Monday, April 27, 2009

Seeking An Internal Life

The world we live in has become very external. People's appearance, possessions, wealth, prestige, fame and power seem to be the primary motivator in their existence. What happened to looking within? The irony is that because of our wealth and because of modern technology we finally have the luxury-at least in industrialized nations in the West-to have time to be more introspective. Unfortunately, it seems we have lost our internal balance and therefore endangered our collective well being. The initial unrest and rebellion that began in the 60's championing individual rights at the expense of the greater good was really an outgrowth of people lacking a fulfilling inner life and trying to find it in all the wrong places-drugs, unrestricted sex, violence-undoing anything that was deemed worthwhile to adults The 70's may have been even more damaging than the 60's as that was when rebellion became more institutionalized, meaning that basic definitions of appropriate behavior or even the basic building blocks of our society were mocked and became more pervasive throughout society rather than being restricted to a small group. Marriage was undermined by changes in divorce law, definitions of femininity and masculinity were confused(androgyny was heralded as the ideal), standards for mental health were radically altered, patriotism went underground, primary institutions that were the foundation of safety and morality were undermined-the military, police, service organizations such as Kiwanis, the Lions Club, churches and especially the nuclear family. Our society no longer wants to be limited by "the norms", rejecting the very things that have kept this country safe and stable for over 200 years. We are now controlled by the opinions of "the exceptions". In other words we are defined by how we feel rather than what makes logical sense. We are governed by individual bodily urges rather than by restraint and what makes sense for the group as a whole.

In my training as a social worker we were taught to look at and value the "Gestalt" or the wholeness of a person, family, community or society. While psychology focused on the individual, social work was supposed to be about considering the whole of life experience. Sadly, even my colleagues have abandoned their search for wholeness to their God of political correctness and their hesitancy to set boundaries. Having an internal life is what yields a satisfying external life. You cannot find fulfillment through ease, permissiveness, shallowness or self absorption. These only lead to greater yearnings and frustration. Wholeness comes from balance, honesty, work, discipline-the boring things your mother or grandmother told you when you were little.

So try sitting still, taking a deep breath, thinking about other people, avoiding rash decisions or new fangled solutions, resist the temptation to believe everything you hear, especially if it is from the news media-study it out in your own mind, use reason, the wisdom of the ages and maybe even try allowing spiritual influences to enter your consciousness-that is if you really want the truth and if you really want a happy, productive and satisfying life.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Deja Vu-King George III and the British Parliament Are Back

We are witnessing yet again how history repeats itself. What has been the number one complaint of citizens across cultures, eras, governing regimes? Unfair tax burdens. It is a sure sign of the ruling body being detached from the people they represent and of becoming too focused on their own needs for power and or riches when they keep demanding more money from their citizenry. It was fascinating watching a talk show a few weeks ago when the commentator asked a more left leaning participant at what percentage point was the tax burden too high-the man really struggled to give a number-finally he blurted out between 45-50%. What a distorted idea that people should expect to give away half of what they earn to their government especially in a free society where they choose the people to represent them. We expect despots and tyrants to economically and emotionally abuse the people in such a way but not in a free society. And just for your information we have reached that unacceptable level. If you combine all of the local, state and federal taxes, "fees" and "assessments"(other words for taxes) you are paying at least in that percentage bracket if not more. What do we do that is not taxed? We have slowly given away more and more and more until finally we have to stop the bleeding and say enough. It is not unreasonable to say we should not have to work to support the government. We are supposed to be working to suppport ourselves and our families.

The mainstream media in America continues to demonstrate their arrogance and bias by scorning the feelings of many Americans in their expression of disgust with our governments ever increasing fiscal irresponsibility. This all sounds hauntingly similar to the things King George and the House of Lords stated about those rabble rousing americans back in the late 1700's. The issue isn't the tea you idiots it is taxation without representation. And yes we are no longer being led by a government that listens to it's constituents. Americans did not elect Barack Obama to raise taxes, bail out banks, corporations and unions but to clean up the greed, graft and business as usual in Washington. Instead it seems that once elected President Obama has allowed Washington to influence him rather than vice versa.

As a nation we are still waiting for a leader-for a person with courage, convictions and integrity to help us navigate tough issues of foreign policy, social and moral disintegration and economic uncertainty. Unfortunately we erroneously believed in and elected an individual who has none of these characteristics even though we hoped that he did. I sincerely hope that voters will be a little more discriminating the next time around and believe what a person has done more than what they may APPEAR to be or what they might say. President Obama is being exactly what many of us feared he would be-an arrogant, leftist and naive man with delusions of grandeur.

So while President Obama sits up in his castle, entertaining dignitaries and enjoying the fruits of our labors with his lavish lifestyle we the the people will rise up and express ourselves like our forefathers did for what is right and good for our country. Kings and rulers come and go but this nation has stayed strong inspite of some of our leaders because we still work hard, pay taxes, go to church, help our neighbors and speak out when our government gets a little too out there. We have our finger on the pulse of what is really going on in this country and if you listen good things can happen. Or you can be like King George and his bloated advisors and assume you know better and wake up wondering what happened without you.

So hats off to all you tea party attendees and the next focus should be boycotting CNBC, CBS, CNN and whoever else refuses to show respect for those of us who are the backbone of this country. If you can't report NEWS then we won't watch and you too seem to have forgotten an old adage-don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Freedom is our country's defining characteristic and out of control taxation is one of the main culprits in restricting our choices. This is about much more than money but about individual rights and responsibilities. No one prospers under a system of entitlements and restricted freedom. We will all lose regardless of what elitist pundits and white tower intellectuals claim. The proof is in the history books-no civilization has prospered when you have taken power from the people and given it too the government-fasicm, socialism, marxism, communism, dictatorships have all been different versions of the same misguided notion-that a handful of people know better than the people as a whole. To stay strong as a country and as individuals we have to return to basic principles of hard work, sacrifice, honesty, responsibility and championing freedom. (See a previous post)