Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Food Insecurity, 2

According to the Monitor, “one in 10 South Americans – about 38 million people – escaped poverty during the past decade. That’s remarkable progress by any measure. Contrast that with the United States, where poverty has been growing due to a decade-long stagnation of income for the middle class. In 2009, the US had more poor people than in any of the 51 years since poverty levels have been estimated.” Wow! And with the exception of the last almost two years, who’s been in charge? And what does that tell you about the focus of those people and who they represent?

“Of course, America’s poor are far better off than South America’s poor. And the US still has a much lower poverty rate (14.2 percent versus around 70 percent.)” But still, the trend line is clearly up for South America as progressive governments have made much social progress, and down for the US, as non-progressive governments have reduced or eliminated commitments to social progress in favor of the magic of the so-called ‘fee market.’

And ‘good news’ Leonard Pitts reported in last Wednesday’s Miami Herald, “an average of 17.7% of all Americans were at times unable to feed themselves” in the past twelve months. “You may be wondering : In what universe does a 17.7% ‘food insecurity’ rate qualify as good news,” especially in this the so-called greatest nation on earth? The good news is that “figure represents a drop from the 18.5% rate at the end of 2009. That means that just under 55 million Americans had to go without food at least occasionally.” You might want to “drop a line to your elected representative and let her or him know you consider it unacceptable that children – and even their working parents – hunger in the richest nation on Earth.” We need to “take the critical first step in becoming a nation where everybody eats,” not just the fat cats; where our compassion and common sense (I mean starving people make poor citizens and starving children probably won’t earn enough to pay our Social Security), rise above our political rhetoric, fear, loathing and need to blame.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Food Insecurity

I’ve been hinting at ranting less and I will, eventually, I hope. But in this the season of what Mary Sanchez calls “national gluttony” [remember when Gluttony was one of the Seven Deadly Sins?] it is “unacceptable that we tolerate a growing number of hungry children.” In classic Federal double speak, the reality of hungry people in this the so-called ‘greatest nation on earth’ is called “food insecurity.” Cool! Food insecurity. I guess calling it that makes it easier for the food secure to ignore it. That’s kind of like changing the name of the War Department to the Defense Department – it just makes everything easier to swallow.

Food insecurity impacts 50 million Americans and means that these people “worry if they or their children will eat that day, or if what they can afford will be adequate.” Yes. And what can they afford? Not the healthy organic stuff. No. What they can afford is the greasy, salty, fatty sugary stuff – fries, coke and a big mac. The greasy, salty, fatty sugary stuff is priced lower, thanks to our Federal taxes subsidizing huge agri-business corporations, than water, fresh fruit and vegetables. Could this have anything to do with the ‘epidemic’ of obesity? Duh!

A Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is now pending in Congress. Will our ideologue politicians and their political terrorist allies, terrorists because Republican Senators and Congressmen are in mortal fear of a so-called Tea Party challenge on the right, so will not do anything vaguely compassionate for fear of being labeled ‘socialist,’ kill this, too?
What is ‘leadership’ about if not standing up for kids? “Passing the bill would help rectify this atrocious statistic: One a typical school day, more than 55 percent of the children who qualify for free or reduced-rice school breakfasts don’t get one.

“We’re a country that wisely demands children must attend school until a certain age. And with No Child Left Behind, we’ve laid down some pretty tough expectations about performance. But it’s doubtful we’ll meet those goals until we also enact No Child Comes to Class Hungry.” Quotes are from Mary Sanchez’ article, “Hunger shouldn’t exist here,” in the Miami Herald last Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bread and Circuses, Reprised

Happy Thanksgiving! In spite of my spate of rants lately, and what is to follow, we DO have much to be grateful for! As always, my purpose is to encourage you not to take our blessings for granted and to understand our degenerating situation as well as how many of our fellow citizens are in distress this year, and to use our blessings as a place to start extending blessings to everyone and everything. Now, bread and circuses.

Two months ago, I did a post on bread and circuses, which I will reprise briefly to relate it to the current Big News Story on privacy, scanning and airport security. Bread and Circuses. When the Roman Republic was crumbling and in the hands of wealthy oligarchy, to distract people from what they’d lost and what the oligarchy was stealing and destroying, the oligarchs and government officials gave the people bread, so they didn’t have to struggle to make ends meet, and circuses in the arena, to distract them. Bread and circuses, bloody circuses, to distract the masses from the important issues of the day.

See any parallels in our day?

We have our own version of Bread and Circuses right now distracting us from the important things like global climate change, energy reform, and political corruption. The distractions, which dominate the so-called news, are trivial by comparison: Privacy vs Airport Security; Sara Palin; Gay Marriage; Big Gov’t vs No Gov’t, the Kardashians, Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton. This is what is in our faces and taking our time, distracting us from talking about the more important things.

Who benefits from this condition? Who wants to keep healthy, decent, caring people distracted, disgusted and dropping out – disengaging from serious discourse and the honest exchange of ideas between compassionate citizens, not voting, and not running for office so people like Michelle Bachman and Christine O’Donnel can run instead? Who likes things as they are and the trajectory things are on? Follow the money. Who’s getting rich? Who’s not? Who’s winning and who’s losing? Bread and Circuses are paying off big time for somebody, is it you?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

American Exceptionalism from Afar

From the Economist in London excerpted in the Monitor, “America has for more going for it than its current mood suggests,” states the editorial. “It is still the most innovative economy on earth, the place where the world’s greatest universities meet the world’s deepest pockets…. It has a flexible and hard working labor force. Its ultra-low bond yields are a sign that the world’s investors still think it a good long-term bet. The most enterprising individuals on earth still clamor to come to America. And it still has a talented president who can surely do better than he has thus far.” How’s that for American Exceptionalism from afar?

A lot of superlatives there, many of them true – for now. We can continue this if we see ourselves clearly, address what needs addressing and stop kidding ourselves. A holistic, integrated, systematic approach is needed. Immigration, health care, energy, tax structure and full employment are not as separate as they seem. Keeping them in silos, walled off from each other, taking gradual, incremental steps is the old, traditional way of doing things. We can’t afford that anymore. Some central convening point is necessary to focus and pull our efforts together for the benefit of the entire nation.

Selfish special interests seemingly unconcerned about the nation or killing the goose that lays the golden egg, thrive on the traditional incremental silo approach. Divide and conquer! It worked for Caesar and every leader since. It’s working now. Have you heard that more than half of Congress are multi-millionaires. How’d they get that way? Did they abuse their positions? Sell out the nation for special interest support?

As the Economist pointed out, we’ve got a lot going for us. Let’s pull together, adopt a holistic, integrated, systematic approach, assert ourselves, pay attention to the flow of money and build a world that works for everyone and everything.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Privitizing Profits and Socializing Costs

Today, I’m mellower, not as angry, not feeling so threatened, not so much the innocent victim, nor as heart broken, and a tad more spiritual. But there’s no doubt I’ll be back to the anger and heart broken innocent victim so enough. I do have some spiritual things to share, but I have one more ‘ranty’ thing to talk about today. It’s in an article by Fred Grimm of the Miami Herald, always a great source of ‘ranty’ things, entitled, “Private prisons the force behind immigrant law?”

I share this with you in the hopes that it will help you awaken and choose differently, but with the belief that it probably won’t matter, or that the people who need to awaken and repent [choose again] do not read this blog.

“The notion of requiring state and local policemen to lock up suspects who have no proof they entered the country legally,” beside fitting in nicely with the Tea Party hazarai [write me and I’ll explain what that words means] “is being pushed by the Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons in 19 states. CCA, according to the company’s own reports, projects ‘a significant portion of our revenues’ coming from locking up illegal immigrants. With national crime rates down and prison populations shrinking, illegal immigration has become a crucial segment for the private prison industry.

“The private prison industry already has plenty of lobbying muscle in Florida. In 2008, House Speaker Ray Sansom (since disgraced, arrested and ousted) [not for this, but for something else] inserted $113 million into the budget for a 2,000 bed private prison, despite the state’s financial crisis. When the prison was finally finished the Department of Corrections didn’t have the prisoners to fill it. The new prison sat empty.

“Lobbyists went to work. Legislation passed last spring required the DoC to move 2,224 inmates into the facility and to guarantee the prison company that the new prison would stay at least 90% full.” This is happening everywhere these private prisons operate and is the hallmark of the whole ‘privatization’ charade – which means privatize profits and socialize costs. This is corporate welfare at its most blatant. Because of the fierce, evil and life-threatening Budget Deficit, your Social Security needs to be ‘fixed’ you need to retire later and get no COLAs, but it’s OK for these corporations to feed at the public trough. I’d rather feed there, but I don’t have any lobbyists, not even any representatives in the legislature or Congress. They’ve all been bought and paid for, already.

Privatization, private prisons in this case, allegedly “save taxpayers money. But a study by the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy released in April discovered ‘simply no data to suggest that’s true.’ What lower costs there may be come from ‘creaming’ taking the less troublesome, less expensive class of prisoners. ‘The private prison industry has no incentive to reduce crime or rehabilitate prisoners. Only to lock up more prisoners.’” Given this, Florida’s, Arizona’s, Texas’ considerable population of undocumented immigrants, no rehab required, must look like a mighty cash crop ready for harvest.”

Thank you, Fred Grimm and John Hall of the Center, and thank you, reader, for waking up, realizing it doesn’t have to be this way and choosing again.

Friday, November 19, 2010

More American Exceptionalism

Before I rant on and share some more ‘bad’ news about our beloved country, I want to assure you and myself, that it is my beloved country. It’s breaking my heart now, because I love it so. Also, from a New Thought, Science of Mind and Course in Miracles perspective, I know that I’m stuck in ego and looking with ego and that I need to shift out of ego – fear, anger and doubt, and look with spirit – love, forgiveness and mindfulness, to free myself from the horror and dread. Having said that, and needlessly struggling to do that, on with the horror and dread! God how the ego loves anger, fear, horror and dread. Mmm mm; bring it on! Let me feed on the carrion.

I already said 18 veterans a day commit suicide. Do you think that number will go up or down? The Monitor says that a report last month on perceived public-sector corruption found that the US had slipped from being the 19th least corrupt nation, to 22nd, behind Chile and Ireland. Wow – behind Chile and Ireland – how’s that for the fools who run around saying, thinking and acting, ‘We’re #1!’? How’s that arrogance working for us?

The Republicans in the Senate, the #1, ‘We’re #1’ sayers, are challenging the President of the United States on the nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. This is the same basic treaty that their great god Reagan endorsed and worked so hard to achieve. Their hatred of Obama, their avowed desire to bring him down at any price, even at the price of our national security, economic and social success, seems to know no bounds. They seem not to understand he’s their President, too, that he’s the President of the United States, who despite their rhetoric, which they now seem to be believing, is an American, was born here, is Christian, is not a ‘socialist’ and does love his country.

In their lust to destroy him, and only God knows why, they seem willing to embarrass the nation before the world and even destroy it. Could this be a new version the Spanish Inquisition in which the body is burned to save the soul? But it’s not fair to blame the Republicans. The real blame goes to the people who vote for them despite their history, especially their recent history. Clinton only abused Monica Lewinsky. The Republicans and their supporters are abusing the nation.

The style, ideas and actions of these people go way beyond Washington, too. The Miami Herald had a story Wednesday with the headline, “’Wage theft’ widens.” According to the article, “Wage theft is when workers are paid below the minimum wage, not paid for overtime, forced to work off the clock, have their time cards altered, are misclassified as independent contractors, or are simply not paid a wage for work performed.” This is the natural result of the dog-eat-dog, I’ve got mine fuck you, ‘free market,’ too much regulation, get the gov’t off our backs and let the market rule attitudes espoused by Republicans and their supporters.

Wage theft was below the radar as long as it impacted immigrant laborers like maids, whores, and gardeners, who could not complain for fear of being sent back. But according to the article it is also becoming prominent in “professional and higher salary jobs, including those in the legal profession, at architecture and accounting firms, public and private schools and in medical fields.” Cool! The equal opportunity promise of the American Dream almost fully realized at last, everybody, or almost everybody, being equally abused. Clinton only abused Monica Lewinsky; the Republicans and their supporters are abusing everybody. How’d you like to have a surgical nurse who’s having her wages stolen, attend you at your next surgery?

Government is a counter-weight against greed, and abuse of people with less power by people with greater power. Perhaps it was funny when Reagan said, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” But thirty years later that attitude has a metastasized into a cancer. Awake! See this, understand it, repent, which means ‘choose again.’ Be responsible and stop dancing to the dirge of fear, prejudice, loathing and hate. We can, together, letting go of the fear and hate, and trusting in spirit, build a world that works for everyone and every thing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Fisher House

Yesterday, we dedicated the Fisher House at the Miami VA Hospital. My wife and I contributed to its construction and worked to raise money, too. The Fisher House, there are fifty three of them around the US and Europe, like Ronald McDonald House, is a place for family of hospitalized vets to stay, at no charge, until their loved one is released. This is a splendid, good thing to be a part of! It’s named after the Fisher family and its Fisher House Foundation which matches money from the local community to build the house. For the beautifully appointed, twenty one room Miami Fisher House, the local community raised $2 million and the Fisher Foundation kicked in the rest.

I was proud to attend the dedication and proud of our support. Being there was a bitter sweet moment. Bitter, because as I said in previous posts, we’re squandering the priceless lives and talents of our military people and their families in almost pointless un-winnable wars. And sweet because, still having done that, some of us have the decency and compassion to repair, the almost un-repairable damage.

The ‘decider,’ the person who blew our quick victory in Afghanistan by invading Iraq, wasn’t there. He’s on a book tour, still seemingly without a clue. But other deciders were there and I pray that they are able to sort out the distinction between supporting our troops and fighting useless, immoral wars. I pray for that and write this for that hoping my fellow deciders will awaken and realize there’s a difference between supporting the troops and wasting them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

American Exceptionalism, 3

I’m a disabled Viet Vet, proud of my service and grateful for the care I’ve been receiving from the VA. I think Viet Nam was a colossal mistake, as have been almost everything we’ve done militarily since with the exception of Serbia and the first Gulf War, but I’m still proud to have served. Nor am I bitter over my service connected disabilities.

This month the, DAV – Disabled American Veterans, magazine said 18 veterans a day commit suicide. 18 a day commit suicide.

It also said that the latest diseases added to the presumptive list (those diseases which are automatically attributed to) Agent Orange and other herbicides used to defoliate the jungles in Viet, Laos and Cambodia will cost $42.6 billion – just the latest diseases added, not including the others already on the list. $42.6 billion and that does not include all the other VA costs.

When a decision is made to go to war and some kind of budget is drawn up, are the costs of fixing broken veterans factored in? The costs of ruined families, divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness, broken and ruined children and suicide?

Oh sure, now-a-days, all our service people are volunteers, so tough shit, right, they knew what they were getting into, right, they knew what the risks were? I was a volunteer, too, and believe me, I had no idea - none. What about the fact that most of these ‘volunteers’ come from the poorest segments of our society with few opportunities so that military service is a step up for them. How many Wharton MBAs are in Iraq or Afghanistan as service people, not as contractors?

We should honor and take care of our veterans and war fighters, it’s truly a sacred obligation. Yet, we must be careful not to confuse honoring and caring for them with supporting misguided wars. The two are not the same. Supporting, honoring and caring for our war fighters is not the same as supporting misguided wars. Not. We do not honor our troops by sending them into harm’s way for no good reason. We support our troops by using them carefully in good causes.

We support our troops by voting intelligently so we get leaders who understand the horror of war, know it is not a video game and will use our military carefully in good causes; who will not lie to us about WMD and who attacked the World Trade Center. Vote for leaders who will not allow the current rampant corruption by the majority of military contractors; and who will seek to accomplish our good ends by means other than war and use war only as a last resort.

We support the troops by getting our heads out of our asses and not making the same foreign policy mistakes over and over – forcing democracy where it is not yet ready to succeed, backing weak and corrupt governments not trusted by their own people, bringing Western Judeo/Christian ideals to primitive, Islamic, tribal civilizations. We support our troops by innovating and finding ways to reduce our dependence on oil, foreign or domestic.

The way we use and support our troops is another example of the malfunction of American Exceptionalism. But please, wake and arise, it need not be this way!

Monday, November 15, 2010

American Exceptionalism, 2

The Truth shall set you free. Is this so even if the truth is ‘negative?’ Even if we don’t want to hear it, or see it, or face it? I think so mostly because if we face the truth we can move on whereas if we’re denying it, lying about it, deluding ourselves and covering it up we’re stuck. Not only stuck, but the energy that might go into moving on and making things better is being squandered on the lies and cover up. Enough!

Is it true that people have to hit bottom before they’ll face the truth? Well, maybe not a complete ‘bottom,’ a total breakdown or bankruptcy, but a bottom somewhere, perhaps in their willingness to lie, keep their heads in the sand, cling to their illusions and ignorance, deny and cover up. They have to hit bottom with that, say Enough! to that, give that up, realize that doesn’t work [if it ever did]. They have to bottom out on the bull shit, say I’ve had enough and am not going to take it anymore, then choose to separate what does work from what doesn’t. It’s not all bad, just as its not all good. Actually, its mostly neutral and we’re the ones that label it good or bad. But we want to keep the baby, we do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

That’s what I’m trying to help myself and you, my readers, do with this discussion of American Exceptionalism, keep the baby, face the truth, and say enough to the ‘we’re #1 bullshit.’ The truth is [to me] that what we’ve been doing as a nation, perhaps for the last thirty years ever since greed became good, hasn’t worked real well, except for a few.
We’ve got to face that truth, free ourselves from the bullshit about why and how it’s not true - that our shit doesn’t stink, and move on. Just stop doing what’s not working and start doing what will work.

Don’t kid yourself; we know the difference, we do know what to stop doing and start doing. No cover-ups, no political games, no winners and losers, just Americans taking responsibility for their decisions and pulling together to build a world that works for everyone and everything. If the world we’re building only works for Americans, both rich and poor [which it clearly doesn’t], destroys flora and fauna and the planet, creates problems in Mexico and other countries, we’re not facing the truth, we’re clinging to our ignorance and illusions and insisting our shit doesn’t stink.

Friday, November 12, 2010

American Exceptionalism

Continuing with the ‘bad’ news of yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor is the latest media outlet to report in its 11/8 issue that Iraq may be preparing a request to retain our troops ‘a bit’ longer. Alright! Wow, we’re #1! Nothing succeeds like success. We’re the best hired gun in town. And why not? These countries don’t have to do anything to get our blood and treasure; we’re just there for them, in a way we’re not just there for our own people. We’re happy to give and sacrifice because they are so appreciative. They need do nothing, just fuck things up and count on us to go in there and bail them out.

My god, you’d think they were American banks, Wall Street, or corporations! There’s no free lunch for you and me, and especially the poor people who need it, too bad for them and us it’s their own fault, after all as John Calvin pointed out, if they were good, god would smile on them. But the biggest banks, corporations, industries, well, alright, they get whatever they need, obviously they’re good and god smiles on them. After all, we have the best government money can buy. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, too, right? I mean after all, if the rich and powerful can’t get what they want, the rest of us be damned, in this the greatest capitalist democracy in the world, what are things coming to?

Shit, I wish that rant made me feel better. It did in a way. But my heart breaks when I see our noble experiment, the US of A, becoming, no being, the very things we really don’t want to be, the very things we wanted to shun when our country was founded and the noble experiment begun. It hurts when I think of us as just another empire doomed to sink beneath the tides of history. I thought we were better than that. Obviously we’re not. Our shit does stink. I’d like us to acknowledge that, that our shit does stink; that we’re just another failed and failing nation state if - if we keep on as we have as if our shit doesn’t stink.

Come on, folks, smell it; rub your face in it; if it looks like shit, smells like shit and makes you want to flush it down, it is shit! But everything that lives shits, so why not us? It’s OK to take a crap, but please, let’s not pretend it isn’t crap or that our crap is golden. As I said two days ago, we can do better. But first we have to quit deluding ourselves and see our shit as shit.

From the Ynetnews in Tel Aviv as reported in the Monitor, “The tens of thousands of documents exposed by Wikileaks portray an awful picture of a brutal American thug,” writes Eitan Haber. “America is under attack [and justifiably so, until we face our shit and start living up to our ideals]. It’s being blasted from every direction. This is the same America that was aiming to teach us a lesson; the same America that failed to understand (and will continue to fail) that war does not work in line with the noble vision of our Biblical prophets…. So what shall happen now? America is America – the world’s lone superpower [tho China and Russia are closing the gap]. Hence, it will continue to slam us, while carrying the banner of morality, justice, and model behavior.”

Is there more than a grain of truth in this? Or should we fall back on the idea that they’re jealous and hate us for our freedoms? American Exceptionalism. That’s the name of the concept. We can use it to build a world that works for everyone and everything, or we can use it to continue as we are building a world that soon will work for no one, not even the rich.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


So here we go, the deadline for the Afghan pullout is now more ‘flexible.’ The part of me that is a war fighter knows that this is the correct, most effective way to go. You can’t beat an ‘enemy’ especially the kind we’re fighting in the Afghan, if they know you’re outta there on a date certain. All they have to do is hold on ‘till we’re gone, which we will be eventually. But just as an aside, the British had an open-ended commitment there and that didn’t work out.

But the peace loving part, or, not so much the ‘peace loving’ part, but the ‘realistic’ part says given Karzai, the nature of the Taliban and the Afghan people, the nature of our own people, the debt crisis here, our inability to deal with the clearly documented corruption in our own military contracting and aid systems, we haven’t got much of a chance of ‘winning’ which by the way, has not yet been defined.

The conventional wisdom says we can’t just leave, that’ll give us a credibility problem [How about if we stay and don’t get anywhere. Will that give us a credibility problem too?] and need to save face, so if this ‘flexible’ exit date is a bargaining position, all well and good. But if it’s for real and I fear that it is, the best thing we can do is define victory, declare it soon, save lives, take our money back and spend it here on education, infrastructure and clean energy industries. Unfortunately, much as I favor a both/and approach, winning and taking care of things here, the Afghan situation seems to be an either/or situation. Either we spend our blood and treasure there or here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Burning Bodies to Save Souls

Now in all this writing about intentions, I’ve been thinking and talking about ‘good’ intentions, not ‘evil’ ones. A person can have the intention of winning no matter what; Hitler and Stalin come to mind. Yet, ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ the intention setting process is the same. Some people can look at the deaths of millions, the destruction and perversion of dreams and ideals, and calmly accept them as necessary and congruent. The Inquisition burned bodies to save souls. In Viet Nam we burned villages to save villagers. Two examples of an ‘evil’ intention in which means and ends are perfectly congruent – fighting fire with fire we like to say as we “man up.” Jesus said, “the Lord makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.’

But I can’t just leave it that way and I don’t think Jesus wanted to either. We can make better choices. We’ve learned to stop burning bodies to save souls, but we’re still burning villages to save villagers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and soon will be in Yemen or Iran. Maybe we can also learn to have our intention to bring peace, prosperity and democracy to the world more congruent and use peace, prosperity and democracy to build peace, prosperity and democracy, instead of using war. I’ll bet we could, I really think we could.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Intentions & Goals

The difference between intentions and goals is similar to the difference between process and product. Intentions are process, they emphasize the journey more than the destination, while goals are products, more concerned with bottom line results than how those results are achieved. Means/ends is a similar distinction. Both are important; obviously one can’t have a journey without a destination or ends without means. They must be congruent; one can’t actually achieve ‘good’ ends by ‘evil’ means, tho it often appears as if the world works this way.

Yet, the difference between intentions and goals is less clear and more subtle than the difference between process and product. I perceive intentions as goals more broadly conceived and held in an inclusive, holistic, metaphysical context, with preferences for process, means and journey included. Means and ends, journey and destination, product and process are not artificially separated with intentions. With these aspects more or less aligned in intentions, one experiences less conflict. In fact setting intentions involves taking means and ends, journey and destination, product and process into consideration, integrating them and making them congruent.

This is the both/and approach I’ve posted about before. It’s not either profit or the environment, but both profit and the environment. They need not be traded off against one another, need not be mutually exclusionary. That they so often are, points to areas of opportunity. Mutually beneficial outcomes, a world that works for everyone and everything, is possible. Either/or thinking is of the ego, the thinking of a lonely frightened entity, cut off from Source. Both/and thinking embodies connectedness and the possibility of mutually beneficial outcomes. Setting intentions embodies that kind of thinking and connectedness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Back to Intentions

Now there’s an if/then aspect to this shadow work and indeed to setting intentions in general that I’ll call the shadow of the shadow. In earlier posts, I said that the if/then proposition was a set-up for failure and unhappiness; that it sets up an equation that says, if I get what I want, then I’ll be happy, or successful, or whatever. In the case of intentions, the if/then proposition says I can only be happy if my intentions are achieved. It’s important to be aware of the if/then proposition shadowing intentions.

Happiness comes from the inside out, it might be greater or lesser if my intentions are achieved, but it is not dependent on achieving them. Happiness arises from a choice to live from the place of connection with Source, not from accomplishing things.

Besides, intentions are not goals with a fixed, measurable aspect. Intentions can make me happy, are alive and well, as long as I’m alive and well. Intentions emanate from Source, not ego. As long as I stay centered in Source and open to It and build intentions from Source like - living in such a way that builds a world that works for everyone and everything, including myself - then my intentions are intentions, not addictions, they are alive and well and I can be happy. But if I say I must build a world that works for everyone before I die, that I’ll go to hell if I don’t, then not only will I not be happy, I’m addicted, deep in pain, fearful, frustrated and constantly angry.

Friday, November 5, 2010

American Elections

I know in my head, that if I feel I ‘have to’ do something or ‘must do’ something I’m with ego and addicted. After all, this is what I’ve been blogging about recently. Well, I’m with ego and addicted ‘cause I feel like I ‘must’ talk about the recent elections. I’m trying to stay centered in Source and have faith that all of what seems so ‘evil’ and ‘wrong’ to me is going someplace ‘good;’ and I’m having a lot of success with that. I’m not as mad as often. But when I read the paper, watch or listen to the so-called ‘news,’ I let myself rush into anger, fear and victim-hood.

So part of my healing and moving on is writing this. One of the things that I allow to get me most is this talk, mostly from the Republicans about ‘the American people.’ This bothers me on two levels: the factual and the process. Factual first [the following numbers are approximations, not meant to be exact or precise, but rather to give a ‘feel’ for the actual numbers]. The facts are that of those eligible to vote, perhaps 200 million in a population of 330 million, only approximately 100 million registered to vote. Of those, only 40 odd percent actually voted, say 40 million people, and of those, slightly more than half, say 20 million people, in only slightly more than half of the Congressional districts, 220 to 193, contributed to the so-called Republican ‘tsunami’ and ‘landslide,’ and ‘mandate.’

Do those numbers warrant being called, the ‘American people?’ The fact seems to be that the ‘American people’ sat out this election and want nothing to do with voting or our so-called ‘democracy’ as presently constituted. We have 20 million people that voted Republican, winning slightly more than half of the Congressional districts they voted in.
Hardly the American people, a mandate, tsunami [don’t you love how that word is so pop now?] or landslide. Yet, inaccurate as those words are, that’s all we hear in the ‘lame street media.’

Which brings me to the second source of the aggravation I allow myself to feel: the media. It feels very hypocritical to find myself criticizing the media and the Supreme Court, as I’m old enough to remember that it was the Goldwater Conservatives and the western/southern branch of the Republican Party during the sixties and early seventies that specialized in this lament, tho Sarah Palin and her friends also use it when it suits them. Its kind of ironic and humorous, but I guess turn around is fair play.

Why do the ‘facts’ that I sited above, go unreported? Worse, why, not only are the facts not reported, but deliberately ignored and misrepresented? There’s always been a tendency to do this. Think about how the media led us frothing at the mouth for victory and righteous, truth, justice and the American way into the disaster of Iraq. But it seems much worse and much grosser, with much more serious consequences, now. Who decides what constitutes the so-called ‘news?’ And who decides what language to use to describe it? I blogged about this awhile back, but I guess I didn’t get it out of my system yet.

So, when I hear from the media that the ‘American people’ have spoken and the Republicans have a clear mandate, I allow myself to get very pissed. I know I’m with ego and addicted, but in spite of that, I really don’t see why we can’t get the facts more often, and less of whatever it is we get that passes for facts and news. Clearly, we do get some facts, otherwise where would I have gotten the numbers I used, but more facts and less spin would be healthier and contribute more to a world that works for everyone and everything.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Intentions 4

I’m not saying all the intentions we are in conflict with come from outside influences and authority figures. Most do, but a large number have been developed on our own and codified in the form of rules, ethical codes, standards and the like. Once appropriate and useful, conflict arises as we begin to see that these no longer serve. Looking at them is just as painful and time consuming as looking at the ‘outside’ influences. Tho claiming our loyalty and allegiance and are often what we think is best, most vital and worthwhile about us, the things we ‘stand for’ and are proudest of, these intentions can create our greatest problems and cause us to sacrifice parts of ourselves, relationships, compassion and love in the name of ‘principle.’

Such strongly held intentions are not really intentions, but addictions. If you would step over your grandmother for the President, as Charles Colson said and did, tho he is now born again, if you must do it because it’s the right thing to do and Jesus wants you to do it, its an addiction, not an intention. You’re being arrogant and putting words in God’s mouth. Source doesn’t work that way, ego does.

Addictions of heart and mind and soul, tho seemingly right and the best and brightest can have their roots deep in pain, suffering, anger and fear. Look at these and see if you can’t hold them more lightly and convert them to intentions. A lot of the pain, suffering, anger and fear that anchor addictions, keep us addicted and in denial that we are in fact addicted, come from things that once were intentions and are now frequently dark and in the dark, seemingly with ‘personalities’ of their own that don’t want to be disturbed or looked at. Carl Jung called these the “shadow,” the parts of ourselves – intentions, concepts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, we have suppressed, cut off and rejected.

Bringing this shadow into the light – thinking about it, clearly, without guilt or judgment, and reintegrating it – accepting it with compassion and gratitude, is how to best work with it and reclaim the energy that is both used to suppress it and inherent within it. This is work, but its spiritual work worth doing, with a big pay-off. So here’s another intention I’m setting: I bring my shadow into the light and reintegrate it on an ongoing basis as opportunities arise to do so.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Intentions 2

Having an intention is a way to combine having a goal and not having a goal. An intention is more open, wider and spacious, less narrow and specific and time-bound, more preferential. My intention is to live in a such a way that my life contributes to a world that works for everyone.

We hear two things about intentions: the road to hell is paved with good intentions and, your good intentions are not enough. The second idea antidotes the first. If I have only good intentions and do not act in accord with them, I’m on the road to hell. The intention is merely a framework that I honor with my thoughts, feelings and behavior. Intentions allow me to be gentle with myself and others, more forgiving. If whatever I intended doesn’t get done this minute, no sweat. There will be another minute, and another after that. With intentions I can come from a centered, spiritually connected place, realizing my identity doesn’t depend on what I accomplish, when.

Intentions create less stress and encourage a longer time frame, a greater more compassionate and inclusive vision allowing me and others to bring their full attributes, skills and talents to bear. With preferences, perfection is a process, not a result, and failure is not an option because failure only happens when I say I’ve failed and give up. Preferences enable me to see that there are more ways to skin a cat than I may be aware of in a given moment, and that if I stop, take a break or pause, without judging myself and others a ‘failure,’ new and better ways to proceed will be revealed.

Intentions are life scale, about the purpose and meaning of my entire life, not about what I’m going to do this weekend or with this job or relationship. When I look at this weekend, job or relationship in the context of my intentions, my life’s purpose and meaning, deciding and choosing are richer, more enjoyable, and more effective. Intentions put me in charge, make me responsible and enable me to stop being a victim. They are MY intentions, I set them and I can change them.

Trouble with intentions comes when they’re not mine, when they’re somebody else’s; when I’ve adopted them unconsciously and uncritically and my actual life experience conflicts with them. My parents, church, ethnic group, political party, work organization all have intentions for me. If they’re in line with my own, what life has taught me, and what I’ve come to understand of spirit, metaphysics and reality, all well and good. If other people’s intentions that I’ve internalized are out of alignment with my own deepest intentions and preferences, I experience conflict. To the extent that this conflict remains unconscious and I fail to take responsibility for it, I blame, become angry and hurt myself and others. But if I find myself blaming, being angry and hurting myself and others, take responsibility for that and look inward, I may be able to resolve the conflict.

Where are your own intentions and preferences in conflict with those of your parents, church, ethnic group, political party, and work organization? What can you do to resolve the conflict, and if you’re angry, blaming and hurting yourself and others, what would happen if you paused, took a moment and realized how nice it would be to stop doing that and experience that life does not have to be that way?