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Posts tagged ‘democracy’

Is Hollywoodland a Nexus of a Small World or a One-World?

Hollywood has always been a great part of my life. I went to college for 4 years, studying Broadcasting and Cinema. Before that I was singer from a very musical family where music had been much of a profession. Then I spent more than 15 years working in the Hollywood film industry where you might say that increasingly Hollywood became an entity far beyond a community, with its own language, politics, standards and immunities.

As a child I was also being influenced by my parents’ love of music and film, especially American movies and music.  You see, when Singapore was occupied by the Japanese during WWII, their lives were spared right at the very last moment when they had been ordered to dig their own graves to be executed the next.  The very next day heralded V-J Day when American, British and other Allied Forces won the war and it was over.  Therefore while Singapore was a British Colony, they were huge fans of everything American and rightly so.

I remember while growing up, to me as well as many others, Hollywood was America and America was Hollywood.  We learned all about American life, culture and society through American film, music and television.  We also had our equal share of entertainment from all other parts of the globe and frankly, they were never ever synonymous or indistinguishable from each other.  American movie greats, while some were of international fame, still considered the honor and privilege to be a part of an American studio production with its distinct American flair. If you were anyone at all, it all began and ended here.

Increasingly now I have come to a realization that it is becoming progressively more difficult to tell apart between an American production and an international production.  It’s not just a top billing international actor gracing our screens anymore, it’s more a strange blend of culture, tradition and philosophy, lacking in purity and changing in value a final product that would have lent a distinct flavor to further our appreciation.

I for one welcome every now and then, a multi-cultural effort in entertainment, I come from a multi-cultural country and society, but my love for American entertainment is waning as the Industry is watered down along with its influx of foreign talent, standards and ideologies, good and bad.  Has it become better or has it become muddy? It’s not just in Cinema.  American daytime television now has foreign hosts, American news has foreign news-casters, American commercials have foreign spokespersons with such thick accents they’re hardly articulate enough in their diction to actually sell a product in English! We have foreign judges for American musical talents.

There is a difference to me between importing a product and importing people.  Is it still a small world, like Walt Disney dreamed, or is it one world, one vision like Mao Tse Tung dreamed? Hollywoodland has long opened her borders and given away jobs that would belong to American talent just like any other outsourced product.  In essence it may be a beautiful thing.  In reality you lose your individualism and uniqueness when you cease to maintain defined borders.  Perhaps that’s what one-world means to some.  My personal perspective on this is really – one world, many differences. It’s what makes this diverse world a beautiful place – living together with our differences.  Not eliminating our core attributes. Not by displaying our similarities as a forced all-blended people, but finding harmony within our intrinsic core similarities and learning about our exceptionalism by highlighting our diversity – like many musical notes all distinctive on their own, coming together in a beautiful piece of music.

When John Lennon’s Imagine was first released in 1971, I was a mere child of nine and the lyrics always saddened me.  It saddened me to think even at that young age that the world would be a sad place without Heaven, without countries, without something to live for, without religion, without possessions. In my childlike mind those are the cherished things that stood out and I wondered how that in order to eliminate the negative, we had to also eliminate the positive, that the result could still be peace and sharing, brotherhood and living as one.  It was a song encouraging nothingness, and that was supposed to be everything.

Well we no longer have to “Imagine” the words of John Lennon; Hollywoodland has given us a flavor of it.

About Flip Your Brain

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

About Flip Your Brain

I Want My Country’s Flag to Stand for Something

An American Independence Day Special
by Jeff Schoener, the NLP Wordsmythe

By nature and training I am an agent of change.  I help people transition easily and thoroughly, utilizing NLP, DHE™ and other healing modalities.  People will let go of behavioral patterns in exchange for better ones along a continuum from where they’ve come, towards where they will go, all the while happily leaving baggage behind as their own personal history.  In short, I teach people to use their brains and to be smarter.

I personally have been feeling unsettled of late and I am only now beginning to understand why.  For all of us the future is uncertain.  There are no guarantees, and yet most people can and will hold on to their own history.  In this way they may take the lessons from their personal past and use them in the present in order to construct the possibility towards an amazing future.

It has been said that the best predictor of the future is the past.  This generally consists of actions, behaviors, and programming as well as learned experiences.  Just as our ancestors had to adapt and adjust to weather and natural forces, government and society changes, we also are forced to adapt.  The greater the upheaval the more we adapt.  As we adapt we rely upon what we have learned, from whom we have learned and from where our teachers learned their lessons in order to impart wisdom.  The more grounded we are in the values of where we came, the smoother the transition in adaptation.  If others were to deny or distort their history, those in the know could hold on to what they know as belief until proven as fact.  What then happens to individuals who don’t really know their history?  After the Emancipation Proclamation made slavery in this country illegal, many who were slaves for generations had to slowly construct a new history.

Have we politically moved from the land of the free and the home of the brave into the land enslaved and the home of the victim?   We are moving faster then anyone expected in a direction that makes us seem more like the EU.  How did we get here and where were we as things changed?   Young people today will simply accept modern history as the way things have always been, yet I seem to remember differently.

My first three cars were GM Pontiacs.  Today the Pontiac brand has gone the way of the dinosaur.  It simply no longer exists.  As I thought about this I also began to remember my youth, happily watching television shows such as ‘The Wild, Wild West’, ‘Get Smart’ and ‘Star Trek’.  Today Hollywood has remade an important part of my youth with their creative perspectives. Are modern stories and fresh interpretations creative?  Sure, but far from original thought. This is something that is severely lacking today.  If I were to talk to a young person about it, we would be having two separate conversations.  It is as if my personal history is being altered, my future even more uncertain as I hang in suspension as the Fool in a Tarot deck.   Many today are generally plagued with a lack of imagination and therefore problem-solving seems to bring even greater challenge.  When I was a kid, a stick was a gun and a box was a rocket ship.  This was an imagination proving- ground.  Imagination is from where fresh ideas come.  We wanted to be just like the good guy, the hero who stands up to the opposition, even at greater numbers because we understood what was decent and right.    We noticed life on a two dimensional screen and we wanted to emulate it in our three dimensional worlds.  That seemed enough for us.  Pseudo-realism has encroached upon every part of our current lives.  Technology has allowed our two-dimensional worlds to perceptively seem as if it has three dimensions.  It is almost as if many would prefer to escape into these pseudo-3D realms.  Life in 3D seems to lack appeal.  War games played with slick controllers in pseudo-3D on a 2D screen by people who would never volunteer for actual service.  That would be too real, too gritty and bloody.   You only get one life on the battlefield and that wouldn’t be safe.

My father was part of the greatest generation.  He, his friends and the entire nation joined the fight, not against evil, but for what this country stood.  Many had little, as they were children of the great depression.   They knew they didn’t have much, yet they never considered themselves poor.  They fought, they strived they worked and used their imagination in the hope of giving their children better lives then they lived.  They laughed, they cried.  They kept going because they knew where they came from. They knew what sacrifice it took just to come to these shores.  Defending them and upholding the honor was the small footnote each would contribute.  Together each small sacrifice weaved the fabric of our nation.  A few were afraid to die, fewer of them were afraid to live.  They rarely spoke of the details and they would never forget.

It is a normal process when people seem to forget, or want to forget hurtful memories.  This is human nature.  Take September 11th, 2001.  I was going around my office in New York City, breathing the dust from the remnants of the twin towers assuring those who didn’t want to believe that what happened that day was completely real.  Just as there will be holocaust deniers, the witnesses are the ones who must continue the tales lest they become corrupted and distorted.  My personal history has been breached, so I am now forced to dig a bit deeper into my own character, remembering who and what are truly important to me.  I hold dear the people who shaped me and allowed me to grow.  I hold dear, my ancestors’ struggles.  I must hold tightest, onto my hopes and dreams as I write my own history.  I want to stand proud.  I want freedom to be a way of life for all and not simply a conceptual exercise.  I want individual greatness to prevail.  I want people to be awake, aware and smart enough to know that there are consequences for ignorance.  I want people to be able to learn from mistakes so that they will think and work smarter.  I want to hold my head proudly as I salute ‘Old Glory’ and know it stands for something.

In 1998 an immigrant from the former Soviet Union told me something that I failed to understand back then.  “You are lucky you were born here, (in America).  If I were born here my life would be so much better.” Only recently did I begin to understand what he said to me so many years ago.  Over the last few years, I realized that helping people get beyond their fears and limitations, also included ending their internal struggle.  For example, does a fish feel the water?  On an average windless day, do we feel the air?  I suspect we would appreciate it far more if we just broke the surface and came up from a fish’s natural surrounding.  It is much like the misnomer that one must suffer for one’s art.  Proper motivation, one could simply create.

I originally wrote parts of this article in 2009.  Since then I have come to learn that people who are free from birth do not have the struggle as opposed to the immigrants who come to these shores from nations of limited freedoms.  Are we not meant to breathe free and look after ourselves, our families and our communities?  Good fences may make good neighbors, but reducing our ability of free choice does not necessarily make ‘good fences’.  Progress is not necessarily progressive and if we fail to understand the freedoms we have, we will not know what we have lost.  Our nation’s constitution from its original intent is a framework of freedoms.  As Americans we are unique, just as are the Italians, the Greeks and the French with their language, styles and culture.  America for generations was known as the melting pot, not because of what we lost in terms of other cultures, but of what we gained by adding other cultures to U.S.  If we are coming to a time where the stars and stripes lose this symbolism, then what is its meaning?  Who are we and who will we become?  If we lose our ideals along with our freedom, what then do we stand for and what does our military truly fight for?

As Americans who were born of this privilege, let us relearn why it is our privilege and why others still dream and strive to come to these shores.

 From a citizen who loves his freedom, respects the Constitution and wants his nation back,

Happy Birthday America.

**This country is said to be a democracy, so what does Democracy look like? 

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.

Guest Blog: Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

By Jeff Schoener, the NLP Wordsmythe

This sounds catchy and easy to chant in public* and calls forth a single modality – Visual.   So, ‘What does democracy sound like?’ and ‘How does democracy feel?’ should be logical questions if one were to take but a moment.  In order for one to answer any of the above questions, one must understand the perspectives in which one perceives this thing called democracy.

Merriam-Webster’s definition: Democracy

  1. a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting
  2. an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

The concept is defined only with specific perceptions.

What if others would see democracy through American cowboy movies?

In October 2001, I went to Egypt.  I was quite surprised when the Egyptians who wanted to connect with me in order to separate me from my money would ask, “Where are you from?’  As it was less then one month from September 11th, I cautiously replied, “America.”  They immediately responded, “Howdy!”  At first I was surprised until I began to understand that Egyptians perception of America came directly from western movies and television shows.   John Wayne and Lone Ranger democracy consisted of an attitude, a fast gun, a fist of justice and simple talk.  The color of one’s hat would indicate just which side of the law you lived.  This was simple and shades of grey were never truly discussed.  Real governing bodies are far more complex.

As it turns out, I learned that there are many different organizational varieties of democracy.  Here are a few that I found in the web that may contain some grey areas:

  • Deliberative democracy – focuses on hearing out every policy alternative, from every direction, and providing time to research them all.
  • Multiparty democracy – two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles.
  • Totalitarian democracy – system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government.
  • Religious democracy – values of religion play a role in the public arena in a society populated by religious people.
  • New Democracy – Maoist concept based on Mao Tse Tung’s “Bloc of Four Classes” theory in post-revolutionary China.

Internet video sites will show parliamentary procedure from around the globe that uncannily resembles Professional Wrestling.  Please now consider how different opinions are reflected in terms of art and culture on government as well as government on culture and art.

Based upon my experience and understanding, I ask you the following:

What if others would see democracy through Soap Operas? Would you hear campaign promises belted out in a foreign language?

What if others would see democracy through Comedies? Would arguments be clever repartee or would slapstick motion prevail?

What if others would see democracy through Interpretative Dance? Urban jazz, Ballet, Soft-Shoe or Tap

What if others would see democracy through Musicals? Maybe a combination of song and dance?

What does it now look like to you?

After considering the above, I personally would have difficulty joining in on the drone of chant.  Instead images come to mind.  Imagine a subtle opening musical score.

Picture three or four overweight, out-of-shape politicians wearing large floppy shoes, purple tights and pink tutus sporting Viking helmets, holding shields singing Rodney Dangerfield’s jokes in falsetto voices.

Now, this is what democracy looks like to me.

This perspective also allows me to take an extra moment in order to think for myself before I join in.  My suggestion is that we shift from being ‘Politically Correct’ and with humor, strive to be ‘Correctly Political’.

* A Quick Note: Chanting is useful in terms of group-think.  This is an extremely useful tool for cult indoctrinations.