Conventional Wisdom Yields Convention

I woke up today and checked Facebook like I often do and to my dismay, I was disgusted by people gloating over voting for Hillary. It was quite obvious to me that they had not done their homework at arriving at their decision.  Not long after that, I came across a video of a well-known documentary producer who used to support Bernie Sanders but now supports Hillary Clinton talking about the atrocities occurring at Standing Rock and all over the country.  He was decrying the neo-liberal agenda, never making the connection that this agenda is currently represented by none other than Hillary Clinton.  After viewing these various posts, my mood soured as anger arose to the surface of my being.  At that moment I realized that I am sick of the intellectual arrogance and hypocrisy of liberals who are against the neo-liberal agenda, but continue to vote for neo-liberals, while shaming us progressives for actually voting for progressives like Jill Stein!  My anger arose because of the stupidity that I witnessed this morning and other times this past year and beyond.  It is totally insane when people vote against what they value over and over again!  It is as if we are a country that worships willful ignorance.

When I started to think about all of the people out there casting votes out of ignorance, these thoughts came to me: If you don’t take voting seriously, please don’t vote.  If you are going to vote for the wrong reasons, you are likely going to help make things worse.  If you are voting just to feel good, you’ll likely be contributing to suffering.  If you are voting to say that you helped make history, stay home and contribute to making a direct difference in your family’s or your friends’ lives, instead.  If you are voting to keep Trump or Hillary out of office, don’t bother.  Your lack of vision is only going to contribute to the maintenance of the conventional way of doing things which, if you haven’t noticed, is destroying the planet.  Stop voting for the wrong reasons!  If you are not questioning your motivation for voting, you are part of the problems we face.

To vote out of ignorance does nothing but help the moneyed interests, who spend a hefty sum in order to promote their agenda. In my lifetime, I have seen so many good ideas and candidates go down in defeat because people buy into the fear tactics of the status quo.  As a result, we exemplify the adage that if you do the same thing over and over again but expect different results, you are crazy.  This is most notably demonstrated by the people who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, but then went on to support Hillary Clinton, once she “defeated” Bernie (Don’t get me started on how she cheated her way to the nomination).  Bernie was incredibly popular because people desperately wanted the change he advocated.  Yet once their hero succumbed to the establishment, where did all these supporters go?  Some understood what the Bernie movement was all about and moved over to support the most prominent progressive left, Jill Stein.  Others, though, supported Hillary out of blind allegiance to Bernie’s endorsement of her or blind allegiance to “conventional wisdom” (i.e., the idea that only two candidates have a “realistic” chance to win).

Those who believe that only the Democratic or Republican candidates have a chance to win obviously have not done any research to discover that there are actually four candidates (including Jill Stein and Gary Johnson) who are on enough state ballots in which they can win enough electoral votes to become president (There’s four additional candidates who could win enough electoral votes, but only if they win states in which they are write-in candidates). If you don’t know what I am talking about in this paragraph, look it up!

Berners who are voting for Clinton because Bernie said to do so are either following the cult of personality or else they are being intellectually lazy by ignoring the fact that Hillary is against most of what Bernie fought for. In either case, their actions only promote the establishment, resulting in the further destruction of our society and planet.

In light of what I have witnessed this past year, I am amazed that some people are unwilling to acknowledge that we have a social-political-economic system mired in corruption! This means that every piece of information that you receive needs to be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb because it could be propaganda.  Just because you read an article does not mean that it is true.  Just because you watched a video does not mean it is true.  Just because a government official said something does not mean that it is true.  Just because you submitted your ballot does not mean your vote will be counted.  Just because you registered to vote does not mean you will be given a ballot.  Yet, I see people relying on the word of “authorities” instead of applying simple logic to arrive at conclusions; I see people citing questionable sources of information as proof that a piece of propaganda is true.

While it is difficult if not impossible to research every piece of information that comes your way, through the research that you do perform, you can gradually get a sense of what sources of information are consistently reliable and which are not. For instance, I have found that Wikileaks has a very good track record of providing reliable information.  That doesn’t mean I blindly believe everything they put out, but it does mean that I can use its information in conjunction with my own research to come up with pretty solid (though never 100%) conclusions.

Research takes time and effort, though. We all have busy lives, of course.  Nevertheless, if you take voting seriously, you will find the time to do the necessary research.  If you don’t take voting seriously, please don’t vote!  I know this goes against the mantra we were taught since we were young.  The establishment has always encouraged people to vote.  The more people that vote, the more legitimate are the results of an election, after all.  But if you are in power, isn’t it risky to encourage people to vote when they might vote you out of office?  Yes!  That’s why the powers that be perform (gasp!) election fraud in various forms to reduce if not eliminate that risk.  We the people cooperate with this fraud through our laziness:  not employing critical thinking and not doing any research.  Therefore, an easy and effective way to rig elections is simply to use the media to promote establishment candidates while suppressing the promotion of revolutionary candidates.  In our laziness we rely on pundits to do our thinking for us and provide news that is “relevant.”  The establishment media’s job is to get the electorate to focus on a single issue or two (of the establishment’s picking) so that they will vote in a more predictable fashion.

But voting for candidates based on their positions on issues is flawed. While a candidate can promote a certain platform or agenda, nobody has all the answers to the problems we face, nor can anybody anticipate all the problems that we may face.  So how do we choose the best candidate given so much uncertainty?  The answer is to vote for the person with the best character.  It behooves each of us to vote for candidates with the most integrity and who stand for principles that benefit us all.  While character is reflected in where a candidate stands on issues, it is not enough to just look at political positions.  It is more important to understand what motivates candidates because this understanding will give us a good idea how they will act in office when faced with unforeseen circumstances and opportunities.  If someone has a history of being trustworthy, he will most likely act in a trustworthy manner while in office.  If a person has a history of being deceitful or greedy, then these characteristics will likely be revealed if he is elected.

So, when we have poll after poll indicating that the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are the least liked in history, why on Earth would people vote for them when it is clear that they have problems with their character? What does it say about a voter’s character when he votes for somebody that he can’t stand (especially when there is a more suitable alternative)?  At best, it shows that the voter is not employing critical thought.  At worst, it says that the voter has no integrity when it comes to voting.  Is it any wonder then that we have corruption in government?

Government will always reflect its constituency. If we want an ethical government, then we each must act with integrity in everything we do, including voting for the candidates that match our deeply held values, regardless of how those around us vote.  If we don’t live authentically, we are supporting and encouraging continued corruption in government!  It’s really that simple.  Acting ethically is not always easy, though.  It takes effort.  If you are consistently following the crowd, you will not likely act with integrity because the mob mentality is usually reactive as it caters to our selfish interests.  Ethical action, on the other hand, requires being consciously aware of more than yourself.  It is not done in order to look good.  Ethical action is done for its own sake, which inevitably results in the betterment of all.

So I beg of you, look at your own motivation for deciding who to vote for. Make sure your motivation is to enhance this world.  Ask yourself which decision will benefit the world the most if that decision is victorious on Election Day and vote that way.  Remember, we don’t need people to vote.  We need people to apply critical thinking and vote with integrity so that we have a government full of people with integrity that will beneficially serve their constituents and contribute to the well-being of the world at large!

Authenticity Is the Antidote to Corruption

Picking up from the ideas in my Who Has the Power? article, I want to write about an important aspect of harnessing our personal power together with others in order to create a society that works for all.  Obviously, society does not work for all at this point in the evolution of human beings, but why is that?

It comes down to one word: corruption.  Corruption typically is associated with money influencing public policy.  Many of the problems that we experience collectively, if not personally, are a result of public policies that favor wealthy campaign contributors over the general population.  For instance, pollution is rampant because governments allow, if not favor, the production of various products that directly or indirectly pollute the environment.  Poverty is increasing because governments encourage the flow of money toward a relatively small number of corporations mainly through tax regulations, subsidies, mandates (such as requirements to have insurance) or laws designed to obscure information that would discourage the public from buying certain products (such as laws to prohibit the straightforward labelling of genetically modified foods).  There are many more examples of corruption and the interesting thing about the examples that I gave is that they are forms of legal corruption.  So, corruption is more than merely breaking the law in order to make a buck.

In fact, I see corruption as more rampant than a few corrupt politicians or a few laws that favor the rich. We have corrupt governments because we the people are corrupt citizens!  What I mean by that is that many of us place great importance on money in our lives.  Some display corruption when they act in a stingy or greedy manner.  Others show corruption when they are struggling to survive and feel forced to focus much of their attention on making or saving every penny they can.  Both of these cases differ from the traditional examples of corruption in that instead of being motivated to gain political power, they are concerned with attaining personal power within a societal context.

That’s not all. Corruption needn’t be limited to acquiring money.  In the broadest sense, corruption occurs whenever a person deviates from being authentic.  Examples of corrupt action that have nothing to do with money are when someone follows an immoral law, yields to peer pressure or succumbs to manipulation.  In the case of following an immoral law, the legal system uses a threat of punishment in order to get people to do things they might not want to do naturally.  In the cases of peer pressure and manipulation, the threat of social isolation is a prime motivator for suppressing authentic expression in favor of conformity to a particular standard.

It seems to me that there are two forms of peer pressure: concrete and abstract. Concrete peer pressure is demonstrated whenever a person feels compelled to act in a certain way in order to avoid social isolation.  Examples of this type of peer pressure include keeping up with the latest fashion and incessantly attending parties where drinking is the main event. Abstract peer pressure, on the other hand, is exhibited whenever a person feels compelled to think in a certain way in order to avoid social isolation.  This type of peer pressure involves embracing unexamined traditional beliefs, be they religious, philosophical, political or scientific in nature.

Now that we have looked at how a person can become corrupt in the broadest sense, it becomes apparent that we all contribute to the existence of corruption in the world simply by not being authentic. The next thing to ask is, “How can I be authentic right now?”  To answer this question, you have to be brutally honest with yourself without condemning yourself.  The purpose of this self-examination is to transform destructive ways of being into constructive ways of being; shaming yourself for engaging in unconscious, corrupt behavior merely focusses on the problem instead of the solution.

I have found from personal experience that other people can be helpful in determining whether you are being authentic or not. By considering the thoughts of others who might have drastically different ideas from what you are used to, you gain a new perspective that makes it easier to question the validity of your own beliefs and worldview.  If you see your religion, philosophy or scientific paradigm as the absolute truth or if you see that your political party can do no wrong, you are keeping yourself imprisoned in a mindset that will keep you from understanding who you are.  After all, self-discovery is a never-ending process that deepens our understanding of that on-going mystery which is at the core of our being.  As we allow this process to unfold naturally, we effortlessly learn more about ourselves and become more authentic.

As a result, becoming more authentic is a gift to the universe by the universe which created us. Hence, acting authentically is our life’s purpose.  Because we are all connected in the deepest sense, to deny our life’s purpose denies the world of your gifts and results in the suffering of all to one degree or another.  This is why corruption is something that we naturally frown upon whenever we see it.  A few benefit from it at the expense of the many.  Corruption reveals an absence in the awareness that we are all connected and that our mere existence was designed to enhance all life in some way.  If this were not the case, how could you even be here reading this article?

It is one thing to identify corruption in yourself; it is another thing to actually transform the corrupt thinking and behavior into those which are authentic. Becoming authentic is not a trivial task.  It is often scary and it takes practice because we typically are replacing an old way of being with a new way.  Until the new way becomes second nature, the old habitual way of being can always return.  Therefore, if you are determined to be the authentic person you were born to be, you must undertake the moment-to-moment discipline to confront your fears that discourage you from making the change that you desire to make.

Corruption in the world begins and ends with you! If you do not acknowledge corruption in yourself and others, you encourage it everywhere.  So, continually ask yourself if you are being authentic in the moment.  If you are, great!  If not, what can you do to become authentic here and now?  The more of us that get in the habit of doing this regularly, the less we will witness corruption out in the world and the more we will enhance each other in our day-to-day living, thereby creating a world that works for us all!

Who Has the Power?

This political season has been more interesting than any I remember! The major characters that are still running for the office of President of the United States couldn’t be more different! My favorite, Bernie Sanders, for the most part, represents the best in humanity. The other two remaining candidates (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump), appear to represent some of the insecurities that we humans carry around inside our souls. Most notably, they are obsessed with winning at all cost, apparently believing that they are nothing if they lose.

I must admit that I have been disappointed with many of the primary elections on the Democratic side of the race, given that Clinton has the lead in delegates. It has frustrated me how my candidate (who clearly is the most popular with respect to the size of crowds he consistently draws) does not have the greatest number of delegates. After doing some research on why this might be, it is quite clear that this discrepancy is a result of an overall strategy of election fraud.

While Clinton’s integrity has been called into question on multiple fronts, would dumping her in favor of Sanders solve the problems this country and world faces? Would having Bernie as president remove election fraud in the future? As Sanders himself has said, he cannot bring about significant social change himself. I agree. The fact is, simply replacing a president will do little to change the serious corruption that exists in our system because corruption is performed by numerous people. So even if the top person is not corrupt, that means nothing if that person cannot appoint others who play fair, nor will it do any good if we the people keep electing corrupt politicians to Congress and our state legislatures.

Not only that, but if we look at history, we see that not one of the terrible tyrants that rose to power could have produced the atrocities for which they are remembered without the help of other people. In fact, tyrants rarely commit misdeeds at all. The worse they do typically is come up with horrific policies, which are then turned over to others to execute (pardon the pun).

As good people, it is easy for us to look upon such dictators and condemn their behavior and that of their henchmen. Yet, we still have tyrants and ne’er-do-wells in positions of power today. Have we learned nothing? Why do we continue to make the same mistakes politically? I’ll tell you why. It’s because each of us does not take responsibility for ALL of our actions, which have a profound effect on the state of our society. We often go about our lives doing what we are told or doing what we were taught since infancy, giving no thought as to how our actions might affect those around us and society at large.

So the question becomes, how are each of us unwittingly contributing to the problems and the suffering that we experience today? There is no simple answer to this. However, if we each keep in mind that we are all connected, it becomes quite apparent that it is really impossible to not suffer with others, no matter how hard we try to isolate ourselves from those who are suffering. By the same token, any step an individual takes to improve the life on planet Earth will have a positive impact on the world to one degree or another. This perspective is embraced by Bernie Sanders and is a big reason why he is my candidate.

What does one have to do to improve the life for all? Well, take any societal problem you care to look at and challenge yourself to be as honest with yourself as possible. I’ll bet if you dig deep enough into the issue, you will find a way that you are contributing to the problem. Look at your motivation and ask, “Why am I inclined to perform a particular action? Am I willing to look at the benefits AND the drawbacks of performing that action?” When you attempt to answer these questions, you will probably notice that your motivation is based on a particular belief or two.

It seems quite apparent to me that most of us are trained to believe that we are powerless to enhance the world and that only others with “special talents” can actually enhance the world significantly. We are taught to admire, support and obey such people. Likewise, we are also taught to fear certain other people who have the power to bring about disaster (to greater or lesser degrees) or our own destruction. Needless to say, we wish to avoid interacting with the latter people, given that we are vulnerable to their misdeeds. As a result, we may be motivated to take action to remove the “evil” person from power (either by election or through violent means).

The funny thing is, whenever we remove a malfeasant from power, we almost inevitably get another malfeasant in his stead. Why is that? It’s because the problem was not the person in power. The problem was our belief that we are powerless! Think of it this way. If everyone in Germany back in the 1930’s embraced how personally powerful they were, would Hitler have been able to become chancellor? Not a chance! The same is true today. We really have no excuse for electing scoundrels or putting up with political corruption!

The problem is never “out there!” It is always in us! The good news is that the problem’s solution is in us, too. The tricky part is taking our attention off the problem so that we can see the solution. As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” When we dare to think from a different perspective from what we are used to thinking, we can see solutions much easier. What was once impossible all of a sudden becomes quite possible.

It is “possibility thinking” that is often seen as a threat to the status quo. Bernie Sanders has definitely been an example of a politician who thinks outside of the box of “conventional wisdom.” I think that the fact that so many people swarm to Sanders rallies suggests to me that more and more people are waking up to their indoctrination to conventional wisdom and realizing how powerful and creative they really are to make this country and world a haven for us all. Those who resist this awakening merely are resisting their own introspection and are content to continue living on “auto-pilot.”

The challenge I face when encountering people who are “asleep at the wheel,” is that I sometimes get angry at them, forgetting that doing so is an admission that they have power over me. As soon as I realize this admission, I remember that their behavior is ultimately irrelevant to my well-being. From my state of increased awareness, I can recognize that no other individual really has power over me unless I give them that power.

This realization, in turn, frees me to be the person I was meant to be. Nothing is more fulfilling than being the person you were meant to be. When we live our lives authentically, we exercise our power through creatively dealing with whatever situation is at hand. Lest you think that everyone being who they are meant to be would invite destructive chaos, remember that we are born of love and are creatures of love who deep down know that we are all connected so that when another suffers, we suffer. When we bring joy and well-being to others, we bring joy and well-being to ourselves.

The world needs you to be your authentic self, right here, right now, from now on. You are the one we’ve been waiting for! Claim your power and express it in your own creative and loving way…and I’ll do the same. Deal?