Mental Illness and The Red Pill

The average age of onset for depression is 14, as diagnosed now, compared to age 45 in the 1960’s. If that statistic doesn’t give us all a moment’s pause in the current national gun control debate nothing will.

The above statistic comes from an article published today in Britain’s “The Telegraph” which cites the results of the largest scientific study ever carried out in Great Britain. The article notes that the results and recommendations of the study have been published in The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal and one of the world’s oldest and best known. Perhaps the most astonishing, and disturbing, of those conclusions is this: a million more Britons should be placed on anti-depressants.

Now let’s tie the first two paragraphs of this post together with a personal story.

At age 24, I was being treated for ongoing depression. My doctor had prescribed Triavil. The generic is amitriptyline and perphenazine, a tricyclic antidepressant. Side effect warnings are as follows:

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself. [emphasis added].

I didn’t report any worsening symptoms. I simply tried to commit suicide, which is not uncommon for people on anti-depressants or those coming off that class of drugs. So imagine my dismay (there’s an understatement!) to read that physicians and scientists in Britain want to put 1 million more people on them.

We humans like quick, simple and generally overreaching solutions. So with mental illness, a definition that encompasses not only depression and anxiety but also a myriad of complicated and diverse conditions, of course…let’s give them all a pill and be done with it. Let’s not be bothered by the annoying and multi-faceted “why” behind the statistic of depression onset falling from age 45 to age 14 in 50 years. After all, that would require inquiry, dialogue and behavior modification, not to mention an assessment of cultural and societal influences.

It’s kind of like saying, “We’ve clearly got an increase in violent behavior by humans so let’s get rid of all the guns.” Never mind that without understanding and addressing the underlying causes of the increase in violent behavior, we humans, being the ingenious creatures that we are, will find other ways to express the violence brewing within us.

Nor do I think that the proliferation of mental illness (as found by the British study and as evident here in the U.S. as it is in Britain) is unrelated to increased violent behavior toward one another. But neither a pill nor gun confiscation will solve either of these because treating the effect without treating the cause is like putting a band aid on a visible sarcoma. You may cover up the unpleasantness you’d rather not see… but the underlying disease continues to metastasize.

Mental illness remains one of the last taboos. We are a culture where you can openly be gay but not openly depressed. Where a parent will stand side-by-side with a daughter who “identifies” as a son, but who will not acknowledge a psychotic child. Where social media revels in shaming but not compassion. Where acceptance of diversity is demanded of racial issues but not encouraged on the battle ground of ideas.

I have some advice for the British scientists and physicians who want to medicate one million more people with synthetic drugs. The only pill any of us should be taking at this point is the red pill not the blue one.  And if you don’t know what that means it’s time you watch “The Matrix”…because we’re in it.    Carole

The Cowardice of Anonymity

The internet should have made us smarter but instead it made us more cowardly.  Courage has always been one of the least prolific traits in us humans.  It’s why we are so moved by stories of heroism.  While we all wish we could step up in moments of crisis or need and do the right thing, most of us know that it’s likely going to be someone else who does the heavy lifting because, for the most part, we lack the courage of our convictions.

As if this realization, and fact, isn’t dismaying enough, enter the potentiality of the internet. With the advent of social media, it became possible for cowards to wreak havoc from the quiet and safety of their own personal space…be that their office or their mother’s basement.  Name calling, shaming, outing, verbally assaulting, accusing and spreading known falsehoods, (formerly called lying and recently identified as fake news) have become the coward’s creed. It’s all done without attribution; hence, anonymously.

Wanting and taking no credit, wanting and taking no responsibility cowards wreak havoc on a culture already vulnerable and fragile.  We have become a nation of wizards, behind the figurative curtain, powerless in our own lives but still able to turn enough wheels, ring enough bells and generally make enough noise to delude ourselves that we are powerful in our own way and able to make a difference.

The only difference such people make is that with each anonymous attack or dissemination of knowing falsehood, they move us closer to the destruction of everything good and decent that we are capable of achieving.  They feed their own inadequacies and insecurities by telling themselves they matter. After all, look at all the chaos they are able to create. As if negatively creating is the same as effecting positive change. As if there is no difference between evil and good.

I heard a true story about a visitor to Auschwitz, the German concentration camp, who spoke with an elderly woman who lived in one of the surrounding towns while the Nazi’s were cremating Jews within shouting distance.  This particular woman had helped feed and hide Jews. When the visitor asked her “How did you suddenly become righteous in the midst of all the chaos” she replied, “Oh, the righteous didn’t suddenly become righteous. They just refused to go over the cliff with everybody else.”

Recently, I have been the object of falsehoods published about me at the community in which I live. The Board of Directors took it upon themselves to publish those falsehoods in an email to all the residents. Its their response to a difference of opinion. The statements are false and I have proof of it and so I will take appropriate action. After all, I’m a lawyer.

It is unlikely that twenty years ago, or maybe even ten, people would have been so quick to think you can just make facts up, or twist the ones that exist, and then publicly spread the lies. But, sadly, too many of have devolved into our lower selves. Conditioned by social media, we have taken up the banner of anonymity cloaking ourselves in a false sense of power and importance.

Our culture of anonymity is doomed to self-destruct.  The Wizard of Oz is instructive. Eventually the curtains will be lifted, and the impotent cowards will be exposed for who they are.  But in order for that to happen, we will need to reach a tipping point where enough of us refuse to go over the cliff with everybody else.

I’m standing securely on the edge watching the many go off the cliff. Where are you?

Carole

 

 

A Day In The Park

“You were at the park? Wow! I haven’t been to the park in fifteen years.” To which I replied, “I haven’t stopped going for twenty.”

My friend who made the comment has two kids, ages 16 and 18. He was obviously shocked that I still go to the park. When he was younger he had taken his kids, as toddlers, but as they had gotten older he stopped going. To the contrary, I have six kids ages 6 to 19 and I take my kids out into nature every day. If I don’t, they can become unbearable…to themselves as well as me!

These outdoor excursions have given me the opportunity to meet many people, learn important lessons and make some observations. Admittedly, its now a little strange to encounter people fifteen years my junior with kids the same age as my youngest. I began raising my kids in the playgrounds of New York City. Later we moved to Texas where I have been raising my two youngest. The parenting and lifestyle contrast between New Yorkers and Texans couldn’t be more profound.

When I first started going to the playground in NYC I was, by far, the youngest parent there. The majority of parents were in the early forties, learning to parent for the first time. It was not uncommon to see multiple sets of twins (usually a sign of genetically-enhanced pregnancy) and kids with disabilities. For most parents, they had waited too long and had resorted to fertilization methods to get pregnant. While the lucky ones had twins, the unfortunate ones had children with disabilities. (I am not dismissing the joy experienced or wisdom learned from raising a disabled child; I am only addressing here the practical consequences of decision making). Those older parents always looked out of breath and out of shape to me. They treated their babies like precious cargo which was, of course, understandable. For many of them, having those children had been a long shot that had cost them a great deal.

NYC is such a competitive environment. I knew what many of those parents had gone through. They had worked hard to establish a career and make money because in Manhattan you need money…lots of it… to survive. They had sacrificed precious years only to find themselves aging and alone with no family. Many of them married in their late thirties and gave birth shortly thereafter.  For those, it was literally their last hope for a mate and a family. For some, when their bodies could not produce the children they wanted, they turned to pharmaceuticals to engineer their kids. And when they finally had their children, those parents looked old and worn out.

Many of those New Yorkers had done their best to “plan” out their lives. They had methodically gone to the best schools, found the best jobs, planned it all out so that when they decided to marry and have a family it would happen on schedule… like all of their other plans. But it never works out that way. The biggest thing I learned from those excursions was that time marches on…irrespective of our having a plan or not. Genetic time clocks tick ever onward.

The exhaustion on their faces showed in everything they did. The pregnancy, the marriage and the kids had been other items on the checklist of their planned lives. Yet, the conversations I had with many of them evidenced regret. They had waited too long to get married and start a family. Time had marched on without them. They had mistakenly believed they could manage life and their management plan had been vanquished. On multiple occasions, I met couples who had married simply because they felt out of options. They were motivated by fear that if they did not marry their current partner, they might never marry at all.

The saddest to observe were the parents of the disabled children. There is nothing more painful for a parent than to see their child suffer. These parents clearly suffered along with their children. Anybody who has had a child can tell you that the risks of birth defects are greater as you age. Statistics bear it out. Yet, these brave parents had risked everything to have a child and accepted the consequences.  They had finally gotten the family they desired and it cost them dearly. The parents in NYC made a Faustian bargain that failed them. They had their kids but found they did not have the energy or time needed to do it right. Sadly, the realization came after the fact.

In Texas, the contrast is startling. The first thing I observed was that the parents were younger. They had gotten married in their twenties and had more children. They seemed to understand that if they wanted kids, family and career it had to be properly prioritized. They were willing to make the career sacrifices to have the family.  For the most part, they seem happier. They made peace with the idea that if you want a family it is best to begin building it while still young.

There are multiple reasons for these two, very different scenarios. One that stands out in my mind is how the media and the Feminist movement promote the notion that women can have it all. They trot out people like Angelina Jolie with her brood of kids and great career as an example to us all that it can, in fact, be had. Even the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote a book called Lean In about how women can have everything their heart desires…family, career, success, etc.  Sandberg is an avowed Feminist who wants to transform the role of women in the workplace.  She is also incredibly wealthy. Her wealth, and the wealth of others like Jolie, makes it possible for them to have it all because they are able to pay for it all. The nanny, the cook, the housekeeper and the tutor.  For the vast majority of women, those chores and necessities must be accomplished by themselves while simultaneously earning a living and trying to raise a family. Further, decisions have to be made and priorities set for which there are real consequences. So while the Jolies, Sandbergs and Feminist movement claim you can have it all, those tired and often sad parents I observed in NYC know its not true.

Children need attention and, most importantly, time. Especially in their formative years. Time from their parents. To think otherwise is foolish, delusional and ultimately destructive to a healthy family life. You can have all the money in the world but it can’t buy time. We all have to live by the same ticking clock.

Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had a great perspective on child rearing: ” If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” In the midst of all her wealth, fame and power Kennedy Onassis figured out what Sheryl Sandberg has yet to learn. The most important thing we do is wisely prioritize our values and put our children at the very top of that list.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

What Feminism Was Supposed To Do

How is it that 45 years after the birth of feminism, and its continued growth as a social movement in this country, we discover for all that time we were enmeshed in systemic sexual harassment of girls and women? Why is it that the same girls and women who were fighting for equal pay and the right to dress as they pleased seemed unable, or unwilling, to simultaneously fight for their own physical and emotional safety? Why are the multitude of people who acquiesced, or turned a blind eye, to the sexual harassment and degradation of women now being hailed as “courageous” for merely jumping on the band wagon of what only a very few (e.g. Rose McGowan and Natasha Henstridge) had real courage to expose?

The answer isn’t that feminism was a fraudulent movement so much as it was a misguided one. It had its priorities wrong. In trying to achieve equal respect, promotion parity and wage equality for women, it told women the way to get there was to be like men. Nowhere was the movement’s mantra said better or more succinctly than when leader and spokesperson for the feminist movement, Gloria Steinem, voiced “We’re becoming the men we wanted to marry.” Well, yes. But that created the result 45 years later: 1) there are very few of those men left and 2) an awful lot of people aren’t even sure which gender they, in fact, are.

This isn’t about gender identity. It’s about what it means to be a woman. To be the walking, talking, “Divine Feminine” if you will.  There seems to be a lot of confusion about this term. It’s not a mystical or metaphysical concept. It’s one of two specific creations by the Divine. In Genesis 1:27: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Let’s not parse words or get theologically bound in minutia. Generally speaking, we can agree that men and women exist and that there are some inherent differences in the way we are wired. Not in whether we would rather play football or dress Barbie… but in how we approach conflict resolution or emotional issues. Scientists studying dissimilarities underlying some of the most important gender distinctions have found distinctions deeply rooted to the days when men were hunters on the savanna and women were gatherers rearing children near camp.

I suggest we women are wired in a particular way, as are men, such that working together, in harmony, we provide a natural balance that is necessary for the continued well-being of the species as well as the planet we inhabit. When imbalance occurs, the species and the planet suffer. In the extreme, our very existence is at stake.

For thousands of years societies, and the planet, have been predominantly administered by Divine male energy. For the most part, and in most places, influence of the Divine feminine has been marginalized, ignored, subjugated or enslaved. This has resulted in profound imbalance and its resulting effects. Because nature, of which we are a part, has the power to rectify imbalance, what we are seeing is a re-emergence of the Divine feminine.

But we must be very careful not to confuse the Divine feminine with feminism.

The Divine feminine has as its inherent quality a countervailing energy to the Divine masculine. It is not the Divine feminine’s role to become the Divine masculine but rather to countervail it. To balance it out.

I don’t countervail a guy whose pants are worn in a way to expose his rear end by in turn dressing to expose my breasts. I do so by dressing modestly thereby showing respect for my physical body. I do not countervail aggressive or violent behavior by acting similarly. I do so by reasoned thought and compassion for someone’s discomfort or pain.

The danger of the #TimesUp movement, or the Oprah Winfrey speech at the Golden Globes, or all those who now think its “women’s turn” is in us becoming a reaction rather than a countervailing force.  Reactions tend to be equal and opposite. We do not need women to now spend decades or centuries…even millennia…reacting to the mess unbalanced male energy has created. This would only bring about more imbalance albeit at the opposite end of the spectrum.

What we need to do now, as the Divine Feminine, is to move with ease and grace into those places where imbalance is evident. In actual practice, this means that both men and women will have to examine their own internal balance and adjust accordingly. It is no longer about one or the other gender being in power. Nor is it about being confused into thinking that men must become women or vice versa. Just as no one politician can solve all of our problems, no one gender can either. Where diversity exists, whether in politics or gender, conflict resolution is a team sport. Successful teams have players who each contribute something of value to the end game. But the success starts with the preparedness of each individual player and their understanding of the contribution they must make to the team.

The Divine feminine is not here to usher in a new era of female dominion over men. We’re here to make the unique contribution only we can make toward fulfilling our part in creating and maintaining the harmony and balance necessary to sustain the world.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

 

Intel’s Bug is a Plague

This week it was revealed that Intel, the largest manufacturer of computer processors has, since 1995, been producing processors with an inherent bug. The bug provides a way to hack every computer and mobile device that has one of those processors. This translates into an incomprehensible amount of computers and mobile devises that can be hacked for the most private, and mistakenly believed, protected data.

We will inevitably lose our identities as we have lost our privacy.

While I am a lawyer, I am also a natural intuitive. Psychic, if you will. As a result of that inherent dichotomy in the way I am wired, I have always had two sets of nearly incompatible friends. One set is my left-brain, logical-rational friends and the other my right-brain, creative-intuitive friends. Most of the latter are psychics. People whose intuition is highly developed and who believe in concepts that make my left-brain friends roll their eyes in condescension and disbelief…concepts such as past lives, bi-location, astral projection and for purposes of this post, the lost continent of Atlantis.

It is human nature that when we encounter people whose world view is radically different than our own to see those people as either ignorant or crazy. After all, how else does one continue to put stock, not to mention faith, in one’s ideas and beliefs if not by negating those which present a direct challenge to our status quo? The latest example of this is how many people dismiss, even hate, Donald Trump…and none more than the hard core politicians and agenda driven individuals who have been running this country their way for a hundred years. But this is just one example.

Here’s another.

My psychic friends and I believe that Atlantis (and perhaps Lemuria) were civilizations that had advanced technologically to the point, or beyond, to which we have now arrived. As a result of misusing that advanced technology, combined with a corresponding lack of ethical and moral development, that civilization destroyed itself. Further, add to that historical perspective the concept of reincarnation and we believe that many of us alive today were also alive then, in Atlantis. We are, so to speak, “back.” It is our opportunity to “get it right” this time by not allowing the technology to control or destroy humanity.

Which brings me back to the Intel bug. We are most likely going to make the same mistakes again that were made in Atlantis. We are headed for destruction in several ways thanks to the proliferation of technological development alongside a dearth of moral, ethical, and social development of equal measure.

We are all addicted to the technology. You know it and I know it and anyone who says otherwise is in denial. From the couples and families who dine together while texting, to the waiting rooms at hospitals and public spaces filled with people all on their cell phones, to the internet shopping, to the manipulated news we allow to control our thinking, to the social media that is a vacuous substitute for real life…we are all addicted.

Now we are on the verge, through AI, of substituting robots for what is left of relationships. Men will be able to have female bot partners that satisfy their every carnal fantasy with no corresponding emotional demands while women will be able to have partners that satisfy their emotional needs without having to work so hard to make that happen or, in many instances, paying the price of their self-respect in order to even have a partner.  We will purchase our customized partners while human mates be damned. Japanese men have already shown us the future of what happens when you can choose between an emotionally complex (and perceived demanding sexual partner) and one that provides whatever is asked for while asking nothing in return. The Japanese men prefer the bots.

Isn’t that why we like our dogs and cats so much? Unconditional love, even when we neglect or abuse them? We get what we want and need while the “other” be damned. It’s easier that way, right? The problem is that what comes easy is generally unappreciated and undervalued. We find meaning in life from our struggles, from the things we strive, sweat and work for not from what comes easy. It’s one of the most profound lessons of human existence that we all learn, sooner or later. So having everything we want handed to us, or our every want and desire anticipated and satisfied, will not only be empty of meaning it will cripple and enslave us.

So, while it is typical that when most people hear the word psychic, or talk of alternate realities and reincarnation, they take it with a grain of salt…or not at all…those of us who have walked that path for all, or most, of our lives have seen this handwriting on the wall. We are headed for self-destruction. Not of a few individuals, but of the species as we know it.

Why?

Because regardless of how lifelike the bots are, or how advanced the AI becomes, none of it is human. At best these are all man-made substitutes. Only hubris leads us to conclude that we can replicate through technology what God has created. And like all forgeries, what we try and replicate will, in the end, be revealed for the fraud it is.

The Torah, the first Five Book of Moses commonly referred to as the “Old Testament” is instructive. This same hubris led humankind to build a tower to the heavens so that back then they, too, could be as God. The effort resulted in chaos, destruction and separation we still suffer from today.

Laugh at and dismiss the psychics, the intuitives with a sixth sense, if you will. But in your heart you know that we are in trouble and it isn’t Donald Trump, the Republicans or the Democrats that is the source of that trouble. It is us…and the disease that will wipe us out isn’t plague. Its hubris.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

Sexual Harassment and Empowerment of Women

The reaction of women to the ongoing revelations of sexual harassment charges is of greater concern to me than the charges themselves. My concern stems from a common misunderstanding of the concept of “empowerment” which leads people to draw incorrect conclusions. Empowerment is not something someone else gives you or takes from you.  Empowerment is something you give yourself and, therefore, is only absent if you relinquish it.

I do not dismiss the importance of shining a bright light on immoral, and too often, criminal behavior. It is wrong to touch, fondle, or make sexually explicit contact with the body of another human being without their consent. Such actions are that much more egregious when they occur in a work related environment and are the quid pro quo for advancing one’s career.

How someone behaves towards you is separate from whether you condone or condemn the behavior and its is definitely unrelated to how you think and feel about yourself.  Certainly young children are vulnerable to developing self-images based upon how they are treated and valued by the adults around them. But, as my father used to say, “You’re 3 times 7 now so think for yourself.” Once we reach a certain age of maturity, we become responsible for what we will tolerate, the decisions we make and the consequences that flow from them.

If women want to know what is empowering the answer is dignity, which is why empowerment is an internally generated process, not a externally gifted one.  No one gives you dignity. You claim it by valuing your divinity and acting accordingly.

I applaud Salma Hayek for her honesty and courage in going public in a New York Times opinion piece this week by sharing her story of suffering under the harassment and emotional abuse perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein. For much of Hayek’s story she stood her ground against Weinstein’s lewd advances and verbal abuse, and by so doing, made her efforts to bring the movie “Frida” to the screen that much more difficult.

But in the end, Hayek compromised herself to get the film made by acquiescing to Weinstein’s demand that she perform a full frontal nudity scene with another female actress. In her own words, Hayek admits that her “vomiting” and literal “nervous breakdown” over Weinstein’s demand stemmed from the fact that she knew she would be performing the scene for Weinstein’s personal pleasure not for any artistic purpose. Dignity is the key to empowerment. Hayek’s relinquishment of her dignity, her acquiescence to what she knew was demeaning and degrading, is the real crime. A crime against self. Its why she never really got over it and why it haunts her.

Assaults to our dignity as the Divine Feminine, as women, happen in large and small ways every day of our personal and professional lives. It is up to us to establish healthy and self-serving boundaries around what we will and will not tolerate. Further we must establish firm boundaries and standards around what price we are willing to pay to gain acceptance, advancement or simply to be “liked.”

As an Intuitive, I do spiritual counseling. Yesterday, a client called for a session over the phone. He began to tell me about a heated encounter he had with a superior. The client was enraged and used profanity after profanity to share the exchange and his lingering anger. I told him that I had the picture and asked him to stop using the profanity. He continued. When I asked him again he said, “That’s how I talk and I am not going to change it for you.” So I told him I don’t engage in that level of dialogue and did not intend to be the object of it. I ended the session much to his displeasure. Following the call, he texted me that he was “just venting” and that his rage wasn’t directed at me. My reply was that regardless of how he described it, I chose to not be on the receiving end of violent language and rage. I may have lost a client but I retained my integrity and my dignity.

I could have stayed on the call. After all, I bill by time. I could have endured the filthy and violent language and made money. But I have learned, through trial and error, what empowers and what makes us victims of our own cowardice. There is not enough money someone could pay me to cause me to relinquish my self-respect.

Thirty years ago I wrote an e-book titled “No More Secrets.” I believed then that we were coming upon a time in human history when the emergence of spiritual Light would prevent the kind of deception and manipulation to continue that had flourished in the shadows of humanity for thousands of years. I believe we have arrived at such times. Its why whether Harvey Weinstein or out-of-control FBI agents…deception will be revealed. This is all for the good. We humans will figure out the next steps in our conscious evolution by learning how to live with one another exhibiting greater integrity and mutual respect. Even if this learning process is painful, we will get there.

It’s why I say that our reactions as women to this now exposed, shameful behavior by certain men is more important than the behavior itself. We women must be careful not to misuse or waste this moment and this opportunity to take back the reigns of controlling our own empowerment by wrongfully shifting the focus on to those who stepped up and took power over us simply because we were remiss in relinquishing it in the first place.

Carole

(contact@carolegold.com)

The Reality of Jerusalem

One of the most eye-opening lessons of having been a divorce attorney for close to 15 years was the realization that most, if not all, clients know the truth of their relationship even if they choose not to believe it. This means that whatever the reason turned out to be for the failed marriage, the underlying truth of the deficiency was known but ignored. Sometimes the reason “for looking the other way” was financial; sometimes it was because it was easier to stay the course than brave the unknown…but an awareness of the underlying truth was none-the-less present. It made me acutely aware of our propensity to see only what we want to see and only what supports our current belief system.

This propensity isn’t limited to our personal relationships. It’s starkly evident in our politics. You either hate Donald Trump, seeing everything he does as evil, or you love him, believing he can do no harm. Yet, truth is not so clearly defined.

Donald Trump is human and, therefore, flawed. This means that he sometimes makes good decisions and sometime bad ones. It means he can be emotionally arrested at, perhaps, some adolescent stage of development while at the same time being intellectually competent and able to strategize with a high degree of success. There is no incompatibility in the co-existence of such facts even if the combination of them if less than ideal. He is who he is.

I try and make my evaluations of the President’s behavior not within the context of the “love him or hate him model” but rather upon the wisdom, or lack thereof, of each individual action. This allows me to sometimes stand with him and sometimes stand in opposition to him.

This brings me to where I stand on his decision regarding Jerusalem.

As I stated at the outset of this post, we humans have a hard time with reality when it flies in the face of what we prefer to believe. So, the wife who denies that her husband is having an affair, even when all the evidence points to the contrary, has much in common with the person who denies Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, even when all the evidence points to the contrary.

The evidence was factually and succinctly set forth in President Trump’s announcement of the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:

It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem — the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.  For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.

Facts are pesky things to those who deny their existence. But denial of fact does little to diminish its existence.

As an American Jew, you might think I have a dog in this hunt and maybe I do. But as a lawyer, I can tell you that many a juror has a vested interest in some aspect of a case they may be seated in deciding. But we ask such jurors if “despite your feelings or experience, do you think you can hear the facts of this particular case and make a fair and impartial decision based upon the facts?” When the answer is “yes” we seat that juror.

Having an interest does not necessarily translate into having a bias.

In the instance of Jerusalem I cannot comprehend why any American, especially Jewish Americans, cannot put their political lens aside and simply examine the facts as set forth by the President in his decision-making process. The capital of Israel is Jerusalem whether you are a Democrat or Republican…unless, of course, you are first-and-foremost a single issue, political creature rather than a human who discerns and accepts facts, distinguishing them from agenda or wishful thinking.

My way of analyzing President Trump is a balanced approach which allows me to see the totality of the man while at the same time distinguishing between his weaknesses and his strengths. It allows me to be repulsed by the way he has referred to women or demeaned his opponents; yet, it also allows me to take great comfort and pride in his courage to speak truth to power and stand for what is right by recognizing Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel.

Carole

(contact@carolegold.com)

How To Profit

Last week saw the final step in closing a deal that would have made me a decent amount of money in the short run and, potentially, a great deal of money in the long run. I could have ignored my principles and my gut thereby finalizing the details of the deal. Or, I could have stood on principal, followed my gut and likely caused the deal to crash and burn. I stood my ground.  It crashed and burned. I feel really good. If making money is the measure of success, I failed. But if the measure is what was ethical, legal and honest then I scored big. This deserves an explanation.

I had been in negotiations with the creator of an app.  He was trying to raise seed money; first round investors. Even if you’ve got a great product or service, which this guy seems to have, that first round of fundraising is always a challenge. After all, you’re doing it with no profits or sales to back up your claim of value. And of course, the developer always thinks the value of his product is worth gazillions and the investors always think it’s not. There was a target amount to be raised by a date certain and I was trying to reach that target by that date. One week prior to the deadline I had succeeded in securing an investor willing to put up 50% of the target. Further, I had contacted an additional investor who had an interest and, if terms were agreeable, was willing to put up twice the target amount in addition to the 50% I had already secured.

Terms. The magic word.

You see, from the first presentation that I attended as a potential fundraiser, the terms for potential investors were vague and changeable. In fact, whenever the developer was asked the terms, he repeatedly said, “everything’s negotiable.” Trouble was, what he said and what he did were inconsistent. When it came to terms he was inflexible and demanding. In fact, he was dictatorial in his delivery. Further, he refused to put anything in writing.

I am a lawyer. Terms in writing, even offers to contract that are yet subject to negotiation, need to be in writing. This is not a quirk of mine. This is standard legal and business practice. Further, this developer was refusing to put in writing even the terms that pertained to me as a broker.

I grew up watching my father, a successful entrepreneur, make many a deal on a handshake or someone’s word. I am “of that school” even though I am also a trained attorney. So, in this particular instance, sharing some common cultural background with the developer and wanting to believe the best of him, I was proceeding as if on a handshake.

But things started to not feel good in that “gut” I spoke of earlier. I call it intuition but it’s the same thing. It’s an internal instinct and “caution” light that goes on which says, “Pay attention. Something is out of alignment and doesn’t feel good.” It was the developer’s continuing refusal to commit to writing along with his increasing disrespect towards me and my investor’s rights the more certain he was that the investor was on board and the closer we got to closing the deal.

Three days before the target deadline, the developer sent me an email with terms. They were not the terms repeatedly discussed and those which were there were woefully inadequate and poorly defined. The email closed with a “take it or leave it” directive and a demand that I not respond with any counter-offer or other terms. I was to reply simply “Yes” or “No.”

Well, there’s the kiss of death to a lawyer. Under the best of circumstances I am unlikely to not have something to add! And these were definitely not the best of circumstances. So I replied with a detailed explanation of terms as my investor believed them to be based upon representations made to him (and me). Further, I set forth in detail why those terms were in everyone’s financial interest.

I received no direct reply. However, three days later, on the target date deadline, I received a call from a third party involved in the fundraising who informed me that the developer’s “team” had advised him to accept the terms as I had forwarded them. However, I was also told he was in another city that day trying to raise other money.

Well, we were at a deadline set up by the developer, not me. He had not replied to my email of three days prior. My investor was calling me to ask why there was no contract to sign as this was the target date. So, I sent an email and text to the developer at 5PM stating that if I did not have confirmation in writing by 6PM of an agreement to terms and proof of the remaining 50% of funds raised as per the budget that my investor’s offer would have to be renegotiated once the 6PM deadline passed. At 6:35PM I received a scathing email from the developer who suggested that his lawyer contact a third party in the fundraising and attempt to negotiate the close of the deal. The last sentence of the email was , “But I am completely okay with us not doing business.”

We did not do business.

I could have let the refusal to commit to writing go; I could have ignored the ever changing terms; I could have disregarded the firm deadline; I could have overlooked the increasing disrespect; I could have seen grey everywhere instead of seeing black and white. After all, a lot of money was potentially in my future. A lot! As in similar to owning early shares of Apple or Uber.

But I think letting all that go is one of the primary ways this country got itself into the economic mess it’s in. Without principles we are lost. Without principles, it’s impossible to know when to leave the room…or the deal. Without principles money isn’t our means of transaction, it’s our god.

The terms should have been set forth, committed to writing and respectfully negotiated back and forth until the point of mutual agreement. The deadline, set by the developer, should have been able to be counted on and honored by all sides. The manner in which communication was exchanged should have been respectful and not demeaning.

I feel sorry for people who do not know the core principles that form the basis for their existence. These are my principles. So when they were not met, it was easy to know when to leave the room and the deal. I do not have the money that was a part of that opportunity but I have my self-respect and I have not added to the decline of values and principles that so many in our nation bemoan the loss of. I am not part of the problem I am part of the solution. It’s a different kind of profit that I made on the deal…but profit none-the-less.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

What Binds Us

The other day I was listening to the Bill Simmons podcast where he talked about an old  skit on Saturday Night Live. It was about the Brady Bunch meeting the Partridge Family. He remarked how funny it was back then and how that same skit could never work today because, as a society, we no longer have common cultural experiences. In other words, not enough people would get the jokes. He theorized that in our current society there is no one thing that we all share and understand. A mere thirty years ago, everyone in my generation watched those two shows, knew the characters and “got” the inside jokes.

Today, there are no longer common cultural events and national traditions which bind us together. With the advent of cable T.V, YouTube, Netflix and Amazon there are no longer shows we all watch and, therefore, experience together. Today T.V shows, books and movies are created to target niche consumers.  There are few cultural events, aside from sports or politics, where we have a reference point that helps us understand the culture at large.

The ongoing scandal within the NFL where players are “taking a knee” highlights for me the disparate views of what I clearly thought was a cultural norm: standing out of respect for the American flag. A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on my current thoughts about the NFL and its players kneeling.  I argued they should stand. The response I got blew me away. Some people loved the post while others called mea plantation owner for harboring such thoughts.” The vitriol spewed my way was eye opening.

Part of what shocked me was the divide. There was no consensus. We have come to the point where, as a nation, we are no longer able to agree that standing for the national anthem is the right thing to do.  Perhaps it is the result of growing and entrenched regional biases. I actually understand this possibility better than most. I grew up in the liberal northeast and now live in Texas. The opinions of these two regional groups of people could not be more different. With few exceptions, I can generally gauge in advance where each will stand on most issues. Yet, this prospect saddens and depresses me as I watch this divide grow with passing time.

These divisions are slowly ripping our nation apart. Ironically, I believe many of the problems that we now suffer are similar to the dissolution of a marriage.

In the Catholic faith, when a couple gets married, the priest utters a line that says “…and the two shall became one.”  On a physical plane it is impossible for two peoples’ bodies to morph into one, so the church is referring to something deeper that happens on the spiritual plane where souls merge. A few years ago a friend of mine got divorced. He told me that he experienced such trauma over the issue that he was in immense pain for quite some time. He prayed about it and had a dream where he saw a sword cutting apart he and his former wife with whom he had been “joined.” The sword was cutting the one body into two separate beings. The pain that he was suffering was due to the trauma of cutting away one’s flesh.

Nationally, we find ourselves divorced from the principles on which the nation was founded. How else can you justify the candidacy of Bernie Sanders who campaigned on a socialist platform while living in a capitalist country? Our culture no longer has any shared values. Blue states believe in one America while red states believe in another. There is no common ground.  This post began identifying how even in our expression of entertainment we no longer share a common culture.  Today, the majority of skits on “Saturday Night Live” are focused on politics (always a divisive issue) precisely because there are so few subject matter skits that an entire audience would get.

Sadly, I realize that I no longer live in the same country as my fellow Americans. The country founded upon a document declaring we have unalienable rights from our creator co-exists with one which believes there is no God.  We have become a country where a significant amount of people believe there is no such thing as a man or woman; there is no objective truth; only that with which we “identify” or what gives credence to our preferences. Babies aren’t babies they’re tissue and the definition of marriage is dependent upon what a legislature decides.  The ever changing tide of popular opinion is now what defines and moves our nation, not principals.

If you believe everything is fine and the things I’ve cited here are no big deal I wish I could experience your delusion. I wish I could crawl into that bubble with you… but I can’t. The forces shaping our country are leading us to ruin. We no longer have sufficient commonality to bind us in a meaningful way.  We are a collection of isolated states that happen to occupy a piece of land called America.  We are no longer united.

Over 2000 years ago the Greek storyteller, Aesop, said it best: “United we stand, divided we fall.” If that’s too far back in history for you, then turn over that dollar bill in your wallet.  “E pluribis unum“, adopted by the Founders in 1782, translates as “out of many, One.”  So whether 2000+ years ago or 235…we have turned this principle of standing united on its head. The current mantra of the United States of America is best expressed as “out of One, many.”  Since the past is often instructive, perhaps its worth more than a moment’s reflection on Aesop’s warning: divided we fall.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

The Dead End of Justified Means

In a recent conversation about AI, a business acquaintance told me why, in his opinion, Elon Musk will not succeed. “It’s because Musk allows his beliefs and ethics to enter into his business,” he said. “Musk doesn’t like AI and so he is not pursuing its implementation to the extent he should.” My reply was that as I understood it, it isn’t that Musk doesn’t like AI but rather doesn’t trust it given the insufficient moral parameters being established around its development and implementation. His response? “Well, when consumers see the benefits and ease of products and services that utilize AI they won’t ask or care about the morality or ethics.”

That’s when I decided to end the discussion.

Convincing a 39 year old businessman otherwise, who actually thinks that ethics and morals are irrelevant to AI or should be, is more energy that I wanted to expend. After all, he’s pretty cooked at his age. It doesn’t mean I was not surprised and slightly appalled by his perspective. It just means that if you don’t understand the connection between a culture lacking  ethics in business that has also run amok with sexual harassment in the workplace… you’re probably way down the road of no return on the relationship between ethics and AI. In fact, his final words to me on the subject were “AI will be our slaves.” To which I replied, “Or we will be theirs.”

Perhaps I come from an old school. I am willing to own that accusation. I remember a world where everything wasn’t instant, people didn’t have tech sex with virtual strangers and where they actually cared what others thought about how they behaved and the consequences of their actions. Maybe I am a cultural dinosaur. But I am not alone. I talk to plenty of other creatures from that “cultural  Jurrasic period” where values and principles mattered and people sought out and knew how to have personal relationships.

What is so disturbing is that people like the entrepreneur I spoke with about Elon Musk are in the majority not the minority. Ethics be damned. They slow things down. They get in the way of progress. Think of how high that tower could be…why it could go all the way to the sky…if we didn’t have to consider the consequences of building it in the first place. Oops. We did that one, didn’t we?

I like that Elon Musk is bothered by the potential of an AI world absent ethical and moral considerations. I am bothered by the fact that Google isn’t.  Large tech giants like Facebook and Google have already proven themselves not to be beyond crossing all sorts of ethical lines…or at least not past using mind control and preference mapping…to reach their profit driven ends. At least Musk has a conscience and isn’t afraid to make that known or stand by what he believes in.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what is all comes down to. Belief.

We seem to have stopped believing in anything beyond self-satisfaction. Don’t misunderstand me. I think we humans are in charge of our own destiny and can choose to find joy even in the hard times. We deserve to be happy. But in satisfying one self, a total disregard for our connection to all living things and especially to a higher power that is essentially good, self-satisfaction soon morphs into self-absorption which, in an AI-virtual world, ends in addiction and enslavement: if not to a government then to a machine that anticipates our every need and fulfills our every desire.

Live long enough and you learn, hopefully, that joy and satisfaction come as much from living within certain ethical and moral parameters as from hard work, patience and forgiveness. Absent those parameters anything goes. Given our human propensity to abuse power and self-destruct in the doing, we are more likely to devolve then evolve. If memory serves me, we’ve done that before as well. I wonder why we can’t seem to get this one right?

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)