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Who’s Occupying Your Mind While You Occupy Wall Street?

The Occupy Wall Street protesters going into their fourth week, is more telling about them than about the situation they seem to be protesting.  Young people being swept away by the seduction of the concept of “Revolution” without really knowing who is pulling their strings.  You can hear it in their inarticulate lack of clarity, lack of coherence and lack of congruence when asked to explain what it is they seek. If you know the differences you can tell between heartfelt originality from core passion and parrot-phrasing sound-bite answers belonging to someone else.

Quoting madmen, murderers and dictators of the past like Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Mao and even George Bernard Shaw without understanding that these men who aimed to destroy individuality had ideologies far alien to core American values of individual pursuit of happiness. How does one allude to aligning themselves with ideologies that condemn individual rights to an abundant life while at the same time protesting for their individual rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, without noticing? While these youth fight for upholding their individual rights to their futures, they sadly cannot see it slipping away from them.

Social justice, they chant? Well I would wonder if they are aware that folks like George Bernard Shaw who was a Marxist-Socialist and believed in eugenics politics, believed and advocated that if one was too sick or old to be of any more use to society, society should kill them humanely. How’s that for social justice? So with that sentiment I would wonder if these impressionable youth have diligently done their homework to research exactly what the philosophies of the Movement’s ideology that they so passionately promote and so willingly succumbed to really indicate. Will they end up getting what they wish for or will they wish they didn’t? Either way they’ll get what they wish for, but we only hope that they understand what they are really wishing for.

While we all yearn to be a part of something greater than ourselves, it would be astute to remember that it is what we bring into the cause that is unique to our Self that sets us apart, yet fits perfectly into the mosaic of respectful diversity.  Participating in demonstrations for extended periods of time may get them to change others, but how have they changed in themselves? While they prevail in getting others to change, their lives remain at a standstill with only effort going into the act of protesting. Within this period, they cease to take responsibility for themselves and stop actively pursuing their own futures. A revolution about nothing.  Can forcing change on other people really better our own lives at the core? Will they have effected change through their own individual pursuit of happiness or will their lives only improve while remaining as victims, at the mercy of other people’s actions and change?

So as the movement draws more individuals, seemingly giving up their individuality, I end with a thought worth noting.  A whole lot of living has been done according to the concept of “going with the flow”. Being flexible and going with the flow is good, but remember that understanding whose flow, and the direction of the flow first, is more important. Sometimes we have to be like the salmon and swim upstream in order to spawn life and really extend ourselves to create something more.

In this instance, I’d rather be a salmon than a lemming.

“A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people’s time to look after them.”

Source: George Bernard Shaw, Lecture to the Eugenics Education Society, Reported in The Daily Express, March 4, 1910.

“We should not say that one man’s hour is worth another man’s hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing: he is at the most, time’s carcass.”

Source:  Karl Marx, Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I – Chapter Twenty-Four

“The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property. “

Source: Karl Marx. Marx & Engels, Library 1848, Manifesto of the Communist Party: Chapter 2

 “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

Source: Mao Tse Tung, from The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption (2006) by Clive Foss

“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall!”

Source: Che Guevara, Cuba Archive. The Wall is a reference to the wall where Che’s enemies stood before his firing squads.

“The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.”

Source: Mao Tse Tung, The Little Red Book, Chapter 8, 1964

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9-11 Remembered: Perspectives Gained Within Our Loss

Guest Blog

by Jeff Schoener

People world-wide are remembering 10 years later.

People are asking, where were you when it happened? 

On this a beautifully clear day, comfortable and pleasant, I walked into my office and sat at my desk.  Just two blocks away from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, I and my colleagues heard the first plane strike.  We were stunned as we went to the window, five stories up, where we could see the gaping hole and the flames lick the side of the building.  A manager went into the conference room in order to turn on the news.  We at the time thought it was a horrible accident.  Then there was another muffled explosion which blew out the windows on the other side.  A short time later, the second strike on the second tower.  It dawned upon us that this was no accident.

As an eye witness without a telephone, at this point e-mail was the only communication means for us cloistered in our office.  The police kept us here, where we were out of both harm’s way and out of the way of the First Responders.   On Broadway, where we saw ticker-tape parades, Firemen and Police squads marched in military fashion in order to set up for their work of rescue and restoration.

Before people in my office were wondering why, they were first wondering if what they were witnessing was true.  “Is this really happening?” 

For the people who never witnessed this first hand, the media ran the plane strikes into the towers on a seemingly endless loop.

I think that in the fullness of time, while remembering the importance of the day, on a personal note, consider the following:

 What have you lost?

Did you lose a job?  Have you lost a loved one? Did you lose your direction in terms of career, of have you and your family the innocence of faith?   I know many people who found the wherewithal to rebuild and to begin again.  Some even created support networks as well as not for profit organization to honor and memorialize.

 What have you gained? 

In light of the loss, have you gained compassion and hope? Have you gained and expanded your understanding of yourself, your neighbors and situations that are not always black and white?  Have you gained a new resolve and strength or have you gained a fearful existence? In the subsequent daysI went around my office getting people beyond their fear and back into the flow of life.

Many others have taken their ‘loss’ as a reason to create something that will help themselves while helping others.  Take this moment in time and begin to answer questions in the light of the day.  Take this gift of time to fill any void with something creative and positive.  With this memory in mind, offer something to serve and sacrifice to another.    This will become a suitable tribute for those who sacrificed on that day.

Out of the ashes - rebuilding One World Trade Center

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Wake Up or Hit the Snooze Button?

In the wake of natural and man-made disasters that we see brewing and exploding around us, it is interesting to observe responses on the human level. We see groups claiming victimization, we see groups behaving like mere spectators, we see groups hailing the onset of Armageddon, and then there are groups stating the symbolism and metaphors in all occurrences.

No matter what your level of introspection in your own relationship to your environment – personally or globally, these events – no matter the strength of their impact upon us and our lives, serve as wake-up calls and demand that we pay attention. There has been much ridicule to the notion of wake-up calls, but really, who’s to say what is an epiphany to each of us, with each event that touches us?

Every event that touches our lives is an opportunity for introspection.  Sometimes we get little nudges and sometimes we get a kick in the behind.  We get clues, that if we’re aware enough to decipher, we get to move up or down our chosen paths and even be in harmony with the paths we choose and that perhaps chosen for us by something greater.

But what if we don’t take these generous opportunities to better ourselves and our lives? In times of crisis, regardless of what they are, we begin to take stock of our bank accounts, material inventories, water supply, our pantries and freezers and even our gas tanks.  What about our internal pantries and internal tanks? What’s missing in our lives and how much energy and courage will it take to fill? Sometimes what’s missing may be balance. Balance between the excess and the shortage – physical and emotional.  Perhaps too much drama and not enough courage? Too much guilt and not enough compassion? Too much ego and not enough confidence?

Maybe the messages aren’t for all of us, maybe for some more than others, and maybe for all affected, but the messages may be different for each.  The thing to remember is, any time is a good time for taking stock.  We shouldn’t wait for a ton of bricks to fall on our heads – literally, should we?  But oftentimes we do.  So the question remains, what does it all mean to you? In the end that’s all that really counts.  Are you directly or indirectly affected? If it didn’t touch you at all, did it touch you at all? Out of love… compassion… awe… fear… respect… honor? To yourself… to others? Do you set yourself apart from or become a part of?

Invariably and inevitably, a global calamity ultimately has a way of trickling down and seeping in, becoming a personal calamity.  Just as an exercise in relationship and perspective, think of some past and current world events, both natural and man-made and think about how it may have impacted your own life and to what degree.  How, if at all have you been affected? Could you have changed the outcome had you done something differently? Could you in the future?

While we cannot really predict what is forthcoming and we are constantly changing the future with our present actions, we can take stock of ourselves and do our best to make sure the actions we take are good ones. If we wake up and stop hitting the snooze button, we might just be awake enough to save someone, maybe even you.

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Parody of a Paradox: Land Ownership

How Far Back Does One Go?

I’ve been reading a lot for a while now about the agendas of certain groups promoting their idea of what they believe to be fair-minded rightful ownership of land.  In this they have swept masses off their feet all in the name of defending the “suppressed”.  While this may be an accurate issue in some cases, the more prominent ones, upon further inspection, are factually inaccurate. Upon studying this, I’ve decided to present, as a fellow immigrant from another hemisphere, some humorous yet poignant perspectives to some of the premise they promote.

Rightful ownership – United States – Mexico – Native America – Israel – Palestine – China – Tibet – Australia – Aboriginals – ancestral lands –   these are some of the sound bytes chanted by many in demonstrations. You see these groups spelling Texas as Tejas, you hear schools being taught “new history” all based on personal filters and beliefs of those that teach, ultimately undermining actual historical events and indoctrinating the uninformed with a new backdrop. Who are the rightful owners? Let’s really break this down according to what they preach.

So we have groups of people coming together from all races, nationalities and walks of life chanting protests like “give back the land”, “free the so-and-so’s” in righteous indignation—wait just a minute… First of all, if you or I were to get actively involved in a campaign of sorts, I would guess we would have to first be so totally clear in our intent as to be completely committed and aligned to the cause. I would first have to examine my own heritage and roots and decide upon conclusion that based on where I have come from, do I really have the right to be here too? Or should I go back to my ancestral land (for as far back as I can trace) and then commit to my cause from there? Seems logical, doesn’t it? If you talk the talk, then walk the walk—as far back to your land as you can.

As we experience a flash of the past, do we feel connected to civilizations lost? Are they just part of history or do they seem real today?

So let’s use the Tejas example.  Since these groups seem to believe that Texas was taken from the Mexicans, then do the Mexicans have a right to Mexico? I mean, the Spanish influence in Central and South America clearly indicates the Spanish conquering, oppression and maybe—apartheid with the natives at one time? Could it really be? But then the Spanish conquered most of the land from the Mayans and the Incans, the Aztecs and the numerous native tribes that resided all over the Americas… Oh wait… some of them are no longer here—to whom on earth do we return the land rightfully?

So let’s say that I’m an activist on this issue and I am…of English decent, a 10th generation American. Do I really have the right to be living here? Shouldn’t I just go back and preach? But then, am I really English or maybe a blend of an inter-marriage… maybe I’m a product of pre-British Empire…the Roman Empire…Greek…Celtic… Oh God! What am I??? Where is my land? The scenario is ridiculous, isn’t it? As ridiculous as negating human migration which has been occurring since before the Tower of Babel!

In all honesty, unless the average person today has a clear concept about geography, ancient geography, history and geo-politics do we really have the right to be righteously indignant about this? Should we commit to an ideal only if we commit to learning everything there is to learn about it and more, and are therefore certain we know with what we are dealing? Laughably I have watched many a Jaywalking with Leno to understand that some average Americans think that the bordering countries of the United States are Australia and Hawaii…  In many surveys, the average person has not much of an idea of what race or nationality of people belong to which country and which country actually exists—today! Would I be considered absurd if suddenly protested the migration of birds during the year? But they’re not indigenous!

Not just tourists visiting the past, but residents who bridge the past to the present.

For the rest of us humans, indigenous or not, the traditions we may carry till today still connects us to our ancestral past, our people, heritage and land. We blend, we mix, we become a part of a greater society as a whole while still maintaining our heritage if that’s what is important to us as individuals as well as a community.  It may just be that our true identities, where we came from and where we belong is a tapestry of a wonderful blend of this wondrous planet. Migration has occurred long since pre-historic times, some of us have been around for a long, long time, some of us less—a product of the old blended with the new, migration along with expulsions and exiles.  We are a tapestry of our living Earth, and a witness to what has once been and what will be—we, her Human partner from the very start – in  the Beginning…or are we?

 

“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

**Note: These are just a few perspectives.  I have more as should we all.

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The End of Osama bin Laden, the Beginning Of…

With all the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise at the hands of U.S. troops sweeping the world, it’s too much an enigma to by-pass without writing about this significant event.  I would like to begin by stating that in the spirit of “closure”, much celebration in the U.S. has been taking place.  Have you been asking questions or going along with the flow? What exactly is the celebration really about? Is it the victory of this particular Administration?  Is it the relief of turning a chapter?  Is it the death of an evil man? Is it that we believe things will finally go back to “normal”? Is there really a reason to celebrate death the way our enemies do?

While it should be noted that hunting down the man behind what has been considered the most profane crime in U.S. history was always a necessity, bin Laden was never the be-all and end-all in our fight against terror. He was merely a leader of one group among many whose goal is one and the same in the advent of promoting a common agenda.  Let’s keep in perspective that while it’s easy to be swept away in the mass emotion, that our fight against terror continues and does not end with his demise.

One of the things that struck me when looking at videos and photos of Americans rejoicing at this justice, was the interspersing of interviews with families of September 11th victims, who once again are brought back to that fateful day with the pain of having lost their loved ones.  It is interesting and insightful to note that their sentiment was far from one of rejoicing, in the fact that this will never bring back their murdered loved ones. This is a solemn fight and a solemn victory, hopefully one of many, both in the past since 9/11 and in future endeavors to put an end to this terror-instilling dogma which has become in some way, our faceless enemy or more likely, our enemy with a million faces.

So is this closure?  Perhaps to some extent.  But like any other race, we are merely at one marker. While we are a people who would much prefer to have happy, prosperous lives, living in harmony with humankind whom we consider our friends and even brothers and sisters, we nevertheless have to remember that we are all a product of the summation of our core beliefs, experiences, culture and up-bringing. We look through our prism once again and view all the facets of humankind and acknowledge these differences, even though they are comprised within the same prism.  If we view all others in our own merits, then we risk stagnation of our own understanding as we keep our heads buried in the sand.

While we feel triumphant at the idea of putting an end to one aspect in our fight, know that the fight was not against one man, but against an ideology;  be assured there will be another and another and another, all in the name of continuing a vow in reverence and truth.   These may seem like virtuous sentiments, yet you might ask, “In whose truth are these acts carried out?” Why then don’t they match in action and integrity with my truth or yours?

When you begin to think multi-dimensionally, realize that there are many things in this world that we do not yet understand and cannot package neatly into our model of the world. Simply know that they are there and that we will gain the understanding when we decide that we finally are ready to see what has been always there for us to see and comprehend. Realize that love is also multi and inter-dimensional, where there are layers upon layers of understanding that may be a prerequisite before we are able to “love the world into peace”.

So in the spirit of closure, remember that the closure of one aspect opens the door to another, something new or different.  What will those doors open to? Be open and prepared for any and all possibilities, because they all exist. Exercise caution and keep your guard up where necessary and know when it’s necessary. Be open and yet be protective yourself and your own values and what’s important to you.  It’s not yet time for that breath of relief.