trauma related problems when they return home.  However, it by no means requires being a war zone to experience sufficient stress/fear to have the same effects upon a person.  What is there to fear when we’re not in an active, military, war zone?  Mugging, rape, hunger, eviction, losing a job, not making enough money, disease, homelessness, shootings all these fears are seriously affecting many people; children, women and men, everyday in the U.S.  The question is not why don’t these folks pick themselves up by their bootstraps.  The reality is more precisely that these folks are too shell-shocked (to use a WWII term) to even recognize that they have “bootstraps”.

All of these four items increase the probability of the need for medical care and therefore render the individual more susceptible to extortionate practices in the medical marketplace.  By design or default we have succeeded in producing a cultural environment which too often impairs both the physical and psychological ability of individuals to recognize, develop and/or access opportunity.  In fact, our culture is presently producing a caste system of “haves” and “have-nots”.  A system in which being born into one or the other caste carries with it advantages or obstacles which, by design or default, work to maintain the status quo.

Those who were fortunate enough to be relatively whole human beings when they became young adults, who were able to recognize and utilize opportunities that existed to them at that time, who went on to have jobs that pay a living wage (or that when combined for a couple pay a living wage) often still find themselves trapped by debt.  Living in a world in which costs rise much faster than wages.  Many are working to pay the bills on a month to month basis.  Again, we find people experiencing the effects of the relentless erosion of stress upon their being.

So here we are.

It can be hard, maybe impossible, for those who were born after 1980 to fully grasp the concept that life wasn’t always like this in the U.S.  There used to be more jobs that paid a living wage.  The ruthless, extortionate thinking that pervades the housing, health insurance and medical related industries wasn’t always there.  Really.  There used to be a very prevalent realization that WE are in this together.  How many people who were born in the early 1950’s really kind of thought that “U.S.” meant “us”.  Maybe the attitude of solidarity was to some greater or lesser extent an artifact of the mindset which supported the Allied effort during WWII?  I tend to think so.

It’s not that the culture in the U.S. was perfect at that time.  There were problems, some serious ones:  racism, economic disparity.  But the attitude was different, it was “yes we can”.  The primary focus was on solving the problems to have a whole, prosperous nation.  There was a widely held, underlying assumption that everyone should have a truly honest opportunity to obtain a living wage, live “the good life”.

Then something happened.

Looking back, I think it was when the momentum toward greater peace and pervasive prosperity, more focus on building and less on destruction, became the target of assassination along with John F. Kennedy.  A cabal seeking inordinate power and wealth carried out a coup d’etat right here in the U.S. of A.  It was so unthinkable that, well, few people seemed to think it.  The “lone gunman” explanation was much more palatable.

Simultaneously, the evening news, again right here in the U.S., began, or increased, it’s role of indoctrinating a nation with the propaganda designed to promote the agenda of the new ruling cabal.  I think the felt realization of the profound loss that had taken place is the reason why so many around the world wept when J.F.K. was shot down.  And a fervent hope that the dream might not die with the man is why his picture continued to hang in so many homes around the world.  It is also why the effort to uncover the truth of that day persists even now.

But while John Kennedy died, the dream did not.  The dream wasn’t born with J.F.K. and it didn’t die with him.  He was a torchbearer of the flame for a brief while.  And he wasn’t the only one.  Martin Luther King, Jr. also carried the flame and also was shot down.  And there have been and are, other torch bearers.  The dream goes on.  The dream has existed for centuries, millenia.  Quite possibly it has been around longer than life on this planet.

What is the dream?  A culture which nurtures and brings out the best in those blessed to be a part of it.  A culture in which the abilities of thought and invention are given to realizing goals and dreams birthed in and organized by love and caring.  A culture which embraces inclusivity and recognizes the inter-relatedness of all.  A culture no longer occupied with manufacturing scarcity and which no longer engages in war and destruction organized around exclusivity, greed, hate, and fear.

I know there are those who consider this dream foolish, unrealistic.  Just as there were those who thought the dreams that man might one day build machines to fly through the air and dive to the depths of the oceans were foolish and unrealistic.

Think of it: even the ideas that the Earth is round, or that the Earth revolves around the sun were at one time considered foolish and unrealistic.

When we realize the strength that comes with our unity, when we finally make the decision to genuinely care for ourselves, we can achieve beauty and wonders for ourselves, our loved ones, our human family that exceed all but our most far-reaching imagination.

And maybe even exceeding that.

 

 

 

The last great extinction event on Earth?

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

(Significantly edited on 9/19/18.)

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.

Re-humanizing our World

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

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.

The Common Ground of Stewardship

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

(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?

 

“Rabbit Holes”: Do you think you’re jumping into one while you’re actually trying to climb out?

Rabbit hole
(c) Dazdraperma http://www.fotosearch.com

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.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Respecting our individual developmental imperatives.

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 universal key to a successful life as an individual and as a culture.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

All the allegations flying around, if they’re true, so what?

 

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It has been going on for some time.  However it seems to have taken off in earnest during the last couple years. Allegations have been surfacing of high-level, elected or appointed, government officials committing heinous crimes.  Sometimes the allegations involve many people, implying that if the crimes actually occurred or are occurring, they involve a conspiracy.  Often these allegations include further allegations of cover-ups involving even more elected or appointed government officials.

 

The reactions from the general pubic are usually very mixed to these allegations.  The reasons people might react as they do can be as varied as the lives and backgrounds of the people themselves.  However, there are some phenomenon we understand about human thinking which often enter into the underlying reasons people either tend to believe or disbelieve such allegations.

  • Some tend to disbelieve or ignore them because they have been taught by trusted and beloved authority figures, since childhood, to respect and believe in the goodness of those occupying the highest offices in the United States of America.
  • Some may tend to disbelieve simply because they “like” the accused for some reason or another.  Maybe the accused supports some issue which that person feels strongly about.  Maybe the accused dresses stylishly and has a pleasant manner about them.
  • Some tend to disbelieve or ignore the allegations because to give the allegations serious consideration creates such cognitive dissonance they cannot stand it.
  • Some tend to disbelieve because the evidence they have seen does not rise to a level lending them to consider the allegations as having veracity.

On the other hand…

  • Some tend to believe the allegations because they simply do not like something about the government officials implicated.  It could be the accused doesn’t belong to the correct political party, or the accused lacks style or smoothness in their life or personal presentation.
  • Some tend to believe the allegations because the accused supports some policy or cause which the person finds offensive.
  • Some may tend to believe the allegations because the evidence they have seen lends them to believe the allegations are true.

In the absence of any specific first hand experiences or knowledge about what is being alleged, it is the background experiences of the observers, the people who constitute the general public, that are going to determine that person’s initial reaction to any such allegations.  Lacking any authentic investigation into the allegations, the public is left unsure, contentiously holding onto their own personal opinions, divided.

So what? What else is new…right?  However, it matters.

When the population of a neighborhood, a city, a nation, or a world is divided, the “house” is divided.  And as the profound saying which Abraham Lincoln borrowed from Mark 3:25 goes:  “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  (NIV)  Why is it important for our “house” to stand?  It is because it is as a group, as a cooperative whole, that we can do the things that contribute to making our world the wondrous and exciting place it is.  Our roads, airplanes, trains, the products that genuinely make our lives less tedious and give us more ability to enjoy the beauty of our world and each other, the advances in technology and medicine that have such potential to better our lives:  none of us alone can bring these things to reality.  It has only been by working together for our own and the common good that these things have come into being.  And it is when we lose sight of what is in our own and the common good that our cultures begin to deteriorate.  It is then that we begin to bicker, and fight amongst ourselves, divided.

The allegations matter, knowing whether they are true or untrue matters.  What do we do when, and/or if, those controlling our laws and the enforcement of our laws use their power to give themselves exemptions from the laws the rest of us are expected to adhere to?  Or begin constructing the laws to favor themselves above all others?  Initially it isn’t good for us, the general citizenry, in the long run it’s not good for anyone.

Without digressing into another entire article, suffice to say, science is able to confirm for us today what some within the field of spiritual well-being have been saying for a long time: we live within a unified field.  We’re all interconnected, interdependent.  And it’s not just the human race that is interconnected:  it’s all of existence, everything.  Never before in recorded human history has it been possible to say with greater certainty:  “United we stand, divided we fall.”

It is also the case that, due to the seriousness of the potential ripples throughout our society, there ought to be some penalty for anyone bringing patently false allegations against anyone in high office.  That being said, we cannot simply disregard allegations because we may think them unlikely.  We need to know whether allegations of heinous cruelty and crimes leveled against public officials are true or untrue because if those in high office hold contempt for humanity, contempt for good will; is that the value we want to see directing our resources, directing us as a people?  The essential spiritual, not religious, but spiritual orientation of those to whom we entrust high office is of the utmost import to each and every one of us.

 What sort, what nature, of spiritual energy do we want to see people exerting, do we want to allow people to exert, especially as leaders, directors of nations and their resources, upon the events taking place in our world?

For these reasons, and others, we cannot allow serious allegations of heinous behavior; allegations of corruption; graft, influence peddling, rape, pedophilia, murder, on the part of our elected/appointed officials and others to go uninvestigated, unexamined.  At this time those “investigating” such allegations are likely as not themselves taking orders from those they are supposed to be investigating.   Or, taking orders from third parties who are directing both them and the elected/appointed officials they are supposed to be investigating.  So-called investigations are happening in a superficial and ineffective manner.  While there may be some public aspect to the investigations:  a floor show of reassurance, an attempt to appease the public without actually rocking the boat of those in power, the actual investigations, if any do occur, are hidden from public view.

What we also see happening often today often the media is brought to bear and public attention is redirected from the allegations themselves to the question of who committed the “offense” of exposing them.  This pattern of behavior, of looking to find and punish the “snitch”, is one that has long been a characteristic of criminal enterprises.  I haven’t spoken about this with many but I highly doubt I’m the only one troubled by how often this mind-set seems to be the one demonstrated by those in high office.

It’s not about who should go to prison. Although, some of the allegations definitely have public safety issues.  Maybe some, if guilty, do require confinement until we can be reasonably certain they won’t continue the heinous behaviors no matter what their socio-economic situation.  However, the heart of what is at stake is the nature and direction of the spirit of our communities, our nations.  The values held by those in high office, which they express in word and/or deed, manifest themselves in the physical, mental and spiritual health of our communities, our lives.

Whether we tend to be of the opinion that those in high office accused of heinous crimes are most likely innocent or guilty, we need to speak out and demand honest, thorough, authentic, investigations into the allegations.  Investigations with 100% transparency that are open for the world to see.  Then we can address whatever the investigations reveal, unseat any who are abusing the power which we allow, which we bestow.  Put the issues to rest and move on with greater certainty and in greater unity.

If we make it known, make it undeniably clear that We the People will not tolerate behaviors on the part of those in high office which demonstrate a contempt for humanity, we will be a step closer to establishing a culture for ourselves, for our children, in which we can experience, enjoy our lives with greater health, wholeness and stability.

 

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