Living The Good Life Is Not Good In A Starving World

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I remember walking down the street in my fur coat a few years back and having someone ask me if I knew how many minks died for my fur. I stopped wearing fur. I stopped because I did not need it, it was a luxury, it was a sign that I had made it – it was ego food. I understood the question. Now, with the world so small, and the suffering so great – so unavoidable – I wonder if we should not feel the same sense of responsibility that we feel for helpless animals, for helpless humans.

There was a time when your choices were beautiful sparkling diamonds or dull glass. It made some sense, if even in a superficial way, to want a diamond. But today, there are faux diamonds that cost a fraction of the cost and sparkle with equal brilliance – so one has to ask oneself why buy the diamond? What is it’s value in our world today? What if you have a ten thousand dollar diamond, trade it in for a one thousand dollar cubic zirconium and give the nine thousand dollars that you have left to buy mosquito nets for children in Africa? Then your diamond would have value., it would show much more than what you can afford to have, it would show what you are willing to give. Wouldn’t it be cool, rather than wearing a five thousand dollar blouse that says you are filthy rich, wearing a five-dollar tee shirt that says, “The money I planned to spend on a blouse is feeding a village in India”. How cool would you be?

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Bling says to the world, “I am wearing this because I can afford it and I have nothing better to do with it than waste it on show”. Yes, it just does. No one can watch the homeless and displaced, the diseased and dying in this country and around the world and then spend thousands of dollars on things, which announce, “It’s about me”. Not today. Today we don’t need to spend thousands, millions of dollars on precious gems in order to sparkle. We can spend a fraction of that on semi-precious gems, give the rest to those in desperate need and not only sparkle from the gems, but glow from the heart. I believe that today it would be much more satisfying to wear something that doesn’t say “I have made it because I can afford to drip in diamonds” but something that says, “I have made it because I can afford to feed a village”. The oohs and ahhs are much greater today and much more long lasting when you show what you give rather than what you wear.

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If our success in a profession is measured by the amount of money that we are paid, that is ok, if we understand that our true worth is measured by what we give. The point is that there is no need for bling today, it doesn’t look better than faux bling, but trading that bling in for heart does look better. We cannot outlaw bling anymore than we can outlaw fur, but it would be nice to ask someone dripping in bling, “How many children’s bellies could be filled by those earrings?” “How many villages could be educated against AIDS with that ring?” And perhaps, while we are at it, we should ask ourselves how much does it cost to make a house a home, and how many children can we give a home to for the price of a ten million dollar house?

I am not advocating ego denial. I am advocating a sense of satisfaction that not only feeds the ego but also feeds the soul. Trust me, it feels better to give to give to children in Somalia than it does to give to salespeople in Harry Winston, Proving to a child that faith has reason, God is alive and that there are angels is so much more gratifying than the stares you get from sparkling down the street in jewels. And who could honestly say that a tour of a mansion you built could hold a candle to a tour of the hospital you built in a village that has not even seen a doctor. Save a mink, don’t buy fur, Save a child, don’t buy bling.

The nature of human evolution

When I read Shakespeare, Greek mythology, or the writings of ancient philosophers, even ancient spiritual writings I wonder about the real meaning of human evolution.  Long ago, in studying genetics I realized that many of our choices as a group or as a society are not really choices, they are genetic programming designed to insure the survival of the species for as long as it is meant to survive.

Many people are astounded by the number of homosexuals there are today.  Some would say that there were always as many, just not so many out of the closet.  I don’t think that this is true.  I believe that there are many more than ever before and the number will continue to increase.  Today, woman who are attracted to younger men are called cougars, this number too is increasing and the relationships between older women and younger men will increase as time goes on.

In time homosexuality will no longer be an issue that drives politics and religion, and older women with younger men will no longer be stigmatized by a label.  This is because these are genetic directives meant to address the overpopulation of the earth by humans which left unchecked would lead to human extinction.  There are even ancient legends regarding war, telling tales of how the gods used to come down and eat men and women.  Finally there was a truce wherein man promised to fight wars rather than to be eaten by the gods in order to prevent the world from being overrun by humans.

There are many of our behaviors that seem to become epidemic before them become commonplace, evolutionary mutations, so to speak – genetic reprogramming that we are unable to override because to do so would be to cause our extinction.  Older woman and younger men, homosexuality, sexually transmitted diseases that cause infertility, and wars upon wars upon wars – all leading to an inevitable and necessary population decrease.  Whenever there is a societal change of direction – we have to ask ourselves what will be its outcome?  Today the greatest threat to the earth and to our species is not war, it is overpopulation.  Overpopulation causes a greater drain on our resources than anything that we do.  In order to intelligently deal with overpopulation, we would have to deal with the problems of poverty and ignorance, problems that we as a species have not evolved enough to adequately tackle without Divine intervention.

If we were to go back in time, as far back as recorded history permits we would find that man has not evolved into a higher form of human.  Our chimpanzee cousins live in groups in which men form bonds of kinship, and patrol the borders of their territories.  They live in their own little countries and have distinct power structures.  For all apes, it is good to control the most power, to have to most resources and to form alliances that guarantee these things.  Although the males fight each other to show who is the most powerful, more and more research is revealing that behind every chest pounding males is guiding female.  Our chimp cousins have rudimentary tools for building what they need to build and for foraging for food.  They have a number of medicinal plants that they use for wounds or infections.  They do not use words, but through the teaching of sign language we now know that they have the capacity to communicate their desires.  With few exceptions, we have not evolved beyond our ancient ancestors or even our ape cousins.  What we have done I find very hard to label evolution because it is really only an increase in an already existing ability. What we have done is that we have far exceeded all other animals in the making and use of tools to satisfy our basic animal instincts.  We have become technologically advanced apes.  We still haven’t broken off of the family tree and formed our own.  A chimpanzee is not a gorilla, and a gorilla is not an orangutan – but the differences among them, and their differences from us do not amount to enough to move any of us to a new tree.  Yet, I believe that we were and are meant to strive for that.

It is through our ability to connect with the spiritual, with the intangible, with God, love, art, music, poetry and a sense of connectedness with and responsibility for every other living organism on the planet that is the key to true human evolution.   It is not through the left brain that we will evolve, the left brain is basically good for making and improving tools.  It is through the right brain that we have the capacity to reach up and become the meaning of the image of God.  Obviously, man was created with the ability to live as the image of God, loving unconditionally and being caretaker for all life on the planet and the planet herself.  But we clearly have a choice.  God changed Abram to Abraham and thereby changed him from being a man to being a man of God.  Saul’s name was changed from Saul to Paul thereby changing him from a persecutor to a follower of Christ.  If we, can change from being the human race, to becoming the humane race, this could signal our own evolution from the greatest ape – to the image of the God.

Evolution is always building something better upon what was.  The new brain built not instead of the instinctual brain but built from it.  We have instinct and we have choice.  That choice allows us the option of not just perfecting the ability to fulfill our instinctual desires and protect ourselves from our often self-perpetuating fears by designing better tools.  It allows us to rise above those desires and fears and see them for what they are – to use love and compassion in finding ways to eliminate them without fight or flight.  The animal instinct does not transcend me and mine.  The God in us cannot see me or mine as less than the whole.  We only need to be the race of beings that we came here to become.

It is the animal nature to hoard, to become fat before winter.  It is the animal nature to find the richest territory and defend it against all intruders.  It is the nature of the beast to take and to keep and the nature of God to give and to share.  We will be called upon now to show our true nature.  In the end, all that is hidden – even from ourselves will be disclosed.

Matthew 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  12:2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 12:3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:  12:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?  12:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.  12:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.  12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.  12:23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.  12:24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?  12:25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?  12:26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?  12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  12:28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?  12:29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.  12:30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.  12:3112:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  12:33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.  12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more12:54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.  12:55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.  12:56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?  12:57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?

Just as the God gives to the raven so we are given.  Nothing that we have belongs to us it is all given to us as steps in Jacob’s ladder.  We each have been given what we need to shed the animal and become the human.  We are each unique and through our uniqueness we are to find that which we can give to God by giving back to the earth and its inhabitants.  We can only truly say that have earned that which we give to others.  Whatever we have in abundance we must give abundantly.  The signs are all here, the change is approaching.

The world is on the threshold of a new beginning.  It will not be one in which the power of the few rules over the many, but of power in the whole.  It is one of those evolutionary leap times.  Those of us who have felt like mutations throughout our lives will finally see that evolution is only accomplished through mutation.  This “economic downturn” that seems to be the catalyst of change in the world will continue until we all let go of those things of the world that stand between man and God.  Whatever we cling to is our treasure – therein lies our hearts.  It is the end, at least for a millennia – of the world of mammon.  Those capable of giving away what they have hoarded to those in need will make the transition.  Those who cannot let go, will find that it is taken anyway and there will be no place of comfort.  It is the blessing and the responsibility given to man to become the image of God.  It is that image that will shine in the times ahead.  Those who hope to evolve, who see the path to evolution and hear its call must know that the time is now.

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.