Archive for February, 2012
When I was in law school, my closest friend had a philosophy by which she lived. “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best” was her motto. When I asked why she felt as she did, her reply was “because I want to stay positive and if I am prepared for the worst I can then put it out of my mind and focus on the good.” As someone with a propensity to worry, I took it as good advice and have lived by it ever since.
So I find misguided all the condescension toward people who choose food storage or a contingency plan for their family in case of emergency. At best it’s misguide but at worst it’s irresponsible. After all, we are living in rather precarious times.
Economic chaos, terrorist threats, and natural disasters hover, most days, just beyond the horizon. Any one of them is enough to cause worry and stress yet all three remain immanent and ongoing potentialities. But for being motivated by intolerance or political agenda, I see no good reason to disparage anyone who chooses to provide for themselves or their loved ones in the face of potential harm.
I am willing to bet that most of the people who seek to condemn or condescend others for preparation, carry comprehensive coverage on their auto insurance. You know, the coverage that assures you that if your car gets stolen, burned, vandalized, weather damaged, or is in a riot or missile attack etc. you’ll be able to return it to its pre-damaged condition with the assistance of the insurance company’s funds. So let’s see. It’s not crazy, in fact it’s prudent, to prepare in advance for your car’s well-being but not for that of your life or the life of loved ones?
This is about intolerance and politics. It’s about divide and conquer. It’s about “us” against “them.” It’s primarily about Progressives against Conservatives…since it’s mostly Conservatives who do this kind of preparation. As for me, I’m an Independent. Not just politically but in my thinking as well. I live life as I see fit and draw my own conclusions after a reasoned and thorough study of the facts.
It seems to me that in a nation where Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve print money as if life is a game of Monopoly, a world where terrorists plot globally to destroy the values and principles upon which this country was founded, and where Nature has had just about enough of humankind’s lack of appreciation and disregard for balance…a little extra food, water, protection and a contingency plan seem to fit just fine into my law school colleague’s philosophy.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Never before in my lifetime has this nation been so polarized, with the divide most evident in the rhetoric and posturing of our elected officials. The run-up to the 2012 Presidential election seems like a war rather than a competition. But perhaps war is the inevitable result of competition in the extreme.
Admittedly, this is a tricky topic to approach. Our society, especially our economic life, is based upon competition. To in any way disparage competition raises the ire of all who believe capitalism and free markets to be the best system for economic prosperity. This same group tends to bristle at the whole concept of “participation trophies for everyone” in academics and sports, rather than acknowledging, and rewarding, only winners.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who advocate equality as an end result rather than equal opportunity as a starting point. This group favors social justice rather than equal justice and would, among other approaches, redistribute wealth so that everyone has a “more balanced outcome” regardless of input and effort.
It seems an irreconcilable morass. But here’s the good news. Life is paradox.
It is the vast distance and seemingly conflict-laden discrepancies between these two positions that will eventually lead us to resolution. Extremes cannot exist for long without self-destructing. Such tension defies the Universal Laws of Balance and Wholeness. It is out of such destruction that we, as a nation and as a people, will emerge stronger and wiser.
It will not be an easy time transitioning to a better way of leadership and conflict resolution. Old patterns die hard. We are all living the tension that must exist when polar opposites tug at one another for dominance. Many of us also understand that the “chrysalis” stage in transformation is not an easy place to be…however temporary. But dominance is what brought us to this evolutionary moment.
Those in positions of power who arrived there through dominance, deception and greed will not readily release their grip. Make no mistake. There is war being waged. It is a spiritual war for the soul of humankind. And so we must experience the discomfort and uncertainty of profound change in order to arrive at the comfort and certainty that awaits us on the other side of this transition and expansion of human consciousness.
Take heart. Seek your own internal balance. It is worth the challenge and the wait.
It always has been. It always will be.
There is a priceless lesson from the 2008 Presidential election if you want it. The Nation voted for “Hope and Change” presumably because that’s what we sought. I think it’s an accurate assessment to conclude that we’ve actually lost hope and gotten change we never anticipated. Why? Because we each abdicated personal responsibility for maintaining hope and affecting change by instead believing that one man, promising to give us both, would do what we were unwilling to do ourselves.
I have been asking myself “What is the zealous appeal he ignites in, particularly, young voters?” I’ve concluded that young people are yet idealistic and believe, in theory, what is tremendously difficult to accomplish in reality. This is not a bad thing. It is, however, a perspective that is usually tempered by life experience. Hence, most people become more conservative in their views as they age and have those life experiences. So Ron Paul, in his straightforward and honest way, reflects the idealistic views of the young…but he also reflects the best in us regardless of age. He is the out-picturing of our Higher Selves.
I have always held to the conviction that we get the leaders we deserve. This explains Barack Obama. We wanted a free ride and someone else to row the boat. He promised both. Well, we got our free ride, only now the boat is careening down the rapids and controlling the oars is a man who cannot, or will not, change course.
Ron Paul’s rise to the status of serious Presidential contender is a good sign whether he is the nominee or not. Under the “leader we deserve” theory, it bodes well for our awakening to the necessity of speaking truth to power and the need to make tough decisions.
But let’s not deceive ourselves yet again.
Neither Ron Paul nor any elected official can do it for us. A leader can inspire and can point the way but each of us must do the heavy lifting for ourselves. Unless we are willing and able to grow up and accept this truth, we’d better take one last look around at the scenery because this boat is going down.
Many think Whitney Houston died too young but I think she died right on schedule. I am not intending to be callous or glib when I say that. Decades ago I wrote that “when someone loves you it’s possible that the time comes when the only thing they have left to give you is their absence.” I think Whitney Houston has left us with a timely and priceless gift. I only hope we are enlightened enough to know how to use it.
Her blessings were many…her beauty, her voice, her faith. She lived a life rich in the fullness of them all. She also struggled with the disease of the 21st century: addiction. In her case, it was to drugs and alcohol. But addiction comes in as many forms as there are desires and presently, those of us living in this Nation of abundance are addicted to many. Whether its cocaine, sex, alcohol, wealth, chocolate, government welfare or youth…whatever…we are a Nation enslaved to our wants and desires. Our affluence allows us to indulge them all. Even welfare, one might argue, is the result of affluence. How many people of the world suffer hunger, die daily from hunger, because they live in countries too poor to provide government welfare. Even the poorest of us in this great Nation are not above losing sight of perspective and gratitude.
So why tie all of this to Whitney Houston’s death? In watching her funeral on Saturday, I noted that with a worldwide viewership, she managed to bring God center stage for a variety of religions and peoples across the globe. Her legacy isn’t song or fashion. It’s the power of faith and the Light that shines from one who has it. It was her faith that was supporting her on the way back from addiction.
By example of the lives she touched, and the sheer power of her faith, she has bequeathed us a goldmine in tough economic times. She has pointed the way toward true wealth that enriches the Soul. The wealth that flows from Love and Faith.
I only hope we are awake enough to not squander our windfall.
M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., a devout Muslim, is Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, “created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States as an effort to provide an American Muslim voice advocating for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, and the separation of mosque and state.” When looking for what is often called a “moderate Muslim” Dr. Jasser is the prototype and an admirable representative of that group.
When Dr. Jasser was asked in a recent interview about Islamic extremism he said “It’s not so much Islam against the West as it is a civil war within Islam.” This statement fascinated me and got me thinking about the problem and the solution to radical Islam. United States history can be instructive.
During the founding of this Nation, and through the end of the 19th century, we too were internally torn apart by a philosophically, and even religiously, sanctioned belief that physical and psychological enslavement of a targeted group of people was acceptable behavior and policy. Such is the well-documented history of African-Americans. However, this shameful time in our cultural evolution led good and decent people to stand for what was right, even at the price of brother against brother and the loss of 620,000 lives.
If we have been conditioned to perceive Islamic terrorism as a war against all Western nations then we may be misguided in our response and efforts to combat it. Further, we may altogether miss the instructive view that Dr. Jasser sets forth.
If, instead, there is a civil war occurring within Islam generally, then would it not behoove all freedom loving nations to seek out and support the internal Islamic opposition that itself seeks freedom from the fear of living under Sharia law as promulgated by the extremists?
Perhaps the greatest blunder by Barack Obama and the current U.S. foreign policy approach is the recognition and credibility given Islamic extremist groups (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood) at the expense of marginalizing moderates such as those represented by Dr. Jasser.
This is not to say that it is unnecessary for us to be prepared to defend against Islamic terrorism. However, should we not simultaneously allow for such insight as that expressed by Dr. Jasser then we may have no one to blame for the outcome but ourselves. Having failed to support, and even abandoned, those Muslims who similarly revere life and freedom as do we in the West, we will find ourselves overcome by the forces of darkness simply because we did not stand with and for what was right.
I’ve been where Whitney Houston was. No, not the fame, drugs or alcohol but the need to seek validation and safety in something or someone outside of myself. That’s what drove her. That was her inner demon. So when she was interviewed by Diane Sawyer and asked, “So what’s your biggest demon?” she replied “Me.”
It doesn’t matter whether its resistance to accepting responsibility for our personal lives or for our lives as citizens in a free society. In the end, it’s all the same. The individual who looks for safety in government welfare or subsidies loses the same precious gift that Whitney Houston lost when she turned to Bobby Brown: personal power and confidence in one’s ability to achieve. Much will be made of the alcohol binges and drug dependency but Brown was perhaps the most dangerous of all her choices… and the most telling.
When a woman (or a man) chooses a partner based upon neediness, there is always a tradeoff and the tradeoff is always the same. What is exchanged, although not consciously, is personal responsibility. Along with it we relinquish personal power as well. It may take awhile and be a slow process over time, but as the saying goes “you can’t have the benefit without the burden.”
In discussing Whitney Houston’s downward slide, I heard someone say, “She could have gotten herself off that train anytime she wanted.” It’s not that easy. As I said before I’ve been there and dependency, whether upon a substance, a system or a human being is insidious. It does you in a little at a time. It inevitably takes not only the awareness that your existence is at risk, but also the courage to do something about it.
Many have awareness. Not so many have the courage.
It takes courage because the way out of dependency is counter-intuitive. One would think that retaining control, at all cost, to whatever sense of self remains is key. Yet the solution is surrender. Only by surrendering and withdrawing from all that is not working in your life are you able to make room for the Source of True Power to emerge from within. The resistance comes from an illusion that if we give up what we’ve been doing, even if it’s harmful, nothing will take its place…or something worse will. This false belief is a trick of the mind, or the ego, or evil…whatever you choose to call it. But it’s a trick none-the-less. In reality, true surrender brings forgiveness of self and others, a renewed sense of the ability to achieve, and a deep knowing that we are not alone. In surrender, we meet what we were in search of all along… Love.
Whitney Houston could not break through her resistance to surrender and, in the end, that resistance consumed her.
Each of us has to wage this struggle within ourselves. No one is exempt. If we are to learn anything from the loss of a gifted soul and a beautiful voice, let the takeaway be that when dis-empowering one aspect of ourselves we always empower another or, as mythology tries to remind us, the Phoenix always rises from the ashes.
In advance of the Super Bowl, there was a great deal of media anticipation and speculation focused on Madonna. Now, she is scheduled to perform in Israel during May 2012 and Israeli fans have asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to postpone any attack on Iran’s nuclear program until after the concert.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has established a “War Room” to monitor potential crime with high tech equipment and surveillance because “we are targets on our own soil” and have to be prepared
President Obama signed into law the ability to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens on U.S. soil without trial under suspicion of terrorist or seditious activities. The criteria for such activities include behavior that you probably participate in.
Government dependence is up 23% since President Obama took office. Currently, the average welfare recipient gets $32,700 annually while the average disposable income for wage earners after taxes is $32,400. Its more financially lucrative to stay home and do nothing than work which is why 67 million Americans receive government assistance.
The Gross National Product is now exceeded by the United States National Debt which means… we owe more than we produce.
Only 29% of Americans are concerned with, or following, the 2012 election run up and many college students interviewed don’t know who the Vice President is or what countries border the United States. But they’re out there in Zucotti Park and elsewhere demanding their college tuition be paid for by someone else and that wealth be redistributed.
The list of absurdities goes on but time and space constrain me here.
If you doubt that we have become enslaved to a perverse system of priorities re-read the above list. How is it possible that so many Americans are still asleep? Still refusing to face reality? Still thinking that by not looking at the train wreck headed their way it will not impact them?
We are at a crossroad in human history. We can choose consciousness and personal responsibility or unconsciousness and enslavement. But make no mistake about it. Each of us must choose and choose now. For as Dietrich Bonheoffer, German Pastor and Resistance fighter said, “Not to choose is to choose. Not to stand is to stand.”
At this critical crossroad, Choose and Stand. It is the only road that will lead you to personal power and end in a free citizenry.
In the Art of War, ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu sets forth the best strategies for vanquishing an opposing force. One of the foremost principles is to turn the opposition’s strength into a weakness…thereby converting it into your strength. This principle presents us with the key to resolving the personal and global challenges we are currently facing.
Much of what is wrong in our personal lives, and the world in general, has been caused by deceit. The misuse of political, financial and personal power always requires reliance upon deception. Deception can only thrive when obscured. When exposed, deception loses its power. The very deceit that formerly empowered a few becomes an unraveling thread that ends in their annihilation as well as exposure of what was false.
Deception necessitates secrecy. Secrecy requires obscurity. Obscurity is darkness. In order for those who would use deceit to manipulate others they need to operate in darkness, far from the “light of day.”
So there’s the answer.
The death blow for the world’s current immersion into darkness is light. But not just any light: the Light of Creator which has as it two fundamental characteristics Love and Truth.
When we look beyond the circumstances of our personal life, we often think there is nothing a single individual can do to significantly affect the direction of society. In fact, it seems we can barely affect the direction of our own lives.
Neither thought is true.
Whether personal or global, the correction that needs to be applied to the current situation is for each of us to live in Love and Truth. By so doing, by being the manifestation of the Light of Creator, we join together in consciousness and in deed to unmask the false premise that one individual cannot make a difference. In the process, we simultaneously eliminate deceit.
We are at war. It’s a spiritual war between The Light and Darkness. Allow Sun Tzu to guide you in the way of war. Just make certain you know who you are and on which side you stand.
Once that is accomplished, you’ll find the destination becomes clear and the path illuminated.
Glenn Beck was responding to a caller on his morning radio show who asked Mr. Beck’s take on Ron Paul’s superior ability over Rick Santorum to handle the fiscal crisis. Mr. Beck responded with an analogy to Thomas Paine and George Washington. He elaborated that while Paine was vital to the success of the American Revolution vis-a-vis his courageous and inspired writing, the colonists’ efforts could not have ended in liberty without the faith, integrity and ethical certainty that Washington exemplified.
It turns out that Paine was married twice. His first wife died in childbirth a year into the marriage. He then married a second time several years later only to become legally separated shortly thereafter due to a disappointing and disharmonious relationship.
While it is not necessarily true that “behind ever great man there is a great woman,” I would argue that the vital role women have played throughout human history has been all but ignored. The Divine Feminine is within us all as is the Divine Masculine. We are created in the image of God…male and female alike. To revere one while dismissing or denigrating the contributions of the other is to not only deny one half of who we are but also to deny us full access to the total energies and potential for co-creation that is our birthright.
Each aspect of Divinity has its own unique power. Those powers are meant to co-exist in co-creation for the purpose of the highest good for all concerned. Together they are able to accomplish what neither could accomplish on its own.
So, if I could have joined in the conversation Mr. Beck had with his caller, I would have added that while the Nation needed Washington as it needs the integrity, faith and certainty of Rick Santorum… George needed Martha as Rick needs Karen.
As for the larger picture, each of us needs to resurrect the Divine Feminine within ourselves and balance it with the Divine Masculine. Once that is done, we can attract others who are equally balanced and, together, co-create the world of peace we so desperately seek.
Three stories you may have missed.
First, the President of the National Association of Former Border Agents, Zachary Taylor, has made public photographs of mutilation, torture, rape and indication of terrorist connections on the U.S. Mexican border with more to come on our northern border with Canada. He further referenced a possible entry into the U.S. during October 2100 of a weapon of mass destruction (WMD), possibly 4 pounds of anthrax.
Second, Pepe Rojas Cardona is a prominent casino owner in Mexico, where he is suspected of illegally pumping $5 million into political campaigns and allegedly connected to the murder of a competitor. His brothers, Alberto and Carlos Rojas Cardona of Chicago donated $200,000 to President Obama’s re-election campaign. Now, only following a Wikileaks disclosure of this connection, the Cardona brothers are getting their donation back.
Third, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is traveling in Egypt telling Egypt (and the world) that in drafting a new constitution they should look not to the U.S. Constitution but rather the Constitution of South Africa.
If you are focused on your personal financal situation and the economy…wake up! We are faced with challenges that threaten the future of freedom as we have known it in our lifetime…and our very existence.
None-the-less, I’m hopeful. Why? Because as I write this post a decent and honorable man, Rick Santorum, has swept three of three caucus vote wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. In a political environment awash in deceit, corruption and lack of character, Rick Santorum is our best hope to turn the tide of bloated, intrusive government once again in the direction of respect for the individual and nurturing of the free market.
There is no politician with whose policies you will agree 100% of the time. But there is a politician with whom you can have trust in the character of the man. That politician is Rick Santorum. He says what he means and he means what he says. How refreshing that is…and how necessary. It’s necessary because in order for us to regain trust in our nation, we have to start with trust in the people who administer the nation.
I know your personal economic welfare is of importance to you. But it is time that each of us rise above our personal challenges and aim for the highest good for all concerned. If, as I did, you listened to former Senator Santorum’s speech from Missouri after the caucus results were in, you too saw the sincerity and heard the kind of straightforward language we are all in search of.
He has the courage of his convictions. Now, let us have ours. We say we want change for the better. The question remains, “Are we willing, and able, to see it when it’s in front of us?”