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Archive for September, 2008

Greed's Lesson

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On May
18, 1986 Ivan Boesky, the Wall Street arbitrageur who amassed a fortune of over $200 million dollars illegally using insider information to bet on corporate takeovers, gave the commencement address at the University of California at Berkeley’s business school.  “I
think greed is healthy,” he said.  “You can
be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” 

Back then the comment got lots of media play. When I read his speech, I remember thinking that Boesky and Paul Revere had two things in common: both were prosperous businessmen and both, by their actions, were harbingers that trouble was on the way. For Revere, it was the British. For Boesky, it was an unprecedented time of selfishness, denial and corruption in America. But that’s where there similarities end. Their differences, on the other hand, could not be more striking.

Revere was a patriot who, when his country was in need, set aside his personal business to serve the greater good. The message he (and others) carried that famous night from Boston to Lexington was to warn of British troop movements toward Lexington to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams. His actions were to preserve and protect the will of the people and the emerging nation. His personal dedication and sacrifice were indicative of so many at that time who understood that much of what was familiar would have to be relinquished, on faith, in order to gain the freedom and fairness for which they hungered.

Boesky was the bearer of quite a different message. His focus was personal. The greater good was of no concern to him. Contrary to Revere’s personal sacrifice, Boesky crossed ethical and legal boundaries, without concern or conscience, in a rabid quest for endless personal gain. What he wanted he wanted for himself and damn those obstacles along the way…and damn his country as well. He had the audacity and smugness to advise college graduates, about to make their mark in the world, that more is never enough… and how you acquire it is of little consequence.

It seems self-evident which man is to be admired. And yet, for the past 22 years we, as a nation, took up Boesky’s call and instead of seeing it for what it was (and him for who he was), a bright light shone upon a dark problem, we revered (no pun intended) his quest for material gain combined with diminished social conscience, and sought to emulate the worst of what we are capable of when we become lost in our own egos and lose sight of personal responsibility.

The current financial and energy crises are not the fault of Republicans or Democrats or Wall Street or Main Street. They are the fault of Republicans and Democrats and Wall Street and Main Street. We are each responsible for thinking and acting as if all that matters is acquiring more, newer, better and faster “things” with total disregard for how our methods of satisfying our endless hunger infringes upon every other life form on the planet…not to mention the planet Itself. We have behaved with impudence and without conscience. We have worshiped at the feet of false idols most clearly represented by the Ivan Boeskys of our world. Even those of us who saw through the illusion and knew better were too long absent and too long silent in our dissent.

Now the hour is late. Now it is time to be counted. Now it is time to be heard. Now it is time to say and do, as the Colonists and Funding Fathers did, that the greater good can only be accomplished when we understand and accept that more never is enough because it cannot satisfy the only longing that matters…that of the Soul… which is to return to Oneness and provide for All.  Not to provide equality for All, but equal access for All. What one does with that access is the prerogative given each of us by Free Will. But so long as we allow people to starve and governments to remain corrupted and the environment to be destroyed…all in the name of profit and progress…we say through word, deed and inaction that Ivan Boesky was right and the Founding Fathers were wrong…and by so doing we are a nation writing its own epitaph.

I believe in the highest good.

I believe, at this moment in time, we are confronted with the opportunity to aspire to the greater good.

I believe it is an opportunity we welcome and one at which we will prevail.

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Paul Newman's Legacy

I met Paul Newman once. Well, actually, I stood next to him crossing a street in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Democratic National Convention that was being held there. I had always spent summers at the Shore as we had a beach house there when I was growing up. That summer, 1964, I was 16 years old. I had volunteered to work as an usher seating people at the Convention. One night, after finishing my job, I was heading to the corner to “catch a jitney” ride home (sort of a mini-bus unique to Atlantic City culture) when, waiting for the light to change to green so I could cross, I turned to glance at the man standing next to me who was also waiting to cross and, well, yes, it was Paul Newman.  

Now a 16-year-old girl in 1964 standing next to Paul Newman has just one thought: Don’t faint. I actually remember thinking that. I also remember beginning to stutter, literally, trying to get out the words, “Are you really Paul Newman?”…as if a possible answer might have been, “No, not really.”  Anyway he was gracious and kind to the obviously star-struck and inarticulate teenager…a situation I think he must have been very used to…and he made a comment or two before the light changed and we both crossed.

Today he died at age 83.

What I am most awed by is not his eyes or his movie career or the longevity of his celebrity marriage in an age when celebrities can’t seem to stay married longer than the time it takes to make a movie. I am most awed by his foresight and charitable nature. He seemed to get, earlier than most, how connected we all are and how giving is the one sure path to personal satisfaction, not to mention material wealth.

There is a short video clip on Newman’s Own website today that is a brief interview with him that appears to be quite recent. If I heard it right, and I listened to it twice, he actually says “goodbye” at the end and it’s not a gratuitous goodbye…its the goodbye of a man who knows he is dying and is saying it from a place deep inside his soul. In that clip he speaks about the need, his need, to help others… particularly children, the poor, the elderly and the Earth. And help he did, having given 100% of the proceeds from his company Newman’s Own, $250,000,000, to charitable causes. 

When my father passed away 9 years ago a Rabbi told me that the best way to honor a life is to take something that was admirable about that life and become it. Perpetuate it. Carry it forward. I think we could do a lot worse than honoring Paul Newman’s life in this way. If each of us could come to understand how connected We All Are and that the greatest personal satisfaction and wealth come from giving…I believe this to be the winning combination for successfully moving beyond the economic, environmental and societal challenges we face.

Only when we care about, respect and support each other as well as the Earth with all It’s life forms will we turn this around and end the blight that is upon us and return to a state of balanced well-being.

It has been 44 years since I stood next to, and gazed into, those riveting blue eyes. Today I learned for the first time that those eyes were, in fact, colorblind. Maybe Paul Newman was not able to see color but he saw something much more important.

He saw Oneness and made the world a better place for it.

Let’s keep up the good work.

REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”

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Economic Crisis or Golden Opportunity?

Somebody
should remind the President of Iran that it isn’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.
He’s been heard of late at the U.N. and on Larry King Live (of all places!) heralding
the demise of the United States. You can’t blame a guy for jumping on (for that
matter leading) the bandwagon of Doomsayers who are intent on painting the current
U.S. economic crunch as an indisputable sign ushering in the End of Days.
After all, what kind of harbingers of disaster would they be to squander such a
golden opportunity to bolster their dark view of human evolution?

To
panic or not to panic: that is the question.

You can relax. I have the answer.
Well, actually Nature has the answer.

I’m just the messenger.

Nature
is where I’ve always looked for the answers to dilemmas that seem to elude
humankind. I just figured out early on in Life that any intelligence that was
capable of creating a system so complex, diverse, inherently in balance,
self-sustaining and just plain visually magnificent had pretty much calculated
and provided for all the possible combinations and permutations that might
arise. So, the answers were actually built into the problems. Hence, every
problem is an opportunity to uncover the answer within.

This
brings me to the caterpillar, metamorphosis and the butterfly.

It’s
a complicated process but let me sum it up. When a caterpillar has eaten enough
it turns into what is called a pupa. To do this it stops eating and finds
somewhere safe, becomes very still, molts its skin then grows a much thicker
and stronger one. A lot of the caterpillar’s
old body dies. It then sort of digests
itself from the inside out. Not all the tissue is destroyed and some of the
insect’s old tissue passes on to its new self. A new body is then formed out of the “soup”
that the insect’s digestive juices have made of the old larval body. This
rebuilding process is called histogenesis. During this time the insect is very vulnerable
because it cannot run away which is why insects try to choose somewhere safe to
hide when going through this incredible change.

Why
the lesson in metamorphosis in a blog about the economy?

The
President of Iran, in viewing our current economic crisis, sees the caterpillar
stewing in its own juices, so to speak. He is frozen in time and can’t see past
the moment. In reality he is witnessing the end of a growth phase and, because of his limited
understanding and perspective, thinks he is witnessing the end of the process itself. He is stuck in mourning the death of the
caterpillar and so cannot see the birth of the butterfly.

Which
is why the answer to the question “to panic or not to panic?” is: Not to panic!

What
the economy and our entire value system
are experiencing is the natural process
of moving us from caterpillar to butterfly. Yes it’s a trying time. Yes we will
have to find a safe place in which to do this internal work. Yes we will have
to shed some skin in order to make room for new, improved cells to take root
and multiply. And yes we will have to rebuild.

The
important point to remember is that this so-called “problem” is really an opportunity
for us to transform ourselves and our nation into something much more beautiful,
while also remembering that the answer to the future is locked away inside the
caterpillar…inside us.

Inherent
in our crisis is the answer to it. Nature is designed that way and we are a
part of Nature.

Only
by our willingness to shed the skin in which we have become complacent and by our
courage to see the process through…will we come to experience the beauty we are
truly capable of and, oh yes, to joyfully fly away leaving the Ahmadinejads
behind.

REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”

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Preserve, Protect and Defend

>I couldn’t help wondering why I was so taken with the CNN photo image of Lehman Bros. headquarters on Wall Street this past week as the news broke of its pending bankruptcy following failed efforts to have it rescued by third parties. Then it hit me. It was almost seven years later, to the day, that the Lehman skyscraper image, with words of its pending financial collapse printed below, appeared on CNN…seven years to the day after 9/11.

What I was so taken with was the irony, no, not the irony but the connectivity, between the financial buildings on Wall Street that literally came tumbling down seven years ago and the ones now figuratively tumbling down… both before our very eyes.

I think one was a precursor of the other. It’s time we paid attention to the message, don’t you think?

I have listened in the past few days to Alan Greenspan and Suzy Ormond, the former being the “official” financial guru and the latter being the “populist” version, and I think they’re both wrong. Well, not wrong, just misguided. Remember when during the 1992 Presidential campaign Bil Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid”? Well, it’s sort of the economy now only not the way Clinton meant it. Back then he meant that George H.W. Bush was out of touch with the challenges faced by most Americans because Bush was a blue-blood elitist. 

Now, it’s about how we’ve prayed too long at the altar of money and material acquisitions…so much so…that we went too far astray from the meaning of Life and what loving Life, and one another, truly means. So, as with all things out of balance, our condition has required a “course correction.” 

The happenings in the financial market are a symptom…they are not the dis-ease.

We all feel it. Not just monetarily. We feel it in the stress we live with every day trying to keep pace with a reality controlled by the pace of technology. We feel it in the loss of meaningful relationships or even the time to cultivate them. We feel it in the frustrations we encounter trying to get adequate health care or even just a live person, rather than voice mail, to assist us in getting adequate health care. We feel it in the pressure of raising kids in a world where everything is so impersonal and where cheap, meaningless sex is so readily marketed in every medium.

Despite Barack Obama’s campaign slogan, it’s not about Change. Its about adaptation to change. We don’t need change. We already have it. We’re in it. Take a look around. Nothing is working like it used to. And that’s not a bad thing, either. It’s a good thing. Because things stopped “working” for us a while ago. We’ve been working for them. That change happened slowly over time…so slowly we missed the switchover. Only now are we waking up to the reality of where we find ourselves.

What we do about it is All That Matters.

In less than 60 days a new President of The United States will be elected and he (yes, it’s still a “he”) will take the oath of office a few months later.  As part of that oath he will swear to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution.  In so doing, might I suggest our next President spend less time bailing out the financial sector and trying to shore up a broken, misguided system of governmental corruption and more time inspiring this nation in what a call to greatness looks and feels like. This is the highest service he could perform for his nation at this time. To point the way out of darkness and towards the Light.  Inspiration is food for the Soul. This is what we truly hunger for…not a DOW over 13,000.

We, the United States of America, remain an experimental beacon of individual freedom, creativity and ingenuity. We have survived infancy, childhood and our teenage years. Will we now accept the personal responsibility of adulthood, seizing the moment to become the best we can be… or will we stay stuck in those rebellious teenage years where, if we cannot have it our way, we’ll just “throw a fit” and dig in our heels…until the rest of the world grows up and passes us by?

REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”

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Finding The Light Within

> It was the end of a long, difficult day that was at the end
of a long difficult week that was at the end of a long difficult year. It was night time and I was lying in my bed,
hands covering my eyes, fighting a losing battle to hold back tears of
exhaustion and despair. On my dresser
across the room sat a Himalayan salt lamp that gave off a warm glow throughout the
room.

Just as I was thinking how the light from that lamp beyond my intertwined
fingers seemed to beckon me to find my way through the intervening darkness, I was suddenly transported back in time and space to a fun house I once
navigated through as a child. With that memory came an instantaneous tightening
in my stomach joined by shallow breathing, as I recalled the feeling of terror
I experienced in that dark, cavernous enclosure trying to feel my way through to daylight. As I reached out for something to hold onto that would help me navigate the interior, I recalled feeling terrified of the all the unknown sensations I might possibly
encounter.

Now, lying in my bed protected by both time and distance, I dared
ask myself “What was it that had been so terrifying in that fun house?”
The answer came without hesitation. It was the experience of being reduced to
only two things of which I might be certain and upon which I might rely: my own inner voice and the unknown. This realization
was, it turns out, the same feeling I am currently experiencing at the end of
this long, difficult year.

Going through divorce and the ending to what I believed
would be a lasting union, unable to work and on crutches from a fall that resulted in
a torn tendon in my foot, I found myself
alone and fundamentally unable to care for myself, my daughter, my animals or
my home. Yes friends helped out here and there (even my ex-husband stepped up, however briefly). But when for six weeks, just getting showered and downstairs in the
morning is about all you can do before feeling exhausted, well-meaning people
can only provide so much relief. At the end of the day, and the end of the day
has now lasted six weeks, I have been alone with only those same two things I could
count on back then in that fun house. My own inner voice and the unknown.

Yet, like the salt lamp whose glow beckoned me to move toward
the light across my bedroom, these six weeks have provided their own light.
Infinite Light.

Through all of the difficulties (and there have been seemingly
new ones heaped upon me each day) I’ve had the same beckoning sense that I am
being shown the way out of the darkness.I can say that for almost each difficulty, there has been as many signs
and miracles letting me know that I am not truly alone….that there is a
Presence… a protective and guiding Force… lighting the way. It has been my job,
as it was those many years ago, to be open to that Guidance from Within that is
the voice of All That Is and, rather than fear the unknown, to reach for it and
embrace it fully.

Darkness as a reality and darkness as symbolism is, for many
people, associated with fear. I think now I know the reason why. In darkness,
we are turned inward as the outer world is diminished or disappears
completely, depending on the degree of darkness.Absent light, we see only our inner selves. We
face what it is we really feel. We cannot distract ourselves from the path. We can only “feel” our way through, by reaching out and knowing that we may, along the way, indeed
encounter sights and sensations we would prefer to avoid.

But since paradox is the building block upon which our world
exists, within darkness exists the most profound opportunity to experience Illumination.
Infinite Light does not exist only for all time. It exists in all space. So when you enter into the darkness as I did in that fun house, or as I have
done in my life over the past several months, the undeniable knowing of that experience is that Light
is Who You Are and it is You Who Lights The Way. You are both the Light and the
Way.

Not being Christian, as I write those words I
none-the-less hear and feel the message of one of the many Master Teachers who
have walked, and continue to walk, this Earth. The teaching is golden.  As is the
Light it shines for those who are willing to brave the darkness within.

REMEMBER to click here to download my FREE e-book, “Too Many Secrets.”

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About the Blog
gold post it

It's so easy to find bad news that generates fear and anxiety that I've made it my mission to see the positive side of what goes on around us. So, whether it's global, national, local, or personal… Gold Post It is where you can come to get a higher and more inspiring perspective on life.