How Did We Get So Broken?

“Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of total spending in the economy. If the level of consumer spending is high, the economy will experience high levels of production and employment; the economy will be booming. On the other hand, if the level of consumer spending declines, the level of production and employment will decline; the economy will be in the doldrums. According to Keynesian theory, the most important determinant of consumer spending is the level of disposable income of households. Important non-income factors that affect consumer spending include consumer expectations, the level of consumer indebtedness, and the wealth of households.”

If we are a nation, and not just people living within close proximity to one another, then to me, that implies a certain amount of unity – a family in the loose sense.  The reason for government, it seems, would be to ensure that there is a system for all, and that the system works for the people – all of the people.

The situation that we are in today, is the result of an economic system.  I am assuming that ‘free enterprise’ is free within the boundaries of some general economic system in place to prevent the bankruptcy of the nation.  However, I have to say that I am absolutely amazed that no one involved in the ‘system’ that we have here in this country saw this coming.  I really mean amazed, shocked, astounded – because I can’t see how our ‘system’ as it is, could ever be expected to work.  It seems to me, that it doesn’t even work in theory.

It’s like a monopoly game where one player has managed to buy all of the hotels.  Now, since that player owns all of the hotels, he now decides to raise the rates to an exorbitant amount.  It doesn’t take very long before the only player with any money is the one who owns the hotels.  Unless he now plays with himself and pays himself to stay in his hotels – the game is over.

I remember after about the first year after we declared victory in Iraq I read an article  by a man who said that he witnessed the ‘war games’, that generally precede a war.  In these games he said that all different scenarios are usually played out in order to understand what we are getting into and how we will get out of it.  He said that the problem with these particular games was that there were no real scenarios played out.  All possible outcomes of each action were not played out.  In other words, we were unprepared because we were not willing to risk the possibility that this could not be a wise move.

So, I’m wondering, when all of this deregulation was pursued with such enthusiasm and gusto, and all of these protections were set in place to protect big business, did the heads of the government in charge of finances and whatever economic ‘system’ we have in place, map out the possible direction that these new ‘systems’ could take us?  Because it seems to me that this was much worse than looking at the patriotism, and self-restraint of corporate America through rose colored glasses.  It seems to me, that it was something like taking a bunch of junkies and letting them loose in a heroine den saying only, “We trust you to show restraint”.  Yeah, right, that works.   I don’t understand how a government that felt it necessary to create a ‘minimum wage’, however miniscule that minimum is, did so because it realized that greed could not be self-regulated.

Of course, being on the bottom end of the bottom that is falling out, this situation that we are in is a bit troubling to me.  Still, what I find the most difficult to understand is that it was allowed to happen.  If this is a consumer driven economy, it seems to me that until the consumers can find jobs, affordable healthcare, and then find their way out of debt, then, and only then – at some distant time in the future, one that seems far far away will we once again have the disposable income to again drive the economy.  I only hope that while most of us are too poor today to even drive our cars – let alone drive an economy, the government figures out that giving money to the companies whose addiction to wealth and power put us into this mess, expecting them to then turn around and make things all better is like giving a junkie the cash to repay the mortgage he took out to buy his drugs.

Every road leads to God

We speak about thinking outside of the box, but what we don’t think about is that there is no amount of “Outside of the box” that is outside of God.  When we have an idea – it is God’s idea.  When we think of a new form of worship – it is God’s thought.  Regardless of what we do or what we think of – ultimately, it comes from God.  Even war was not a product of man but of God.  There are many paths to becoming one with God.  Most of these paths have nothing to do with religion, they have to do with gaining understanding, and faith.  One path is fear – through fear we learn that there is nothing to fear in God.  Through the path of loss we learn that there is nothing that can be lost because all is One in God.  Through hatred – we learn that there is nothing and no one to hate because we are all One in God.  Through war and killing we learn the value of life and living.  Through prejudice we learn acceptance.  Through betrayal we learn forgiveness.  All of these paths are paths and lessons created by God with the only intention that we find our way to the truth of what we are and what we have always been.

Once there were two villages that had established a very prosperous trade between themselves each growing the crops that the other needed.  They were wealthy villages because they had the benefit of an abundant stream of water.  Yet, with time both villages began to get greedy, charging higher and higher prices for their goods each trying to outdo the other.  After time passed and this greed escalated, crime ensued.  Each village began hating the other and refusing to sell to them.  This hurt both villages because they needed what the other had, but their pride had grown too great.

They did not notice that while they were entrenched in the battle over their egos, the stream was drying up.  Soon the crops that could be grown could barely feed the people, let alone the livestock and it seemed that all were destined to die out. After generations of only the water that could be caught from the little rain that fell was now taken by a total drought.  One night as the leader of each village slept, there appeared to each, an angel.  The angel told each of the leaders that there was a miraculous healing stream only seven miles from their villages.  Each was told to journey to the stream early because the stream only filled with water at a certain time.

Each man protested to the angel saying that there had been no water in that stream for generations it was now mo more than a barren waterbed.  The angel told the men that God had heard the prayers of the villagers and answered them by filling the waterbed with a healing stream that would not only heal the people, but would provide such nutrition to the fields that their crops and livestock would grow beyond anything ever seen before.

Early the next morning, unbeknownst to the other, each man began his journey to the stream.  As the stream came into sight, each man watched in awe as the water quickly filled the once barren bed to the brim.  Yet, the water was murky and did not look fit for crops, and in no way did it seem fit to drink.  Even worse than that, when they finally reached the stream, they were astounded to see the water already draining back into the ground through the same opening that it had entered.  Seeing the other, each man ran back to his village to gather the villagers so that they would arrive before the other and be ready to fetch all what they needed before the other village could take all of the water.

However, the peasants from both villages arrived at the same time and as the water began to fill the stream, a fight broke out over the water with the inhabitants of each village pushing, shoving and hitting the other.  By the time they noticed the water again, the last drops were already draining from the streambed.  Filled with anger and frustration, the villagers returned home with their buckets and their hopes empty.

That night, the angel returned to the dreams of the village leaders.  This time the angel told them that instead of pushing and shoving each other they should throw stones.  The angel told them that God had placed stones on their side of the stream.  The next morning as the villagers once again reached the stream as it was filling up, they looked down, each saw the stones at their feet and began to hurl them at the other villagers.  To their surprise, the stones never hit anyone but all seemed to land in the stream.

When there were no more stones to throw, the exhausted villagers noticed that the water had become so clear that they could see every stone lying on the bottom of the stream.  Even more miraculous than this, was the fact that water no longer emptied.  Just then a little boy from one of the villages cried out, “Mommy, mommy, the stones…they look like hearts”.  And just at that moment all of the villagers felt their anger, and their hatred drain from their souls.  They each drew from the stream all of the water that they needed and resumed their trading and sharing of resources with a new sense of gratitude.

Our Path To God Can Begin Anywhere

Once upon a time there was a very religious community.  The members gathered everyday to worship God under the guidance of their wise spiritual teacher.  The people were truly God fearing and followed all of Gods’ Laws.  But their leader had a son whose actions troubled the group.

One day the boy, who was four years old, lost his dog.  After searching all day, he sat down in a field crying and as he cried, he noticed a leaf on the ground near his feet.  He happened to be staring at the leaf while he was crying and for the safe return of his dog.  Two days later the dog was returned healthy and happy.  The boy attributed this miracle to the leaf and ran out to the field to find it.  Once he found the leaf he began praying to the leaf every day and carrying it with him wherever he went – he even brought the leaf to bed.

The congregation became concerned by the actions of this child and spoke to his father.  The father simply replied, “It is his path”.  And the congregation went away disappointed.

Soon, the leaf became worn and dry and it crumbled.  The boy was devastated and cried to his father.  His father simply took him back to the field where he found the leaf and said, “Son, look there, that is the tree from which your leaf came, see the thousands of other leaves it also bears, if not for the tree, you would not have had your leaf.  The boy was overcome with awe at the sight of the tree full of leaves and began to worship the tree, going to it and praying everyday with love and thanksgiving for the life of his dog.

Again, the congregation became concerned by the actions of this child and spoke to his father.  The father simply replied, “It is his path”.  And the congregation went away disappointed.

A few months later the tree became diseased and had to be cut down.  And once again the child was distraught beyond consolation.  His father again led the boy to the field and said, “You see this field, this is the field from which your tree and all of these others have come, and it is the field from which your tree grew, from which your leaf grew that saved your dog.  So the boy, once again in awe of the expanse of trees and leaves produced by this field began to lie in the field on the dirt and the grass and pray every day in love and thanksgiving to the field.

Once again, the congregation became concerned by the actions of this child and spoke to his father.  Once again, father simply replied, “It is his path”.  And the congregation went away disappointed.

Shortly after this, the field was sold to a developer who dug up all the trees and covered the field with concrete and buildings.  Now the boy was beyond himself with loss and desperation, there was no more field, so there would be no more trees, no more leaves and no more miracles.  His father calmly took him out into the road and said, “Son, look around you, the earth is covered with fields of trees, with leaves – all come from the earth and the earth comes from God, the Bible says, in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth”.  God is the Source from which all things are born.  It is God who created the earth upon which your field grew, from which your tree grew, from which your leaf grew.  All things come from God and all things contain God in the form of His messengers.  You prayed to the angel in the leaf, who sent your message to the angel in the tree, who sent your message to the angel in the field, who sent your message to the angel in the earth – who whispered your prayer to God – and because God heard your prayer from  the leaf, your dog was returned.  So the boy said, “From now on I will honor God and His Angels by giving thanks to everything and everyone on earth, but I will send my deepest prayers to God who is the eternal Source of all.”

The boy grew up to assume his father’s role as teacher, but his congregation expanded greatly because his journey taught him to understand and therefore teach, that all paths were created by God to lead us Home.

God created the world with enough diversity that every being on it could find something or someone to believe in.  God knew that there is nothing on earth, whether it is a blade of grass, a human being, a mosquito, or a brick of gold that does not contain God.  That there is nothing that man can worship in, in which he does not worship in God.  Knowing all, God knows that all things on earth will pass, all form will give way, and everything with a beginning will also have an end.  But what has no beginning and no end is our search for union with our Source, and no end to our need to know ourselves and from where we have come.  In the same way that God created us to know and experience Himself.  So God places before us a leaf – in which He is, and then a tree – in which He is, or a statue or a book – in which He is, knowing, that so long as we seeking signs and forms of Him in the world that is wholly of Him, we will continue to seek until we find Him – who is in every atom of the Universe and within whom, the entire universe is but a tiny atom.   So when you criticize the beliefs of others as not the right belief, remember that there is no belief that is not created by God and so there is no belief, except a belief in God.  Just remember the leaf.