Archive for August, 2008
Let’s start out with a disclosure: I’m a life-long registered Democrat. It’s important to get that on the table so you know I have no axe to grind here. What I am about to say is not in support of electing John McCain. Quite frankly, I don’t know what I will do come November 4th. But there’s time yet to make that call and in the meantime, part of making that call is doing my homework and resolving, where possible, my concerns. Now having explained this, here’s my concern.
I’m concerned that millions of people in this country think that Barack Obama is going to save them. Save them from themselves. They are investing their energy and their hope in him rather than in themselves. So that when utopia does not finally appear by way of this particular candidate having occupied the White House, they can say yet again that politicians are all con artists and government has failed them once more.
His acceptance speech was emotionally stirring and the visuals and lead up masterfully orchestrated. He’s a great orator oozing with charisma who is speaking the language people want to hear. Change is the word of the day and he perceived it and seized it from the get go. Good for him.
But as I watched and listened to his acceptance speech, I heard promises of, quite frankly, miracle after miracle of what he is going to do. If you listened carefully, he’s going to fix just about every problem we have. He’s never done the job before, or even one remotely like it; these problems have been around for decades; they are complex problems that require multifaceted solutions; they may even be problems that cannot be fixed but are instead systems and processes that are archaic and must be dismantled and replaced…but he’s going to fix them none-the-less.
Having said all of that, it’s not him and his absolute knowing I’m concerned about. He’s a politician trying to get elected to a job he wants. He’ll say what we want to hear.
It’s us I’m concerned about,
It’s the significant portion of the population who thinks that change comes from anyone or anywhere other than from inside themselves.
Our fundamental problems are social and moral. You cannot legislate social conscience or morality. We have lost our way to technology and the endless consuming of things with disregard for the effect we have upon one another or the planet. We have not lost the capacity for compassion although we have lost the will to act upon that compassion. These are the roots of our suffering and neither Barack Obama nor any other individual can save us from ourselves.
The job of repairing this nation is no different than the spiritual job of repairing the world. The concept, in Hebrew, is expressed as tikkun olam…repairing the world. And so when lasting change comes, it starts individually, one step at a time; one good deed at a time; one conscious choice at a time. Lasting change happens in small ways, personal ways, once each of us decides to no longer choose expediency rather than meaning; more rather than enough; separation rather than unity; apathy rather than concern and, inaction rather than action. Lasting change is a slow and deliberate process during which we fall down many times before we are able to finally stand on our own solid footing. It is not the single, momentary act of pulling a lever and electing a new President.
When enough individuals continuously participate in the kinds of choices that effect lasting change, then the collective that we are as a nation will take on a different character and heightened emanation of it’s own…a character and emanation we can be proud that will show the way not only for we Americans but for the world as well.
My caution about this election is to be alert and aware of the inappropriate investment in the illusion that Barack Obama, or any other individual, can or will do it for us.
Yes. The time is now. And Yes, we can.
But this one’s for You. And Me.
One conscious choice at a time.
REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”
Joe Biden presents a stunning opportunity to speak to the question of
whether a politician’s private life matters in relation to his or her
public service. In recent history, the likes of John Kennedy, Lyndon
Johnson, Gary Hart, Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, Jim McGreevy and most
recently, John Edwards have all been the object of scrutiny and
analysis for behavior in their private lives. In fact, if time and
space permitted it, we could compile a list back to and including
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
So the question is:
When electing a person to public office, how much does it matter who
they are privately vs. how well they perform their public service?
Personally I am conflicted on this issue and my conflict was renewed
yesterday by an e-mail I received which was then followed by Joe
Biden’s introduction at the Democratic National Convention by his son,
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
As a parent, it was
incredibly moving and heart-warming to see the obvious love and respect
that this young man has for, as he put it, “my hero, my father.”
Biden’s exemplary parenting and dedication to his two sons who survived
the auto accident that killed Biden’s wife and daughter is remarkable.
His priorities seem to be on very straight. Commencing at age 29, he
made his boys his mission, all the while diligently tending to the
duties of his job as a United States Senator. And because I had the
privilege of working with him briefly in the 1980’s, I have some
personal knowledge of his character and commitment. And he’s got that
down-to-earth charisma going for him as well. So it was exhilarating
to see him chosen as Obama’s running mate.
Then came the e-mail.
It was from a friend who is a strong advocate of U.S. support for
Israel and a hawk in relation to Iran and other Islamic fundamentalist
nations. The content of the e-mail were actual cites to legislation
that Biden did not sign onto that were either pro-Israel or
anti-terrorism or anti-Iranian. There were also links to articles that
address Biden’s voting record vs. his rhetoric, that raise the question
of how realistic he has been, or how effective his approach has been,
to dealing with the threat of Iran and it’s leaders.
So here’s the dilemma.
I was very outspoken on the shame that Bill Clinton brought to the
White House by his adulterous and adolescent behavior. I believed then,
and still do, that he set an appalling example and lowered the moral
bar for many. And the contrast with the Bush’s marital relationship
and their apparent values is undeniable. But here’s the thing. Both men
were elected to lead and manage the nation. And it’s indisputable that
in almost every analysis, Clinton did it better both domestically and
internationally. So while I prefer the public image of the Bush
relationship and both the dignity and mutual respect they project, in
the end I’m voting for an effective public servant who positively
impacts, and ideally improves, national and foreign policies. With that
criteria, Clinton trumps Bush hands down.
Now, back to Joe Biden.
He’s a decent man. An admirable father. A dedicated public servant.
And his choice and nomination as presented on television was stirring.
But governing isn’t about image or made-for-TV-character videos or
theatrical productions. Governing is about moving the county on a
continued trajectory toward it’s highest good while protecting it from
external harm. It’s about policies, not patinas, that get those two
Next week, the Republicans will have
their turn (along with their media experts) to dazzle us with glitz and
glamor and similarly tug at our heartstrings. My suggestion is that
when all the hype is over, and all the candidates in place, we actually
investigate and read their public service records…their congressional
voting records…determine their real stance…on the issues that
matter to us before we vote.
As a former divorce lawyer
who marketed a video for people going through divorce, I used to tell
women that generally, unless they are educated in advance,
they tend to pick a divorce lawyer on personality. Without knowledge of
the process and their needs, on what other basis could they possibly
choose one? And I would always follow-up that observation and say to
them “that’s how you pick a date. Not a lawyer.”
The same hold true for a President or Vice President.
It’s not how they play on TV, it’s not how their personal story
moves us, it’s what issues have they championed? When have they stood
up and been counted? And for what have they stood? Its not who they
tell us they are but what, in fact, they have done about what they
believe in…and how long have they done it with consistency.
I really like Joe Biden.
Now I’m really going to read the record.
REMEMBER to click here to download by FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”
> There are plenty of examples about famous, creative and influencial people who, although inspiring millions through their teachings, had difficulty in their own personal lives in “walking” their talk.” I can deeply empathize and, perhaps, this entry is my own mea culpa for failing to do so.
Just two days ago I wrote an entry entitled “Presence, Patience and Trust” that extolled the benefits of accepting Life as It shows up and trusting in the goodness of not only all that is but also all that will be as a result. So, in the past 24 hours, as the threads on my emotional rope wore thin and I repeatedly lost my temper…not to mention my presence, patience and trust…I feel somewhat hypocritical.
Hence, this mea culpa.
But when I look up the meaning and origin of the phrase “mea culpa” (I’m Jewish so I needed some clarification here) I find that it refers to an action wherein “the individual recognizes his or her flaws before God.” So I’m not quite certain this is, in fact a mea culpa. First, I’m not owning up before God, just my readers. And secondly, I don’t really see my behavior as a “flaw” but more as another opportunity to grow towards my highest good as a spiritual being along the path of having a human experience. If I accept myself as “flawed” then I imply that I, and ultimately others, are somehow “bad.” That’s a slilppery slope I’d rather not go down since, historically, it seems to end at “original sin”…a concept I do not sanction.
So in order to not get stuck in feeling badly about myself for not having chosen my highest good, I think there’s an analogy that helps me approach the moment in a more positive way.
It’s the principal that we give charity in order to make room for more abundance to flow into us which, in turn, allows us to give even more charity. Without “making room” so to speak for “more… it’s impossible to fill up a vessel already full.
In the case of my losing my temper, since all matter is just energy of varying frequencies, there may just be some “stored” or “negative’ energy in me that needed to be discharged, or emptied, in order to make room for more positive energy that would serve me better in achieving my highest good. Therefore I look at that “discharge” of stored up energy I exhibited as a necessary clearing in order to be open to receiving that which I need. Once cleared of the debilitating, stored-up energy, I am helping myself get clearer and clearer about Who I Want To Be and what types of experiences do not support that vision. After all, now that it’s “out of me” I can clearly see that neither it, not the circumstances that prompted it, are consistent with my vision of myself.
Now, like the vessel that has room for abundance to flow into it…I am cleared to refill the vessel that is Me with energy that is more supportive of Who I Am.
Some of you may say this has all been an exercise in justification for inappropriate behavior. But I would respond to such a charge by saying that all behavior labeled “inappropriate” is performed by someone who has not yet embraced their inherent divinity and is struggling to find the means to so.
Since at one time or another we’ve each been there…let’s slide one another, and especially ourselves, a little compassion and understanding.
Now that would be the highest good for all concerned.
REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, ‘Too Many Secrets.”
> It’s our most difficult challenges that present us with the greatest opportunities for personal growth. I’d say divorce ranks really high on that list. So, since I’m going through one as I write, I thought I’d share an insight or two.
Insight #1: It’s never about them. It’s always about you.
It’s so easy to find fault with the Other and make them the reason for the break-up of a relationship. In fact, it’s too easy. Focusing or blaming another is simply a convenient technique to absolve yourself from personal responsibility for 1) choosing to align with that person to begin with and/or 2) acknowledging that you’ve changed… grown…. and the alliance no longer supports your highest good (or usually theirs as well, for that matter, but that’s their issue to deal with not yours).
If you choose a partner for the wrong reason(s)…out of need and dependence rather than out of a maturation process wherein you’ve actualized yourself and seek out another fully actualized person…then you can almost certainly anticipate a future point in time when the “jig” will be up and you will find yourself faced with an increasingly deteriorating relationship, as well as an ally turned adversary.
The solution to this situation gone awry is to take stock of where you are in your own life and how you see yourself going forward. If that assessment and vision is inconsistent with who the Other is, well, then, you’ve got two choices. Abandon your own desires and goals or relinquish the illusion that they are attainable while aligned with incompatible energy in the form of a partner who does not enhance, or cannot even help support, that vision you have for yourself.
It’s my experience that no matter how difficult the latter, it is not only do-able but it’s also the only road to self-respect and self-actualization. Abandonment creates deep emotional wounds…whether someone does it to you or you do it to yourself.
Insight #2: Accepting responsibility brings inner peace and facilitates forgiveness.
Refusing to accept responsibility for your choices, but instead placing blame on events and persons beyond yourself, fuels feelings of resentment, anger and victimization. If you believe that what you are experiencing is the result of someone else’s choice or events beyond your control, then it is impossible to feel at peace with what is happening in your life. More importantly, if your suffering is someone else’s fault then how can you forgive them for your plight? Without forgiveness, you’re going to stay stuck in negative feelings that will only serve to impede your own growth and prevent you from actualizing your highest good.
Once you accept that your choices have created every experience you are having in your life, as well as all the people who are showing up in it, only then can you begin to make deliberate and conscious choices that fully support you in achieving the life you truly intend. Fully conscious choice that originates from a place of heart-felt passion within you is the road to inner peace and personal satisfaction.
Accepting personal responsibility for your circumstances allows you to see others in a different light going forward and to forgive both them and yourself for past circumstances.
So as I traverse this rocky divorce terrain, filled with opportunities to stumble, I am reminded of the adage that it’s not falling down that matters but how quickly you are able to get back up.
REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”
> Aren’t there days when you can actually feel the flow of Life as well as your place in it and, in the alternative, days when Life seems to be all up hill? But what about the days when it’s neither of those two? Days when there seems to be no movement at all and you wonder what Its all about? What’s the point? What’s your real purpose? Don’t there seem to be more of those days than the other two?
Well, I think they’re the days when you’re actually gifted the greatest opportunity to exercise three vital qualities to living your best Life: Presence, Patience and Trust.
An apparent lack of movement in your life (apparent because everything is continuously in motion whether we perceive it so or not) creates a window of opportunity wherein you can become fully present. Absent the hustle and bustle of the way things are when so much is happening that you can barely keep up, a period of calm and seeming stagnation you time to reign in your thoughts and focus on the quality of your actions rather than the quantity of them. More present and more focused… you become perfectly positioned to elevate not only your thoughts and actions but, ultimately, your Life as well.
This perception of lack of movement is also the perfect testing ground for developing patience. Learning to be with what Is and accept the circumstances you find yourself in is a major contributor to decreasing and eliminating the adverse effects of stress. After all, isn’t it our refusal to allow Life to unfold in Its own time but instead impose our own Will to effect, manipulate and control outcomes that cause us to wind up worrying about that “90% that never happens” while simultaneously missing what it is Life has brought us? And in the end, we get a double reward. Patience nurtures Presence.
Finally, the apparent lack of movement gives you the chance to exercise Trust in an outcome that is in the highest good for all concerned…whether or not you get the outcome you want. Trusting Life and Its inherent goodness is a pre-requisite for trusting the inherent goodness in ourselves and others.
So, the next time you are experiencing a day when “nothing seems to be going right”… or going anywhere at all for that matter… try and remember Presence, Patience and Trust.
You may be surprised to discover that being fully in them turns out to create all the movement you were looking for anyway.
Remember to click here to download my FREE e-book “Too Many Secrets.”
> First, the disclosure: I have not seen “Dark Knight.” That’s not to say I don’t know what it’s about or what the message is. My daughter has seen it and the media is replete with reviews so I feel sufficiently informed to write this entry. What I have seen is Christine Amanpour’s CNN special “Buddha’s Warriors.” These two media presentations pose a stark and illuminating contrast in how we get to choose the way in which we view the world and the way in which we respond to that choice.
In “Buddha’s Warriors” Amanpour traces the history of Tibet (and it’s peoples devotion to the Dalai Lama) through the present occupation of Tibet by the Chinese and the non-violent effort by thousands of exiled Buddhist monks to return to their homeland with full religious autonomy. In the face of violent military crackdowns in Tibet and Burma (Myanmar) that have resulted in the beating, torture and killing of civilians and monks alike, the Tibetan people, their monks and the Dalai Lama himself continue to both preach and practice the highest principles of Buddhism…compassion, joy and non-violent civil disobedience.
Not so, Batman Bruce Wayne. Here, in “Dark Knight” we enter the reality of George Bush and others who view the world as a place of terror to be dealt with by affecting vigilante justice to meet evil with evil. While this approach momentarily satisfies our basest instincts for revenge and getting the outcome we want at any price…several thousand years of historical patterns bear witness to the fact that all war and hatred get us are more war and hatred. War doesn’t end war. Peace does.
Which brings us back to the Dalai Lama, his monks and the Tibetan people. They too, like the people of Gotham City, are in the fight of their lives. For the Tibetans it’s not cinema, it’s real. And yet, faced with a potentially devastating and irreversible outcome, the annihilation of their culture, they remain heart-centered and mindful even, on occasion, praying for their captors while yet imprisoned and beaten. As one young Tibetan “activist” said, “it is our silence that will change the hearts and minds of the Chinese.” He refers not to the silence born of fear but a silence born of Love and Certainty. It is the silence of Jesus, Mahatmas Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks…messengers whose message is eternal.
Batman or The Dalai Lama? A vision based upon terror and war or one of compassion and peace? More time wasted on hatred and separation or a future built upon Love and Unity?
We each get to choose and as we do, the power of our choice and our thinking gets added to the collective consciousness. When enough of us choose Love and Unity I believe that young Tibetan activist will experience the “victory of silence” he envisions.
So may we all.
REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”
>When traveling to a foreign country, it’s not uncommon to discover that your electrical appliances don’t work. Generally the problem is that certain countries use 110v-120v and others use 220v-240v. The resolution is quite simple. You simply need an adapter.
Which got me to thinking about how we humans are basically made up of energy and how difficult it is for us to get along…basically to “work” right together. Like those different electrical currents from country to country. If there is any transferable or logical thought that can get us from appliances to relationships (and you have to allow that there is to keep reading) then it seems to me that what we humans need, especially in male-female relationships, is the equivalent of an adapter.
Which got me to thinking further about what that would be and how it would work. And I concluded that we already have such a mechanism. It’s called change.
Change is the vehicle that allows individuals who are inherently diverse and dissimilar to adapt to their differences and thereby stay in relationship to one another. Without change, it is inevitable that those diverse energies will eventually “short out” each other. When that happens in marriage it’s called divorce.
We all tend to be so proprietary and defensive about our view of life, our way of doing things, and our opinions that instead of allowing that others feel similarly and are entitled to do so, we instead dig in deeper to our position> on things rather than allowing change to happen by exhibiting flexibility. Why we are so resistant to change is easy to understand yet simultaneously offers us a paradox.
Change means letting go of preconceived ideas. It means embarking upon an unknown. It means not responding based upon past experience but rather upon only what is occurring in the moment. It means vulnerability as we traverse untrod territory. It requires trust…of Self, the Other and the Universe.
>The paradox is that Life is change. Nothing stays the same. Even our cells are dying off with new ones being created, literally, every moment. So if the one unfailing characteristic of Life is change, and we remain unwilling to change, to adapt, where does that leave us? Well, I think that in regard to personal relationships, it leaves us pretty much like the world traveler who sets off with necessary items that, without an adapter, he or she will never get to use…and so winds up having an unpleasant experience that was unintended, and unnecessary, but for poor planning and lack of preparedness.
Perhaps instead of financial, religious, or child-rearing advice, we should require premarital lessons in how to adapt to the inevitable changes that will occur within ourselves and our partners.
Perhaps instead of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…we may want to be certain that in whatever ‘baggage” we come to relationships with we have carefully packed the ability to change and adapt to the inevitable ebb and flow of human interactions so that not only is neither partner “shorted out” but that each is able to function at his or her respective peak level of efficiency.
If this all sounds just a little too mechanistic for you…just remember that fundamentally we’re all just energy vibrating at a certain frequency and perhaps what you need to do is change how you look at things.
You know, plug in your “adapter.”
REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”