Are you one of those who may have ruined Thanksgiving for thousands of people across America?
Did you actually go out and shop on Thanksgiving? Did you actually swap the opportunity for a family gathering, or a longer family gathering, in order to gobble up whatever “bargains” you could find at your friendly (but not family friendly) Big Box Store?
I mean, really. Did you?
Because if you did, you are among the reasons why more and more major American retailers than ever before required their employees to work last Thursday, having decided to open their doors on the day before “Black Friday” and its usual calamity of gluttony.
In case you don’t remember (or never knew), “Black Friday” got its name contemporarily from being the day that many businesses moved their accounts for the year from the red into the black. Merchants put everything but the kitchen sink on sale at very low prices to clear their shelves of stock and clear their books of loss.
A fairly recent “tradition,” it took on its name in a more widespread way somewhere in the mid-1970s, when stores not only put stuff on sale, but began opening their doors earlier and earlier on this day. Most recently, this trend has seen stores opening at 5 a.m., and then 4 a.m. — and now, in the most egregious grab for profits ever seen even in a country wallowing in consumerism, the evening of Thanksgiving…
…and in some cases, at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
Some of the major retailers that decided to open their doors — and invite employees to leave families and friends in order to work — on Thanksgiving this year were: Walmart, Target, K-Mart, Toys ‘R Us, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Office Max, Sears, JCPenny, Gap, Old Navy, Best Buy, Banana Republic, Staples, and Michael’s.
I hope that none of you — not a single one of you — helped those stores to justify doing the same thing again next year by shopping there this year on this holiday. Did you know that the United States is the only advanced country in the world that doesn’t guarantee that all workers get paid vacation time?
How much farther are we as humans willing to go in quest of Bigger-Better-More? Is nothing to be sacred? Not even traditional family times — which are becoming fewer and farther between as it is?
I hope none of you shopped anywhere on so-called Black Friday, either. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have taught huge money-grubbing corporations a lesson about what humanity values most?
Some of the companies listed above tried to get out of the obvious horrible “p.r.” rub-off of inviting workers to be at their stations on Thanksgiving by saying that their employees were excited and happy about the extra hours for extra pay. But when you’re making Walmart level salaries, that’s understandable. Throwing someone a log in the middle of a raging river is better than throwing them a rock. But why put them in the middle of the raging river in the first place? Oh yes, of course. Profits.
I love the note that the general manager of a Pizza Hut in Elkhart, Indiana wrote to his superiors when he refused to keep his local store open (and his employees working) on Thanksgiving. He claims to have been ordered by his boss to write a letter of resignation, but instead wrote a letter telling the “higher ups” why Pizza Hut should remain closed on the holiday.
The man, Tony Rohr, had worked at Pizza Hut for 10 years, working his way up to his management position. He said that Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only two days of the year that Pizza Hut was traditionally closed, and that he was not going to take one of those two guaranteed holidays away from his employees.
When he didn’t write a letter of resignation, he said that he was fired outright. The Indiana management says that he resigned. However the incident is framed, it backfired hugely on Pizza Hut when Mr. Rohr’s letter went viral on the Internet.
The national Pizza Hut office quickly back-peddled from the position taken by its Indiana franchisee, saying it had made a serious error in judgment, and strongly recommending that it keep the store closed on Thanksgiving (as with most Pizza Huts nationwide), and further, offer Mr. Rohr his job back. The Elkhart store quickly did both.
What I love in Mr. Rohr’s letter was his closing comment. Said he: “I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company. I hope you realize it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.”
The people at the top of the corporate ladder probably did not go into work on Thanksgiving, nor probably even on the day after, preferring to take a long holiday weekend. But then, when you’re making two million dollars or more a year to make the decision to keep your stores open on the holiday, I guess you can afford to do that…
(Mr. Rohr had not decided at this writing whether to accept the invitation to have his job back. Pizza Hut is owned by Yum! Brands, one of the world’s largest fast food restaurant companies, with 40,000 stores worldwide. It also owns KFC and Taco Bell, as well as WingStreet restaurants.)
A friend and I have been doing things together twice a week for almost ten years. We enjoy our time together, and have many things in common, but that’s not the problem. My problem is that I always drive, because she doesn’t, and she has never once offered to pay me for gas. Until recently that wasn’t an issue, because the places we like to go are in her area, but I am on a fixed income and would sure like to keep costs down for me, and there are things much closer to me that I could go to, instead of by her. How do I tell her?
W.H. in Wisconsin
The simple answer, W.H., is tell her exactly what you just told me! You’ve given no indication that she is abusive or unreasonable, which probably means that she has likely fallen into the habit of letting you pay. Is it possible that when this arrangement began you consistently told her it was your pleasure, or no problem, or you liked doing this? Sweetie, if you don’t speak up, you will never know if there really is a problem! It could be that she is very willing to pay, just doesn’t know circumstances have changed for you.
Your predicament is a microcosm of a much larger social problem, of course. We are encouraged to give, but not told why. The “why” is because this life isn’t about us, it is about how our lives touch and improve the lives others. (Put very simply , of course) What we aren’t really told these days, is that all benefits must be mutual. The mutual ultimately boils down to the joy of giving, but being the human beings that we are, it often takes something a little more concrete to demonstrate mutuality. For sure it means that one person can not take advantage of another. When generosity is abused the energy of the relationship changes, and we feel it.
Then comes the next predicament. We are also told that we have to be nice. We are encouraged to avoid conflict. We are fearful that other people won’t like us. None of these things are necessarily wrong, until they stop us from being true to ourselves. When we stop being true to ourselves, W.H., we also stop giving from our joy, and our giving becomes tainted.
When our giving no longer comes from our joy, as is demonstrated in your case, it effects relationships. Your friend, W.H., has no way of knowing that something has changed unless you tell her. Chances are she suspects, by your behavior, or some subtle changes in you, but she can not really know until you tell her your truth. I suggest you tell her very gently, but directly, that your circumstances have changed. Don’t just stop doing things with her and go to places closer without giving her a chance to give back to you. Who knows, she may have been hiding information from you about her finances or other things, and may wish to talk to you, too. This one thing may actually open up a whole new avenue of communication between the two of you.
We just never know where standing in our own truth, even in seemingly simple things, will take us!
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
An additional resource: The CWG Helping Outreach offers spiritual assistance from a team of non-professional/volunteer Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less. Nothing on the CCN site should be construed or is intended to take the place of or be in any way similar to professional therapeutic or counseling services. The site functions with the gracious willing assistance of lay persons without credentials or experience in the helping professions. What these volunteers possess is an awareness of the theology of Conversations with God. It is from this context that they offer insight, suggestions, and spiritual support during moments of unbidden, unexpected, or unwelcome change on the journey of life.
I believe that one of the secrets to a more loving world is empathy. Being able, even for just a second, to put yourself in another’s shoes in even the smallest way will enhance our feeling of Oneness while decreasing the amount of judgment we all encounter in our daily lives. It will increase our level of acceptance and tolerance and diminish the sense of superiority that allows us to justify the harmful way that we treat others at times.
Some kinds of empathy are easier to get in touch with than others. When someone’s family member or beloved pet transitions to the “spirit world”, most of us can empathize with the sense of lose that is felt. We have no problem empathizing with those who experience great joy and happiness at the birth of a child or the promotion they’ve been waiting for or the pride that swells in their heart seeing their child perform in the kindergarten play as the third hippopotamus or score that first goal in a football or soccer game.
But there are other kinds of empathy we seek to avoid, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Empathy for things we have deemed “evil” or “wrong” or “bad” is often not something we are consciously willing to allow ourselves to feel. We seem to think that if we can empathize with a murderer or a rapist or an abuser or a thief that part of us becomes a murderer, rapist, abuser or thief. This is not a comfortable feeling for us: we want to think of ourselves as “better” than that, as more spiritually aware, as more “saintly” or more “pure” or simply as a decent human being. We don’t want to admit that we are the same as, that we are One with, those whose faces are plastered on the evening news or are put into jail or even executed for their actions.
Throughout the Conversations with God material, God says that man, in relationship to God, is just as a drop of ocean water is to the ocean: the drop of water is the same as the ocean, differing only in degree. And the same is true of empathy: we have all felt the same feelings that motivate murderers, rapists, abusers and thieves: we just have not felt them to the same degree, therefore the resulting behaviors are different. I realize there are other factors governing behavior, including beliefs, past experiences (whether remembered or not), level of maturity (emotional and spiritual), etc. This is not an attempt to make a direct and exclusive cause and effect connection between feelings and actions. It’s an attempt to demonstrate that we are all more alike than most of us want to admit.
Have you ever gotten so frustrated with your child that you said something like “You are so stupid sometimes!” or “Stop being a spoiled brat!” or reached out and slapped their hand or their backside? Then you’ve done and felt, in a small way, the same thing a child abuser does and feels.
Have you ever gotten into an argument with your spouse/partner and started scream at them “I hate you! You are such as idiot!” or thrown something across the room, not even in their direction or simply not spoken to them for days at a time because you were so angry? You’ve behaved, to a lesser degree, just like an abusive partner in a domestic violence situation.
Have you ever been driving down the street and flipped off a driver who cut you off or laid on your horn at someone who didn’t go as soon as the light was green or got as close to someone’s back bumper as you could without hitting them because they did something to anger you? You’ve acted, in a small way, like someone with road rage.
Have you ever found a $10 bill lying on the ground in the grocery store and just picked it up and put it in your pocket? Or, knowing you were out of bandaids at home, and you’re sitting in an exam room waiting to be seen by a doctor, you open a cabinet and pocket a dozen bandaids? Or you’re walking though a grocery store and you’re so hungry your stomach is growling so you pop a few grapes in your mouth or a piece of candy from the bulk foods bins? Have you ever called in sick when you weren’t and gotten paid for it? Ever called a friend to punch you in on time cause you were running late or, if you still fill in time sheets, ever pad your time sheet with 15 minutes here and there? Have you ever surfed the internet while at work even though your company policy doesn’t allow it? You have, in a small way, acted just like a thief.
Have you ever bought a mouse trap, knowing it was going to kill the mouse it caught? Or have you ever killed a whole lot of mosquitoes or house flies or spiders that were infesting your house? Have you ever struck someone in anger or frustration or even pain? Have you ever driven home when you had had too much to drink? Then you have, in a small way, behaved just like a murderer.
Have you ever intentionally scared someone you knew hated being scared just to laugh at their reaction? Have you ever held someone down and tickled them even if they were yelling, “No! Please stop!” Have you ever given your partner the silent treatment because they didn’t want to be physically intimate and you did? Then you have, in a small way, behaved just like a rapist.
Have you ever forgotten, even once, to provide food or water to a pet? Have you ever forgotten, even once, to pick up your child from a friend’s house or from an after school activity? Have you ever, even once, had to backtrack because you forgot to drop your child off at the sitter or at daycare on your way to work? Then you have behaved, in a small way, like child or animal abusers.
When you’re watching shows like the “American Idol” audition episodes where they make fun of some of the contestants for their abilities or the way they dress or their behaviors, do you laugh and join in from home? Have you ever made fun of someone because of their weight or what they look like? Do you use the word “gay” to mean the same thing as “stupid” or “ridiculous”? Do you ever call someone a “retard” or a “bitch” or any other derogatory term in anger? Then you have behaved, in a small way, just like a bully.
But, I can hear you saying, those are not the same thing as being a murderer or a rapist or an abuser or a thief or a bully!
And you are correct! It’s not the same…anymore than a drop ocean water is the same thing as the ocean….
Did you know that there are approximately 30 high schools located in the U.S. whose mission it is to enroll students committed to being abstinent from alcohol and other drugs and working a program of recovery? These recovery high schools understand that in order to create and sustain long-lasting positive change in these young adults’ lives, their recovery process must be supported by an environment which nurtures those choices and continues to provide ongoing peer mentoring and social acceptance.
Did you know there is an entire educational movement called Unschooling? According to Allen Ellis, 23, a former Unschooling attendee, “Unschooling is an exciting alternative to contemporary schooling that empowers students to create their own education. Much like homeschooling, families are free to explore opportunities outside of the public school system, and even outside of the curriculums that many homeschoolers use. Unschoolers pursue their interest of the moment, and in the process find their passions of a lifetime. Conversations with God, Book II talks about a new education system which is based on the values of awareness, honesty, and responsibility; a system that teaches the student to think critically, come to their own conclusions, and gives them a sense of “unlimitedness.” Unschoolers have been doing this for decades in our modern era, and humanity has been doing this in a sense for our entire history. Babies “unschool” themselves in learning how to talk and walk: Unschooling families simply let their children unschool the rest of life, too.”
Did you know that there are approximately 1,000 schools located throughout 60 countries in the world which operate under the Waldorf Education model? This program is an extraordinarily unique educational experience which, according to their website, “Is based on a profound understanding of human development; provides a detailed, richly artistic curriculum that responds to and enhances the child’s developmental phases, from early childhood through high school; cultivates social and emotional intelligence; connects children to nature; ignites passion for lifelong learning; and is the fastest growing educational movement in the world. For the Waldorf student, music, dance, and theater, writing, literature, legends and myths are not simply subjects to be read about, ingested and tested. They are experienced. Through these experiences, Waldorf students cultivate a lifelong love of learning as well as the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities to be individuals certain of their paths and to be of service to the world.”
Of course, these three examples are only a handful of some of forward-thinking, mold-breaking, sameness-shattering groups of people on our planet who are no longer accepting status quo as good enough for the youth in our world. It’s not difficult to follow the dotted lines and grasp the idea that each next generation becomes humanity’s next decision-makers. So if we want to keep seeing more of what we have now, I guess it makes perfect sense to continue siphoning our children through the same narrow educational funnel that we currently filter them through. But if we are expecting different results, if we are looking to experience some truly significant changes not only in the way our society functions, but in the way it thrives, isn’t it time to at least consider a different approach to our educational system?
But what does that different approach look like? What kind of educational system will the masses embrace if it doesn’t sustain itself on a platform of students memorizing dates and achieving 4.00 grade point averages and sitting in overcrowded classrooms and filling their heads with arbitrary facts in order to pass “standardized tests” which are taught by underpaid teachers?
The news is saturated with daunting stories of bullying, teen suicide, school shootings, teen pregnancy, rampant drug use, eating disorders, drinking, depression, and social anxiety. Aren’t these painful symptoms enough for us to collectively stand up and declare that the way we are currently doing this clearly isn’t working? How many more bricks do we need to hit us in the head before we are finally willing to try something different?
Will there ever be a day when the God of each individual person’s understanding will be allowed in school? Will discussions about spirituality ever be as commonplace as saying the Pledge of Allegiance? Will students ever be able to engage in the kinds of conversations we here on The Global Conversation enjoy, conversations about God, about Life, about Who We Really Are? Could this be the biggest missing piece of the puzzle, the freedom and opportunity for our children to express their deepest thoughts and to hear, really hear, the deepest thoughts of their peers in an environment which creates the space for them to do so? Can we imagine a framework which operates not in the spirit of obtaining sameness or achieving conformity, but in the spirit of developing spiritual awareness and experiencing love without conditions, a system which creates real choices and true freedom?
Could this ever work?
Are we willing to even try?
(Lisa McCormack is a Feature Editor at The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
Thoughts are creative.
“Does this mean all of our thoughts? Every single thing we think, every minute, all day long?
No. And it is important to understand this. Otherwise we’ll wind up making our-selves crazy, trying to monitor every single thought that runs through our mind.
And that is an interesting phrase: “runs through.” If a thought “runs through” your Mind, it does just that. It runs through.
MOST thoughts DO that. They run through our mind like water through a sieve. Such thoughts have very little creative power. They’re moving through our Mind too quickly to build up enough energy to impact physicality.
It is only those thoughts that stick in our Mind that have power. What gives our thoughts power is the repeated thinking of them.
This places energy upon energy, building it up until it really MATTERS. That is: energy becomes physical matter.
SO!!!… if you notice that an idea is running through your Mind that you don’t like…. DON’T GIVE IT A SECOND THOUGHT. I mean that literally!
It’s your second thought that gives it power. (To say nothing of your third, fourth, and fifth thought.) If you repeatedly think something, you can be sure that you are magnifying its power.
This is the same thing as a thought being held in Mind not only ONCE… but by A LOT OF PEOPLE at the SAME TIME. This, too, magnifies the power of thought.
That is why collective prayer works.” Neale Donald Walsch.
Cravings, urges, compulsions, and obsessions are nothing more than our minds giving second, third, fourth, fifth etc… thoughts to an idea that should have just ran through our mind. When we can harness the power of recognizing a thought that no longer represents who we say we are, and make a decision not to pay attention to it, we remove energy from the negative and turn it into a positive.
And it is what we are Be-ing that is so very important in our existence here. Most of us think we are doing sobriety and that can indicate that sobriety is only a temporary state for us. When we decide it is our state of BEING, it becomes a permanent character attribute, one that we should wear on our sleeves so to speak.
Creating successful transformations from any patterned behavior requires an initial period of discipline before the newly chosen behavior becomes the norm. We perform regular functions so often, many times we find we do them without even thinking about them.
This is what I have found to be true of recovery. In the beginning I would entertain thoughts of using. What kept me from acting those out? I was also learning new behavior at the time. The new behavior I was learning was to seek help with my thinking problem. Sharing with other like-minded people, that I was having these thoughts, removed the power from them.
Over time, many months to over a year, the thoughts of using drugs or alcohol became less and less. To the point where, I can honestly say, I do not think about that anymore — ever. I am keenly aware, however, that the absence of cravings or obsession does not make me somehow “fixed” of my addictive nature.
You can see why a program of recovery from addictive or compulsive behaviors suggests that a person go to meetings on a daily basis. When we place our-selves in the rooms with other like-minded people, we are not only building energy upon our new sober thinking, but we are using the collective thoughts of the group to strengthen our resolve.
In order to manifest your hearts desires you must follow some simple steps.
- You must believe it is possible.
- You must acknowledge you are capable of creating it.
- You must set your thoughts in motion to creating this.
- You must be disciplined in keeping your mind focused on the task.
- Keeping in mind there is no such thing as time; remember to be grateful that what you wish already exists. In the program we call this “acting as if.”
Many times we allow our impatience to sidetrack us from our goals. We tire of all the work and no apparent movement towards our respective task. Ultimately, we give up and say things like, “oh well, it just wasn’t meant to be.” I call hogwash on the concept of “meant to be.” If some things are “meant to be”, then, others would be “not meant to be.”
If that is the case then we really do not have free will and we are simply the pawn in some sick twisted game being played out by a higher life form. If you believe the latter, you may want to ask yourself; what would the purpose of physicality be for the creator of all of this?
I am aware of the challenges of being disciplined in our thoughts. Negativity can creep in and take way our momentum. I find a few things can help to keep us on our path.
- Having a vision board
- Having an accountability buddy
- Being involved in a group of like-minded people.
- Starting the day with a reminder that what you wish is already in existence
- Ending the day with thanks for the experience of the journey
- Taking at least one action per day towards your goal
These are just a few of the ways we can remain true to our commitments. If you have others please feel free to share them in the comments section below. What works for you? What hasn’t worked? How can we support you? How can you support us?
(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional and auriculotherapist. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery and also co-facilitates spiritual recovery retreats for the CWG foundation. You can visit his website here for more information. To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@TheGlobalConversation.com)
Much is being made about the so-called “nuclear option” that has been taken by the members of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate, who last week abruptly changed the rules of debate for the first time in many generations in that lofty institution, removing the ability of rival members of the Republican party to block certain appointments placed before the Senate by the White House for confirmation.
Previously, members of the minority party in the Senate could slow down, or completely hold up, an up-or-down vote on a nominee for appointment (to a judgeship, for instance, or a high level government position) sent over by the President — which affirmative vote is necessary for the appointments to go through and become official, because of the advise and consent function of the Senate that it built into the U.S. political system.
Under the long-standing rules under which the Senate operated until late last week, the party of the minority could filibuster any nomination, extending debate interminably and thus effectively blocking any action, any forward movement whatsoever, on the appointment, because the old rules called for a 60-vote margin to end a filibuster, and the party in majority of a 100-seat chamber rarely could muster such a “super majority.”
Last week, the Democrats — having the majority votes to do so — voted to change the rules, making a simple majority, rather than the so-called “super majority,” all that is necessary to end a filibuster. This effectively prohibits the minority party from slowing down or blocking any Presidential appointment that the majority party supports.
The lengthy description of those political events was necessary to create a backdrop to the discussion of today’s topic: Is it time to end the worldwide ‘filibuster’ blocking any action on global warming? Or on obscene income maldistribution? Or any action that could change the fact that 650 children die every hour in our world of starvation?
How about the fact that millions of people continue to raise barrier after barrier to people who love other enjoying all the legal and societal benefits of marriage because they are of the same gender? What is that all about? God’s will?
How about the fact that 2.5 billion people — one in three people in the world — do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation? Is that also God’s will? Or is it because humanity does not have a will of its own….?
(Frances Cha reports for CNN that diarrheal diseases are the second most common cause of death in young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Cha’s report says that “in many countries girls stay home during menstruation days because of the absence of a safe place to change and clean themselves, and many drop out altogether.”)
Have we had enough yet? We haven’t even listed one-tenth of the problems facing the world today — problems which should have been solved dozens, if not hundreds, of years ago by any truly advanced civilization. Is it time for us to civilize civilization?
What would that take, do you think….?
We can’t even end hunger in the world, we can’t even end killing. Can we find a way to end the “global filibuster” that keeps us talking, talking, talking about ending the violence in Syria or the oppression of gays in the world or the build-up of nuclear power by many nations or the utter political stalemate and impotence in Washington D.C., or…or….
Must there be nothing but talk, talk, talk, and no action?
Speaking of sanitary facilities, according to the World Health Organization, open areas are the only toilet option for an estimated 625 million people in India. CNN reported in September of 2012 on a government census showing that nearly half of India’s households do not have a toilet, but more people own a mobile phone.
Many people couldn’t build a toilet even if they wanted to because there are no sewage drainage lines in their area. Out of 7,935 towns in India, only 162 have sewage treatment plants, the 2012 CNN report said.
Today even a casual observer can see that not one of the systems, institutions and devices that our species has put into place to create a better life for all is functioning in a way that generates this outcome.
Our political systems clearly are not working. Our economic systems clearly are not working. Our ecological systems clearly are not working. Our health care systems clearly are not working. Our educational systems clearly are not working. Our social systems clearly are not working. Our spiritual systems clearly are not working.
Nothing that we have created is producing the outcomes that were intended. It is worse than that. They are actually producing exactly the opposite.
Our political systems are creating nothing but disagreement and disarray. Our economic systems are actually increasing poverty. Our ecological systems are generating environmental degradation. Our educational systems are failing to educate enough people in enough places to bring our species anywhere near the reaching of its full potential. Our health care systems are doing little to eliminate inequality of access to modern medicines and health care services. Our social systems are known to encourage disparity, prejudice, and injustice. And, perhaps most dysfunctional of all, our spiritual systems are producing intolerance, righteousness, anger, hatred, and violence.
What gives here? What’s going on with the human race that it cannot see even as it looks at itself? Where is humanity’s blind spot?
Might it be time to ask: “Is there be something we don’t fully understand here, the understanding of which would change everything?”
Why is nobody in high positions, positions of authority in governments, religions, and even in business and industry, even asking this question, much less answering it?
What will it take for you to ask it? Will you become part of the Evolution Revolution? Can we have a meaningful discussion — a discussion leading to action — about all this? Not more talking that delays action by focusing on everything else but the real problem, but discussion that produces action by highlighting and publicizing and placing before our world leaders the real problem? If your answer is yes, click here.
The process is gradual, insidious, lethal. It starts with financial stress in various forms, and then, according to growing evidence, leads to health problems and shorter lives.
Financial stress is brought upon us by the profit motive of capitalism, which offers little incentive to feed hungry children, to treat the sick, to secure us in retirement, to provide job opportunities for middle-class Americans. Some of the steps in the process are becoming more and more familiar to us.
1. Giving Half of Your 401(k) to the Banks
The Frontline documentary The Retirement Gamble reported that a 401(k) fund earning 7 percent a year with 2 percent in fees would lose up to 60 percent of the value of an equivalent non-fee fund.
A 2 percent fee doesn’t seem like much, but the documentary’s claim was close to the truth. Based on the 6 percent historical stock market return, an employee investing $1,000 a year for 30 years in a non-fee fund and then holding the accumulated sum for another 20 years would end up with $269,000. Imposing a 2 percent annual fee would reduce the final total to $127,000, a 53 percent loss. Imposing a 1.3 percent fee, which according to the documentary is the industry average, would reduce the final total to $165,000, a 39 percent loss.
The financial industry is taking this money from more of us every year. The number of private sector workers depending on a 401(k) instead of a company pension has increased from 12 percent to 68 percent since 1983.
2. Watching 24,000,000 Children Go Hungry to Avoid Inconveniencing 20 Rich Individuals
It’s an unthinkable trade-off, but it’s happening. Although the 2013 SNAP (food stamp) budget of $78 billion is less than the 2012 investment earnings of 20 wealthy Americans, SNAP is being cut while not a penny extra is taken from the multi-billionaires.
3. Listening to the “Job Creators” Mock the Truth
Casino billionaire Steve Wynn: “Guys like me are job creators and we don’t like having a bulls-eye painted on our back.”
Bank CEO John A. Allison IV: “Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive.”
The reality is that corporate profits have doubled in ten years, and the corporate tax percent has been cut in half, while millions of jobs have been lost. Some of the job-cutting data comes from The Nation, Market Watch, and Business Insider.
How did “job creators” Steve Wynn and John A. Allison IV do? The following numbers are taken from their annual 10-K reports, submitted to the SEC:
From Wynn Resorts: A doubling or more of profits, a reduction in employees
—- 2012 Income $728,699,000 Employees 16,000—- 2011 Income $825,113,000 Employees 16,400—- 2010 Income $316,596,000 Employees 16,405—- 2009 Income $ 39,107,000 Employees 18,900
From Allison’s bank, BB&T: A doubling or more of profits, little difference in employees
—- 2012 Income $2,028,000,000 Employees 34,000—- 2011 Income $1,332,000,000 Employees 31,800—- 2010 Income $ 854,000,000 Employees 31,400—- 2009 Income $ 877,000,000 Employees 32,400
4. Feeling the Debilitating Stress
Lack of proper health care is one source of that stress. A Harvard study estimated that nearly 45,000 Americans lost their lives in 2005 due to lack of health insurance.
In addition to its effects on our physical health, financial stress threatens our mental well-being. Stunningly, one out of every five American adults had mental illness in 2011, as reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Another recent study found that unemployment, whether voluntary or involuntary, can significantly impact a person’s mental health. But only one of two Americans needing mental health care can afford treatment.
The facts show that we were a relatively healthy people until unregulated free-market capitalism began to disrupt our lives. Now, because of its winner-take-all profit motive, we’re literally fighting for our lives.
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher with formal training in language development and cognitive science. He is the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, RappingHistory.org, PayUpNow.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org. The piece here was published with his permission.
Finally…All of it Explained in Simple Terms
Read this and you will understand everything you’ve ever needed to know.
The Divine Purpose is for Life to be used by Divinity to express Divinity in order that Divinity may experience Divinity is all of its aspects.
In short, God is using Life in order to experience Itself.
Divinity can be experienced only through the expression of it. Divinity can be imagined, it can be thought about, and it can be held in Awareness by the Soul, but until it is expressed, it is merely a concept; unless it is expressed, it cannot be experienced.
Here, then, is the Soul’s Knowing:
Until you express Divinity you cannot experience Divinity.
You can talk about Love, you can imagine Love, you can think about Love, you can hold Love as an idea conceptually, but until you express it, you cannot experience it.
You can talk about Compassion, you can imagine Compassion, you can think about Compassion, you can hold Compassion as an idea conceptually, but until you express it, you cannot experience it.
You can talk about Understanding, you can imagine Understanding, you can think about Understanding, you can hold Understanding as an idea conceptually, but until you express it, you cannot experience it.
You can talk about Forgiveness, you can imagine Forgiveness, you can think about Forgiveness, you can hold Forgiveness as an idea conceptually, but until you express it, you cannot experience it.
Divinity is all of these things, and much more. It is Patience and Kindness, Goodness and Mercy, Acceptance and Forbearance, Wisdom and Clarity, Gentleness and Beauty, Selflessness and Nobility, Benevolence and Generosity. And yes, much, much more.
You can imagine all of these things, you can think about all of these things, you can hold all of these things as ideas conceptually, but until you express all of these things in you, through you, as you, you have not experienced Divinity.
And you will never have an opportunity to experience these things unless Life provides you with such an opportunity. This is what Life is doing every day. Indeed, this is the purpose of Life Itself.
Therefore, when Life brings you challenges, difficulties, and unique conditions, situations, and circumstances that are ideally suited to bring out the best in you, “judge not, and neither condemn,” but be a Light unto the darkness, that you might know Who You Really Are—and that all those whose lives you touch might know who they are as well, by the light of your example.
While the idea that “God uses Life to know Godself” is surely not new, why God works this way may very well be something you’d like to know more about. So here is the explanation.
God cannot experience all that God is within the Spiritual Realm alone, because in that realm there is nothing that God is not.
The Realm of the Spiritual is the place where God is all there is, where Love is all there is, where Perfection is all there is. It’s a wonderful place, because there is nothing but Divinity. It is, in short, what you would call heaven. There is, however, this particular reality: There is nothing that God is not. And in the absence of what God is not, what God is . . . is not experienceable.
The same is true about you. You cannot experience what you are except in the presence of What You Are Not. Nor is anything able to be experienced unless it is in a Contextual Field that includes its opposite.
The light cannot be experienced without the darkness. “Up” has no meaning in experience without “down.” “Fast” is simply a term, a word having no meaning whatsoever without “slow.”
Only in the presence of the thing called “small” can the thing called “big” be experienced. We can say that something is “big,” we can imagine that something is “big,” we can conceptualize something as being “big,” but in the absence of something that is “small,” “big” cannot be experienced.
Likewise, in the absence of something “finite,” “infinity” cannot be experienced. Put into theological terms, we can know “Divinity” conceptually, but we cannot know it experientially.
Therefore, all the people and events of your life—now or in the past—which seem to be “at odds” with who you are and what you choose to experience, are simply gifts from the highest source, created for you and brought to you through the collaborative process of co-creating souls, allowing you to find yourself in a Contextual Field within which the fullest experience of Who You Really Are becomes possible.
Or, as it was so wonderfully stated by The Divine in Conversations with God . . .
I have sent you nothing but angels.
Now there’s a statement to remember. It was said here that your eternal Sacred Journey has a purpose, and it does indeed. It is a purpose established by Divinity Itself.
The Divine Purpose is to expand the Reality of God.
In simple terms (and these are simple terms), God is growing—becoming more of Itself—through the process called Life. God IS this process.
God is both the Process of Life Itself . . . and the result of it. Thus, God is The Creator and The Created. The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and The End. The Unmoved Mover. The Unwatched Watcher.
In not so simple terms, God cannot “grow” because everything that God ever was, is now, or ever will be, Is Now. There is no Time and there is no Space. Therefore, there is no time in which to grow, and no space into which to grow. The Cycle of Life is occurring simultaneously everywhere.
What the human Mind wants to call God’s “growth” is merely God experiencing more and more of Itself as the Individuations of God experience more and more of themselves. This is called Evolution.
This was accomplished by The Whole dividing Itself (not to be confused with separating Itself) from Itself, re-creating Itself in smaller and finite form.
No finite form, by the very reason of its being finite, could hold the infinite consciousness, awareness, and experience of The Whole, yet each individuated form was designed uniquely to reflect a particular aspect of Divinity Itself.
Putting all these aspects together again, as one puts the pieces of a puzzle together, produces a picture of what all the pieces create. Namely: God.
All the pieces are part of the picture, and no piece is less a part of the picture than any other.
Now some forms of Life have been endowed with a level of Essential Essence (the raw energy from which everything springs) sufficient to produce the possibility of that Essence knowing Itself. This is the quality in certain living things that is called Self-Consciousness.
Human Life (and, we suspect with good reason, Life elsewhere in the Universe) was designed in such a way that what we call “expansion” of Consciousness and Experience is possible.
In fact, human Consciousness can expand even to a point where it once again knows itself as part of The Whole. Jesus, for instance, said: “I and the Father are one.” He understood his relationship to God perfectly. He
understood that the picture which the puzzle created was not Complete without him. He was The Completion. As are we all.
A Soul Knowing:
God is both the Process of Life Itself
and the Result of that Process.
As are we all.
Take one piece of the puzzle away and the picture is not Complete. The experience of becoming fully Self Consciousness occurs through a process by which the Individuated Aspect does not grow, actually, but simply becomes more and more aware that it does not have to grow, but truly is, in its individuated form, Divinity Itself. The individual piece recognizes itself as The Puzzle Itself, simply divided.
The spectacular physiological, psychological, and theological transition into that higher level of Self-Awareness occurs only once in the epochal history of every sentient species in the cosmos—and this is precisely what is happening within the human race right now.
THE 25 CORE MESSAGES of Conversations with God are newly and fully explored, explained, and expanded under one cover in the 2013 text What God Said, from Berkley Books. You can explore it here.
The statement above is taken directly from The Only Thing That Matters, from Emnin Books, distributed by Hay House.
These two books are highly recommended reading for anyone wishing to delve deeply into a new theology for humanity.
It is important to understand that a “theology” is not a religion. No one is suggesting that Conversations with God become a new religion. The word theology is defined as “the study of the nature of God.” That is precisely what the dialogue in CWG is.
I was once asked on a national television program if I could articulate God’s message to the world in simple terms. I replied, “Yes. I can give it to you in five words.” The host blinked twice, then said, “Okay then. Ladies and gentlemen, God’s message to the world, in five words, from Neale Donald Walsch…”
And I said…
You’ve got me all wrong.
If you have a deep yearning to stop getting God all wrong, I urge you to explore the concepts and principles in Conversations with God—not the least important of which is the New Gospel: We Are All One. Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.
— Neale Donald Walsch
Someone posted this graphic on Facebook awhile ago, presumably in response to news that Kmart will be staying open for 41 hours straight, beginning early on Thanksgiving Day, (for non-Americans reading this, Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday every year, and big sales happen the Friday after stores have been closed for a day.) and several other major retail chains will have opening hours actually on Thanksgiving Day, not the traditional early morning hours of the following Friday, for the “Black Friday” sales.
Of course, even though I agree with this graphic, one must also remember that many/most? work on holidays FOR family. They need the money. Living wages are low, and holiday pay is simply higher.
I think we also have to remember that Americans have a country in which the family structure is being ripped asunder, family “values” are fluid, and we have way too many families that just haven’t bonded, or are broken…and they simply don’t wish to be together. So sad…
But why are these things this way? I have my theories, and many of them are articulated in an article found on Shmoop on line. It says, in part, that during the Eisenhower presidency, things began to shift from a production society, to a consumption society:
“The difference between a production society, which focused on meeting basic needs, and a consumption society, which emphasized customers’ wants, was like the difference between a 1908 Ford Model T and a 1959 Ford Galaxie. The Model T, available only in black, was a utilitarian piece of machinery intended for basic transportation. The Galaxie, decked out in shiny chrome, was a way to show off and to enjoy a sense of luxury, not just to move from place to place. Within a year or two, it would be obsolete as fashion changed. Blessed with abundant resources, America could afford to turn part of its productive capacity to creating glitz and fashionable waste. An older generation was careful to save and reuse; Americans in the Fifties began to use and throw away. They became ‘consumers.’” For full article click here.
Coming from the deprivations of a World War, the temptation towards consumerism was overwhelming. Add to this that the “powers that be” figured out that planned obsolescence would fuel faster turnover, and the marketing world figured out how to make consumers desire things they don’t even need.
We became a consumer society.
We became addicted to “things”, and let “things” define who we are
…and then we became indentured servants to the banks
…and when we became indentured servants
…we did the “right” thing and women started leaving the home, to pay the bills, have more things and in the name of “women’s equality”
…and left children at home, and with strangers
…and we made the choice to let advertisers tell our children that “things” were more important than being with parents
…and parents started giving “things” instead of time to show their children love.
We have created a modern version, here in the United States, of debtors prison. And we have people who no longer know how to interact with one another if we feel the only thing we have to offer is ourselves. And we exported this vision of ourselves, and set about converting the rest of the world.
Please don’t get me wrong on a couple of points here. There is nothing wrong with having those “things” as long as they are not defining your life, and are merely enhancing it. (Even that statement must be caveated with the knowing that manufacturing, as we know it today, is taking a huge toll on natural and human resources, which is an entirely different discussion.) I know full well that having enough money to cover, at the very least, basic human needs, takes a huge strain off of relationships, and facilitates life. I also know that the role of women in this world has to shift, and that “women’s rights” is not a dirty little phrase. In fact, I believe it is the key to changing the direction of this country, and the world.
Women did, indeed, in the 1950’s and especially the 1960’s, step into the current power paradigm, which, obviously to most of us, is not working. But we are in the next phase of recognizing the hole that we have dug for ourselves. I also believe that it goes against our nature to stay in that energy. This is a discussion that I have actually had elsewhere on in this newspaper as well.
I believe that women first had to experience the form of power that had been denied them throughout history, the power of force, in order to feel they had self determination at last. Power is actually not a bad thing, in and of itself, and is needed at times in order to be the guiding parent, the household organizer, and, yes, the business woman, and more. But we are now remembering that it has to be tempered with something else…that intangible that is the feminine. Power had to be experienced in order to recognize it wasn’t what was truly being sought. It is now time to stop playing the game by the old rules. Time to stop putting a skirt on the men’s rules and calling them feminine. Women now must recognize there is power in being able to mix their femininity with their male strength. Time to stop living the “We are all One…and all men are created equal…unless you are a woman.”
Still, even in the old paradigm, women began to teach, if incompletely, that there really IS a different way to view one another. Unfortunately, in most cases, the change was external…men doing dishes, washing clothes, housework…but then it became more subtle. It became okay for men to share the child-rearing responsibilities… and who is the mentor in this situation? The woman. Now we have men recognizing their own gentle strength, and men and women teaching this to their sons and daughters.
Right now we still have too many women so wrapped up in the power paradigm that they don’t even, necessarily recognize that they perpetuate the paradigm that says they are less than. But this next phase is happening.
Women, when they are balanced and spiritual and assured of who they are, will be the ones to raise the boys who know the same…and then men will also know their own true power and be allowed to put down the burdens of the current use of that power.
Balanced women. Balanced men. New paradigm. Children who feel connected to family for a lifetime. No need to outsource happiness and still feel empty. No need to shop on Thanksgiving? Time to begin living and feeling a new “Oneness” concept? Time to truly be Grateful?
Below is the second installment of a continuing series of entries from the CWG book Tomorrow’s God. If you have not yet read this text, and if you have even the slightest interest in your future and the future of your children and your grandchildren, you will find the ongoing postings here to be of utmost importance. I invite you to return to this space often to capture updates in the ongoing progression through this remarkable book.
— Neale Donald Walsch
Tomorrow’s God says that the next thirty years will see a paradigm shift within humanity so positive, so reshaping, so utterly inside-outing, that it will alter the course of human history. And it invites you—yes, you, the person now reading this—to join in this reinventing of humanity. That is why this book has been written. It is an invitation directly from God to you.
Think about this. Now think about how this writing came to your attention. How did you come to hear about it? Or, if you never knew about it until just this minute, how did it attract your attention? What made you pick this up and start reading it? For that matter, what makes you keep reading it? Do you think this is all happening by chance?
It is not. There is no such thing as “chance.” The universe does nothing by accident. This book has come to you to tell you that you can change the course of human history. You. Not only the people who run governments or own corporations or lead movements or write books or are influential for some other reason. Not only those people. You. You can change the course of human history.
This is not an exaggeration. Please believe me. This is not an exaggeration. This book calls you to that singular undertaking. It invites you now to internalize the wisdom of both ancient and contemporary masters found here; not merely to hear it again, but now to receive it, to take it in, to absorb it at the deepest level of your being, until it becomes the essence of who you are at the cellular level.
Life will be inviting you in the years immediately ahead to act and respond from this level of Deep Knowing. What you place there now in terms of the things you profoundly believe, and how far you spread the messages found here through the living of your life in a new way, will make all the difference in the world to the world.
Yet do not feel that you have to do all this by yourself. Perhaps the most uplifting and exciting part of the message that is brought to us in this book is that now, none of us have to “go it alone.” We have teammates, and we can join them and call them to us, to rally around humanity’s greatest cause: changing ourselves and changing our world.
I said earlier that you might not find much that is new in this book. I was wrong. You might find…a New You. And a way to create a New World.
In our next installment — PART ONE: Redesigning God