What is Friendship?

I have a friend who lost everything. I mean everything. His business, marriage and his apartment. I believe he lives out of his car now and he has been living this way for years.

Most of his wounds were self-inflected. He spent too much, was too arrogant and lost a lot of people’s money in a business deal that went south.  Now as a result, he is totally alone and on his own. His father passed away and the rest of his family lives overseas, so he no longer has a support system he can count on. He still lives in the N.Y.C. area, which is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, because he wants to stay close to his daughter.

He and I grew up together in N.Y.C.  Most of his closest friends still live there and most of them are financially well off.  Some even have multiple homes. Yet, nobody offers him a place to stay. Most of them know his situation, and from what I can gather, not one of them has offered to take him in.

His predicament got me thinking long and hard about what it means to be a friend. Is a friend just someone who we have a lot in common with and talk to frequently, or does it mean something more?

The city we grew up in is very liberal. There are numerous charities and programs to help the less fortunate. In fact, most of the people in our social circles give lots of money to charity and think of themselves as good people. And yet, when faced with actually doing something personal, like allowing him to stay in their homes, they all have punted. I think their actions say a lot about who they are.

Yet, I don’t believe their actions are any different than what most people’s would be under similar circumstances.

I believe that a true friend is someone that borders close to what we call family. Someone who would give the short off their back for you. The Japanese definition of friendship is likely the appropriate one. They have a term, kenzoku, which translated literally means “family.” The connotation suggests a bond between people who’ve made a similar commitment and who therefore share a similar destiny. It implies the presence of the deepest connection of friendship, of lives lived as comrades from the distant past. 

There is an interesting video in France wherein a reporter asks people on the street about the immigration crisis, the lack of housing and the effect it is having on the nation. Most of the citizens are quite welcoming of the immigrants. When asked if they would be willing to open their homes to them they all responded positively; yet, when presented with an actual immigrant who needs their help, they all decline. Check out the video to see what I mean.

The video is great at pointing out the fallacies and foibles of we humans. You see, we all tend to think of ourselves as humane, noble and kind; but, when truly given the opportunity to act in such a manner we decline. It is easier to give lip service than to actually be noble.

I know I’m no different and this pains me. Their are, however, exceptions. My wife used to pick up kids from the street in Ecuador and have them eat in her house. She has changed diapers and bed pans for the old and infirm.  I also have witnessed a friend of mine who, after divorce, took in her ex-spouses elderly relative to live with her. I am not sure I would have the spirit of heart to do something like that but she did. When measured against these people, I truly fall short.

This leads me back to my original question of what does it mean to be a friend? If we are only going to be there for the good times…the laughs… and only for the occasional inconvenience what is the point? Why have friends at all?

The fear of abandonment and failure scares us all. The Huffington Post ran an article that 70% of all Americans fear being homeless. The fear is real and felt by many. Yet, within my close circle of friends, we know someone who is homeless and nothing is being done. This is a tragedy. Its what’s underlying the despair and fear so many feel because we know if we ended up in his same predicament there would be no help. My friend now knows that he is on his own and must fend for himself. The tragedy is that all his friends know it too.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

 

Soccer Hacks & Life Hacks

My daughters play soccer. I used to hate the sport until I saw what it teaches about life.

My girls aren’t big or fast but they are super tricky with the ball. A coach once watched them play and asked me, “Where are they from? They don’t play like Americans.” He knew by their style of play that they were playing at a deeper level. When I told him that my wife was Ecuadorian he said, “Ah, that explains it. The Latino players know how to feel the game.”

That coach was from Spain. He told me it is always easy for him to spot these types of players. His theory is that Americans know the game and can play the game well. They are just too mechanical. To the contrary, Latin players play with spirit and tend to look for the angles and tricks to make the game easier. “Soccer is not a game only of mechanics but of spirit as well.” The same way any musician can play a melody yet a song only takes on true power once the spirit is involved.

My girls play with spirit.

The spirit is what invokes joy of the game and an understanding of where the ball is going. Having been around athletics all my life, I have come to realize how two players in a sport with equal ability and talent can learn the game; yet one person “will get the game” while the other won’t. The issue is not one of merely skill but of being open to allowing the spirit to flow. Being open requires both suffering and expression but along with them comes understanding.

My daughters have a move called the nutmeg where you pass the ball through the other person’s legs. It requires astuteness and an understanding of how the opposing player moves and defends. Most advanced players know the nutmeg but few use it. My daughters use that move at least once a game. For the opposing player, it is quite embarrassing to have a ball pass through their legs. However, once it is successfully done, the player who has watched that ball travel right through their legs knows she has been outclassed and will tend play more timidly. It takes a lot of time to learn the nutmeg but, once mastered, it is devastating because it goes represents a sublime comprehension of the game.

In my own life, I have witnessed the phenomena of studying something and never getting it. When I first started training in Aikido, there was a brown belt who had trained and studied for years but never advanced.  Ten years later, I was awarded my black belt before he reached the same level. Why? He understood all the techniques and could execute them proficiently but, at its core, he never truly understood Aikido.  Aikido is really about blending your energy with your attacker’s energy and redirecting that it all. In Aikido, if you are too severe with your techniques, you become immovable. If too soft the moves don’t work. So Aikido is learned “between the space” of hard and soft. You have to go into that space to learn it.

Here’s an example. I trained with a man named Andy. His techniques were so hard that he was essentially immovable. When I trained with him it was like being in a wrestling match to the death! One particular day, we trained together with a very senior student who broke Andy’s wrist and arm when Andy tried to out-muscle him. The senior student broke Andy’s arm  because Andy left him no other alternative. Andy’s Aikido was so rigid and strong that in the end he broke his own bones.  Had he been lighter and more flexible…more willing to blend with his opponent… he would not have suffered such devastating injuries. He got hurt because he was unable to become soft and vulnerable.

Most the activities that I have tried to become proficient in have involved learning the mechanics of the trade but also understanding the spirit of the endeavor. I’ve begun writing regularly. The only real traction I get is when I write something that stems from some type of deep insight. Yet to write anything that evokes insight takes years of reading and studying to understand the depth of realization. In the book ” One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s  the author conveys that writing is mystical and sublime in nature. The book revolves around a family in Latin America and its multiple generations.  Marquez is able to capture and explain the magical realism of Latin life in a way that seems true to life. Having spent many summers in Ecuador, I can assure you that belief in the mystical is quite real in South America.

The book is able to explain and connect with readers in ways that few books can. Had Marquez been too timid to write about the spirit and mysticism that many Latinos feel, his words would have had the profound and vast impact that it has. Many Westerners mock and laugh at this way of looking at life. While I am sure Marquez knew this he pressed on anyway risking scorn and ridicule.

All of life requires risk whether it be personal, recreational or professional. Many people spend the time to master the task while only a select few take the great leap of surrender, vulnerability and trust and to become great. A simple turtle can live its entire life in its shell but in order to move, walk, eat and procreate it needs to literally “risk it’s neck” to survive and prosper. We humans are no less obligated.

sleeclark@gmail.com

Loneliness and Virtual Reality

In N.Y.C. its not uncommon to live alone. I know because I lived there for many years.

The city is packed with people but many of them live lonely lives. In apartments and condos, its not uncommon for 40% or more of the residents to be single and living alone. Its understandable, since most apartments in N.Y.C. are 1 or 2 bedrooms. People who want to build a family inevitably move out. So, those remaining are single and live solitary lives.

I always thought this problem was more prevalent in N.Y.C. but Japan has struggled with the problem of solitude and loneliness for quite some time. “Nearly 1 in 4 men and 1 in 7 women in Japan were yet to be married at age 50 in 2015 in a clear sign that Japanese are increasingly shying away from tying the knot.”

It’s almost the result of the age in which we live. Although we have created many more ways for people to connect loneliness has actually increased. In the West, cultural markers such as marriage and birth rates are steadily in decline. Its as if, on some level, we’ve given up. Yet, as if that thought was not disturbing enough, I think things are going to get worse.  The advent of virtual reality, combined with porn, is a deadly and self-destructive mix. It will wreak havoc on relationships as well as how we function as a society.

Delivering porn by way of virtual reality will enable people to have entirely new experiences all within the confines of their mind. Human contact will no longer be needed. The virtual porn experience will be able to meet all of an individual’s sexual expectations.

The way virtual reality works is similar to the way visualization works. Part of the reason elite athletes use visualization is because they know that the brain has a hard time differentiating between something imagined and something real. Listen closely when a runner is interviewed following a winning race. He or she tends to say things like “the race went just like I envisioned it would.”  Visualization techniques are powerful; yet, they pale in comparison to what virtual reality can do to the mind.

This combination of porn and virtual reality will be the equivalent of a nuclear blast that will destroy whatever remains of the best of our culture. Even the medical field has begun to look at the damages of pornography. Dr. Judith Reisman called porn an “erototoxin,” theorizing that the brain itself might be damaged while watching porn. She speculated that future brain studies would reveal that the surge of neurochemicals and hormones released when someone watches porn has measurably negative effects on the brain.

When a reporter from Mashable went to test out a virtual reality clip from a porn distribution company, this is what he had to say: “Even though I was conscious that the two porn stars weren’t actually there and that the guy’s body wasn’t really mine, I still thought they were real. [emphasis added]. The more the porn girls jiggled their breasts in my face and rubbed their butts against me, the more I internalized being the VR porn guy. I felt my face get flushed as they showed me their, ahem, skills. Things got really weird, that’s all I’m going to say. I’m an advocate for all new technologies that push video mediums to the next level, and after trying out VR porn, I don’t think anyone who experiences it will be able to go back to 2D porn. It’s that realistic.”

Oddly enough the topic of addiction and the damage that virtual reality can inflict was explored in the 90’s film Strange Days where people bought and sold illegal virtual reality tapes of sex, murder, and rape with some of the tapes being so toxic that they had the ability to “fry” the brain. The lead character, played by Ralph Fiennes, spends countless hours reliving the sexual encounters with his former girlfriend, perfectly mirroring the behavior and mannerisms exhibited by a drug addict forever needing to get a fix. It is amazing to realize that a film so prescient was created before virtual reality was developed yet addresses the moral implications and destructive effects of the misuse of technology.

I am a firm believer that what most plagues our culture today is the destruction of the nuclear family. With the proliferation of virtual reality porn, whatever remnant of the nuclear family remains will be finally destroyed. Many males will elect to completely drop out of relationships, and therefore society, addicted to the thrill-on-demand of subservient and compliant virtual “women.”  (The data shows the majority of porn viewers are men.)

The widespread solitude and loneliness that is now so prevalent in our society will grow exponentially as people have the option, via their v.r. devises, to opt out of the complexities, demands and responsibilities attendant to human interaction. What will be gained is technologically-induced self-gratification. What will be lost is our humanity. As a former Wall Street trader, it seems like a bad trade.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

These Truths Are Self Evident

In Catholicism we believe in certain truths. These truths define our faith.

In fact, at every mass we recite The Apostle’s Creed  which lays out the tenants of our faith: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…” Each time we go to mass we reaffirm this belief. Given what we know today by way of breakthroughs in technology and science, many critics scoff at this creed finding that it refers to a time when life was more simple. It is therefore ironic that while many Liberals and Progressives mock the Church for its stands and its creeds, the Left has its own creed. It’s just packaged differently. This whole notion of creeds came to my attention when a friend of mine blasted this out to all of his email contacts:

  1. If you believe that tax cuts for the rich benefit the poor or middle class, please de-friend me.
  2. If you have less than $15 million in net worth and still call the estate tax the “death tax”, please de-friend me.
  3. If you don’t believe the earth is warming due to greenhouse gases, please de-friend me.
  4. If you believe everyone in the USA should have health insurance, please de-friend me.

It was a fairly aggressive stance.  He was saying that if you don’t believe what I believe then we should no longer be friends. Imagine if a Catholic lay person sent this out to his friends! I can hardly imagine the scope of rebuke and criticism.

You see this list that my friend sent out is part of the “Leftist Creed.”  The difference in creeds is that the Catholic one is inspired by God and deals with the relevancy of God presence in our lives; the Left’s creed is created by man as the foundation and pillar of government as its basis and support system.

For Catholics, the creed is a statement of faith, hope and our undying faith in Christ. Something greater than us. For the Left, faith and hope are placed in the bureaucracy of government: the belief that government is good and has the power to alleviate suffering.

I harbor no allusions regarding government. I detest and loath it. I am an American with strong Latino roots. Latinos know all too well from experience how corrupt politicians are. Just look at Venezuela, Ecuador and Cuba. This distrust of all things related to politics is quite common in Latin America. Less so here in the states. Barack Obama and FDR are two politicians who come to mind, both of who governed and believed that the power of the State could solve all of society’s ills.

Given my friend’s myopic belief in the Leftist Creed, he is willing to forgo friendships over it.  I wanted to address his points, if not with him directly then here.

  •  Taxes: The State and the establishment (teachers, media, etc.) always take the high ground, arguing over the moral correctness of paying taxes. They habitually sight the worst case alternatives when arguing for higher taxes. The homeless mother who would live on the streets if not for government housing; the lunch program for children who would otherwise starve. By claiming the high ground, all others who don’t pay their fair share are labeled as “cheats” and “tax evaders.” For me, taxes are government sanctioned theft. The State is claiming a right to your wages simply because you live here. Theft is to take someone’s property against his will, i.e., by force or fraud. If I don’t pay my taxes, I will end up in jail. How is that any different than being robbed by a mugger who will harm or kill me if I don’t turn over my wallet? In the first case, the Left argues my funds are being used to take care of the poor; but, how is that different than the robber who will using my funds for the same thing? The Left claims the high ground to coerce and manipulate people out of their money. It uses these arguments by saying government will allocate and distribute the money more efficiently and equitably than private institutions. In the end , all taxes do is fund government jobs and grows the State assuring the need for yet more taxpayer money.
  • Global Warming: There is this blatantly repeated mantra that the science on global warming is “settled.” When is anything in science settled? Consider these once settled items: the earth is flat, the planets revolve around earth and earth is the center of the universe. Remember, the question for the Left is not so much whether there is any warming but whether human activity is the major contributing factor to such warming. The fact is human beings do have an effect on the planet. And, yes we have done terrible things to it including the annihilation of numerous species. I would argue humans do have a big effect on climate change given all of our industrial production; but, so could a myriad of natural phenomena such as weather, solar flares, hurricanes, and/or earthquakes. There are other factors with greater magnitude and historically documented impact than what we humans can do. The threat of global warming/climate change disaster is about fear, manipulation and profit…all being used by the political class to collect more taxes and power to support their one-world, Socialist agenda.
  • Health Insurance:  I don’t think anything owes anybody anything. I can’t outsource my health. Its my personal responsibility to be mindful of  what I eat and maintain my body so that I don’t get sick. We have been conditioned and trained to run to doctors to cure us when, in reality, they should be in place to support disease prevention, not as station of last resort. For example, car insurance works because it supports the right behavior. If I need new tires or an oil change, I pay for it myself with many companies competing for my business. But if I get into an accident or cause major damage, I use my car insurance. Similarly, I would gladly pay for catastrophic health insurance that would only cover emergencies such as cancer; but, that option is not available here in the U.S.  Inexplicably, the Left was ecstatic over the passage of universal healthcare under Obama. They knew veterans have been covered by that plan for years and the V.A. is widely recognized as an total failure and abomination.  Had healthcare been allowed to evolve under free market principles, medical costs would have collapsed the same way the cost of televisions have collapsed as quality improving exponentially over time.

We all need basic principles and values to provide a framework for living our best lives. This is what a creed does. So, you can choose between a creed, such as the one I follow, that assures me of my inherent divinity as a child of God and worth His benevolent guiding hand or you can choose the Leftist Creed that assures you that without government intervention you are doomed to poverty and destruction of the planet.

Free Will. You choose.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

An Employee With Integrity

Today I experienced an extraordinary example of personal responsibility and integrity. A physician’s office initiated an unauthorized product order that caused an overdraft to my bank account.  I phoned the physician’s office to rectify the problem and was told by one of the staff that I would have to speak with the office manager who, after being put on hold, indicated she would call me back. In the meantime, no credit would be issued.

Because the manager had specifically not permitted the other staff person to issue my credit in advance of a call from her personally, I anticipated the rationale I was about to hear on the call back as to why the order had been shipped and that, unfortunately, no credit would be forthcoming.

Then the call came.

The manager began the call by saying she could not call me back until she had looked into all the facts surrounding the debit and shipment and spoken with other staff members. So I not so patiently, or calmly, awaited what would follow.

Imagine my shock when the next words I heard were, “You were 1000% correct. We were wrong. We made a mistake. I am so terribly sorry but we are going to make this right. We are issuing you the credit as we speak. When you know the full harm done to your account balance, please let us know. We are going to make this right.”

In a world so bereft of personal responsibility, of people who want to blame everyone but themselves for their own errors, of employees and staff being too busy, or too unconcerned, to care about customers’ or patients’ feelings and issues, it is totally appropriate that I call this adult, ethical and professional response “extraordinary.”

Perhaps this is the sad part of the story. That doing what is ethical, honest, and just plain “right” is now the exception rather than the norm. I am not about to wax nostalgic on “the good old days” as if there was ever a time when people always did the right thing. Its illusion to think perfection ever existed.

But is undeniably true that when rapid technological innovation and social media became the replacements for Judeo-Christian values and personal human interaction, we went down a slippery slope that has landed us in a world where the witnessing of personal responsibility and integrity deserves a blog post.

But it does.

Note:  Credit goes to the practice of Dr. Anthony Bazzan at the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health of Jefferson Hospital located in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Particular honorable mention goes to his office manager, Jody.

 

 

How Meditation Reduces Bad Behavior

My good friend, David Kupferman, has been a Transcendental Meditation (TM) instructor for most of his adult life. A few years ago he taught me the process. It changed my life and there is science to prove it can change yours. While TM has worked for me reducing stress, eliminating a propensity to quickly anger and opened up channels of creativity, there are many forms of mediation. Clearly, this Baltimore school has found one that is working for their students in a most inspiring way. Read here: http://www.positivenewsus.org/meditation-not-detention.html

 

Wonder Woman: Why Now?

The movie “Wonder Woman” officially opened on June 2nd.  At 8PM Central on June 1st, my twenty-four-year-old daughter and I were in our seats at an Austin, TX theater awaiting the pre-opening showing.  I’m not sure which one of us more eagerly had counted down to this moment. Since I can only speak for myself, I’ll share my eagerness and why.

I have had a Wonder Woman t-shirt (my favorite of all time!) for about 20 years. The particular shirt graphic that I have is no longer made (see the photo above). Throughout all that time, it seemed that whenever I wore the shirt something occurred that was noteworthy…or the basis for a good story. I’ve never tried to figure out if the shirt’s graphic simply acted as a catalyst to others, or whether I became empowered by all that it represented and then acted accordingly. Once, I actually stopped my car, stood in the middle of a four lane highway with a 60mph speed limit to help a paraplegic in a wheelchair to cross the road. Wearing the shirt at the time, I can only imagine the thoughts and comments of some of those drivers I held up, arms fully extended, from proceeding along their way as the young man in the wheelchair slowly wheeled himself from one side of the road to the other.

But there is more to my affinity with the Wonder Woman character than the shirt or acts of physical courage. I am a Divine Feminist, but before you groan and get off this page let me explain what that means.

We live in a world that attempts to resolve disputes by war and keeps masses enslaved with fear. It is both fair and accurate to say that men have run this world for more than two thousand years (perhaps five thousand according to Jewish history). It is a system that allows for technological and scientific progress but prevents social and spiritual development. When not preventing the latter, the system certainly inhibits and punishes them.

The reason for this is that any system out of balance lacks the means to moderate and modulate itself. A world run by male energy absent the input and countervailing force of female energy is doomed to look as ours does now: in perpetual repetition of an unsuccessful and self-destructive pattern.

Everything is energy.

Different energies vibrate at different frequencies. Different energies serve different purposes. When energies are correctly aligned or connected, positive outcomes result. Yet the opposite is equally true. Incompatible or inharmonious energies have the power to destroy.

Male energy was not meant to exist alone or without an equal and opposite energetic force. Hence, female energy. It is the Universal countervailing force to imbalance. It is what is called the Divine Feminine and why I call myself a Divine Feminist. This feminism is the polar opposite of political feminism, which would replace a world dominated by male energy with one dominated by female energy. Such a world would be as out of balance as the one we now suffer.

Fear breeds war. Love breeds peace.

Wonder Woman depicts and stands for the principle of Love. Not only will it not destroy male energy but, combined, the two will manifest the proper balance of energies that are intended as the basis for a prosperous humanity engaged in harmonious existence. Kept apart, those energies cannot fulfill their intended purpose. United, they are the principle of Oneness in action.

The making of the movie “Wonder Woman” has taken decades. The movie’s message that love is the answer has been beautifully and successfully brought to life by the first female director of a super-hero film. There are no accidents. I believe the time is ripe for the emergence of the Divine Feminine energy and its corresponding message. That’s why the movie has finally been brought to the screen. Enough of us are ready to put down the pattern of self-destruction through division. Let’s seize the moment and the opportunity to understand, once and for all, what “United we stand divided we fall” really means.                     Carole

What Has President Trump Done Now?

President Trump just announced his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. He set out, with specificity, the reasons why. The economic disadvantages it imposes upon the United States, the intentional redistribution of wealth from U.S. taxpayers to other signatories who have fewer obligations yet greater freedoms to pollute, the imposition upon U.S. autonomy in making its own energy decisions, and its infringement upon the freedoms given us by our Constitution.

I thought the speech was great. To paraphrase Michele Obama, “Today was not the first, but it was certainly one of the days I am proud of my country.”

But, I have a dear friend who is as distraught as I am happy. She believes that the decision to withdraw is grave error because it’s all about “protecting planet earth.” On this she and I are in agreement. It is important to protect the planet. Where we diverge is that the Paris Climate Accord is the way to do that.  My friend voiced two strong opinions. I’d like to address them both.

First, that since we already committed or “gave our word” it’s important that we keep it.  As lifelong friends, she knows how important I think integrity is so keeping one’s word is high on my list…just not at the expense of one’s life. And certainly not when the word was given by those who will only experience the benefits…not given by those who will suffer the consequences of being bound to it.

The Paris Accord disproportionately binds the U.S. economically. It restricts our autonomy and harms our workers. Those elitists and politicians who negotiated it will be on the receiving end of its profitability and inside deals on carbon credits. Those who had no say, the average working American, will bear the financial burden and become the beasts of burden by being forced into less available and lower paying jobs as a result of more jobs going overseas.

So, if you commit me to something about which I had no say, and that to which you commit me is antagonistic to my well being, don’t expect a friend of mine who shows up and who has the ability to undo what you bound me to… not to do so. That’s what President Trump did. He undid what former President Obama did and what Obama did was not in the best interest of this nation. However, and more importantly, it was not in the best interest of the planet. This is what I would have my friend understand.

One more behemoth bureaucracy will solve nothing. That is what the Paris Accord is in its present condition. It is the latest iteration, this time global, in concentrating too much power in the hands of too few in order to enslave the many.

If you spend billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars to allegedly reduce the temperature of the planet by a fraction of one degree over the next 25 years…but allow one polluting member (China) to burn enough dirty coal in 5 years to negate the benefit…well…who gets happy from that deal?… other than the Al Gores of the world who can afford to create and trade on a carbon credit exchange.

Saving the planet is no different than any other moral issue. You cannot legislate morality and you cannot pass binding agreements that demand we become the stewards of the earth that the Book of Genesis demands us to be.

Whether its moral acts toward one another or toward the planet, they will only come through an awakening of our consciousness and a change of our hearts. Such things happen “one consciousness and one heart” at a time. When enough of them have been so awakened and so changed that we reach a tipping point in our collective consciousness…well…that’s when we will save each other and the planet. Not because Angela Merkel, Barack Obama or any other elitist with a political agenda contractually binds us to.

As I listened to President Trump today tell the nation the realities of the really bad deal we committed to, I kept thinking of that line from “A Few Good Men” when Nicholson says, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” Today, if you took the time to listen, President Trump told you the truth about the Paris Climate Accord. You say you want the truth? If you’re angry, it’s because you can’t handle the truth.

Curing Depression, Anxiety and Fear

Depression, anxiety, and fear are symptoms not causes. So when I read today that recently compiled statistics show that “one in 10 distressed Americans in 2014 did not have health insurance that would give them access to a psychiatrist or mental health counselor” I understood the point… but think it overshot the mark.

We have a tendency to treat symptoms not causes. I think its because as awful as symptoms can be they usually arise from causes we’d rather not confront. Whether it’s a lesion on our body or our psyche, we instinctively know that it will take less effort, and require less honesty and introspection, to treat the symptom rather than the cause.

The article went on to say each of these stress related conditions has escalated since the 2008 financial crisis. That the economic hit people took, the careers that were eviscerated overnight, the enduring personal debts that accrued due to loss of income have all been contributing factors. Well, yes.  And so it’s why I understand the concern for inadequate health insurance to address the symptoms, because psychiatrists and mental health counselors treat symptoms.

Only the individual can treat causes, and treating causes requires courage and honesty rather than government assistance or health insurance.

Of course the financial crisis of 2008 was hard on everyone (well, nearly everyone except those on the inside who are still profiting from their foreknowledge and connections) but even the near collapse was a symptom of a deeper cause. It was a symptom of a culture where values and principles have been discarded in favor of materialism and technology.

If you want to treat the cause of depression, anxiety and fear you have to look at the quality of your life, the choices you make, the things to which you aspire, the love in your heart for yourself and others. You have to put those you love before the things you want. You have to find gratitude in everything you have…not mourn or resent that which eludes you.

We went way off track decades ago. It began in the 1960’s in an innocent enough way. It began with the rising phoenix of individualism, no better exemplified that by four, hot-looking musicians from Britain with outrageously long hair and lyrics that dared speak truth about life as they saw it.  It was an exhilarating time when anything went and love, or at least sex, was a free-for-all.

Much could have come from that innocence but what, in fact, followed were decades of ever increasing self-absorption, self-indulgence and separation. We became a culture that wanted everything bigger, better, faster.

The millennials, who think they have their priorities on straight and are opting out of the “bigger” are still enslaved to the better and the faster. That is because they were raised by technology not human hands and hearts. In the world of technology, newer and faster are the “un-status” status symbols. Every generation has them…the seductions of the material world. It’s just that in each generation they are cloaked somewhat differently.

An appreciation for the material is not a sin. We live in physical world with things of beauty all around. Some are creations of God and some are creations on mankind. Both are here for our enjoyment not our enslavement.

I know firsthand about materialism and depression, anxiety and fear. I was raised with money. My parents had lots and, therefore, I had lots of things that were the status symbols of my generation. Three corvettes before the age of 20 paints an accurate picture. I was also riddled with depression, anxiety and fear. So, between the ages of 20 and 30, I saw a psychiatrist and a couple of mental health counselors. Its why I feel the authority to write about symptoms and causes.

I had stomach problems (symptom) that led to intestinal surgery at age 16.  At age 23, I was very depressed (symptom) so Triavil was prescribed. I used those to try to commit suicide (symptom). I was married and divorced in 11 months (symptom) followed by a series of unsuccessful relationships (symptom). I developed fibromyalgia (symptom) in my 30’s and struggled with it for almost two decades until I had enough of symptoms, their treatments and their cures.

I decided to address the cause, which turns out to be a full time job of being honest with myself and others, holding myself accountable for my actions, finding a connection to God, birthing my creativity and generally living life as an adult with principles and values that I live by not just espouse.

I have come to believe that most physical and psychological illnesses are the result of a spiritual imbalance. A soul at odds with higher laws. So, looking to government or the medical community often turns out to be an excuse for not looking within and up. I think we could cure a lot of our nation’s ailments by a willingness to look into the causes of our individual discontent and righting those aspects of ourselves that have gone belly up.              Carole

MOAB Then and Now

Today the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat. It was dropped in Afghanistan on the caves used by ISIS affiliate Khorasan to attack U.S. troops. The bomb is a GBU-43 named “Massive Ordinance Air Bomb, or MOAB. Am I the only one who was riveted by that acronym?

Moab is a name I am very familiar with since it is on the mountain Nebo, in the Land of Moab, that Moses gazed upon the Promised Land and died without ever having entered it. Why? Because Moses disobeyed God’s direction.  During the Exodus, while the Israelites were wandering in the desert on their way to the Land of Canaan, God instructed Moses to “speak to” the rock so that water could be brought forth to show the people that God would provide for them. Moses “struck” the rock instead and the water poured out.  The consequence of Moses having disobeyed God was that Moses would bring the Israelites to the land but never enter it himself. He died there.

What was so terrible? So he struck it instead of speaking to it. Wasn’t the purpose to get the water out to show God’s willingness to provide? Well, no. The purpose was to be humble, witness faith and be an example of patience with a doubting people. Moses brought forth the water in anger. Faith and patience know not anger. Then, to add insult to injury, he took credit for the miracle!

I don’t want to get all religious on you here. I write about energy not theology. From that perspective, different energies have different frequencies and effect different ends. The type of energy you use has a direct impact on the end you affect…on the outcome.

I remember what a teacher once told me when I was taking a class in Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. He said, “Of course you have to discipline your child. And sometimes it’s necessary to appear to be stern or even angry. That is fine as long as you are angry in appearance only, not in your heart. When you seem angry to that child, you must be holding love in your heart.”

It’s a nuanced approach but I get it. What originate from love can only create good. What originates from anger can only create more anger. Speaking to the rock would have done it without anger. When Moses struck that rock he was angry. So what began in anger ended poorly…for him.

We live in troubled times and, too often, we think we have all the answers. In our hubris, we act precipitously and take credit for the outcome, conveniently forgetting that there is a higher power that provides us with the basics of how we are to live our lives and who assures victory.  Have faith and be love. Its simple. We are still allowed to defend ourselves, or the oppressed, but we must do so with an awareness and circumspection of what is in our hearts. We must understand our connection to all that is. If evil was set back today, and good comes of it, let us understand that it was divine intervention that succeeded not egoic politicians.

So what’s the connection between Moab and MOAB?  I sure hope those pilots had love in their hearts when they dropped that thing.                     Carole